Susan Clark Byram Waddell

Susan Clark Byram Born: September 3, 1805

Died: March 2, 1894

Married: William Bradford Waddell, January 1, 1829

Allow me to introduce myself, I am Susan Clark Byram Waddell.

Our family came from England and Scotland originally. We came for religious freedom to the wonderful land of the colonies. The Byram family lived on the James River in Virginia, moved to Kentucky before 1785. They were well to do people. When their father died William and Peter, my father and uncle, had seven Negroes left to them to be divided between them. They brought slaves and stock from Virginia to Mason County, Kentucky. William Byram was a soldier of distinction in the Revolutionary War, a Major, and, also in the Indian Wars.

William Byram married my mother, Susan Phillips, on September 23, 1785.

Susan Phillips raised a large family, seven daughters and two sons. She had plenty of servants but saw that each of the girls could spin, weave, and keep house each turn about and make the cloth and sell it for any nice cloth that they might want, such as silks and pretty things.

I was the eighth of the nine children of Susan and William Byram. I was born on September 3, 1805 and married William Bradford Waddell on January 1, 1829. My brothers and sisters names were: Nancy, Sarah, Clarissa, Ameilia, (Milly), Deborah, Milton, Alvin (who was kicked by a mule and died of lung trouble at the age of 22), and Caroline.

Now before I begin with the present, the time of the union of myself and William Bradford Waddell let me tell you a little of his background.

We'll begin this story with the birth of John Waddell in Glasgow, Scotland in 1724. John Waddell emigrated to America in 1735. He came to America as an apprentice with the Carter family who had the Carter plantation in Virginia. He was 11 years old. He settled in Farquier County Virginia where he married and raised a large family. Three of his sons served in the Revolutionary War-my Aunt Hannah thinks he hired a substitute.

His seventh child, John Waddell married Malinda Bailey in 1801. Their child, John Waddell II, married Catherine Bradford, August 8 1806. Their son was William Bradford Waddell who was born on October 14,1807. His mother died when he was only four years old. He said that he could well remember the bare cords on the bed, and the wagon they took her away in. In those days they had neither springs on the bed or hearses to carry the dead. William Bradford Waddell was raised by his mother's sister, Miss Lucy Curley, until his fathers marriage to Miss Sarah Crow. He was only eight years old when they moved to Mason County, Kentucky. When he was seventeen he ran away from home to Gelena, Illinois lead mines. Then he clerked for awhile for Berthoul & McCreery Dry Goods Company in St. Louis, Missouri. He then worked in the hardware store of Henry Shaw. He was away from home for two years.

Returning home to Kentucky he worked for Mr. Runyon at Washington, Kentucky and then his father put him on a farm where he met Susan Byram, me. I was a neighbors daughter. We were married after a two weeks courtship. My diary included Negroes, horses, sheep, a feather bed, and $1500.

After operating a dry-goods business for several years in Mayslick, Kentucky, William and I decided to go west to Lexington, Missouri a place which was to thrive with trading to the Santa Fe Trail and to the west. This we did in 1835. William built a store near Jacks Ferry and stocked it with goods (some of which he bought from the Aull brothers.) He was 29 years old. He became a member of Reverend Warder's Baptist church and so did his future partner, William Hepburn Russell.

Mr. Russell lived across the street from us. He was always trying to mingle with those whom he considered prominent on the national scene, and he wanted to involve my husband in his ventures. He was from Vermont. Perhaps, coming from that region made him "different".

My husband did well with his business in Lexington. He both was a wholesaler and a retailer. He bought thousands of acres of government land. He dealt in produce, hemp, and grain. My husband was a true Southerner and a true Scot .... he deliberated greatly before making decisions. He believed in himself, as I believed in him. He operated on good judgment and ability and cool reasoning ability.

It really wasn't too long before my husband William had joined with Russell and Alexander Majors to create a firm which would supply and move the army west. They chose Leavenworth as headquarters for the firm. 'They built offices, warehouses, a blacksmith and wagon shop, and opened a store.' 'They opened a lumber yard and a packing plant to supply meat for their trains, and built a sawmill. 1700 men were hired. 25-30 were wagonmasters. One of those that Alexander Majors hired to ride back and forth between the wagons was ten year old William F. Cody.

Oh these were exciting times. In 1856, things had never been better. Then things started to happen. And, happen they did.

In 1857 the army set out to solve a problem with the Mormons in Utah. Capt. Brent consulted with Mr. Russell and asked him to get some more supplies to the army. The firm already had wagons out ... Capt. Brent promised the army would come through with payment. Well, you know how the government keeps its promises. And, the train was destroyed by the death of oxen due to the cold winter. This, and three burned trains cost the firm $493,553.01. This was later received after many problems in Washington.

And then Mr. Russell got involved with the Pikes Peak Express Company and in shady deals in Washington. He would be the ruination of my husband I fear. In 1859 Senator Gwin approached Mr. Russell about a "Pony Express" to carry the mail to California. The Senator wants fast communication so that California will join the United States.

I've told William if he gets involved with this scheme he has to first put $ 100,000 in the bank in my name. I really didn't trust any of Mr. Russell's plans.

It was agreed that if the PONY EXPRESS was not successful that it should cease after 6 months. And, each of the 153 stations on the route (not including those from Julesburg to Denver) would be well equipped with brooms, candles, well wheels or pulleys, buckets, rope, window glass, doors, dishes, tinware for cooking, putty, horse brushes, curry combs, wagon grease, nails, screws, stovepipe tin safes, scissors, axes, hammers, stovepipe dampers, etc. Food supplies included macaroni, dried fruits, flour, salt, pepper, pickles, tripe, syrup, sugar, coffee, tea, hams, bacon, beef, cloves, corn meal, raisins, mustard, etc. Common medicines for man and beast were copperas, alum- borax, turpentine, castor oil, etc. It costs an estimated $75,000 to equip the Pony Express alone ... and they also had the Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company. The stages, freight line, and the PONY EXPRESS all used the same facilities.

The horses bought were 4-7 years old, not exceeding 15 hands high, well broke to saddle, warranted sound, with black hoofs, and suitable for running. 200 were bought in Leavenworth, 200 more in Utah, and others in California, Iowa, and Missouri. The combined weight of the mochila, cantina, and saddle and bridle was 13 pounds.

Two months after the announcement of the PONY EXPRESS it was running.

Waddell House Because of the fast service of the Pony Express, California’s stayed with the union. This caused some problems in our family as our family was from the south. Mr. Russell's was from the north.

The war years were quite trying for all of us. The Guenther family had their house ridden into by union soldiers looking for money. Mr. Guenther had a whole trunk full of women's purses, and the Yanks went through everyone.

My husband was forced to stand with the other men of Lexington down around the Courthouse square when the union soldiers were in charge.

FEBRUARY 26,1998

Copyright 1998 By Kathy Van Amburg.
not to be copied without permission.


Susan Waddell died March 2, 1894 at the age of 88.
Here's her obituary from the Lexington Mo. Newspaper:


Died in this city at 4 o'clock yesterday evening, of old age, Mrs. Susan C. Waddell, aged 88 years, relict of the late Wm. B. Waddell, and mother of Messrs Jno. W. and R.F. Waddell, Mrs. Dr. Chapman, Mrs. W.B. Tevis and Mrs. Alice Slayback.

Throughout her long and useful life she lived a consistant christian, and now that the angel of death has called, she is only transferred from this life to one of eternal joy and peace. She was a noble character, whose life has enriched both earth and heaven. A grand woman has gone to her reward. To her sorrow stricken relatives we extend our sympathy. She joined the Baptist church, in this city, in 1836, and was probably the oldest Christian in the county. Funeral at 3:30 to-day at the the residence of D.W. B. Tevis. Carriages leave Baptist church at 3 o'clock.