American County Histories

Alfred Heslop of Cambria County

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Alfred Heslop

Alfred Heslop, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is a painter and paper-hanger, and comes of a family noted for skill in the art of color-making and blending, designing, and painting. But Alfred Heslop has not always followed the occupation of his father, although he began working with him when only about twelve years old. Instead, when he was seventeen he followed the tide of immigration to Kansas and for the next several years was closely connected with events which made history in the West.

At Leavenworth, Kansas, Mr. Heslop enlisted with the Utah expedition under General Smith, which had for its purpose the chastisement of the Mormons. After peace was declared with these people, Mr. Heslop went on an expedition under Colonel (afterwards General) Sumner against the Cheyenne Indians. Subsequent to making a treaty with this tribe, Mr. Heslop was one of a number of troops (two companies) sent to Texasto quell an uprising of the Comanche Indians, and to reinforce the soldiers already there. He was employed as a teamster and “riding express” at Fort Arbuckle, on the Choctaw Reservation.

After the breaking out, in the same year (1858) of the Pike’s Peak cold excitement, Mr. Heslop concluded to leave the government service and go to Pike’s Peak. He, with four companions, proceeded to Leavenworth City, Kansas (this was during the John Brown scare in that state). But instead of going to Pike’s Peak, Mr. Heslop, with two acquaintances, hired with the famous Ben Holliday♦, a contractor who furnished supplies for the government, and who was about to leave Leavenworth for Salt Lake City. The party was made up of Mr. Holliday, his clerk. Mr. Heslop as an extra, two drivers, and a colored man. The conveyances used were a light carriage and a baggage wagon, four mules to each, with three additional mules for emergency purposes.

Ben Holladay

Ben Holladay

Mr. Holliday was given permission by the government to exchange his mules for fresh ones whenever the opportunity presented itself. The party had one day’s start of the mail. Mr. Holliday had the contract for furnishing flour to the government, and it was his object to get to Salt Lake and sublet his contract before the arrival of the mail which contained information as to the price he was to receive for the flour. He bought the same at seven cents a pound and received twenty-eight cents a pound, thereby making a profit of twenty-one cents a pound. The journey of 1,450 miles was made in sixteen and one-half days, and without mishap.

The party reached Salt Lake one day ahead of the mail, covering the distance in about the time required by the same. All things considered, it may be said that it was a remarkable achievement of its kind. possibly never equaled in the history of the rugged west. Some time after Mr. Heslop had been in Salt Lake, an order came from Secretary of War Floyd for the government to sell 2,000 head of mules and 7,000 head of cattle. Holliday bought 1,500 head of the mules and 6,000 head of the cattle. Mr. Heslop, with the assistance of fourteen men took the mules purchased by Mr. Holliday from Salt Lake to San Francisco. After his arrival in the latter city, Mr. Heslop left for Sacramento City, where he obtained employment at his trade.

♦ Benjamin “Ben” Holladay (October 14, 1819–July 8, 1887) was an American transportation businessman known as the “Stagecoach King” until his routes were taken over by Wells Fargo in 1866. A native of Kentucky, he also served in the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri before starting his transportation empire that later included steamships and railroads in Oregon.

Source: History of Cambria County
Title: Genealogical History (Part D), page 151

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