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The First Overland Mail

113 pages1 hour


First published in 1953, this book tells the story of John Butterfield, a mid-19th Century stagecoach and freight line operator and his line of stagecoaches, which took passengers and mail across the U.S. in the 1850s.

Born on a farm in Berne, New York in 1801, Butterfield grew up on a farm and was mostly self-educated. At the age of 19, he became a professional stage driver. He was always interested in transportation, becoming involved in the livery business, establishing stage routes throughout New York. He also gained experience with steamboats, railroads, and local plank-roads.

As a skilled businessman, he soon controlled most of the stage lines west of New York, and in 1849 he formed the companies that became American Express and Wells-Fargo, as well as the Butterfield Overland Stage Company.

In 1857, American Express won the government contract for the first transcontinental stage line, carrying the mail from Missouri to California for $600,000 per year—the largest mail contract that had ever been awarded. Thus, Butterfield became president of the Overland Mail Company.

Covering an exciting period in American history, this story of bravery and adventure will appeal to readers of all ages!

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