John Warren Butterfield
John Warren Butterfield (1801–1869) was an operator of stagecoach and freight lines in the mid-19th century in the American Northeast and Southwest. He founded companies that became American Express and Wells Fargo. Butterfield also founded the Butterfield Overland Express and from 1858 to 1861 operated a stage route running from St. Louis to San Francisco, establishing an important connection between the new state of California and the government and economy of the contiguous eastern states.
He was born in Berne, New York, in 1801 to Daniel and Catheline Butterfield. By the age of 19 he was a professional stage coach driver working out of Albany, New York, conveying passengers and freight to Utica. In 1822 he married Malinda Harriet Baker of Berne. He later established stage routes throughout New York State, and other means of transportation including packet and steamboats on Lake Ontario, the street railroad in Utica, and local plank-roads. He organized the Black River railroad. In 1850 his firm of Butterfield, Wasson & Co. merged with Livingston, Fargo & Co. and Wells & Co. as the American Express Co. under his direction.
Butterfield also had interests in various railroad developments, telegraph facilities, and banks. He was very fond of the city of Utica, situated along the Mohawk River in New York, where he built an elaborate home and commercial buildings, and also a business. He was elected mayor of Utica in 1865.
Butterfield's involvement with the stage coach transport business brought him directly to his participation in the express business. He was one of the first to see the commercial potential in the various services made possible with the use of stage coaches as vehicles of mail and freight transport. Butterfield's success was made easier because he came to the industry early on when the American nation was still developing and rapidly growing and with little competition to deal with.
In 1857 he organized the long Butterfield Overland Mail route and, until 1861, contracted with the U.S. government to carry mail and passengers between St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California. In 1860, due to debts, Butterfield was forced out and Wells Fargo took over the route. He retired to his home in Utica where, after serving briefly as mayor, he died in 1869.
- Butterfield Overland Mail
- Daniel Butterfield - his son, the Civil War General, credited with composing Taps