Majors’ Freighting Experience

Among the freighters of civilian goods to Santa Fe in 1848 was Alexander Majors making his first trip over the Santa Fe trail with six wagons loaded with merchandise, 30 or 40 oxen, and ten or twelve men. A small beginning indeed for a man who in less than ten years would estimate the number of great Conestoga and Murphy prairie schooners under his command by the acre, count his oxen by the thousands, and employ several regiments of bull-whackers. In 1849 his business required about the same number of wagons as in 1848. In 1850, however, it had grown until ten wagons and 180 oxen were used.

Upon returning home in the fall of 1850 Majors learned that Q. M. Maj. E. A. Ogden at Fort Leavenworth wished to send 20 wagon loads of supplies to Fort Mann at the Cimarron crossing on the Arkansas river, 400 miles down the Santa Fe trail. Although the time for starting on a journey of that kind was long past he took the contract and reached his destination without difficulty. Before leaving for home he hired his train at Fort Mann to the commandant of the fort, which was under construction, to haul logs from a creek 25 miles away. He returned home in time to celebrate Christmas with his family. In 1851 Majors was again on the Santa Fe trail with 25 wagons loaded with merchandise. When he returned he corraled his wagons, sold his oxen to California immigrants, and remained at home in 1852. The following year he bought a new outfit of oxen for his train, hired some 80 bullwhackers, and freighted civilian goods to Santa Fe. Again he returned home in time to make a second trip to Fort Union, N. M. In 1854 he freighted no mer-chandise, but transported 100 wagon loads of military supplies to New Mexico. This work required 1,200 oxen and about 120 men,** a creditable showing indeed for a man who only six years before owned only six wagons and employed a dozen men or so. This, in brief, is the story of the rise of the man who became the partner of Waddell and Russell in 1854.