While the stage line was being gotten into operation Russell branched out in a new direction to assume another heavy liability. On May 11, 1859, he bought the contract of J. M. Hockaday & Company to carry United States mail from St. Joseph, Mo., to Salt Lake City by way of Forts Kearny and Laramie. This transaction, also mostly upon credit, was made for the Stage company in the name of Russell and Jones. The purchase price was $144,000.00. After the initial trip the stage route to Denver was changed to run by way of Fort Kearny, the Upper California Crossing on the Platte River, along that stream, and thus to its destination via St. Vrains Fort. . . .
It required only about six months for the Express Company’s sands to run out. Notes were falling due and Russell had no money with which to pay them. It had cost about $1,000.00 per day to operate, and the concern within that time had succeeded in piling up debts to the amount of $525,532.” It owed Russell, Majors & Waddell $190,269. Its assets, figured on a generous basis, amounted to only $423,690.