STOCKHOLMIA 2019 Private Treaty Sale


Lot 61

United States, Pony Express: Highly Important Ledger from Fort Bridger, Utah - The Only Documentation of this Kind in Private Hands. Ledger of Mail Sent and Received at Fort Bridger, Including by Pony Express, 1860-1861, Fort Bridger, Utah Territory [now Wyoming. 126 pages., 48 with text. 8.5" x 13.75". All pages clean, though there is edge wear and some wear and damage to the spine of the binding.

This ledger records mail sent and received in 1860 at Fort Bridger, Utah Territory. The first pages list letters sent from the post office at Fort Bridger from January to September 1860, to a variety of destinations, including St. Joseph, Fort Laramie, Salt Lake City, Carson City, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Camp Floyd (Utah). A small number of letters were sent free, especially to Saint Joseph and Fort Laramie, likely official military communications, reports, and orders. Mail left Fort Bridger every three or four days, and hundreds of letters went to Saint Joseph, where they would enter the U.S. postal system to be delivered to points further east. Many also went to headquarters at Camp Floyd, 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, where a detachment of more than 3,500 military and civilian employees lived. Until July 1861 when it was abandoned by the military heading east for the Civil War, Camp Floyd had the largest troop concentration in the United States, sent there by President James Buchanan in 1858 to stop an expected Mormon rebellion.

A second group of entries provides an account of mails received at Fort Bridger from January to September 1860, from many of the same locations, with the costs of unpaid letters and whether the costs of receiving the letters were paid in money, stamps, or were free. A notation indicates that September 1860 receipts were "Transferred to New Book."

The most fascinating section of the ledger are those pages that detail the letters sent and received by Pony Express from and to Fort Bridger between October 1860 and October 1861. The ledger records the date, the number of items sent (ranging from 1 to 3), the rate charged, who sent the letter, to whom, where, and "Arrival," which was likely the time of day that the Pony Express rider reached Fort Bridger. Times varied from 1:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. with many times in late morning and afternoon as well. Several of the outgoing letters were sent by William A. Carter (1818-1881). Carter had many roles, including as the civilian sutler at Fort Bridger from 1859 to 1881, the Pony Express agent in 1860-1861, and justice of the peace and judge of the probate court. As agent of the Pony Express, he could send letters to officials of the company without cost, and the ledger indicates those letters sent for free. In addition to his general store, Carter was also involved in mining, logging, cattle ranching, and operated a sawmill. His wife Mary E. Carter (1831-1904) also sent letters—to Miss Hamilton in Columbia, Missouri, on June 17, 1861, and to Mrs. Gardner at Fort Kearney, on September 17, 1861.

Frank B. Gilbert sent a letter on October 19, 1860, to his wife in Weston, Missouri, at a cost of $2.50; on the same day, Samuel Dean sent a letter to W. J. Reynolds in Salt Lake City, also at a cost of $2.50. On December 1, Dean became the clerk of the Probate Court in Green River County, over which Judge William A. Carter presided.

Several military officers sent letters as well. Such messages include several by Captain Jesse A. Gove (1824-1862) to the Adjutant General at Fort Crittenden, Utah, on June 1, 1861; to Congressman Edward H. Rollins of New Hampshire, on June 13, 1861; to Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas in Washington, D.C., on July 8, 1861, and to the New York Times on July 11, 1861. Gove later died at the Seven Days' Battles in June 1862, as colonel of the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteers.

Captain Alfred Cumming (1829-1910) of the 10th U.S. Infantry and an 1849 graduate of West Point was the commanding officer at Fort Bridger, when he sent a letter to Miss S. M. Davis in Augusta, Georgia. Cumming also sent letters to his father Henry H. Cumming in Augusta on October 30 and November 6, 1860. Alfred Cumming resigned his commission in January 1861, returned to the South, and moved through the officer ranks of the Confederate Army to become a brigadier general by late 1862. Two of Cumming's subordinate officers, Lieutenant Arthur S. Cunningham (1835-1885) and Lieutenant Franck S. Armistead (1831-1888) both sent letters via Pony Express to Cumming in Augusta, Georgia, on April 16 and May 20, respectively. Cunningham, an 1856 graduate of West Point, resigned his commission on June 25, 1861, and joined the Confederates. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the 10th Alabama Infantry as part of the Army of Northern Virginia. Armistead was the younger brother of General Lewis A. Armistead, who was mortally wounded in Pickett's charge at Gettysburg. The younger Armistead, also an 1856 graduate of West Point, resigned his commission on June 14, 1861, and commanded a regiment of North Carolina junior reserves as a colonel.

Captain Joseph C. Clark Jr. (1825-1906), an 1848 graduate of West Point, sent two letters to Major, then Colonel, James Henry Carleton (1814-1873), at Fort Churchill, on the Carson River in Nevada, which also served as a Pony Express station. Clark sent the letters on August 27 and September 13, 1861. They were both designated as "Govt Matter" as was Clark's letter to Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas in Washington of September 12, 1861. Clark went on to command an artillery battery in the Army of the Potomac and was wounded four times at the Battle of Antietam. After recovering, he taught at West Point from 1863 to 1870.

The register of letters received by Pony Express delivery records the time received, from what place, and by whom received, usually agent William A. Carter or the commanding officer. It also records the rate (decreasing from $2.50 to $1.00 over the period) and whether the fee was prepaid or collected from the recipient. Receiving letters was an all-day task, as the hours of arrival varied widely from 1:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Most of the letters received were from St. Joseph, but a few came from Camp Floyd (renamed Fort Crittenden on December 29, 1860), Fort Kearney, Fort Laramie, Salt Lake City, or San Francisco. Many of the "letters" from St. Joseph have the designation "news" in the final column and were likely newspapers, which kept the soldiers and civilians at this distant outpost somewhat informed of rapidly developing events in the East as the nation descended into war. Captain Clark received the last letter to Fort Bridger by Pony Express, from St. Joseph, on October 16, 1861. The eastern section of the telegraph line was completed at Fort Bridger on October 18, 1861, connecting St. Joseph to Salt Lake City. The Pony Express service terminated on October 26, two days after the completion of the western section of the transcontinental telegraph line.

Another fascinating feature of the ledger are two lists of subscribers to newspapers and periodicals at Fort Bridger. In this brief period, at least 34 officers and soldiers at Fort Bridger subscribed to more than 60 periodicals from weekly newspapers to monthly journals. Common titles like the New York Herald, New York Times, and Harper's Weekly appear alongside the St. Louis Republican, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Louisville Journal. Private Meany of Company K subscribed to the weekly Irish American, while Privates Ressler and Warmenau, also of Company K, subscribed to German newspapers. Private Simmonds of Company K subscribed to the Illustrated London News and the London Mail. Sergeant Kelley of Company D had a subscription to the Irish American, Sergeant Dimon of the same company subscribed to the Irish News, while Private Regan subscribed to the Dublin Telegraph, and Private Mitchell held a subscription to the Canadian Freeman. Privates Jerrolman, Heauchild and Alcone of Company D all had subscriptions to the New York Ledger, and Private Anderson had subscriptions to four newspapers—the Baltimore Sun, the Terre Haute Journal, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the New York Herald.

Major Henry H. Sibley (1816-1886) was the most well-read, with subscriptions to as many as 11 periodicals, including the New York Herald; the New York Times; Harper's Weekly; Harper's Monthly; Punch (London); the London Illustrated News; the Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art; Ballou's Monthly Magazine; Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion; Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine; The Knickerbocker, or New York-Monthly Magazine; and the New York Ledger. An 1838 graduate of the United States Military Academy, Sibley fought in the Seminole Wars in Florida, the Mexican War, the Utah War, and invented several military items, including the Sibley tent and the Sibley stove, both used by Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Sibley resigned his commission in May 1861, joined the Confederacy, and rose quickly to the rank of brigadier general. His attempt to invade New Mexico enjoyed initial success, but Union forces under E. R. S. Canby, who had served with him at Fort Bridger, defeated his forces at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, and Sibley never again led men in combat.

Historical Background

In 1860, telegraph lines extended from the East Coast as far west as St. Joseph, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska. From the West Coast, they extended from San Francisco to Carson City, Nevada. In June 1860, Congress passed the Pacific Telegraph Act, which included a government subsidy of $40,000 per year, over ten years, for the construction and operation of a telegraph line across the middle of the continent. The Pony Express bridged that gap from early 1860 to late 1861 with a series of fast horses and young riders.

The initial rate for a letter carried by the Pony Express between San Francisco and St. Joseph was $5 per half ounce or less. At the end of July 1860, the rate was reduced to $2.50 per quarter ounce or less, with additional charges for more weight. On July 1, 1861, the rate dropped again to $1 per half ounce or less. Riders traveled at an average speed of ten miles per hour, and a complete one-way trip required approximately 20 riders and 75 horses. Without interruptions caused by weather, attacks, or the Pyramid Lake War in the summer of 1860 in Nevada, the one-way trip between Sacramento and St. Joseph could be completed in ten days.

As the Pony Express moved through Utah Territory, it hired many Mormon men and boys. At least three Mormon pioneers manned isolated Pony Express relay stations and more than two dozen Mormons were among the 220-230 Pony Express riders. The Pony Express moved mail between Utah and the eastern states a week faster than stagecoach mail.

When the Civil War erupted in the East, Colonel Philip St. George Cooke (1809-1895) of the 2nd U.S. Dragoons, who was in command at Camp Floyd/Fort Crittenden in central Utah, abandoned that installation and took his men and supplies to Fort Bridger, where the supplies were sold at auction, largely to the Mormons. According to some accounts, $4 million worth of goods were sold for $100,000. Cooke then marched both garrisons to Fort Leavenworth and went on to command the 2nd U.S. Cavalry, receive a promotion to brigadier general, and leave active field service after the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. During that campaign his son-in-law, Confederate Cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart, humiliated the Union cavalry by completely circling the Army of the Potomac in a raid.

Cooke left only a few men, whose terms of service were nearly expired, at Fort Bridger under Captain Joseph C. Clark Jr. of the 4th U.S. Artillery in command. In December 1861, Clark received orders to go east, and Orderly Sergeant Bogee and a handful of privates were left at Fort Bridger for nearly a year before a portion of the 3rd California Volunteers arrived.

The Pony Express (1860-1861) was a mail service operated by the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company, founded by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell. Between April 1860 and October 1861, messages could travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts of the United States in about ten days, utilizing telegraph lines and this service. It was largely replaced by the establishment of the transcontinental telegraph in October 1861. The service worked by having 184-186 stations located approximately ten miles apart along the 1,900-mile route from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. The route followed the Oregon and California Trails to Fort Bridger, then the Mormon Trail to Salt Lake City, then the Central Nevada Route to Carson City, where it passed over the Sierra to Sacramento, California. A rider, who could not weigh over 125 pounds, rode day and night for approximately 70 to 100 miles, changing to a fresh horse at each station. Over his saddle was a mochila (Spanish for pouch) with four padlocked corner pockets that together held up to 20 pounds of mail. Russell, Majors, and Waddell lost $500,000 on their Pony Express venture. As a business venture, it was a failure, but it played a critical role in securing California and its gold resources for the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War.

Fort Bridger (1842-1890) was established by Jim Bridger (1804-1881) and Louis Vasquez (1798-1868) in 1843. It served as a vital supply point and stop on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. At Fort Bridger, the Oregon and California trails turn northwest into modern Idaho, while the Mormon Trail continued west to Salt Lake City. In 1853, Mormons tried to arrest Bridger, who fled, and in 1855, they claimed ownership of the fort. During the Utah War, the fort was burned in October 1857 on the approach of the U.S. Army. At the end of the hostilities, the U.S. government rejected the claims of both the Mormons and Bridger and rebuilt Fort Bridger with William A. Carter as post sutler. From April 1860 to October 1861, it was one of 186 Pony Express stations between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Small U.S. Army units were stationed at the fort during the Civil War and regular units occupied it from 1866 to 1878, when it was temporarily abandoned. The Army again occupied in from 1880 to 1890, when it was closed and many of its buildings sold and dismantled.

Price: $75,000; £58,825; €63,830; 750,000 SEK; HK$585,000.


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