Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

very popular one he was, too. Before long he became a stageowner, and at length the sole proprietor of all the principal lines in the centre of this State. In 1849, he was engaged in the transportation of freight across the Isthmus of Panama. He was the projector of the Morse Telegraph line between New York and Buffalo, and, after building the line by contract, put it into successful operation. Enlisting others with him, he founded a splendid line of large and commodious steamers on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. In 1848 or 1849, he projected the joint-stock Express Company before mentioned. Wasson, who was associated with him in this enterprise, had formerly been a stage proprietor, but was then postmaster at Albany.

Early in 1850, negotiations were entered into by Wells & Co., Livingston & Fargo, and Butterfield, Wasson & Co., for the consolidation of the three into one grand line. The result was, that the property and good will of Wells & Co. were put in at a valuation of $50,000, and those of Livingston & Fargo, at $50,000; Butterfield, Wasson & Co. put in theirs at $25,000, and made up the difference in cash. Two firms were then made of the three, viz.: “Wells, Butterfield & Co.," and “Livingston, Fargo & Co.," but comprised in a joint-stock concern, under the style of “The American Express Company.” It was stipulated that this arrangement should last ten years. Henry Wells, then absent in Europe, was elected president of the new company, Wm. G. Fargo, of Buffalo, secretary; John Butterfield, of Utica, line superintendent; and Alexander IIolland, of Schenectady, treasurer. The latter (a son-in-law of John Butterfield) was appointed New York agent, and the duties of this important, responsible, and laborious office, as well as those of the treasuryship, he has discharged for several years past with excellent judgment and the most exemplary fidelity. It would be hard to find a more unselfish, true and manly person than Alexander Holland. T. B. Marsh was a very useful man in the Buffalo office. James C. Fargo was agent at Chicago, and general superintendent of the northwestern division. The Fargos are pre-eminently an Express family. Charles Fargo, the very popular agent and assistant superintendent at Detroit, in 1860, was the proprietor of the Lake Superior Express. Chas. S. Higgins, for some years general superintendent of the southwestern division, distinguished himself as an Express manager. Other prominent and invaluable agents were W. B. Peck, at Buffalo; Dr. Arnett, at Suspension Bridge, A. Seymour, at Geneva; Major Doty, at Auburn; L. B. Van Dake, at Rochester, and Benedict, at Troy, N. Y.

In 1852, Henry Wells, Wm. G. Fargo and others, projected Wells, Fargo & Co.'s California Express, of which we shall speak more fully by and by. In that or the following year, Wells, Butterfield & Co. removed the New York office of the American Express to the spacious and convenient store No. 62 Broadway, where they remained until the completion of their edifice in Hudson street.

In the meantime, the bank exchanges performed by the company between St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Albany, New York, and intermediate points, had become in itself an immense business. The parcel and freight Express, also, had increased a hundred fold within ten years.

Early in 1854, another powerful opposition Express suddenly started into existence, and astonished Broadway with its turnout of fine horses and beautiful vermilion-red wagons, with the name in elegant letters on the sides, " United States Express Company.” This was not the Express which bears that name at the present day. Its projectors were Charles Backus, Hamilton Spencer, and Henry Dwight, who, with the aid of others, had made it a joint-stock company, with a nominal capital of half a million of dollars. Without making any money themselves, it was in the power of the new association to inflict great injury to the established Express, and this fact led to an amicable and judicious arrangement between the old and the new company, by means of which the latter was merged in the former; its proprietors becoming stockholders in the American Express Company, which created a new stock at that time, July, 1854, and increased its capital to $750,000. In the month of September, 1855, the American Express Co. were robbed of $50,000. It belonged to the Government, and was promptly made good by the company. The particulars will be given in another part of this work.

[ocr errors]

a

a

In July, 1858, they removed the bulk of their New York business to their new white marble building, at the corner of Hudson and Jay streets. It is very conveniently situated, being upon a line with the Hudson River Railroad, and from which, by means of a track of their own, the American Express Co. run their express cars right to their office. This site is just 100 feet square, and cost $100,000. The spacious and superb edifice erected by the company upon it, under the immediate direction of Alexander Holland, assisted by Col. A. M. C. Smith, contains, besides the Express office, a commodious store and several large warerooms. It is now occupied for other busi

ness.

January 1, 1860, the company was re-organized, and the capital stock increased to $1,000,000. Its board of government being as follows:

Henry Wells, president; John Butterfield, vice-president, Wm. G. Fargo, secretary; Johnston Livingston, Alex. Holland, directors.

The superintendent of the eastern or New York division, was Col. Daniel Butterfield ; James C. Fargo was general superintendent of the northwestern division ; Charles H. Wells, superintendent of the “Cleveland division;" E. W. Sloane, superintendent of the “Indianapolis division;" J. H. Talbot, superintendent of the “Canada division;" R. B. Peckham division superintendent of Wisconsin; Charles Fargo, division superintendent of Michigan and Indiana.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER V.

THE NATIONAL EXPRESS COMPANY.

-THOMPSON & CO.-D. N. BAR

NEY.—WELLS, FARGO & CO., AND OTHERS.

The original projector of the business now done by this excellent company, was J. A. Pullen. He has already been named in this work as one of the earliest and most efficient of Harnden's aids. Before entering that service, he was agent for the New York and Providence steamers J. W. Richmond and Kingston, and used to travel over the route, from Boston, daily. Of good figure and fine address, and enthusiastically absorbed in the execution of the express business intrusted to him by its pioneer, Major Pullen was invaluable as a messenger in 1840, between New York and Boston; in 1841, between New York and Philadelphia; in 1842, between New York, Albany and Troy, via the Hudson river steamboats.

In the winter of 1842, or the spring of 1843, Harnden having sold out his Hudson River Express, Pullen & Copp started a like business on that route, from New York to Albany, Troy and Saratoga Springs. At that time, Pomeroy & Co., who had been doing a business between Albany and Buffalo for several months, extended their line to New York.

In 1844 or 1845, by an arrangement between Pullen & Copp and Pomeroy & Co., they ceased their opposition by making a division of their routes—the former taking Troy and north; the latter Albany and west. It led to some reciprocity of service between them, Pullen & Copp taking charge of Pomeroy & Co.'s Express trunk and freight between Albany and New York. (An extraordinary incident which happened to Copp, in that connection, will be related in our budget of Express anecdotes.) Soon afterwards Copp retired from the firm, and Major Pullen took E. L. Stone as a partner, under the style of Pullen & Co.

In 1843, a Mr. Jacobs had started an Express from Albany to Montreal, and continued it for a year or more.

E. H. Virgil, since somewhat prominent as an Express proprietor, acted as his messenger and agent about a year, and then, in company with N. G. Howard, purchased Jacobs' interest. They called it Virgil & Howard's Express. Its route was by packet boats or stage from Albany to Whitehall, and thence by steamers, via Lake Champlain and railroad, to Montreal. It connected at Troy and Albany with Pullen & Co.'s. Early in 1844, H. F. Rice bought out Howard's interest, and the firm became Virgil & Rice. This firm, ere long, united with the other, under the style of Pullen, Virgil & Co.'s Express. Their route was from this city, via northern New York and Vermont, to the principal cities in Canada. It was not, at that period, a very promising field of operation, and men of less sanguine temperament, resolution and energy, would have abandoned it. Fortunately, E. H. Virgil, upon whom devolved the immediate superintendence of the offices and business details upon the route, was a man of great physical ability united to sagacity, experience and tenacity of purpose. He had a peculiar people to deal with, especially in Canada, where they are slow to enlist in new enterprises. It was only by the most untiring suavity and patient demonstration of the uses and security of the Express, for a long time, that he succeeded at last in establishing it in that region upon the same basis of popular appreciation to which it had so rapidly attained in Massachusetts and New York.

In 1849, the firm consisted of J. A. Pullen, E. H. Virgil, Edward L. Stone, and C. A. Darling.

Upon the opening of the Albany Northern Railroad in 1854, Robert L. Johnson, Wm. A. Livingston, and W. E. Hys established a Northern Express, under the style of Johnson & Co., from Albany to Rutland, Saratoga, &c., with a view of extending it into Canada. This enterprise came into competition with Pullen, Virgil & Co., and after its success had become certain, it was deemed politic by the two concerns to consolidate, especially as both were composed of old and influential Expressmen, who could pull together far more profitably and satisfactorily, than apart.

Accordingly, in the spring of 1855, it became a joint-stock

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »