VERY FINE. THIS IS THE EARLIEST RECORDED MARKING OF ANY KIND APPLIED AT SANTA FE TO MAIL CARRIED BY MILITARY EXPRESS, WHICH WAS THE ONLY MEANS BY WHICH LETTERS COULD BE SENT TO OR FROM THIS ARMY-OCCUPIED NEW MEXICO TOWN AT THIS EARLY DATE.
After General Stephen W. Kearny occupied Santa Fe on August 18, 1846, a military express was established over the Santa Fe Trail. Mail was carried over this route via Bent’s Fort (or the Cimarron Cutoff), and eastbound letters entered the mails at Fort Leavenworth or Independence, Missouri. On May 11, 1850, the contract for monthly mail service on the same route was awarded to Waldo, Hall and Company (commencing July 1). Examples of military express mail typically do not have any markings applied at Santa Fe. This is the only exception known to us--the “Santa Fee Nov. 6” postmark is dated the day the express departed, two weeks after the letter was written. The “Fee” spelling with the double “e” was introduced by the French Roman Catholic clergy.
This chatty letter between brothers mentions the names of no less than fifteen enlisted soldiers and officers in the 1st and 2nd Regiments of the Illinois Volunteers. Lieutenant Snyder enlisted at Alton, Illinois, on May 26, 1847, and arrived in Santa Fe (Military Territory of New Mexico) on September 16, 1847. He was discharged at Alton on October 14, 1848.
Ex Irwin Vogel
FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY COVER SENT FROM THE ARIZONA AREA OF THE MEXICAN REPUBLIC TO A DESTINATION WITHIN THE UNITED STATES VIA MEXICAN PORTS AND THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS.
This letter was sent to Clara C. Crittenden by her husband, Alexander Parker Crittenden, while he was en route to Gold Rush California in 1849. He became a prominent West Coast attorney, but moved to Nevada after California passed a law in 1863 prohibiting the practice of law by anyone who would not take the loyalty oath. “Parker” was a pro-Southerner who chose to relocate rather than swear allegiance to the federal government. A few years later he was shot dead by his mistress in front of his wife and son.
This letter provides a clear description of the southern route to California via Mexico: “We have been a month on the road, have traveled somewhat over 500 miles and are now 80 or 90 from the Pimos Village on the Gila. From that point it is 200 miles to the crossing of the Colorado--thence 200 or 250 to Pueblo de los Angelos. It will take us about 35 days to reach that place... The road is crowded with emigrants within 20 miles of us there are not less than 150 wagons. The road is a great highway thronged with men, women & children.”
Crittenden directed his letter to go via New Orleans. It was probably entrusted to a merchant for the arduous land journey southwest to Guaymas, then traveled further south by coastal vessel to the port of San Blas. It crossed Mexico on the overland route to Vera Cruz via Tepic, Guadalajara and Mexico City. From Vera Cruz it was carried on a vessel to the port of New Orleans, where it entered the U.S. mails for the last leg of the journey to Brazoria. The total transit time was approximately three months.
EXTREMELY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED SOCORRO, NEW MEXICO, POSTMARK FROM THE MILITARY OCCUPATION PERIOD. ONE OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING COVERS OF WESTERN POSTAL HISTORY.
This is the listing example of the unique Socorro manuscript postmark in the American Stampless Cover Catalog. A similar cover from the Smith-Younger correspondence is known, but it does not have the Socorro marking and was carried on the regular Santa Fe Trail route. The San Antonio route was used during winter months and involved four separate military expresses: Socorro to Fort Bliss; Fort Bliss to San Antonio; San Antonio to Fort Worth; and Fort Worth to Fort Leavenworth. Finally, a U.S. mail wagon carried the mail to Liberty. Instead of 10 to 15 days over the regular route, it took approximately 80 days to make the journey on the San Antonio route, from the November 18, 1849, letter date to the February 7, 1850, postmark date at Fort Leavenworth.
This letter was written in 1849 by Major William L. Strong as he traveled west to San Francisco, seeking his fortune in gold. Strong’s letter contains references to Indians, Mexicans, obtaining mules and wagons, hardships, dangers, mail sent via San Antonio, etc. His general feeling about the Mexican route to California is summed up, “...tell him also that is its absolutely necessary to learn the Spanish language if he intends to go to California--which if as mean and degraded as this country, Africa I consider a Paradise to it.”
Ex Haas, Jarrett, Dr. Schnell and Risvold
AN IMPORTANT ARTIFACT--THE ONLY RECORDED 1847 ISSUE COVER POSTMARKED IN NEW MEXICO.
This is the only recorded cover with the 1847 Issue postmarked in New Mexico. The original pair of 5¢ stamps paid the proper 10¢ rate for distance over 300 miles. The 1851 year date is confirmed by the style of datestamp, which was used between January and June 1851, according to Dr. Sheldon H. Dike’s New Mexico Territorial Postmark Catalog.
After General Stephen W. Kearny occupied Santa Fe on August 18, 1846, a military express was established over the Santa Fe Trail. Mail was carried over this route via Bent’s Fort (or the Cimarron Cutoff), and eastbound letters entered the mails at Fort Leavenworth or Independence, Missouri. The Santa Fe post office was established on October 1, 1849, during military occupation. On May 11, 1850, Waldo, Hall & Company of Independence signed a four-year contract for monthly mail service between Santa Fe and Independence, commencing July 1, 1850 (Route 4888). The Territory of New Mexico was established five months later, on December 13, 1850. Although 1847 stamps were never sent to any post office in New Mexico, they were carried there by travelers and military personnel, who purchased the stamps at post offices east of New Mexico.
This cover is addressed in the hand of Major Oliver Lathrop Shepherd, who was stationed at Fort Marcy in Santa Fe in 1850-51. He graduated from West Point in 1833 and rose to the rank of captain and then major for meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras, Churubusco and Chapultepec in the Mexican War, and later to brigadier general in the Civil War.
Dr. Carroll Chase described this cover in a letter to Brookman, quoted in Brookman’s United States Postage Stamps of the 19th Century (Vol. 1, page 26).
Ex Bilden and Risvold
VERY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED COVER TO THE EMORY MEXICO-U.S. BOUNDARY RESURVEY CAMP. A REMARKABLE AND HISTORIC POSTAL ARTIFACT OF THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST.
The United States and Mexican Boundary Survey from 1848 to 1855 mapped the border between the two countries, as defined in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. After a dispute over the boundary was resolved by the 1854 Gadsden Purchase, the survey continued in 1855 under William H. Emory, the U.S. Commissioner and Chief Surveyor. The results were published in the Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, Made Under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior by William H. Emory (1857-1859). The commissioners met at El Paso at the end of 1854 and set the eastern boundary monument on January 31, 1855. By May 1855 the survey set the western boundary on the Colorado River. A monument set in Arizona was named by 1st Lieutenant Frank Wheaton, to whom this cover is addressed. The monument was placed between two walnut trees--“Los Dos Nogales”--and the name was later shortened to Nogales (in Arizona and Mexico). The cover’s sender, John R. Bartlett, was the civilian boundary commissioner when the dispute arose in 1852--he was dismissed and in 1853 returned to his home in Providence, Rhode Island.