Wells Fargo has a long history of women as team members, and of helping women succeed financially. Henry Wells established Wells College for women in upstate New York in 1869, declaring, “Give her the opportunity!” Wells Fargo and Company did just that. Hundreds of women worked at Wells Fargo’s headquarters as auditors, clerks, advertising copywriters, stenographers and telephone operators. Today, about two-thirds of Wells Fargo Bank’s team members are women; including regional, area and market Presidents, and top-ranking senior executives.
From 1884 to 1908, Cassie Hill was Wells Fargo agent in Roseville, California. She also represented Western Union Telegraph and the Southern Pacific Railroad in this important transportation crossroads. Cassie Hill handled everything from El Dorado County pears to prize European race horses. She invested in the town’s grain elevator and in downtown real estate, and, very late in her life, enjoyed driving one of Roseville’s first automobiles.
Marie F. Putnam was the only woman among 300 employees of Abbot-Downing Co., stagecoach builders. From 1865–95, Putnam stitched leather seats and trim for every stagecoach that rolled out of the Concord, New Hampshire factory, including those bought by Wells Fargo & Company.
Photograph courtesy of the New Hampshire Historical Society
At the age of 14, Delia Haskett Rawson was the first—and perhaps youngest—girl stage driver ever to carry the U.S. mail in California. Her last regular run was in 1885, nine years after her first. She was the only woman to ever belong to the Pioneer Stage Drivers of California and served as its vice president.
Tilla Patterson was Wells Fargo agent at Winchester, California, from 1892 to 1910. Stationed at the Santa Fe Railroad depot, Miss Patterson also served as the railroad agent and Western Union telegraph operator. Agent Patterson used her business connections to help build the collection of the county library.
Florence Scott earned her medical degree from the University of California in 1896. In 1922 she was asked to provide medical exams and emergency care for the Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank in downtown San Francisco, beginning the Bank's company-paid health care program.
Eleanor P. Gibbons studied engraving at the Cooper Union in New York, and then set up her own design and engraving firm in San Francisco. Eleanor P. Gibbons & Co. produced envelopes for Wells, Fargo & Co.’s Letter Express, including highly-detailed designs commemorating the 1892–93 Columbian Exposition, and for service to Hawaii.
Julia Louise Jones was agent at Mariposa, California, near Yosemite, from 1892 to 1902. She succeeded her sister, Lucy Jones Miller, as Agent—the two sisters ran the Wells Fargo office for over 25 years, and handled just about everything in the course of business; apples and oranges, gold, photographs, and government books, and even a bass drum. Jones served three terms as Mariposa County’s Superintendent of Schools.
When Uncle Sam called Wells Fargo men into the military during World War I, women patriotically filled in on the home front. Mrs. Evangeline Sawyer did so at Wells Fargo & Co.’s Winona, Minnesota office, and earned special praise from the regional superintendent.
A preacher’s daughter whose family settled in southern Minnesota, Lillie Predmore served as Wells Fargo’s express agent in the town that bore her family name. Her younger sister, Mrs. Freda Kester, succeeded her in 1914.
In the mid-1970s, Audrey Strand became Wells Fargo’s first woman “special agent”, a designation bestowed only on the likes of James B. Hume, who brought Black Bart to justice. Strand’s responsibility was to report “embezzlement, irregularities and mysterious disappearances” to the FBI, Controller of Currency and the U.S. Attorney.
In 1960, Wells Fargo expanded from two offices in downtown San Francisco to a network of retail branches throughout Northern California. New computer technologies were introduced to handle the booming business. Janet Wright effectively managed engineers and technicians, and became the first woman Assistant Vice President at Wells Fargo in 1964.
Virginia Fellingham, a rancher in Livermore, California, drove stagecoaches for more than thirty years. She and her family have appeared in hundreds of parades and civic events since 1958.