Western Expresses | W

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Western Expresses | W 2021-07-14T02:48:21+00:00

Western Expresses | W

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Western Expresses

Washburn’s Express – 1856 to 1857

Parson Lummis Washburn was the proprietor of Washburn’s Express, which served the mining camps situated in the vicinity of Camptonville. Washburn owned a “News Agency”/store, which served as the headquarters for his express.

Washburn's Express & News Agency Camptonville from Marysville to Camptonville

By post office Beloit, Wis. Nov 26 to Camptonville; by Washburn’s Express & News Agency Camptonville to one of the mining camps. 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 to Coal Creek, Oroville, Butte Co.

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

Dateline: Rattlesnake Mar 14th 1854
…Your note to me dated Feby 3 1857 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) to San Francisco

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.

Map of route from San Francisco to Virginia City

Western Expresses

WF&Co – Virginia City Pony Express – Aug, 1862 to Mar, 1865

Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City, N. T. Jun 16 (1863) to Stockton

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 – Jan, 1863 to Apr, 1864

In Jan, 1863, James P. Wharton purchased William Ford’s express route which operated out of Gibsonville to Poorman’s Creek, Hopkin’s Creek, Main Nelson Creek, Eureka Mills, Jamison City, Mohawk Valley, Sawpit Flat, Beckwourth Valley and all intermediate points. Wharton connected with Whiting & Co.’s Express at Gibsonville. Wharton’s Express was succeeded by G. Nohrman’s Express, whose ads began replacing Wharton’s ads on May 7, 1864 in the Quincy Union.

 J. P. Wharton's Express in their printed franked envelope

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, supposedly the date of the now- missing letter, although this would pre-date Wharton’s purchase from William Ford by two months.

J. P. Wharton's Express in their printed franked envelope used as a paste-up with address side shown on back

Western Expresses

Wharton’s Express – Jan, 1863 to Apr, 1864

Wharton's Express Gibsonville from Jamison City to 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, as follows:…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… Fast address, Jamison City, Plumas Co., Cal

Express Change Marysville Daily Appeal

Jan 23, 1863 Marysville Daily Appeal

LaPorte Mountain Messenger First Ad

First ad, Sep 12, 1863 LaPorte Mountain Messenger

Western Expresses

Wheeler’s Express – Oct, 1863 to ~Oct, 1864

Effective Oct 1, 1863, Homer B. Holland sold his one-half interest in Holland & Wheeler’s Express to brothers Simeon and Samuel Wheeler. They ran a daily express between Marysville, Strawberry Valley, LaPorte, St. Louis, Pine Grove, Howland Flat, Forbestown and other points on the Gibsonville Ridge. Their primary offices were at LaPorte and Marysville, connecting with Wells, Fargo & Co. at the latter, and with Whiting & Co. at Quincy. The business took on a new partner, R. H. Rutherford, prior to Oct, 1864 and became Wheeler, Rutherford & Co.

Wheeler's Express La Porte to Marysville

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. in their printed frank envelope to Morristown, Sierra County, California.

PAID. Wheelers’ Express. in their printed frank envelope to Morristown, Sierra County, California. Only of two reported examples of this Type 2 printed frank.

Western Expresses

Wheeler, Rutherford & Co. – ~Oct, 1864 to Dec 1, 1866

Wheeler, Rutherford & Co.’ Express succeeded that of Wheeler’s prior to Oct 24, 1864. Simeon Wheeler and Richard H. Rutherford were the proprietors, with Samuel Wheeler having left the partnership at, or around, the time Rutherford came in. It is presumed that this express ran over the same routes as their predecessor company, as no ads have been found for Wheeler, Rutherford & Co. Articles indicate it connected with Wells, Fargo & Co., at Oroville, as well as at Marysville. The partnership ended Dec 1, 1866, based on newspaper announcements; Rutherford going on to run his own express and Simeon Wheeler becoming a banker and mine owner.

Wheeler's Express from LaPorte to Marysville in franked envelope PAID Wheeler, Rutherford & Co.'s Express and Wheeler's Express LaPorte

PAID Wheeler, Rutherford & Co.’s Express and Wheeler’s Express LaPorte;. From LaPorte to Marysville; by Wells Fargo & Co. Marysville Aug 31 (1865) 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

Aug 17, 1865 Sacramento Daily Union

Notice in Marysville Daily Appeal

Dec 19, 1866 Marysville Daily Appeal

Western Expresses

Whiting & Company – 1857-1868

Fenton Berkley Whiting, and partners Henry C. Everts, G. W. Morley, and E. E. Meek, formed Whiting & Co’s Express in the fall of 1857. Meek and Morley left the partnership in Apr, 1858, after which Whiting and Everts remained the partners until 1862, when Everts left to join family members. From 1857 to 1862, the primary route of Whiting & Co.’s Express was between Quincy and Marysville, where they connected with Wells, Fargo & Co. At times, however, due to winter weather, they connected with Holland, Morley & Co. at LaPorte (e.g., 1862-1863). Whiting shifted from Marysville to Oroville for connection with Wells, Fargo & Co. sometime in late 1866. In Jan, 1868 Fenton B. Whiting ended his 11 year express operation. Whiting’s was succeeded by Garland’s Express, which only lasted until mid-May, 1868, when it succumbed to Wells, Fargo & Co.’s ever-increasing expansion.

Whiting & Co.'s Express Quincy PAID for local delivery to Quincy

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

Fenton Berkley Whiting, founder of the express

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 Jul 4 to Massachusetts on 10¢ first issue Nesbitt entire. Type 2 printed frank.

From Whiting & Co. ------FREE., likely a local delivery to Hundley

From Whiting & Co. ——FREE., likely a local delivery to Hundley in Quincy. One of only two known examples of this Type 11a printed frank of Whiting & Co.

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.

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 (Type 4 printed frank) to LaPorte
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
The first Hammonia (1854 to 1864) of the Hamburg American Packet (HAPAG) Line.

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

Western Expresses

Whiting & Company – 1857-1868

PAID Whiting & Co.'s Feather River Express from Cresecent O. M. Co. Indian Valley Jan 15, 1866 to Quincy

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 to Oroville, California

PAID Whiting & Co.’s Feather River Express to Oroville, California. One of only three known used examples of this Type 10 purple printed frank.

Western Expresses

Whitney’s Nevada Express – 1854 to 1855

This small, short-lived, express is thought to have operated between Nevada City and French Corral, and perhaps to the mining camps nearby, based on the two known surviving covers.

Whitney's Nevada Express with 1$ express fee notation from French Corral to Mr. Pollard, perhaps in Nevada City.

By post office So. Bainbridge N.Y. Jan 29th (1855) with 10 (due) rate to French Corral; by Whitney’s Nevada Express with 1$ express fee notation from French Corral to Mr. Pollard, probably at one of the mining camps near French Corral. The addressee, Lysander Pollard, is found as follows in the California papers:

  • “L. Pollard” among those arriving on the J. L. Stephens from Panama to San Francisco on Feb 15, 1854 (per Feb 16, 1854, San Francisco Daily California Chronicle)
  • “L. Pollard” shown as registering at the Grass Valley “Beatty House” hotel on Feb 25, 1854 (per Mar 2, 1854 Grass Valley Telegraph)
  • “Lysander Pollard” shown in the list of letters to be claimed at the Auburn post office Jul 1, 1854 (per Auburn Placer Herald).
Map in California in 1853

Map of California in 1853 by Trask shows a dotted line (road) north from Nevada City to French Corral

Western Expresses

G. H. Wines Express – Jul, 1855 to Apr, 1857

G. H. Wines Express was formed in New York City in Jun, 1855 with their San Francisco office being established Jul, 1855. Gilbert H. Wines and Charles A. Whitney were the proprietors. They initially connected with Rhodes & Whitney’s Express at Sacramento, but by Oct, 1855 had expanded to cover the Northern Mines, Stockton and the Southern Mines themselves. They connected with Leland’s Express for San Jose, Santa Clara, etc. and with Gilbert & Hedges for Monterey, San Diego, Los Angeles, etc. They transported their express matter bound for the east coast via Nicaragua. Wines Express went out of business in Apr, 1857 due to absentee management, turmoil in Nicaragua, and the increasing domination of Wells, Fargo & Co.

Wines & Co.'s Express Jan 31, 1856
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, California Express, No. 2 Bowling Green, New York transit backstamp

Western Expresses

G. H. Wines Express – Jul, 1855 to Apr, 1857

G. H. Wines & Co. Express San Francisco to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
  • 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 No. 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
First Ad G. H. Wines & Co.s Express via Nicaragua

First ad, Aug 13, 1855, San Francisco Daily Alta California

Western Expresses

G. H. Wines Express – Jul, 1855 to Apr, 1857

William Walker was an American lawyer, journalist and adventurer

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. from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
  • 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 – Jul, 1855 to Apr, 1857

PAID G. H.Wines & Co.'s California Express in their Type 1 printed frank from San Francisco to Sacramento

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).

G. H. Wines & Co San Francisco Daily Placer Times & Transcript

Nov 10, 1855 San Francisco Daily Placer Times & Transcript

Western Expresses

Wood’s Express – Late 1864 to May, 1868

Father and son, Allen Wood Sr. and Allen Wood Jr. (Allen J. Wood) ran various stage and express lines in northern California from 1864 to late 1868: A. J. Wood’s Oroville, Susanville and Taylorville Express (Allen J. Wood), Wood’s Express (Allen Wood Sr.), Wood & Co.’s Express (father and son). A. J. Wood’s Express was operating in late Nov, 1866 and may have begun in 1865. Wood’s Express was mentioned in articles in 1867. And, Wood & Co.’s Express ran ads beginning Nov 2, 1867, showing connection to Wells, Fargo & Co. at Oroville. The May 30, 1868 Quincy Union noted their sale of the Susanville to Oroville line to Wells, Fargo & Co.

A.J. Wood's Oroville, Susanville and Taylorville Express to Oroville

By A.J. Wood’s Oroville, Susanville and Taylorville Express to Oroville; by Wells Fargo & Co Oroville Feb 7 for local delivery.

First Ad for Wood & Co.s Express

First ad for Wood & Co.’s Express, Nov 16 1867 Oroville Butte Record

Western Expresses

Wood’s Express – Late 1864 to May, 1868

Wood & Co.'s Express in their franked envelope to Oroville

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 in their franked envelope to Longville, California

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. Longville is listed as one of Wood & Co.’s Express destinations in the ad shown on the prior page. One of only two known used examples of this printed frank.

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