Wells Fargo & George Hackett

Most of the information and photographs contained on this page are due to the incredible generosity of the Wells Fargo Historian, Mr. John Keibel.  To help repay him for his kindness, I would like to ask your assistance in identifying one of the photographs below. 

Wells Fargo Messenger, p.110, Feb. 1915 -

When Miners Wrote Home - This unique illustration is taken from letter paper used in the "old days" by the miners and others in the town of La Porte, Cal., in writing home to their relatives in the East.  It was a small town indeed which could not issue its own letter paper at that time.

Beneath this illustration a brief description and history of the town were given for the benefit of all who read the letter, telling in an enthusiastic way of the growth, the industries, the advantages and progress of the town.  The letter paper was issued by Dr. E. L. Willard, who established his drug store business on the main street in 1858.

To Wells Fargo men this picture should be of particular interest.  Close examination will reveal a crude representation of a six-horse Wells Fargo stage-coach, operated between La Porte and Marysville during those early days.  It was on this route that George Hackett, one of the famous Wells Fargo "shotgun messengers," had so many exciting experiences, emerging through them all in a way that proved his courage and trustworthiness.  It is a matter of history that when he died the company placed a monument above his grave.

Can you help us identify the location of this Wells Fargo office and/or the date the photo was taken?  From the notes sent to me by Mr. Keibel, here is what he already has ascertained:  The style of WF&Co "diamond sign" indicates this image was taken after 1898. **  1891-The WF&Co agency was on Second Street.  Street number unknown. ** 1898 and 1899-The WF&Co agent was H. D. King.  Agency location unknown. ** 1903-W.E. Carpenter is the agent.  Agency location unknown. ** 1904 to 1907-H. L. Brown was the agent.  Agency location unknown. ** 1908-The WF&Co agent was David J. Farrell.  Daniel C. Santry was a porter. Archie E. Galing was a clerk.  And Ernest L. Gibson was a driver.  Agency location unknown. ** 1909-David J. Farrell remained the agent. ** 1910-Undertaker R. E. Bevan oversaw the funeral arrangements for John Wesley Bluett, a veteran of the Spanish-American War. ** 1910 to at least 1912-E. J. Crofton was the WF&Co agent at Marysville.  The agency was at 418 Second Street in 1912. ** 1914 and 1915-C. C. Redman was the agent at 418 Second Street. ** 1916-R. G. Rammers was the WF&Co agent at 418 Second Street.

Update:  December 2003:  Thanks to Heather Moldenhaur at the California Room of the County Library and her in-depth research, the date which fits the photograph above is 1898.   

Also received from Mr. Keibel, Wells Fargo Historian:


On July 27, 1852, two weeks after Wells Fargo opened for business in San Francisco, an advertisement announced:  "Branch of Wells, Fargo & Co's Express established at Marysville at the Marysville Gold Dust Office."  George H. Beach was agent, and he offered a full range of banking services as well.  In February 1855, during a great financial panic that crushed the two largest banks in California, a paper reported, "the Marysville branch of Wells, Fargo & Co. is prosperous and in easy circumstances."  Wells Fargo came through.

Marysville was a major mining town supply center, and stagecoaches carrying Wells, Fargo & Co's Express left daily for Nevada City and Downieville to the east, and Shasta, Yreka, and Portland, Oregon, to the north.  Wells Fargo delivered almost everything anywhere.  Financial services were a specialty, and included sending coins, money orders, and travelers checks.

Handing the inconvenient was routine for Wells Fargo.  One morning in December 1854, Wells Fargo messenger William A. Hedge arrived on the banks of the cold Yuba River at 5:15 A.M., and was unable to rouse the ferryman.  Undaunted, Hedge swam the Yuba and brought in newspapers and commercial intelligence.  No wonder a visiting easterner remarked in 1865 that Wells Fargo was the "omnipresent, universal business agent" of the West.

Wells  Fargo's modern presence goes back to July 20, 1946, the birthday of the Northern Counties Bank.  On December 1, 1960, it merged with  Wells Fargo Bank, and became the Marysville Office.

In my request to Mr.  Keibel for any information he may have regarding early Yuba County in relation to Wells, Fargo & Co. , he has provided all that is contained on this page (except the tombstone photo), to also include the following:

Wells Fargo's presence in Columbus House/ Strawberry Valley:  The locale was known as Columbus House from 1866-1880 and as Strawberry Valley from 1882-1899.  The Wells Fargo & Co. Express agents were:

A letter written in November 1892 by George Hackett regarding some incidences that occurred while he was driving for Wells Fargo:

Capt. Otey Bradford,

        San Francisco, Cal.

Dear Sir: -

                    Noting enclosed, I was borne in Richland county, Ohio, in 1838, came to California in 1855 and began work for Wells, Fargo & Co. as Shotgun Messenger on the 14th day of December 1875, on the stage road between Marysville and La Porte, and have been in their employe as such ever since.  On the 20th of June, 1876, the stage between Oroville and Forbstown was robbed by two masked men.  They secured from Wells, Fargo & Co's box $620. in gold dust and a small amount of coins <?>.  The day following, on my return trip from Forest City when at a point about 18 miles from Marysville, I noticed two men with masks on come out of the brush into the road about 150 yards ahead of the stage.  When they saw me raise my gun they ran back into the brush again, I jumped off the stage and followed them about 200 yards through the thick brush, when I happened on to their camp, and there found their clothes, which they had removed, intending to rob the stage in their under clothes.  I also found a valise containing the gold dust which had been taken from the Oroville stage the day before, and also found $256. in coin in their pants pockets.  I then went back to the  stage and rode about 1/2 mile until the stage got past the brush.  Then I went back to track the robbers and found one of them named Harry Norton, alias "Liverpool" in the brush looking  for his clothes, which I had taken and sent to Marysville by stage.  I called on him to throw up his hands, which he did, dropping his gun and mask on the ground.  I then marched him to the Stanfield House, about 1/4 mile away.  I left him in charge of a man at the house, and went back to look for the other robber, but was unable to find him.  On the same evening, J.B. Hume came to the Stanfield House looking for these same men.  He and I then started for Marysville, taking the prisoner with us.  He was afterwards sent to the State Prison for a term of 15 years.  Nothing of note happened after this until the 13th of July, 1882,  On that day the stage between La Porte and Marysville was stopped by a masked man at a point about 15 miles from La Porte.  This man afterwards proved to be Black Bart.  He ran out in front of the team with a shot gun in his hands.  As soon as I saw him I shot, hitting him on the head.  He then pointed his gun at the driver, but before he could shoot I fired at his gun knocking it out of range.  He then turned and ran away and fell down, loosing <sp> his hat and mask.  Before I could reload he was out of reach.  This happened about 7 a.m., and on that same day about 2 p.m. when within about 14 miles of Oroville, I saw another man with a gun and mask on, he was standing behind an oak tree.  I shot at him and he returned the shot, hitting me in the face.  I jumped off and ran him in the brush, taking aim as I ran, but my gun snapped, and before I could reload he was gone.  Could never find out who this party was.  Nothing of any note happened after this.

                                                Yours truly,

                                                                        GEO. M. HACKETT

On the back of this letter is a typewritten note:  HACKETT, GEO. W.

                Black Bart's 23d robbery:  Attempt to rob stage from La Porte to Oroville, July 13, 1882, 9 miles from Strawberry.  George Helms, driver.  Geo. W. Hackett, Well, Fargo & Co's messenger, fired at robber and put him to flight.

                                                                    H.B. Hume, Special Officer REPORT...


Unfortunately, the beautiful headstone depicting George Hackett's place of rest in Marysville Cemetery is now in this condition (shown above).  Someone has attempted to place the pieces back together, but many are still missing. 

From the Marysville Appeal newspaper:

DEEDS OF DARING, Some Incidents in the Career of Geo. M. Hackett.  CLEAR RECORD FOR BRAVERY.  Several Acknowledgments of His Work From the Company Which He Served - Funeral To-day.

The funeral of the late George M. Hackett, who has been in the employ of Wells, Fargo & Co. for the past twenty years, will take place at 2 o'clock this afternoon from the undertaking parlors of R. E. Bevan.

Rev. C. H. Beechgood will officiate and the employees of the company will act as pall bearers.

Agent H. D. King, received a telegram from the company yesterday instructing him to make arrangements for the funeral and to purchase a lot in the city cemetery as the company intended to pay the expenses to show their appreciation of the services rendered by their old and trusted shot gun messenger.

The following concerning the deceased will be of interest to his Marysville friends:

Before the World's Fair was held in Chicago, John J. Valentine, President of Wells, Fargo & Co. sent circulars to all the agents of the company requesting them to send him whatever they could find to interest the people at the World's Fair.  The strong boxes that robbers had broken, the guns with which the mountain bandits had been fought, the sacks that had carried fortune after fortune from the mining camps, the tattered outfits of the pony riders and the relics that substantiate and adorn numberless tales in one romantic history were all gathered for the exhibition.  In speaking of Black Bart and his numerous raids and relics an article that date contains the following data  with regard to George M. Hackett:

This notorious robber "held up" and robbed twenty-eight stages in ten years, and yet he was shot only once - when Shotgun Messenger George M. Hackett, now of Marysville, slightly wounded him.

Hackett, too, is a character in the exhibition, and with a large photograph will be a printed sketch of his career to illustrate the adventures in this grim messenger service.  His first work as a messenger was in 1875, and the following year one of the oddest robbery incidents on record happened in his experience.  The stage between Oroville and Forbestown had been robbed by two masked men of $620 in gold dust and some coin.  Eighteen miles from Marysville on the following day, Hackett on the top of his stage, saw two masked men in their underclothes walking through the brush 150 yards ahead.  He raised his gun and they ran back, when he jumped from the stage and followed.  After a chase of 200 yards Hackett stumbled upon the robbers' camp and found their clothes, which had been taken off to prevent detection.  The $620 of dust stolen the day before was found with $256 additional.  With this booty Hackett went back to the stage and after riding half a mile he again entered the brush and succeeded in capturing one of the undressed men - "Liverpool" Harry Norton, who served a fifteen years sentence in State Prison.

It was on July 13, 1892 <should be 1882>, that Hackett's history got mixed up with that of "Black Bart."  The robber stepped out before the stage fifteen miles from La Porte, on the Marysville road, Hackett saluted him with a charge of buckshot, causing a slight wound on the head.  Bart calmly aimed at the driver, but Hackett's second shot knocked the gun out of range and the robber fled, losing his hat and mask.

Route Agent, J. L. Tucker showed an APEPAL <sic> reporter yesterday Messenger Hackett's gold watch which had been left at Engel's jewelry store for repairs and on which there was the following inscription:  "Presented to George M. Hackett, Guard for Protecting Express on La Porte Stage against two attacks of highway man.  July 13, 1882.  From Wells, Fargo & Co."

By reference to the columns of the APPEAL it was ascertained that the first stage was stopped about five miles this side of La Porte and a mile and a half beyond Diamond Springs.  The robber was a tall man  resembling the late Frank Manning of Marysville and he carried a double barreled shotgun.  He didn't say a word and didn't raise his gun but carried it in one hand hanging by his side.  As soon as Hackett could get his gun ready he fired, and again fired over the heads of the horses when the robber took to his heels and Hackett jumped off the stage and followed him some distance, but had to return and take charge of the treasure.  From the place the stage was stopped Hackett went to Forbestown and got on another stage with the treasure to  Oroville.  The stage was stood up between Forbestown and Boston Ranch by a lone highwayman who shot Hackett in the face.  The brave messenger returned fire.  When the robber started to run Hackett drew a bead deliberately the second time but his gun missed fire or he would have killed the man.  Hackett stated at the time that his gun had not missed fire in several years before. 

The man who made the last attack was of medium size and had on a linen duster the other was tall with a dirty duster. 

George, as he was familiarly called by his friends, had a State reputation.  Brave as a lion when at his post of duty, he was as meek and docile as a child in his daily intecrourse <sic> with his fellow man.  He was a good detective officer and  reporters always failed to get any information from him until his game was run to earth.  It is no wonder that the company should be anxious to pay a last mark of respect  to their faithful employe and to join in decking his grave with sweet scented flowers.

The funeral will no doubt be largely attended this afternoon.


Copyright ©2003, 2004, 2005  Kathy Sedler   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by any other organization or persons.  Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the written consent of the contributor. The contributor has given permission to the Yuba Roots website to store the file permanently for free access, but retain the rights to their work.