Scott Pendleton held a letter from Albert Gallatin, secretary of the treasury to Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio in 1804 during our chapter meeting in September of 2007. The letter was authorizing the hiring of three new surveyors for surveying this area. He is a postal history buff. He discussed the postal history of Jefferson County and included: transportation routes, postal stamps, names and history of first postmasters, envelopes and marks. He also displayed several historical maps and items of interest. Mr. Pendleton can be contacted at tallyp2001@yahoo.com. If you contact Scott, please put in the subject line  – Attn: Jefferson County Postage Question. Scott knows a lot about the postal history of Jefferson, Belmont and Harrison Counties of Ohio.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers
from the swift completion of their appointed round.

General Post Office - New York City, 8th Avenue and 33rd Street.

The quote above – neither snow nor rain or heat…The U.S. Postal Service has no official motto. This phrase came from the works of Herodotus describing the expedition of the Greeks against the Persians under Cyrus, about 500 B.C. The Persians operated a system of mounted postal carriers who performed with great fidelity.

The Letter

Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life
Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men
and Nations

 Written by Dr. Charles W. Eliot
Revised by President Woodrow Wilson

 

COLONIAL TIMES

In early colonial times, correspondents depended on friends, merchants, and Native Americans to carry messages among the colonies. In 1639, the first official notice of mail service in the colonies appeared. In line with the European practice, the coffeehouses and taverns were used as mail stations. The Constitutional post required each postmaster to hire only reputable post riders. Each post rider had to swear to secure his mail under lock and key. As the Crown’s service, “letters are liable to be stopped and opened by ministerial mandates and their contents construed into treasonable conspiracies; and newspapers, those necessary and important vehicles, especially in times of public danger…” The Constitutional Post afforded security to colonial messages and provided a communication line that played a vital role in bringing about American independence.

The conveyance of letters and intelligence was essential to the cause of liberty. A committee, chaired by Benjamin Franklin and including Samuel Adams, Philip Livingston, and Thomas Willing, was named to consider the creation of the postal system. On July 25, 1775, the position of Postmaster General was created and awarded to Franklin. Franklin was found to be sympathetic to the colonies, so he was dismissed as the joint postmaster general.  His annual salary was $1,000. At first the postal system mainly carried communications between Congress and the armies. Postmasters and post riders were exempt from military duties so service would not be interrupted.

Postmaster General Ebenezer Hazard, serving from 1782 to 1789, created a new east-west post routes as the population expanded westward, including a route to serve the frontier town of Pittsburgh. Congress in 1785 contracted with stagecoach companies to carry mail on heavily traveled routes. A stagecoach route was established between Boston and Portsmouth. The Ordinance of October 18, 1782 gave the federal government a monopoly on mail and allowed post riders to carry newspapers at moderate rates.

In June 1788, Congress had the power “to establish Post Offices and post Roads.” 75 Post Offices and about 2,400 miles of post roads served a population of almost four million. The Act of February 20, 1792 prohibited postal officials from opening letters. Later they enlarged the duties of the Post Office. Two horse-drawn wagons carried all the postal records, furniture, and supplies when the Post Office moved from Philadelphia to Washington DC in 1800.

Two postmasters became U.S. Presidents later in their careers – Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman.  On May 7, 1833, 24-year-old Lincoln was appointed postmaster of New Salem, Illinois. Lincoln served until 1836. He received in compensation $55.70 in 1835 and $19.48 for one quarter in 1837.

In 1831, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville began his travels in America, a journey that led to his classic book, Democracy in America. He wrote of the mail: I traveled along a portion of the frontier of the United States in a sort of cart, which was termed the mail. Day and night we passed with great rapidity along the roads, which were scarcely marked out through immense forests. When the gloom of the woods became impenetrable, the driver lighted branches of pine, and we journeyed along by the light they cast. From time to time we came to a hut in the midst of the forest; this was a post office. The mail dropped an enormous bundle of letters at the door of this isolated dwelling, and we pursued our way at full gallop, leaving the inhabitants of the neighboring log houses to send for their share of the treasure.

The following is a list of post offices or applications for post offices for Jefferson County, Ohio. These reports include much more information than this format will allow the editor to include. If you would like a photocopy of the page report for a post office listed below, please send your request and include the name of post office (from the list below) along with a payment of $5.00 per request location to our chapter address. Payment will cover cost of envelope, copies and postage. Some include hand drawn maps and extensive remarks and others do not. Send request to: JCC OGS, PO Box 2367, Wintersville OH 43953, Attn: Post Offices.

There are 683 rolls of film reproduced report forms sent to postmasters by the U.S. Post Office Department, seeking information for the Topographer’s Office to use in compiling postal route maps. Nearly all the site location reports fall within the period from mid 1860’s to 1946. There are a few reports dated in the late 1830’s, 1850’s and for the period 1946-50.

Before 1837 the Post Office Department had no official mapmaker and purchased its maps from commercial firms or private individuals. On March 13, 1837, Henry A. Burr was appointed the first Topographer of the Post Office. Maps were to be continually updated by the Topographer’s office from that point on.

The list below was extracted by Flora L. VerStraten from records that are chiefly forms on which postmasters furnished data that were used by the office to determine the location of post offices in relation to nearby post offices and transportation routes and facilities. Generally the Appointment Division sent a site-location report form to the postmaster nearest the proposed office for completion. Sometimes this first site location report shows the name proposed by local citizens for that post office. These reports include 1. County and State (or Territory) 2. Land description by the Federal survey system, and included range, township, and section 3. Mail route number and distance from post office to nearest mail routes 4. Closes rivers, creeks, roads, and railroads 5.  Most reports also include a diagram or a hand sketched map compiled by the postmaster.

Some records concerning site locations have not been reproduced, so this list does not reflect every post office, but only attempts to compile and gather post office information as sited.

Topographer Applications Dept. Below - names and locations are exactly as they are listed on the original applications No attempts to correct or change spellings of towns or surnames have been made.  If you know a post office that can be added to this list, please send the information to chapter address, attention Post Office data. Our chapter is gathering data to compile a complete listing of post offices in Jefferson that will be available in the near future from our web site. The author in no way is attempting to state that these are the only applications for post offices in Jefferson County and is aware that this list may not be complete. The author is merely attempting to gather records to show records that are available.