James (Jim) Beckwourth (1798-1866) Jim, former slave, mountain man, Crow Indian chief, guide, hunter, trail blazer, came to the Dana Adobe in 1847 as a dispatcher rider for the U.S. Army. This mail system was established by Lt. Halleck to keep southern and northern military units in close communication. Because of Jim’s courier experience in the southwest, he was selected to ride from Monterey, San Francisco, San Miguel Mission, to the Dana home for the first three months of the service. There he would exchange his mail satchel for the mail pouch from San Diego and then ride back on a fresh horse that William Dana provided. He did this twice a month. This courier service did not last long because steam boats began to carry the mail soon after. However, for as long as it did, any one could include their personal correspondences to the mail pouch at no cost. This was the first rural mail service in the United States.
Jim’s story is a colorful tale filled with adventure and danger. He traveled all over the United States in service to the U.S.Army and so participated in frontier life and battles. Later, in 1851, Jim blazed a trail over the American Valley to make the pack trail between Bidwell’s Bar and the valley more suitable for wagons. Today there is a town near Quincy, CA named after Jim.