I thought it’d be fun to look at some of the rules that a traveler would have to abide by when riding on a stagecoach in the old west. I’ve planned on writing a blog about this for a while, but knew I had to do research … which ended up easier than I thought.
Finding a ton of resources, to my surprise, I discovered all of it referred back to one main piece of information put out by the famous stagecoach line, Wells Fargo. I’m not correcting terminology, including misspellings and punctuation, in order to preserve history.
WELLS FARGO RULES FOR RIDING THE STAGECOACH
Adherence to the Following Rules Will Insure a Pleasant Trip for All
- Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.
- If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit WITH the wind, not against it.
- Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
- Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
- Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.
- Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
- In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry wolves.
- Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
- Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.
My second surprise was to learn that the main piece of research I use the most on stagecoach etiquette can be attributed to the Omaha Herald 1877, so I’d love to share that with you, too.
- The best seat inside a stagecoach is the one next to the driver. You will have to ride with back to the horses, which with some people produces an illness not unlike seasickness, but in a long journey this will wear off, and you will get more rest with less than half the bumps and jars than on any other seat.. [When anyone] who traveled thousands of miles on coaches offers, through sympathy, to exchange his back or middle seat with you, don’t do it.
- Bathe your feet before starting in cold weather and wear loose overshoes and gloves two or three sizes too large.
- When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do it without grumbling. He will not request it unless absolutely necessary.
- If a team runs away, sit still and take your chances; if you jump, nine times out of ten you will be hurt.
- In very cold weather abstain entirely from liquor while on the road; a man will freeze twice as quick while under its influence.
- Don’t growl at food at stations; stage companies generally provide the best they can get.
- Don’t keep the stage waiting; many a virtuous man has lost his character by so doing.
- Don’t smoke a strong pipe inside especially early in the morning; spit on the leeward side of the coach.
- If you have anything to take in a bottle, pass it around; a man who drinks by himself in such a case is lost to all human feeling.
- Provide stimulants before starting; ranch whiskey is not always nectar.
- Be sure and take two heavy blankets with you; you will need them.
- Don’t swear, nor lop over onto your neighbor when sleeping.
- Don’t ask how far it is to the next station until you get there.
- Take small change to pay expenses.
- Never attempt to fire a gun or pistol while on the road; it may frighten the team and the careless handling and cocking of the weapon makes nervous people nervous.
- Don’t discuss politics or religion, nor point out places on the road where horrible murders have been committed, if delicate women are among the passengers.
- Don’t linger too long at the pewter washbasin at the station.
- Don’t grease your hair before starting or dust will stick there in sufficient quantities to make a respectable “tater” patch.
- Tie a silk handkerchief around your neck to keep out dust and prevent sunburns..
- Don’t imagine for a moment you are going on a picnic; expect annoyance, discomfort and some hardships.
What are some of your favorite rules? I really like: “If you have anything to take in a bottle, pass it around; a man who drinks by himself in such a case is lost to all human feeling.” So, tell me yours.
Fellow Filly, Linda Broday and I visited Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas, over this last weekend. Here are some of the Buffalo Soldiers with a Wells Fargo Stagecoach!