Fort Kearny Mail

“‘We arrived at Fort Kearny after noon [May 8, 1849]. Here we had an opportunity of sending letters to our friends. The officers are going to send a mail to the States in the morning and kindly offered to transmit any letters we wished to send.’ . . .

The Fort Kearny post office, which apparently was operated by, or in conjunction with, the post sutler, was another favorite haunt for emigrants . . . As a result of the vagaries of the mail service, particularly in early years, most enquiring emigrants came away disappointed; only a few would emerge triumphant with missives from loved ones. Thousands of letters, scribbled on packing boxes by candlelight, were mailed at Fort Kearny; only a dozen or so have survived.

The occasional heroic efforts of ‘north-siders’ [emigrants north of the Platte] to reach Fort Kearny for their mail have been noted, this being their only chance to communicate with home until Fort Laramie was reached.”