The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926 Page: 16
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
grant routes,45 the Southern Overland Mail line was not without
its effect in the development of the country through which it ran.
Fort Belknap, in Young County, the point at which the line left
the thinly settled section of North Texas and entered a country
practically unsettled, enjoyed a rapid growth and became a thriv-
ing frontier village."6 The population of Grayson, Denton, Wise,
Jack, and Young counties, through which the line ran, increased
rapidly between 1858 and 1860,47 and it seems probable that better
stage and mail service was at least partly responsible for this.
Farther east in Texas, Colbert, the half-breed proprietor of the
ferry across Red River, thought enough of the probable benefits
of the stage line to his business to transport the coaches across the
river without charge.48 Grayson County bridged her streams for
the benefit of the company."4 In Arizona the Butterfield people
dug wells at not less than eight different stations, some to a depth
of over two hundred feet, and secured an abundant supply of
water for their own purposes as well as for the emigrants who
traveled the same road. At places, however, they failed to find
water by this method. Besides this the company spent thousands
of dollars on ditches, carrying water long distances from streams
4"The significance of the mail route as an emigrant route has been over-
stated by persons writing on this subject. The only part of the line that
did not follow a well known emigrant trail was that between Fort Belknap
and El Paso, or later Fort Stockton, after the change was made to that
station. And this part of the route as far as Fort Chadbourne was along
the government military trail. Passengers frequently spoke of meeting
emigrant parties along other parts of the route, especially that part west
of El Paso. But these parties had followed the San Antonio trail to El
Paso, and it is not probable that the mail and stage route had much to
do in determining the course they took. On but one occasion do we hear
of an emigrant party following the mail route across the South Plains
from the Concho to the Pecos, thence to El Paso along the old Butter-
field line. "Sheriff Jones" going from Kansas to Arizona attracted con-
siderable attention by his boldness in following the route across the
Comanche country with a small party. Passengers were impressed with
meeting him on this part of the route, although they thought nothing of
meeting emigrants on that part west of El Paso. Surely, on a route
where emigrants were common, one would not have attracted so much
attention. Missouri Republican, December 28, 30, 1858.
46Paddock, Capt. B. B., "Northern and Western Texas," Vol. 1, p. 119,
quoting a "correspondent" of a contemporary "Texas newspaper."
"4Texas Almanac for 1858, p. 208; for 1861, p. 244.
4Account of the New York Herald correspondent, New York Herald,
October 24, 1858.
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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/m1/24/: accessed March 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.