From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
A new book presenting the all-absorbing history of one of Leavenworth's greatest pioneer business and commercial enterprises, the overland freighting firm of Russell, Majors & Waddell, has just been written and published by Mary Lund Settle and Raymond W. Settle, Stanford (Calif.) University Press, under the title of "Empire On Wheels."
It can be said that when the Settles' delve into an important historical matter like this, that pretty near "Settles it."
This volume is one of the Stanford Transportation Series, and as a Los Angeles Times book reviewer and critic writes: "The Settles' book is the most readable and in many ways the best account of that great firm of freighters, Russell, Majors & Waddell."
I cannot do better than to further quote from this critic as follows:
"They operated a general store at Leavenworth, Kas., and at various times, singly or in partnership, ran huge freighting and Army supply concerns. One of their most memorable exploits was operation of the Pony Express, certainly the most colorful enterprise they were engaged in.
"We have had accounts of wagon trains, with emigrants crossing plains and mountains filled with natural perils and the constant fear of Indian attack; but William H. Russell, Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell ran covered wagon trains of staggering size to supply the Santa Fe and Oregon Trail settlers, to take advantage of gold and silver rushes and to keep Army posts supplied.
"The Settles', through a grandfather who was bullwhacker for Major and great-grandfather, Isham Majors, who was wagon master for the firm, have had access to important contemporary sources; and they have made the most o their material. It's a detailed history, but it also has excitement and human interest."
The book will do much to add to the exploitation and publicity of Leavenworth's wonderful history.