Western Expresses | B

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Western Expresses | B 2017-10-19T14:26:58+00:00

Western Expresses | B

Western Expresses Alphabetically

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 to French Corral

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, only known example from this location.

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.

Earliest ad for Becker & Co.'s Express from the 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. with May 31 1858 docketing to Yreka

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.Click edit button to change this text.

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

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.

Anthony & Co's Northern Express PAID from the northern mines to San Francisco

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

  • 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
Pacific Mail Steamship Company (PMSC) vessel (the Tennessee) that ran from San Francisco to Panama

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 to San Francisco

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, June 27th, 1853

…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 blue handstamp and Free. Letter

By Berford & Coş Express San Francisco Cal blue hand stamp 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
Route Map of PMSC Golden Gate from Panama Feb 5; arrival San Francisco Feb 19, 1853

Western Expresses

Berford & Company – Late 1849 to 1855

Datelined Aspinwall Jan 31th, 1853

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 My love to Capts Freeman & Johnson In haste, Yours truly, J. C. Mays [?]

Western Expresses

Berford & Company – Late 1849 to 1855

Office Berford & Co.'s California Express label with red PAID from New York to San Francisco

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
Office Berford & Co.'s California Express label

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.

Berthoud's Mule Team Express PD 25 to Treasure City, NV

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”.

Berthoud's Mule Team Express PD 25

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 was founded in 1868 was destroyed by fire in 1874 and never rebuilt. The remaining ruins are shown.

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, most likely from Shasta to 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.

Route Map Shasta to Weaverville; Weaverville to Yreka

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 with enclosed letter datelined Nevada (City) July 11, 1851 to San Francisco

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¢.

Datelined Nevada (City) 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

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.

Forwarded by Browns Express with light pencil endorsement to Murphys
  • circa September 1850 from the East to San Francisco by government mails with 40 [cents] postage dueStockton Cal. Oct 14 40 (40¢ due) backstamp; marking known used from Jun 28, 1850 to Jun 26, 1851
  • 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

Reynolds & Co's advertisement from Aug 19, 1850 Sacramento Transcript

Western Expresses

Browns Express – Jun, 1850 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.

Forwarded by/Browns/Express from Stockton
  • 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 – Jun, 1850 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams – Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855

San Francisco 30 Jul (1851) forwarded by/Browns/Express from Stockton
  • 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
Boston/25 Jul/6cts 1851 prepaid forwarded by/Browns/Express from Stockton
  • 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 – Jun, 1850 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams – Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855

Forwarded by Browns Express from Stockton to
  • 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
Route map of 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 – Jun, 1850 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams – Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855

Forwarded by Brown's Express from Stockton to Woods Diggings with Brown's PAID handstamp
  • 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 – Jun, 1850 to Apr, 1853
Browns/Adams – Apr, 1853 to Feb, 1855

Brown's/Express/Murphy's to Stockton

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.

Map showing Stockton in relationship to 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 to Red Bluff

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 from Canyon City to The Dalles

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 from The Dalles Mountaineer Jun 29, 1867.

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 in their printed franked envelope

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.

Google Map Discovery Bay & Port Townsend

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 manuscript from either Volcano or Fiddletown to Sacramento - Front
Paid Byam's & Co. Express manuscript from either Volcano or Fiddletown to Sacramento - Back
  • 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 Alphabetically