Fargo, William George

Fargo, William George,

1818–81, American pioneer expressman, b. Pompey, N.Y. He had been successively a postrider, freight agent, messenger, and resident agent (1843) for an express company in Buffalo, N.Y., when in 1844, with Henry WellsWells, Henry,
1805–78, American pioneer expressman, b. Thetford, Vt. As a child he moved with his family to central New York state. In 1843 he established express service between New York City and Buffalo and successfully competed with the U.S.
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 and another partner, he organized Wells & Company, the first express company operating W from Buffalo. The following year the firm became Livingston, Fargo & Company, and in 1850 it merged with others to form the American Express Company, with Fargo as secretary. By 1852 he and Wells had organized Wells, Fargo & Company to handle the express service between New York and San Francisco for which the gold rush had created a need, and they established stage and banking businesses on the Pacific coast with the American Express Company serving as eastern representative. In 1868, Fargo became president of the American Express Company, making his home in Buffalo, where he served (1862–66) as mayor.


See N. C. Wilson, Treasure Express: Epic Days of the Wells Fargo (1936); L. Beebe and C. Clegg, U.S. West: The Saga of Wells Fargo (1949).

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Fargo, William George

(1818–81) expressman; born in Pompey, N.Y. By 1843 he had become the Buffalo (N.Y.) agent for an express firm, Pomeroy & Company. In 1844 he became part owner of the first express company west of Buffalo, Wells & Company (named after Henry Wells, 1805–78; born in Thetford, Vt.); in 1850 it merged with two other companies to become the American Express Company with Wells and Fargo as officers. The two men then organized Wells, Fargo & Company in 1852 for business in California and elsewhere in the Far West; it gradually consolidated with rival companies and by 1866 it monopolized transportation in the West. Fargo remained based in Buffalo where he served as Democratic mayor (1862–66). He served as president of Wells, Fargo (1870–72) and as president of American Express (1868–81).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.