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Baxter, Horace Henry - Gen.

BAXTER, HORACE HENRY, was born in Saxton's River, January 18, 1818. He was the eldest son of Horace Baxter, esq., who was for many years a practicing attorney in Rockingham, judge of probate, and a very popular and eminent citizen of Windsor county. Judge Baxter was in his personal appearance a manly and striking figure, and from him his son, doubtless, inherited that manly, noble look and bearing as well as his affable disposition and engaging manner for which he was distinguished.

General Baxter began life as a clerk in the establishment of Blake & Appleton in Boston ; but after a years returned to Bellows Falls and engaged in mercantile business ; this he continued with indifferent success until about the period of the construction of the Rutland and Burlington Railroad, of which Hon. Timothy Follett was then president. Under his administration Mr. Baxter was awarded the contract for grading the depot grounds at Bellows Falls and the construction of three or four miles of railway near that place. This kind of work was congenial to his taste and ushered him into a series of large railroad enterprises in which he met with the most unqualified success. So efficiently did he perform the work of the small contracts at Bellows Falls, that he was entrusted by the president of the road with the completion of several other contracts on the same line, which had been abandoned by others. This was followed by the award to him of a contract for the grading and masonry on about twenty miles of the Western Vermont Railroad. The remarkable efficiency displayed by him in doing this work gave him prominence as a railroad contractor. Leaving his native State, he went into Northern Ohio and built the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad —a work calling for the most indomitable perseverance, determination in overcoming obstacles, and energy. But in spite of the almost insurmountable difficulties encountered, the road was finished and turned over to its projectors within the contract time. He was now only thirty-seven years old and felt himself capable of coping with any enterprise that might offer. Returning to Rutland, he purchased, in company with two associates, the marble quarries then in possession of William F. Barnes ; of this property he subsequently became the sole owner, and incorporated the Rutland Marble Company for the better prosecution of the industry that has since grown to such enormous proportions. Into the working of these quarries he threw his whole energies, and with what degree of success is now well known to all who are at all conversant with the marble industry. In 1861 he was chiefly instrumental in procuring a charter for the Rutland County Bank, against strong opposition. But on account of certain transactions connected with the organization of the bank which he considered questionable, and which resulted in depriving him of the controlling management of the institution, he withdrew his business interests from Rutland, and after selling out his interests in the marble quarries in 1863, returned to New York.

At the breaking out of the great Rebellion, and even before that event, General Baxter saw with prophetic eye the magnitude of the oncoming struggle, and was one of the first to urge his native State to prepare for war. When finally the first body of Vermont troops marched clown Broadway, on their way to the front, General Baxter rode at the head of the column. It was largely through his energy and liberality that so fine a body of organized and well-equipped men was so promptly ready for the field, and if he felt a degree of pride in their magnificent appearance on that day, it was justifiable. His liberal support of war measures continued through the struggle, his time and means being freely given up for the success of the cause.

After the sale of his Rutland interests and removal to New York, he made the metropolis his home, passing his summers, however, in Rutland and taking an active interest in everything that promised to advance the welfare of the village and town. Though he was never a politician nor an office-seeker in the smallest sense, he held the office of adjutant-general of the State under the administrations of Governor Fairbanks and Governor Holbrook ; in this capacity he mustered the early regiments that went from the State. He filled the office of selectman of Rutland, and highway-surveyor and took a deep interest in town affairs generally. He was one of the corporators of the Evergreen Cemetery and, with a few others, was instrumental in the building of the Episcopal Church. In the year 1858 he erected his mansion in Rutland, which, with its grounds, is one of the finest and most sumptuous homes in the State.

General Baxter's life in the metropolis was one of large activity for a number of years, particularly in the vast operations of Wall Street, where he was intimately associated with the late Henry Keep. It was through their operations that Mr. Keep was made president of the New York Central Railroad, in which position he was succeeded by General Baxter until the property passed into the hands of Commodore Vanderbilt. He also, in connection with Mr. Keep and others, obtained control of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, and advanced the price of its stock from 40 to par. In the summer of 1870 he joined Mr. Trenor W. Park in buying the Emma silver mine, in Utah ; in this enterprise he advanced nearly $400,000 in cash. General Baxter purchased the property in good faith, but it proved a very troublesome investment and was, perhaps, the least remunerative of any venture he ever made.

In the period between 1875 and 1880 General Baxter was a director in the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railway Company, the Panama Railway Company and the Continental Bank of New York. He became an early and heavy investor in the stock of the Pullman Palace Car Company and supported that enterprise when few were bold enough to embark in it. It was his custom to keep at his immediate command large sums of money, which enabled him to act promptly in those large enterprises which he was able to grasp and understand so thoroughly. This is shown by his investment of $100,000 in the construction company which built the New York elevated railroads after he had become a confirmed invalid — an investment which brought him a gain of more than $200,000. Such instances of his boldness in financial operations, his clear and accurate judgment and foresight, might he multiplied indefinitely. It was said of him that "he did not know how to make a hundred dollars or a thousand, but he knew how to make a hundred thousand."

General Baxter was a man of broad, liberal and charitable nature ; open, affable and pleas¬ing in his manner, and socially one of the most pleasing of companions ; his home was noted for its generous hospitality. On the 21st of December, 1841, he was married to Eliza Wales, of Bellows Falls, who died September 8, 1849, leaving no children. On the 18th of December, 1851, he married Mary E. Roberts, of Manchester, Vt., who survives him. They had two children — Henry, born May 18, 1856, who died March 20, 186o, and Hugh Henry, born October 2, 1861.

General Baxter died February 17, 1884, in New York. His remains were brought to Rutland for interment, and the entire community and the various institutions with which he had been identified, united in paying respect to his memory through resolutions, addresses and letters.

History of Rutland County, Vermont : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers, 1886, pages 870-872

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