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 down 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, hips 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 4o
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 be 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 pleasing 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, 1860, 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
Edited by: H. P. Smith and W. S. Rann
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, N. Y. 1886
Rutland County, VT
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