There are two purposes for Comments in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Comments can either add information to aid in the understanding of the entry or add information that provides an alternate interpretation of the historical record.


Information included in this section is not fact checked by the Encyclopedia staff. The author of the Comment is entirely responsible for its content.


Additional references for Butterfield Route information:
• Lemke, W. J., and Ted R. Worley. The Overland Mail Centennial. Arkansas Committee Butterfield Overland Mail Centennial. Little Rock, AR: Arkansas History Commission, 1958.
• “Arrival of the Overland Mail - Itinerary of the Route,” New York Times, October 14, 1858.
Switzler, Wm. F. Report on the Internal Commerce of the United States For Fiscal Year 1889. Part II of Commerce and Navigation: The Commercial, Industrial, Transportation, and other interests of Arkansas, Colorado, Dakota, Indian Territory, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming; Treasury Department Document. No. 1243b. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1889.
• “Arkansas—On Horseback Over the Old Military Road. New York Times, December 27, 1874.
• “The Overland Mail to California.” Arkansas Gazette, October 2, 1858.
• “The Overland Mail.” Arkansas Gazette, November 20, 1858.
• “The Overland California Mail—The South Sold.” Arkansas Gazette, February 19, 1859.
• “Correspondence of the [Memphis] Avalanche—Letter form Arkansas—The Overland Mail.” Arkansas Gazette, May 7, 1859.
• “The Memphis Branch of the Overland Mail.” Arkansas Gazette, May 7, 1859.



Kirby Sanders
Fayetteville, AR


The documented Butterfield Overland Mail Route stations and stopping places in Arkansas were as follows: St. Louis to San Francisco Route—Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge National Battlefield Park); Callahan’s Station (Rogers); Fitzgerald’s Station (Springdale); Fayetteville Station (Fayetteville); Parks Station (near Hogeye); Strickler Station (Strickler); Brodie’s Station (Lee Creek); Woosley’s Station (near Cedarville); Crawford County Courthouse and Van Buren Ferry landing (Van Buren); and Fort Smith (Fort Smith).

Memphis to Fort Smith Route—Memphis & Little Rock Rail terminus (near Madison); Jackson House (Des Arc); Atlanta Hotel (Old Austin); Hartje’s Tavern (near Conway); Plumer’s Station (Plumerville); Lewisburg Station (Morrilton); Potts Inn (Pottsville); and Fort Smith (Fort Smith). From Pottsville to Fort Smith, the route is believed to have traveled by way of Paris and Charleston.


Kirby Sanders
Fayetteville, AR


The company that operated on both the Butterfield Oxbow and Butterfield Dispatch/Express routes was called the “Overland Mail Company.” Any reference to the company as “the Butterfield” is a nickname, and the term “Butterfield Express” is an unconventional reference to the routing.

The company’s president was John Butterfield. William Fargo and Henry Wells were board members and officers as well after the 1850 consolidation of Wells & Co./Livingston and Fargo with Butterfield’s American Express Company. The Overland Mail Company was constituted specifically to contract for the 1857 federal postal contract St. Louis–San Francisco/Memphis–Fort Smith.

The convention among researchers has been to refer to the early route as the “Southern” or “Oxbow” route, while the later northern route is referred to as the “Dispatch” or (occasionally) “Express” route operated after Wells and Fargo bought out Butterfield in 1861. As to what the company itself called the route—there was no real distinction. Most likely, one would refer to the Overland Mail Route (1858–1861) and the Overland Mail Route (1861–1868). As a reference regarding the route-name convention, see California State Parks Department http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=25444.

The Wells Fargo Company has mounted an effort to travel the “Southern” or “Oxbow” (1858–1861) route as part of the sesquicentennial recognition of that route. See http://blog.wellsfargo.com/GuidedByHistory/overland_mail_co_150th/

Additional information is available at http://heritagetrailpartners.com/driving_guide.html.


Kirby Sanders
Fayetteville, AR