1820 - 1884



Portrait of John Work Garrett

John Work Garrett began working as a clerk in his father's firm, Robert Garrett and Company, at the age of nineteen. The company's fleet of Conestoga wagons carried food and supplies west over the Cumberland Trail. In later years the business expanded into railroads, shipping, and banking. In 1858 Garrett became president of the B&O Railroad. The Garrett Company and the B&O Railroad interests had strong ties to the London-based George Peabody & Company and, through their business interests, John Work Garrett and George Peabody became close friends. Garrett became deeply involved with the Peabody Institute. 

During the Civil War, the railroad was under constant attack from Confederate raiders but it continued to carry troops and provisions vital to the Union cause. After the war Garrett acquired three gunboats that had been used in the blockade service and refitted them into packet ships, establishing the first regular line service from Baltimore to Liverpool.

Garrett, a trustee of the Peabody Institute, asked its founder, George Peabody, to persuade Johns Hopkins to make the bequest that would make possible The Johns Hopkins University and Medical Institutions. Garrett became one of the most active trustees of the university.