This travel diary records the daily progress of a team of prospectors exploring possible routes for stagecoach lines in Texas, 1838. The entries primarily document details relevant to stagecoach operations such as terrain, populations, soil types, climate, and distances traveled.
Collection processed and finding aid created by Philip Heslip
Scope and Content:
This Texas travel diary records the daily progress of a team of prospectors exploring possible routes for stagecoach lines. The author does not record his personal experiences and includes only details relevant to operating a stagecoach line: terrain; banks and depths of rivers to be forded; costs of oats, corn and hay for feeding horses; the presence of Indians; populations to support mail delivery and transportation over the route; availability of timber for building bridges and ferries; competition from other stage lines; availability of potable water; agricultural potential of the land along the route; and mileages from one place to another.
The team set out from Jefferson City in mule-drawn wagons on January 4, 1838, and traveled southwest into the Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). They crossed into the Oklahoma Cherokee Indian Territory at Neosho on January 18, and then headed south to Fort Gibson, where the author went alone on horseback to Fort Smith on the Arkansas border, and rejoined the group later.
They crossed Texas at Preston on the Red River (North of Dallas) at the end of January and arrived at Franklin (now El Paso) on March 17. On March 21, they set out on the return trip, taking a slightly different route, and returned to Preston on Sunday, April 11.
Of special interest are the descriptions of the terrain diagonally southwest across the Indian Territory (later Oklahoma) and Texas in the early days of United States possession, while Texas was still an independent republic. The author notes the difficulties that would be encountered in establishing a mail and stage coach line through this terrain and comments on the agricultural possibilities of the land. He describes streams and rivers and recommends potential settings for stations.
Biographical / Historical:
The travel diary, from 1838, two years after Texas became an independent republic, was written by a man prospecting routes for stagecoach lines across northern Texas. Neither the author nor the identities of the prospecting team are known. In concise prose, the author records distances traveled, the availability of timber, grass and potable water, the presence of Indians, and major geographical features.
The expedition traveled 2,100 miles, from Jefferson City, Missouri, through Fort Smith, Texas, to Franklin, Texas (now El Paso), and back to Preston at the border between Texas and the Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). They averaged 21 miles per day and completed the journey in 14 weeks and 2 days (Monday January 4th- through Sunday April 11, 1838).
1991. M-2615 .
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
Rules or Conventions:
Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
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