WILLIAM GEORGE FARGO (1818-1881), pioneer American expressman, was born in Pompey, New York, on the 20th of May 1818. From the age of thirteen he had to support himself, obtaining little schooling, and for several years he was a clerk in grocery stores in Syracuse. He became a freight agent for the Auburn & Syracuse railway company at Auburn in 1841, an express messenger between Albany and Buffalo a year later, and in 1843 a resident agent in Buffalo. In 1844 he organized, with Henry Wells (1805-1878) and Daniel Dunning, the first express company (Wells & Co.; after 1845 Livingston & Fargo) to engage in the carrying business west of Buffalo. The lines of this company (which first operated only to Detroit, via Cleveland) were rapidly extended to Chicago, St Louis, and other western points. In March 1850, when through a consolidation of competing lines the American Express Company was organized, Wells became president and Fargo secretary. In 1851, with Wells and others, he organized the firm of Wells, Fargo & Company to conduct an express business between New York and San Francisco by way of the Isthmus of Panama and on the Pacific coast, where it long had a virtual monopoly. In 1861 Wells, Fargo & Co. bought and reorganized the Overland Mail Co., which had been formed in 1857 to carry the United States mails, and of which Fargo had been one of the original promoters. From 1862 to 1866 he was mayor of Buffalo, and from 1868 to his death, in Buffalo, on the 3rd of August 1881, he was president of the American Express Company, with which in 1868 the Merchants Union Express Co. was consolidated. He was a director of the New York Central and of the Northern Pacific railways.
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