Last Driver on the Line

Edward B. Daingerfield arrived in California in August 1850, where he clerked at the Placerville post office and carried mail on horseback to and from Coloma. Four years later he hired on as a stage driver for Barton and Ellison, on the run to Mokelumne Hill by way of Drytown and Jackson. After a brief spell in the newspaper business followed by some time as an agent for the South Fork Canal, he returned to work as a stage driver for one of the pioneer stage companies. While driving stage in 1859, Daingerfield had New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley as a passenger on a portion of the exciting ride celebrated in driver Hank Monk’s legend. After Monk’s stage reached Sportsman’s Hall, Mr. Greeley was Daingerfield’s passenger from there into Placerville. Daingerfield drove stage through the Civil War and the Comstock heyday until the railroad’s first passenger train reached Reno in 1868. Accepting the job opportunities the railroad offered, Edward moved to San Jose to work the railroad between there and San Francisco for 6 years. He married in 1878, and fathered 7 children. Over the next several years he was the postmaster at Gilroy, in charge of the water system at San Quentin Prison, and also worked in the State Treasurer’s office. Around 1890 he retired after another 4 years as Postmaster in Pacific Grove. By 1911 Edward Daingerfield was the only known driver left of the 400 men who at one time drove stage on the California-Nevada route.


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