State Officials
Biographies

Horace Henry Baxter

Horace Henry Baxter, in whose memory this Library was founded, was born in Saxtons River, Vermont, January 18, 1818. He was the eldest son of Horace Baxter, Esq., who was for many years a practicing lawyer in Rockingham, Judge of Probate, and a very popular and eminent citizen of Windham County. Judge Baxter was a very handsome man, and from him his son inherited the manly beauty of face and figure, affable disposition, and attractive manners, for which he was distinguished during all his active life. General Baxter commenced his business career as a clerk in the establishment of Blake & Appleton, in Boston. But after a few years he returned to Vermont, and was awarded the contract for grading the depot grounds at Bellows Falls and the construction of some miles of railway. Shortly after this he took the contract for building a portion of the Bennington and Rutland Railway. This kind of work was congenial to his tastes, and his natural spirit and energy were shown by the rapid completion of the work. His next large venture was the building of the Cleveland, Norwalk, and Toledo Railway; in all these enterprises he was eminently fortunate and successful. Returning from Ohio in 1854, he located in Rutland, Vt.

Previous to the breaking out of the Civil War, General Baxter was appointed a delegate from Vermont to the famous Peace Convention that met in Washington, and soon after was appointed adjutant-general of the State. In this capacity he mustered in the first troops, which were sent from Vermont. His pay was seventy-five dollars per annum, and there is no doubt that he spent from his private fortune, in arming and equipping troops and paying bounties, more thousands than he received dollars in any one year for his services to the State. He was emphatically one of the men who did not profit by the war.

About this time General Baxter, with associates, purchased the marble property at West Rutland, of which he subsequently became the sole owner. In 1863 he made a sale of the property to New York parties, and so engaged in business in that city, always, however, spending his summers in Rutland, and taking an active interest in all that tended to promote its (missing). He was the founder and principal owner of the Baxter National Bank of Rutland, and was its president at the time of his death. During these (missing) his business career in New York was an active one; in connection with (missing) Keep, he became a large operator in Wall Street, and was associated with (missing) gentleman in many large business transactions, notably in gaining control of the New York Central Railroad, of which Mr. Keep was made president. Mr. Keep shortly afterward resigned the presidency of the road, and General Baxter succeeded him, and remained at the head of affairs until the property passed into the hands of Commodore Vanderbilt. He was the only one of the one managers retained for any length of time by the Commodore; and it was because of his persistent advice to provide ample terminal facilities for handling the business of the road, that the Grand Central Depot was erected, and grain elevators built on the North River to accommodate that department of traffic. Meantime, General Baxter was engaged in other important business enterprises, he was director in the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company, the Pacific Maritime Steamship Company, the Hannibal and Saint Joseph Railway Company, and the Continental Bank of New York City. He was an early and large investor in the stock and bonds of the Pullman Palace Car Company, and supported Mr. Pullman's enterprise when few were willing to embark in it.

In the winter of 1877, while descending the steps of his New York residence, General Baxter fell and sustained an injury to his back, the effects of which made him an invalid for the remainder of his life. Some idea of his indomitable energy and business capacity may be gained from the fact that, while confined to the house, and, in a great measure, to a bed of illness, he invested largely in the Construction Company, which built the Elevated Railroad of New York, and realized more than 200 per cent on his investment. Numerous other instances of his boldness and good judgment might be cited, but these are sufficient to illustrate his business capacity. From what has been said of him, a general idea may be formed of his personal characteristics. He was open, affable, and charitable. He was a stranger to deceit and subterfuge. He greeted the laborer, mechanic, and the tradesman in the streets of Rutland with as much cordiality as he did the clergyman, the judge, or the banker -- "withhold not thy hand" was to him the Law and the Gospel. He gave freely whenever assistance was needed; although not a communicant, he was a liberal contributor toward the building and subsequent support of the Episcopal Church in Rutland. His bounty, however, was not hedge in by race or creed, but was shared alike by Catholic and Protestant. The soldier languishing in a Southern prison, or the laborer prostrated by disease, always commanded his sympathy and his purse:--"Sick and in prison and ye visited me." How much beyond human possibility is the promised reward!

In social life he was an attractive and welcome figure; and, while his health remained, he was particularly fond of every proper and healthy kind of sport and amusement. He sang a good song, told a good story, enjoyed a good play, and was a sunshiny and cheery companion. He bore his illness, which continued for upwards of seven years, with unflinching fortitude, and with a faith and courage which would have removed mountains. At times it seemed as though he would triumph for a while over the last enemy, and regain his health. But exhausted nature finally abandoned the unequal contest; and on February 17, 1884, he passed peacefully away, having full possession of himself, and arranging all matters relating to his estate so that a stranger could have settled it in a day. At the desk, in Boston, nearly half a century before, he had learned to keep a clear and explicit record of all business transactions; and the habits there formed were never abandoned.

General Baxter left a widow, Mary E. Baxter, and a son, Hugh H. Baxter, who have founded this Library in the town of his adoption, as a perpetual memorial of a man who was a loving husband, a kind parent, and a true and loyal gentleman.

Source: A Catalogue of the Books in the H. H. Baxter Memorial Library of Rutland, Vt., MDCCCXCII, pp. iii-v.

Obituary

Bennington Banner
Feb. 22, 1884

Gen. H. Henry Baxter

DEATH OF A WELL KNOWN VERMONT MILLIONAIRE

The death of Gen. H. Henry Baxter of Rutland, at his New York residence Sunday evening, ends the career of one who began life with no other capital than brains and energy, and leaves behind him a fortune amounting, it is said, to something like $10,000,000. Gen. Baxter was born in Saxtons River in 1818. His father was a Windsor county lawyer and judge of probate, and gave his son a practical education. The young Vermonter had a quick mind, fine presence and strong physique and began business life as a clerk in a dry goods store in Boston, but soon returned to his native state and opened a country store at Bellows Falls.

He began his connection with railroads as one of the contractors in building the Rutland and Burlington road between Bellows Falls and Rutland. He was so successful in this that he was awarded other contracts and built much of the road between Rutland and Bellows Falls.

This gave him his start in business, and, after Building 18 miles of the old Western Vermont (now the Bennington & Rutland railroad), he took the contract for grading and laying rails over the entire line of the Ohio road. In all these enterprises he made money rapidly, and, returning to Vermont in 1854, bought the Barnes marble property at West Rutland. At first he had partners in this business, but finally became the sole owner, and incorporated the Rutland Marble Company. In 1853 he sold out and became an active speculator in Wall street. His shrewdness and foresight won him a fine standing in financial circles, and, coining money rapidly, he soon became widely known among financiers everywhere. Gen. Baxter joined the late Trenor Park of Bennington in many of his enterprises, including the notorious Burma mine business, and made money in all of them. He founded the Baxter National Bank at Rutland, was at one time president of the New York Central railroad, and was prominent in the management of several other banks and railroads in various parts of the country.

Gov. Holbrook gave him his title of "general" by appointing him adjutant general at the outbreak of the war, and he mustered in the first Vermont regiments after the attack on Sumter. This was the only state office which he ever held.

He lived in Rutland till 1861, and since then has made New York city his home, passing his summers in Rutland with whose business interests he was actively identified. His country house "Grove Hall is perhaps the most costly and beautiful residence in Vermont, and just outside the limits of the village lies "Maple Grove" stock farm, upon which the general had spent great sums of money, creating magnificent farm buildings and filling his barns and stables with cattle and horses of the finest blood.

He leaves a widow and one son, Hugh Henry Baxter, a young man of 23. He was a man of refinement and culture, loyal to his friends, generous, and kind to the poor. The funeral occurred Wednesday at Rutland and the remains were interred in Evergreen cemetery there. Business was generally suspended in the town.

Contributed by Tom Boudreau

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