Born: Dec. 12, 1805
Died: Dec. 10, 1878
Known for: Henry Wells, along with partners including William Fargo, was the president of Wells Fargo & Co., which opened in Sacramento during the Gold Rush to compete with another express company. Today, Wells Fargo is a financial services company with 158,000 employees.
Background: A Vermont native who grew up in New York state, Wells established express service between New York City and Buffalo carrying mail at less than the government rate. In 1844, he and Fargo formed Wells Fargo & Co. to handle express service to the West. Sacramento was the main gold dust center when Wells Fargo Bank was founded on March 18, 1852. They set up shop on Second Street before moving to the Hastings Bank Building, which still stands in Old Sacramento. The panic of 1855 closed many banks, but Wells Fargo survived with a $103,000 surplus. In 1857, $43 million was taken out of California mines, most of it carried by Wells Fargo.
A highlight: Two of Wells Fargo Bank's five museums are in Sacramento: at the main bank on Capitol Mall and in the Hastings building.
In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.