Not until the capture and annexation of New Mexico in 1846, however, were all barriers and handicaps [to the Santa Fe trade] entirely removed and the trade freed to pursue an unhindered course. Prior to that, however, the professional, contract freighter appeared upon the scene. These were men, like Alexander Majors, who organized their own wagon trains, and contracted to transport goods belonging to someone else.
One of these early contract freighters was E. C. McCarty of Westport, who entered the business in 1838. In 1847 Russell formed a partnership with him and sent a train load of goods to Santa Fe. This venture, under the name of Bullard & Russell, was his introduction to the freighting business. James H. Bullard accompanied the train and returned home March 1, 1848. They also sent out another train in 1849. In this latter year Russell and Robert Aull engaged in speculation in hemp with very satisfactory results. Incidentally, in that same year Russell was fined $20 in Lafayette county circuit court “for permitting a slave to go at large and hire his own time.”