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oxsan
Keeper of the Keys

Registered: Nov 2001
Location: Rio de los Brazos de Dios
Posts: 3890
900 Miles on the Butterfield Trail

I received several books in the mail this afternoon that I ordered from amazon.com Despite my resolve to tidy up the house and dig in the flower beds and mend fence I started to read one of these books entitled "900 Miles On The Butterfield Trail"by A. C. Greene and enjoyed one little incident that it told about so much that I am driven to share it with you. The first run of the Butterfield Overland Stage left St. Louis bound for San Francisco on 8 Sept 1858. It had only one passenger who had paid $150 for his fare to San Francisco. The original plan had been to have the coach cross the Red River into Texas by use of a ferry at the little Texas village of Preston just north of Whitesboro. Preston at that time had a population of about twenty people. Eight miles downstream on the Red River at a place where the city of Denison was later to spring up was another ferry called Colbert’s Ferry. Thirteen miles south of the Denison site was the town of Sherman which boasted a population of about 600 very energetic and ambitious citizens who dearly wanted the Butterfield stage to cross the Red River at Colbert’s Ferry and come through their fair city. To that end Sherman had invited top Butterfield executives including John Butterfield himself and several others to attend a meeting at Sherman and had made them a proposition.

The Sherman citizens had gathered these Stage Coach executives at a big dinner and had a more than ample supply of the local red wine flowing and offered to relieve Butterfield of any ferry fees in perpetua if they would elect to cross at Colbert’s ferry and would further build for them a stage station in Sherman and the Sherman citizens would also improve the "trail" from the ferry landing to Sherman so that it would accommodate the heavy (4000 pound) Butterfield stages and would put a bridge across Duck Creek and any of the other gullies between the ferry landing and Sherman and would the gentlemen care for another glass of the local wine?

Back in time at this meeting the flow of wine had created a mood of conviviality and camaraderie and John Butterfield arose and said that he would be delighted to change the crossing point and have the stage line come through such a fine town as Sherman and that he had certainly enjoyed his meal and the delicious wine and the excellent goose (some versions of this story say duck instead of goose).So that is how Sherman came to get stage service for mail and passengers twice a week on the St. Louis to San Francisco route..But that was not the only result of Mr. Butterfierld’s speech. It seems that the large group of Sherman citizens that had attended also had enjoyed the wine and that an intense argument was now in process concerning the goose. Not far from the place where the meeting was held was the Grayson County Courthouse which at that time was a single story wood frame building. One group of the Sherman citizens claimed that the goose habitually nested under the courthouse and another portion of the group claimed that there was no goose that lived under the courthouse. The meeting broke up and the Sherman citizens gathered at the courthouse to try to establish that the goose either did or did not live there under the building. To make a long story short they tore down the courthouse to see if a goose had been spending its time there. The next day there simply was no courthouse but just a lot of timbers lying about. A new brick courthouse was built in the next year of 1859 and it is unclear whether or not they found traces of the goose under the old courthouse. I always wondered about those people in Sherman.

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