Captain Ebenezer H. Virgil
City of Troy

Information on this page is from "History of Rensselaer Co., New York," by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

CAPTAIN EBENEZER H. VIRGIL. Among those who first engaged in the express business in this State, and the real founder of the National Express Company, is the subject of this narrative.

Captain E. H. Virgil was born in the town of Egremont, Berkshire Co., Mass., Sept. 26, 1803. He is the eldest son of Abraham Virgil, who was a native of Connecticut, and of Scotch and French descent. His father removed from Massachusetts in 1810, and settled in Fabius, Onondaga Co., N. Y. In 1820 he removed to Richland, Oswego Co., where, with his family, he settled on a wilderness tract of land and built a log cabin. Subsequently the family lived at Uion Square, in the same county, where both parents died, his father at the age of fifty-two, and his mother at the age of thirty-two.

When twenty years old, Mr. Virgil went into the busy world for himself, without pecuniary assistance, but possessed of that resolution and willl-power to do something which so characterized him in his maturer manhood. He began as a stage-driver for John M. Sherwood, on the route from Auburn to Geneva. In 1829 he came to Albany, and was for three months a driver and for two years a clerk in the office of Thorpe & Sprague. He was engaged in the construction of the Mohawk and Schenectady Railroad in 1832, and upon its completion he became a clerk in the office of Baker & Walker, stage-men, of Albany. He remained with them until the completion of the Boston and Albany Railroad. The express business was then in its infancy, and Harden & Co. controlled the business from Albany to New York and from New York to Boston. In the winter of 1841, Samuel Jacobs made a trip to Montreal, with a view of establishing an express line by stage between Albany and that city. A second trip was made, but very little encouragement was given by business men to make the enterprise a success. On June 30, 1842, Mr. Jacobs again set out for Montreal, taking with him Capt. Virgil, whose experience in stage-routes and the shipment of goods led him to urge the necessity of the establishment of such a line with the business men of Montreal. The result was successful, and they returned, bringing four money packages to Troy. Jacobs withrdrew in the winter of 1843. Capt. Virgil then took in Mr. Howard as a partner, who, however, also became discouraged and sold out his interest to Henry F. Rice, of Albany.

The firm of Virgil & Rice used stages in winter and packets and steamboats during navigation. In 1846 they extended the line to New York, and until 1849 carried on a largely-increasing business. Mr. Rice disposed of his interest in the business in 1849 to Charles Darling, and the firm of Virgil & Co. continued its management for one year, when Mr. Pullen became a partner, and the company was known as Pullen, Virgil & Co. until 1853. In 1853 the business had so increased that a stock company was formed, called the National Express Company, with D. M. Barney as president and Capt. Virgil as general manager. The transhipment of packages being more convenient at Troy than at Albany, Capt. Virgil, in 1847, located his office in the former city, where he still retains it.

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