Orlando RobbinsAlexander Todd got gold fever. But when he got to California he realized he didn’t have the physical stamina to work the gold fields.
However, it didn’t take Alexander long to see a need and fill it. The gold miners yearned for word from home. But the nearest post office was in San Francisco. It was a two-week trip there and back, and the miners couldn’t leave their claim that long.
So, on July 14, 1849 Alexander Todd started charging $2.50 to take a letter to the San Francisco post office. There was a $1.00 fee just to inquire if a miner had a letter at the post office, and $16.00 for each letter he brought back.
On his first trip some merchants wanted him to deliver $150,000 in gold to a company in San Francisco. He gladly did it, for $7,500.
When Alexander handed the clerk at the San Francisco post office the long list of names, the clerk showed his entrepreneurial capability. He swore Alexander Todd in as a postal clerk so he could search the stacks of letters himself. Incidentally, the clerk charged Alexander 25 cents for each letter he found.
That didn’t bother Alexander because he had discovered another way to make money. He bought a stack of old New York newspapers for a dollar each… which he sold for eight dollars back at the gold fields.
For his trip back to the gold fields Alexander bought a big rowboat for $300, and charged people to be transported back to the gold fields… and incidentally, they did the rowing. At the end of the trip he sold the boat for a $200 profit.
Alexander Todd made a fortune using what was to become known as goodold American ingenuity.

Filed under: Old West History

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