Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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WELLS, Henry, expressman, born in New Hampshire, 12 December, 1805; died in Glasgow, Scotland, 10 December, 1878. He early entered the express business, becoming an agent for Henry F. Harnden, and in 1841 suggested to George Pomeroy the desirability of establishing an express from Albany to Buffalo. Subsequently Crawford Livingston acted on the proposition, and weekly trips were made between the two points. Beginning in 1843, railroad communication having been established between the two cities, trips were made daily. The firm-name was at first Pomeroy and Co., but was altered to Livingston, Wells and Pomeroy, and, on the retirement of the latter, became Livingston and Wells. In 1845 the business was extended westward from Buffalo to Chicago, with William G. Fargo in charge of that division, under the name of Wells and Co. Meanwhile they established a letter express to carry communications from New York to Buffalo for six cents, while the government charge for the same distance was twenty-five cents. Every means was taken by the National authorities to destroy the practice, but without success. In 1846 a European express was established, with offices in London and Paris. Competition by various companies resulted in the consolidation of the different organizations in 1850, and the formation of the American express company, of which Mr. Wells was elected president. In 1832 he was associated with William G. Fargo and others in forming the firm of Wells, Fargo and Co., for conducting the express business in the far west, and he continued an active officer of that company until its management was transferred to western capitalists after the completion of the Transcontinental railroad. In 1860 the American express company was reorganized with a capital of $1,000,000, and he acted as its president until 1868. He gave $150,000 to found and endow Wells female college at Aurora, New York, one of the first collegiate institutions to be established in this country for the higher education of women.
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