Texas travel diary  1838
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This Texas travel diary records the daily progress of a team of prospectors exploring possible routes for stagecoach lines. The author does not record his personal experiences and includes only details relevant to operating a stagecoach line: terrain; banks and depths of rivers to be forded; costs of oats, corn and hay for feeding horses; the presence of Indians; populations to support mail delivery and transportation over the route; availability of timber for building bridges and ferries; competition from other stage lines; availability of potable water; agricultural potential of the land along the route; and mileages from one place to another.

The team set out from Jefferson City in mule-drawn wagons on January 4, 1838, and traveled southwest into Oklahoma. They crossed into the Oklahoma Cherokee Indian Territory at Neosho on January 18, and then headed south to Fort Gibson, where the author went alone on horseback to Fort Smith on the Arkansas border, and rejoined the group later.

They crossed Texas at Preston on the Red River (North of Dallas) at the end of January and arrived at Franklin (now El Paso) on March 17. On March 21, they set out on the return trip, taking a slightly different route, and returned to the Oklahoma-Texas border at Preston on Sunday, April 11.

Of special interest are the descriptions of the terrain diagonally southwest across Oklahoma and Texas in the early days of United States possession, while Texas was still an independent republic. The author notes the difficulties that would be encountered in establishing a mail and stage coach line through this terrain and comments on the agricultural possibilities of the land. He describes streams and rivers and recommends potential settings for stations.

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