Frederick H. Billings
|Frederick H. Billings|
Frederick Billings c. 1876
September 27, 1823|
|Died||September 30, 1890
|Occupation||Lawyer and Financier|
|Known for||President of the Northern Pacific Railway|
Life and career
He was born in Royalton, Windsor County, Vermont, graduated from the University of Vermont in 1844 and went on to pursue a career in law. In 1848, during the California Gold Rush, he moved to San Francisco, becoming the city's first land claims lawyer. Later he would partner with Henry Halleck, in the law firm of Halleck, Peachy & Billings, which became a leading law firm in San Francisco. While in California, he was a trustee of the College of California (later, the University of California at Berkeley) and suggested that the college be named for George Berkeley.
In 1864, he returned to Woodstock, Vermont, and in 1869 purchased George Perkins Marsh's former estate. Billings had read Marsh's pioneering volume on ecology called Man and Nature, and set about to put into practice his theories on conservation. Billings and his heirs set about purchasing many failing farms and reforesting much of the surrounding hillsides with Norway Spruce, Scots Pine, European Larch, and many native species. Today, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock manages and interprets what is probably the oldest managed forest in the United States. The Billings Farm & Museum is a working dairy farm and museum, just across the street is the gateway to learning about Vermont's agricultural history.
Billings later purchased one of the original twelfth interests in the Northern Pacific Railway and, from 1879 to 1881, served as its president. He constructed a chapel for the Congregational Church of Woodstock. Although he never owned a home in Billings, Montana, a railroad town established in 1882 and named after him, he provided the money to build the First Congregational Church and the first library in that town, which he then named after his son Parmely. He also built and endowed Billings Library, completed in 1885 for The University of Vermont, and purchased the George Perkins Marsh collection of 12,000 volumes for it.
At the time of his death, legend states that Billings had hidden a chest full of millions of dollars of gold in the Beartooth Mountains.
- Billings, Montana
- Billings, Missouri
- Billings Library, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont
- Billings Farm & Museum, Woodstock, Vermont
- Camp Billings, Fairlee, VT
- Billings County, North Dakota
- In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS Frederick Billings was named in his honor.
- Yellowstone Genealogy Forum: Frederick Billings Biography
- UVM Gift Societies and Clubs: Frederick Billings Society
- Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park
- Biographical Sketch
- Billings Farm and Museum of Woodstock, Vermont
- Descendants of Thomas Hastings website
- Descendants of Thomas Hastings on Facebook
Charles Barstow Wright
|President of Northern Pacific Railway
1879 – 1881