A leather flap clasps this notebook printed by Hellier and Company Publishers, New York. Issued by the Overland Mail Company to conductors, agents, drivers, and station managers working on the express stagecoach route, the notebook was designed for recordkeeping. Its accordion pocket and multiple sections hold a fold-out map of the mail route; instructions for employees of the Overland Mail Company; schedules for the stagecoach; rates of postage; and spaces to record a daily log for the calendar year 1859 and to track accounts.
The contract for mail service on the southern route from Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, California, was awarded to John Butterfield's Overland Mail Company in 1857. Butterfield would provide six years of service at the unheard-of rate of $600,000 per year for the 2,800-mile long route. The first eastbound stagecoach departed San Francisco on September 15, 1858, and the westbound stagecoach left St. Louis a day later. This semi-weekly service was scheduled to reach the final destination in twenty-five days carrying mail and passengers. In 1861, the Overland Mail stagecoaches moved to the central route after the financial failure of the Pony Express on that line. The move helped the federal government ensure stable contact with gold-rich California through the Civil War.
Ormsby, Waterman L. The Butterfield Overland Mail. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1942.
Museum ID: 1990.0564.1