The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958 Page: 2
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
9. They purchased about one hundred Concord coaches and
many hundreds of horses and mules, to say nothing of the many mail
stations that they built.
All of these facts are either well-known or easily accessible. A
paper that goes no further has no right to waste either the reader's
time or the printer's ink. Actually, the predicament in which the
writer finds himself is far worse than even that. The articles
written by the twenty-four-year-old reporter of the New York
Herald, Waterman L. Ormsby, who was the only through pas-
senger to ride the first Butterfield Mail coaches west, have been
put into book form and even recently reprinted.' Ormsby's
articles were interestingly written and filled with many of the
answers that a research worker would want to know. But much
more extensive than the Ormsby articles is the three-volume work
by Roscoe and Margaret Conkling published in 1947.2 In nearly
one thousand pages, with maps, charts, and photographs, the
Conklings tell the story of the Butterfield Overland Mail so near
to completeness that certainly no one can hope to compete with
them in a short paper.
Obviously the only justifiable course left is to approach this
subject from a somewhat different viewpoint than did the
Conklings or any of the others. Here, then, is the big detour that
this study wishes to make. How can anyone after nearly one hun-
dred years know exact facts about the route of this old mail line?
The Conklings seem to have done most of their investigation of
this question by personal interviews-and a monumental piece of
detective work it was. This paper, however, proposes to supple-
ment that investigation with a somewhat extensive use of land
records, and the investigation will be attempted only within the
boundaries of Texas. Surveyors crossed the old road many times
and often set down in their field notes mathematical data about
it that no human memory could hope to retain. The exact
nature of these surveyors' notes, wherever they are available, is
such that one can know not only the tracts of land over which
this early mail road passed but he can know in what part of each
of these tracts the old trail may be found.
1Waterman L. Ormsby, The Butterfield Overland Mail, edited by Lyle H. Wright
and Josephine M. Bynum (San Marino, 1954)
2Roscoe P. Conkling and Margaret B. Conkling, The Butterfield Overland Mail,
1857-1869 (3 vols.; Glendale, 1947).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958, periodical, 1958; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/m1/20/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.