Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cancel for January 14: Virginia and Truckee Railroad / Wells Fargo Receipt

Several months ago the receipt below was offered in an auction by Eric Jackson on Ebay.  While I found it attractive for its railroad associations including the Virginia and Truckee Railroad and the Southern Pacific, I became fascinated with it after a little research revealed that the final addressee was a Medal of Honor winner. 

This document is a Wells Fargo receipt book page for items to be forwarded via railroad.  Two of the 1 cent documentary stamps have handstamp cancels for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad.  There is a handstamp for the treasurer of the Southern Pacific Company, N. T. Smith.  There is also an entry for a General Passenger Agent of the Southern Pacific, T. H. Goodman.  The final entry at the bottom in manuscript is for a consignment for Captain Oscar F. Long, Assistant Quartermaster for the US Army in San Francisco.

Below I unpack the independent parts of this receipt:

1.  Virginia and Truckee Railroad

Above image inset from receipt

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad travels over some of the most difficult terrain for a railroad in the United States.  It was built to haul freight between Virginia, Nevada to Truckee, California after the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada, the first large deposit of silver found in the United States.  So much silver was mined there that the US government established a mint at Carson City to process some of the silver supply on site. 

2.  Captain Oscar F. Long:

Oscar F. Long as Second Lieutenant, Fifth Infantry, and addressee on final line of receipt

Inset from receipt: "Capt Oscar F Long Asst Qm U.S.A
Captain Long was involved in the Indian campaigns in the late 1800s, and became famous as a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for his heroism in the battle of Bear Paw Mountain against Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians.  By 1899 he was an Assistant Quartermaster in San Francisco and was responsible for equipping the ships and troops headed to the Philippines for action in the Pacific version of the Spanish-American war.  He rose through the ranks fairly quickly after his Medal of Honor.  In 1901 he was promoted to Major and Quartermaster.  In June 1904 he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and only one month later was promoted to Brigadier General after which he immediately retired. 

3.  The Southern Pacific Company:



T.H. Goodman. GPrTa SPC

T.H. Goodman was a General Passenger Agent for the
Southern Pacific and was based in San Francisco.

Now a part of the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific Company controlled the former Central Pacific Railroad by 1899. The Central Pacific was the railroad built from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah, to complete the first transcontinental railroad. The Southern Pacific became a linchpin in the growth of San Francisco and grew to control lines across the southern portion of the United States all the way to New Orleans. The Virginia and Truckee connected with the Central Pacific at Truckee.


 Example of Southern Pacific handstamp; stamp not on receipt

4.  Wells Fargo:


W. F. & CO. Ex.
OCT   6   1900
Example of Wells Fargo handstamp; stamp not receipt

One of the best known brands in American history, Wells Fargo ran banking and express operations from headquarters in San Francisco. Wells Fargo also controlled early pony express and stage coach routes across the west..  The company has since given up its express business and is one of the largest banks in the United States. 

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