Peanut, Dick, and the American Express

Who were Peanut and Dick? A beautiful large team of gentle horses, the memory of which lingers in the minds of some Whitehallers. These brown animals belonged to the express company. They drew the express wagon in all kinds of weather, in blinding rain, and in snow storms, faithfully and patiently starting and stopping on the delivery routes.The last drivers of the team were Henry and Howard Bruce. They had the full care of the team and the express wagon, feeding and grooming them in George Shattuck’s barn on Williams Street near the Rush residence. Claude Bruce remembers riding behind them as a small boy and George King recalls the beautiful pair they made. Other Whitehallers must have a recollection of them as they performed their duty.

In November 1926 the speed of Peanut and Dick was not in keeping with the demands of the times, so they were retired to be housed in George Chadwick’s barn, the second site south of the armory. Their place was taken by a Ford truck that took over the delivery of the express service.

Henry Bruce drove the truck until 1949, when he retired. After that, various agents took over the duty some of whom were Eugene and George Noonan, and Mr. Parker. The import of bread was an example of one product delivered by express. The loaves were brought in crates to the village on the morning train from the south. It was a perishable product. Monday morning was an especially critical time for weekends depleted the supply. A would be purchaser would often be told “We’re all out of bread. It will be in on the morning train.”

At the time of the retirement of Peanut and Dick, William Farrell related some history of the express company. He told that his father James Farrell was the first person to drive the delivery horse for the company in 1848 when the railroad came to Whitehall. From then until 1926 horse drawn vehicles were used for the delivery of freight. James Farrell was also the first person to have a contract to carry the mail from the post office and the train. He met with rough conditions as he had to wallow in the mud of unpaved streets and no street lights.

William Farrell himself entered the employ of the National Express Company in 1873 and worked in the office for three years. He then became an express messenger and was the oldest messenger in service in New York State and one of the best known men along the railroad between Albany and Whitehall in 1926. So great was the esteem in which he was held that he was never bonded.

Carrying the mail is brought to mind in this connection with carrying the express. The mail sacks were picked up at the post office and delivered to the mail car and the sacks for Whitehall taken from that car and on to the post office. Some names in the service were Paul Jasmin, Mr. Gallagher, and Mr. LaFleur. I’m sure other names and experiences can be given to the historian for both of these services, now no longer a part of Whitehall life.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Independent – Wednesday, April 4, 1984

This entry was posted in Doris B Morton and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.