Sunday, November 21, 2010

Johnny Fry

John Fry.

Birth: 1840, Bourbon County, Kentucky.
Death: Oct. 6, 1863, Baxter Springs, Cherokee County, Kansas.
Burial: Baxter Springs Cemetery, Baxter Springs, Cherokee County, Kansas

Story & Photo provided by, John "J-Cat" Griffith.

Frontier Figure. In 1849, he moved to Missouri with his family and by age 16, he was well known as a skilled horseman. In early 1860, after Fry won a horse race near Rushville, Missouri, Alexander Major approached him about riding for his new founded Pony Express service. Thus on April 3, 1860, he became the first courier agent out of the St. Joseph Pony Express Station. Fry's division ran from St. Joseph 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. A hard rider, he gained the reputation for never failing to deliver the mail and news flyers no matter what conditions prevailed be bandits, Indians or weather. He continued as a dispatcher until the telegraph line construction was completed ending the Pony Express service in October 1861. With the start of the Civil War, Fry was recruited by Union Army General James G. Blunt to serve as a messenger rider and scout, but his military career was cut short. On October 6, 1863, while on his way from Fort Gibson to Fort Scott with an important message, he was attacked by Confederate guerrillas. In a hand-to-hand fight with the Confederates, Fry killed five of his assailants before falling mortally wounded.

Authors note. The first westbound rider left St. Joseph, Missouri early in the evening of April 3, 1860, arriving in Marysville the next morning. Historians differ as to his identity, but local tradition says his name was Johnny Fry.

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