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Mackay, John William

MACKAY, JOHN WILLIAM (1831-1902), American capitalist, was born in Dublin, Ireland, on the 28th of November 1831. His parents brought him in 1840 to New York City, where he worked in a ship-yard. In 1851 he went to California and worked in placer gold-mines in Sierra county. In 1852 he went to Virginia City, Nevada, and there, after losing all he had made in California, he formed with James G. Fair, James C. Flood and William S. O'Brien the firm which in 1873 discovered the great Bonanza vein, more than 1200 ft. deep, in the Comstock lode (yielding in March of that year as much as $632 per ton, and in 1877 nearly $19,000,000 altogether); and this firm established the Bank of Nevada in San Francisco. In 1884, with James Gordon Bennett, Mackay formed the Commercial Cable Company largely to fight Jay Gould and the Western Union Telegraph Company laid two transatlantic cables, and forced the toll-rate for transatlantic messages down to twenty-five cents a word. In connexion with the Commercial Cable Company he formed the Postal Telegraph Company. Mackay died on the 20th of July 1902 in London. He gave generously, especially to the charities of the Roman Catholic Church, and endowed the Roman Catholic orphan asylum in Virginia City, Nevada. In June 1908 a school of mines was presented to the University of Nevada, as a memorial to him, by his widow and his son, Clarence H. Mackay.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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