The First Men to Deliver Mail Through Dust Storms, Pouring Rain, Winter Blizzards, and Other Dangers — Kelly F. Barr
Today I’m happy to welcome author Kelly F. Barr as she shares some fascinating history and insights about her upcoming novel.
In 1860 as settlers stretched from east to west across the United States they longed for words from loved ones living across the country. William H. Russell of the freighting company of Russell, Majors & Waddell came up with an idea to advertise their business. They had vast experience hauling cargo and passengers, and they already provided mail and stagecoach services between the Missouri River and Salt Lake City, when Russell’s idea was born.
Russell thought that a horse relay, a Pony Express, would promote the company and gather congressional support to win the mail contract for a central overland route. He received backing from Senator Gwin, a California Senator.
Much to the dismay of Russell’s partners, he committed to opening the express mail service on the central route in April 1860, and so the three partners started a new firm, the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company (C.O.C.&P.P.) – the official name of the Pony Express.
C.O.C.& P.P. established home stations every seventy-five to one hundred miles (to house riders between runs) and smaller relay stations every ten to fifteen miles (to provide riders with fresh horses).
Many were upgraded from existing stagecoach stations, but some stations were built from scratch. The operation expanded from eighty-six stations on the Pony’s first run to one hundred forty-seven stations by mid-1861.
Hired riders ranged in age from teenagers to about forty, though the preference was for fellows not over eighteen who were orphans. Riders faced many dangers from extreme weather to trouble with wild animals to Indian attacks.
I got the idea to write a story about a Pony Express rider when our youngest son and I were reading books about the Pony Express because he was assigned to write a Historical Fiction story for a writer’s group he was part of. I loved the idea of the Old West and cowboys and remembered how much I loved the “Young Riders” television show that ran from 1989 – 1992. And so a story idea was born.
In my work in progress (WIP), which will be my first novel, my main male character is a Pony Express rider, Johnny Reason, who not only faces the dangers of riding for the Pony Express, but also the dangers of falling in love. He meets his lady love, Erin Byrne, in St. Joseph, Missouri and is taken aback by her strong will and bold talk. Could a relationship between the two of them work? Does he stand a chance against the other men of St. Joseph who would like to win her hand?
Though loosely based on a real-life Pony Express rider, there is not enough information available on any of the Pony Express riders to write an entire novel about one particular rider. Therefore I have taken artistic liberties in writing my story, which I hope to have completed and published by late summer 2019. However, because of my love of history, I promise history lovers will not be disappointed. I do my best to include as much true history as I possibly can.
About Kelly F. Barr
Kelly has published poetry, homeschool articles, and a devotional. She is a member of LCW and ACFW. Kelly is also a freelance editor. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three sons, and their Labrador Retriever.