Pioneer Alexander Todd

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During the California Gold Rush, lonely miners in remote regions were often desperate for letters from home. Leaving their claims for a days-long journey to post offices at San Francisco, Stockton, Sacramento or Marysville wasn’t practical.  An enterprising young man named Alexander Todd came up with a solution, which he proposed to a group of miners. If each of them would pay him one dollar to act as their agent, he would collect their mail at the San Francisco Post Officeand hand-deliver it to the recipient for an ounce of gold dust. Todd soon had a lucrative business as thousands subscribed to his service. He invested in a rowboat to navigate the San Joaquin River—and he hauled more than mail. Miners needing transportation from one gold field area to another paid a $16 “tax” to be his rowers. Todd’s private-mail routes were hazardous. He had no interference from official postal authorities and for a time no competition.  After expanding his services to include the delivery of gold dust to banks in San Francisco, Todd figured he was making $1,000 a day—far, far more than the average gold miner who considered himself very lucky if he panned out $100 a week.


12 thoughts on “Pioneer Alexander Todd”

      1. it was on Death Valley Days just now___May 30th 2017. I look up each episode and am still amazed that they are real!

  1. Irene, do you know if the last part of the story is true? That he delivered a letter to a young fellow who had inherited a fortune?

    1. I would also be interested if the last part of the program has been verified and is it written up in detail anywhere? Dan Dickerson June, 7, 2017

  2. I just saw this episode on Death Valley Days it was very exciting to see how our ancestors lived in the olden days

  3. I love anything to do with American history.. this is a great vehicle to learn about the people I’ve never heard of or read about

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