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THE UNITED STATES, THE NATIONAL, THE SOUTHERN,
THE UNITED STATES EXPRESS COMPANY IN NEW YORK STATE is under the supervision of Charles A. DeWitt, and has been for many years. As long ago as 1858, my record of the Express service spoke of this excellent officer of the institution (then of limited, but now of wide usefulness), as thoroughly skilled in the business, and bound to act well his part in making it a success.
His office for the transaction of the company's down-town clerical work is at 82 Broadway, where it has been for many years. Under this office, with its commodious counters, desks, and superintendent's room, is a convvenient basement for the reception and delivery of freight. New street, immediately in the rear, is adjacent to Wall street, and the wagons are loaded and unloaded there. But the business at "82" is only a small indication; much being done at its seven up-town offices; and the bulk of it in Jersey City, but under A. Thayer, a worthy brother of the deceased general agent. There has been little change in the organization for many years, except the nominal one of giving its master-spirit, Henry Kip, the office of president, in addition to his long-held, and well-filled, position of general superintendent. He is still a constant traveler over the extensive area of his company's operations, and must be, by this time, as familiar with every portion of it as he is with Buffalo, his home. Though a sexegenarian, his countenance and physique indicate the vigor of the meridian of life. He must thank God for having given him an iron constitution.
In 1879, this company lost a valuable officer by the death of its New York city general agent, of whom an obituary notice will be found in the chapter entitled, "In Memoriam."
The company's grand route in the State of New York was originally worked by the "American," but for more than a
quarter of a century it has afforded its facilities to the United States Express. Of course, I allude to the Erie Railroad, on which, by the way, Kip has, from time to time, improved advantages for his line. The United States' connecting roads, to the west, are the Atlantic and Great Western, and Lake Shore and Michigan Southern. Among the points served by this very active company are the following flourishing towns and cities in New York State: New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Dunkirk, Auburn, Batavia, Binghamton, Elmira, Canandaigua, Geneva, Ithaca, Niagara Falls, Newburg, and Rondout. In New Jersey it has an agency at Hackensack and another in Paterson, and only a few in Pennsylvania, but in Ohio a handsome representation in a score or more of the largest and most populous cities and manufacturing towns.
While this company was always ranked as the third of the four great Express corporations, it is, in fact, of much smaller force than its older competitors; but it has "the faculty" of making the most of what it possesses, and, through very close and careful management, has maintained its position under some serious discouragements.
Probably it did not escape scot-free from the injury inflicted by the Merchants' Union Express Company, during its brief existence, upon the other great companies; but its more permanent hurt is through the ambition of railroad managers to have their own expresses.
The United States Express has its chief freight office at Jersey City, convenient to the Erie railroad depot. A. Thayer, the agent, is in the meridian of life, and a veteran in the busi
Besides a local stable there, the company have a fine large one on Church street, in rear of the "Trinity," in charge of Edwin Pultz, who has been superintendent of that department for twenty-five years. The company has in New York and Jersey City 130 horses, 33 double wagons, and 29 single wagons. It employs nearly 100 drivers and helpers, and 25 stable hands, at this time (1880).
"THE SOUTHERN's" OFFICIALS IN NEW YORK.-As our "Southern" friends, Henry B. Plant and M. J. O'Brien,
have much official business in New York city, it may be well enough to allude to the fact here, though deferring the history of the company to a later chapter.
The Southern Express Company connects with the "Adams,"" American," and "United States (and hence is enabled to contract for the delivery of freight anywhere, east or west); but it has no Express office, exclusively its own, east of Richmond, Va. Its headquarters are in Augusta, Georgia; its stockholders are Southern men, and it looks to the south exclusively for its support. Its name is borne by a dozen or more handsome wagons in the streets of the great money centre of the country, but only its president has an office in New York. In December, 1875, Mr. Plant, its founder and present head, removed his office from 59 Broadway to the commodious suite of apartments occupied by himself and his secretaries, in Twenty-third street, near Fifth avenue. It was the old home of the Nathans. "And thereby hangs a tale" of "murder, most foul, bloody, and unnatural," which will be found in another portion of this volume.
THE NATIONAL EXPRESS COMPANY IN NEW YORK.-The New York business of the National Express, exclusively its own, is very limited; yet, through its connection with the American (in whose building, at 65 Broadway, its office is located), it is very useful to the bankers and merchants and others having packages, &c., to obtain from, or forward to, the northern portion of New York and Canada, per Harlem Rail. road to Troy.
Johnston Livingston, for many years an owner and director in the Harnden and Thompson & Co.'s Expresses, is resident director of the National, and L. W. Winchester (so long the manager of the Harnden subsequent to 1850), is the superintendent in its New York office; a position to which he was appointed in the summer of 1867.
It is now thirty-eight years since this faithful and respected manager began his long and useful career by enlisting, while yet a mere youth, in the service of Wm. F. Harnden (March, 1842). Conscientious and intelligent discharge of every duty tells in Express employment, and, advancing step by step, Winchester became the manager of the Harnden in New
York, and so continued for nearly fifteen years, until its final decease (which for a long time had been a foregone conclusion, it having been purchased by the Adams), was made public in the abandonment of its distinct office and routine organization.
In the Express History of 1858, the Harnden and National were mentioned as being in the same building together, at 74 Broadway, and a picture of their joint office was given. At that time, D. Barney was president of the National; Major Pullen, New York manager; and L. W. Winchester, treasurer. His very acceptable execution of this fiduciary trust led to his appointment to the position of manager, by the new owners of the National, July, 1867. Time has dealt gently with the healthy physique of L. W., and his always cheerful and equable temperament is remarkable.
"THE NEW JERSEY EXPRESS AND "CENTRAL are owned by the Adams, and their New York city headquarters are at No. 59 Broadway. Their lines are limited to the middle States, but, as will be shown in another place, both are very useful in the numerous manufacturing towns of that populous section.
Another subordinate Express is the "DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA AND WESTERN," whose office in Park place is presided over by Superintendent John M. Fraser. This is a lively little enterprise, and ought to pay well. It has 900 miles of railroad route, in all, and operates in a good field and under the most favorable circumstances. Mr. Fraser is superintendent, also, of Westcott's Long Island Express.
There are in New York city several minor companies for the conveyance and transfer of baggage, such as the Westcott, Dodd's, Dunn's, and one or two others, besides a dozen or two of individual enterprises of more humble pretensions; but not a tenth part as many small local expresses as there are in Boston.
I saw in Park place, last summer (1879), a two-horse wagon with its sides emblazoned with this device, "U. S. MAIL ExPRESS." It was the first and only vehicle devoted to Uncle Sam's Express business that I have ever seen. A fit parallel would have been another vehicle with the legend, "The American Express Postal Company."
EXPRESS OPERATIONS IN NEW JERSEY AND PENNSYLVANIA.
THE ADAMS EXPRESS business in the middle States, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, is of immense magnitude, and, in an area so densely populated, could not fail to be profitable, even if it were without the lucrative government and banking patronage, of which it has enjoyed, through the wise management of its directors and superintendents in this, its richest field of operation, so much during the last thirty years.
Sam. M. Shoemaker and E. S. Sanford seem never to have forfeited the good opinion of government officials and the public, in the District and adjoining States, and not one of the many financial institutions in that centre has ever enjoyed more fully, or more deservedly, the confidence of the Treasury Department, the bankers, the insurance companies, and the people, than the Adams Express Company. During the war of 1861-4 it was one of the national administration's most useful auxiliaries.
Immediately after the prompt response to the President's first call for volunteers in 1861, and the concentration of troops at Annapolis, Md., the Adams Express was overwhelmed with all sorts of parcels and packages addressed to members of the many regiments, and had to have several large buildings hastily constructed to store the goods. That was Asa Blake's opportunity, and the lively little expressman was sent thither "to straighten out things;" which much needed service he performed (with the aid of a strong corps of soldierly assistants), with such celerity that in a few days the prodigious accumulation of packages were all dispatched in lots, each lot addressed to the regiment to whose members the packages, &c., belonged.
After that bustling experience Asa Blake was dispatched to New Orleans, upon the capture of the Crescent City (as it was called) by the Union forces, and made boss brigadier of boxes, bales, and bundles carried by the Adams to the "Boys in Blue" down there.