Wells, Fargo & Company Records: Finding Aid mssWF

Huntington Library staff, Brooke Dykman Dockter and Diann Benti
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Business Number: (626) 405-2191


Finding aid last updated on January 11, 2023, by Kelly Kress.

Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
Title: Wells, Fargo & Company records
Creator: Wells, Fargo & Company
Identifier/Call Number: mssWF
Physical Description: 42 Linear Feet (35 boxes, 11 volumes)
Date (inclusive): 1839-1911
Date (bulk): 1883-1906
Abstract: This collection consists mainly of letters to and from Wells, Fargo & Company official Hosmer B. (Buckingham) Parsons (1846-1908), who joined the company in 1867 and later became president of its bank in New York. The papers deal with company business and company's relationships with railroad lines and competing express firms. Some of the papers relate to the personal business affairs of Hosmer B. Parsons, including his investments in Mexico.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Wells, Fargo & Company Records, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


Purchased from William P. Wreden, May 1961.

Historical Note

Wells, Fargo & Company was founded in New York in 1852 through the amalgamation of several companies by Henry Wells (1805-1878) and William George Fargo (1818-1881). It was expanded in the wake of the Gold Rush to handle the growing express business in the West. Henry Wells is not represented in the collection, nor is William G. Fargo, but there are a few letters from or about his brothers James Congdell Fargo and Charles Fargo who were active in Wells, Fargo & Company and the American Express Company. In 1872, Lloyd Tevis (1824-1899) became president of Wells, Fargo & Company followed in 1892 by John Joseph Valentine (1840-1901).

Scope and Content

The collection consists mainly of letters to and from Hosmer B. (Buckingham) Parsons (1846-1908), who joined Wells, Fargo & Company in 1867 and successively held the positions of cashier, assistant secretary, vice-president, and president of the company bank in New York. The papers deal chiefly with the express business: relationships with competing express companies such as American Express, Pacific Express, Northern Pacific Express, Texas Express, etc.; with railroad companies including Northern Pacific Railroad Company, Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company, Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs Railroad Company, and others; as well as matters of shipments, rates, and routes. There are also papers that relate to the personal business affairs of Hosmer B. Parsons.
Includes original letters, press copies and press copy letter books, and duplicated copies of letters.
Persons represented by 50 letters or more:
  1. Hancock, W. J. (325 pieces)
  2. Parsons, Hosmer B. (52 pieces + 11 letter books)
  3. Tevis, Lloyd (127 pieces)
  4. Valentine, John Joseph (1,071 pieces)
Some notable items include: one to three letters each from Marcus Daly, James Ben Ali Haggin, George Hearst (plus 9 stock orders), Phoebe Apperson Hearst (plus scattered letters addressed to her in the letter books beginning in 1891), James Heron, and Collis Potter Huntington.

Processing Information

Processed by Huntington Library staff in May 1985. In 2000 Brooke Dykman Dockter and Diann Benti revised and encoded the finding aid.


Arranged in four series: 1. General correspondence (Boxes 1-33); 2. Investments in Mexico (Box 34); 3. Business papers of Hosmer B. Parsons, photographs, ephemera, printed items (Box 35); 4. 11 letter books.

Related Materials

Parsons family papers, mssParsons.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Banks and banking -- United States
Coaching (Transportation) -- West (U.S.) -- History -- Sources
Express service -- West (U.S.) -- History -- Sources
Investments, American -- Mexico
Postal service -- United States
Railroads -- United States
West (U.S.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
Business records -- West (U.S.)
Letter books -- West (U.S.)
Letters (correspondence) -- West (U.S.)
Parsons, Hosmer B. (Hosmer Buckingham), 1846-1908
Daly, Marcus, 1841-1900
Haggin, James Ben Ali, 1822-1914
Hancock, W. J.
Hearst, George, 1820-1891
Hearst, Phoebe Apperson, 1842-1919
Heron, James, active 1875-1886
Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900
Parsons, Hosmer B. (Hosmer Buckingham), 1846-1908
Tevis, Lloyd.
Valentine, John J. (John Joseph), 1840-1901


General Correspondence

Box 1


Box 2

Campbell-Cooper, E. M. (to Parsons, 1884 April 22-1886 June 28)

Box 3

Cooper, E. M. (to Parsons, 1886 July 7-1888)

Box 4

Cooper, E. M. (to Tracy) - Evans

Box 5

F-Hancock, W. J. (to Parsons, 1883-1885 February 26)

Box 6

Hancock, W. J. (to Parsons, 1885 March-September 21)

Box 7

Hancock, W. J. (to Parsons, 1885 September 24-1886 October)

Box 8

Hancock, W. J. (to Parsons, 1886 November 2-1887 July)

Box 9

Hancock, W. J. (to Parsons, 1887 August-1888 January, and R-T)

Box 10

Hancock, W. J (to V-Z)-Heron, James

Box 11


Box 12

Milford-Parsons, Hosmer B. (to B-Ha)

Box 13

Parsons, Hosmer B. (to Hi-Y)-R

Box 14

S-Tevis, Lloyd (to Parsons, 1874-1884)

Box 15

Tevis, Lloyd (to Parsons, 1885-1886)

Box 16

Tevis, Lloyd (to Parsons, 1887-1889)-Titus

Box 17

Tracy-Valentine, J. J. (to Banks-Langtry)

Box 18

Valetine, J. J. (to M-Parsons, 1869-1883 May 20)

Box 19

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1883 May 21-November 14)

Box 20

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1883 November 15-1884 January 31)

Box 21

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1884 February-May)

Box 22

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1884 June-October)

Box 23

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1884 November-December 26)

Box 24

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1884 December 27-1885 January 31)

Box 25

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1885 February 2-March 14)

Box 26

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1885 March 15-April 25)

Box 27

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1885 May 3-July 9)

Box 28

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1885 July 10-August 31)

Box 29

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1885 September 1-1886 October 28)

Box 30

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1886 November -1887 June 13)

Box 31

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1887 July 16-December 19)

Box 32

Valentine, J. J. (to Parsons, 1887 December 20-1898 July 11, and P-Z)

Box 33


Box 34

Investments in Mexico

Scope and Contents

Chiefly correspondence about investments that appear to have been personal investments on the part of Hosmer B. Parsons and others.
Box 35

Business papers of Hosmer B. Parsons; Photographs (copies only); Ephemera; Printed Items


There are also personal business papers of Parsons scattered throughout the collection and in the letter books.

Letter books

Scope and Contents

Eleven letter books containing press copies of letters written by Hosmer B. Parsons. The volumes contain letters addressed to Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Lloyd Tevis, and others.
Volume 1

Letter book. 1879, Dec. 11-1882, May 18

Volume 2

Letter book. 1890, June 10-1891, May 20

Volume 3

Letter book. 1892, Jan. 28-Dec. 30

Volume 4

Letter book. 1893, Jan. 7-Nov. 29

Volume 5

Letter book. 1893, Dec. 1-1895, Apr. 20

Volume 6

Letter book. 1895, Apr. 22-1896, Jan. 9

Volume 7

Letter book. 1896, Jan. 11-Nov. 23

Volume 8

Letter book. 1896, Nov. 27-1898, Dec. 23

Volume 9

Letter book. 1898, Dec. 24-1900, Feb. 19

Volume 10

Letter book. 1900, Feb. 20-1901, Dec. 3

Volume 11

Letter book. 1901, Dec. 10-1903, May 22