Paucity of Written Record

For of all the notable episodes in United States history, few have been so scantily annotated as the horseback mail, the trail of which has been indelibly—but only grossly—etched in the panorama of American pioneering. Even the parade of Caesars, or the Gallic Wars, or our own Revolution-all in the days when historical narration lacked the incentive of the common man’s literacy-even these events have been better documented and more accurately interpreted than the relatively recent Pony Express. . . .

Seemingly, few records of the 19-month mail service were then (or now, as a matter of fact) still extant. The living participants, pressed for their recollections, occasionally resorted to colorful embellishment or a self-serving memory. In several instances, the inexorable wear and tear of time caused buncombe to be offered as gospel.