Timeless Tuesday: What was Happening in 1860?

The novel that I am working on is set in 1860. That is the year the Pony Express began. How did it begin?

William H. Russell, one of a trio of men who had a freighting company known as Russell, Majors, and Waddell created the Pony Express. They were business partners in Missouri. They had a lot of experience hauling cargo and passengers. They took an interest in government mail contracts as they already offered a stagecoach service that provided mail between the Missouri River and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Russell was convinced that a horse relay, a Pony Express would be a money-making endeavor. His partners, William, B. Waddell and Alexander Majors were not so sure. Without the approval of his partners, William Russell committed to opening the express mail service on the central overland route in April 1860.

So the three partners started a new company, the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company (C.O.C. & P.P.). This was the official name of the Pony Express. The company had just 67 days to hire riders, station keepers, and mail handlers, and to buy horses, food, and other supplies and distribute them to stations along the route. Some of the stations weren’t even built or located yet.

However, homes stations were established every 75 to 100 miles. These homes stations would house riders between runs. Smaller relay stations were established every 10 to 15 miles to provide riders with fresh horses.

Many of the stations were upgraded from existing stagecoach stations, while some had to be built from scratch. They began with 86 stations but expanded to 147 stations by mid-1861.

Alexander Majors organized the route into five divisions, numbered east to west. The first leg of the route ran from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory on the Platte River.

This is the leg of the journey that my main male character has a part in.

Timeless Tuesday: History of My Setting

In my upcoming novel, the story begins in St. Louis, Missouri in 1860. The city of St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede Liguest on February 15, 1764.

St. Joseph, Missouri is where my main character moves in Chapter two. At this time, St. Joseph was already a fairly busy town with the California Gold Rush bringing people east to west in 1848 and the railroad having been established in St. Joseph in 1859. 1860 saw the beginning of the Pony Express in St. Joseph which was the eastern end of the Pony Express route. As a matter of fact, on April 3, 1860, the day the Pony Express made its first delivery, the first rider left from St. Joseph.

Because of St. Joseph’s location near the Missouri River, St. Joseph would continue to grow in the following years.

In my novel, you will note that I took some “creative liberties” since I write “historical fiction”, and when my character arrives in St. Joseph, it is not yet a large, busy town, but that begins to change about halfway through the novel.

Timeless Tuesday: History Related to my Novel

MISSOURI — 1860

My first Historical Romance story is set in Missouri in 1860. I have completed my first draft and am currently working on revisions.

In the beginning of my novel, my main character has been living in St. Louis, Missouri for several years. The above map is an 1860 map of Missouri with the railroad running through the middle of it. St. Louis is near the bottom right corner of the above map.

My MC (main character) gets a job that requires him to go to Hannibal, Missouri to get on a train that will take him to St. Joseph, Missouri, which will be his new home. Hannibal is on the right end of the railroad line and St. Joseph is on the left end of the railroad line.

My MC will also spend time in Seneca, Kansas, which is not on this map, although you can see Kansas here.

1860 is during the time of the Old West. There are cowboys, towns are just being established and settled, there’s the Pony Express, and the start of the telegraph lines. There are Indian uprisings as well. Most of the land is still untamed. In just one year the Civil War will begin.

All of these things will have an impact on the characters in my novel.