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1875 Construction of Telegraph Line from San Antonio to Fort McKavett

2014 July 21
by Jan Wilkinson

I just came across a wonderful piece of information about the history of the telegraph here in Texas. Written in the history book in 1922 by J. Marvin Hunter, Pioneer History of Bandera County Seventy-five Years of Intrepid History on page 90, there is a one page story titled Furnished Telegraph Posts.

In 1875 the United States Government constructed a telegraph line from San Antonio to Fort Mason and Fort McKavett, and on to Fort Concho. George Hay and Charles Schmidtke of Bandera took the contract to furnish posts for the line from San Antonio to Fort McKavett, a distance of 175 miles.

They received ninety-eight cents each for the posts delivered along the route. Schmidtke and Hay employed crews of choppers and put them in the cedar brakes of Bandera, Kerr, Gillespie, Mason and Menard counties, paying these hands from twenty-five cents to seventy-five cents per post for cutting them. The firm supplied more than 12,000 posts, twenty feet long and better than two inches at the top. It required more than six months time to cut the poles and place them on the right-of-way, where soldiers with government teams erected them. Mr. Hay says they cleared over $3,000 on the contract, and were not obliged to give bond, as the government often required.

Previous to getting this contract Schmidtke and Hay had purchased a great many cattle on credit, drove them up the trail to Kansas, and lost money on them, and the government contract for posts helped to put them on their feet once more.


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