Orphans Preferred

Overview

One of the most celebrated and enduring chapters in U.S. history, the Pony Express exemplified the traits of bravery, bravado, and entrepreneurial risk that formed the fabric of the Old West. No image is more beloved or more powerful than that of the lone rider galloping the mail across hostile Indian territory. No image is more revered and less understood. Although rooted in actual events, the saga of "the Pony" has been embellished in everything from Mark Twain's Roughing It and dime novels to Buffalo Bill's ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (8) from $1.99   
  • Used (8) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 7 of 8
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$1.99
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(5439)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Good
Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. This book has a light amount of wear to the pages, cover and binding.Blue Cloud Books ??? Hot deals from the land of the sun.

Ships from: Phoenix, AZ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(7426)

Condition: Very Good
Appearance of only slight previous use. Cover and binding show a little wear. All pages are undamaged with potentially only a few, small markings. Help save a tree. Buy all your ... used books from Green Earth Books. Read. Recycle and Reuse. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Portland, OR

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(2430)

Condition: Good
Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Book has some visible wear on the binding, cover, pages. Biggest little used bookstore in the world.

Ships from: Reno, NV

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$13.68
Seller since 2013

Feedback rating:

(2)

Condition: Very Good
Very good Book is in very good condition without any notes or highlights. Has a couple of stamps/stickers; ships with free delivery confirmation.

Ships from: Willamina, OR

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$15.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(30)

Condition: Good
2003 Hardcover Good. in Not Issued jacket LARGE PRINT: Ex-library hardcover (usual stamps, stickers) in very good condition with negligible wear to glossy pictorial cover (no ... dust jacket, as issued for this edition); interior excellent-pages crisp, appear unmarked; illustrated with a few black & white photos; a very clean, sound copy that leans toward new-looking despite being a withdrawn library book; 524 pgs.; published by Thorndike Press, 2003 (cover as shown) Read more Show Less

Ships from: Newport, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$29.69
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(257)

Condition: Good
Possible retired library copy, some have markings or writing.

Ships from: Chatham, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$53.18
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(257)

Condition: Very Good
Very good.

Ships from: Chatham, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 7 of 8
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

One of the most celebrated and enduring chapters in U.S. history, the Pony Express exemplified the traits of bravery, bravado, and entrepreneurial risk that formed the fabric of the Old West. No image is more beloved or more powerful than that of the lone rider galloping the mail across hostile Indian territory. No image is more revered and less understood. Although rooted in actual events, the saga of "the Pony" has been embellished in everything from Mark Twain's Roughing It and dime novels to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and John Ford's films. Here is both the real story of this ill-fated adventure and an entertaining look at the larger-than-life characters who created and perpetuated the myth.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786259625
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 11/14/2003
  • Pages: 507
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Orphans Preferred

The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express
By Christopher Corbett

Thorndike Press

Copyright © 2003 Christopher Corbett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0786259620

Chapter One

"CAPITAL FELLOWS"-RUSSELL, MAJORS & WADDELL

My design is to give a truthful and not an exaggerated and fanciful account of the occurrences of the journey, and of the scenery, capabilities, and general features of the countries through which we shall pass, with incidental sketches of the leading characteristics of the populations.

-Edwin Bryant, What I Saw in California, 1848

In the spring of 1859 with carpetbag in hand, Horace Greeley, legendary editor of the New York Tribune, took the celebrated advice so often attributed to him and went west. He was no longer a young man that year-he was forty-eight-but he had the curiosity and energy of a young man.

"Want to learn what I can of that country with my own eyes," Greeley wrote, "and to study men in their cabins and at their work instead of reading about them in books."

Greeley, whom Harper's Weekly had called "the most perfect Yankee the country has ever produced," left New York City on May 9, traveled at first by rail and riverboat and then much of the way in a Concord coach, pitching and tossing across the continent. He would be on the road for five months. He traveled alone much of the time, too. "I then hoped,rather than confidently expected, that, on publicly announcing my intention, some friend might offer to bear me company on this journey; but my hope was not realized. One friend did propose to go; but his wife's veto overruled his not very stubborn resolve. I started alone . . ."

Horace Greeley was arguably the most influential and powerful opinion maker in the nation in those days. At the time of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln compared Greeley's support to that of an army of 100,000 men in the field.

He was a flinty Yankee from poor New Hampshire who left his family farm and was apprenticed to a Vermont printer at fifteen, a printer's devil. When he was twenty, Greeley walked to New York City. He had ten dollars in his pocket. His first job was printing a tiny Bible.

He opposed slavery. He opposed the antiforeign, anti-Roman Catholic ravings of the Know-Nothings (he coined that term). He opposed tobacco (a bad experience with a cigar when he was five years old had turned him against smoking), he opposed alcohol (he took the pledge when he was but twelve), and he had reservations about the eating of meat. He rarely drank tea and had long forsworn coffee. He was a sometime vegetarian and a fairly strict disciple of the celebrated crank Dr. Sylvester Graham, whose cracker we remember a century and a half later. One biographer claimed that Greeley crossed the West eating graham crackers and drinking milk, but Greeley makes no mention of this diet in his travels. He met his wife at the Graham House, a New York City boardinghouse kept by Dr. Graham. She was an eccentric from New England, too.

A colleague described Greeley at the time as "careless and disheveled in dress as if he had put his clothes on in the dark, with the round and rosy face of a child and a cherubic expression of simplicity and gentleness . . . The power that he wielded was not equaled by any editor of his time-neither has it been equaled by any editor since."

He looked like an old baby from a very early age, with a soft, unlined pale face, a nearly bald head. He had poor eyesight made worse by his trade.

Greeley corresponded with Abraham Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau. Worshiped at a Unitarian Church in Manhattan with P. T. Barnum. Hired Karl Marx as a European correspondent. Published Charles Darwin for the first time in this country. Printed Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" in an American newspaper for the first time, too.

But he was first and foremost the founder and editor of the New York Tribune, the most influential newspaper in all of the United States in its heyday. Its weekly edition had 1 million readers. At the time of Greeley's western adventure, one of his reporters, Bayard Taylor, reported to him, "The Tribune comes next to the Bible all through the West."

Horace Greeley had been eager to turn his face westward, as he told his readers. The famous social reformer filed back to his newspaper a series of dispatches reporting on everything from his disapproval of shooting buffalo (he was quite certain that he had seen a million of them), to the plight of the abused Chinese miners in the West, to his prediction that the next great cities of the United States would be in Kansas: Atchison and Leavenworth.

He saw wild Indians (he thought little of them) and desperadoes (he disapproved) and drunkards (he disapproved) and gunplay (he disapproved). He survived a stampede of buffalo; they overturned his stagecoach, leaving him shaken but uninjured. He hit Denver when it was a remote mining town, six months old. The West was, indeed, wild. Greeley reported:

There is a fighting class among the settlers in the Rocky Mountains. This class is not numerous, but it is more influential than it should be in giving tone to the society of which its members form a part. Prone to deep thinking, soured in temper, always armed, bristling at a word, ready with the rifle, revolver, or bowie knife, they give law and set fashions which, in a country where the regular administration of justice is yet a matter of prophecy, it seems difficult to overrule or disregard. I apprehend that there have been, during my two weeks' sojourn, more brawls, more fights, more pistols shot with criminal intent, in this log city of one hundred and fifty dwellings, not three fourths completed nor two thirds inhabited, nor one third fit to be, than in any community of no greater numbers on earth.

Greeley moved on to Salt Lake City, the Mormon Jerusalem, where he visited Brigham Young at a time when Mormons were regarded as variously dangerous and ridiculous. They discussed polygamy, the apostle Paul, slavery. Greeley crossed the Great Basin when Utah and Nevada were nearly uninhabited. He estimated that there were fewer than five thousand people living in all of Nevada. Carson City was a handful of shacks. Virginia City was a mining claim.

Wherever Horace Greeley went, he was grandly received. His opinion mattered and his impressions did, too. Greeley's was a whirlwind trip; often he stopped only briefly to see the sights and then raced on in the next westbound stage. "Greeley has come and gone," reported the Sacramento Union. He had stopped in the California capital for a mere thirteen hours. He was out west in support of a transcontinental railroad.

Enormous crowds turned out to see Greeley when he alighted from the stagecoach. He wore "a very rusty and well-worn white coat, a still rustier and still more worn and faded blue-cotton umbrella . . ." A famous photograph of the time shows Greeley wearing a tall white hat. And his ever-present spectacles. His eyes were always poor. He squinted.

Writing about Greeley's western sojourn more than forty years later, George Tisdale Bromley, a celebrated Californian of that era, recalled its importance. "He was looked upon at that time as the greatest man who had ever visited California, and glorious results were anticipated on his return East, from his efforts in behalf of the great Atlantic and Pacific Railroad." The trip resulted in a book the next year: An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco in the Summer of 1859.

During Horace Greeley's "celebrated journey across the Plains to California," he encountered the greatest force of progress on the frontier in the years before the telegraph and the railroad crossed the countryside. In eastern Kansas, on the edge of the wilderness, Greeley observed the mighty freight-hauling firm of Russell, Majors & Waddell, the major carrier of all freight in the United States west of the Mississippi River in the middle of the nineteenth century, an organization that later narrators dubbed "an empire on wheels."

The firm made its headquarters at Leavenworth, Kansas-a riverfront town fifty miles southwest of St. Joseph, Missouri. Horace Greeley found it an impressive operation:

. . . Russell, Majors & Waddell's transportation establishment, between the fort and the city, is the great feature of Leavenworth. Such acres of wagons! such pyramids of extra axletrees! such herds of oxen! such regiments of drivers and employees! No one who does not see can realize how vast a business this is, nor how immense are its outlays as well as its income. I presume this great firm has at this hour two millions of dollars invested in stock, mainly oxen, mules, and wagons. (They last employed six thousand teamsters, and worked forty-five thousand oxen.)

The firm that bore the names of William Russell, Alexander Majors and William Waddell (Greeley described them as "capital fellows," though it's not clear whether he actually met them) was in its heyday the greatest force in shipping goods west in the country. Fueled by a virtual monopoly on providing freight service for a vast network of U.S. military outposts, the firm was prosperous and respected all along the frontier. Very little went west if it did not travel on an ox-drawn wagon owned by Russell, Majors & Waddell.

In the years before the Civil War, travelers into the West would have known well the names Russell, Majors & Waddell. They were the Mayflower Van Line of their time, the United Parcel Service of the prairie, the FedEx of the frontier. In the years before the railroads crossed the Great Plains, when there were still wolves in Kansas and Nebraska and wild Indians, no freight-either military or domestic-went west down the Santa Fe Trail or out to Fort McKay or to Fort Kearny or one of the handful of remote army posts that dotted the Great American Desert unless it did so on a miles-long train of Conestoga wagons pulled by plodding oxen teams. Most of those outfits were owned by Russell, Majors & Waddell.

John D. Young, a Chicagoan bound for the gold fields of Colorado in 1860, reported encountering immense government wagon trains on the plains of Kansas and Nebraska-owned and operated by Russell, Majors & Waddell. According to Young's journal, preserved at the Newberry Library in Chicago, twenty thousand people traveled with some of these trains, stretching out for many miles across the prairies.

In the spring of 1860, following Greeley's overland adventure, with the nation perched on the brink of civil war, Russell, Majors & Waddell established a subsidiary business, a privately financed gamble designed to prove that mail could be moved quickly-in ten days or less across nearly two thousand miles of still-wild North America. To do this, they would use a relay system of experienced riders and the best horses money could buy. No one today remembers the names Russell, Majors & Waddell or the vast freighting empire they presided over in the good years before the Civil War. No one remembers their rolling armada of tens of thousands of oxen, vast fleets of wagons, or armies of bullwhackers-the greatest such venture of its kind ever assembled.

Their legacy would be the most obscure of footnotes in the history of the opening of the American West but for the little venture into which they poured their fates and fortunes. They spun the business off their stage line operations linking the Missouri with Denver and Salt Lake City, calling it the Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company. The name was too long-even its initials, COC&PPEC, were too cumbersome-and so it was called simply the Pony Express.

Louisa P. Johnston, the great-granddaughter of Alexander Majors, recalled more than a century later: "A clerk of the firm wrote that all the company's wagon trains together would stretch forty miles. Russell, Majors and Waddell were freighting to Santa Fe and to all the U.S. Army posts in the West. They ran stage lines to Denver and Salt Lake City. So they were uniquely equipped to start a pony express."

The Pony Express was a daring and madcap and foolish idea. It was thought to be impossible (men wagered against it ever happening) to race a satchel, a saddlebag called a mochila, holding about twenty pounds of important mail written on the lightest tissue paper, across nearly two thousand miles of largely uninhabited and hostile country, country where there were no railroads, no telegraphs, and few towns. Two thousand miles. They would do this in ten days, less than half the time that it was then taking to move mail from "the Atlantic states" to "the far coast." They would do this eventually in even fewer days: the news of Abraham Lincoln's inaugural message crossed the country in a record seven days and seventeen hours.

Colonel Henry Inman, a great historian of nineteenth-century western travel, called the transcontinental feat "the quickest time for horseback riding, considering the distance made, ever accomplished in this or any other country."

Russell, Majors & Waddell would move a horse and rider across the continent, night and day, in all weather and in all seasons of the year. Their critics would say later that it was all a wild publicity stunt. What did it really prove? What did it matter? But on the frontier in 1860 when there was no railroad and no telegraph and "the states" were far, far away, when the known world ended at the Missouri River and mail could take months coming back and forth from east to west, men who had not had a letter from home for a year stood in the streets of California and cheered the coming and going of the Pony Express.

William Hepburn Russell, the senior partner in the then-famous firm, appears from the distance of nearly a century and a half a bit of a dude, an opportunist, a fancy dresser and self-made city slicker, an upwardly mobile general store clerk, a hustler, a talker, a man who liked the creature comforts. He spent little time in the West, preferring the easy life of New York and Washington. The newspapers called him variously the Brains of the Border and the Napoleon of the Plains. What did the newspapers know? He barely knew the border or the plains. He better knew the drawing room and the parlor car on the railroad. He liked a good hotel. He liked a good cigar. He liked to dress for dinner. He liked linen shirts and good suits. He was rich. Although he spent no time there, he was one of the founders of Denver. The halls of power in Washington and New York, where there were investors, deals, and government contracts, beckoned him, not the open spaces across the wide Missouri. His biographers have always stressed that he knew nothing about the frontier based on any firsthand experience. William Hepburn Russell was no plainsman.

Various writers recall that he was known, in the parlance of his day, as a plunger: a risk taker, a gambler, a speculator. An early observer of Russell's business ventures, some of which were not successful, called them Russell's Follies.



Continues...


Excerpted from Orphans Preferred by Christopher Corbett Copyright © 2003 by Christopher Corbett. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Map 10
Prologue: How the Story Goes, or What Do We Know? 13
Part I In the Days of the Pony 31
1. "Capital Fellows"--Russell, Majors & Waddell 33
2. "A Wild, Uninhabited Expanse" 65
3. "The Greatest Enterprise of Modern Times!!" 95
4. Pyramid Lake 131
5. "Orphans Preferred" and "The Worst Imps of Satan" 167
6. Captain Sir Richard Burton 193
7. The Telegraph: "Our Little Friend the Pony Is to Run No More" 231
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)