J. C. Fargo

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James C. Fargo
Born James Congdell Strong Fargo
May 5, 1829
Watervale, New York
Died February 8, 1915(1915-02-08) (aged 85)
New York, New York
Residence 56 Park Avenue New York City
Known for President of the American Express Company
Spouse(s) Fannie Stuart
Children 3
Relatives William Fargo (brother)

James Congdell Strong Fargo (May 5, 1829 – February 8, 1915) was a president of the American Express Company for 30 years,[1] and the brother of American Express Company and Wells Fargo co-founder, William Fargo.[2]

Early life[edit]

J. C. Fargo was born in Watervale, New York, an unincorporated hamlet in Onondaga County, northeast of Pompey, New York. He was the seventh of eleven children born to William Congdell Fargo (1791–1878), of New London, Connecticut, and Stacy Chappel Strong (1799–1869). His older brother, the eldest child of William and Stacy, was William Fargo (1818–1881).[3] Fargo attended public school.


In 1845, when he was fifteen, he moved to Buffalo, New York to work for his brother William, who was running express lines between Buffalo, Detroit, Michigan and Albany, New York. Originally a clerk, Fargo was eventually tasked with the delivery of money packages. In 1847, Fargo was granted control of operations in Detroit. Four years later, when the company was organized as Wells Fargo & Company, Fargo was named Superintendent of Virginia operations.

In 1855, Fargo was appointed agent of Chicago, Illinois for the American Express Company, the successor to Wells, Fargo & Co.[4] He was then promoted to General Superintendent of the Northwest Division for the company. He left for New York City, New York in 1867 to assume the position of General Manager of the American Express Company. He became the third president of American Express after William's death in 1881, with former U.S. Representative Theodore M. Pomeroy remaining vice-president.[5] James was also a co-founder, along with William Fargo, of American Express. He was succeeded as president in 1914 by George Chadbourne Taylor.[4]

Traveler's Cheque[edit]

Sometime between 1888 and 1890, J. C. Fargo took a trip to Europe and returned frustrated and infuriated. Despite the fact that he was president of American Express and that he carried with him traditional letters of credit, he found it difficult to obtain cash anywhere, except in major cities. Fargo went to Marcellus Flemming Berry and asked him to create a better solution than the traditional letter of credit. Berry, who had invented the express money order in 1882, created the American Express Traveler's Cheque, which was launched in 1891 in denominations of $10, $20, $50, and $100.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Fargo married Fannie Parsons Stuart (1833–1896)[7] on December 15, 1863. Together, they had:

  • William Congdell Fargo[4] (1856–1941)[8][7] who married Mary Stockwell Preston (1857–1912)
  • James Francis Fargo (1857–1937),[4] who married Jane Lindley King.[9][10]
  • Annie Stuart Fargo (1858–1884),[7] who married William Duncan Preston (1859–1920)[11]

Both of his children worked at the American, National, and Westcott Express Companies. His son William was the Secretary and his son James was the Treasurer.[4]

He died on February 8, 1915 at his residence in New York City,[1] 56 Park Avenue.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Silent Tribune to J. C. Fargo". The New York Times. February 10, 1915. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Grossman, Peter Z. American Express: The People Who Built the Great Financial Empire. Beard Books. ISBN 9781587982835. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Wysocki, Jacek A. "Fargo Estate: Then & Now". wnyheritagepress.org. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "JAS. C. FARGO DIES; EXPRESS PIONEER: Ex-President of American, National and, Westcott Companies Expires at 86.: RETIRED ONLY LAST JUNE: Began His Career as Expressman at Age of 15, and Was With American Co. for 70 Years". The New York Times. February 9, 1915. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  5. ^ "A SUCCESSOR TO W.G. FARGO.". The New York Times. August 19, 1881. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  6. ^ Host With The Most, Time Magazine, 9 April 1956 issue
  7. ^ a b c "James Congdell "JC" Fargo". www.findagrave.com. Find A Grave Memorial. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "Fargo". The New York Times. February 4, 1941. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  9. ^ "JAMES F. FARGO, 80, FINANCIER, IS DEAD Son of a Founder of Express Organizations Introduced the Modern Express Checks". The New York Times. June 20, 1937. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Miller, Tom (14 June 2014). "Daytonian in Manhattan: The 1892 James F. Fargo House -- No. 120 East 37th Street". Daytonian in Manhattan. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  11. ^ "Annie Stuart Fargo Preston". www.findagrave.com. Find A Grave Memorial. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  • Grossman, Peter Z., American Express: The Unofficial History of the People Who Built the Great Financial Empire, New York: Crown, 1987.
Business positions
Preceded by
William Fargo
CEO of American Express
Succeeded by
George Chadbourne Taylor