The Days of the Stage Coach

Front Street, 1860s

Excerpt from The Heritage of Blue Earth County by Julie Schrader, Topic 24, available in the Research & Genealogy Center.

"The stage coach was an important means of transportation in early Blue Earth County. It could travel into areas which had no navigable rivers or where navigation was impossible because of low water or ice in the winter. Because they were the only means available in many areas, they were important in forcing development of a road system and the improvement of the few existing roads.

"In 1853, the steamer Clarion occasionally brought mail to Mankato and afterwards Joseph R. Brown sent mail from Henderson to Mankato once every two weeks, which was usually brought on horseback. The first stage line established to Mankato was rather informal. George H. Marsh received a contract to carry mail weekly from Fort Snelling to Mankato. The first trip was made on foot as far as Traverse des Sioux and then down the river on an Indian canoe. A horse and light wagon were obtained for the return trip. He soon switched to two horses and a covered rig, which allowed him to carry passengers and light freight.

"Within a year this service was increased to twice a week and in the summer of 1856 it was increased to three times a week. To have a regular mail service even once a week was a wonderful convenience to the early settlers in their location. It took five to six weeks for a letter to reach New York and return. George Marsh and J.W. Babcock of Kasota entered into an agreement to carry mail between St. Paul and Sioux City using the military road between the two points and passing through Mankato. 

"There was no need for a post office or mail boxes then, for on mail day every resident in the settlement was present and waiting for the arrival of the carrier. Postmaster P. K. Johnson just had to call the names and each person was on hand to to receive their mail. If anyone failed to respond Johnson would deliver their mail to them."

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