Anonymous manuscript volume, 1874, of business records kept by an employee of a shipping company that maintained offices located along rail lines running between Georgia and Virginia, lists employees, railroad lines, shipping rates, and “Annual Statement of Property of the Southern Express Co. located in the Eastern Division on July 1st, 1874.”
Demand by the overland shipping industry for efficient distribution networks encouraged cooperation among competing railroad lines during the nineteenth century. Southern Express Company was one of the largest and most successful of these freight concerns. Although numerous rail lines went bankrupt during the Panic of 1873, this volume identifies the many that continued to roll through the Palmetto State in 1874 and the prices that were charged to ship such items as corpses—which traveled at the first class rate—fruit and vegetables, fish, oysters, ice, safes, dogs, and numerous other things.
This volume lists persons employed at each stop and company property held by each office. The detailed description of company property at the Charleston office, for example, listed values for seven horses, six wagons, copy presses, gas fixtures, wax stamps, bed and bedding, a pistol and other items in the appraisal.
Among the many rail lines that appear in this volume are the South Carolina Railroad, the Spartanburg and Union Railroad, and the Blue Ridge Division of the Greenville & Columbia Railroad linking “Anderson & Walhalla.”
Routes identify stops along various east coast lines running between cities and towns in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and northern Georgia. South Carolina offices appear on lists of routes running from Charleston to Florence and to Augusta and Savannah, Ga., and elsewhere; between Columbia and Greenville and Wilmington, N.C.; and from Charlotte, N.C., to Augusta, Ga. Other routes listed include Richmond, Va., to Wilmington, N.C., and Raleigh, N.C., to Norfolk, Va.