Thursday, March 18, 2021

Pre-Civil War, San Antonio to San Diego

TL;DR - We had our head in New England for a long time. Much to learn. Then, we lifted our sights to New France as they quibbled quite a bit with the English colonies. And, of course, being a westerner (the huge heart of America north), New Spain came forward. So, crossings is a theme that we will continue. And, how about three weeks from San Antonio TX to El Paso TX? In a stage coach? And, then, heading to San Diego CA partly through the area hosting El Camino del Diablo. Lots to discuss. BTW, this route was traveled one hundred and more years prior to the pre-Civil War period. 


This post looks at a couple of southern routes. One was for mail and has been described quite thoroughly. The other was a stage coach route carrying easterners to the So Cal coast and points in-between. The motivation is to fill in a more full picture of the U.S. as we get ourselves out of the New England bias. 

Earlier, we wrote of the first recorded cross-continental trek. Turns out that it was across lower Canada where the individual went from Montreal to British Columbia. The time? 1793. This is not long after the Revolution and before Clark and Lewis. Now, the context of this was western expansion where we realized that we had to include New Spain and New France into our work to be thorough. As mentioned in earlier posts, people went west almost immediately both in northern and southern New England. Up in the north, the Northwest Territory was a limit at one time. Today, this area is noted as being the mid-west. A lot of the western movement went by water. We are looking at the various ways that the crossing was done by land which was difficult.  

However, there were efforts that were quite successful. The Santa Fe and the Oregon Trails are good examples. But, we wanted to look at the lower areas of the country. As well, we always want to note routes that were known to American Indians. An example of that might be El Camino del Diablo. There are other old trails down in that area.  

As we look around, we try to establish a New England connection. We found one with George Henry Giddings. Actually, we found several through the collateral families. But, George and his brothers went from the TX area from PA, however they are descendant of the Giddings family from Ipswich MA. However, the family was successful in Texas, too (Giddings Family papers). 

  • San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line -- This route took over a month using mules and wagons. This graphic shows some of the places that the line went through using modern roadways. Note the distance of over 1300 miles with a time of 22 hours where a lot of it is the U.S. Interstate system. 

The Texas part of this road was over 580 miles. It was used from 1849 to 1882. One variant was called the San Antonio - El Paso Road which Giddings developed. We must look at the stage coach line that existed at the same time as the mail route. It was a different company, but they ran over the same trail in part. This was the Butterfield-Overland line that went from St. Louis MO to San Francisco. Here is the time table and mileage on the return trip. The route was by coach except for a short bit between St Louis Mo and Tipton MO. 

Mark Twain went out to see the sights and described his long journey by coach. Jedediah, and his kind, did it by foot or horseback. 

Remarks: Modified: 06/01/2021

03/24/2021 -- Add the TL;DR. 

06/01/2021 -- Need to add this image with regard to the schedule of the Butterfield-Overland run. Notice that the animals were run at the "highest speed" supposedly without injury. There is more detail about the intermediate legs of the journey. 

Given that, here is Mark Twain's description of his jaunt on the northern route. It was such a bother that he delayed his return trip. 

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