Receipt from the American Merchants Union Express Company issued no later than 1873. This item is
over 133 years old.
American Express was formed on March 18, 1850 by Henry Wells, William G. Fargo and John Butterfield through combination of Wells and Company. In 1868 the company merged with Merchants Union Express Company to become American Merchants Union Express Company In 1873, the name was changed back to American Express.
William Fargo was the co-founder of Wells, Fargo & Co. The eldest of twelve children, William Fargo was born in Pompey, New York. As a boy he worked on his father's farm and attended school in the winter. At thirteen -- as a mail carrier in his home town --he had already started working toward his goals.
In the 1841 Fargo became the first freight agent of Auburn, New York. His business abilities attracted the attention of Henry Wells -- the owner of the express service -- who hired him. First a messenger for Wells, then a partner, he ran express operations west of Buffalo.
Both men helped organize the American Express Company. And Fargo served as the company's president from 1868 until his death. After the discovery of gold in California Wells and Fargo saw the desperate need of Westerners for expanded banking and express facilities. American Express was happy to stay in the East. So Fargo made his historic decision with Wells to found Wells Fargo & Co.-- a company that was soon busy buying gold dust, selling drafts and doing a general banking and express business.
The two entrepreneurs also built a stagecoaching empire that spanned the West. In fact, in 1863 Fargo came to California overland by stagecoach. He made good use of his stay. While in the Golden State, Fargo worked with the Sacramento Valley Railroad in an attempt to build a railroad across the Sierra Nevada. He also laid the foundation for the Grand Consolidation of 1866 that gave Wells Fargo responsibility for all overland staging west of the Missouri River.
President of Wells, Fargo & Co. from 1870 to 1872. Fargo was the Democratic mayor of Buffalo during the Civil War and a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which named one of their railroad towns for him -- Fargo, North Dakota.
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