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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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Difference between revisions of "STAGECOACHES"

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[[Image:stagecoach.png|left|thumb|250px|]]STAGECOACHES. Vehicles pulled by teams of four or six horses. Used to carry passengers and freight, stagecoach horses were changed at stations, called stages, along the route. Because of poor roads, stagecoaches were not used widely in the Midwest until the 19th century. Their increasing use encouraged the development of better methods of road construction and maintenance.  
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[[Image:stagecoach.png|left|thumb|250px|]]STAGECOACHES. Used to carry passengers and freight, stagecoach used horses which were changed at stations, called stages, along the route. Because of poor roads, stagecoaches were not used widely in the Midwest until the 19th century. Their increasing use encouraged the development of better methods of road construction and maintenance.  
  
 
Stagecoaches averaged forty miles per day in the summer and twenty-five miles in winter over a fifteen-hour day of travel. Stages often left Dubuque before dawn. Coach capacity was usually fourteen passengers in addition to baggage and the driver. Stagecoach lines with contracts to carry U.S. mail could count on additional income.  
 
Stagecoaches averaged forty miles per day in the summer and twenty-five miles in winter over a fifteen-hour day of travel. Stages often left Dubuque before dawn. Coach capacity was usually fourteen passengers in addition to baggage and the driver. Stagecoach lines with contracts to carry U.S. mail could count on additional income.  
  
A somewhat reliable system of stagecoach service out of Dubuque began by the 1850s with routes leading west to Blackhawk County, south into Jackson County, north to Clayton County, and southwest along the [[MILITARY ROAD]] toward Iowa City. A successful stagecoach business operating out of Dubuque was the Western Stage Company that opened an office at Main and Second Street. In 1854 a stagecoach route was established between St. Paul and Dubuque through Cannon Falls and Rochester. (1) A second route was established in 1856 called the Straight and Cedar River through Red Wing, Minnesota. (2)
+
A somewhat reliable system of stagecoach service out of Dubuque began by the 1850s with routes leading west to Blackhawk County, south into Jackson County, north to Clayton County, and southwest along the [[MILITARY ROAD]] toward Iowa City. A successful stagecoach business operating out of Dubuque was the Western Stage Company that opened an office at Main and Second Street. In 1854 a stagecoach route was established between St. Paul and Dubuque through Cannon Falls and Rochester. (1) A second route was established in 1856 called the "Straight and Cedar River" through Red Wing, Minnesota. (2)
  
Stagecoach transportation was difficult on passengers.  Advised to wear old clothes, customers were asked to make the trip more enjoyable.  Wells Fargo, a famous stagecoach line, printed the following “rules of the road:” (3)
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Stagecoach transportation was difficult on passengers.  Advised to wear old clothes, customers were asked to make the trip more enjoyable.  Wells Fargo, a famous stagecoach line, printed the following “rules of the road:”  
  
1 Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.
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1. Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and un-neighborily.
  
2 If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit WITH the wind, not against it.
+
2. If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit WITH the wind, not against it.
  
3 Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
+
3. Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.4. Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver
  
4 Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
+
4. Don't snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger's shoulder for a  pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.
  
5 Don't snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger's shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.
+
5. Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses
  
6 Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
+
6. In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry wolves.
  
7 In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry wolves.
+
7. Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
  
8 Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
+
8. Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It's a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.
 
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9 Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It's a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.
+
  
 
Stagecoaches initially came to Dubuque to carry mail.  In the bidding for government mail contracts in Illinois and Wisconsin in 1846, Frink, Walker and Company was a failure. The person who received most of the contracts was Otho Hinton, the individual who won the Dubuque-Davenport stage-mail contract of 1842. (4)
 
Stagecoaches initially came to Dubuque to carry mail.  In the bidding for government mail contracts in Illinois and Wisconsin in 1846, Frink, Walker and Company was a failure. The person who received most of the contracts was Otho Hinton, the individual who won the Dubuque-Davenport stage-mail contract of 1842. (4)
  
In 1847 Hinton and two partners attempted to buy Frink, Walker and Company for $10,000. When he failed to deposit the funds according to the time stated in the contract, Frink used the opportunity to label Hinton as undependable and bankrupt. When Hinton's company failed on all their contracts at the end of January, Frink and Company were ready to expand. (5)
+
In 1847 Hinton and two partners attempted to buy Frink, Walker and Company for $10,000. When Hinton failed to deposit the funds according to the time stated in the contract, Frink used the opportunity to label Hinton as undependable and bankrupt. When Hinton's company failed on all their contracts at the end of January, Frink and Company were ready to expand. (5)
  
 
In a strategic move, Frink and Company bought up competitors and then split the territory with their largest competitor, the Ohio Stage Company. By the end of August, the company was ready to expand into Iowa. The territory was not unknown to Frink. In 1842 he had won a contract for horse-mail delivery out of Dubuque. In 1847 in addition to four other lines, Frink opened a stage-mail route between Dubuque and Davenport.(6)  
 
In a strategic move, Frink and Company bought up competitors and then split the territory with their largest competitor, the Ohio Stage Company. By the end of August, the company was ready to expand into Iowa. The territory was not unknown to Frink. In 1842 he had won a contract for horse-mail delivery out of Dubuque. In 1847 in addition to four other lines, Frink opened a stage-mail route between Dubuque and Davenport.(6)  
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Despite prosperous years in 1853 and 1854, John Frink and Company abandoned their stagecoach business in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri by July 1, 1854. Failure to obtain mail contracts was blamed along with the rise in popularity of railroad transportation. It was also true that the re-organized Ohio State Company operating as the Western Stage Company posed stiff competition. On July 3, 1854 all the Frink stage stock in Iowa was sold for $71,555.50. (16)
 
Despite prosperous years in 1853 and 1854, John Frink and Company abandoned their stagecoach business in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri by July 1, 1854. Failure to obtain mail contracts was blamed along with the rise in popularity of railroad transportation. It was also true that the re-organized Ohio State Company operating as the Western Stage Company posed stiff competition. On July 3, 1854 all the Frink stage stock in Iowa was sold for $71,555.50. (16)
  
By 1876 stagecoaches could pack nine people inside and six to nine on the roof. The coach interior had three upholstered bench seats; on top the "dickey seat" bench was behind the driver and the "China seat" behind it. If needed, two or more people could sit on the "boot" with the driver. Armed guards sometimes strapped themselves to the leather boot hung from the back of the stage and usually used to carry luggage. At relay stations, teams of horses were unhitched, exchanged, and harnessed in approximately seven minutes. Drivers were expected to remain on duty for forty to sixty miles during which several exchanges of teams would be made. (17)
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By 1876 stagecoaches could pack nine people inside and six to nine on the roof. The coach interior had three upholstered bench seats; on top the "dickey seat" bench was behind the driver and the "China seat" behind it. If needed, two or more people could sit on the "boot" with the driver. Armed guards sometimes strapped themselves to the leather "boot" hung from the back of the stage and usually used to carry luggage. At relay stations, teams of horses were unhitched, exchanged, and harnessed in approximately seven minutes. Drivers were expected to remain on duty for forty to sixty miles during which several exchanges of teams would be made. (17)
  
 
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Latest revision as of 13:24, 3 December 2019

Stagecoach.png
STAGECOACHES. Used to carry passengers and freight, stagecoach used horses which were changed at stations, called stages, along the route. Because of poor roads, stagecoaches were not used widely in the Midwest until the 19th century. Their increasing use encouraged the development of better methods of road construction and maintenance.

Stagecoaches averaged forty miles per day in the summer and twenty-five miles in winter over a fifteen-hour day of travel. Stages often left Dubuque before dawn. Coach capacity was usually fourteen passengers in addition to baggage and the driver. Stagecoach lines with contracts to carry U.S. mail could count on additional income.

A somewhat reliable system of stagecoach service out of Dubuque began by the 1850s with routes leading west to Blackhawk County, south into Jackson County, north to Clayton County, and southwest along the MILITARY ROAD toward Iowa City. A successful stagecoach business operating out of Dubuque was the Western Stage Company that opened an office at Main and Second Street. In 1854 a stagecoach route was established between St. Paul and Dubuque through Cannon Falls and Rochester. (1) A second route was established in 1856 called the "Straight and Cedar River" through Red Wing, Minnesota. (2)

Stagecoach transportation was difficult on passengers. Advised to wear old clothes, customers were asked to make the trip more enjoyable. Wells Fargo, a famous stagecoach line, printed the following “rules of the road:”

1. Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and un-neighborily.

2. If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit WITH the wind, not against it.

3. Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.4. Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver

4. Don't snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger's shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.

5. Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses

6. In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry wolves.

7. Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.

8. Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It's a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Stagecoaches initially came to Dubuque to carry mail. In the bidding for government mail contracts in Illinois and Wisconsin in 1846, Frink, Walker and Company was a failure. The person who received most of the contracts was Otho Hinton, the individual who won the Dubuque-Davenport stage-mail contract of 1842. (4)

In 1847 Hinton and two partners attempted to buy Frink, Walker and Company for $10,000. When Hinton failed to deposit the funds according to the time stated in the contract, Frink used the opportunity to label Hinton as undependable and bankrupt. When Hinton's company failed on all their contracts at the end of January, Frink and Company were ready to expand. (5)

In a strategic move, Frink and Company bought up competitors and then split the territory with their largest competitor, the Ohio Stage Company. By the end of August, the company was ready to expand into Iowa. The territory was not unknown to Frink. In 1842 he had won a contract for horse-mail delivery out of Dubuque. In 1847 in addition to four other lines, Frink opened a stage-mail route between Dubuque and Davenport.(6)

Frink and Company made a significant change in stage-mail delivery in Iowa by expanding inland. In May 1849 the company's brick-red Troy coaches were operated a tri-weekly line between Dubuque and Iowa City and as far west at Fort Des Moines. (7)

Other lines were developing as well. In the spring of 1849, Hiram C. Pierce believed there was a future in making regular trips into Chicago and to carry passengers as well as freight. (8) This may have been the start of the challenge facing stage lines--carry mail or passengers. When this issue developed, Frink and Company which often operated poorly maintained coaches, was faced by customers who wanted better accommodations. It was claimed that Frink "carts" were so ugly they "scared off the varmints." (9) The horses were so malnourished that "their bodies afford no impediment to the sunshine." (10) Later when passenger travel proved profitable, freight was often left behind.

Competition forced change. Independents offered irregular service between Dubuque, Anamosa, Marion, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. In 1850 Swetland and Long obtained a mail contract once-a-week between Dubuque and Muscatine along a route including Andrew, Maquoketa, and Tipton. (11) By 1851 Frink and Company began offering four-horse post coaches, a sign of a well paying route, from Keokuk to Dubuque and Galena.

Despite the many stage lines operating out of Dubuque to the south and west, little effort was made to expand into the north or northwest. The only transportation offered in that direction was the Delhi stage. (12) In 1851 a resident of St. Paul offered to carry passengers between that city and Dubuque, but only on unscheduled runs. It was not until 1853 that local livery stablemen began operating stages between Elkader and Dubuque, Guttenburg, and Garnavillo. (13) In 1854 after a territorial and federal project had created a passable road between St. Paul and Dubuque, J. Frink and Company won the contract to carry the mail. (14)

Frink and Company continued to draw criticism. Slow mail delivery from Galena was blamed on collusion between the stage line and the hotel operators. It was charged that the stage stayed in Galena so that the hotels could charge $1.50 for a room and the stage company did not have the added expense of carrying the mails at night. (15)

Despite prosperous years in 1853 and 1854, John Frink and Company abandoned their stagecoach business in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri by July 1, 1854. Failure to obtain mail contracts was blamed along with the rise in popularity of railroad transportation. It was also true that the re-organized Ohio State Company operating as the Western Stage Company posed stiff competition. On July 3, 1854 all the Frink stage stock in Iowa was sold for $71,555.50. (16)

By 1876 stagecoaches could pack nine people inside and six to nine on the roof. The coach interior had three upholstered bench seats; on top the "dickey seat" bench was behind the driver and the "China seat" behind it. If needed, two or more people could sit on the "boot" with the driver. Armed guards sometimes strapped themselves to the leather "boot" hung from the back of the stage and usually used to carry luggage. At relay stations, teams of horses were unhitched, exchanged, and harnessed in approximately seven minutes. Drivers were expected to remain on duty for forty to sixty miles during which several exchanges of teams would be made. (17)

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Source:

1. Larsen, Arthur J. "Roads and Trails in the Minnesota Triangle 1849-1860, Online: http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/11/v11i04p387-411.pdf, p. 26

2. Ibid.

3. "Rules of the Road," Open Range, Online: http://www.theopenrange.net/forum/index.php?topic=726.0

4. Colton, Kenneth. "John Frink and Company, 1846-1854," Annals of Iowa, Volume, 35, No. 6, p. 402

5. Ibid.,p. 403

6. Ibid., p. 404

7. Ibid., p. 405

8. Ibid., p. 407

9. Ibid., p. 411

10. Ibid., p. 412

11. Ibid., p. 416

12. Ibid., p. 417

13. Ibid., p. 423

14. Ibid., p. 424

15. Ibid., p. 419

16. Ibid., p. 431

17. Fifer, Barbara. Bad Boys of the Black Hills, Helena, Montana: Farcountry Press, 2008, p. 6