Villard, Henry, 1835-1900

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1835-04-11
Death 1900-11-12
Gender:
Male
Americans
English, German

Biographical notes:

Henry Villard was a journalist, railway promoter, and financier. Born in Bavaria, he came to the United States in 1853. He worked as a journalist for a variety of newspapers and was a Civil War correspondent for the New York Herald and New York Tribune . In 1873 Villard became a representative for a group of German bondholders of the Oregon and California Railroad, and his career as a railroad promoter in the Northwest was launched. He was president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, 1881-1884. Villard also served as representative of the Deutsche Bank in New York City.

From the guide to the Henry Villard additional papers, ca. 1884-1900., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Henry Villard was a journalist, railway promoter, and financier. Born in Bavaria, he came to the United States in 1853. He worked as a journalist for a variety of newspapers and was a Civil War correspondent for the New York Herald and New York Tribune. In 1873 Villard became a representative for a group of German bondholders of the Oregon and California Railroad, and his career as a railroad promoter in the Northwest was launched. He was president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, 1881-1884. Villard also served as representative of the Deutsche Bank in New York City.

From the description of Henry Villard additional papers, ca. 1884-1900. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612836967

Villard was a German-born American journalist, railway promoter, financier. Hilgard was a UC Berkeley professor of agriculture, geology and natural history.

From the description of Additional papers, 1876-1905. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 80340013

From the guide to the Henry Villard additional papers, 1876-1905., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Journalist, railway promoter, financier. Born in Bavaria in 1835, Villard came to the United States in 1853. He worked as a journalist for a variety of newspapers and was a Civil War correspondent for the New York Herald and New York Tribune. In 1873 he became a representative for a group of German bondholders of the Oregon and California Railroad, and his career as a railroad promoter in the Northwest was launched. He was president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, 1881-1884. He also helped finance Thomas A. Edison's ventures in electricity and served as representative of the Deutsche Bank in New York. See sketch in Dictionary of American Biography.

From the description of Henry Villard business papers, 1862-1900 (inclusive). (Harvard Business School). WorldCat record id: 122575843

Henry Villard, born in Rhenish, Bavaria, first emigrated to the United States at the age of 18. Ill health forced his return to Germany, but he soon returned to America to supervise the investment of a German group in the Oregon & California Railroad Company. He arrived in Oregon in 1874 and soon organized a monopoly of Oregon's steamboat industry. Villard later was elected president of the Northern Pacific Railroad and oversaw the completion of that line, giving Portland its first transcontinental railroad connection.

From the description of Papers, 1881-1884. (Oregon Historical Society Research Library). WorldCat record id: 37117345

Oregon businessman active in financing of railroad enterprises and bringing new settlers into Oregon. Made a substantial monetary contribution to the University of Oregon.

From the description of Letter, 1881 Oct. 25. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 22523064

Henry Villard was a journalist, railway promoter, and financier. Born in Bavaria, he came to the United States in 1853. He worked as journalist for a variety of newspapers and was a Civil War correspondent for the New York Herald and New York Tribune. In 1873 Villard became a representative for a group of German bondholders of the Oregon and California Railroad, and his career as a railroad promoter in the Northwest was launched. He was president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, 1881-1884. Villard also served as representative of the Deutsche Bank in New York City.

From the description of Henry Villard papers, 1604-1948 (inclusive), 1863-1900 (bulk). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612367571

From the guide to the Henry Villard papers, 1604-1948 (inclusive), 1863-1900 (bulk)., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

German-born financier Henry Villard (1835-1900) was an important figure in American and international business during the second half of the nineteenth century. Villard played key roled in the financing of the transcontinental railroad in the United States, in promoting the Pacific Northwest, and in the development of the electrical industry in the United States and Germany.

Henry Villard was born Ferdinand Heinrich Gustav Hilgard on April 10, 1835 in Speyer, Germany. The Hilgards were a prominent Bavarian family; Heinrich's father was a jurist who served on the supreme court of Bavaria. Heinrich attended university in Germany before an estrangement with his father led him to emigrate to the United States in 1853. He took the surname of a French schoolmate to avoid his father, who he feared would force him to return to Bavaria to join the army.

After holding various odd jobs and mastering English, Villard found work as a journalist. He first wrote for German-American newspapers in Chicago and New York. In 1860, he became a correspondent for the New York Herald and covered the Civil War. During visiting Boston in 1863, Villard became acquainted with the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and his family. Three years later, he married Garrison's daughter, Helen Frances Garrison (known as Fanny.) Henry Villard and Fanny Garrison Villard had four children: Helen, Henry, Oswald, and Heinrich.

In the 1860s, Villard became involved in finance as a liaison between German investors and American railroad companies. With support from his German backers, Villard financed many railroad companies, including the Kansas Pacific Railway Company, the Wisconsin Central Railroad Company, Oregon and California Railroad, Oregon Railway and Navigation Company, Northern Pacific Railroad Company, and the Oregon and Transcontinental Company . He also advocated developing the Pacific Northwest and encouraged immigration to Oregon and California.

After meeting Thomas A. Edison in 1879, Villard became interested in electricity . He saw the commercial potential for electricity, and he actively promoted Edison's patents all over the United States and Europe. He also pushed for an alliance between Edison and the German inventor, Werner von Siemens . In 1889, Villard formed the syndicate Edison General Electric with J. P. Morgan and G. Lowrey. Villard was thoroughly engaged in electric street railway systems and brought trolley systems to cities in 1891, beginning with Richmond, Virginia. In 1892, Villard had his own holding company for railroad and electrical securities: North American Company. Villard died on November 12, 1900 at the age of sixty-five.

From the guide to the Henry Villard business papers, 1862-1928 (inclusive), 1870-1900 (bulk), (Baker Library, Harvard Business School)

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Subjects:

  • Electric lighting
  • Railroads--Oregon
  • Steamboat lines
  • Transportation--History
  • Liquid fuels
  • Investments
  • Banks and banking--Germany
  • German Americans--Autobiographies
  • Railroads
  • Railroads--United States
  • Steamboat lines--Oregon
  • Banks and banking
  • Electric utilities
  • Investment banking
  • Geological surveys
  • Coal
  • Investment banking--Germany

Occupations:

  • Journalists
  • Capitalists and financiers

Places:

  • Oregon (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Oregon (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Northwest, Pacific (as recorded)
  • Chicago (Ill.) (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Oregon (as recorded)
  • Saint Paul (Minn.) (as recorded)
  • Saint Paul (Minn.) (as recorded)
  • Northwest, Pacific (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)