Adams Express – Notes On Article
The Philatelic Gazette, April, 1915,
p. 84 by Henry Needhan
|Adams & Co fused with Wells F & Co before the introduction of prepared U.S. envelopes.
(???) from the Way Bills of an old Express man (???) by T. W. Tucker 1872 – & Establishment of the Cal. Express in September 1849
This great enterprise was given in charge of D. Hale Haskell. He engaged in S. Francisco John M. Freeman and Wm. H. Hall. (???) the civil war the stack of the Ad. Co. rose to $500 per share par value being $100
Newell & Co. establ. Oct 8, 1851 Nov. 8, 1851 Stockton Times shows that the Freeman &
This Company operated soley and entirely on the Pacific Slope. While affiliated with the express business of Adams & Company, of the Atlantic Coast, it was entirely separate and distinct as to management and capitol, but,
at all times up to the time of incorporation, was a branch of the parent company. Alvin Adams, propritor of the Eastern Company, was a special partner in the original business of Adams & Company of the Pacific.
Alvin Adams was born at Andover, Vermont, June 6th, 1804. In early he located at Boston, Mass., and engaged in the produce business at wholesale and commission. He is often referred to as “the Boston Grocer”. In his business he
found great difficulty in procuring his supplies from the farms and factories. This created in his mind the idea of establishing an express company for the prompt delivery of produce and all other matter; the idea of conducting
a business for delivery of letters came later.
William F. Harnden, who originally created the express business, in America about 1839, was located at Boston and a friend of Adams. Harnden had been a conductor on the Boston and Worcester Railroad, later a part of the
Boston & Albany line. His small express business was conducted from No. 9 Court Street, Boston, and 1 Wall Street, New York; it was not successful during the lifetime of Harnden, but later developed materially. Adams became
Harnden’s first competitor, and two years after Harnden’s death, 1852, he purchased the assets of the Harnden Express Company of the Atlantic. The name of Harnden’s Express, however, was retained. In 1857 its office was at 74
Broadway, and its business, in certain territory had been transferred to Thompson, Livingston & Co. We might call attention to the fact Harnden’s partner was Henry Wells, and that William C. Fargo, an ex-Railroad man, was
later Well’s agent at Buffalo and thence to Detroit and the lake ports.
Adams & Company, of the Atlantic, having estabished a large and properous business
prior to 1849, realized the great rush which would necessarily follow the discovery of gold in California, and that the express from the east
to the west, and from the camps there to other camps and minds, would be in sufficient volume to warrant an investment in the Western Territory, decided to enter that field, but not with the capitol of the Eastern Company. They,
therefore, set aside a certain sum for the development of the business in the west, and in the summer of 1849, sent D. H. Haskell of Boston, as a resident manager, to the Pacific Coast. He arrived at San Francisco on October
31st, 1849, and, within six weeks, had the business established throughout the State of California and vicinity. Within three months it had the majority of the business in and out of California and the gold fields. A banking
department was soon estabished and added to the business of the company. This banking department was suggested and advised by the merchants in the west, and, we may say, was the cause of all the troubles which ultimately came upon
the Company. Haskell at once established routes to Sacramento and Stockton; at the former point the Company connected with the Express of Freeman & Company, which ran to the Northern Mines, and, at the latter point, with Newell
& Company which had routes to the Southern Mines.
These two connecting concerns were consolidated with Adams & Company as a joint stock concern.
At the opening of the year 1853, Adams & Company held a position of sepreme importance throughout the Pacific Territory; they did more business, were in touch with more people, delivered more express and mail matter than
did the Goverment or any other individual concern or corporation. Their bank was the first and largest in the field, and their credit unsurpassed; every agency established by them forced the price of gold dust to a higher level
by the increased facilities offered. The merchants, miners and adventurers sent money and letters by the Company to their homes and friends in the Eastern States, and obtained though the Company all letters and express matter
forwarded from the east. The business was formed into a joint stock company in May, 1854. The management was vested in D. H. Haskell and I. C. Woods. Its capital was two millions of dollars, and the express business alone amounted
to between fifty and sixty thousand dollars per month. The profits from its banking and postal business were very heavy.
Early in 1855 a finanical and commercial crisis occurred at San Francisco and throughout the west; there was a run upon the bank of Adams & Company and the concern was forced to close its doors about
October 25th, 1855.
Receivers were appointed, more particulary to conserve the two millions of dollars dposited in the banking department of the Company. Much litigation resulted. The Legal Department of the State of California was not then fully
developed, and the orders of the Receivers were often not recognized by the officers or officials. There was also trouble with mobs, and much difficulty was experienced in conserving the assets. The litigation was continued for
about seven years with the result that lawyers were happy, and the depositors were paid nothing.
born June 6, 1804
(???) writes that Adams & Co Started in Calif. in Sep. 1849
Freeman & Co and Newell & Co consol. with Adams & Co 1854
Henry C. Needham Phil. Gasette Apr. 1915