When the Butterfield Overland Mail first came to Texas in 1858, on its way to California, Sherman’s geographical location made it an important distribution center. It was the junction of several main routes of travel through the region. Most important, it was on the great artery of traffic known as the Preston Trail, which crossed the Red River at Old Preston and continued on south through Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, all the way into the interior of Mexico.
When it was first announced that the great Overland Mail was to be routed by way of Preston crossing, thus omitting Sherman on the itinerary, its enterprising citizensgot busy to change the plans. The county of Grayson opened a new road west through the country to what is now Whitesboro, and on toward Gainesville. The counties of Cooke, Montague, Wise and Jack also saw the advantage of luring the Butterfield their way and appropriated the necessary funds for new roads and bridges.
These investments paid off, since estimates are that the population of the towns and settlements along this new mail route increased fifty per cent or more during the life of the Butterfield Mail (which wasn’t that long, because the Civil War brought it to an end). By the time of the coming of railroads to Sherman in the early 1870s, it was the junction point of a dozen stage lines.
Equally interesting to me are some details of the itinerary. The coach entered Sherman at what is now the intersection of Broughton Ave. and College St. Proceeding from there on to Brockett and then Mulberry, it then turned west to reach Travis St. and head south to the public square. There the Butterfield station and stables were located on the south side (where Knight Furniture is today). A new coach hitched to a wild mule team was waiting to continue the journey after the passengers had time for a quick meal.
From the square the mail route out of town headed west over present Crockett, Elm, and Washington streets. Then it followed the newly opened county road twenty miles to Diamond’s station, which was the home of J.R. Diamond, one of the early settlers of the region. In fact the Diamond home was one of the few (if not the only) house(s) standing at the time directly on the new mail route.
In a book about the Butterfield Overland Mail published in 1947, the authors (who had been retracing the path) commented: “Sherman today is one of the most pleasant and inviting towns on the Texas portion of the route.”
Jerry Lincecum is a retired English professor who now teaches classes for older adults who want to write their life stories. He welcomes your reminiscences on any subject: firstname.lastname@example.org