Oct 14 2015


In 1847, John Sutherland (then a resident of Egypt, Texas) operated a stage line from Houston to Victoria via Richmond, Egypt, and Texana. Sutherland established a stage stop near Egypt adjacent to Sutherland’s Ferry. In March of 1847, Sutherland listed his farm on a quarter league of land with the stage stand for sale. By 1849, he had moved to the Cibolo east of San Antonio where he created a stage stop, opened a post office and created the village first called Mineral Springs, then Sulphur Springs and finally Sutherland Springs. 

In February of 1847, Brown and Tarbox established the Texas U.S. Mail Line with stagecoaches that traveled between Houston and San Antonio twice a week, stopping at Washington, Independence, La Grange, Bastrop, Austin, St. Marks, New Braunfels, and San Antonio. The trip from Houston to San Antonio took five days, and cost $20.00. 

In October of 1847, Thomas Cooper announced plans for a stage line from Lavaca to San Antonio. The first day of travel would end in Victoria, the second in Cuero, the third in Gonzales, the fourth in Seguin, and the final day in San Antonio. The line would have first class mail carriages, capable of carrying ten passengers. In 1847, a freight line ran from Corpus Christi to San Antonio de Bexar; the cost to transport freight was $1.00 per 100 lbs. This line ran once every two weeks.

In 1850, a stage line ran from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, along the San Patricio Trail. The stage lines encountered persistent problems with Indians on this route. Theft of horses by Indians caused at least one line to discontinue service.

Notice of Corpus Indian Raids

At this same time John S. Harrison and his brother-in-law, William H. McCulloch, began a stage line from Indian Point to Victoria. They later extended this line from Port Lavaca to New Braunfels. The line passed through Cuero, Gonzales, Seguin, and on to New Braunfels. The coach would leave Port Lavaca on Friday at 6 A.M. and arrived in New Braunfels at 4 P.M. on Monday at a cost of $10.00 for the entire trip. The Selma Stage Stop, now a Texas Historical Landmark was on this route. John S. Harrison lived on the property and ran the stage stop.

By the 1850s, the competition among stage companies, called stage lines, was evident in the newspaper advertisements. Harrison advertised tri-weekly service from Austin to San Antonio by way of Manchac Springs, San Marcos, and Seguin. J. L. Allen ran a weekly stage line from San Antonio to Seguin, Gonzales, Victoria and Indianola for a fare of $12.50 for the entire trip.

Then in 1851, an experienced Eastern stage operator opened a line from Port Lavaca and later Indianola to San Antonio. D.A. Saltmarsh and his brother, Orlando, were successful mail contractors and stage operators from the East Coast. The Galveston newspaper wrote about the arrival of their six Troy (built in Troy, NY) coaches in that city on their way to San Antonio. Saltmarsh’s line ran from Indianola to San Antonio by way of Lavaca, Victoria, Yorktown, Sulphur Springs, and Eclato (Ecleto). In 1854, Saltmarsh purchased property on the old Gonzales road in the area of Cottage Hill, eighteen miles east of San Antonio and established a stage stop on this route. Claiborne Rector was purported to have a stage stop on the old Gonzales road on this line in what is now La Vernia. John Sutherland, an experience stage stop operator also had a stop on the old Gonzales Road (renamed Sulphur Spring Road in 1848) at what is now Sutherland Springs on this route.

B. A. Risher of the Western Texas Stage Company in 1857 advertised a route that featured four-horse coaches connecting Indianola to Austin and San Antonio. The Indianola to San Antonio route ran three times a week through Lavaca, Victoria, Yorktown, and Sulphur Springs and boasted a travel time of forty-eight hours.

Twenty Mile House, located twenty miles east of San Antonio on the old Sulphur Springs Road between Cottage Hill and Post Oak (now La Vernia), provided pleasant accommodations, stables and forage for the travelling public. It was created by Henry Bowers and was later purchased and operated by San Antonio Alderman August (Gus) Sellingsloh.

John T. James, the first postmaster of Sebastopol (now a ghost town located between Floresville and Calaveras) and later the founder of Oakville, also operated a stage line. For a fare of $12.50, he transported passengers on his line of mail coaches from San Antonio to Lavaca through Helena, Victoria, and Goliad. It is interesting to note that many of the stage stop operators (James, Sutherland, Harrison and Rector) were also postmasters.

Stage operators, whose lines ran to Texas ports, had unique scheduling demands. Passengers travelling to Port Lavaca, Indianola, or Indian Point, often planned to continue on to Galveston or New Orleans by ship. The mail also arrived and departed on ships. The stage lines scheduled their arrivals and departures to coincide with the arrival and departures of these ships. Adding to the complexity of transport were the shallow draft ferries like the Yacht that were used to carry passengers and freight to and from the deep draft ships moored off shore.