Known Pony Express Riders

Thomas J. Ranahan

Born: November 28, 1839 in Ireland

Died: December 27, 1926, in Boise, Idaho

Thomas J. ("Happy Tom") Ranahan came to America from Ireland with his family in 1841. The family initially settled in Vermont, but emigrated to the Kansas Territory in 1855.

In 1859, Thomas became a bullwhacker on the wagon trains for Russell, Majors & Waddell. After serving there for a short time, he was hired as a stage driver by the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company. When the Pony Express started he was listed as a substitue rider on Bromley's Division from Pacific Springs to Green River.

When Ben Holliday took over the Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company in 1862, Ranahan continued as stage driver. Three years later, when Wells, Fargo & Company bought out Holiday Thomas continued to work for him.

In 1868 when Lieutenant General P. H. Sheridan ordered Lieutenant Colonel George A. Forsyth to recruit fifty "first class frontiersmen" to serve as scouts against the Indians, Ranahan was one of the first to enroll. In September of that year the scouts were engaged in a ferocious battle with a combined force of Cheyennes, Ogallala and Brule Sioux, and Dog soldiers numbering almost a thousand warriors under the command of the famous Indian leader Roman Nose. Five of the scouts were skilled and sixteen wounded. All of their mounts were killed. On September 26, nine days after the attack they were rescued by soldiers from Fort Wallace.

Following his army career, Ranahan went to Salt Lake City in 1872, and later to Boise, Idaho. Here in 1877, he married Mary Cullum. During his later years he delivered many addresses and wrote numerous articles for newspapers on pioneer days and the Indian wars.

Source: Raymond W. Settle and Mary Lund Settle. Saddles and Spurs, The Saga of the Pony Express. The Stackpole Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1955.

Go To Riders Page Return to Riders Page

Page last modified on 12/31/96