John Fleming Gould was born John Francis Gould on February 14, 1906 in Worcester, Massachusetts. His father, George Methley Gould, was born in 1882 in MA of German ancestry. His mother, Julia Esther Fleming, was born in 1876 in MA of Irish and English ancestry. His parents married in Worcester on January 14, 1903. They had two sons, George (b.1905) and John (b.1906). The famiy lived at 39 Richards Street in Worcester. The father was a plumber.
In 1911 the first-born son, George Gould, died of a childhood illness at the age of six.
After this tragic death the family moved to Illinois, where their son Robert was born in 1912.
In 1915 the family moved to Brooklyn, New York City, where their daughter Marian was born. They lived at 1502 Bushwick Avenue. The father worked as a plumber throughout the neighborhood. He was often hired by the janitor of the building two-doors away at 1498 Bushwick. That janitor's name was Henry Baumhofer, and his thirteen-year-old son was Walter Baumhofer, who became John Gould's best friend. They went to school together and played together after school.
Their lives changed abruptly during one of their escapades when they found a box of live ammunition. While attempting mischief one round exploded and blew off the thumb and parts of two fingers on the left hand of Walter Baumhofer. According Gould, "Up until then Walt was the musician and I was the artist, but after the accident I encouraged him to become an artist instead. What other work could he do with only one good hand!"
They later attended Bushwick High School on Irving Avenue and Woodbine Streets in Brooklyn, where they met Frank Kramer and William Ralph Keifer, both of whose fathers happened to be janitors at other public schools. All four students were German-Americans with natural drawing talent and a shared ambition to become successful illustrators.
After graduation all four attended the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, where they studied under Dean Cornwell and H. Winfield Scott. Other classmates at art school included Frederick Blakeslee, David Berger, Henry Kiemle, and Robert Schultz.
In 1926 in his Senior Year at Pratt John Gould was elected Class President.
After graduating from Pratt in June of 1926 John Gould and seven other young artists rented a Manhattan art studio on the top floor of 161 West 23rd Street. The monthly rent was ninety dollars. The neighboring art studios were rented by John Newton Howitt, George Rozen and his twin brother Jerome Rozen.
While looking for free-lance work, John Gould decided to use his mother's maiden name, Fleming, instead of his own middle name, Francis, because he hoped it would make him seem more like an established artist, such as James Montgomery Flagg and Charles Dana Gibson, and John Newton Howitt.
In 1927 John Fleming Gould began to illustrate interior stories for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Aces, Air Stories, Astounding Stories, Blue Book, Clues Detective, Cowboy Stories, Danger Trails, War Birds, and Wings.
In 1929 he was hired to teach art at Pratt Institute, where he continued to work for twenty-two years.
In 1930 he began a long and fruitful free-lance relationship with Popular Publications drawing interior story illustrations for their pulp magazines, such as Detective Action Stories, Dime Detective, G-8 and his Battle Aces, Operator #5, Knockout, The Spider, and 10-Story Western.
On November 20, 1937 John Gould's mother, Julia Esther (Fleming) Gould, died in NYC at the age of sixty-one.
In 1940 John Gould married his wife, Mary O'Sullivan. She was born on June 6, 1906 in NYC of Irish ancestry. They raised three sons, Robert, William, and Paul.
By 1942 he was selling freelance illustrations to higher-paying slick magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post, Country Gentleman, Redbook, Colliers, and Popular Science.
In 1951 John Fleming Gould began to teach art at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art.
Throughout the 1950s he worked for men's adventure magazines, such as Argosy,Outdoor Life, and True.
In 1957 his father, George Methley Gould, died in NYC at the age of seventy-five.
After his father's death John Fleming Gould retired from illustration and moved to Newburgh, NY, to open a private art school and art gallery.
On April 22, 1995 his wife, Mary (O'Sullivan) Gould, died in New Windsor, NY, at the age of eighty-eight.
John Fleming Gould died in New Windsor, NY, at the age of ninety on May 26, 1996.
© David Saunders 2009