Sharing information about the Stasey family from Hannibal
US Postal Service on the Frontier
Thomas Hart Benton Stasey (THBS) left Hannibal, Missouri for California in the summer or fall of 1854. He returned in the summer or fall of 1859. During his stay he wrote letters home, including several to his fiancé, later wife, Margaret America Sparks. She wrote to him, as well, and he mentions some of her letters in his. Miss Sparks saved her future husband's letters, and several of them transited the years from her to us. None of her letters survived, but we know they made the trip from eastern Missouri to various locations in the California gold fields.
That so many of THBS's letters have survived is a remarkable testament to the vigilance of the intervening generations. Sadly, all but one of the envelopes is missing, but the letters themselves have been well preserved, and may be read in the book, "Stasey."
The U. S. Postal Service deserves as much credit as preservationist children, and grandchildren, for our access to these frontier documents. It broadened coverage of its mail routes quickly after the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill.
It was a dangerous trip from Sacramento to St. Joseph in 1849, and and barely less treacherous by 1860. There is an excellent web site, Gossamer Networks, for understanding the growth of postal service in the American West, and we provide a link behind the top picture. Below, we display two snapshot maps of post office locations and mail routes during the time THBS was sending and receiving letters between California and Sharpsburg, Missouri. The third shows the situation at the time THBS's brother set off for Texas.