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Silas P St. John

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Silas P St. John

Birth
New York, USA
Death
15 Sep 1919 (aged 84)
San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA
Burial
San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA GPS-Latitude: 32.7084194, Longitude: -117.1138389
Plot
Division 7, Section 6, Row 8, Grave 17
Memorial ID
View Source

Inscription

Silas St. John was a significant figure in Old West history. In 1857, he was employed by the San Antonio to San Diego Mail Line to carry the mail across the unsettled frontier of the Southwest. With him was the famous frontiersman "Bigfoot" Wallace. This line was called the "Jackass Mail," because the mail was sometimes carried on mule back.
In mid-1858, he was employed by John Butterfield's Overland Mail Company as a member of the construction crew to build the stage stations for the company. Arizona's Dragoon Springs Stage Station was the most westerly of the ten stone fortified stations on the route. The station was fortified because it was on the north-south Apache raiding trail to Mexico. It was at this station on September 9, 1858, that three members of the construction crew were massacred by three Mexican laborers. Silas survived the attack by a heroic effort with the loss of an arm. As this station is the only remnant of a Butterfield station in Arizona, it will be the centerpiece in Arizona when the Congressional bill gives the trail a National Historic Trail designation.
In late 1859, although he was still employed by the Overland Mail Company, he was appointed Acting Indian Agent for the Pima-Maricopa Indians who were farmers and supplied wheat for the mail line.
Unfortunately the plaque on his grave contains the erroneous information that Silas was a Wells Fargo employee and Dragoon Springs Stage Station was a Wells Fargo station. The plaque on the monument was stolen and restored to the monument. On the official Wells Fargo site under a heading of "The Homecoming of Silas St. John," about the restoring of the plaque, they state this about the erroneous information.

"Problem: St. John was never a Wells Fargo employee--even though the bronze says he was."

In 1858, the laying out of the trail, selecting station sites, and the stocking of the trail was masterminded by John Butterfield Sr.'s choice of his son John Butterfield Jr. and Marquis L. Kenyon. Wells, Fargo & Co. did not have any direct influence over the Overland Mail Company until after John Butterfield Sr. was voted out of office as president on March 20, 1860.




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