When twenty-one-year-old James Birch stood on a Sacramento street and yelled, "All aboard!" it was the beginning of a prosperous career in delivering passengers, freight, and mail throughout California and eventually, the entire west coast. Birch was first hired as a stagecoach driver in Providence, Rhode Island but, along with thousands of others, he was struck with gold fever and headed for California in the very early stages of the Gold Rush.
Birch used his talent as a teamster* (someone who drove a team of animals pulling a wagon) to establish the first business taking passengers from Sacramento to the gold fields. His transportation service was so badly needed that Birch had no trouble making money. His operation grew quickly and he was able to buy new stagecoaches to transport passengers instead of the old, uncomfortable ranch wagon he began his business with.
Eventually, the California Stage Company also won a contract to deliver mail from San Antonio, Texas to San Diego, California. In 1857 Birch took another trip to the east coast traveling by ship to Panama, crossed the isthmus in a train, and then was aboard another paddle steamwheel on his way to New York when it was caught in a storm and sunk. He was only thirty years old when he died.
His widow, Julia, eventually married his best friend and business partner, Frank Stevens.
“James E. Birch (Entrepreneur).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Nov. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki
Smith, Waddell F. “The Boom Days.” Western Publications, Inc., 1966.
James Birch photo courtesy of the Alpine Historical Society
Stage coach photo courtesy of Pixabay