Felix Tracy, Jr. House

This 1879-built home in Sacramento, Calif., belonged to Felix Tracy, Jr. (1829-1902), who made a career in the messenger business. At one time, he was known as the oldest expressman in California.

Born in New York, Tracy came to San Francisco in 1849 and worked as a merchant, then briefly become a miner.

Snickers on a stick

In 1850, Tracy began working as a messenger for Sam W. Longdon’s Express, providing him with both employment and adventure. Tracy sometimes used snowshoes to get to his destinations, and often traveled and worked with Native Americans on his journeys. Two years later, he changed companies, picking up a new messenger route between Shasta and Marysville — and at least one time, he trekked as far as Portland, Ore.

Tracy also made a trip between San Francisco and NYC, after which he began working in the office as a clerk. The company sent him to Salt Lake City, charging him with establishing the line between Los Angeles and St. Louis. Unfortunately, the company failed in 1855, leaving Tracy jobless and broke.

But Tracy landed on his feet, scoring a job as the Clerk of Quartermaster’s Department, serving under General Steptoe. He made his way back to California, ultimately scoring employment with Wells & Fargo, where he worked for 21 years. Eventually in 1868, he took over the Sacramento office, which was the distributing point of mining counties, and therefore, the most important office in the state.

“In those days, Wells, Fargo & Co. carried all the gold dust from the mines and returned the gold coin from the Mint to the miner. In this way they caught a percentage going and coming, and the Company grew to be a wealthy corporation,” his obituary said.

Tracy also served as School Director and President of the School Board, was a prominent leader in the Presbyterian Church and was a state delegate.

His obituary called him “a constant friend of all educational movements and one of the fathers of the University of California.”

Felix Tracy from the Wells Fargo archives.

His wife, Martha Garter Tracy, was the author of several short stories and a highly regarded leader in the Presbyterian Church.

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