Johnny Fry, Pony Express Rider, 1840 – 1863, Johnny Fry, born in 1840 , was the first official westbound rider of the Pony Express. His first trip was on April 3, 1860.
The Pony Express was a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, and mail. The route ran from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. During its 19 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860 to October 1861, it became the West’s most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraph was established and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the United States.
It was a treacherous and dangerous trip and the ad for the Pony Express read, “Wirey young men, preferably orphans to ride 20 miles…”
Fry, who weighed less that 120 pounds, ran from St. Joseph, Missouri to Seneca, Kansas, a distance of eighty miles, which he covered at an average speed of twelve and a half miles per hour, including all stops.
After the Pony Express went out of business in October 1861, due to the advent of the transcontinental telegraph, Fry joined the Union Army and was killed by Quantrill’s Raiders in 1863 at the Battle of Baxter Springs.