The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926 Page: 9
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Some Details of the Soulthern Overland Mail
company transported, the stage service was not without its value
to the people of the nation. Army officers going to their posts or
back to their homes took advantage of the service; politicians and
lobbyists were frequently listed among the passengers; business
men with pressing affairs frequently used it, for it offered a com-
paratively rapid means of transportation for various persons who
needed to hurry. And, what is more, communities along the route,
which would have been completely isolated without the stage, found
it a convenient means of conveyance for those of their citizens who
needed to travel.
The mail carried was letter material entirely. However, express
was carried; and through the courtesy of the express companies
a few leading newspapers were carried each way.
At first the mail was small, 1143 letters being the amount for
December 10, 1859.'7 Only a few of these were for way offices,
and the bulk of them was for Saint Louis, Memphis and New York
distribution. By July, 1859, one mail which arrived at San Fran-
cisco contained 2919 letters, and the next outbound mail contained
0020 letters, only 250 of which were destined for way offices.1
At first Little Rock seems to have been the only distribution office
along the route," but in January or February, 1859, Sherman,
Texas, was made a distribution point.20 The postal receipts fur-
nish us an index to the growth of the mail service. For 1859 these
amounted to $27,229.94;21 but for 1860 they had increased to
$119,766.77.22 Compared with the six hundred thousand dollars
the route cost the government per year it is evident that this service
was a considerable drain on the department. And yet receipts of
this route made up a larger percentage of the outlay than those
on any other of the long overland services.23 This enormous ex-
"The Alta California, December 11, 1859; news item.
It should be noted that much of the trans-continental mail still went
by steamer via the Isthmus of Tehuantepec semi-monthly service. In No-
vember, 1859, when the overland mail averaged about 5000 letters for the
east-bound stages the steamer mails were averaging over 25,000 letters.
Missouri Republican, November 13, 1859; news item.
S"Ibid., August 10, 1859.
"Ibid., January 17, 1859.
"Ibid., February 10, 1859.
"Report of the Postmaster General for 1859, pp. 22 ff.
"Ibid., for 1860, p. 20.
"Ibid. The St. Joseph, Missouri-Salt Lake City line cost the govern-
ment $125,000 and brought in $4,305; and an expenditure of $70,000 on
the San Antonio-Camp Stockton, Texas, line showed $593.41 return.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926, periodical, 1926; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117141/m1/17/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.