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William George Fargo

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 Wells 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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