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Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Revised: Friday, July 31, 2015


Western Expresses
Western Expresses were private individuals or companies that operated west of the Mississippi River and carried letter mail between cities, mining camps, and other settlements. This group of companies became prominent after 1849. Letter mail was handled by them to areas and towns that did not have established post offices and hence the carriage did not contravene any postal laws that prohibited mail carried privately on postal routes. Although the carriage of letter mail was usually a component of their business, many of these companies also handled gold, parcels, and some even provided banking services. Some issued adhesive stamps for premium services or sold government postal entires that bore an additional frank to indicate prepayment of express fees. Western Expresses came into prominence during the California gold rush and were in their heyday in the 1850's and 1860's.
Base Towns For Many Of The Smaller Express Feeders
The cities of Marysville, Sacramento, and Stockton acted as base towns for many of the smaller express feeders into the mining regions of inland California. These base towns were themselves fed from San Francisco.



Western Expresses San Francisco - Gateway to the Gold Fields
San Francisco June 20 (1849) Straight Line Postmark

San Francisco June 20 (1849) straight line postmark and 40 rate designation. The rate for mail to or from the Pacific Coast was 40¢ per ½ ounce effective Jul 1, 1847 to Jul 1, 1851.
  • Pacific Mail Steamship Company Panama from San Francisco on June 21 with arrival to the west coast of Panama on July 12
  • Seven days across the isthmus of Panama via mule and canoe
  • United States Mail Steamship Company Falcon from Chagres on July 28 with arrival into New Orleans on August 3
  • New Orleans to Augusta, GA via rail
  • Turned cover (shown below) postmarked Augusta, Ga Aug 17 with 10 in circle rate stamp to Janesville, Penna.
Turned cover postmarked Augusta, Ga Aug 17 with 10 in circle rate stamp to Janesville, Penna




Western Expresses San Francisco - Gateway to the Gold Fields
San Francisco July 2 (1849) Straight Line Postmark

San Francisco July 2 (1849) straight line postmark and 40 rate designation (double weight rate). The rate for mail to or from the Pacific Coast was 40¢ per ½ ounce effective Jul 1, 1847 to Jul 1, 1851.
  • PMSC Oregon from San Francisco July 2; arrival to west coast of Panama on July 21
  • Seven days across the isthmus of Panama via mule and canoe
  • US Mail Steamship Company Falcon from Chagres on July 28; arrival New York August 17
Enclosed letter (transcribed on following page) reads in part: ...I am anxiously waiting for the arrival of the steamer California...The steamer Panama sailed a few days previous and the Oregon in a few days will also leave and I was unaware of it until yesterday or I would have written to you by the first...I have been in this country about 2 months and have not as yet been up to the mines having as much as I can any ways possibly attend to at merchandising in Stockton...About 30 miles from here a few days ago at the Sonoranian camp a lump of gold was found to weigh 28 1/2 pounds and at the same time another one was also found and weighed 6 1/2 # all solid...Charles L Peck


San Francisco in October, 1849

San Francisco in October, 1849



Western Expresses San Francisco - Gateway to the Gold Fields

Datelined Stockton

Dear Lizzie,

I suppose you are by this time beginning to think that I have entirely forgotten you, by my so long a negligence about writing to you since I have been on this coast, but no indeed Lizzie! For since I have heard of one or 2 little circumstances connected with us. It has made me think night and day of you. I am anxiously waiting for the arrival of the steamer California with a guilting head and feelings to hear from you, and should a letter fail to come, oh! how sad I will be.

The steamer Panama sailed a few days previous and the Oregon in a few days will also leave and I was unaware of it until yesterday or I would have written to you by the first. Please excuse my negligence and rely upon the future steamers leaving our ports for one each time. And of course you will gratify my feelings by responding frequently or oftener as your convenience will agreeably permit. I know that we are a long ways apart but my feelings often bring us nearer.

I have been in this country about 2 months and have not as yet been up to the mines having as much as I can any ways possibly attend to at merchandising in Stockton, about 150 miles up the San Joaquin River from San Francisco and about 30 to 60 miles from the different mining districts. I am doing exceedingly well or I would otherwise go to the mines and in fact I expect to remain in the mines most all the ensuing winter and if I have good luck I will then return to the states in the spring or summer next. And its only one identical thing that will lead me to come at that time, and you can well guess what that is. Some people here have made an immense fortune in a short time and many are yet doing well. I am clearing of all expenses from $1500 to $2000 per month. Everything here is very extravagant indeed. About 30 miles from here a few days ago at the Sonoranian camp a lump of gold was found to weigh 28 1/2 pounds and at the same time another one was also found and weighed 6 1/2 # all solid. I have seen one of the largest pieces. Lizzie how would you like to come out to California? Providing a good opportunity would prevail. I wish that I had the answering of this question I could soon decide upon what to do. How many times have I bitterly thought of my misdemeanor for not going to see you while in Berlin, and if such an opportunity would now offer, you would be seen first in preference to all relatives. You are very kind indeed to forgive me and many thanks are entitled to you for it.

I am thankfully blessed with health and have been so ever since I left Berlin. And may this find you in like circumstances is my earnest prayer. Good bye dear and excuse all errors.

Charles L Peck

Now don't forget to write on receipt of this for I have not heard from your self since I left England.

Stockton is very near, if not quite as large as Berlin but four hundred or more times the quantity of business is done here than in Berlin. We have in this place about 15 stores both wholesale and retail, and all are doing a splendid business. Mine is the second largest in the place.

Charlie

Miss E.A.P
Gold Mines
Love Mines
C.L.P.



Western Expresses San Francisco - Gateway to the Gold Fields
San Francisco July 2 (1849) straight line postmark and 40 rate designation.

San Francisco July 2 (1849) straight line postmark and 40 rate designation. The rate for mail to or from the Pacific Coast was 40¢ per ½ ounce effective Jul 1, 1847 to Jul 1, 1851.
  • PMSC Oregon from San Francisco July 2; arrival to west coast of Panama on July 21
  • Seven days across the isthmus of Panama via mule and canoe
  • US Mail Steamship Company Falcon from Chagres on July 28; arrival New York August 17
Enclosed letter (transcribed on following page) reads in part: ...I am anxiously waiting for the arrival of the steamer California...The steamer Panama sailed a few days previous and the Oregon in a few days will also leave and I was unaware of it until yesterday or I would have written to you by the first...I have been in this country about 2 months and have not as yet been up to the mines having as much as I can any ways possibly attend to at merchandising in Stockton...About 30 miles from here a few days ago at the Sonoranian camp a lump of gold was found to weigh 28 1/2 pounds and at the same time another one was also found and weighed 6 1/2 # all solid...Charles L Peck


Portsmouth Square, San Francisco in April, 1849

Portsmouth Square, San Francisco in April, 1849



Western Expresses San Francisco - Gateway to the Gold Fields


per Oregon                San Francisco 2 July 1849
My dear Uncle

Our prospects have materially improved since the return of Mr. Brersch a week since, with the results of his trading voyage to the mines. Our house is now complete and we move in tomorrow. We lead a camp life - all sleep on the same floor - rise at the same hour - all assist in preparing the breakfast & the room & the dinner & make our own beds. The chopping and hauling of the wood has been my peculiar province and I am glad to find that I can now handle the axe as well as at the farm.

None of our cargoes have arrived but we shall be able to worry through until they come with the aid of such goods as we have left & the proceeds of those disposed of. In a few days I am going to the mines on a trading expedition & hope to be back upon the sailing of the next steamer.

Having not yet got up our shingle I have taken no pains to appear in the market as I've drawers per this steamer. I trust that you will not omit to secure in Invoices as I hope to remit you some gold by the 1st August. I have written to Mr. Prince upon the subject for this steamer.

In my last letter I expatiated at some length upon the frontier & prospects of this place - Today I have nothing to add of a speculative character. We have had some 15 or 16 arrivals from the states since the departure of the Panama & I suppose the month of July will see some 100 American sail enter the harbor. We have also vessels from Peru, Chili, China, New South Wales & the Sandwich Islands. In supplying our camp the other day we bought Manilla rice by the bag at 5 cents & the best [Sonchung?] tea at 40 cts per lb. For Beef we pay 1/6 by the beef steak and a shilling or 10 cents if we take a large price - mutton 25 cts a lb. The other day we had occasion for some potatoes. I priced them and shrank from buying them @ $6.50 a bushel - not to trouble the shopkeeper for nothing I told him I could take some onions - these were still dearer - 6/ a lb. They sell readily here at $8 a hundred.

There is a great difference here between the value of things at private sale and at auction - sometimes 50 & sometimes 100 percent and the fluctuations in prices of all active commodities are almost incredible. Lumber very often rises 50% in a day - the lumber of our house cost us on the average about $300 pr [?]. We could now sell it at $400. Whenever lumber arrived here it was current @ $600. Large cargoes are expected from Oregon & Chili & many houses from the U.S. and yet there is no apprehension of its falling for some time to come below $200. A small house which cost in the US $250, say 20 x 22 was sold at auction yesterday for $1750, deliverable on board and the landing of it will cost some $125 more. The same house on shore [under?] have brought $2500 - because time is so precious that people take into and all that is lost in landing ground which can only be done at high water.

The last steamer to be down $350 and this will take nearly as much. These runs may improve the time in Wall Street but they are better to sell than to buy upon.

The greatest feat accomplished by the possessor was the sale of some Wine Cloth at $112, which cost in N York $8. He also got $30 for pistols costing NY ¾. I have written jury friend Chamberlain & Phelps respecting the best articles to send to this market - I did this under the impression that they will make use of the information imparted. Should they decide to make no use of my letter which has been addressed to no other firm and [?] any information for the benefit parties [?] shipping hi then who would consign cargoes but please get my letter from Mr. Chamberlain for that purpose.

Mr Sim's bark the Collooney arrived last week in 100 days from Panama - more than we took to come all the way round - no vessel has got up here from that place in less than 80 days.

I have only time to send my love to the girls and to all friends in Bond Street.

Your affectionate
Sam'l Ward

Mr. Brersch desires to be remembered.
P.S. I just learn that one of our vessels the Tahmaroo is aground onside in the entrance of the harbor, if so we shall have to call upon the Atlantic
July 2d - the Tahmaroo is off the beach & anchored in this harbor.



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Company Express was established in San Francisco in Sep, 1849 as an extension of the east coast Adams Express Company. It is believed that Adams & Company operated primarily as a forwarder, banker, and gold dust buyer from formation through most of 1851. Expansion of locations and functions began with the acquisition of Freeman & Company's Express in Nov, 1851 and Newell's Express in late 1851 or early 1852. The west coast financial panic led Adams & Company to close their doors on Feb 23, 1855. Most of the Adams employees then organized themselves under Russell G. Noyes as the Pacific Express Company.
Adams & Co. San Francisco Jan 10

Adams & Co. San Francisco Jan 10 (1855) hand stamp with PAID and precanceled Adams & Co. 3¢ 1851 adhesive on folded letter datelined Wednesday morning (Jan 10, 1855 was a Wednesday, dating this letter). Adams & Co. San Jose Jan 11 transit marking to Santa Cruz. Red crayon 25 denoting payment of premium express fee for immediate delivery to recipient upon arrival into Santa Cruz. The only known example of an Adams handstamp precanceled adhesive (with PF certificate).



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Company is believed to have been the first express to offer a printed frank on an envelope, in late 1854. Only a handful of these franks are known used during the Adams period of operation, all from late 1854 or early 1855. A number of additional ones are known used as regular envelopes following Adams failure in Feb, 1855; however, they are not considered as Adams usages. This wood block frank was undoubtedly copied by Wells Fargo for use as their initial printed frank.
Only known example with the frank printed vertically at left used during Adams period of operation.

PAID Adams & Co., Over our California and Coast Routes with Adams & Co. San Francisco Aug 26 (1854) hand stamp to San Jose. Only known example with the frank printed vertically at left used during Adams period of operation.
PAID Adams & Co., Over our California and Coast Routes

PAID Adams & Co., Over our California and Coast Routes with Adams & Co. Placerville Dec 4 (1854) hand stamp to San Francisco.



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Co. Express San Francisco California Moqulumne Hill

By Adams & Co. Express San Francisco California Free in their printed envelope; exchanged with Newell & Co.'s Express San Francisco for delivery to "Moqulumne Hill". Newell & Co. advertised that they connected with Adams & Co. in San Francisco. They operated from Oct 22, 1851 until selling out to Adams in July, 1853.


San Francisco Daily Alta California Nov 10, 1851

San Francisco Daily Alta California Nov 10, 1851 notice by Adams & Co. of the Newell & Co. partnership.



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Forwarded by Adams & Co.'s Express San Francisco

Forwarded by Adams & Co.'s Express San Francisco to Sacramento City with paid and per Adams & Co. 25c manuscript notations. Circa 1851.
Forwarded by Adams & Co.'s Express San Francisco

Forwarded by Adams & Co.'s Express San Francisco from Panama with Cova & Co. Panama marking to San Francisco. Letter written in Spanish datelined Panama 14 Junio 1851.


datelined Panama 14 Junio 1851



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Forwarded by J. M. Freeman Agent of Adams & Co. Express Panama

Forwarded by J. M. Freeman Agent of Adams & Co. Express Panama on January 1st, 1855 printed lettersheet originating from Valparaiso, Chile via Panama to San Francisco. Enclosure (reduced slightly below to fit page) announces J. M. Freeman as partner in Nye & Co. and as agent for Adams & Co.
Forwarded by J. M. Freeman Agent of Adams & Co. Express Panama Enclosure





Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Co. Express Coloma to Mormon Island on July 8th, 1852

By Adams & Co. Express Coloma to Mormon Island on July 8th, 1852 folded business letter datelined Coloma. Coloma and Mormon Island were two mining camps on the South Fork of the American River.


Datelined Coloma

...Mr. Brooks returned late last evening, but failing to bring the plan or specifications of the flume or ditch, we are unable to estimate upon the cost...Yours respectfully, Brooks, Clark & Co.





Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Co. Nov 9 Nevada

By Adams & Co. Nov 9 Nevada on folded letter datelined Nov 8, 1853 to San Francisco. The US government legally required equivalent US postage on privately carried mails after Aug 31, 1852.


Datelined Nevada

...The stage was delayed and I have now time before the Express Office closes, to scratch a line or two. Dr. Weaver is here...He goes to Grass Valley in the morning to employ a Mill Wright in whose capacity he can have more confidence than the one now engaged. It is but 4 miles and we will probably reach Eureka tomorrow night...Yours truly, J S Murray





Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Cos. Express Placerville to Carson River House, Cala.

By Adams & Cos. Express Placerville to Carson River House, Cala. The only known example of this type Adams Placerville marking.



Placerville (Hang Town) in 1852



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Co. Express Sacramento

By Adams & Co. Express Sacramento with PAID on folded business letter datelined Dec 25, 1852 to San Francisco.


Datelined Sacramento

...The streets of Sacramento are almost impassible & it is next to impossible for a team to get through...



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Co. Express Shasta

Aug 28th, 1852 folded letter written in French datelined Middle Town with Adams & Co. Express Shasta marking in blue for delivery to San Francisco. The US government legally required equivalent US postage on privately carried mails beginning Aug 31, 1852.


Datelined Shasta




Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Co. Express San Francisco

By Adams & Co. Express San Francisco on folded letter datelined Jan 7, 1852 to Sacramento City. Enclosed business letter transcribed below.


Datelined San Francisco

...We did not weigh the seed sent you but took it for what it professed to be - we have weighed the remaining barrels & find them marked correctly - the Hay Knives are $30. per doz...We forward 3 sets Eagle 2B [two bottom] Ploughs - Irons complete with Coultes & Extra Points @ $18.00 pr set & 2 Bags of Herd Grass @ 25c per lb. Grass seed is getting scarce some holding it at $1.00 per lb. This 25c is the lowest we care to purchase for wishing you quick sales...
Yours truly
McNally & Blair



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Co. Express Sonora on folded business letter

By Adams & Co. Express Sonora on folded business letter datelined Saturday Evening May 22 [1852] to San Francisco.


Sonora in 1852
Sonora in 1852



Western Expresses Adams & Company - Sep, 1849 to Feb 23, 1855
Adams & Co. Humboldt Bay

By Adams & Co. Humboldt Bay with PAID handstamp via steamer to Adams & Co. San Francisco Dec 12 for delivery to "Moquelumne Hill." Precanceled 3¢ 1851 issue adhesive applied in San Francisco per regulation of Aug 31, 1852 requiring government postage on all express carried letters.


Map of Route from San Francisco to Moquelumne Hill



Western Expresses Alta Express Company - Jul, 1857 to Nov, 1858
Alta Express Company was formed after the failure of Pacific Express in Apr, 1857 by Alex Badlam, Jr., C. L. Farrington, and James A. Frost. This express operated throughout the northern and central part of the state of California and into Nevada. Alta Express Company connected with Freeman Express for British Columbia and with Berford & Co. for the Atlantic States. Alta may also have connected with Nichols Express into Oregon and Washington.
Alta Express Co. Angel's

By Alta Express Co. Angel's. to San Francisco, manuscript notation "with pkg dust 6 oz". Undated 1857 or 1858 cover.
Alta Express Company Sacramento

By Alta Express Company Sacramento. to San Francisco, with second strike of express handstamp on verso.



Western Expresses American Express - Feb 12, 1857 to Sep 24, 1857
The American Express Company in California was not related to the Eastern express company of the same name. Their first ad appeared in the Jan 19, 1857 San Francisco Bulletin with "McCombe & Co., 124 Montgomery St" listed as proprietors. Daily expresses were advertised from San Francisco by steam and stage to San Jose, Santa Clara, Alveso, Redwood City, Woodside, San Mateo, Mountain View, and San Quentin. The text of the ad is identical to one that appeared Jan 16, 1857 under heading of "McCombe's Express" - the predecessor firm. The last ad for American Express appeared on Mar 17, 1857 and the following issue included news of a lawsuit filed by an employee alleging non payment of salary. However, newspaper articles show activity through Sep 24, 1857. Some sources indicate that they either purchased or consolidated with Nichols Express.
American Express PAID

By American Express PAID in their printed franked envelope from an unknown origin to San Francisco. Approximately four examples of this printed frank are known, with <15 total American Express covers thought to have survived in total.
San Francisco Daily Alta California Feb 12, 1857 San Francisco Daily Alta California Sep 24, 1857
San Francisco Daily Alta California Feb 12, 1857, referencing [John] McCombe as one of the proprietors
San Francisco Daily Alta California Sep 24, 1857



Western Expresses Angiers' Express - 1861 to 1864+
Angier's Express ran between Humbug and North San Juan, connecting with Wells Fargo at that location. Very little is know about this express, other than it is believed to have operated for only about three years.
Angiers' North San Juan and Humbug Express

By Angiers' North San Juan and Humbug Express, likely from Humbug to North San Juan, where it was exchanged with Wells Fargo for delivery to Oakland. One of approximately six known Angiers' Express covers.


North San Juan in 1857

North San Juan in 1857, from a daguerreotype by George Dornin



Western Expresses Anthony & Company - 1852 to Jul, 1853
Anthony & Company's express operated between San Francisco and the Northern Mines. They had an office in Sacramento and may have carried the mail to Marysville and Nevada City.
Anthony & Co's Northern Express PAID

By Anthony & Co's Northern Express PAID from the northern mines to San Francisco. One of only five to eight known examples from this short-lived express company.


Sacramento Daily Union Ad San Francisco Daily Alta Ad

Sacramento Daily Union ad run from Apr 8 to Jun 15, 1853

San Francisco Daily Alta ad run from Apr 13 to Apr 21, 1853



Western Expresses Becker & Company - 1852 to 1853
Becker operated a one-man tri-weekly express from a base at French Corral, CA to Marysville, along the lower Yuba River branches, until it reached Doc Caldwell's store, also called Nyes Crossing or Nyes Landing. Becker connected with Gregory's Express and Wells Fargo. The earliest reference to his express is an article in the Daily Alta California of May 29, 1852. Advertisements are found in 1852, but none in 1853.
Becker & Co's Express Landers Bar

Becker & Co's Express Landers Bar to French Corral with notation Forwarded by Becker's Post. Landers Bar is located on the Yuba River just above the junction with Dry Creek.


Becker & Co's Express Union Bar Cut Oval




Becker & Co's Express Union Bar cut oval, only known example from this location.






Earliest ad for Becker & Co.'s Express from the Sacramento Daily Union, Jul 2, 1852.
Sacramento Daily Union, Jul 2, 1852



Western Expresses Beekman's Express - 1855 to Nov 16, 1858
and Dec 31, 1859 to 1863
Cornelius Beekman started his express after Adams & Co.'s failure in 1855 from a base at Jacksonville in Oregon Territory. Routes ran to Yreka, Crescent City and Roseburg, Oregon. He connected with Wells Fargo at Yreka and reportedly with Tracy at Jacksonville. From Nov, 1858 to Dec, 1859 William Hoffman, C.C. Beekman's future father-in-law, ran the express under his name while Beekman was "back east". Beekman sold out to Wells Fargo in 1863, becoming their agent at Jacksonville.
Beekman's Express Jacksonville O.T.

By Beekman's Express Jacksonville O.T. with May 31 1858 docketing to Yreka where it was exchanged with Wells Fargo for delivery to Sacramento City.
Jacksonville Herald, Oct 10, 1857 Cornelius Beekman

Above: Cornelius Beekman, from the Wells Fargo Archives.
Left: from the Jacksonville Herald, Oct 10, 1857



Western Expresses Berford & Company - Late 1849 to 1855
Berford & Company operated throughout the bay area of California as a partnership of Richard G. Berford, James C. Hackett, and J. S. Silver. They used Todd & Co. for the connection to the southern mines and Anthony & Co.'s for the northern mines. Their own agents moved express material to the eastern states by way of steamers to their New York office.
Berford & Coş Letter & Package Express California

By Anthony & Co's Northern Express PAID from the northern mines to San Francisco. One of only five to eight known examples from this short-lived express company.
By Berford & Coş Letter & Package Express California red shield handstamp from California to New York. Docketed Rec'd 19 July '51. Entered the mails with New York Jul 18 5 cts integral rate handstamp to Washington DC. The unpaid rate for distances <3000 miles was 5¢ beginning Jul 1, 1851.
  • PMSC California from San Francisco Jun 14, 1851; arrived Panama Jul 1, 1851
  • Six days transit across the isthmus via mule and canoe
  • Edward Mills Line Brother Jonathan from Chagres Jul 7, 1851; arrived NY Jul 17, 1851
PMSC Vessel The Tennessee Example of Pacific Mail Steamship Company (PMSC) vessel (the Tennessee) that ran from San Francisco to Panama, from a circa 1850 lithograph.



Western Expresses Berford & Company - Late 1849 to 1855
Berford & Co. Californian Express

By Berford & Co. Californian Express to San Francisco, on folded letter datelined San Jose, June 27th, 1853. Business letter concerning stock in the "Tuolumne Hydraulic Association", with mention of express schedule, transcribed below:


Datelined San Jose

...Berford & Co. receive letters for San Jose up till half past eight o'clock every morning, or if you should be too late for the express, the boat does not go until 9 o'clock...
Connolly Leetch



Western Expresses Berford & Company - Late 1849 to 1855
Berford & Coş Express San Francisco Cal

By Berford & Coş Express San Francisco Cal blue handstamp and Free. Letter datelined Aspinwall (Colon, Panama, on the Atlantic side of the isthmus) Jan 31, 1853 mentions difficulty crossing the isthmus, transcribed on the following page.
  • Six days across the isthmus of Panama via mule and canoe
  • PMSC Golden Gate from Panama Feb 5; arrival San Francisco Feb 19, 1853
Map



Western Expresses Berford & Company - Late 1849 to 1855
Datelined Aspinwall

Aspinwall Jan 31th, 1853

Dear Caperton

I have just arrived here after a pleasant passage as far as Panama [Wierenga's book indicates the closest match for arrival of the writer into Panama was aboard the Golden Gate, which left San Francisco Jan 15 and arrived into Panama Jan 28; meaning that the writer crossed the isthmus in only three days, versus the normal six to seven days for mail carriage] but from that place we have had a most terrible time until we arrived here as it has rained on us all the way from that place to this and I am not comfortable now by no means as this place is crowded with passengers from both steamers and I find it impossible to get a room or anything - but have been lucky, as it is called here, to get permission to lay on the floor - in a crowded room - with nothing to lay on but my overcoat - and the floor for a pillow, though for my own part I shall enjoy it as Jack Addison is to lay with me and I know that it will be most death to him, at least he says it will. I have amused myself a great deal at his expense while crossing the isthmus as he was thrown four times in one day - but fortunately was not hurt much. We shall leave here on tomorrow for New York [Wierenga's book shows no departure from Aspinwall on Feb 1, 1853 as the writer had hoped; instead, the next departure is shown as Feb 2 on the Ohio, which arrived into New York on Feb 18] where we expect to arrive by the 10th. I write to Mrs. Lupan from Panama which letter she will receive at the time you receive this. I have heard nothing of interest from Washington. I will write you again on my arrival in New York - and also from Washington.
My love to Capts Freeman & Johnson
In haste, Yours truly,
J. C. Mays [?]


Signature Line



Western Expresses Berford & Company - Late 1849 to 1855
Office Berford & Co.'s California Express

Office Berford & Co.'s California Express label with red PAID from New York to San Francisco. Docket on verso June 4 1852 (below) which enlargement of label shown.
Dateline June 4 1852

Newspaper Article



Western Expresses Berthoud's Express - circa 1869
Mel Nathan's book "Franks of Western Expresses" states that little-known express resumably operated in the vicinity of Treasure City, Nevada. No year date is known, and its only identification comes from a few covers with an oblong handstamp.
F.W. Blake & Co Express Weaverville

By Berthoud's Mule Team Express PD 25 to Treasure City, NV; by post office from Treasure City, Nev. Sep 13 (ca1869) to Philad[elphi]a, Pa. Signed on back by postal historian Richard Frajola "Genuine Use".

Handstamp
Silver was discovered in this area in 1867 and by November of that year, the first cabins were built on Treasure Hill. Treasure City was founded in 1868 in the White Pine Mining District and within a year had a population of 6000. The town reached its peak in 1869. By 1870, most of the population began to leave town, due to the lack of good ore. The business district was destroyed by fire in 1874 and never rebuilt. The remaining ruins are shown at right.
Treasure City Ruins



Western Expresses Blake & Company - Sep, 1855 to Jan, 1859
Francis Wheeler Blake was employed by Rhodes & Lusk as their agent in Weaverville late in 1852. In September of 1855, he resigned from Rhodes & Co. and formed F. W. Blake & Co.'s Express, operating between Weaverville and Shasta. While advertising that he connected with both Wells Fargo and Pacific Express at Shasta, he was most closely aligned with the former. Blake purchased Rowe & Co.'s Express in Oct, 1856. His new building in Weaverville was co-occupied with Wells Fargo and by most accounts he was their agent. Wells Fargo closed their agency in Weaverville in Jan, 1859 and transferred their relationship to Greenhood & Newbauer, at which time Blake exited the express business.
F.W. Blake & Co Express Weaverville

By F.W. Blake & Co Express Weaverville, most likely from Shasta to Weaverville; Weaverville to Yreka via Wells Fargo. Mandatory prepayment of the 3¢ postage for distances <3000 miles was effective Apr 1, 1855.


Map



Western Expresses Bowers Express - Late 1849 to Oct, 1851
John Taylor Bowers, with the help of his brother Herbert and possibly his other brothers, started running small packages, letters, and gold dust between Caldwell's Upper Crossing (later know as Nevada City) to Sacramento and on to San Francisco. They quickly expanded to serve Grass Valley, Rough & Ready, Washington, and the mines along Poor Man's Creek and the Yuba River. They advertised as connecting with Freeman in Sacramento and Adams in San Francisco. Freeman purchased Bowers Express in Oct, 1851 to establish a direct business presence in Nevada City.
Bowers Express

By Bowers Express with enclosed letter datelined Nevada (City) July 11, 1851 to San Francisco where it entered the mails for carriage to Indiana. Effective July 1, 1851, the unpaid rate for distances >3000 miles was reduced from 40¢ to 10¢.


Nevada, Cal. July 11, 1851

...I enclosed a draft on Adams & Co., for $100, payable in N. York. This is considered the best house that does business in California. I have another hundred coming to me, but I am not certain I can get it to send by the next steamer, which leaves next Tuesday, and would have to be deposited with their agt's in Nevada tomorrow evening. ...I have made arrangements to send you the San Francisco Courier and Sacramento Union, probably the best papers in California. From these you will be able to glean the news of the state, political, commercial and agricultural. But I hope you will put no more dependence of their statements of the mines than you should. The editors of the California papers & N. Y. Tribune are either fools, maniacs or liars. ...C. R. Buda[?]



Western Expresses Bowers Express - Late 1849 to Oct, 1851


Nevada, Cal. July 11, 1851

Nevada, Cal. July 11, 1851

Dear Clarkson:
Day before yesterday I received a letter from you, and also one from J. D. Howland. I am sincerely glad to hear that all is well at home, and I never think of home but I wish I were there. Since the letter to which these are in answer, I have written another to you, and one to her & in yours I enclosed a draft on Adams & Co., for $100, payable in N. York. This is considered the best house that does business in California. I have another hundred coming to me, but I am not certain I can get it to send by the next steamer, which leaves next Tuesday [based on the perpetual calendar this Tuesday would have been July 15, 1851, and the steamer referenced would have been the PMSC Northerner, which departed from San Francisco for Panama on that day], and would have to be deposited with their agt's in Nevada tomorrow evening. I intend to send home all the money I get, except an amount sufficient to pay expenses home. But in view of what has heretofore been said about the mortgage on the house, if Sarah can be satisfied, I had much rather this money would be put in safe keeping until my return. It is time, and she ought to know it, that if you pay my debts, and support her during my absence you must have your pay; but she ought to know also, that the mortgage is your security, and if you resort to that for your pay, the money I send, in case I should fail to return home, will be hers. I have now sent $300, and shall send another either, with this letter, or two weeks from this time, which will make $400.

I have had uninterrupted good health since my recovery last summer with the exception of 5 days. I was prevented from work soon after my last letter, by an attack of inflammation of the lungs. I weight 170 lbs., heavier than ever before, and I work decidedly harder. I think I have learned something about hard work since I came here.

I find it impossible to write to you often, and consequently I have made arrangements to send you the San Francisco Courier and Sacramento Union, probably the best papers in California. From these you will be able to glean the news of the state, political, commercial and agricultural. But I hope you will put no more dependence of their statements of the mines than you should. The editors of the California papers & N. Y. Tribune are either fools, maniacs or liars.

It is not convenient to send any money by this mail. In all probability I will send $150 by next week.

Yours & c.

C. R. Buda[rest of last name torn away]



Western Expresses Browns Express - Jun, 1850 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams - Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855
Brown's Express was one of the principal express operators to the southern mines. Founded by W. A. Brown in June 1850, he connected with both Todd & Co. and Newell & Co. operating between Stockton and San Francisco and they, in turn connected at San Francisco with Adam's Express for ocean to ocean service. Brown was murdered on April 2, 1853 and the express continued under his name even though it was then operated by Adams Express.
Brown's Express Forwarded by Reynolds & Co Express
Stockton Cal. Oct 14 40
  • circa September 1850 from the East to San Francisco by government mails with 40 [cents] postage due
  • Forwarded by Reynolds & Co Express (operated Jan, 1850 to Oct, 1851) to Stockton with $1.50 Reynolds express fee (rate notation consistent with other Reynolds covers)
  • Addressee not found at Stockton, returned to post office with Stockton Cal. Oct 14 40 (40¢ due) backstamp; marking known used from Jun 28, 1850 to Jun 26, 1851
  • Taken out of the post office and Forwarded by Browns Express with light pencil endorsement to Murphys with $2.00 due (light pencil rate noted beneath Reynold's $1.50 rate marking)
Reynolds & Co's advertisement from Aug 19, 1850 Sacramento Transcript Advertisement from Aug 19, 1850 Sacramento Transcript



Western Expresses Browns Express - Early 1851 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams - Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855
William A. Brown became one of the early suppliers of mail to the southern mines from his base office in Stockton. The route from Stockton ran into Angels Camp, on to Murphys, with a continuing connection to Sonora. Brown at first connected with Todd & Company, and later competed with them. He had established a connecting service with Newell and Adams by Oct, 1851. In April of 1853, William Brown was shot and killed. Adams & Co. continued the express under the Brown name until their failure in Feb, 1855.
Bowers Express
  • Boston/10 Jul/6cts 1851 prepaid integral rate mailing postmark with PAID marking to Stockton, California.
  • Forwarded by/Browns/Express from Stockton with $1.50 (collect) marking for delivery to Mr. Horace [Atwater] Deming who was apparently at Stockton Hill, based on StH pencil notation added by Brown's to aid in delivery.
  • Pencil Paid by Brown's at Stockton Hill, which was near Mokelumne Hill, noting Mr. Deming's payment of the express fee.
The prepaid rate for distances over 3,000 miles was reduced from 40¢ to 6¢ effective Jul 1, 1851. Perhaps responding to the post office reduction, or to increased competition in the area, Brown reduced his express fee from $1.50 to $1.00 a few weeks after this letter was mailed.



Western Expresses Browns Express - Early 1851 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams - Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855
Forwarded by/Browns/Express
  • Privately carried pr favor of Capt Crowel to San Francisco, with no indication of payment of any ship fee; the Fremont arrived into San Francisco Jul 29, 1851
  • San Francisco 30 Jul (1851) with 5 indicating the unpaid rate for <3000 miles in effect beginning Jul 1, 1851 delivery to Stockton, where Advertised
  • Forwarded by/Browns/Express from Stockton with $1.50 collect marking for delivery to Mr. Vincent at Carson Creek, per pencil CC notation
Forwarded by/Browns/Express
  • Boston/25 Jul/6cts 1851 prepaid integral rate mailing postmark with PAID marking to Stockton, California.
  • Forwarded by/Browns/Express from Stockton with $1. collect marking for delivery to Mr. Dewing. Manuscript Paid by Brown's, noting Mr. Deming's payment of the express fee.
Prepaid rate for >3,000 miles reduced from 40¢ to 6¢ Jul 1, 1851. Brown also reduced his express fee from $1.50 to $1.00 in early August,, 1851 when this would have been delivered.



Western Expresses Browns Express - Early 1851 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams - Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855
Forwarded by Browns Express
  • ca Oct, 1851 by Newell & Co's Express San Francisco to Stockton
  • Forwarded by Browns Express from Stockton to "Mormon Gulch, near Tuttletown"
  • Brown collected $2.00 for delivery, as indicated by two strikes of the $1. express rate marking, with one-half paid to Newell


Newell & Co's Express route in blue, Brown's Express route in red

Newell & Co's Express route in blue, Brown's Express route in red

L. W. Newell and E. W. Colt, both formerly partners in Todd & Co, announced Newell & Co's Express on Oct 22, 1851. The express operated between San Francisco and Stockton by steamboat as well as by steamer to Oregon. They connected with Browns for service to the southern mines near Stockton. In Jul, 1853 they sold out to Adams & Co.



Western Expresses Browns Express - Early 1851 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams - Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855
Forwarded by/Browns/Express
  • Privately carried from Australia to San Francisco by George Campbell of Dickson DeWolf & Co, as indicated by docketing on verso "Rec'd and forwarded by your ob'dt svt Geo Campbell of Dickson DeWolf & Co", notation on front "Obliged by Geo. Campbell Esq.", and from other known covers of this correspondence.
  • By Adams & Co's. Express San Francisco to Stockton with notation "Paid pr Adams Express" applied by Adams in San Francisco
  • Forwarded by Brown's Express from Stockton to Woods Diggings with Brown's PAID handstamp
  • Manuscript postmark Woods Diggings Cal Sep 2/52 for carriage to Green Springs (near) Columbia (Toulumne County, California) with "5" (due) noted at upper right. Note that an internet listing of place names for Toulumne County shows both Green Springs and Columbia listed. The 5¢ unpaid rate became effective Jul 1, 1851 for distances <3000 miles. Mandatory prepayment was required beginning Apr 1, 1855 (3¢).
  • Likely carried from Green Springs to the mines by a local, unidentified, private expressman, who applied the "col 25 cts" notation, presumably collected upon delivery to Mr. F. W. H. Aaron (who would have paid a total of 30¢ = 5¢ US postage and 25¢ express fee)



Western Expresses Browns Express - Early 1851 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams - Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855
Brown's/Express/Murphy's

By Brown's/Express/Murphy's to Stockton. No indication of the express fee either paid in advance or due by Miss Brush. Received June 10th, 1853 (based on pencil received notation at left). The act of Aug 31, 1852 required payment of government postage on private conveyance, although no such payment is indicated on this cover.


Major Camps Of The Southern Mines



Western Expresses Brown & Maguire's Express - Early 1860's
Very little can be found regarding this express. Wiltsee reported the express operating to Shasta in 1858 but that has not be confirmed. The Copper City town site, in Shasta County, is now covered by Lake Shasta. Although founded in the 1850s, the peak boom era was in the early 1860s. A September 1864 newspaper report from Red Bluff gives the name of the Copper City expressman as "Scotch" (probably Schoch). Based on the use of 1861 issue stationery for the printed frank, it would seem that Brown & Maguire sold out to Schoch before 1864.


Brown & Maguire's Copper City Express

By Brown & Maguire's Copper City Express to Red Bluff; by post office from Red Bluff, Cal [xxx] 30 to an unknown destination, as this was part of a paste-up. Likely 1863 or 1864 usage, as this Red Bluff postmark was used from Apr 10, 1863 to Sep 6, 1867. One of only two known used examples.



Western Expresses Buchanan & Co.'s Express - Dec, 1866 to 1867
Buchanan & Co.s Cañon City Express operated between The Dalles, and Canyon City, Oregon beginning December 1866 when A.W. (Buck) Buchanan purchased the route from Wells Fargo after they withdrew from the John Day Mine area. Buchanan apparently continued to operate through much of 1867 and is later reported as a Wells Fargo agent.

Buchanan & Co.'s Cañon City Express. PAID

By Buchanan & Co.'s Cañon City Express. PAID from Canyon City to The Dalles; by Wells Fargo & Co. Dalles O. Jul 8 [1867] to San Francisco. Only three examples of this frank reported in red; eight total Buchanan & Co. examples.

Buchanan & Co.'s Express ad

Buchanan & Co.'s Express ad from The Dalles Mountaineer Jun 29, 1867.



Western Expresses Burdin's Express - 1871
Little is known regarding this express which is reported to have operated between Port Townsend and Port Discovery, Washington Territory in 1871.

Burdin's Express Between Port Townsend and Port Discovery

By Burdin's Express Between Port Townsend and Port Discovery in their printed franked envelope, apparently originating in Port Townsend for delivery to Port Discovery. One of only two or three known examples from this express.

Map Port Townsend and Discovery Bay



Western Expresses Byam's Express - Oct, 1855 to Jul, 1856
Byam's Express was a stage service that operated between Sacramento, Volcano and Fiddletown. It carried mail as part of that service, connecting with Wells Fargo at Sacramento.


Paid Byam's & Co. Express Paid Byam's & Co. Express
  • Paid Byam's & Co. Express manuscript from either Volcano or Fiddletown to Sacramento
  • Forwarded by Wells Fargo & Co's Express from Sacramento to San Francisco with their large green label on verso, indicating the equivalent of today's registered mail (note $500 manuscript, indicating accompanying cash or gold dust)



Western Expresses COC&PP - Feb 13, 1860 to Mar 21, 1862
The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak (COC&PP) Express Company was the parent company of the famed Pony Express and was formed by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell on Feb 13, 1860 when they bought out the assets of Jones & Russell's express. They ran the first weekly government mail from Denver to Leavenworth on Aug 14, 1860 and from St. Joseph in early September. COC&PP assumed the Butterfield mail service on Jul 1, 1861. COC&PP sold out to Ben Holladay on Mar 21, 1862.
Denver Central OverD. Cal. & Pikes Peak Express

Mannheim Center [New York] April 6 (1860) to St. Joseph, Missouri; then by COC&PP with a partial strike of their provisional straight-line DENVER CENTRAL OVERD. CAL. & PIKES PEAK EXPRESS marking to Denver City, Kansas Territory. Sender's notation to route via Leavenworth and PP Express could not be honored, as that express had been defunct since July, 1859. Clear strike of the straight line marking shown below (enlarged for detail).


Central Overland Califoni & Pikes Peak Express



Western Expresses COC&PP - Feb 13, 1860 to Mar 21, 1862
Central Overland Califoni & Pikes Peak Express

By The Central Overland Califoni & Pikes Peak Express Company Denver City K.T. Aug 21 (1860) to St. Joseph, with the COC&PP St. Joseph, Mo. Aug 27 backstamp; entered the mail at St. Joseph, Mo. Aug 28, 1860 for delivery to Manchester, N. H.


News From Pike's Peak




New York Herald (Aug 28, 1860) article from St. Joseph, Mo., noting, "The Pike's Peak express arrived this morning [August 27, 1860] with Denver City dates to the 21st inst.", documenting the trip of this cover.



Western Expresses Chase's Express - 1857 to 1863
George. W. Chase began his express and "daily passenger wagon" operating over a route that ran from Yreka to Indian Creek and Deadwood, California. His office in Yreka was located in the Wells Fargo building. In July 1859, the camp at Greenhorn was added to the route. The Yreka Union newspaper of May, 1860 stated that Chase would connect with Wyck's Scott Valley Express at Indian Creek. In 1863 the express was sold to Charles Prindle.
Chase's Express/Paid

By Chase's Express/Paid in their franked envelope to Yreka. Postmarked Yreka, Cal Aug 17, 1858 with PAID 10 in arc by post office via Panama to Minnesota.
Chase's Express Deadwood & Ind. Creek

By Chase's Express Deadwood & Ind. Creek to Yreka. The 3. 1857 issue adhesive pays government postage, required by law of Aug 31, 1852, even though this cover never entered the U.S. mails.



Western Expresses Chase's Express - 1857 to 1863
Chase's Express/Yreka/Deadwood &/Indian Creek/Paid

By Chase's Express/Yreka/Deadwood &/Indian Creek/Paid with their albino embossed express frank at upper left to Yreka. Docketed Aug 9, 1861.
Chase's Express/Yreka/Deadwood &/Indian Creek/Paid

By Chase's Express/Yreka/Deadwood &/Indian Creek/Paid with their albino embossed express frank at upper left to Yreka.



Western Expresses Cherokee Express - 1854 to 1864
This small express operated between Oroville and the so-called Cherokee diggings across Table Mountain nearby, connecting with Wells Fargo at Oroville. Both Oroville and Cherokee had post offices by late 1854; thus, the need for an express between the two towns, a distance of only about 14 miles, doesn't make sense, unless the express was also providing the service of running the mail in and out of the surrounding mining areas. Captain Darrach, to whom virtually all the Cherokee Express covers are addressed, was the County Clerk for Butte County. Delivery to the County Clerk may have had something to do with mining claims; hence, the need to deliver quickly and directly to the addressee.
Cherokee Express

By Cherokee Express from Cherokee to Oroville; Wells Fargo & Co. Oroville Jan 6 for delivery to Mr. Darrach.


Gold Camps Of The Feather River



Western Expresses Cheyenne & Black Hills Express - Feb, 1876 to 1878
Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Co's Express

Part of a paste-up carried by Wells Fargo & Co. with their Belmont, Nev. Feb 2 and Austin, Nev. Feb 3 handstamps to Cheyenne Wyo. Feb 4 (postmark) then by the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Co's Express from Cheyenne to an unknown location in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory. 1877 or 1878 use, based on partners in the business and dates of operation. It is not clear why the Cheyenne postmark would have been applied, as it appears as though the cover was carried privately by Wells Fargo and the Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage Co. The 3¢ rate (prepayment required) was effective from Mar 3, 1863 to Oct 1, 1883 when it was reduced to 2¢.
The Wyoming territorial legislature passed a bill in Dec, 1875 authorizing the establishment of a daily passenger and express service between Cheyenne and the Black Hills of Dakota Territory. William H. Brown and his son-in-law Frank D. Yates started to carry the mail to Spotted Tail agency in Jan, 1876. The first stage, or wagon, of F. D. Yates & Company started on Feb 3. On Feb 12, William "Stuttering" Brown purchased the entire operation including the mail contract on behalf of John "Jack" T. Gilmer, Monroe Salisbury, and Mathewson T. Patrick of Gilmer & Salisbury Stage Co. This operation was combined with a small stage line operating from Salt Lake City under the direction of Luke Voorhees. The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage, Mail and Express route ran from the railroad at Cheyenne north to Fort Laramie and from there into Custer City in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory. This mail run was called the Cheyenne & Black Hills Route. Deadwood was added to the line later in 1876. At some point in 1878, Patrick departed as a partner and the two surviving partners changed the name of the service to the Black Hills Express. The service was sold to Russell Thorp in May, 1883 who continued its operation until Feb, 1887 when it went out of business.



Western Expresses Cram, Rogers, & Co's Express - 1851 to Mar 27, 1855
Robert B. Cram of Shasta, Frank A. Rogers of Yreka, and Edwin Rowe of Weaverville formed the nucleus of this operation in 1851. Cram Rogers & Co. was the major express operator in northern California and southern Oregon during the early 1850's. They added partners A. E. Raynes (of Raynes & Company) and Richard Dugan (of Dugan & Company) in 1853. These later additions gave Cram, Rogers, & Co. control of the area from Jacksonville, Oregon to Shasta, California and to Crescent City, California. They connected with Adams, Gregory and Newell & Company until their failure on Mar 27, 1855.
Cram Rogers & Cos Express Yreka to Shasta

Folded letter written in German headed Yreka City Dec 11, 1853 carried by Cram Rogers & Cos Express Yreka to Shasta; then by Adams & Co. Express Shasta to San Francisco.


Yreka City Date Line

Yreka to San Francisco



Western Expresses Cram, Rogers, & Co's Express - 1851 to Mar 27, 1855
Cram, Roger's & Co Express Weaverville

By Cram, Roger's & Co Express Weaverville with their PAID oval to Shasta; exchanged with Adams & Co Augst 7 Shasta to San Francisco.
Cram, Roger's & Co Express Weaverville

By Cram, Roger's & Co Express Weaverville likely to Shasta; exchanged with Adams to San Francisco, with Adams & Co Sacramento transit mark.


Weaverville in 1856

Weaverville in 1856



Western Expresses Cram, Rogers, & Co's Express - 1851 to Mar 27, 1855
Cram, Roger's & Co Express Yreka

ca Jan, 1854 by Cram, Roger's & Co Express Yreka to Shasta; exchanged with Adams & Co Jany 18 Shasta to Marysville; again by Adams & Co. Jan 20 Marysville to San Francisco. The manuscript pre-canceled 3¢ 1851 issue adhesive was probably applied by Adams in Shasta.


Cram Rogers Express route in blue; Adams Express route in red

Cram Rogers Express route in blue; Adams Express route in red



Western Expresses Crary's Stage & Express Co. - Aug, 1873 to Winter, 1873
Leroy Crary ran a tri-weekly stage service between Nevada City and Dutch Flat, with stops at You Bet and Little York, starting in the fall of 1873. A letter express service connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City. The service was sold to Broadwell's Stage & Express Line in the winter of 1873.
Leroy Crary's Nevada and Dutch Flat Stage and Express Line

By Leroy Crary's Nevada and Dutch Flat Stage and Express Line to Nevada City; by Wells Fargo Nevada Jan 23 (1874) for delivery to Smartsville. The only known example from this short-lived express.


Nevada City From The West (1866)

Nevada City from the west (1866)



Western Expresses Crawford's Middle Fork Express - 1857 to 1859
Ellison Lassel Crawford formed Crawford's Middle Fork Express and is thought to have served the mining camps along the Middle Fork of the American River and its tributary, the Rubicon River, from a base at Greenwood. They connected with Wells Fargo at Greenwood.
Crawford's Middle Fork Express Oct 9

By Crawford's Middle Fork Express Oct 9 from the mining camps to Greenwood; by Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Greenwood to San Francisco.
Crawford's Middle Fork Express

By post office from Big Oak Flat, Cal Oct 12 to Greenwood; then by Crawford's Middle Fork Express with their red handstamp (one of only five known examples of this marking) for delivery to the mining camps.


Gereenwood Mining Camp Map



Western Expresses Crooks Express - 1858 to Feb, 1860
A. D. Crook ran his express service from Yreka to the mines along the Scott and Klamath Rivers. Crooks is thought to have connected with Wells Fargo at Yreka.
Crooks Express Scotts River

By Crooks Express Scotts River from Klamath River to Yreka; by the US mails from Yreka, Cal Jun 16, 1858 to Alexandria, Virginia. Interesting letter dated May 6, 1858 from Klamath River transcribed in part below, and in its entirety on the following page. Note that took over five weeks to get to Yreka!


Klamath River
...I only regret that I cannot give you more general information concerning the Eldorado which our present isolated locality prevents us from doing. The only communication to Crescent City or Trinidad at the coast (100 miles) is by pack mules...The office of sheriff in worth in the vicinity of 8000$ a year; he is elected after the real Whig and Democratic style; all prior sheriffs have gambled off the county funds and left the county in arrears. The office of the district attorney is worth so little that no lawyer would give bonds and take it...The mines in this portion of the state are not paying on an average of One dollar a day for all the labor expended; notwithstanding some few do well, but that few is fast diminishing. It is our intention to wind up mining as soon as possible, as the labor is hard and the chances distant...Just imagine the reminiscences you awake in ones bosom when you speak of being in love with two ladies, when our eyes have not enjoyed the sight of one for two and a half years...



Western Expresses Crooks Express - 1858 to Feb, 1860
Klamath River


Friend Miner,
Dear Sir,
With feelings of the deepest gratification I received your welcome letter and am thankful for the interesting news which it contains. I only regret that I cannot give you more general information concerning the Eldorado which our present isolated locality prevents us from doing. The only communication to Crescent City or Trinidad at the coast (100 miles) is by pack mules. This added to the danger of landing goods without harbors, makes provisions &c five times as high as in any of the other States. Owing to the mountains and bluffs I do not think we have five miles of wagon road in this Country. Our greatest facilities for traveling is bestride a mule, up hill and down, going at the rate of twenty five miles a day. In Oregon all the rivers flow through fertile flats which produce almost anything. At times when packing is cheap we get flour from there, which is equal to any we have ever seen. On small flats along the rivers we produce all the vegetables we require here. In all the northern Counties the population is very small and scattered over magnificent distances, even on mining rivers often from five to ten miles without a single inhabitant.

Klamath County was divided two years ago the northern portion forming Del Norte with Crescent City, containing about 500 inhabitants, as the county seat. This portion retains the original name, with a small mining hamlet, containing, say, 150 inhabitants. 35 miles below here, on the Klamath River, for the county seat, in and about these towns reside from 2 to 4 lawyers the county judge and sheriff. The salary of the county judge has been reduced from 3000$ to 1500$ a year. The office of sheriff in worth in the vicinity of 8000$ a year; he is elected after the real Whig and Democratic style; all prior sheriffs have gambled off the county funds and left the county in arrears. The office of the district attorney is worth so little that no lawyer would give bonds and take it. In fact our whole county organization is very imperfect, with very little legal business, nearly all disputes are settled by arbitration. The mines in this portion of the state are not paying on an average of One dollar a day for all the labor expended; notwithstanding some few do well, but that few is fast diminishing. It is our intention to wind up mining as soon as possible, as the labor is hard and the chances distant. The climate is mild - in the summer dry - in the winter wet, and at all times superior to any part of the Eastern States. The country is healthy and the water good, beyond description. Just imagine the reminiscences you awake in ones bosom when you speak of being in love with two ladies, when our eyes have not enjoyed the sight of one for two and a half years. Notwithstanding the disadvantages of California life, it would be preferred by persons fond of adventure to any other. From the best information, Southern California is far superior to this portion, resembling in a manner the Western States with a greater consolidation of money. To write a minute description would be repeating what we have written often, so by conversing with my brother he will give you all information.

As regards a man's chances here for advancement I have not one word to say, we cannot see one moment in advance. The brightest prospects are blighted, and day dawns on the darkest instantaneously, as far as future prospects go, "Truly this is a land of darkness". In some portions of this State the business of law is called good. I am much pleased to hear of your elevation to the bar particularly with the "honest", which I believe very few have ever accomplished. I must now conclude by assuring you that it would give me the greatest pleasure to meet and render you any service in my power, but the miners here are in no fixed place. I intend leaving as soon as possible.
With kind regards to all,
I remain your affectionate friend,
F. W. Miner, Atty at Law, Hiel Camp
Alexandria
Va.
6th May 1858
Western Expresses Davis & Bros. Express - 1851 to 1852
New Garden, Ia Aug 26 - Forwarded By Davis & Brothers Express

New Garden, Ia Aug 26 (ca 1852) with 10 (due) to Marysville; Forwarded By Davis & Brothers Express to Mr. Osborn at Rich's Bar, with light pencil express notations by Davis & Brothers of R.B. and 1.50 (express rate). One of only three known examples from this express.


Rich Bar on the Feather River

Rich Bar on the Feather River



Western Expresses Deming & Walls Express - ca 1856 to 1857
Deming & Wall's Union and Eureka Express was founded by Byron Deming and William H. Wall and operated in Humboldt County, California between Union (Uniontown, now Arcata) and Eureka by ship. In 1860 Byron Deming was listed in "Stimson's Express Directory" as an agent for Wells, Fargo in Uniontown.
Union and Eureka Express. Deming & Wall, Paid

By Union and Eureka Express. Deming & Wall, Paid in their printed frank envelope from Union to Bucksport (from ca1856). The only reported use from this company.


Map of towns served by Deming and Wall on Humboldt Bay

Map of towns served by Deming and Wall on Humboldt Bay



Western Expresses Denver & Rio Grande Express - Jun, 1880 to 1903
The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad ran this express service as part of their rail service over the lines throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Globe Express Company took over this operation on Sep 30, 1903.
Denver and Rio Grande Express Franked Letter

Denver and Rio Grande Express Franked Letter to Kansas City, by post office Kansas City, Mo. May 18 7 PM 96 (1896) to St. Louis.


From the Express Gazette, Volume 28 (1903)

From the Express Gazette, Volume 28 (1903)



Western Expresses Devils Gate Express - 1861 to (1865)
This express operated in and around Carson City, Gold Hill, and Virginia City, Nevada. Devils Gate is a natural rock pass on the road between Virginia City and Gold Hill. This restriction was the only quick way between the two points and formed a natural place for highwaymen to prey on travelers. By 1862, a toll road was established through this section of the mountains.
Devils Gate Express

By Devils Gate Express with 25 rate notation in pencil to Carson City; by post office from Carson City Nev. Aug 4 to San Francisco. One of only about six known Devils Gate Express usages, this being the only one in red ink.


Devils Gate

Devils Gate photograph from 1866, published by Lawrence and Houseworth.


Western Expresses Dodge & Co.'s Express - Oct, 1850 to Aug, 1851
Dodge & Co's Express first advertised their express service on the ocean to ocean route on October 14, 1850 and their last advertisement appeared on August 4, 1851. They served as agents for Mumby & Co's Express in San Francisco and arranged shipments of gold and letters, via Panama, to the East. Thomas notes that from surviving marks they had offices in Boston, New Orleans, New York, Panama and San Francisco.
Forwarded by Dodge & Co's Express

Forwarded by Dodge & Co's Express from San Francisco to Panama (caMay, 1851) with FREE handstamp, addressed to the editor of the Panama Echo. Express companies often carried letters and newspapers free to editors of newspapers who in return were expected to thank the express company in print for supplying the current news.


View of Panama City

View of Panama City



Western Expresses Doherty's Half Moon Bay Express - 1864 to (1865)
Richard Doherty ran a stage line between Half Moon Bay and San Mateo, also carrying express material over the route. Doherty owned the Pescadero House in San Mateo County. He was an omnibus driver for the Bowman & Gardner stage line in San Francisco during most of the 1850's.
Doherty's [Half Moon] Bay Express

By Doherty's [Half Moon] Bay Express to San Francisco. The US government required equivalent US postage on privately carried mails beginning Aug 31, 1852. The 3¢ rate became effective Mar 3, 1863.


Doherty's Hotel

Doherty's hotel, which likely served as the stage and express station during its operation, is shown in this 1878 lithograph with a stage in front.



Western Expresses Drake's Express - 1859 to 1860
Very little is known about this express, except that it is thought to have operated from Volcanoville to the Middle Fork of the American River. The only known example of any Drake's Express marking is this handstamp on newspaper piece.
Drake's Express

Drake's Express marking in red on piece of front page of Hutching's California Magazine, with notation on piece to the same effect, with the date 1859 added. Likely carried from Volcanoville to the diggings nearby.


Volcanoville



Western Expresses Dugan and Wall Express - Apr, 1858 to (1863)
Richard Dugan and Joe Wall operated this express out of Crescent City, connecting inland with Johnson's Express, and with both Nichols and Freemans Expresses to San Francisco. Wells Fargo was added as a connecting partner in Dec, 1859. They concentrated on serving Northern California and Southern Oregon as a package and parcel carrier.
Dugan & Wall Express & G. P. Johnson's Inland Express

By Dugan & Wall Express Forwarders & Commission Merchants Crescent City, Cal to Crescent City; then by G. P. Johnson's Inland Express to Yreka. Johnson's express only operated from 1858-1859, running from Crescent City to Sailor's Diggins, Oregon (and apparently on to Yreka) One of three examples of the Dugan & Wall's franks: two handstamps and one printed; and one of only two examples of any kind of usage from G. P. Johnson's Express.


Crescent City



Western Expresses Edgar & Burke's Canyon City Express - Fall 1864
Addison (Ad) Edgar took in A.J. Burke as a partner after Horatio Jones left Jones & Edgar's Express, changing the name to Edgar & Burke's Canyon City Express. In late 1864, this express operated from Dalles, Oregon to Canyon City and points in Idaho.
Edgar & Burke's Canyon City Express PAID

By Edgar & Burke's Canyon City Express PAID in their franked envelope from one of the outlying mining areas to Canyon City; by post office with Canyon City Ogn Sept 9 [1864] manuscript postmark to Eureka, California. One of only three known Edgar & Burke's covers.


Lineage of The Dalles, OR to Canyon City Expresses
Lineage of The Dalles, OR to Canyon City Expresses (from Oregon Express Companies by Dale Forster)



Western Expresses English's Express - early 1864
Joseph R. English is thought to have operated English's Express out of Nevada City between Moore's Flat, Eureka South, and Emigrant Gap, connecting with Wells Fargo at Nevada City. Around 1864, English combined his express with that of L. H. Wells to form English and Wells Express.
English's Express PAID

By English's Express PAID in their franked envelope to Nevada; by Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Apr 19 [1864] to Folsom. The notation at lower left states "Ling Lee is a China man." This rebacked front is the only known example of any usage from English's Express.


Sep 15, 1863 article in the Sacramento Daily Union
This Sep 15, 1863 article in the Sacramento Daily Union lists J. R. English as a passenger en route to California



Western Expresses Estill & Co - June, 1850 to August, 1850
Colonel James M. Estill made a single round-trip on the Oregon-to-California Trail between Weston, Missouri and Pacific Spring, in the Sweetwater River Valley of present day Wyoming. His idea was to promote a transcontinental express service in lieu of the US mail by collecting the mail along the emigrant trail for a fee of 50¢ per letter. Estill reportedly deposited 4000 letters into the US mail system at Weston, Missouri on Aug 16, 1850. Only a handful of Estill Express covers are known to survive, all sent collect 10¢.
Estills & Co Express

By Estills & Co Express from along the overland trail to Weston, Mo. Aug 16 (1850) with their red postmark and red 10 (due) for delivery to Iowa. June 19 - 50 pencil docket on verso probably indicates the dateline of the letter that was once enclosed; Received August 26th 1850 in manuscript on verso reveals rather lengthy ten day delivery from Weston, Missouri to Oskaloosa, Iowa.


Weston, Missouri to Oskaloosa, Iowa



Western Expresses Estill & Co - June, 1850 to August, 1850
St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican

St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican
May 7, 1850
Salt Lake City Deseret News Jul 15, 1850
Salt Lake City Deseret News Jul 15, 1850
Salt Lake City Deseret News Jul 20, 1850

Salt Lake City Deseret News Jul 20, 1850
Salt Lake City Deseret News Jul 24, 1850
Salt Lake City Deseret News Jul 24, 1850
Salt Lake City Deseret News Jul 27, 1850
Salt Lake City Deseret News Jul 27, 1850
St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican
St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican
Aug 9, 1850



Western Expresses Eureka Express - 1870 to 1893
Eureka Express operated between the north and south forks of the Yuba River from a base at North Bloomfield, serving the Eureka Mining area. They connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City and North San Juan.
Eureka Express Co.

  • By Eureka Express Co. PAID in their franked envelope which notes Connecting With Wells, Fargo & Co. Nevada Cal.; exchanged with Wells Fargo Nevada Mar [x] for delivery to San Francisco.
  • PAID Eureka Express Co. in their Type 2 franked envelope; exchanged with Wells Fargo Nevada Nov xx for delivery to San Francisco.
  • PAID Eureka Express Co. in their Type 3 franked envelope; by post office Nevada City, Cal Oct 2, 1894 to North Bloomfield, Cal.



Western Expresses Eureka Express - 1870 to 1893
Eureka Express Co. No. Bloomfield

By Eureka Express Co. No. Bloomfield to Mohawk Valley, Cal. Carried entirely outside the mails by Eureka Express Company.


Bloomfield to Mohawk Valley, Cal. Map



Western Expresses Eureka, Rohnerville & Hydesville Express - 1870
The "Business Directory for the Pacific States and Territories for 1878" jointly lists for Hydesville "Bullard & Sweasey" as blacksmiths, and "T. W. Sweasy" (mispelled?) as running a livery stable. These occupations would be consistent with someone who had previously run an express service. No other information has been located on this apparently short-lived express.

Eureka, Rohnerville & Hydesville Express Bullard & Sweasey Proprietors
By Eureka, Rohnerville & Hydesville Express Bullard & Sweasey Proprietors, to Eureka; entered the mails with Eureka, Cal Oct 1 (1870) postmark for delivery to San Francisco. Williams lists this Eureka postmark as having been used from Apr 24, 1869 to Mar 21, 1871. The Scott #U82 envelope was issued in 1870, dating this cover to 1870. William Sammis' article in the June, 2000 issue of Western Express provides additional detail.

Eureka, Rohnerville & Hydesville Express Bullard & Sweasey Proprietors



Western Expresses Evans & Co.'s Express - 1862 to 1863
Evans & Co.'s Jacksonville & Crescent City Express was apparently operated by Henry Evans and operated in 1862 and 1863. The route was between Crescent City, California and Jacksonville, Oregon as the name would imply.
Evans & Co.'s Jacksonville & Crescent City Express

By Evans & Co.'s Jacksonville & Crescent City Express from Crescent City, CA to Jacksonville, OR. Enclosed letter datelined Crescent City Feb 3, 1863 transcribed, in part, below. One of only two known usages from this express.


Dateline Crescent City Feb 3, 1863

Dear Cousin Hannibal,

... The Copper excitement is as great here as ever and since they have so much San Francisco has capital and interests centered here all feel very hopeful. There are some of the Co's that think they have now undoubtedly found the load - The Alta has received some very good offers lately. They received an offer from parties in San Francisco or Sacramento of a hundred thousand dollars for two thirds of the mine the other third to be inaccessible forever but they did not accept...

L. G. Wendell



Western Expresses The Frank D. Everts Expresses - 1850 to 1862
Frank Darwin Everts operated Everts & Company's Express from the Central House Ranch, about 12 miles northeast of Marysville. He served the Gibsonville Ridge region and parts of Sierra County north of the North Fork of the Yuba River and south of the North Fork of the Feather River. In September of 1851, the Central House Ranch building was destroyed by fire and all of Everts' mail listings were lost. The office was moved to the Eli Lester Rabbit Creek House at Rabbit Creek (renamed Rabbit Town and finally La Porte in Oct, 1857). Indications are that he ran a mail listing through the post office at Marysville during this period. In May-June, 1852, he formed a partnership with John Adam Snell and the name of the operation was changed to Everts, Snell & Co. Various other partnerships followed until on Sep 1,1862 the routes and possibly all of the express business were sold to Holland, Morley & Co.

Frank D. Everts

Frank D. Everts had numerous business partners during his time in the express business:
Everts & Co.
Everts, Snell & Co.
F. D. Everts & Co.
Sold to Adams/Reclaimed
Everts (after Adams)
Everts, Davis & Co.
Everts, Hannon, Wilson & Co.
Everts, Wilson & Co.
1850 - Jun, 1852
Jun, 1852 - Jan 25, 1854
Jan 25, 1854 - Feb, 1855
Feb, 1855 - Mar, 1855
Mar, 1855 - May 10, 1855
May 10, 1855 - Aug, 1856
Aug, 1856 - a few weeks
Sep, 1856 - 1862



Western Expresses Everts & Co. Express - 1850 to Jun, 1852
Everts & Co's Express

Forwarded by Everts & Co's Express from Nelson Creek to Marysville; by post office to San Francisco with Marysville Cal Aug 26 (1851) postmark and 5 rate marking. Enclosed letter from semi-literate writer datelined Nelsons Krick the 10th of August, 1851, transcribed below (sic).


Nelsons Krick the 10th of August, 1851

Mr. John Center, San Francisko
Dear Sir,
I got the opportunity to find your direktion of Mr. Turner from his claim and I am now keep the Ameriken Ranch. I cam here bi Land and are in good Helt. I wish you wod send me few word and if you have any thing to imploi at and wath you are doing, you can depende on me now as you have don before. Do not forget to give me your direktion and some interesting news for me and I schall be with you as soon as Posible, Send one letter to Sacramento and one to Nelsons Krick
Better yours
Obedient servent [servant]
M. Rudolph Lundblad [?]



Western Expresses Everts & Co. Express - 1850 to Jun, 1852
Everts & Co. Express

Unclear origin. Very light pencil notation Sept 26, 1851 would indicate that the PAID marking with "6" manuscript prepays the rate in effect Jul 1, 1851 for distances >3000 miles, leading one to believe an east coast origin. Forwarded by Everts & Cos Express from Sacramento to the mines in Brownsville with pencil notation $1.50 express rate and Bl, Everts' directive for Brownsville.
Everts & Cos Express Feather River

Albion, Mich Jul 15 (1852) PAID 6 to Sacramento; by Everts & Cos Express Feather River to Brownsville, per Everts' BrV and 1.25 express directive and rate notations in pencil. Light pencil "1852" below Albion postmark, perhaps dated when contents were still present.



Western Expresses Everts, Snell & Company - Jun, 1852 to Jan 25, 1854
Evert Snell & Cos. Feather River

Dalton O. Aug 6 (1852) with 10 (unpaid) rate marking to Sacramento City; by Evert Snell & Cos. Feather River to Lexington House (near Downieville) with Everts Snell's Lex and 1.25 express directive and rate notations in pencil.
Everts & Cos Express Feather River

Columbus Ohio Oct 14 (1852) with PAID 6 rate marking to Sacramento; by Evert Snell & Cos. Feather River to Spanish Flat with Everts Snell's S.F. and 1.50 express directive and rate notations in pencil. The Evert (error spelling) Snell handstamp was used into March 1853, when it was replaced with the corrected Everts Snell marking.



Western Expresses Everts, Snell & Company - Jun, 1852 to Jan 25, 1854
Evert Snell & Cos. Feather River

Auburn N.Y. Aug 3 (1853) with Paid 6 in circle indicating prepayment of postage to Sacramento City; by Everts Snell & Cos Express Feather River with pencil 6c GD 1.50 indicating $1.50 express fee due by addressee at Gibsonville Diggings. Pencil docketing Rec'd Gibsonville Sept 26th 1853 dates this cover. Gibsonville was on a ridge between the South Fork of the Feather River and the North Fork of the Yuba River.
Everts & Cos Express Feather River

By Everts Snell & Cos. Express Feather River from Marysville to Bidwells Bar with express rate notation of 25 cents. C. B. Macy, sender of this letter, was Adams agent in Marysville. Docketing on verso indicates Apr 1, 1854 receipt, during the F. D. Everts & Co. period of operation.



Western Expresses Everts, Snell & Company - Jun, 1852 to Jan 25, 1854
Everts, Snell & Co Express Gibsonville.

By Everts, Snell & Co Express Gibsonville. to Marysville; entered the mails with red Marysville Cal. Mar 31 (1854) postmark and blue grid cancels tying two 3. 1851 issue adhesives to Terre Haute, Indiana. Gibsonville March 20th, 1854 heading on miner's letter transcribed, in part, below. The unique example of this marking.


Gibsonville Date Line

...Father says that some of my letters are not post paid, I am sure I sent the money for the Postage - when I had no stamps...about a week ago a man got his leg broke by some dirt falling upon him whilst mining and two others (each) got their legs broke today, each one in different drifts, I should think so many accidents would make people more careful...here we cannot take a rocker and go out and make something every day as we could down on Feather River. I think I shall quit mining before long and go to Teaming or something else unless I have better luck than I have had lately...today a man had his leg amputated, he had got it broken about a month ago and the doctor bound it too tight and it mortified...Amory K. Blinn



Western Expresses F. D. Everts & Co. - Jan 25, 1854 to Feb, 1855
Everts & Co's Express St. Louis Connecting with Adams & Co.

By Everts & Co's Express St. Louis Connecting with Adams & Co. from St. Louis to Marysville; by post office Marysville, Cal. Aug 31 (1854) with integral rate 10 to Connecticut. The only known example of this marking.


Everts & Co's Express St. Louis Connecting with Adams & Co.



Western Expresses F. D. Everts & Co. - Jan 25, 1854 to Feb, 1855
Adams & Co's Express Columbia

By Adams & Co's Express Columbia Sept 8 (1854) with their PAID handstamp to Marysville; by Everts & Co's Express Marysville Connecting with Adams & Co. from Marysville to "Junction of Nelson Creek & Feather River". Carried privately by Adams and Everts, showing their relationship.


Adams and Everts Carriage Map
Adams carriage in red from Columbia to Marysville; Everts in blue from Marysville to Nelson Creek.



Western Expresses F. D. Everts & Co. - Jan 25, 1854 to Feb, 1855
Adams & Co. San Francisco Nov 9

By Adams & Co. San Francisco Nov 9 (1854) to Marysville; exchanged with Everts & Co. for delivery to Bidwell's Bar with their Everts & Cos. Express Marysville Connecting with Adams & Co. handstamp known used in 1854-1855 (with "Connecting with Adams & Co." removed after Adams & Co.'s failure on Feb 23, 1855). Express rate collect 25 (¢) at upper right.


Adams route to Marysville in blue and Everts & Co's route to Bidwell's Bar in red

Adams route to Marysville in blue and Everts & Co's route to Bidwell's Bar in red



Western Expresses Everts/Adams - Feb, 1855 to Mar, 1855
Everts & Cos Express Marysville Connecting with Adams & Co

Georgetown/Ky (early 1855) with two 3¢ 1851 adhesives prepaying 6¢ postage to Marysville; by Everts & Cos Express Marysville Connecting with Adams & Co with initial express fee of Coll 25¢ changed to Coll 100¢ upon redirection to "Opposite Mouth Nelson Creek, Plumas Co". Nelson Creek flows into the Middle Fork of the Feather River, near Quincy. Prepaid rate of 6¢ in effect Jul 1, 1851 to Apr 1, 1855 when it was increased to 10¢.
Everts & Cos Express Marysville Connecting with

Georgetown/Ky Apr 12 (1855) with pair of 3¢ 1851 adhesives pen cancelled; however, the prepaid rate for distances >3000 miles changed from 6¢ to 10¢ on Apr 1, 1855. Apparently, the postmaster at Georgetown realized this after Apr 12, held the letter in his office until the sender returned on Apr 14, collected an additional 4¢, marked it PAID 4, and sent it on to Marysville. From Marysville by Everts & Cos Express Marysville Connecting with ("Adams & Co" removed) for delivery "opposite mouth of Nelson Creek".



Western Expresses Everts/Adams - Feb, 1855 to Mar, 1855
Everts & Co.'s Express Gibsonville

By Everts & Co.'s Express Gibsonville ("Connecting with Adams & Co." removed) to Marysville; by post office with Marysville, Cal. Apr 14 PAID by Stamps to New York. Underpaid use of 6¢ rate, as the >3000 mile rate had increased to 10¢ effective Apr 1, 1855. Enclosed letter datelined Gibsonville, March the 27th, 1855 transcribed, in part, below.

Everts & Co.'s Express Gibsonville

Gibsonville Date Line

...I sent Cyrus a draft on Adams & Co. New York for fifty dollars and about one week after they failed in this state, but I don't see any account of their failing in the Atlantic States so I shall live in hopes that he will get that till I hear to the contrary...Horatio T. C. Waters



Western Expresses Everts/Adams - Feb, 1855 to Mar, 1855
Everts & Cos. Express Forbestown

By Everts & Cos. Express Forbestown Connecting with ("Adams" removed) & Co. to Marysville; exchanged with Pacific Express Co, Marysville Jan 29 (1856) to Sacramento. Docket at left Rec'd Sacramento Jan 30, 1856, well after Everts/Adams, and Everts return to sole operation, and into the Everts, Davis, & Co. period which began May 10, 1855. Letter datelined New York Flat transcribed, in part, below.


New York Date Line

I as clerk of an Independent Rifle Company at this place take the privilege of requesting you to...go to the Quarter Master Generals Office and inquire of General Kibbe if the requisition that we made for arms has been attended to... we are bound to have some arms from the state. Our company was regularly organized and our officers have received their commissions. Our captain is our old friend Calloway...I remain with much respect your Obt Servt
Guy F. Seely



Western Expresses Everts, Davis & Cos. Express - May 10, 1855 to Aug, 1856
F. D. Everts & Co. changed to Everts, Davis & Co. in May, 1855 and used Rabbit Creek or Rabbit Town (name changed to LaPorte in Oct, 1857) as their center of operations. The partners in this business were Frank D. Everts, Henry C. Everts, G. O. Davis, James St. Clair Wilson, and M. W. Hannon. During this period, the express served the Gibsonville Ridge region and the area north of the North Fork of the Yuba River and south of the North Fork of the Feather River. They connected at first with Pacific Express in Marysville and later, it is believed, with Wells Fargo.
Everts, Davis & Co's. Express Marysville

By Everts, Davis & Co's. Express Marysville with PAID in circle to Pine Grove House. Pine Grove was located between St. Louis and Howland Flat at the base of Sugar Loaf Mountain, and existed from 1852 to 1867.


Location of Pine Grove House Map



Western Expresses Everts, Davis & Cos. Express - May 10, 1855 to Aug, 1856
Everts, Davis & Co's. Express Marysville

By Pacific Express Co. Sacramento Oct 31 (ca1855) to Marysville, exchanged with Everts, Davis & Co's. Express Marysville for delivery to Bidwell's Bar.


Lithograph of Marysville in 1856

Lithograph of Marysville in 1856



Western Expresses Everts, Davis & Cos. Express - May 10, 1855 to Aug, 1856
Everts, Davis & Cos. Express Nelson Creek

By Everts, Davis & Cos. Express Nelson Creek to Marysville; by post office from Marysville, Cal. Paid by Stamps Sep 5 (1855) to Montrose, Pa. (missing 10¢ 1851 issue adhesive). Enclosed letter datelined Mountain House No.2 Aug 1st, 1855 transcribed below:


Mountain House Date Line


Dear Brother & Sister,

You may be surprised to hear that we are in California, but such is the case. We are keeping the mountain house No.2 90 miles from Marysville. We have been here 5 weeks came down on horseback (eight hundred miles). Marcus rode by himself on a little Indian pony, the trip just suited him. We were 5 weeks coming down had no sickness. I have not time to tell you much about our journey nor anything else. McCoy's folks are well they had sold out before we got here and will start back for Iowa in a few weeks. They sold for seven thousand dollars. I do not know how much they made while on the ranch. You must excuse this short letter for I really have not time. Do not forget your mountaineer friends. Write quick. Our love to all. Yours in great haste.
Mary, Philander and Marcus
Horace, Augusta, Children, & friends in general
PS direct your letters to Marysville, California
McCoy's folks will come and see you if they can



Western Expresses Everts, Davis & Cos. Express - May 10, 1855 to Aug, 1856
Everts, Davis & Co's Express Saint Louis

By Everts, Davis & Co's Express Saint Louis with their PAID handstamp to Rabbit Creek (later Rabbit Town, then LaPorte).
Everts, Davis & Co. PAID Daily Express

By Everts, Davis & Co. PAID Daily Express franked envelope to Marysville, with manuscript notation "to M.V." (to Marysville) after the PAID designation, and "to collect in S. F. 25 cts"; by either Pacific Express or Wells Fargo from Marysville to San Francisco.



Western Expresses Everts, Hannon & Wilson & Co. - Aug, 1856 to Sep, 1856
Everts, Davis & Cos. Express St. Louis

By Everts, Hannon, Wilson & Co. Daily Express franked envelope with Everts, Davis & Cos. Express St. Louis Aug 11 (1856) to Yuba City. One of the few Everts, Hannon, Wilson & Co. franks that can be proven used during the period of that partnership's existence.


Everts, Wilson & Co's Express office in St. Louis, California (ca1857)

Everts, Wilson & Co's Express office in St. Louis, California (ca1857)



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Frank Darwin Everts, James St. Clair Wilson and most likely Frank's brother, Henry, formed Everts, Wilson & Co. They operated daily from Rabbit Town (which became La Porte in Oct, 1857) and served the Gibsonville Ridge region and parts of Sierra County north of the North Fork of the Yuba River and south of the North Fork of the Feather River. Indications are that they ran to Marysville and connecting with Pacific Express until 1857 and with Wells Fargo thereafter. There are also indications that Everts, Wilson & Co. connected with Whiting & Company at Quincy. Its principal offices were at Marysville, Rabbit Town or La Porte, Gibsonville, Saint Louis and Nelson Creek. On Sep 1,1862 the routes and possibly all of the express business were sold to Holland, Morley & Company.
Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express Pine Grove

By Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express Pine Grove with their Paid handstamp to San Francisco. Although not marked as such, this cover was in all probability exchanged with Wells Fargo at Marysville for delivery to San Francisco, as Everts, Wilson & Co. did not have a route into that city.


Pine Grove House (1867)
Pine Grove House (1867) - by this time, virtually all the pine trees had been cut for mining use.



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Everts, Davis & Co's. Express Forbestown Nov 2

By Everts, Wilson & Co's Express. PAID. frank with defunct Everts, Davis & Co's. Express Forbestown Nov 2 handstamp to Oroville. The Evert-Davis partnership ended in Aug, 1856 with Everts-Wilson partnering beginning in Sep, 1856 making this express usage, in all likelihood, from 1856.
Everts, Wilson & Co's Express.

By Everts, Wilson & Co's Express. PAID. frank to Oroville. Same type printed frank as other cover on this page, except on white government stamped envelope.



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express

PAID Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express. in their franked envelope to Forest City. This is the rare variety with comma after "Everts" in the printed frank.
Everts Wilson & Co. Daily Express.

PAID Everts Wilson & Co. Daily Express. in their franked envelope to Marysville; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co May 24 Marysville to Nevada, California. Manuscript notation Received Nevada May 24 from Langtons Express properly sealed Rufus Shoemerke Clk. No indication of carriage by Langtons. Double 3¢ rate as the enclosure was a deposition. Likely 1858 or 1859 usage.



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express

PAID Everts Wilson & Co. Daily Express. to Gibsonville; by post office from Gibsonville, Cal Feb 28 (ca 1858) to Mobile, Alabama where it was Advertised.
Everts Wilson & Co. Daily Express.

PAID Everts Wilson & Co. Daily Express. to Strawberry Valley; by post office from Strawberry Valley Cala. May 18 (ca 1858) to Meadville, Pennsylvania.



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express

PAID. Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Daily Express. to LaPorte; by post office from La Porte, Cal Nov 10, 1859 to Meadville, Pennsylvania. One of four known examples of this type printed frank.
La Porte, Sierra County




Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Everts Wilson & Co. Daily Express.

PAID. Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Daily Express. to Strawberry Valley; by post office from Strawberry Valley Cal. Mar 23 (ca 1859) to Mobile, Alabama. Unlisted variety of the Strawberry Valley postmark; Thomas Type 6 frank.
PAID. Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Daily Express.

PAID. Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Daily Express. Overland Via Los Angeles to Marysville; by post office from Marysville Cal. PAID By Stamps Nov 4 (ca 1859) to Newport, Kentucky. Thomas Type 6a printed frank.



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
PAID Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Daily Express

PAID Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Daily Express. to Marysville; by Wells, Fargo & Co. Marysville Feb 11 (1860) to San Francisco. Docketed at left February 9/60. One of ~5 known examples of this type printed frank.
PAID. Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express. with Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Express La Porte

PAID. Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express. with Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Express La Porte handstamp from La Porte to Quincy.. The unique example of this type printed frank.



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express

By Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Daily Express. PAID. to Quincy (ca 1860). One of four known examples of this type printed frank.
Everts Wilson & Co. Daily Express.

PAID Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express. to Marysville; by Wells, Fargo & Co. Maryville Jan 18 (ca 1860) to San Francisco. Although in poor condition, the unique example of this type printed frank.



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express

By Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Express. PAID. to Oroville (ca 1860). One of four known examples of this type printed frank, one of which is in Wiltsee.
Everts Wilson & Co. Daily Express.

By Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Express La Porte to Quincy. Answd March 8, 1862 docketing at left. Very late Everts, Wilson usage, within months of being sold to Holland, Morley & Co.



Western Expresses Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express - Sep, 1856 to 1862
Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express

By Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Express PAID to Gibsonville; by post office Gibsonville Cal Apr 30 to Quincy. The only recorded example of this Everts, Wilson & Co.'s printed frank.
Everts, Wilson & Co. Daily Express

PAID. Everts, Wilson & Co.'s Daily Express. to LaPorte; by Holland, Morley & Co's Express La Porte, Cal. to Marysville; by Wells Fargo & Co.'s Express from Marysville to San Francisco. A rare type of Everts, Wilson printed frank, used very late in the Everts Wilson period, or after the sale to Holland, Morley & Co. as a leftover printed frank. Likely late 1862 usage.



Western Expresses Fargo & Co.'s Express - 1852 to 1853
Annon Fargo and W. E. Singer were in an express partnership for few months in 1852, known as Singer and Fargo's Express. Annon Fargo decided to go out on his own in later 1852 when W. S. Dean was brought into the company. Fargo & Co's Express operated from 1852 to 1853, using Marysville as a base to serve the mines along the North Fork of the Feather River.
Fargo & Co.'s Feather River Express

Farmington, Iowa Jan 5 [1853] with manuscript 10 (due) rate marking to Sacramento City; by Fargo & Co.'s Feather River Express to Rush Creek, per Fargo's pencil notation. Rush Creek is one of the feeder streams into the North Fork of the Feather River. Enclosed letter datelined Salubria [Iowa] Jan 4, 1853.


Sacramento City to Meekers Flat Map





Fargo & Co.'s Feather River Express

Farmington, Iowa Aug 30 [1853] with handstamp 10 (due) rate marking to Sacramento City; by Fargo & Co.'s Feather River Express to Meekers [Flat] for 1.50 express fee, per Fargo's pencil notations. Enclosed letter datelined Salubria [Iowa] Aug 29, 1853.



Western Expresses Farley's Express - 1855 to 1857
George S. Farley operated an express to the mining camps in and around Camptonville, Indian Creek, and Youngs Hill. He was based out of Camptonville and used the post office for connections.
Farley's Express Camptonville

By Farley's Express Camptonville from the mines in the area to Camptonville; by post office with Camptonville, Cal Feb 17 (ca1856) postmark to Boston on 10¢ first issue Nesbitt entire.


Early View Of Camptonville's Main Street

Early view of Camptonville's main street



Western Expresses Fast Freight Express Co. - 1864 to 1865
Fast Freight & Express Company operated in conjunction with Wells Fargo to transport letters in some limited fashion. They appear to have worked between San Francisco and Sacramento by river boat and from Sacramento to Storey, Nevada by wagon. James McWilliams is listed as agent for the company in the November, 1864 San Francisco city directory.
Fast Freight & Express Co. May 10 1865 S.F.

By Fast Freight & Express Co. May 10 1865 S.F. (San Francisco) to Sacramento; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Sac. Messenger May 10 to Oroville. The only known example from this express. San


San Francisco Daily Alta California ad from Apr 11, 1864

San Francisco Daily Alta California ad from Apr 11, 1864



Western Expresses Ford's Express - Aug, 1850 to early 1852
Little is known about this express, as no advertisements have been found. The few known covers as addressed to, or are from, Sacramento and Mormon Gulch and date from Aug, 1850 to Jan, 1852. The two handstamps known used by Ford's Express are shown on this page.
Ford & Cos Express

Belleville Illinois Jan 8 (1851) with manuscript 40 (collect) to Sacramento City; by Ford & Cos Express, likely to the mines in the Greenwood area; 1.65 Ford's rate in manuscript ($1.25 express fee, plus 40¢ collect). Docketing on verso Rec'd Sunday March 16th 1851, with note Folks all well. The rate for mail (either prepaid or due) to the Pacific Coast was 40¢ prior to July 1, 1851.
Ford & Cos Express

Forwarded by Ford & Co's Express, likely from the Greenwood area mines, to Sacramento; by post office Sacramento City Jan 15 (1852) to Missouri via Panama and New York. Docketed "Answered March 15th 1852".



Western Expresses Ford's Express - Aug, 1850 to early 1852


Ford & Cos Express

Forwarded by Ford & Co's Express, likely from the Greenwood area mines to Sacramento; by post office Sacramento City, Cal Sep 29 (1851) with 10 (due) to Hopkinton, New York. Folded letter datelined California August 29th transcribed, in part, below. One of only four known examples of this type Ford's handstamp.


Dateline California August 29th

...It is beginning to grow cold up here in the mountains and winter is coming on and I must begin to look for winter quarters you probably know that I am by self and none of the old company with me don't think I am rude for I am not I am as steady as the day is long you perhaps would like to know how I spend my evenings. I will tell you I work for six dollars a day. Bord is 12 dollars a week so mornings and evenings I chop wood for my bord so you see I am industrious. I hope this finds you all well and give my love to all the senoritas...



Western Expresses Francis & Co.'s Express - Nov, 1859 to May, 1862
Robert Francis and James S. Bump formed Francis & Co.'s Express in late 1859. Based out of Gibsonville, they ran to La Porte, Onion Valley, and Nelson's Point. They connected with Whiting & Co. at Quincy; Everts, Wilson & Co. at La Porte; and Wells, Fargo at Marysville. The express operated as Francis' Express after Bump left the partnership. Holland, Morley & Company bought them out in May, 1862.
PAID Francis & Co.'s Express

PAID Francis & Co.'s Express printed frank from the mining region of the Gibsonville Ridge on the Feather River to La Porte; by government mail from La Porte Cal. Sep 5 1860 to Greenfield, Mass.
La Porte, Sierra County



Western Expresses Freeman's Express - Nov, 1850 to Nov, 1851
John M Freeman bought out T.R. Hawley's interest in Hawley's Express on Nov 11, 1850. The route was between Sacramento City and San Francisco by steamboat with further service to river offices north to Marysville. Adams Express operated as Freeman's agent and expediter in San Francisco. The express served as a trunk line connecting at Sacramento with Bower's Express for service to Nevada City and with Langton's Express for service to Downieville. After his purchase of Mumby's Express in June 1851, Freeman sold out to Adams & Co on Nov 8, 1851. After serving as an agent for Adams & Co for several years, he started a new Freeman's Express after Adam's failure in February 1855.
Freeman & Co. Express

By Freeman & Co. Express from Sacramento City to San Francisco with manuscript Paid $1.00 denoting prepayment of express fee and notation with pkg of $200-. Folded business letter datelined Sacramento City Mar 14, 1851.


Newspaper Article
Newspaper Article



Western Expresses Freeman's Express - Nov, 1850 to Nov, 1851
Freeman & Cos. Express

By Freeman & Cos. Express from San Francisco to Sacramento City, carried on the steamboat New World that departed same day. Merchant's letter mentions: One of my friends has a lot of 40 cases of Clicquot Champagne... he will take $15 per case.


Dateline
San Francisco Alta California Article From the Jul 3, 1851 issue of the San Francisco Alta California



Western Expresses Freeman's Express - Nov, 1850 to Nov, 1851
Freeman & Cos. Express

Light handstamp Forwarded by Todd & Co's Express in Oct-Nov, 1851 from Stockton to San Francisco; Forwarded by Freeman & Co's Express San Francisco to Vallejo with 50 cts (due) express rate notation. Vallejo was the California state capital beginning Jan 2, 1852, but the state offices would have moved there several weeks before. Thus, this cover is from very late in the Freemans Express period, probably from Oct or Nov, 1851.
Forwarded By Todd & Co's Express Handstamp Forwarded By Feeman & Co's Express San Francisco Handstamp
Alexander Todd was one of the first express men in California. In July 1850 he took E. W. Colt as a partner under the Todd & Co's Express name. They operated between San Francisco and Stockton mines until Todd joined with Reynolds to form Reynolds, Todd & Co's Express in October 1851.



Western Expresses Freeman's Express - Nov, 1850 to Nov, 1851
Freeman & Cos. Express (San) Francisco

Marysville to San Francisco Apr 4, 1851 with Forwarded by Freemans & Co's Express (San) Francisco; internal docket indicates 4/- (four bits = 50¢) express charge paid by recipient. The only known example of this Freeman's Express marking with small arrows within handstamp.


Dateline Apr 4, 1851

Merchants letter enclosed reads, in part:

Please send the balance due me by Freeman's Express as soon as you can.



Western Expresses Freeman's Express - Nov, 1850 to Nov, 1851
Forwarded by Freeman & Co's Express Marysville

Forwarded by Freeman & Co's Express Marysville to San Francisco on folded business letter datelined Marysville April 8, 1851. One of only two known examples of this Freeman's marking.


Dateline Apr 4, 1851

Lithograph illustrating the Marysville fire of Aug 30, 1851

Lithograph illustrating the Marysville fire of Aug 30, 1851



Western Expresses Freeman & Company - Mar, 1855 to Late 1859
John Freeman was Adams & Company's agent in Panama at the time of the company's collapse in Feb, 1855. Shortly thereafter, he opened an express business under his name. He contracted with Cova & Company in Panama to act as his agent on the Isthmus. He quickly extended from a base in San Francisco to Australia, New York, and inward to all the mining areas of California. By July of 1858, he was handling mail to British Columbia and was a major rival to Wells Fargo. As he did in his initial express foray of 1851 (then selling to Adams), he again sold the business, this time to Wells Fargo, at the end of 1859.
Freeman & Co.'s Express/Paid Through Our California & Atlantic Express

By Freeman & Co.'s Express/Paid Through Our California & Atlantic franked first issue 10¢ Nesbitt envelope to Marysville; Marysville Cal. Feb 18 to New York City with light pencil notation supposedly dating this cover to 1859. Effective Apr 1, 1855 the rate for mail to/from the Pacific Coast was 10¢, with mandatory prepayment.


Newspaper Article



Western Expresses Freeman & Company - Mar, 1855 to Late 1859
Freeman & Co's Express San Francisco with Reply by Freeman & Co's Express

By Freeman & Co's Express San Francisco with Reply by Freeman & Co's Express Letter from Jose Mina, Habana 25 Dbr 1855
  • USMSC Philadelphia from Havana Dec 26, 1855; arrival Aspinwall Dec 31
  • One day across the isthmus of Panama via the railway completed Jan 28, 1855
  • PMSC Golden Age from Panama Jan 1, 1856; arrival San Francisco Jan 15
  • Docketed Received 16 Jano 56 and Repl 19 (Jano 56)


Docketed Received 16 Jano 56 and Repl 19 (Jano 56)



Western Expresses Freeman & Company - Mar, 1855 to Late 1859
Freeman & Co's Express San Francisco

By Freeman & Co's Express San Francisco from Panama on shipping invoice carried by steamer J. L. Stephens dated Jun 30, 1855. The J. L. Stephens departed Panama June 30 and arrived San Francisco July 13, 1855 per Wierenga's book.


J. L. Stephens Shipping Invoice


Freeman & Co's Express San Francisco

By Freeman & Co's Express Panama Cova & Co. Agents from Panama on shipping invoice carried by steamer J. L. Stephens dated Dec 17, 1855. The J. L. Stephens departed Panama ~December 19 and arrived San Francisco Jan 1, 1856.



Western Expresses Freeman & Company - Mar, 1855 to Late 1859
Freeman & Co's Express Coulterville

By Freeman & Co's Express Coulterville in their Type 2 printed frank to San Francisco.
Freeman & Co's Express Type 8 Printed Frank

PAID Freeman & Co's Express in their Type 8 printed frank to San Francisco. Docketed as received on Aug't 29th, 1856. One of only two known examples of this type printed frank.



Western Expresses Garland's Express - 1854 to 1872
Richard E. Garland started his express in 1854, perhaps with a partner named Dean, to serve mining camps between Oroville and Quincy, California. His routes were expanded in 1864 to include service to Taylorsville and Crescent Mills. In the same year, he purchased J.P. Wharton's Express serving La Porte and Gibsonville. One reference indicates he bought out Whiting's Express in 1868. Garland sold out to Wells Fargo in 1872.
Garland's Express PAID

By Garland's Express PAID in their franked envelope to Quincy, Long Valley, Beckwourth Road. Pencil notation on verso Letter enclosed dated March 25, 1865 (letter no longer present). Beckwourth Road went through Beckwourth Pass, the lowest summit of the High Sierras, making it a favorite route of wagon trains and expressmen. The only reported used example from this express company.


Plumas House, Quincy, Cal.



Western Expresses Gibbs Express - 1854 to 1859
William T. Gibbs operated an express in an area around Georgetown, most likely running between Georgetown and Bottle Hill. He connected with Wells Fargo at Georgetown (and later at Placerville). The Western Living Center website notes that Spanish Flat was six miles from Georgetown on the stage road between Placerville and Georgetown.
Wm T. Gibbs Express PAID

By Wm T. Gibbs Express PAID from Spanish Flat to Placerville; with Spanish Flat Cal. circular handstamp being a Gibbs' marking. Wells Fargo & Co Express Placerville with Nov 1 straight line from Placerville to San Francisco. Likely late 1854 usage.


American River Camps Map



Western Expresses Gibbs Express - 1854 to 1859
Wm T. Gibbs Express PAID

By Wm T. Gibbs Express PAID from Georgetown to Placerville, with political enclosure datelined Georgetown Nov 6th, 1859 transcribed, in part, below. This cover proves that Gibbs operated well beyond the previously believed end-date of 1855. The act of Aug 31, 1852 required payment of government postage on private conveyance.


Georgetown Dateline

...I am placed under obligations to you, as others of the Central Committee, for the manifestations of your choice for a representative...My opinions on some subjects are well known, first a more perfect system of common schools one that will insure an English education to all, next a Central Rail Road, as my preference, and state and in making a good road from our county seat to Carson Valley, or the state line, it would be my pride to lend my hand to every healthy measure, for the good of the state and El Dorado County, and cooperate with the democracy in all political matters, even so far as to agree to support the nominee of the Charleston Convention, believing as I do that the wisdom of the Nation will be able to heal any real divisions, and all cause for complaint, and save the Union of the States...Very respectfully,
A.D. Rock



Western Expresses Gillpatrick's Express - Sep, 1874 to Feb, 1878
The Antioch Wharf Building, with a sign for Gillpatrick's Express
The Antioch Wharf Building, with a sign for Gillpatrick's Express
Isaiah W. Gillpatrick advertised that he would run a daily express service through the use of the Steamer Parthenius. The express provided a service from San Francisco and the river ports of Vallejo, Benicia, Martinez, Black Diamond Landing, Pittsburg Landing, and Antioch. He also connected inland to the coal mining towns of Somersville, Nortonville, and Clayton, CA.
Gillpatricks Express Type 2 Printed Frank

By Gillpatrick's Express in their Type 2 printed frank envelope to San Francisco; by post office from San Francisco Cal. Jan 28 to Jackson, Cal.


The earliest known ad for Gillpatrick's Express is shown below, taken from the Sep 26, 1874 Sacramento Daily Union; the latest found is from Feb 19, 1878


Earliest Known Ad For Gillpatrick's Express



Western Expresses Grays California Express - 1850 to 1851
Very little is known about "Gray's Cal Express", other than it operated between San Francisco and Sacramento in the 1850-1851 period. Only five covers are known to survive from this early express: two examples having a manuscript 1.10 (express fee of $1.00 plus 10¢ US postage due), one example with a 2.00 manuscript, and the example below with no rate indicated.
Gray's Cal Express

By Gray's Cal Express from San Francisco to Sacramento City; by post office to Mr. Sanger with Sacramento Cal 15 July postmark. Mailed in 1851, based on known examples of Sacramento postmarks.


Lithograph of Sacramento in 1850

Lithograph of Sacramento in 1850



Western Expresses Greathouse & Slicer - Fall 1855 to 1857
George and Ridgely Greathouse started a pack mule line out of Shasta into Callahan in Aug, 1854. Hugh Slicer was added as a partner in late 1855, at which time the express extended from Yreka to Shasta. They exchanged express material with Wells Fargo at Shasta.
Greathouse & Slicer Yreka Connecting with Wells Fargo & Co

By Greathouse & Slicer Yreka Connecting with Wells Fargo & Co from Yreka to Shasta; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Company at Shasta for delivery to San Francisco.


Yreka to Shasta to San Francisco Map



Western Expresses Greene's Copper City Express - 1864 to 1865
Thomas Greene formed his express line in 1864 to operate between Shasta and Copper City, California. His office is reported to have been located at Barber & Isman's Saloon in Copper City.
Greene's Copper City Express

By Greene's Copper City Express from Copper City to Shasta; by post office from Shasta Cal May 27 to Weaverville. One of only two reported examples from this express, the other being in the Wiltsee collection.


Sacramento Daily Union Marriage Notice
Thomas Greene apparently continued to live in the area after shutting down his express operation, as evidenced by this marriage notice in the Sacramento Daily Union on Oct 29, 1867 stating that he was from Shasta.



Western Expresses Greenhood & Newbauer - 1856 to 1867
Herman Greenhood and Joseph Newbauer started an express operation from a base in Weaverville in late 1856. They purchased W. F. Rowe Express in 1858, connecting with Wells Fargo at Marysville. Greenhood & Newbauer's banking operation failed in Aug, 1867 taking the express operation with it. Grant I. Taggart's stage operation between Shasta and Marysville took over the express business.
Greenhood & Newbauer Express Weaverville, Cal

By Greenhood & Newbauer Express Weaverville, Cal with manuscript May 24 applied at Weaverville; likely exchanged with Wells Fargo at Marysville for delivery to San Francisco.
Greenhood & Newbauer Express Weaverville, Cal

By Greenhood & Newbauer Express Weaverville, Cal with manuscript 5 applied at Weaverville. Spelling error in frank of Newbaner.



Western Expresses Greenhood & Newbauer - 1856 to 1867
Greenhood & Newbauer, Northern Express, Weaverville, California

By Greenhood & Newbauer, Northern Express, Weaverville, California from Weaverville to Marysville; from Marysville to Sacramento City by Wells Fargo (although no Wells Fargo exchange marking is present...Greenhood & Newbauer did not run into Sacramento, but they did exchange mails with Wells Fargo at Marysville). Enclosed political letter datelined Weaverville, May 28th, 60 transcribed, in part, below indicates that politics were a lot more physical in 1860! The only reported example of this type Greenhood & Newbauer printed frank.


Dateline Weaverville, May 28th

...I have now been at home some two weeks or more, and begin to realize the fact that I am again one of the simple sovereigns being of course virtually divested of the Legislative toga....Judge Miller and Pitzer had a passage at arms one day last week: the lie passed, and Miller pitched into Pitzer with his cane, after a few blows they were separated - cause: Judge Miller charging Pitzer with double dealing in the last election...A. C. Lawrence



Western Expresses Green's Express - 1850 to 1854
E. A. Green operated his express from Nevada City, providing service throughout the South and Middle Forks of the Yuba Rivers.
Green's Express

By Green's Express to Nevada City; by post office from Nevada City, Cal. Jul 28 integral rate postmark for carriage to Plymouth Hollow Connecticut. The prepaid rate of 6¢ for distances >3000 miles was in effect from Jul 1, 1851 to Apr 1, 1855. One of only six known examples of any Green's Express cover, two of the others residing in the Wiltsee collection. John William's California Postmarks indicates a range of dates of use for this Nevada City marking from Feb 20, 1853 to Mar 21, 1855, dating this cover to either 1853 or 1854.


Nevada City lithograph (1856)



Western Expresses Gregory's Express - Apr, 1850 to Nov, 1852
Gregory's Atlantic & Pacific Express was founded by Joseph W. Gregory initially as an ocean-to-ocean express. His advertisement as "Gregory's New York Express" of Apr 18, 1850 in Daily Alta California notes that he had secured W.S. Sloan to act as a messenger to New York. By August 1850, Hitchcock is listed as agent in New York City and on Oct 31, 1851, G. E. Clark is listed as an agent in Sacramento. His service eventually expanded within California to Marysville and his ocean service was advertised as the only express on the Nicaragua route. Gregory quietly sold his express business to Wells Fargo & Co. in 1852 and his last advertisement appeared in the Nov 20, 1852 Daily Alta California.
Gregory's Express New York & California

By Gregory's Express New York & California from Marysville to San Francisco. Folded business letter datelined Marysville Sep 3, 1851 transcribed, in part, below.


Date Line Marysville

...oblige us by sending 2000 lbs No.9 zink [nails or wire?] as soon as convenant, as we are now waiting for it. We thought we could get it for 7 or 8 cts consequently we made an estimate on laying a roof at those prices, but we have taken the job & must have the zink at some price. Please let us have it at the lowest market price and we will try to forward the amount due on the zink in a few weeks....Yours respectfully,
Shepard & Combs
PS We would like the widest zink in the market



Western Expresses Gregory's Express - Apr, 1850 to Nov, 1852
Gregory's Express San Francisco Office

By Gregory's Express San Francisco Office with Paid in oval to New York. Out of San Francisco "Per Gold Hunter" steamer. The Gold Hunter was an independent steamship that made numerous trips out of San Francisco to Astoria and two to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua...but only one to Panama when she left San Francisco on Mar 22, 1851 and arrived Panama May 4. The Gold Hunter was sold to the US Government in 1852 and became the Active of the Coast and Geodetic Survey.
  • Per Gold Hunter, depart San Francisco Mar 22, 1851; arrive Panama May 4
  • Probably about six days transit across the isthmus
  • Next steamer from Chagres was USMSC Empire City; depart May 24; arrive NY Jun 3, 1851
The Gold Hunter and Geodetic Survey Steamer Active Only known photograph of the Gold Hunter, when it was the US Coast and Geodetic Survey steamer Active (1852)



Western Expresses Gregory's Express - Apr, 1850 to Nov, 1852
Gregory's Express

By Gregory's Express with PAID from Shasta to San Francisco on 1852 folded letter sheet. Taylor's Express connected with Gregory's Express in Sacramento before Taylor gave up the business in April of 1852. Gregory then opened an office in Shasta in the same building in which Taylor had his office before retiring. Business letter enclosed reads in part....I have a claim to work here that may take me five or six weeks (apparently a legal claim, as the letter appears to be between lawyers).


Date Line



Western Expresses Gregory's Express - Apr, 1850 to Nov, 1852
Gregory's Express Trinidad

By Gregory's Express Trinidad with Not Paid to San Francisco on folded letter datelined July 24th, 1851 transcribed, in part, below.


Date Line - Trinidad July 24th, 1851


...Let Democrats vote for Whig candidates if they will, but have it pretty well understood that Whigs vote for Whigs. You will readily see that we are in no way to remit you any of the "Sinews of War." Indian difficulties have engrossed public attention to such an extent that ordinary questions are not thought of...Walter van Dyke
Sacramento Daily Union advertisement from Jun 12, 1851 listing Gregory's agents in Trinidad as "Gifford & Linsley"
Sacramento Daily Union Advertisement



Western Expresses Gregory & English's Express - Apr, 1866 to Mar, 1868
Formed in April 1866, this express operated from Nevada City to North Bloomfield, Lake City, Woolsey's Flat, Moore's Flat, and Eureka. It connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City.
Gregory & English's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By Gregory & English's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express from Moore's Flat to Nevada with their Moore's Flat Express "spread eagle" handstamp; by Wells Fargo Nevada Jan 13 (likely 1868) to San Francisco. Only two reported examples of this type printed frank.


Sacramento Daily Union Feb 26, 1867 Article Sacramento Daily Union Mar 21, 1868 Article
These articles (Feb 26, 1867 and Mar 21, 1868) from the Sacramento Daily Union relate the difficulties encountered by Gregory & English's Express in running their route during the winter months, resorting to carriers on snow shoes.



Western Expresses Hall & Allen's Express - 1858 to 1859
The firm of Hall & Allen were agents of Wells Fargo in Auburn, Dutch Flat, and Todd's Valley around the period 1858-1859. Hall & Allen functioned as Wells Fargo's agents in Dutch Flat, but were also allowed to operate their own express, just as Greathouse & Slicer, F. W. Blake, and Frank Rumrill were allowed to do.
Hall & Allen's Dutch Flat Express

By Hall & Allen's Dutch Flat Express from the mining region around Dutch Flat; connecting with Wells, Fargo & Company in Dutch Flat for delivery to San Francisco. Dutch Flat was east of Nevada City, with the general mining area shown in the map below. One of four known examples from this short-lived express.


Little York and You Bet Mining Districts



Western Expresses Hammond & Wilson's Express - 1874
Nelson Hammond had served as a Wells, Fargo & Co. agent in California, and upon the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, relocated to Reno, Nevada, where he entered into the livery stable business with John Wilson. The two men purchased the Pollard & Mitchell stables on Commercial Row in December of 1869. By 1873, they were running a stage line between Reno and Peavine. They established Hammond & Wilson's Express in 1874, operating between Susanville, California and Reno, Nevada. They connected with Wells Fargo at Reno.
Hammond & Wilson's Express

By Hammond & Wilson's Express to Susanville; likely exchanged with Wells Fargo at Susanville (although not marked as such) for delivery into San Francisco. One of only about four known Hammond & Wilson's Express covers.


Hammond & Wilson's Stable Ad.



Western Expresses Harrier's Express - 1864 to 1865
D. W. Harrier served the mining camps from Nevada City, Moore's Flat to North Bloomfield. He operated from a base at Nevada City and connected with Wells Fargo there.
D. W. Harrier's Express

By D. W. Harrier's Express PAID from the mining camps to Nevada City; exchanged with Wells Fargo Nevada Jun 30 (likely 1864) to San Francisco.
D. W. Harrier's Express

By D. W. Harrier's Express PAID from the mining camps to Nevada City; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Apr 12 (likely 1864 to San Francisco. One of only four examples of this frank printed in black.



Western Expresses Harrier's Express - 1864 to 1865
D. W. Harrier's Express

By D. W. Harrier's Express. PAID from the mining camps to Nevada City; by Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada May 4 to San Francisco. The only recorded example of this type printed frank.
D. W. Harrier's Express

By D. W. Harrier's Express PAID from the mining camps to Nevada City; by post office from Nevada City, Cal May 1, 1864 to Brunswick, Maine.



Western Expresses Harrison's Susanville & Goose Lake Express - 1872
Harrison operated his California express is Siskiyou County between Susanville and Goose Lake in 1872.
Harrison's Susanville & Goose Lake Express Company PAID

By Harrison's Susanville & Goose Lake Express Company PAID likely from the Goose Lake area to Adinville; by post office from Adinville Sept 1872 to Marysville. Adinville (Adin) was on the route between Goose Lake and Susanville. The only reported example from this express.

Map Route Of Goose Lake To Adinville To Susanville



Western Expresses J. Hawes & Co.'s Express - Dec, 1854 to Sep, 1855
J. Hawes and Co's San Francisco & New York Express was formed by Joseph Hawes and Charles Lumbard on Dec 13, 1854. They advertised for the Vanderbilt Independent Line steamer Cortes that departed on Mar 25, 1855 (cover below carried on this trip). Their last ad appeared on September 4, 1855.
Hawes & Co.'s Express S.F. & N.Y.

By Hawes & Co.'s Express S.F. & N.Y. out of the mails from San Francisco to New York with double 6¢ postage paid by four 3¢ 1851 issue adhesives.
  • Vanderbilt Line steamer Cortez, depart San Francisco Mar 24, 1855, arrive San Juan del Sur Apr 6
  • Two days across Nicaragua to San Juan del Norte
  • Vanderbilt Line steamer Northern Light, depart San Juan del Norte Apr 8, arrive NYApr 15, 1855
  • N. York Steamship Apr 15 (1855) entered US mails for delivery to Connecticut

Advertisement From The San Francisco Daily Alta
Mar 22, 1855 advertisement from the San Francisco Daily Alta for the sailing of the steamer Cortez via Nicaragua



Western Expresses Hawley & Co.'s Express - Jan, 1850 to Nov 11, 1850
T. R. Hawley bought out his partners (D. Weld, Edward W. Tracy and William H. Tiffany) in Weld & Company Express in January, 1850 and formed Hawley & Co.'s Express. This early California express ran between San Francisco and Sacramento with a stop at Benicia. Adams Express acted as Hawley's agent and expeditor in San Francisco. In Jun, 1850, Hawley purchased Angle & Company, adding John M. Freeman as a partner shortly thereafter. Service was expanded north to Marysville along the Yuba River. Freeman purchased the entire operation from his partner on Nov 11, 1850, changing the name to Freeman's Express.

PAID by Hawley & Co.s Express from Sacramento City to San Francisco. Folded business letter addressed to the Sheriff of San Francisco County, docketed received Mar 18, 1850.












































Docketed Received Mar 18, 1850


Enlarge Cover



Western Expresses Hawley & Co.'s Express - Jan, 1850 to Nov 11, 1850
Hawley & C's Express with From Sacramento to San Francisco

Folded business letter datelined Sac City Sept 23 1850 carried by Hawley & C's Express with From Sacramento to San Francisco.

Datelined Sac City Sept 23 1850

Messrs Elliot Curley
Gentlm
Referring to yours abt Harris - I do not think you ought to ask me to take after Harris if he is right. Will you do me the favor to notice if the Wm Penn has arrived and aid its Capt in putting things through for a voyage. I shall go down tomorrow morning.
Rem truly yours
Sand & Paige
Sac City Sept 23 1850

The Sacramento Transcript dated Sep 7, 1850 had the notice shown at right regarding the sale of the Brig William Penn:
Sacramento Transcript dated Sep 7, 1850



Western Expresses Hawley & Co.'s Express - Jan, 1850 to Nov 11, 1850
Hawley & Co.'s Express

Folded letter from New York (datelined Feb 14, 1850) carried privately "By Mr Huff" via Panama to San Francisco. Letter mentions Mr. Huff takes the steamer tomorrow, but there is no record of a Feb 15, 1850 steamer departure from NY to Chagres. The writer likely had the date incorrect, such that the waybill would be:
  • USMSC Ohio, depart New York Feb 13, 1850, arrive Chagres Mar 9, 1850
  • Across the isthmus of Panama via mule and canoe from Mar 9 to Mar 23, 1850
  • PMSC Tennessee, depart Panama Mar 23, 1850, arrive San Francisco Apr 14, 1850
  • circa Apr 15, 1850 by Hawley & C's Express from San Francisco to Sacramento City by steamboat

Datelined New York July 14, 1850

Mr Huff...takes the steamer tomorrow for Chagres & California he will take this with others to you. I told him he could hand them to Mr Hawley Express...I was much pleased to hear from you that you was well and had not gone to the mines. I am very mutch obliged to you for the Gold. I will send the letter and the Gold to your Brother...A. Littlefield

Steamer Senator at Sacramento City.
Steamer Senator at Sacramento City.



Western Expresses Hawley & Co.'s Express - Jan, 1850 to Nov 11, 1850
Hawley & Co.'s Express

By Hawley & Co.'s Express from San Francisco to Sacramento City on folded business letter datelined San Francisco Oct 14, 1850. Enclosed business letter transcribed, in part, below.

Datelined San Francisco Oct 14, 1850

...We send you by the "Hartford" one bag Pepper weighing 107 # @ 30c. We were unable Saturday to get the Beans from the vessel - could not get them off in time today - they will go up tomorrow without fail. The coffee was sold before we received your reply. There are no crates of crockery here of the description you mention...Boardman Bacon & Co., Cor. Montg & Sacs Streets

Sep 11, 1850 ad from the Alta California. By the end of November 1849 regular steamboat service connected San Francisco and Sacramento City. Service soon was extended north to Marysville. This major steamboat trunk line was dominated by two primary operators, the People's Line and the Union Line. Hawley & Co. had exclusive rights to carry express matter on People's Line while Mumby & Co. used Union Line steamboats.
Ad From The Alta California



Western Expresses Hawley & Co.'s Express - Jan, 1850 to Nov 11, 1850
San Francisco Daily Alta California
San Francisco Daily Alta California
Jun 8, 1850
San Francisco Daily Alta California
San Francisco Daily
Alta California

Jul 15, 1850
San Francisco Daily Pacific News
Sep 2, 1850
San Francisco Daily Pacific News



Western Expresses Haydon's Express - 1856
S. C. Haydon, a merchant in Petaluma, established his express to handle mail in Sonoma and Marin County towns north of San Francisco. The text on his printed frank reads: "Between Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Russian River, Heald's Store, Godwin's Rancho, Ray's House, and The Geysers. Also, to Bodega, Tomales and San Rafael, connecting with the 'Pacific' (express) at Petaluma."

Haydon's Express primary offices in relation to San Francisco

Haydon's Express primary offices in relation to San Francisco
PAID Haydon's Express

  • PAID Haydon's Express from one of the locations noted on the printed frank to Petaluma in Feb, 1856
  • By Pacific Express Petaluma to San Francisco
  • Vanderbilt Line steamer Uncle Sam, depart San Francisco Feb 20, 1856, arrive San Juan del Sur Mar 2, 1856
  • Three days across Nicaragua to San Juan del Norte
  • Vanderbilt line steamer Northern Light, depart San Juan del Norte Mar 5, 1856, arrive New York Mar 13, 1856
  • By government mails from New York Mar 16 (1856) to Washington, D.C.



Western Expresses Haywood Express Company - 1868 to 1869
Little is known about this express company, except for information from the lone surviving cover. From that cover, shown below, we can assume they operated in the East Bay (Hayward, formerly known as Haywood, is in Alameda County) and connected with Pacific Union Express Company, possibly in Oakland. The latter express company operated from Jul 1, 1868 to December 1869 when they were absorbed by Wells Fargo.
Haywood Express Co.

By Haywood Express Co., connecting with Pacific Union Express Co. (probably in Oakland) to San Francisco. Only known example from this express company.



Western Expresses Hervey's Express - 1858 to 1860
Samuel Hervey's express ran from Nevada City into the surrounding area. It was most likely a single man feeder line into Nevada City from Red Dog and Dutch Flat.
S. Hervey's Express Nevada

By Langton's from Monte Cristo to Nevada City; exchanged with S. Hervey's Express Nevada, Cal to Little York. Enclosed letter datelined Monte Cristo June 29th/56 transcribed, in part, below. One of only two known examples of Hervey's Express usages, the other being on a newspaper.

datelined Monte Cristo June 29th/56

...We have built a Shanty and have just begun to keep house in true California Style. This place is only 5 miles from Downieville and I expect will be some day a big town...Jane is most tired out with her journey and 30 miles of mule riding...Yours truly...G. W. Greeley

Monte Cristo Map
Monte Cristo was WNW of Downieville on the North Fork of the Yuba River. Little York was a mining camp between You Bet and Dutch Flat near the North Fork of the American River.



Western Expresses Hinckley & Co's. Express. - 1860 to May 11, 1861
Hinckley & Company's Express was founded in 1860 by C.S. Hinckley and John Sowers. The express operated among the mining towns, via Denver City and Fort Kearney, to Omaha City, Nebraska Territory. The company was purchased by the Central Overland, California & Pike's Peak Express Company on May 11, 1861.
Hinckley & Co.'s Express, Denver City. Dec 12, 1860

By Hinckley & Co.'s Express, Denver City. Dec 12, 1860 from Denver City to Central City, Kansas Territory (later Colorado). Manuscript notation "Paid" in pencil. Business letter enclosed from Denver City, K. T. Dec 10th, 1860.

Dec 10th, 1860 Denver City, K. T.

'Stagecoaching in the Mountains' from Harper's Weekly

"Stagecoaching in the Mountains" from Harper's Weekly



Western Expresses Hinckley & Co's. Express. - 1860 to May 11, 1861
Hinckley & Co.'s Express Denver City Feb 25, 1860

By Hinckley & Co.'s Express Denver City Feb 25, 1860 to Saint Joseph, MO; by government mail from Saint Joseph MO Mar 5 to St. Louis. This type printed frank, with the box beneath the scroll is unreported in Thomas' book and unique.
Hinckley & Co.'s Express Denver City Feb 18, 1861

By Hinckley & Co.'s Express Denver City Feb 18, 1861 to Saint Joseph, MO; by government mail from Saint Joseph MO Feb 28 to Stillwater, Minn. Only the second reported example of this type printed frank, per Thomas' book.



Western Expresses J. W. Hoag & Co's Contra Costa Express - late 1855 to 1858
J. W. Hoag, John Bamber, and Charles Gable purchased the Contra Costa Express from R. T. Lockwood in late 1855, adding W. F. Herre's Contra Costa Express in 1856. John Bamber bought out his partners sometime around 1858 and began operating as Bamber's Express.
J. W. Hoag & Co. Contra-Costa Express San Francisco

By J. W. Hoag & Co. Contra-Costa Express San Francisco to Warm Springs, Cal with Collect 25¢ express fee notation. Docket Dec 5, 1856 indicating either the date of the contents (now missing) or receipt by the addressee.

San Francisco Daily Alta California Advertisement: Nov 25, 1855



San Francisco Daily Alta California Advertisement: Oct 15, 1858

San Francisco Daily Alta California advertisements: Nov 25, 1855 (left) showing the earliest ad for J. W. Hoag & Co.'s newly formed express; and Oct 15, 1858 (right) in which J. W. Hoag advertises for the sale of his express and newspaper business. Interestingly, he asks that inquiries be directed to J. Bamber & Co., who apparently ended up absorbing the business.



Western Expresses Hoffman & Co.'s Express - Feb, 1850 to Apr, 1851
Hoffman & Co's express was founded by William M. Hoffman who first advertised a single express messenger returning from San Francisco to New York in Feb, 1850. Apparently he operated briefly carrying mail from Sacramento the mines. In Dec, 1850 he advertised with his brother as merchants in Sacramento selling miner's supplies. The notice shown below lists over 500 letters remaining at Hoffman & Little's Express, which can be found at Gregory's Express office. By May 17, 1851, Hoffman and Little are listed as Gregory's agents in Nevada City.
Apr 1, 1851 list of letters remaining at Hoffman & Little's Express

Apr 1, 1851 list of letters remaining at Hoffman & Little's Express to be collected at Gregory & Co. office.
Forwarded by Hoffman & Co. Express

By government mails Quincy, I Nov 28 (Quincy, Illinois Nov 28, 1850) to Sacramento City with 40 (¢) postage due; Forwarded by Hoffman & Co. Express from Sacramento City to the mines. Folded letter mentions difficulty with the mails...we received your letter of September the 15 on the 16th of November...we never received your letter from the Platt River till yesterday...[the referenced letter would have been written in the summer of 1850 as this emigrant would have been crossing the Nebraska plains at that time]



Western Expresses Hogan & Company's Express - 1874 to 1876
William Hogan operated from the Nation Hotel in North San Juan and ran his express from Cherokee, to Columbia Hill, Lake City and Humbug. Hogan & Company's express was a feeder route for Wells Fargo & Company, connecting with them at North San Juan.
Hogan & Co.'s North San Juan and Humbug Express

By Hogan & Co.'s North San Juan and Humbug Express into North San Juan; US Post Office North San Juan Cal. Mar 18 to San Jose.
Hogan & Co.'s North San Juan and Humbug Express

By Hogan & Co.'s North San Juan and Humbug Express into North San Juan; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. North San Juan Oct 23 to San Francisco.



Western Expresses Holladay Overland Mail & Express Co. - 1862 to Nov 1, 1866
Ben Holladay started his overland express from Atchison, Kansas to Placerville, California in 1862. He extended his lines in 1864, going from Salt Lake City, Utah to Walla Walla, Washington, with branches into Idaho, Montana and Colorado. In the spring of 1866, he bought out Butterfield's Overland Stage and Dispatch Company. Ben Holladay, "the stagecoach king", sold out his empire to Wells, Fargo & Company on Nov 1, 1866.
Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company

By Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company to Omaha; by US post office from Omaha, Neb Jun 28 (1866) to Vermont. This type Omaha postmark is known used from July 29, 1865 to June 21, 1867, being replaced by a device with "Omaha City" in the dial, making this one of the few Holladay franked envelopes that can be documented as used during the period prior to the Nov 1, 1866 sale to Wells, Fargo & Co.

Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company



Western Expresses Holland, Morley & Co.'s Express - Early 1862 to Late 1862
The partnership of Morley & Caulkins dissolved in early 1862, at which time Homer B. Holland and George W. Morley formed their partnership. They purchased R. Francis' Express in May of 1862, and Everts, Wilson & Company in September of that same year. Their principal offices were located at Marysville. They ran a daily service to Strawberry Valley, Saint Louis, Pine Grove, Howland Flat, Forbestown, Hanson Valley, Bangor, Gibsonville, Whisky Diggings, Port Wine and Poker Flat. They connected with Whiting & Company for a short period of time and, later, with Wells Fargo at Marysville. Morley sold his interest to Sam Wheeler in late 1862 at which time the express became Holland, Wheeler & Company.
Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company

By Whiting's & Co.'s Feather River Express to La Porte; exchanged with Holland, Morley & Co.'s Express La Porte, Cal. to Marysville; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Marysville Oct [xx] with Wells, Fargo & Co,'s Express from Marysville label to San Francisco. Triple conjunctive express usage.


Holland, Morley & Co.'s Express Advertisement



Western Expresses Holland, Morley & Co.'s Express - early 1862 to late 1862
Holland, Morley & Co's Express Type 1 Printed Frank

By Holland, Morley & Co's Express in their Type 1 printed frank to Marysville; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Marysville Sep 12 for delivery to San Francisco. One of only five known examples of this printed frank.

The first ad for Holland, Morley & Co.'s Express, as it appeared in Downieville's The Mountain Messenger on Oct 11, 1862.
The Mountain Messenger: Oct 11, 1862



Western Expresses Holland & Wheeler's Express - Late 1862 to Late 1863
George W. Morley sold his interest of Holland, Morley & Company to Sam Wheeler in late 1862. Holland & Wheeler operated over the same routes between La Porte and Marysville where they connected with Wells Fargo. From La Porte they serviced the Gibsonville Ridge and Feather River mining camps. Sam Wheeler is thought to have left the company in late 1863; Holland may have continued to operate alone.
Holland & Wheeler's Express to Marysville

By Holland & Wheeler's Express to Marysville; by Wells Fargo & Co. Marysville Mar 31 (1865) to Atchison; by post office Atchison Kas. May 11 '65 to Wisconsin. Docketed Mar 25 1865 check $576 gold.
Holland & Wheeler's Daily Express

By Holland & Wheeler's Daily Express with light Holland, Morley & Co. Express LaPorte Cal handstamp. Half of paste-up with July 28th, 1863 docket.



Western Expresses Hopkinson's Express - 1862 to 1864 and 1865 to 1867
Emerson Bennett Hopkinson purchased a route that ran from Nevada City into the Dutch Flat area with service to Little York, Red Dog (or Chalk Bluff), You Bet, and Walloupa. In late 1864, he sold the route to J. A. Stone, who turned the route back to Hopkinson in February, 1865. Hopkinson connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City and Dutch Flat.
Hopkinson's Express

By Hopkinson's Express PAID into Dutch Flat; by Wells Fargo & Co. Dutch Flat Jan 5 to Oroville.
Hopkinson's Express

By Hopkinson's Express PAID into Nevada City, California. Docketing at left from Dec 25, 1865, indicating second period of Hopkinson's express operation.



Western Expresses Hopkinson's Express - 1862 to 1864 and 1865 to 1867
Hopkinson's Express PAID Nevada, Red Dog, You Bet & Dutch Flat

By Hopkinson's Express PAID Nevada, Red Dog, You Bet & Dutch Flat into Dutch Flat; by Wells Fargo & Co. Dutch Flat Jan 6 to Oroville. The only known example of the Type 11 printed frank.
Hopkinson's Express Route Map



Western Expresses Horn's Tri-Weekly Express - 1874 to 1877
Dave Horn began operating an express in the 1874 between Fort Jones and Yreka, serving the mining area along the Scott River in northern California and connecting with Wells Fargo at both Yreka and Fort Jones. Horn sold out to F.L. Tickner in early 1877.
Horn's Yreka, Fort Jones, and Scott River Tri-Weekly Express

By Horn's Yreka, Fort Jones, and Scott River Tri-Weekly Express PAID to Yreka; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Yreka Dec 12 for delivery to San Francisco.


Early sketch of Yreka

Early sketch of Yreka



Western Expresses Hunter & Company - Mar, 1851 to Jun, 1854
Alexander Hunter began his express business with an ad in the Sacramento Transcript on Mar 27, 1851. In April, he was listed as connecting with Palmer's Express. By May, he had expanded his service out of Sacramento to both Placerville and Mormon Island, servicing most of the mining camps and river bars on the American River. Hunter connected with Gregory's, and then later with Adams & Company. In 1854, facing increasing competition, he first sold offices to Adams and then, in June 1854, he sold his entire remaining operation to Wells Fargo & Co., becoming their agent in Placerville beginning July, 1854.
Hunter & Cos Express

New Bedford Ms May 20 (1851) with 40 (due)to Sacramento City; Adv'd at Sacramento City; by Hunter & Cos Express from Sacramento to Greenwood, with Hunter's manuscript notations Greenwood and 1.70 ($1.30 express fee, plus 40¢ due). The rate for mail (either prepaid or due) to the Pacific Coast was 40¢ prior to July 1, 1851.


Map to Greenwood from Sacramento



Western Expresses Hunter & Company - Mar, 1851 to Jun, 1854
Hunter & Cos Express

Fairfield, Ct. Oct 24 (1851) with 10 (due) to Sacramento City; by Hunter & Cos Express from Sacramento to Murderer's Bar, with Hunter's manuscript notation 1.35 ($1.25 express fee, plus 10¢ due) and M.Bar. The collect rate for distances over 3000 miles was reduced from 40¢ to 10¢ effective Jul 1, 1851.
Hunter & Cos Express

New Bedford, Ms. Aug 7 (1852) with 10 (due) to Sacramento City; by Hunter & Cos Express to Greenwood, with Hunter's manuscript notation Greenwood 1.35 ($1.25 express fee, plus 10¢ due).



Western Expresses Hunter & Company - Mar, 1851 to Jun, 1854
Hunter & Cos Express Yankee Jim's

Independence, Mo. Mar 13 with 10 (due) Via New York to Nevada City; by Hunter & Cos Express Yankee Jim's to Yankee Jim's. The collect rate for distances over 3000 miles was reduced from 40¢ to 10¢ effective Jul 1, 1851. The only known example of this Hunter's Yankee Jim's marking.


Yankee Jim's in 1857

Yankee Jim's in 1857



Western Expresses Hunter & Company - Mar, 1851 to Jun, 1854
Hunter & Co's Express Mormon Island

By government mails from Boston 23 Feb 6 cts (1852) with their matching PAID to San Francisco; forwarded to Mormon Island with Fd 5 (due) notation; by Hunter & Co's Express Mormon Island endorsed and delivered to Murderer's Bar with notations Murd Bar and 1.25 (express rate due). The prepaid rate for distances >3000 miles was 6¢ from Jul 1, 1851 to Apr 1, 1855.


Murderer's Bar, from Harper's Weekly

Murderer's Bar, from Harper's Weekly



Western Expresses Hunter & Company - Mar, 1851 to Jun, 1854
Hunter & Cos Express Auburn

Avon, Me March 8 (1852) with Free E.M. Towle, P.M. to Sacramento City; Forwarded by Hunter & Cos Express Auburn from Sacramento "Received at Secret Diggings Ravine May 5th, 1852 D. Towle", with Hunter's manuscript notation New Castle 1.25 (express fee). One of only three known examples of this Hunter's Auburn marking.


Daguerreotype of Auburn Ravine in 1852



Western Expresses Hunter & Company - Mar, 1851 to Jun, 1854
Hunter & Cos Express Placerville Cal Mar 31

By Hunter & Co's Express in their printed envelope to Placerville; by post office Placerville Cal Mar 31 (ca1852) with 10 rate marking to Elkhart, Indiana. One of only two known examples of this printed frank.


Placerville (Hangtown) in 1852

Placerville (Hangtown) in 1852



Western Expresses Ish & Hailey's Express - Fall, 1863 to 1865
William K. Ish and John B. Hailey formed the Oregon and Idaho Stage Company in 1863 to operate between Umatilla, Oregon and Boise, Idaho Territory. They also served the Idaho Basin and Owyhee mines. In July 1864, the firm briefly became Ish & Carr, but on October 8, 1864 it returned to being Ish & Hailey. Ish sold out his interest in 1865.
Ish & Hailey's Pioneer Line Express

By Ish & Hailey's Pioneer Line Express (mis-spelled Bailey's) from an unknown location to Meacham's Station (care Meacham Bros, Lee's Encampment). Meacham's Station was one of the express stops noted in Ish & Hailey's advertisement from The Dalles Mountaineer of Sep 4, 1864 shown below. One of only two reported examples from this express.


Ish & Hailey's advertisement from The Dalles Mountaineer



Western Expresses G. P. Johnson's Express - 1858 to 1859
George P. Johnson ran an express train on the newly opened wagon road between Crescent City, California and Sailor's Diggings, Oregon. At Sailor's Diggings the express material was exchanged with Cluggage & Drum Stage Line, which connected between Sailor's Digging and Jacksonville (and apparently Yreka). Johnson's express connected with Beekman's at Jacksonville plus Dugan and Walls at Crescent City.
G. P. Johnson's Inland Express

By Dugan & Wall Express Forwarders & Commission Merchants Crescent City, Cal to Crescent City; then by G. P. Johnson's Inland Express to Yreka. Johnson's express only operated from 1858-1859, running from Crescent City to Sailor's Diggins, Oregon (and apparently on to Yreka) One of three examples of the Dugan & Wall's franks: two handstamps and one printed; and one of only two examples of any kind of usage from G. P. Johnson's Express.


Map from Crescent City to Sailor's Diggins, Oregon and on to Yreka



Western Expresses Jones & Co. Express - 1851 to 1852
Jones & Company's Express ran north from Marysville to Rich Bar in Plumas County, serving an area between the Middle Fork and the North Fork of the Feather River.
Jones & Co. Express F. R.

Farmington, Iowa June 11 (1852) and manuscript 10 rate to Sacramento City; Forwarded by Jones & Co. Express F. R. [Feather River] with Rush Creek Jones directive and $2.00 pencil rate notations both erased and barely visible. Enclosed letter transcribed in part below from Drummond's wife, Dolly, back in Iowa.

Dateline June 6th, 1852

...I have never received your February letter and don't know whether you are in the mountains or not. I wish you would write what part of the state you are in and what the name of the mines are.

I don't know why you don't get my letters. I have always directed them alike. It is possible you could not send for them often enough and they have been sent off for dead letters, but I read in a late paper that if you write to be preserved on the back of the letter it will remain in the Post Office until it is taken out by the one it is directed to. ...


Closing Signature of Drummond's wife.



Western Expresses Jones & Co. Express - 1851 to 1852
Jones & Co. Express

Farmington, Iowa Aug 11 (1852) and manuscript 10 rate to Sacramento City; with manuscript directive "Jones, keep this until he sends his order or comes for it him self"; by Jones & Co.'s Express to Rush Creek with $2.00 pencil express rate notation. Enclosed letter transcribed in part below from a business acquaintance back in Iowa.

Dateline

...your letter came to hand the 8th of this month [August] dated May 16th 1852, and you say you have not had any letter for one year last April...Your old friend Silas Smith died on Plat River with Cholera on his way to Origon. ...This County went all Whig. Thomas Benton is elected to Congress from Missouri. ...B. F. Tower started home with one thousand dollars and died in Pannama Bay with Thy- [typhoid] fever...

Signature



Western Expresses Jones & Edgars Express - 1863 to 1864
Horatio Jones and Addison Edgar ran a semi-weekly express between Canyon City and the John Day Mines in central Oregon to The Dalles on the Columbia River, connecting with Wells Fargo at The Dalles. The partnership broke-up in the latter part of 1864 when Jones became an agent for Wells Fargo. Addison Edgar then formed a partnership with A. J. Burke that operated for a short period over much of the same route. Addison Edgar also became an agent for Wells Fargo in 1865.
Jones & Edgar's Canyon City Express

By Jones & Edgar's Canyon City Express to The Dalles, Oregon.
Jones & Edgar's Canyon City Express

By Jones & Edgar's Canyon City Express to The Dallas, Oregon; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Dalles, O. Dec 31 (1863) for delivery to New York. Docketing on verso indicates receipt on Jan 12, 1864.



Western Expresses Jones & Edgars Express - 1863 to 1864
Jones & Edgar's Canyon City Express

By Jones & Edgar's Canyon City Express Paid 50 Cents to Portland, Oregon; by post office from Portland, Orgn. Feb 20 to Coloma, California. This type printed frank was used by Jones & Edgar's successor company, Edgar and Burke's, leading one to believe that this type printed frank was used very late in the Jones & Edgar's partnership. The only reported example of this type printed frank.


The Earliest Recorded Advertisement For Jones & Edgar's Express
The earliest recorded advertisement for Jones & Edgar's Express, from The Dalles Morning State Journal of Oct 7, 1863.



Western Expresses Jones & Russell's Express - Jul 9, 1859 to Feb 23, 1860
John S. Jones and William H. Russell started running a stagecoach express to the Pike's Peak region of Colorado in early 1859. On May 11 1859, Jones & Russell purchased the contract for mail transportation from Missouri to Salt Lake City, Utah from Hockaday and Liggett. Their first coach by way of the Platte River left Leavenworth on Jul 2 and arrived in Denver on Jul 9, 1859. They charged 25¢ per letter for their express service. In 1860 they could not meet payments on their notes for coaches, and the Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express took over the express. The last run of this service occurred on Feb 23, 1860 although their marking is known used as late as Jun 14, 1860.
Jones & Russell's Pike's Peak Express Co.

By Jones & Russell's Pike's Peak Express Co. Denver City (second strike on the backflap dated Jul 29, 1859) to; by post office Leavenworth City, K.T. Aug 8, 1859 to Quindaro, Kansas Territory.


Platte River Route via Julesburg and Fort Kearny through Nebraska Territory to Leavenworth

Jones & Russell's Pike's Peak Express followed the Platte River Route via Julesburg and Fort Kearny through Nebraska Territory to Leavenworth



Western Expresses Keene & Hurley's Express - 1888
Keene & Hurley served Ruby City in northwestern Washington state by carrying mail to and from Spokane Falls. Very little else is reported of this express, which Nathan lists as beginning "about 1885".
Keene & Hurley PAID Over All Stage and Express Line from Ruby City, W. T.

By Keene & Hurley PAID Over All Stage and Express Line from Ruby City, W. T. to Spokane Falls; by post office Spokane Falls, Wash. Jan 14, 10 PM, 1888 to Portland, Oregon. Fewer than five known examples from this express.


The following is an excerpt from the annual report of the governor of Washington Territory for the year 1887:

The Okanagan, or Salmon River District, is reached by stage from Spokane Falls, via Davenport, Grant Center and Condon's Ferry, over the Columbia [River]...The distance from Spokane Falls to Condon's Ferry is 120 miles; from the ferry to Ruby City or Salmon City is 40 miles. The stage trip from Spokane Falls to Salmon City occupies three days, the stage running in daylight only.



Western Expresses Kennedy & Co.'s Express - 1862 to 1864
M. G. Kennedy and F. W. Utter founded Kennedy & Co.'s Express in 1862 to operate daily from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay and Pescadero. In 1864, Kennedy added Long as a partner and changed the name of the firm Kennedy & Long's, which continued to operate until 1866.
Kennedy & Co.'s Half Moon Bay & Pescadero Express

By Kennedy & Co.'s Half Moon Bay & Pescadero Express from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay or Pescadero; by Wells Fargo & Co. (illegible date and location, but presumably either Half Moon Bay or Pescadero) to Santa Cruz. One of only three reported examples of this printed frank.
Kennedy, Long & Co.'s Express and Transfer Company

By Kennedy, Long & Co.'s Express and Transfer Company to San Francisco. The manuscript K at lower left is possibly that of M.G. Kennedy.



Western Expresses Kenson's Owens River Express - 1863 to 1864
Edward Kenson operated a pony express service on the eastern side of the Sierras from Camp Independence, California. His summer route was north to Aurora, Nevada; in the winter south over Walker Pass to Keysville. Kenson connected with Wells Fargo at Aurora, or would deposit the express in the US Mails.
Kenson's Owens River Express San Carlos Inyo Dist.

By Kenson's Owens River Express San Carlos Inyo Dist. from San Carlos to Esmeralda, N.T.; by post office Esmeralda, N.T. Oct 31 1863 to San Francisco. San Carlos post office opened Jun 1, 1864.

Daily Alta California ad

San Francisco Daily Alta California advertisement from Feb 9, 1864 noting Kenson's Owens River Express route change from Keysville to San Carlos via Aurora.



Western Expresses Lamping & Co's. Express - Nov, 1865 to Aug, 1866
P. A. Lamping operated an express between Marysville and Downieville, from which he supported the local mines. He initially connected with Wells Fargo at Marysville and later with Langton. After Samuel Langton's death, he purchased that express from the Langton family; however, Wells Fargo refused to honor the old Lamping franks and he eventually sold out to them.
Lamping & Co.'s Express Sierra Valley

By Lamping & Co.'s Express Sierra Valley to "Mr. Hyman, Watchmaker, Downieville". This is the only known example of a Lamping's marking from Sierra Valley.

Early sketch of Downieville.
Early sketch of Downieville.



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
Langton's Express Downieville

By Langton's Express Downieville to Marysville; by post office Marysville, Cal Jan 28 (1852) to Corsica, France. Overpaid 26. rate with two 12. and one 3. 1851 issue adhesives. The only known example of a western express cover with the 12. 1851 issue adhesive (per Jim Allen).


Back of Langton's Express Downieville



Western Expresses Langton & Brother's Express - Nov, 1853 to Feb, 1855
Samuel W. Langton operated as an express man, either alone or in various partnerships from 1850 until 1864. He formed Langton & Brother's Express with his brother in November 1853. They operated from Marysville up the Yuba River to Nevada City and Downieville. The brothers sold out to Adams Express on Feb 21, 1855, just two days before Adams collapsed.
Forwarded by Langton & Bro's Express Nevada

Rocky Hill, Ky 20th July (1854) by government mails to Nevada City two 3¢ 1851 issue adhesives prepaying the 6¢ rate in effect for distances >3000 miles; Forwarded by Langton & Bro's Express Nevada (City) to "New Orleans Flat, Alta Cal."

Forwarded By Langton & Bro's Express Nevada

Map showing the route from Nevada City post office to New Orleans flat

Map showing the route from Nevada City post office to New Orleans flat



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
LLangtons Pioneer Express Camptonville

By Langtons Pioneer Express Camptonville to Long Bar, with enclosed letter datelined Camptonville, Jan 14, 1855 transcribed, in part, below.

Camptonville Jan 14 1858 Dateline

...I rec'd your letter last evening which by neglect of our Mountain Express has lain in the office I perceive several days...


An early view of Camptonville's main street

An early view of Camptonville's main street



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
Samuel W. Langton had various partners throughout his tenure in the express business. Responding to opportunity and competition, he also added and eliminated routes numerous times. Langton sold out to Adams & Company in Feb, 1855, only to have that company fail two days later. He took back the company and formed "Langton's Pioneer Express", extending his express line to Sacramento and San Francisco. He gave up the run from Marysville to Sacramento and San Francisco in 1857, instead connecting with Wells Fargo & Co at Marysville.
Langton's Pioneer Express Downieville

By Langton's Pioneer Express Downieville to Marysville; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co Marysville May 25 to Sacramento.

Downieville, Sierra County, Cal.



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
Langton's Pioneer Express San Juan

By Langton's Pioneer Express in their printed franked envelope from Langton's Pioneer Express San Juan (North San Juan) to Nevada; by Wells, Fargo & Co. Nevada May 5 to San Francisco.

North San Juan to Nevada City



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
Langton's Pioneer Express

By Langton's Pioneer Express in their franked envelope from Timbuctoo with manuscript Feb 21 to Yuba City.

Timbuctoo in the early 1860's (California State Library)

Timbuctoo in the early 1860's (California State Library)



Western Expresses Latta's Mountain Express - 1866 to 1867
Robert Wallace Latta ran an express operation from Nevada City to Washington, Alpha, and Omega. He connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City.
Latta's Mountain Express PAID

By Latta's Mountain Express PAID in their franked envelope from Washington Cal. Feb 4 to Nevada City; by Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Feb 4 (1867) to San Francisco. Note - Williams does not show the Washington marking used as a postmark; thus, it is believed to be a Latta's agent marking, as the only examples reported are on Latta's covers.

Washington, Cal. to Nevada City Map



Western Expresses Leavenworth City & Pikes Peak Express - Feb, 1859 to Jul, 1859
The Leavenworth City & Pike's Peak Express Company was formed in Feb, 1859 by William Russell and John Jones. It operated between Denver City and Leavenworth City, Kansas Territory with the inaugural trip arriving in Denver on May 7, 1859 over the Platte Valley route. Amos Streck arrived at Denver City Jul 19, 1859 with the "Jones & Russells Pike's Peak Express Company" handstamp that saw use thereafter.
Leavenworth City & Pike's Peak Express Company

By United States Post Office from Farmington Me. June 27 (1859) to Leavenworth City, where the sender's manuscript routing instructions were honored: Leav'n City & Pikes Peak Express Co. Jul 2 handstamp for delivery to Denver City "Kansas Ty"

Pike's Peak -- The Leavenworth City & Pike's Peak Express Company's Office, Denver City, E. T.



Western Expresses Leland's Express - Jul, 1854
George Leland and John McCombe ran an express service from 1853 to Jun 28, 1854 using ships to connect San Francisco to Humboldt Bay and Crescent City. An overland route connecting Santa Clara and San Jose was established from San Francisco. The partnership dissolved on Jun 28, 1854 after which Leland took on a new partner, David McComb, in Aug, 1854. This express operated over the same routes as the former partnership, adding ship service to Southern California. In Oct, 1855 Leland and McComb's Express dissolved.
Leland's Express San Jose

By Leland's Express San Jose with their fancy eight-pointed star handstamp to San Francisco with Collect in diamond. This marking was possibly produced during the short period Leland was on his own, in July 1854 when he was in between partners McCombe and McComb.

San Jose in 1858

San Jose in 1858



Western Expresses Leland & McCombe's Express - 1853 to Jun, 1854
Leland & McCombe's Express San Francisco

By Leland & McCombe's Express San Francisco to College Ranch, Trinidad north of San Francisco along the coast. One of only three known examples of this marking, two of which are in black ink.

Daily Alta California Earliest Leland & McCombe's Ads Daily Alta California Latest Leland & McCombe's Ads
The earliest and latest Leland & McCombe's ads from the Daily Alta California, dated Apr 11, 1854 (left) and Jun 23, 1854 (right); both mention their route from San Francisco to Trinidad.



Western Expresses Leland & McComb's Southern Express -
Aug, 1854 to Oct, 1855
George Leland and David McComb formed a new partnership in August 1854 connecting San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Pedro, Los Angeles and San Diego by steamers and was termed "Leland & McComb's Southern Express" to differentiate it from their Crescent City Express between San Francisco, Humboldt Bay and Crescent City. The firm was out of business in October 1855.
Leland & McComb's Southern Express Route Map

Leland & McComb's Southern Express route

Leland & McComb's Southern Express

To San Francisco by Leland & McComb's Southern Express with PAID; double-rate letter by post office from San Francisco Cal. Dec 1 (1854) to Walden, NY:
  • Red Paid 6 San Francisco post office marking partially beneath adhesive prepaying in cash the first ½ oz. rate for distances >3000 miles
  • The 3¢ 1851 issue adhesive represents partial payment of the rate for the second ½ oz.
  • Marked Due 5 at San Francisco for remaining unpaid postage for the second ½ oz. (rates for distances >3000 miles were 6¢ paid and 10¢ unpaid per ½ oz.; basically, the second ½ oz. was half paid with the 3¢ 1851 adhesive, and 5¢ unpaid)



Western Expresses Leland & McComb's Southern Express -
Aug, 1854 to Oct, 1855
Leland & McCombs Southern Express Collect San Francisco Cal. Nov 27 (1854)

By Leland & McCombs Southern Express with their diamond Collect handstamp to San Francisco; postmarked San Francisco Cal. Nov 27 (1854) for delivery to the post office box.


Nov 11, 1854 Daily Alta California Ad

The earliest ad for "Leland & McComb's Southern Coast Express" from the Nov 11, 1854 Daily Alta California



Western Expresses Leland & McComb's Southern Express -
Aug, 1854 to Oct, 1855
Leland & McComb's Express San Francisco

By Leland & McComb's Express San Francisco to Columbia, California. The notation Adv Chgs 25¢ must also denote the unpaid express fee, as 25¢ would have been far too high for advertising the letter vs the normal 1-2¢ fee.
Leland & McComb's Express San Jose

By Leland & McComb's Express San Jose with PAID to San Francisco on folded business letter datelined San Jose Nov 2d 1854.

Dateline San Jose Nov 2d 1854



Western Expresses Lewis's Cherokee Flat Express - (1864) to (1877)
Lewis's Cherokee Flat Express was a small, possibly one-man, operation that ran between Oroville and the claims in and around the Cherokee diggings, a distance of only about 14 miles. The express connected with Well Fargo at Oroville.
Lewis's Cherokee Flat Exp. Paid

By Lewis's Cherokee Flat Exp. Paid from the Cherokee diggings to Oroville.

Cherokee diggings to Oroville Map



Western Expresses Martins's Express - 1884 to 1886
According to Nathan, this express operated from 1884 to 1886 over the Mullen Road from Spokane, Washington Territory to Wardner, Idaho Territory via Coeur d'Alene and Kellogg.
Martin's Spokane Falls and Wardner Stage and Express Line

By Martin's Spokane Falls and Wardner Stage and Express Line from Wardner, Idaho to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory; by post office from Spokane Falls Wash. Aug 3, 1885 to Portland, Oregon. One of only about four known examples from this express.

Merchant Handstamp

Merchant's handstamp on verso confirms this cover was carried by Martin's Express from Wardner, Idaho to Spokane Falls.



Western Expresses Mead & Clarke's Express - 1864 to 1866
Mead & Clarke's express ran in the area north of Fresno, California, between Visalia and Havilah. They connected with Wells Fargo.
Mead & Davis Letter Express to Visalia

Paid Mead & Clarke Over Our Clear Creek Route to San Francisco; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. San Francisco Jun 12 for delivery. As this franked envelope is only half of a paste up, the final destination is not known. One of only two known examples of this printed frank and of only four total from Mead & Clarke.


Sacramento Daily Union of Jul 23, 1866

Sacramento Daily Union of Jul 23, 1866 mentioning "Mead & Clark's Clear Creek line"


San Francisco's Daily Alta California article of Jan 18, 1867

San Francisco's Daily Alta California article of Jan 18, 1867 noting the winter schedule of "Meade & Clark's Clear Creek line of stages". By this time, they were likely out of the express business.



Western Expresses Mead & Davis Letter Express - 1864
Mead & Davis operated their express from Visalia to Havilah, connecting with Wells Fargo at the former. The "Mead" of this express is thought to be the same person as in the Mead & Clarke partnership.
Mead & Davis Letter Express to Visalia

By Mead & Davis Letter Express to Visalia; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Visalia to San Francisco. One of only four known examples from this short-lived express.

Modern map showing relative locations of Havilah, Visalia and San Francisco
Modern map showing relative locations of Havilah, Visalia and San Francisco



Western Expresses Miller & Co.'s Express - 1854 to 1855
Miller & Company's Express consisted of Solomon N. Miller and C .W. H. Solinsky, who operated from Chinese Camp to the mines and bars along the Tuolumne River. The express may also have connected through to Jackson in Amador County. Miller is thought to have operated from 1854 into 1855, based on the "Chinese Camp" notation in the handstamp. Chinese Camp was one of the earliest established gold rush camps. In 1849, Chinese laborers were forced out of Camp Salvado. They established a new camp about a mile west which became known as Chinese Diggings. This name was in general use for the location until the post office was established on April 18, 1854. At that time, the name of the location was changed to Chinese Camp.
Miller & Co. Express Chinese Camp

By Wells, Fargo & Cos Express S. Frco Dec 18 from San Francisco to Chinese Camp; exchanged with Miller & Co. Express Chinese Camp for delivery to I. [Roman Numeral for the first] Garrote in Tuolumne County. One of only two known examples from this express.


San Francisco to Chinese Camp Map



Western Expresses Miners' Loon Creek Express - May 26, 1870 to Jul 20, 1870
This short-lived express was founded by J.H. Hunter and four others on May 26, 1870 to operate from Idaho City, Idaho Territory to the Loon Creek mining camps. The express was sold on July 20, 1870 to Charles J. Tassel.
Miller & Co. Express Chinese Camp

By Miners' Loon Creek Express PAID to Idaho City, Idaho Territory; by post office Idaho City, Ida. Sep 24 (1870) to Vernon, Oregon. Docketed at left as being answered Nov 27, 1870. Used during the period of Charles J. Tassel's ownership (post Jul 20, 1870). One of only two known examples of this company's frank of any type.


The Idaho World of May 26, 1870 provides some insight on the difficulties of the expressman of the day:

Loon Creek Items - From Mr. J. H. Hunter, of the Miners Loon Creek Express, who arrived on last Monday night from Ore Grande, we learned that about ten days ago the body of M.A. Wentworth, the Expressman who was lost in the snow slide while enroute for Loon Creek during the winter was found by his partner, Mr. Adams, and another man named Holmes. The snow was still about four feet deep over the remains, which was discovered by reason of a hole having been dug down to the body by a cougar or panther which had eaten the flesh off the neck and breast; otherwise, the body was in a good state of preservation. Wentworth was lying on his back with his express pack under him. The body was buried on the side of the hill near where it was found, and the parties were engaged in looking for the body of Smith who perished at the same time.



Western Expresses Moore's Flat and Eureka Express
Moore's Flat and Eureka Express operated under numerous ownership structures: Wells & Company (1864), English and Wells (1864-1869), L.H. Wells (1870) and Wells & Herrings (1871-??)). Wells also operated the North San Juan and Humbug Express under both the Wells and L.H. Wells names. The Moore's Flat and Eureka Express operated over a route between Nevada City, Moore's Flat, and Eureka South (and may have extended to Emigrant Gap). It connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City.
Wells & Co's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By Wells & Co's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express to Nevada City, Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Aug 8 to Vallejo, in the San Francisco Bay area.
English & Wells' Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By English & Wells' Moore's Flat and Eureka Express to Nevada City; Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Nov 17 to San Francisco. It is believed that the Graniteville postmaster acted as agent for L.H. Wells' express, as several Wells covers are known with this marking.



Western Expresses Moore's Flat and Eureka Express
L.H. Wells' Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By L.H. Wells' Moore's Flat and Eureka Express to Nevada City; Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Feb 11 to Sacramento. The Graniteville, Cal Feb 10 postmark is thought to be an L. H. Wells' agent's marking, as several covers are known with this marking that did not enter the postal system.
Wells & Herring's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By Wells & Herring's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express to Nevada City; Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Aug 1 to San Francisco; Wells Fargo & Co. San Francisco Aug 2 for delivery. One of only four known Type 1 printed franks (seven total).



Western Expresses Morley, Caulkins & Co.'s Express - 1853 to 1861
George W. Morley and Silas Caulkins partnered to serve the mining camps of La Porte and the Gibsonville Ridge area. They may have also operated between La Porte and Marysville. The partnership dissolved when Morley formed an express operation with Homer B. Holland (Holland, Morley & Company).
Morley, Caulkins & Co.'s Daily Express

By Morley, Caulkins & Co.'s Daily Express to Strawberry Valley and into the postal system; Strawberry Valley, Cala. July 16 to Memphis, Missouri.


General View of Strawberry Valley, Yuba Co.



Western Expresses Mumby & Co.'s Express - Apr 30, 1851 to Jun 12, 1851
Joseph M. Mumby formed Mumby & Co's Express in partnership with Henry P. Reed and their first advertisement appeared on Apr 30, 1851. Prior to that date Mumby had been a messenger for Palmer & Co's Express. The route was between Sacramento City and San Francisco by steamboats of the Union Line (steamers Confidence and William G. Hunt) and utilized Dodge & Co Express in San Francisco for connection to the East. The line also operated north to Marysville serving the Nevada City mines. Mumby & Co's Express sale to Freeman & Co's Express was announced on June 12, 1851.
Mumby & Co's Express

By Mumby & Co's Express with their PAID on folded letter datelined Sacramento 12 May 1851 to San Francisco; notation with Bottle, explained within letter...With this you will receive a sample of Primo Martell Brandy. There is but a small lot only 130 gal but it is A No. 1 - The same style they used previous to fire at Union Hotel Brown & Bartels. I saw Brown here & he says that he now pays $6.50 for this article. Sell it if you can at 6.00 & the party here will allow you 4/- per gallon on it...W. H. Hall

May 14, 1851 Sacramento Transcript advertisement for Mumby & Co's Express May 14, 1851 Sacramento Transcript advertisement for Mumby & Co's Express



Western Expresses Nevada City and Meadow Lake Express - 1866 to 1867
The town of Meadow Lake was established between 1866 and the summer of 1867 above Donner Summit at an elevation of over 7000 feet. Little is known of this express, other than it connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City. The small amount of gold and the heavy winter snows apparently ended this express after only one year of operation.
Nevada City and Meadow Lake Express PAID

By Nevada City and Meadow Lake Express PAID to Nevada; by Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Jul x to an unknown destination, as this cover was part of a paste-up. One of only three known examples from this short-lived express company, two of which are paste-ups.


Meadow Lake, ca1868

Meadow Lake, ca1868



Western Expresses Nevada, Washington and Omega Express - 1871
Thought to have operated among the towns of the express' name, with Nevada City and Omega on Deer Creek, and Washington just northwest of Omega on the South Fork of the Yuba River. They connected with Wells, Fargo & Company in Nevada City.
Nevada, Washington and Omega Express

By Nevada, Washington and Omega Express to Nevada City; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Nevada Feb 18 to San Jose.


Nevada, Washington and Omega Map



Western Expresses Newell & Co.'s Express - Oct 22, 1851 to Jul, 1853
L. W. Newell and E. W. Colt two of the partners of Todd & Company, purchased that company's express operation and changed the name to Newell & Co in Oct 22, 1851. They connected with Adams & Co in San Francisco, while advertising a connection with Freeman & Co for the Northern mines. L. W. Newell managed the base out of San Francisco, with one route that ran to E. W. Colt at Stockton, who served Sonora and the southern mines. Ocean steamers were used to serve the Oregon Territory, with their agent Nathaniel Brown. Newell & Co. sold to Adams in Jul, 1853, having worked closely with them since Newell & Co.'s formation.
Newell & Co's Express San Francisco

By Newell & Co's Express San Francisco to Portland, Oregon with enclosed letter datelined San Francisco November 5th, 1851 transcribed on following page. Original Newell & Co.'s Express ad from Oct 27, 1851 below.


Newell & Co.'s Express ad from Oct 27, 1851



Western Expresses Newell & Co.'s Express - Oct 22, 1851 to Jul, 1853
Dateline San Francisco November 5th, 1851


San Francisco November 5th, 1851

Mess Norris & Co.
Dear Sirs,

Our last respects were pr Steamer of 20th Oct, since which time we are without any of your esteemed favors - not having received a letter from either yourselves or Clinton by the last arrival of the Columbia - altho, we fully expected a remittance by her - and an account of Amazon's cargo. - We have no doubt that your letter was written and despatched - but some miscarriage has kept it from us. - We have no alteration to make in the wishes expressed to you in our previous letters nor anything stirring to advise you of with us. - We trust that long ere this the Amazon has been despatched with the flour you spoke of -

The "Geo Thacher" is close at hand - your box on board shall be despatched to you as soon as it is received.

We send you papers for business and general information. -

Send down all the funds that you can mind, as by the next Steamer we shall [?] ourselves by remitting to W. L. Co. - on account of the unfortunate affair of Ludlows. - We are very busy - Very truly yours -

Winter & Latimer



Western Expresses Nichols & Co.'s Express - Oct, 1857 to Jul, 1858
This express, which first advertised in October 1857, operated from San Francisco by steamer via Crescent City to Oregon and the Frazer River mines and to Bellingham Bay, Washington. They connected with Freeman & Co's Express and Alta Express. In July 1858, they sold out to American Express (the California company) who adopted the same printed frank.
Nichols & Co.'s Express Northern Coast

Nichols & Co.'s Express PAID printed frank with Nichols & Co.'s Express Northern Coast handstamp into San Francisco from the northern mines. The Nichols San Francisco handstamp is 26x35mm; whereas the Northern Coast example is 24x34mm, like this one.
Nichols & Co.'s Express San Francisco

By Nichols & Co.'s Express. PAID. handstamp frank with Nichols & Co.'s Express San Francisco for local delivery. The only known example of this black frank.


Sacramento Daily Union Article

Nichols & Co.'s Express carried the news from Oregon (and parts inland) to San Francisco, as evidenced by this Sacramento Daily Union article of Dec 5, 1857.



Western Expresses Noisy Carriers River Route - 1850 to 1857
The most prominent of the newspaper and letter bag men was Charles P. Kimball, who arrived in San Francisco in July 1849. Within a few months he organized the Kimball & Co. Express to carry mail to Sacramento by boat. It was unsuccessful and no covers are recorded. On Feb 1, 1850 he organized a city delivery local, with again no known examples. Next he picked up newspapers from the arriving boats and hawked them through the streets in rhyming verse, which is where he got the name "Noisy Canier." In September 1850, he published a city business directory. He had a store at Sansome and Pacific, but it was not until he opened a stationery store with books, newspapers, lettersheets and a publishing house at 77 Long Wharf that he hit his stride.
NC~RR POST ('Noisy Carriers River Route Post')

Oroville, Cal Sep 2, 1858 to Greenwood, Cal.; address crossed through and very light "Sa... ... ... ..." written above Greenwood (attempted erasure); thus forwarded by Noisy Carriers with their NC~RR POST ("Noisy Carriers River Route Post") hand stamp from Sacramento to San Francisco. Two other examples of this marking are recorded, both postmarked San Francisco (Jan 17 and Nov 20) to Sacramento, with 1857 docketing.
Ernest A. Wiltsee wrote an article in Stamps (Jan 30, 1937) about the "Noisy Carrier--River Route Post." marking: Evidence shows that the "Noisy Carrier's" great competitor J. W. Sullivan, ran a steamboat express from San Francisco to Sacramento carrying letter bags of mail, and if Sullivan were allowed to carry express and mail on a chartered steamer, the "Noisy Carrier" would be allowed the same privilege by the Post Office (Kimball had formerly run an express to Sacramento). His letter bags were doubtless maintained there as well as in San Francisco. The following item from the Alta California (Apr 13, 1857) was important enough to appear in the editorial column:

Enterprise-Ullman of the Newspaper and Periodical Depot, corner of Sansome and Washington Streets and Kimball of the Noisy Carrier's Book & Stationery Co., dispatched the steamer Martin White at fifteen minutes before six yesterday evening with full supplies of news and literature received by the Golden Age for their interior agents. They effected a charter of the White some four or five days ago in anticipation of the Age arriving on Sunday, being resolved to avoid the delay which would then be necessary, if depending on the regular line and waiting for the Monday boats. The Golden Age reached her wharf about 3-1/2 o'clock, but it was nearly four before the mails were landed and opened so that the entire work of assorting and making up their numerous packages were accomplished by Messrs. Ullman and Kimball in less than two hours. Wells Fargo & Co. availed themselves of this enterprise to forward their express letters. This is another instance of the go-a-headitive spirit possessed by San Francisco newsmen.



Western Expresses Norman & Grant's Express - 1868
G. H. Norman (Nohrman) may have operated alone for a short period of time after he sold his interest in Pauly & Nohrman's Express. At some point in 1868, he formed a partnership with Grant. Their express served the mines of the Gibsonville Ridge from a base at Gibsonville.
Norman & Grant's Express

By Norman & Grant's Express to Gibsonville; entered US mails with Gibsonville, Cal. Oct 9 (1868) postmark to Union, Maine.


Gibsonville in 1855 from Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine

Gibsonville in 1855 from Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine



Western Expresses Organ & Tibbett's Express - 1865 to 1868
Organ & Tibbett's express ran from Meadow Lake to the Excelsior District of California from 1865 to 1868, per Nathan's book.
Organ & Tibbits Excelsior Express. PAID. to Dutch Flat, California.

By Organ & Tibbits Excelsior Express. PAID. to Dutch Flat, California. One of only about four examples from this express, and one of two of this type.
Organ & Tibbits Excelsior Express. PAID.

By Organ & Tibbits Excelsior Express. PAID. to Dutch Flat; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Nov 4 Dutch Flat to Nevada City. Docketing at left Nov 4, 1868. One of only four examples from this express, and one of only two of this type.


Daily Alta California newspaper ad (Jul 26, 1866)

Daily Alta California newspaper ad (Jul 26, 1866) for Grant's Fine Saddle Train from Dutch Flat to the Excelsior Mining District. While this ad is not for Organ & Tibbett's Express, it did run over the same route and during the same timeframe.



Western Expresses Oroville & Quincy Express - 1874 to Unknown
Operated between Oroville and Quincy, as the name would imply, and from Quincy served the upper area of Plumas County. They connected with Wells Fargo at several locations in the county.
Oroville & Quincy Express Co.

By Oroville & Quincy Express Co. from Greenville to nearby Quincy (10 miles south); exchanged with Wells Fargo and forwarded on to San Francisco. Merchant's handstamp from Greenville on verso, shown below.


Merchant's handstamp - J. D. McIntyre & Co Greenville Pluma Co. Cal



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Russell G. Noyes and other employees of Adams & Company formed the Pacific Express Company, following Adams' failure in Feb, 1855, with most of Adams' offices quickly becoming Pacific Express offices. They continued to try to compete with Wells Fargo, even though they lacked the funds and leadership of their rival. As a result, they failed after about two years, despite the established field locations. Several members of the failed Pacific Express quickly re-formed into Alta Express.
Forwarded by the Pacific Express Co.

By Pacific Express with their Forwarded by the Pacific Express Co. blue shield handstamp (ca1856) to White Sulphur Springs. The 3¢ rate for distances less than 3000 miles became effective Apr 1, 1855.


Pacific Express Co Building



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Company Big Oak Flat PAID

By Pacific Express Company Big Oak Flat PAID to San Francisco, with manuscript in sender's hand Big Oak Flat 10.3.56.
Pacific Express Co Chinese

By Pacific Express Co Chinese (Camp) to San Francisco on black printed frank "horse and rider" Pacific Express envelope on first issue Nesbitt entire.



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Co. El Dorado

By Pacific Express Co. El Dorado with PAID in oval to San Francisco on first issue Nesbitt with seal on backflap. The 3¢ rate for distances less than 3000 miles became effective Apr 1, 1855.
Pacific Express Company Grass Valley

By Pacific Express Company Grass Valley to San Francisco. The 3¢ rate for distances less than 3000 miles became effective Apr 1, 1855. The 6¢ Nesbitt government envelope represents 2x the single rate.



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Co. Gold Hill May 4

By Pacific Express Co. Gold Hill May 4 to San Francisco in their paid handstamp franked envelope Pacific Express Co. Placerville Paid that the sender mailed from Gold Hill. One of only two known examples of Pacific Express with a Gold Hill marking.


Gold Hill Placemarker Map



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Co. Negro Hill PAID

By Pacific Express Co. Negro Hill PAID to Sacramento on first issue Nesbitt government stamped envelope.
Pacific Express Co. Sacramento

By Pacific Express Co. Sacramento Sep 26 (ca1855) to Oroville in Pacific's "horse and rider" printed frank envelope in scarce blue color.



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Co. Santa Clara

By Pacific Express Co. Santa Clara with boxed PAID to San Francisco; transferred within Pacific Express Co. San Francisco Feb 7 to "Colorado Hill Humbug" (one of the mining camps) "near Nevada, Cal".
Pacific Express Co. Sonora

By Pacific Express Co. Sonora with boxed PAID to Sacramento on first issue Nesbitt government issued envelope.



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Strawberry Valley Cala

By Pacific Express PAID from Strawberry Valley Cala to Santa Cruz. Speculation is that the Strawberry Valley postmark (without date slugs) was likely used by the (former) postmaster as an express agent's marking.
Pacific Express Volcano

By Pacific Express Volcano Jan 14 (1857) to Sacramento. Enclosed short business letter datelined "Volcano Jan 13th 57" talks of tunnel work progressing.


Dateline Volcano Jan 13th 57



Western Expresses Pacific Union Express Company - 1868 to 1869
Pacific Union Express Company was incorporated in California Dec 18, 1867 with stockholders A. K. Grim and Lawrence W. Coe appointed as managers for the express on the West Coast with A. K. Tilton in New York. When service commenced on Jun 1, 1868, it was announced to include express matter and letters by every steamer via Panama and similar service to Hawaii, China and Japan. The company was set up "on the Wells, Fargo plan" to compete with them. Service to Nevada and Arizona was begun in 1869. On Dec 1, 1869 the company discontinued operations and its business transferred to Wells, Fargo.
Pacific Union Ex. Co. Sant. Clara Jan 13

By Pacific Union Ex. Co. Sant. Clara Jan 13 (1869) to San Francisco; exchanged with Bamber & Co's Express S.F. Jan 14 for delivery to Oakland.
Daily Alta California Dec 30, 1869 Advertisement

Dec 30, 1869 advertisement in the Daily Alta California announcing Pacific Union Express Co.'s closure.



Western Expresses Palmer & Co.'s Express - Mar, 1850 to Dec, 1851
Palmer & Co's Express was founded by Cyrus S. Palmer in New York on Mar 7, 1850. The express operated between coasts and briefly advertised offices in Sacramento and Marysville. The last mention found appears in the New York Weekly Herald of Dec 6, 1851 thanking the company for papers received.
Palmer & Cos Express Nov 12, 1850

By Palmer & Cos Express Nov 12, 1850 from San Francisco to New York, endorsed to be carried by a friend on the George Law's Pacific Line steamer Antelope (first return voyage); instead, carried by Palmer's agent:
  • PSMC steamer Tennessee, depart San Francisco Nov 15, 1850, arrive Panama City Dec 1, 1850
  • Nine days across the isthmus of Panama to Chagres
  • USMSC steamer Pacific, depart Chagres Dec 10, 1850, arrive Havana Dec 15, 1850
  • USMSC steamer Ohio, depart Havana Dec 18, 1850, arrive NY Jan 5, 1851
San Francisco November 12th 1850 Dateline

...I wish you never so entrust letters to individuals as their heads are so full of excitement upon arriving in California they seem to forget everything. It is different sending letters to the States. The most certain means of conveyance are the Post Office and Expresses...Mr. Harry B. McIlvain...The Steamer by which he goes, the Antelope leaves this afternoon at 3 o'clock...The Cholera has raged to no alarming extent and is now fast disappearing...you will be surprised to hear of the intended departure of William P. Harden for home. He will leave here some time next week in the vessel assigned to him for passage to Panama then across the isthmus home...Thos. Whaley



Western Expresses Palmer & Co.'s Express - Mar, 1850 to Dec, 1851
Palmer & Cos Express

circa Feb, 1851 by Palmer & Cos Express with their FREE handstamp from San Francisco to Governor McDougal in San Jose. John McDougal was governor of California from Jan 9, 1851 to Jan 8, 1852, during which time the state capital was at San Jose. Palmer briefly operated a route between San Francisco and San Jose by steamboat and overland.
Palmer & Co.'s Express route from San Francisco to San Jose by steamer and land.

Palmer & Co.'s Express route from San Francisco to San Jose by steamer and land.



Western Expresses Pauly & Nohrman's Express - 1864 to 1868
Nicholas O. Pauly and G. H. Nohrman combined their businesses to form an express operation that served the mining camps along Gibsonville Ridge. They are thought to have connected with Pacific Express Company.
PAID Pauly & Nohrman's Express

PAID Pauly & Nohrman's Express from an undisclosed location in the Gibsonville Ridge area to Port Wine. One of only about three known covers from this express.
PAID Pauly & Nohrman's Express

PAID Pauly & Nohrman's Express from the Gibsonville Ridge to Gibsonville; by post office Gibsonville, Cal Dec 9 (1864 or 1865) to Albany, NY. The 24¢ adhesive (replaced) plus 3¢ printed stamp overpaid by 1¢ the 20¢ registration fee and double-weight envelope rate.


Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer and El Dorado Countiy Map



Western Expresses N. O. Pauly's Express - 1868
Nicholas O. Pauly and G. H. Norman (Nohrman) formed Pauly & Nohrman's Express in 1864 to serve the mining camps along Gibsonville Ridge. They are thought to have connected with Pacific Express Company. In 1868, they parted ways with Pauly continuing along the same route under his name for a short time.
N. O. Pauly's Express PAID

By N. O. Pauly's Express PAID from an undisclosed location in the Gibsonville Ridge area to Taylorville. The only reported example of this type printed frank, and one of only about four known N. O. Pauly cover of any kind.


Map Location of Taylorville



Western Expresses R. Penman's Express - 1869 to 1882
Penman's Express operated from Truckee to Jamison, Mohawk, and Eureka Mills in Plumas County. It was one of hundreds of "feeder" expresses that functioned throughout the Mother Lode in the northern Sierra Nevada. Penman connected with Wells, Fargo and Company at Truckee. Penman advertised his express and stage line in the Quincy "National" from 1869 to 1872 and in the Truckee "Republican" in the 1870's.
R. Penman's Express Truckee

By R. Penman's Express Truckee, Jamison, Mohawk, & Eureka Mills from Randolph to Truckee; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Truckee Nov 18 to Red Bluffs. Enclosed letter datelined Truckee, Sierra County Nov 17, 1874.

Datelined Truckee, Sierra County Nov 17, 1874

...Please find inclosed check for Sixty dollars & seventy five cents 60.75. I will try and send you the Bal in thirty days Money is very tight All most impossible to collect one dollar ...Yours truly, E. Gates



Western Expresses Pescadero & Half Moon Bay Stage Co.'s Express -
1865 to 1866
This short-lived express operated from San Francisco to the Half Moon Bay area and south to Pescadero, CA. They also acted as a forwarder of express material for Wells Fargo.
Pescadero and Half Moon Bay Stage Co.'s Express

By Pescadero and Half Moon Bay Stage Co.'s Express (likely from San Francisco) to San Mateo. One of only about ten known examples from this express and the only one not addressed to San Francisco.

Daily Alta California Aug 12, 1865 Advertisement

Aug 12, 1865 advertisement from the San Francisco Daily Alta California.



Western Expresses Peterson's Lower California Express -
Mar, 1863 to Jul, 1863
Using coastal steamers, Charles M. Peterson ran an express service between San Francisco and La Paz, Mexico. He established an office in Henry Payot's Book Store in San Francisco. Peterson may also have operated a pony/mule service between the cities of Cape San Lucas and La Paz in Mexico.
Peterson's Lower California Express

By Peterson's Lower California Express from (Cape) San Lucas Baja California (Mexico) to San Francisco with Free notation. Docketed Cape St. Lucas Apr 11, 1863 at left. The handstamp Estafeta de Baja California translates as "Express of Lower California." One of only two known Peterson's label covers.

Express of Lower California Map



Western Expresses Phillip's Express - 1860 to 1861
Phillips Express operated from Nevada City to the Dutch Flat, Alpha and Washington area. Some records indicate that there was a Phillips operating as an expressman in the Nevada City area as early as 1856.
Pr Phillips Express Manuscript to Nevada, California.

Pr Phillips Express manuscript to Nevada, California. Docket at right notes "Letter dated March 21, Rec'd March 23/60." One of only three known examples from this express, two of which are manuscripts. The area served by Phillip's Express is shown on the map below.


Dutch Flat to Nevada City and Washington & Alpha Route Map



Western Expresses Pioneer Express - 1853 to Late 1850's
Little is known about the Pioneer Express. It is believed to have operated from Georgetown in El Dorado County to the mining camps along the Middle Fork of the American River.
Pioneer Express Due 2/8

By Pioneer Express Due 2/8 to Georgetown, El Dorado County, California. Notation on back indicates that this cover was sacrificed to obtain the 10¢ adhesive (Type IV, position 55L1) it once held! Apparently mailed from some post office in the eastern US to Georgetown, with carriage from there to the addressee by the Pioneer Express. Prepayment of 10¢ postage for letters to/from the Pacific Coast became effective Apr 1, 1855.


Georgetown Location Map



Western Expresses Pony Express - Apr 3, 1860 to Oct 26, 1861
Second Rate Period - Westbound
California Pony Express New York Dec 15 (1860)

From New York to St. Joseph via regular U.S. mail with California Pony Express New York Dec 15 (1860); then by The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company St. Joseph, Mo. Dec 20 Pony Express from St. Joseph to Sacramento by pony; by post office Sacramento City, Cal Jan 4, 1861 to Vallejo. The Pony Express rate was $2.50 per quarter ounce from Aug 14, 1860 to Apr 14, 1861 (second rate period). (Ex-FDR, Haub)


Georgetown Location Map



Western Expresses Pony Express - Apr 3, 1860 to Oct 26, 1861
Fourth Rate Period - Westbound
California Pony Express New York Dec 15 (1860)

By U.S. post office New York Sep 4 (1861) to St. Joseph, Mo.; by Pony Express Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company St. Joseph Mo. Sep 12 in franked envelope with ½ Ounce PAID from St. Joseph to Placerville per Pony Express and Agent of Pony Express St. Joseph, Mo to Virginia City, Nevada Territory. The sender would have paid $1.20 for this envelope (20¢ for government franked envelope plus $1.00 pony fee). The Pony Express rate was $1.00 per half ounce from Jul 1, 1861 to Oct 31, 1861 (fourth rate period).


Georgetown Location Map San Francisco Evening Bulletin ad of Jun 26, 1861 which reads, in part: "Connecting with the Overland Mail Company's Pony Express at Placerville. Letters must be enclosed in our twenty cent government franked envelopes and charges from Placerville prepaid at the rate of one dollar for each half ounce, or any fraction thereof. All letters not enclosed as above will be charged at the rate of 25 cents each."



Western Expresses Prindle's Express - 1860 to 1867
Charles W. Prindle started in the express business as an agent for Crooks Express. Prindle purchased Crooks operation in 1860 and began operating over the same general area from a base at Yreka, providing service to the mines in the mountains west of Yreka and along the Klamath and Scott Rivers. Both Jacobs and Meamber have been referenced as partners for short periods of time. Prindle's Express may have connected with Wells Fargo at Yreka.
Prindle's Express from Yreka to Scott & Klamath Rivers

Prindle's Express from Yreka to Scott & Klamath Rivers into Yreka; Rec'd July 19, 1861 docketing. Advertisement below from the Yreka Weekly Union of May 5, 1860.

Yreka Weekly Union 5/5/1866 Prindle Express Ad



Western Expresses Prindle's Express - 1860 to 1867
Prindle's Express to Scott & Klamath Rivers

Three-line printed frank of Prindle's Express to Scott & Klamath Rivers into Yreka; Rec'd Mch 19/67 docketing.

Early sketch of Yreka

Early sketch of Yreka



Western Expresses Raum's Express - 1871 to 1872
This express began in 1870 with Mell Raum and a partner, Lovell, to serve Eureka and White Pine Counties, Nevada. Lovell left and Raum carried on alone until 1872, connecting with the US mails at Schellbourne, Nevada.
Raum's Centerville, Ruby Hill and Schelburn Express

By Raum's Centerville, Ruby Hill and Schelburn Express to Schellbourne, Nevada; by post office from Schellbourne, Nev. Aug 6 to Sacramento City. Only about five examples of this printed frank are known.
Raum's Ruby Hills, Centerville, and Schelburn Express

By Raum's Ruby Hills, Centerville, and Schelburn Express to Schellbourne, Nevada; by post office from Schellbourne, Nev. Jul 28 to Sacramento City. Only about four examples of this printed frank are known.



Western Expresses Reynolds & Company - Jan, 1850 to Oct 9, 1851
Forwarded by Reynolds & Co Express

By un-identified private carrier from Washington, DC to Stockton; Forwarded by Reynolds & Co Express to Jamestown (Tuolumne County) California, with 1.00 pencil notation for $1.00 express fee. Enclosed letter transcribed below:

Dateline Washington Nov. 28, 1850

Dear Charly,

I have just got here - All are well at Somervale - and Old Jim Englishman rejoiced to hear from you by Capt. McGee's letter - He has always appeared to take great interest in your welfare - It is on the eve of the Session of Congress [the 32nd United States Congress did not meet until Mar 4, 1851], what may be enacted, the Lord only can tell -

You shall hear from me again before long. -

I have rec'd a letter from Edward H. Whitney which gave me great satisfaction. -

This is written in a great hurry & you must excuse its unconnected appearance.

Wm. S.S.A.
To Chas. A. Atkinson, Esq.
California



Western Expresses Reynolds & Company - Jan, 1850 to Oct 9, 1851
Reynolds & Co Express Sonora Stockton & San Francisco

By Reynolds & Co Express Sonora Stockton & San Francisco with their PAID handstamp. Carried by Reynolds from Sonora to San Francisco.



Western Expresses Reynolds, Todd & Co. - Oct 9, 1851 to Apr 22, 1852
Reynolds & Company and A. H. Todd & Company combined operations to form an express that ran over the same routes. The partners were Angevine Reynolds, J. P. D. Wilkins, William H. Brown and Alexander H. Todd. It ran from the southern mines to Stockton and Sacramento, connecting with Gregory's Express (and perhaps Adams & Co in its last few months) in San Francisco. Charles A. Todd, not related to A. H. Todd, purchased this express in April, 1852 and formed a new company called Todd's Express.
Forwarded By Reynolds, Todd & Co Express San Francisco

Carried outside the mails from San Francisco to Stockton. Forwarded By Reynolds, Todd & Co Express San Francisco with Not Paid to Stockton. Folded business letter datelined March 19th, 1852. The US government did not require postage on privately carried mails until Aug 31, 1852.

Reynolds, Todd & Co Express Advertisement



Western Expresses Reynolds, Todd & Co. - Oct 9, 1851 to Apr 22, 1852
Forwarded by Reynolds Todd & Co Express Stockton

Forwarded by Reynolds Todd & Co Express Stockton to Sonora. Folded letter datelined Mar 29, 1852 transcribed below (spelling and punctuation uncorrected).

Datelined Stockton Mar 29, 1852

Stockton Mch 29th 52
Friend Thos

I have been holding on that I might write you something a bought the proberbility of the suckess of our shop after returning from Sanfrancisco and got to going the rains come and raised the waters four feet in our shop floor and drove us out for a week or so though it did no material damage so you see I am in a bad streek and times are very dul not doing much though I am in hopes they will get better befour long worse can't be I am not disposed to grumble or complain generaly but if things don't change shortly I shall be constrained to come to the conclusion that I am not one of danre[?] fortians favorites but one of her daughters miss fortunes moste especial and selected I have a partner in the shop with me Mr Dickson a very good man write me how you are getting on and the news abought Sonora ther is not much general news heare the Steam Boat H. T. Clay has been bought by the citizens of Stockton to run between hear and Sanfrancisco fair all ways one and two dollars Mr. Lees siou [Sioux Indian?] is heare at this time largely attended write me when you have any news from Andy
Yours respectfully
James S. Perry



Western Expresses Rhodes & Lusks Express - 1852 to 1854
James H. Rhodes and Hiram Lusk ran an express service from Sacramento north to Marysville, and from Marysville on to Tehama, Shasta, Weaverville, and as far north as Yreka. They connected with Wells Fargo at Sacramento. Hiram Lusk withdrew from the company in 1854 and the express service continued as Rhodes & Company Express. In July of 1855, James M. Rhodes sold out to Jesse Rhodes and Cornelius S. Whitney. Whitney left the partnership in December 1855, at which time Jesse Rhodes continued alone as Rhodes & Co.s Express until the company ceased to operate in February 1857.
Rhodes & Lusk's Express Weaverville

By Rhodes & Lusk's Express Weaverville with their PAID in oval handstamp to Sacramento; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Cos Express Sacramento to a merchant in San Francisco. Docketing on verso Rec'd March 14/53.

View of Weaverville, Trinity Co., after the Fire

View of Weaverville, Trinity Co., after the Fire, published by Rhodes & Lusk, Shasta. The Weaverville fire occurred in March, 1853.



Western Expresses Rhodes & Lusks Express - 1852 to 1854
Gregory's Express Office San Francisco

By Gregory's Express Office San Francisco to Shasta; exchanged with Rhodes & Lusk's Express Shasta with Not Paid for delivery to Weaverville with $1.00 express rate due by addressee.

Gregory's Express to Shasta in blue, Rhodes & Lusk's Express toWeaverville in red

Gregory's Express to Shasta in blue, Rhodes & Lusk's Express to Weaverville in red



Western Expresses Rhodes & Lusks Express - 1852 to 1854
Rhodes & Lusk Express Shasta & San Francisco

By Rhodes & Lusk Express Shasta & San Francisco with F (free) on folded letter from Mail Stage Office dated Oct 8, 1852 to Cottonwood.

Dateline: Oct. 8, 1852

J. A. Marsin Esq
Dear Sir
Annexed please find statement of balance of fare to books, which our agent neglected to collect on the departure of the stage from this place,

  One seat to Cottonwood $22.00
  Credit Cash on same $10.00
  Balance $12.00

By forwarding the above amount to our agent, Mr. Kellogg, at Colusa you will much oblige
Your Obdt svts
Mess Bather & Co.



Western Expresses Rhodes & Company Express - 1854 to Jul, 1855
James H. Rhodes ran an express service from Sacramento north to Marysville and on to Red Bluff, Shasta, Weaverville, and as far north as Yreka. He connected with Wells Fargo at Sacramento. Rhodes partnered with Hiram Lusk from 1852-1854 before going it alone. Cornelius S. Whitney partnered with Jesse Rhodes in Rhodes & Whitney's Express from Jul to Dec, 1855. Rhodes continued the express under that name until he exited the express business in Feb, 1857
Rhodes & Co. Express Shasta

By Rhodes & Co. Express Shasta to Sacramento; exchanged with Wells Fargo for carriage to San Francisco. The Postal Act of Aug 31, 1852 required equivalent US postage on privately carried mails.

Shasta in 1856

Shasta in 1856



Western Expresses Rhodes & Whitney's Express - Jul, 1855 to Feb, 1857
Jesse Rhodes partnered with Cornelius S. Whitney from July to December, 1855 in Rhodes and Whitney's Express. The partnership advertised that they ran from Sacramento to Marysville, Shasta, Weaverville, Scott Bar, and Crescent City. From Weaverville they extended as far north as Yreka and had an office in Jacksonville, Oregon. Rhodes & Whitney's Express connected with G. H. Wines & Co's Express and later with Pacific Express. Whitney left the partnership in Dec, 1855 but Jesse Rhodes continued under the same name until ceasing operation in Feb, 1857.
Rhodes & Whitney's Express Yreka

By Rhodes & Whitney's Express Yreka with oval PAID handstamp to Sacramento; exchanged with Wines for delivery to San Francisco with their G. H. Wines & Co. Express San Francisco marking.

Yreka in 1856

Yreka in 1856



Western Expresses River Express - 1893 to 1901
River Express existed under a variety of proprietors as a freight hauler, storage company, and package forwarder. It operated primarily between Stockton and San Francisco but at times had agents in Alameda, Antioch, Benicia, Berkeley, Napa, Oakland, Petaluma, and Vallejo. They carried letters as an express service from 1893 and 1901, using Whitney as an agent in the east bay towns of Alameda, Berkley and Oakland.
River Express Co. Stockton, Cal. Mar 17 1893

By River Express Co. Stockton, Cal. Mar 17 1893 to San Francisco. The Postal Act of Aug 31, 1852 required equivalent US postage on privately carried mails. The 2¢ postage rate became effective Oct 1, 1883, having been reduced from 3¢.

San Francisco to Stockton Route Map



Western Expresses Robinson's (W. H.) Express - 1852 to 1854
W. H. Robinson reportedly ran an express service between Sacramento and Murphy's Camp; however, he may have acted more as a local delivery to the Sacramento City area. His operation is listed in the Sacramento City Directory of 1854. Robinson apparently had a relationship with Rhodes & Lusk's Express, based on a Jul 1, 1852 correspondence indicating that Robinson was billing Rhodes & Lusk $22.95 for commission and postage fees for handling forty letters. From this, we can assume that Robinson was charging 50¢ per letter, with the remainder most likely for added postage. This is one of the rare cases where a monetary relationship is documented between express companies.
W. H. Robinson Express Agent Sacramento

By post office from Caledonia Me June 18/52 due 10 to Sacramento City; delivered by W. H. Robinson Express Agent Sacramento. The unpaid rate for distances greater than 3000 miles was 10¢ effective Jul 1, 1851. Exceptionally clear strike of this handstamp express marking. Folded letter datelined June 12, 1852 transcribed, in part, below.

Caledonia June 12, 1852

...We heard from the emigrants at Fort Kearny grass short & colera & small pox on behind    the feaver fer next spring is high even friend Moon talks of going in 53...



Western Expresses Rockfellow & Co.'s Express - May, 1863 to Oct, 1863
Rockfellow & Co.'s Express ran from Walla Walla, Washington to the John Day Country in Oregon and on to the Boise Basin in Idaho following Wells, Fargo's withdrawal from the route on May 17, 1863. Later, when Indian troubles subsided and production of bullion greatly increased, Wells, Fargo purchased Rockfellow's Express on Oct 17, 1863.
Rockfellow & Co.'s Express PAID 75¢.

By Rockfellow & Co.'s Express PAID 75¢. from either the John Day mines or the Boise Basin to Walla Walla, Washington; by Wells Fargo & Co. Walla Walla Sep 2 to San Francisco. One of only about five known examples of this type printed frank and about 12 total surviving Rockfellow covers.

Caledonia June 12, 1852

William H. Rockfellow stands closest to the wheel in this early photo.



Western Expresses Rowe & Company - 1854 to 1855
Edwin A. Rowe formed Rowe & Company's Express which operated between Shasta and Weaverville, connecting with Pacific Express in both those locations. A different Rowe (W. H.) ran another express from 1856-1858.
Rowe & Co Weaver PAID

By Rowe & Co Weaver PAID from Weaverville to Shasta; exchanged with Pacific Express Shasta Jul 10 to San Jose. One of only two known examples of this Rowe marking, and one of only three known Rowe covers in total.

Weaverville in 1856

Weaverville in 1856



Western Expresses Rumrill & Company - Aug, 1853 to Apr, 1855
Frank Rumrill began in the express business as Gregory's agent in Marysville from March, 1851 to Oct 1, 1852 when he switched his allegiance to Wells Fargo and became their agent in Marysville. Ten months later, Wells Fargo enfranchised Rumrill to branch out on his own, beginning his own express in August, 1853 with its headquarters in Downieville. He bought out Beck's Express on Jul 1 1854, which extended his line north from Downieville into the Gibsonville Ridge area. Rumrill sold out to Wells, Fargo & Co. in April, 1855.
F. Rumrill & Co. Northern Express Connecting with Wells Fargo & Co.

By post office Franklin Mills O. Mar 6 (1854) with 10 (collect) via New York and Panama to Marysville; by F. Rumrill & Co. Northern Express Connecting with Wells Fargo & Co. for delivery. As this cover is addressed to Frank Rumrill, he probably picked it up in Marysville. Enclosed letter datelined Franklin (Ohio) March 6, 1854 transcribed, in part below. The collect rate for distances over 3000 miles was reduced from 40¢ to 10¢ effective Jul 1, 1851.

Datelined Franklin (Ohio) March 6, 1854

Frank, why do I not hear from you...I wrote to you two letters in December and one on the 8th of February. I have heard that there was a mail lost on the Golden Gate. My letters may have been in that mail. If you ever receive those letters you will find it was no fault of mine that it was not I that kept you in suspense so long. Will you write to me as soon as you get this. It does not appear to me that I can wait one day longer. There never was anything that ever gave me so much trouble as the uncertainty of those letters. Will you excuse me for friendships sake and believe me your friend
Henrietta



Western Expresses Rumrill & Company - Aug, 1853 to Apr, 1855
F. Rumrill & Co's Northern Express Connecting with Wells, Fargo & Co.

circa May, 1854 by F. Rumrill & Co's Northern Express Connecting with Wells, Fargo & Co. from Marysville to San Francisco; delivered In care of Adams & Co Express office in San Francisco, per sender's notation.


Sep 9, 1854 advertisement from the Sacramento Daily Union

Sep 9, 1854 advertisement from the Sacramento Daily Union.




Western Expresses Rumrill & Company - Aug, 1853 to Apr, 1855
F. Rumrill & Co's Express Downieville

By F. Rumrill & Co's Express Downieville likely to Marysville, where it was exchanged with Wells Fargo. It is not clear how the letter was then conveyed on to Ohio, as no postal markings are evident. Enclosed letter, transcribed in part below, datelined Downieville Dec 5, 1854 from Frank Rumrill to his girlfriend, Henrietta Stewart.


Datelined Downieville Dec 5, 1854


My Dear Henrietta

Yours of Oct 3, is just received...Am sorry I cannot set a certain time for my return home, but will assure you that just so soon as I can arrange my business I will leave. The prospects are brighter now than ever before, and I have sanguine hopes of being able to get off soon...My health is now good, although my lungs are still slightly affected...

Ever your

Frank



Western Expresses Rumrill & Company - Aug, 1853 to Apr, 1855
F. Rumrill & Cos Express Fosters Bar

By F. Rumrill & Cos Express Fosters Bar to Sacramento City. Filed June 19th 1854 docket. This is the only known example of a Rumrill Fosters Bar marking.


Ad from the Sep 3, 1854 issue of the San Francisco Golden Era.


Ad from the Sep 3, 1854 issue of the San Francisco Golden Era.



Western Expresses Rundell & Jones - 1863
George Rundell and Horatio Jones formed a partnership in 1863 for an express operation between The Dallas, Oregon and the gold fields in the John Day and Canyon City mining area or Oregon. In October of the same year, Jones formed a partnership with Addison Edgar which began operation over the route and replaced Rundell & Jones Express.
Rundell & Jones' Canyon City Express

By Rundell & Jones' Canyon City Express - Paid 50 Cents from the John Day or Canyon City, Oregon mining area to The Dallas, Oregon.


John Day or Canyon City, Oregon mining area to The Dallas, Oregon Map



Western Expresses Rutherford & Co.'s Express - Dec, 1866 to [Aug, 1867]
R. H. Rutherford continued to operate an express after the breakup of Wheeler, Rutherford & Company. He pushed his express operation into Plumas County to reach the North Fork of the Feather River. It is likely he moved his base of operations from Marysville to Oroville, connecting withWells Fargo at that point.
Rutherford & Co.'s Express

By Rutherford & Co.'s Express in their printed frank envelope to Oroville; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Oroville for delivery to San Francisco. Docketed on verso Aug 1867. One of only five known covers from Rutherford & Co.'s Express.


Marysville Daily Appeal of Dec 19, 1866 Item from the Marysville Daily Appeal of Dec 19, 1866 indicating dissolution of Wheeler, Rutherford & Co. effective Dec 1, 1866.

Sacramento Daily Union dated Aug 13, 1867 The latest mention of any kind of Rutherford & Co.'s Express, from the Sacramento Daily Union dated Aug 13, 1867



Western Expresses Sacramento River Express - 1871 to Unknown
Johnson and Company were listed in the San Francisco directory as the proprietors of this express forwarder, which operated between San Francisco and the river towns north along the Sacramento River. They appear to have carried letter mail in some capacity.
Sacramento River Express 306 Montgomery Street PAID
By Sacramento River Express 306 Montgomery Street PAID to San Francisco; then by US post office San Francisco, Cal. Jan 15 to San Jose. Williams book records that this type San Francisco postmark (SAF-440) was used from Apr 26, 1870 to Apr 28, 1875. The 3¢ rate (prepayment required) was effective from Mar 3, 1863 to Oct 1, 1883 when it was reduced to 2¢.
Red Bluff to San Francisco to San Jose Map



Western Expresses Salmon River & Nez Perces Express (Wells Fargo)
- Early 1863 to May 17, 1863
Wells Fargo initially relied on agent E. W. Tracy and his express company to service the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers and the Boise Basin. In the summer of 1861, WF opened an office in Lewiston, from which the mining activity in this area was supported. Early in 1863, Wells Fargo began an additional overland route between Lewiston and the mines in the Boise Basin that is drained by the Boise River. By April, 1863, Wells Fargo had closed the activity over this route due to the difficulty of the terrain and on May 17 announced that they would no longer support the business in the Boise River area.
Salmon River & Nez Perces Express PAID 75 Cents

By Wells Fargo and Co. with Salmon River & Nez Perces Express PAID 75 Cents surcharge from the Boise Basin via San Francisco to Atchison on the central overland route; by post office Atchison, Kas. May 26 to New York. The 75¢ rate covers the 50¢ Wells Fargo rate out of the Idaho mining region plus 25¢ as the transcontinental fee.



Western Expresses Schoch's Copper City Express - 1863 to 1865
W. S. Schoch (believed to have been pronounced "Scotch") operated his express from a main office in Shasta to the Pittsburgh Mining District and places such as Buckeye, Churntown, Pittsburgh and Copper City, which was located near the junction of the Pit and McCloud Rivers.
Schoch's Copper City Express

By Schoch's Copper City Express to Shasta; by post office Shasta Cal. Nov 3 to Prairie P.O., Yolo Co., Cala. One of only four reported examples of this frank and eight total Schoch's Express covers.
Schoch's Copper City Express

By Schoch's Copper City Express to Shasta; by post office Shasta Cal. Aug 23 (1865) to Sacramento. Docketed at left Aug 23, 1865. One of only four reported examples of this frank and eight total Schoch's Express covers.



Western Expresses Singer & Company - mid 1854 to 1855
William E. Singer ran an express operation between Marysville and the mining camps along the Feather River over a route that had been established as early as 1850. Singer operated a series of five different expresses by himself and/or with different partners over this route between 1850 and 1857, with Singer as the sole operator from mid 1854 into 1855, connecting with Wells Fargo at Marysville.
W. E. Singer & Cos Express Feather River

By W. E. Singer & Cos Express Feather River. from Marysville to Bidwell's Bar on the Feather River. Enclosed folded letter datelined Marysville July 6, 1854 asking addressee to act as collection agent.
W. E. Singer & Cos. Feather River Express Connecting with Wells Fargo & Co.

By W. E. Singer & Cos. Feather River Express Connecting with Wells Fargo & Co. to Bidwells Bar on the Feather River. Docketing on back T. Grant, March 7 55 of this first issue Nesbitt stamped government envelope (with Nesbitt seal on flap).



Western Expresses Singer, Meek & Co.'s Express - 1857
William Singer dropped partner Thomas Morrow in late 1857 and took on a new partner, Emerson E. Meek. Shortly after this partnership was formed the route was sold to Henry Everts and Fenton Whiting. Singer & Meek connected with Pacific Express at Marysville.
Feather River Express PAID Singer, Meek & Co

By Feather River Express PAID Singer, Meek & Co. to Marysville; exchanged with Pacific Express Co Marysville Dec 29 to San Francisco with very light Pacific Express Co San Francisco circular marking.
Singer, Meek & Co.'s Feather River Express.

By Singer, Meek & Co.'s Feather River Express to "Present", likely a local delivery to Marysville.



Western Expresses Singer & Morrow's Express - Fall 1855 to Fall 1857
Formed in early 1855, W. E. Singer's Feather River Express served the Feather River mining camps. Singer partnered with Morrow to form a new company late in 1855. In late 1857, Morrow withdrew from the partnership.
Feather River Express PAID Singer & Morrow

By Feather River Express PAID Singer & Morrow franked entire from the mining camps of the Feather River to Bidwell's bar; by government mail Bidwell's Bar Cal May 10 (either 1856 or 1857) to Massachusetts.
Bidwell's Bar in 1854 (artist unknown)

Bidwell's Bar in 1854 (artist unknown)



Western Expresses Stewart & Jones Express - Summer 1865
Stewart & Jones express ran a line from Meadow Lake to the Dutch Flat/Gold Run mining area. Gold deposits at Meadow Lake created one of the last gold rushes in the Sierras. The area is 7000 feet above sea level and little activity is possible once the snows start to fall. The summer of 1865 marked the operating period for this express, as the weather and limited gold deposits ended most activity in the area by 1868.
Stewart & Jones' Meadow Lake Express PAID

By Stewart & Jones' Meadow Lake Express PAID to Gold Run; by United States Post Office from Gold Run, Cal Nov x4 to Virginia City, Nevada.. This is the unique example known used from this express company.


Meadow Lake, CA, ca1868

Meadow Lake, CA, ca1868



Western Expresses Stolp's Express - 1854
Stolp's Express served the mines along the North Fork of the American River and the mining camps of Little York and Red Dog, using Nevada City as a base.
Stolp's Express Nevada

By Stolp's Express Nevada. to Nevada City; by post office from Nevada City, Cal. Jun 27 (1854) to Ohio with "5" of integral rate postmark crossed out and 6¢ postage paid by two three-cent imperforate 1851 issue adhesives. The prepaid rate for distances over 3000 miles was 6¢ from July 1, 1851 to Apr 1, 1855.


Nevada 1856



Western Expresses J. A. Stone's Express - 1864 to Feb, 1865
J. A. Stone purchased Hopkinson's Express, or one of his routes, in 1864. Like Hopkinson, he connected with Wells Fargo at Dutch Flat and Nevada City. The express was reclaimed or sold back to E. B. Hopkinson in February, 1865.
J. A. Stones Express Paid to Dutch Flat

J. A. Stones Express Paid to Dutch Flat; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Dutch Flat Sep 3 to San Francisco. The only known example from Stone's Express.


Marysville Daily Appeal

The only newspaper reference found thus far to J. A. Stone's Express (from the Dec 3, 1864 Marysville Daily Appeal)



Western Expresses Swart & Co's Express - May, 1854 to Dec, 1854
Jesse H. Swart purchased Almy's Oakland and San Francisco Express in May, 1854. Their daily route was by steamer from San Francisco to Oakland, Clinton, Alameda, Union City, San Pablo and Martinez. Swart sold out to Swift & Company in Dec, 1854.
Swart & Cos. Express Oakland

By Swart & Cos. Express Oakland from Union City Nov 22nd 1854 to San Francisco. Docketing indicates mailing and receipt on the same day.
Aug 3, 1854 Daily Placer Times and Transcript Aug 3, 1854 Daily Placer
Times and Transcript
Swart & Co.'s offices in San Francisco Bay
Bird's eye view showing location of Swart & Co.'s offices in San Francisco Bay



Western Expresses Swift & Co.'s Express - Early 1855 to 1859
E. Swift's express operated on the peninsula north of San Francisco from a base at Santa Rosa. It roughly followed present day Highway 101 as far north as Cloverdale, and possibly on to Ukiah, as well as west from Santa Rosa to the Bodega Bay area. Swift connected with Wells Fargo at Petaluma and Santa Rosa.
Swift & Cos Express Santa Rosa

By Swift & Cos Express Santa Rosa to Sacramento. Although not marked as such, possibly exchanged with Wells Fargo in Santa Rosa for delivery to Sacramento.
Swift & Cos Express Santa Rosa

By Swift & Cos Express Santa Rosa to San Francisco, possibly exchanged with Wells Fargo in Santa Rosa.



Western Expresses Swift & Co.'s Express - Early 1855 to 1859


Sacramento Daily Union Article


Sacramento Daily Union articles indicate Swift went into the express business on his own in the Mar-Apr, 1855 timeframe, based upon the above article from Feb 22, 1855 indicating he was an agent of Wells Fargo, and the articles below from May 22, 1855 and Nov 28, 1855 when he was in business for himself.



Sacramento Daily Union Article


Sacramento Daily Union Article



Western Expresses Taggart's Express - 1866 to 1871
Grant Taggart, who had been a hotel operator, entered the stage business by purchasing the equipment of the California Stage Company in 1866. The Apr 30, 1866 Sacramento Daily Union reported that Taggart had acquired the U.S. mail contract between Shasta and Weaverville. Taggart took over Greenhood & Newbauer's express business in August, 1867 when their banking operation failed, taking the express business with it.
Paid Grant I. Taggart's Shasta & Weaverville Express

Paid Grant I. Taggart's Shasta & Weaverville Express to Shasta; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Shasta Jul 19 to San Francisco. The only known used example from Taggart's Express.


Marysville Daily Appeal Only two articles of any kind mentioning Grant I. Taggart's Express or mail stage line could be located, both from the Marysville Daily Appeal, dated Mar 26, 1867 (upper) and Dec 14, 1870 (lower). However, many articles were located referencing Taggart's political activity





Western Expresses Taylor's Express - Apr, 1851 to Apr, 1852
Lewis Wilson Taylor operated a semi-monthly express from Shasta, via Hamilton City, Yuba City and Marysville to Sacramento. He operated prior to the date of his advertisement of June 1851. His last ad appeared on Apr 28, 1852. Taylor advertised a connection with Henkle's Express for areas north of Shasta and with Gregory's for areas south of Sacramento.
Taylors Express Shasta April 10

By Taylors Express Shasta April 10 (1851) to Sacramento City; by post office mail Sacramento City Cal. Apr 17 with 40 (due) for carriage to Wisconsin.


Sacramento Daily Union ad of Nov 4, 1851

Sacramento Daily Union ad of Nov 4, 1851



Western Expresses Thomes & Skaden's Express - Aug, 1870 to Mar, 1874
Thomes & Skadan's (with various spellings in their printed franks) was a stage operation that also provided a letter service. They operated between Susanville, California and Reno, Nevada, a distance of about 70 miles, connecting with Wells Fargo at Reno.
Thomes & Skaden's Express Susanville & Reno Connecting with Wells, Fargo, & Co.

By Thomes & Skaden's Express Susanville & Reno Connecting with Wells, Fargo, & Co. in their Type 9 printed frank to Reno; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Reno Sep 6 to San Francisco.


Lassen Sage Brush Aug 20, 1870 Early ad for Thomes & Skadden's Stage Line (carrying U. S. Mail) as published in the Lassen Sage Brush Aug 20, 1870



Western Expresses Thompson & Co.'s Express - 1857
E. B. Thompson ran this small express from Petaluma to Santa Rosa and on to Healdsburg, CA. He connected with Wells Fargo at Petaluma and acted as a feeder for them.
Thompson & Co.'s Express Santa Rosa

By Thompson & Co.'s Express Santa Rosa to Petaluma in their printed frank envelope. One of only five known examples from this express, this being the only one carried only by Thompson (all others exchanged with Wells Fargo).



Daily Alta California Ad Jul 11, 1857
San Francisco Daily Alta California ad of Jul 11, 1857
Goddard's "Map of The State of California" (1857) with highlighted locations of Thompson's main offices
Sacramento Daily Union ad of Nov 4, 1851



Western Expresses Tickner's Express - 1862 to 1872
H. C Tickner operated an express from Yreka that ran to the mining camps along the Klamath River, later expanding into the Scott River Valley. Tickner's Express connected with Wells Fargo at Yreka and Fort Jones. The operation was sold to A. B. Carlock and Ward in late 1872.
H. C. Tickner's Yreka and Scott Bar Express

By H. C. Tickner's Yreka and Scott Bar Express from Fort Jones to Scott Bar, with manuscript notation at left "Paid A.B.C." Enclosed business letter datelined Fort Jones Sep 7, 1872 shown below (slightly reduced in size).


Business Letter Datelined Fort Jones Sep 7, 1872



Western Expresses Tinnin & Owen's Express - 1867 to 1868
W. J. Tinnin and John W. Owens offered customers an express service from their general merchandise store in Weaverville. The opening of a Wells Fargo office in Weaverville on Nov 14, 1868 most likely ended their foray in the express business.
Tinnin & Owens Weaverville Apr 16

By Tinnin & Owens Weaverville Apr 16 (1868) in their printed franked envelope to an unidentified destination, as this envelope was part of a paste-up, with the back half no longer attached.


View of Weaverville, Trinity Co., After The Fire



Western Expresses Todd & Co's Express - Jul 13, 1850 to Oct 9, 1851
Alexander H. Todd and E. W. Colt formed Todd and Company's Express following Benjamin L. Bryan's departure from Todd & Bryan's Express on Jul 13, 1850. E. W. Colt operated out of Stockton and served the southern mines through merchant agents, while A. H. Todd anchored the operation in San Francisco. They connected in San Francisco with Adams & Company and in Sacramento with Hawley & Company. Later, they also connected with both Freeman and Reynolds & Company in Sacramento. They extended a line, by steamer, to Portland and Oregon City and brought L. W. Newell into the partnership to work out of Sonora. The partnership disbanded in Oct, 1851 with Colt and Newell taking the Oregon California express operation, as Newell & Company. Todd then combined the remaining California operation with Reynolds & Company to form Reynolds, Todd & Co.'s Express.
Forwarded by Todd & Co Express

Forwarded by Todd & Co Express from Stockton to San Francisco on July 15th, 1851 folded business letter ordering stoves and ovens.


Dateline Stockton July 15th, 1851



Western Expresses Todd & Co's Express - Jul 13, 1850 to Oct 9, 1851
Todd & Co.'s Express Stockton

Todd & Co.'s Express Stockton to San Francisco; by Adams Express letter carry for delivery within San Francisco.


Dateline: Stockton Jan 30th 1851
...had heard from friend Comer by the last mail...He had a small loss on the way down to the Isthmus of all his coin in his trunk about $500. It was broke open and robbed. His dust he carried in a belt around him. He stated to go the Realajo Route [a Nicaraguan route] but with 2500 others found it was a Humbug, and had to go to Panama. He states that a large number of the passengers were robbed and that at Chagres nearly every other person there was sick...Isaac Washburn

Jan 29, 1851 Daily Alta California
Jan 29, 1851 Daily Alta California:
Delivery

Letter bears a pencil "Sansome between Pacific & Jackson (Streets)" delivery instruction. Todd's agent in San Francisco was Adams Express who employed agents to Adams Express deliver letters directly to street addresses when requested, and for an additional fee.



Western Expresses Todd & Co's Express - Jul 13, 1850 to Oct 9, 1851
Todd & Co.'s Express Stockton

By Todd & Co.'s Express Stockton to San Francisco with FREE; by Berford & Cos Express San Francisco Cal. To San Jose. Docket on verso "Appointed Jany 31 1851."


Appointed Jany 31 1851.


Map

Todd & Co's Express route in blue, Berford & Co.'s Express land route in red.



Western Expresses Todd & Co's Express - Jul 13, 1850 to Oct 9, 1851
Todd's Express Office Sonora to San Francisco

From Todd's Express Office Sonora to San Francisco with partial Not Paid handstamp. Express charges of 50¢ due by recipient, as indicated by 4/ to pay (four bits, or 50¢ due).


Sonora in January, 1852.

Sonora in January, 1852.



Western Expresses Todd & Co's Express - Jul 13, 1850 to Oct 9, 1851
Todd & Co Express

By Todd & Co Express with From Stockton to San Francisco on Jan, 1851 folded letter. Manuscript Free may indicate company business.
Lowell, Mass Dec 9

Lowell, Mass Dec 9 (1850) with 40 rate to San Francisco; by Todd & Co Express with $2.00 express fee from San Francisco to the recipient who docketed the letter Recd Jany 30th 1851.



Western Expresses Todd's Express - Apr 22, 1852 to Sep 1, 1853
Charles A. Todd purchased all the assets of Reynolds, Todd & Company and continued to operate from San Francisco and Stockton serving the southern mines. Todd made inroads along the Sacramento River to points above Sacramento, but faced tough competition from Adams & Co. in that area. At first, Todd connected with Gregory's Express, but later shared an office in San Francisco with Wells Fargo and connected with them for services to the Eastern States. Todd sold his operation to Wells Fargo in Sep, 1853, giving them control of the routes to the southern mines, where they began to compete with Adams.
Forwarded by Todd's Express San Francisco

Forwarded by Todd's Express San Francisco with Not Paid (collect) to Mr. Haight (later governor) in Sonora. Folded letter datelined San Francisco May 4, 1853- transcribed, in part, below.


Datelined San Francisco May 4, 1853

...Dear Brother...The mail steamer is hourly expected and I will forward any letters recd by me from home...I told Dr. Zeile what you wrote relative to your health...I think possibly in a few weeks it may be advisable for you to come here & have leeches applied. I will talk with Ziele about it...Yours affcly
Henry H. Haight
 ...
P.S. May 5. Mail steamer arrived this morning shall probably get my letters this afternoon. [The "New York and San Francisco Steamship Company Pacific Line's" steamer Cortes arrived San Francisco from Panama May 5, 1853]



Western Expresses Todd & Bryans Express - Early 1850 to Jul 13, 1850
Alexander H. Todd began operating as a one man express service in late July 1849, operating between San Francisco and Stockton and into the southern mines. He formed a partnership with Benjamin L. Bryan in late February or early March 1850, adding E. W. Colt shortly thereafter. Todd & Bryans shared an office in Stockton and had a working relationship with Adams & Company. They connected with Berford for correspondence to San Jose. Bryan sold out to his partners in July of 1850, at which time Todd and Colt formed Todd and Company, operating over the same route.
Todd & Bryan's Express from Stockton to San Francisco

Todd & Bryan's Express from Stockton to San Francisco on folded letter datelined Stockton April 11, 1850; by post office San Francisco Apr 20 40 integral rate handstamp and Paid to Nauvoo, Illinois.
Datelined Stockton April 11, 1850

...My last letter to you was mailed at Salt Lake. Since that time we have travelled about 1700 miles. The country from Salt Lake to California is one barren waste only fit for Indians to live in there never can be any settlement made on the route...I have been up to the mines made a little money, & then went to San Francisco after letters but could not find any - but hope to receive some from home soon...It is very expensive living in this country - $6.00 per day & you sleep yourself on the ground, but this is California...gold is found principally in the bed of larger streams and they cannot be worked to very good advantage until about 1st July - smaller creeks can be worked at any season of the year...We arrived in California with 1 waggon & 6 yoke of oxen We had 5 waggons when we left the Missouri River...



Western Expresses Tracy & Company - 1859 to Nov, 1863
Thirty-two year old Edward W. (Ned) Tracy arrived in Portland on July 8, 1859, as Wells Fargo's General Agent for the Washington and Oregon Territories. While establishing the Wells Fargo offices at the main coastal cities, he also began to form a partnership with E. Norton and E. L. James, operating an express service throughout the interior. The partnership with Norton and James was dissolved in March of 1862. Wells Fargo started buying out the express operations that serviced the Boise Basin in the fall of 1863 and in November of that year Tracy sold the last of his express service to them.
Tracy & Co. Express Walla Walla

By Tracy & Co. Express Walla Walla overland to their Wallula, Washington office, then following the Columbia River to Portland with Tracy & Co. Aug 15 Portland to Salem over another of Tracy's routes.
Salmon River Express PAID - One Dollar

By Tracy's Express with surcharge Salmon River Express PAID - One Dollar to Walla Walla; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Walla Walla Sep 8 for delivery as noted on the other half of this paste-up (now missing). One of only four known examples of the Tracy's one dollar Salmon River surcharge.



Western Expresses Truman & Co.'s Express - 1865 to 1868
James C. Truman began his J. C. Truman Express in January 1864 soon after arriving in San Francisco. He took Chapman as a partner on February 16, 1864 and after Chapman withdrew in 1865, he formed Truman & Co's Express. It operated until 1868 from San Francisco to San Jose by rail and to Watsonville and Santa Cruz.
Truman & Co.'s Express Feb 16

By Truman & Co.'s Express Feb 16, likely from San Francisco, to San Jose in their printed frank envelope. One of only about ten known examples of the Truman's handstamp marking.


Sacramento Daily Union of Oct 25, 1867

The Sacramento Daily Union of Oct 25, 1867 lists the addressee, Wm. A. January of San Jose as an arrival at the Orleans Hotel in Sacramento.



Western Expresses Tucker's Siskiyou Express - 1868
Tucker's Siskiyou Express was probably operated by Louis Tucker. This shortlived express ran from Shasta to the mining camps in the Siskiyou area on the California - Oregon border in 1868.
Tucker's Siskiyou Express

By Tucker's Siskiyou Express from Jacksonville, Oregon to Southside Siskiyou Mountain, Oregon. Enclosed letter, datelined Aug 3, 1868, transcribed below:


Datelined Aug 3, 1868

Mr Byron Cole
Dear Sir:

I send you One hundred & forty two 50/100 dollars which with bill of Cans makes $150 for which I received your note this morning. We will make the cans in a day or two and forward them as directed. We will have to make a cage or house for the mouse as we can find nothing to send in town.

Yours truly
Wm Hoffman

[on verso of letter, written as follows:]
I can get you a canary cage for $3.50, a regular squirrel cage with a rolling cylinder will cost four or five dollars. Let me know if you wish either of them.
Hoffman



Western Expresses Vera's Express - 1855 to 1857
After working with Meek serving the Feather River mines, Joseph Numa Vera became a partner in Meek & Power's Express. Meek sold out to Vera in 1855 and became a partner in Singer, Meek & Co's Feather River Express. Vera operated to Oroville where he connected with Wells, Fargo and evidently quit the business circa 1857.
Vera's Express PAID

circa 1855 from the Feather River mines by Vera's Express PAID to Oroville, "Paid Pollard 4/-" rate paid to agent for valuable letter; by Wells Fargo & Co's Express Oroville, Cal. with their label (money letter) to Marysville; entire folded over at right and sealed with red wax seal (now unfolded).


Vera's express route shown in red, Wells Fargo & Co. carriage in blue

Vera's express route shown in red, Wells Fargo & Co. carriage in blue



Western Expresses Washburn's Express - 1856 to 1857
Washburn's Express is thought to have worked the mines along the Yuba River. A January, 1983 article in Western Express notes that this express operation from Marysville to Camptonville.
Washburn's Express & News Agency Camptonville

By post office from Beloit, Wis. Nov 26 to Marysville; by Washburn's Express & News Agency Camptonville from Marysville to Camptonville. Likely 1856 usage with 3¢ imperforate 1851 issue adhesive.


Early view of Camptonville's main street

Early view of Camptonville's main street



Western Expresses Wells Fargo & Co.'s Express - Mar 18, 1852 to late 1890's
Henry Wells and William G. Fargo formed Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express on Mar 18, 1852. Their main competitors in the early days were American, Adams and Gregory's Expresses. Wells Fargo dominated the express business within the next decade through numerous acquisitions of their competitors. They continued to run an express business through the end of the century.
Wells Fargo & Co Express Rattlesnake

By Wells Fargo & Co Express Rattlesnake to Coal Creek, Oroville, Butte Co. Enclosed letter datelined Rattlesnake Mar 14th 1854 transcribed, in part, below.

Datelined Rattlesnake Mar 14th 1854

...Your note to me dated Feby 3 1854 for $228 and interest is now several months overdue. When I saw you last in Sacramento you led me to believe that it would be settled long before this time, as I am at present very much in need of the money. I will thank you to remit in course of Express or say where shall I present the note for collection...Chas. Macdonald



Western Expresses WF&Co - Virginia City Pony Express - Aug, 1862 to Mar, 1865
The Virginia City Pony Express was established by Wells, Fargo and Company in August 1862 to supplement their normal express business between Virginia City, Nevada Territory, in the rich Washoe mining area, and San Francisco. The pony express service was advertised as 24 hours, versus 44 hours for the normal service. Mail was carried by a pony rider from Virginia City to Placerville where it was put on a train for Sacramento. At Sacramento the mail was placed on a steamboat for conveyance down the Sacramento River and across San Francisco Bay to San Francisco. It appears that service was suspended between July 29 and Dec 28, 1864. After a brief revival in 1865, the service was permanently suspended on March 2, 1865.
Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City, N. T. Oct 3 (1862)

By Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City, N. T. Oct 3 (1862) to San Francisco, with 10¢ Virginia City pony express adhesive. The 10¢ rate was in effect from August 1862 to February 1863.

Virginia City To San Francisco Route Map



Western Expresses WF&Co - Virginia City Pony Express - Aug, 1862 to Mar, 1865
Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City, N. T. Jun 16 (1863)

By Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City, N. T. Jun 16 (1863) to Stockton, with 25¢ Virginia City pony express adhesive. The 25¢ rate was in effect from February 1863 to its end in February, 1865. In March 1864, the blue 25¢ adhesive was replaced by the same design in red.
Wells, Fargo & Co. San Francisco 19 Apr

By Wells, Fargo & Co. San Francisco 19 Apr with 10¢ red Virginia City pony express printed stamp on half of paste-up. The 10. rate was in effect from August 1862 to February 1863, making the 10¢ rate a bit of a mystery. One of only four known used examples, all as half a paste-up.



Western Expresses Wharton's Express - 1863 to 1864
James P. Wharton purchased William Ford's express route which operated out of Gibsonville to the Plumas County mining camps, including LaPorte, Jamison City and the camps along Hopkin's Creek and Poorman's Creek. They connected with Wheeler's Express at La Porte. Wharton's Express was sold to Garland's Express in 1864.
J. P. Wharton's Express

By J. P. Wharton's Express in their printed franked envelope used as a paste-up with address side shown below to Quincy, Plumas County, California. Pencil notation indicates Virginia City, N. T. Nov 4, 1862, perhaps the date of the nowmissing letter it once held.

J. P. Wharton's Express Address Side



Western Expresses Wharton's Express - 1863 to 1864
Wharton's Express Gibsonville

By Wharton's Express Gibsonville from Jamison City to Gibsonville; by post office Gibsonville, Cal. Jun 24 (1863) to Grants Mills, Pa. Enclosed letter datelined Jamison City June 20 63 transcribed, in part, below.

Datelined Jamison City June 20 63

Dear Brother
...as regards that receipt you send me to sign I think it a haphazard way of doing business we halve neither of us a lease of our lines that letter may get destroyed in the rough & tumble of a California life...
Yours
From D B Gray
To J. A. Gray

Fast address
Jamison City
Plumas Co.
Cal.

My respects to all especially to the ladies



Western Expresses Wheeler's Express - Late 1863 to Early 1864
In late 1863 after leaving Holland and Wheeler, Sam Wheeler, possibly along with his brother, formed an express operation over the same route serviced by Holland and Wheeler. The business took on a new partner, R. H. Rutherford, after about four months and became Wheeler, Rutherford & Co. Wheeler's Express serviced the mining area along the Feather River and the Gibsonville Ridge area from a base at La Porte, connecting with Wells Fargo at Marysville.
Wheeler's Express La Porte

By Wheeler's Express La Porte to Marysville; by Wells Fargo & Co. Marysville Nov 10 (1863) to San Francisco. "Holland" removed from both the printed frank and the circular Wheeler's handstamp.
PAID. Wheelers' Express

PAID. Wheelers' Express. in their printed frank envelope to Morristown, Sierra County, California. The only reported example of this type printed frank.


Street View of La Porte, Sierra County



Western Expresses Wheeler, Rutherford & Company - Early 1864 to 1865
In late 1863 after leaving Holland and Wheeler, Sam Wheeler, possibly along with his brother, formed an express operation over the same route serviced by Holland and Wheeler. The business took on a new partner, R. H. Rutherford, after about four months and became Wheeler, Rutherford & Co. The express served the mining area along the Feather River and the Gibsonville Ridge area from a base at La Porte, connecting with Wells Fargo at Marysville. Rutherford left this partnership after a short period and the Wheeler brothers continued to operate for while longer.
PAID Wheeler, Rutherford & Co.'s Express

By Wheeler's Express from LaPorte to Marysville in franked envelope PAID Wheeler, Rutherford & Co.'s Express and Wheeler's Express LaPorte;. by Wells Fargo & Co. Marysville Aug 31 to San Francisco. "Holland" removed from the circular Wheeler's handstamp. Dated to 1865 by docket on verso.

Sacramento Daily Union article from Aug 17, 1865
Sacramento Daily Union articles from Aug 17 and Aug 20, 1865
Sacramento Daily Union article from Aug 20, 1865



Western Expresses Whiting & Company - 1857-1868
Fenton Berkley Whiting, and partners Henry C. Everts, G. W. Morley, and E. E. Meek, formed Whiting & Company, based in Quincy and connecting with the Everts expresses. Everts would then move the material to and from Marysville and exchange it with Wells Fargo for transport beyond. Everts Express was sold to Holland, Morley & Company in early 1862, beginning a shift of the transfer point for Whiting from Quincy to La Porte. Whiting also began connecting with other expresses, like La Porte Express, during this period. Whiting began to connect directly with Wells Fargo sometime after 1862, when WF established an office in Oroville. Whiting's operation was sold to Garland & Company in 1868.
Whiting & Co.'s Express Quincy PAID

By Whiting & Co.'s Express Quincy PAID for local delivery to Quincy. Docket at left of F. B. Whiting, founder of the express.

F. B. Whiting



Western Expresses Whiting & Company - 1857-1868
Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express PAID

By Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express PAID to Marysville; Marysville, Cal. Paid by Stamps Jul 4 to Massachusetts on 10¢ first issue Nesbitt entire.
Whiting & Co.' ------FREE

From Whiting & Co. ------FREE., likely a local delivery to Hundley in Quincy. One of only two known examples of this free printed frank of Whiting & Co.



Western Expresses Whiting & Company - 1857-1868
PAID Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express

PAID Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express from Cresecent O. M. Co. Indian Valley Jan 15, 1866 to Quincy; by post office Quincy, Cal Jan 24 to Whitby, Ontario, Canada; with Whitby C.W. Fe 24 66 received marking.
PAID Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express

PAID Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express to Oroville, California. One of only two known used examples of this printed frank in purple.



Western Expresses Whiting & Company - 1857-1868
Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express PAID to Marysville

By Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express PAID to Marysville; Marysville, Cal. Paid by Stamps Sep 4 to Pennsylvania on 10¢ first issue Nesbitt entire.

Datelined Indian Hill Aug 26th/57

Indian Hill Aug 26th/57

...I am here in the fine formed band of gold but it looks to me more like a band of rocks and Mountains than gold. We are located on the east branch of Feather river in a small mining town in Plumas Co...There is no way to get to this place except on foot or by Pack mules. All of our goods are packed upon mules...I have been at work most of time at Carpenter and joiner work. I get six dollars per day and board myself. I give $8 per week for board...

J. M. Bronsom



Western Expresses Whiting & Company - 1857-1868
PAID Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express

PAID Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express (Type 4 printed frank) to LaPorte with 1.50 pencil express fee (which included postage); LaPorte, Cal Feb 4, 1864 to Osterholz, via Bremen, Germany. The 35¢ postage overpays by 5¢ double the 15¢ rate to Germany. Routing:
  • By Whiting & Co.'s Express from the Feather River mines to LaPorte
  • Entered US mails with LaPorte, Cal Feb 4, 1864 postmark
  • Overland and rail to New York from Feb 4 to May 5
  • N. York PAID Hamb. Pkt. 12 May 5 (noting 12¢ credit to Hamburg)
  • HAPAG line Hammonia; depart New York Mar 5; stop Southampton Mar 18; arrive Hamburg Mar 20
  • Hamburg 20/3 64 (Mar 20, 1864) transit marking on verso
  • Osterholz 21/3 (Mar 21, 1864) received marking on verso

we_pg214_Hammonia_s.jpg

The first Hammonia (1854 to 1864) of the Hamburg American Packet (HAPAG) Line.



Western Expresses Whitney's Nevada Express - 1854
This small, short-lived, express operated between Nevada City, CA and French Corral, CA.
Whitney's Nevada Express

By post office So. Bainbridge N.Y. Jan 29th (1854) with 10 (due) rate to French Corral; by Whitney's Nevada Express with 1$ express fee notation from French Corral to Mr. Pollard, perhaps in Nevada City.


Map showing location of French Corral
Map showing location of French Corral, near the confluence of the Yuba and South Yuba Rivers, and Nevada City, near Deer Creek.



Western Expresses G. H. Wines Express - 1855 to 1857
G. H. Wines express service extended into both the northern and southern mining areas of early California, and on into Oregon. They had offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and New York, connecting with the east coast through Nicaragua. Several other expresses fed the Wines system, including Freemans, Gilbert & Hedges, Pacific Express, and Rhodes and Whitney.
G. H. Wines & Co. Express San Francisco

  • By G. H. Wines & Co. Express San Francisco to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua (Wines messenger, J. Elliott, aboard Vanderbilt's Independent Line in the Pacific S.S. Sierra Nevada, depart San Francisco Jan 21, 1856; arrive San Juan del Sur Feb 1, 1856)
  • Addressee Morrison had returned to California, so Wines agent Brasly in San Juan del Sur readdressed the letter back to San Francisco, docketing it as #14 in his records
  • S.S. Sierra Nevada depart San Juan del Sur Feb 6, 1856; arrive San Francisco Feb 19, 1856
  • Entered the postal system with San Francisco, Cal 20 Feb (1856); uncancelled 3. indicia honored but rated DUE 7 equaling the 10. rate for foreign letters



Western Expresses G. H. Wines Express - 1855 to 1857
G. H. Wines express was founded in 1855. In addition to service to mining areas from their office in San Francisco, the company developed a transatlantic service. They were the primary transport for Walker's filibuster troops to Nicaragua and evidently hoped to gain special access across Nicaragua had Walker been successful in his take-over attempt. They were out of business by mid 1857.
Wines & Co.'s Express

Carried out of the mails by Wines & Co.'s Express Jan 31, 1856 (pencil docket on verso) from San Francisco to Baltimore, Maryland, with G. H. Wines & Co's, California Express, No. 2 Bowling Green, New York transit backstamp; sent under cover Feb 28, 1856 from New York to Baltimore for delivery:
  • Vanderbilt Line steamer Cortez, depart San Francisco Feb 4, 1856, arrive San Juan del Sur Feb 16, 1856
  • Across Nicaragua to San Juan del Norte
  • Vanderbilt Line steamer Star of the West, depart San Juan del Norte Feb 19, 1856, arrive New York Feb 28, 1856

G. H. Wines & Co.'s Express Handstamp



Western Expresses G. H. Wines Express - 1855 to 1857
William Walker
William Walker was an American lawyer, journalist and adventurer, who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as "filibustering." Walker became president of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies. He was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.
G. H. Wines & Co.'s California Express No. 2 Bowling Green - New York
  • Letter datelined San Juan del Sur Oct 2nd, 1856
  • By G. H. Wines & Co.'s California Express No. 2 Bowling Green - New York. from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, across the isthmus of Nicaragua
  • Vanderbilt's Independent Line Texas, depart San Juan del Norte Oct 6, arrive New York Oct 18
  • Entered the postal system with New York Oct 19(?) postmark on 3¢ 1851 issue adhesive (replaced) for delivery to Richford, NY.
Enclosed letter reads, in part:
...I have heretofore for some time been so far out of the way of a regular postal arrangement that our correspondence has been very irregular but I hope that we may continue to exchange correspondence from this time forward with more regularity...I think that Gen. Walker will hold this country without a doubt and if he does my knowledge of the Spanish language will give me such advantages as to at least establish myself well here and probably to make myself independent in a short time...F. Belcher
The Sacramento Daily Union (Aug 1, 1857) contained an article "Sick Fillibusters Returned" listing Flavel Belcher as a "citizen" among those leaving Nicaragua.



Western Expresses G. H. Wines Express - 1855 to 1857
PAID G. H.Wines & Co.'s California Express

PAID G. H.Wines & Co.'s California Express in their Type 1 printed frank from San Francisco to Sacramento. One of only two Type 1 printed franks carried entirely by Wines & Co.'s Express (all others are conjunctive with Pacific, Rhodes & Whitney's, or Freeman's).


Map of Route from San Francisco to Moquelumne Hill

Earliest ad for G. H. Wines & Co.'s Express from the Daily Alta California of Aug 13, 1855.



Western Expresses Wood's Express - Late 1864 to May, 1868
Allen J. Wood ran an express service that operated from Oroville into Plumas County, connecting with Wells Fargo at Oroville. The Quincy National of Jun 1, 1867 makes a note on Woods that sounds like the beginning of the express, putting the 1864 date into question. The Quincy Union of May 20, 1868 indicated that Woods Express sold out to Wells Fargo & Co.
A.J. Wood's Oroville, Susanville and Taylorville Express

By A.J. Wood's Oroville, Susanville and Taylorville Express to Oroville; by Wells Fargo & Co Oroville Feb 7 for local delivery.

The Feather River Expresses



Western Expresses Wood's Express - Late 1864 to May, 1868
Wood & Co.'s Express

By Wood & Co.'s Express in their franked envelope to Oroville; by Wells, Fargo & Co. Oroville May 13 to San Francisco.
Wood & Co.'s Express

By Wood & Co.'s Express in their franked envelope to Longville, California; by post office with light manuscript postmark at left from Longville July 18 to Cleveland, Ohio. One of only two known used examples of this printed frank.

Wood & Co's Express Advertisement

Copy of advertisement from the Susanville Lassen Sagebrush from the spring of 1868 for Wood & Co.'s Express.



Western Expresses - FAKES Black's Express
Most collectors of western material consider all Black & Co.'s items to be recent fabrications. All of the known covers are addressed to Samuel Grosh or Reynolds & Co. (considered to be part of the Tandler correspondence) and have a genuine red Wells Fargo Sacramento hand stamp applied to a stampless cover. The Black & Co. Express franks were believed to have been added to deceive buyers by Georges Carion, a Bay Area stamp dealer; however, Wiltsee in his "Pioneer Miner and Pack Mule Express" (p. 106) notes that it operated between Sacramento and San Francisco but gives no information on its background.
Black & Co.'s Express
Black & Co.'s Express



Western Expresses - FAKES Grays Express - 1862 to 1863
Wiltsee had a one line listing for Gray's Express stating only that it operated from Coulterville, Maxwell Creek to Mono (most likely Mono Camp in Mariposa County). This route does not support any of the known Gray's covers and no other supporting documents can be found to support existence of this express. The Wells Fargo hand stamps and envelopes appears to be genuine with fake Gray's printed franks added. All of the known covers are addressed to Lucy or Joseph Goldman
Wells Fargo & Co. Virginia City, N.T. Jan 2
Above carried by Wells Fargo & Co. Virginia City, N.T. Jan 2 to San Francisco. Below cover carried by Wells Fargo & Co. Markleeville Aug 4 to San Francisco. The Gray's Express PAID franks in blue and gray are believed to be bogus.
 Wells Fargo & Co. Markleeville Aug 4



Western Expresses - FAKES Greathouse & Slicers Express
Greathouse & Slicer Yreka Connecting with Wells Fargo & Co

Fake Greathouse & Slicer Yreka Connecting with Wells Fargo & Co handstamp with fake PAID oval; genuine Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Marysville marking on cover to San Francisco. Greathouse and Slicer's Express connected with Wells Fargo at Shasta, not Marysville.



Western Expresses - FAKES Eureka Express Company
West Point Cal. Sep 30

West Point Cal. Sep 30 (1886) to Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, with backstamp transfer markings from Mokelumne Hill, California Sep 30 1886, San Francisco Cal. Oct 2, 1886, and Honolulu H.I. Oct 31, 1886. PF Certificate #0414573 states "the negative blue Eureka Express Co. handstamp has been added to this entire".



Western Expresses - FAKES Langton & Bros. Express
WWells Fargo & Co. Express Mok. Hill

By Wells Fargo & Co. Express Mok. Hill (Mokelumne Hill) to San Francisco. The Langton & Bros. Express Downeyville handstamp is believed to be a fake added in the 1890's by San Francisco Bay Area stamp dealer Georges Carion.



Western Expresses - FAKES D. W. Harrier's Express
D. W. Harrier's Express PAID

Genuine D. W. Harrier's Express PAID. printed frank, cut piece cleverly pasted on WF franked envelope. This fake fooled the likes of many prominent collectors, including Clifford.



Western Expresses - FAKES Rhodes & Lusks Express
Rhodes & Lusks Express Yreka

Made to appear as though it was carried by Rhodes & Lusks Express Yreka to Marysville, where Wells Fargo received it with their Wells, Fargo & Co., Marysville Express handstamp for delivery to San Francisco. Based on information available on Rhodes & Lusks Express, they connected with Wells Fargo & Co in Sacramento, not Marysville. Of the three known covers with this type handstamp, two are going to Tandler and the third appears to have different fonts. Several other examples are listed in the Konwiser 1940 listing, but have not been seen by recent collectors and may have been destroyed in the Lichtenstein fire, if they existed.



Western Expresses - FAKES Rhodes & Whitneys Express
Fake Rhodes & Whitneys Express Weaverville Handstamp

Fake Rhodes & Whitneys Express Weaverville handstamp applied to an otherwise genuine cover carried by Wells Fargo & Co.'s Express Michigan Bar to San Francisco. Another likely Georges Carion fake from the 1890s.



Mail Routes Butterfield Overland Mail - Sep 15, 1858 to Mar 1, 1861
Stage line entrepreneur John Butterfield received the contract to carry the mail after Congress authorized Postmaster General Aaron Brown to find a way to move mail overland to California on a regular basis. Brown was told to select a route that would ensure that the mail was carried from end-to-end in 25 days or less. A Kentuckian by birth, Brown selected a route that ran approximately 2,800 miles through the southern portion of the nation. The eastern terminus of the route began in Tipton, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, with the lines converging at Ft. Smith, Arkansas for the trip to the western terminus in San Francisco. The shape of the tortuous route gave it the moniker "The Oxbow Route".
Overland via Los Angeles

Marysville Cal. Apr 17 postmark with matching grid on 10¢ 1857 issue adhesive to Indiana carried Overland via Los Angeles on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. The six-horse coach variety of printed overland envelope is considerably more scarce than the four-horse type.

Butterfield Overland Mail Route Map



Mail Routes Butterfield Overland Mail - Sep 15, 1858 to Mar 1, 1861


The Butterfield Southern Overland mail route was a Post Office contract service officially designated as route #12,578. The route was from St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee converging at Fort Smith, Arkansas, to San Francisco, California twice a week. The contract was let to John Butterfield and Company with service commencing on September 15, 1858 at $600,000 per annum. Service was to be performed in four horse coaches or spring wagons in 25 days.

Butterfield soon joined forces with other parties to form the Overland Mail Company to fulfill the contract and by March 1860 the Overland Mail Company was effectively under the control of Wells Fargo directors. Following Indian depredations on the route in early 1861, and the looming Civil War, the Post Office awarded the Overland Mail Company a contract on March 12, 1861 for daily mail service over the central route from July 1, 1861.

The last eastbound mail successfully carried on the southern route departed San Francisco on March 27 and arrived at St. Louis on May 1, 1861. The last westbound bounds left St. Louis on March 21 and arrived San Francisco on April 13, 1861. By May 17 the Mesilla, New Mexico Territory newspaper reported that the Overland Mail Company stock of 10 men, 21 coaches, some 200 animals and other vehicles had passed through the town as the company moved resources to the central route.

Covers intended to be carried on the Butterfield Southern Overland mail route were to be bear an endorsement or designation to indicate the sender's preference for the route. On mail originating in California these typically included words such as "Via Los Angeles" or similar. Several different stagecoach illustrated envelopes were produced with route directives which served the same function. A special "Overland" handstamp was also used by some towns and is primarily found on mail received in transit.



Mail Routes Chorpenning Route - May, 1851 to May 11, 1860
In 1851, Absalom Woodward and George Chorpenning were awarded the contract for a monthly mail service connecting California and Salt Lake City as route #12,801. Woodward was killed by Indians later that same year, and Chorpenning carried out the remaining mail contract without a partner. Due to winter mail delays in 1851-1852, permission was received to send the mails by steamer to San Pedro (port for Los Angeles). Summer mails of 1852-1853 were again via the Placerville and Genoa route; with winter via San Pedro.

Chorpenning secured a new four-year contract in Jul, 1854 that allowed a route change for summer and winter mails, with new termini of Salt Lake City and San Diego. A new Chorpenning contract went into effect Jul 1, 1858, re-establishing the Salt Lake City to Placerville route. The new Butterfield route between Memphis/St. Louis and San Francisco was inaugurated Sep 15, 1858 and the bulk of the transcontinental mail began over this route immediately.

Because the Chorpenning route with plagued with mail delays from the start, very little mail was carried. Most of the few surviving covers are uses between California and Salt Lake City.
Yankee Jim's Cal Mar 26

Yankee Jim's Cal Mar 26 with sender's notation "over land via Placerville, Salt Lake and St. Joseph" (the Chorpenning Route to Salt Lake City) to Missouri. Postmark used beginning Apr 3, 1856, per Williams.

Chorpenning Route Map



Mail Routes Chorpenning Route - May, 1851 to May 11, 1860


In 1851 Absalom Woodward and George Chorpenning were awarded the contract for a monthly mail service connecting California and Salt Lake City as route #12,801. The service was intended to connect at Salt Lake City with the monthly Missouri mails. The eastbound service commenced from Sacramento on May 1, 1851 and arrived at Salt Lake City on June 5, 1851. The first westbound trip left Salt Lake City on July 1, 1851. Later that same year Woodward was killed by Indians and Chorpenning carried out the remaining mail contract without a partner.

The 1851-1852 winter mails were delayed by snow and only the February trip made it to Salt Lake City. After this, Chorpenning received permission from the San Francisco postmaster to send the March mails by steamer to San Pedro (the port for Los Angeles) and thence by the Old Spanish Trail to Salt Lake City. Summer mails of 1852 and 1853 were again carried on the original route via Placerville and Genoa while winter mails were carried on the winter route via San Pedro.

In July 1854 Chorpenning secured a new four year contract that allowed a route change for both summer and winter mails. The new termini were Salt Lake City and San Diego. On July 1, 1858 a new Chorpenning contract with the Post Office Department went into effect. The contract re-established the Salt Lake City to Placerville route and required weekly trips until it was reduced to semi-monthly trips from July 1, 1859. In the interim, on September 15, 1858, the new Butterfield route between Memphis/St. Louis and San Francisco was inaugurated. This service, over a southern route, was semi weekly and the bulk of the transcontinental mails began this route immediately. On May 11, 1860 the contract was transferred to the Central Overland and Pike's Peak Express with semimonthly service.

Because this route with plagued with mail delays from the start, very little mail was carried. Most of the few surviving covers are uses between California and Salt Lake City.



Mail Routes Chorpenning Route - May, 1851 to May 11, 1860
Carried by Snowshoe Thompson over the Sierras
Carson Valley, U.T. Feb 25

Carson Valley, U.T. Feb 25 (1858) to Middletown, R. I. This cover was carried over the Chorpenning Route from Genoa (Carson Valley) to Placerville and on to San Francisco. From San Francisco, it would have gone overland via the Butterfield Route to the east. The cover is rated DUE 10, as a double-weight cover containing two lengthy letters. A full transcription of the enclosed letters (now separated from the cover) datelined Trucky Valley Feb 15th 1858 and Feb 16th 1858 is included on the following two pages and transcribed, in part, below (sic).


Dateline Trucky Valley Feb 16th 1858


Trucky Valley Feb 15th 1858... there was about 4 weak ago some four or five mormans came from the Salt Lake one of them stoped here in the valley some expect that he is here as an spy but I think that he run away from the Lake his wife is here in the valley she did not go to the lake last fall...I have an idea that the mormans will indever to do all the dammage to the troop that is now station at Fourt Bridger earley the spring before government can get troops to the Lake and birn there cities and then flea to some of the English dominions but it is hard to tell what they will do the onely dainger that I fear from them is that Brygam Young will send his destroying angels (as he call them) to run of cattle but if they do they will be pretty apt to be overtake before thay can get many hundred miles...Peleg Brown
P S if you do not get letters regular you must wait the mail is so irregular over the mountains, direct to Carson Valley Cale...
Trucky Valley Feb 16th 1858...what I can learn the mormans intend to keep the troops from Salt lake city as long as they can and then fire the place and flea to the mountains likewise plunder and kill all small part yes which they can fall upon both of troops and emigrants which are comeing to this country I think sometimes that Uncle Sam will stop the trains if he suffers them to venture he is bound to protect them... Peleg Brown



Mail Routes Chorpenning Route - May, 1851 to May 11, 1860
Carried by Snowshoe Thompson over the Sierras


Trucky Valley Feb 15th 1858
Dear Parents
Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting some letters one from George and Maryan also one from Pardon one from Lydia as well as one from you both I am well and hope the few line will find you in good helth also hope that fatal disease which is now rageing on the Island so fatal has ear this come to its end I was very sowry to here the deth of my young aquaintes .... I have not had but one letter from Joshua sinse he left home I am some what uneasy about him comeing acrossed the plains both himself and family also the stock will most asshurdley be run off if Uncle sam does not do any thing for the emigration. I sometimes think that the government suffer emigration to cross that he most assurdley protect them but Joshua has better chances to know about thes things beter than I do there was about 4 weak ago some four or five mormans came from the Salt Lake one of them stoped here in the valley some expect that he is here as an spy but I think that he run away from the Lake his wife is here in the valley she did not go to the lake last fall I herd her say that she would not fool her time away to go with them The mormans all left here last fall that is all that be1ived strong enough in the faith there is several half mormans here in the valleys it was reported that there was several mormans comeing back here to live in the spring but is in my opinion that it is all goss I have an idea that the mormans will indever to do all the dammage to the troop that is now station at Fourt Bridger earley the spring before government can get troops to the Lake and birn there cities and then flea to some of the English dominions but it is hard to tell what they will do the onely dainger that I fear from them is that Brygam Young will send his destroying angels (as he call them) to run of cattle but if they do they will be pretty apt to be overtake before thay can get many hundred miles the Indians that are here are very friendly they come around my house evry day I sometimes get some dear meat from them I have one liveing with me he does any thing that I tell him to do In about 3 or 4 weaks the Indians will begin to cetch fish in the river of this valley they are what is called salmon trout as good fish as I ever eat I then will have as many fish as I can eat which will not cost but very lytle. My cattle are doing fine I lost too calves last weak wee have 19 young calves in all I do not make but lytle butter as yet Abraham has left me he got tired of the business and has gorn to mineing I have to young men with me they are to make butter at halves Butter is worth 50 cents per Ib I have bought about 70 bushel of wheat and Bade to soe I am now haveing an plow maid by an blacksmith we cant get any casted plows this side of the mountains and the snow is so deep that animals cant cross I expect to pay fifty dollars for it. The wether thus far this winter has been very pleasant the nights being cool and the days being mild and pleasant we have had too snow storms the snow fell about 2 1/2 inches deep not lasting but one or too days but nothing to hender cattle from geting plenty to eat the grass is all dry green grass just begins to grow .... I would like to have some tomatoes sead send by the next mail .. one of Joshua ranches has been jumped the one that is up to was saw valley I cant get him off without fighting fort if I set out I can drive him off but wee have cattle and he might take revenge out of them the ranch cost Joshua $50 there is now law here and most of the people that are here in these valleys are people that dont care for themselves nor anyone else I have tried to get the people together and make some law but with now use more than likely they will come to tirms in the course of the spring espec1ey if wee have the contesed teritory orgonized .... from your affetionate son in love and prosperity
Peleg Brown
P S if you do not get letters regular you must wait the mail is so irregular over the mountains direct to Carson Valley Cale





Mail Routes Chorpenning Route - May, 1851 to May 11, 1860
Carried by Snowshoe Thompson over the Sierras


Trucky Valley Feb 16th 1858
Dear brother Pardon
With the utmost pleasure I recd yrs of the 6 and 13 of Dec I also had one from Lydia George as well as one from father and mother....about Pardon in school... I think you have been smarter than you was when I was at home by the produce you have raised And you rode Phillis to the fare and got the first premium if I had her out here she would be worth $300 I have an horse when she gets fat will be worth $250 she cost me $80 in St Louis Feb 22nd ... To day it has been very windey something uncommon for this valley wee have had but too snow storms and too rainstorms never have I seen an winter that they has been so much pleasant wether the grass has just begun to start my cattle are getting fat I have eleven young calves and Joshua about the same I had one to die the other eavning after he was fed he commensed bloating in a few minets he died I do not let the cows suckle there calves at all milk and let them drink it after they are an week or ten days old I have the milk skimed and then give it to them also give them plenty of good clover hay which is better than I ever saw at home .... I have bought some 70 bushels of wheat and barley to sow which I shall have put in just as soon as I can get an plough likely commenses sometime the first of next month. You wanted to know how many men I have with me well they is too who have took the cows to milk on shares also they take my grain on shares I have nothing to do with it I am now building an house in front of the one which I now live in which wee will live in (12 by 28) and have the stone house to set milk in wee have now about 50 lbs of butter on hand. I expect to get 75 cents per lb this the first the boys have maid excepting what wee have eat Tomorrow I shell go up the valley to take this letter and buy if I can find an bull which suits me also hoping to get some news from Joshua as well as froome home. I have not herd from him sinse he left the Island from what I can learn the mormans intend to keep the troops from Salt lake city as long as they can and then fire the place and flea to the mountains likewise plunder and kill all small part yes which they can fall upon both of troops and emigrants which are comeing to this country I think sometimes that Uncle Sam will stop the trains if he suffers them to venture he is bound to protect them I wish I had some of the books which I left at home to read some of these long eavnings I cant get hardley anything to read one in an great while get an Calfonia paper but it wont be so but about too month longer by that time the mountains will be open or the snow will be pact so that animals can cross there has not been half so much snow on the Syrrenevada as there were last winter .... I dont ride any more than I am oblige to I haft to ride around my cattle evry day I do not drive them up at night as I used to I think that they do better roam he has nothing to but to watch the horses at night he sleeps in the hay beside them I told Roam that you had another dog to take his plaise he did not seem to care any thing about it... well you have done killing hogs if father had one of these hot springs which is out here you would not have the trouble to heat the watter they are as hot as I ever saw any boiling water ther are upwards of 50 of them in about 4 miles of my house. If I had one of the on the island I would not take ten thousand dollars (for) it... from your affetonate brother Peleg Brown




Mail Routes Chorpenning Route - May, 1851 to May 11, 1860
Carried by Snowshoe Thompson over the Sierras
Letter Carried by Snowshoe Thompson over the Sierras



Mail Routes Chorpenning Route - May, 1851 to May 11, 1860
Carson Valley, U.T. Aug 17

Carson Valley, U.T. Aug 17 (1859) to Middletown, R. I. Other covers from this correspondence have a sender's notation "via San Francisco". This cover was carried over the Chorpenning Route from Genoa (Carson Valley) to Placerville and on to San Francisco. From San Francisco, it would have gone overland via the Butterfield Route to the east. A scan of the enclosed letter (now separated from the cover) datelined Steamboat Valley July 31/59 is included on the following page and transcribed, in part, below.

Datelined Steamboat Valley July 31/59

...Wassaw Valley Aug 1/59
I am here to attend tryal some ox thieves they stole some cattle at the mines and drove them here and sold them for a mear tryfle...I do not know what will be done with them if found guilty. More then likely that they will be a whiped...From your affectionate Brother
Peleg Brown

Old Spanish Trail Route Map



Mail Routes Chorpenning Route - May, 1851 to May 11, 1860
Steamboat Valley July 31/59 Letter



Mail Routes McLaughlin & Co. U.S. Mail Line - 1856 to 1857
Charles McLaughlin operated stage lines of Concord coaches from San Francisco to San Jose, from Oakland to San Jose, and from San Jose to Santa Cruz and Monterrey in 1856. He had a printed corner card, as shown in the only known example below.
McLaughlin & Co.

By McLaughlin & Co. from San Jose, Cal. Jun 10 to San Francisco, and then onward to New York (all by U.S. post office, with McLaughlin carrying the mail from San Jose to San Francisco. Advertisement below from the San Francisco Herald of Dec 13, 1857.

McLaughlin & Co Advertisement In The San Francisco Herald Dec. 13, 1857



Mail Routes Nicaragua Route - Sep 14, 1852 to ~August, 1855
Cornelius Vanderbilt founded his Independent Line with the intent to operate a passenger and mail route across Nicaragua in opposition to the contract mail steamers operating via Panama to California. He chose the route because it was substantially faster than the longer contract route. In 1853 he received a concession for his Accessory Transit Company from Nicaragua to cross the country. The route was by steamer from New York to San Juan del Norte on the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua, by river to Lake Nicaragua, across the lake to Rivas, by stage to San Juan del Sur and by steamer to San Francisco.

Use of the route decreased after filibuster William Walker's incursion into Nicaragua in 1855. By August 29, 1855 Walker controlled San Juan del Sur and continued in control until 1857. Later, Vanderbilt extorted a monthly stipend from the companies that held the via Panama mail contracts and his Accessory Transit Company ceased to operate. The route was resurrected from late 1862 until the first months of 1868 but was seldom used.
Via Nicaragua In Advance of the Mails

From San Francisco Via Nicaragua In Advance of the Mails to New York SHIP Sep 8 (1855) and by post office on to Boston.

San Francisco to New York Via Nicaragua Route Map



Mail Routes Tehauntepec Route - Oct 27, 1858 to Oct 10, 1859
A contract for service between New Orleans and San Francisco via the Isthmus of Tehuantepec was awarded in June 1858 to the Louisiana Tehuantepec Company for the term of one year. The twice monthly service was to be performed by steamers between New Orleans and Minatitlan, Mexico by river steamers to Suchil, by spring wagons to Tehuantepec. Upon reaching the Pacific, mails were turned over to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company for carriage from Acapulco to San Francisco. The route operated from Oct 27, 1858 to Oct 10, 1859. The contract was not renewed as receipts were only $5,276 against expenses of $250,000. Letters had to be inscribed "Via Tehuantepec" for carriage over this route. There are fewer than thirty covers reported that were carried over this route.
(Via Tehuantepec) route endorsement, posted Keyesville March 6/59 to New Orleans.

(Via Tehuantepec) route endorsement, posted Keyesville March 6/59 to New Orleans. Keysville was originally in Tulare County, California when founded; later into Kern County when formed. Interesting letter enclosed headed Mammoth Mill Kern River March 3d 1859 transcribed on following page.

San Francisco to New Orleans Via Tehuantepec Route Map


Mail Routes Tehauntepec Route - Oct 27, 1858 to Oct 10, 1859

Mammoth Mill Kern River March 3d 1859

My dear Children

...Yesterday was a beautiful day and I ventured to ride to Keysville, and a mile beyond on the River bank to visit the only lady within 20 miles of me...

I feel quite discouraged at the news from my Pension...I have often been advised by officers who knew the circumstances to apply for a Pension, and feel that I am as much entitled to it as Mrs. Leavenworth whose Husband died at the same time and West was his aid on the expedition. Jeff Davis was in Genl Dodge's Regiment at the time and they both know the circumstances and would no doubt give their note for me, and if your friends would add their influence, perhaps it might yet pass. The only objection offered is my being married, and not supposed to need assistance (which is a great mistake)...I will give you half if you can get it carried through this Winter, and will make for a handsome present for the trouble they have had. I should like to buy Sarah for her - but you must do what you think best if Mr. Enstis after talking with Mr. Crittenden and Genl Houston, think best to postpone it, do so...

...The Don is reading the papers and the teamster ditto - I have the honor of having a Celestial kitchen, who rejoices in the euphemeus name of "Ah Thong," he says "he no cookee Mexican belly good, but will try learn him." He at least takes the worst part of the drudgery off of my hands, but only think we pay him $40 a month - I cannot induce an Indian to stay any length of time. They are so wild and restless. I got your letters yesterday on the top of the Mountain between this and the village, and got down on a pile of quartz and read them. I could not wait until I got to the house. I have just read them again - and also those that came last mail, which were detained a few days...

Mother


[Additional small piece of paper with some very soft tree bark enclosed:]
Natural silk from a tree on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

Natural silk from a tree on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec




Mail Routes Steamer Winfield Scott - 1851 to 1853
The Winfield Scott was a 1,291-ton steamer built in New York City in 1851 and put into service along the Pacific Coast route in 1852. The steamer was purchased by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company from the New York and San Francisco Line in July 1853. One round trip between San Francisco and Panama for the PMSC was completed before the Winfield Scott was stranded and lost on her second trip for the company off Anacapa Island in the Santa Barbara Channel on Dec 2, 1853. The five mail bags, passengers, crew and cargo (including gold specie) were saved. Nine examples of this two-line handstamp are recorded, of which two were carried before the Winfield Scott was commissioned into the Pacific service.
Culloma Cal Nov 28 (1853)

Culloma Cal Nov 28 (1853) with 10 rate marking to Aururia, Georgia. Carried by the PMSC Steamer Winfield Scott from San Francisco on the ill-fated final voyage that ran aground off Anacapa Island Dec 2, 1853.

Sacramento Daily Union ad Steamer Winfield Scott

Sacramento Daily Union ad from Dec 1, 1853 for the Steamer Winfield Scott



Mail Routes Sacramento to the East Coast
Sacramento, Cal. Jul 30

Sacramento, Cal. Jul 30 (1853) to Goffs Corner, Maine by post office. The 6¢ rate for >3000 miles was in effect from Jul 1, 1851 to Apr 1, 1855. Due to a shortage of 3¢ adhesives in both San Francisco and Sacramento, the 6¢ rate was sometimes paid by a bisect of the 12¢ 1851 issue. One of only two known as such from Sacramento (1995 PF certificate). Interesting contents include:

July 30 - A Balloon ascension takes place today close by me and I expect to see a man ride up into the clouds. Laureate is here, one of the first men who ever went up in a balloon.

The Sacramento Daily Union carried articles on this event in the Jul 30 and Jul 31, 1853 (at right) issues. The illustration below shows a typical 1850's balloon ascent.


Illustration shows a typical 1850's balloon ascent.
Sacramento Daily Union article


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