William George Strong Fargo

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About William George Strong Fargo


William George Fargo (May 20, 1818 – August 3, 1881), pioneer American expressman, was born in Pompey, New York. 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 & Company 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, 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. During his term as mayor, the Buffalo riot of 1862 took place.

He died on August 3, 1881 after battling an illness for several months and was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. William's brother J.C. Fargo succeeded him as President of American Express after his death.

Fargo Avenue in Buffalo, and Fargo, North Dakota are named after him.

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William George Strong Fargo's Timeline

May 20, 1818
Pompey, NY, USA
February 23, 1842
Age 23
Age 23
New York, NY, USA
September 22, 1843
Age 25
December 1, 1845
Age 27
Buffalo, Erie County, New York, United States
September 30, 1847
Age 29
September 7, 1851
Age 33
December 3, 1857
Age 39
Buffalo, NY, USA
December 1, 1861
Age 43
August 3, 1881
Age 63
Buffalo, NY, USA