Volume 9 , Number 4 , Summer 1986
THE BUTTERFIELD STAGE LINE
Contributed by Jobelie Burk
The Butterfield Stage Line began operation in 1858. The first westbound stage arrived in Springfield September 17, 1858, three hours ahead of time. The first eastbound stage arrived there on October 22, 1858, with five passengers, together with mail, freight, express and treasures. Six horses were used in relays, with the old Concord type of stagecoach. The General Smith Hotel on Boonville Street in Springfield was a stopping place and a tablet has been erected at this spot (just a few feet off the square) to commerate this achievement and the site of the hotel. This line ran from San Francisco, CA to St. Louis, MO. The eastern terminus, however, was at Tipton, MO, where it made connection with the Pacific Railroad for St. Louis.
The route from Ft. Smith, AR to Tipton was 318½ miles and required 49 hours of travel. From the old time table: Ft. Smith to Wooleys - 16 miles; to Brodies 12 miles; to Parks 10 miles; to Fayetteville 20 miles; to _________ Station 12 miles; to Callahan 22 miles; to Harburns 16 miles; to Conchs 16 miles; to Smiths 15 miles (this was the Smith Tavern operated by John I. Smith, father of Granville, near Osa); to Ashmore 20 miles; to Springfield 13 miles.
The stop at Ashmore was kept by John Ashmore and was near what was known as Double Springs, southeast of Republic. This stage line passed just east of Uncle B. Shorts place, making a mail-stop at the post office of Wilson Creek. This stop was in the home of Mrs. Ray, at whose home General Lyons was taken after being mortally wounded on the field of battle at Wilson Creek and at which place he died. It was at this post office that Uncle B. received his mail from his son, Francis, who was in the Civil War and who died of the fever at DuvalPs Bluff, AR, while in camp there.
The Wilson Creek Post Office does not appear on the time table as a regular stop, yet it served this point with mail and passengers just as it did at "Red" Bill Steeles place at Skaggs Springs. This line continued south and also made a stop at the McCullah Chapel, as we know that Alexander McCullah maintained a tavern there. Stages stopped and served passengers although there is no accounting of it in the time table. This line was discontined at the start of the Civil War. During the war the Government erected a telegraph wire for the movement of Federal troops. This line followed the general route of the old Butterfield Trail, but was inclined to take short cuts or "detours", and a road was gradually defined that followed the telegraph wire instead, and from which resulted the commonly called "old wire road."
On January 1, 1865, a stage line was resumed, its first regular trip since 1861, from Springfield to Cassville and then on south to Fayetteville, etc. This new coach line followed the new markings of the "wire road." Mr. Butterfield, the promotor of the stage line, and his son made the first trip east, travelling day and night for two weeks, and were one-half day ahead of schedule. There was one stage each way each day.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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