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Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Revised: Tuesday, August 06, 2013


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.

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