Spectacular 1838 broadside touting stagecoach service between Baltimore and Wheeling, Virginia

Printed by Lucas & Deaver, S. Calvert St., Baltimore, New Arrangement. THREE DAILY LINES FOR WHEELING. U. S. MAIL CHARIOT For Wheeling, Cincinnati & Maysville, THREE PASSENGERS ONLY. Baltimore: Stockton, Falls & Co., April 1838.
Broadside printed in black green and red. 20 lines of type in various faces and sizes, surmounted by a large cut of a stagecoach with ornamental border of foliate and geometric elements. The acidic paper was extremely brittle, and horizontal cracks developed during washing. The sheet was stabilized by lining on the verso. Tiny loss to left neatline and a few tiny marginal chips, well away from image. Still, a spectacular image.

A large, extremely handsome and hitherto unrecorded 1838 broadside advertising Stockton, Falls & Co. stagecoach service from Baltimore to Wheeling, Virginia and beyond.

Printed by Lucas & Deaver of Baltimore, the broadside features several lines of headline type printed in red and black in a variety of faces. Above this is a very large cut, printed in green, of a Stockton, Falls & Co. coach being drawn by four horses along a country road. The coach is rather large, with three rows of seating inside, covered baggage storage, and additional (presumably less expensive) seating for passengers behind the coachman. The appeal of the image is greatly enhanced by the border of interlocking geometric elements and foliated corner pieces, also printed in green. The size, the use of color, and the decorative features all combine to make this a superb display piece.

The firm of Stockton, Falls & Co. was established by Lucius R. Stockton (1799-1844) of Uniontown, Pennsylvania and Moor N. Falls (ca. 1805-1876) of Baltimore. The record is a bit murky, but it appears that the men already had a history as partners in the National Road Stage Company (est. 1824?), of which Stockton was the controlling figure. The first mention I find of Stockton, Falls & Co. in the press is in the Baltimore Sun for Oct. 29, 1838… several months after this broadside was published. This suggests that the partnership of had been established recently, specifically for the purpose of providing mail and passenger stage service to Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) and points west. In 1838 the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad reached only as far west as Frederick, Maryland—and indeed would not reach Wheeling until 1853—so reliable stage service departing from the rail terminus was essential for connecting the interior with the coastal entrepôt of Baltimore.

Per the broadside, Stockton, Falls & Co. initially offered three daily lines connecting Baltimore with Wheeling, with service continuing on to Cincinnati and Maysville, Kentucky. One stage, the U. S. Mail Chariot, ran from Baltimore to Wheeling in 43 hours before continuing on to the other destinations. The other two relied in part on a contractual relationship with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which carried passengers as far as Frederick, Maryland, from which they could transfer to the Expedition or Reliance stage for travel to Wheeling and beyond.

Stockton, Falls & Co. prospered for a time, and by 1841 it had expanded to offer service to White Sulphur Springs, Virginia via Charlottesville, the University of Virginia, Natural Bridge and other destinations. (Baltimore Sun, June 30, 1841, p. 3) An obituary for Moor N. Falls mentions “lines from Baltimore to Washington, Pittsburg, Wheeling and the Valley of Virginia”. (Baltimore Sun, Apr. 8, 1876, p. 4) The last mention I find of the firm in the press is in the Baltimore Sun for August 8, 1843, in an editorial piece attacking its exclusive contractual relationship with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as a restraint on trade. Stockton died the following year after being bitten by a rabid dog, and the lack of further mention suggests the firm either dissolved, was bought up, or continued under another name.

A spectacular and extremely rare broadside with interest for both stage and early railroad history.

Not in OCLC. Newspaper references from Newspapers.com. Bits of biographical information on Lucius R. Stockton from a March 30, 2016 Facebook post by the Washington County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society (accessed Jan. 4, 2021).