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April 14: The Pony Express

April 13, 2015

320px-Pony_Express_PosterThe first Pony Express rider to reach San Francisco arrived around midnight on this date in 1860. Of the 120 riders who worked for the short-lived (eighteen months) service, Jewdayo has identified one Jew, Solomon Barth, who rode between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Prescott, Arizona. Barth came to America in 1856 and made his way West as a peddler with a Mormon caravan. He became a supplier to miners, a salt trader, a mail carrier, a railroad survey guide, and an Indian trader, mostly with the Navajo and the Apaches. At one point, Barth claimed to have acquired the Grand Canyon from the Navajo. Barth was also a gambler who won enough money playing cards to acquire land and water rights in the El Vadito Valley of Arizona; in 1880 he sold 1,200 acres to permit Mormon settlement in the territory, for which he gained 770 cows. He also served two years in prison for tampering with public records in the late 1880s.

“Sol Barth was born a Prussian Jew and married into an aristocratic Spanish family. He was... also on good terms with most Indians, including the chief who saved his life when he was captured by the legendary Cochise. He served twice in the Arizona Territorial Legislature, voting in favor of statehood... At his death in 1928, Sol Barth had spent more time as an Arizonan than any other white man.” —Charles B. Wolf