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Full text of "Story of our post office : the greatest government department in all its phases"

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THE STORY 



OF 



Our Post Office 



The Great Government Department in a\\ its fiasco 



BY 

MARSHALL CUSHING 



ILLUSTRATED WITH OVER 



yJjL^yt^' FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY FINE ENGRAVINGS 



BOSTON, riASS. 

A. M. .HAYER & CO., PUBLISHERS 

1893 



Si 



* 



D. M. Rowland has been appoint- 
ed and confirmed as post master 
at Marengo. He will assume the 
duties of the office in a short time 
and is well qualified for the position. 
A. L. Downard has been the 
postmaster for the past four years 
and has been allowed to serve his 
term out. He has made a goodl 
official and is well liked by all. | 

i 



i 



/ 



NEW POSTMASTER. 

CHANGE IN THE MABENGO OFFICE. 

Makengo, Sept. 3. — Special: Having 
served four months more than his full 
term, Mr. D. M. Rowland, our estimable 
postmaster, now turns the office over to 
Mr. C. L. Shipton, his successor. Mr. 
Rowland's management of the office at 
this place has been par-excellent in every 
particular, and has given general satis- 
faction to the patrons at this delivery 
regardless of political affiliations. 
Courteous and prompt attention 
to business, order, ability, accuracy, 
neatness and dispatch have all been no- 
ticeable features during Mr. Rowland's 
term of office, and we do not believe bet- 
ter kept records or neater reports have 
ever been furnished from the Marengo 
postoffice than those prepared by Mr. R. 
and his most efficient deputy, Miss Mary 
Rowland. Mr. Shipton will take formal 
possession to-day, and we feel very sure^ 
that the most critical examination of 
records will not reveal the loss to Uncle 
Sam of so much as a 1-cent postage 
stamp during Mr. Rowland's term of of- 
fice. We trust that at the close of his 
term of service Mr. Shipton can produce 
as good a record as his Republican prede- 
cessor. 



% 



A Good Showing. 

One of the certain indexes of the bus- 
iness of a town is its post office receipts, 
and those of the Marengo office make 
a very satisfactory showing in this re- 
spect—the following being a statement 
of the receipts for the past four years: 

1890 $3,745.02 

!891 3,830.62 

1892 4,095.75 

1893 4,242.32 

Postmaster Rowland has reason to 
feel complimented at the good showing 
made during his administration, much 
of which is due to the attentive and 
business-like manner in which he has 
conducted the office. 

'%aAsZ^*Ur c 

'he post office matter at Marengo | 
been settled by Congressman Cur J 
f -.vho recommended D. M. Rowland I 
'' succeed Lin Shipton. H. E. Goldth- 
ite, who was the next most promin-i 
candidate extends his thanks and 
'fully accepts defeat.-B. P. Union} 



Copyright, 
By Maeshall 



• *IIlJ\ r G. 



All rights r r ^MS 

Iff 



• wn Curtis has filed his 

i in favor of D. MJ 

— >«oi- at Marengo. 

Cv. B>. held the office un- 

v, administration seems 

regarded as an ob-*" 
■ ought not, as he made a 
cer then, which is a guar- 
jat he will make a good officer; 
n/r ^scatine Journal. 







Post Office Change. 

The transfer of the post office at Ma- 
•engo occurred Friday evening, Aug. 
ilst, after the close of business, and 
ihe new post master entered upon the 
lischarge of his duties the next raorn- 
ng, Sept. 1st. Mr. Rowland has served 
is post master four years and three 
nonths, and his administration of the 
)ffice has been highly satisfactory, and 
n retiring he carries with him the con- 
idence and esteem of the- public, with- 
>ut regard to ' party lines. The office 
,vas conducted at all times with the 
sole object of giving the public the 
9est service possible, and there are 
rery few if any who will not concede 
:hat he succeeded admirably. 

Miss Mary Rowland, who has been 
the assistant under her father, and 
whose obliging and courteous manners 
ind marked efficiency has made her 
extremely popular with the patrons of 
the office, will be retained for some 
Lime. 




"Typography and Fres&work 
J 1 by L. Barta & Co,. , 

The Barta Pi 
148 High St., Bos: 







I), M. Rowland, of Marengo has been 
appointed postmaster at that place. 
Mi*. Rowland, if we are not mistaken, 
was at one time a resident of Sigour- 
ney. It is a good appointment, for he 
is a worthy and capable man. 



41 






f OTHJiat IOWA NJtfWS. 

MAREHGO'S NEW POSTMASTER. 

Mabengo, April 23. — Register Corre- 
spondence.— In to-day's Register among 
the confirmations you had it P. M. Howland 
postmaster at Marengo. It should have 
been David M. Rowland. The appointment 
is a recognition of a hardworking Republican 
ftnd gives general satisfaction. 






.to wing figures baL 
/ Mr. D, M. Rowland, 
. increase in ithe business 1 
ed through the Marengo 
»- c for a number of years 
i iq a good indication of ' ° 



NOTE. 



Y Last Monday Mr. Lincoln Rowland, 
our efficient assistant post master, and 
a son of post master Rowland, of this 
city, ,rece iv ^^ a tele? 1 ' «v from San 
i?rw~ ' terir : l ie position 



uv • 






j>j 



H J Washington, Oct. 12, 1892, 

Dear Mr. Thayer: — 

I send you the last of the copy to-day. At least, you shall not 
deny that you have been favored in one respect : I have had it all 
typewritten. I congratulate myself, too, that the photographs were 
mostly taken by my friend here, Mr. Prince ; and both of us ought 
also to feel happy that personal friends of ours had the mechanical 
work, so important in any publication, in charge, Mr. Gill of the 
engraving and Mr. Barta of the printing. You had a long head 
when you engaged these men — and it was a compliment to me. 

As to the matter, it ought to speak for itself. For one, I rather 
like it. At any rate, I shall not apologize for it, though that is the 
fashion, it seems. I only hope that the book will be read and en- 
joyed by some of the 230,000 people who are so honorably employed 
in the postal service, and by some of their friends ; and even by 
some of the millions who use the mails and want to have them made 
quicker, safer, and more frequent. May a good number enjoy read- 
ing the book as much as I have enjoyed writing it ! That is enough 
to wish for. 

Accept my cordial regards, and hurry the proofs ; they must be 
read with the greatest care, and that takes time. 

As ever, yours most truly, 

MARSHALL CUSHING. 



G< 



Mr. A. M. THAYER, 

6 Mt. Vernon St., Boston, Mass. 



I 



Allison Rowland will, before many N 
days.be the fullfl edged deputy p. rri, 
of this city. Allison has been in 
training for some time and will make 
a good man for the position. Con- 
gratulations my boy. 



^V 



■ 



-/^wo6*L 



There has 



been a very gratifying 
growth of business in the Marengo 
post office during the past few years, 
the receipts of the office having grpwn 
from $3,466.20 for the year ending March 
1889 to $4,192.16 for the year ending 
March 1, 1893. Mr. Rowland is a very 
efficient and painstaking postmaster and 
much of this increase is due to his care 



f ul and intelligent management of the 
office. Xj LWcrC^aXY/ / /&* 



Monday morning the first bulletin to 
appear on the Republican board was 
the announcement of the appointment 
of D. M. Rowland as postmaster to 
succeed Mr. Shipton. Mr. Rov land 
has previously served the public one 
term of four years in this office, and is 
well qualified to again resume the work 
so efficiently and well managed now 
by C. L. Shiptcn. The contest has- 
been a spirited one by the different 
candidates, any one of whom would 
have made a good official, and all of 
whom had good home endorsements, 
the contest between Mr. Goldthwaite 
and Mr. Rowland being exceedingly 
close, but the preponderance was fav- 
orable to the latter and he receives the 
appointment, that fact, however, being j 
not in the least derogatory to Mr. 
Goldthwaite, whom it would have been 
just as pleasant for the Republican to 
endorse as Mr. Rowland, as he is a 
good citizen. He has resided here for 
years and certain features entered 
into his candidacy to make it especial- 
ly strong; but all cannot be successful, 
and strictly under the policy of Mr. 
Curtis, that of the strongest home sup- 
port, the appointment has gone to Mr. 
Rowland. And although the disap- 
pointment will be great, as it always 
is in like cases, yet neither Mr. Goldth- 
waite or Mr. Jones are that kind of re- 
publicans who will let disappointment I 
for a moment sever them or their I 
friends frDm devoted party allegiance. I 
He who enters the canvass for politi- 
cal preferment always does so hoping 
for success, but with the full knowl- 
edge that failure must come to some 
one, and when to him, then his clear 
line of party duty is the same actions, 
support and feality that he would ex- 
pect and like under reversed condi- 
tions. Tnat there is any bitterness 
engendered in this contest, beyond 
the rivalry incident to success, is not 
for a moment thought to be possible, 
and we should be pained to think 
otherwise of the different gentlemen 
and their friends. On his success we 
congratulate Mr. Rowland, with the 
full belief that under his administra- 
tion the federal business in Marengo 
wi'l be maintained at a high standard. 



ROWLAND THE VICTOR. 







The Post Office Question Settled 

and D. M. Rowland Gets 

the Plum. 

A telegram received in the city Mon- 
day forenoon, announced to our citi- 
zens that D. M. Rowland had received 
the appointment as postmaster here. 
The appointment has been looked for- 
ward to for some time, but from the 
closeness of the contest and the well- 
known popularity of the two chief can- 
didates, Messrs. Rowland and Goldth- 
waite, the issue was for some time in 
doubt. 

Mr. Rowland is a splendid business 
man, of unquestioned ability and integ- 
rity. He will bring to the office the 
same careful business methods that is 
characteristic of his work in other 
lines. He was postmaster for four 
years under the Harrison administra- 
tion, and gave universal satisfaction to 
the patrons of the office. His appoint- 
ment is a virtual recognition of his 
power and influence in Iowa county 
politics, and is a compliment to his su- 
perb business qualifications for the po- 
sition. There is no doubt in anyone's 
mind that the affairs of the office will 
be managed well during his incumben- 
cy, and that he will be a worthy suc- 
cessor of the present popular and effi- 
cient officer, Mr. Shipton. The Demo- 
crat congratulates Mr. Rowland on 
his appointment. 




T^t^y sK, /ffF 



Hon D. M. Rowland, who has been 
I named by Congressman Curtis for 
postmaster at Marengo served the pat- 
rons of that office most satisfactorily 
during President Harrison's adminis- 
tration. The business men of Maren- 
go say they never had such satisfactory 
service as during Mr. Rowland's admin- 
istration. Mr. Rowland is a gentleman 
of high standing, a loyal republican 
| and ever found ready to do his full 
! part not only in the way of lo^al en- 
terprise, but m the service of his party 
The Republican congratulates Maren- 
go and Mr. Rowland upon this most 
fortunate settlement of the postoffice 
question. — Davenport Republican. 

1>\A*4 j I 



m 



t 




Concerning a former resident here the 
Marengo Democrat saya: " A telegram re- 
ceived in the city Monday forenoon an- 
nounced to our citizens tha» D M. Rowland 
had received the appointment as postmas- 
ter here. The appointment has been looked 
forward to for some time, but from the 
closeness of the contest and the well known 
popularity of the two chief candidates, 
Messrs. Rowland and Goldthwaite, the 
issue was for some time in doubt. Mr. 
Rowland is a splendid business man, of un- 
questioned ability and integrity. He will 
bring to the office the same careful busi- 
ness methods that is characteristic of his 
work in other lines." 



THE CITY AND THE DEPAKTMENT. ^^/fV^T* 



13 




HE visitor to Washington City descries the 
pure, constant, beautiful monument and 
the dome of the majestic Capitol as he 
rides into town. He goes to his hotel, or 
visits his more or less hospitable relations. 
Then he begins the task of seeing the 
sights. He has allotted to him so many 
days in which to see such a number of 
sights, and that makes it a mathematical 
certainty that he must see such a number 
of sights per day. He visits the vaults of 
the Treasury Department, where the mil- 
lions and millions of gold and silver coin 
are piled in great sacks; spends an hour 
or two at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where the 
revenue stamps and the greenbacks are manufactured; rides to 
the top of the Monument and looks down upon a city of a quarter 
of a million people nestling in a hundred thousand trees and 
breathing easier in the shade of three or four hundred parks, big 
and little. He almost certainly wanders over to the White House, 
is taken through the parlors and the East Room, and formally, and 
with as much dignity and self-possession as possible, shakes the 
President by the hand ; or, if he knows his Member or his Senator 
and appreciates his own importance to that patriotic representative 
of his locality, secures a personal introduction to the Chief Execu- 
tive in his library upstairs, and finds better occasion for passing 
the time of day and better excuse for boasting to his neighbors 
of the tremendous successes of his latest journey away from home. 
The visitor no doubt spends a good part of a day at the Capitol, 
gazing upon more unique and stately things and familiarizing him- 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 




SACRED MOUNT VERNON. 



self with more statesmen than he can describe in a year's time. He 
looks in at the Pension Office, where, under the massive pillars 
and the barn-like roof, 
they dance at the great 
inauguration balls. He 
rides behind the lazy, 
loquacious African dri- 
ver, — unless, of course, 
his very hospitable re- 
lations put their pri- 
vate- carriages at his 
disposal, or his patriot- 
ic representatives simi- 
larly favor him. He 
glories in the view 
from Fort Myer, the 

view of Washington City, lying on the bank of the sluggish 
river, surrounded by woods and hills, feels the pathos of the 
national burial place at Arlington, lingers by the porch of Lee 
or the grave of Sheridan. He drives to the Soldiers' Home, per- 
haps, and wonders whether that beautiful reach of field and lawn 

or the shades of 
Arlington satisfy 
him most. He 
surely devotes a 
day to sailing 
down the river, 
to sit and muse 
at the venerated 
home of Wash- 
ington and stand 
reverently by 
the great man's 
grave. 

The visitor 
sometimes finds 

occasion to leave this beaten track of sentiment and historic beauty 
for things more present and practical. He misses quaint old News- 




THE ROBERT E. LEE HOUSE AT ARLINGTON. 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 




paper Row, misses, perhaps, the delicious fried chicken at Han- 
cock's. But he studies the objects in the museums, tires himself 
out in the libraries, in the. Patent Office, in the Smithsonian Insti- 
tution. He goes to the Navy Yard and examines the enormous 
gun plant, and, if fortune favors, finds a proud, new cruiser, lying, 
sleepy but relentless, in the lap of the Eastern Branch. Then, if 
the visitor has time, he wants to see the Dead Letter Office in 
the Post Office Depart- 
ment, a thing which he 
has read about, and "just 
to catch a glimpse " of 
the Postmaster Gen- 
eral, a man whom he 
has read about. The 
Department and the 
man are more of inter- 
est than the stranger 
has imagined. The De- 
partment touches every 
several person of all 
the millions in this 
whole country. It touches millions, indeed, in other countries. 
The man inspirits all this boundless public service. 

The building of the Post Office Department occupies a square 
bounded by Seventh and Eighth, and E and F Streets, northwest; 
that is, it is in the seventh square west of the Capitol, and in the 
fifth one north of the reservation extending westward from the 
Capitol to the Monument. The structure has a basement and two 
principal stories, adorned, as an architect would say, with monolithic 
columns and pilasters with Corinthian capitals. The material is 
white marble from Maryland and New York. The building was 
begun in 1839 from designs by Robert Mills, and it was finished 
in 1855 by Thomas U. Walter. No doubt it would have cost less 
than $2,150,000 if it had not been so many years in progress. Most 
of the offices of the Department are quartered in this building. Five 
important offices in addition, however, are required to be rented: 
the Busch building, directly opposite the Department building, on 
E Street, at $11,000 a year; the structure at the corner of Eighth 



THE TOMB OF WASHINGTON. 



4 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

and E Streets, which is occupied by the Money Order Division and 
by other bureaus, at $8,000 a year; the Mail Bag Repair Shop, on 
C Street, a fine, partly new brick structure opposite the rear of the 
National Hotel, at $5,000 a year; the old skating rink on E Street, 
between Sixth and Seventh, which is occupied by the Division of 
Supplies, at $4,000 a year; and the Topographer's Office, at 418 
and 420 Ninth Street, at $1,500 per year. These outside quarters 
have been rented from time to time, according as particular post- 
masters general have been persuasive enough, and particular Con- 



. .. 




AT THE SOLDIERS' HOME. 

gresses have been generous and falsely economical enough, for the 
forced accommodation of some of the hundreds of workers in the 
departmental service. Successive Congresses have been sufficiently 
importuned to enlarge the present Department building, or to pro- 
vide a new building and turn the present General Post Office over 
to the uses of the Interior Department, which is even more cramped 
in its present quarters; or, in short, to provide in some logical, 
public-spirited, and prudent way for the growth of this enormous 
postal service — which cannot be prevented from becoming every 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 5 

year more and more enormous, simply because the country cannot be 
prevented from growing. But the preference has been to pay this 
$30,000 per year in true hand-to-mouth fashion. 

One finds most easily the duties of the Postmaster General and 
his various assistants outlined in the Congressional Directory. This 
prosaic but very useful publication says substantially : 

The Postmaster General has the direction and management of the Post Office 
Department. He appoints all officers and employes of the Department, except 
the four Assistant Postmasters General, who are appointed by the President, by 




NEWSPAPER ROW. 

and with the advice and consent of the Senate ; appoints all postmasters whose 
compensation does not exceed one thousand dollars ; makes postal treaties with 
foreign governments, by and with the advice and consent of the President, awards 
and executes contracts, and directs the management of the domestic and foreign 
mail service. 

The First Assistant Postmaster General has charge of the following divisions: 
Salary and Allowance Division: the duty of readjusting the salaries of post- 
masters and the consideration of allowances for rent, fuel, lights, clerk hire, and 
other expenditures. 

Free Delivery : the duty of preparing cases for the inauguration of the system 
in cities, the appointment of letter carriers, and a general supervision. 



6 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 




Talbott 



Division of Post Office Supplies : the duty of sending out the blanks, wrapping- 
paper, twine, letter-balances, and cancelling-stamps to offices entitled to them. 
Money Order Division: the supervis- 
ion of the domestic money order and 
postal note business, the superintend- 
ence of the international money order 
correspondence, and the preparation of 
postal conventions for the exchange of 
money orders. 

Dead Letter Office : the treatment of 
all unmailable and undelivered mail 
matter which is sent to it for disposi- 
tion; the enforcement of the prompt 
sending of this matter; the duty of not- 
ing and correcting errors of postmasters 
connected with the delivery or with- 
holding of mail matter; the examination 
and forwarding or return of all letters 
which have failed of delivery; the in- 
spection and return to country of 
origin of undelivered foreign matter; 
the recording and restoration to own- 
ers of letters and parcels which con- 
tain valuable inclosures; and the 
disposition of all money, other ne- 
gotiable paper, and valuable articles 
found in undelivered matter and correspondence. 

Correspondence Division: the reference of all inquiries received from post- 
masters concerning the discharge of their duties, of disputes regarding the 
delivery of mail matter, and of inquiries relative to the construction of postal 
laws and regulations. 

The Second Assist- 
ant Postmaster Gen- 
eral has charge of the 
transportation of all 
mails. His office em- 
braces four divisions 
and two offices, viz : 

Contract Division: 
prepares all advertise- 
ments inviting pro- 
posals for star steam- 
boat, and mail-messen- 
ger service, receives 
the proposals, pre- 
pares orders for the 
award of contracts, 
and attends to the ex- 
ecution of these. 

THE WHITE HOUSE FROM THE SOUTHWEST. 



'WASHINGTON," NEWSBOY. 




THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 




THE PEACE MONUMENT. 



Division of Inspection : charged with the examination of monthly and special 
reports of postmasters as to the performance of mail service by contractors and 

carriers, and the preparation of cases 
and orders for deductions for the non- 
performance of service, and for the impo- 
sition of fines. 

Railway Adjustment Division: prepares 
cases authorizing the transportation of 
mails by railroads, the establishment of 
railway postal-car service and changes 
in existing service; prepares orders and 
instructions for the weighing of mails, 
and receives the returns and computes 
the basis of pay. 

Mail Equipment Division: charged with 
the preparation of advertisements invit- 
ing proposals for furnishing mail-bags, 
mail locks and keys, label cases, mail-bag 
cord fasteners, and mail-bag catchers; 
the receipt of proposals and the prepar- 
ation of contracts, the issuing of these 
articles for the service, and the repair 
of them. 

Railway Mail Service: has charge of 
the railway mail service and the railway 
post office clerks, prepares for the Second Assistant Postmaster General cases for 
the appointment, removal, promotion, 
and reduction of clerks, orders the mov- 
ing of mails on railroad trains; has 
charge of the dispatch, distribution, and 
separation of mail matter in railway 
post office cars and the principal post 
offices, and conducts the weighing of 
mails. 

Foreign Mail Service: has charge of 
all foreign postal arrangements (except 
those relating to the money order sys- 
tem), conducts correspondence with 
foreign governments and private citi- 
zens, and has supervision of the ocean 
mail steamship service. 

The Third Assistant Postmaster Gen- 
eral has charge of the Finance Office, 
and the Stamp Division, thus : 

Division of Finance : issues drafts and 
warrants in payment of balances re- 
ported by the Auditor to be due to mail 
contractors, and superintends the col- 
lection of revenue at depository and 
depositing offices. 




THE CAPITOL. VISTA IN WINTER. 



8 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Division of Postage Stamps and Stamped Envelopes: issues postage stamps, 
stamped envelopes, newspaper • wrappers, and postal cards; and supplies post- 
masters with envelopes for their official use. 

Division of Registered Letters: prepares instructions for the guidance of 
postmasters relative to registered letters. 

Division of Files, Mails, etc. : receives, distributes, and indexes all papers com- 
ing to the office; dispatches and records all papers sent, and keeps the office files. 

Special Delivery System: and all business relating to the rates of postage, the 
classification of mail matter, and the entry of periodicals. 

The Fourth Assistant Postmaster General has charge of the Divisions of 
Appointments, Bonds and Commissions, and Post Office Inspectors and Mail 
Depredations: 




IN LAFAYETTE SQTTABE. 

Division of Appointments : prepares all cases for establishment, discontinuance, 
and change of name or site of post offices, and for the appointment of all 
postmasters. 

Division of Bonds and Commissions : receives and records appointments ; sends 
out papers for postmasters and their assistants to qualify; files their bonds and 
oaths, and issues commissions. 

Division of Post Office Inspectors and Mail Depredations: the general super- 
vision of the work of inspection, and of all complaints of losses, irregularities in 
the mails, or violations of the postal laws. 

Almost seventy thousand postmasters, two hundred and thirty 
thousand persons connected in one way and another with the Post 
Office Department, hundreds of thousands of persons using the mails 
extensively, and millions having remotely to do with the Post 
Office, find it of value to know what the duties of the Postmaster 
General and of his assistants are. Hundreds of persons every month 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 



9 





From Photographs by 



Scenes 
AboQt 




Centre 
Aar^ef, 



Miss Frances Benjamin Johnston. 





10 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



are sure they want to see trie Postmaster General or to write to him, 
who really want to see or. address somebody else; and hundreds 
every month are sure they want to see or address somebody else who 
really want to reach still others. Thousands send letters to the 
Department that have to be referred from the officers to whom they 
are addressed to other officers. All this causes delay. To under- 
stand the fact that the business of the Post Office Department is 
almost limitless, and that it requires to transact it the efforts not 

of one person, or of 
ten, but of thou- 
sands, is to expedite 
everybody's letter. 
No machinery is so 
complicated as that 
of the Post Office De- 
partment, yet none 
is so simple and reg- 
ular when all of its 
affairs, great and 
small, take their 
natural, proper, and 
quick courses. One 
may hear every day 
of the red tape of the Government service. One may hear twice 
every day of the red tape of the postal service. But rules are 
necessary in every business; and surely they are necessary in 
the greatest business in the world. In the Post Office Depart- 
ment are some tens of thousands of persons who are trying to 
do their work, with as much dispatch and reliability as possible, for 
millions of persons in billions of cases. And the figures of the Dead 
Letter Office show that five sixths of the causes of the miscarriage 
of mail matter are due to the ignorance or carelessness of the great, 
royal, complaining public; and the experience of any person em- 
ployed in the postal service for no matter how short a period also 
shows that the unreliability of the service is due most often to the 
inability of the people themselves to do business with the public 
service from their side of the transaction. And worse yet, they will 
not complain to any representative of the Department, but to some 
dozen persons who have nothing to do with it. 




Talbott 



SEEN AT FOET FOOTE. 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 11 

The Blue Book, a compilation made by Dr. John G. Ames, 
Superintendent of Documents of the Interior Department, gives an 
idea, as much as any compilation may, of the magnitude of the 
postal system. The second of the two volumes of the Blue Book is 
devoted exclusively to the postal service. It contains 1,425 royal 
octavo pages, and discloses the names and salaries of persons 
engaged in the service in Washington City and elsewhere. The 
number of postal people may be summarized as follows : 

Post Office Department in Washington 681 

Mail bag repair shop in Washington 231 

Post Office inspectors 103 

Post Office inspectors' clerks 27 

Postage stamp agency 8 

Stamped envelope agency 15 

Postal card agency 5 

Postal agency at Shanghai 5 

Postmasters 67,368 

Assistant postmasters 138 

Chief clerks in post offices . 658 

Clerks in post offices (estimated) 111,875 

Letter carriers 10,892 

Sea post office clerks 12 

Star and steamboat service : 

Professional contractors 274 

Local contractors 4,013 

Sub-contractors 11,478 

Carriers, other than contractors or sub-contractors, estimated . . 2.789 

Special office carriers 2,549 

Regulation wagon service : 

Contractors 22 

Sub-contractors 15 

Carriers, other than contractors or sub-contractors, estimated . . 300 
Railroad service : 

Contractors 2,415 

Railway postal clerks 6,440 

Mail messenger service 7,122 

Total 229,435 

These are the bulk of the army of public servants in this country. 
Of course there are regiments of the army, collectors of customs 
and of internal revenue and all their deputies and clerks, and the 
various officers and employees of the Departments of State, Agri- 
culture, and Justice, and the officers and sailors of the Navy, and 
the hundreds employed by the Pension and Land Offices and the 



12 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



other bureaus of the Interior Department. But the officers and 
employees of the postal system embrace the major part of all ; and 
they always will. The increase of the army of Federal employees is 
necessarily great and constant. It is a great and constantly growing 
country. The increase in numbers, however, does not imply a 
similar increase in expense, for by far the largest item of increase is 
in the number of postmasters ; and here offices are established and 
officers appointed upon the demand of new communities which 

add, without appreciable outlay, 
much new revenue to the Depart- 
ment. 

A writer for the Indianapolis 
News not long ago examined the 
Blue Book, greatly to the interest 
of the readers of that paper. He 
found that among the number of 
Government employees are 2,000 
people of the name of Smith; and 
some 400 of them bear the name 
of John Smith. There are over 
11,000 Browns, 1,000 Johnsons, 
and 900 Joneses. There are hun- 
dreds of them who spell their 
names with but three letters each, 
as Box, Bee, Dew, Dox, Gee; and 
some of the names that go to the 
other extreme are Calvacoresses, Waffenschmid, Vonbruddenbrock, 
Matagonsky, Stoutenborough, Schenckenberger, Scharringhausen, 
Petegomenne, Brannerstenther, and Dzierzanowaki. 

Among the names are Huggs, one Hugger, one Huggins, and 
twenty-five or thirty Loves. The various nationalities appear to be 
pretty well represented, by names as well as by individuals, for 
there are fifteen people who bear the name of English, seventy-five 
with the name of French, six of the name of Irish, three of German, 
and one of America. Uncle Sam's large family evidently has its 
proper proportion of people able to make their way through the 
world by whatever way seems most convenient, for two of them sail 
under the cognomen Gall, and three of them carry off the equally 
suggestive name of Cheek. 




IN THE AGRICULTURAL GROUNDS. 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 18 

They are a patriotic lot evidently, for there is one Red, half a 
dozen Blues, and Whites by the hundreds. There are several Flags 
and material for more, for there are two Calicos and one Silk. And 
Uncle Sam would have no difficulty in finding material to set his 
table. There are six Rusks, one Bread, fifty Fishes, ten Custards, 
eleven Coffees, two Teas, three Butters, one Milk, two Sourwines, 
one Sourbeer, and two Apples. There are some names that would 
seem to be burdensome to carry about through life. For instance, 
there are three by the name of Coward, one Lie, one Awkward, one 
Damschroeder, one Goldammer, and one Damall. The months of 
the year are pretty well represented, — one January, one February, 
one August, and half a dozen of the name of March, and Mays in 
still greater numbers. Scriptural names are numerous. Adam and 
Adams can be counted by the hundred. To go with all of them 
there is but one Eve. There are forty Cains, thirteen Abels, one 
Job, seven Abrahams, four Isaacs, three Jacobs, two Matthews, four 
Marks, one Luke, twelve Johns, and twenty-five Pauls. The list 
contains one Doctor, two Akes, and twelve Pains. 

People of the names of the various Presidents seem to be pretty 
well represented. There are 40 Washingtons, of whom five are 
George Washingtons; 300 Adamses, 16 Jeffersons, 325 Jacksons, 
20 Munroes, 10 Madisons, 200 Harrisons, 10 VanBurens, 50 Tylers, 
12 Polks, 75 Pierces, 30 Buchanans, 14 Lincolns, 1,0*00 Johnsons, 
100 Grants, 20 Hayeses, 6 Garfields, 20 Arthurs, and 20 Clevelands. 
The royal and the titled are represented, for there are 40 Kings, 3 
Queens, 6 Czars, 2 Marquises, and Princes, Lords, Earls, and Dukes 
in great numbers. 

There is enough in the clothing line to fit out the most fastidious, 
8 Coats, 2 Shirts, a pair of Shoes, 2 Stockings, 2 Socks, and 1 Boots. 
The fish family is represented with 38 Fishes, 15 Pikes, 7 Salmon, 
2 Shadd, 6 Trout, 8 Oysters, 1 Mackerel, 6 Rock, 2 Crabbs, 1 
Pickerell, and 2 Bullfish. To catch them with are 2 Poles, 5 Lines, 
and 6 Hooks. The animal family is well represented, for among 
the names are 1 Lion, 1 Tiger, 10 Hoggs, 4 Coons, 50 with the 
name of Wolf, 4 Deer, 7 Bears, and 4 Monkeys. The human family 
is represented by 1 Boy, 1 Man, and 2 of the name of Baby; while 
the provisions for their care consist of 1 Cradle and 1 Cribb. 

History is slow, but a few recorded facts show how wonderfully 




ft 

> 

W 



14 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 15 

big the postal service is. In the war-time there were a third as 
many post offices as now, and the revenue of the Department was 
but little more than a sixth of what it is to-day. Then the total 
number of registered letters was insignificant. In 1866 there were 
275,103 pieces of mail matter registered. Last year the Government 
increased the security of the mails by registering over 15,000,000 
pieces. The money order system had just been inaugurated and its 
benefits had only been extended to 766 post offices, which handled 
about $4,000,000 per annum. To-day there are 30,000 money 
order offices, whose combined monetary transactions aggregate nearly 
$140,000,000 per annum. The registry system was a farce and 
accomplished anything but the object in view. To-day the regis- 
tered mail is so secure that only one in every 12,227 pieces of 
matter is lost. Probably there will be one hundred thousand post 
offices in the year 1900, that will earn, perhaps, $100,000,000 annu- 
ally. A hundred years ago the post office carried but 2,000 pieces 
of mail per day. Now more than 8,000 letters and packages are 
dropped into the mails every minute of the year. Then not a daily 
mail existed anywhere. There were only 100 post offices in the 
entire country. The length of all mail routes did not exceed 2,000 
miles. The entire annual revenue of the service fell far short of 
$50,000. Every working day now the mails travel a distance equal 
to forty-one times the circumference of the globe, and more than one 
half of all the post offices in the country are supplied with daily 
mails. In 1860, 27,000 miles of railroad were used for carrying 
mails, at an annual expense of little more than $3,000,000, with 
only 600 employees. Now the railway mail service traverses 160, 000 
miles of road, spends $21,000,000 a year, and employs, in 2,800 cars, 
over 6,000 men; and in a year they travel 113,000,000 miles in 
crews. They distribute in transit the inconceivable volume of 
7,900,000,000 pieces of mail matter, besides receipting for, record- 
ing, protecting, and distributing nearly 16,000,000 registered pack- 
ages, and more than 1,000,000 through registered pouches. This 
task is performed with such care that less than two letters in 10,000 
are sent wrong. This does not mean that two letters in 10,000 are 
lost, but that in distributing 10,000 an average of less than two is 
made by which the transmission and delivery of those two missives 
may be delayed; and every railway postal clerk must carry in his 




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16 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 17 

mind the most direct route to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of post 
offices, — and these conditions are constantly changing with the 
changes of railway schedules and the times of day at which distribu- 
tions are made. 

The growth of the postal service with every year is enormous, 
resistless, inconceivable. The present Postmaster General called 
to the Department last March some fifty of the leading post- 
masters of the country for conference with him. To these men he 
made a little speech. It had been exactly three years since he had 
been appointed Postmaster General, and Mr. Wanamaker illustrated, 
by quoting a few figures, what the growth of the postal service had 
been in that short period. A few paragraphs were : 

" From March 4, 1889, to March 5, 1892, we have established 10,549 new post 
offices, more than one sixth of the whole number in existence. To the 2,654 
presidential offices of 1889 we have added in three years 467 — about 18 per 
cent, of the entire number of such offices, which is now 3,121. In the matter of 
revenue, the three years prior to the present administration increased postal 
receipts $24,000,000, or from 130 to 154 million, being more than 18 per cent. 
The three years of this administration carried the revenue from 154 to over 195 
million dollars, an increase of more than 26 per cent. ; in other words, we main- 
tained the $24,000,000 gained by the last administration, and added over 40 and 
a half millions to it. 

"We have added in the past three years to the miles travelled with mails 
exactly 54,816,192 miles, by railroad, steamboat, and star service. The rate of 
pay in star and steamboat service has been decreased. There have been 2,129 
new routes opened, 255 new railway post offices and compartment cars put on, 
and 1,016 additional clerks employed in the railway mails, mainly on account of 
new service. The increase in the annual number of miles of service by railway 
postal clerks for the past three years was about 70,000,000, or a little more than 
21 per cent. In the number of pieces of mail matter distributed by railway 
postal clerks for the same time, there was an increase of 5,730,000,000, or nearly 
33 per cent. In the number of letters separated by railway postal clerks for city 
delivery, there was an increase of nearly 227,000,000, or about 54 per cent. Test 
examinations to ascertain the efficiency of the permanent force of postal clerks 
were made in nearly 25,000 cases, involving a handling of nearly 30,000,000 
pieces, the result showing an average of correctness of more than 93 per cent. 

" Free delivery has been established in the past three years at 150 offices, and 
the entire service has been strengthened and extended by the addition of 2,409 
carriers. The last report of the last administration showed a total of 358 letter- 
carrier offices; up to date there are 551. 

"An unerring indication of the increased efficiency of the service is to be 
found in the records of the Dead Letter Office. The total number of pieces of 
dead mail matter received at that office in 1886, was about 4,800,000. Three years 
later it was about 6,200,000; and for the present year it will be about 6,800,000. 
In other words, for the three years prior to 1889, there was an increase of 



18 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

1,400,000 pieces, of 29.2 per cent.; while for the last three years the increase has 
been only 600,000, or 9.6 per cent. That is to say, while there was an increase 
during the three years of fully 35 per cent, in the number of pieces of mail matter 
handled, the increase in the number of pieces sent to the Dead Letter Office was 
less than 10 per cent., a difference of 25 per cent, in favor of increased efficiency 
of service." 

Not only do the actual figures, in the recent as well as the earlier 
history of the postal service, illustrate its remarkable development, 
but the United States may challenge, fearlessly, comparison with 
any other nation. We beat the world. Neither Germany nor Great 
Britain has more than 25,000 post offices, and France has less than 
10,000 — facts not so notable because of the limited area of these 
countries, though more notable, perhaps, because the United States 
has almost as many post offices as all of the countries of Europe, 
Germany excepted. The rates of postage in this country are the 
lowest, considering the total of miles traveled to perform the ser- 
vice, in the world. England, with her compact population and 
short distances, is no better off for postage rates. In length of 
mail routes the United States is far ahead of any other country. 
Great Britain, Germany, and France all together do not half equal 
the United States in this respect; and even in the mileage of mail 
service annually performed the United States is ahead of these three 
foreign countries all combined. An average American sends more 
letters than anybody else ; for upon the basis of the last census the 
average number of pieces of mail matter to every inhabitant of the 
countries named is now : 

United States, pieces per capita 71 

Great Britain ,, ,, ,, 61 

Germany ,,,,,, 41 

France ,,,,,, 37 

No, there is no doubt the American postal system is the greatest 
in the world. It cannot be prevented from growing, and any 
American citizen is proud to have it the greatest in the world, and 
likes to see it grow. Yet this immense machine, this stupendous, 
delicate, all-pervading business, is everywhere impecunious and 
restive. The Post Office Department never has money enough to 
work with. Not one person in a hundred insists that the postal 
service should be self-sustaining. He reflects that the army and the 
navy are not, and he freely pays for them because of the public 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 



19 



spirit which they help him to express. He rarely understands that 
the real reason why the postal service is not better is because he 
himself does not insist that money should be voted for it in order to 
make it better. He does not realize that there is hardly a person 
among the 230,000 who are employed within its branches who is not 
underpaid and overworked. He does not realize that impossibilities 
are expected of human beings. He does not stop to think that he 




POST OFFICE BUILDINGS OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES. 



himself might relieve the stress somewhat by conforming without 
variation to the ordinary requirements of the service. He has for- 
gotten that the postal service earns back every dollar that it spends. 
The fact is that the American postal service, while to-day the 
greatest business in the world, is to-day the worst conducted — the 
best conducted under the circumstances, but the worst conducted, 
under the lack of means to work with. Everywhere the post offices 
are overcrowded. Everywhere, almost, the postmasters, the clerks, 
the contractors, are underpaid. The Department force is crowded 
and hampered almost beyond belief. Four hundred clerks have been 



20 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



moved into the five branch offices outside the Department building, 
and yet a larger number than ever crowd the present structure. The 
hallways of the Post Office building are made not only uncomfort- 
able but unhealthy by the great heaps of files. 240,000 quarterly 
reports are received annually from postmasters and 480,000 weekly 
statements come in each year from money order and postal note 
offices. Money orders and postal notes to the number of 16,000,000 
have to be handled annually. These files and records are always 




THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. 
(From the top of the Washington Loan and Trust Company's Building.) 

in the way. The work of the postal service in Washington and out 
of it is always in the way. It can never be caught up with — until 
indignant public protests, expressing themselves in the votes of Con- 
gressmen, provide the means with which this vast, necessary labor 
may be performed. The present Postmaster General had not studied 
the service a month before he was heard to declare that, if the money 
really required to run the postal service could really be granted, he 
would guarantee to make $10,000,000 annually with it. Nobody 
at all familiar with the system doubts that this real business man 
would do that; and besides, with a difference on the credit side 
would come increased and improved facilities, cheapened postage 
rates, and improved service again, again, and again. 



THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT. 21 

A good way to understand about the postal service, about the 
intricate machinery of it, the multitude of impossible things 
expected of it, the fidelity and dangers necessary to be practised or 
to be encountered in connection with it, the modes by which money 
is appropriated for it, the labors, satisfactory and unsatisfactory, of 
the man whom the President appoints to direct it, — to know what 
the postal clerk, the letter carrier, and the other brave and steady 
fellows on the inspector force, in the postal cars, and on the star 
routes through the wildernesses perform and don't perform, — to 
know about all this is to study it all a little. It is impossible to 
know which man and which work is most important. Every man 
and every duty is essential and every duty and every man is worth 
inquiring about, even if only hurriedly one sees the actors passing 
to and fro from day to day, out and in among the scenes, sees the 
parts played well or badly, sees the efforts and successes, and the 
no less worthy failures. 





THE TRANSPOKTATION OF THE MAILS. 

HE Second Assistant Postmaster General's Office, 
which has charge of the transportation of all the 
mails, disburses annually some $25,000,000 for the 
pay of railroads alone, and its total of disbursements 
to all classes of contractors is over $40,000,000. 
The pay of postmasters and clerks and of mail 
contractors is regulated by the laws of Congress. 
A dissatisfied agent of the Post Office Department, no matter 
how much or how justly he may be dissatisfied, finds himself 
confronted, if he visits the Department or writes to some officer 
of the Department to complain, with certain laws and regulations 
which cannot be overridden. In numerous cases, no doubt, these 
laws and regulations work injustice, but generally they are good 
and necessary. A common trouble with them is that they do not 
provide enough for the employment and pay, from time to time, 
of new agents. Changes in the laws and regulations that would 
be wise, are repeatedly brought to the attention of Congress by 
postmasters general or by members of one of the branches of 
Congress; and unwise and impossible changes are much more 
numerously presented to the law-making body by demagogues (who 
are not unpatriotic enough to expect the measures to go forward 
into actual legislation) and by unspeakable cranks and lobbyists 
who know nothing about their subject, or who make it their 
invisible business to grind axes for others. But the $40,000,000 
annually appropriated for the transportation of mails is used by 
the officers of the Department with an honesty and exactness which 
is superb when it is considered how many conflicting, irreconcila- 
ble special interests are involved, how much personal or political 
pressure is supposed to make weight in the balance, and how 
heavily the real demands of the intensely active letter-writing 

22 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 



23 



people call for satisfaction out of an appropriation always 
inadequate. 

Look through the office of the Second Assistant Postmaster Gen- 
eral. See the almost immeasurable diversity and magnitude of the 
affairs with which it has to deal. Mail routes are arranged in these 
classes: railroad mail routes, which extend over lines of rail- 
roads ; steamboat mail routes, on which mails are carried by steam- 
boat; mail messenger routes, which run from railroad stations to 
post offices located but a short 
distance from the station (usu- 
ally within two miles) but which 
the railroad companies are not 
required to supply ; regulation 
wagon routes which is the ser- 
vice performed in the larger cities 
between the main post offices, 
sub-offices, railroad stations, etc., 
and for which a particular style 
of wagon is used; special routes, 
which are not under contract, 
but are established for the tem- 
porary supply of new post offices 
that are not on existing contract 
routes ; and star routes, which 
supply post offices throughout 
the rural districts, that are not 
on the line of railroad or steam- 
boat routes, the mails being 
carried by stage, horseback, or otherwise, the contract not prescrib- 
ing the mode of transportation, but providing that all the mails 
shall be carried with "celerity, certainty, and security," the three 
words having been designated by three stars and having given rise 
to the term "star service." And in addition to the above, all of 
which relate to the domestic service, there are the ocean mail routes 
and the foreign mail service. 

A few figures illustrate this diversity and magnitude. In the 
United States are about 2,300 railroad routes, aggregating 160,000 
miles in length, the annual travel over which exceeds 230,000,000 




MR. J. LOWRIE BELL, 
Second Assistant Postmaster General. 



24 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



miles. There are 17,000 star routes, aggregating 240,000 miles in 
length and over 100,000,000 miles in annual travel; 7,000 mail 
messenger routes, aggregating 6,000 miles in length and 10,000,000 
miles in annual travel; 2,500 special routes, aggregating 27,000 
miles in length and 5,000,000 miles annual travel; 125 steamboat 
routes, 10,000 miles in length and involving 3,500,000 miles of 
annual travel. In all classes of inland service there are about 
30,000 mail routes, aggregating 450,000 miles in length and 350,- 
000; 000 miles in annual travel. To be familiar with the laws 
under which all of this business is to be distributed, to provide rules 

stringent enough to hold all 
these contractors to the faithful 
performance of their obliga- 
tions, to do the labor of hand 
and brain required merely for 
the record of these transac- 
tions, to inspect the service 
with method and dispatch, to 
investigate complaints, and to 
have the hardihood honestly to 
invite them — all this faintly 
suggests the work of the trans- 
portation office of the Depart- 
ment. 

The Second Assistant himself 
is Mr. J. Lowrie Bell, of Read- 
ing, Pa. He has been railway 
clerk, train dispatcher, super- 
intendent, and general traffic 
manager. He was promoted 
from General Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service to be 
Second Assistant. His chief clerk, Mr. George F. Stone, is a 
Trumansburgh (N. Y.) boy, who entered the employ of the Lehigh 
Valley Railroad as telegraph operator at eighteen, but after about 
three years resigned. In the Second Assistant's office he has been 
promoted from the lowest to the highest clerkship. Mr. Stone is a 
remarkably clear-headed, energetic fellow, thoroughly up in his 
work. He graduated from the Columbian University Law School 




ME. GEO. F. STONE, 
Chief Clerk, Second Assistant's Office. 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 25 

in 1884, received the post graduate degree in 1885, and was 
admitted to the bar of the District in 1886. 

See what the Contract Division, the first of the Second Assist- 
ant's office, has to do. It prepares all advertisements, inviting 
proposals for star, steamboat, and .mail messenger service, receives 
the proposals, prepares orders for the award of contracts, attends 
to the execution of the contracts, receives and considers appli- 
cations for the establishment of new routes or for changes in exist- 
ing routes, conducts the investigation as to the necessity of the 
postal service asked, determines the course of routes and the fre- 
quency of trips, arranges the time schedules on which the mails shall 
be carried on star and steamboat routes, receives, examines, and recog- 
nizes sub-contracts to secure to sub-contractors pay for their services, 
conducts all correspondence relating to these matters, prepares 
statistics and reports to Congress, as required by law, and notifies 
the Sixth Auditor of orders affecting the accounts of mail contractors. 

But steps have to be taken in the Second Assistant's office, in 
establishing and maintaining a mail route, before the route is placed 
under regular contract service. When the Fourth Assistant Post- 
master General, who has charge of the establishment of post offices, 
creates a new post office, he notifies the Second Assistant Post- 
master General of that fact, giving the name and location of it. If 
it is not upon some existing route, or near enough to be supplied 
from one, the postmaster is authorized to employ a "special carrier"' 
to carry the mails between his office and the nearest convenient post 
office, as often as practicable, for a sum not exceeding two thirds of 
the postmaster's salary (the rate fixed by law), which depends upon 
the number of stamps cancelled at the new office. This, however, 
is considered but a temporary arrangement, and as soon as the new 
office shows a considerable number of people to be supplied, or a fair 
cancellation of stamps or of mail matter handled, a regular star route 
is provided. 

Whenever a petition is received for a new star route, an investi- 
gation is made to ascertain whether there is a postal necessity for 
it. Sometimes the petitioners state the reasons why they think the 
route should be established, which aids the Department in its work ; 
or they may give very little information. But in any event corre- 
spondence is opened with the postmasters on the proposed route to 



26 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

ascertain its length, what frequency of supply is needed, the time 
schedule upon which mails- should be carried, the condition of the 
roads, whether there are streams, ferries, toll-roads, or mountains to 
be crossed, the number of people to be supplied, the amount of 
postal business at each post office, and so forth. All are invited 
to make such suggestions as they may think good, and in many 
cases of importance or difficulty a special agent of the Department 
is 'sent upon the ground. 

When the papers are all in they are carefully examined. If it is 
decided that the route should be established the postmasters at the 
termini are instructed to post for ten days in a conspicuous place in 
their offices and elsewhere, notices which are furnished to them, 
inviting proposals for carrying the mails over the proposed route 
from the earliest practicable date to the end of the fiscal year, June 
30. A copy of this notice is also posted on a bulletin advertise- 
ment in the Department. This is a temporary, or "bulletin board" 
advertisement, under which the service is limited by law to one 
year, and the advertisement and proposal are less formal than those 
required under advertisements for longer terms. All bids received 
by the postmasters are in envelopes and are forwarded to the Depart- 
ment, where they are opened; and the service is awarded to the 
lowest bidder, if the bid is considered a reasonable one. Contracts 
are then sent out for him to execute and return, when they are 
signed by the Second Assistant Postmaster General. The postmas- 
ters at schedule points are notified as to the service required, and 
instructed to keep reports, upon blanks furnished to them, showing 
how the service is performed, which reports are sent to the Inspec- 
tion Division at the close of each month, where they are carefully 
examined ; and if they show that the service is performed in com- 
pliance with the contract, a certificate to that effect is issued to the 
Sixth Auditor at the close of the quarter, who has a copy of the 
contract, and who states the contractor's account, showing the amount 
due him. A warrant or draft is drawn in his favor, which 9 after pass- 
ing through a number of offices under a system of checks which effect- 
ually guards against mistakes or frauds, is mailed to the contractor. 

After this contract has expired the service is continued under a 
general or miscellaneous advertisement for longer periods. For the 
purposes of the general advertisement the country is divided into 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE 3VLAILS. 



27 



four contract sections, and all the star and steamboat routes in each 
section are re-let once in four years for a term of four years, the sec- 
tions being in regular order, so that there is a general letting every 
year. The Second Assistant's office begins to prepare the general 
advertisement nearly a year before the new contracts are to go into 
effect. The advertisements are prepared in pamphlet form, one for 
each state, describing in detail all the star and steamboat routes in 
the state, and containing extracts from the Postal Laws and Regu- 
lations applicable to that service, with full instructions to bidders, 
and forms of proposals and bonds. This pamphlet advertisement 
is displayed in every post office in the state for at least two 
months before the letting 
takes place. All propo- 
sals must be sent to the 
Second Assistant Post- 
master General by a fixed 
date. 

The proposals are placed 
unopened, as they are re- 
ceived, in a vault until the 
day for opening arrives, 
when, under the supervi- 
sion of a committee ap- 
pointed by the Postmaster 
General, they are opened 
by a large force of clerks, 
stamped, folded, arranged, 
examined, and recorded with the utmost system. Accompanying 
each proposal and as a part of it, there must be as provided by law 
the oath of the bidder that he has the pecuniary ability to perform 
the service, a bond executed by the bidder and at least two sureties 
in a sum fixed in the advertisement, the oaths of the sureties as to 
the location, description, and value of their real estate over and 
above all incumbrances (which value must be at least double the 
amount of the bond), and finally, a certificate from a postmaster 
that, after informing himself, he believes the sureties to be good and 
sufficient. 

When this work is completed the result appears in great books 




ON A STAR ROUTE IN THE SOUTH. 



28 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

showing a complete statement of each route, the service required, 
etc., with the names of all bidders for that route and the amounts 
of the bids. The awards are then made to the lowest bidders whose 
bids are in proper form. Then contracts are drawn and sent to be 
executed by the accepted bidders. Under the annual general adver- 
tisement and the annual miscellaneous advertisement there are 
received about 120,000 proposals and bonds, and about 5,000 con- 
tracts in duplicate are drawn. ' This does not include the bulletin, 
or temporary advertisements, which are issued almost daily. This 
is the method of letting star and steamboat routes. Contracts for 
regulation wagon service are made similarly. 

In the last general advertisement for proposals for mail service, 
issued now almost a year ago, the number of routes in the several 
states advertised for was as follows: North Carolina, 638, South 
Carolina, 263, Georgia, 519, Florida, 206, Alabama, 576, Mis- 
sissippi, 387, Tennessee, 719, and Kentucky, 717; or a total of 4,025 
routes representing an annual travel of 22,646,694 miles. Propo- 
sals were also invited in this same advertisement for performing 
mail messenger, transfer, and mail station service in the chief cities 
of these Southern states. For this service wagons have to be built in 
accordance with plans and specifications furnished by the Department. 

On the 11th of last March the Second Assistant's office announced 
that it was about to begin the preparation of advertisements inviting 
proposals for carrying the mails on all star and steamboat routes in 
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, 
Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, and all postmasters and 
others were invited to submit suggestions along the trend of the 
following questions : 

Has any post office more frequent mail supply than it needs ? 

Is the service on any route unnecessary in whole or in part ? 

Could any post office be better or more expeditiously supplied from some point 
other than its present base of supply ? 

Does any post office need more frequent mail supply; if so, does the postal 
business at that office warrant the probable increase in cost ? 

Could the mail be advanced or better connections made by a change in any 
existing time schedules ? 

If a new route should be established, what existing service could be dispensed 
with ? 

The advertisements for the above contract section went to press in 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 29 

August. The advertisement for the Southern contract section, 
referred to as having been issued late in the fall of 1891, was again 
referred to in an order of the- Second Assistant Postmaster General, 
dated April 4, 1892. He announced that he had awarded contracts 
on four thousand star and steamboat routes, and would soon make 
awards for 1,600 miscellaneous routes. This order gives certain 
directions to sub-contractors, and quotes a section of the Postal 
Laws and Regulations, as follows : 

" No postmaster, assistant postmaster, or clerk, employed in any post office 
shall be a contractor or concerned in any contract for carrying the mail. Post- 
masters are also liable to dismissal from office for acting as agents of contractors 
or bidders, with or without compensation, in any business, matter, or thing 
relating to the mail service. They are the agents of the Department and cannot 
act in both capacities." 

In accordance with the spirit of the statute the order adds : 

"The wife or husband of a postmaster should not become a sub-contractor; 
neither should a minor child of a postmaster when such an arrangement would 
result in the postmaster being pecuniarily interested." 

In such and in almost numberless other ways are the Argus eyes 
of the Second Assistant Postmaster General's office required to 
watch the contractor and the postmaster, not so much that they need 
watching, but that they might need watching if they were not 
watched. 

In another order of the Second Assistant Postmaster General, 
issued on the day after the date of the one last mentioned, it is 
directed that mails must never be dispatched in advance of the time 
named. The postmasters must see that all pouches are securely 
locked. Mail carriers have the right to transport merchandise out- 
side the mails, but all communications relating to it must be verbal 
(the carrier must not carry outside the mail any written communi- 
cation relating to merchandise); and the registers of the arrivals 
and departures of the mails must be actually and not mechanically 
kept. The order mentions that several postmasters have recently 
been removed on account of a persistent neglect to keep these regis- 
ters properly — reasonably enough, for the postmasters are evidently 
the only check on the contractors. Now and then a mail contractor 
has been found to submit offers to postmasters to secure, upon the 
payment of money considerations, the services of persons to act as 
sub-contractors, and though there is a postal regulation against this, 



30 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

it needs frequent reiteration. It is the contractor, the "star 
router," arid not the sub-contractor, who usually needs the special 
kind of watching. The derelictions of the contractor are usually 
the things he won't do if he can help it. Those of the sub-contractor 
are the things he can't do, no matter how hard he tries. 

Up to a year or more ago mail contractors (many of whom are 
professionals and contract for thousands of routes) were accustomed 
to drop the unprofitable routes and retain the profitable — if they 
could. Under the old method no bidder for carrying the mails was 
released from the obligation implied in his proposal, notwithstanding 
a lower bidder secured the contract, until that lower bidder actually 
began the performance of the service ; so that, if an accepted bidder 
failed to begin the service, the Department was compelled to award 
the route to the next lowest bidder. Taking advantage of this, pro- 
fessional bidders who had submitted proposals with little knowledge 
of the cost of operating the routes, and who found that the routes 
could be sub-let only at a great loss, refused to begin the service, 
hoping to have the routes re-let. To check this the Department 
has refused to compromise in the re-letting of routes upon the basis 
of pecuniary damages resulting from re-letting the service, taking 
the ground that such pecuniary damage does not compensate for the 
annoyance to the people interested in the route, and that what the 
Department wanted was not damages, but a performance of all con- 
tracts. To make its position clear the Department prosecuted one 
contractor and secured his conviction. This resulted uniformly in 
bona fide bids made by those only who intend to perform the service. 

It is true that frauds are sometimes attempted by contractors, but 
the Government espionage is so close and comprehensive that such 
efforts are sure to result in failure and punishment. Not long since 
the general manager of a Western railroad, a millionnaire and a man 
of supposed character, tried to swindle the Government by sending 
over his road, during the period when the mails are weighed for the 
purpose of ascertaining the average amount carried by the road and 
fixing compensation proportionately, a large amount of " dead " 
matter, such as old newspapers. The Government would have over- 
paid this road perhaps 110,000 a year, but the attempted fraud was 
promptly discovered, and the millionnaire manager was duly indicted 
by the grand jury. 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 31 

To hold the transportation service up to the standard required and 
paid for the Division of Inspection of the Second Assistant Post- 
master General's office examines the performance of all classes of 
domestic service. It receives and examines each month thousands 
of reports from postmasters at offices at schedule points, showing the 
day and hour of arrival and departure of mails, and the irregulari- 
ties and failures on the part of contractors and carriers; prepares 
orders making deductions from pay of contractors for non-perform- 
ance of service, or imposing fines for delinquencies of contractors or 
carriers; issues certificates to the Sixth Auditor as to the perform- 
ance of service, which authorize that officer to make the quarterly 
settlements with contractors; authorizes the payment of railway 
postal clerks; considers applications for remissions of fines and 
deductions ; and conducts all correspondence relating to these mat- 
ters. In an average year the gross amount of fines and deductions 
from postal contractors and others is over $1,000 a day, though from 
this sum is deducted in the course of a year about $90,000 for satis- 
factory explanations. The deductions from railroad service amount 
to about $300,000 annually, and the deductions from the star ser- 
vice to over $50,000. The remainder is distributed in small sums 
among the steamboat contractors, and mail messengers, and the postal 
clerks. Generally explanations are satisfactory where acts of Provi- 
dence intervene to prevent a contractor from performing his work 
acceptably. The Johnstown flood, for example, affected several of 
the largest trunk lines of railroad. The contractors in this case used 
every possible endeavor to make connections and put the mails 
through as nearly on time as possible, and the Department, in pur- 
suance of its liberal but just policy, accordingly remitted the usual 
fines. 

Mail messenger service is not performed under formal contracts. 
There are, of course, the same features of advertising at the office 
where the service is to be performed and competitive bidding and 
awards to the lowest bidder; but there is less formality as to the 
bid, and no bond and no contract. The lowest bidder is designated 
for an indefinite period to perform all service that may be required. 
He has the right to resign at any time upon giving thirty days' 
notice, and the Department may re-advertise the service whenever 
it may be thought advisable to do so. 



32 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

Star contracts are made for a specific number of trips per week, 
by a schedule of a certain number of hours running time for each 
trip, and provide that the Department may order the number of 
trips increased with pro rata allowance of pay to the contractor. In 
years past there was also a provision in the contracts to the effect 
that if the Department ordered the trip made with greater speed, 
requiring the contractor to employ additional stock and carriers, he 
should be allowed additional pay, which should bear no greater pro- 
portion to the original pay than the additional stock and carriers 
required for the faster schedule bore to the stock and carriers 
required for the original schedule. Increase in frequency of trips 
was, and is, known as " increased service, " and reduction of running 
time, that is, greater speed, is known as "expedited service." 

It was the action of the Department under these two provisions, 
and particularly under the latter, that led to the so-called star 
route frauds of 1878, 1879, and 1880. A contract would be made, 
say, for once a week service on a slow schedule ; after it was in opera- 
tion a petition, instigated by the contractor, would be presented 
asking for faster time ; the contractor would make affidavit that to 
perform service on the fast schedule would require him to double 
his stock and carriers. The Department, without examining into 
the correctness of his affidavit, would order the faster schedule 
adopted and would double the contractor's pay. Then, perhaps, an 
application would be presented for twice-a-week service which, if 
granted, would again double the contractor's pay, and so on. In 
this way a contract which originally paid the contractor a few hun- 
dred dollars could be made to yield him many thousands. Hun- 
dreds of thousands of dollars were thus paid out of the Treasury. 
This lead to charges of corruption, investigation, and criminal pro- 
ceedings against Departmental officers, contractors, and others. 
Since then no allowances are made to contractors for expedited 
service. If it becomes necessary to adopt a faster schedule on a 
route, and the contractor is unwilling to perform such service with- 
out additional pay, his contract is terminated and the faster service 
is opened to competitive bidding. Thus, any possibility of fraud is 
done away with. 

The Railway Adjustment Division of the Second Assistant's 
office considers applications for the establishment of mail service 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 33 

upon railroads, prepares orders authorizing such service and the 
establishment of railway post-office car service and changes in exist- 
ing service, prepares the orders and instructions for the weighing of 
mails, receives the returns and computes the basis of pay, prepares 
the orders adjusting the pay of railroad companies for carrying the 
mails, and for postal car service, and attends to all correspondence 
relating to this branch of the service. The mail service performed 
by the railroad companies is not under any formal written contract. 
In 1873 Congress enacted a law providing that railroad companies 
should be paid for carrying the mails on the basis of the weights 
carried, and fixed a scale of maximum rates that could be allowed. 
These rates were reduced ten per cent, in 1876 and five per cent, 
additional in 1878. Railroad companies cannot be compelled by the 
Department to carry the mails, but as a general rule they gladly 
avail themselves of the privilege when permitted. When a new 
railroad is completed and the company makes application for the 
establishment of mail service over its line, the Department makes 
an investigation as to the necessity for the service. If the result is 
favorable, and the amount of postal business is thought to be suffi- 
cient to warrant the payment of the maximum rates allowed by law, 
an order is issued authorizing the transportation of mails over the 
line ; after the service is fully in operation a weighing is had of the 
mail actually carried, for a period of thirty consecutive working 
days, to ascertain the average weight of mail per mile that is carried 
each day, and upon this weight the pay is computed. If the benefit 
to the postal service to be derived from the transportation of mails 
on a line will not warrant the payment of the maximum rates for 
the weight carried, a rate less than the maximum is allowed by 
agreement with the railroad company, or the service is not estab- 
lished. The pay thus fixed continues to "the end of the four years 
term for the state in which it is operated. Then another weigh- 
ing is had. Under this arrangement the railroad company must 
carry the mails at least six times a week each way, and the De- 
partment may place mails on any additional trains which the 
company may run. Where the amount of mails carried makes 
it necessary for the company to provide railway post-office cars 
over forty feet in length, for the exclusive use of the Department 
in handling the mails, additional pay is allowed for each line of 



34 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

cars ordered by the Department, according to the length of 
the cars. 

The Post Office Department takes the view that the cooperation, 
and not the antagonism, of the railroads of the country is desired in 
providing mail facilities, and consequently great liberality towards 
them — liberality as great as possible under the laws of Congress 
-and the business requirements of the service — is pursued. The 
interests of the Department' and of the railroads are allied, for 
often the Department is able to put on mails where the enterprise of 
a railroad company is pushing its transportation business with faster 
and more frequent trains, and sometimes a railroad company, lack- 
ing by only a little enough transportation business to enable it to 
put on a newer or a faster train, is enabled to do so with the assist- 
ance furnished by the Department in consideration of its transporta- 
tion of the mails. 

The maximum rates of pay allowable to railroads at the present 
time are, on routes carrying their whole length an average weight 
per day of 

200 pounds $42.75 2,000 pounds $128.25 

500 ,, 64.12 3,500 „ 149.62 

1000 „ 85.50 5,000 ,, 171.00 

1500 „ 106.87 

And for every additional 2000 pounds $21.37. 

The chief item of expense in conducting the postal service is, as 
has doubtless been imagined already, the transportation of the mails, 
— though it is not to be forgotten that there are the items of 
millions for the pay of postmasters and clerks. Almost everywhere 
the earnings of the service — this, too, must already have been 
imagined — are used again for the extension and improvement of 
the service — for the general improvement of it, that is to say, as 
fast as the acts of Congress permit. Only ten states and one terri- 
tory produce more postal revenue than is spent within their borders. 
New York leads, Massachusetts is next, Illinois is third, and Penn- 
sylvania is fourth. Oklahoma is the one territory. Grouping the 
states in regions, the New England States produce $ 1,636, 091. 29 
more than is spent for them; the Middle States produce $3,857,- 
181.23 more. No state on the Pacific slope produces as much as is 
required for the maintenance of its postal service. The same is true 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 35 

of the Southern States. Two of the Western States and one terri- 
tory supply more than they use. The Southern States use $3,888,- 
973.23 more than is collected; the Western States $6,143,677.18 
more; the Pacific States $1,871,806.04 more. Without taking into 
account the amounts expended last year for transportation, all the 
increase of receipts (nearly half a million dollars) in the New Eng- 
land States, except $107,000, went back into improved service. In 
the Middle States, out of over one and a half million dollars increase 
all but $10,000 went back to improve the service. In the Southern 
States the increase was nearly eight hundred thousand dollars, and 
all but $15,000 went back to improve the service. In the Western 
States all the increased receipts and $677,591 in addition were spent 
for the benefit of the service ; and in the states on the Pacific Slope 
the additional receipts of $474,644, and $278,539 more, were spent 
to better the postal facilities. 

It is well known that many of the large city offices yield a net 
revenue to the postal service. It is frequently stated that the New 
York office alone receives above $4,000,000 annually more than it 
costs to operate it; and while there is no sure basis for making a 
calculation of this sort (inasmuch as the item of transportation of 
mails to and from a place like New York cannot be charged against 
that city in any definite and right proportion), it is of course true 
that the New York office and many others yield millions of dollars 
of net revenue to the Department. This fact has been the reason 
why propositions have been numerously made to reduce the 
postage on letters in large cities, (which are intended for de- 
livery within the limits of those cities,) and to have pneumatic tube 
service, and other new additions to the postal facilities. The reason 
why these claims are somewhat illogical is that the letter writers of 
the large cities pay not merely for the postage of letters intended 
for delivery within their own towns, but for the privilege of sending 
letters to the farthest qiuarter of the country, — and receiving 
answers back. It would not be maintained that no post route and 
no mail facilities should be extended to localities where the service 
is not expected to be self-sustaining; for in hundreds of cases it 
costs fifty cents and more to send letters to their destinations, where 
the charge is only the ordinary two-cent stamp. It is not simply 
the postage on the letter which travels a mile that the letter writer 



36 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

pays. It is the privilege of sending a letter three thousand, or even 
six thousand miles, for two cents, that he pays for. Major George 
L. Seybolt, Post Office Inspector in Charge at San Francisco, lately 
returned from an examination of the postal service of Alaska. 
Alaska is as far west of San Francisco as San Francisco is west of 
the Atlantic Ocean. The remotest office belonging to the United 
States is at Mitchell, far up in the interior of Alaska. The spot 
is a little mining camp near where the waters of Forty Mile Creek 
flow into the Yukon River. The people are not quite certain 
whether the United States or Canada owns the land, for the bound- 
ary line is quite near; but at any rate the United States has the 
office. The mail is carried irregularly by any one who chances to 
be going that way. Of course, nearly all the small merchandise 



IN THE UPPER PENINSULA OF MICHIGAN. 

for points in Alaska goes by mail — boots, shoes, silver ware, 
pictures, clothing, millinery, groceries, and in fact anything not 
liquid or alive that can be made up into a four-pound package. 
The Government charges are much lower than any express or 
freight company could afford to make ; and hence the additional loss 
on this far-away business, which is not merely the transportation of 
letters. 

A year or more ago numerous complaints were received from 
Texas that the star service there was irregular and generally ineffi- 
cient, and public attention was again drawn to the evils incident to 
the sub-letting of star route contracts. It is well known that the 
bulk of the star route contracting is done by professional bidders, 
or "star routers," as they are called. These men make hundreds, 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 37 

or even thousands, of contracts. They of course sub-let them, 
sometimes at ruinously low figures, as the disposition of many a 
sub-contractor to give up his work testifies. As has recently been 
stated by the Department, a great diversity of opinion has existed 
respecting the advisability of enacting new laws or the creation of 
additional regulations, the outcome of which would be to discourage 
competition, thereby largely increasing the cost of the star service 
without substantial assurance that there would arise from the new 
conditions a marked change in the performance of the service itself. 
Two methods have been recommended by those advocating a 
change; first, to prohibit sub-letting altogether; second, to require 
the approval of bidders' sureties by postmasters at post offices upon 
or contiguous to the routes to which the proposals relate. It has 
been claimed for the first proposition that it would prevent specula- 
tion in mail contracts, because no person would bid for service on a 
large number of routes knowing that he could not sub-let them. In 
opposition, it is asserted that while sub-letting directly would be 
prevented, the contractors could still hire carriers who, after per- 
forming the service, might have no means to secure their earnings 
by evidences of agreements that could be recognized by the Depart- 
ment. The purpose of the second change would be to exclude sub- 
letting bidders and to cause contracts to be let to persons residing 
upon the various routes or near to them. For it is argued that com- 
petition among speculators is so great that they in turn must sub-let 
at figures below which inferior equipment is necessary and good 
service impossible. But under the present system pay is not 
awarded unless the registers of the postmasters show that the service 
has actually been performed; and an objection easy enough to be 
thought of is that, under the proposed change, intending local con- 
tractors might form combinations and increase prices inordinately. 
The Department is rather inclined, in choosing between these 
evils, to a more rigorous supervision of all the work; and this is one 
of the reasons why it is more important now than ever before that 
all complaints should be submitted specifically and without delay, 
as cause for them arises. An increase of ten per cent, in the cost of 
the star service would necessitate an additional annual appropria- 
tion by Congress of over half a million dollars for this service 
alone. The Department, insisting upon a sharper supervision, and 



38 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

» 

taking advantage, too, of the closeness of competition among bidders, 
has been able to prove the wisdom of its position by pointing out 
that under the letting of the star service in the fourth contract sec- 
tion, which took effect July 1, 1890, there was an annual saving of 
over $213,000, which would be for the contract term of four years a 
saving of over $850,000 ; and that under the letting of the third 
contract section, which took effect July 1, 1891, the reduction per 
annum was over $100,000, or a reduction for the contract term of 
four years of over $400,000. The competition was sharp enough. 
The number of routes embraced in this last contract section was over 
4,000, and the total number of sealed proposals almost 100,000, so 
that the average number of bids per route was from twenty to 
twenty-five. 

Not the least significant development of Postmaster General 
Wanamaker's desire to facilitate the delivery of mail in country 
districts is the possibility of a large and important addition, but not 
an addition at all onerous, to the duties of the mail contractor. It 
is believed that if letter boxes for the collection of mail were put up 
at central points in farming, lumbering, or mining communities, the 
mail could be collected from them and properly disposed of by the 
contractor without trouble, greatly to the accommodation of these 
far-off letter writers ; and not the least of the benefits likely to be 
derived from this proposed departure would be, as Congressman 
Nelson Dingley of Maine has pointed out, as in the case of the 
extension of the free delivery by carrier to villages and rural com- 
munities, the freer interchange of letters and newspapers, and of 
general intelligence, and hence a less marked tendency on the part 
of country people towards life in the city. 

The " regulation wagon service " is performed in some forty of 
the chief cities of the country. It provides for the transportation of 
mails from railroad stations to post offices, and every city dweller 
has seen the lumbering red, white, and blue express wagons trudg- 
ing backward and forth. Every intending contractor must per- 
sonally investigate the extent of the service to be required. There 
is no diminution of compensation for partial discontinuance of the 
service, nor is there any increase of compensation for any increase 
of service that may be required. Bidders know this, and make 
allowance. The regulation wagon is expensive. It requires con- 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 



39 



stant care and frequent painting to make its appearance creditable, 
and it is the more expensive because, after the contract term is over, 
it cannot be made of service to the owner without being radically 
changed; for its subsequent use is forbidden by the Government 
until after the removal of all the insignia of the Government ser- 
vice. In about forty cities of secondary importance the screen- 
wagon service, as it is called, is provided. The ordinary mail 
messenger service did not afford sufficient protection for the mails, 
and in the number of cases above mentioned the messengers were 
required to furnish covered wagons, protected by screens, and pro- 




TOB THE REGULATION WAGON SERVICE. 



vided with waterproof curtains. The regulation wagon service 
costs perhaps half a million dollars annually. 

The sub-contractor does not complain much of the hardships which 
the professional "star router" puts upon him. He has taken the 
work to do at the given figure and knows that he must perform it 
or lose his pay. Nor does he complain much of the difficulties and 
dangers of wind and water. He provides himself with the kind of 
clothes required to protect him, and in the wilder regions, of course, 
goes armed. There is nothing timid nor particularly gentle about 
the mail carrier. No doubt he is provided in the first place with 
ample store of brawn and courage, and he almost always feels an 
additional determination not to be interfered with, especially with 
his added importance as an agent of the Government. 



40 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



One hears thrilling stories of the bravery of these hardy fellows. 
In Johnson County, Wyoming, the seat of the Rustler cattle war, 
Contractor Stringer had been unable during the winter to carry the 
mail across the Big Horn Mountains from Buffalo to Ten Sleep. 
In the belief that the summer season was sufficiently advanced to 
allow the trip to be made, he started from Buffalo on a strong- 
saddle horse and with four mules packed with mail pouches. 
Twenty-five miles of hard travelling brought him to an emer- 
gency cabin with his stock completely played out. Here he 
placed some mail on a toboggan, and, strapping on a pair of snow 
shoes, made another start for Ten Sleep. In about fifteen miles 

one of the snow 
shoes was broken. 
The nearest haven 
was Stringer's own 
ranch, twelve miles 
distant. He was 
five days getting 
to it. Most of the 
way he crawled on 
his hands and 
knees. With hun- 
ger and exhaustion 
he was all but 
dead. Resting 
three days at his 
ranch and making a new shoe, Stringer returned to the station for 
the abandoned stock and mail, and in a week put the mail through 
to Ten Sleep. 

The women are self-reliant and determined also. Mrs. Clara 
Carter, of West Ellsworth, Maine, drives the mail coach from that 
place to Ellsworth, seven miles away. A Lewiston Journal cor- 
respondent, who recently made the trip with her, saw her deliver 
twelve packages and as many letters, besides several papers, along 
the route, attend to errands and look after two passengers, all in an 
hour and twenty minutes. This energetic woman rises early in 
the morning, does the cooking for five in the family, starts at 
7 for the city with the mail and numerous errands that are 




THE SCREEN WAGON. 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 41 

given to her without memoranda. She returns at noon, gets dinner, 
goes to the blueberry fields and picks ten quarts of berries or more 
in the afternoon, and in the cool of evening does the family washing 
and ironing and other household tasks. This amount of work she 
performs six days in the week, varying the routine in the afternoon, 
out of berry season, by sewing for the family. She finds time, too, to 
play on the parlor organ an hour or more in the evening, or to enter- 
tain visitors. 

There is a brave little woman mail carrier in Oregon. She 
travels from the head of navigation on Siuslaw's River over the 
Coast Range Mountains, and then follows the river through Hale's 
post office within fifteen miles of Eugene City. Her route is 
twenty miles long, and right in the heart of the mountains. She 
carries the mail night and day, and fears nothing. She rides horse- 
back and carries a revolver. Miss Westman is a plump brunette, 
twenty-two years old. Her father and uncle operate a stage line. 
At Hale's station the young woman meets her father and takes the 
mail from Eugene City. Miss Westman has never met with a mis- 
hap. On one of her trips last year she found three good-sized bears 
in the road, right in front of her. The horse became frightened, 
threw his rider to the ground, and ran back. Miss Westman started 
after the runaway, remounted, and rode right through the savage 
line, and, strange to say, she was not attacked. Some friends later 
went to the place and killed the bears. On another occasion Miss 
Westman met two bears, but they did not molest her. 

Another brave woman carries the mails in the gold mining coun- 
try of Okanogan County, Washington. A recent visitor to that 
neighborhood, Mr. John F. Plummer of New York, rode in stages 
and wagons, and tramped three hundred and fifty miles away from 
the railroad and back, over stage routes and trails, near the Cana- 
dian border line. At a station, called Malott after the first settler 
in the locality, the party stopped for food, and were entertained 
by Mrs. Malott, and especially by her very interesting daughter, 
who carries the mail on horseback sixteen miles a day. 

Not so very long ago (but it is a rare thing now) the mail carrier 
had to fight the Indian. The story of Danny Redmond, the rider 
on the Sunset Trail, is told by a writer for the Chicago Inter Ocean. 

The Sunset Trail wound its way over the dreary plains of Kansas, 



42 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



across the Cimmarron, and on and on into the great State of the Lone 
Star. But Danny's route only extended to Crooked Creek, a 
town consisting of a grocery store. At this time the population of 
Ford County could have been easily corralled on a quarter section, 
and had comfortable standing-room at that. Danny was an apostle to 
these lone settlers, and only one who has experienced the appalling 
loneliness of existence in those thinly peopled plains, where you can 




MISS MALOTT, 
Who carries the mail sixteen miles a day in Northern Washington. 

see your next door neighbor's shanty on clear days only, can realize 
the joy with which they heralded this blue-eyed, brown-haired 
bunch of turbulence. 

"Two o'clock," would comment some unkempt denizen, consult- 
ing the sun. "Danny'll be here in ten minutes." 

They would look till their eyes ached afar to where the Sunset 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 43 

Trail tipped over the roll of prairie at the horizon. Soon their 
watching would be rewarded, and steadily and swiftly would the bay 
mare Dolly bear her rider down the trail in that swinging, inde- 
fatigable gallop of the mustang. 

Perchance some settler coming into the post-office would jog in 
the path that Danny chose. "Git out o' the way of the United 
Statesmail!" would come the warning, and he would prudently 
"git" to the other side of the road, for Danny could and would 
shoot, and, besides, didn't he have every one of those fellows down 
at the office to stand at his back to the last shot? 

How longingly and expectantly those eager pioneers would watch 
the letters distributed! Though, perhaps they had no grounds for 
expecting a letter, yet their hope did not sink until the last one was 
put away. 

Then the return mail would be made up and at the exact minute 
Danny would vault into the big Mexican saddle — almost as big as 
he and Dolly — and with the all-potent mail he would recommence 
his long ride, never stopping as he tried a shot at some unwieldy 
rattlesnake that had dragged its mottled form out on the trail to 
loll in the sun, who would not be able to wiggle into the tall grass 
ere the United States mail was upon him. Along the route the 
settlers would come out of their shanties half bent and wave their 
sombreros and cheer the buoyant rider. 

Wabash was the only stop. It was of the same importance as 
Crooked Creek only there were two houses instead of one, or rather 
a double house ; for the owners of the claims that joined up there 
occupied a shanty of two compartments, one on each claim. Some- 
how or other the scamp would sit straighter in the saddle and pull 
Dolly's head up higher when they approached Wabash and a pretty 
little peach of a girl would come out and chat with the carrier 
while her spectacled father's attention was riveted on the letter 
packages. Dolly would probably think that Danny was getting 
rather weighty on one side as he bent low in the saddle danger- 
ously close to that pink sun bonnet. And the scoffing gopher 
that sat up conveniently close to his burro would wonder for 
what reason a fellow would want to bite a pretty girl like her. 
But Rosie didn't seem to mind the punishment a bit. And I 
fear Danny would fain have lingered longer at the unprepos- 



# 



44 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



sessing post of Wabash but — the United States mail must be 
carried on. 

Night would fall ere he crossed the dark Cimmarron and on the 
auspicious nights the moon was well up in the sky when he rode 
with a whoop and halloo, that stilled the howling of the coyotes, 
into Fort Dodge — the journey done. 

One day a cowboy came into the fort with a jaded mustang and a 
slash across his cheek, and reported that he had been chased by a 
band of Arapahoes. Those children of nature had grown insolent 
with well feeding and little work. They often became thus at 
irregular intervals, and, breaking from the reservation, swept 

north upon the 
scattered settlers 
of the plains. 

Danny was pre- 
paring to start 
upon his route 
when the news 
came. 

"You oughtn't 
to go, Dan, " they 
said, "for they'll 
strike right up 
the Cimmarron 
like they allays 
do, and more'n 
likely fall afoul o' you. If you do your scalp'll dangle from some 
red nigger's belt before mornun'." 

"I'm not skeert, " replied he, settling himself in the saddle, "and 
besides, the folks at Wabash and the Crick ought to be warned. 
And you know the mail has to go as long as it's anyways possible." 
The spur touched Dolly's flanks more often than usual, but she 
kept up bravely, and Danny clattered into Wabash, ahead of time. 
Imparting the alarming intelligence to old man Beck, the post- 
master, and cautioning him to get the family ready and start for the 
post without further delay, he rode on toward Crooked Creek. 

Danny clinched the saddle tighter and looked to his weapons ere 
he mounted for the home spurt. He was not afraid. Had he been 




FOR THE STAGE LINES OF THE FAR WEST. 



THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS. 45 

a coward he would have remained safely at the fort. But an 
ominous dread fell upon him as he thought of the dark Cimmarron. 

He arrived at Wabash and looked in at the open door of the Beck 
and Lartan households. Everything was topsy-turvey as left in the 
hurry of departure. 

"Well, Rosie is safe anyway," he confided to Dolly with a sigh. 

Their flying shadows grew longer and longer, and finally night 
dropped on the plains. Before him loomed the Cimmarron. He 
could see the misty vapor rolling up like smoke. 

"If they're anywhere they'll be down there," he mused. 
"They'll want to lay along the trail, and catch some of the settlers 
making for Dodge. Wonder if I hadn't better cross further down ? " 

It was a good idea, and he turned Dolly from the trail and 
directed his course further down the river. 

The reins changed from right to left as he entered the mist, and 
his right fell upon the protruding butt of a revolver in his belt. A 
twig cracked under the horse's feet and gave the rider a start. 
Down into the Cimmarron they splashed. Dolly pulled at the rein. 

"No, no, Doll; can't drink this time," he murmured. 

He climbed the bank on the opposite side and rode out on the 
plain, breathing easier. 

"Spang!" 

Dolly bolted forward and a flame of light flashed in the darkness 
up the river. 

'Yip-yip-yip!" It was the war-cry of the Arapahoe. With a 
yell of defiance he fired at the dark mass tearing after him, and 
bending low over the saddle horn spoke encouragingly to the horse : 

" Dolly, if you ever run, do it now. You're faster thun any of 
them. Dolly, if you'll only try — look out for the gopher hills — 
that's a good horse. Whew! that one was close. Now you're get- 
tin' down to it, Dolly. We'll beat the red devils yit. On, Doll. 
Remember, we've got the mail, and it must be saved. Here's the 
trail. Now, see how fast you can run. Ouch! O God, I'm hit, 
and hit home at that. It's all with you, Dolly! it's all with you." 

And he clung to the saddle horn and gave the mustang free rein. 
She ran like a frightened antelope, hardly seeming to touch the 
ground, while Danny with closed eyes and clenched teeth clung to 
the saddle horn with the desperation of death. 



46 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

" Halt ! Who comes there ? " challenged the guard, as a horse and 
rider came into the fort. • 

"The United States mail," came the faint reply, and Dolly 
galloped up with blood in her nostrils and blood on her flanks, 
quivering like an aspen. 

" Dan, are you hurt ? " asked the soldier, lifting him from the 
saddle. 

"I'm hit dead," he replied, with a moan. They carried him into 
the barrack room, and the surgeon was summoned, but there was no 
hope, he said. Soon the news spread to the camp, and the rough 
soldiers and fugitive settlers gathered around him, watching with 
breathless interest for the end to come. A girl came pushing her 
way through the crowd, wringing her hands in agony. She bent 
down and took the sufferer's hand. 

"Rosie," he said, with a pained smile. "I'm a goner, I guess. 
Good by, Rosie ; you can have Dolly, and take care of her, for 
she did all she could to save me. Good by, boys, — Yonder 's — 
the Cimmarron. That's a good horse, Dolly." 

"Delirium," said the surgeon gravely. 

" Get out of the way — of the — United — States — mail — " 

That was the end. The mail was safe, but the carrier was dead. 




HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 

HE Bureau of the Railway Mail Service, the largest 
and most important in the office of the Second 
Assistant Postmaster General, has charge of the 
§ movement of mails over all railroad routes, deter- 
mines what trains shall carry the mails, directs 
the dispatch, distribution, and separation of mail 
matter in railway post offices and the principal post 
offices, conducts the weighing of mails when ordered, prepares the 
orders for appointment, removal, promotion and reduction of postal 
clerks, has supervision of the discipline of the employees of that 
branch of the service, and conducts the correspondence relating to 
these matters. This branch of the Department has a general super- 
intendent in immediate charge who, with the assistant general 
superintendent, has his headquarters in the Department ; but in order 
to supervise the innumerable details of such an extended service, 
it is necessary to have division superintendents, each in charge 
of a certain quarter of the country. At present there are 
eleven division superintendents with headquarters respectively 
in Boston, New York, WashingtoD, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chi- 
cago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Cleveland, St. Paul, and Fort 
Worth; and these have chief clerks, stationed in other important 
cities. 

" The travelling postal car, " said Postmaster General Wanamaker 
once, "though a familiar sight, has but few real acquaintances 
among the people. It thunders on day and night, over every rail- 
road, full of bustling clerks, taking up sacks of mail, sorting them 
between stations, and laying them down at proper destinations. 
Over six thousand men, full of intelligence and pluck, are on their 
feet swinging to the motion of the train, exposed to danger, 
deprived of their homes, making ready tons of letters and news- 

47 



48 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



papers for quick deliveries. The railway mail is the spinal colurrm 
of the service." 

"Railway postal clerks," writes Mr. George B. Armstrong of 
the Chicago Evening Post, son of the George B. Armstrong whose 
persistent genius caused the railway post office system to be estab- 
lished, "are the most intelligent men in the Department. Theirs 
is no perfunctory labor. It is intellectual , effort, if not of the 
highest, then of a high order. * There is no creative talent required, but 
a memory whose tenacity shall equal the jaws of a sturdy bull dog." 




THE PONY EXPRESS — THE RELAY. 



Yet the general public knows almost nothing of the railway postal 
car. One sees the post office clerk, lives a neighbor to him, quar- 
rels with him, perhaps, because he cannot do everything in no time. 
But the railway postal clerks are travelling almost always, except 
when they are sleeping. They are separated from their families, 
they work at night cooped up in cars; yet they handle everybody's 
mail, expedite it hours and days with singular quickness, accuracy, 
and honesty. They perform, in short, the most arduous as well as 
the most important part of the postal "work. The inspectors are the 
eyes and ears of the service ; the railway postal clerks the deft, brain- 
trained hands. 




HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 49 

Even the largest figures that can be quoted out of the records of 
the Department fail to give a notion of the magnitude of the railway 
mail service. The 6,400 postal clerks traverse 160,000 miles of 
railroad. They actually distribute mails on over 140,000 miles 
(the service on the rest is performed by means of closed pouches, 
carried by lines upon which no distributions are made). The roll- 
ing stock of the railway post office lines consists of over 500 whole 
cars in use and over 100 kept in reserve. 1,800 apartment cars are 
in use and over 500 are kept in reserve. So that the total number 
of cars under the control of the Department is almost 2,000. The 
number of cars in use or in reserve increases at the rate of over a 
hundred yearly. The departmental report for 1891 recorded that 
nearly 8,000 miles of additional railway post office service had been 
established, 1,300 miles in the Pacific Coast States, 3,500 in the 
other Western States, 2,400 in the Southern States, and about 1,000 
in the Northeastern States. At Chicago 145 mail trains arrived and 
144 departed daily ; at Cincinnati the numbers were 70 and 73 ; 
at St. Louis 65 and 72, and at St. Paul 75 and 74. The increase 
in the number of pieces of mail distributed by railway postal clerks 
is constant, and the decrease in the number of errors is equally 
marked, as the following brief tables show : 

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 1890: — 
Number of pieces distributed ....... 7,865,438,101 

Number of errors . . 2,812,574 

I (Or one error for 2,797 correct distributions.) 

j For the fiscal year ended June 30, 1891 : — 

Number of pieces distributed ....... 8,564,252,563 

Number of errors 2,042,049 

(Or one error for 4,194 correct distributions.) 

The fiscal year ended June 30, 1892, also showed a remarkable 
improvement. The number of pieces handled was 9,245,994,775, 
and the number of errors 1,691,389, or one error in 5,466 pieces 
handled ! 

It shows how hard the men try and how well they succeed. They 
are obliged to try and to succeed, for during an average year 15,000 
" case examinations " are held, at which 15,000,000 cards are distrib- 
uted; and the average per cent, correct is 93 or higher. And the 
railway postal clerks correct the errors, supply the watchfulness and 
brains, even, of the great public. For they withdraw from railway 



* •* * 

tter pouches earned by the Pony 
ess were not opened between St. 
ph and Sacramento. 



50 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



post offices in a year and forward to designated post offices for treat- 
ment perhaps 8,000,000 pieces of matter imperfectly addressed; 
and under this treatment more than 2,500,000 pieces are returned to 




wi|w*v w--^--- -- 



LOADING FOR THE FAST MAIL AT NEW YORK. 



writers, and two millions and a ' quarter are corrected and for- 
warded to addressees. This keeps out of the Dead Letter Office 
almost 5,000,000 pieces of mail matter. And the number of 
errors made by the public, as shown by the record, exceeds 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 51 

those made by the railway post offices by over 5,000,000 
annually ! 

At the head of the Railway Mail Service is Capt. James E. White 
of Chicago, a gallant Iowa soldier, a clerk under Armstrong as early 
as 1866, and for a long time division superintendent of the Rail- 
way Mail Service at Chicago. The assistant general superintendent, 
Mr. William P. Campbell, is also a Chicago man. He entered 
the service in 1868, and was for a long time General Superintendent 
Armstrong's secretary. Hardly a man in the service is more accom- 
plished than he. The chief clerk of the service is Mr. Alexander Grant, 
a Michigan man. He was a clerk in the service for a long time. 
He is now accounted one of the most popular fellows in Washington, 
as he is surely one of the most efficient of the postal officers. Cap- 
tain White's room is on the second floor at the Seventh Street side 
of the Department building. Mr. Campbell spends much of his 
time in the very important work of examining personally the rail- 
way service in various parts of the country. In the room next to 
Captain White is Mr. Grant. Routine exactions keep him in 
Washington most of the time. 

Take a letter mailed in the post office at Exeter, New Hampshire, 
and addressed to some person at Elk Lawn, Siskiyou County, Cali- 
fornia. It is to go from the foot of the White Mountains to the 
shadow of Mount Shasta. The mailing clerk in the post-office at 
Exeter places this letter in a package marked "Western States. " 
The package is enclosed in a pouch sent from the Exeter office to 
the mail car running from Portland to Boston. The clerks upon 
the line, upon opening this pouch, take the package in which the 
letter for Elk Lawn has been placed and distribute it in what is 
called the " Western Case, " which contains the separations for the 
Western States and Territories. This is for the purpose of getting 
together all mail for Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada. 
These packages, when "tied out," are placed in a pouch at Boston, 
and sent to the postal car at the Boston and Albany Railroad station. 
The pouch is taken direct from one depot to another by a messenger 
who contracts to transport the mails between the depots and the 
post office in Boston. Sometimes the time is so short between the 
arrival of one train and the departure of another that if the pouches 
had to go to the post office they would miss the train and be delayed 




o 

M 

H 
go 

lj 
< 

H 

H 
O 

Q 

w 

H 

«! 

< 

El, 

O 
K 

CO 

« 

H 

H 

a 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 53 

from six to twelve hours. This is where the mail messenger ser- 
vice comes in. 

The package marked "Western States" has been "stated," as 
they say. The clerks take these packages to a case where each box 
is designated by a state, and they separate all that mail. This 
separation is completed on the Boston and Albany line before the 
train reaches Albany, and the mail is put in a pouch marked "No. 
2 West." It is marked "No. 2," because it is the last matter that the 
clerks have to handle. "No. 1" is the immediate mail to New 
York and is worked first. "No. 3 West" (for sometimes they have 
a "No. 3 ") would be mail for Michigan and the intermediate states. 
The Boston and Albany usually has enough mail to make up one 
pouch for Ohio, one for Michigan, and one for Indiana. 

At Albany the Boston and Albany car is run up alongside the 
postal car of the New York and Chicago line, and the mails are 
transferred from one line to the other in short order by the postal 
clerks and railway men. This connection at Albany is made four 
times a day. After the mail train has left Albany, the clerks in the 
New York and Chicago railway post office open this pouch that we 
have followed, and separate the packages. California, Oregon, and 
Nevada are put in different sacks, a sack for each state. There is 
matter enough for that. The mail for California on this particular 
line between New York and Chicago is distributed between Albany 
and Syracuse. The mail for the southern part of the state, as for 
Los Angeles and San Diego, is separated from that for the balance 
of the state in order that it may be forwarded from Cleveland or 
Toledo, by St. Louis, Kansas City, and Albuquerque. The mail 
for the main portion of the State of California continues on the New 
York and Chicago line and beyond to Sacramento, and our particular 
letter for Elk Lawn would be put by the clerk running between 
Albany and Syracuse in the package marked " Ogden and San Fran- 
cisco, Cal."; and this package is not opened until it reaches the 
clerks running between these two points. The mail for the southern 
part of California is put up in packages as indicated above. The 
mail for upper California is not handled between Syracuse and Ogden, 
except as it crosses Chicago in a pouch. The pouch is transferred 
at Chicago, of course, from the New York and Chicago postal car to 
the Chicago and Omaha. Seven or eight two-horse loads are carted 



54 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



across the city in this way at each transfer. The New York and 
Chicago train, indeed, is made up of six postal cars, each sixty feet 
long, all jammed full. 

But to take up our Exeter letter again. At Ogden the pouch 




POUCHING THE MAIL. 



which was made up on the New York and Chicago line between 
Albany and Syracuse is opened and the mail is distributed again. 
The letter for Elk Lawn is placed in a package marked "Portland 
and San Francisco, No. 2." The package mailed for the first sta- 
tions on this line, those, say, between Sacramento and Red Bluff, 
are marked "No. 1." This specialization of the work is to enable the 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 55 

clerks to complete their distributions before passing the first impor- 
tant stations. In making the distributions of mails (a simple sepa- 
ration, such as is made of California mail between Albany and 
Syracuse), the clerk is required to make direct packages for all cities 
for which he finds sufficient mail to make it an object: for instance, 




DISTRIBUTING THE MAIL BY STATES AND ROUTES. 

for San Francisco, Sacramento, Stockton, San Jose, Los Angeles, 
Santa Barbara, and San Diego; for where there are five or more 
letters for one office they are tied up separately. Elk Lawn is 
a very small office, and ordinarily there would not be enough 
mail for it to require it to be made up separately. Consequently 
our letter is put in what is called the "road package." The clerks of 



>6 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



the Sacramento and Portland line put the letter to Elk Lawn in a 
special package marked "Sisson Dis." and this package is put off at 
Sisson station. "Dis." means distribution, and the Sisson post- 
master is to dispatch, by side or star routes, the letters embraced in 
.the package which he has received, to their various destinations. 
He makes up the letters for Elk Lawn and puts them in a pouch 




THE INTERIOR OF A POSTAL, CAR. 



with packages for other stations along the stage route, and sends 
them out three times a week. The pouch is overhauled at every 
post office on the stage route, and the letters that are left go on in 
turn to their destinations. The stage drivers used to complain that 
it delayed them at many of the post offices to wait for postmasters to 
pick out from the general batch the letters intended for their offices, 
and hence the recent order of the Department that the postmasters at 
distributing points like Sisson should "tie out" the little packages 
of letters, intended for offices on the radiating routes. 

So the Exeter letter reaches Elk Lawn. It has been handled in all 
these postal cars by all these clerks, and has travelled all these three 
thousand miles and more. But the time has not been so very good. 
The connection is not close at Boston, nor is it possible to have it 
always close at a place like Sisson. But the division superinten- 
dents and the chief clerks of the Railway Mail Service, under the 
direction of the General Superintendent and the Second Assistant 
Postmaster General, are always studying how these connections 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 



57 



may be made better, and contractors in almost innumerable instances, 
and railroads even, have rearranged their schedules in order that 
all the boundless, intricate network of transportation lines of all 
sorts may be made a regularly, closely interwoven warp and 
woof, and not mere shreds and patches. With the unvarying 
increase in routes and post offices, the tasks for the railway postal 
clerks to learn become harder and more numerous. But probably 
more than a thousand of these sharp fellows could sit down and 
recite the detailed travels of a letter, flying as if with wings from any 
edge of the country to any other over dozens of different post routes. 
" The New York and Chicago Fast Mail " has been passed over in 
the above description with scanty notice. The finest train leaves 
New York at nine at night. # 

" It must not be supposed, " 
writes ex-Postmaster Gen- 
eral James, in one of his 
graphic articles in Scrib- 
ner's, "that everything has 
been left until the last mo- 
ment and that the mail- 
matter has been tumbled 
into the cars on the eve of 
departure, to be handled as 
best it may in the short run 
to Albany; for under such 
conditions the task would 
be an impossibility even to 
an army of trained hands. 
Work has been in progress 
since four o'clock in the 
afternoon, and it has been 
steady, hard labor every 

minute of the time. The five cars have been backed down to the 
tracks opposite Forty-Fifth Street, and have been so placed that they 
are convenient of access to the big lumbering mail wagons which 
are familiar sights in the streets of the metropolis. The crew of 
nineteen men, skilled in the handling of mail matter, and thorough 
experts in the geography of the country, reported to the chief clerk 




CASES IN A POSTAL CAR. 



58 



THE STOKY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 




A VERY DIFFICULT ADDRESS — 
KNOWN AS "A STICKER." 



and took up their stations \j 
in the various cars at the 
hour named. At the same time the 
wagons began arriving from the 
general post office with their tons 
of matter which had 'originated' 
in New York, and were soon trans- 
ferring their loads to the cars, where agile hands were in waiting 
to receive them. 

44 Before we deal with the mail matter, let us look at the cars and 
the men who occupy them. The train, as it leaves New York, is 
made up of six, and sometimes seven cars which are placed immedi- 
ately behind the engine, and are followed by express and baggage 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 59 

cars and one passenger coach. The car next to the engine is devoted 
entirely to letter mail, and the four following it to papers and pack- 
ages. The letter car is fifty feet in length, while those for the 
newspaper mail are ten feet longer. All are uniform in width, nine 
feet eight inches, and are six feet nine inches in the clear. When 
newly built, before long and hard service had told on their appear- 
ance, their outsides were white in color with cream tinted border- 
ings and gilt ornamentations, and were highly varnished. Midway 
on the outside, and below the windows of each car, is a large oval 
gilt finished frame within which is painted the name of the car with 
the words, 4 United States Post Office ' above and below. The cars 
used by the New York Central are named for the governors of the 
State, and the members of President Garfield's cabinet. Along the 
upper edge and centre are painted in large gilt letters the words, 
4 The Fast Mail Train, ' while on a line with these letters at the other 
end, in a square, are the words in like lettering, w New York Cen- 
tral ' and 'Lake Shore.' The frieze and minute trimmings around 
the windows are of gilt finish. The body of the car also contains 
other ornamentation, including the coat-of-arms of the United 
States. The running gear is of the most approved pattern. The 
platforms are enclosed by swinging doors which when opened afford 
a protected passage between the cars. This arrangement, no doubt, 
suggested the modern improvement now known as the vestibule 
train. The letter car is provided with a fc mail catcher,' which is 
placed at a small door through which mail pouches are snatched from 
conveniently placed posts at wayside stations where stops are not 
made. Each car is divided into three sections, all fitted up alike 
with conveniences for the service to be performed. The letter car, 
however, is somewhat differently arranged from the others, to meet 
the requirements of that particular branch of the work. 

"In the first section of the letter car are received the pouches 
from the general post office, which when opened are found to contain 
letters done up in packages of about one hundred marked for Michi- 
gan, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Montana, 
Dakota, and California. When this mass of matter has been 
emptied out of the pouches, and, in the vernacular of the service, 
4 dumped up ' preparatory to distribution, the section is clear for 
the registered mail which is worked in it. Before this is accom- 



60 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



plished, however, much work is clone ; in fact, a sort of rough dis- 
tribution is made. All -packages which are directed to one office 
are distributed into pouches, which are afterward stored away until 
the towns are reached. The other packages are carried into the 
letter department for distribution, where a rack, similar to those 
seen in almost every post office, although space is thoroughly econ- 
omized, is used for the purpose. To give a slight idea of the work 

done in this section it may 
be mentioned that the dis- 
tribution for New York 
State alone requires 325 
boxes. Still there is plenty 
of space, otherwise the third 
section of the car would not 
be used, as it is, for the dis- 
tribution of Montana and 
Dakota newspapers. How 
closely everything is packed 
and all available space util- 
ized may be imagined when 
it is stated that for this 
newspaper mail ninety-five 
pouches are hung in the sec- 
tion, and that there is still 
sufficient room for the 
storage of pouches locked 
up and ready for delivery, 
and also for the sealed 
registered mail. A separa- 
tion of the California mail 
is also made in this car, so that when it reaches Chicago the 
pouches into which the matter is placed are transferred without 
delay, thus saving twenty-four hours on the time to the Pacific Coast, 
not hy any means an unimportant accomplishment. 

M There have been received in this car before it moves out of the 
Grand Central station, between 1,000 and 1,500 packages of letters, 
and in addition forty or fifty sacks of Dakota and Montana papers. 
To handle this mass of correspondence there are six men in addition 




POUCHING NEWSPAPERS FOR CALIFORNIA 
IN CAR NO. 5. 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 61 

to the clerk in charge. The second clerk handles letters for Ohio, 
Dakota, and Montana; the third clerk takes charge of those for New 
York State ; the fourth, Illinois ; the fifth opens all pouches labelled, 
"New York and Chicago Railway Post Office,' distributes their 
contents, and afterward works on Dakota and Montana papers ; the 
sixth, Michigan State letters, and the seventh, California letter 
mail. 

"The second, or 'Illinois Car,' is devoted, as are the others which 
follow it, to the newspaper and periodical mail. In it are handled 
papers for Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Wyo- 
ming. Two clerks and two assistants man this car. The first assist- 
ant, who 'faces up' papers ready to be distributed, draws mails 
from stalls to case, and removes boxes as fast as they are filled, has 
gained the soubriquet of the 'Illinois derrick,' owing to the heavy, 
nature of his duties. The second, who lends what aid he can in the 
heavy work on the run between New York and Albany, has become 
known on the train as the 'short stop.' The third section of the 
car is used for storing the bags of assorted matter. 

"The third car is used for storing through mail for San Francisco, 
Omaha, and points west of Chicago. In it are also carried stamped 
envelopes from the manufacturer at Hartford, Conn., to postmasters 
in the West. This car is frequently fully loaded with matter from 
the New York office when the journey is begun. The Michigan 
paper car is the fourth. In it are handled papers for Michigan, 
Iowa, and the mixed Western States. In the first section are piled 
the Iowa pouches and those for points out of Utica, which have 
been distributed in the centre section, and in the third section the 
distribution for Michigan, Nebraska, and Minnesota, as well as for 
points reached from Buffalo, is made. Two men perforin the work 
of the car, one of whom has already handled all registered mail and 
Indiana letters in the first car. 

" The fifth, or California paper car, is the last mail coach on the 
train, as it is made up when leaving the Grand Central Station. 
Besides the papers for the Golden State the car carries through 
registered pouches to Chicago and the West, which have been made 
up in New York office, and, as a usual thing, a large lot of stamped 
envelopes for postmasters in the West. The California letter man 
from the first car looks after the papers for the same state, and has 



62 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



an eye to the safety of the car. On reaching Albany another car is 
added to the train, making six in all from that point. This last 
addition comes from Boston, brings the morning mail from Bangor, 
Me., and is manned by four men. 

" The run to Chicago for post office purposes is divided into three 




MAILING A LETTER AT THE LAST MOMENT. 



divisions; from New York to Syracuse, from Syracuse to Cleveland, 
and from Cleveland to Chicago. Each division has its own crew, 
so that the men leaving New York are relieved at Syracuse by 
others, and these in turn at Cleveland. The New York crew go to 
work, as has been said, at 4 P. M., and if the train is on time at 
Syracuse, as it usually is, they arrive there at 5.35 A. M., after 
thirteen and a half hours of as hard work as men are called upon to 
do. The same evening at 8.40 they relieve the east bound crew, 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 63 

and are in New York again at six o'clock on the following morning. 
Half an hour later they are to be found on the top floor of the 
general post office building, comfortably ensconced in bunks in a 
large and airy room, provided as a dormitory for their use by the 
postmaster of New York at the time of the inauguration of the fast 
mail service. Each crew makes three round trips and is then laid 
off for six days, but its members are all this time subject to extra 
duty which they are called upon to perform with unpleasant fre- 
quency, particularly in holiday times." 

A Chicago Tribune man travelled to the Pacific Coast and back 
not long ago in mail trains. He covered 6,110 miles in fifteen days; 
and this with a stop-over of a day and a half in San Francisco, a 
day in Portland, two days and a half on Puget Sound, and a day at 
the Great Shoshone Falls. The actual time spent on the mail trains 
was nine days, or, by exact calculation, 214 hours, which gives an 
average run, including all stops but those mentioned, of 650 miles a 
day. If Nellie Bly or Elizabeth Bisland had kept up such a pace 
they would have made the circuit of the globe in thirty-seven days. 
If they had gone as swiftly as the mail does between Chicago and 
San Francisco, and Chicago and Portland, they would have made the 
circuit in thirty-four days. 

To make such time and make it daily, as is continually done, the 
speed must be continuously high. No loss of time can be allowed 
in ascending the Rockies and Sierras on the way to San Francisco 
or the Rockies and Cascades to Portland. Two engines are there- 
fore provided on the steeper up-grades, and the light mail trains are 
carried up the long acclivities at a rate rarely under thirty miles an 
hour. In descending the mountains the fastest possible time con- 
sistent with safety is necessary. A mile a minute is commonplace, 
and fifty-eight seconds is enough on straight stretches of track. 
The mail trains between Portland and Green River, a distance of 
957 miles, make better time, in spite of the mountains, than any 
limited express or mail train running in or out of New York a like 
distance. In travelling the immense distances covered by the trans- 
continental roads delays are, of course, unavoidable on almost every 
trip. But the mails must arrive at the great distributing points 
along the lines in time to meet the mail trains of connecting 
roads. Not to do so may make the mail of a whole state or even 



64 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 




several states 
twenty -four 
hours late. Such de- 
lays as occur must, 
accordingly, be made 
up. 

So passengers on the 
fast mail learn what 
rapid tra ve Hingis. A 

delay of half an hour has been caused by a hot journal at some point 
in the alkali desert of Nevada. The traveller's first sensation on 
getting off at a clipping pace is one of joyous relief. In a few 
minutes he finds himself holding with both hands to his seat and 
longing for rest even in the midst of the biting dust of the plateau. 
He learns that the time lost must be regained in the one hundred 



CATCHING THE POUCH FROM THE CRANE. 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 65 

miles, and unless he has the resignation of a philosopher he will 
discover that his nerves are badly unstrung at the end of the run. 
One remarkable run was made on the Oregon Short Line from Soda 
Springs, Idaho, to Grainger, Wyoming. Owing to a freight wreck 
the fast mail was fifty minutes late at Soda Springs. It was neces- 
sary to make up every minute of the loss before reaching Grainger 
in order to connect at Green River, fifteen miles further on, with 
the east bound fast mail from San Francisco. Division Superin- 
tendent Green stepped aboard at Soda Springs to see that the 
engineer did his duty. 

The run began at once in earnest. A winding track of 146 miles 
had to be ridden over in fifty minutes less than the new schedule 
time, and the new schedule time was lightning. The track lay at 
first along Ham's Fork. The valley was broad, the curves moderate, 
and the imposing snowy mountain scenery on either side diverted 
the attention of the passengers from the speed. But the indicator 
kept a register of what was going on, and the record showed that 
each of the first fifteen miles was made in fifty-seven seconds. In 
forty-four minutes forty-six miles had been travelled, and the 
curves had kept getting sharper. 

When the track struck the Black Fork and began to follow its 
writhing course, the passengers realized that they were making a 
phenomenal run. Not one dared move from his seat. He was 
moved about in it enough. The wonderful sphinx-like buttes which 
rose from the cliffs of the Black Fork, as it passed into the Green 
River, the unrolled scroll of mountain tablelands in the distance, 
the soft touch of the setting sun on the snow-covered peaks — 
scenery had no interest for the passengers. But when the train 
drew up at Grainger a minute ahead of time the passengers went 
forward and gave three hysterical cheers for the engineer. 

A letter sometimes wanders all over this country, wanders around 
the world, in fact, eagerly searching for its destination. It is some- 
times maintained that the Post Office Department practises too much 
care and patience in such cases. Mr. Robert J. Burdette tells a 
story about a draft that he enclosed in a letter and sent to Bryn 
Mawr, Penn. He himself left for California. He says : 

" The letter went to Bryn Mawr, a distance of 850 miles, and found that my cor- 
respondent also had gone to California on a wedding journey. The letter was 



66 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

forwarded to Los Angeles, 3,000 miles, on January 10. The bridegroom had left 
the city of Our Lady of the Angles and drifted into the Yosemite region, and 
after vainly advertising for hifn, the letter went, on the 19th of January, to the 
Dead Letter Office in Washington, 2,879 miles. The final obsequies were deferred 
by the Government coroner and the dead letter was sent to Champaign, in search 
of its father, on the 26th of January, 800 miles. On the 24th of February it 
winged its weary way back to the Dead Letter Office and asked for Christian 
burial. But the young lady who reads all the languages that were ever written, 
and a great many that can't possibly be spoken, who has a way of finding where 
a letter wants to go, when the man who wrote it hasn't the remotest idea where 
his correspondent lives, sent it to Brooklyn on the 13th of March, if haply it 
might find me. Two hundred and twenty-eight miles for nothing; the letter 
deadheaded back to Washington, same distance both ways, and again knocked at 
the cemetery gate. But the fair prophetess believed there was life in the wanderer 
yet, and she sent it to Bryn Mawr May 10, 148 miles. Finding no rest for the sole 
of its stamp, which is usually connected with a foot, it returned into the ark of 
the Dead Letter Office May 11, 148 miles again. From there it once more sped 
away to Los Angeles, 2,879 miles; back again after a while, it went to the Dead 
Letter Office for the fifth time. But the Department was satisfied that it could 
yet call back the departed message to life, and sent it to the writer in Bryn Mawr, 
where, after journeying across the continent four times and going to the Dead 
Letter Office and demanding burial five times, travelling in all 14,987 miles, it was 
finally delivered into my hands on the 13th of September. All this, fellow- 
citizens, for two cents, two cents ! For eight months this letter had been chasing 
after its owner all over the United States, and never thought of getting lost." 

Now and then, in spite of the regulations to the contrary, a letter 
goes around the world. Some time ago a citizen of Bloomington, 
111., sent a missive on this long journey, with the request written 
on the outside that postmasters would please hurry it along. It got 
as far as San Francisco. The postmaster there, being aware of the 
prohibitory clause in the regulations, forwarded the letter to Wash- 
ington. The Superintendent of Foreign Mails promptly had the 
letter returned to the sender, and he informed the postmaster at San 
Francisco, as he has told hundreds of others, that in conse- 
quence of objections raised by the British and Hong Kong postal 
departments, through whose hands this class of correspondence 
would necessarily pass, it had been found necessary to intercept such 
mail matter. Under the rules of the Postal Union such matter can 
go around the world for one postage ; and these governments con- 
cluded that the pay was not large enough for the work done to per- 
mit idle experiments for the gratification of the curious. 

Before this regulation was put in force, several around-the-world 
letters were received at the Foreign Mails office which had made the 



HOW A LETTER TRAVELS. 67 

trip in eighty days. Once a Philadelphian was anxious to see how 
long it would take a postal card to girdle the world and what would 
be the route taken. An international postal card was purchased, 
and mailed in that city, addressed to the sender at his residence in 
Philadelphia, via New York, Liverpool, Paris, Marseilles, and 
Naples, with the information on the back of it that the card had 
been started around the world. After an absence of exactly four 
months, the missive reached the sender. Every post office through 
which the card passed had its postmark stamped upon it, and it bore 
evidence that every post office official throughout its entire course 
who handled the card took as much interest in the affair as the 
sender did. After leaving Naples, the card started across Italy to 
Brindisi, thence up the Archipelago to Venice, thence across to 
Constantinople, Alexandria, Cairo, and Suez, through the Red Sea, 
Gulf of Aden, and Arabian Sea to Bombay, thence to Calcutta, 
from there down the Bay of Bengal, up through the China Sea to 
Hong Kong, over to Honolulu, and thence across to the Pacific to 
San Francisco, to Denver, and to Philadelphia. The entire dis- 
tance travelled by the card was between 27,000 and 28,000 miles. 
The Philadelphian had many imitators, and such a number of post 
cards crept into the British mails that protest was made ; and so the 
practice had to be stopped. 




THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 

|HEEE are about 6,400 railway postal clerks in the 
country all told. This number includes the men 
who do the actual distributing in the cars, and also 
men detailed at important points throughout the 
country, as division clerks, etc. Of the total num- 
ber there are 240 detailed to offices and 260 detailed 
^^"Spi^^E? to transfer duty; and almost 5,900 are actually 
employed in distributions on railway lines. The 
fifty employed similarly on steamboat lines have regular quarters 
and distribute mails just as on the railroad cars. 

These last are peculiar in construction. A railroad company, 
when it contracts to carry mails, contracts also for suitable room 
with proper equipment such as letter cases, paper cases, storage 
room, etc., for the proper treatment of the mails. When, however, 
the Department requires an entire car the company is entitled to 
additional compensation above the regular pay for transportation. 
The Department pays for forty foot railway postal cars at the rate 
of $25 per mile per annum ; that is, if the line over which the car 
runs is 200 miles long, the company would be entitled to $5,000 a 
year. A fifty foot car is paid for at the rate of $40 per mile 
per annum, and a sixty foot car at the rate of $50 per mile per 
annum . 

These cars are built in accordance with plans and specifica- 
tions furnished by the Post Office Department, and are equipped 
thoroughly to fit the needs of the service upon the lines over which 
they are to run. The full cars are built with reference to special 
lines. Some of the requirements demanded on a line, say from 
Washington to New York, are that the car shall be fitted up with 
letter cases and with cases for paper distribution. Space for hun- 
dreds of separations is required. On the New York and Chicago 

68 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 69 

and other fast mail lines, the number of separations of mail run into 
the thousands. For all of these cars certain requirements for the 
safety of the men are necessary. The postal cars must be well built 
and extra strong. 

The railroad company takes care of the cars ; sees that the lamps 
are lighted and the fires attended to ; in fact, the company takes the 
entire charge. They supply the cleaner. They put on a lamp man 
at Syracuse, for instance, who takes care of the lamps on the Central 
train at the necessary time. Conductors and train men are always 
entitled to access to the postal car if engaged in the performance of 
their duties. 

The first duty of the railway postal clerk is, of course, to dis- 
tribute the mail on the cars ; and these duties naturally vary accord- 
ing to the line. If the clerk has a small run, on which lie has to 
handle nothing but the mail for the offices on his own line, he has 
that distribution to learn first; and first he has to learn where his 
stations are ; how far they are apart; what mail goes off at each sta- 
tion for each office, and whether it has to be sent into the country by 
stage routes. He has to make himself familiar with the rules and 
regulations. So far as the instructions are concerned his local dis- 
tribution is in almost all cases covered during his probationary term 
of six months. He is examined at intervals of thirty days during 
these first six months. On the main lines in most of the divisions 
the clerk is required by the end of his probationary term to dis- 
tribute accurately 1,500 offices. 

When the clerk is first appointed, he reports to the chief clerk of 
a division superintendent; and he undergoes an examination in 
reading addresses on about one hundred envelopes especially pre- 
pared for that purpose. These addresses are not in any sense 
obscure ; they are all fairly well written, much better written, in 
fact, than the average of letters which the clerks must handle daily. 
This examination gives the chief clerk or the superintendent an idea 
of the new man's capacity. Ordinarily a good man will read the 
addresses on one hundred envelopes in from seven to twelve minutes, 
and he will probably make from five to ten errors ; that would be 
considered an average record. If he takes the entire time allowed, 
or if he makes more errors, he is below the average. If he reads the 
addresses on one hundred envelopes within five or six minutes, he is 



70 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



above the average. In a number of cases men have failed on the 
reading test simply because they could not read; and a man who 
cannot read, and read quickly and correctly, is of no use in the 
Railway Mail Service. 

The new clerk, having passed his first test, has a copy of the 

book of instructions handed to 
him. It is a small book com- 
prising that part of the postal 
laws and regulations which is 
especially applicable to the Rail- 
way Mail Service ; and he is also 
supplied with what is called a 
scheme of distribution. He usu- 
ally has what is called " a local 
scheme " of his line, then a 
printed sheet showing the sta- 
tions on his line and the offices 
supplied from them; or he may 
have a scheme of a state, as, for 
instance, Ohio. This scheme 
shows just how mail for the 
state of Ohio is distributed, and 
from what lines the offices are 
supplied — and whether they are 
stations on given lines or not. 
Of course, a man working in 
California would not have an Ohio scheme, but a clerk on a 
trunk line in Ohio needs a California scheme and has to make 
three separations of mail for that state. 

Before the novitiate has entered the service at all, even for trial, 
he has been examined by the Civil Service Commission (and for these 
purposes examinations are held in various parts of the country), has 
been certified to the central office of the Railway Mail Service in 
Washington as one of the three men, examined for a given locality, 
who have taken the highest stand in the examination, and has been 
called for by the General Superintendent, through one of his clerks, 
of course, to fill a vacancy or to take an entirely new place. The 
classified Railway Mail Service, according to the rules of the Civil 




CAPT. JAMES E. WHITE, 
General Superintendent, Railway Mail Service. 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 71 

Service Commission, embraces all superintendents, assistant superin- 
tendents, chief clerks, railway postal clerks, transfer clerks, and other 
employees of the Railway Mail Service. One general superintend- 
ent, one assistant general superintendent, printers employed as such, 
clerks employed exclusively as porters in handling mail matter in 
bulk, in sacks, or pouches, and not otherwise, clerks employed exclu- 
sively on steamboats, and transfer clerks at junction points where 
not more than two such clerks are employed, are exempt from exami- 
nation. All other places can be filled only by promotion, transfer, 
reinstatement, or examination, as described in the civil service 
rules. Superintendents of mails at classified post offices (offices at 
which there are fifty or more employees) must be selected from 
among the employees of the Railway Mail Service. These are the 
absolute rules, and to try to get into the classified Railway Mail Ser- 
vice without these examinations and these formalities, or to procure 
or countenance such a thing, is to break a law. 

It is worth while to explain the examinations a little. The fol- 
lowing table gives the relative weights attached to the different sub- 
jects upon which questions are asked in the railway mail clerks' 
examination, and the time allowed for this examination is six con- 
secutive hours : 

RELATIVE 
SUBJECTS. WEIGHTS. 

First. Orthography 1 

Second. Penmanship 1 

Third. Copying 2 

Fourth. Letter- writing 1 

Fifth. Arithmetic 2 

Sixth. Geography of the United States 4 

Seventh. Railway and other systems of transportation in the United States 5 

Eighth. Reading addresses 4 

Total of weights 20 

The following are samples of papers: 

Fifth Subject. — Arithmetic. 

Question 1. Add the following, placing the total at the bottom : 

742,155.74 

429.39 

•6,873.68 

397.49 

1,956,374.20 



72 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Question 2. Express in figures one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine. 

Question 3. In the fiscal year ended June 30, 1888, the postal clerks employed 
on railroads travelled 122,031,104 miles, and those employed on steamboats 1,767,- 
649 miles. How many more were travelled by railroad than by steamboat ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 4. If a railway mail clerk earn $800 in a year, how much will he 
have left after paying his board at the rate of $16 a month ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 5. If a railway mail clerk spend ten cents a day for street-car fare, 
how much will he spend in six months of 30 days each ? 

Give work in full. 

Sixth Subject. — Geography. 

Question 1. Name two States crossed or in part bounded by each of the fol- 
lowing named rivers, and give the capital of each of the States named 



River. 


State. 


Capital. 


State. 


Capital. 


Connecticut 




















Ohio . . . 










Mississippi 
Missouri. 














. 















Question 2. Name the State in which yOu live and the States or foreign coun- 
tries or bodies of water which form the boundaries on two sides of that State. 

Question 3. Name two important cities on each of the following named rivers 
and lakes, and give the name of the State in which each of these cities is situated: 
Hudson River, Ohio River, Mississippi River, Lake Erie, Lake Michigan. 

Question 4. Name three cities on or near the Atlantic Ocean, one on or near 
the Gulf of Mexico, and one on or near the Pacific Ocean. 

Question 5. Name the State of the Union that extends farthest east and the 
State that extends farthest west, and name the capital of each. 

Seventh Subject. — Railway and other systems of transportation in the 
United States. 

Question 1. Name the three principal cities of your State and the principal 
railway lines (three if there be that many) centering in each of them. 

Question 2. Name the principal railways (not less than two) passing through or 
terminating in your State, and give five of the principal connections (roads which 
are crossed by them or terminate in the same city with them), made by either or 
both of them. 

Question 3. Name the roads which together form the most direct line from 
your nearest railway station (give the name of that station) to the largest city in 
any adjoining State. (Give the name of the city and of the adjoining State.) 

Question 4. Name the road or roads connecting two of the most important 
cities in your State and name ten of the largest cities (or important towns, if 
there be not ten cities) situated on those roads. 

Question 5. Name the two most important railway centres in each of the States 
of your railway mail division (omitting your own State) and the road or roads or 
steamboat lines connecting each of those centres with the capital of your State. 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 



73 



The eighth subject comprises reading addresses. Two samples 
given in the last annual report of the Civil Service Commission are 
worth observing; and a table, also given in this report, shows the 
number examined for the Railway Mail Service, the number who 
passed or failed (and their legal residence, average age, and educa- 
tion) during the year ended June 30, 1891 : 





Passed. 


Failed. 






a> 

£ 

3 

to 


d 

60 
cj 
a 
60 
cj 
■— 
<±> 
> 
< 


Education. 


£ 


d 
be 

a 

01 
60 

cj 

01 
> 
< 


Education. 




Legal residence. 


"o 
o 

O 

d 
o 
S 

£ 
o 
O 


d 

£ 

01 

t3 
03 
U 
< 


d 

to 

o 
o 

a 

3 

ffl 


"o 
o 

A 
o 

A 
60 

a 


d 

To 

"o 
O 


"o 

o 

"o 

o 
g 

£ 

o 
O 




c 

60 

a 

GO 

m 

a 
s 


"o 
o 

^3 

u 

aj 
A 
60 

W 


d 


"3 
o 
H 


Alabama 


30 

1 

30 
51 
16 
28 

2 
15 

9 
42 

2 
168 
194 

1 

91 

162 

57 

21 

9 
20 
93 
73 
87 
32 
187 

3 
78 

2 

6 
20 

1 

194 

32 

9 
262 

2 

17 

132 

4 
23 
12 
67 
94 
11 

7 
66 
29 
16 
59 
14 


23— 
24 

25— 

24— 

27— 

24+ 

30 

23+ 

26— 

24— 

23— 

24+ 

24+ 

21 

24+ 

24— 

24— 

23 

26— 

25— 

24+ 

26— 

25— 

25 

24— 

21+ 

26— 

20 

26+ 

24+ 

19 

25— 

24+ 

28+ 

25+ 

23— 

24+ 

25— 

22+ 

25+ 

27+ 

24— 

23— 

24+ 

25— 

25— 

25+ 

23+ 

23- 

24— 


8 


7 


1 


10 

1 

5 
8 
5 
9 


4 

6 

7 


30 

1 
42 
18 

4 
10 

1 
11 
18 
82 

2 
49 
47 


24+ 

33 

24+ 

25+ 

36 

23+ 

25 

22— 

24+ 

25— 

20 

25+ 

26+ 


13 

16 

9 

3 

6 

1 

6 

10 

38 

2 

23 

33 


8 

5 
3 


1 

1 
3 
1 
1 


5 
1 
9 

1 

3 


3 

11 

2 


60 


Arizona 


2 


Arkansas 


13 

25 

2 

13 

2 

6 

5 

9 

1 

48 

52 

"26 

66 

22 

5 

2 

11 

39 

21 

34 

8 

67 


5 
6 
6 
5 


1 
5 
3 
1 


72 


California 


69 


Colorado 


20 


Connecticut 


38 


Delaware 


3 


District of Columbia.. 
Florida 


2 

3 

3 

1 

21 

17 

1 

8 

23 

9 

1 

3 

3 

10 

4 

13 

10 

25 


1 
1 
1 


3 
16 


3 
13 


3 

7 


1 
2 
3 


2 

2 
18 


2 
1 

16 


26 
27 


Georgia 


124 


Idaho 


4 


Illinois 


15 
23 


61 
61 


23 
41 


3 
1 


2 
6 


15 

5 


6 
2 


217 


Indiana 


241 


Indian Territory 

Iowa 


1 


13 

9 
3 
4 

i 

4 
11 

8 

2 

21 


28 

42 

9 

3 

4 

2 

38 

32 

26 

5 

43 

3 

29 

2 

1 

1 


16 
22 
14 

8 

3 

2 
5 
6 
7 
31 

12 


22 

23 

32 

16 

5 

9 

24 

20 

21 

33 

65 

1 

23 


26— 
27— 

24+ 

24— 

28— 

24+ 

25— 

28+ 

25— 

26— 

25— 

29 

27+ 


10 
15 
17 

9 

2 

7 

20 

12 

12 

9 

38 

1 

12 


1 
1 

5 

1 
1 

4 

2 
2 
5 

7 


4 

3 
4 

1 


5 
3 
4 
3 
1 


2 
1 
2 
4 

i 


113 


Kentucky 


185 
89 


Louisiana 


37 


Maine 


14 


Maryland 

Massachusetts 


29 
117 


Michigan 

Minnesota 


2 

1 
2 
8 


4 
5 
8 
9 


i 

9 
3 


93 

108 


Mississippi 


65 




252 


Montana 


4 


Nebraska 


20 


8 


9 


1 


2 


8 




101 


Nevada 


2 


New Hampshire 

New Jersey 


"ib 

62 
9 
3 

80 


3 
4 
1 

75 
7 
3 

23 


5 


2 


2 
13 

1 
53 
46 

2 
63 

1 

7 
44 

1 
50 

5 
58 
81 

2 


27 

26 

27 

28— 

26— 

22— 

25— 

21 

27— 

25+ 

34 

23— 

27+ 

24— 

24+ 

24 


1 
10 

29 
12 

2 
33 

1 

5 
24 

1 
17 

5 
25 
32 

1 


1 

7 
12 








8 


5 
3 


1 

7 
6 


2 

1 

5 

13 


33 


New Mexico 


2 


New York 


18 

i 

24 


31 

7 
1 

99 
1 
3 

20 
2 
6 
4 

14 

25 
2 
4 

18 
T5 
2 

28 
7 


8 
9 
1 

36 
1 
4 

14 

"8 
1 
23 
15 
1 
1 
8 
7 
5 
4 
1 


247 


North Carolina 

North Dakota 


78 
11 


Ohio 


3 

1 

5 


6 
3 


18 

1 

9 


3 
3 


325 




3 


Oregon 


7 

43 

1 

6 

5 

17 

29 

4 

1 

22 

7 

8 

14 

3 


1 

39 
1 
3 
1 
6 

16 
2 
1 

13 
4 
1 
9 
2 


2 
16 

1 

7 
9 
2 

5 
5 

4 
1 


24 


Pennsylvania 

Rhode Island 


176 
5 


South Carolina 

South Dakota 


5 


2 


11 


15 


73 
17 


Tennessee 


3 
11 


7 
7 


8 

18 

1 


15 
13 


125 


Texas 


175 


Utah 


13 


Vermont 


7 


Virginia 


43 
10 

8 
17 

1 


26+ 
25— 
25+ 
25— 
20 


21 
3 
6 

11 
1 


4 
1 

' 1 


I 

2 
... 


11 
3 

4 


6 
1 
2 


109 


Washington 


39 


West Virginia 

Wisconsin 


24 
76 


Wyoming 


15 






Total 


2,581 


24+ 


836 


409 


237 


727 


372 


1,117 


25— 


564 


114 


85 


209 


145 


3,698 





74 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



The removals during probation for the period mentioned above 
were 23, and the number dropped at the end of the probationary 
six months was 6b. The number of substitutes appointed during 
the fiscal year above mentioned was 965, the number removed 24, 
the number who resigned 10, the number who declined tendered 
appointments 126, the number who died 5, and the number appointed 
on the regular roll 773. The following table discloses by states 
and territories the large number of those examined who failed to 
pass : 



STATE. 



Alabama 

Arizona 

Arkansas 

California 

Colorado 

Connecticut 

Delaware 

District of Columbia 

Florida 

Georgia 

Idaho 

Illinois 

Indiana , 

Iowa 

Kansas 

Kentucky . 

Louisiana 

Maine 

Maryland 

Massachusetts 

Michigan 

Minnesota 

Mississippi 

Missouri 

Montana 

Nebraska 

Nevada 

New Hampshire 

New Jersey 

New Mexico 

New York 

North Carolina 

North Dakota 

Ohio 

Oklahoma 

Oregon 

Pennsylvania 

Rhode Island 

South Carolina 

South Dakota 

Tennessee 

Texas 

Utah 

Vermont 

Virginia 

Washington . 

West Virginia 

Wisconsin 

Wyoming 

Total 



Number 

of 
examina- 
tions. 



6 
1 
5 

10 
4 
3 
1 

89 
2 
9 
1 
9 
9 
5 
5 
7 
6 
3 
2 
8 
9 
7 
5 

12 
2 
8 
1 
2 
1 
1 

26 
5 
2 

14 
1 
2 

18 
2 
6 
2 

11 
9 
2 
3 
5 
2 
3 
5 
1 



352 



Passed. 



35 

1 

34 

57 
14 
28 

1 
84 

9 
40 

3 
156 
161 
68 
88 
44 
29 

8 

3 
89 
64 
87 
25 
270 

3 
105 

1 

7 
12 

1 

211 

26 

7 
276 

5 

18 

122 

8 
22 
12 
77 
91 
14 

7 
49 
31 
14 
59 
12 



2,588 



Failed. 



35 

1 

42 

18 

3 

9 

1 

40 

15 

82 

2 

45 

49 

19 

12 

21 

17 

5 

1 

25 

16 

28 

23 

82 

1 

25 



1 

2 

1 

61 

46 

2 

68 



9 
48 

2 
43 

4 
73 
80 

2 



30 

8 



11 

2 



1,118 



Total. 



70 

2 

76 

75 

17 

37 

2 

124 

24 

1*2 

5 

201 

210 

87 

100 

65 

46 

13 

4 

114 

80 

115 

48 

352 

4 

139 

1 

8 

14 

2 

272 

72 

9 

344 

5 

27 

170 

10 

65 

16 

150 

171 

16 

7 

79 

39 

22 

, 70 

14 



3,706 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 75 

The General Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service gives the 
Civil Service Commission a "call" for a certification of eligibles 
from the locality through which the line runs. The candidate is 
supposed to be able more readily to become familiar with the region 
nearest his home. If the man selected happens to live at some point 
upon the line in question, the General Superintendent's office simply 
makes up his appointment and sends it to the division superintendent 
concerned, and the man is notified to report at a certain place. If, 
however, he lives some distance off the line where he is needed, a 
letter is sent notifying him that he has been selected for appoint- 
ment to a certain line, that his salary will be $800 a year, and that 
he is expected to take up his residence upon the line of the road 
upon which he is to run — and asking him if he will accept the place. 
A candidate may decline an appointment without losing his chance 
of appointment. He may wait for a run nearer home ; and the prac- 
tice of the bureau is to return to the first man, even though he has 
refused, for the next vacancy. So it is, too, if the first man refuses 
twice. A substitute holds no regular appointment, and he has no 
pay except for the days actually run, which, however, yield him on 
the average $2.30 a day. He may be called upon to work regularly 
for six months, or he may not be called upon for thirty days. 

A clerk is required to learn the scheme of the state in which he 
runs, and in most cases the entire distribution of that state; and 
when he has learned this thoroughly he knows in what way all the 
mail for any office within the state reaches its destination. The 
schemes themselves do not contain all the offices in a state. They 
give a certain county, say Delaware County, Ohio, on the line run- 
ning through that county that takes the most offices in it. Then 
the other offices that are not on that line are entered on the scheme, 
Avith county headings in the form of exceptions, exceptions to the 
county supply ; then there are possibly three or four offices that are 
supplied from the line from Delaware County to Columbus, and 
three or four situated on the line from Columbus to Springfield. 
When a man " takes the cards " for a scheme, that is, when he goes 
up for examination on the post routes and offices in the region to 
which he has been applying himself, there are no cards to be thrown 
for offices, the names of which are not on the scheme. The cards 
used in the examinations are of the size of a lady's calling card. 






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76 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 77 

They are made small to save room. On each card is written the 
name of an office, and the novitiate has to throw the cards as cor- 
rectly as possible into a case with two hundred or more pigeon holes 
in it. 

Then there are schemes called "standpoint schemes." They are 
used where a small and rough distribution is made of a state. One 
would call the separation of the California mail that is made on the 
New York and Chicago line a separation on the standpoint scheme. 
All that the clerks have to know is what mail goes into the southern 
part of the state and what into the northern. The number of all 
the schemes in this country would be the number of all the lines, 
plus the number of states, plus the number of standpoint schemes. 
About eighteen out of every hundred of these probationary men fail 
on schemes. That is the only examination given when a man first re- 
ports for duty; but he is notified that he will be called for examination 
on his line in thirty days. Then if the line to which he is assigned 
is a one man line, that is, if there is only one man in the car, he is 
told that he will be required to begin work on a certain day; to go 
out and distribute the mail on a certain day. Of course, he is not 
prepared to do that; so he takes somebody with him as instructor. 
He is required to pay that tutor, and the length of time the instruc- 
tor remains with him depends, of course, upon himself. 

In a good many cases a man whose place is taken will stay behind 
and teach the novitiate, and in all the divisions there are men who 
stand ready to do that kind of work. Often they are substitutes 
certified by the Civil Service Commission; in other cases they are 
men who have not lost their interest in the service, but who like to 
go out for a trip and renew old associations. On a heavy line like 
that from New York to Pittsburg there are always roustabouts, as 
they are called, who are beginners ; and there is always enough work 
of an inferior sort to keep them busy till they have learned their 
distributions. So that the men assigned to the heavy lines are almost 
always relieved of the necessity of employing instructors. 

After the new clerk has been on duty a month (and at stated 
times after that) he is obliged to submit to a case examination. 
Cards bearing the written address of each post office in a state are 
furnished to the clerk, and he is required to distribute them from 
memory, in a case provided for that purpose, according to the 



78 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



general scheme of distribution, post offices to routes, post offices to 
counties; or he tries the standpoint distribution, if the division 
superintendent deems best. He is then questioned as to his knowl- 
edge of connections and of his printed book of instructions. He 
is required to make subdivisions of routes as between junctions, and 
cards of junctions must be distributed to the routes supplying them. 
The time consumed in distributing cards is noted and forms a part 
of the record, and a statement of the result of the examination is 
given to the clerk, and information as to what the subject of his 
next examination will be is noted upon the reverse side of it, unless 
there are special reasons why not, in which case this is also noted. 
If the clerk has taken the required standing, he will be assigned to a 




THE FULL RAILWAY POST OFFICE, GOV. MCKINLEY. 

new distribution and a new scheme. The probationary clerk is 
usually examined four or five times during his six months trial, 
and if at the end of that time he has attained the percentage 
required, his record is made up at division headquarters and for- 
warded to the General Superintendent's office in Washington, with 
a recommendation that he be permanently appointed. If he has 
fallen short, the recommendation is that he be dropped. 

In the year 1890 the averages of probationers varied from 65.15 
in the second division up to 97.04 in the first; and the percentages 
of permanent clerks varied from 81.65 in the third division to 99.04 
in the first. The average per cent, for probationers for the 
whole service rose from 80.35 in 1889 to 84 in 1890, and the per- 
centage for permanent clerks for the whole service was 91.57 in 
1889 and 94.11 in 1890. The average per centum of correct dis- 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 79 

tributions for the clerks of both classes in the whole service rose 
from 86.60 in 1889 to 90.24 in 1890, and to 92.39 in 1891. The 
General Superintendent in his report attributed this improvement in 
no small degree to the award in each division of a gold medal offered 
by the Postmaster General. 

The clerks are arranged in classes according to the difficulty of 
the work required of them and the time necessary to perform it. 
The salaries are: first class, $600 to $800 per year; second, $800 to 
$900; third, $1,000 to $1,150 ; fourth, $1,150 to $1,350 ; fifth, $1,350 
to $1,400. These men surely earn their money. Repeatedly Con- 
gress has refused to reclassify the railway postal clerks and make 
more equitable their stipend, and that, too, in face of the fact that 
there has practically been no reorganization of the service for twenty 
years. But any agitation is without avail. 

There are numerous prohibitions which the railway postal clerks 
must carefully observe. They are strictly prohibited from carrying 
freight in postal cars or trafficking in merchandise in any way. Nor 
are they suffered to go unpunished for imparting information con- 
cerning letters or other mail matter passing through their hands. 
The use of intoxicating liquors by clerks on duty or while in 
uniform is absolutely prohibited, and the frequent and excessive use 
of liquors when off duty renders them liable to dismissal from the 
service. They are expected to pay all just and honest debts, and 
persistent and wilful failure to do so is deemed evidence of untrust- 
worthiness sufficient for removal. Clerks are required to use the 
utmost vigilance in guarding the mails under their charge. They 
must not leave their cars during the run, except for meals or for 
some urgent necessity of the service ; and then they must see that 
the car doors are locked, unless another clerk is left in charge. As 
the Government is very economical in some things, clerks are cau- 
tioned to preserve all waste paper and twine. 

The integrity of the mail locks is carefully guarded. Clerks on 
duty must always wear the mail key attached to them by a safety 
chain. If stray mail keys are found, they must be immediately for- 
warded to division headquarters ; and the division superintendent 
as promptly forwards them to the Department. When a clerk sur- 
renders his key, he is always careful to take a receipt for it. Clerks 
are forbidden to have mail keys or locks repaired, nor must they pry 



80 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

into the mechanism of locks. They are especially cautioned never 
to expose the key to public observation, or place it where it may be 
lost or stolen. It must not be suffered to pass even for a moment 
into the hands of any person not a sworn officer of the Post Office 
Department. The loss of a mail key, as it may afford easy facilities 
a c ^^ for stealing from the mails, is an 

(/cx^jto^A^ps* , r£^c6t^ T& • . ac t of carelessness likely to be 

Jto^i^^e^r-ZQ^ZZ, %BZ more pernicious to the service 

* than almost any other which a 

/^£^J^A clerk may do> It ig t i iere f ore 

c -^"5£ considered sufficient cause for re- 

JYLu %^> 3 flj^U**^. moval. When a vacancy is about 

si A - /I Jk/fctLtju ^° occur a cl er k must not let any- 

/<i JHijfh wc Uu~ ' ^ hody know of it, nor must he take 

UbpAJb^yf rLL 'i any part in procuring appoint- 

J^gg ments. The removal of news- 
papers or periodicals from their 

ADDRESSES FOR CANDIDATES TO READ. r r r 

wrappers for the purpose of read- 
ing them is not allowable. Clerks are forbidden to request pro- 
prietors of newspapers to send copies of their papers to them free. 
Besides the clerks the only persons who have a right to enter the 
postal cars are post office inspectors and persons who may be author- 
ized by the General Superintendent or by division superintendents. 
A permit to ride in a postal car is not a free pass ; and the clerk in 
charge must notify the train conductor if there is anybody in his car 
from whom a fare may be collected. 

Besides the prohibitions, there are a good many ordinary things 
which the railway postal clerk must learn to do almost mechanically. 
He must know without a second's hesitation that all mail for states 
of which no distribution is made is assorted "by states," and "fa- 
cing slips" used; that is, letter and circular mail for each state is 
made up in packages when there are ten or more letters for a certain 
state, and newspaper mail in canvas sacks, and the name of the 
state marked on the slips covering the package and also on the slip 
in the label holder of the sack. Mail for delivery and mail for dis- 
tribution at a post office are made up in separate packages, except 
where otherwise ordered by the division superintendent. When a 
direct package is made, all the letters for one post office are placed 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE, 81 

together, faced one way, with a plainly addressed letter on the out- 
side, and a facing slip covering the back of the package. The slip 
is postmarked like all the letters, and is indorsed with the name of 
the clerk making the package and with the direction in which the 
mail is moving. 

When it is necessary to include circular matter in a direct pack- 
age, a letter is put on the outside. Letters are never placed in a 
pouch loose. They are always "faced up," slipped, and tied in 
packages. All official matter emanating from any of the depart- 
ments of the Government is treated as first-class matter. Signal ser- 
vice weather reports are dealt with in the same way. Receipts for 
registered letters are found tied on top of the bundles of letters, but 
the registered letters themselves are tied separately. An entry is 
made in a record book every time the letter passes into new hands, 
so that it may be traced without a moment's delay. 

Registered packages are not tied up with the other mail. They 
are put in loose, so as to be quickly discerned by the person opening 
the sack. The registry book must show the number, postmark, date, 
and address of every registered letter or package, as well as of the 
lock and rotary numbers and labels of every registered pouch and 
inner sack passing through the hands of the clerks. In all cases 
they are required to obtain a receipt for registered matter from 
the persons to whom it is delivered. Special delivery letters have 
such attention as will insure their prompt transmission. The post 
office clerks at their destinations find them placed on the top of each 
package. 

So the life of the postal clerk is anything but easy. It is a life 
of constant physical and mental hardship. The motion of the cars 
frequently gives him a sensation hardly distinguishable from that 
caused by the rolling of a ship on the ocean. "Seasickness" is a 
common incident of the work. Some clerks, like some sailors, have 
a feeling of nausea with every trip, and others suffer little after the 
first few days. At the end of each trip the clerk has a time for 
sleep, sometimes long and sometimes short. In the large post 
offices, or near the principal railroad stations, dormitories are 
fitted up ; and in the New York post office there are scores of white- 
covered iron bedsteads, ranged in rows in the rooms on the fifth 
rloor. Visitors passing the open doors mistake these rooms for hos- 



82 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

pital wards, but in both the day and the night hours they are occu- 
pied by a particularly healthy and drowsy set of mortals. 

Captain White says that experience has demonstrated that a man 
endowed with a phenomenal memory cannot become a desirable 
postal clerk unless this faculty is supplemented by that vigor, 
vitality, and resolution necessary to continuous and protracted 
hours of labor, — for the reason that physical strength is required to 
handle the tons of mail matter which is received daily by the prin- 
cipal railway post offices, and which, after being so treated, must be 
distributed piece by piece, and then be handled again in bulk ; and 
for the further reason that the greater portion of this work must be 
performed while the trains are moving at a high rate of speed around 
curves, over crossings, and past trains moving with the same 
velocity in the opposite direction. The muscular exertion neces- 
sary to maintain one's position at the racks so as to distribute mails 
with rapidity and accuracy into the pigeon holes and sacks with the 
fewest false motions possible cannot be appreciated by strangers to 
the work, nor can any who have not gone through railway accidents, 
or stood for hours over the trucks of a fast moving car, or been 
required to memorize the distributions and connections of a large 
number of states gridironed with railroad and star routes, realize 
the mental strain which the clerk suffers at all times, and the 
nervous shocks to which he is so often subjected during his tours of 
duty. 

One of the forms of application for civil service examinations 
always contains ten questions which are to be answered by the physi- 
cian who certifies as to the physical condition of the applicant; but 
these questions are not full enough to determine the candidate's 
physical adaptability for the service. The physician is not required 
to make his statement under oath, and there are abundant reasons to 
believe that friendship, personal obligations, family ties, or the 
desire to accommodate acquaintances, sometimes impel him to be 
too merciful; if this were not true, it would be impossible for the 
deformed and ruptured or those afflicted with pulmonary diseases 
even to secure appointments. Captain White has recommended 
that at every place where civil service examinations are held one or 
more physicians of acknowledged ability and trustworthiness be 
designated to make the physical examinations required, and that 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 83 

they shall receive from the applicants whom they examine, a reason- 
able fee for their services. It is recommended further that the 
physical examinations be made upon the following lines : 

1. Minimum height, 5 feet 4 inches. 

2. Minimum weight, 128 pounds. 

3. Condition of sight? 

4. Is his hearing defective? 

5. Has he any defects of speech? 

6. Has he any defects of limb? 

7. Is he ruptured? 

8. Has he any defects in the functions of the brain? 

9. Has he any defects in the functions of the nervous system? 

10. Has lie any defects in the functions of the muscular system? 

11. State the measurement of the chest upon full expiration and inspiration. 

12. Is the respiration full, free, and unobstructed in both lungs? 

13. State the frequency of the heart's action; are its movements regular, or are 
there indications of organic, muscular, or nervous derangements? 

14. Any indications of derangement of abdominal viscera? 

15. Any indication that the applicant is addicted to the excessive use of intoxi- 
cants? 

16. Do you believe him capable of prolonged and severe mental and physical 
exertion, and equal to the demands of a very exhausting occupation? 

17. Do you believe him to be free from any form of disease or disability which 
unfits him at present or is likely to unfit him in the future for the performance of 
the class of work described in question No. 16 ? 

It maybe mentioned, perhaps, that the Civil Service Commission, 
in examining candidates for the railway mail, makes no distinction 
of sex. A woman may be examined just as thoroughly as a man, 
and a woman has been. One was recently certified for work as a 
stenographer at the Pittsburgh office. She would have been ap- 
pointed but for the fact that her classification would necessarily 
have been as a postal clerk, and as a postal clerk she might have 
been obliged to do actual clerking on the cars. This was a practical 
objection which precluded her appointment. 

There is no doubt that the Railway Mail Service needs re-classifi- 
cation. The organization of the present day is precisely that of 
1882, yet since that time there has been an increase in railway 
mileage of 60 per cent., an increase in annual postal clerk mileage 
of '86 per cent., an increase in clerks of 69 per cent., and an increase 
in pieces of mail handled of 148 per cent. The service has been for 
five years under a terrible strain. The danger lies not in the 
present, for the devotion and skill of the clerks, and the skill and 



84 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 




devotion of the chiefs as well, have kept the improvement constant. 
But the growth of the volume of mail is inconceivably great, and 
without a reorganization it will be next to impossible, as postal 
experts freely predict, to prevent this matchless, indispensable ser- 
vice from retrograding. 

It has been held to be a good thing, too, to provide uniforms for 
the men. It would be the insignia of an important branch of gov- 
ernmental service, and 
there would be a con- 
sequent reluctance to 
become unworthy of it. 
The only way in which 
a railway mail clerk is 
designated at present 
is by an obscure badge 
worn upon the cap. 
The ocean postal clerks, 
few though they are, 
suffer the most in this 
respect, for they are 
daily brought in comparison with the dignified uniforms of the 
Germans. The comparison is odious. 

With all his trials, the travels of the railway postal clerk are 
often made pleasant. He is observing and clever; consequently he 
knows a funny or a touching thing when he sees it. The clerks on 
one of the New England lines were edified sometime ago to see a 
small white kitten jump out of a mail bag. The terrier " Owney " 
travels from one end of the country to the other in the postal cars, 
tagged through, petted, talked to, looked out for, as a brother, 
almost. But sometimes, no matter what the attention, he suddenly 
departs for the south, the east, or the west, and is not seen again for 
months. He will defend a mail sack against all comers, — except 
the regular clerks. There is hardly a part of the United States or 
Canada which he has not visited. He will ride in nothing but a 
postal car. About a year ago he suddenly disappeared for several 
months. The postal clerks regretfully observed that he was probably 
dead; but one day he turned up on the Boston and Albany line with 
an ear gone. He had been caught in a railroad accident in Canada. 



OWNEY, THE RAILWAY MAIL DOG. 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 85 

At North Germantown, N. Y., they have a dog, "Nero" (the gen- 
tlest of collies, however). There are six "catch " mails at this point, 
and six times a day " Nero " goes down to the track, looks gravely 
in the direction of the train, jumps up and down excitedly as soon 
as it appears, and when the pouch is thrown out catches it. Noth- 
ing can induce him, however, to perform this valuable service on 
a Sunday. 

And so it goes, the sweet mixed in with the bitter. Many a pos- 
tal clerk stands in the doorway of his car as the train pulls out, and 
waves his hand to a group of fond ones who signal him Godspeed ; 
and he cheerfully admits to his fellow, with a drop of moisture in 
his eye, that they always see him off that way, and that he shouldn't 
feel altogether right if they didn't. Perhaps a money package is 
missing. The clerk who receives it does not know where it is, and 
is not responsible in any way for its disappearance, but there is no 
satisfactory explanation, and the man must go. And with the rush 
and hurly-burly of railroad travel, of labor that seems never to 
release its weight, it is not strange that now and then a man becomes 
confused. 

"I was allowed to make a trip alone," an Eastern clerk once 
wrote. "It seemed as if the moment the train started my senses 
left me. I was wild. Just before the train pulled out a man 
came up to the door and threw about fifty letters over the floor. I 
had to get down on my hands and knees and pick up those letters. 
I got my hands full of splinters. After cancelling these, with about 
three hundred more letters, and distributing them, I opened the 
pouches. Then the trouble began. I put off the mail for the first 
station at a water-tank five miles before reaching the station. I 
kept putting off mail just one station ahead, and when I reached 
the last station I had no mail to put off. I heard from that 
trip. Every postmaster on the line reported me to the superin- 
tendent." 

It is this which causes the probationers to relent and go back to 
their former duties. A Muncie man was assigned, not long ago, to 
the Chicago & Cincinnati R. P. O. He never finished his first trip. 
He went half way, and bought a ticket home as a plain passenger. 
He was much annoyed by the questions of his friends, and had the 
following card printed to show to people : 




8ti 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 87 

Question. What are you doing here? 

Answer. Have quit the mail service. 

Question. Didn't you like it? 

Answer. No. 

Question. Was the work hard? 

Answer. Yes. 

Question. What was it? 

Answer. Lifting and unlocking two hundred pound pouches, shaking out con- 
tents, arranging same, removing pouches, locking same, carrying same away, 
jumping on and stamping on mail matter, rearranging sacks, then going over 
same work, continuing same seventeen hours, without rest, with trains flying round 
curves and slinging you against everything that is not slung against you. 

But the actual dangers to be met, the bravery required to be 
shown, these are the test and honor of the railway postal clerk. 
Over and over again, as Mr. James has written, and notwithstanding 
severe injuries received by the clerks, the scattered mail matter has 
been collected and transferred to another train or to the nearest 
post office. Several times trains in the West were held up by rob- 
bers, who, after sacking the express car, visited the postal car, 
introducing themselves with pistol shots. One clerk was seriously 
wounded in the shoulder. An instance of self-possession reported 
in Arkansas, was where the robbers, before visiting the postal car, 
had secured $10,000 from the express safe. When they came to 
Clerk R. P. Johnson he suggested that they had secured booty 
enough, and that under the circumstances they had better let the 
mail matter alone. The masked men liked him and agreed with 
him. On the Wabash road once a train south bound from Omaha 
was thrown wholly down an embankment. J. C. Cuff was one of 
the four injured postal clerks. His hands were terribly burned 
by seizing a lamp and holding it to keep it from upsetting 
and firing the mail matter. These valorous examples are not 
unusual. 

The Postmaster General has reported that the total number of rail- 
way post office car wrecks in the year 1891 was 319. In these 
thirteen clerks were killed, sixty-eight severely injured, and eighty- 
four slightly injured. The percentage of killed and wounded in the 
railway postal service is greater than the American army suffered in 
the war with Mexico. The following table gives the figures for the 
last six years (and seven railway postal clerks were killed in last 
September alone)': 



88 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 





Number of 


Number of 


Number of 


Number seri- 


Number slightly 




clerks. 


casualties. 


clerks killed. 


ously injured. 


injured. 


1887 


4851 


244 


5 


45 


72 


1888 


5094 


248 


4 


63 


45 


1889 


5448 


193 


10 


95 


40 


1890 


5836 


261 


4 


41 


53 


1891 


6032 


319 


13 


68 


84 


1892 


6440 


345 


5 


60 


112 



The Department does all it can to provide for strengthened and 
well-equipped cars. There are -saws, axes, hammers, and crow-bars, 
as usual, and safety bars extend overhead the whole length so that 
the clerks may swing from them if trains leave the track. But the 
position of the postal car, commonly next the tender, is unusually 
dangerous, and there is no way of preventing the carnage. Legis- 




THE WRECK OF TWO POSTAL CARS 

On the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern R. R., at Tipton, Ohio, April 18, 1891, in which 

six postal clerks lost their lives. 

lation has been repeatedly asked of Congress, but there is strong 
aversion to a civil pension list in this country, and no legislation 
has resulted. It has been repeatedly recommended that the Post- 
master General be authorized to use the fund arising from deductions 
because of the failure of clerks in the Railway Mail Service to per- 
form duty, and for other causes, in paying to the widow and minor 
children of each permanent railway postal clerk killed while on duty 
the sum of $1,000, and that in the event that there is not a sufficient 
amount arising from deductions, the Postmaster General shall be 
authorized to make up the deficiency from the regular appropriation 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 89 

for the payment of railway postal clerks. But this has always 
failed. Captain White is of opinion that the best interests of the 
service, the clerks, and the public can be secured by a law to be 
known as the Railway Mail Service Superannuation Act, to provide 
for the retirement of all permanent clerks on one third or half pay 
who have become incapacitated for further service by reason of age, 
injuries received while in the discharge of their official duties, or 
other infirmities not attributable to vicious habits ; the fund out of 
which the clerks so retired shall be paid to be created by withhold- 
ing a sum equal to one half of one per cent, per annum of the salary 
paid every permanent clerk employed in the service, and one per 
cent, of the annuity paid those placed upon the superannuated list. 
This deduction would be slight for each individual, but would in 
the aggregate amount to about $31,000 per annum, and as but little 
of it would be drawn from the fund thus created during the first few 
years succeeding the passage of the act, it would reach by accumu- 
lation sufficient proportions to make the act effective as fast as retire- 
ments became necessary. That the deduction would not work even 
temporary hardship to those coming under its operations is shown by 
the fact that it would amount to but fifty cents on each $100 paid 
the clerks in active service and $1 on each $100 paid those placed 
upon the superannuated list. 

The term "nixies" embraces all mail matter not addressed to a 
post office, or addressed without the name of the state being given, 
or otherwise so incorrectly, illegibly, or insufficiently addressed, that 
it cannot be transmitted. Matter of this kind is always withdrawn 
and sent to the division superintendent. The following are the 
only exceptions to this rule : mail addressed to military and naval 
posts and stations of the signal and life-saving services which are 
not post offices is sent to the proper post office, if known. Mail 
addressed to discontinued post offices, or to offices whose names have 
been changed, or to watering places and summer resorts which are 
not post offices, is sent to the nearest post office known. Mail 
addressed by the Department to new post offices, marked on the 
envelope "new office," is sent to its destination in the best manner 
practicable. When clerks know that matter addressed to a post 
office where the name of the state is not given is intended for the 
principal city of that name (being, for instance, addressed to a 



90 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

well-known citizen, firm, newspaper, corporation, or institution of 
that principal city, or to a street and number which can be found in 
it), it is sent to that city. Mail is not treated as nixies on account 
of incorrect spelling when the destination is undoubted. All nixies 
sent to the division superintendent are postmarked on the back, and 
are accompanied by a slip bearing the full name of the clerk sending 
the same, the postmark of his line, with date, and the word " nixies " 
in the upper left-hand corner. 

Take the experience of any large post office with nixies. Take 
Buffalo. The five thousand recognized nixies do not include the city 




ANOTHER VIEW OF THE WRECK AT TIPTON. 

nixies which every large post office has. Each day Postmaster Gentsch 
draws off a list of Buffalo nixies, letters misdirected, or addressed 
to names not in the directory or in such a way as to afford no clue 
as to their destination. The carriers inspect this list and pick out 
any names which they happen to know about, and so some of the 
nixies are disposed of. And the errors in addresses are not confined 
to hurried business men and illiterate people. One suspected to be 
from such a dear lady as Mrs. Grover Cleveland herself was observed 
to be addressed: "Mrs. Henry E. Perrine, 107 Delaware Avenue, 
New York City." At New York it was classed among the nixies 
and the word Brooklyn was written on it in red ink. At Brooklyn 
it fell into the same classification, and finally reached Buffalo, as 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 91 

the writer intended it should, of course. There are some twenty 
different Buffalos among the post offices of the country, and some 
thirty more post offices whose name is compounded from Buffalo, 
like "Buffalo City," "Buffalo Mills," etc. The names of dozens 
of other cities are as abundantly duplicated. Hence much of the 
trouble. 

And there seems to be no end of pains taken by the Department 
people, and by the railway mail people also, to trace and forward 
missent mail. A Nebraska paper complained vociferously in a 
double-leaded, smutty-looking "editorial," that one of its numbers 
dated February 12, 1892, did not reach its destination until May 9, 
1892. The complaint was referred by General Superintendent 
White to Division Superintendent Troy, at Chicago. Mr. Troy 
referred it to the chief clerk at Omaha, who in turn referred it to 
the postmaster at the town where the paper is published. The post- 
master reported to the chief clerk just mentioned that the complain- 
ing editor sent out, on the 7th of May, a " boom " edition ; that to 
make as large a showing as possible he gathered up all the old copies 
of his paper to be found ; that he happened to send out one dated 
February 12 (this on the 7th of May); and that there was no delay 
whatever in the transmission of the paper. Then the postmaster at 
the point to which the paper was addressed furnished information 
that there was no delay in the delivery. The chief clerk at Omaha 
sent these facts forward to the division superintendent at Chicago, 
who in turn sent them to the General Superintendent at Washington. 
So it is with letters and papers in thousands of cases every year. 

An important recent development of the Railway Mail Service is 
the more extensive and specific distribution on trains of matter for 
city delivery. As Mr. W. B. Stevens has written: 

If the postal clerk can carry in his mind the schedules for 12,000 or 15,000 
post offices in a region of country, why cannot a local distributor fit himself to 
throw the mail for routes in two or more cities ? This proposition can be made 
plainer by a practical illustration. On the Wabash there are St. Louis, Lafayette, 
Fort Wayne, and Toledo with carrier service. Why cannot a distributor be sent 
over this route with the mail to divide it up for the different carrier routes in each 
city ? When the mail for Lafayette reaches that city it will be ready for the 
carriers to start out on their routes ; so at Fort Wayne and so at Toledo. On the 
return trip the distributor will assort the Fort Wayne matter for Fort Wayne 
carriers, the Lafayette mail for the Lafayette carriers, and then the St. Louis 
mail for the St. Louis carriers. Such work as this will necessitate a knowledge 



92 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



on the part of the distributor of the mail routes of each of the four cities ; that is 
a good deal for one man to carry in his head. But it is no more than some of the 
postal clerks carry. 

A travelling man finished up his work at Kansas City one afternoon, wrote out 
his orders, and mailed them shortly before train time. He reached St. Louis for 
breakfast and started down town. On the way he dropped into a restaurant and 
got a cup of coffee. Continuing he went into the store and reported, saying: 

" I mailed a lot of orders at Kansas City last night; they will reach you in a little 
while." 

"They are here already," said the manager, pointing to a clerk who was even 
then going over the orders. The travelling man walked up to the post office to 
find out how the mail could beat him. He learned what many do not know, that 
local distributors travel on the route between St. Louis and Kansas City. 




YET ANOTHER VIEW OF THE WRECK AT TIPTON. 



The weights of mail upon which the railroads are paid for trans- 
porting it are taken once in four years, except in urgent cases; 
and this weighing fixes the compensation for that period. In order 
to distribute the work, the United States is divided into four sec- 
tions, as with the contract division. Mr. Richard C. Jackson, the 
versatile division superintendent of the railway mail at New York, 
has written, more entertainingly than any layman may, about these 
railroad weighings. He says: — 

"After the receipt from the Department of an order, weigh, and the issuance 
of the preliminary notices to all concerned, the first step is to ascertain exactly on 
what trains mails are carried and between what points. This is simple enough 
for unimportant roads, and would be even for trunk lines, if the mails carried 
were only from and for stations, but mail bags often come by branch roads in 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 93 

charge of train baggagemen, which reach a main line at points where they do 
not pass under the observation of a postmaster, or of any employee of the Post 
Office Department. These dispatches are usually well known to the superin- 
tendent by his records; but as it is possible that a postmaster somewhere might 
happen to start a dispatch without orders from the superintendent, it is cus- 
tomary to institute extensive inquiries to make sure that none is overlooked. 
When completed, a chart is prepared of the results, which serves as the basis of 
all subsequent action. If the line is a small one, the weights are taken solely by 
the postmasters, and no one is put on the train as specially employed. This 
sometimes puzzles railway officials, who, as they see no evidence of a weighing 
on the trains, or at stations, write to complain that the weights, or some of them, 
are not being taken, for it is at times done far away and on other lines. 

"On important roads, weighers are provided on some trains, and these weighers 
must then be selected and their schedules of trips arranged which are often ex- 
tensive and complicated. In the meantime scales are provided by the company 
and blank weighing cards printed, one sort for the men on the trains, another 
kind for postmasters, and still another for transfer clerks. Besides these, there 
are many details not necessary to enumerate. 

"When the work begins, the reports are checked off as soon as received, to 
make sure that none is wanting or is imperfect. This is in order that a defect 
may be known and investigated while the matter is freshly in mind. Sometimes 
reports are called for from more than a single source, so that one will serve as a 
check upon the other. When all is found to be going on smoothly these duplicate 
reports can be dropped. The most troublesome difficulties are on long lines, 
where there are loups, or where trains diverge, and then come together again, 
and it is impracticable to take the mails out of the cars to weigh them and put 
them aboard again, or to weigh them in the cars in such cases, on account of the 
quantity. Frequently, too, it is necessary to weigh beyond the terminals of a 
route, to avoid ' balancing back ' as it is called. 

" When the tabulation is completed, and the final results are prepared, showing 
the weights put on and taken off at each station, a statement of the same is for- 
warded to the Department, and a copy furnished to the railway company. At 
Washington, the Adjustment Division figures the weights from station to station, 
and the average thus obtained is paid for at the legal rates already explained. 
This, it will be noticed, produces quite a different result from the average weight 
when starting from the principal terminal which is what an ordinary observer is 
apt to notice. The weighing for small lines continue nominally thirty days, and 
for trunk lines sixty days, but these periods are extended to enough days to give 
the companies the benefit of Sunday, although the weights are averaged on the 
thirty and sixty days." 

Extra and unusual things are continually occurring in the Railway 

Mail Service. They tax the ingenuity of the superintendent and his 

assistants, tax the tired hands and brains of the clerks. There was 

the census mail in 1890. Tons and tons of matter going out or 

coming in crammed the postal cars as well as the large post offices 

and made in reality a freight transportation business of the post. 

The summer resort service, always put on for the watering places, 



94 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

is notable every spring and summer, especially in New England, 
whither most of the exodus is. The past summer service was estab- 
lished by boat between Machiasport and Rockland, and it was the 
first distribution of mail ever authorized on a steamboat in New Eng- 
land. The mails went straight in consequence, and not by hook or 
crook inland, as best they might. Boston mails for the White 
Mountains left an hour earlier in the morning, and the northern 
cities as well as the mountain resorts were benefited. Old Ply- 
mouth had new service, and the postal car penetrated to Rangeley. 
The New York papers reached Brattleboro three hours earlier than 
ever before. The new Bar Harbor express took all the Boston 

and western mail 

•GENEEALOEDEENO. 208— FIFTH PAQF along tWO hOLirS 

s« ° earlier than for- 

43. Mount Pleasant House. N. H.— Will receive and send mail as .follows : Newport & SpriDgfield, Night, due at 9.25 

a. m. Reiuro with mail »t 10.25 p. m. Lancaster & Boston, due at 4.43 and 5.50 p. m. • Return at 7.45 a. tv^otIxt A v» r\ •fl'i Q 

m..— one with mail, the other empty. Lancaster & Montpelier, due at 1 1.50 a. m: Return with . mail at 12.55 IllClly. XTlIILI LilfcJ 

p. m. .BostoD. Springfield & New York and Woodsville & Boston, due at 8.35 p. m. Return 'the Woodsville " 

& Boston empty at 10.25 p. m. aod the Boston, Springfield & NewYork einptv at 7.45 a. ro.'.-properlv labeled. "1 i P ~\ "I i 1 • 

Portland & Swanton. West, due at 12.48 p. m. Return with mail at 4.52 ' p. in. Portland & Swanton, Kae-t, DeaUtV 01 all tUlS 

due at 4.52 p ro. Return with mail at 12.48 p. ra. Mondays, St. Albans .& Boston, Night, dne at 9.25 a.m. J 

Return with mail Sundays at 10.25 p. ro., labeled •• St. Albans & Bostoni South ofConcord." . -. , . - 

44. Proflle House, N. H.— Will receive and Send mail as follows: Newport & Springfiold. Night, due at 8 42 a. m. IS tliat "JUSt SO 

Return with mail at 7.20 p. in. Lancaster & Moutpelier. due at 1 1.50 a. m Return with mail at 12.50 p. id. «* 

Lancaster & Boston, due at 4.35 and 6 p. in. Return at 7 35 a.,m..— one with mail, the other empty Boston, • "I 

Springfield & New York and Woodsville & Boston, due at 8.30 p. m.. " Return empty at 7.35 a. m., labeled to HlclIlV IQOre mai IS 

the R. P. O. received from. Portland & Swanton. Weet. due at 2.05 p. rn. Return with mail at 3.25 p. m. J 

Portland & Swanton, East, and Portland & Swanton, Short Run, due at 6 p. oi. ' Return one with mail at 10 '' 11" 

o. m., the other empty. Mondays, .St. Albans & Boston, Night, due at 8.42 a. th. Return empty at 7 "* £LTP WOrKPCl 111 

25. Twin Mountain, N. H.-Will receive and Bend mail as follows: Newport & Springfield. Night, due 

Return witb (nail at 10.42 p m. Lancaster & Montpelier, due at 1 1.30 a. m Return wit> i * J_ 1 "I* 

Lancaster* Boston, due at 4.14 and 5.31 p. m. Return at 8.02 a. m.,— one with ro» - " XranSlL ailQ CLlS - 

ton. Springfield & New York and Woodsville & BostoD, due at 8.06 p.m. Retur- ia.uii*wi« **, ~» ^ 

at 10.42 p. m.. and the BoBloh. Springfield & New York empty at 8.02 a -,-. -. -. ... 

con'cord."' al8 ' 27a ' m ' lteu, ° wiih ™ u sund ^ 8 at io " p- ,n - ' ' patched to all points in 

i6. General— "I i! 1 

MAIL addressed to Maplewod, Maplewood House, n- CLOZeilS OI CaS6S OUC DUSllieSS 

Maplewood, N. H. . 

ALL offices South of Concord, N. H.. sen-' 1 1 • 

offices in Vermont to said R. P CiaV CaillCr . 

pelier, Groton, Groton P-- v 

North Montpelier, Qr» 



RaTdoi P h ontpe ,e Terrible floods occurred this year along" the 

MAILS for G- J <-> 

b. *" Mississippi. The interruptions to the regular move- 

ment of mails into St. Louis began with the trains of 
the C. C. C. & St. Louis, Wabash East, and Chicago & Alton 
lines from both Chicago and Kansas City, and the C. B. & Q. 
lines east of the river first shut out from entrance into East 
St. Louis, and the approach to the bridge even, and necessarily run- 
ing these trains into Alton. Division Superintendent Lindsey went 
to Alton and made temporary arrangements with the Eagle Packet 
Company to carry the mails and the clerk accompanying them, on 
their steamer, " Spread Eagle, " one round trip daily, between Alton 
and St. Louis. This relieved the blockade at Alton. But after 
trains were unable to get in and out of St. Louis from the east side 
of the river, the situation gradually grew worse until at one time 
there was but one track from the east affording entrance to and from 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 95 

the Eads Bridge, namely, the Ohio & Mississippi. The trains of 
as many contiguous lines as practicable ran over this line from con- 
venient junction points; and the Vandalia lines also accommodated 
the trains of some of the neighboring roads. The movement of the 
mails was provided for, as was practicable from day to day, by tele- 
graphing officers of the service at Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Chicago, 
and elsewhere, in order to divert the mails to such lines as could 
best keep it moving. A free accommodation was secured from the 
Merchants Bridge terminal officers at St. Louis to use their line in 
places where no mail service was regularly authorized; and for two 
or three days mails were taken over the new bridge to the viaduct 
crossing of the tracks of certain lines, and there these mails inward 
were carried up some improvised steps, arranged for accommodating 
passengers, by laborers of the railroad companies. Many of the 
railway post office men were on duty all of the twenty -four hours. 
A great many changes in distributions on the cars and in the St. 
Louis post office were of course necessary. But the railroad officials 
were alert, and the complaints very few. 

The yellow fever plague at Jacksonville was a far more momentous 
interruption of the mails than this. On the eighth day of August, 
1888, Mr. H. W. Clark, then postmaster of Jacksonville, who had 
just arrived in New York on leave of absence for a month, saw in the 
morning papers the news that the yellow fever was breaking out in 
Jacksonville, and a day later that it was assuming epidemic form. He 
at once left New York for home. The city was terror stricken. All 
had fled except those whose sense of duty caused them to remain. 

The first matter which Postmaster Clark found to arrest his atten- 
tion was the condition of the free delivery. The secretary of the 
local board of health had instructed the superintendent of mails 
to prevent the carriers from making their daily rounds, as their pas- 
sage through the city would spread the disease. Proclamations had 
been issued stopping services in the churches and the congregation 
of people in large crowds. But about twenty mails a day were 
received at Jacksonville, and the lobby of the post office was jammed 
daily with an indiscriminate crowd. The postmaster's first action 
was to reverse this condition. He sent the carriers out on their 
routes as usual. 

The next few weeks were devoted to getting the mails out of the 



96 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

city. Nearly every part of Florida was quarantined against Jack- 
sonville. Mr. Clark obtained permission from the Department to 
establish a station at La Villa Junction for the fumigation of all 
mail matter. The Jacksonville people were thus enabled to send 
letters to every part of the Union; before this few towns in Florida 
would consent to receive Jacksonville letters or newspapers. Only 
one clerk of the twenty-five or twenty-six in the office resigned 
through fear, and though many were stricken with the sickness there 
were fortunately but two deaths, Mrs. Fannie B. Hopkins, the 
stamp clerk, and Capt. W. J. Merritt, who had charge of the fumi- 
gating station. Thorough discipline was kept up throughout the 
entire term of the epidemic of between four and five months. The 
postmaster, as a member of the Sanitary Association, was chairman 
of a special committee for the establishment of a baggage fumigating 
station, which was erected near the other. 

The fumigation at La Villa Junction was done in a box car of the 
Florida Central & Peninsula Railroad, which had been loaned. 
With Captain Merritt was a railway postal clerk. All of the mails 
for Florida were fumigated here, and all for other states were sent 
direct to another fumigating station at Waycross, Georgia, which 
was in charge of Major R. E. Mansfield, then and now chief clerk 
in the Railway Mail Service at Charleston. The different railroads 
niade arrangements by which an engine and a baggage car, under 
certain precautions, were run into the city as far as the fumigating 
station, and the Jacksonville mails were put off and the fumigated 
mails taken on at that point. 

All mail matter accumulating in the letter boxes or post office at 
night was sent early in the morning to the station for perforation 
and a six hours smoke. At noon another load was sent: All had 
previously been made up to routes, and afterwards so arranged in 
the fumigating car that as little time as possible would be lost in 
re-routing it after the smoking. Notwithstanding all this, the 
bundles of The Daily Times-Union, published in Jacksonville, were 
occasionally burned alongside the track at some station where they 
were thrown off. But the desire for yellow fever news generally 
overcame the fear of contagion and the bulk of the papers went 
through. The amount of newspapers utterly refused by some of the 
offices and returned to Jacksonville filled up a room originally used 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 97 

by railway postal clerks. All "these refused papers were sent out 
when the epidemic was declared over, and it took several days to 
work them off. No ill effects were ever reported from them. 

In the office proper the regular routine was followed, except that 
each morning it was necessary to have an inspection of the force ; 
and the work was given out as best it might be among the well. As 
a preventive against the fever, the floors of the office were sprinkled 
twice each day with a solution of carbolic acid, kept in a large 
cask, and furnished by the board of health. Every clerk and car- 
rier in the office also used medicine either externally or internally, 
and generally both, as a preventive ; but liquor as a beverage in any 
form was refused to all. One of the clerks had a handful of sulphur 
in each shoe ; but that this did not make him proof against the fever 
was evident, for Captain Merritt, in charge of the fumigating car, 
who was breathing sulphur fumes for several hours each day, died 
bravely at his post. The employees never complained at the known 
dangers which they encountered daily, or were liable to encounter, 
except once. It was when several prominent citizens vigorously 
urged that the large hall in the third story over the post office be 
turned into a yellow fever hospital, as more room was needed. The 
postmaster interfered with this plan, arguing that it would not do to 
have a hospital so near the mails that were to be sent out through 
the country. For Mr. A. E. Sawyer, the superintendent of mails, 
the greatest admiration was expressed on all hands. He had never 
had the fever, but he served faithfully; and when the postmaster 
insisted that he take a vacation, which he did, he returned promptly 
to the scene of the pestilence. 

Major Mansfield volunteered to take charge of the fumigating 
station at Waycross. All mails from Florida had been stopped at 
that point since the 8th of August. When Major Mansfield arrived 
there on the 12th, some eight or ten tons of matter had accumulated, 
stored in a freight car on a siding. Four postal clerks had freely 
volunteered to do service as assistants. They all went to work at 
once, assorting and perforating each piece separately except the 
papers, until the fumigating cars, which were still in the railroad 
shops at Waycross, should be ready. Two freight cars were brought 
into use, each partitioned off into two air-tight compartments, in 
which were constructed shelves of wire netting to spread the mail 



98 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



on. The mail, after being perforated by means of an iron punch 
designed for the purpose by the chief clerk in charge, was placed on 
the wire shelves in the fumigators. An iron kettle containing five 
pounds of sulphur was placed in each compartment, ignited, and 
allowed to burn for four hours, when the doors were opened, and the 
mail taken out, re-assorted, and , tied up in packages and sacks, and 
dispatched. For the first ten days Major Mansfield and his men had 




nothing to work with except what they could devise themselves, and 
nothing to eat except what they could buy in a sparsely settled 
country ; and they often travelled miles to a farm house only to be 
disappointed, for the country was swampy and poor. No provisions 
could be had at any price, and as the men were not permitted to enter 
Waycross on account of the quarantine established there, it began 
to look rather serious for them. They had nothing but warm and 
slimy surface water to drink, and nothing to sleep on except the 
bags of infected mail. It was during these trying hours that the 
camp was dubbed "Camp Destitution." In the midst of their woes, 
however, a good Samaritan appeared in the cheery person of Dr. 



THE WONDERFUL RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 



99 



F. M. Urquhart of the Marine Hospital Service, who, seeing the 
deplorable condition of the men, immediately telegraphed to Wash- 
ington that the Government must provide for their comfort, or 
death would surely result from exposure and want, if not from 
the plague. Immediately came a dispatch authorizing him to 
purchase the necessary outfit for a camp, and as quickly there came 
from Waycross stoves, cooking utensils, dishes, etc., and a good 
supply of ice, with positive orders not to drink the swamp water 
unless it should first be boiled. 

By September 1 the camp was in thorough working order and 
each day the trains from Jacksonville brought their deadly load and 
deposited them at the camp ; and they were fumigated and sent for- 
ward within twenty-four hours. The train between Jacksonville 
and Waycross was in charge of Postal Clerk W. J. Balentine, of 
Waycross (who was stricken with the fever and laid up for over a 
month), and Substitute Clerk J. M. Doty, of Charleston, both volun- 
teers. "Camp Destitution" was established August 12, and closed 
November 30, and the following table shows the amount of mail 
handled during that period: 



Month. 


Pouches 
received. 


Number of 

letter 
packages. 


Sacks of 

papers 

received. 


Registers. 


Pouches 
fumigated. 


Canvas 

sacks 

fumigated. 


August . . . 
September . . 
October . . . 
November . . 


564 
420 
235 

282 


13,624 
12,177 
11,229 
11,989 


1,646 
1,800 
1,525 
1,641 


3,346 
3,640 
4,186 
4,389 


894 
882 
809 
921 


6,996 
6,818 
6,151 
8,100 


Totals . . . 


1,501 


49,019 


6,612 


15,556 


3,506 


28,065 



The average number of letters to a package was forty and the 
average number of papers to a sack one hundred and fifty; so the 
total number of pieces fumigated was within a dozen of 3,000,000. 

A record was kept of all registered matter passing through the 
station by Clerk Allen, and not a single loss was known. A period 
of one- hundred and eleven consecutive days of continuous duty 
night and day, standing between the yellow fever and the whole 
North, and West, and South, is the record of the resolute men who 
did this service. A single incident occurred to disturb the har- 
mony of the little camp. A notice was received from the General 



100 



THE STOKY OF OUR "POST OFFICE. 



Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service by Chief Clerk Mansfield 
to the effect that: "The interests of the Railway Mail Service would 
be promoted by the tender of your resignation as chief clerk at 
Charleston, S. C, to take effect Sept. 1, 1888"; also at the same 
time a request "to remain in charge of the station, until the need 
of your presence at that station has passed, when you will be assigned 
to duty on the line, vice M. A. Davis promoted"; and also, "that an 
order has been issued reducing your salary as a clerk of Class 5 from 
$1,400 per annum to $1,300 per annum, to take effect Sept. 1^ 
'88." And this for politics. After the station closed each clerk 
applied for and was granted thirty days' leave of absence with pay. 
This was their only recognition. 




THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT. 




HE Railway Mail Service has a daily paper. It is 
the Daily Bulletin, and its circulation is almost 
1,100. It is printed in the basement of the Post 
Office Department; and printers set over 4,000,000 
ems of matter for it in a year. At this departmental 
printing office work for the third division of the 
railway mail is also done, like the semi-weekly 
issue of the "general orders" about changes in the service of that 
division, and the "facing slips," of which about 600,000 are printed 
yearly. Each of the other divisions has a small printing office 
of its own. The printers employed at headquarters in ten of 
the divisions, and in the Department, make up 1,500 forms in a 
year, set 9,000,000 ems of matter, and print over a million impres- 
sions. The work consists chiefly of the facing slips, bulletins, and 
small pieces of job work, as required for technical and immediate 
use. For example, Division Superintendent Jackson makes his 
annual report on a small circular; and Division Superintendent 
Ryan, at Boston, issues eight good-sized pages or more filled with 
announcements, for the beginning of the summer resort season, 
that new service has been put on in perhaps a hundred places. The 
printing offices, though very small, are all well equipped. Superin- 
tendent Troy lately issued his annual report very tastefully in 
colors. 

For several years prior to the birth of the Daily Bulletin (which 
occurred without mishap February 3, 1880), a synopsis of the princi- 
pal orders affecting the Railway Mail Service, such as the establish- 
ment, discontinuance, or change of site of post offices, the establishment 
of mail routes by star, steamboat, or railway service, and such other 
orders from the First and Second Assistant Postmaster General's 
offices as directly affected the operations of the Railway Mail Ser- 

101 



DAILY BULLETIN 



OP 



ORDERS AFFECTING THE POSTAL SERVICE. 

VOL. XIII. POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D. C, TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 1892. NO. 3788 



$tje postal Bulletin. 

ISSUED FROM THE OFFICE OF 

3EH'L SUP'T BAIXWAY MAIL SERVICE 
JAMES B. WHITE. Gen'l SUP'T. 



" Postal Card* Mailable to South African 

Destinations." 

Post Office Department, 
Office of Postmaster General. 

Washington. D. C August, 1st, 1892. 

The International Bureau of tbe.Unl- 
versal Postal Union having officially an- 
nounced that by virtue of an arrangement 
between the Postal Administrations of 
Great Britain and the Cape Colony, postal 
tarda may now be admitted to the mails 
exchanged, via Great Britain, between the 
Cape Colony and the countries and Colo- 
nies embraced In the Universal Postal 
Union. ' 

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED: That 
United States postal cards addressed for 
delivery In any Colony or Interior State of 
South Africa, be hereafter admitted to the 
malls for those countries or Colonies, de- 
spatched via Great Britain, at the rate of 
postage applicable to postal cards ad. 
dressed for delivery within the Universal 
Postal Union, viz: 2 cents for each single 
card. 

8. A. WHITFIELD", 
Acting Postmaster General. 



Samples of liquids, etc., Vnmailable to 
Any Australasian Colony. 

Post Office Department, 
Office of Foreign Mails, 
Washington, D. C August 1st, 1892. 

Referring to the latter part of paragraph 
J of the circular Headed "The Universal 
Postal Convention of Vienna*' on pages 
17-19 of the Postal Guide for the month of 
May, 1892, In which notice is given that 
"Samples of liquids, etc., may be sent to 
the Australasian Colonies of Victoria and 
Tasmania;" postmasters and o.thers are in- 
formed that this Department has been 
officially advised that at a conference of 
all of the Australasian Colonies/said Colo. 
nies decided not to allow the transmission 
of the samples in question in the malls ex- 
changed between any of said Colonies and 
the other countries and Colonies embraced 
in the Universal Postal Union. 

Consequently, packages or samples of 
liquids, fatty substances and powders are 
net transmissible by mall to the Colonies 
of Victoria, Tasmania, or any other Aus- 
tralasian Colony, and should not be re- 
ceived by United States postmasters when 
addressed for delivery in any of said Colo- 
nies. 

By direction of the Postmaster General, 
N. M. BROOKS, 
Superintendent of Foreign Malls. 



POST OFFICES ESTABLISHED. 



LOUISIANA. 
Troy,. Lincoln Co.. special from Lisbon 
Route 48235, 7 ma, N. W. [80 June 92 
MONTANA. 
Richland. Missoula Co., special from Kal- 
ispeU, Route 88242. 40 ms. E. {SO June 92 
NKW MEXICO. 
Canjilon, Rio- Arriba Co., special from 
Tlerra ArnarlUa, Routs 67175, 18 ms. S. E. 
( 18 June n 

Saint Patrick Sun Ml jiel Go., special from 
Las Vegas, Route (67007, 00 ms. W. 
127 June 92 



POST OFFICES ESTABLISHED 



NEW YORK 
Cahooozte, Orange Co., Route 7557 Spar- 
rowbush, 4 ms. s., Rio, 3 ms. N. 
[22 July 92 

OREGON. 
Aberdeen, Linn Co. ,-Koute 73331. Lacomb, 
4 ms. S. E., Lebanon, 6 ms. S. W 
(13 June 92 

PENNSYLVANIA. 

Haafsvllle, Lehigh Co., special from Fogels- 

Ille. Route 8428, 2 ms. E. [28 June 92 

SOUTH CAROLINA. 

Calhoun Falls. AbbeviJle»Co., Route 121071, 

Dry Grove, V-A ms. N. W., Hester, 3 ms. 

S. |7 July 92 

TENNESSEE. 
Ohurches.Hancock Co., Route 19148, Clinch 
River, iy, ms. E.. Upper Clinch, 5 ms. W. 
[30 June 92 

VIRGINIA. 
Klncald, Highland Co., special from Will- 
iarasvllle. Route 11488, 6 ms. 3. [31 may 92 
WASHINGTON. 
Martin, Kittitas Co., Route 171011, Easton, 
9 ms. E.. Hot Springs, 16 ms. W 
(7 June 92 
Wabash, King Co., special from Osceola, 
Route 71219, 4 ms. S. E. [30 June 92 



POST OFFICE SITE CHANGED 



MISSOURI. 
Seek man, Jefferson Co., ^ m. N W. on 
Route 45455. [1 aug 92 



POST OFFICES DISCONTINUED. 



The following to take effect August 15, 18921: 

ALABAMA. 

Merritt, Pike, Co., Route 24609. Mail to 

Shady Grove. [I aug 92 

ILLINOIS. 

Berry too, Cass Co., Route 35326. Mall to 

Virginia. [I aug 92 

KENTUCKY 
Burgess, Lawrence Co., Route 129027 Mall 
to Georges Creek. [1 aug 92 

Stony Point, Bourbon Co., special. Mall to 

Austerlltz. [I aug 92 

TEXAS. 
Hlnde, Crockett Co., Route 51059. Mali to 

Hembrie. fl aug 92 



SPECIAL SERVICE CHANGES. 



INDIANA. 
Doerun, Jefferson Co., from Brooksburgh. 
From August 1, 1892, change base of sup- 
ply to Home. [29 July 92 

Marling, Jackson Co., from Langdon. 
From Angust 1, 1892, change base of sup- 
ply to CrothersTllle. [at July 82 
OHIO. 

Philander, from Sheridan. From August 
1, 1882, change base of supply to Kallda.' 
[39 July 82 

WEST VIRGINIA. 

Mount Tell, Jackson Co., from fielgrove. 
From August 1. 1892, change base of sup- 
ply to Uoldtown. [29 July 92 



SPECIAL SERVICE DISCONTINUED 



ARKANSAS. 
Flynn, Woodruff Co., from Railroad Sta- 
tion (n. o.). From July 30, 1892, office 

discontinued. [29 July 92 
Selah, Ashley Co., from Fountain Hill. 

From July 30, 1892, office discontinued. 

(29 July W 

NEW YORK. 
Black Lake, St. Lawrence Co. From July 

30,1892, discontinue special supply from 

July 1 to September 30 of each year. 

[29 July 92 
GalUlee, St. Lawrence Co., from Ogdens- 

burgb. From August 13, 1892, on Route 

7812. [29 July 92 

PENNSYLVANIA. 
N ashes. Forest 'Co., from Pigeon. From 

January 31. 1892, on Route 110088. 

(29 July 92' 



-STAR SERVICE ESTABLISHED 



KENTUCKY 

Route 29678. Jackstown to Carlisle;^ ms. 
and back, three times a week, by a 
schedule of not to exceed 2 hours run- 
ning time each way. From August 1 
1892, to June 30, 1893. [28July92 

Route 29879. Kenton to Morgansvllle, 3 
ms. auti pack, three times a week, by a 
schedule of not to exceed 1 hour running 
time each way. From August 1, 1892, to 
June 80, 1893.. [28July92 

Route 29880. Baker to Potter's Fork, 4 ms. 
and- back, twice a week, by a schedule of 
not to exceed 1% hours running time 
each way. From August 1, 1892, to June 
30,1893. [28 July 92 

Route 29881. Grand Rl vers to Smfthianci 
19 ms. and back, six times a week, by a 
schedule of not to exceed o% hours run- 
nlng time each way. From August 1, 
1892, to June 30, 1893. [28 July 92 

NEW YORK 

Route 7811. Black Lake to Hammond, 2*4 
ms. and buck, twelve times a week, by a 
schedule of not to exceed 45 minutes run- 
ning time each way during August and 
September. 1892, and June, 1893. 
[28 July 92 

TENNESSEE- 

Route 27916. Pine Mountain to JelUco, 10 
ms. and back, three times a week, by a 
schedule of not to exceed 8 hours run- 
ning time each way. From August 1, 
1892, to Juno 30, 1893. [28 July-92 

yiRGINIA. 
Route 10794. Bagleys Mills, by Lambert to 
South Hill, 16 ms. and back, three times 
a week, by a schedule of not to exceed 5 
hours running time each way. From 
August 8. 1892, to June 30, 1893. [29 July 92 



STAR SERVICE CHANGES. 



(ARKANSAS. 
Route47635. Wolf Bayou to Coras. Modify 
order of July 2.J892, (Bulletin 3760), so as 
to stale an increase In distance of 1 m. 
by supply of Coras at the site authorized 
June 25. 1892. [28 July 92 

INDIAN TERRITORY 
Route 53276. Baxter Springs, Kans., to 
Miami. Ind. Ter. From August 15, 1892, 
Increase service to six times a- week. 
Schedule to be* dally except Sunday, 
same hours as at present. [28 July 92 
NORTH DAKOTA. 
Route 61250. Hatton to Sharon. From 
August 6, 1892, Increase service to tbree 
times a week. Change schedule to Tues- 
day, Thursdays and Saturday. (28 July 92 
WI8C0N8IN. 
Route 39321. Marytown to Kiel. State 
original distance as 6M ms. Modify 
order of May 10, 1802, (Bulletin 3720), so 
3# 



STAR SERVICE DISCONTINUED. 



ARKANSAS. 
Route 47517. Galena to Umpire. From 
July SO, 18921 [29July92 

INDIAN TERRITORY, 



' ' NEW YORK 

Route 6722. Morrlstown- to Edwardsvllle- 

From August 13. 1892. (29 July 92 
TENNESSEE. 
Route 27170. Morrlstown to Marshalls. 

From August 1< 1892. [28 July 92 
Route 27487. Ambro to Rutledge. From 

August 14, 1892. [28 July 92 
Route27188. Tate Springs to Morrlstown. 

From August 14, 1892. |28 July 92 
VIRGINIA. 
Route 11941. South Hill to Lambert, From 

August 6. 1892. 129 July 92 



R. P 0. SERVICE CHANGES. 



Attalla and Sylacauoa. Ala.— R. P. 
clerks extend run jobs to end atCalera, 
Ala,, increase 10 distance 33.66 ins., 
making whole distance 122.46 ms. To 
take effect August 15,' 1892. The line to 
be known as the 

Attalla & Caleka r. P O [2 aug 92 



RAILROAD SERVICE ESTABLISHED 



OREGON 
Route 173017. Baker City to McEwen Sta- 
tion (o. c), Oregon. 8umpter Valley 
Rwy., 26.00 ms. and back, six times a 
week, or as much ofteDer as trains may 
run. From August 15, J892. [aug 1 92 

PENNSYLVANIA 
Route 110213. Newport, by Ferguson, El 
llottsburgh, Ureen Park, Loysvllle, Blx- 
ler, Centre, Cisma's. Run and Anderson- 
burgh, to Blaln, Peon. Newport A Sher- 
man's Valley R. R.,25.47 ms. and back, 
six tiraesa week, or as much oftener as 
trains may run. From September 1, 1892. 
[1 aug 92 



RAILROAD SERVICE CHANGES. 



FLORIDA. 
Route 123037. Klsstmmee to Narcoossee. 
Saint Cloud Sugar Belt Rwy., 16.07 ms. 
Recognize service due or to become due 
In the name of the South Florida R. R. 
Co., evidence of change of title having 
been submitted. 130 July 92 

MICHIGAN. 
Ronte 137098. Williamsburg to Bay View. 
Chicago & West Michigan Rwy., 68.79 ms. 
Amend order of July 29, 1892, (Bulletin 
3787),* so as to state the date of beginning 
of service as August 8, 1892. Instead of 
September 1, 1892. [1 aug 92 

SOUTH CAROLINA. 
Route 120041. Savannah to, Columbia. 
South Bound R. K., 142 ms. From Au- 
gust 1, 1892, embrace GlOord. Hampton 
Co., S. C, on this route, between Sue- 
belle and Fairfax, and North, Orange - 
burgh Co., S. C, between Slella and 
Senn. [30 July 92 



MAIL MESSENGER SERVICE DISCONTINUED. 



NEBRASKA. 
Route 257042.^ Matson, Platte Co., from 
Omaha & Republican Valley Rwy. Route 
157017. From July 30, 1892. (28 luly 92 

PENNSYLVANIA. 

Route 210641. Grove City, Mercer Co.. 

trom Pittsburgh, Shenango & Allegheny 

R. R Route 110051 From August 6. 

1892. [28 July 92 

VIRGINIA. 
Route 214239. Patterson, Wythe Co., from 
Norfolk <i Western R. R. Route 114052. 
From August 6, 1892. [29 July 92 



POSTMASTERS COMMISSIONED 



Commissioned July 28, 1898 

Fourth Class offices. 

Eliza E. Orcutt _ Orcutt. Cal 

Henry H. Threemann Somes Bar, Cal 

Altred Parker .,. .Cimarron, Colo 

Rose M. Colcord-...„ Kokorao, Colo 

Martin H. Strelt Parachute, Colo 

Arthur C. Hartho.. Swaozy, Midi 

Francisco R. Y. Boca El Pueblo, N Met 

Pascal Craig _ Monero, N Mel 

Isaac W. Cookson. ...._.. Kansas, Ohio 

John A. Harter Linnvllle, Ohio 

George C. Roberts „ Carlton, Oreg 

Peter W. Mess _ Mount Angel, Oreg 

Wm. E. Mulbollen Langdondale, Pa 

George W. Snider Wardensville, W Va 

New Oflleet. 
Chrlstaln L. McKlnnon, Red Bay, 

Walton Co. Fla. 
Charles S. L. Patton, Troy, Lincoln Co., Lit 
Wm. H. Orr, Richland, 

Missoula Co., Mont 
Fidel Martinez, Canjilon, 

RIO Arriba Co., N Me.t 
Manuel A Sanchez, Saint Patrick. 

San M Iguel Co., N Me* 
Hamilton Hulse, Cahoonzle, 

Orange Co., N Y 
Mary Flaugber Abberdeen, Linn Co., Ores 
Llewellyn E. Haaf, Haatsvllle, 

Lehigh Co., Pa 
Edward Kleser, Calhoun Falls, 

Abbeville- Co., SC 
Hiram Church, Churches, 

Hancock Co., Teuu 
Annie B. Hopraan, Klncald, 

Highland Co., Va 
Hattle L. Laird, Martin, 

Klttltass Co., Wash 
Wm. F Eckhart, Wabash, King Co,, Wash 



A FAC SIMILE OF THE DAILY RAILWAY MAIL BULLETIN. 



102 



THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT. 



103 



vice, were copied daily upon manifold sheets by a clerk named 
William H. Powell, who was detailed from the office of the First 
Assistant Postmaster General for the purpose. Naturally many mis- 
takes were made, and a mistake once made (from fourteen to sixteen 
manifold impressions were written at a time) it was almost impos- 
sible to correct it; and moreover, whatever errors crept into these 
manifold sheets were, of course, repeated in the offices of the division 




THE PRINTING OFFICE OF THE DAILY RAILWAY MAIL BULLETIN. 

superintendents. The growth of the Railway Mail Service, too, 
called for a more expeditious system of disseminating this informa- 
tion; and accordingly, in February, 1880, Mr. Thomas B. Kirby, 
then private secretary to Postmaster General Key, consulted with the 
Postmaster General, with Mr. William B. Thompson, then General 
Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service, and with General 
Tyner, then First Assistant Postmaster General. All agreed that 
if orders could be distributed in printed form to the division 
superintendents, it would be a great convenience not only 
to the Railway Mail Service, but also to nearly every branch 



104 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



i)f the Department, for each would know what the other was 
doing. 

The way was cleared and immediately the Bulletin was sought by 
nearly every branch of the Department, and especially by the First 
Assistant Postmaster General and the Sixth Auditor, to obtain correct 
lists of new postmasters. It soon began to be used for the orders of 
the Postmaster General, which it was important to have in the hands 
of the leading postmasters, as well as the division superintendents, 
in advance of the publication of the Monthly Guide. February 3, 
1880, the printing of envelopes and mailing lists was begun, and 
on March 4, 1880, the first issue of the Daily Bulletin left the press. 
It was intended at first to issue it every evening, so as to catch the 
10 P. M. mail out of town, but that was not found satisfactory, as 
many newspaper correspondents desired to have it in the afternoon 
_^ _ for clipping purposes. The Bul- 

letin has been of the greatest use 
in emergencies; for once the De- 
partment was without the supple- 
ment to the Postal Guide, and had 
it not been for the Daily Bulletin, 
the mail service generally would 
have been wholly at a loss. 

The Bulletin is put to press at 
three in the afternoon. It is 
ready for mailing or for distribu- 
tion among the correspondents by 
four or five ; and probably this lit- 
tle daily is more clipped from than 
any other Washington publication. 
Every day, of course, postmasters 
are appointed or commissioned, 
and orders putting on new railway 
and star mail service are issued, 
and these are all of local interest, 
and are consequently culled by the newspaper men and telegraphed to 
their papers. The Bulletin is printed only on one side of the sheet 
to accommodate them the better, and so that it may be the better 
posted in conspicuous places. This paper first had a circulation of 




MR. JAMES S. GRAY, 
Editor, the Railway Mail Bulletin. 



THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT. 



105 



200 copies daily. It has now over 1,000. Of this issue 100 or 
more are mailed to division superintendents, 300 to important post- 
masters, 50 or more to newspaper correspondents, 200 to the differ- 
ent bureaus of the Department, and 400 or more to various per- 
sons throughout the country. 

Mr. James S. Gray now edits the Bulletin, and Mr. A. J. 
Crossfield is foreman of the Bulletin office. Mr. Gray was ap- 
pointed a clerk in the Railway Mail Service in 1873, and soon 
after detailed to the office of the General Superintendent. At first 
one printer was em- 

ployed; now there RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE 

are five. When the 
Bulletin was first 
issued the press- 
work was done by 
foot power, but cir- 
culation increased 
so rapidly and mis- 
cellaneous job work 
for the Department 
was necessarily put 
upon the printing 
room so much, that 
in April, 1887, a four horse-power engine had to be procured. 
Steam is communicated from the engine room of the Department. 
The machinery consists of one Gordon extra (i) medium, 11x17, 
and one Universal (£) medium, 10 x 15 press, a Dewley paper 
cutter, a proof press, a mailing machine, two imposing stones, one 
cabinet of twenty-two cases, and a full assortment of type. 

The topographer's office is directly attached to the office of the 
Postmaster General, and is chiefly of use to the Railway Mail Service 
and the other divisions of the Second Assistant's office. The topog- 
rapher, Mr. Charles Roeser, of Wisconsin, occupies with his clerks 
the second and third floors of a rented building on Ninth Street not 
far from the Department. Mr. Roeser has graduated at engineering 
from the Lawrence University in Wisconsin, and at law from the 
Columbia Law School in Washington. He entered the public ser- 
vice soon after his service in the war was over, under the patronage 



SECOND DIVISION 

COMPRISING 

New York. New Jersey Pennsylvania. Delaware, and Peninsula of 


Maryiai 

!T 

K FROM 


ad and Virginia 


ANNUAL REPOR 

(Abstract o* {Statistics Showing Pboobess in Second Drvisio 


188b to 1892.. 


No. 1086 NEW YORK, JULY 16th. 189a 


Appendix 






FISCAL TEAR-JULY 


1ST TO .lUNfc 30TH 




188b 


1891 


1895s 


Equipment :- 

No. ofR. P O. Line* .-.-...'...- _ 

No of R P Clerk* 


in 

S6S 

077 
8.758 




177 
7H 
Ml 


IM 

ra» 


No of Port Offices . 




Increase in No. of Clerk* Id & yean. 








Man. Distributed .- 

No of Letters, (including City leftw* - 
No of Paper* 


"* 







106 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



of Senator Sawyer. He was soon chief draughtsman of the General 
Land Office, and in 1876 he prepared for the Interior Department the 
centennial map and the centennial atlas, and later the annual map 
of the United States which is still in use. In 1882 Postmaster 

General Howe called Mr. Roeser 
to the topographer's office to re- 
organize it. The new officer 
changed the process of reproduc- 
tion to photo-lithography, made 
the issues timely and uniform, 
and for half the money published 
four times as many maps. 

The work of the topographer's 




MR. CHARLES ROESER, 
Topographer of the Department. 



office consists of projecting and 
compiling the original drawings 
of post-route maps of the general 
edition to replace old, worn-out, 
and inaccurate maps, and of trac- 
ing and lettering them for photo- 
lithography, preparing special 
drawings of enlarged sub-maps of 
the evirons of the principal cities, 
making sample diagrams of special 
editions of states and territories 
for the Railway Mail Service to 
exhibit the different lines and their connecting side mail routes; 
and testing new photo-lithographic maps received from the con- 
tractors. In the preparation of the successive bi-monthly 
editions of sheets of the printed maps, all the recorded orders 
about the sites of post offices and their mode of supply are 
transferred to the working maps, correction sheets, and sam- 
ple sheets. This exhibit is also regularly transferred to the 
numerous maps or diagrams required for daily reference at the 
Department. Miscellaneous routine work consists of issuing copies 
of printed post-route maps to the agents of the Department, pur- 
chasers, Members of Congress, and others, and the correspondence 
connected with all this; computing and certifying post-route dis- 
tances for the settlement of questions of mileage required by public 



THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT. 



10T 



officers, furnishing lists of counties and lists of the distances of post- 
routes between the more important points ; mounting maps in dif- 
ferent forms ; keeping up to date the published editions by the map 
correctors; preparing color guides, which show the frequency of 
service, and county and state boundaries, for the contractors; and 
entering in duplicate the es- 
tablishments and changes in 
post offices in books classi- 
fied by states for the use of 
the draughtsmen. 

This bureau publishes 
twenty-six maps. They are 
found to be especially val- 
uable for their large scale 
and their accuracy without 
any superfluity of detail. 
They form, in reality, pic- 
torial outlines setting be- 
fore the eye the great feat- 
ures of the postal service 
for extended regions ; and 
as a knowledge of geogra- 
phy and of post routes is 
most easily acquired by the 
study of authentic maps, 
they are a most important 
auxiliary for the intelligent 
performance of the duties 
of the postal employees. 
The maps are not only in constant and urgent demand by the dif- 
ferent offices of the service, but they are also in great requisition 
by the other departments, and by publishers, commercial agents, 
and others. The Department, of course, finds itself unable with the 
limited appropriation always allowed by Congress, to supply the 
post-route maps in large numbers. Each Senator or Representative 
is entitled to one map per session free under the law. The number 
distributed to the Post Office and the other departments is very 
limited, too. Maps are disposed of to general applicants at the 




EXTERIOR, TOPOGRAPHER'S OFFICE. 




FAC SIMILE OF PART OF POST-ROUTE MAP. 



108 



THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT. 



109 



cost of printing plus ten per cent. The Department issues a small 
sheet showing what the maps are, and what their prices. These 
last vary from 33 to 66 cents in sheets to $1.10 to $2 for maps 
backed and mounted on rollers. 

The topographer's office furnishes from 1,500 to 2,000 maps to 
postmasters annually, perhaps 2,500 annually to the Railway Mail 
Service, probably 1,500 annually to the offices and clerks of the 




INTERIOR, TOPOGRAPHER'S OFFICE. 

Post Office Department, and about 1,000 each to public officials and 
institutions and to the general public ; and the topographer receives 
over 5,000 letters a year and writes almost 7,000. 

The money appropriated for the Postal Gruide is, of course, insuf- 
ficient, and it is often with difficulty that publishers of responsi- 
bility are induced to bid for the publication of it at all. The Annual 
Guide is a book of nine hundred pages or more. It is issued each 
January, and contains an alphabetical list of postmasters by states 
and counties (and the county seats are indicated), information about 
the registry system, lists of life-saving stations and army posts, 



UN 



90S 




Copyrighted, 1S92.* 



Order No. 129. Post Office Department, Washington, D. C, September 15, 1892. 

During the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30th 1893, all postmasters and railway postal clerks 
will be supplied monthly by this Department with the United States Official Postal Gnitle. the only 
Official Bulletin of the Post Office Department JOHN WANAMAKER, Posimaster-General 



SECOND SERIES.! 
Vol. XIV. No. 10. J 



nOTHRPD IQQO T PRICE, $2 00. Per Annum. 

UUIUDLn, lOyZi (.Including large January Guide. 



CONTENTS. 

Rulings. 

The President's Proclamation — The 
Four Hundredth Anniversary of 
the Discovery of America. 

Treatment of Pensioners' Official 
Letters. 

Reward for Hail Robbers. 

Endorsement of Private Enterprise 
by Postal Officials Forbidden. 

Orders, Circulars and Statistics. 



ENTERED AT THE POST OFFICE AT PHILADELPHIA PA. AS SECOND-CLASS MATTER. 

FAC SIMILE, FIRST PAGE, MONTHLY POSTAL GUIDE. 



110 



THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT, 111 

other matter for the assistance of postmasters and the public, orders 
for all the postal people to follow, regulations about foreign mails^ 
money orders, lotteries, mail bag repairs, exchanges of mails with 
Canada, and so on. Each postmaster is provided with a copy and 
the publisher sells them in paper covers at $2, and in cloth 
covers at $2.50. These prices include the monthly supplement. 
The annual and monthly Guide are also found to be of considerable 
use to business men and organizations accustomed to use the mails 
profusely. 

The monthly Postal Guide contains information supplementary to 
that printed in the Annual Guide. The Postmaster General and his 
assistants communicate to postmasters and the public rulings, orders, 
parcels post or money order conventions, etc., in addition to the lists 
of new post offices ; and now and then, some really original observa- 
tions dare to creep in. The Department not long ago arranged 
with the publisher of the Guide to supply the monthly supple- 
ments at one cent a copy. The former price had been five cents 
a copy. But this effort to popularize the publication met with 
small success. Matter of some real interest and value was injected, 
but it was out of the run of the cobwebs, and the appropriation 
(which has to be specific for the Postal Guide, as for every object 
in the Post Office Department, and in all the departments) was 
promptly cut down. And now the old time liver-pill advertisement 
has to be admitted in order to secure a publication at all. 

So the efforts to make the Guide a real medium between the 
Department and the people failed. It remains merely a medium 
between the Department and the postmasters, and it is a poor one at 
that, for postmasters, finding that it lacks interest, do not read it, or 
reading it, they do not understand it all. For those who try to 
improve the Guide, however, there is one small source of satisfac- 
tion. The educational methods which Postmaster General Wana- 
maker has so much desired to infuse into the service, the information 
upon postal topics which the press has of late so generously and so 
generally imparted, the invitation to all persons freely to criticise 
the service, — these things, supplemented a little perhaps by the 
partial popularization of the Guide under the distressing circum- 
stances above mentioned, have perceptibly improved the service. 
For the letters that go wrong or slowly (which are the test of 



" DON'TS." 



Don't mail any letter until you are sure 
that it is completely and properly ad- 
dressed. 

Don't place the address so that there 
will be no room for the post-mark. 

Don't fail, in the hurry of business, to 
write the name of the State you intend 
and not your own — a very common 
error. 

Don't fail to make certain that your man- 
ner of writing the name of an office or 
State may not cause it to be mistaken 
for one similar in appearance. It is 
often better to write the name of the 
State in full. 

Don't fail, if you are in doubt as to the 
right name of the office for which your 
letter is intended, to consult the Postal 
Guide, which any postmaster will be 
pleaded to show you. 

Don't fail to give the street and house 
number of the person for whom mail 
matter is intended in addressing it to 
a city or large town. 

Don't mail any letter until you are sure 
that it is properly stamped. 

Don't fail to place the stamp in the upper 
right hand corner. 

Don't write on the envelope " In haste," 
"Care of postmaster," etc. ; it does 
no good, and tends to confusion in the 
rapid handling of mail matter. 

Don't fail to bear in mind that it is un- 
lawful to enclose matter of a higher 
class in one that is lower ; e. g., mer- 
chandise in newspapers. 

Don't mail any letter unless your ad- 
dress, with a request to return, is upon 
the face of the envelope ; so that in 
case of non-delivery it will be returned 
directly to you. 

Don't fail to give your correspondents 
your full address, so that a new post- 
man cannot fail to find you. 

Don't fail to notify your postmaster of 
any change in your address. 



Don't trust to the fact that you are an 
" old resident," " well-known citizen," 
etc., but have your letter addressed in 
full. 

Don't fail, if you intend to be away from 
home for any length of time, to inform 
your postmaster what disposition shall 
be made of your mail. 

Don't delay the delivery of any mail- 
matter that you may take out for 
another. 

Don't fail to sign your letters in full, so 
that if they reach the Dead Letter 
Office they may be promptly returned. 

Don't, when you fail to receive an ex- 
pected letter, charge the postal service 
with its loss, until you have learned 
from your correspondent all the facts 
in regard to its mailing, contents, etc. 



AS TO PARCELS. 

Don't mail a parcel without previously 
weighing it to ascertain proper amount 
of postage. 

Don't wrap a parcel in such manner that 
the wrapper may become separated 
from the contents. 

Don't seal or wrap parcels in such man- 
ner that their contents may not be 
easily examined. 

Don't mail parcels to foreign countries 
without special inquiry concerning the 
regulations governing foreign ad- 
dressed mail matter. 

Don't attempt to send merchandise to 
foreign countries, other than Canada 
and Mexico, in execution of an order 
or as a gift, unless the postage is pre- 
paid at five cents per half -ounce. 

Don't attempt to send merchandise to 
foreign countries by "Parcels Post," 
unless your postmaster be consulted 
concerning the country addressed and 
the manner of mailing matter thereto. 

Don't fail to put the address of the 
sender on each parcel before mailing. 
This to facilitate a return to the sender 
in the event of non-delivery. 



A PAGE OF MATTER FROM THE POSTAL. GUIDE. 



112 



THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT. 



113 



irregular or inadequate service) have decreased in numbers so much 
that the Dead Letter Office, the index of this business, has actually 
cleared its desks of work; and this fact proves that it would be 
actual economy, in columns of indisputable figures, if there might 
be some official or semi-official countenance of these educational 
methods. For the expense involved in rectifying the errors of the 
public would surely be decreased ; and in addition, the public would 
not be inconvenienced in the meantime. 




AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 




Z^ HE Mail Equipment Division of the Second Assist- 
ant's office provides the service with mail bags 
of all kinds, mail locks and keys, and mail bag- 
catchers, and the various devices, like cord fas- 
teners, label cases, etc., which pertain to these 
equipments. It prepares advertisements invit- 
ing proposals for furnishing these articles, re- 
ceives the proposals, and prepares contracts. It 
issues orders for the purchase of new materials, receives, inspects, 
and accepts them, and issues them again whenever and wherever they 
are needed. This division controls and cares for all these things 
after they have been put in service,, sees that they are economically 
and properly used and are not allowed to accumulate and lie idle at 
places where they are not needed, and provides that the damaged 
stock shall be repaired and restored to service. There are three 
funds at the disposal of the division: one of $260,000 for the pur- 
chase and repair of mai] bags and mail catchers; another of $35,000 
for the purchase and repair of mail locks, keys, and chains ; and yet 
another of $6,500 for the rent, fuel, and lighting of the mail bag 
and mail lock repair shops in Washington. The Mail Equipment 
Division is presided over by Maj. R. D. S. Tyler, who served in 
the Rebellion with the 81st New York Infantry. He won promotion 
to a captaincy and was wounded at Cold Harbor and breveted a 
major for bravery. He was engaged in the publishing business in 
Detroit for fifteen years before his appointment. Major Tyler is an 
enthusiast in his work. The mantels, shelves, and walls of his 
office are tastefully decorated with mail bags, locks, etc. 

There are nine different styles or classes of mail bags in use by 
the Post Office and from one to five sizes of each class. The first s 
the ordinary mail pouch, made of leather, and in five sizes. They 

114 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 



115 



are intended for the transmission of ordinary first-class mail matter in 
vehicles of any kind. The No. 1, or largest pouch, is being with- 
drawn from use. The No. 2 pouch, the largest size now made, costs 
$4.95, and the smallest size, the 
No. 5, costs $1.71. About five 
years ago as many as 16,000 new 
leather pouches were annually re- 
quired, but now, notwithstanding 
the tremendous increase of mails, 
only about 10,000 are purchased 
yearly. This reduction is due to 
the excellent work performed in 
the bag repair shop. It is believed 
that pouches made of canvas, in- 
stead of leather, will be found 
more durable as well as handier and 
a great deal cheaper, and it is not 
improbable that before long the 
leather pouches may be entirely 
superseded by the canvas ones. 

The second class of mail bags 
comprise leather horse bags; and 
they are intended for use on star 
routes where it is found necessary to carry the mail on horse- 
back. There are three sizes of them, and they are made so 
that they may be conveniently buckled on behind a saddle. 
They cost from $4.83 to $3.51, according to size; and it is 
found necessary to purchase about 1,200 new ones each year. 
The third class consists of jute canvas sacks. They are used only 
for the transmission of second, third, and fourth class matter, not 
registered. They are made in three sizes, the first two sizes of jute 
canvas cloth, and costing from 43 to 50 cents each, and the third 
size of cotton canvas cloth and costing about 27 cents apiece. It is 
proposed to have the No. 1 and No. 2 sacks also made of cotton can- 
vas instead of jute, and 1,500 of these are now on trial on trains 
between New York and Chicago. All these sacks are used without 
locks, and are closed by means of a cord, with a cord fastener and 
label case attached to it. About 9,000 of them are needed daily for 




MA J. K. D. S. TYLEE, 
Chief, Mail Equipment Division. 



116 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



the New York post office alone, and about 162,000 new ones of the 
large size, No. 1, 20,000 of the No. 2, and 10,000 of the small size 
are purchased annually. 

The fourth kind of mail bag, the catcher pouch, is used on trains 
in exchanging mails with stations at which the trains do not stop. 
The pouch is hung upon a crane by the side of the track, and is 
caught from the crane, as the train passes, by an iron arm called a 




REJECTED LOCKS IN THE MAIL EQUIPMENT DIVISION. 

catcher, attached to the postal car. These pouches are of but one 
size, are made of canvas strengthened by leather bindings around the 
top and bottom and with a leather strap around the centre, and cost 
$3.27 each. As these pouches are used only upon fast lines and for 
small stations, the number in use is not large, but the wear and tear 
upon them is very great; so that it is necessary to purchase about 
6,000 new ones annually. About 150 damaged ones are sent to the 
repair shop daily. The division superintendent of the Railway Mail 
at New York has to be supplied with about 500 of these pouches 
every fortnight. 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 



117 



The fifth class of mail bag is the through register pouch. No. 2 
is the size chiefly used, and there is no contract now for making the 
small size, the No. 3. This is the most expensive of all the pouches. 
It costs $8.43 for size No. 1 and $6.87 for No. 2. It is made of 




LOCKS AND BAGS IN THE MAIL EQUIPMENT DIVISION. 



canvas, but it has a leather bottom. It is used, where special 
authorization is had, to convey registered matter between large cities 
at the terminals of railroad routes. Formerly it was the practice to 
condemn and cut up these pouches as soon as they were damaged in 
the slightest respect, even by a hole big enough for a pencil ; and it 
was then necessary to purchase about 2,000 of these pouches yearly. 





Sra.ss Afd// lOCHipr 
through %8e&sterm 
■Aid// m Star tywfes; 



%/Cu Sendee /*»// 

i ack; for Jtmt package 
baxes in Cities, s 
combtnatfons. 







Street l etfet>~&0X 
fre>*{JStew$ii,m}fi M, 






US. Qtnerat Mail Lock* 

r {££ptH&(k'-) m use pvm /8?0 



Thnx/ph Mai/lac%; /tdop ted"? 
W8P;pvt *&</£$, & /$B9 &£<& 
Street £e&er -de* ^c4~> 




Jrm label case 
/Htacnud ta evtry 







&rtdtai>eica$e$ t cem£m- 
ed; asedtan$fdtAecenz£ 

o / *yl/C<eJC*}CA'£ > 



k&de Street letfrM&xltcAj 
Camfamtfensj Medea 
Co f/e dm Poxes W/somee/ 
the£&fp&?' c~its'e>j; t 




C/ty/iei/lLocksGiomhWatfrotfs, 
tfropted in /Bao;esed m cities ptL 
ppuche£ between rutin* dffrces 
and stat fans. 




$ener&/si£t/i0c# i $ctoj>ze<i 
tn/g8OJ0'&<fi&i?y6i f if/?2 *~f- 



Throve/) regit feted Afaif 
Leek j adopted /8&i used on 
throt/dA re^tJiefed pouched 
and ifaerre&stered&acks. 



118 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 119 

But now they are repaired with such care and skill that the repaired 
pouch is as safe as a new one ; and in the past five years, since the 
system of repairing began, only 1,000 through registered pouches 
have been bought. 

These bags are closed with a peculiar lock which costs $2.50. 
Each lock is lettered and numbered, and has besides a rotary num- 
ber which changes whenever the lock is opened. Every man who 
handles a through registered pouch while it is in transit is required 
to give a receipt for it under the letter and number, and also the 
rotary number, of the lock with which it has been closed. It can 
thus be readily traced ; and it can be ascertained in whose care it 
was if at any time it should be opened. 

The sixth class of mail bag is the inner register sack. This is 
intended for the transmission of registered matter between offices 
not situated at the terminals of railroad routes. These sacks are of 
light canvas, red striped, and of four sizes, and they are always used 
inside the ordinary leather mail pouches of the same numbered size. 
They cost from 57 to 97 cents apiece, and about 1,000 new ones 
are bought each year. No post office may exchange either through 
register pouches or inner register sacks with another office until 
specially authorized to do so by the Third Assistant Postmaster 
General. 

The seventh and eighth classes of mail bags are the foreign canvas 
sacks and the foreign registered sacks, the first used for ordinary 
mail and the second for mail registered to foreign countries. They 
are made of light canvas, those for ordinary mail blue striped, and 
those for registered mail red striped. These sacks have no lock, 
but are closed by sealing. About 1,500 new ones are required each 
year. The ninth kind of mail bag is the coin sack, a very small 
cotton affair, about ten by twelve inches, used by postmasters at the 
smaller offices for sending their money to the larger offices for deposit. 
These sacks are made in the mail bag repair shop. 

The mail catcher is a heavy iron arm, which is furnished by the 
Mail Equipment Division to the division superintendents of the Rail- 
way Mail to be fitted to the side doors of all postal cars, and used to 
catch pouches hung from cranes at stations while the train is in 
motion. The catcher first used cost $15, but now it costs only $3.25, 
and its durability and form have been much improved upon. From 



120 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



three hundred to four hundred catchers are spoiled in a year. For 
the past two years these damaged catchers, sent to Washington by 
mail, have been repaired by the Department in a small blacksmith 
shop, employing two good men, in the rear of the bag repair shop. 
The utmost care has to be used in the repair, as well as in the manu- 




THE BAG AND LOCK REPAIR SHOP. 



facture, of these catchers, for if one should fly to pieces it would be 
pretty sure to kill the railway postal clerk who happened to be 
manipulating it. The cost of repairing the catchers is about 
twenty-five cents, whereas formerly they were repaired by the con- 
tractor at a charge of $1 each ; and he received free, into the bar- 
gain, all the material of those not worth repairing. 

The jute canvas sack is closed by means of a cord running through 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 121 

a row of eyelets punched around the mouth of the sack, and the ends 
of the cord are clamped together and fastened by means of a small 
metal device called a cord fastener, which has a case for a label on 
the back of it. The cost of the cord fastener used to be a little less 
than ten cents apiece for the manufacture, and five cents apiece for 
royalty. But about two years ago the owner of the patent, having 
already received royalties amounting to more than $80,000, in con- 
sideration of an additional order for the manufacture of 100,000 
cord fasteners, assigned his patent to the Department; so that now 
no royalty is paid. The 100,000 then ordered have been used, and 
it has been found necessary to purchase 170,000 more, which were 
obtained at the reduced cost of a little over five cents apiece. About 
100,000 new cord fasteners are required annually. Some time ago 
fifty new devices for cord fasteners, submitted by as many inventors, 
were examined by the Department, but no improvement upon the 
present device was found. These inventors asked royalties varying 
from one and one half cents to seventy-five cents apiece; or they 
were willing (quite as generously) to sell their patents outright for 
from $5,000 to $50,000. 

Before 1875 all the repairs to mail bags were made in a few of the 
larger cities under direction of the postmaster, who made contracts 
with private individuals. Twenty-five cents was paid for each 
leather patch upon a mail pouch. It was discovered, however, that 
gross frauds were perpetrated upon the Department, for patches were 
put upon many sound bags that were in need of no attention at all, 
and bags still serviceable, but requiring a little attention, were con- 
demned and cut up. So in '75 and '76, when Marshall Jewell was 
Postmaster General, the entire system was changed, and there were 
established five repair shops in Washington, New York, Chicago, St. 
Louis, and Indianapolis. These were situated in the post offices 
and were under the immediate supervision of the postmasters. Each 
shop had from six to fifteen employees who received stated salaries. 
This was a great improvement. But shortly after assuming charge 
of the Mail Equipment Division, Major Tyler discovered that very 
large numbers of mail bags of all kinds lay idle and useless through- 
out the country for the need of slight repairs, and that, indeed, there 
were about 400,000 such in the post offices at New York and Wash- 
ington alone. The Department accordingly discontinued the repair 



122 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 




shops at New York and Indianapolis, and later the one at St. Louis. 
The repair shop in Chicago has twelve employees, who repair about 
200,000 mail bags in a year at a cost of something less than 

$10,000. But only light re- 
pairs are made in Chicago; 
all mail bags that need heavy 
repairs, or that ought to be con- 
demned, are sent to the Wash- 
ington shop. Formerly every 
person who repaired bags was 
at liberty to condemn them at 
his own sweet will. There was, 
of course, great waste. But 
now they have inspectors, whose 
duty it is to examine all bags 
sent in, to condemn such as 
actually ought to be condemned, 
and distribute the others equi- 
tably among the workmen. It 
is their duty, too, to see that 
the work has been properly done. 
The repair shop in Washing- 
ton is now very well equipped. 
It has a superintendent of its 
own, and is under the supervis- 
ion of the Mail Equipment Division and the Second Assistant. The 
superintendent is Mr. Franklin B. Kirkbride, son of the late Dr. 
Thomas S. Kirkbride, for more than forty years physician-in-chief at 
the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, and grandson of the late 
Benjamin F. Butler, of New York, who was Attorney General and 
Secretary of War under Jackson and Attorney General under Van 
Buren. Mr. Kirkbride was born in Philadelphia in 1867, graduated 
from Haverf ord College in ' 89, and studied abroad. In August, '91, he 
was appointed stock-keeper of the bag shop, and in a few months he 
was promoted to be superintendent of both the bag and lock shops. 
These two occupy a large brick building at 479 and 481 C Street, 
N. W., fifty feet wide by one hundred and forty feet deep. It was 
formerly of three stories, but two new ones have just been added. 



MR. FRANKLIN B. KIRKBRIDE, 
Superintendent, Bag and Lock Repair Shop. 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 123 

There are about two hundred and thirty employees in the whole 
place, one hundred and twenty of whom are men. The women are 
jute sewers, and patch and otherwise repair and restring the jute 
canvas sacks. They receive three and one half cents apiece per 
bag, and are expected to average thirty-eight bags a day. The 
men are a superintendent and two assistant superintendents, leather 
and canvas workers, and laborers. The leather workers are skilled 
mechanics and repair the leather mail pouches, horse bags, and the 
leather parts of catcher pouches and through register pouches. They 
are paid $75 a month each, when they have attained the required pro- 
ficiencv; and they can repair twenty to twenty -four leather pouches 
each a day. The canvas workers are skilled workmen in canvas and 
also receive $75 per month. They repair catcher pouches, through 
register pouches, and foreign mail bags. The laborers receive $50 
a month and are occupied in receiving, shaking out, handling, 
packing, and reshipping the mail bags. The amount of work 
required is greater than ever before and the efficiency of the shop is 
proportionately greater. About 35,000 jute sacks, four hundred 
leather pouches, and one hundred catcher pouches are repaired each 
day. A large amount of surplus stock besides the damaged stock is 
shipped hither from all over the country, to be overhauled, packed, 
and reshipped where needed. About 200,000 mail bags are received, 
overhauled, and reshipped from this bag shop with every thirty days. 

A few mail bags are repaired by postmasters in small country 
places. When a bag containing mail in transit is received by a 
postmaster in a damaged condition, and he has on hand no sound 
bag to substitute for it, he is authorized to have repairs made ; and 
he presents his bill to the Equipment Division for auditing. The 
total annual cost of such repairs for the whole country, however, is 
less than $400. 

The business-like methods of the repair shop have greatly reduced 
the amount of new stock required to be purchased. During the past 
two years only 23,000 leather mail pouches and 1,000 through 
register pouches have been bought, while during the preceding three 
years 49,500 leather pouches and 3,400 through register pouches 
had to be purchased; and there were almost 25,000 fewer jute sacks 
bought in the past three than in the preceding three years. About 
$160,000 is spent annually for new mail bags and catchers, and 




124 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 125 

about $100,000 for repairing them. If it were not for the repair 
shop it is almost certain that the cost of the mail equipment would 
be twice $260,000. All mail bags are purchased under contract 
that run for a period of four years. A contract ends on March 3, 
1893, for example, and new contracts have to be advertised for; and 
so on. 

There are about fifty mail bag depositories scattered through the 
country where more or less surplus stock is kept to supply the adja- 
cent region upon orders from the Mail Equipment Division. Eleven, 
of these depositories are at the eleven headquarters of the division 
superintendents of the Railway Mail, and it is at these principal 
depositories that all the surplus equipment from the surrounding 
states is turned in, — and it is at these points chiefly that the new 
stores are needed. 

The locks used by the Post Office Department had best be divided 
for purposes of description into two classes : those used for securing 
mail matter while it is in transit in mail bags, and those used for 
securing the safety of mail matter that has been deposited in street 
letter boxes for collection. There are three kinds of locks of the 
first class. One, the general mail lock, is made of iron, and is 
used in locking leather mail pouches and horse bags, which contain, 
ordinary first-class mail. There are far more locks of this kind iu 
use than of any other. Probably as many as 500,000 of them are 
scattered over the United States. The second, the brass lock, is 
used to secure through mail in pouches passing over star routes. 
Brass lock service is used over only a very small number of these 
and is authorized by the Third Assistant Postmaster General where 
the through registered mail is very heavy. Probably not more than 
1,000 of these are continually in use. 

The third kind of lock used to secure mail in transit is the 
"rotary" or "through register" mail lock. This is used on every 
through register pouch and inner register sack whenever exchanges 
are authorized by the Third Assistant. There are probably about 
12,000 of these locks in use. They are made of brass, are of a 
cylindrical shape, and have upon one side a "spring-cat," which, 
upon being pushed back, exposes, beneath some mica, four figures. 
These figures number from to 9999 and vary consecutively, 
advancing one every time a lock is opened. As pouches fastened 



126 



THE STORY OF OUft POST OFFICE. 



with these locks are receipted for under the rotary number of the 
lock, it is readily ascertained if the pouch has been improperly 
opened and also, as has been hinted, who is responsible. 

The street letter box locks are either padlocks attached to the out- 
side of the collection boxes, or else inside street letter box locks, 
which are not padlocks, but are attached to the inside of the collec- 
tion box. There are many different combinations of the inside 
street box locks. They cost eighty cents apiece originally, and the ser- 
vices of a regular 
mechanic are re- 
quired to put them 
on and take them 
off. But they are 
more durable and 
safer than the pad- 
lock. They are 
used only in a few 
of the larger cities. 
There are about 
10,000 of them in 
all. 

THE FIBST CEEW IN THE LOCK SHOP. • ™ e S ^ ree ^ ^^~ 

ter box padlocks 
there are very many different combinations. They formerly cost 
$1.25 each, but later the price was reduced to fifty cents. 
There are about 25,000 of them in use. The necessity for a 
good many different combinations of street letter box locks is 
readily apparent. If a key should be stolen, or a lock stolen 
and false keys fitted to it, the thief would have access to the 
collection boxes all over the country, if there were but one combina- 
tion in use. But as there are very many, the loss can be pretty 
effectually stopped by changing the combination of locks in the 
city in which the theft occurred. The distribution of the various 
combinations of locks is kept a deep secret. 

All locks and keys, like mail bags, were formerly purchased, and 
the locks were formerly repaired, under contract, and it was thought 
necessary to change the locks in use every ten or twelve years. The 
contracts for locks were made for periods of four years, with the 




AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 



127 



privilege reserved to the Department of extending the contract for 
four years twice. Before the termination of this twelve years, a new 
lock would be introduced and a new contract made. The work of 
changing the general mail lock is very expensive and laborious. If 
locks were purchased by contract at prices heretofore paid, it would 
cost at least $200,000 to make the change; and it would require 
much additional labor, as, besides distributing the new locks, every 




THE BLACKSMITH SHOP WHERE CATCHERS ARE REPAIRED. 



office in the country has to be first supplied with a new key, and 
each key must be charged to the office by its number. 

The method of providing new locks and keys has recently been 
changed, however. In 1889, upon the recommendation of Major 
Tyler, the Second Assistant Postmaster General obtained from Con- 
gress an appropriation of $10,000 for establishing and fitting up a 
mail lock shop in Washington. This shop has now $20,000 worth 
of machinery and tools in it, and employs fifteen skilled mechanics 
and about thirty other men and boys ; and it is stocked to furnish 
all articles needed in repairing both mail locks and mail bags, a 



128 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



thing which, besides its great economy, is of very great convenience 
to the Department. Mail locks of all kinds are repaired here at 
about one quarter of what it would cost to repair them by contract; 
and this lock shop furnishes such new keys as are necessary. 

In 1890 the Department thought it necessary to change the gen- 
eral mail lock then in use. As already stated, such a change, if 
made by purchasing a new ]ock by contract as heretofore, would 
have cost the Department about $200,000. But there were on hand 




PUNCHING EYES OUT OF SACKS. 



about 200,000 old "Eagle locks " which had been in use as a general 
mail lock prior to 1882, when the present iron lock was adopted. 
It had been proposed, in accordance with former custom, to destroy 
these 200,000 locks and sell them for old iron, in which transaction 
they would have brought $135. But the Second Assistant had 
these locks all sent to the lock shop, where they were altered, 
repaired, and fitted with a new style of key made of steel, instead of 
cast iron, as heretofore. The cost of changing the locks was about 
six cents each, and of adding the new keys about nine and one 
half cents each. They were turned out at the rate of 1,500 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 



129 



daily. The saving to the Government by all this is between 
$125,000 and $150,000. The dies and tools for this import- 
ant work, and those needed for the street letter box locks, are 
all made by the men in the shop. 

The iron lock is being gradually withdrawn from service ; and it 
is believed that after six or eight years, when it is thought neces- 
sary again to change the general 
mail lock, these old iron locks 
can be sent to the lock shop, 
altered and fitted with a new 
and different key at a compara- 
tively small cost, and then re- 
stored to use in place of the 
Eagle lock. If so, it will not be 
necessary to purchase a new lock 
for twenty or thirty years. The 
changes of locks are made neces- 
sary by the circumstance that in 
half a dozen years a stray key, or 
a score, or perhaps a hundred of 
them the country over, get into 
the possession of persons who 
try to use them dishonestly. 

Locks and keys have to be 
guarded with the greatest strin- 
gency. Not long ago a Philadelphia carrier lost his letter box key. 
He was suspended for ten days, until the lost key was found. After- 
wards another carrier, who collected mail in Germantown, lost a key. 
He was removed by the postmaster. It was a more serious matter than 
one would think, for the key would fit any letter box in German- 
town, or in Philadelphia for that matter, and hence the mails might 
have been made unsafe until all the keys of the city had been 
changed. Just before the Republican National Convention at 
Minneapolis, the city was entirely supplied with new locks and 
keys, this for protection against the mail thieves known to flock to 
such large gatherings. Probably there is no lock in use by the 
Department, or commonly in use anywhere, that cannot be picked, 
for there are fellows who make it their business to study how to 




AT THE COFFEE WINDOW. 



130 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



pick locks. But the trouble that they can make for the postal ser- 
vice is necessarily very little. They have no means of knowing 
whether it will pay or not. Here is a letter box, say. The thief 
who robs it goes to prison, if he steals nothing more than a news- 
paper. With the general adoption of Mr. Wanamaker's proposi- 
tion to put letter boxes on all doors in free delivery localities where 
citizens desire them, not only for delivery to them, but for collec- 




A STORE BOOM IN THE BAG SHOP. 



tions from them, comes additional safety for two reasons : there is 
smaller chance of securing plunder, and surer and quicker chance 
of detection. 

One of the glass cases in Major Tyler's office is filled with locks 
that have been or are at the present time in use by the Department. 
Another is still more numerously filled with locks that have been 
offered and have been rejected, each, of course, according to the firm 
impression of the inventor, because favor has been shown to some 
competitor with a perfectly inferior invention. Surely one of the 
prize rejected locks was sent in by a Texan. He said that he had 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 131 

this little thing, but he didn't want to go to the trouble of making 
a shield for it, and he would like it if the Mail Equipment Division 
would work oat successfully that part of the invention. But, tired 
of the resulting delay, this inventor completed his lock and used it 
to make fast his horse's neck and fore leg as a protection against 
horse thieves. 

The defective bags are sent in to the repair shop from all parts of 
the country by mail. They are received in great lots at the front 
door and carried inside. The inspectors find some mail matter, 
mostly newspapers and circulars, but once in a while a letter. In 
25,000 will come, perhaps, a peck of this matter. The postal people 
are continually warned to be careful to shake the sacks thoroughly, 
but sometimes in the tremendous hurry required to make connec- 
tions a piece of mail will lodge. The letter pouch has this advan- 
tage over the jute sack, that it does not hold a circular or paper in 
the bottom as often. The good bags are put in a separate pile for 
storage and the wholly bad ones are cut up and the useless parts 
sent to the junk dealer. The others are piled on an immense ele- 
vator and lifted to the fourth floor. The foreman hands them out 
as the women are ready for them, and as the bags are finished they 
are collected by the foreman and the proper credit is given. It is 
Hobson's choice with the bags. The women do not see them and 
hence are willing to take them as they come, the hard ones with the 
easy. The labor is tiresome and the pay not large, perhaps thirty 
dollars, perhaps forty dollars a month. But scores, hundreds, even, 
of applications are constantly on file at the Second Assistant's office 
for places in the bag shop. The women talk a little and joke a 
little, but they must apply themselves sedulously to the work, or 
they do not earn enough, or worse yet, lose their places. The 
large room in which the women are employed has conveniences for 
making a cup of coffee or tea ; and the employees may drink as 
much as they please for nothing. The hundred women (who alone 
repair over 2,000 bags a day) are supposed to repair thirty-eight 
bags a day, or give way to others. The average earning is $38 
a month. A woman once made $95 in a month, but the highest 
figure now is $55. 

The third floor is used by the leather workers who repair the 
leather and catcher pouches and for storage. The nooks and corners 



132 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



have much the appearance of a shoemaker's, or a harness maker's, or 
a trunkmaker's, or a sailmaker's shop. Indeed, most of the men who 
work on the pouches have followed these occupations previously. 
A man used to repair a dozen bags a day. The average now is 
twenty. The workmen have been appointed mainly on the recom- 
mendations of influential persons, but influence has never been 
allowed to interfere with the efficiency of the room, for only a 




CROCHETED BY THE BLIND GIRL. 



skilled workman could be employed, and hence they alone are 
recommended. 

The second floor of the bag shop is mainly used for storage pur- 
poses. Perhaps 20,000 bags are commonly on hand waiting to be 
mended. The number has risen as high as 50,000. These are 
spread out in great piles ; or, if waiting to be spread out, they have 
been left in still bigger piles, bags within bags, heaped one upon 
another. On the second floor most of the inspecting is done. Bags 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 133 

not worth repairing are cut up and the pieces saved for patches or 
for double bottoms. The eyes of the jute sacks are punched out by 
a machine made for the purpose manned by an active boy. Worth- 
less bags are stripped of cords or cord fasteners, and the cord and 
the cord fasteners are separated into good and bad. Nothing is 
wasted that can possibly be saved. The waste, indeed, is ninety 
per cent, less than it was six years ago. On the second floor are 
the sail makers, who repair the catcher and through registered 
pouches and other canvas sacks. Here, too, is the office of the 
superintendent, in which the visitor may see the equipment for the 
beautiful little model of the modern postal car, which has been 
made for the German post office. It shows exactly one sixth of the 
measurement of the full postal car, and is provided with a perfect 
equipment in the minutest detail, — with racks, catchers, pouches, 
cords, and cord fasteners, all exactly as if they were big ones. 

In the machine shop, which occupies the fifth floor, are shapers, 
drills, grinders, dogs, forges, lathes, grindstones, anvils, dies, chucks, 
and all that, and a very busy dozen men, making rivets, eyes, tools, 
and everything, almost, that is required for use in the shop. The 
value of the machinery is about 820,000. Every man and boy in 
this room is sworn. Every piece of material handed out, every 
piece of finished product, must be accounted for; every spoiled piece 
of work must be carefully given up. One man repairs all the 
through registered locks. There in a secret little room in which 
only three persons may go — the Second Assistant Postmaster Gen- 
eral, the chief of the Equipment Division, and the man himself who 
does the work. The lock repairers are all sworn employees of the 
Government. The men know the combinations of locks, because 
they put the locks together and have the keys; but everything 
which they require during the day is provided for them, and when 
work ceases, everything which they have been working upon, raw 
material, pieces of locks, keys, etc., is turned over rigorously to the 
foreman and locked up in the big safe. If a key were lost, all 
the locks to which it could apply might have to be called in 
immediately, and the number might be 10,000. 

Upstairs among the women is one who has sewed at the mail bags 
for seventeen years, ever since the shop was organized. But the 
most interesting person in the bag shop, as every other person in 



134 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



the bag shop cordially admits, is Miss Hattie Maddux, a girl who 
has been totally blind for years. She sits during the regulation 
hours every day by a great heap of mail bags which have defective 
cords. With wonderful deftness she finds the knots, weak spots, 
ravelled ends, and what not, in all these, makes them good again or 
supplies new ones, knots the ends in the cord fasteners, and puts the 
bags in another heap, as reliably equipped for use again as if Argus 




A BLIND GIRL STRINGING BAGS. 



himself had inspected them. Her face is happy with contentment 
and intelligence. Another woman is required to do piecework of 
this sort. She has both her eyes and earns $30 a month. Miss 
Maddux earns $40. In the evening she works on children's cloth- 
ing and makes tasteful silk stockings, rarely clocked. She won 
her present place in a wonderful way. She showed Colonel 
Whitfield, who was then the Second Assistant, some samples 
of her crocheting one day. He engaged her instantly. If 
any woman in the bag shop gets out of patience trying to 



AMONG THE MAIL LOCKS AND THE BAGS. 



135 



: 








lftg.fr,:. ,. - 1 v 


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A BEADED CHAIR MADE BY 
THE BLIND GIKL,. 



thread a needle, she takes it promptly to the poor, happy- 
blind girl. 

It is believed by experts that it would be economical in every- 
way if an inspector or two could be employed under the direc- 
tion of the Second Assistant to 
visit post offices and search them 
thoroughly for bags and sacks 
that need repairing. A f mail sack, 
and especially a partly worn-out 
one, is not an object of much 
interest to the average clerk in a 
post office or the average railway 
postal clerk. The neglected sacks 
are used for waste paper, and for 
beds, of course; they are used 
for aprons, window curtains, and 
waste luncheons. But the in- 
spector cannot be had because a 
specific appropriation is required for it. The Second Assistant's 
office must therefore do the best it can by issuing from time to time 
in the Postal Guide directions to postmasters and others how the 
mail equipment is to be taken care of. They must forward surplus 
locks, keys, cord fasteners, chains, and label cases to the Second 
Assistant's office each Saturday of every week, and every division 
superintendent is directed to send all defective mail catchers and 
rubber springs as fast as they become defective to the mail bag store- 
house in Washington. Postmasters are not allowed to cut the 
shackles of a lock or in any way deface it, but they may cut the bag 
staple when the lock cannot be opened with the key. Postmasters 
are especially prohibited from using pouch locks, new or old, on any 
letter box inside or outside of post offices. Postmasters reclaim any 
pouches or bags, locks or keys which they find in unauthorized hands 
or put to an unauthorized use by anyone, and forward them to 
Washington. When a pouch is received without a lock and the 
postmaster has no mail lock, he locks the pouch with any safe pad- 
lock which he may have and sends the key in a sealed envelope by 
the mail carrier to the next postmaster, who, if he has no mail lock, 
uses the same padlock on the pouch and forwards the key to the 



136 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

next postmaster, in a sealed envelope, and so on. The first post- 
master who happens to have a mail lock pnts it on the pouch and 
immediately returns the padlock and key to its owner. If a post- 
master has no padlock, he purchases an inexpensive lock, which he 
sends, together with an explanation, to the Second Assistant's office. 
The bill for such a lock is presented, like other accounts, in his 
quarterly statement to the Auditor. All this seems very finical ; it 
all seems wound up in red tape ; but it is all very necessary. 

The repaired bags are mostly shipped to eastern points. They 
go to eleven distributing points in the whole country, and these 
distributing offices send bags, upon the orders of the Second Assist- 
ant Postmaster General, to other points as they are required. The 
great currents of mail run East and West, and hence almost all the 
bags come in on East and West lines, though small lots of five, or 
ten, or fifteen, arrive in Washington from all parts of the country. 
It is the hardest to supply the distributing points of the East, in 
New England, say, for the natural amounts of mail eastward are not 
sufficient to counter-balance the natural amounts of mail westward 
from that region. Not long ago 10,000 bags were required for 
Augusta, Maine. These were mostly for second-class matter, and 
there could be no compensating advantage, of course, in the receipt 
of Western mail at that point. 

It has appeared already that it is an economical and wise thing 
for the Department to do repairing. Up to the time when repairing 
was begun, orders for new supplies came in with the greatest regu- 
larity, and pouches, bags, locks, keys, cord fasteners, label cases, 
key chains, all seemed to go out of use on a sort of schedule. As a 
consequence, the entire appropriation, no matter how large it might 
be, was never more than adequate to the demands ; all which was very 
fine for the contractor. 



AMEKICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 




HE bureau of the Second Assistant Postmaster Gen- 
eral's office next in importance to the Railway 
Mail Service is the Bureau of Foreign Mails. 
It has been of unavoidable growth, rather than 
an enterprising, creative, typical branch of the 
postal system. It is, because it has been obliged 
to be. In the present administration, however, 
the very important subsidy legislation has been 
enacted, and if the development of this policy is pursued to its logi- 
cal ends (and many public men think it inevitable that it shall be), 
the Bureau of Foreign Mails may rise in importance to the level of the 
Railway Mail Service. Many consider the beginning of the subsidy 
policy the historical event of Postmaster General Wanamaker's admin- 
istration. At all events the credit for the labor performed in induc- 
ing American steamship owners to bid under the act is wholly his. 
The Superintendent of Foreign Mails has the details of the exchange 
of mails with foreign countries, of course ; he prepares postal treaties 
and conventions, except money order conventions, which are prepared 
in the Money Order Division of the First Assistant's office ; he remits 
erroneous or excessive postage, and adjusts rates for the transporta- 
tion of mails through the United States to be paid by foreign coun- 
tries ; he charges customs duties on mail matter, prepares a monthly 
schedule of the sailings of mail steamers, and examines accounts and- 
recognizes payments. Now and then, the dry routine is relieved by 
the announcement in the Postal Guide that packages of queen bees, 
or something of that sort, may be received and forwarded by post- 
masters for the Danish West Indies, or some other place, under such 
and such mystic restrictions. 

The post office at San Francisco has a large foreign mail business 
with the countries of Asia, Australia, and Australasia. But the 



137 




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138 



AMEBICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 139 

great bulk of this work is performed in New York. The post office 
in that city has been called the clearing house for foreign mails. 
The method of dispatching and receiving foreign mails at New York 
has been well described recently by a writer in the New York Times. 
Mails leaving the United States for Europe are assigned to steamers 
upon a plan in vogue for years. In cases where two steamers leave 
New York at about the same time, the mails are put on board the 
one which, in accordance with the record of her three voyages just 
preceding the assignment, delivered the mails in the shortest time 
in London. The records upon which these assignments are made are 
based upon the trip reports made to the American Postmaster General 
by the agents of the vessels upon the termination of each voyage, in 
connection with statements furnished weekly by the British post 
office showing the exact time of the arrival of the mails at the Lon- 
don post office. 

Great Britain does not go to the same amount of trouble to insure 
the most rapid dispatch of mails to the United States. The Eng- 
lish Department pays a handsome subsidy to two steamship com- 
panies ; and to these two lines, the Cunard and the White Star, the 
London post office consigns all mail matter. Steamships of the 
other lines only carry letters which are expressly addressed to go 
by them. The steamships carrying mails from the United States 
to Queenstown and Southampton are selected by the American 
Post Office Department under a contract for a single voyage 
only, for the fastest steamer which is sailing on a particular day 
receives the mails quite irrespective of the company to which it 
belongs. 

The United States Post Office sent letters to Great Britain last 
year by two hundred and sixty-six steamers, which gives an average 
rate of mail dispatch of five steamers a week. Something like 
three hundred and fifty steamships sailed from Queenstown or 
Southampton for New York, and mails were dispatched on one hun- 
dred and four of them, which left Queenstown, — an average rate of 
sailing of two steamers per week. Of the steamers employed in 
the transportation of ocean mails, ninety-six were capable of making 
less than a seven days voyage to Queenstown, and all of these 
carried mails for the United States. The English post office 
authorities, on the other hand, while able to select an equal number 



140 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



of swift steamships, forwarded their mails in but thirty-four of 
them ; in sixty-two the letters were forwarded by private ship bag. 

The German lines carry mails to and from London via Southamp- 
ton more speedily than the Liverpool lines. Last year the most 
rapid service from New York to London, as in the year preceding, 
was performed by the new steamers of the Hamburg- American Com- 
pany. The White Star greyhounds to Queenstown came second ; 
next the Inman racers ; then the fastest of the North German Lloyd's, 




and last the Cunard's best steamers. The quickest trip to London 
via Southampton was run by the "Furst Bismarck " of the Hamburg- 
American line, in seven days, and the other ships of this company 
were but a few hours behind her. Next in point of time came the 
White Star ships, the "Teutonic" and the "Majestic." The mail 
they carried reached London by way of Queenstown in about seven 
and one half days. The two "Cities " of the Inman were but a few 
minutes behind. The best time made by the North German Lloyd's 
was that of the "Havel," about seven days and eighteen hours. 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 141 

The " Etruria, " of the Cunarders, reached the London office scarcely 
an hour later. All told, there were one hundred and thirty-six 
steamers carrying American mails that delivered them at the London 
post office, via Southampton; and no less than one hundred and ten 
of them flew the burgee of the North German Lloyds. On the 
Queenstown route the Cunard line dispatched forty-nine steamers 
with mails; the White Star followed with forty-five sailings; the 
Inman carried the mail only seventeen times. 

The American Post Office Department received for foreign postages 
about $1,700,000 annually, and the outlay for this service did not 




THE PACIFIC MAIL, S. S. CO.'S STEAMSHIP " NEWPORT. " 

exceed $600,000 per annum. In these facts was one of the 
chief arguments why the foreign postage rates should be reduced 
from five cents to two. It was one of the arguments also why 
some of this money, at least, might reasonably be appropriated for 
the encouragement of American shipping. The United States Post 
Office Department depended almost wholly upon steamers flying flags 
of other nations for the transportation of mails leaving this country. 
It was pointed out by Postmaster General Wanamaker that dif- 
ferences might unexpectedly arise with foreign steamship com- 
panies that would break off all mail intercourse with Europe. It 
was argued in the Fifty-First Congress, which passed the Subsidy Act, 



142 



THE STORY OF OTJR POST OFFICE. 



that this country annually paid out for passenger and freight trans- 
portation across the Atlantic about 1125,000,000, and almost all of it 
to foreign vessels owners. In other words, it took about all the 




THE PACIFIC MAIL S. S. CO.'S STEAMSHIP "COLOMBIA." 

surplus grain of this country to pay the foreign shipping bills of the 
United States. That immense sum of money was nearly all spent 
on the other side of the Atlantic and was a dead loss to the United 
States. It was argued, too, that until 1815, ninety per cent, of our 




... ■...■ , 



THE PACIFIC MAIL S. S. CO.'S STEAMSHIP "PAEA 



>> 



foreign trade was carried under the Stars and Stripes, and as late as 
1850, seventy-five per cent, of it was thus carried. Now the amount 
was less than twelve per cent. According to the New York Produce 
Exchange, there were, in 1883, 44,205,000 bushels of grain in New 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON" THE SEA. 



143 



York awaiting shipment abroad, and of the 1,190 steam vessels 
which carried this product not one was of American register. Out 
of the 1,190 vessels referred to, 786 of them were owned by Eng- 
land, and carried away 29,441,951 bushels. Ninety-three Belgian 
ships carried 5,734,018 bushels, and 170 German vessels carried 
away 4,284,485 bushels. 

Other arguments for the Postal Aid Law were that during thirty 
years England had paid $32 a ton in subsidies to secure the construc- 
tion and maintenance of her merchant marine. In 1889 her mer- 
chant tonnage was estimated to be worth $1,000,000,000, and it had 




THE PACIFIC MAIL, S. S. CO.'S STEAMSHIP "PEETJ.' 



been estimated that to put this inconceivable sum into ships, proba- 
bly not more than ten per cent, was expended for ore and timber, the 
raw materials out of which they were constructed, and that the other 
$900,000,000 represented labor. Thus English labor had received 
$900,000,000 in one industry alone. The shipyards of England 
steadily employed 240,000 men, while to man her fleet employed in 
the carrying trade required 220,000 more ; and America had annu- 
ally paid to English vessel owners about $100,000,000 to assist them 
in constructing and maintaining their vessels. 

And again — and worse still. Foreign governments not only 
paid increasing subsidies, but these, being chiefly for the extension 



144 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



of commerce, were granted for trips or tonnage, and not for letters 
carried; while the basis of pay for American vessels, the sea and 
inland postages, made American vessel owners suffer with successive 
reductions of international postage rates, as voted by the Postal 
Union ; for in this international assembly the United States had no 

larger voice than any other 
government, and foreign repre- 
sentatives never hesitated to 
make reductions which worked 
no hardship to their own ves- 
sel owners. Thus, while the 
American Postmaster General, 
under his power to make con- 
tracts for carrying domestic 
mails, might pay a steamboat 
line, running daily from Woods 
Holl to Nantucket, a trip of a 
few hours, $18,000 a year, say, 
he could only pay the United 
States and Brazil Mail Steam- 
ship Company, upon the sea and 
inland postage basis and under 
the reductions of the Postal 
Union, $8,000, say, for twenty- 
six trips a year from New York 
to Rio, a voyage of twenty- 
eight days. The compensation of American steamships, therefore, 
was really regulated by foreigners — so long as the amount of sea 
and inland postage continued, under the enactment of Congress, to 
be the American basis of pay. 

Another source of complaint was that the foreign mail service, 
which had constantly been an increasing source of revenue to the 
American Post Office Department, should support at least to some 
extent transportation in American ships. Mr. I. D. Rich, postmas- 
ter at Liverpool, not long ago told ex-Postmaster General James "that 
he, as a clerk in the British post office when a boy, put the foreign 
mail on board the steamship k Great Western," about the year 1840, 
and it amounted to two sacks ; at the present time it amounts to five 







AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 145 

or six truck loads." "In 1873," says Mr. James, "the English 
outgoing mail was considered very large if it reached 20,000 let- 
ters. At the present time over one hundred thousand foreign* letters 
are sent from New York every sailing day, and nearly the same 
number are received." And as the mails grew, the complaints grew 
that such a profitable business could not be turned to account for 
Americans. 

So the Fifty-First Congress passed the Postal Aid Bill. The idea 
was to change the foreign mail system radically, paying American 
vessels, built, owned, and manned by Americans, for the service. 
Paying on the basis of sea and inland postage on mail carried was 
done away with; paying according to speed, tonnage and mileage 
was substituted. Four classes of vessels were provided for; the 
first class to be iron or steel screw steamships capable of main- 
taining at sea a speed of twenty knots an hour in ordinary weather, 
and of a gross registered tonnage of not less than eight thousand 
tons ; the second class to be iron or steel steamships capable of main- 
taining a speed of sixteen knots an hour and of a gross tonnage of 
not less than five thousand tons ; the third class to be iron or steel 
steamships capable of maintaining a speed of fourteen knots an hour 
and of not less than two thousand five hundred tons ; and the fourth 
class to be iron, steel or wooden steamships, capable of maintaining 
a speed of twelve knots and of not less than fifteen hundred tons. 
None but the first class were to be contracted with for carrying the 
mails between the United States and Great Britain. It was pro- 
vided that all vessels of the first three classes thereafter built should 
be constructed on plans agreed upon between the owners and the 
Secretary of the Navy, and built with particular reference to their 
economical and speedy conversion into auxiliary cruisers ; and to be 
of sufficient strength and stability to carry and sustain the working 
and operation of at least four effective rifled cannon of a caliber not 
less than six inches, and further to be of the highest rating known 
to marine commerce. 

The rate of compensation fixed for carrying the mails on each of 
these classes was for vessels of the first class four dollars per mile ; 
of the second class, two dollars; of the third class, one dollar; and 
of the fourth class, two thirds of a dollar for every mile required 
to be travelled on each outward-bound voyage. It was required that 



146 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



the vessels should be officered by American citizens, and that during 
the first two years of the contract for carrying the mail at least one 

11 fourth of the crew 

should be American 
citizens, during the 
next two years at 
least one third, and 
for the remainder of 
the contract time 
one half should be 
Americans. It was 
permitted to offi- 
cers of the Ameri- 
can Navy to accept 
positions on board 
such vessels ; and 
it was required that 
for every one thou- 
sand tons of regis- 
ter one American 
boy should be taken 
who should be edu- 
cated in the duties 
of seamanship and 
rank as a petty of- 
ficer. 

There were ac- 
tual months of hard 
labor ahead for the 
Postmaster General 
and the steamship 
owners; and not a 
contract but en- 
gaged the notice of the President. The Department issued a sched- 
ule of routes required to be covered, instructions to bidders, classifica- 
tions of vessels, etc., and after the advertisements had stood for two 
months in two papers in each of the chief coast cities of the country 
— paid for out of the general advertising fund of the Department, 



The following is a copy of the advertisement for service on the Pacific 
Ocean as it appears in newspapers in San Francisco, Tacoma, and Port- 
land, the numbers of the routes not forming a part of said advertise* 
mentt 

OCEAN MAIL LETTINGS. 

NOTICE TO BIDDERS. 

Post-Office Department, 

Washington, D. C, July J.5, 1891. 
In accordance with the provisions of an act of Congress, approved March 3, 1891, 
entitled " An act to provide for ocean mail service between the United States and 
foreign ports and to promote commerce," proposals will be received at the Post-Office 
Department, in the City of Washington, until 3 o'clock p. m., on Monday, the 26th 
day of October, 1891, for conveying the mails of the United States by means of steam- 
ships described in said act, between the several ports of the United States and the 
several ports in foreign countries which are specifically named in the schedule of 
routes published herewith. 

Proposals are invited for service on said routes, under contracts for ten years each, 
except where otherwise particularly specified, -which shall commence within three 
years from the date of the execution of the contract, and at one of the periods named 
below, to wit : , 

1st. Two months from execution of contract. 
2d. Fourmbnths " " " " 

3d. Six months " " " " 

4tb. Twelve months " ■" " l 

5th. Eighteen months " " '" 

6th. Twenty-four months " " " 

7th. Thirty months " ** /« 

8th. Thirty-six months " M •• 

Preference will be given, all other things being equal, to the proposal which names 
the earliest date for the commencement of the service. 

Under the law the right is reserved to the Postmaster-General to reject all bids not, 
in his opinion, reasonable for the attainment of the purposes contemplated by the 
act. 

SCHEDULE OF ROUTES ON THE PACIFIC OCEAN. 

No. 44— "0. M. S." From San Francisco' to Panama, touching twice each raonih, 
going and returning, at the following ports: San Diego, Cal., 
Mazatlan, San Bias, Manzauillo, Acapnlco, Port Angel, Salina 
Cruz, Tbnala. San Benito, Ocos, Champerico, San Jos6, Aca- 
jutla, La Libertad, La Union, Amapala, Corinto, San Juan, and 
* Pnnta Arenas. 

Three times a mouth — thirty -six trips a year, time sixteen days, 
in vessels 'of the fourth class for the first three years, and 
the remaining seven years, once a week, fifty-two trips per 
year, time fifteen days and a half, the increased service to be 
performed in vessels of the third class, the bid to specify the 
rate for each class. 
Bond required with bid, $12,000. 
No. 45—" O. M. S." Same route. 

Three times per month, thirty-six trips per year, in vtssels of 
the third class for the first three years, time fourteen days, 
and for the remaining seven years, once a week, fifty-two 
trips per year, the additional service in vessels of the second 
class, time twelve days, the bid to specify the rate for each 
class. 

Bond required with bid, $15,000. 
No. 46 — " O. M. S." From San Francisco to Valparaiso, Chili, by San Diego, Cal., and 
Panama, touching at Buena Ventura, United States of Colom- 
bia, Guyaquil, Ecuador, Callao, Pern, and Iquique, Chili. 
Once in 2 weeks — twenty-six trips per year in vessels of the 
third class for the first 3 years, and for the remaining 7 years 
in vessels of the second class, the bid to specify the rate for 
each class. 
Bond required with bid, $20,000. 

A FAC SIMILE PAGE OF OCEAN MAIL LETTINGS. 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 147 

for, though the Subsidy Bill had provided for this advertising, it 
Jiad not appropriated any money for the purpose — contracts were 
made with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company dating from Febru- 
ary 1, 1892, with a Galveston and La Guayra line dating from 
April 26, 1893, and with the Red "D " line dating from March 1, 
1892. As the law required that contracts for Great Britain should 
only be made for vessels of the first class, and as there was no vessel 
of that class of American build and register afloat, no bid for the 
trans-Atlantic was expected. The service from San Francisco to Hong 
Kong was to be shortened. For the first two years of the new 
contract it was required that vessels should sail every twenty- 
eight days and make the trip in sixteen days instead of eighteen, 
as before. During the remaining eight years of the contract the 
sailings were to be once a fortnight and the time was to be reduced 
to thirteen days. To accomplish this great change the Pacific Mail 
Steamship Company undertook to spend from six to seven million 
dollars in building new ships in American shipyards. This fort- 
nightly service displaced an English line. 

But no prospect opened up for an American line across the 
Atlantic. The trans- Atlantic trade had been held for so many years 
by foreign vessels, and the cost of building ships of the first class 
had been so great, that it was feared the amount of subsidy offered 
would not tempt American citizens to make the venture. The 
two fastest steel ships in the trans-Atlantic service, the " City of 
Paris" and the "City of New York," were owned by American 
citizens, though the vessels had been built in England. They 
were under an annual subsidy of $52,000 from Great Britain, and 
bound to do naval service for that country in time of war. To 
change their registry was to forfeit the subsidies received from 
England; but the owners finally determined to make the change, if 
the United States would accept the two vessels and give them an 
American register. The proposition was made to Congress that if 
the " City of Paris " and the " City of New York " were accepted, 
their owners would at once begin the construction, at a cost of 
18,000,000 or $10,000,000, of four new vessels in American ship- 
yards that should equal these ocean racers in every respect. The 
United States would at once have in return two of the largest and 
fastest vessels afloat as an auxiliary addition to the American 



148 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Navy and insure the speedy construction of at least four more. 
Congress naturalized the Inman ships, new trans-Atlantic routes, as> 
well as other new ones, were advertised for, and in September the 
Postmaster General had the pleasure of awarding contracts for the 
transportation of American mails under the American flag to Eng- 
land and the continent, to Brazil and the River Platte, and to Havana 
and Tuxpan. It is very entertaining to see, at the office of the 
builders, Messrs. J. and G. Thomson, Clyde Bank, Scotland, the 
pictures illustrating the building of the * k City of New York " and 




THE BEAZIL S. S. CO.'S STEAMSHIP " FINANCE." 

the "City of Paris." It will be still more so to see ocean palaces 
like these building on the banks of the Delaware. The famous 
Cramp shipbuilding concern of Philadelphia has received orders 
for new vessels that require an addition of fifteen hundred 
mechanics to their working force. Other yards have felt a similar 
impetus, and the activity extends to the manufacture of all kinds of 
supplies used in ship building. The London Illustrated News has 
expected "a revolution in the American mercantile marine," and 
has been of opinion that " its former depressed condition will soon 
be a thing to be wondered at." 

The following table shows the result of the Act of March 3, 
1891: — 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 



149 





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150 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



For nearly half a century the boys of America had been practi- 
cally shut out from employment on the seas except in the coasting 
trade. Most of the large steam vessels were of foreign register, 
officered by citizens of the country under whose flag they sailed. 
American youths could not hope to secure an officer's berth on any 
one of them. The few boys who could obtain appointments to 
Annapolis might hope for a position in the Navy, but others were 




THE BKAZIL S. S. CO.'S STEAMSHIP "SEGUEANCA." 

barred from any prospect of ever becoming anything more than able 
seamen. The Postal Aid Law, by providing that all vessels 
reaping its benefits should be officered wholly by American citizens, 
and should take a certain number of American boys as cadets, opened 
up once more the chance to follow the calling that Americans made 
glorious in the old-time days. The Pacific Mail Steamship Company 
decided to select the graduates from the school ships in the 
service of the States of New York and Pennsylvania, the "St. 
Mary's" and the "Saratoga." This company gives notice that it 
will be glad to know of any desirable young men who wish to follow 
a sailor's life. The pay is $20 per month the first year, $25 per 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 151 

month the second, and $30 per month the third, when, if com- 
petent, the boys will be eligible for promotion. The Red "D" 
line received the applications of boys from different parts of the coun- 
try. Usually those were selected who had served on state training 
ships. Each of the Red U D " steamships carries three boys, one in 
the engine department, and two in the deck department. Rooms 
are fitted up for them apart from the sailors. 

The relation of the Foreign Mails Bureau of the Post Office Depart- 
ment to the Postal Union are naturally close. Usually the super- 
intendent of the bureau is one of the two delegates sent by this 
country to represent it. Capt. N. M. Brooks, the present superin- 
tendent, and Mr. William Potter, of Philadelphia, were the two 
United States delegates to the last Postal Union at Vienna. It is 
essential that one of the delegates at least should know a foreign 
language or two, especially French, in which the proceedings of the 
Union are carried on. The delegates from foreign countries are 
treated with eager hospitality by their hosts. A large and luxurious 
eating place is provided, with every personal and business con- 
venience. The postal officials of the visited country spend more 
time providing entertainment and recreation for their visitors than 
they do in the deliberations of the Congress, and the diplomatic corps 
resident in the visited city, naturally spend all their time in enter- 
taining the guests from home. 

The two most weighty subjects which came before the last Postal 
Congress were the postal tariff and the rates of transit; that is to 
say, on the one side, the charges which the post offices of the Union 
levy from the public ; and, on the other, the rates which one country 
pays to another for the conveyance of correspondence over alien terri- 
tory, or by alien ships. But the event which most directly marked 
the Congress at Vienna was the accession to the Universal Postal 
Union of the Australasian colonies. These comprise, under one vote, 
New South Wales, Victoria, Southern Australia, Western Australia, 
Queensland, Tasmania, New Zealand, British New Guiana and the 
Fiji Islands. In order to secure the adhesion of these colonies, the 
Congress offered to place them in the same position as to voting 
power with British India and Canada, and to postpone until the 
next meeting in Washington the consideration of the important 
question of reducing, or abolishing, payments for transit, and of 




152 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 153 

altering the letter rates of postage. The next Union is to be held 
either in 1895 or 1896, as may be hereafter decided. The represen- 
tatives of the postal and telegraphic authorities of almost all civi- 
lized countries will form this "parliament of the world," and it 
cannot fail to be an event at once of public and social interest, and 
of immense business importance to the United States. 

The Vienna Congress decided that every country of the Union 
should in future supply the public with a reply postal card. An- 
other decision agreed upon was that a postal card of one coun- 
try, posted in another country, should not, in future, be suppressed or 
destroyed, but should be sent to its destination, charged as an unpaid 
letter. The opportunity was taken of legislating on the subject of 
letters posted on board mail packets, on the high seas, or in foreign 
ports. In future, postage on letters posted on board a packet at sea 
should be prepayable, by means of stamps of the country to which the 
packet belongs, while, for letters posted on board ship in a foreign 
port, the sender should use the stamp of the country to which the 
port belongs. A concession was made to the large mass of people 
who use postal cards ; so that, in future, the name and address of the 
sender may be either written or stamped on the address side. 
Formerly they might stamp, but not write, the name. A very satis- 
factory concession to commerce was the relaxation of the rule as to 
the dimensions of merchandise allowed through the mails. The 
increased dimensions adopted were practically equivalent to one 
foot in length, eight inches in width, and four inches in thickness. 

The two United States delegates agreed to urge upon Congress 
legislation concerning three important questions. The first was 
that of indemnity for lost registered letters. The United States of 
America and two or three South American republics are the only 
countries which do not, in their domestic service, recognize responsi- 
bility for a lost registered letter. The second question was the 
uniformity of charge for registered letters. All countries in the 
Union (except the United States and two or three South American 
republics, which charge the equivalent of ten cents) charge for a 
registered letter the equivalent of five cents. In order to carry out 
the central idea of the Postal Union, to have it universal in prac- 
tice, as well as in name, the American representatives agreed to 
urge this reduction. The third question was the treatment of frauds 



L'UNION POSTALE 



Abonnements 
(I ne peat etre pris que des 
abonuemeuts aimuels concur 
<1antavec I'aunfeeastrouuujique 
Prix de I'abonnenient, port com- 
pris.fr 3 40 pour la Suisse, fr 4 
pour les autres pays Prix du 
ouinero. 35 cts port compris 



JOURNAL PUBLffi PAH 

LE BUREAU -INTERNATIONAL 

OB 

L'UNION POSTALE UNIVERSELLE. 



Avis. Le moutaui 4e 
I'abonnenient dolt etre crAis- 
mis franco au Bureau inter- 
national de I'Uuion postale 
universeile a Berne, au moyea 
d'uu mandat-poste on d'nue 
traite a rue sot la Suisse. 



XVU" volume. 



N°8. 



Berne, l er aout 1892 



Sommaire. Francois dp. Taxis, le createur de la poste moderne, et son neveu Jean-Baptiste de Taxis 

DO RAPPORT (IE GESTION OU POSTMASTER GENERAL DE L'lLB DE CE7LAN, POUR 1890 BlBLIOQRAPHIE POSTALE. 



E STRAIT 



Frangois de Taxis, le createur 
de la poste moderne, et son 
neveu Jean-Baptiste de Taxis 

1491—1541. ') 
Par M le D r Joseph Rubsam. a Ratisbonne. 

Francois de Taxis, fils de Simon 
et petit-fils de Roger de Taxis, qui 
entra au service de la maison de 
Habsbourg sous le regue de lem 
pereur Frederic III et que celui-ci 
nomtna chambellan et premier ca- 
pitaine des chasses, etait issu d'une 
famille bergamasque tres ancienne, 
qui portait dans ses armoines un 
blaireau (en italien tasso) passant. 
Torquato Tasso, Tauteur de la Jeru- 
salem delwree, est de la meme fa- 
mille que Francois de Taxis, le 
createur de la poste dans le seus 
moderne du mot, ainsi que labbe 
Pierantonio Serassi 2 ), I'auteur qui 
a etudie Tasso le plus a fond, le 
prouve d'accord avec Giambattista 
Manso ), marquis de Villa, I'ami in- 
time et le premier biographe du 
poete *). 



') D'apres des sources authentiques ti- 
rees principalement des archives centrales 
de la famille prmciere de la Tour et Taxis, 
a Ratisbonne 

*) Serasst, La Vita di Torquato Tasso 
Rome 1785. 4°, p. 7 s. s 

*) Manso, Vita di Torquato Tasso- Rome 
1634. 12". p ft 

') Voir eotre autres V Union postale, 
I6« vol., 198, observation 4, et Hopf, Atlas 
historico-glnialogiquc. Gotha 1858, 1. 434 



Franz von Taxis, der Begrdnder 
der modernen Post, und sein 
Neffe, Johann Baptista von Taxis; 

1491—1541. ') 
Von Henn Dr Jos Riibsam In Regensburg. 

Franz von Taxis, Sobn des Simon 
und Enkel jenes Roger von Taxis, 
welcber aoter Kaiser Friedrich III 
in die Dienste des Hauses Ilabsburg 
trat und von demselben zum 
Kammerer und Oberstjagermeister 
ernannt wurde, entstammte einer 
uralten bergamaskischen Familie, 
welcbe in ihrem Wappenscbilde einen 
schreitenden Dachs (italieniscb lasso) 
fiihrte. Torquato Tasso, der Schopfer 
des befreiten Jerusalem, ist mit Frauz 
von Taxis, dem Begrunder der Post 
im modernen Sinue des Wortes, 
glekhen Stammes, wie Abate Pier- 
antonio Serassi 2 ), der gruudlichste 
Tassoforscber, im Einklange mit 
Giambattista Manso 9 ), Marchese di 
Villa, dem vertrauten Freunde und 
ersten Biographen dieses Dichters, 
darthut 4 ) 



') Nacb autbentischen vorziiglicb deui 
fiirstlich Thurn und Taxisschen Ceotrat- 
archiv zu Regensburg entnommenen 
Quellen. 

*) Serassi, la vita di Torquato Tasso, 
Roma 1785. 4° S. 7 ff. 

') Manso, la vita di Torquato Tasso. Roma 
U634. 12" 5 5. 

M Vergl. u a. Union postale XVI, 198, 
Anmerkung 4 und Hopf, historisch-genea- 
logischer Atlas Gotha 1858. 1, 434 



Francis von Taxis, the Founder 
of the Modern Post, and Johann 
Baptista von Taxis, his Nephew. 

1491—1641. ') 
By Dr Joseph Riibsam in Regensburg 

Francis von Taxis, son of Simon, 
and grandson of Roger von Taxis 
who had entered the service of the 
House of Habsburg during the reign 
of the Emperor Frederick. Ill, and 
been appointed by him Chamberlain 
aud Chief Master of the Huntsmen, 
was an offspring of a very ancient 
family of Bergamo whose escutcheon 
displayed a badger passant (tasso 
in Italian). Torquato Tasso, the author 
of < Gerusalemme Liberata >, had 
the same ancestors as Francis von 
Taxis, the founder of the Post in 
the modern sense of the word, as 
is clearly shown by Abate Pier- 
antonio Serassi 3 ), the most compe- 
tent student of Tas9o, as well as 
by Giambattista Manso 3 ), Marcbese 
di Villa, the intimate friend and first 
biographer of the poet 4 ). 

Whether Roger von Taxis, the 



') Aocording to authentic documents, 
for the greater part in the Archives ot the 
Princes von Thurn and Taxis, Regensburg 

8 ) Serassi, * La Vita di Torquato Tasso » 
Rome 1785 4°. pages 7 and following. 

*) Manso, « La Vita di Torquato Tasso • 
Rome 1634 12°, page 5. 

4 ) See tL' Union Postale; XVI., 198, 
Remark 4, and also Hopf, < Historisch- 
genealogischer Atlas » Gotha 1858. I., 434. 



A FIRST PAGE OF i/UNION POSTALE. 



154 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 155 

upon the postal revenue by fictitious or cleaned stamps. An Eng- 
lish delegate gave full credit to Postmaster General Wanamaker 
for laying before the Vienna Congress a definite plan for an inter- 
national postage stamp, but the differences of currency, variations 
of exchange, and various incidents of the money market were suffi- 
cient to cause the defeat of this proposition. America goes to the 
front, nevertheless, in everything. 

Before the establishment of the Postal Union all mails destined 
for one country that had to be transported through another were sent 
to the port of the first intermediary country, and there opened and 
assorted ; but the Congress provided for what is now known as the 
"closed mails " system. By this system the mails intended for any 
country are put up in closed pouches duly marked, and are never 
opened until they reach the country of their destination, being 
transported by all intermediary countries in the pouches in which 
they were first enclosed; and all the intermediary countries are 
required to see to their prompt and safe transit, the country dispatch- 
ing the mails becoming responsible for the charges of intermediate 
transportation. If, by any means, a closed pouch is delayed in 
transit, the office receiving it notifies the dispatching office, and all 
intermediate countries are called upon for an explanation until the 
fault is fully placed. 

The benefits of the registry system have also been extended so as 
to make that an international affair. Under the old system, when 
a letter was once placed in the mails and had started on its journey, 
the writer lost all control over it, and it could not be recalled under 
any circumstances. Now, in all countries except England, a letter 
may be recalled by the writer at any time before delivery. It often 
happens that this circumstance is of great moment, especially to 
banks. A year or two ago a firm of ' German bankers had forwarded 
a large remittance by registered letters to a bank in Philadelphia. 
Before the letters reached this country news was received in Ger- 
many that the American bank had failed. Application was at once 
made to the postal authorities of Germany and the letters were 
described so that they could be identified. The cable was brought in 
use, and a request made upon the American postal authorities to stop 
the delivery of the letters and return them to the postal authorities 
in Germany. The letters were intercepted and returned. England, 



156 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

however, holds to the doctrine that when a letter has been deposited 
in the post office it no longer belongs to the writer, but is the prop- 
erty of the addressee, and must be delivered to that person alone. 

Another important feature of the universal postal service is the 
greater effort now made to find the addressee under all circumstances 
and deliver his letter promptly. By a rule of the Union, if the 
addressee of a letter cannot be found after a reasonable effort, the 
letter must be returned to the office of dispatch, with the cause of 
failure duly endorsed on the cover. If a letter is returned by the 
office of destination without the cause of its non-delivery duly noted, 
it is at once sent back with a special request that a search be made 
for the addressee ; and attention is called to the fact that it was 
improperly returned. Another marked improvement introduced by 
the Union is the rule requiring all short-paid letters to be for- 
warded. If one full rate is paid on a letter it must be forwarded 
to its destination ; but on its delivery double the amount of the full 
postage is collected. This is in the nature of a fine to reduce to 
the minimum the amount of short paying postage. Each country 
being entitled to all the postage it collects, and being responsible, 
too, for the transportation of all its outgoing mail, the fine is added 
and collected from the addressee as it would be impossible in most 
cases to discover the sender. 

The organ of the International Postal Union is U Union Postale^ 
a monthly publication printed, in parallel columns, in French, Ger- 
man, and English. It is extremely interesting to the general reader 
as well as to the postal expert, and is very generally contributed to 
by all of the members of the Union of consequence except the United 
States. A result of the last Postal Congress is an effort to bring 
together in one publication the names of all the post offices in coun- 
tries embraced within the Union. This is a development of the 
special directory idea, and of the directory of all the streets in free 
delivery cities in this country, as published by the Dead Letter 
Office. It is to facilitate the delivery of foreign mail which has 
been improperly or insufficiently addressed by the public. 

The application of the railway post office system to ocean steamers 
had been advocated for years, but the realization of the departure has 
only lately been brought about. The proposition was simply that 
travelling post offices should be established on the ocean lines, in 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 157 

charge of experienced clerks, who should, while on the trip across, 
sort and distribute the mails into pouches properly marked according 
to a " scheme " to be furnished ; so that on the arrival of the vessel 
at its destination the mails would be ready for forwarding, and if 
necessary, could be taken at once to the railway post office and be 
speeded on. Germany sent to this country one of her highest postal 
officials to perfect the details of the plan, and Mr. Potter, whose 
distinguished service in this affair caused him to be chosen one of 
the American delegates to the Postal Union, made a special trip 
abroad, upon the request of the Postmaster General, to conduct the 
negotiations for the United States. Contracts were made with the 
North German Lloyd's and the Hamburg- American steamers plying 
between New York, Bremen, and Hamburg, for the transportation 
of the postal clerks. Each country, it was agreed, should furnish 
one postal clerk for each vessel. This arrangement admitted of 
the receipt of mail destined to any foreign country, for which Ger- 
many is the intermediary country, up to the last moment before the 
sailing of the vessel. There was also a gain of time for mail for 
forwarding, which amounted to several hours ; for it had already 
been prepared; and here was an even greater advantage to those 
engaged in commerce. Postmaster Van Cott of New York says: 

The sea post offices westward prepare for the direct delivery to carriers at the 
general post office and branch post office stations, the mail for all parts of this 
city, thus securing its almost immediate delivery to addressees on the day of the 
steamer's arrival, in many cases, where, under the old arrangement, from two to 
fourteen hours would have elapsed between the arrival of the steamer's mail 
at the general post office and its delivery to addressees. Again, in the case 
of distribution for other than city delivery matter, the advantages derived are 
even more decided. By the establishment of the sea post office service, trunk 
line connections in this city have been secured by which from four to twenty-four 
hours have been gained in the delivery of mails to addressees on the direct lines, 
and from several days to a week at points served by branch railroads and star 
route lines; as in the last case failure to make a trunk line connection here in- 
creases the difference in time of delivery to addressees from hours to days, 
according to the frequency of the special service. Business men in Chicago and 
St. Louis have been enabled to send answers by the same steamers from which 
they received the original communication. 

There is small doubt that this system will soon be extended to the 
British and French lines. The cost is small. The average number 
of letters handled by the clerks on each trip is over 60,000, — be- 



158 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



sides from one hundred to two hundred sacks of printed and general 
matter. The American clerks make one error in about 4,000 dis- 
tributions and average well up with the railway postal clerks. A 
secondary development of the ocean service would be the employment 
of a tug to receive the inward mails from the steamers as they pass 
Sandy Hook. Separations would be made on this boat for the trunk 
line railways, and the mail would be delivered at the piers nearest to 
the different railroad stations. Hours are sometimes consumed by 
steamers waiting for the port physician, or in docking, and some- 
times 1,500 pouches arrive on a single steamer. Unquestionably 




much delay is caused if the Western and Southern pouches have to 
go to the city post office. But the steam tug would require a con- 
gressional appropriation. 

The American clerks in the ocean post offices have invariably been 
appointed from the Railway Mail Service or from the body of clerks 
in post offices who have been accustomed to handle foreign mails. 
A smaller number of applicants than might have been expected came 
forward; but it was hard, nevertheless, for many to understand that 
familiarity with the particular class of work required, as well as a 
certain seaworthiness, were assumed to be indispensable qualifica- 
tions. It has been reasonably suspected that some clerks have been 
fortunate enough to be appointed and have made a trip or two merely 
for the sea voyages. They have fallen by the wayside. The men 
who have not been accustomed to the sea have grown salty and now 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 159 

behave like real deep-water fellows. There have been several 
changes in the force of ocean post office clerks, however, and 
the not infrequent changes due to seasickness, or to some general 
inability of the clerk to endure ocean travel, necessitates the em- 
ployment of a substitute. Young r .„_„__. r 

unmarried men of good habits are 

preferred for this service. Some of 

the German clerks have left the ^tt" ^%^ 

sea post offices to enter the military M |PI 

service of the Kaiser. The new m 

German appointees are invariably W -Ute ^ h - : \ 

Improvements can be made in ^ 

the accommodations for the sea 

post offices. Many of the work- ^^^% 

ing rooms are small. They are I ,^^1-/^^^, ^^ 

waste rooms, so to speak, poorly J/t **' : "•' /' Mfa^ 11 %£w. 

ventilated, and situated over the >. m. 

screws, or opposite the steerage p,j : - ak J 

kitchens, at some distance from ■§&! W ■ 

the storage rooms, and likely to j§^^% W*m ? 

be obstructed by passengers. The 

-' . MK, C. H. OLEK, SEA POSTAL CLERK. 

letter cases are sometimes incon- 
venient, and there is insufficient room for handling the large 
amount of printed matter inward ; and these defects (which 
will disappear with time, no doubt) are the more to be ob- 
jected to, because the ocean post office is an important feeder 
of the great trunk lines. The American postal clerk is also 
without a uniform, and, insomuch as his appearance is due 
to his habiliments, compares unfavorably with the stalwart 
German. 

Mr. Chas. H. Oler, one of the ocean postal clerks, and the winner 
of the Postmaster General's railway mail medal, awarded to the 
clerk of best record in the whole service, has written to the R. M. S. 
Bugle about the duties of the ocean postal clerk : 

"On the trip from New York to Hamburg or Bremen they are called United 
States-German sea post offices, and the United States clerk is supposed to be 
clerk in charge, and all mail, both letters and papers, are distributed, the distri. 



160 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

button comprising something near twenty railway post offices and ' directs ' for 
all towns and cities deserving it. On the trip from Germany to New York, the 
lines are called ' Deutsch-Amerik ' sea post offices, and the German clerk is in 
charge. On this trip we open not only the German mails, but closed mails from 
countries beyond Germany, including Sweden, Norway, Russia, Denmark, and 
Austria. But we are only required at present to State the mail, and make up the 
principal cities, and work New York City into stations. The mail averages about 
seventy-five thousand letters and fifty bags of papers on each trip, and had we 
the facilities that are to be had in a railway post office, would only be a matter 
of a day or two to distribute all of it, but as it is at present, we labor at quite a 
disadvantage, owing to a lack of room. Our office for work is about ten by 
twenty feet with a case in either end containing each sixty boxes. In these sixty 
boxes we must make our distribution of papers as well as letters, for we are not 
blessed with even the ' Harrison rack.' We have now and then a hook around 
the wall on which we can hang a bag. 

"All the bags are brought from the storage-room by the deck hands and are 
opened by the waiter, and all packages opened and placed on the table, also tied 
out, and bags closed and sealed by him, so that we can get rid of most of the 
laborious part of the mail service. Another important feature of this business is 
that all slips are stamped by the waiter, which is usually a source of annoyance 
to postal clerks unless their wives come to the rescue. Our food is of the best 
and in great supply, and what is better we get it at regular hours, and only five 
times a day. Twenty-seven cents a day is allowed us by the German 
Government for ' sacramental ' purposes. Every evening we have a concert and 
dance lasting two and one half hours, and one night of each trip a regular dance 
equal to the average society ball. 

" On arriving at Hamburg we pay our respects to the director of the post, and 
are then free until the day we return. We have seven days there and our ex- 
penses are paid at a hotel, as the ship lies so far from Hamburg, that it is im- 
possible to stay aboard. In New York we only have five days off. We have no 
work to do during the time, neither are we dodging telegrams for fear of extra 
runs. 

" As to the German clerks, I can only speak of one with whom I am associated. 
I find him a very able and proficient man, very careful and painstaking. He has 
more than the average intelligence, having taken an eight years' course in college 
preparatory to the work, besides having been in active service for five years. 
They are required by their government to appear in military uniform when not on 
duty, and when they sally forth with their blue coats with brass buttons and the 
sword by their side, we, with our little regulation cap, sink into utter insignifi- 
cance. Taking the work as a whole, I find it much easier and cleaner work than 
in a railway post office. One can stand and work with perfect ease in an ordinary 
sea, and during high sea the smoking-room is the best place to pass away time." 

The mails have been thought a very effective way of spreading 
cholera, yellow fever, and small pox. When a disease like either 
of these makes its appearance in a household, it is, of course, the 
bounden duty of some member of the family to write to friends in 
other localities about it all. Paper, like clothing, is a fine vehicle 



AMERICAN MAILS UPON THE SEA. 161 

for the deadly disease germs. Health officers are quick to put up 
flags on infected houses and shut off the inmates from personal con- 
tact with outsiders, but they seldom take adequate precautions 
against the mailing of letters. Indeed, they have themselves been 
known to post such letters themselves. Of late years it has 
been a common practice, at our Southern ports especially, to fumi- 
gate mails received from the West Indies, or Central or South 
America, at every recurrence of yellow fever. This is a very 
necessary precaution; yet never has adequate provision been made 
properly to perform the work, and no post office in the whole country 
is furnished with proper materials or appliances. 

In England fumigation is performed by puncturing each letter or 
paper with a number of holes, small enough so that they will not 
destroy or make illegible the contents; and it is next subjected to a 
strong dry heat. The sacks or bags are then disinfected both by dry 
heat and by sulphur fumes. In this country the usual process has 
been simply to burn sulphur under the mail bags. This is a very 
incomplete method. With the exception of those received by the 
North German Lloyd's and the Hamburg- American lines all the for- 
eign mails that reach this country come in closed pouches, and are 
not opened after leaving the dispatching office until received at the 
post office on this side. No one except duly authorized agents of 
the postal service has any authority to open a closed mail pouch. 
Hence all that health officers can do is to fumigate the pouch itself. 
It is almost impossible to find any method by which such fumiga- 
tion may be made complete. The mails do not belong to this coun- 
try until they are officially turned over at the completion of the 
voyage, and the United States authorities are therefore powerless. 

It has been suggested that the Postal Union ought to provide that 
in times of pestilence no mails shall be forwarded from an infected 
country until they have been thoroughly disinfected, and further, 
that on arrival at their destination, if quarantine has been estab- 
lished, they shall be at once turned over to the postal authorities of 
the port at quarantine. It is generally accepted that a high dry 
heat is the only sure destruction of disease germs, and as no such 
heat can be applied to mail in a closed pouch, it follows that the 
pouches should be opened and the contents subjected to the fumiga- 
ting process, so that each separate letter or package may receive the 



162 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

application. One of the methods now employed at some of the 
offices is to suspend the letters in a wire basket and burn sulphur 
underneath. That method is better than none, but it is very imper- 
fect; and moreover, the application of dry heat, unless great care is 
exercised, is liable to injure, if not destroy, parts of the mail. A 
patented method of disinfecting mails thoroughly without injury to 
them is a fortune to its possessor. 

Reformers delight to advocate a reduction of ocean postage to two 
cents. Hon. J.- Henniker Heaton, member of Parliament for Can- 
terbury, is at the head of this movement on the other side. He has 
visited this country in order to solicit the support of Postmaster 
General Wanamaker for a reduced ocean postage rate. The Post- 
master General has maintained that, while the change would be a 
proper and valuable advantage to foreign-born citizens who have left 
friends behind in Europe, it is a change that will come shortly and 
it ought to be delayed until a one cent domestic rate is a certainty. 
Mr. Heaton' s arguments are that the people have no right to 
expect the post office to be self-sustaining, that greater postal 
facility encourages commerce, that a cheap postage is of benefit to 
all without regard to condition, and that cheaper postage rates 
would promote a more brotherly feeling between England and her 
colonies. 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 




HE position of First Assistant Postmaster Gen- 
eral has been made famous by Hon. Acllai E. 
Stevenson and Hon. James S. Clarkson. But 
the duties in the performance of which they 
became chiefly notable are now performed by the 
Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. He now 
appoints the fourth class postmasters. But while 
the First Assistant's office has been relieved of this 
labor, it has become more important in a purely 
business way. It k . : ^ 

has long been the ^^mk 

idea of Postmaster 
General Wanamaker that the 
Post Office Department needed 
a better business compactness, 
regularity, and promptness. 
Early in his official career he 
recommended the appointment 
of a comptroller, or actuary, of 
the Department, who should be 
a permanent officer paid $10,000 
a year. His proposition was 
not received with favor by Con- 
gress. Mr. Wanamaker did se- 
cure, however, the creation of 
the office of Fourth Assistant 
Postmaster General, in order 
that the Divisions of Appoint- 
ments, Bonds, and Inspection might be consolidated in it, and the 
office of First Assistant left to deal with the important bureaus of 

163 




HON. ADLAI E. STEVENSON. 



164 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Salaries and Allowances, of Post Office Supplies, of Free Delivery, 
of Money Orders, of Dead Letters, and of Correspondence. 

Col. Smith A. Whitfield, a New Hampshire boy who went to war 
and became a real soldier and who was afterwards collector of internal 

revenue and post- 
master at Cincin- 
nati, and later Sec- 
ond Assistant Post- 
master General, was 
the First Assistant 
when these changes 
were brought about, 
and his familiari- 
ty with the service 
and all its branches 
was an important 
factor in the rear- 
rangement of the 
departmental rou- 
tine. The chief 
clerk in the First 
Assistant's office is 
Mr. Edwin C. Fow- 
ler. He went to 
the public schools 
of Baltimore and 
was a bookkeeper. 
In 1869 he entered 
the Department. In 1876 he was "principal clerk of appoint- 
ments." When the Division of Appointments was created Mr. Fow- 
ler was promoted to the chief's place, and in 1889 he was appointed 
chief clerk to the First Assistant. Mr. Fowler has exhibited un- 
usual tact in handling the very troublesome appointment cases 
incident to the changes of administration which he has seen, and 
has won the friendship of scores of public men. 

The division of the First Assistant's office naturally considered 
first is that of Salaries and Allowances. The most important duties 
assigned to this division are the annual adjustment of the salaries 




HON. JAMES 8. CLARKSON. 
(From a photograph in the First Assistant's Office.) 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLEKKS. 



165 



of postmasters; the consideration 
of allowances for clerk hire, rent, 
fuel and light, for first and second 
class post offices, and for *' sepa- 
rating " clerk hire for the third 
and fourth class post offices at 
intersecting mail routes ; the allow- 
ance of rent, fuel and light for 
third class offices, and of miscel- 
laneous incidental items, including 
furniture and advertising for first 
and second class offices; the exam-" 
ination of the quarterly returns and 
accounts of postmasters before they 
are finally passed by the Sixth 
Auditor; the adjustment and reg- 
ulation of the salaries and duties 
of clerks at first and second class 
offices; the leasing of premises for 



i 








COL. SMITH A. WHITFIELD, 

Late First Assistant. 




ME. EDWIN C. FOWLEE, 
Chief Clerk to the First Assistant. 



post offices; the establishment of 
postal stations; the classification 
of clerks; the adjustment of 
money order clerk hire ; the super- 
vision and regulation of box 
rent rates and of deposits for 
keys for lock boxes ; and the man- 
agement of the correspondence 
involved in all these affairs. The 
appropriations of Congress under 
the charge of this division com- 
prise chiefly the compensation of 
postmasters and of clerks in 
post offices, and amount to over 
twenty-five million dollars annu- 
ally. The post office appropria- 
tion bill for the current fiscal 
year, for example, comprises the 
following items: 



166 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

For compensation to postmasters $15,250,000 

For clerks in post offices 8,360,000 

For rent, fuel and light, first and second class offices 747,000 

For rent, fuel and light, third class offices 610,000 

For miscellaneous items, including furniture 110,000 

For advertising (office of Postmaster General) 18,000 

For canceling machines 40,000 

$25,135,000 

The method of making allowances for clerks in post offices varies 
somewhat with local conditions. The postmasters at the first and 




THE FIRST ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL'S OFFICE. 



second class offices are required by law on the 1st of July of 
each year to submit rosters of their clerical force, and these rosters 
are reviewed to ascertain all facts as to the number of persons 
employed, their age, compensation and character of duties, and 
whether the duties and compensation are in harmony with the terms 
of what is known as the Classification Act passed by Congress in 
1889. For instance: The postmaster at New York has a list, or 
roster of clerks, involving about sixteen hundred employees, with 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 



167 



salaries aggregating an annual allowance of over $1, 300, 000, a force 
nearly three times as large as that employed in the Post Office 
Department at Washington. His application for increased help 
must of necessity always receive unusual consideration. So it is 
with Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and all of the more important 
first class offices. It is a matter of great moment to decide how the 
demands for increased clerical help at offices of such importance 
can be met, for hundreds of other cases are meritorious, and the 
annual appropria- 
tion applicable for 
this purpose is, of 
course, always lim- 
ited. 

The Department 
is ob] iged to make 
the closest exam- 
ination of the ap- 
plications made for 
allowances, com- 
paring the growth 
of receipts from 
year to year with 
the increase of 
force asked for; 
and this examina- 
tion sometimes in- 
volves the appoint- 
ment of a commis- 
sion of postal ex- 
perts or post office 
inspectors, who 
visit the office in question and go over the ground item by item with 
the postmaster. The reports of these officers are properly briefed, 
prepared with the latest data obtainable, and laid before the First 
Assistant, or perhaps the Postmaster General himself, and acted upon 
as the facts warrant. If approved, the recommendations contained 
in the reports are put in operation by the fixing of allowances in the 
sums agreed upon from a specific date, and the postmasters are 




OLD TOM, 
The First Assistant's Faithful Messenger. 



168 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

advised accordingly. Sometimes, as a result of these investigations, 
allowances have been reduced, as it has been found that a rearrange- 
ment of the clerical force could be made to meet the requirements 
of the service without additional cost. 

The postmasters at presidential offices of the third class are not 
required to furnish yearly rosters of clerks. Postmasters at third 
and fourth class post offices at intersecting mail routes are allowed, 
out of the appropriation for clerk hire, certain sums for what 
is known as separating service, or service performed in separating 
the mails for star routes. The making of allowances of this nature 
is governed largely by the local conditions surrounding the offices, 
and it is all subject to a fixed law. 

For allowances for rent, fuel and light at post offices there are 
two distinct appropriations made by Congress, one for offices of the 
first and second classes, and the other for offices of the third class. 
The Department exercises much deliberation in fixing the allow- 
ances for these items also, and the applications of this nature are 
generally examined by inspectors, who receive very full instructions 
in the premises. Under the present methods buildings are secured 
in many cases, especially at offices of the first and second classes, 
under leases for terms ranging from one to five years, at fixed 
annual rentals, placed in some instances at the nominal sum of one 
dollar. In others the sums are much larger. At Denver the rental now 
paid for the post office is at a rate of $10,000 per annum. When a 
post office is moved into a Government building, the allowances for 
rent, fuel and light are discontinued by the Post Office Department. 

The minor articles required by postmasters at first and second class 
offices in conducting the business of their offices, known as "mis- 
cellaneous items," are fixtures, furniture, directories, towels, stoves, 
telephones, typewriters, and so on ; and all the requisitions are care- 
fully scrutinized before being passed. Items of this kind are gen- 
erally estimated for each quarter in advance, and postmasters are 
instructed to make their purchases accordingly. The advertising 
of letter lists by postmasters, the expense of which, on account of 
the limited appropriation, is allowed only to the larger first class 
post offices, is also made a subject of searching review. 

The Division of Salaries and Allowances is one of the busiest arms 
of the whole Government service and is very widely known. The 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 



169 



average postmaster has not, unfortunately, a very exalted opinion of 
this division, as the always limited annual appropriation, coupled 
with the fact that the postal service cannot be prevented from grow- 
ing, necessitates the closest scrutiny of his applications for increased 
allowances. Generally his application is scaled down to what seems 
to him a very unsatisfactory sum, if it is not declined altogether. 
In hundreds of cases, consequently, postmasters pay salaries out of 
their own resources. The Salary and Allowance Division is the 
Mecca of the hustling Congressman. If he is successful in demon- 
strating the merit of his postmas- 
ter's case, he goes away feeling that 
life is really worth living after all ; 
but if the application is rejected, 
he is not half so charitable as 
he would be if he stopped to re- 
flect that the reason why money 
cannot be allowed to post offices 
in the necessar} r proportion is 
simply because it is not voted by 
the Congressman himelf and his 
patriotic colleagues. The appro- 
priations are, in fact, always inad- 
equate, and to this immovable 
fact is to be attributed not only 
the overwork and the under-pay 
of clerks in post offices, but also 
the payments of salary by post- 
masters who are determined to 
furnish some sort of service, Con- 
gressional appropriation or no Congressional appropriation. The 
Salary and Allowance Division is overwhelmed with work so 
much that it cannot discharge work quickly, and doubtless hun- 
dreds, if not thousands, of letters have to be written every year 
saying, not that possible things have been done and impossible 
not done, but rather that all sorts of things will receive con- 
sideration. 

The operations of this Division are tremendous. Witness a sum- 
mary of them for the year ended June 30, 1892 : 




MR. ALBERT H. SCOTT, 
Chief, Division of Salaries and Allowances. 



170 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

Letters received 89,629 

Letters written 58,182 

Circular letters sent out 34,239 

Allowances made : 

Clerk hire 11,553 

Rent, fuel and light 18,562 

Miscellaneous items 19,459 

Advertising 594 

Allowances declined : 

Clerk hire 4,226 

Rent, fuel and light 2,671 

Miscellaneous items 4,042 

Advertising 586 

Amounts allowed : 

Compensation to postmasters $15,249,565 

Clerks in post offices ■ . . 7,933,639 

Rent, fuel and light 1,230,523 

Miscellaneous items 120,456 

Advertising 14,072 

The chief of the Salary and Allowance Division since 1883 has 
"been Mr. Albert H. Scott. He entered the postal service nearly six 
years previous to this appointment, and was rapidly advanced through 
the different grades of clerk. He was born in Ohio, of sturdy 
Scotch Presbyterian stock. While yet a boy, he went with his 
parents to Iowa. After the war the family were united in Wash- 
ington, however. Mr. Scott earned his own education. He became 
a civil engineer, and served over six years in the coast survey, win- 
ning frequent approval for his work, and was a member of the expe- 
dition which determined the longitude of Washington, Cambridge, 
Paris and Greenwich. A year later, in 1874, he was an assistant 
astronomer of the Chatham Island Transit of Venus party, and his 
services here were especially commended by Admiral Davis, presi- 
dent of the commission. During Mr. Scott's connection with the 
postal service the revenue has increased from $27,531,585 to $70,- 
930,476, orl58i percent.; the expenditures from $32,522,504 to 
$76,490,734, or 136| percent.; and the appropriations under his 
immediate charge from $10,825,000 to $25,135,000, or 1321 per cent. 
The number of presidential post offices has grown from 1,397 to 
3,221, or 131 per cent., and the total number of post offices from 
37,345 to 67,105 or 80 per cent. 

There are about one hundred and seventy-five Government build- 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 171 

ings in which post offices of the first, second, third, and even fourth 
classes are located. The items of rent, fuel and light for offices of 
the third class, or offices where the gross receipts range from $ 1*900 
to not exceeding $8,000, and the salaries of the postmasters conse- 
quently from 11,000 to $1,900 a year, are about $600,000 annually. 
The maximum sum for rent is limited by law to $400 a year and the 
maximum for fuel and light to $60 a year. There are about 2,300 
offices of the third class. The fourth-class postmaster personally 
has to pay for his quarters, his fuel and his lights ; for there is no 
authority in law for allowances of this kind. 

Where post offices are located in Government buildings, post 
office boxes are provided by the Treasury Department. At first and 
second class post offices the lessor, by agreement in the lease, fre- 
quently furnishes the box outfit. Patrons of post offices may provide 
lock boxes or lock drawers for their own use under certain condi- 
tions. In all other cases boxes must be furnished and kept in repair 
by the postmaster. The fixing of box -rent rates is supervised by 
the Department, but depends largely upon local conditions. Boxes 
are rented for sums ranging from five cents to fifty cents per quarter 
for call boxes, and from ten cents to five dollars per quarter for 
lock boxes and drawers. 

The introduction of the free delivery service has always increased 
the revenues of the post office affected — because increased facilities 
always cause an increased volume of letter writing. But many 
business firms want to send for their mail oftener than the carriers 
can deliver it, and the deliveries of the Department cannot imme- 
diately be made frequent enough entirely to accommodate them. 
Postmaster General Wanamaker has therefore proposed a uniform 
price for box rents, to be "fitted by the Department, at which boxes 
are to be rented by the quarter to persons residing wi'thin the free 
delivery district." He adds: 

" Those persons living outside the free delivery district, and yet within the 
delivery of the office, should be provided with boxes free of charge. At second 
and third class offices, where the free delivery is in operation, there are many 
unoccupied boxes all the year that could be assigned to patrons of the office at a 
saving of clerk hire, for it is less labor for a postmaster to distribute mail matter 
into an assigned box and deliver it from there, than to thrust it into the general 
delivery, which means the separation of the letter mail of a family, under the 
various alphabetical methods, into many receptacles, the regular and transient 



172 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

papers into overfilled cases that for want of time are sometimes inaccurately 
searched; and the result is late delivery, and sometimes none at all." 

" It would seem but simple justice that the patrons of an office who are denied 
the free delivery by carriers should have extended to them the next best service 
obtainable, and at the same rate, which is undoubtedly the box delivery. I am in 
favor of free delivery wherever it can be put into operation; but until that is pro- 
vided for by law I would meet the justifiable complaints of patrons in the rural 
districts, who charge the Government with discrimination, by assigning to each 
head of a family living outside of the free delivery of the office a free box ; and 
this, in my opinion, will not require more than three hundred boxes as an average 
for second and third class offices. At offices where there is no free delivery I 
propose to abolish box rents altogether." 

There is a very unbusinesslike thing which the Division of Salaries 
and Allowances wastes valuable time upon, because the laws of 
Congress compel it. Fixtures in many of the post offices are inade- 
quate and shabby, not half fit for a country as glorious as the United 
States, not suitable at all for the quick and accurate handling of 
mails. The postmaster, when he is appointed, either buys new 
fixtures of the manufacturer at such prices as he himself may name 
(and if he is extra economical, the fixtures will be extra inadequate), 
or else he buys the old fixtures of his predecessor sometimes by a pre- 
arranged transaction which has affected his appointment favorably. 
There is no question that it would be business economy and good ser- 
vice for the Government to provide post office fixtures and furniture. 
Another unbusinesslike thing is the matter of the rental of presi- 
dential post offices. About fifteen per cent, of these are quartered 
in premises which have to be leased. The leases run from one to 
five years, and eighty per cent, occupy premises for which the rental 
is renewed annually. Moreover, the hundreds of postal stations 
occupy leased quarters. In all this leasing much local contention, 
and sometimes a good of local scandal, result; for political and 
social, as well as illegitimate business influences are brought to bear 
to change locations and hold up prices. All this irregularity, both 
in leases and in furniture, would be done away with by the erection 
of small post office buildings by the Government ; and that plan has 
been advocated in Congress, as well as by officers of the Department, 
in and out of season, to no purpose. 

The annual appropriation made by Congress for the advertising of 
the Department was once $80,000; now it is but $18,000. This 
decrease in the allowance has been found unpleasant enough by 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 173 

hundreds of newspapers in the past few years; for not only is the 
Department circumscribed in its power to advertise widespread such 
matters of general importance as proposals for material use by the 
Department, but the local letter lists, in scores of cases, have had to be 
cut down, published free, or thrown out entirely. It has been con- 
tended by many that the advertised letter lists ought surely to be paid 
for by Congressional appropriation, especially since the recent efforts 
of the postmasters, with the help of the Dead Letter Office directories, 
have greatly decreased their size ; and it would seem impossible really 
to throw the matter of bidding for material open to public competition 
without really advertising that the material was wanted and offering 
intending bidders a chance. But the Subsidy Law provided for 
some $ 14, 000 worth of advertising, at the least calculation, without 
so much as a thought of providing the money with which to do it. 
So that it is perhaps not strange that the every-day advertising of the 
Department is repeatedly overlooked. 

"The ordinary good clerk of the Government," said Postmaster 
General Wanamaker recently, "might suit perfectly well in any 
other of the civil places, but for post office work he must almost 
learn a trade. There ought to be a kind of apprenticeship with pro- 
motions that would produce motion throughout the ranks from 
lowest to highest place. The post office should be a school for the 
railway mail, the railway mail for the Department, the Department 
for the division chiefs, and the highest places in the service. The 
qualities that make a good postal clerk are of a high order — on his 
memory, accuracy, integrity hang the engagements of the business 
and the social world. An idle minute on the railway postal car may 
be felt across a continent. The unready pouch carried past the rail- 
road junction goes to the next station to be returned to await the lost 
connection. That one wasted minute often means a mail ten hours 
late all the way along the run of 10,000 miles. The postal service 
is no place for indifferent, or sleepy, or sluggish people." 

The postal clerks inside the offices, as well as on board the rail- 
way postal cars, all know this. They know what hard work is. 
They know what it is to be continually alert, and active, and accu- 
rate. Yet thousands try for entrance into the service ; try to pass 
the examination, wonder why they fail, wonder why they are not 
appointed when they succeed, and finally give up all hope of secur- 




3 



174 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 



175 



ing places, — or else secure appointments after they are little wel- 
come. The tables of the Civil Service Commission show the 
number of persons examined, the number that failed, and the per- 
centage of failures, the number that passed, the number appointed, 
and the per cent, of those that passed who were appointed, during 
periods mentioned, in the Kailway Mail Service, in the classified 
postal service, and in the whole classified service (which includes 
as well as these two branches the departmental service and the cus- 
toms service) as follows : 





Examined. 


Failed. 


Per cent. 

of 
failures. 


Passed. 


Appointed. 


Per cent, 
appointed 

of those 
that 

passed. 


BAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. 

May 1, 1889, to June 30, 1889.. 
July 1, 1889, to June 30, 1890.. 
July 1, 1890, to June 30, 1891 .. 


2,236 
4,463 
3,706 


434 

1,334 
1,118 


19.4 

29.8 
30.2 


1,802 
3,129 

2,588 


125 
1,400 
1,062 


6.9 
44.7 
41.0 


Total 


10,405 


2,886 


27.7 


7,519 


2,587 


34.4 






POSTAL SERVICE. 

July 16, 1883, to Jan. 15, 1884.. 
Jan. 16, 1884, to Jan. 15, 1885 .. 
Jan. 16, 1885, to Jan. 15, 1886.. 
Jan. 16, 1886, to Jan. 15, 1887.. 
Jan. 16, 1887, to June 30, 1887 .. 
July 1, 1887, to June 30, 1888.. 
July 1, 1888, to June 30, 1889.. 
July 1, 1889, to June 30, 1890.. 
July 1, 1890, to June 30, 1891 ;. 


1,941 
3,233 
4,113 

I 7,467 

6,103 
10,702 
11,193 

8,538 


822 

971 

1,160 

2,245 

2,471 

4,087 
4.289 
2,698 


42.3 
30.0 

28.2 

30.1 

40.5 
38.2 
38.3 
31.6 


1,119 

2 262 
2,953 

5,222 

3,632 
6,615 
6,904 
5,840 


372 
1,249 
1,473 

3,254 

1,924 

2,938 
2,850 
2,861 


33.2 
55.2 
49.9 

62.3 

53.0 
44.4 
41.2 
48.9 


•Total 


53,290 


18,743 


35.2 


34,547 


, 16,921 


49.0 






SUMMARY. 

July 16, 1883, to Jan. 15, 1884.. 
Jan. 16, 1884, to Jan. 15, 1885 .. 
Jan. 16, 1885, to Jan. 15, 1886.. 
Jan. 16, 1886, to Jan. 15, 1887.. 
Jan. 16, 1887, to June 30, 1887 .. 
July 1, 1887, to June 30, 1888.. 
July 1, 1888, to June 30, 1889 . 
July 1, 1889, to June 30, 1890.. 
July 1, 1890, to June 30, 1891 .. 


3,542 
6,347 
7,602 

| 15,852 

11,281 
19,060 
22,994 
19,074 


1,498 
2,206 
2,568 

5,106 

4,413 

7,082 
9,047 
6,288 


42.3 
34.8 
33.8 

32.2 

39.1 
37.2 
39.3 
33.0 


2,044 
4,141 
5,034 

10,746 

6,868 
11,978 
13,947 
12,786 


489 
1,800 

1,881 

4.442 

2,616 
3,781 
5,159 
5,395 


23.9 
43.5 
37.4 

41.3 

38.0 
31.6 
37.0 
42.0 


Total 


105,752 


38,208 


36.0 


67,544 


25,563 


38.0 








176 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 



177 



The figures show, therefore, that for the Railway Mail Service 
two fifths are appointed who pass, and that less than three quar- 
ters pass ; that for the classified postal service perhaps one half are 
appointed who pass, and that 65 per cent, pass ; and that for the 
whole classified service 38 per cent, are appointed who pass and 
about 65 per cent. pass. In the departmental service 25 per cent, 
are appointed w r ho pass, and 62 per cent, pass; and in the customs 
service 23 per cent, are appointed and not quite 60 per cent. pass. 

The subjects, and the relative weight given to them, for the 
clerical examination are as follows : 



Subjects. 



First: Orthography 

Second: Penmanship 

Third: Copying 

Fourth: Letter-writing 

Fifth: Arithmetic 

Sixth : Geography and local delivery 
Seventh : Reading addresses . . . 

Total of weights 



Relative 
weights. 



20 



A sample examination paper, say for the fifth subject, arithmetic, 
is as follows : 



Question 1. Express in words the following: 990,050,006.0021. 

Question 2. Express in figures the following, avoiding the use of common (or 
vulgar) fractions : — 

One million three thousand seven hundred and one and one ten-thousandth. 

Question 3. Express in words the following signs and figures: 201b. 8 oz. @ 
2c. per oz. = $6.56. 

Question 4. If a railroad car runs 41^ miles per hour, how far would it go in 
12 days running 10^ hours per day ? 
Give work in full. 

Question 5. If paper is worth 40 cents per pound, what is the cost of one sheet 
of paper weighing six pounds to the ream ? (480 sheets = 1 ream.) 
Give work in full. 

Question 6. The following table shows, in part, the amounts appropriated for 
and the amounts expended in the office of the First Assistant Postmaster General 
for the year ended June 30, 1886. Kequired: (1) the total amount expended, 
(2) the total amount appropriated, and (3) the unexpended balance. 



178 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Items. 



Postmasters' salaries 
Clerks' salaries . . 
Carriers' salaries, etc. 
Wrapping paper 



Totals 



Total expenses brought down 
Unexpended balance . . . 



Amounts 
expended. 



$11,348,178.17 

4,977,663.47 

4,312,296.70 

28,766.49 



Amounts 
Appropriated. 



$12,300,000.00 

5,150,000.00 

4,485,000.00 

35,000.00 



Question 7. Three gross of lead pencils are divided equally among the clerks 
in a post office, giving to each clerk eleven and leaving a remainder of fourteen 
pencils. How many clerks are there in the office ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 8. Find the value of each of the following items and the total value 
of the whole : — 

28,155 one-cent stamps $ 

3,200 two-cent stamps 

12,200 live-cent stamps 

25,500 one-cent stamped envelopes @ $11.30 per M. . . . . . . 

31,500 two-cent stamped envelopes @ $21.30 per M 

Total $ 

Question 9. An office uses 98 pounds of twine per year in tying packages. 
Allowing 178 yards to the pound, how many packages are tied if each requires an 
average of 1% f ee ^ ? 

Give viork in full. 

Question 10. Multiply 693.6 by 785.09 and divide the product by 25. 
Give work in full. 

The messenger examination, which is also used for the examina- 
tion of applicants for the position of porter, piler, stamper, or junior 
clerk, is as follows : 



Subjects. 



First: Orthography 
Second: Penmanship 
Third: Copying . . 
Fourth: Arithmetic 

Total of weights 



Relative 
weights. 



10 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 179 

A sample examination paper, say for arithmetic, the fourth sub- 
ject is this : 

Question 1. Add the following, placing the total at the bottom: — 

210,286.36 

188,763,129.37 

490,206.57 

6,433,132,873.68 

8,856,764,397.49 

563,097,579,084.03 

3,235,603,007.70 



Question 2. The area of New Hampshire is 5,955,200 acres; the area of South 
Carolina, 19,564,800 acres; and the area of Pennsylvania, 28,937,600. By how 
much does the area of Pennsylvania exceed the areas of New Hampshire and 
South Carolina combined ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 3. During the year 1886 a postmaster rented a building at the rate of 
$100 a month, and paid two clerks $45 each per month, and had left out of his 
annual salary $200. What was his salary ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 4. Write in words the following numbers and abbreviations : 903,014 
lbs. and 15 oz. 

Question 5. Write in figures the following number: one million twenty-three 
thousand and five. 

Question 6. A mail package contains 4,992 letters averaging one half ounce 
each. How many pounds of mail in the package ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 7. The postmaster at Pitts field, Mass., made requisition for 98 sheets 
of 1-cent stamps, 54 sheets of 2-cents tamps, 32 sheets 3-cent stamps, 12 sheets 
5-cent stamps, and 6 sheets 10-cent stamps. What was the total value of the 
stamps required, each sheet containing 100 stamps ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 8. The total weight of a newspaper mail is 918 pounds. What is the 
weight in ounces ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 9. Write in sign and figures: Eight hundred and twenty-rive thousand 
and twenty-five dollars and seven cents. 

Question 10. A postmaster buys 5 gross of pencils at $21.60. What is the cost 
of each pencil ? 

Give work in full. 

The following table shows the number of appointments and sepa- 
rations in the classified service, the service at the post offices of 
cities which have fifty employees or more, for an average year, say 
the one ended June 30, 1891. It has local interest everywhere: 



180 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Location of post-office. 



Albany 

Atlanta 

Baltimore 

Boston 

Brooklyn 

Buffalo 

Chicago 

Cincinnati 

Cleveland 

Columbus 

Dallas 

Denver 

Des Moines 

Detroit 

Grand Kapids . . . 

Hartford 

Indianapolis . . . . 

Jersey City 

Kansas City . . . . 
Los Angeles . . . . 

Louisville , 

Memphis 

Milwaukee . . . . , 
Minneapolis . . . , 

Nashville , 

Newark 

New Haven . . . . 
New Orleans . . . 
New York .... 

Oakland 

Omaha 

Philadelphia . . . 

Pittsburg 

Portland, Me. . . 
Providence .... 

Richmond 

Rochester 

St. Louis 

St. Paul 

San Francisco . . 
Springfield, Mass 

Syracuse 

Toledo 

Troy 

Washington . . . 
Worcester 



.~2 
J< o 



4 
7 

11 
5 

27 
3 

31 

17 
7 
3 
7 



16 
13 



1 
3 
1 
1 

2 

20 

2 

5 

7 



12 



6 

175 

2 

2 

31 

16 
1 
1 
1 
9 

21 
3 

14 



Total 



509 



3 
3 

18 
7 
9 
7 

26 

2 
1 
1 



17 



5 

96 



12 



1 

2 

2 

13 

3 

7 



Appointments. 



2 

4 

' 2 
2 

272 



Original. 



Clerks. 



4 

16 

39 

67 

16 

18 

104 

14 

13 

2 

3 

26 

6 

5 

2 

1 

5 

5 

9 

8 

20 

3 

2 

9 

1 

8 

4 

21 

182 

2 

5 

219 

20 

5 

12 

9 

10 

12 



7 


1 


27 


18 


1 


. . 


4 




3 


, , 


1 




59 


. . 


6 




1,015 


42 



18 
16 
103 
95 
64 
15 
83 
27 
22 
15 

8 
33 
27 
24 

9 

8 
11 
16 
10 

8 
19 

5 
11 
16 

5 
25 

8 

35 

160 






4 

2 

6 

4 

4 

141 

21 



100 
38 

6 
12 
13 
11 
34 

6 
72 

3 
20 
13 

2 
35 



1,277 



10 

2 



5 
117 



5 
36 
1 
7 
1 
1 

' 1 

1 



397 



26 
34 

143 

168 
84 
37 

329 
62 
35 
25 
12 
60 
36 
43 
13 
9 

16 
23 
19 
16 
46 
8 
15 
27 
6 
33 
12 
62 

469 

10 

5 

319 
66 
11 
24 
22 
26 

*82 
15 

124 
5 
25 
16 
4 
95 
14 

2,731 



Separations. 



1 

2 
4 
3 
20 
6 
3 



2 
16 



42 
3 



130 



26 
34 

144 

170 
88 
40 

349 
68 
38 
25 
12 
62 
37 
43 
13 
10 
18 
23 
20 
16 
46 
8 

16 
27 
6 
33 
12 
64 

485 

10 

5 

361 
69 
11 
26 
22 
26 
87 
16 

129 

5 

25 

18 

4 

100 
14 

2,861 



10 

2 

57 

25 

14 

11 

152 

34 

2 



1 
2 
4 
2 
3 
3 
4 
9 
1 
5 
3 

5 

2 

19 
146 

1 
106 
1 
8 
1 
4 
6 
24 
2 
5 
1 



1 
14 

1 

703 



4 

18 

18 

40 

11 

7 

114 

25 

23 

7 

1 



12 
3 
2 
2 
6 
9 
9 

11 
2 
2 
3 
1 

11 
6 



148 23 
1 . . 



74 

10 
5 
7 
1 
3 

25 
4 
3 
2 
3 
5 
1 

21 
2 



15 



14 

20 
77 
68 
28 
20 
273 
62 
26 
15 
1 



15 

5 

6 

5 

11 

12 

13 

20 

3 



1 

17 

8 

25 

317 

1 

1 

195 

11 

13 

9 

5 

9 

54 

6 

8 

3 

7 

5 

2 

35 

3 



668'74| 1,445 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 



181 



A sight-seer chances to enter the mailing department of the 
Chicago post office, the basis here as everywhere, of post office 
work. There are, perhaps, four hundred regular employees. Of 
these seventy-five give their time to the distribution of letters and a 
hundred to the distribution of newspapers. There are five kinds of 
mail matter handled each day, 25,000,000 pounds of paper and 
periodical mail each year, and 10,000,000 of miscellaneous matter; 
and all this weight represents 
125,000,000 individual pieces 
distributed. 

"The men in this depart- 
ment, " said a writer for the Chi- 
cago Evening Post recently, " are 
not worked any harder than they 
are in other parts of the office. 
The average hours of duty are 
not less than eight and generally 
not more, although the clerks are 
willing to work twelve, when 
during the holiday season there 
is an unusual use of the mails. 
In one sense the boys in the 
mailing department do not have 
so good a time as in other branch- 
es, because they are required to 
undergo examination at stated 
periods, much like the clerks in 
the Railway Mail Service. There 
are changes constantly being made in the nomenclature of the offices 
and new offices are sprouting up all over the country; the distrib- 
utors of letters and papers have to master this fresh knowledge all 
the time. Examinations follow, so that the authorities may get a 
good idea of the retentive capacity of each man's memory. It is 
absolutely necessary to the efficiency of the service that only men 
with good gray matter within their skulls shall be kept at this 
work, and the periodical examination is the only way of determining 
this fact satisfactorily. 

"The mailing department is the bee hive of the office. No drones 




LOUIS STEENBEEGEE & WM. H. HOGAIST, 

The big man and the little man in the 
Chicago office. 




182 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 



183 



are permitted to draw their salaries there. So much depends upon 
promptness and dispatch. The big mails that come in from the 
East must be assorted in time for the fast out-going Western trains. 
Delay would not be tolerated, because a letter must have the same 
rapidity of transportation as is given to the passenger; all of which 
is quite right from the point of view of the correspondent. When 
the mail comes in the entire force is alert, and when once they bend 
their energies to the work it is a deft man, indeed, who can manage 
to get a word in edgeways." 

One of the clerks in the New York office not long ago described 
in good set terms the disadvantages and dangers, even, under which 
the clerks in large post offices labor. 

"The clerk is held strictly accountable," he says, "for every 
moment of lost time. He has to work from ten to twelve hours per 
day and every holiday and 
Sunday without any extra I Itfll I flll' 
compensation in an at- 
mosphere laden with the 
most pestilential microbes 
brought by the sacks con- 
taining the mail matter, 
besides the most intolera- 
ble stenches which prevail 
for want of proper and sci- 
entific ventilation. Now, 
after standing from ten to 
twelve hours throwing off 
this matter for dispatch- 
ing, is it any wonder 
that postal clerks are ex- 
hausted? Is it any sur- 
prise that germs of the 
most virulent diseases are 
inhaled, thus shortening 
the lives of the men at 
least ten years ? The men 
employed at this business must pass a severe examination according 
to civil service requirements, all for the munificent sum of $50 per 




BIG, BUT LIGHT FINGERED. 



184 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



month. From the moment one enters until he emerges from the 

post office pest hole not a ray of God's luminary is seen, which is 

so necessary to the quick- 
J( r ■:-;" "-" !:,i, ~ ening of the natural func- 

tions." 

The remedy, as almost 
always, is undeniably with 
Congress; or rather, it is 
with the people who do 
not understand that the 
post office clerks work in 
cramped, unhealthy quar- 
ters, often in basements, 
without the sunlight, and 
do not express their pro- 
tests in the liberal votes 
of their representatives. 
Postmaster General Wan- 
amaker has repeatedly ad- 
vocated the construction 
of public buildings of 
fewer stories, or perhaps 
of only two or three at 

the most, in large cities; this, so that light might come down from 

overhead and air escape that way. 

The postal clerks who work inside, out of the sight of the public, 
have just been discussed somewhat. Around the edges of the big 
post offices are the stamp clerks, the registry clerks, the general 
delivery clerks and the inquiry clerks. They meet the great, sover- 
eign people, and they must possess good tempers. The stamp clerk 
meets almost every day the man who wants his stamp put on for 
him, the wit who thinks a stamp or two ought to be thrown in with 
a dollar's worth, and the gentleman who, when he lays a hundred 
copper cents down and has them refused, insists upon standing in 
the way of a line of twenty people and doling his coin out copper by 
copper and taking his stamps in payment one by one. There is the 
hog who will never stand in line, and the hog who always insists on 
waiting to stamp his letters at the very window. There is the 




DISTRIBUTING LETTERS. 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 



185 



woman with no end of questions. Her letter is the lightest that 
can possibly be written, and yet she wants to know how many 
stamps it will take. The clerk has to weigh that letter. Then the 
woman keeps the line in waiting to ask how long it will be before 
her missive reaches its destination, a thing which anybody is sup- 
posed to know better than a stamp clerk. It was recorded recently 
in New York that a middle-aged woman, after she had purchased a 
five-cent stamp with which to send a letter to Scotland, asked if five 




IN THE ROUTING ROOM. 



one-cent stamps would do as well ; and when she was informed that 
they would she handed back the single stamp and took the five one- 
cent stamps. Then she wanted the stamp clerk to stick them on for 
her. Often the story is about a man. Not long ago (this happened 
in New York also) a man waited twenty minutes in the wrong line 
and at last found himself before the window. 

"Well, mister," he cried, "I suppose you have got time to 'tend 
to me now. I just want this postal order cashed." 

When he was informed that postal orders were cashed at another 
window, he called the clerk a liar and asked him to step outside. 
The police removed him. 

The general delivery clerk in the smaller office has quite as hard 



186 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



a time of it. He cannot talk back, because the person who excites 
him to righteous anger may be the leading banker, or the leading 

politician, or even 
the smart clergy- 
man of the town; 
or he may be — 
simply a fool. 
Here the good 
temper comes in 
again. The gen- 
eral delivery clerk 
has to deal with 
the family that will never 
allow its mail to be de- 
livered by carrier, and 
with the . man who brings 
his family with him to the 
post office two or three 
times a day and inquires 
for the mail for each one, 
of which, of course, there 
isn't any. He has to deal 
with the stray African, 
who has from two to six 
names, all of which, in calling for let- 
ters, he is sure to use; and frequently he must 
read their long-expected missives for them. He has to deal, indeed, 
with the sweet Irish lass who does not give her name, and when 
the innocent clerk asks for it, thinks it is her lover's name he 
wants, and will not tell. If he is a new man, some one tells him 
every day that his predecessor was a "perfect gentleman." 

A visitor to the Inquiry Division of the Boston Post Office ran 
across some queer things. He found a pair of boots, and a bag of 
rutabaga turnips, both unmailable, of course; and a broken box, 
bearing the Queen's stamp, directed only "Boston, America," and 
this could not be forwarded, for there are at least a dozen Bostons 
in these United States. In another broken box an ideal hair curler, 
sent from Philadelphia to a Maine girl, reposed, and it seemed to 




THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 187 

have been intended for a Christmas gift. There was other unmaila- 
ble stuff, — and heaven does not know how it might ever be 
returned to its multitudinous owner. There was a big collection of 
Christmas cards, beautiful in design and tender in sentiment, but 
never to reach their destinations, because the addresses were "To 
Charley and Tricksey, with love from their affectionate Aunt 
Lillie." A card or book in a ragged wrapper read "Julia with a 
Merry Christmas to all; from Joe." "To Maud from Nellie," 
read another, and in the miscellaneous basket there was a heap 
of stuff, a box of fern fronds, a book entitled " Daily Food, " 
music rolls, a pair of socks, a black feather fan, a cyclopedia of 
medicine, a silver perfume bottle, a silver button hook, a metal 
match box, several rings and American coins, an ugly looking 
razor, advertising cards, a pair of kid gloves, a package of posters 
announcing "Ten Nights in a Barroom," a box of caramels, a pack- 
age of marking ink, a roll of yellow satin ribbon, a rubber rattle 
for "Baby Henry." 

The great, surging torrents of business for the postal clerks come 
at Christmas -time. Besides the immense volumes of additional mail 
of the ordinary 
sort, and of bun- 
dles and packages 
without number of 
the extraordinary 
sort, there are hun- 
dreds of commu- 
nications to a gen- 
tleman who never 
wrote a letter in 
his life, and who 
never answers a 
letter that he re- 
been left for the 

THE BOSTON STAMP CANCELLING MACHINE. 

/Sun to discover, 

— and what other paper should discover it? — that the home of 

Santa Claus is in New York, despite the fact that he is constantly 



188 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

pictured driving reindeer and sledge over a snow-bound country 
covered with fir trees. For this reason nearly all of his letters go 
through the local post office there and are forwarded to Washing- 
ton. The letters come from all over the country. Most of them 
come from places outside of New York. It is interesting to look 
over Santa Claus's mail. Of course one cannot open it any more 
than it would be allowed to open the mail of any other private or 
public citizen. The addresses are so curious, and written with 
such evident pains, and the parenthetical remarks, which are often 
added as a last reminder on the envelopes, so appealing, and there 
is such an air of confidence and sincerity about them all, that it is 
not necessary to examine the contents for entertainment. 

The letters come in all sorts of envelopes, and some of them in 
none at all. There are delicately tinted letters, with crests on the 
back, from children who plead for a pony or a carriage. Then there 
are the letters of another sort from destitute little ones, who plead for 
a stockingful of candy or a rattle for the baby. Eighteen letters for 
Santa Claus were received at the New York Post Office one day in 
last December. No two were directed exactly alike. The first was 
the only one in which a definite address was given. It was : 

MR. SANTA CLAUS, 
444 Cherry Street, 
New York. 

This was written in a scrawling hand, but the numbers were quite 
plain. It was probably the only one of the lot that did not go 
directly to the Dead Letter Office. There was the name, a definite 
number, on a definite street, in a definite city, and in the lower left- 
hand corner was the regular United States two-cent postage stamp. 
So the letter was given to the proper carrier, who took it to the 
Cherry Street address. When it came back the legend was stamped 
in red ink across the face : 

REMOVED. PRESENT ADDRESS UNKNOWN. 

One letter dated at Haverstraw was addressed like this on a thick, 
creamy envelope : 

MR. SANTA CLAUS, 

New York City. 
P. S.— If not called for by Xmas please return. 



THE PAY AND WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 189 

This was the only one in which Mr. Claus was addressed 
familiarly. The majority of the letters were addressed strangely. 
There were numerous variations in the spelling of Claus, and not a 
few, probably Germans, wrote it with a K. Here was one : 

TO DEAR SANTA CLAUS, 
New York City. 

This was dated from Stanfordville, N. Y. It was not quite so 
fervent as the next: 

DEAR MR. POSTMASTER. 

Bring this to dear Santa Claus. 

Sometimes when the envelope was carelessly sealed, or when there 
was no envelope at all, the missive being held in shape merely by the 
stamp, it came apart and the contents were disclosed. Under these 
circumstances it was, perhaps, permissible to read them. Under any 
other, there would be a manifest impropriety in prying into the con- 
fidences of these youngsters. There was one such letter among the 
eighteen. It came folded and turned down at one corner, and the 
stamp was placed so as to hold the folded corner down. It read as 

follows : 

Chitenango, N. Y. 

Bear Mr. Santa Claus: — I only want a pare of skates for Christmas and if it aint 
cold a sled will do My old ones bust. If they aint no snow I would like ennything 
you think of. My mama says you are poor this year. 

Yours truly, 

C N . 

There are stamp clerks and stampers. It had been noticed in the 
larger post offices that at certain hours of the day it was hard work 
for the complete force of stampers to keep up with the tremendous 
accumulations of mail. The Postmaster General consequently caused 
stamp-cancelling machines to be examined by commissions, and a 
year ago September a contract was made with the Hey & Dolphin 
Company, of New York, for one hundred machines. This machine 
has cancelled, post-marked, counted and stacked 5,000 postal cards in 
four minutes and fifty seconds, and has performed similar work on 
24,000 postal cards in an hour. In two hours and two minutes it 
cancelled, post-marked, counted and stacked 46,480 letters and 
postal cards, of which 21,000 were letters. An average speed of 



190 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



30,000 letters and postal cards per hour is claimed for it; but with 
the great variety of mail matter required to be cancelled, and with 
the delays incident to a high rate of speed, this figure is probably 
too high. The object of the machine is not only to relieve the stress 
at the close of business hours in the large offices, but to enable the 

clerks who have 
been required to 
do the stamping 
by hand to address 
themselves to oth- 
er duties. Indeed, 
a cut of $140,000 
was made in the 
clerk hire item 
in the appropri- 
ation bill of last 
year on account 
of the appropria- 
tion of $40,000 
made for the one 
hundred cancel- 
ling machines. 

It was lately con- 
tended for a new 
electrical stamp 
canceller, placed 
on trial in the 
Washington post 
office, that it could 
attain a speed of 
40,000 cancellations per hour; and the machine not only noted the 
year, month and day, but the hour and minute when the letter 
passed through. The Postmaster General has encouraged the intro- 
duction of these devices which register the exact time when mail is 
deposited and dispatched, in order that the blame for all delays may 
be placed just where it belongs, and the service generally quick- 
ened. The Hey & Dolphin machine is compact in form, light 
running, and practically noiseless. It is driven by a one-sixth 




THE CONSTANTINE STAMP-CANCELLING MACHINE. 



THE PAY AND "WORK OF POST OFFICE CLERKS. 191 

horsepower electric motor. The machine embraces six different 
classes of inventions — a hopper, a combined feed and separator, a 
printing apparatus, an inking device, a counting mechanism and a 
delivery apparatus. The Boston machine, so-called, in use in sev- 
eral post offices, is somewhat simpler in construction ; the Constan- 
tine machine, to be seen in the New York office, larger and more 
complex. 



CONUNDRUMS ANSWERED BY THE HUNDRED. 




UT to get back to the First Assistant Postmaster 
General, though. One of his divisions awards 
the salaries and allowances, as has been said; and 
there are the great divisions of the Free Deliv- 
ery, the Money Order system, and the Dead Let- 
ter Office attached to his office. He also has in charge the 
Division of Correspondence. The head of this, Mr. James 
R. Ash, might be called the great conundrum man of the Depart- 
ment. It is easy enough to imagine that he answers all sorts 
of letters that ask for information upon all sorts of points; 
he uses forms for answering many of these, of course, but many 
require patient search into the laws and regulations, or the usages 
of the Department, and much tact to know what to say and much 
skill to know how to say it. Most of the rulings of the First 
Assistant Postmaster General — for he, and not the Assistant Attor- 
ney General for the Department, issues the rulings now, — are based 
upon these replies. Many are printed in the Postal Guide and 
become the law and gospel of the postmasters. 

A funny person recently caused to be printed somewhere a new 
set of post office rules. They were : — 



1. Feather beds are not mailable. 

2. A pair of onions will go for two scents. 

3. Ink bottles must be corked when sent by mail. 

4. Over three pounds of real estate are not mailable. 

5. Persons are compelled to lick their own postage stamps and envelopes; the 
postmaster cannot be compelled to do this. 

6. An arrangement has been perfected by which letters without postage will 
be immediately forwarded — to the Dead Letter Office. 

7. Persons are earnestly requested not to send postal cards with money orders 
enclosed, as large sums are lost in that way. 

8. Nitro-glycerine must be forwarded at the risk of the sender. If it should 
blow up in the postmaster's hands he cannot be held responsible. 

192 



CONUNDRUMS ANSWERED BY THE HUNDRED. 193 

9. When letters are received bearing no direction, the persons for whom they 
are intended will please signify the fact to the postmaster, that they may at once 
be forwarded. 

10. A stamp of the foot is not sufficient to carry a letter. 

11. As all postmasters are expert linguists, the address may be written in 
Chinese or Choctaw. 

12. Spring chickens, when sent by mail, should be enclosed in iron-bound 
boxes to save their tender bodies from injury. 

13. It is unsafe to mail apple or fruit trees with the fruit on them, as some 
clerks have a weakness for such things. 

14. It is earnestly requested that lovers writing to their girls will please con- 
fine their gushing rhapsodies to the inside of the envelope. 

15. Ducks cannot be sent through the mail when alive. The quacking would 
disturb the slumbers of the clerks on the postal cars. 

16. When watches are sent through the mail, if the sender will put a notice 
on the outside, the postmasters will wind and keep in running order. 

17- Poems on Spring and Beautiful Snow are rigidly excluded from the mails. 
(This is to catch the editorial vote.) 

18. John Smith gets his mail from 674,279 post offices, hence a letter directed 
to John Smith, United States, will reach him. 

19. When candy is sent through the mails it is earnestly requested that both 
ends of the packages be left open, so that the employees of the post office may 
test its quality. 

20. When you send a money order in a letter, always write full and explicit 
directions in the same letter so that any person getting the letter can draw the 
money. 

21. Alligators over ten feet in length are not allowed to be transmitted by mail. 

22. Young ladies who desire to send their Saratoga trunks by mail to 
watering-places the coming summer, should notify the Postmaster General at 
once. They must not be over seven feet long by thirteen feet high. 

23. The placing of stamps upside down on letters is prohibited. Several 
postmasters have recently been seriously injured while trying to stand on their 
heads to cancel stamps placed in this manner. 

But the real rulings of the Department are full of interest. These 
are some of them: 

It is not necessary for the sureties to take charge of the post office when the 
woman who is postmaster changes her name by marriage. If the postmaster 
referred to desires to remain in charge of the post office she may continue to 
conduct the business under her former name until she shall have been commis- 
sioned under her new name. 

Every postmaster must keep his post office open for the dispatch of business 
every day, except Sundays and holidays, during the usual hours in which the 
principal business houses in the place are kept open, and the office should not be 
closed during meal hours. 

Publishers of second class matter have the right to print or write on the 
wrappers requests for its return if not delivered within a given time, and post- 
masters are required to comply with such requests. 



194 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

A bulk package of franked articles may be sent in the mail to one person, who 
on receiving and opening the same may place addresses on the franked articles 
and remail them for carriage and delivery, to the respective addresses. Each 
article must, however, bear the frank of the Senator or Representative entitled 
to use it. 

Contractors and mail carriers have no right to refuse to carry packages of 
mailable matter which, on account of size and shape, cannot be put into the mail 
pouch. It is their duty to carry the mail, and every part of it. 

It is not contemplated that postmasters shall make use of their cancelling and 
post-marking stamps elsewhere than at their post offices; nor does the law permit 
postmasters to take credit for cancellations not actually made at the post office. 

Letter boxes in post offices are restricted to the use of one family, firm, or 
corporation. 

Letters from the Pension Office at Washington may be delivered to the 
pensioner himself, to a member of his family, or to any responsible person known 
to the postmaster in whose care they may be addressed. Under no circumstances 
must the letters of pensioners, sent from the Pension Office, or from any United 
States Pension Agent, be delivered to any attorney, claim agent, broker, or any 
other person, except as stated above. 

A postmaster residing near the state line may be appointed postmaster at a 
post office in the adjoining state, provided he resides within the delivery of the 
post office. 

When publishers of newspapers and periodicals persist in sending copies of 
their publications to given addresses, after having been notified by the postmaster 
at the office of address that the same are not taken out of the office, the post- 
master cannot do otherwise than consign such copies to the waste-basket, after 
holding them for thirty days. 

Postmasters at non-classified offices, where the number of employees is less 
than fifty are responsible for the acts of their assistants and clerks, and may, 
therefore, select them without regard to age, provided they are capable of per- 
forming the duties devolving upon them. The Department does not, however, 
permit a postmaster to retain anyone in the post office who is discourteous to the 
public, or is habitually careless or negligent in the performance of official duty. 

All matter intended for delivery must be so arranged that when application is 
made for mail, newspapers, as well as letters, may be readily and promptly 
delivered to the applicant. 

When a postmaster provides his office with letter boxes at his own expense, it 
is understood that he does so for the accommodation of the patrons of the office, 
and such boxes are recognized by the Department as the property of the post- 
master, who, upon retiring from office, may either remove the same or dispose of 
them to his successor upon such terms as may be agreed upon. When a private 
individual, however, by permission of the postmaster, erects a box in the post 
office for his individual use, the box becomes the property of the Government, 
and cannot be removed or disposed of except as directed by the Department. 

Telegrams deposited in a post office for delivery are subject to postage as other 
written communications are. 

Postmasters are forbidden to furnish lists of the persons receiving mail from 
their post offices. When a request for such information is received, accompanied 
by a postage stamp or stamped envelope for the prepayment of return postage. 



CONUNDRUMS ANSWERED BY THE HUNDRED. 195 

the postmaster should return such postage stamp or stamped envelope to the 
writer, under cover of a penalty envelope, at the same time politely advising him 
that he is forbidden by the regulations of the Department to furnish the informa- 
tion desired. 

A postmaster must, in a spirit of accommodation, deliver letters from lock 
boxes to the owners of them, when such owners have forgotten to bring their keys. 
He is not justified, however, in delivering mail from a lock box to any person 
other than the owner, unless he be presented with a written order therefor. If 
the owner of a lock box desires some one else to take the mail from the box, he 
should provide him with a key. 

Officers in oharge of the exchange at military posts are entitled to use the 
penalty envelope in conducting their official correspondence. They are not 
authorized, however, to send penalty envelopes or labels to merchants for the 
purpose of having merchandise purchased for the exchange transmitted free of 
postage. 

The depositing of a letter, readdressed for forwarding, in any letter box es- 
tablished by the Post Office Department within the delivery of the post office of 
original address, is equivalent to its being deposited at such post office, and it is, 
therefore, entitled to be forwarded, without additional postage — provided at 
least one full rate has already been prepaid on it. 

Minor coins, such as nickels, pennies, and three-cent pieces ar.e legal tender in 
sums not exceeding twenty-five cents. 

After a letter has been returned to the sender from the office of address as not 
delivered, in accordance with the card request of the sender, it cannot be re- 
mailed to a new address except on the payment of a new postage. 

When a letter is presented at a post office for mailing after the mail pouch has 
been closed, it may be sent outside of the mail pouch, by the hands of the carrier, 
for mailing at the next office on his route, provided the stamp thereon has not 
been cancelled. 

A postmaster has no right to open a letter deposited in his office, without any 
address thereon, for the purpose of ascertaining the name of the writer. It 
should be sent to the Dead Letter Office. 

When a person requests a postmaster to forward his letters to another office, 
and to hold other classes of mail matter addressed to him until the same shall be 
called for, the request must be complied with. 

When a postmaster is called upon to express his opinion concerning the finan- 
cial standing of a patron of his office, he must decline to do so, especially in his 
official capacity. 

It is not regarded by the Department as a violation of the statute for banks to 
notify persons by postal card that they hold drafts against them. 

Every post office of the third and fourth classes must be provided with a box 
for the posting of letters. 

Postmasters are not required to receipt for any letters deposited for mailing, 
except such as are offered for registration. 

Postmasters are forbidden to deliver pension checks to merchants, either upon 
the written or verbal order of the pensioner. 

A simple statement of account may be written upon a postal card, and sent in 
the mail, when the same is unaccompanied by any scurrilous, defamatory, or 
threatening language. 



196 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

Postmasters are required to collect one-cent postage upon all letters advertised, 
whether by posting or otherwise, which are subsequently delivered. 

It is not the business of a postmaster to attach stamps to letters and packages 
submitted for mailing. This may be more properly done by the person mailing 
such letters, or packages, but where he is unable to do so, by reason of infirmity 
or other cause of incapacity, the postmaster may assist him, if requested to 
do so. 

When letters are deposited at a post office for mailing after the mail pouch has 
been locked and sent to the train, the postmaster may cancel the stamps thereon 
and hand the letter to the postal clerks on the cars ; but, if they are taken to the 
cars by any person other than himself, or his sworn assistant, the stamps thereon 
must not be cancelled by the postmaster. 

Postmasters are not authorized to make use of the penalty envelope in order- 
ing copies of the Postal Guide for the public. When practicable, they should 
transmit several orders to the publisher at one time, but if this cannot be done, 
the purchaser must pay the postage upon his order. 

Postmasters are not permitted to make public any information obtained by 
them in the discharge of their duties. 

A clerk of a court has no authority, unless when acting under orders from the 
court, to issue instructions concerning the delivery of mail not addressed to him- 
self, or that over which he has no control. 

Neither husband nor wife can control the delivery of letters addressed to the 
other, but letters addressed to the one may be delivered to the other in the 
absence of orders from either to the contrary. 

No one can lawfully be appointed postmaster who has not attained full, legal 
age. 

Postmasters are required to forward the oaths of assistant postmasters, clerks 
and other employees of their offices, to the office of the Fourth Assistant Post- 
master General (Division of Bonds and Commissions), where they are examined, 
and, if found to be correct, placed on file. 

A duly commissioned postmaster is, by virtue of his commission, authorized to 
administer the oath of office to any person, whether employed in the postal ser- 
vice, or in any other department of the Government. His authority is, however, 
restricted to the administration of the oath of office. He is not empowered, 
under the provisions of the section referred to, to take affidavits, or acknowledg- 
ments, or to perform such other duties as usually pertain to the office of the 
justice of the peace or a notary public. 

An assistant postmaster is not a commissioned officer of the United States, and 
is therefore not authorized, by virtue of his position as such assistant, to admin- 
ister the oath of office. 

When persons holding boxes in post offices refuse to pay the rent thereon, their 
mail must be placed in the general delivery. 

Mail matter upon which an indefinite address is written or printed, such as 
" The Leading Vegetable Dealer," or "Any Intelligent Farmer," is not deliver- 
able. 

A letter bearing the card of the sender if undelivered at the expiration of time 
named in the card, must not be advertised. It must be returned to the sender 
with the reason for its non-delivery endorsed thereon. 

Postmasters at money order offices must not accept from any express company, 



CONUNDRUMS ANSWERED BY THE HUNDRED. 197 

banking institution, or other corporation or firm, any agency for the issue and 
payment of money orders, drafts, bills of exchange, or similar instruments for 
the transmission of money; hence a postmaster at a money order office cannot 
serve as cashier of a bank. 

A post office box rented by a society or association is not available for the use 
of individual members of such society or association, except the officers of it 
when addressed in their official capacity. 

A postmaster whose annual compensation is less than one thousand dollars is 
not prohibited from accepting and holding another office under the government 
of the state, territory, or municipality in which he resides, provided his duties 
as postmaster suffer no interference in consequence. 

Letters addressed to "A. B.," or other initials or fictitious names, in care of a 
letter carrier at a free delivery office, are not deliverable and must be treated as 
improperly addressed mail matter. 

Postmasters at post offices of the fourth class are permitted to transact other 
business in the room in which the post office is located, when the same is kept 
separate and distinct from that of the post office. 

When a letter intended for one person is delivered to another of the same 
name and returned by him, the postmaster will reseal the letter in the 
presence of the person who opened it, and request him to write upon it 
the words, " opened by mistake," and sign his name. He will then replace the 
letter in the post office. When an erroneously delivered letter is opened, and 
dropped in the office through the receptacle for letters, and the postmaster is un- 
able to ascertain who opened the same, he must, after resealing the letter, endorse 
thereon the words " opened by mistake by persons unknown to the postmaster," 
and then replace the letter in the office. 

A postmaster who is also a notary public may, in his notarial capacity, take 
affidavits in pension cases, but he must not be concerned in the prosecution of 
such cases, or any other claims against the Government. 

There is nothing in the postal laws or regulations concerning the liability of a 
subscriber for the subscription price to a newspaper or periodical. 

Postmasters are not required to open their offices on Sunday when there is no 
mail arriving after the closing of the office on Saturday, and before six o'clock p. 
m., on Sunday. When a mail arrives between these hours, the office must be 
kept open for one hour or more if the public convenience require it. 

Matter addressed for delivery at hotels must be returned to the post office as 
soon as it becomes evident that it will not be delivered. 

The Post Office Department cannot authorize mail carriers to carry firearms. 
Such permission can only be obtained from the local authorities. 

Postmasters are prohibited from disclosing to the public the names of persons 
owning or renting boxes in their offices. 

It is not allowable, under the regulations of the Department, to locate a post 
office in a bar-room or in any room directly connected with one, nor to open or 
deliver any mail matter in any room in which liquor is sold at retail, except the 
same be sold by a druggist for medicinal purposes only, and not to be drunk on 
the premises. 

It is provided by law that no box at any post office shall be assigned to the use 
of any person until the rent thereof has been paid for one quarter in advance. 

If a postmaster has a store in connection with the post office and the same is 



198 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

attached and closed for debts incurred by the postmaster, he must provide 
another room for his office ; as the Department will not protect him against the 
enforcement of state laws by allowing him to plead interference with the mails. 

A postmaster has no right to use the boxes or the general delivery of his office 
for the distribution of bills or circulars, relating to his own private business, 
without prepayment of postage thereon. 

The regulations of the Department require in the appointment of a married 
woman, or widow, as postmaster, that she must be appointed and commissioned 
under her own Christian name, and not that of her husband. 

If a postmaster should cause loss to a publisher because of failure to comply 
with a plain provision of law, his liability is determined in the courts and not by 
the Post Office Department. 

Postmasters must examine the return request upon letters not promptly 
delivered, so as to comply with the request, and endorse undelivered letters with 
the reason for their non-delivery. Frequent complaints are made of such 
failures by postmasters, and the answer that the "time "' was overlooked is not 
satisfactory. 

A postmaster summoned as a witness must obey the summons and go into 
court, but should refuse to testify in regard to the delivery of mail matter. He 
then abides by the order of the court, as the Department will not hold a post- 
master responsible for making public information obtained by him in the dis- 
charge of his duty, when the same is done in obedience to an order of the 
court. 

A postmaster has no right to withhold the delivery of any mail matter on the 
ground that the person named in the address is indebted to him. 

When mail matter is delayed in transit at a post office by reason of high water, 
so that it cannot be forwarded by the regular carrier, it may be delivered to a 
sworn messenger sent for it by the postmaster of the office to which it is ad- 
dressed. 

Should a postmaster and his assistant both be subpoenaed for attendance at 
court the postmaster must have a temporary assistant sworn in to take charge of 
the post office during their absence. 

If the owner of any copyright granted by the United States, or his authorized 
representative, should file an authenticated list of publications thus protected by 
law with any exchange office, requesting the postmaster to prevent the forward- 
ing of any of them in the mail, the postmaster must examine imported publica- 
tions, to see if any such protected list is included, and if such be the case, he 
must advise the person so interested and hold the copy or copies, for a reasonable 
time to permit proceedings for confiscation. 

Postmasters cannot lawfully accept postage stamps in payment of postage 
remaining due on letters. The amount due must invariably be paid in cash. 

A postmaster may erect a box at a railroad station for the reception of mail 
matter, but he must not claim credit for stamps cancelled upon such matter, 
unless said stamps are cancelled in the post office. 

Distillers are not entitled to make use of penalty envelopes in transmitting the 
amount of their taxes to collectors of internal revenue. 

There is no provision under which postmasters or assistant postmasters are 
exempt from the requirement of state laws to perform jury duty or duty on the 
public highways. 



CONUNDRUMS ANSWERED BY THE HUNDRED. 199 

The Post Office Department has no control over letters prior to their being 
deposited for mailing, or after they have been delivered to the addressee or 
according to his order. 

There is no law or regulation requiring postmasters to attend to the business 
of private individuals ; they may, however, do so as an act of courtesy, when 
perfectly convenient to themselves. Private individuals, when addressing post- 
masters on their own business, should enclose a postage stamp for reply. 

Postmasters are expected to extend to all persons the courtesy of a respectful 
reply to inquiries upon postal business, for which they may use penalty envel- 
opes. They may use their own discretion about replying to letters upon the 
private business of the writers. 

If order cannot be maintained at a post office, the only remedy in the hands of 
the Department is the discontinuance of the office. 

The writer of a letter may recover the same after mailing before its delivery to 
the addressee, it having been held that the ownership of a letter rests in the 
writer until the delivery thereof. Application for the return of a letter should 
be made to the postmaster at the mailing office. 

An individual member of a firm is entitled to have the mail of his family 
placed in the post office box rented by the firm. If the box will not accommodate 
all the mail, the firm should rent another. 

At colleges and similar institutions, where students have been placed in the 
charge of the principal by their parents or guardians, and where the rules of 
the institution provide that the principal shall have control of the mail matter 
addressed to such students as are minors, postmasters should make the delivery 
in accordance with the order of the principal. If, however, the principal has not 
authority from the parent or guardian to control the mail of the pupils placed 
under his care (which authority is understood by an acceptance of the rules — 
that being one) the Department cannot direct the delivery to be made to the 
principal against the wishes of the pupil. 

Postmasters must deliver mail to persons calling for the same in their order, 
whether they be box-holders or not. 

A mail carrier cannot receive letters to be carried outside of the mail beyond 
the next post office on his route, unless the same are enclosed in Government 
stamped envelopes and properly sealed and marked. 

Stamps cut from Government stamped envelopes are not receivable for postage 
and letters or packages bearing the same must be held. 

Postmasters are not liable for the breakage or destruction of matter passing 
through their offices. If a postmaster through negligence or wilful neglect 
should cause loss to a patron of his office, his liability therefor is a question be- 
tween the party suffering such loss and the postmaster to be decided in the 
courts. 

The financial condition of a candidate for appointment to the office of post- 
master does not affect his eligibility to such office. He is required, however, 
to furnish a good and sufficient bond, with two or more sureties, before he can 
be commissioned and authorized to assume the duties of the office. 

If the agent of the addressee of the latter is robbed of the same after he has 
taken it from the post office, complaint should be made to the local authorities, 
as the jurisdiction of the Post Office Department ceases after the letter has been 
properly delivered. 



200 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

It is not a violation of the postal laws to send dunning communications by 
mail, when the same are sent under cover of envelopes which, themselves, do 
not bear written or printed words or display objectionable to the law. 

United States senators and members of the United States House of Represen- 
tatives entitled to the franking privilege, have the right to exercise the privilege 
until the first Monday in December, following the expiration of their term of office. 

The Department does not consider the usual legal notices sent out by tax 
collectors that tax is due, or about to become due, written or printed upon postal 
cards, to be unmailable. 

It is not the practice of the Department to reply to inquiries of a hypothetical 
nature concerning the conduct of postmasters or the management of post offices, 
but when complaints of a specific and definite nature are submitted, prompt 
attention is given. 

The hours during which clerks in post offices are required to be on duty are 
regulated by the postmasters in whose offices they are employed, and not by the 
Department. 

A postmaster whose compensation is one thousand dollars or more per 
annum, is prohibited from holding the office of alderman of his city or town. 

The surety of a postmaster has the right to examine his accounts, but he has 
no right to examine mail matter awaiting delivery, or passing through the office, 
unless the required oath has previously been administered to him. 

When a minor is not dependent on a parent for maintenance and support, and 
does not reside with a parent or guardian, or with some one placed in charge by 
the parent or guardian, such minor has the right to control his or her correspon- 
dence. 

When a letter arrives at a post office addressed to one person in the care of 
another and the postmaster has received no instructions from the person to whom 
it is intended, it is his duty to deliver it to the first of the two persons named in 
the address who may call for it. 

A postmaster cannot properly refuse to sell postage stamps to a person who 
intends to mail his letters elsewhere than at the office where such stamps are 
purchased. 

Packages of matter mailed at less than the letter rate of postage cannot law- 
fully be forwarded from the office of mailing, except upon full payment of 
postage. 

When anything whatever, except an addressed label, is attached to a postal 
card transmitted in the mail, the same becomes subject to additional postage. 

No person engaged in the prosecution of claims against the Government may 
lawfully hold the office of postmaster, or be employed as assistant postmaster or 
clerk in a post office. 

Postmasters are expected to examine postal cards passing through their offices 
only for the purpose of ascertaining if they contain any matter forbidden by the 
law to circulate in the mails; and under no circumstances must they make 
public any matter written or printed thereon. 

When a female employee of a post office changes her name by marriage, and 
remains in the employ of the office, she must take the oath anew under her new 
name. 

An alien who has in due form of law declared his intention to become a citizen 
of the United States, is eligible to appointment as postmaster. 



CONUNDRUMS ANSWERED BY THE HUNDRED. 201 

When a letter has been deposited in a post office for mailing, the writer may, 
upon identifying the same to the satisfaction of the postmaster, withdraw it 
from the post office; but if the stamp thereon has been cancelled, it cannot be 
remailed without the prepayment of postage anew thereon. 

There is no provision of the Postal Laws and Regulations under which the 
addressee of a newspaper or magazine is made responsible for the subscription 
price of it. 

One having a lien against horses for their keep cannot enforce the same in 
such a manner as to stop the United States mail in a vehicle drawn by such 
horses; but it is not an offence to detain the horse in the stable until the keep is 
paid. 

It is highly improper for the employees of post offices to importune the attaches 
of travelling or local shows for tickets of admission when calling at the post office 
for mail or on other business. 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 




HE domestic money order system went into opera- 
tion in 1864 in 141 post offices. $100,000 was 
appropriated from the public treasury to defray 
the expense. Of this amount the sum of 
$7,047.97 only was expended. The Postmaster 
General was authorized by the above mentioned 
Act "to establish and maintain, under such 
rules and regulations as he may deem expedient, 
a uniform money order system at all suitable post offices." 
He was further authorized by Act of July 27, 1868, "to con- 
clude arrangements with the post departments of foreign 
governments, with which postal conventions have been or may be 
concluded, for the exchange, by means of postal orders, of small 
sums of money at such rates of exchange and compensation to 
postmasters, and under such rules and regulations as he may 
deem expedient." The object of the money order system is "to 
promote public convenience and to insure greater security in the 
transfer of money through the mails." The Act of May 17, 1864, 
provided that the Postmaster General should furnish money order 
post offices with printed or engraved forms for money orders, -and 
that no order should be valid unless drawn upon such form; 
that he should also supply money order post offices with blank 
forms of application for money orders, which each applicant for 
a money order should fill up by entering the date, his name and 
address, the name and address of the payee, and the amount; and 
that all such applications should be preserved by the j)ostmaster 
receiving them for such time as the Postmaster General might 
prescribe. 

The advantages of the money order system over any and all other 
modes of transmitting money through the mails consist in its cheap- 



202 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 



203 



ness and in its almost perfect security against fraud or loss. The 
cost of issuing and paying money orders for the last twenty-five 
years has been the subject of thoughtful investigation; and care- 
fully collected statistics have from time to time led to the adoption 
of more approved methods for reducing expenses, as well as dimin- 




THE MONEY OEDEE BUILDING ON THE LEFT, THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT IN THE 
DISTANCE, AND THE SIXTH AUDITOR'S OFFICE BEHIND THE AWNINGS. 



ishing frauds, errors, and losses, to the lowest possible minimum, 
and for increasing the efficiency and popularity of the service. 
From the date of the organization of the system it has been the 
policy of the Department to secure such a schedule of fees for the 
issue of money orders as should make the system self-sustaining 
under the most economical management. During this period seven 
different schedules have been adopted and adhered to for terms of 
two, two, four, three, eight, three, and five years respectively. The 



204 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

rates of commission or fees charged for the issue of domestic orders 
at present are as follows : 

For sums not exceeding $5 5 cents 

Over $5 and not exceeding $10 8 cents 

Over $10 and not exceeding $15 10 cents 

Over $15 and not exceeding $30 15 cents 

Over $30 and not exceeding $40 20 cents 

Over $40 and not exceeding $50 25 cents 

Over $50 and not exceeding $60 30 cents 

Over $60 and not exceeding $70 35 cents 

Over $70 and not exceeding $80 40 cents 

Over $80 and not exceeding $100 45 cents 

The principal means employed to attain safety consist of an 
advice or notification containing full particulars of the order — its 
number, date and amount, with the name and address of the remitter 
and the name and address of the payee — which is transmitted by 
the first mail after issue by the issuing postmaster to the postmaster 
at the office of payment; and the latter is thus furnished with infor- 
mation which will prevent its payment to any person not entitled 
to it. From the items contained in the application, and in con- 
formity therewith, the issuing postmaster makes out the money order 
as well as the corresponding advice. The money order, when com- 
pleted, and upon payment of the sum expressed therein, and the fee 
chargeable therefor, is handed to the applicant, to be by him trans- 
mitted to the payee. The issuing postmaster is required to transmit 
the advice, by the first mail, to the postmaster at the office drawn 
upon, and the latter is thereby, before the order itself can be 
presented, placed in possession of the information necessary to insure 
correct payment. 

When a money order is presented for payment, the paying official, 
to satisfy himself that the person presenting it is the one entitled 
thereto, and that the order is correct in all respects, compares it 
with the advice. If the applicant for payment is unknown to him, 
he questions him as to his name, and the name and address of 
the sender, and may require him to prove his identity by the testi- 
mony of another person present, who may be required to write his 
name and address on the back of the advice, under a statement that 
he knows the applicant to be the person he represents himself to be. 
In case of a discrepancy between the order and the original advice, 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 205 

or between the advice and the statement of the holder of the order 
(unless the difference be evidently accidental and trifling), payment 
will be deferred until a second advice can be obtained from the 
issuing postmaster by the postmaster at the office drawn upon. A 
double form termed, a ' 4 letter of inquiry and second advice " is em 
ployed in cases of this kind. The postmaster or clerk at the paying 
office, setting forth the nature of the discrepancy, fills out the letter 
of inquiry, which occupies one side of this blank, and transmits it to 
the issuing postmaster, who in response furnishes a second advice on 
the other side of the same sheet after referring to the remitter's 
application and causing him to amend it if necessary. 

Postmasters understand that every person who applies for pay- 
ment of a money order ordinarily should be required to prove his 
identity, unless known to the postmaster to be the rightful owner of 
the order, and that if a money order be paid to the wrong person, 
through lack of necessary precaution on the part of the postmaster, 
the latter will be held accountable for such payment and required to 
make the amount good to the owner. The regulation provides, 
however, that the remitter of a money order may, by a written 
declaration across the face of his application for the issue of the 
order, waive the requirement as to identification of the payee, or of 
the endorsee, or attorney of the payee, and by such declaration 
assume the risk ; and that he, or the payee, or his endorsee, or attor- 
ney, shall, in such case, be precluded from holding the postmaster 
responsible in the event of wrong payment, provided the latter took 
all the proper means, except identification by another person, to 
satisfy himself that the one presenting the order and claiming pay- 
ment was entitled to it. The remitter who desires, by such 
course, to relieve his correspondent from the inconvenience of pro- 
ducing at the post office of payment proof of his identity by the 
testimony of another person present, may do so by writing across 
the face of his application for a money order the words " Identifica- 
tion of payee, endorsee, or attorney waived," and by signing the 
same. In such case the issuing postmaster writes the same words 
across the face of the money order, and across the face of the cor- 
responding advice, and signs both statements. 

Money orders are frequently presented by payees who are entire 
strangers at the place of payment, and who are also remitters of the 




20G 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 207 

same orders, having purchased them for protection against the risks 
incident to travel. It is enjoined upon postmasters issuing orders 
in such cases to obtain the signatures of the remitters on the advices 
of the orders. Observance of this precaution, by enabling the paying 
postmasters to compare signatures, affords aid in identifying payees 
who are in the situation described. Cases of this kind, in which 
remitters and payees are identical, serve to illustrate the utility of 
the money order system as affording not only a substitute for letters 
of credit to persons travelling, but a secure depository. Not only 
is it a fact that itinerant actors, showmen, vendors, workmen and 
others use the money order system extensively in this manner, pur- 
chasing orders for the maximum amount of $100 each generally; but 
cases have been known, and, it is believed, are not rare, in which 
persons permanently abiding in localities where there are no 
reliable banks, have, for security, invested their savings in 
money orders issued upon application made by themselves in their 
own favor. 

Although money orders are often lost, and sometimes stolen, not 
one in a hundred thousand is paid to another than the lawful owner. 
One hundred and forty-one cases of alleged wrong payment investi- 
gated and disposed of during a recent average year were settled as 
follows : Post office inspectors recovered the amounts of twenty-one 
orders, $329.50 in all, from the persons to whom payment had been 
improperly made, and paid the same over to the true payees or 
owners; in fifty-two cases, involving $1,416.55, it was ascertained, 
upon investigation, that the claims were not well founded, the 
orders having been properly paid in the first place ; in thirty-nine 
cases, where the orders amounted to $951.54, the paying postmas- 
ters, for failure to exercise the precaution enjoined upon them by 
the regulations as to identification, were required to make good the 
amounts to the owners ; in two cases, of orders drawn for $45, it was 
found that the issuing postmaster was mainly at fault, and he, 
therefore, was required to make the amount good; in two cases 
where the amount was $10.21, the payee, being at fault, was made 
to sustain the loss ; the remitter for like reason in one case where 
the amount was $50 was required to bear it; and in twenty -four 
cases, where the aggregate amount involved was $1,627.08, the 
Department assumed the loss, the evidence not being sufficient to 



208 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

fix the responsibility upon either the postmaster, the payee, or the 
remitter. The number of cases in which during that year it was 
ascertained that the orders had actually been paid or re-paid to the 
wrong persons was eighty-nine, being in the ratio of one to every 
131,212 of the payments and re-payments made within the same 
period. 

Whenever a money order has been lost in transmission, or other- 
wise, a duplicate will be issued by the Superintendent of the Money 
Order System on receipt of an application therefor from either the 
remitter, payee, or endorsee of the original, bearing the certificate of 
the issuing and paying postmasters that the original has not been 
paid or re-paid, and will not be paid or re-paid if afterwards pre- 
sented. The mere loss of a money order, therefore, never involves 
a loss of the amount to the owner. Any money order which is not 
presented for payment until after the expiration of one year from the 
date of it is declared invalid and not paj^able. To obtain pay- 
ment of the amount of such invalid order, the owner must send the 
same, through the issuing or the paying postmaster to the Superin- 
tendent of the Money Order System, with an application for the 
issue of a duplicate. If the duplicate be lost, a triplicate will be 
issued by the Department, after application for it. During the year 
ended June 30, 1892, nearly 27,000 duplicates were issued. 

The payee or the remitter of a money order may, by his written 
endorsement thereon, direct that it be paid to another person ; but 
it is provided by law that more than one endorsement on a money 
order shall render the same invalid and not payable. Hence the 
postmaster, to whom a money order thus illegally endorsed is pre- 
sented by a second or subsequent endorsee, must refuse payment, 
and such endorsee, to obtain payment of the amount, must forward 
the order to the Superintendent of the Money Order System with an 
application for renewal, and with a statement, under oath or affirma- 
tion, of two responsible persons, that the endorsements are genuine. 
But if a money order which has been endorsed twice, or oftener, is 
presented by the first endorsee, with the second or subsequent 
endorsements stricken out, it may be paid to him; or if presented 
by the remitter or payee, at the issuing or paying office, with all 
endorsements stricken off, it may be re-paid or paid, as the case may 
be. In all cases of lost or invalid money orders, the owner of the 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 209 

order, whether remitter, payee, or endorsee, may make application 
through the issuing or the paying postmaster, for a duplicate ; and 
it is the duty of the postmaster to fill up and dispatch the proper 
forms for it. 

The maximum amount of a single money order is limited to $100, 
and in the regulations postmasters are instructed to refuse to issue 
in one day to the same remitter, in favor of the same payee, more 
than three money orders payable at the same post office ; the primary 
object of the money order system being, not to furnish facilities for 
making remittances of large amounts, but to insure safety in the 
transfer of small sums of money through the mails. On the one hand 
it would not be practicable to provide at small and remote offices for 
the prompt payment on presentation of money orders amounting in 
the aggregate to large sums, without these restrictions ; and on the 
other, the accumulation of considerable sums at such offices would 
be unsafe. 

The current of the international money order business with 
European countries is continually in favor of those countries, the 
money orders issued in the United States for payment in Europe 
greatly exceeding in number and aggregate amount those issued in 
Europe for payment in the United States. This is due to the well- 
known fact that emigrants from those countries frequently send a 
portion of their earnings to their relatives at home. The balances 
arising from this excess against the United States are liquidated by 
banker's bills of exchange purchased in New York, drawn to the 
order of the Postmaster General of the United States, and by him 
endorsed to the chief of the foreign postal administration to which 
payment is to be made. The Money Order System is one of the 
heaviest purchasers of foreign exchange. It bought last year bills 
to the amount of about $10,000,000. Every morning in New York 
the bankers send proposals to the postmaster. For example, one firm 
offers a bill on Paris at a certain rate, and another firm offers a sim- 
ilar amount at a less rate ; needless to add, the order goes to the 
lowest bidder. In similar manner purchase is made of bills payable 
in London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Basle, Berlin, Stockholm, Chris- 
tiania, Copenhagen and Lisbon. 

The whole amount of money orders issued in this country for pay- 
ment in the United Kingdom during a recent average year was 



210 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

$5,438,926.07, and the amount issued there for payment in the United 
States was only 1907,857.57. The amount issued in this country 
for payment in Italy was $1,206,972.01, and the amount sent here 
from the latter country by money orders was $63,575.06. The 
amount remitted to Sweden by money orders was $1,188,008.23, 
and the amount received from Sweden was $137,877.54. But in 
some instances these remitters, no doubt, sent their money to be 
deposited in Government savings banks abroad, there to remain until 
their return to their own country. 

During the year 1891 the aggregate amount of remittances by money 
orders to the United States from the British West Indies, Jamaica, 
the Hawaiian Islands, and the Australasian colonies of Great Britain 
was much in excess of the amount of money orders issued here for 
payment in those countries. For instance, the amount of money 
orders issued in this country for payment in the Windward Islands 
was $5,049.70 only, while the amount of the orders issued in the 
Windward Islands for payment here was $98,393.35; the amount of 
the orders issued in the United States for payment in Jamaica was 
$3,869.16, while that colony issued for payment in the United States 
money orders amounting to $43,320.54; and money orders amount- 
ing to $11,743.73 were issued in this country for payment in New 
South Wales, the latter country issuing for payment here money 
orders amounting to $24,989.16. The excess of money orders from 
the above-named countries paid in the United States is explained by 
the circumstance that these money orders were sent mainly in pay- 
ment for goods and miscellaneous small articles purchased in this 
country, there being but very few emigrants from the countries in 
question residing here. 

In the international money order business between this country 
and Canada the difference between the amount of orders issued in 
each country for payment in the other is comparatively small ; the 
amount of orders from the United States paid in Canada during 
the fiscal year ended June 30, 1891, being $1,486,428.03, and 
the amount of orders from Canada paid in the United States being 
$1,471,737.42; a difference of $14,690.61. Although there are 
numerous Canadians living in the United States who send remit- 
tances to relatives in their native country, the amount of money 
orders remitted to this country from Canada in payment for articles 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 211 

purchased here, and of subscriptions to newspapers, periodicals, etc., 
almost counterbalanced the amount of what may be termed "family 
remittances " sent home by Canadians residing here. Note, too, the 
transactions in domestic issues and payments at the larger post offices. 
In Chicago, for example, about 65,000 orders were sold last year, but 
the payments reached the enormous number of 1,200,000. In New 
York about 50,000 orders were sold, but the number paid was 30,000 
in excess of the transactions at Chicago. At Chicago, where a great 
number of small offices deposit funds, about 90,000 separate remit- 
tances were received last year. None were of an amount less than 
$20, but the aggregate reached 10,000,000 of dollars. And a 
station, although the name implies an office of a subordinate 
kind, is not necessarily a small office. One of the stations in 
New York transacts a money order business amounting to about 
$800,000 per year. 

The fees charged for the issue of international money orders in 
the United States are as follows : 

For sums not exceeding $10 10 cents 

Over $10 and not exceeding $20 20 cents 

Over $20 and not exceeding $30 30 cents 

Over $30 and not exceeding $40 40 cents 

Over $40 and not exceeding $50 50 cents 

Over $50 and not exceeding $60 60 cents 

Over $60 and not exceeding $70 70 cents 

Over $70 and not exceeding $80 80 cents 

Over $80 and not exceeding $90 90 cents 

Over $90 and not exceeding $100 1 dollar 

The money order, affording an almost absolute security to those 
who have occasion to remit money through the mails, fulfilled every 
reasonable requirement or expectation on the part of remitter or 
payee where the amount sent is considerable. But a strong demand 
arose, after the withdrawal of the fractional paper currency from 
circulation and the substitution of the subsidiary silver coinage, for 
some device by which amounts under $5 could be remitted at less 
cost and with less trouble than by money order. To satisfy this 
demand the Postmaster General in his annual reports for 1881 and 
1882 recommended the adoption of the postal note, which had pre- 
viously been introduced in England, and there shared with the 
money order the favor of the public, becoming the favorite, even for 



Models Showing how Postal Notes should be issued and torn from stub. 



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No. 13788. ARKAMA, ALA. 
POSTAL* NOTE 

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POSTAL NOTS 

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ABEAMA. ALA. 

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POSTAL NOTE 

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No. 13787. 


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No. 13787. 



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POSTAL 3STOTB 

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If .you tear the uole from the stub between the wrong coupons, do not attempt to correct the error bv plstiog. Treat tbe note as "not issued" and draw aootncr. 



212 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 213 

remittances of very small sums. A bill in which Congress gave its 
sanction to the trial of this device was approved by the President 
March 3, 1883, and the issue and payment of postal notes there- 
under, at money order offices, commenced Sept. 3, 1883. A sub- 
sequent act of Congress, approved Jan. 3, 1887, authorized the 
Postmaster General to designate, for the issue (though not pay- 
ment) of postal notes, offices which are not money order offices, and 
thus broadened the field for their use by admitting of their issue and 
employment in remittances from places too small to secure the more 
extensive facilities of the money order system. 

A postal note may be drawn for any amount less than $5. In the 
issue of a postal note, the written application and advice, so charac- 
teristic of the money order, are dispensed with. There is no need 
or room for these in the issue of a postal note, as the note is by law 
payable to bearer at any money order office. There being no written 
application, a record of the date, number and amount of each note 
issued is made and kept by the issuing postmaster on a stub resem- 
bling the stub of a bank check. As a safeguard against alterations 
of amount, no advice being employed, coupons representing the 
number of dollars for which the note is drawn are left attached 
on one margin, while from two columns of figures represent- 
ing dimes and cents on the opposite margin the figures expressing 
the fractional portion of the amount, or ciphers if the note is for 
even dollars, are removed with a punch. Should the coupons and 
the punched figures in any case not agree with the amount expressed 
in writing in the body of the note, payment would be refused until 
the true amount could be ascertained by communicating with the 
issuing postmaster. 

Being payable to bearer, a postal note may be passed from hand 
to hand without endorsement. It is payable at any time within 
three calendar months from the last day of the month of its issue. 
If not paid within that time it becomes invalid, and the holder, to 
obtain payment, must forward it to the Superintendent of the Money 
Order System, through the postmaster at a money order office, with 
an application for a duplicate, for the issue of which a fee of three 
cents is deducted as required by law. As a postal note is by law 
payable to bearer, no argument is required to show that a duplicate 
cannot be issued until the original is surrendered. The fee charged 



214 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

for the issue of postal notes is uniformly three cents. Last year 
the holders of no less than 8,279 postal notes allowed them to 
remain in their possession longer than three months from the date 
of issue. 

The postal note is considered safer than paper money for remit- 
tances, in that it must be signed by the person who receives 
payment, even if previously signed by another person ; and more con- 
venient, for the reason that it may be drawn for any odd amount or 
fractional part of a dollar. It is found to be of special utility in 
sections of the country where silver enters largely into circulation, 
and where bills of small denominations are scarce. It is believed 
that instances of payment fraudulently obtained on postal notes lost 
in transit through the mails are rare. Moreover reports of the loss 
of postal notes often turn out to be erroneous, or the loss to be 
temporary only. The notes are not unfrequently found subsequently, 
having been mislaid or overlooked by the recipient, or having been 
received at the Dead Letter Office in imperfectly addressed enve- 
lopes, and thence forwarded to the intended addressee, or returned 
to the sender. 

Money order post offices are divided into two classes, first and 
second. Those of the first class are depositories of the surplus 
funds accumulating at offices where receipts exceed payments in the 
transaction of money order business. The second class comprises all 
offices not designated as depositories for such funds. The post- 
master at every money order office, excepting that at New York, is 
required by the regulations to transmit daily to some other post 
office, designated as the depository therefor, his surplus money order 
funds, comprising all money order funds in his possession in excess 
of the sum of the unpaid money order advices on hand not more 
than two weeks, or in excess of the fixed sum which he is authorized 
to retain for the payment of orders drawn upon him, and of postal 
notes, and which is termed his "reserve." Postmasters at postal 
note offices (that is, offices which issue but do not pay postal notes) 
are likewise required to remit daily, or as often as practicable, to 
a designated post office in sums of $20 or more, the entire sum derived 
from the sale of postal notes. The offices designated as depositories, 
being located at paying centres, usually need more funds than they 
receive from the issue of money orders and postal notes. But, 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 215 

should a surplus accrue at any one of these offices from sales and 
deposits in excess of payments, it is transmitted to another deposi- 
tory designated to receive it ; and thus, by transfer from one post 
office to another, the actual surplus of all the offices at which the 
receipts exceed the payments eventually reaches the postmaster 
at New York, whose office is the central depository, and upon 
whom drafts are drawn by postmasters at offices where the re- 
ceipts from sales, or from deposits and sales, are less than the 
amount of orders presented. The postmaster at New York has a 
reserve of $125,000 to meet the requirements of business, and 
deposits the residue daily with the Assistant Treasurer of the 
United States in that city. 

Payment of money orders and postal notes presented when the 
amount thereof exceeds that of the money order funds in the posses- 
sion of the postmaster drawn upon is provided for by means of trans- 
fers of funds from the postage account to the money order account, 
i. e., transfers, to the money order account, of funds received from 
the sale of stamps and stamped envelopes, as well as by drafts 
upon the postmaster at New York City. The postmaster who is 
called upon to pay money orders or postal notes exceeding in amount 
the funds in his hands derived from the sale of orders and notes is 
required to transfer such sum as may be necessary and available from 
his postage account to his money order account, or if the money 
order and postage funds together are insufficient, or the postage 
funds are not available for transfer in such emergency, to make 
application to the Superintendent of the Money Order System for a 
draft on the postmaster at New York for the requisite amount. If 
the receipts of the post office ordinarily suffice for the payment of 
money orders drawn thereon, the postmaster is furnished, upon such 
application, with a single draft only for the occasion. But if the 
current of business at any post office is such that the postmaster is 
continuously or often called upon to pay orders for amounts exceed- 
ing the receipts of his office, he is furnished with a book of fifteen 
blank drafts, and a letter of credit for a suitable sum, upon the 
postmaster at New York, against which he may draw as occasion 
requires. The postmaster's bond, if not already large enough,, when 
a letter of credit is granted, is increased in amount sufficient to pro- 
tect the Government on account of this additional trust ; and the 



216 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

credit is renewed from time to time, when necessary, as is also the 
supply of blank drafts. 

Postmasters are required to render to the Department, weekly r 
semi-monthly, or monthly, statements of all the money order busi- 
ness transacted by them, entering therein the particulars of every 
money order and postal note issued, paid or re-paid, and the date 
and amount of each deposit of surplus money order funds made or 
received during the period reported upon. These statements, after 
a preliminary examination in the office of the Superintendent of the 
Money Order System, are turned over to the accounting officer, the 
Auditor of the Treasury for the Post Office Department. To obtain 
allowance of credit claimed in any such statement for payments 
made or for remittances of surplus money order funds to his deposi- 
tory, the postmaster must in all cases forward the proper vouchers,, 
which are the paid orders or notes, properly receipted, or the certifi- 
cates of deposit. These vouchers are also compared in the Auditor's 
office with the entries in the issuing postmaster's statements, and 
any error of amount in the latter or any failure to account properly 
for the issue of money orders or postal notes (the forms for which, 
numbered consecutively in separate series for each post office, are 
furnished by the Department) is thus detected. 

The total revenues from all branches of the money order and postal 
note business are deposited quarterly, according to law, with the 
Assistant Treasurer of the United States at New York, to the credit 
of the Treasurer of the United States, for the service of the Post- 
Office Department. The amount thus deposited, however, must not 
be regarded as net profit, but as gross revenue less the amount of 
such of the expenses as were paid out of the proceeds of the busi- 
ness, which expenses include the large item of commissions paid to 
postmasters at third and fourth class post offices. A large portion 
of the expense of conducting the system each year is paid out of 
appropriations made by Congress ; but the revenues deposited in the 
manner stated, for a like period, will usually balance, or nearly so, 
the expenditures met by such appropriations, and the Government is 
thus reimbursed. The chief items of expenditure defrayed from 
appropriations are, salaries of employees in the superintendent's 
office and in the money order division of the Auditor's office, print- 
ing, rent and service for the money order building, and allowances 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 217 

to postmasters at first and second class offices for clerk hire (over 
half a million dollars a year), all of which amount to $850,000 or 
more annually. 

The Superintendent of the Money Order Division, Dr. Charles F. 
Macdonald, is a scholarly gentleman, bred in the shadow of Bun- 
ker Hill, a former school teacher, the promoter and organizer of the 
money order bureau at its inception' in the administration of Mr. 
Blair. Ask him for the record of his life and he will say: "Nee 
male vixit, qui natus moriemque fefellit" 

Before December, 1891, it was the practice of the Department not 
to extend the postal money order system to any post office where the 
compensation of the postmaster was less than $250 per annum, and 
not then, unless application was made for the extension. But a 
year ago Postmaster General Wanamaker issued an order for the 
extension of money order facilities to all post offices, though appli- 
cation might not be made for them, where the compensation of the 
postmaster is $200 or more per annum ; and it was not left optional 
with the postmaster whether or not his office should be made a money 
order office. There were about five thousand post offices yielding 
this amount of compensation, which rapidly became money order 
offices. To establish a money order office entails an expense of just 
$4.90. The blanks cost 86 cents; the bound registers $1.80; the 
envelopes $1.27; the postal note punch 63 cents; and the dating 
stamp and pad 44 cents. All these supplies are obtained under 
contracts, and the competition enables the Department to procure 
printing at rates very much below those paid by the general public. 
More than 500 different blanks are used, and some are ordered in 
quantities of 20,000,000 per year. 

A postmaster whose office is designated as a money order or postal 
note office is required by law, before he can be authorized to com- 
mence business of that kind, to file in the Department a new bond, 
with at least two sureties. This new bond is conditioned for the 
faithful performance of the duties and obligations imposed upon him 
by the laws relating to the postal as well as the money order busi- 
ness. It therefore takes the place of his former bond and is not in 
addition to it. Until lately the amount of the money order penalty 
of such new bond was usually $3,000, and the amount of the postal 
penalty was $1,000, making $4,000 in all. Postmasters at small 



218 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE, 



offices in some quarters of the country frequently encountered great 
difficulty in furnishing a bond of this amount, so that they might 
be authorized to transact money order business. Now a bond for 
$2,500 in all, of which the money order penalty is $1,500, is deemed 
sufficient in the case of newly designated money order offices, in 
view of the fact that the supply of blank money orders sent at one 
time to the postmaster at a small office has been reduced from one 




THE DIVISION OF SUPPLIES. 



hundred to twenty-five, a number which cannot be issued for a larger 
sum in the aggregate than $2,500. If a larger supply of such forms 
is required later, the postmaster may be called upon to give bond for 
a correspondingly increased amount. 

This extension of the money order system has meant a total num- 
ber of offices in operation of 20,000. The amount of money trans- 
mitted by money orders and postal notes is about $150,000,000 
annually; and soon the total value will be at least $200,000,000. 

The Division of Post Office Supplies, under charge of the First 
Assistant Postmaster General (along with the Money Order System 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 219 

and the Divisions of Salaries and Allowances and Dead Letters) is 
charged with the duty of furnishing each post office throughout the 
country with supplies, as follows: Those of the fourth class with 
eight-ounce letter balances, plain facing slips (and they may procure 
at their own expense printed facing slips upon application to the 
contractors for furnishing the same), cancelling ink, stamping pads, 
postmarking, rating and cancelling stamps, thirty-seven forms of 
blanks, and, if the receipts of the office are $100 or more per annum, 
with twine and wrapping paper; of the third class (in addition to, 
the articles above stated), with 72 forms of blanks, four-pound 
scales, and, when necessary to weigh matter of the second class, 62 
and 240 pound scales ; and first and second class offices are furnished 
with all the above-named articles, when application is made for 
them, and, in addition, with test weights, 600 pound scales or larger 
when required to weigh newspaper and periodical matter, 110 
forms of blanks, and 217 articles of stationery, under the 92 con- 
tract items. All facing slips, both plain and printed, are supplied 
to offices of these classes at the expense of the Department. The 
Department proper is furnished with blanks, blank books, labels, 
records, and 235 articles of stationery, under the 117 contract items. 
Blanks and books, as well as stamps, used in the transaction of the 
money order business, and postal note plyer punches, are furnished 
on application of the Superintendent of the Money Order System. 
Blank postal notes are likewise furnished to that officer. There 
is no fixed rule as to the quantity of money order supplies which 
may be furnished, for the reason that the money order business bears 
sometimes but slight relation to the salary of the postmaster and the 
extent of the postal business. Each money order office is supplied 
according to its special necessities. 

The operations of this division are conducted in the skating rink, 
half a block away from the Department, on E Street. They are 
tremendous. The Department and the postal service require about 
41,000 reams of manilla wrapping paper yearly, involving an 
expenditure of $58,000. 14,470 reams of 20 x 29 manilla facing slip 
paper, making 250,041,600 3 T 3 g x 5 slips, are furnished to the 
Government facing-slip printers each year for the 800 first and 
second class post offices, the printing of them paid for by the De- 
partment, upon vouchers; third and fourth class offices, as has been 







SUPPLY BOOM CONTAINING WRAPPING PAPER AND TWINE. 




SUPPLY ROOM CONTAINING EVERY BLANK USED IN EVERY POST OFFICE. 

220 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 



221 



stated, are allowed printed facing slips, from the Government facing- 
slip printers, at their own expense. Every postmaster and railway 
postal clerk in the United States is required to use one of these slips 
on each letter or package of letters leaving his office, bearing his 
postmark and name, or the number of the person putting up the 
packages, an almost perfect safeguard in every way to prevent 
letters from being lost or missent in transit. 9,000 reams of 20 x 29 





TONS OF PAPER. 



are sent to the Railway Mail Service yearly for plain facing slips, 
which are equal to 155,520,000 3-^x5 slips, printed at its own 
expense, when required. 7,000 reams of 20x29 are furnished to 
the Government printer yearly to be cut into 3y 3 g x 5 plain facing 
slips, which equal 120,960,000 slips, or about 600 reams of 20x29 
every thirty days for the above purpose. 

Five hundred and sixty-three reams are used every year by the 
Division of Post Office Supplies in wrapping its packages; 9,000 
reams of 20x24 and 967 reams of 26x40 are sent yearly to the 



222 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



post offices whose gross receipts are $100 and over, throughout the 
country, for wrapping purposes; or the weight of wrapping paper 
sent out and consumed by post offices equals 1,127,180 pounds, or 
about 564 tons, or 56 carloads yearly. This constitutes the dif- 
ferent sizes of wrapping paper issued, making the total number of 
reams issued each year 41,000, or 19,680,000 sheets, or the 
enormous weight of 1,148,432 pounds of paper; the quantity being 




THE STATIONERY ROOM FOR FIRST AND SECOND CLASS OFFICES. 



so great that it would require a 164-inch " Fourdrinier " machine 
running night and day the year round to keep up the supply. 

The division requires 1,348,000 pounds of jute, cotton, hemp, 
and flax twine, or about 67 cars, yearly. The jute twine is put up 
in one-half pound balls, and, in accordance with the specifications, 
the inside end of the string is to be fastened on the outside of the 
ball, so as to unwind from the inside. By this device employees 
start unwinding the ball from that end. Formerly they began from 
the other, so that each ball unwound with a tangle, and a quarter 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 223 

of the twine, on the average, was wasted, and the loss in the aggregate 
was very great. This twine costs each year $84,900, and every 
sixty days 25,000 pounds of jute twine are received and issued. 

It requires about 8,000 scales of the following capacities — 8 oz., 
4 lbs., 62 lbs., 240 lbs., 400 lbs., 600 lbs. and 1,000 lbs, —to supply 
the 67,000 post offices yearly; and the expense is $9,506. A room 
with a floor space of 7,650 square feet is required for the wrapping 
papers, twines and scales, and owing to the vast amount of stock 
obliged to be carried the manilla papers, twines and scales have to 
be piled to a height of ten feet, in order that the room may contain 
what is required to be issued from da}' to day. 

The item of black cancelling ink for cancelling postage stamps, 
post-marking and back : stamping letters amounts to about 40,000 
pounds, or 5,000 gallons, or 122 barrels yearly; and the expense is 
$8,000. With this cancelling ink 25,000 inking pads, 4ix5, are 
required, the base consisting of printers' roller composition, with a 
felt cloth top to retain the ink. These pads cost $7,000 a year. 
39,300 steel and rubber stamps are furnished to the service yearly 
at an expense of $17,666.05. 80,000,000 blanks of various descrip- 
tions and sizes, 220,798 blank books, and 5,056,380 letter heads 
and envelopes are required every twelve months. 

The supplies furnished exclusively to the 800 first and second- 
class post offices are as follows: 13,000 gross, or 1,872,000, steel 
pens, at an expense of $5,052; 20,540 dozen, or 246,480, lead pen- 
cils consumed annually at an expense of $3,440; 10,500 pounds, 
or 50,200 gross, of rubber bands required yearly at an expense 
of $13,091.50; 1,140 dozen quarts of writing fluid and copying and 
black ink required each year, or 3,420 gallons, or 83 barrels, 
at an expense of $2,072; and 10,000 pounds of pins, involving an 
expense of $463.63. * 

There are sent in a year b}^ mail from the Supply Division 56,600 
mail sacks and pouches filled with supplies; 10,350 cases of scales 
and stationery; and 230,300 packages of blanks and stationery. It 
requires 27,000,000 3 x 5 J registry package receipts, registry return 
receipts, and registry bills for the 67,000 post offices, at an annual 
cost of $20,000. It has been estimated carefully that there are six 
tons and more of stationery, blanks, books, twines, wrapping papers 
and scales mailed every week-day in the year. It requires ten trips 



224 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



each day of large double-team mail wagons, filled to their utmost 
capacity with supplies, to ship the articles necessary to conduct 
the postal business. The supply division is now occupying, by 
actual measurement, a floor space containing 21,384 square feet. 

In 1866 three post office agencies for furnishing blanks, twine 
and paper were established, one in Buffalo, one in Cincinnati, and 
one in the Department Building in Washington. Mr. W. S. Davis 




THE STATIONERY ROOM FOR THE DEPARTMENT PROPER. 



was in charge of the Washington agency. This supplied the 
Southern States; the other two agencies supplied the rest of the 
country. All purchasers of supplies had to show vouchers for them, 
and have them approved by the Department, in order that pay might 
be had. In 1867 the offices at Buffalo and Cincinnati showed 
vouchers for supplies alleged to have been sent to the state of 
Alabama, which was outside their territory. Mr. Davis insisted 
upon a prompt investigation. It showed that the agencies in 
Buffalo and Cincinnati were making false vouchers. The agent 



MONEY ORDERS AND SUPPLIES. 



225 



at Cincinnati was arrested; the agent for Buffalo, in Europe at the 
time, was arrested on his return ; they both confessed, and the United 

States recovered nearly $300,000. ,..„. _ —- _ ,.,_ 

The result was that the three 
agencies were combined, and the 
blank agency, as it was called, was 
established in Washington City. 

The present Superintendent is 
Major E. H. Shook of Michigan. 
He is a member of the Grand 
Army, the Union Veteran Union 
and the Loyal Legion. He was 
born in Dutchess County, N. Y. 
He worked five years as a printer 
boy. He saw thirty-one heavy en- 
gagements in the war. He was 
Assistant Adjutant General on 
General H. G. Berry's staff, and 
Assistant Inspector General of 
General Byron R. Pierce's bri- 
gade, of the Third Division of the 
Second Corps. He was taken 
prisoner in 1863, but escaped. He was wounded in the top of his 
head at the battle of Mine Run, was severely wounded in the 
Wilderness, and was knocked down by a shell at Sailor's Creek. 
Major Shook was handling printers' supplies and stationery for a 
large Detroit house up to the time of his appointment. 




MAJOR E. H. SHOOK, 
Chief, Division of Post Office Supplies. 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 




HE free delivery of mail matter by carriers took 
effect July 1, 1863, and was put in operation at 
forty-nine offices with about four hundred and fifty 
carriers at an aggregate annual compensation of about 
$300,000. Postmaster General Blair, in his annual 
report for 1863, said : — 

M Our own experience and that of Europe demonstrates that 

correspondence increases with every facility of its conduct, and 

free delivery in the principal towns and cities has been proved 

in the mother country to be a facility attended with very remarkable results. 

Further time will be required to prove whether it will operate in the same way 

here, but as far as ascertained, the results are highly satisfactory." 

In the city of New York, for the first quarter, there were delivered 
by carriers 2,069,418 letters, with 1,810,717 collected, or an increase 
of about twenty-five per cent, over the preceding quarter. But the 
growth of the service was slow until 1887 and 1888, when the num- 
ber of offices was nearly doubled. Previous to January 3, 1887, 
the requirement for free delivery was that a city should have a 
population of 20,000 within the delivery of its post office. The 
law of January 3, 1887, made any place eligible that had a popula- 
tion of 10,000, or a revenue from its post office for the preceding 
fiscal year of $10,000. 

There are now over six hundred free delivery offices in the 
country, and the letter carriers attached to this service deliver 
and collect mail from twenty millions of people. The annual 
expense is between ten and eleven millions of dollars. A law has 
been repeatedly proposed to Congress to extend the service to towns 
of five thousand population or of $5,000 receipts for the latest 
fiscal year. This would add one hundred and seventy-five places or 
more to the number served with the free delivery, and a million and 

226 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 227 

a half of people would be accommodated. The annual cost would be 
perhaps $400,000. 

When a town becomes entitled to the free delivery service, either 
by reason of population or revenue, and it is deemed advisable 
favorably to consider its claims, the postmaster is informed that 
before the service can be established the sidewalks must be paved, 
streets lighted, houses numbered, and names of streets placed at 
intersections. When this is done, an inspector is sent to look over 
the field, lay off the carriers' districts, locate the street letter boxes 
and instruct the postmaster as to details. Letter carriers are 
appointed by the Department, on the recommendation of the post- 
master, except at civil service offices, of which there are forty-five. 
At these offices they have to pass a competitive examination and 
are selected from the list of eligibles in their order. At these offices 
they are appointed as substitutes first, and promoted when their turn 
is reached. 

Carriers are entitled to a vacation of fifteen days in each year, 
without loss of pay; they cannot be removed by the postmasters, but 
for serious offences may be suspended and recommended for removal 
to the Department. Generally the Department obliges the postmas- 
ter. A postmaster, for offences not involving removal, may suspend 
a carrier for thirty days or less. Postmasters are forbidden to 
to employ carriers as clerks in their offices, and if carriers work 
over eight hours a day, they are to be paid proportionately for 
the overtime. As it is impracticable to assign carriers to eight 
hours consecutive work, they are assigned by schedule so that 
the actual time of service is not more than eight hours a day. 
The intervals between trips are the carriers' own. Postmasters 
are required to furnish monthly to the Superintendent of Free 
Delivery a report showing the number of deliveries and collec- 
tions made, the total number of hours of free delivery service 
rendered during the month, and the average daily hours of service 
per carrier. 

At cities of 75,000 or more carriers are paid $600, $800, and 
$1,000. In free delivery cities having populations smaller than that, 
carriers are paid $600 and $850 per year. Appointments are always 
made to the class having the minimum rate of pay, and promotions 
are made from the lower to the higher grades at the expiration of 




228 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 229 

one year's service on certificates of the postmasters of efficiency and 
faithfulness. A bill is now before Congress to create an additional 
class of carriers whose compensation for the fourth year shall be 
$1,200. Postmasters may grant additional leaves of absence for not 
exceeding thirty days in cases of sickness, disability received in the 
service, or other urgent necessity. Substitute letter carriers are 
appointed like the others at a compensation of one dollar per year ; 
for vacation service they receive $600 per annum, and for any other 
leave of absence the pro-rata pay of the carrier whose route they 
serve. They are required to give bonds, as the regular carriers are, 
and must be ready to respond to the postmaster's call for service 
at a moment's notice. At the classified post offices substitutes are 
promoted in the order of their appointment; at the non-classified 
offices this is not compulsory. The substitutes are taken from 
lists of eligibles who have passed the competitive civil service 
examination, made by the local board of examiners, duly author- 
ized by the civil service commission to make it. Their first 
appointment is for a probationary term of six months. At non- 
classified offices the postmaster nominates and the Postmaster Gen- 
eral appoints. 

Carriers must be citizens of the United States, physically fitted 
for the service, and temperate ; they must be at least eighteen years 
of age and not over forty, though this limitation does not apply to 
honorably discharged soldiers and sailors. The carrier's bond is for 
$1,000, with two sureties at least, and he has to take the oath. 
Carriers are forbidden to solicit, in person or otherwise, contribu- 
tions of money, gifts, or presents, to issue addresses, complimentary 
cards, prints, publications, or any substitutes for them, intended 
to induce the public to make gifts or presents, to sell tickets on their 
routes to theatres, concerts, balls, fairs, picnics, excursions, or places 
of amusement of any kind, to borrow money on their routes, or to 
contract debts which they have no reasonable prospect of being able 
to pay. Every carrier, before entering upon his duties, is required 
to provide himself with a uniform (made of cadet gray cloth), and 
to wear it at all times when on duty. He is held strictly to account 
for the keys entrusted to him, and for the loss of them he is liable 
to removal. He must promptly report broken boxes or defective 
locks or keys. 



230 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



The subjects and relative weights for the carrier examinations 
made by the examiners of the civil service commission are as fol- 
lows: 



Subjects, 



First: Orthography . . 

Second: Penmanship . 

Third: Copying . . . 

Fourth: Arithmetic . . 

Fifth: Local delivery . . 
Sixth: Reading addresses 

Total of weights . . 



Relative 
weights. 



10 



The following is a typical examination paper for the fourth sub- 
ject, arithmetic : 

Question 1. Express in sign and figures seventy-two millions five thousand and 
eighty-two dollars, ten cents and two and one half mills. 

Question 2. Express in words the following: 5,312,209.521. 

Question^. Express in words the following: 10 mi. 8 fur. 640 rd. 760 yd. 
10,560 ft. 6 in.=16 mi. 6 in. 

Question 4. A carrier makes 4 trips a day, carrying 64 letters and 32 papers 
each trip. The letters average in weight % oz. each and the papers 2 oz. each. 
How many pounds of mail does he deliver in a day ? (16 oz. to the pound). 

Give work in full. 

Question 5. ► Multiply 26.32 by 3, and to the product add 2.04. 

Give work in full. 

Question 6. Add the following, placing the sum at the bottom: — 

5,321,792.18 

329,212,175.75 

11,515,666.66 

2,919,286,554.55 

115.25 

999,510.45 

4,786,452,369.38 

29,236,111,522.73 

75,775,016.15 

90,187,236,541.02 



Question 7. A carrier delivers in one day 254 letters, 423 papers, and 27 pack- 
ages. Each letter has on it a two-cent stamp, each paper a one-cent stamp, 
and each package a four-cent stamp. How much would the Government make 
or lose on this mail, supposing the whole cost of transportation and delivery to 
be $11.42? 

Give work in full. 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 231 

Question 8. A carrier walks a distance of 20 squares on each trip, each square 
being 400 feet in length. If he advance 20 inches each step, how many steps will 
he take on the trip ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 9. A carrier who makes 1,200 trips a year rides on the street cars 
twice every trip, the fare being five cents a ride. What is the cost of street-car 
fare for the year ? 

Give work in full. 

Question 10. In an office employing 35 carriers, each carrier loses 20 minutes a 
day in idle talk. Suppose the average salary of each to be $2.50 for ten hours 
work, what is the cost to the Government of the lost time each day, and what, 
will it amount to in a year of 313 working days ? 

Give work in full. 

For the fifth subject, local delivery, the following is a typical 
examination paper : 

Question 1. Name the principal railroads (not exceeding five) which pass 
through or terminate in this city, and give the location (the street or streets on 
which situated) of the principal depot or ticket office of each. 

Question 2. Name four streets which pass nearest to the building in which this 
examination is held, and mention one public building or prominent business 
house on each. 

Question 3. Name the principal hotels in this city (not exceeding five) and the 
location (street or streets on which situated) of each. 

Question 4. Name some street or streets by which one could pass from the 
extreme northern to the extreme southern portion of this city, and mention five 
prominent buildings, places, or parks which would be passed on the route 
given. 

Question 5. Name a street-car line (or connecting lines) by which one could 
travel nearly or quite across this city, and name the principal streets over which 
it or they pass. 

The frequency of carrier service depends upon the importance of a 
locality and the arrival and departure of mails, and business districts 
have more frequent deliveries and collections than the resident quar- 
ters. Regulations require that citizens supplied by letter carriers 
shall be requested to provide receiving boxes at their houses and 
places of business. This is done to a very limited extent, however, 
for the reason probably that householders or occupants of business 
offices understand that the mail will be delivered to them anyway, 
and it is no affair of theirs, or at least only a small affair, to save the 
time of letter carriers by providing a receptacle to receive mail 
without delay. The plan inaugurated by Postmaster General Wana- 
maker to provide for the collection from every house and business 
office of mail from letter boxes, as well as the delivery of it to boxes 




232 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 233 

in every one of them, supplies the householder with a facility which 
he really wanted and was willing to pay the price of a box for. 

In the course of a year the 11,000 or more letter carriers of the 
country deliver five and one half million of registered letters, a 
billion and a third of ordinary letters, perhaps two hundred and 
seventy-five millions of postal cards and almost six hundred mil- 
lions of newspapers. They collect in an average year three hundred 
millions of local letters and three quarters of a billion of mail let- 
ters. They collect also perhaps one hundred and fifteen million 
local postal cards, one hundred and fifty million mail postal cards 
and nearly two hundred million newspapers ; all of which is to say, 
that the 11,000 letter carriers handle in a year the inconceivable 
number of three and three fourths billions of pieces of mail. 

The postmaster at Concord, New Hampshire, Mr. Henry Robin- 
son, once wrote of the letter carrier: 

"There is no discount on him; he is held up to the highest standard of excel- 
lence. He eats his three hearty meals a day, walks his twenty miles, and sleeps 
like a top. If you could see him lazily stretch out his legs and fill his old ' T. D.' 
after he has filled out his daily report, given up his key and hung up his leather 
bag that he wears hung from his shoulder when on duty, you would not imagine 
that he ever felt any considerable responsibility. But his is an exacting work, 
indeed. He has taken a solemn oath and is under bonds to do this important 
mission quietly, diligently and perfectly in all its imperative details. Under no 
circumstances is he allowed to loiter on his route. He cannot stop to converse, 
except in the line of his business. Trivial talk, singing, whistling and smoking 
are diversions that he cannot indulge in when in charge of the mail. 

" He has to exercise the greatest care in everything that he says and does. He 
is forbidden to deliver letters in the street even to the owner, unless the owner 
is personally known to him and the delivery can be made without reasonable 
delay. It is against the rules for him to throw mail into windows or hallways* 
unless he is instructed to do so. He is to rap or to ring the bell at the door, and 
wait patiently a reasonable time for an answer. Sometimes he has to go back to 
make a second call at your residence or place of business, because there was no 
one there at first to receive the mail and no place to put it. He is not to enter 
any house while on his trip, except in the discharge of his official work, and he 
cannot deliver any pieces of mail that have not first passed through the post- 
office. He cannot exhibit any mail entrusted to him, or give any information in 
regard to it or to any person other than those to whom it is addressed or who are 
authorized to receive it." 

Or again : 

" He will not make any unnecessary comment upon the character of the mail 
carried by him. He does not read postal cards nor interest himself in what i& 
entrusted to him, except so far as it becomes his official obligation to do so. He> 



234 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

handles so many letters of all kinds that he becomes indifferent to their contents, 
except to be careful to the utmost degree of caution in the handling of every one. 

" It is none of his business what your letters contain, if they are properly mail- 
able, and he doesn't care if you get a hundred letters a day from the same person, 
or whether you get only one letter a month, or no letters at all — it is all the 
same to him. He will not tell you anything about anybody's mail. He can't tell 
you whether Mrs. So-and-So got a letter from Mr. So-and-So this morning, or 
whether Sarah Jane's fellow in the West is still corresponding with her or not. 
He carries a straight, clear, well-regulated head on him, but is as non-committal 
as the Sphinx and as reticent as an Egyptian mummy on most subjects. He is 
not expected to discuss religion or talk politics. He lays great claim to a civil 
tongue, and endeavors never to allow himself to be exasperated or annoyed in 
the least, however great the tax put upon his unvarying civility. 

" He is not allowed to put letters into his own pockets to carry them nor to 
throw away even the slightest piece of mail, however valueless and unimportant 
it may appear. He must return to the office everything that is undelivered, and 
after every trip must bring back his satchel and his key, and make his compre- 
hensive written return in detail of the number and character of all the pieces 
handled by him. He keeps a considerable post office of his own, having nearly 
two thousand patrons. He has a perfect directory of his route, free from blot and 
as neat as wax, with the name of every letter receiver in his district, alphabeti- 
cally recorded, with special instructions noted in reference to each. He has a 
* case,' as it is called at the office, which is divided into convenient compart- 
ments, and should you ask him there if he has a letter for you, he can find it in a 
moment if there is one. Do not imagine that when the mail clerk's signal bell 
strikes for him to get ready that he then jumbles all the letters into his leather 
bag in a confused mass. Such is not the fact. Every piece of mail entrusted to 
him has its particular place and all is arranged with a system and order very 
commendable. He is forbidden under all circumstances to return to any person 
whatever letters deposited by them in the street mailing boxes from which he 
makes collections, but if the sender of the letter wishes it back, he must report 
to the office, where may be found exclusive discretion to return it to the writer." 

Said Postmaster Anderson of Cleveland, not long ago, in address- 
ing his letter carriers on their semi-annual inspection day : 

" There are many temptations thrown around you, not only in the office but 
upon your routes. I want you to shun these as you would so many vipers. I 
know you do, but I wish you could have been in my private office the other day, 
and seen the mental anguish of an arrested carrier. If you could have seen his 
clenched hands and tear-ridden face; if you could have seen his deep humiliation 
as he acknowledged that he had betrayed the confidence reposed in him by me and 
his friends, and violated the laws he had solemnly sworn to obey, and observed 
how wretchedly he seemed to feel when he admitted that he had contrived a plan 
to steal that would seem to exculpate him and throw the suspicion upon other 
innocent and honest men, you would remember and fully appreciate the familiar 
old maxim: ' Honesty is the best policy.' This man made an appeal to me for 
leniency, asked that his crime should be ' settled,' and appealed to my sympathies 
as a husband and a father. He told me about his honest, economical wife and 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 235 

his three little boys whom an hour or two before he had parted from with a 
loving kiss. I told him I pitied his wife, but he should have thought of them 
before and while he was committing the crime that brought disgrace and shame 
upon the helpless and the innocent. As the responsible head of the office, as a 
sworn officer of the Government, of that department which is so near the people, 
to whom they entrust their money, their missives of business, society and 
affection, I cannot afford to be lenient to a man who wilfully and deliberately 
transgresses the law." 

To look down from the long, shutter-covered balcony that extends 
around the main room of a great post office, as at Chicago, is to see 
big leather mail sacks, with yawning mouths kept closed bjr snappy- 
looking padlocks, stacks of letters on a wide, roomy table, with the 
force of stampers beating with monotonous regularity a double 
"tump-tump " so rapidly that the ear must be acute to note that it 
is not a continuous sound; busy clerks, with a steady, unceasing 
movement of the hands and eyes, placing a letter here, another 
there, nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of one thousand with- 
out a slip, working as if their lives depended on getting through 
before their neighbors. Here are the men who are classifying the 
mail for the carriers, and here are the carriers themselves, engaged 
in "routing" the mail. Back and forth, in and out of the aisles 
they come and go, like bees hovering around a hive. To the layman 
all is confusion and disorder. But better harmony never existed. 
A clock is not more evenly and accurately adjusted. It is a 
system that has well-nigh reached perfection. There is never a 
moment's hesitation. The finger tips of the carriers and clerks 
seem imbued with independent minds ; the streets, the districts and 
the divisions, are within a call that responds as quickly as a flash 
of lightning. 

In a big city like Chicago, of course, thousands and thousands of 
letters are received where it is almost impossible to make out the 
addresses. One of the Chicago clerks has tabulated the different 
spellings of Chicago ; and he finds without much trouble that they 
numbered one hundred and ninety-seven. Only a short time ago a 
Finnish letter writer addressed his brother at Zizazo; and other spell- 
ings in the list were : Jagjago, Hipaho, Jaji jo, Schechacho, Hizago, 
and Chachicho. Then wrong addresses are given, and great diffi- 
culty is found in finding the person for whom the letter or paper 
was intended. Several months ago a paper was addressed to Mrs. 



236 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

M. Kracky, 612 Dixon Street, but the carrier could not find her. 
All the people interested were Polanders, including the carrier, and 
they had a time of it. Here is the carrier's story in his own report: 

Mrs. M. Kracky does not live at 612 Dixon Street. Six hundred and twelve 
Dickson is a two-story house, occupied by four families, to wit: On the first floor 
in front lives Mr. Pafelski, an uncle of Mrs. Kracky; with him also lives his 
mother, or grandmother to Mrs. Kracky; above them lives Mr. Riszewski. In 
the rear on the top floor lives Mrs. Kilichowski, and below her lives Mrs. Pin- 
kowski, a mother of Mrs. Kracky, whom the latter calls on about twice a month, 
more or less. Now, when this January number came to me I am positive that I 
asked three times in front of both families, and I am also positive that I opened 
Mrs. Pinkowski's door at least twice and asked there, as I had to pass her door 
four times in order to see Mrs. Kilichowski, who was asleep twice. The third 
time she was out, the fourth time I got her at home, and each time I called out 
the name loud enough for Mrs. Pinkowski to hear. The November number I 
must have delivered in October, but I can't remember it. The December number 
was delivered by the substitute, as I was on my annual vacation from Nov. 1 to 
Nov. 16. To-day as I called there Mrs. Kracky happened to be there washing for 
her mother, and I delivered her magazine. Mrs. M. Kracky, whose proper name 
is Mrs. M. Krajecki, lives at 596 Holt Street. p p p OTf)lsrSKT «oo 

Many claims for over-time service of letter carriers have been filed 
with the Department. They aggregate about half a million dollars, 
and many have been carried by the claimants to the Court of Claims 
for adjudication. Under the statute the carrier's day is eight hours, 
and work required of him beyond that period is reckoned as over- 
time. Official blanks are furnished to all of the free delivery offices 
for keeping the individual time of each carrier while on duty. 
Where the force is limited, there is, of course, a liability that extra 
time will be required of the carriers ; but when the force is sup- 
posed to be competent for the service the working of over-time is 
discountenanced. The position of the Department is that letter 
carriers should be required to work eight hours on week days and as 
many hours on Sundays as the service at the respective offices may 
require, and not in excess of forty-eight hours any week of six days 
where Sunday service is not required. A desired amendment to the 
postal laws provides for an additional class of carriers, so that after 
four years' service, carriers may, upon a certificate of their respective 
postmasters that they have been especially faithful and efficient, be 
promoted from $1,000 to $1,200 per annum, and that when letter 
carriers become inefficient, or unfitted for active work, they shall, 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 237 

upon the certificate of their respective postmasters to that effect, be 
reduced to a lower grade commensurate with their service or 
removed, as the equities of the case may suggest. Such an amend- 
ment would not only provide a just compensation to faithful and 
deserving carriers, but it would tend to enlist in the service more of 
the finest young men, and stimulate all the carriers to better efforts. 
It would also provide a just way of continuing in the Government 
employ carriers who have rendered efficient service, but who, by 
reason of infirmities or advancing years, are unable to perform the 
maximum service of a carrier. 

The collection service, as the First Assistant Postmaster General 
has observed, requires men chiefly of physical strength. $600 per 
annum, as it is held by many, would be adequate compensation. 
Now all are treated alike, and promotions of collectors are made 
from $600 to $800, $850, and $1,000 per annum, as with delivery 
carriers. The carriers become more efficient and are able to handle 
and deliver their mail with greater facility from year to year, while 
the collectors can perform, as a rule, as satisfactory service the first 
year as afterwards. The creation by law of a grade of collectors with 
a salary of $600 per annum, and not subject to promotion, would 
enable the Department to separate the deliveries and collections at 
all the large offices, and thus insure better results in both branches 
at a decreased cost. It has never been intended to recommend a 
reduction of the salaries of old carriers who may be performing col- 
lection service at the time the law might take effect, or prevent their 
promotion under existing law. Provision would be made for new 
men only. The proposition is a measure of tardy justice to the 
overworked and poorly paid carrier. But nothing like this has a 
chance to become law. Mr. Cummings of New York introduced in 
the last session a bill to fix the pay of letter carriers at $600 for 
the first year, $800 for the second, $1,000 for the third, and for the 
fourth, and thereafter, $1,200. Neither did this measure have any 
chance of passing, for it would cost per year perhaps a million and 
three quarters ; and when it is an impossible task, notwithstanding 
the steady and inevitable growth of the country and hence of the 
postal service, to secure any additions at all to many of the items of 
the postal appropriation bill, it is not strange that the item for car- 
rier service should be cut down, as recently, by $300,000. This 



238 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 




MAIL, DELIVERY CART USED IN CHICAGO. 



reduction, if the Senate had permitted it to be made, would have 
left the service to get along as best it could during the next year 
without any additional carriers, and that, too, though it had been 

repeatedly stated that in Chi- 
cago alone two hundred new 
men were required for the act- 
ual needs of the service. 

In most of the large cities 
the carriers going out for deliv- 
eries are transported in cars, 
omnibuses, or sometimes in 
elevated trains, out to their 
routes, in order the more 
quickly to begin their distri- 
butions. Collections are ex- 
pedited by similar means. In 
Chicago they have a unique cart system for collection. The territory 
covered by the cart system is about forty-four square miles, and it 
is collected from six times daily. There are forty-five men on 
the cart collection force, each covering from eighteen to twenty- 
two miles per day. There are sixteen districts with three men as 
a rule attached to each. Two or four cart men meet at a central 
point about two miles from the central office, and the mail is trans- 
ferred to one of the carts and 
driven to the central office. 

The street letter boxes in use 
by the Post Office Department 
are selected after open compet- 
itive bidding for a contract 
term of four years; but during 
that time the contractor is 
obliged, if the Department sees fit to ask it, to make improvements 
which seem to be of value. The box at present in use is considered 
clumsy and expensive by many, but it was selected from one hun- 
dred and forty designs as the best. There is no doubt that the recent 
competition among some sixteen hundred designs for house letter 
boxes, which was in progress under Postmaster General Wanamaker's 
direction for two years to find the best collection and delivery box, 




ANOTHER MAIL DELIVERY CART USED 
IN CHICAGO. 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 



239 



has drawn much attention to the defects of the street letter box. 
The old letter box used to have a slot in the end. In the new box 
the mail is dropped, as is well known, through a tray which opens 
down at one side of the top. But persons may be seen almost any 
time looking for the old slot at the end and wondering whither it 
has disappeared. 

A year ago, perhaps, a clever fellow came to the Department with 
an estimate that the present United States mail system is responsible 
for one half of all the lies that are told; for, said he, when a man 
neglects to write to his dear lady, or a husband neglects to write to 
his dear wife, or an impecunious young man to his dear tailor, it is 
the custom for him to picture himself the pink of punctuality and 
to lay all the blame upon the mails. The clever fellow declared 
that a business man with a golden opportunity wanted him to 
become a partner in a scheme. He wrote a letter accepting the 
business man's proposition. He wrote the 
letter on Tuesday morning. The man sailed 
on Wednesday morning for Europe. He 
should have got the letter Tuesday after- 
noon, but he did not get it at all until he 
returned from Europe. The man had made 
arrangements in the meantime with another 
partner, and they made $5,000,000 together. 
The delay had been in the street letter box. 
The nickel-in-the-slot machine came out 
about that time, and the " check-on-liar " 
machine was soon devised. It is five feet 
six inches in height and two feet in diameter, 
and is meant to stand without the aid of a 
lamp post. There is a clock, which is guar- 
anteed to keep correct time, on its face. 
Back of this clock is the "check-on-liar" 

device. It operates after the fashion of all check-on-liars letter 
slot machines. The letter, falling in the BOX ' 

slot, is stamped, and one knows where the letter was posted, the 
number of the box in which it was posted, the date of the month 
and the time of day and the year. The box is cumbersome, is use- 
less, perhaps; but it is thought by many that the time when all 




240 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

mail matter is dropped will yet be recorded mechanically, so that 
more and more, all through the service, the exact responsibility 
for delays may be laid. With the advent of the house collec- 
tion box the need of the " check on liars " is practically removed, 
of course. 

There are funny things always coming to light with regard to the 
peculiar uses to which street letter boxes are put. An Indianapolis 
lover who was rejected by his sweetheart set fire to the contents of a 
letter box to prevent his rival from receiving favorable attention to 
a proposal. There are circumstances just as funny illustratiDg the 
uses to which the boxes are not put. A rural visitor in New York 
succeeded in causing a great stir in the neighborhood of Fourth 
Avenue and Twenty-Fourth Street. He wished to open up com- 
munication with home and accordingly prepared his letter. Instead, 
however, of putting it in a letter box, he opened a fire alarm box. 
The reply was prompt, unexpected and startling. 

A common, and yet a curious thing, is to find pennies, sometimes 
in large numbers, dropped in the ordinary street letter box. Very 
often a person wants to mail a letter and has not a stamp at hand ; 
what more simple than to drop a letter, along with a couple of pennies, 
into the nearest box, taking it for granted that the good-natured post- 
man will buy a stamp and go to the trouble of sticking it on. Again, 
a person mails a letter and remembers afterwards that he failed to 
stamp it, and, feeling a little doubtful about it, he goes back and 
drops a couple of coppers in. That would be all right if there were 
twice as many pennies collected as there are letters. But this is not 
the case. Many forget to stamp their letters and then fail to drop 
the two pennies into the box afterwards. So, the letters and money 
are brought to the post office and the pennies are carefully preserved 
and eventually transmitted to the Department. A Washington car- 
rier once collected $6 in three months in this way. 

There is more praise for the reliability of the carrier. And here 
it is : A Western lady complained to her postmaster that when she 
asked her carrier to take fifty cents to the post office and buy stamps 
for her he refused. 

"There is no law to compel the carrier to bring you stamps, 
madam," said the postmaster, "but I am sorry he was not obliging 
enough to do it without being compelled." 



THE CARRIERS, THE SPRIGHTLY MEN IN GRAY. 



241 



The incident gave the postmaster an idea. He thought : " If we 
get our house door collection box, why can we not have an arrange- 
ment whereby people can drop a certain kind of envelope in the box 
enclosing money for stamps, which the carrier can bring back from 
the office on his return trip and drop in the box like any mail 
matter ? " 

"What's to prevent the carrier from pocketing the money and 
saying he never got it ? " was asked. 

"Nothing," replied the postmaster with the idea. "But what's 
to prevent the carrier from opening any letter? It is possible to go 
on the theory that every man is a thief until he is proved honest, 
but isn't it better to suppose every man is honest till he is proved 
guilty?" 

It is a feature of the house collection system that stamps may be 
obtained in this convenient way. 





^> 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 

EARS ago, in one of the leading periodicals, a 
highly imaginative writer depicted the Dead Let- 
ter Office in the most sombre shades. The clerks 
were described as performing their duties with the 
solemn deliberation of a funeral director, while gloom 
and silence reigned with oppressive weight through- 
out the shady domain. In the good old days "befo' 
the wan," when the postal system was less than 
half as large as it is now, the work per capita in this office 
was doubtless less exacting. To-day the Dead Letter Office is by 
no means a dead-and-alive place, but the busiest bureau of the 
entire Department. Many of the clerks, notably those at the open- 
ing table, are in the habit of measuring off their work by the clock, 
that not a moment may be wasted. The force of the office had 
not for several years been large enough to do its legitimate work 
without extra effort and occasionally extra hours of service; but 
now the work is always practically up to date, with no increase in 
the number of clerks, — the natural result of careful supervision and 
a high degree of individual efficiency. Certainly no more earnest 
and faithful body of employees can be found in the public service 
than the one hundred and seven clerks of this office. Three have 
been connected with it more than thirty years, Mrs. A. K. Evans, 
the first woman appointed in this bureau, Mr. A. F. Moulden, for 
many years in charge of the inquiry branch, and "Brother" D. S. 
Christie, a veritable father in Israel. 

The total number of errors in the transmission of mail matter in 
the United States is very small compared with the correct deliveries 
(for letters alone in the ratio of about one to three hundred and 
twenty-five) ,* yet so long as the blundering public make voluntary 
contributions daily to this office of over 20,000 letters and packages, 

242 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 243 

just so long will it be necessary for the Government to " exercise pater- 
nal functions " in the correction of those blunders, nine tenths of 
which are made by the people themselves. If those who use the mails 
would only be careful to observe a few simple requirements, trifles 
in themselves, but in the aggregate of vast importance, the work of 
the Dead Letter Office would soon be greatly reduced. If all letter 
writers would take the simple pains to place their names and 
addresses upon the envelopes, there would be few undelivered let- 
ters. Cultivation of the habit of scanning the address of the letter 
after it has been written would prevent nine tenths of the mistakes 
due to deficient or erroneous addresses. It is purely a matter of 
business habit and the remedy is the simplest. This habit would at 
least correct one absurdity, viz., the annual receipt by the Dead 
Letter Office of about 33,000 letters bearing no superscription what- 
ever, most of which are written by business men and contain 
enclosures of business value. There is no law or regulation to 
compel affectionate relatives to put their full names and addresses at 
the close of every letter, but if they would do this there would be a 
million and a half more letters restored to their owners every year. 
It is a mistaken idea, though a natural one, that the Dead Letter 
Office deals with dead letters only. All undeliverable letters fall 
into two classes, unmailable and unclaimed. The former, compris- 
ing about ten per cent., are not dead letters at all, but thoroughly 
alive, having never left the office of mailing until sent to the Dead 
Letter Office ; that is, they were not sufficiently prepaid, or were so 
incorrectly, insufficiently, or illegibly addressed that their destina- 
tions could not be ascertained. These unmailable, or "live," letters 
are always sent to the Dead Letter Office with a list, which is care- 
fully verified as it passes from one clerk to another. When possible 
the addresses of misdirected letters, both foreign and domestic, are 
corrected by interesting processes, to be described hereafter, and for- 
warded to destinations ud opened. The larger number, however, are 
opened and subjected to the same treatment that dead letters receive. 
In the general disposition of all opened letters, whether unmailable 
or unclaimed, the first care is given to letters containing matter of 
value, all of which are properly classified and carefully recorded, 
with the view of supplying the necessary data with which to respond 
to future inquiry. Thus, in a single year, the office receives and 






244 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

disposes of letters containing money amounting to nearly $50,000, 
ninety per cent, of which, without unnecessary delay, reaches the 
hands of the owners. Postal notes and negotiable paper of various 
kinds aggregate nearly two millions and a half annually, while the 
number containing various articles of merchandise, photographs, 
postage stamps and miscellaneous papers is, of course, vastly 
greater. 

The second class of undeliverable letters, the unclaimed, or 
"dead," comprise those letters that, being properly prepaid and 
legibly addressed, reach the office of destination, but are not taken out 
by addressees, although thoroughly advertised for the usual period of 
fifteen or thirty days, according to the size of the office. These 
letters are forwarded to the Dead Letter Office with the words, 
" advertised" and " unclaimed " clearly stamped upon , every en- 
velope. This broad distinction of unmailable and unclaimed applies 
equally to packages, and in short to every form of undeliverable 
matter, excepting that which bears the address of the sender with 
or without special request for its return. 

The Inquiry Division is admirabty conducted by Mr. Ward Bur- 
lingame, who was private secretary years ago to four western Gov- 
ernors and two senators, and one of the prominent newspaper men in 
Kansas. The general purpose of the Dead Letter Office is to deliver 
to owners, as promptly as possible, all valuable letters and parcels 
received; so this division, though the smallest in clerical force, is 
of the first importance to the inquiring public, for here are con- 
ducted the correspondence and other business relating to missing 
mail matter. All applications are classified and recorded by a 
system of double entry, so to speak, one record making especially 
prominent the name of the applicant, while the other record begins 
with the name of the addressee, both entries giving the nature of 
the missing matter and the general character of the application. 
The applicant is, of course, promptly notified that his inquiry has 
been received and will have the necessary attention. Fully one half 
of the applications fail to give all the particulars indispensable to 
an intelligent search. Dates are frequently omitted, the character 
of the enclosures is imperfectly or not at all described, sometimes 
even the complete address of the letter or parcel sought for is 
omitted, and more frequently there is a failure to state whether the 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 245 

missing letter contained anything of value or not. Accordingly, a 
circular with searching questions, together with a leaflet containing 
useful information, is sent to the applicant, who learns that only 
letters containing valuable enclosures can be traced. All other let- 
ters not forwarded are opened and returned to writer, or, where the 
addresses of the writers are not given, are destroyed. Whenever it 
is shown that the letter or parcel inquired for contained matter of 
obvious value, and all other necessary data are furnished, search is 
made in the particular division to which this matter has been prop- 
erly distributed. If the missing letter or parcel has already been 
treated and disposed of, this fact, with all necessary particulars, is 
communicated to the applicant. When no satisfactory information 
can be found, and a loss is clearly shown, the case is then referred 
to the Chief Post Office Inspector for final treatment, and the appli- 
cant advised to this effect. This, of course, closes the case in its 
relation to the Dead Letter Office. By far the larger portion of the 
extensive correspondence necessary to the transaction of this busi- 
ness is conducted by means of printed circulars and notices, vari- 
ously modified as conditions may demand. There are, however, 
many exceptional cases, in which no printed form is found adequate, 
and therefore a large number of written communications are neces- 
sary. In correspondence with the postal administrations of foreign 
countries, and generally with individuals residing abroad, written 
communications are frequently employed. 

The Opening Division, Mr. C. P. Bourne, principal clerk, has 
only twenty clerks; but it receives, assorts, counts, opens and 
otherwise disposes of an average of 18,000 letters and parcels every 
day. This immense quantity of unclaimed mail from 68,000 post- 
offices, in weekly or monthly returns, finds its way first to the pass- 
ing table, where third and fourth class and foreign matter (and 
occasional errors of careless postmasters) are rapidly separated, and 
the dead letters are counted, tied up in bundles of one hundred 
each, and passed to the opening table. This is a long table, sub- 
divided into eight sections, each amply supplied with pigeon holes 
and other conveniences, and always furnished every morning witk 
a formidable pile of dead letter bundles just received from the pass- 
ing table. The "letter-rip" division, as it is sometimes called, 
attracts much attention from visitors. Here, and at the unmailable 



246 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



opening table near by, are the privileged few out of 65,000,000 
American people who can legally open and search into other peo- 
ple's letters ; and yet this liberty is subject to certain restrictions 
for absolute safety. These clerks may not be entirely dead to the 
sin of undue curiosity, but the volume and exceedingly monotonous 
character of the work would leave little time or inclination for culti- 
vating any closer familiarity with these letters than is absolutely 
necessary to the proper discharge of duty. 




THE DEAD I/ETTEK OFFICE MUSEUM. 



The activity required of each clerk to open, examine, record 
valuable enclosures, and otherwise dispose of over 2,000 letters in 
about six hours, though not particularly obtrusive, is sufficient to 
attract much interest. Most people in opening a letter hold the 
envelope face down and sever the end with knife, finger, or scissors. 
This slow process is discarded the first day at the opening table. 
By one stroke of a keen blade the envelope is cut open lengthwise, 
under the flap, and, the knife still in hand, the letter is taken 
out, every fold carefully examined for possible enclosures and treated 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 247 

accordingly. Thus, if any enclosure of obvious value is found in a 
letter, it is carefully recorded and separated from the ordinary letters 
for special treatment. If money is found, the amount is endorsed 
on the envelope, together with the date, name of opener, etc., and 
the same sum also entered, with name of addressee, in a small 
account book. The money itself, with the letter, is replaced within 
the envelope and turned in to the clerk in charge, who in turn, after 
having made proper record, transfers it to the Money Division for 
return to owner where possible. When nothing is found of suffi- 
cient value for record the envelope is placed within the sheet for 
possible aid to the address, and piled up with others of like charac- 
ter, to be carefully tied into a bundle labelled with the date of open- 
ing, name of opener, and number of letters, which is, of course, the 
original one hundred, less the eight or ten valuable letters taken 
out. These bundles are sent to the Returning Division for final 
treatment. Enclosures of obvious value, besides money, are money 
orders, postal notes, drafts, deeds, wills, mortgages, photographs, 
receipts, certificates, legal papers, postage stamps (if of the value of 
more than one two-cent stamp), small articles of property, etc., all 
of which are carefully recorded and returned to senders or delivered 
to parties addressed, as far as practicable without application. 

The general character of these enclosures remains about the same 
from year to year except in what used to be a very conspicuous item, 
namely, lottery tickets, the receipts of which have decreased in the 
past three years from over a thousand a month to a monthly average 
of fifteen. So much has been done in the past few years towards 
improving the general efficiency of the postal service that as a natural 
result actually less undeliverable matter was received at the Dead 
Letter Office during the year ending June 30, 1892, than for the 
previous year, although the volume of postal business had increased 
eight per cent., and the blundering public sent in its usual increased 
percentage of errors. Three years ago the increase of mail matter 
received at the Dead Letter Office was five per cent., two years ago 
four and three fourths per cent. Six, five and four years ago, 
respectively, the increased receipts were five, eleven and sixteen 
per cent. 

This gratifying exhibit is largely due to a very successful campaign 
of education. Two years ago a circular of suggestions to the public 



248 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



was carefully prepared by the Dead Letter Office and sent to all the 
postmasters, through whose personal efforts it was published generally 
(and very generously) by the local press of the country. As aids 
to better delivery postmasters were encouraged in the work of 

compiling supple- 
mentary directo- 
ries. One post- 
master prepared a 
delivery directory 
of 18,000 names 
a town where 



in 

the latest gen- 
eral directory con- 
tained the names 
of 4,000 persons 
only. About a 
year ago the Dead 
Letter Office is- 
sued an enlarged 
edition of a very 
useful street di- 
rectory, containing 
nearly 800 pages 
of valuable infor- 
mation, systemati- 
cally arranged,con- 
cerning the names 
and extent of num- 
bering of all the 
avenues, streets, 
alleys, etc., in all 
the 474 towns where the free delivery was in operation when the 
book was published. Every postmaster of a free delivery office is 
supplied with a copy of this work for use in correcting the addresses 
of such letters and parcels as may reach his office, though evidently 
intended for delivery elsewhere, and the practical utility of this 
directory has been repeatedly demonstrated in the largely increased 
number of the deliveries. 




VALENTINES AND OTHER PRESENTS. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 249 

There is something about what is technically known in the postal 
service as a " dead " letter that impresses an observer with a sense of 
duty well performed. Such a letter has been forwarded to its desti- 
nation fully addressed, the postmaster has used every effort to find 
the addressee, it has been properly advertised, marked "unclaimed," 
as required by the regulations, and, failing of delivery, is sent to the 
Dead Letter Office ready for the knife of the opener. No such feel- 
ing of resignation can surround the letters handled in the Unmaila- 
ble and Property Division. Hither the carelessness of letter writers 
sends thousands of letters lacking in address or postage, and before 
the deadly opening knife is brought into requisition all known 
devices are used to deliver them unopened to their owners. 

For convenience all advertised dead letters are sent to the Open- 
ing Division for disposition, and all that are not advertised at the 
post offices to which they are directed, except registered letters, are 
sent to the Unmailable and Property Division, Mr. Charles N. 
Dalzell, principal clerk. The last-mentioned letters comprise, in 
addition to " held for postage, " " foreign short paid, " " misdirected, " 
" unaddressed" and " fictitious " letters, those which have been 
addressed to the care of hotels, colleges, or public institutions ; and 
being unclaimed by the addressees they are returned to the post 
offices of origin for restoration to the senders. These so-called 
hotel letters are not advertised because the unclaimed ones are 
usually addressed to persons only temporarily stopping at the places 
of destination and an advertisement would not, therefore, assist in 
delivery. Postmasters are required to send all letters not advertised 
to the Dead Letter Office, accompanied by lists giving a description 
of each and the reason of its non-delivery. These lists are carefully 
verified and are used as records of the contents or disposition of the 
matter which is enclosed with them. 

Take unadvertised letters in the order named. It is of interest 
to note the many causes of failure to deliver them and the careful 
treatment accorded them before an attempt is made to deliver them 
to the senders. If a letter is deposited in the mails, addressed to a 
post office in the United States, and no stamp has been affixed 
thereto, the postmaster at the mailing office is required to stamp it 
"held for postage," and to notify the person to whom it is addressed 
that on receipt of the necessary stamps it will be forwarded. It is 



250 



THE STORY OP OUR POST OFFICE, 



then placed on file for a length of time, limited by the regulations, 
to await a reply. If no remittance is received, the letter is listed and 
sent to the Department stamped "unclaimed." Many of these let- 
ters are addressed to well-known business concerns that practically 
refuse to receive mail matter on which postage is due, while some 
persons engaged in a fraudulent business, such as the "green goods " 
swindlers, resort to the practice of depositing unpaid letters, hoping 




THE OLD OFFICIAL RECORD OF VALUABLES RECEIVED FROM 1776 TO 1787; 
MEDALS, MINIATURES AND MEDICINES. 



their victims will pay the postage due. Nevertheless, there is some- 
thing about a letter properly addressed, lacking only one thing 
essential to its delivery — a stamp — which may well cause some 
feeling of hesitancy before it is subjected to the knife. 

It will be observed that unpaid letters, addressed for delivery in 
the United States, are called "held for postage." If, however, an 
unpaid letter is mailed, addressed to a foreign country embraced 
in the Universal Postal Union, it is not detained, but forwarded to 
the country addressed, charged with double the deficient postage. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 251 

If the country addressed is not in the Postal Union, and no stamp 
has been affixed, it is called a "foreign short paid" and sent to the 
Dead Letter Office at once to be opened. The exceptions to this 
rule are letters directed to Canada, for, although letters addressed 
to that country are assimilated generally with letters in the domestic 
mails, yet if the persons addressed were notified by the postmasters 
throughout the country, the reply would in most instances be accom- 
panied by a foreign postage stamp, not available by the postmasters 
in payment of postage. To assist in the delivery of unpaid 
Canadian addressed letters the Dead Letter Office classifies them 
as "foreign short paid "and notifies the addressees of their deten- 
tion, an arrangement having been made with the Canadian postal 
administration for the reciprocal exchange of stamps collected from 
this source. 

Under the title of " misdirected letters " are included all letters 
upon which the postage has been paid, but which are so illegibly, 
insufficiently, or incorrectly addressed as to prevent their prompt 
delivery. Little does the writer know when he omits to add the 
name of the state for which his letter is intended, or, naming the 
state, gives the name of some hamlet or locality not honored with 
that title in the Postal Guide, how much work he entails on the 
postal service. Still more troublesome is the man who, in the hurry 
of the moment, addresses his letter so illegibly as to require trained 
experts to decipher the directions. The tired, overworked railway 
postal clerk puzzles his brain with these letters before they are con- 
signed to his assortment of "nixies " for division headquarters. The 
" nixie " clerks at the post offices examine Postal Guides and bulle- 
tins to complete what negligence has omitted, and although they 
deliver many thousands of incorrectly addressed letters, nearly half 
a million are sent annually to this division as undeliverable, because 
" there is no such office in state named, " or they are " insufficiently 
addressed" or "illegibly addressed." To be sure, they are only sent 
in when trained employees have failed to ascertain their destination; 
but still one more trial must be made before their contents are 
examined. To this work are assigned women peculiarly fitted by 
quickness of perception, education and long experience finally to 
revise the work of others who have tried in vain to correct the mis- 
takes of the senders. Two women in the Unmailable and Property 



252 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Division secured the delivery last year of over 55,000 of these let- 
ters, unopened, to the persons for whom they were intended. Con- 
sider the work involved. A letter is addressed to a person in 
" Beardstown, Pennsylvania." There is no office of that name in 

the state. There 
is a place local- 
ly named "Bairds- 
town," but it is not 
a post office. The 
expert forwards the 
letter to B lairs ville 
post office, where 
it is delivered, for 
B lairs ville is the 
nearest post office to 
Bairdstown, which, 
in this instance was 
misspelled "Beards- 
town." All this 
work is done to 
preserve letters in- 
violate and deliver 
them to owners 
in the condition in 
which they were 
mailed. The cor- 
rections are not 
only made on the 
letters themselves, but the entries on the lists are corrected to corre- 
spond, so that record may be had of the disposition of each letter 
thus forwarded. 

Over 30,000 letters are received yearly in the Unmailable and 
Property Division and entered under the heading "without address." 
They are not all, however, simply letters in envelopes bearing no 
directions, but include packets containing money found loose in the 
mails. Almost equally as careless as the man who forgets to place 
any address whatever on the envelope of a letter when it is posted 
is the one who puts copper, nickel, silver, or gold coins in a frail 




MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, BANNERS, ETC. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 253 

wrapper and consigns them for dispatch in the mails. Of course 
the coins cut the envelopes and drop out, some of them in the post- 
offices, and others in postal cars. Then often follow accusations of 
dishonesty or incompetency against employees of the service. This 
loose money is received in this division accompanied by little slips 
telling where and when it was found. 

Of fictitious letters there is a great variety, from those received 
at Christmas-time written by some sweet little believers in the good 
old superstition and addressed to "Santa Claus," to the man who 
wants to meet an honest friend to tell him how to get rich at the 
expense of the Government, — in other words, the dealer in " green 
goods," who has assumed a fictitious name for evil purposes. 
There are others simply addressed to initials, without box or street 
number. These cannot be delivered because the addressee cannot 
be identified. 

The undeliverable parcels received at the Dead Letter Office (and 
thejr are all sent to the Unmailable and Property Division for treat- 
ment except those originally registered) furnish a very fair sample 
of what the postal service carries for the million at reduced rates of 
postage. They embrace a most curious aggregation of almost every- 
thing. Business and sentiment run side by side. The whole range 
of domestic life finds full expression here : tiny little socks, deli- 
cately colored and ornamented; the juvenile necktie and the 
message-bearing valentine; the jewel box with its engagement ring; 
wedding cake in fancy boxes ; infant's apparel again; soothing syrup ; 
cholera mixture ; little shrouds ; coffin plates inscribed " at rest" ; 
flowers from a grave, — all come here when misdirected, unclaimed, 
with postage unpaid, without address, or not prepared for mailing 
in accordance with the regulations; and there are packs of playing 
cards, dice, gambling devices, instructions how to swindle, bi- 
chloride of gold, and pocket knives, samples of cloth, electro- 
types, surgical and dental instruments, to say nothing of live toads, 
snakes, beetles, or tarantulas. Here may be found the unpoetic 
washboard ; the capacious travelling sack ; the hat box ; the merci- 
less accordeon; glass bottles and vials filled with every conceivable 
concoction ; photographs, probably the grossest of libels ; a stuffed 
alligator from the sunny South; objects given up by the sea from 
the wreck of the Oregon; fire crackers; fancy work of various 



254 



THE STORY OF OTJTl POST OFFICE. 



descriptions, wrought with patient assiduity by the tender hands of 
loved ones, perhaps long enrolled with the dead. 

The employees become quite indifferent to the sentimental value 
of the matter handled. The bundle of old letters tied with a ribbon 
is examined for the usually present finger ring and the last note 

bearing the address 
of the sender and 
saying, " I return 
herewith your let- 
ters ; all is over be- 
tween us," with as 
much business-like 
nonchalance as the 
sample of yarn or 
cloth and the mes- 
sage, " Will furnish 
these at so and so." 
The pair of woolen 
socks that " dear 
old mother knit for 
absent John " at- 
tract no particu- 
lar attention ; rath- 
er will the clerk 
pause for a second 
to tickle the horned 
toad from Texas 
found in the next 
packet, just to see 
if it is alive. Here 
the "fads" of the 
day may easily be recognized, — the decline of the bustle in 
popular favor and the advent of suspenders for womankind; the 
jewelled snake as an ornament, following Bernhardt's "Cleopatra," 
only to give way to packets containing pins and rings made into 
bow knots or lover's knots. In books a deluge of " Ben Hurs " 
and "Robert Elsmeres " is followed by thousands of the paper-cov- 
ered kind. 




A CORNER IN ONE OF THE CASES. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 255 

All parcels of merchandise are received in this division accom- 
panied by lists giving their full address, or, if they are without 
address, a brief description of their contents. The parcels and lists 
are numbered to correspond after the entries are verified. These 
numbers serve to identify each package with the records, as the lists 
are sent to the recording clerks, where they are entered in books 
indexed under the initial letter of each surname. The clerks 
engaged in the treatment of merchandise are furnished with sheets 
giving the number of the parcels delivered to them in numerical 
order. Their duties are to examine each package to ascertain the 
reason for its detention or non-delivery; to write a full description 
of the contents on the sheets furnished them ; to send the proper 
notice of detention either to the person addressed or to the sender 
with the request for a remittance sufficient to pay postage for the 
return or forwarding, and to send all parcels for which these notices 
have been sent and all which are to be placed on file because no clue 
to ownership can be ascertained, to the store rooms of the office to 
await reclamation. The sheets, endorsed with the number of each 
notice and the necessary descriptions of contents, are then delivered 
to the recording clerks for proper entries opposite their correspond- 
ing numbers on the records. 

If the varieties of causes which render parcels undeliverable are 
considered, some idea may be had of the necessity of good judgment, 
intelligence, and a thorough knowledge of the postal laws and 
regulations on the part of these employees. A large part of their 
work consists in treating parcels which senders have attempted to 
mail as gifts to friends residing abroad, without first ascertaining 
the rules and regulations to which such matter is subjected by the 
postal conventions. If it were generally known, that aside from 
printed matter, articles sent as gifts cannot be forwarded to foreign 
countries unless the postage is fully prepaid at the rate applicable to 
letters addressed to the countries of destination, or that, where a 
parcels post has been established with the country addressed, the 
technical requirements of the convention should be fully observed 
as to customs declaration, address of sender and payment of postage, 
fully 20,000 fewer parcels would be received yearly at the Dead 
Letter Office. Nearly ninety per cent, of these parcels contain arti- 
cles not absolutely forbidden transmission in the Postal Union mails, 



256 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



and the addressees are requested by circular letters sent by the 
employees engaged on this work to furnish the address of the senders 
in the United States or to return the communications with a remit- 
tance sufficient to pay full foreign letter postage. Many of these 
foreign addressed parcels, however, contain articles of jewelry or 
such as are especially forbidden transmission in the mails abroad. 

The addressees in 
these cases are asked 
to furnish the ad- 
dress of the senders 
to enable the office 
to return the par- 
cels, or, if they so 
desire, to authorize 
them to be for- 
warded by express, 
charges to be paid 
on delivery. About 
ten per cent, of the 
parcels addressed to 
other countries are 
forwarded outside 
the mails in re- 
sponse to these re- 
quests. 

By careful treat- 
ment over 30,000 
parcels sent to this 
office by postmas- 
ters as un deliver- 
able are annually 
restored to owners. There would be no need, however, for the 
labor involved, nor any necessity for filing the large number which 
cannot be delivered, if each sender would take the precaution to 
request by endorsement on the wrapper the return of the parcel to 
him in the event" of its nondelivery; for while third and fourth 
class matter requires the payment of additional postage for its 
return, it will be returned upon request direct to the sender at the 




PICTUKES AND BIRTHDAY REMEMBRANCES. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 257 

expiration of the time named in such request, or, if no time be 
named, at the expiration of thirty days, subject to the payment of 
the necessary postage. 

In addition to the addressed parcels there are received at the 
"D. L. O." about 17,000 articles annually which have been found 
without wrappers in the mails. If a little less negligence were used 
in wrapping and tying parcels containing third and fourth class mat- 
ter, there would be less cause for complaint of the loss of valuable 
matter in the mails. Many of the articles received were doubtless 
enclosed in wrappers properly addressed at the time of posting, but. 
others were evidently deposited without any effort to wrap or direct 
them. A few years ago a very handsome gold watch was sent in 
from a Western city, with the statement that it had been found 
without a wrapper in a street letter box in the seventh ward of that 
city. The postmaster stated that the finding of this watch had been 
thoroughly advertised, but no clue to the owner had been ascer- 
tained. The daily papers had commented on the matter, one of them 
advancing the theory that a pickpocket, closely pursued by an officer, 
had dropped the watch in the letter box to get rid of the evidence 
of his crime. A rival paper, however, ridiculed the idea thus 
advanced, saying that it was ridiculous to presume that a police 
officer in that city ever closely pursued a thief ; rather, knowing the 
peculiarities of the residents of the seventh ward, should it be sup- 
posed that some trusting wife had given her husband a letter to mail. 
En route for the mailing he had encountered a friend, then another 
friend, and yet still others, until, leaning heavily against a lamp 
post, with a confused idea of an errand to perform for his wife, he 
dropped his watch in the letter box and walked valiantly home with 
the letter in his pocket! 

Complaints of the loss of parcels deposited in the mails are referred 
to the recording clerks, who, in addition to entering the address, 
description of contents, and 'disposition of all articles received, are 
required to ascertain from the records whether any trace can be 
found of the detention of parcels for which inquiry is made. If 
found, the complaint is endorsed with the letter and number of the 
entry and sent to the store rooms with notices of detention which 
have been returned with remittances for postage. In the store 
rooms the parcels applied for are taken from the file cases and sent, 



258 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



with all correspondence relating thereto, to the mailing clerk, who 
restores them to the owners. A memorandum of this disposition is 
then delivered to the recording clerks, who make the jDroper entries. 
The store rooms consist of two large apartments fully provided 
with suitable cases. On one side of these apartments all parcels 

for which circular 
letters of deten- 
tion have been sent 
are arranged al- 
phabetically ,while 
on the other side 
those which fur- 
nish no clew to the 
proper address of 
either sender or 
addressee are sim- 
ilarly arranged. 
About 80,000 par- 
cels are constant- 
ly stored in these 
rooms. It is nec- 
essary, in appli- 
cations for any 
of these packages, 
that the full ad- 
dress of both the 
sender and the ad- 
dressee be given, 
together with a description of the contents and the date of mailing, 
as they are recorded under the initial letter of the surname of the 
person addressed and entered from day to day as they are received 
at the office. The number on file is so large that without explicit 
information it is impossible to identify them, and delay in restoring 
them to applicants is often caused by want of sufficient data con- 
tained in applications. A case occurred recently, where a resident 
of a Western city applied for a missing set of false teeth. He did 
not furnish the exact date of mailing, and there were sent to the 
postmaster at his office several sets of teeth found about the time 




GROUPS OF REVOLVERS ; OTHER INSTRUMENTS MORE 
PEACEFUL IN CHARACTER. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 259 

mentioned in his application. They were all returned to the office, 
accompanied by an indignant communication from the complainant, 
stating that the teeth sent to him were " just common Texas store 
teeth and could not by any possibility belong to so refined a mouth 
as mine." With the correct dates a further search was made and 
the missing parcel was delivered to its owner. 

Sometimes foreign addressees, not understanding the reason for 
the detention of parcels addressed to them, are unjustly impa- 
tient at the delay. A few years ago a parcel containing infant's 
clothing, addressed . to a woman missionary in Africa, was de- 
tained, and in reply to the notice sent to her of its detention, she 
wrote angrily: 

" The child for whom these garments were intended has not yet been eaten by 
the cannibals, but has quite outgrown them, and they may be returned to the 
sender, whose address I enclose." 

All addressed matter remaining in the store rooms for a period of 
two years, and all matter without address on file over six months, is 
sold annually. Many of the parcels contain small articles of insuffi- 
cient value to be sold separately. Indeed, so great is the number to 
be prepared, nearly 45,000, and the proportionate value so small, it 
has been found necessary to include the contents of several parcels 
as originally mailed in one package for the sale, their identity being 
preserved, as required in the regulations, by recording their original 
number as entered in the indexed records, when first received. The 
average proceeds of each parcel at the sale are about sixty cents, and 
it is attempted to include articles of at least that value in each sales 
package. The original wrappers are removed from the parcels and 
new ones substituted, upon which are endorsed a brief description 
of the contents. This description is entered in a sales book, which 
is used by the auctioneer, and from a copy of the entries in this book 
the catalogues furnished to purchasers are printed. It has been 
found inexpedient to expose the contents of these parcels at the time 
of sale, because they consist of so many articles that, in a crowded 
auction mart, they would become separated and lost, while too much 
time would be consumed by the purchasers in examining them. 
The description in the catalogue is therefore relied upon to furnish 
sufficient information to enable a person to make an intelligent esti- 
mate of the value of what he is buying. The descriptions are made 



260 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



as brief and plain as possible, but the variety of articles is so great, — 
ranging from plasterers' tools, plumbing materials, kitchen utensils, 
watchmaker's findings and jewelry, to all kinds of women's wear- 
ing apparel and men's furnishings, — that occasionally odd and 
humorous misdescriptions are made. 

After the parcels are properly prepared for sale the government 
invokes the intervention of professional auctioneers, and submits its 

miscellaneous col- 
lection to the eager 
competition of bar- 
gain hunters. The 
sale takes place in 
December, prior to 
the holidays, and 
usually exhibits 
many of the stir- 
ring characteristics 
of that interesting 
season, when the 
accumulation of to- 
kens of good-will 
and affection, and 
their proper distri- 
bution, engross so 
large a share of 
popular attenti on . 
About a week is 
required to dispose 
of the stock, and 
during this period 
the auction mart is 
thronged, day and 
evening, with good-natured but earnest people, women usually pre- 
dominating, who, apparently undismayed by previous disappoint- 
ments, seem to be impressed with the conviction that articles of 
great commercial value, or at least of superior artistic attractiveness, 
are included in the mass of matter upon which the Department asks 
them to submit their estimates. Many of the articles are confided 




SKULL,, HARNESS AND TRAPPINGS. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 261 

to the mails in a manner contravening the law, and, it is to be 
feared, with the express purpose of defrauding the postal reve- 
nues. The enclosure of articles with newspapers or other printed 
matter, without adequate postage, is the cause of a large number 
of failures of delivery, the offence in these cases insuring its own 
punishment; and in general there would be little occasion for 
these sales, if the public heeded the injunctions of the postal regu- 
lations. 

In the Money Division, Mr. A. T. McCallum, principal clerk, 
are treated all letters and parcels that, having been opened in other 
divisions, have been found to contain money and papers of 
monetary value, such as postal notes, money orders, checks, drafts, 
deeds, etc. All of this matter is carefully verified and receipted 
for as it passes from one clerk to another. These letters are 
entered in index records for ready reference, the arrangement 
being alphabetical as to the initial letter of the surname of 
the addressee. The entry embraces a complete description of the 
letter, its contents, and final disposition. When the address of the 
writer is found, the letter is at once forwarded under cover to 
the postmaster, who then becomes responsible for it, and upon de- 
livery must return a receipt for it to the Money Division. Letters 
addressed to foreign countries containing coin are unmailable, and 
find their way to this division to be returned to writer with a cir- 
cular explaining the reason for detention. On the failure of a post- 
master to return either the letter or a receipt at the expiration of 
thirty days, a circular of inquiry is sent to him. When letters 
that have failed of delivery by this process are returned to the office, 
they are still further examined for some possible clew, such as the 
name of a person or place where further inquiry may be made ; and 
perhaps another attempt is made to deliver. Letters which cannot 
be restored to owners are kept on file for three months, when the 
money is separated and delivered to the Third Assistant Post- 
master General for deposit in the United States Treasury. The 
letter is carefully filed and, with its original money contents, 
may be reclaimed within four years. All money realized from 
the annual sale of unclaimed articles is also received by this 
division and turned over to the Third Assistant's office for deposit 
in the treasury. 



262 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



The receipts of the Money Division are greatly increased through 
the attempted fraud of persons claiming to deal in counterfeit money. 
Letters addressed to these dealers in "green goods" are withheld 
from delivery as soon as their fraudulent purpose is known, and 
sent to the Dead Letter Office as fictitious. A peculiarity of this 
class of letters is the failure of any attempt to deliver them to the 
writer, although they contain a considerable amount of money, the 

enclosures ranging 
fi'om five to fif- 
ty dollars per let- 
ter. The senders 
refuse to receive 
them when they 
are returned to the 
post offices, doubt- 
less fearing crim- 
inal prosecution. 
This fear is in a 
measure ground- 
less, because at any 
time before deliv- 
ery the contents of 
a sealed letter can- 
not be used as evi- 
dence against an 
offender in a crim- 
inal action ; but 
subsequent to de- 



livery, if the let- 
ter were found in 
the possession of 
the sender, bearing 
evidences of its 

having been conveyed in the mails, it might, perhaps, be used as 

evidence; and the fear of some such mishap may account for the 

failure of owners to reclaim such letters. 

The money found loose in the mails is restored to owners usually 

upon recommendations received from post office inspectors who trace 




POLYGLOT SHEET, CONTAINING LOED'S PEAYEE, SO- 
CALLED DYNAMITE MACHINE, ETC. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 263 

and identify it as belonging to letters, the loss of which has been a 
subject of complaint to them. A few years ago a lady in a Western 
hotel gave the bell boy a package of money to pay her bill at the 
clerk's desk. In a moment of thoughtlessness he deposited it in the 
mail. It was sent to the Dead Letter Office, without address, and 
subsequently restored to the owner, but not until accusations of dis- 
honesty had resulted in the bell boy's loss of employment, and 
in serious doubts of the integrity of the clerk. The care with 
which letters are handled in this division is illustrated by the 
frequent delivery of this class of letters to owners who have supplied 
the Chief Post Office Inspector with full particulars and data con- 
cerning their loss. 

The following table shows the number of letters restored to owners 
during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892, or in course of restora- 
tion, with the character and value of contents : 

DESCRIPTION. NUMBER. VALUE. 

Letters containing money restored to owners . . , . . 16,004 $28,144.57 

Letters containing money outstanding in the hands of post- 
masters for restoration to owners 1,600 4,761.66 

Number of letters containing drafts, checks, notes, money- 
orders, etc., restored to owners 27,190 1,138,873.10 

Number of letters containing drafts, checks, notes, money- 
orders, etc., outstanding in the hands of postmasters 
for restoration to owners 1,347 153,882.94 

Number of letters containing postal notes restored to 

owners 2,987 4,443.23 

Number of letters containing postal notes outstanding in 

the hands of postmasters for restoration to owners . 429 676.51 

The amount of revenue derived from dead mail matter during the 
year and delivered to the Third Assistant Postmaster General for 
deposit in the treasury is shown by the following statement : 

Amount separated from dead letters that could not be restored to 

owners $12,423.85 

Amount realized from auction sale in December, 1890, of parcels of 

merchandise which could not be restored to owners 3,498.33 

Total $15,922.18 

All valuable enclosures of relatively minor importance to money 
and negotiable paper are referred to the Minor Division, in charge 
of Miss A. R. Thurlow. This division, with its seventeen women 



264 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



clerks, disposes of all letters containing postage stamps, photo- 
graphs, unsigned deeds, wills, contracts, paid notes, business 
papers, etc., etc., with substantially the care and system of the 
Money Division. 

Another important work is performed. " Hotel " and " ficti- 
tious " letters, opened in the Unmailable Division, are received here, 
with their accompanying lists, verified, returned when possible, or 
forwarded, or destroyed. The disposition of the letter in every case 
is recorded in alphabetical lists for future reference. Blank letters, 
or those bearing no superscription whatever, are entered with special 
care to facilitate search when application is made. Held-for-postage 
letters, addressed to Canada, are numbered and recorded, and a 

circular notice of 
the amount of post- 
age due is sent to 
the addressee. If 
not applied for in 
thirty days, they 
are listed and sent 
to the Opening Di- 
vision for ordinary 
treatment. Other 
foreign short paid 
letters are either 
returned to the 
writer or filed, and 
in the latter case if 
not called for with- 
in one year, they 
are destroyed. 

This division also 
receives from post- 
masters all stamps 
found loose in the 
mails. These "shed 
the blood-stained mail pouch ; chkistmas stamps, " together 

PRESENTS. .,, ,, 

with the stamps 
found in letters that cannot be returned, are pasted upon sheets, 




DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 265 

decorated with the cancelling brush, and turned over monthly 
to the stamp committee (three employees deputed to destroy 
stamps) to be destroyed. Canadian stamps are sent to Canada 
in regular exchanges for United States stamps that have accumu- 
lated there. 

All unclaimed magazines, miscellaneous publications, illustrated 
papers, picture cards, etc., etc., are, by order of the Postmaster 
General, regularly distributed among the inmates of the various 
hospitals, asylums, and other charitable institutions in the District 
of Columbia. The number and character of the matter distributed 
during the year ending June 30, 1892, were: Magazines, 2,003; 
pamphlets, 4,025; illustrated papers, 4,062; picture cards, etc., 
5,510; or a total of 15,600. The amount of postage stamps 
received in the Dead Letter Office from the sources named, and 
destroyed under proper supervision during the }^ear ending June 30, 
1892, was $1,088.22. 

The Returning Division, Miss Harriet Webber, principal clerk, 
originally extended over a wider jurisdiction than at present, having 
since transferred some of its functions to the Money, Unmailable, 
and Minor Divisions. Notwithstanding such reductions this branch 
is still the largest in the office, having on its roll, besides the chief 
and her assistant, thirty clerks, most of them women, a skilled 
employee to seal the letters, and two female messengers to collect 
the papers, keep rooms and desks in order, and distribute to the 
clerks the bundles of letters that have come directly from the open- 
ing table. It will be remembered that these packages contain 
ordinary letters without valuable enclosures, and often do not reach 
the returning desks for several days after the opening process. 
Each returning clerk is charged with the number of letters received, 
and at the close of every day reports the number returned to writers 
and the number of those destroyed. It is the practice to return all 
letters containing legible address and signature, all notices of meet- 
ings, and all wedding cards, while printed matter, business cards, and 
mere advertisements are thrown into the waste basket. The clerks 
are supplied with all the facilities for their work, such as the official 
Guide, directories of all the large towns, foreign directories, church 
annuals, lists of scientific societies, and all military and naval sta- 
tions, Indian agencies, and lighthouse stations. With the utmost 



266 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



care less than forty per cent, of these letters reach the writers. The 
average clerk will handle about seven hundred a day and return two 
hundred and fifty. Very swift returners will dispatch over three 
hundred a day, but this rate is exceptional and cannot be prolonged 
without undue nervous strain. It is curious to observe the large 
number of carefully written letters that bear no more definite address 
than "Your loving sister, Nell;" "Affectionately, Dick;" "Cousin 
Frank;" "Your devoted mother," etc., etc. Such letters, though 
possessing much sentimental importance, must necessarily be thrown 
away for the lack of proper care on the part of the writer. The in- 
timate connection 
between this and 
the Opening Di- 
vision is sometimes 
a reciprocal one, 
for, while the usu- 
al current of work 
Hows toward the 
returning branch, 
should the openers 
by chance over- 
look anything of 
value hidden away 
in the fold of a let- 
ter, the returning 
clerks are sure to 
discover it and 
send it back to the 
opening table for 
proper treatment. 
This was the first 
division in the 
Post Office Depart- 
ment ever assigned 
to a woman. 

About the For- 
eign Division, Miss Clara M. Richter, principal clerk, compara- 
tively little is known by the general public. Apart from the 




STAR FISHES, SNAKES IN ALCOHOL, CONFEDERATE 

MONEY AND POSTAGE STAMPS, OLD MAIL 

POUCHES, CROCODILES, MINERALS, ETC. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 267 

main office in a corner room wholly inadequate is performed 
a most important work, requiring a high degree of aptness and 
general information. Here are conducted all the mail exchanges 
with foreign countries, the correction and forwarding of mis- 
directed foreign letters, all necessary translations for the entire 
office, and a complete system of record books, by which every valu- 
able letter or parcel received can be quickly found and its postal 
history easily traced. 

All matter treated in the Foreign Division is readily divided into 
two classes, foreign and domestic. The former consists of all mail 
matter of foreign origin, which, failing of delivery, is, of course, 
sent to the Dead Letter Office. The latter, or foreign addressed, 
includes all letters and parcels sent from the United States to for- 
eign countries and proving undeliverable there, are returned to this 
country in accordance with existing regulations of the Universal 
Postal Union. Of the former class 609,747 pieces were received 
during the year ending June 30, 1892, and of the latter class, 
293,608 pieces; a total of 902,995. 

Observe the rapid development of this division since Miss Richter 
became its chief in 1879. Then the total receipts of undelivered 
matter from all sources amounted to 265,202 pieces. The countries 
and colonies with which exchanges of undelivered matter were made 
in 1879 numbered forty -seven; now there are eighty-six, besides 
numerous small colonies and dependencies of Great Britain, France, 
Portugal, and Spain, which receive their undelivered matter through 
the medium of the mother country. This very great difference is 
caused primarily by the reduction of postage to foreign countries 
since the formation of the Universal Postal Union, the increase in 
immigration, and the general development of the country. The 
marked increase in registered matter for Austria since 1879 is in the 
ratio of 5,877 to 46,830. The number of registered pieces sent to 
Russia in 1879 was 103 ; in 1892, it is 1,823; while the ordinary let- 
ters numbered 2,451 in 1879, and 53,220 in 1892. The work of this 
division increased rapidly during the five years following 1879, and 
since then its growth has been steady, but not so fast. Then it was 
comparatively easy for one clerk, with the occasional assistance of 
another, to handle the matter sent to this division for treatment. 
Now it requires the constant application of five clerks to do the 




268 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 269 

work. The increase in receipts is not the only factor causing more 
work, since much labor has been added in the methods of treatment, 
such as the more careful examination of matter received, the greater 
efforts made to supply corrections of addresses on misdirected or 
insufficiently addressed matter, more elaborate records of parcels 
returned to country of origin, and of applications received for miss- 
ing matter, more numerous calls from other divisions for translations 
of foreign addresses, improved treatment of card and request letters, 
and more thorough searches for matter supposed to have been sent to 
the Dead Letter Office. Records are kept of all applications for 
missing matter supposed to have reached the Foreign Division and 
of all matter found and forwarded to applicants. During the past 
year 10,224 letters and parcels were forwarded to corrected 
addresses, instead of being engulfed in the mighty stream of " dead 
matter." 

The correction of addresses, or "blind reading," of the Foreign 
Division commands admiration because the usual perplexities are 
still further complicated in the guise of foreign superscriptions. 
Foreigners often adapt the sense to the sound and write such expres- 
sions as "Poniprehri " for the two words Pawnee Prairie, "Sonngu- 
onque " for Suncook, " Chinchichi " for Kankakee, " Provenctao " for 
Provincetown, and " S. X., Pitsco," for Essex, Page County. Letters 
are frequently advertised in large cities for " Vescovo, 111.," when no 
suggestion of Illinois was in the mind of the writer, but a very 
respectful form of address to a most reverend bishop. Another 
similar address is "Eveque, Monsr. Rev." Such letters come regu- 
larly to the Foreign Division for return to country of origin and are, 
of course, regularly forwarded to the worthy prelates for whom they 
were intended. An Italian, supposing that New York embraced 
the whole country, once confidingly addressed a letter to Chicago, 
New York, adding "Dove si trove" (wherever he may be found). 
Foreigners frequently prefer their own version to the official names 
of our post offices, and accordingly direct letters to " Daie Verte " 
for Green Bay, " Suerno Verde " for Greenhorn, and " Cayo Hueso " 
for Key West. 

The number of ordinary foreign letters now received varies from 
eight hundred to three thousand or more daily. They are counted, 
carefully examined as to previous treatment, and if worn in transit, 



270 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

officially sealed, distributed according to country of origin if found 
to be "dead," and returned to respective postal administrations 
with letters of transmittal. Third and fourth class matter is recorded 
if of apparent value. Ordinary printed matter, such as newspapers, 
business circulars and notices, is returned without record to all 
countries except Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and 
the South and Central American Republics, only the number sent 
being indicated on the letter of transmittal. Registered matter, 
after having been receipted for on the general registered record of 
the Dead Letter Office, is then examined and carefully distributed 
according to country of origin. The letters for each country are 
entered in alphabetical order, together with the original register 
number and the number of the Dead Letter Office record, in the books 
provided for that purpose. A comparison of these two records is 
made and a copy is sent with the registered letters either direct to 
the postal administration of country of origin or to the New York 
exchange office. The latter supplies to the Dead Letter Office all 
the details of forwarding, which are kept on file in this division. 
The foreign matter received from the Unmailable Division is treated 
according to its character ; that is, hotel, fictitious, and lottery let- 
ters are returned to country of origin, as with ordinary unclaimed 
letters, while misdirected letters are subjected to the careful exami- 
nation just referred to, in order to find possible owners for them on 
this side of the water. 

The second grand division of mail matter treated in the Foreign 
Division is the "foreign addressed," or that originating in this 
country and sent to foreign addresses, and failing of delivery 
returns to this office. All this matter is carefully verified by the 
accompanying letter of transmission and the registered portion is 
handed to the clerk in charge of the register section. Letters bear- 
ing upon the envelope the address of sender, with or without request 
for its return, and those having " new address " in this country are 
sent under cover to the postmasters of their respective destinations 
for delivery to owners. All remaining letters are turned over to 
the opening Division as ordinary unclaimed matter. The number 
thus sent out averages 3,500 monthly, effecting considerable economy 
in time as well as clerical work, since all of these letters are saved 
from the opening table and possible destruction. It has proved 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 271 

necessary to forward such letters under cover, because, when sent in 
open mail, like ordinary card letters, they are frequently sent again 
to first address, notwithstanding the stamp, "Return to writer," 
placed on each letter of this class. The receipt of all dispatches of 
undeliverable matter returned to the Dead Letter Office is entered in 
the record kept for this purpose and due acknowledgment made to 
the postal administration. Dispatches of this class are received 
weekly from Canada, England and France. The exchange offices 
on the continent make up semi-weekly dispatches, but do not send 
letters of advice with them. Italy, Portugal and Spain send at 
irregular intervals. Mexico may send unclaimed matter twice a day 
for a week, and then postpone further operations for a month. The 
Pacific colonies send regular monthly returns, while the South 
American Republics send whenever the accumulation of unclaimed 
matter is sufficiently large. 

Among the many notable exhibits in the national capital there is, 
perhaps, no room of equal size that contains so many curious and 
interesting articles as may be seen in the Dead Letter Office museum. 
With the exception of two old mail pouches, carefully preserved for 
their ninety years of faithful service, all of the articles in the cases 
passed through the United States mails and were found to be 
unmailable, misdirected, short paid, without address, or without 
the name of sender. The articles have been deposited here for a 
two-fold purpose, — not only to interest the casual visitor, but to call 
attention to the unmailable character of many things thrown into 
the mails. A person mailing a piece of fancy work in a thin wrap- 
per might well complain if in the same pouch were deposited a hand 
saw, a bottle of alcohol containing snakes, loaded pistols, dirks, 
friction matches, etc., which would either obliterate the address 
or so mutilate the wrapper as to separate it from its contents. Many 
of the minerals found here were addressed to foreign countries, but, 
being in excess of the limit of weight prescribed, they could not be 
forwarded unless the postage were paid at the rate of five cents per 
half ounce. As neither the names of senders nor the deficient post- 
age could be secured from the addressees, the parcels were held two 
years and finally turned into the museum. 

A large number of cocoons are received by the Dead Letter Office. 
The owners are notified of their detention, but in many cases there 




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272 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 



273 



is considerable delay in responding to these notices and interesting 
results follow. Not long ago one of the file cases in the store room 
of the office was left open for a short time, when to the surprise of 
the clerks the room was soon filled with a swarm of large and 
brilliant butterflies. A box of cocoons had been accidentally 
exposed a few minutes to the light. 

In one of the cases may be seen a large sheet containing the 
Lord's prayer beautifully inscribed in fifty-four languages. Just 
below is a piece of mechanism that the average guide delights in 
calling a dynamite ma- 
chine, though -it is really 
nothing but an innocent, 
old-fashioned bank marker. 
A tragic memento of the 
Indian question appears in 
a blood-stained pouch, tell- 
ing the oft-repeated story 
of danger and death in 
the faithful performance of 
duty. A brief account of 
the tragedy is affixed to 
the pouch. On July 23, 
1885, F. N. Petersen, mail 
carrier between Crittenden 
and Lochiel, Arizona, while 
on his return trip to the 
latter place, was killed by 
the Apaches. After murdering the carrier, the Indians cut open 
the pouches and entirely destroyed the mail and also two of the 
pouches, leaving this one bespattered with the blood of their 
victim. 

There is a large skull in the collection, which was addressed 
several years ago to Prof. S. D. Gross of Philadelphia and refused by 
him on account of the excessive postage due, as it had been sealed 
against inspection and was entitled to regular letter rates, which 
amounted to more than three dollars. A specimen of Guiteau's hair 
is seen with this inscription : 

This contains my hair. Charles J. Guiteau. 




THE ALBUM OF OLD SOLDIERS' PICTURES. 



274 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

Accompanying this was a request for the modest sum of $1,000 to 
aid in the compensation of his counsel. Another contribution from 
his pen soliloquizes as follows : 

She's my darling from this day you will surely die for the murder of James A. 
Garfield on the scaffold high, my name 'tis Charles J. Guiteau, my name I will 
never deny, too leave my aged parents in sorrow for to die how little did they 
think while in my youthful bloom, would be taken from the scaffold to 
meet my fattle doom. 

The eight pistols and revolvers so artistically arranged in one 
of the cases are described as having come through the mails, all 
loaded and still in possession of their deadly contents, but only 
one was loaded when it was deposited in the mails, and that 
the lowest in the group, is an old-fashioned "pepperbox" of six 
barrels. This was sent to a young lady supposed to be living in 
Springfield, 111. Failing of delivery, it was forwarded to Havana, 
in the same state, and thence to the Dead Letter Office. Strange to 
say, in all of these changing conditions of postal treatment not a 
single barrel was relieved of its contents, even in the process of 
opening in the Property Division of the Dead Letter Office. Here 
may be seen the official "record of all valuable letters in the Dead 
Letter Office " from 1777 to 1788, covering forty-four pages and three 
hundred and sixty-five entries. Among its other curiosities is a card 
showing one hundred variations in spelling the word " Chicopee," 
as received at the Boston post office, sand thrown up by the 
Charleston earthquake, Confederate money and postage stamps, 
crocodiles, rag babies, patent medicines, coffee pots, wash boards, 
medals, musical instruments, horned toads, harnesses, hat boxes, 
hoes, gripsacks, etc. 

Some time ago the residence of a prominent citizen of West Rox- 
bury, Mass., was entered and among the articles stolen were two 
miniatures prized as family relics. Six years afterwards a daughter 
visited this museum, and to her surprise found the missing minia- 
tures. The records of the office showed that an envelope, without 
an address, containing the miniatures, was dropped into one of 
the mail boxes at Boston a night or two after the robbery, and 
in ordinary course of treatment was sent to the Dead Letter Office. 
The right to the property being clearly proved, it was of course 
immediately delivered to the family. 



DEAD LETTERS AND LIVE ONES. 



275 



A large portfolio in one corner of the room contains thousands of 
photographs and tintypes of old soldiers taken during the war. 
Many of these had accumulated, and soon after the close of the 
war, by order of Third Assistant Postmaster General Zevely, they 
were taken out of the store room, mounted on large cards, and 
placed on exhibition in the museum in the hope that an occasional 
visitor might be able to identify and restore some picture of value 
to the family connections. A few years ago these cards again found 
their way to the store room to be finally rescued by the Chief of the 
Minor Division, through whose patriotic interest and personal efforts 
the photographs were cleaned, many of them remounted, and in a 
new portfolio were again placed on exhibition. Descriptive lists 
have been advertised in the journals of the Grand Army of the 
Republic, and in various ways many of these pictures have reached 
the families for which they were originally intended. 

The Superintendent of the Dead Letter Office is Capt. D. P. 
Leibhardt, who was born in Milton, Ind., in November, 1844. He 
enlisted for the war when he was 
under seventeen ; and he served 
four years and three months, and 
came out the quartermaster of his 
brigade. His business interests 
have been the manufacture of farm- 
ing implements. He had charge 
for years of the correspondence of 
a large manufacturing firm, and 
came to be considered one of the 
most expert accountants in all that 
country; and as a business corre- 
spondent, and in the grasp of busi- 
ness forces, his abilities were clearly 
of an exceptionally high order. 
This peculiar training, and his orig- 
inality and steady application, es- 
pecially fitted him for the duties 
of Superintendent of the Dead Letter Office. He is at his desk 
from eight in the morning until six at night, and for a period of 
three years took only two days' vacation. His work, and the work 




CAPT. D. P. LIEBHAEDT, 
Superintendent, Dead Letter Office. 



276 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



of the force under him, has never been equalled for intelligence and 
push. Capt. Leibhardt is enthusiastic in the postal work, devoted 
„____________^_™_™_____^ to duty, and thorough, even to 





minor details, in all he under- 
takes. 

The Chief Clerk, Mr. Waldo G. 
Perry, has had an experience of 
nearly thirty years in Dead Let- 
ter Office work and is thorough- 
ly identified with its growth ; for 
superintendents have come and 
gone, but he has remained, giving 
permanence to many important 
reforms and contributing in no 
small degree to the present stand- 
ards of excellence. He entered 
the office in 1865 and took charge 
of the Foreign Division. He was 
later in charge of the Unmailable 
Division and when the office be- 
came a separate bureau, Mr. Perry 
was made chief clerk. He is a 

Vermonter, a graduate of the Yale Law school, and a man of great 

originality and information. 




MR. WALDO G. PEEKY, 
Chief Clerk, Dead Letter Office. 




ESTABLISHING OFFICES ; APPOINTMENTS. 

HE establishments of post offices originate in the 
office of the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General, 
Mr. Estes G. Rathbone. The application for the 
establishment of a new office is made, in a great ma- 
jority of cases, by ordinary petition. The Depart- 
ment has blank petitions, which are furnished up- 
on application. ^— —-.. 

These are usu- 
ally called for by some one 
representing the commun- 
ity in which the office is to 
be located, and is signed 
by those who will be pa- 
trons of the office, in the 
event of its establishment. 
No definite number of 
names is required; though 
the character of the peti- 
tion often has much to do 
with its favorable consid- 
eration at the Department. 
All sorts of forms are used 
by petitioners. Some ask 
for the office in very few 
words; others go into de- 
tails and give nearly all the 
points which have to be 
known before an order is 
made for the establishment. One of the first things inquired into 
in connection with establishing a new office is its distance from 

277 




MR. ESTES G. RATHBONE, 
Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. 



278 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

other offices already in operation. If on a railroad, the intervening 
distance is sometimes reduced to one mile, — especially if there is a 
station where a number of people would be benefited by an office. 
In the country away from railroads a rule is in force requiring the 
new location to be at least two miles away from any other office. 
This rule, however, must necessarily be flexible. A natural obstruc- 
tion would make a difference in this distance. For instance, a 
river which is not easily ford able, or a hill, or a small mountain, 
would be reason enough for disregarding the limit referred to. 

Upon the receipt of an application for a new office the Department 
at once furnishes the person who is proposed for postmaster with 
certain blanks which are to be filled out giving definite information 
upon many different questions. JThe section, township and range 
(where a country has been surveyed), and the county, state, or terri- 
tory, of course, are first given. If it is on a friail route already in 
operation, that is given, together with the number of the route and the 
terminal points of it. Also is given the number of times a week the 
mail is then carried over this route. The question is answered whether 
the new office will be directly upon the new route, and if not, how far 
from it. If the office is not upon a route, and is too far from one to 
make a change in it so as to have the carrier reach the new office, it is 
then supplied by what is known at the Department as "special supply." 

When this service is named, the office already in operation, from 
which the new office will be supplied, is named and is called the 
supply office. Special offices, however, are not supplied at the 
expense of the Government. The postmaster has to furnish his own 
supply until such time as the new office develops business enough to 
warrant the Government in appropriating a sufficient amount to fur- 
nish the supply. Meantime the carrier is allowed an amount equal 
to two thirds of the compensation of the postmaster. This compen- 
sation is regulated by cancellations. Other conditions which have to 
be given are the name of the office nearest to the proposed one on 
the one side and its distance. The postmaster is also to give the 
same facts with reference to the office on the other side; and he gives 
the name of the most prominent river or creek, and the distance 
which the proposed office will be from either. 

The name of the nearest railroad is required, if the office is near 
enough to be in any way affected by the railroad. If the new 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES; APPOINTMENTS. 279 

office is on a railroad, the information must be given on which side 
of the road the office will he located and how near the track ; and 
also what is, or will be, the name of the railroad station. If the 
office is located within eighty rods of the station, the mails are car- 
ried to and from the station by the railroad company. Should the 
location be more than eighty rods from the station, the office is sup- 
plied by the mail messenger service, which is to be paid for by the 
Department. If it is in a village, the number of inhabitants is to 
be stated as nearly as possible. In any event the population to be 
supplied by the new office must be given. A diagram, or a sketch 
from a map, is also usually required, showing the exact location of 
the office. This diagram is furnished in blank on the back of the 
location paper, as it is called. These facts all have to be certified 
to by the proposed postmaster, and also by the postmaster at the 
nearest office already in operation. If, however, such a postmaster, 
for personal or other reasons, declines to make such certificate, the 
Department uses its own discretion in establishing the office. 

A great many offices are asked for, especially in southern portions 
of the country, which apparently have for their object a reduction of 
the compensation of an office already in operation. This seems to 
be for the purpose of retaliating where a man objectionable to the 
community has been appointed postmaster at an old office. By an 
objectionable man is meant one who may be competent, but who for 
personal or political reasons is not acceptable. After the Post- 
master General inaugurated the country free delivery, the number of 
applications for new offices seemed to increase. This was probably 
for the reason that action could not be taken promptly upon a 
proposition for such service, and it awakened an interest upon the 
part of the people for better facilities than they already had; and a 
liberal number of offices would be the next best thing to free delivery. 

After an application has been made for a new office and the loca- 
tion papers returned, the Department considers all the information 
which has been furnished and passes upon the advisability of estab- 
lishing the office. The policy of the present administration of the 
Department in the matter of new offices has been to deny very few 
applications. If the office does not promise to be of much import- 
ance, the petition is usually all the evidence required, both as to 
the establishment and the appointment of a postmaster. In estab- 



(No. 1142.) 

Jn al! communications to this.Deoartment oe careful to givethe name of your Office, County, and State. B 

OFFICE OF THE FOURTH ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL, c 

tsa 

wutybn, m <%.. , /$ | 

Sir: £ 

7%e POSTMASTER GENERAL has established a Post Office by the name ~ 

of t in the County of . 5' 

and State of.. , ...and appointed you, POSTMASTER r* 

thereof, in which capacity you will be authorized to act, upon complying with ~. 

the following requirements : ^L 

1st. To execute the inclosed bond, and cause it to be executed by two sufficient sureties, in tbe ~ 

presence of suitable witnesses; the sufficiency of the sureties to be officially certified by a duly qualified g> 

magistrate. ** 

2d. To take a"nd subscribe the oath or affirmation of office inclosed, before a duly qualified magistrate, - 

who will certify the same; also, to appoint an assistant, who must take the usual oath, to be returned with 2 

yours to me. ^ 

3d. To exhibit your bond and qualification, executed and certified as aforesaid, to the Postmaster § 

of , and then deposit them in the mail addressed to me. g 

A mail key will be sent from the Mail Equipment Division. Blanks will be sent by the Division ~ 

of Post Office Supplies at Washington City. D. C. ^T 

After the receipt, at this Department, of your bond and qualification, duly executed and certified, =*" 

and the approval of the same by the Postmaster General, a commission will be sent to you. q. 

If you accept Hie appointment, the bond and oath must be executed and returned without delay. If ~ 

you decline, notice thereoj should be immediately given to this Office. *< 

It will be your duty to continue in charge of the office, either personally or by an assistant, until c 

you are relieved from it by the consent of the Department, which will be signified by the discontinuance gf 

of your office or by the appointment of your successor. cd 

-o 

Very respectfully, ^ 

Fourth Assistant Postmaster General 3 



[fit X^ N. B.— The quarters expire on the 31st March, 30th June, 30th September, and 31st December AH accounts 

^° ■ must be rendered for each quarter within two days after its close. ^j. 

Postmasters are not authorized to give credit for postage. Want of funds, therefore, is no excuse for failure of =# 

— 2 ^" A Postmaster must not change the name by which his office is designated on the books of the Department with- P 

^T out the order of the Postmaster General. . . , , 

w t3T Be careful, in mailing letters and transient newspapers, to postmark each one, in all cases, with the name or 

j — : your office and Slate; and, iu all communications to the Department, to embrace in the date the name of your office, county, 

^— und State, , ... 

tjT in stamping letters, great care should be observed to reader the impression distinct and legible* 



INSTRUCTIONS FOB NEW POSTMASTERS AT NEW OFFICES. 



280 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES; APPOINTMENTS. 281 

lishing an office the politics of the person proposed to be appointed is 
not commonly inquired into. When the Department is not entirely 
satisfied with the petition and the other papers in the case, all such 
papers are sent to one of a chosen corps of advisers of the Depart- 
ment, called "referees," for his investigation and recommendation. 
In Republican districts the members of Congress are the referees; in 
Democratic districts, in states where one or both of the senators are 
Republican, the cases are referred to them for recommendation. 
Where there are neither members nor senators to represent a district, 
the Department has referees appointed, — usually men who have 
either been members of Congress or candidates for Congress. Some- 
times, however, other methods are resorted to to secure advice. 

The referee system has been a necessary growth, and it has been 
in vogue for many years and through many different administrations. 
It is assumed by all parties that changes in office are to be made 
when an administration changes. It is impossible, of course, for the 
appointing officer to have personal knowledge of the merits of the 
various candidates; he must secure advice. The best advice almost 
always is that of the local leader. He has his own personal interest 
and his own personal success at heart, as well as that of the Depart- 
ment and the public service. Hence he may be depended upon 
almost always. The process of giving advice in the matter of 
appointments is a privilege and not the right of a referee ; for under 
the constitution, of course, the appointing power is alone responsible 
for the appointments, — except where the confirmation of the Senate 
in the case of certain offices is required. 

But the custom of having referees has been necessary ; and experi- 
enced politicians say that the trouble in making recommendations 
for office is not so much in the fact that recommendations have to be 
made, but that sufficient courage, promptness and discretion are not 
used in recommending. Fights for post offices are allowed to go on 
and drag along for months and months when they might be settled 
to much better advantage, on the merits of the case, almost offhand. 
The most experienced of the senators, men, for instance, like 
Senators Sherman, Cullom, Allison, Aldrich and Quay, act, when 
they do act, promptly and once for all. 

After the case has been examined in the Fourth Assistant's office 
and the establishment and appointment decided upon, the proposed 



282 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

name of the post office is submitted to the Railway Mail Service for 
approval. One clerk in that service has a complete record of all the 
offices in operation, so that he is able to judge whether the new 
name would in any way conflict with the name of an office already 
in existence. It is necessary that new names shall not be like any 
others, for confusion in the distribution of mail would surely be 
involved. Of course there cannot be two offices in the same state 
bearing the same name. It is also objectionable to have offices of 
the same name in states where the abbreviations of the names of 
states are very much alike. For instance, it is objectionable to have 
offices of the same name in the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, 
for the abbreviations " Va." and u Pa." would lead to great confusion. 
The policy of the Department is to give short single names to new 
offices. Double names are always avoided unless there are local rea- 
sons to the contrary. Euphonious names are adopted wherever it is 
possible; but that is made impossible sometimes because of the 
equally strong desire to follow local usage. The name of a village 
or railroad station is always preferable for the name of the post office. 
Two years ago the President created the United States Board of 
Geographic Names, and since that time a great deal of work has been 
done by way of making uniform the names of rivers, bays, islands, 
and, in fact, all geographic points ; but the chief good work done 
is in the matter of the names of post offices. Soon after the board 
referred to was created Postmaster General Wanamaker issued an 
order that all branches of his Department should follow the decisions 
of the board where it could be done. The result is that the names 
of post offices are continually improved; the possessive form is 
dropped just as rapidly as possible and is never used in connection 
with new offices, double names are changed to single names where it 
is practicable, and the hyphen is discarded. This makes Brown- 
ville of Brownsville, Jackboro of Jacksboro, etc. The Postmaster 
General rules in favor of dropping the final " h " in the termination 
" burgh, " of abbreviating " borough " to " boro " ; of spelling the 
word " center " as here given ; of the omission, wherever practicable, 
of the letters "C. H." after the names of county seats; of the simpli- 
fication of names consisting of more than one word by their combina- 
tion into one word ; and of dropping the words " city " and " town, " 
as parts of names. 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES; APPOINTMENTS. 



283 



The name of a post office in Huntingdon County, Pa., is Aitch. 
There were five prosperous farmers in the portion of the county 
where the post office now is, and their names were Anderson, Isen- 
berg, Taylor, Crum and Henderson. Each of them wished the office 
to be named after himself; but they could not come to an agreement, 
and finally as a compromise the first letters of each name were put 
together. And so originated Aitch. 

A petition for a new office in the mountains of Virginia was 
received at the Department. It was found that the name submitted 




DESKS IN THE APPOINTMENT DIVISION. 



was undesirable. The petitioners were so notified and requested to 
make a list of names in the order of preference. The new list con- 
tained no acceptable name, and the chief of the Appointment Divi- 
sion directed one of his clerks to select a name himself. The clerk 
walked to the map. He discovered that there was a mountain hardby 
named Purgatory. The new office was presented with the name 
of Purgatory. When the establishment papers were forwarded to 
the petitioners, they were requested to submit a name for postmas- 
ter. They returned the name of George Godbe there. 



284 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

Another petition received from a community further in the South 
also failed to submit a proper name for the post office, and when a 
request was made for a list of names the petitioners replied that 
either Whitfield or Wanamaker would be acceptable ; and as if to 
show impatience over the delay at agreeing to a name for the new 
office, they added a nota bene, "or Toughtown." The officials of 
the Department had been somewhat annoyed to have numbers of 
post offices named after them ; and not desiring to encourage that 
species of compliment, they selected the name "Toughtown." Dur- 
ing the latter part of General Clarkson's tenure of office he found, quite 
by accident one day, that there were dozens of post offices named 
Clarkson. These petitioners had really wanted to compliment him ; 
but he grew weary of it, and fearing lest people would think he had 
encouraged this, directed the officials under him not to permit any 
post office to be named Clarkson after that. 

There are 33 states that have post offices bearing the name of 
Washington. Thirty states have post offices named Lincoln; 23 
Grant; 21 Blaine; 22 Logan; 24 Sherman; 22 Sheridan; 28 Jack- 
son; 17 Hancock; 14 Custer; 25 Cleveland; 6 Hendricks; 7 Tilden; 
8 Hayes; 9 Thomas; 6 Dorsey; 13 Chase; 3 Polk; 1 McClel- 
lan. Alice is the name of 10 post offices; Alma, 22; Alpha, 18. 
There are 22 Arcadias, 26 Ashlands, 20 Avons, 25 Belmonts, 
and 26 Berlins. The shortest name in the G-uide is B, in Tip- 
pecanoe County, Ind. ; there is one Apple, and Bowl, Brick, Bee 
and Box are in the list. In 9 states a post office is named Bliss; 
there are Blue Eyes, Blue Jackets and Blue Blankets, Blacks and 
Blackbirds. Mary has 1 post office: Lucy, 2; Laura, 2; the Larks 
have 4; Kate, 1, and Kathleen, 4; Jump, 2; Jumbo, 7; John, 4, and 
John Day, 1 ; James, 6 ; Edith, 8 ; Edna, 4 ; Cora, 11 ; Francis, 9 ; 
Frank, 7 ; Grace, 7 ; Emma, 9 ; Fannie, 2 ; Flat, 1. There are 2 High, 
3 Sugar, 3 Coffee, and 1 Cream, with 2 Creameries; 1 Wig; 2 Wing; 
1 Worry; 1 Pay-up; 4 Cash; 3 Cave; 3 Confidence, 1 Confusion 
and 1 Confederate, and 1 Cool- Well. It has been pointed out that 
the religious enthusiast may select from any of the following : Eden, 
Paradise, Baptistown, Brick-Church, Canaan, Genesis, Jerusalem, 
Land of Promise, New Hope, Old Hundred, Pray, Promised Land, 
Old Church, Sabbath Rest, Zion, Bible Grove, Churches (three), 
Stone Church, and Saints Rest. The military genius could be suited at 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES; APPOINTMENTS. 285 

Battle Ground, Broken Sword, Cavalry, Camp Ground, Canon Store. 
Encampment, Little Warrior, Headquarters, Warrior's Mark, Seven 
Guns, Stewart's Draft, Tenth Legion, Union Camp, or Warrior's 
Stand. The baseball maniac would be interested in Ball Play, Ball 
Ton, Catchall, Two Runs, Umpire, Best Pitch, Six Puns, or Ball 
Ground, and the medical profession is recalled when these towns 
are named: Colon, Doctor Town, All Healing, Cureall, Healing 
Spring, Medicine Lodge, Mount Healthy and Water Cure. It 
has been pointed out by another that there are at least two offices in 
the United States where the above Mosaics should be noted with 
especial interest. They are Rat, Alabama, and Chestnut Hill, Mass. 

After the name has been approved of, the case goes to the Contract 
Division in the office of the Second Assistant Postmaster General for 
report upon the nature of the service. Here is obtained information 
whether the new office will be upon a route or whether it shall be 
established as "special." If upon a route, the number of it is given. 
The case is then returned to the appointment office ; all the data are 
placed upon the face of the jacket, which in the case of establish- 
ment is always yellow in color, — and if everything is found to be 
in proper form, the jacket is " initialed " by the chief of the division, 
and from him it goes to the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. 
He signs the order of establishment. Then the case is returned to 
the division, where a complete record is made of it; and it is then 
taken to a clerk in charge of the Postmaster General's records and 
is again entered there. When the Postmaster General signs this 
record the order of establishment is complete. The case then goes 
to the Bond Division, from which the blank bond and other blanks 
are furnished to the newly appointed postmaster. Upon the return 
of the bond properly executed a commission is issued. The Bond 
Division notifies all the other bureaus in the Department that a new 
office has been created and all necessary blanks are at once furnished 
the new postmaster, — who has been appointed in the order establish- 
ing the office. With his commission as his authority and with the 
supplies furnished to him the new postmaster begins operations. 

The establishment of post offices in Oklahoma and in other regions 
recently opened has often been in advance of the actual settlement. 
Before the Oklahoma counties were named they were called by 
the Department, A, B, C, D, E, etc. Postmasters were appointed 



286 



THE STORY OF OUR, POST OFFICE. 



upon recommendations of the delegate from Oklahoma and of Sena- 
tors Plumb, Paddock and Manderson. The theory of the Depart- 
ment is that the establishment of an office in a new locality is often 
the means of educating the people who become its patrons. Having 
a post office, they are more inclined to correspond with friends and 
far more liable to take newspapers. A number of western offices 
have been established in the last two or three years which have 
become presidential within a year from the date of establishment. 
These are not necessarily "boom" towns. They rather show the 
rapid, steady growth of the country. 

The discontinuance of a post office is resorted to where the office 
is run down so that the receipts are not enough to warrant any one 
in continuing to serve as post- 
master. In that event a case is 
made up ordering a discontinu- 
ance, giving the reasons for it, 
and the date upon which the ordef 
is to take effect. With the ex- 
ception of going to the Railway 
Mail Service, this case goes 
through the same routine as cases 
of establishment. An office is 
rarely discontinued if it is possi- 
ble to secure the services of any 
one for postmaster. The post- 
master at the office discontinued 
is instructed, on the date of dis- 
continuance, to take all his sup- 
plies to the nearest office, which 
has been previously notified of the 
discontinuance and instructed to 
receive the supplies. A few in- 
stances have occurred where post offices were discontinued because 
the patrons refused either to patronize the office or to allow the 
postmaster appointed by the Department to serve. These cases 
were in the South ; and in each the result was the reestablishment 
of the office upon the assurance that the postmaster would not be 
disturbed nor the office boycotted. 




ME. PIEESON H. BRISTOW, 
Chief Clerk, Fourth Assistant's Office. 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES: APPOINTMENTS. 



287 



Changes of postmasters at post offices already in operation are 
largely made upon the resignations or deaths of the postmasters. 
A resignation is often followed by a great many letters and petitions 
urging the appointment of different candidates. These papers all 
go to the referee of the Department, and while his recommendation 
is not always followed, it has very much influence. Thousands of 
post offices in the United States yield but little or nothing to the 
postmasters, but they are continued for the benefit of the community, 
the postmaster being willing to perform the work for the benefit of 
his neighbors. A great many removals were made at the beginning 
of this administration. When General Clarkson was criticised for 
appointing so many Republicans, he did not go into labored explana- 
tions; his answer was that it 
would be impossible to remove 
Democrats, if Democrats had not 
previously been appointed under 
a former administration. 

Mr. George G. Fenton, Chief 
of the Appointment Division, 
was born at Moravia, New York, 
in August, 1843. Three years 
after the family moved to Louis- 
ville, Ky., and ten years later 
found a home in Madison, Ind., 
where young Fenton received 
most of his schooling. When 
the war broke out he enlisted, 
though only eighteen, in the 
39th Indiana regiment, and served 
over three years. After the war 
he engaged in business, and was 
deputy treasurer of Jefferson 
County two years, and sheriff for two terms. In 1882 he was 
appointed to a twelve hundred dollar clerkship in the Appoint- 
ment Division, was promoted by Judge Gresham to $1,600, and 
remained in charge of the Ohio and Indiana desks up to the time of 
his latest promotion in October, 1892. 

Mr. P. H. Bristow of Iowa is Chief Clerk in the office of the 




MR. GEORGE G. FENTON, 
Chief, Appointment Division. 



288 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



....■•"'"■'""'■'^"■■..^ 



Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. For a long time tie was 
city editor of the Iowa State Register, the leading Republican 
paper of Iowa, formerly edited by General Clarkson. He has been 
active in politics for twenty years. Mr. Clarkson and he served 
several years together on the Des Moines school board. Mr. Bristow 
was at one time auditor of the county in which Des Moines is 
located; later he was deputy auditor of the state, and for several 

years he was chief clerk in the 
office of Governor Larrabee. He 
was three years secretary of the 
Republican State Central Com- 
i mittee of Iowa and was called 
to Washington by General -Clark- 
son, though he was not a candi- 
date for any position. Mr. Bris- 
tow is the Post Office Department 
member of the United States 
Board of Geographic Names. 

The clerk in charge of presi- 
dential cases is Mr. Nathan A. 
C. Smith, a Vermonter, who en- 
tered the army from Wisconsin 
and saw service in Missouri, 
Kansas, Kentucky and Tennes- 
see. He was elected a captain 
in the Thirty-Second Wisconsin 
Infantry, but did not return to the service on account of disability. 
He was first appointed a clerk by Postmaster General Randall, and 
almost always since that time he has had clerical supervision of the 
cases for the appointment of presidential postmasters. This work 
has not only familiarized him with local political affairs all over the 
country, but it has brought him into close personal relations with 
all the successive postmasters general. He takes great interest, in 
addition, in the general progress of the Department. 

It has been required for the last few months to establish post 
offices at the rate of nearly one hundred a week. In but little over 
a month recently the increase of 395 offices (in 42 states and terri- 
tories) was chiefly as follows: Georgia, 28; North Carolina, 19; 




MB. NATHAN A. C. SMITH. 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES; APPOINTMENTS. 



289 



Kentucky, 18; Pennsylvania, 15; New York, 14; California, 11; 
Indiana, 12; Alabama, 20; Mississippi, 18; South Carolina, 17; 
Tennessee, 15; Ohio, 13; Illinois, 12; Maryland, 12. In the terri- 
tories the largest increase was in Oklahoma, where it was 21. In 
the Indian Territory the number was 12. In the other states and 
territories the increase in each was from one to nine. 

The following table shows some interesting operations of the 
Appointment Division: 



States and Territories. 



Alabama 

Alaska 

Arizona , 

Arkansas 

California 

Colorado 

Connecticut 

Delaware 

District of Columbia. 

Florida 

Georgia 

Idaho 

Illinois 

Indiana 

Indian Territory 

Iowa 

Kansas 

Kentucky 

Louisiana 

Maine 

Maryland 

Massachusetts 

Michigan .». 

Minnesota 

Mississippi 

Missouri 

Montana 

Nebraska 

Nevada ... 

New Hampshire 

New Jersey 

New Mexico 

New York 

North Carolina 

North Dakota Est 

Ohio 

Oklahoma 

Oregon 

Pennsyl vania 

Rhode Island 

South Carolina 

South Dakota Est 

Tennessee 

Texas 

Utah 

Vermont . . 

Virginia 

Washington 

West Virginia 

Wisconsin.. 

Wyoming 



Totals. 



Number of 

offices, 

June 30, 1889 



1,718 

15 

160 

1,393 

1,283 

609 

484 

149 

13 

781 

1,745 

227 

2,3 2 

1,993 

245 

1,736 

1,815 

2,041 

788 

1,066 

1,011 

839 

1,799 

1,220 

1,184 

2,255 

303 

1,070 

138 

526 

807 

228 

3,317 

2,352 

472 

2,956 



593 
4,340 

129 
1,037 

608 
2,118 
2,106 

244 

523 
2,543 

476 
1,450 
1,557 

185 



58,999 



Number on 
Mar. 5, 1892. 



2,054 
19 

175 
1,539 
1,416 

689 

500 

161 
11 

911 
2,014 

284 
2,471 
2,100 

288 
1,801 
1,805 
2,404 

910 
1,129 
1,101 

865 
1,929 
1,320 
1,370 
2,499 

399 
1,127 

158 

538 

862 

259 
3,517 
2,656 

518 
3,188 

137 

724 
4,753 

143 
1,199 

674 
2,413 
2,373 

263 

548 
2,828 

716 
1,682 
1,716 

245 



65,402 



Inc. or Dec. 



336 
4 

15 
146 
133 

80 

16 

12 
2* 

30 
269 

57 
119 
107 

43 

65 

10* 
363 
122 

63 

90 

26 
130 
100 
186 
244 

96 

57 

20 

12 

55 

31 
200 
304 

46 
232 



131 

413 

14 

162 

66 

295 

267 

19 

25 

285 

240 

232 

159 

60 



Per cent. gain. 



Population 
1890. 



.20 

.25 

.10 

.10 

.10 

.13 

.03^ 

.08 



.04 
.15 
.25 
.05 
.05 
.18 
.04 



.18 
.16 
.06 
.09 
.03 
.18 
.08 
.16 
.11 
.32 
.05 
.15 

.07 
.14 
.06 
.13 
.10 
.08 



.21 

.09^ 

.11 

.15 

.11 

.14 

.13 

.08 

.05 

.11 

.50 

.16 

.10 

.32 



Indians 



1,513,017 

31,795 

59,620 

1,128,179 

1,208,130 

412,198 

746,258 

168,493 

230,392 

391,422 

1,837,353 

84,385 

3,826,351 

2,192,404 



1,911,896 
1,427,096 
1,858,635 
1,118,587 

661,086 
1,042,390 
2,238,943 
2,093,889 
1,301,826 
1,289,600 
2,679,184 

132,159 

1,058,910 

45,761 

376,530 
1,444,933 

153,593 
5,997,853 
1,617,947 

182,719 

3,672,316 

61,834 

313,767 
5,258,014 

345,506 
1,151,149 

328,808 
1,767,518 
2,235,523 

207,905 

332,422 
1,655,980 

349,390 

762,794 

1,686,880 

60,705 



62,654,045 
249,273 

62,903,318 



One P. O. for each 



800 Inhabitants 
1,600 

330 

750 

800 

600 
1,500 
1,000 



450 

900 

300 

1,500 

1,000 



1,100 
800 
750 

1,200 
600 
950 

2,600 

1,100 

1,000 
900 

1,100 
350 
950 
300 
700 

1,700 
600 

1,700 
600 
350 

1,150 
450 
450 

1,100 

2,750 
950 
500 
750 
950 
800 
600 
600 
580 
4 
980 
250 



960 



General 
Average. 



* Decrease. 



290 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

Three years ago it was recorded that the greatest increase in the 
number of post offices in any of the states for the year was 215 in 
Pennsylvania. In Alabama the increase in number was 175; in 
Kentucky, 173; in Virginia, 163; in North Carolina, 159; in Ten- 
nessee, 155; and in Texas, 142. The largest increase for the pre- 
vious year was 121 in Pennsylvania. Two years ago the greatest 
increase in the number of post offices in any of the states for the 
year was 130 in Kentucky. In Pennsylvania the number was 114 ; 
in North Carolina, 103; and in Texas, 101. 

In each of 11 states there were upwards of 2,000 offices in opera- 
tion on June 30, as follows: Pennsylvania, 4,684; New York, 
3,476; Ohio, 3,156; Virginia, 2,777; North Carolina, 2,614; 
Missouri, 2,475; Illinois, 2,449; Tennessee, 2,370; Texas, 2,349; 
Kentucky, 2,344; Indiana, 2,090. In ten of the states there are 
100 or more presidential offices as follows : New York, 256 ; Penn- 
sylvania, 216; Illinois, 209; Ohio, 167; Massachusetts, 147; 
Iowa, 147; Michigan, 147; Kansas, 120; Indiana, 102 and Mis- 
souri, 102. 

The present position of the Department with regard to the removal 
of postmasters is perhaps best stated in the Postmaster General's 
report of last year. He said : 

" But the people generally expect, though they take no personal interest in the 
matter, that the postmaster will be changed •with the change of administration. 
Hence, the anticipated changes, though insignificant enough, are also numerous 
enough. Thousands of fourth class offices do not earn fifty dollars a year 
apiece. In thousands of cases present incumbents are eager to be relieved of 
their offices, and it is only with the greatest difficulty that new candidates can be 
found to take them. In hundreds of cases persons of the opposite party are 
appointed or reappointed by all administrations. In hundreds of cases changes 
are made simply to secure more convenient locations for post offices. In hun- 
dreds of cases again, it is considered politics by the members of the party which 
has lately been defeated, to discourage resignations until removals are made, so 
that the total of removals may appear in partisan journals as excessive. 

"The Department neither asks for resignations nor authorizes any person or 
persons to ask for them ; for when it is clear that a change ought to be made, the 
President or the Postmaster General has the power to make the required removal 
without indirection. I am able to recall perhaps ten cases, however, in the six- 
teen months of my incumbency, where postmasters whose habits have become 
such as to disgrace the service and whose friends interfered to prevent removals, 
have been notified in order that the publication of these disagi-eeable facts might 
be avoided, that they might resign if they preferred to do so. 

" It has been difficult in many cases where removals have been demanded to 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES; APPOINTMENTS. 291 

secure for the accused postmaster the treatment which should seem entirely fair 
to him. It is true that your instructions issued to this Department in March, 
1889, that no postmaster should be reported upon by an inspector who did not 
also have the chance to be heard in his own defence, were never, to my knowl- 
edge, disobeyed, and it is true that my additional precaution, expressed in a 
letter of explicit instructions, issued in January, 1890, by the Chief Post Office 
Inspector to his various inspectors in charge, was never to my knowledge dis- 
obeyed, for I would not hesitate for a moment to remove an inspector, any more 
than I would any other postal official or employee over whom I have jurisdiction, 
who disregards your instructions or mine, especially if, as might be the fact in 
this instance, he were to assume any attitude that might suggest the star 
chamber. It is hard to realize, however, how difficult it is even for the experi- 
enced inspector to resist the temptation to find in the insulting disloyalty 
of ill-natured partisans sufficient cause for removal. I have myself been much 
criticised by fair-minded persons because removals for these offences against 
decency have not been made, and I realize how hard it is for an inspector not to 
make mistakes. But it is a proud thing for the inspector force that in nearly 
every instance where the accuracy of the inspector's report has been called in 
question, this sworn official of the Government has been vindicated by the subse- 
quent investigation. 

" The confidential reasons which compel the Department to act must not be 
disclosed; first, because communities might in some instances be involved in 
strife and bitterness, and families might be subjected to disgrace and ruin. The 
removed person, either unaware of the full extent of the known information 
about himself, or else fully aware that no public use could in decency be made of 
it, often does not hesitate to talk or write about his so-called wrongs. If the 
truth were known he would be the one most to suffer; and yet, no matter how 
one sided or bitter his attacks may be, the Department can do nothing except wait 
for fair public scrutiny and hope for honest public treatment. 

" The postmaster in a small town is a candidate for reappointment. The com- 
munity in which he lives believes in civil service reform without quite knowing 
all that the words mean. Good citizens demand that the public service shall not 
be outraged by the appointment of any mere self-seeker or political ' striker.' 
The Department knows that the candidate for reappointment has not accounted 
promptly, possibly without fraudulent intent, for public money, or is a victim of 
the opium habit; it will not reappoint him. A cry is raised that the public ser- 
vice is prostituted to partisan ends. There are similar cases in large post offices, 
in which the postmaster similarly does his duty without fear. A letter carrier in 
uniform goes into a brothel, becomes intoxicated, and disgraces his wife and 
daughters. He is removed. The same cry is raised that every right of citizen- 
ship is outraged." 

In all times and nnder all administrations there are humorous 
things, and there are sad and terrible things, about the hunger and 
the thirst for office. The mania is general in all parts of the country, 
but in New England, perhaps, or at least in Massachusetts, it has 
been noticed that the number of candidates for a given small post 
office is small, and there are no particular candidates in many cases. 



292 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

In that locality it has seemed sometimes as if it were a sign of 
unthrift to want an office, and consequently the office has not been 
wanted ; and in New England, also, and especially in Massachusetts, 
has the custom grown among the referees of encouraging the natural 
bent of the people of their party, in a town where a change is to be 
made, to hold caucuses ; and the person receiving the highest poll is 
recommended to the appointing officer. 

There is no way of stopping the craze for office, for the simple 
reason that every free American citizen has a perfect right to be a 
fool if he chooses. It is not a surprising thing that in ninety-nine 
cases out of a hundred the best man is selected. In many 
cases it is a wholesome thing, this canvass, for the inevitable result 
must be that the fittest only survive. Many of the most successful 
postmasters, appointed under the present administration at least, 
have been those who have won their places after a fight; for not 
only have they had the success and pride of the Department at heart, 
but they have felt the more their obligation to suit the pride of all 
their patrons. 

It is a sad and a terrible thing when misrepresentation and malice 
come in, as they sometimes do. Some time ago there came from 
a western city to Washington a formidable petition against the 
appointment of a certain candidate for postmaster. It was signed 
with a long list of names alleged to be those of prominent citizens. 
All the names were found. to be fictitious. This is a sparkling 
fancy, though, compared with some of the contentions. 

In a good-sized city on the Pacific Coast a very smooth and sancti- 
monious pretender wanted the post office. He could not wait; so 
he conspired to bring about the incumbent's removal. To his aid 
he called a painted woman and a couple of young men who wanted 
positions in the office. The woman's services were bought with 
money. It was her part of the conspiracy to inveigle the postmaster 
into some questionable situation. There was to be a public scandal 
and the postmaster's resignation or removal from office would follow 
as a matter of course. There were divers meetings of the four con- 
spirators ; but the postmaster was an officer of character and refused 
to fall into the pit. 

A woman of respectable standing was then called into requisition. 
She conceived the idea of charging the postmaster with collecting 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES; APPOINTMENTS. 293 

all the letters received for women of questionable reputation and 
making personal deliveries for his wicked purposes. Then the can- 
didate put into circulation certain reports intended to frighten the 
postmaster into resigning. When there came the prospect of a 
vacancy, another citizen entered the field for appointment. Old 
time popularity soon gave him first place in public opinion. It now 
became necessary to wreck this man's reputation, and a second con- 
spiracy was formed. Immoral character was alleged. More painted 
women were added to the list of conspirators. Reports were circu- 
lated that the Postmaster General was about to remove the post- 
master. A petition was circulated among the best citizens for the 
appointment of the conspirator, and especial effort was made to 
secure the signatures of all the clergymen of the city. As he had 
denounced the postmaster and the leading applicant on account of 
the reports in circulation affecting their moral characters, the minis- 
ters attached their names to the petition. Meanwhile he met his 
men and women conspirators nightly. 

It took but a short time now for the case to go to the hands of the 
local Congressman, who would be asked by the Postmaster General 
for his advice, as the incumbent's term was out. The endorsement 
of the Congressman was refused to all aspirants. But the con- 
spirator conceived the notion that he would enlist the sympathies of 
the Postmaster General, and he presented his recommendations. 
The Postmaster General notified the Congressman, who at once said 
he would visit the city in question. To keep the Congressman 
away from the city where the post office excitement was running 
high became absolutely necessary, ,so the conspirator hired a 
"friend" of the Congressman to go to the latter's home and keep 
him "in tow." Weeks passed and no word from the Congressman. 
Finally inspectors of the Department were sent to the scene of 
action. They unearthed the plot. The leading candidate, a good 
man, was at once appointed. 

The Department has these machinations to contend with under 
any administration. All parties assume that changes in the post 
offices will be made ; they are in harmony as to the necessity of mak- 
ing changes. And other sneaks and cowards are the persons removed 
for cause. They make all sorts of accusations to the Department 
(no matter under what administration), and the Department can 



294 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

make no reply. It would take too many clerks in the first place ; 
and in the second, the reputations of these sneaks and cowards 
would be made as black as their characters, and the happiness 
of their families would be turned into misery. And certain 
reformers have come to pick up the complaints of these wretched 
persons as proof (curious proof ! ) of the vicious nature of the 
spoils system. The spoils system is vicious enough, but it is not 
so because rascals are turned out of office or are prevented from 
getting office. 

Sometimes when people are dissatisfied with appointments (and 
they are usually dissatisfied for insufficient reasons), they boycott 
post offices. They mail their letters on the postal cars; they 
refuse to buy stamps at the offices; and once, not long ago, at 
a small Missouri town, the postmaster had a number of his enemies 
arrested for conspiracy, — a foolish thing, because no case could 
be made out against them in that community. The only remedy 
for the Department, as has been said, is to discontinue the offend- 
ing office. 

Other things sometimes make the life of the fourth-class postmas- 
ter a burden. Recently in a Southern town — call it Santa Cruz, — 
the editor of the local paper described in tearful terms the killing of 
the postmaster's dog by a railroad train, and he criticised the tender- 
ness of the postmaster for burying the dog in his own lot in the local 
cemetery. This action, according to the editor's report, in "bury- 
ing a dog in ground set apart and hallowed for the last resting place 
of Christian people caused great disgust and indignation among the 
residents in our beautiful suburb, which culminated last night, when 
some unknown parties went to the cemetery and disinterred the 
carcass and carried it with the carefully prepared box which con- 
tained it, and placed it upon the porch in front of the postmaster's 
store, where it was found by him in the morning." 

The postmaster had himself done newspaper work and he wrote a 
reply. He was surprised that the editor should write himself a 
mendacious and unprincipled scribbler, and he added : 

" No one but a low brute could gloat over the physical suffering of either man or 
beast, or attempt to cast ridicule on the mental distress of a fellow-being. So, with 
unspeakable loathing, I relegate the writer of those very ' funny ' paragraphs in re- 
gard to the tragical death of my little household pet to the shades of obscurity.'* 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES ; APPOINTMENTS. 295 

And the postmaster meant fight, for he concluded : 

"Like other criminals and law breakers, those 'curs of low degree' have not 
had sense enough to cover up their foul tracks; and they are not (as the prime 
mover and head devil of the gang fondly supposes) 'unknown.' There are 
traitors always in such disreputable and rascally camps; there is really no honor 
among thieves, and as soon as I can secure sufficient proof, I will see that full jus- 
tice shall be meted out to those delicate and refined guardians of the reputation 
of Santa Cruz." 

The editor now appealed to the Department. He complained 
that the postmaster had come up to him in his very sanctum. He 
added : 

" Without the slightest provocation he has come up and called me the vilest of 
liars, a white-livered scoundrel, etc., and that he was not through with me yet, 
and much more of the same sort, including a threat to ' shoot me,' accompanied 
with the most insulting language. He has repeatedly refused to sell me stamps, 
in the quantity for which I asked and for which I tendered pay, alleging as his 
reason that ' someone else might want some, and he would not have them,' and 
on different occasions he has admitted that he had one or two dollars' worth, but 
would only let me have fifty or seventy-five cents' worth of them. I have on 
many occasions during the last year urged him to procure a sufficient quantity of 
stamps, which he has persistently neglected to do, saying that he ' could not get 
on a great quantity of stamps just to accommodate one man.' I think much of 
the postmaster's late conduct towards me is due to the fact that he holds me 
responsible for two newspaper articles ; for he has publicly accused me of the 
whole matter, the digging up of a dog and all. Of course I am innocent of the 
' grave desecration ' in question, but I did write the second article referring to 
the digging up of the dog as a matter of news which legitimately belonged to the 
public." 

• There is a postscript, however, in which the editor says : 

" I went into the postmaster's office this afternoon, and he said to me that if I 
went in there again he would kick me out." 

In every Congress, in every session, almost, are introduced bills 
to raise the pay of the fourth class postmaster, to relieve him of his 
troubles, and to make his appointment, if he must be appointed, 
which it is sometimes hoped not, a patriotic thing. Each is a 
panacea. A bill was introduced in the last Congress which provided 
that the country should be divided into postal districts, in each of 
which the Postmaster General should appoint a post office inspector 
to act as an examiner; that when a n r )urth-class postmaster is to be 
appointed, this examiner shall post notices saying where the post 
office is, what compensation the postmaster receives, what bond is 
required, where application papers may be had, when papers must 



296 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

be returned, and giving such other information as seems proper; 
that the examiner shall furnish the blank applications, etc., which 
shall be filled out by the applicant himself, giving his name and 
residence, when and where naturalized, if naturalized, time and 
place of birth, education, physical capacity, whether employed in 
the military, naval or civil service, his employment and residence 
for a period of five years, whether indicted at any time, and where 
the applicant would establish the post office, and whether in connec- 
tion with any other business ; that each candidate shall also furnish 
a certificate under oath, signed by three reputable citizens of the 
state or territory in which the applicant has actually resided within 
one year, that the applicant is suitable for the office ; that the post 
office inspector shall post a list of applicants in the given locality, 
and shall then find intelligent judgment as to the qualifications of 
the applicant; that a graded list of applicants shall be sent to the 
Postmaster General ; that the Postmaster General shall then appoint 
to the post office one of the candidates reported upon, assigning 
reasons acceptable to the public why the candidate graded highest 
does not happen to be appointed, if he does not happen to be ; that 
no appointment shall be absolute until a year thereafter; that the 
Postmaster General shall not appoint, nor the inspector recommend 
any candidate for political reason, that they shall prevent as far as 
possible the presentation of any political information touching the 
applicants, and finally that any fraud knowingly perpetrated shall 
exclude a candidate from the eligible list and be sufficient for his 
removal during the probationary period. 

Evidently legislation of this sort would require great numbers of 
additional inspectors, and they cannot be employed until the money 
is appropriated for the purpose. As one very practical postmaster 
has written : 

If a practicable method of relieving Congressmen from the responsibility of 
recommending the postmasters in their various districts were devised, it is 
probable that it would be generally favored by them, as many leading represen- 
tatives have expressed themselves as opposed to doing a work which involves 
them in much controversy and announce at home. But, as a citizen, I do not 
see how the proposed method coul< be satisfactory either to the patrons of the 
office or to the post office department. I am told about 400 fourth class post- 
masters are necessarily appointed weekly to keep up with the large number of 
vacancies occurring from death, resignations and opening of new offices. These 
vacancies being scattered throughout the United States, it would not be possible 



ESTABLISHING OFFICES ; APPOINTMENTS. 297 

for 20 inspectors, nor for 100 inspectors (which exceeds, I think, the total number of 
the force at present employed) to visit 400 different places weekly, and get sufficient 
information to make an intelligent recommendation as to who should be ap- 
pointed postmaster. Even if enough inspectors could be provided, the principle 
of allowing a stranger, on a brief visit to the place, and having no common inter- 
est at stake, to decide who should be its postmaster, would be very unacceptable 
to the people, and even if it were agreeable to them, the scant and imperfect 
knowledge which a stranger would be very apt to get would commit the Depart- 
ment to appointments which would have to be revoked and corrected upon the 
representations of the people through their Congressman, bringing it back in all 
contested cases to the recent system. The only cases that would not be so 
brought to the attention of the Congressman would be the little offices where 
there is but one applicant, so that the functions of these inspectors would be mis- 
placed in many cases and unsatisfactory in many others. 

" Under the present method of Congressional recommendations the Department 
has about 500 responsible counsellors, without expense, scattered throughout the 
country, who, if they do not know the applicants for office in their districts 
personally, yet know the very best sources for information as to them, their char- 
acter and their efficiency. These representatives have an interest in the recom- 
mendations they make, which cannot be felt by any inspectors, and instead of 
this system foisting upon the department inefficient partisans of the Congressman, 
it naturally results in the selection of men who reflect credit upon their endorsers 
and in making the members popular in their districts, i. e., good, honest, accept- 
able men. 

"It seems to me, therefore, that, while many Congressmen would like to be 
free from this responsibility, the Department could by no other means secure 
reliable information about candidates for office, without incurring an expense 
disproportionate to the end desired, or without resorting to methods which would 
be very distasteful themselves." 

Another favorite cure-all is the proposition that postmasters shall 
be elected by the people. Congressman Grout of Vermont has 
favored this method. Mr. Sherman Hoar of Massachusetts intro- 
duced a bill in the Fifty-Second Congress to effect the same purpose. 
Governor Flower of New York has long been a distinguished advocate 
of this policy, and General Clarkson believes in it. He said recently 
in a public speech: 

"I would take the post office out of national politics, and put it in neighborhood 
politics. I cannot share in the opinion of the Republican and Democratic 
reformers who would select at Washington by some device of a commission 
nearly all the postmasters for the 70,000 postal communities of this nation, for I 
would not take away, and in my judgment the American people will never allow 
to be taken away from each community the right to a voice in the election of its 
own postmaster. There is no reason why every postmaster should not be elected 
by the people whom he is to serve. The post offices have been largely the ele- 
ment of discord in national politics. They lead very often to party divisions and 
party weakness. They have killed off more good Congressmen and more good 



298 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



senators than all other causes combined. There are no ills in this Government 
which cannot be cured by carrying them directly to the decision and the wisdom 
of the plain people." 

Of course an amendment to the Constitution would be involved, 
and these come hard ; and while the argument would be used that 
this glorious country is different from the glorious country of Wash- 
ington and Jefferson because it is a hundred times as big, still a 
change which would take the officers of the executive branch away 
from the responsibility of the appointing power, is likely to come 
but slowly. 



\>fo 





MAKING BONDS OF $80,000,000. 



^ HE first appearance of work for the Bond Divis- 
ion is when the cases come in from the Division 
of Appointments. Clerks prepare a circular 
letter notifying the postmaster of his appoint- 
ment; and they also prepare a blank bond for 
him. These are transmitted to the new post- 
master. Then a record of them is made in 
one of the county books, as they are called, 
and a record is also made of the bond in the 

bond book, as it is called. The postmaster's name, the office, 

county and state, and the amount of the penalty of the bond are 

all recorded. When the bond is 

returned in the proper form the ^ 

commission of the new postmaster 

is ready for the signature of the 

Postmaster General. The work 

of the Bond Division has stead- 
ily increased, of course, with the 

growth of the service, and now 

the clerks sometimes approve as 

many as one hundred and fifty 

bonds a day. Especially has the 

work been heavy for the last 

few months, because of the Post- 
master General's order making 

money order offices of all those 

where the postmaster's salary is 

$200 or more. As early as three 

months ago the Bond Division 

had completed as many as six 

299 




COL. LUTHER CALDWELL, 
Chief, Bond Division. 



300 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

thousand of these new bonds, and the work was performed so 
expeditiously (and that without any extra detail of clerks), that 
scarcely a third of the work was behind-hand. 

When the salary of the postmaster is from $1 to $175, the penalty 
of the bond is made $500 ; when the salary is from $175 to $300, the 
penalty is made $1,000; when the salary is from $300 to $450 the 
penalty is fixed at $1,500; when the salary is from $450 to $800, 
the penalty is $3,000; and from $800 to $1,000 the penalty is 
$4,000. The money order portion of the penalty of a postmaster's 
official bond is determined in every instance by the Superintendent 
of the Money Order System. In the case of small money order 
offices it is usually placed at a sum sufficient to cover the gross 
receipts of money order funds for four weeks. 

The clerks in the Bond Division are very quick and sharp to 
know by the very looks of a filled-out bond whether the form is 
proper and the sureties good. Now and then the services of an 
inspector of the Department are required to find out the exact stand- 
ing of the new postmaster's bondsmen; and in all cases where the 
bond amounts to $2,000 or more the inspector is called in. That 
means another circular made out, in which appear the name of the 
postmaster, the office, county, and state, the date of the bond, the 
names of the sureties and the amounts in which they justify, and 
the name of the officer before whom they justified. When the 
inspector's report comes in that has to be carefully examined. If 
the report is satisfactory, the bond is at once taken from the stack of 
doubtful ones, and a memorandum is filed away with it to the effect 
that the bond is good. If the report has not been satisfactory, a new 
bond is of course required of the postmaster. 

The Division of Bonds consists of fifteen clerks, a messenger and 
the chief of the division. The chief is Col. Luther Caldwell of 
Elmira, New York, an Ipswich, Mass., boy, of one of the oldest 
families of the Bay State. He had been an editor and proprietor of 
the Elmira Daily Advertiser and mayor of Elmira. He is a veteran 
politician, was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 
Chicago in 1860, was a delegate to the convention which nominated 
General Grant in 1868 and secretary of it, and he called the roll of 
states upon the nomination of Grant and still has the roll call. He has 
been secretary of the New York State Republican Committee, clerk 






MAKING IJONDri OF !p8J,OJO,OJ0. 



301 



of the New York Assembly, and secretary of the New York Consti- 
tutional Convention of 1867 — 8. He was for years a confidential 
friend of Thurlow Weed and Horace Greeley. Colonel Caldwell 
visited Washington in 1841 and saw slaves whipped and sold on 
the Government block at the old slave mart on the south side of B 
and Seventh Streets. He was present at the inauguration of Lincoln 
and his regiment was the first to march through Baltimore after the 




THE CHIEF ROOM OF THE BOND DIVISION. 



attack on the Massachusetts Sixth. In spite of his seventy years of 
useful activity Colonel Caldwell is as hale and jovial as a college 
junior. 

The chief has supervision of all the work of the Bond Division, 
makes a daily report of the time of all clerks, and examines the 
names of all newly appointed postmasters, to see that they correspond 
with the names affixed to the bonds and oaths. The present chief 
has changed the printed forms of bonds, ordered new money order 
books for that section, and re-arranged the office so that the county 
books, which are in constant use, can be more easily and readily 



(No. mi. — Bond Division.) 




To be Observed in Executing the Inclosed Bond and Oath. 



loitl mm Mmwlmw$ r 

a Office of the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General, I 

f BOND DIVISION § 

I K 

!i & 

g § 1st. — The bond must be signed in INK by the postmaster, and at least two sureties, each writing his OWN >-] 

3 £ NAME IN FULL, and affixing his seal in the presence of a witness. Writing with pencil not accepted. 

|1 JS 

•o S 2d.— The witness must sign his name in the proper space on the left. No person can be a witness who cannot ^ 

■ § write his name. 2 

■g M 3d, — The NAME and post-office address of each surety must be inserted in the proper space in the body of 

£ % the bond. r< 

a « 4th. — The certificate at the bottom of the bond, and the jurat to the oath, may be signed by a Mayor, Judge £J 

| | Notary Public, Justice of the Peace, or by any officer, civil or military, holding a commission under the United States, >-i 

2 © who must add his official title. If signed by a Notary, a County Judge, a Probate Judge, or a Mayor, he must affix {ij 

o) -a his official seal, or produce a certificate from the County Clerk accompanied by the seal of the court ^ 

1 § 

"§ a 5th. — The DATE must be inserted in the proper space in the body of the bond, as well as in the certificate of the 2 

•0 © magistrate and the jurat to the oath (/> 

g £ Hi 

D ® 6th. — A woman will l>e accepted as surety, provided the magistrate certifies that she is unmarried, and that she rp 

5 § possesses property in her own right sufficient in value to cover double the amount of the penalty. Married women. X 

o cannot be accepted as sureties 2 



<B U 
C . 

■g § 7th. — Neither the certifying officer nor a person signing as witness can become a surety. ^J 

g <j> 8th. — Firms and corporations are not accepted as sureties. fr| 

a 3 »-* 

© o 9th. — Wheu erasures or alterations are made, the magistrate must certify that the sureties consented thereto. £0 

•£" 10th. — Before executing the bond and oath, read carefully the marginal notes printed thereon. 2 

o >> •*" 

o a 11th. — Postmasters at Presidential and Money-Order Offices should also observe the marginal instructions on fc* 

s "° the second page of the bond M 

& C/J 

£ 12th. — The word " postmaster " should never be erased from the bond and the word " postmistress " substituted _h 

Oca therefor Z 



13th. — Make no writing on the outside of the bond. 



c 



14th. — In returning the bond to the Department, let it be folded the same as when received by you. F 1 

16th.— Bonds with altered figures or written with pencil are not accepted. 

I^16th.— BEFORE RETURNING THE BOND AND OATH TO THE DEPARTMENT, COMPARE THEM 
CAREFULLY WITH THESE INSTRUCTIONS AND WITH THE MARGINAL NOTES, IN ORDER TO DETECT 
AND CORRECT ANY ERROR THAT MAY HAVE BEEN MADE IN THE EXECUTION THEREOF 

A COMMISSION WILL NOT BE ISSUED UNTIL THE BOND AND OATH HAVE BEEN PROPERLY 
EXECUTED 



C^/?^^4^7^ 



Jraurth Assl P M. General 



I T T T y T I fl U J In all yonr correspondence with the Department be weful to write plainly the name of y one 
HI I L n I I U rl ! OFFICE, COUNTY, and STATE. 

A FAC SIMILE OF RULES FOR EXECUTING BONDS. 

302 



MAKING BONDS OF $80,000,000. 303 

consulted. The Bond Division uses some seventy different kinds 
of blanks. It had its present number of clerks fifteen years ago. 
At that time there were 40,000 post offices; now there are almost 
70,000. Repeated efforts have been made to increase the force of 
clerks in the bond division ; but they have always failed. 

All bonds must have two or more sureties. It is not unusual for 
a bondsman to sign for $100,000, and one postmaster has a bondsman 
who signs for $2,000,000. Yet another signs for $3,000,000. The 
surety has to swear that he is worth the amount signed for, over and 
above all debts and liabilities existing against him. The names of 
all bondsmen are kept secret, except from members of Congress, offi- 
cials of the Department, and the other sureties on the bond. They 
are kept from the general public because many business men, in fact 
almost all business men, buy on credit somewhat, and it might 
affect their financial rating to their disadvantage if it were known 
that they took risks of this kind ; and this fact is illustrated in the 
experience of the Department, as well as in all business experience, 
by the fact that the Bond Division is frequently requested not to 
divulge the names of bondsmen. 

The postmaster is bonded for four years, and the bond is good for 
that period, unless, of course, one or more of the sureties die, move 
away, or withdraw. When anything of this sort happens, it is the 
duty of the postmaster to report the fact to the Bond Division. A 
new bond is at once furnished. The reason is evident enough why 
if a surety dies a new bond should be required. A former Postmas- 
ter General insisted that, if a bondsman moved away from a state 
where a post office was, the postmaster must make a new bond; but 
any citizen of the United States is eligible as bondsman if he can 
qualify as to amount of property. A surety may demand a release 
from a bond, if he thinks his fellow-bondsmen or any one of them 
is insolvent, or for any reason satisfactory to him. The postmaster 
may call for a new bond himself. Every surety is responsible for 
the whole bond. Frequently men will sign for $5,000, each one 
stipulating that he will pay a proportionate part; but they are all 
liable for the whole amount, just the same, as the text of the bond 
reads "jointly and severally." 

Few cases occur in which a newly appointed postmaster finds it 
difficult to secure bondsmen. In most of the cases which do occur, 



(No. 1109.— Series of July, 1883.) 

Id all communications to this Department be careful to give the name of your Office, County, and State, 
FORM OP OATH 

FOR ASSISTANT POSTMASTERS, 
Prescribed by the Acts of Conoress Approved March 5, 1874, and May 13, 1884. 



I, - , being employed as Assistant Postmaster 

in the post office at „ , in the 

S5 County of. , , and State of 



H 



O 

m _ • c 

gj do solemnly swear ( ) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United > 

2j States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; 2 

H % 

o that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion ; and that I will g 

H H 

t£ well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. > 

£ w 

GO ^ 

E I do further solemnly swear(. ) that I will faithfully perform all the duties ^ 

< K 

g required of me, and abstain from everything forbidden by the laws in relation to the establishment of Post g 

**» w 

S Offices and Post Roads within the United States; and that I will honestly and truly account for and pay > 

to e? 

t> . o 

a over any money belonging to the said United States which may come into my possession or control ; and g 

(9 {2 

f-* . v ' 

g I also further swear I ) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, g 

us So help me God. tf 

3 s 

m fi@* Ǥ 

« g; 

|J Sworn to and subscribed before me, the subscriber, a < co 

k .' g 

B for the County of .this day of ., 

A. D. 189 

._ _ , J. P. 

Qp N. B. The person who takes this oath should sign his narue above the magistrate's certificate. 

Note. — This oath must be taken before a Justice of the Peace. Mayor, Judge, Notary Public, Clerk of a Court of Record 
competent to administer an oatb, or any officer, civil or military, holding a commission under the United States; and if the 
oath is taken before an officer having an official sea), such seal should be affixed to his certificate. 

A FORM OF OATH FOR ASSISTANT POSTMASTERS. 



304 






MAKING BONDS OF $80,000,000. 305 

however, the reasons are political and affected by race reasons ; and 
consequently they occur most commonly in the South. Citizens 
band together to refuse to go as bondsmen ; and in these cases the 
postmaster is obliged to resort to the wealthy or resourceful leaders 
of his own party in his state, if there are any, and secure their assist- 
ance. He seldom fails to do this. But sometimes he must suffer 
the post office boycott — only for a time, however, because the 
Department under these circumstances discontinues the office. The 
order of Postmaster General Wanamaker, which doubles the number 
of money order offices, has caused many postmasters to resign; for 
new bonds are required in each case, and these are larger, and con- 
sequently harder, or perhaps impossible, to make. But the propor- 
tion of cases like this is not large; it is perhaps five per cent. 
When newly appointed postmasters fail to make their bonds, the 
Bond Division notifies the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. 
If this officer thinks the reasons given by the new postmaster for not 
securing his bond are not sufficient, he is advised of that fact, — 
this in order to give him a second chance before another appoint- 
ment to the same place is made. Resignations of postmasters are 
not infrequently brought about in this necessary way. 

When a postmaster is commissioned, reports go out from the Bond 
Division to almost all the other offices and divisions of the Depart- 
ment; one to the Sixth Auditor's office, noting all the changes in 
officers that are made; one to the Stamp Division, so that it may 
know that the new officer is entitled to receive supplies ; one to the 
Division of Supplies itself for a similar purpose. Wherever a 
change of site has been brought about by the commissioning of a 
new postmaster, the Contract Division of the Second Assistant's 
office is notified, so that a re-arrangement of service, or of routes, 
may be had, if it is necessary. The Money Order Division is noti- 
fied of the complete appointment. The Mail Equipment Division 
is informed, so that useless bags and locks may be called in ; and all 
of this information upon all of these points is communicated to the 
Daily Railway Mail Bulletin for publication, for all of it is of use 
in keeping the service accurate and prompt. 

The blank commissions of postmasters are filled out in the Bond 
Division by a particular clerk, called the engrossing clerk, whose 
handwriting is particularly fine. He must do his work with 



(No. 1105.— Series op July 1, 1887.) 
In all communications to thfc Department be careful to give the name of your Office, County, and State. 



PCMUME ©F OATH 



PRESCRIBED BY THE ACTS OF CONGRESS APPROVED MARCH 5, 1874, AND MAY 13, 1884, TO BE TAKEN 
BY ALL PERSONS EMPLOYED IN THE POSTAL SERVICE, EXCEPT POSTMASTERS. 



g t>o * ceina em/iicyea 

§ at in tne /icit office at , 

° en tAe (county c/ ana ^feate of _ , 

< ao ictemncu sweat f .^/ tnat <Jr tviit wSzActt ana ae/ena tne (oonititaticn 

^ w tne iSnitea 6/tate) aaaimf ai( e?iemie) J tolee'an ana aomeitic ? t/iat <Jr tce'u ceat tlae 

W /aitn ana •atteaiance to tne same / tnat <JP iane tnii cociaation /ieet?/j ivitnoat any 

< mentat ieselvation eb AulAcse of evaiion s ana tnat t/ wtii toeci and! tait/z/u/ny, taOtcnatae 

§ tne aua'es of tne office on wnicn <^/ am aoout to en/el <jo /iet% me yea* <Jr ao 

H Mttneh totemnty tweai f ;; , ::; ^ J tnat <Jr witt /aitn/utty /iei/olm a/c tne 

% aatiej leauilea o/ me ana aoiiain Aom eveiyt/iina /otoiaaen oy (fie tawi in tetaticn to 

% Me citavtis/tment of Aoit office* ana /iat Icaa* zoitnin tne cvnitea <jiated ; ana t/iat ijr 

o wife /icnestty ana tlaty account jwl ana Jiay ovel any money oeionyiny to tne saia 

w cSnitea ifcatei wnicn 9na,y come into my /t-oaesiion ol contloty ana <Jr aao /ultnet 

H ttoeat f J tnat <Jr loitc 6k r/i/iolt tne Joomtitution o/ tne cunitea <jYate3* 

t-> <jo nem Tne zZoa.. 
o / a 



^ ^fwoln to ana iuwcU'oea oe/c-le me, tne jqoiclioel^ a 

m ^ tne woeenty of. , , , tnii ^dayef.. 



,J.R 



©°N. B. — The persou who takes this oath should sign his name above the magistrate's certificate. 
"Insert Clerk, or other employ^, (as the ca6e may be.) 

' Note. — This oath must be taken before a Justice of the Peace, Mayor, Judge, Notary Pablic, Clerk of a Court 
•of Record competent to administer an oath, or any officer, civil or military, holding a commission under the United States: 
%ad if the oath is taken before an officer having an official seal, such seal should be affixed to his certificate. 



A FORM OF OATH FOR POSTAL EMPLOYEES. 



306 



MAKING BONDS OF $80,000,000. 307 

extreme nicety, for a mistake in a name would invalidate the whole 
process of appointment. If a commission is faulty in the name of 
the state given, and is signed by the Postmaster General, the mis- 
take, to be sure, may be corrected; but almost always a new com- 
mission is made out. If a presidential commission is filled out with 
the wrong name, an entire new nomination has to be made by the 
President to the Senate, and the Senate has to go all over the con- 
firmation again. In over seven hundred appointments sent to the 
last session of the Senate one mistake was made. The commissions 
are sent to the Postmaster General's office, and if he approves them, 
he simply signs them in the case of fourth class offices, and they go 
to the new appointees; and in the case of presidential offices the 
commissions are taken to the White House, where the President 
signs them, and then the Postmaster General puts his signature to 
the commission also, and it goes forward similarly. The golden seal 
of the Department is stamped into each commission, and pretty rib- 
bons decorate it. 

President Harrison has examined papers in the cases of presiden- 
tial post office appointments with the greatest studiousness ; and it 
is told of President Cleveland that once, when he was to leave the 
Capital at the close of a session of Congress, he sent orders to the 
Department that the Bond Division should prepare all commissions 
required at that particular period, and the clerks were required to 
work far into the night in order that no blank ones might be 
signed. 

The names of all presidential offices and postmasters are recorded 
in the Bond Division in two books. In one of these the names of 
the offices are entered by states and territories in alphabetical order. 
In the other the names of the postmasters are kept in alphabetical 
arrangement, according to the dates of appointment. The names of 
the postmasters appointed at money order offices which do not belong 
to the presidential list are entered alphabetically in a separate record, 
according to dates of appointment. The names of postmasters 
appointed at fourth class offices which do not belong to the money 
order list are likewise entered in a separate record (being divided 
into two sections in consequence of the large number of entries 
required) in alphabetical order, according to the dates of appoint- 
ment. There are also thirty-nine record books in which the names 



308 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



of post offices of all classes are recorded by states and counties, 
together with the names of the postmasters and the dates of their 
appointment. 

The total amount of the bonds of presidential offices is nearly 
$40, 000, 000, and in addition nearly $40,000,000 for the money 
order offices, making a total of $80,000,000 that could be reduced 
safely to $50,000,000, and the bonding be done for probably $50,000 
or $100,000 for the term of the postmaster. At the fourth class 
offices the bonds are nearly $40,000,000, and they could be safely 
reduced one half. As there are few clerks or assistants at fourth 
class offices, the necessity is not so great. All these, at least, are 
views of Postmaster General Wanamaker; and he thinks, too, that 
in these days, when corporation security can be so easily obtained, 
it is a mistake to take as sureties the bonds of thousands of men and 
women unknown to the Department, the value and usefulness of 
which are constantly changing with bankruptcy and death; and he 
believes that the Government should accept only surety companies 
as bondsmen, and that such bonds should be paid for by the Govern- 
ment and not by the postmaster. He goes on : 

In hundreds of cases the best men cannot take appointments, because they 
cannot furnish bonds; and the man who receives the place, though rich enough to 
make or get the bond, is too poor in education, habits, or disposition to attend 
to all the work of a postmaster. In not a few places the citizens best entitled to 
be appointed, have been prevented from getting bonds for political reasons. In 
scores and probably hundreds of cases the discipline and good service of a post 
office is crippled because the postmaster, to get his bond, has been compelled, as 
a consideration therefor, to appoint a relative of the guarantor the deputy, or the 
cashier, or certain clerks, who were not only incompetent, but who assume inde- 
pendence of the rules of the office. In some cases the bondmaker becomes the 
banker of the postmaster and uses the Government money. 

The following table shows the total penalty, and the postal and 
money order bonds, at some of the chief post offices : 



City. 


State. 


Penalty. 


Postal. 


Money Order. 


New York 

Chicago 


New York. 

Illinois. 

Ohio. 

California. 

Massachusetts. 

Missouri. 


$500,000 

400,000 
325,000 
300,000 
250,000 
225,000 


$250,000 
200,000 
225,000 
150,000 
150,000 
100,000 


$250,000 
200,000 


San Francisco 

Boston 


100,000 
150,000 
100,000 


Saint Louis 


125,000 



MAKING BONDS OF $80,000,000. 



309 



City. 


State. 


Penalty. 


Postal. 


Money Order. 


Saint Paul 

Brooklyn 


Wisconsin. 

Maryland. 

Minnesota. 

Louisiana. 

Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania. 

New York. 

Missouri. 

New York. 

Ohio. 

Texas. 

Dist. of Columbia. 

Minnesota. 


$200,000 
200,000 
200,000 
180,000 
175,000 
160,000 
130,000 
130,000 
125,000 
125,000 
100,000 
100,000 
75,000 


$100,000 

150,000 

100,000 

80,000 

110,000 

120,000 

100,000 

80,000 

90,000 

75,000 

60,000 

70,000 

45,000 


$100,000 
50,000 
100,000 
100,000 
65,000 
40,000 
30,000 
50,000 
35,000 




50,000 
40,000 
30,000 
30,000 



The postal penalty is fixed by the Finance Division of the Third 
Assistant's office, and the money order penalty by the Money Order 
Division of the First Assistant's, and they vary, of course, according 
to amounts of business. A larger money order bond is required at 
St. Paul than at Philadelphia simply because a larger money order 
business is done at the former place. Similarly, at New Orleans, 
where the banking facilities are not large, the money order business, 
and hence the money order bond, are large. Cincinnati's postal busi- 
ness requires a $225,000 penalty, while the similar penalty at New 
York is only $250,000 and at Philadelphia only $110,000; for Cin- 
cinnati supplies a great number of towns in Kentucky and Ohio 
with stamped paper, which they pay cash for. Thus, too, Cincin- 
nati's money order bond is $100,000 and Philadelphia's only $65,' 
000, because a large foreign money order business is done at the 
former place. The penalties at the Washington City post office are 
small, because a large proportion of the business of the office is 
official and free. 



THE INSPECTORS, THE EYES AND EARS. 




ORE difficult and comprehensive are the duties of 
the post office inspector than those of any 
/"* other official of the Government. The office 
was created in order that the Postmaster Gen- 
] eral might have ready at his call reliable 
men for confidential work. This related 
mostly to the character of applicants for 
office and to the suppression of depreda- 
tions upon the mails in and out of the postal 
service. Gradually, however, other work 
was put upon the force ; until at the present time an inspector is 
liable to be called upon to look into an irregularity in any one of 
the almost innumerable branches of the Department. He may be 
upon the track of a criminal and receive upon his route orders to 
proceed upon the investigations of a score of things before he returns 
to his headquarters or his home. This service, therefore, requires 
a wide range of ability, of tact, insight, prudence, courage and 
endurance. In the far western country the labors of an inspector 
take him over long stretches of stage routes and upon horseback 
trips in the mountains, where he must stay for weeks before he can 
finish his work. An inspector is required to be, by his instructions, 
constantly on duty; that is, he is subject to call at any time and 
for any length, or difficulty, or danger, of service. 

The enormous extent to which labor relating to the different 
branches of the postal service has been added to the tasks of the 
inspectors has resulted in an utter inability of the force authorized 
by Congress to keep up with the complaints made by patrons of the 
post office. Many of these complaints are not based upon any short- 
comings of the postal employees. Often they are made without 
sufficient reflection ; for the senders of letters are, in nine tenths of 






310 



THE INSPECTORS, THE EYES AND EARS. 311 

the cases, themselves at fault in not really mailing their letters, or 
in not affixing sufficient postage ; or, indeed, in having improperly 
addressed their mail. Of ten thousand complaints made annually, it is 
not possible to investigate more than five thousand ; but it is small 
matter, as almost five thousand of these are baseless. 

The courts deal leniently, as a rule, with offenders against the 
United States laws. This is due, in certain parts of the country, to 
a general feeling of opposition to Federal prosecution. This is 
especially true of the South, where the name of the Government is 
associated with Internal Revenue prosecutions so strongly that in 
many regions it is almost impossible to secure convictions in postal 
cases. One court, for instance, would not for years entertain a 
complaint based upon what is called a " test " letter rifling, the 
ordinary method of detecting a postal thief ; and the opposition of 
that court to the test letter necessitated a special enactment of Con- 
gress, making the penalty for tampering with, rifling or detaining a 
" test " letter equal in severity to that for depredating any other letter 
or package. This indisposition to convict makes the work of the 
inspectors still more difficult. 

Complaints about the mails made by all persons in the United 
States, made to a postmaster, to the inspector-in-charge, to the Post- 
master General, finally centre upon the desk of the Chief Post 
Office Inspector in Washington. Thence they are referred to the 
proper clerk, who places with the complaints any papers relating to 
them. These are arranged in five classes, A, B, C, D, and F, 
according to the character of the matter, and when the completed 
correspondence indicates that a personal investigation is needed, the 
case is sent to the proper division and put in the hands of an in- 
spector. Most of the complaints relate to the mis-sending, loss, or 
delay of ordinary letters ; to the rifling of them, or to the tampering 
with them from curiosity. Next in number are the cases of a 
miscellaneous nature. They relate to complaints against postmasters 
and other officials or employees of the Department, to inspections of 
post offices, to money order cases, to violations of postal laws, to the 
leasings and locations of post offices, and to miscellaneous cases of 
all sorts. The third most numerous class relates to losses, delays 
and riflings of registered letters. These are " A " cases ; the " B " cases 
are ordinary ; and the " C " miscellaneous. " D " cases relate to the 



312 



THE STORY OF OUtt POST OFFICE. 



robberies and burnings of post offices. " F " cases relate entirely to 
foreign mails. 

The proportion of registered letters rifled or miscarried is very 
small, but the number of cases annually requiring investigation is 

large. It has not yet been pos- 



sible to find an envelope for the 
registry system which would be 
secure, and at the same time easy 
to fasten, and cheap. This diffi- 
culty has been one of serious at- 
tention on the part of postmasters 
general for years. Experienced 
thieves have not much difficulty 
in opening and resealing any mu- 
cilage envelope. But the regis- 
try system of endorsements by 
every person handling the article 
registered, makes it very easy to 
follow an envelope and note its 
delays ; and so, if a thief will 
steal, he will surely be detected. 
Even with ordinary letters, or in 
the largest offices, it is only a 
question of time when a dishonest employee is caught, and with the 
evidence of guilt upon him. The disposition of Americans to com- 
plain of the loss, even of a social letter, or of a postal card, and 
especially of business letters, makes it next to impossible for any 
employee of the service to detain or steal a letter. The authorities 
are notified and the thief pursued and punished. An even sharper 
disposition to c omplain has been invited by Postmaster General 
Wanamaker, who has realized that the eyes of millions are bet- 
ter than the eyes merely of the thousands who work for the 
Department. 

Inspectors are wholly in the classified civil service now, and are 
secured in three ways : by original examination by the Civil Service 
Commission, by reinstatement of inspectors previously employed 
within a year, and by transfer from some other branch of the classified 
service. Most of the present force are old, experienced men, and 




MR. M. D. WHEELER, 
Chief Post Office Inspector. 



THE INSPECTORS, THE EYES AND EARS. 



313 



most of the newer men have been selected from other branches of 
the service. Very few have been appointed who have not had 
experience in postal work. Of those who accept appointments 
many find themselves unfitted for the severe strain of almost con- 
stant travel and exertion. Others, who are appointed for a proba- 
tionary term, prove to be unqualified, and are dropped at the end of 
six months. A number of men have been in the service almost their 
whole lifetime. An inspector is appointed for but one year ; and as 
the tenure of office is not so secure as in other branches of the 
service, many good men prefer to remain in the Railway Mail Ser- 
vice or in the Department itself. 

The present force consists of about one hundred men ; and they 
are assigned to duty in geographical divisions of the country. They 
are under the orders of an inspector-in-charge of the division, who 
assigns work to them and directs their movements. This inspector- 
in-charge reports in turn to the 
chief inspector at Washington, 
forwarding with his approval the 
reports of the inspectors as they 
are received. The average dis- 
tance travelled by an inspector is 
about one hundred miles a day ; 
and it happens not infrequently 
that he travels five thousand miles 



in a month. 

The great bulk of an inspec- 
tor's work consists of investiga- 
tions of simple irregularities in 
the mail service. The fourth class 
postmasters do not carefully ob- 
serve the rules and regulations, 
and hence much carelessness, where 
there is no dishonesty, results. 
Again, the rifling of registered 
letters affords an immense amount 
of labor, and as this is work which requires the most cautious atten- 
tion, the inspector's other work accumulates. From one source and 
another he has his hands full constantly. While an inspector has no 




MR. JAMES MAYNARD, 
Chief Clerk, Division of Mail Depredations. 



314 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

legal authority to make an arrest, yet it frequently happens that, in 
order to secure evidence of guilt, the inspector must himself at once 
take the offender into custody. In such cases the practice is to turn 
the apprehended person promptly over to the marshal of the district in 
which the offence was committed, and lay the evidence before the 
nearest commissioner. The inspector then makes his report of the 
facts, and arranges for the proper conduct of the office, if the offender 
has been a postal employee, by filling the place of the arrested, by 
swearing in a suitable person ; or in rare cases, where bondsmen 
desire it, he may feel compelled to take charge of the office himself. 
Where thefts are committed in the larger offices, it is very difficult 
to detect the offender, because of the number of clerks who have 
access to the letters, and in the prosecution of such cases an inspector 
must exercise the utmost diligence and caution. He may be 
obliged to work night after night before he can discover the 
culprit ; and a confederate may be obliged to remain with him day 
after day. But here, as always, the thief goes unwhipped of justice 
only for a time. 

Inspectors proceed upon a well-founded theory that a thief who 
has once purloined a letter will repeat the offence, and continue to 
steal, until he has at length been caught in the act. New boldness 
comes with each performance, until, feeling quite safe, he becomes 
less prudent. He does not realize that all those around him in his 
office may be fully in the confidence of the inspector who is covertly 
watching him. Experienced inspectors detect many tell-tale signs 
of suspicion where the superior officer himself may be deceived. 
The habits, the eyes, the whole deportment of a thief, who has not 
yet been discovered, are often enough to put the inspector upon 
the right track at once. 

So much of the work of an inspector is done away among the 
stage routes, at remote distances from the railroad, where it is im- 
possible for him to communicate with his division chief, that he 
must rely, with the utmost confidence, upon his own judgment. He 
must not be deterred from the performance of his duty by plausible 
excuses. He must be free, too, from any insolence of office and from 
arbitrary manners. The fact that an inspector is enabled to command 
the power of the Government in the prosecution of a suspected 
depredator, makes it important that no trivial prosecution should be 



THE INSPECTORS, THE EYES AND EARS. 315 

entered, nor one without sufficient evidence to justify a charge. The 
United States courts, as has been said, are more inclined to favor the 
defendant than the prosecutor ; and, because the prosecution incurs 
no individual expense, while the defence must, is another reason 
why the courts discourage unimportant prosecutions. To keep 
outsiders from instituting actions in the United States courts for 
malicious reasons, the expenses of a prosecution, not undertaken 
by a proper investigating officer, must be borne, if the defendant is 
acquitted, by the person filing the information ; which leaves postal 
irregularities to be considered only by inspectors and other postal 
officials, and not by the patrons of the office alone. Many of the 
inspectors are well read lawyers themselves, and many others are 
well experienced in the rules of evidence and practice. It is almost 
indispensable that they should be. Moreover, inspectors are pro- 
vided with carefully formulated instructions as to their conduct in 
various cases. They are expected to be perfectly familiar with all 
the Postal Laws and Regulations ; and they are compelled to study 
them almost constantly in order to keep posted in the latest changes 
in the service of their divisions. 

As a rule, inspectors do not leave their own divisions, but under 
orders of the Postmaster General an inspector goes to any part of the 
country. It happens almost daily that fugitives are captured in the 
far West, or in Mexico or Canada, who have fled from the East. A 
warrant for the arrest of a postal thief is made out in the name of 
the President of the United States to a certain marshal ; and it may 
be served, by the endorsement of a judge, in any part of the country, 
without the delay which arises from the extradition of a state 
offender who has fled to another state. As there is no bar nor 
limitation in cases of felony against the United States, nor in the 
case of a fugitive, the chances are much in favor of the final capture 
of a man who is foolish enough to steal from the mails, no matter 
where he goes. A complete system is used by which a . suspected 
person who is wanted in any particular division is located if he goes 
to another. 

The present Postmaster General has established an admirable 
method of getting himself into closer conference with his inspectors 
by calling an annual meeting of the division chiefs to meet at 
Washington. He hears all the suggestions which they may offer as 



316 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

the result of their past year's work, and communicates to them his 
own thoughts upon needed improvements in the service. It is 
wonderful that the inspector's force does as much as it does. 
There are less than one hundred men to cover the irregularities in 
almost seventy thousand post offices and along hundreds of thousands 
of miles of post routes, and it is remarkable that the postal service 
is kept under such close and vigilant surveillance as it is. Post- 
master General Wanamaker has repeatedly urged upon Congress the 
need of more men for this work. 

The mere moral effect of an inspector's visit to an office is 
salutary. Especially is this true of the smaller offices, where the 
country postmaster is sometimes found inattentive to the regulations. 
It happens frequently that an inspector, visiting a cross-roads office 
where the postmaster is perfectly honest, finds letters which have 
been undelivered for months or even years. Many of these contain 
money, many relate to business of importance. Many are ad- 
dressed to offices of the same or similar name in another state. After 
the visit of the inspector these derelictions are corrected. 

The idea of Postmaster General Wanamaker has always been to 
supervise and prevent rather than to cure ; to advise and encourage 
rather than detect. This was his motive originally in proposing a 
division of the country into supervisors' districts, which should be 
traveled over by postal experts, the best ones in them, to confer with 
postmasters, railway mail men, and any others, and actually improve 
the service at all possible points, rather than wait until it was bad 
in some locality or particular and then correct it. 

But the safety of the mails, after all, is something wonderful. 
Almost a million and a quarter of pieces of registered mail matter, 
valued at almost a billion and a quarter of dollars, are received in 
the mails annually for the Post Office and Treasury Departments 
alone. It is not practicable to state accurately the value of the 
remaining 15,000,000 pieces of registered matter transmitted for the 
public during an average year, but it may be estimated by taking as 
a basis of calculation the known or supposed contents of the 2,000 or 
more pieces reported to have been rifled or lost. The inclosures for 
these 2,000 pieces have an average value of $12.50 per piece. If one 
computes the 15,000,000 pieces at this rate, the result is $187,550,000. 
This is without much doubt an underestimate. This sum added to 



THE INSPECTORS, THE EYES AND EARS. 317 

that of the official values given makes a total of $437,500,000. So 
the net loss amounted in all to about one-thousandth of one per cent. 
The following calculation appeared in one of Postmaster General 
Wanamaker's recent annual reports : 

As to the ordinary mail matter, it is just as difficult to determine its value, 
because there are no declared values, and it is the business of the officials not to 
inquire what letters contain. It is interesting to know, however, that the average 
value of the money letters opened in the Dead Letter Office was $1.65; of the 
letters containing postal notes, $1.51; and of the letters containing negotiable 
paper, $55.07. By taking into account all letters opened in the Dead Letter Office, 
the average value per letter is found to be a little more than 25 cents (25.2). It is 
estimated that there are carried in the mails 1,854,667,802 ordinary letters per 
annum, these figures being based upon the general count of mail matter made for 
one week in May last. At the rate of 25.2 cents per letter the value of the ordi- 
nary letter mail of the United States for one year would be $467,376,286.10. 

There has been no loss at all in the Department proper. The total supposed 
losses of ordinary mail throughout the United States, as reported by the office of 
the Chief Post Office Inspector, amounted to 51,745 pieces. Of these 20,900, or 40 
per cent., were packages, the remaining 60 per cent, being letters. The total 
losses ascertained to be due to carelessness or depredation of postal employees 
number 23,985, 60 per cent, of which would be 14,391. Assuming the average value 
to be 25.2 cents, the total ascertained loss of ordinary letters chargeable to the 
postal service would be $3,526.52, or 77/10,000 of 1 per cent. 

The newspaper dispatches told some time ago about the great gold 
train that rolled on east, with its millions of treasure on board, in 
charge of the Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service. The 
amount shipped was $20,000,000. It was packed in 500 boxes, each 
of which contained $40,000 in $5 and $10 pieces. Each box was 
marked as a registered mail package, and the Post Office Department 
was responsible for the safe delivery of it all to the New York sub- 
treasury. The shipment was all practically arranged for on the spur 
of the moment. The coin was packed in bags and removed, truck 
load by truck load, so quietly as to attract no attention. The gold 
was principally loaded in two Union Pacific cars, constructed of 
wrought steel, and supposed to be bullet and bomb proof. The 
boxes containing the treasure were made of inch boards and measured 
about 10 x 14 inches. They were provided with iron handles and 
bore the Treasury seal. It cost $3,500 altogether to bring this 
$20,000,000 across the continent. The treasure occupied 500 bags, 
which had cost $2,000. Then there were the personal expenses of 
Captain White's fifty-one men who went to San Francisco to bring 



318 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



the money east. The wagons, men and regular trains of the mail 
service did the rest. The lowest bid which the Treasury Depart- 
ment got from the express companies for this work was $60,000. 

The post office inspector is exposed to the sensational maker of 
books. A western inspector-in-charge once had a case against a 
publishing firm and sent one of his men to secure information. 




HE ACCOSTED LETTER CARRIERS ON THE STREET AND DEMANDED 
CERTAIN LETTERS OF THEM." 



When he returned he informed the inspector-in-charge that he saw a 
book over there written by him. The man was immediately sent to 
buy a copy. It was based upon an actual case that. occurred several 
years ago ; and the publishing company employed some sensational 
writer to take the newspaper accounts of the affair and weave a 
romantic story about it. They called it " Leaves from the Diary of 



THE INSPECTORS, THE EYES AND EARS. 319 

Inspector So-and-So," misspelling his name purposely, no doubt, as a 
safeguard, although the likeness of the alleged author was used as a 
frontispiece. The facts were true, but disgustingly set forth. The 
only thing which prevented the injured " author " from bringing 
action against the company was the consideration that it would only 
give the publication greater notoriety. 

Now and then some idiotic knave starts out to personate a post 
office inspector. This last summer, a man named Hall had a good 
time at Lima, O. In some way he came into possession of a badge 
which read : " Secret Service, P. O. Department, No. 3." He pinned 
this to his vest in a place where he could display it conveniently as 
occasion demanded. On the street cars he showed it to the conduc- 
tors, and so (oddly enough) was allowed to ride free. He accosted 
letter carriers on the streets and demanded certain letters of them. 
He also had cards printed bearing, in addition to the inscription on 
the badge, the words : " Headquarters, Cincinnati, O." At last a 
real post office inspector was put on his track. Hall was arrested, 
charged with impersonating a post office inspector, and punished. 



STOKIES OP INSPECTOES. 




HE magic power of the inspector's commission, 
the little leather-bound tablet that bears the 
seal of the Department and the autograph of its 
chief ! 

" I have been belated in the backwoods," says 
one old-timer, "where neighbors do not live closer 
than five or ten miles, and where strangers are 
regarded with suspicion ; but the mere sight of my 
commission brought from the remotest cabin the 
best the owner had. The welcome that greeted me was as honest 
and plain as he who gave it. The host said : 

" ' We are homespun folks here, sir, and haven't much to offer, but 
when one of Old Uncle Sam's men comes around, he takes the best 
we've got'; and this, too, from one, 4 who had bucked agin Uncle 
Sam ' for four years." 

At other times the commission is not greeted so kindly, as, for 
instance, when an inspector looks suddenly into a post office and 
calls for an examination of the books, and the postmaster is not in 
funds to meet the balance due. Then ill-concealed confusion and 
nervousness come with the halting " I am glad to see you." The 
symptoms of disturbance are readily observed by an inspector the 
moment he makes himself known at such an office. The money 
order fund is the sacred trust of the Department, and one who mis- 
appropriates it must suffer as embezzlers do. So the inspector has to 
listen to all sorts of reasons why the money was used for the post- 
master's personal benefit. The pleas for clemency are oftentimes 
filled with tears, and again, they tell of fortunes dreamed of in the 
glamour of speculation. One will say that his baby died or his wife 
became insane and had to be sent to an asylum. Another will tell 
how he had great faith in the rise of cotton and had bought a few 

320 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 



321 




*■/*,, 



we're HOMESPUN folks here, sir." 



hundred bales of futures, 
but the price of the 
staple had taken a down- 
ward turn and — his mar- 
gins were wiped out. 

Another condition, when 
the inspector is greeted with 
nervous demeanor, is when the 
postmaster happens to be a woman. So anxious is she that her 
office will appear as well as if it were conducted by a man, that she 
becomes frightened at the sound of the word inspector. In this early 
part of the era of the woman in business, she has not generally been 
able to adapt herself to the methods of men in conducting affairs. 
She lacks confidence from want of experience and long continued 
business habits, and though her work may be as good as a man's, 
or better, she imagines it is faulty. 

In a small Southern town an inspector found the postmaster hard 
at work with a sewing machine. " What is it?" she chirped lightly, 
when he tapped upon the door of the mail room. He responded by 



322 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



announcing his position and by asking admittance. The whir of the 
machine ceased; then a few moments of silence, and then a door 
opened by a young woman with a face that nature had been very 
mischievous in making; but it was covered with an expression of 
fear and amazement that detracted much from its gentle lines. The 
inspector pretended not to notice the postmaster's embarrassment ; 
he was weighing its meaning. Very soon he concluded that the 
possessor of such a face could not have been guilty of any serious 
violation of the postal laws ; manifestation must come from other 
causes. No inspector had ever visited this office before, which might 
account for the excitement. News of the inspector's presence 

was passed from mouth to 
mouth until a number of 
the citizens gathered in the 
lobby. The most frequent 
comment was that women 
were not fit for business 
anyway, and this girl 
should never have been ap- 
pointed. Several of the 
crowd were bold enough to 
ask how much the short- 
age was. All this, of 
course, only made the lit- 
tle woman more nervous. 
Finally she burst into 
tears. The inspector asked 
what was the matter. 

"I don't know," she 

said, "but there must be 

something wrong, or you 

would not have come here. 

They say that inspectors 

visit only those offices that 

are not properly managed." 

She was told that the examinations were of a purely routine 

character ; and it was soon shown that her books were correct in 

every particular, for higher excellence would be hard to find any- 




TJlSrCLE TOBE. 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 323 

where. Then the crowd outside insisted upon poking their hands 
through the general delivery window for a congratulatory "shake." 

At one of the inland Southern towns there is a mail messenger, a 
venerable colored man, known as Uncle Tobe, who has carried the 
mail from the post office to the railroad station for many years, and 
is as proud of his position and as jealous of his rights as if he were 
second assistant postmaster general. One night (the mail lying 
on the depot platform, awaiting a train) an inspector noticed that 
the pouch was fastened with the new style of lock. It was the first 
he had seen ; so he tried his key, received a short time before, to 
test its reliability. Uncle Tobe was sitting at the other end of 
the platform, and, not knowing the inspector, he concluded that 
a robbery of the mail was being committed. He rushed upon 
the supposed robber, grabbed him by the arm, and yelled with all 
his might : 

" Help, help ! police ! T'ief robbin' de mail ! " 

The inspector produced his commission. Uncle Tobe, still grip- 
ping the arm, took the commission to the light and examined it 
closely. He could not read ; he had never seen such a document 
before. But he finally saw the Department seal on the reverse of 
the tablet, admitted that it was satisfactory, and remarked : 

" I knowed de runnin' horse, wif de man astride of him, meant 
pos' office business." 

There was a case once of two registered letters that had appar- 
ently passed from a railway postal clerk to a depot transfer clerk 
and been duly receipted for. The letters never reached their desti- 
nations. The transfer clerk was held responsible, having given the 
last receipt, and he was required to pay two hundred dollars, the 
amount they were alleged to contain. When the addressee of one 
of the letters was informed by the Department that the twenty dol- 
lars, claimed by him as sent in the letter, was recovered and would 
be remitted to him on proper application, he replied that the Depart- 
ment owed him nothing ; that the money had been sent to him. 
But he said that the letter accompanying the money, though signed 
with the name of the original sender, was not in the handwriting or 
the language of the first letter. This information caused a re-open- 
ing of the case ; and as the other registered letter had been lost in 
the same way about the same time, the two were combined into one 



824 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

case upon a theory that the person who had secretly sent the twenty 
dollars to this addressee had also taken the other letter containing 
one hundred and eighty dollars. The inspector's work was to find 
the hidden sender of the twenty dollars. He travelled two thousand 
miles and visited six post offices. The papers pointed to the railway 
postal clerk as the guilty person, but proof, either definite or indefi- 
nite, was lacking. The letter with the envelope which had accom- 
panied the twenty dollars secretly sent had been destroyed, so that 
they were not available to identify the sender. The secret letter 
appeared to have been registered, but at the office where it purported 
to have been received for registration no trace of it could be found. 
At last the inspector came across the yellow return card that served 
as a postmaster's receipt from the addressee, which had been inad- 
vertently held at a post office, the letter having been forwarded from 
there. This card was plainly in the handwriting of the railway mail 
clerk, and clearly established his guilt. He was no longer in the 
service, and it required some little argument to induce him to refund 
the one hundred and eighty dollars, but he finally did so, and the 
amount was returned to the depot transfer clerk. The railway mail 
clerk, in admitting that he had sent the forged letter, claimed that it 
was done to save himself from dismissal, as he thought that would 
end the investigation of the case ; but other evidence in the cases 
showed that the trick had been resorted to so that he might retain 
the one hundred and eighty dollars in the other letter without being 
suspected. 

The system of theft used in this case is one to which the registry 
business is susceptible if not closely watched. One person brings to 
another a number of registered letters, say ten. They are counted 
by the receiver. He finds ten. He then counts the number in the 
receipt book. They are also ten, and he signs for them in bulk. 
But had he checked each letter in hand with those listed in the 
book, he would have discovered that two of them were not listed, 
and that he did not have two others that were listed. The two not 
listed reach their destinations and nothing more is heard of them. 
The two listed, but not passed, go no further, and their loss is 
reported ; the receipt book is produced and shows that they were 
signed for, which makes the signer responsible for them, though in 
fact they have never reached his hands. 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 



325 



Other inspectors furnish the following entertaining recollections of 
actual experiences : 

" I make no effort to disclose methods by which good mail service 
is maintained ; that would hardly be proper ; nor cite cases that 
reflect much credit upon the keenness of the officer, because ' detec- 
tive ' yarns go for about what they are worth, and I think their chief 
merit is the extent to which they test the credulity of the simple. I 
do not mean to say that detectives do not sometimes exercise a wide 
range of qualities — courage, patience, skill, and insight — in the 
pursuit of criminals, but from a somewhat varied experience in 
investigating infractions of the laws, I have been forced to admit 
that the unraveling of crimes is usually not difficult ; that falsehood 
of any kind is certain eventually to be exposed ; that it can with 
diligence be detected and punished ; and that as a rule rogues, 
instead of being deep and shrewd, are really very simple people, who 
in hurried efforts to conceal their steps, like the hunted ostrich, 
oftener deceive themselves than their pursuers. 

" I have often been asked must an officer go armed ; or, is it dan- 
gerous to arrest criminals ? Of course, if an officer wanted arms, he 
would want them mighty quick, 
and the rule is to have them 
handy. But in the civil service 
of the United States I never 
knew of a case where it was 
actually necessary, in any part 
of the country, to use force in 
arresting a criminal. Of course 
we except the revenue service, 
for that is very little less than 
declared war between the distil- 
lers and the officers. 

" It is also true, as a rule, 
that it is an actual relief to an 
unprofessional criminal who has 
long evaded justice to be taken 
into custody. From that time he seems to breathe easier and be less 
miserable. The constant dread of detection seems to be a strain on 
the average rogue, and he generally begins to fatten up as soon as 




TIME NOW -FOR REFLECTION. 



326 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

he is put in jail. Finally, of a very large number of offenders whom 
I have observed upon trial and in prison, the large majority of them 
have been plainly of unsound and weak minds. Very few of them, 
indeed, have had even moderately strong and clear intellects. A 
close observer would detect this fact in their faces and personal 
deportment, and to the officers it is made plain in the vain and 
shambling manner in which most of them try to evade the laws. 

" One of the commonest abuses of the mails, and the hardest to 
detect, is the claiming to have sent, or the claiming not to have received, 
articles alleged to have been mailed. This is done not only by pro- 
fessional swindlers, but by and between friends and acquaintances. 
For instance, at Colorado Springs complaint was received from the 
postmaster at Kearney, Nebraska, that a small box, mailed shortly 
before from the Springs, accompanied by a letter saying that the box 
contained a gold watch, was received empty at Kearney. The sender 
and addressee were cousins, and presumably no fraud was intended. 

" I telegraphed to Kearney for the box, which I received the next 
day. I put my own watch, an ordinary gold one, in the box, and 
upon weighing the package then found it was deficient in postage, 
and upon weighing the box empty found there was just postage 
enough to cover its carriage in the mails. This was good evidence 
that the box was mailed empty, and especially so as the package was 
registered, because postmasters must use extra care to see that 
registered packages are fully prepaid. There would naturally be 
doubt about a man's sending a gold watch by mail, either regis- 
tered or unregistered, though it is too often done. When I visited 
the sender of the watch he strongly protested that he had enclosed 
the watch, and his wife declared she saw him do it, and wanted 
to call in several neighbors to corroborate her. They protested 
so much that I knew the watch was intentionally withheld. 
Then I told the man that the postage was just enough to cover the 
mailing of an empty box. He replied : 

" ' That may be, but some of the stamps fell off on the way. I 
remember very well of putting on more stamps.' 

" I asked him what amount, and he answered, after figuring 
mentally a minute : 

" ' Seventeen cents.' 

" i Yes,' added his wife. ' I remember Charley put on seventeen 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 



327 



cents, because he came home and told me that the postmaster gave 
him eight cents change for a quarter. I got the quarter out of my 
bureau — see, in there — and I've got the eight cents now some- 
where. If you want to see 'em, I'll get 'em for you.' 

" ' But,' I suggested, ' was your watch a very heavy, extra thick 
silver case watch like railroad men carry, or like mine ? ' 

" 4 Oh, thinner than yours — light Swiss watch.' 

" c But the box and mine would only take fourteen cents, and yours 
would have taken no more postage ? ' 

" ' Oh, that's all right, because now I come to think of it, I had a 
long talk with the 



clerk and told him 
to put on three 
cents extra so it 
would go all right. 
That's the way it I 
was.' 

" < Well, then, 
come with me and IP 
we'll see this clerk 
about it,' I said. 

"He held off 
awhile, but went 
down. None of 
the clerks was 4 the clerk.' 
While he was talking with 
the postmaster, I drew up 
a letter to the District 
Attorney, purporting to 
enclose the box and letter 
as evidence for him to 
prosecute the sender for 
fraudulent use of the mail, 
but the man held out dog- 
gedly. I was engaged on 
some other matters until late that evening, but when I went to 
dinner 4 Charley ' was anxiously awaiting me, watch in hand. I had 
it sent forward duly to the owner at Kearney." 




J. r- 

THE OWNER OF THIS WAS FOUND TO BE A 
BLACKSMITH, HALF A MILE AWAY." 



328 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



" There is a wide difference between the exposure of such trans- 
parent tricks as that and the burglary of an office, which is gener- 
ally done by experts, whose plans are well laid and the evidence 
destroyed. The postmaster at Albuquerque, N. M., was robbed in a 
very methodical way. When the postal clerks had registered in 
from their runs and gone to bed, at about three o'clock in the morn- 
ing, three burglars entered the rear door of the post office, seized the 
night clerk, a boy of sixteen, bound and gagged him, and proceeded 
very deliberately to their work. The post office room had formerly 
been used for a national bank and had in its rear a large vault, the 
doors of which were customarily closed and locked with a key. In 
the rear of this large vault was a strong safe, which contained the 
post office funds, while the sacks of registered letters awaiting out- 
going trains were put in the vault. By closing the front doors of 
this vault the burglars worked without noise upon the safe, and by 




WHICH THEY HID IN THEIR GARDEN A 
FEW HODS FROM THE RIVER." 



six o'clock they had opened it, ab- 
stracted its contents, taken the regis- 
tered letters from the sacks by cutting 
them open, and gone on their way. 
Early in the morning the postmaster engaged the 
local officers, and was assisted by detectives of the 
express companies, but very little could be done. When I 
reached the place the only trace discovered was a blacksmith's sledge 
which lay among the weeds in the rear of the building, and the 
owner of this was found after a diligent search to be a blacksmith 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 329 

half a mile away. He remembered, too, that the day before the 
robbery a stranger had been in his shop asking questions, and that 
the next morning he found his shop door forced open and some of 
his tools missing. We next learned that this stranger was the son 
of a ranchman living five miles away, and that he had gone from 
Albuquerque to a small town in Kansas. There we had him 
promptly arrested, and himself and his baggage searched on sus- 
picion ; but as he gave a straight account of his proceedings, and as 
no stamps or money were found upon him, he was released. The 
adjoining offices were thoroughly advised of the details of the rob- 
bery, and of the kinds and quantity of the plunder. 

" A month afterwards word came from the marshal of Western 
Texas that a clew had been found there. I was in that way put in 
communication with a prisoner awaiting trial for a murder in El 
Paso. He told a fairly straight story to the effect that he was hid- 
ing in a house on the Rio Grande, about five miles below El Paso 
the night of the robbery ; and one night his friends, who were 
outlaws, came in with a lot of stamps and postal supplies, which 
they hid in their garden a few rods from the river. Before he would 
give their names he wanted the Government to pay him enough to 
enable him to defend himself on the trial for murder. His figures 
were too steep, and before negotiations were completed with him he 
was tried and sentenced to be hanged. But I went with a guard to 
the place he described and found a deserted house which tallied with 
his description, and we dug up soil enough, looking for the stamps, 
to make a big garden ; but although the men had gone away, later on 
two of them were secured and connected with the burglary. But 
they were wanted for a dozen like offences that had the prior atten- 
tion of the court." 

" An inexperienced thief will seldom cover up his misdeeds or his 
whereabouts, if he runs away. I recall the matter of the postmaster 
at Lebanon, N. C. Some unpaid drafts upon him for balances due 
the Government were returned, and the inspector went there. The 
transcripts of his accounts as rendered to the Department indicated 
so large an amount of business transacted at his office that I expec- 
ted to find Lebanon quite a thriving town. There was no settle- 
ment there at all, and it was with difficulty that I could locate the 
post office. I finally found it in a small frame building at a cross 



330 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



roads in the turpentine woods, twenty miles from Wilmington. 
The only other building near the post office was a deserted 
'still.' The trees had dried up, so no turpentine could be got, and 

the only man to be found near 
by was the partner of the ab- 
sconding postmaster, who was 
very reluctant to tell me any- 
thing at all about the office or 
the missing postmaster. I found 
that the latter, suspecting my 
coming, had sagaciously got as 
far away as possible, as he was 
unable to raise the funds to 
meet his balance. This finan- 
cier had credited himself with 
about $800 a year for what was 
actually about $20 a year, and his 
total deficit was about $2,000. 
His sureties were found to be 
penniless, and the only recourse 
left was to prosecute the post- 
master criminally, — if it was possible to get him. I was told 
he had left the place in a buggy several days before my arrival, 
but no one knew where he was going. After winding up his 
office affairs, I watched the mails outgoing for a while to see if I 
could find a letter addressed to him. I failed in this, and became 
somewhat discouraged, when, sitting one night in the post office at 
Wilmington and watching a clerk assort some letters for the country 
near Lebanon, my eye fell upon an envelope addressed to a man in 
Eosewater not far distant. It was postmarked in Texas. From 
much experience with hand writings I have been able to tell very 
readily if a hand is disguised, and I could see very well that this 
address was. I had in the office records several samples of this 
man's writing, and the ' L ' as it appeared in Lebanon had a 
long flourishing tail, which had its fac-simile in this address, although 
written back-handed. Making a note of the postmark, I at once 
telegraphed to the United States marshal a description of the wanted 
postmaster, with full particulars of the time he left North Carolina, 




IN THE TUKPENTINE WOODS. 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 



331 



He is now serving 




MY EYE FELL UPON AN ENVELOPE. 



and the name of the post office where he was supposed to be getting 
his mail. Being a new arrival at the place, I thought he could be 
found readily, and in a week's time I was notified that the marshal 
had secured him. He was then liv- 
ing twenty miles from the post office 
where he mailed his letter and under 
an assumed name, but when he came 
up to the office again he was identi- 
fied and arrested, 
a long term in Columbus.' 

" On a star route running out *a^g§| 
from Salisbury, N. C, there had 
been many thefts of money from 
registered letters, and the depart- 
ment and the people thereabouts 
were alike impatient to catch the 
thief. There was much trouble 
in doing it. A number of the in- 
spectors tried their hand at it, 

but it would invariably happen that, as soon as an officer came 
upon the ground, pilferings would cease. The postmasters upon 
the route, about a dozen of them in all, bore excellent reputations, 
and all professed anxiety to have the guilty punished. I had 
been at work at the case once without success and tried it again, 
taking every possible precaution the second time to conceal my 
doings. With a good assistant I put up at a farm house entirely 
off from the route and where at our leisure we completed our 
plans for carefully testing the different offices. The weather was 
very stormy, which favored us, as there were few people travelling 
upon the roads ; and thus we were able to get around without 
letting the inquisitive discover that strangers were in their neighbor- 
hood, which was very thinly settled at best. It was difficult to de- 
cide which postmaster we should begin with, for generally the 
adjoining office has to cooperate and be in the officer's confidence, 
and if the guilty one himself is one of the two so trusted, of course 
he is put on guard. Then, perhaps the carrier may have a key and 
be opening the pouches. But in this case the general reputation of 
all the postmasters was excellent. They were all respectable, well- 



332 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



to-do people. The last one to be thought of would naturally 
have been the postmistress at Bilesville. She had been a school 
teacher, was of a good family, and had not only the respect but 
the confidence and sympathy of the people, because her husband 
was a worthless fellow, who was serving a term in prison for 
larceny. She was a delicate-looking young woman with a very 
sad face. 

" On my first trip I rode over the route as a pretended book agent. 
I sat in the old stage, conspicuously holding in my hand a flashy 
bound book when we reached her office, and she came to the door and 
looked out at me. I was watching her covertly, and did not fail to 
note that when she turned to go into the office she threw a quick 
look backward at me and spoke in a low voice to the carrier who 
was coming out with the mail sacks. Half an hour later I said to 
the driver : 

" 4 1 believe I made a good impression on that pretty postmistress at 
Bilesville. Wish I had shown her my book.' 

" 4 Yes,' he said, ' and she 

f—"" 5 '^ 






POST <» ffici 



asked me if you warn't a post 
office inspector.' 

" « What is that ? ' I asked. 

" ' Oh, one of them fellers 
that go around catchin' up with 
the lame ducks. There's been a 
lot o' stealin' on this road, and 
I wish they'd do some thin' 
about it. I'm gettin' blamed 
for it myself.' 

" I decided at once that un- 
less the driver was a good deal 
smarter than he looked and 
acted he was not to be sus- 
pected, and, from the quick 
suspicion of the postmistress 
that I was an officer, that she 
was to be looked out for. So 
when I related this fact to my friend, he agreed that we should 
first test the schoolma'am's office. The last theft reported had 




"SIIU ASKED ME IF YOU WARN'T A 
POST OFFICE INSPECTOR." 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 333 

been about ten days before our visit, so that another was about 
due. We fixed our lines in the usual way, sending our regis- 
tered letters through the schoolma'am's hands. The carrier made 
a very brief stop. Nobody else had touched the letters. They 
came out to our hands so clean and neat that we thought it impos- 
sible that they could have been tampered with. We opened them 
at once and were astonished to find that all the four letters had 
been rifled. Returning to the office, we found the stolen bills in the 
young woman's purse, and though her unusually sad face was lighted 
up a little with the success of her day's work, the thoughtful expression 
returned to it when we explained our business. But she main- 
tained perfect composure. She was placed upon trial a few 
months later. Her health, meantime, had failed rapidly, and in 
spite of the damaging evidence against her, I secretly hoped the jury 
would be able to acquit her, as it did. She died wretchedly a 
short time afterward, and upon her deathbed confessed to having 
stolen the money for which her husband was imprisoned. Many 
of her friends believed that the inspectors had persecuted an 
innocent woman, and I received several letters saying that I was 
not smart enough to catch a real thief. The woman was un- 
doubtedly insane." 

" Some of the inspectors' work is not of such a somber and sad- 
dening character. Much of it has a ludicrous phase which softens 
the hardships and relieves the strain which too constant mingling 
with the frail is apt to bring upon a man. Such an instance was the 
matter of the Gallup, N. M., post office, a berth that paid the incumbent 
one thousand dollars a year, i stealin's out,' where the work was 
easy, and the social position fairly good, the rest of the citizens of 
Gallup being mainly miners and gamblers. Swan was a pioneer in 
New Mexico, and knew every one in the territory. He was recom- 
mended for postmaster by the governor and all the ex-governors, 
by all the railroad and mining authorities, as well as by all the 
ranchmen and army officers ; and, moreover, he had in his possession 
letters from Abraham Lincoln attesting the writer's friendship and 
admiration for Swan. Naturally Swan was appointed. He made an 
excellent postmaster — so far as taking in money for stamps and 
money orders went ; but he failed to make reports of the fiscal 
operations of his office. A long life in an arid country and frequent 



334 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



recourse to the common cure for a dry climate had made Swan less 
efficient than formerly. So in due time an inspector was sent 
to make his acquaintance. 

" Being near Gallup, the necessary papers were sent me, and I 
went down to see if anything was due the Government. I reached 
Gallup about three o'clock in the morning. It was cold, raw, and 
gloomy in every way. At sight I pronounced the town the least 
picturesque mining settlement in the territory, if not in the world. 
The only visible light came from a small frame building near the 
depot, to which I hastened to get warm. It was not the hotel, but 
a barroom, with a dozen or more professional customers on hand, 
more or less awake and busy. Three men were snoring on the bar, 
and the others were playing faro or watching the game. They were 
all very groggy, and all but the proprietor were hard looking 
citizens. The most besotted was an old man. He was thick-set, 
wore a greasy slouch hat and a blue flannel shirt, had a big pistol 
in his belt, and generally a very ' bad ' look. He was a clumsy, 

stupid gambler, and was losing 
money fast. About four o'clock 
he got up, stretched himself, 
and said : 

" ' Good evenin', boys ; reckon 
I'll have to turn in a leetle early 
now, s' long as I've got the post 
office to tend to.' 

" When he said this I conject- 
_ ... ._■■■■-■-■■:■>. ured that this must be Mr. Swan, 

with whom I had business. 

" After a short nap in the ' hotel ' I walked up 
to the post office — the poorest frame building 
in town. A poorly equipped drug store occupied 
a part of the room, and in a rear corner was a 
rough case, containing a half dozen boxes for holding letters. Swan 
sat on a packing box near the front door, looking out at the beauties 
of nature, while the drug clerk was tying up the letters for him. 
Swan called out lazily : 

" c Got her done yet, Jimmie ? ' 
" 4 Pretty near, captain.' 




STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 335 

" * Wall, hurry her a leetle to-day ; we missed it yesterday, and I 
got to go on an inquest this morning, too.' 

" I presented myself to Mr. Swan as he was going out of the office- 

" ' So you are a post office inspector, are ye ? Wall, you'll find 
they aint nothing wrong with this office — not since I had it. Can't 
say much for it before that.' I hinted that some of his reports were 
a little over due, and we might look into that. 

" Yes, tha's right. Say, Jimmie, how about them money order 
bills ? They ben paid yet ? ' 

" Oh, no, captain. You remember I've been trying a long time to 
get you to fix them up.' 

" ' Yes, tha's so, Jimmie.' He added, turning to me, ' You see, I 
ben so busy.' 

"'Now, Mr. Swan,' said I, 'let's count the funds and see your 
receipts for money deposited ; then we will have the balance very 
soon.' 

" ' Yes, I see. Tha's the idea. Jimmie, you got a head for figures ; 
you and the colonel go over the books, and I'll look in again pretty 
soon.' 

" ' But how about the funds ? The money you have taken in since 
you took charge ; where is that ? ' 

"'Let me see,' he said vacantly, 'what did I do with it? Oh, 
yes ; I see ; why, you see, I've paid out a good deal one way or 
another ; but you'll find it's all right.' 

" ' The books ' referred to were a small pass book. It had a few 
straggling entries of stamps, money paid on a house Swan was build- 
ing, whisky accounts, paid and unpaid, and private memoranda of 
various kinds. It took a week to approximate his accounts, and he 
owed the Government over two thousand dollars. A gambler 
was a surety on his bond, and he handed me the full amount 
on demand. I could get so little out of Swan that I thought 
he might be more communicative to a commissioner, and had him 
taken before one for a hearing ; but, instead of becoming more cohe- 
rent, Swan broke down completely, and sobbed pitifully that so 
great a man should come to trouble. 

" ' Jedge,' he sobbed, ' it's too bad. I was the first friend Abe 
Lincoln had when he begun practicin' law, and if he was alive to-day, 
I wouldn't be slavin' out my life in a post office. Abe knew I was 



336 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



an honest man. He wouldn't send no inspectors 'round my office. 
He'd ast me once in awhile if I was rurmin' my office O K, and that 
would settle it.' 

"In due time Swan went to Sante Fe for a visit. He got a very 
short sentence, partly because it was plain that no work could be got 
out of him in the ' pen ' or anywhere else. The people of Gallup 
were all sorry for Swan, and I had great difficulty in rinding anyone 
who would make application for the post office." 




■'he got out of patience."' 



"I had a rather queer experience at Price, Utah. The postal ser- 
vice is universal, and when it is not slipping a cog in one place it is 
in another ; but it seldom happens that a postmaster will wilfully 
close his office and let things ; go to smash.' At Price the postmaster 
tendered his resignation repeatedly, and, being unable to get relief, 
purposely closed his office. No doubt the Department could not con- 
ceive the possibility of a Government employee struggling to get out 
of a position that paid six hundred dollars a year. But this post- 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 337 

master paid his clerk seventy-five dollars a month, and then had to 
give his own time to the work. Having a fine trade to look after, 
he got out of patience, and locked his doors against all comers. 
Then went up a howl of rage. That office separated mail for a large 
military post some miles away, and telegrams were showered upon 
the War Department, asking for authority to kill the civilian who 
had cut off communication. When I reached Price 159 large sacks 
of mail were piled up in the depot, and the angriest men I ever 
faced were the soldier boys, looking at them wistfully, but unable to 
open them and get their long expected letters from the East. I 
swore in a number of assistants, and we worked day and night upon 
the pile, and finally got the letters into their proper channels. 
Declining to hang the postmaster, as most of the people desired, I 
laid the facts before the United States attorney; but there they 
rested. There is no law to punish such an offence. Before I left, 
the postmaster, who was a shrewd, bright young Swede, asked me : 
" 4 What is this going to cost me, Mr. Inspector ? ' 
" Having just finished the 159th sack of mail, I said : 
" ' Fifty thousand dollars, if I have the fixing of the sum, my 
friend.' 

" He said that was too much, but if it wasn't more than $500, or 
even $1000, he would rather pay it than neglect his business any 
longer. 

" There is small veneration for official dignity upon the frontier, 
and Federal employees who carry the importance of office to objec- 
tionable pitches in the East are apt to impair their standing west of 
the Mississippi. It sometimes happens that a modest officer is made 
to suffer for the faults of his confreres. At Canon City once I had 
gone to my room to prepare for dinner, when a card was brought up 
from a postmaster at a little place up in the mountains, whom I 
requested to come up. He appeared at once, a fine, handsome speci- 
men of physical manhood, fully six feet six inches tall, robust and 
vigorous, sunburned, and with piercing eyes. He was dressed in a 
riding suit, and had about him the peculiar, swinging freedom of a 
horseman, combined with the grace of an educated gentleman. 

" 'Ah,' he asked, 'you are the post office inspector for this state?' 

" ' Yes, sir, one of them,' I replied ; < how can I serve you ? ' 

" He wore a threatening smile, as he continued : 



338 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

"'You were at my place — my office — about six months ago, I 
think, at Coe ? ' 

" 4 No,' I said, reflecting, 4 1 don't think I ever saw you before, or 
ever was at Coe.' 

" ' Now, think again, for I want you to be careful about it. I was 
not there myself, but my wife was a little way from the office. You 
got off the stage, cursing and abusing us because our office wasn't 
always open during business hours. Recollect, now ? ' 

" ' Well, hardly,' I said. ' I am not in the habit of addressing 
postmasters in that way, especially women.' 

"He looked disappointed, and said: 

" ' Well, I have been trying to find this man for months, and I give 
you my word that when I do, I will teach him a lesson in politeness. 
But I am convinced it wasn't you, and am glad to meet you. What 
will you drink ? ' I drank to his early meeting with the man with the 
swelled head, but secretly wished my unknown colleague better luck. 
Subsequently I learned this man was one of the wealthiest and most 
popular miners in Colorado, and had a fine record for keeping all his 
promises. 

" It would be difficult to tell in what part of the country depreda- 
tions upon the mails are the most prevalent. They are frequent, 
more especially, perhaps, in the mountain districts of the Virginias, 
North Carolina and Tennessee. The mail service there is mainly on 
horseback ; the mountain paths are arduous and from its inaccessi- 
bility such a country offers many attractions for thieves. 

" Not long since a railroad was built southward from Weston, 
W. Va., for the purpose of getting out the heavy timber along the 
Kanawha River. Laborers on the road sent much of their wages home 
by mail, and on one particular route a lot of stealing was done. The 
senders, who were Italians and Hungarians, supposed the money 
must necessarily be stolen by the mailing postmaster; but as the 
road penetrated farther into the mountains, and letters sent from one 
office after another met the same fate, the foreigners grew frantic, 
and threatened to hang every postmaster in the vicinity, if nec- 
essary, to catch the right one. Alarmed at these threats, the post- 
masters themselves began to clamor for the arrest of the thief, and 
the postmaster at Jacksonville was especially loud in his howls for 
an inspector. He was a brawny mountaineer, and kept a hotel, as 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 



839 



well as the post office. He had accused all of the adjoining offices 
of the stealing and had seen a number of fights as a consequence. 
When the inspectors began work it was naturally supposed he would 
be a valuable aid, but as an extra precaution it was decided to test 
his office also. Accordingly several registers were together passed 
through his hands. When the carrier brought them to Jacksonville, 
the postmaster invited him to 
bait his horses and take lunch, 
which he did. Meantime the 
hotel keeper helped himself to 
the contents of the letters and 
passed them along empty to 
Weston ; but the inspector got 
them first and immediately after- 
wards the thief. He had in- 
stantly concealed the money and 
it was not found. He was the 
politest man I ever saw, for 
while I was searching his pock- 
ets for the stolen bills, he asked 
me if I wouldn't prefer to take 
dinner first, as it was waiting 
and I looked hungry and tired. 
The evidence against him was 
not air tight, and he escaped 
the penitentiary by paying a large fine, and making good all the 
losses upon the route. He has since moved to another hotel in 
the mountains, and often invites me to come and go fishing 
with him." 

The following, an older story (they must never be too new), 
used to be told by one of the best inspectors in the service. It is a 
story from actual life. Put in the inspector's words it is : 

"In the month of February, 1882, a through registered pouch 
from Sabine City to Chicago, was rifled of one hundred and forty- 
four registered letters, containing in the aggregate more than $15,- 
000. The rifled pouch, with a slit as long as a man's arm cut in 
it with a sharp knife, was found later on underneath the depot at 
Sabine City. The inspector-in-charge at Chicago was advised by 




■^iifr-sf 



A POSTMASTER IN THE MOUNTAINS OF 
WEST VIRGINIA. 



340 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

telegraph by the postmaster of Sabine City of the facts, and he also 
stated that a letter from himself to the United States sub-treasury 
at Chicago containing $1,100 was among the stolen matter. The 
$1,100 consisted of a $1,000 bill and a $100 dollar bill. The 
inspector-in-charge at Chicago telegraphed to every inspector in 
the division to report at once at Chicago. I was hurriedly advised of 
the facts, and instructed to proceed immediately to Sabine City to 
investigate the case. I .telegraphed to the postmaster there, under an 
assumed name, to meet me at the Northwestern Hotel at 9 o'clock 
that night. I admonished him to keep the matter strictly secret; 
that I was registered under an assumed name, and that my business 
there would be that of buying a carload of horses to ship to New 
York. 

" In this through pouch to Chicago was contained all the registered 
matter from post offices within a circuit of about fifty miles adjacent 
to Sabine City, and among the one hundred and forty-four registers 
stolen were those from many of these offices. In order to ascertain 
the contents of each registered package I had the postmaster get up 
a printed letter in his name to the several postmasters whence these 
letters came, and in due course we ascertained to a cent what was 
contained in every registered package. In a number there were 
jewelry, ear-rings, cuff buttons, watch chains and bracelets. Others 
contained money orders, bank drafts, checks, postage stamps, gold, 
silver and national currency, the total amounting to about $15,000. 
After a few days another inspector was sent to assist me, and we 
formulated a systematic plan of work, having engaged quarters in 
the upper front rooms of the Northwestern Hotel overlooking the 
depot. 

" We ascertained that on the night of the robbery the pouch in 
question was receipted for by Railway Postal Clerk Wilson at the post 
office at about 5 o'clock in the evening, but that the train that was 
to carry it to Chicago was not due to pass through Sabine City until 
about 9 o'clock at night. This registered pouch was thrown on 
the top of all the other pouches on the transfer wagon, so that it 
could readily be taken care of at the depot, and at the depot it 
was thrown on top of the transfer truck for the same reason, so that 
it could be readily seen and be the first pouch to be thrown into the 
car. That night was one of the coldest of the winter. The train 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 341 

did not arrive until about midnight. The truck was pushed into 
the baggage room to await the arrival of the belated train. In the 
baggage room there was no fire, but in an adjoining room there was 
a brilliant coal fire, around which the hack drivers and bus drivers, 
mail messengers and depot hands were congregated to keep them- 
selves warm. On the arrival of the train the truck was pushed out 
to the car, and Clerk Wilson mechanically reached forward for the 
through registered pouch for Chicago ; but it was not there, although 
he had receipted at the post office for it in his name at 5 o'clock 
in the evening. He reported the matter immediately and search 
was instituted without success. 

" The next morning the empty cut pouch was found underneath the 
depot. It was a mystery that no one could solve. A list of all 
the employees about the depot was made by us, together with all the 
postal clerks, ex-postal clerks, mail drivers, bus drivers, draymen, 
baggagemen, conductors, and in fact everybody that had anything to 
do about the depot, or ever had had, and they were thoroughly can- 
vassed by us ' horse buyers.' 

" Days, weeks rolled by. At the hotel table, where we sat with 
a number of reporters for the daily papers of Sabine City, we joined 
in the general censure of the Post Office Department for doing noth- 
ing whatever to capture the thief. No one was more bitter against 
the inspectors than we were ourselves, because as ' horsemen ' we had 
a right to express our feelings of resentment against a government so 
indifferent and dilatory. A number of clews were worked and run 
down from day to day. After days and nights of tiresome labor we 
at last made up our minds who the guilty person was. One 
Gideon Robertson, who drove the transfer mail wagon between the 
post office and. the depot, was suspected. But we soon satisfied our- 
selves that he was innocent ; in fact we took him into our confidence. 
Robertson had known us as Mr. Douglass and Mr. Brown, and had 
thought, of course, that we were purchasing horses for the eastern 
market. He became our fast friend, but had no suspicions. We 
questioned him and cross-questioned him. After a while he quite 
innocently remarked that on one occasion ' Shorty ' Green, who 
was formerly a driver of the mail wagon, jokingly remarked to him 
that they could make a good ' haul ' by going through the registered 
pouch. But 4 Shorty ' went further, and suggested that in the dark 



342 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

lane behind the depot he could attack Gideon, and Gideon could 
make a show of resistance, and be overpowered, and that both of 
them could then rob the pouch together, and Gideon would be 
cleared, of course. 

"Our attention was now entirely turned to ' Shorty ' Green, whose 
real name was Fleming B. Green. He was then engaged driving a 
hack about the city. He was receiving $ 10 a week for his work, 
and had a family consisting of a wife and two children. We learned 
that he had purchased a house and lot, that he had bought a sewing 
machine, had laid in a good supply of coal for the winter, and was liv- 
ing in \ery comfortable circumstances. We became well acquainted 
with ' Shorty ' in our capacity as horsemen, and found that he was 
playing billiards, something that he had never done before (and 
always getting beaten) ; and that he was drinking considerably, was, 
in fact, becoming an all-round 'sport.' His expenses were about 
$40 a week. He was negotiating a business which would entail an 
investment of a thousand or fifteen hundred dollars. He was to 
take a leave of absence and go with his family on a visit to Centreville. 

" It had reached the night preceding the day when ' Shorty ' was 
to start. He was breaking in a substitute to drive his hack. It was 
an extremely cold winter night and there was a ' show ' in the public 
hall. ' Shorty ' went to this theatre. We then made up our minds 
to proceed to his house, which was about a mile distant from the 
main portion of the city across Sabine River. At night ' Shorty ' 
invariably took to his heels at the bridge and ran clear to his home, 
as if afraid of his own shadow. About 9 o'clock we reached his 
house ; Mrs. Green appeared at the door. We asked her if Mr. 
Green was in. She said he was busy down town with his hack ; he 
would not probably come home until 12 or 1 o'clock, — sometimes 
he stayed out all night. We rather abruptly walked into the house. 
She then offered us seats. We frankly told her that we were repre- 
sentatives of the Post Office Department and had come there to make 
inquiries about the mail robbery. This seemed to give her a sudden 
start. 

" « Oh,' she said, ' Mr. Green doesn't know anything about the 
mail robbery.' 

" ' Well,' said we, 'perhaps he might give us some information. 
He was a former mail driver and was around the depot frequently.' 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 343 

" 'No,' she said, 'he doesn't know anything about it at all.' 

" We then asked her where he was on the night of the robbery. 
She said he was at home that night early. We asked her how she 
could remember that he was at home that special night. She said 
she knew he was at home that night because she remembered that in 
the morning, when they heard the newsboys calling out about the 
mail robbery, he said nobody could say he had a hand in it, because 
he was at home. We had ascertained previously that 4 Shorty ' was 
at the Grand Hotel at two o'clock on the morning in question and 
had asked Gideon Robertson if it was actually true that the registered 
pouch had been rifled ; and he told Gideon that he was not able to 
sleep after he had heard about it. We learned also, as a matter of 
fact, that he had not been at home at all after supper that night. 

" We spent an hour talking with Mrs. Green. We dwelt partic- 
ularly on the coal question for some reason, and she was so very 
much agitated (although she tried not to show it) that she ran her 
needle several times underneath her thumb nail. She assured us 
that when Mr. Green came home she would tell him of our visit, and 
if he had any information he would be only too glad to impart it. 
We bade her good-night and crossed back over the Long Bridge. 
Persons from the theatre soon began to pass by on their way home. 
Among the last we could see in the moonlight, approaching on the 
snowy sidewalk, the form of 4 Shorty ' Green. 

" I walked out and tapped him on the shoulder, and said : 

44 ' Shorty, I want you.' 

44 His answer was : 

" 4 What for, sir ? ' 

44 4 For the mail robbery.' 

44 4 What mail robbery ? ' 

44 4 Well, the mail robbery. You know what mail robbery I mean. 
Where the pouch was cut several weeks ago. We thought perhaps 
you could give us some information about it.' 

44 4 Why, I know nothing about it, sir.' 

44 4 Well, we would like to have you go down to the Northwestern 
Hotel with us.' 

44 It occurred to us that if he had been an innocent man, his first 
impulse would have been to invite us to his house. But he fell 
in with my comrade, and I dropped behind. As we neared 



344 THE STOiJY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

the hotel, ' Shorty ' remarked that we had better go around to the 
back door, as the hotel office was full of traveling men and others 
who had come from the theatre ; and this seemed to us another 
evidence of his guilt, for if he had been an innocent man, he had 
nothing to fear by going through the office. But we went up the 
back way, walked into our room, turned the key, and asked him 
to remove his overcoat and take a seat. We then directed his 
attention to our quarters. He could see that we had a good outlook 
covering the depot. 

" We then plied question upon question, and cornered him at every 
turn. His explanations of his whereabouts on the night of the 
robbery were so conflicting and unreasonable that he could hardly 
tell us his name distinctly. He at last braced up enough to say : 

" ' Why, you don't think I robbed that pouch, do you ? ' 

" We said to him : 

" i Shorty, we not only think that you stole it and robbed it, but 
we know it, and now you are in a proper position to confess ; you 
may as well make a clean breast of the whole business and tell us all 
the facts. We have been over at your house all this evening. We 
have conversed with your wife on this subject for several hours, and 
we have such facts that it will be impossible for you to escape ; and 
the very best thing that you can do is to tell the whole, unadultera- 
ted truth. Now, ' Shorty,' why did you rob that pouch ? What 
possessed your mind to do such a thing ? ' 

" Tremblingly, and with quivering lips and tears rolling down his 
cheeks, he admitted that he was guilty. 

" 4 Well,' said we, ' we knew it. Now, if you are going to be 
straight from now on with us, we will treat you the very best we can; 
but we want you to make restoration of every dollar and every 
article that you took from those registered packages.' 

" He was ready to proceed with us to his home, where he 
informed us the money was hidden underneath the coal in 
his coal shed. We searched him and satisfied ourselves that he 
intended to do as he agreed. He said that he had spent about 
$150 of the stolen money, but that the balance was still, hidden away 
in the coal. 

" Upon reaching the house, we found Mrs. Green and the neighbor 
still awaiting ' Shorty's ' arrival. 4 Shorty ' said to his wife that 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 345 

he had been arrested for stealing the mail pouch. She acted like a 
person devoid of reason, uttered cries, reached suddenly out to take 
up a revolver that lay on the bureau ; but I had it in my pocket in 
a second. She moaned and cried terribly. The neighbor, the 
woman who was calling, made her exit very quickly. We told 
G Shorty ' we could not waste any time, but wanted to secure the 
contents of the stolen registers. With lamp in hand he proceeded 
to the coal shed. i Shorty ' began shoveling the coal. Soon he 
reached a large package done up in a calico dress. We took the 
package and i Shorty ' back to the hotel, but before going we told 
him that there were some bracelets missing. 

" ' Oh,' Mrs. Green said, 4 1 have those ; ' and between the 
mattresses of her bed they were snugly tucked away. Watch chains 
and other jewelry, he said, were thrown away in the river. 

" We arrived at the hotel about half past two in the morning, and 
with the newspaper men and hotel clerk, counted the money. The 
thousand dollar bill and the one hundred dollar bill that the post- 
master had mailed in his registered letter to Chicago, were found in- 
tact, as well as all the contents of the other registers, with the 
exception of about $150 and the jewelry that had been thrown into 
the river. It was too late to put 4 Shorty ' in jail, so he spent the 
night with the inspectors. But there was no sleep for him, and 
there was none for the inspectors, either. Before daybreak the news- 
boys on the streets were calling out the news of the arrest of 
6 Shorty ' Green for the robbery of the mail pouch. It was any- 
thing but music in his ears. 

" This robbery had been the main topic of conversation in all Sabine 
City ever since it occurred, and now that the horse dealers had turned 
out to be post office inspectors, and had arrested the robber, recovered 
the money, and got a full confession from the accused, it was a 
revelation to the good citizens of that busy and enterprising Western 
city. After breakfast it seemed as if the whole of Sabine City 
poured into the hotel and up through the corridors, to get a view, 
not so much of the prisoner as of the officers, and a regular reception 
followed. ' Shorty ' Green was indicted by the grand jury, pleaded 
guilty, threw himself upon the mercy of the court, his wife appear- 
ing with her little children in the court-room every day during the 
trial ; and the fact that he had made restitution, had formerly borne 



346 THE STOHY OF OJJR POST OFFICE. 

a good name, and was generally popular, caused the court to give 
him only one year in the penitentiary." 

About the year 1881 a young man named Herbert Morton was 
assistant postmaster at Pierre, Dakota. He moved in the best 
circles of that town, and had the confidence and respect of everybody. 
After working for a number of years in the post office, he applied 
for a leave of absence, which was duly granted by the amiable post- 
master. After his leave had expired he did not return. Inquiries 
from the Department came to the postmaster relative to the issuance 
of numerous money orders of large denominations, which had been 
paid at different post offices throughout the country, that purported 
to have been issued at the Pierre office. Upon examination it was 
found that no such orders had been regularly written up at that 
office. It was evident that young Morton had gone with the inten- 
tion never to return. The postmaster ascertained that blank money 
orders and advices had been removed from the back part of the 
book, — so systematically that he did not detect it until the receipt 
of this information from the Department, when he found that orders 
amounting to about $1,500 had been surreptitiously abstracted. 
A number of inspectors were detailed to work up the case. A full 
description of Morton was printed and sent to all the important 
money order offices in the United States, offering a liberal reward 
for his capture ; but it was without avail. 

Several years rolled by, with no trace of the fugitive. Finally, 
an inspector of the Department had occasion to visit his brother at 
Kansas City, Mo., to spend New Year's. " After talking over our 
personal affairs," he says, " the conversation drifted into other matters. 
New Year's eve, when we were about ready to retire for the night, 
my brother remarked that he had before him the sad duty of caring 
for the dead. It was an old and warm friend of his, whom he was 
very intimate with when he was agent of the Northwestern Railroad 
at Pierre, Dakota. It was Herbert Morton ! I asked him if 
Morton was assistant postmaster there. He said that he believed 
Morton did go into the post office to work. I told my brother that 
I believed Morton was the young man whom the post office inspec- 
tors had been looking for for several years, and I related to him the 
story of Morton's crime. He was incredulous, of course, but we 
pursued our inquiries. Morton's body had been found lying frozen 



STORIES OF INSPECTORS. 347 

between two haystacks Dear Independence ; the man had worn a 
coarse suit of clothes and a cap with a brake man's badge of the 
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad ; and his hands were hardened 
as if by a brakeman's labor. 

" The news of the discovery of the body was published in the Kan- 
sas City papers. Among the trivial effects found upon him was a 
photograph of a woman, whose name was written on it, and the pho- 
tographer's card, at Reedsburg, Wis., readily led to the man's identi- 
fication. My brother, being aware that Morton was engaged to a 
young woman at Reedsburg, Morton's boyhood home, and as this was 
published in the Kansas City papers, his attention was at once at- 
tracted, and he went immediately to the embalmer's to identify his 
old friend. He positively identified him by a scar upon his neck. 

"I telegraphed the facts officially to the Department and to the 
inspector who had the case personally in charge. I also telegraphed 
to Morton's father, who was a highly respected clergyman, that I 
would await such directions as he might give me. The old gentle- 
man requested that his son have Christian burial, but said it was im- 
possible for him to be present. 

" My visit in Kansas City was prolonged on account of the revela- 
tions in this case. I learned that a young woman figured prominently 
in the matter ; that she had known Herbert Morton in Pierre, and that 
he had become enamored of her. I learned that she was then in 
Kansas City, and was known by several aliases. After diligent 
search, I finally found her. She said that she had seen young Mor- 
ton in Kansas City and along the line of the Atchinson, Topeka & 
Santa Fe road ; that she had acted as a detective, and had from time 
to time been disguised as a newsboy on the train or as a fireman on the 
engine. She went with me to the embalmer's and identified the 
body. I have always believed that this young woman knew more 
about Morton's death than has ever come to light." 




APPREHENDING CRIMINALS ; PREVENTING CRIME. 

HE following story of an old-timer, one of the 
cleverest and bravest of all the inspectors, illus- 
trates another phase of this most exacting service : 
" After the discovery of gold in the Black 
Hills, in the then territory of Wyoming, the city 
of Deadwood had assumed metropolitan proportions on 
account of the thousands of miners who had rushed 
into that country. Miners from Colorado, from Idaho, 
from Montana and from the Pacific slope had flocked there in 
anticipation of making great discoveries. The great Homestake 
mine had been prospected and found to be fabulously rich in gold. 

" A mail route was deemed a necessity and one was established, 
running from Cheyenne, via Hat Creek and Rapid City, to 
Deadwood. The service had been increasing and was made 
daily. A rival line was soon put in operation, running from Sidne}^, 
Neb., to the Black Hills. Both of these routes for nearly their 
entire distance passed through an Indian country, and the Sioux 
Indians were not regarded as friendly, and did not look kindly on 
the invasion of what they regarded as their exclusive country. 
Many of the valleys were rich in game, but up to the discovery of 
gold no white man had attempted a settlement, though the country 
was well known to old mountaineers like Bridger, Beckwith and 
others, but little by the outside world. 

** The establishment of these mail routes was attended with much 
danger. As soon as the fact became known that gold was being 
sent from Deadwood to the 'States' the road agents began their* 
work, and it was not an uncommon thing for a stage to be l held 
up ' twice in one night. The Indians, too, were very troublesome, 
and it became necessary, especially on the stages in which gold dust 
was carried, to put on a guard for protection, and many a fight 

348 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS ; PREVENTING CRIME. 



349 



ensued. They were often compelled to repulse attacks from Indians 
who were trying to prevent the permanent settlement of the country 
in and around the Black Hills, which they knew would destroy the 
game in their favorite hunting grounds. 

" During this time I received instructions to make a trip to Dead- 
wood for the purpose of investigating the loss of some registered 
mail from Deadwood to the ' States.' I left Cheyenne and proceeded 
with the stage as far as Hat Creek, where the mail was supposed to 




FLOCKED THEliE IN ANTICIPATION OF MAKING GREAT DISCOVERIES. 



have been lost while in transit. There I learned that the Indians 
had made an attack on the stage a short time previous, and had 
killed the driver and secured all of the mail, which they afterward 
burned. Having become convinced of this fact, I saw little more to 
do as regarded the investigation, as I knew of no way to discover 
what Indian or Indians had committed the offence, and so reported 
to the Department. I continued the trip to Deadwood, however, 
arriving there at the time when there was considerable excitement 
over the Indian difficulties. For several days after my arrival there 
was not a single passenger leaving by stage. I concluded that I 



850 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

would return by the Sidney route, although that carried me nearer 
to where the Indians were supposed to be located. I went to the 
office of the stage company and they informed me that they should 
run out a stage next day, but that nobody had as yet booked as 
a passenger, and that the probabilities were that if I went I would 
be the only one, with the driver, going through. 

" I instructed the agent to put my name on the way-bill. I 
would start, at least. During the afternoon of that day four or five 
people called on me at the hotel and inquired if it was my intention 
to leave for the ' States ' next morning. I assured them that that was 
what I intended to do, and after considerable conversation they 
informed me that they were also anxious to go, and concluded that 
if it was safe for a special agent to make the trip, they too would 
take the chances. We again went to the stage office and the agent 
informed us that he would supply each one of the passengers with a 
Springfield rifle, which would enable us to protect ourselves from 
any small raiding body of Indians that might attack us. 

" The next morning we started with five other passengers from 
Deadwood, all armed with Springfield rifles. I soon became aware 
of the fact that there was less danger from Indians than from my 
fellow-passengers, as but few, if any, of them were accustomed to 
handling fire arms, and the discharge of a gun was not an uncommon 
thing on the occasion of the sudden discovery of a rock or stump 
which was mistaken for an Indian. With a great deal of effort on my 
part I succeeded in having each man withdraw the cartridges from 
his rifle, and the trip from that on became much more pleasant. 
Still none of us were particularly happy, nor did we feel safe until 
reaching the military post known as Fort Robinson, which had been 
established for the purpose of holding these Indians in check. We 
reached Sidney without having seen an Indian, although the stage 
following was not so fortunate, being compelled to fight on several 
occasions ; but it succeeded in getting through without the injury of 
any person." 

Another of the sharp, true fellows on the inspector force says : 

" Complaint had been made that a registered letter containing $40 

in currency, mailed at a small post office in western North Carolina, 

and addressed to a well-known firm in Asheville, had been rifled. 

The matter was given to me for investigation. As is customary, I 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS ; PREVENTING CRIME. 



351 



first made a close inspection of the R. P. envelope and the letter 
envelope in which the money was said to have been placed. There 
was not the slightest evidence that either had been tampered with. 
I then went to see the merchant in Asheville to whom the letter 
was addressed, and was assured that the letter had been opened in 
the presence of several reputable persons, all of whom 
testified that no money was enclosed, but only several 

leaves of an old almanac. The infer- 
ence, then, was that if the Tetter had 
been rifled at all it was in the mailing 

office, and I 
therefore pro- 
ceeded thence 
to continue 
my investiga- 



" Blank- 
ville was 
situated in 
a remote 
part of the state, 
far from railroads. 
The postmaster 
was an old man, 
who also ran a 
mill, and the post 
office was in his 
house, a small, log 
affair, on the banks 
of a wild, pictur- 
esque mountain 
stream.' His two 
daughters assisted 
him in the office, and the reputation of the family was excellent. I 
questioned them all very closely, however, and as one of the many 
requisites of an inspector is to read human nature, I soon made up 
my mind that the letter had not been interfered with in that office. 

" I next made inquiry as to the character of the person who sent 
the letter. His reputation was not good ; he was described as a lawless 
and desperate man, who was in debt and would not hesitate at any- 
thing. I made up my mind that he had never mailed the money as 
he claimed. I drove to his home, and was informed that he and a 




"his house, a small, log affair." 



352 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

number of other men were working on the road some distance away. 
His wife said, however, that she had seen him put the money in the 
letter in question, but did not see him seal it. 

" I then drove towards where the men were at work, and found 
them eating dinner at a spring. I left the buggy some distance 
back, and approached them on foot. My man was pointed out to 
me, and I got him to go with me down the road away from the rest; 
he proved to be a great, strapping fellow, over six feet in height, 
and very powerful looking, with a decidedly ugly appearance. 
Reaching a secluded spot, I asked him a number of questions about 
the letter, and his answers were very decided that he had put the 
money in the letter, even describing the notes, and endeavoring to 
throw suspicion upon the aged postmaster at Blankville. 

" Finding that my questions resulted in nothing definite, I deter- 
mined upon a more heroic treatment, and, looking him full in the 
eye and pulling out the almanac leaves, I said : 

U4 My friend, you have evidently made a great mistake. You 
were under the impression, when you put these leaves in your letter 
instead of the money, that the Government would pay you back for 
your supposed loss, but it does not hold itself responsible for losses 
of registered letters ; so that if you had put the money in, which I 
know you did not, you could not have recovered it, if it were lost.' 

" All this time I was looking him full in the eye. For a moment 
nothing more was said by either of us, but I could distinctly read 
his thoughts, and during that moment I knew my life was in peril, 
for to prove a man a liar in that country is just as dangerous as to 
call him one. But I never let my eyes waver, and presently I saw 
his eyelids twitch, and I felt that my danger was past. Without a 
word of acknowledgment, his expression plainly admitted . his guilt 
to me, and finally saying : ' Well, it's pretty hard for a poor man to 
lose that amount of money,' he invited me to go home and take din- 
ner with him. I declined ; and there my case was closed." 

Some portions of North Carolina are infected with illicit distillers. 
An inspector approaching them is in danger of being mistaken for a 
revenue officer and treated accordingly. One inspector, speaking of 
this, says : 

" I had a case there where it became necessary to hunt up a man 
and his son to get their testimony. Accordingly I secured a horse 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS; PREVENTING CRIME. 353 

and buggy at Albemarle — and with a man to drive me started off in 
search of my witnesses. 

"Reaching their residence I was told that they were down the road 
a few miles, at a neighbor's house ; so I drove on in the direction 
indicated. In due course of time, we reached the neighbor's house, 
only to be informed that they were stiS further down the road; but 
no definite direction could be obtained. I concluded, however, to 
keep on. As we left the main road, the hills became steeper and 
wilder, and I noticed my driver getting very uneasy, looking around 
on every side, as if he expected trouble. Presently he broke out 
with : 

" 4 Say, stranger, do you know this is a dangerous business you 
are on ? These yer people all take you for a revenue, and they are 
just as likely to shoot first, and then ask about you afterwards.' 

4i 4 Is that so ? ' I asked. 4 Well, there is one thing satisfactory, 
anyhow.' 

" ; What's that ? ' he inquired. 

" 4 If they do shoot, they are just as likely to hit you as me.' 

" Jehu scratched his head a moment, and after taking it all in, 
replied : 

" ' That's so, but I don't see what in thunder that's got to do with it.' 

" I ordered him to drive on. Presently the road faded away to a 
mere trail, the surroundings became wilder, and I concluded that our 
further progress was useless as well as hopeless. Seeing a small rise 
of ground in front, however, I decided to reach that and take a good 
look around. Just as we got to the summit, there suddenly appeared 
before me such a wild, weird scene that I shall never forget it. Right 
in front, and not more than a dozen yards away, rough-looking 
fellows were busily engaged distilling brandy. It was a secluded 
spot, with the high-wooded hills closing it in from any distant view. 

" The fellows gazed keenly at me with startled looks. It was a 
critical moment, and I knew there was no time to hesitate ; for they 
belonged to a class of men who do not consider consequences when 
it comes to self-protection. So, ordering my driver to stop, I leaped 
out of the buggy, and before they had time to recover from their 
astonishment, I was in the midst of them. My manner assured them 
of my peaceful intentions. The men I was after were there ; I 
secured my evidence, which they were very willing to give. But 



354 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



before I left them one of the party slipped around to the driver, 
and inquired thoroughly about me, and after being satisfied, wanted 
to sell him some peach brandy at fifty cents a gallon." 

Another says : 

" I go back to the time while I was in the Railway Mail Service. 
There was at that time an organization in West Virginia called 
4 Red Men,' who were banded together for certain purposes known 
only to themselves, and persons joining the lodge were compelled to 











ON HORSEBACK OVER THE MOUNTAINS. 



take one of the most terrible oaths that could possibly be administered 
to anyone. These ' Red Men ' had whipped a number of persons, 
burned some barns (and also two or three private residences), an»d 
had become a terror to almost the entire county of Barbour. About 
this time the carrier on the star route from Beverly to Webster was 
held up, the mail pouch robbed by masked men, and a number of 
registered letters taken. We found that the ' Red Men,' one Mr. 
Price, one Mark Kettle, and a man by the name of Hoffman, were at 
the Belington office when the carrier passed on the day of the 
robbery and left about the time he did. These men were also known 
to be leaders in the order of ' Red Men.' We finally secured suffi- 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS ; PREVENTING CRIME. 355 

cient evidence to warrant the arrest of the three. In the meantime, 
it had gone out that government officers were in the county, and I 
allowed that we had better make a strike. The inspector-in-charge 
told me he could not ride horseback and I would have to go. I said 
all right, and an inspector and a marshal and myself started 
out. We rode pretty fast, for we had been notified by the dis- 
trict attorney that we would have trouble ; that the men we were 
after would kill if they could ; that they had been in the Barbour 
County jail and their friends came down and broke open the jail 
and took them out. My fellow inspector was riding his first horse ; 
and we were riding at a brisk trot, when I noticed that he could not 
keep his seat in the saddle, and said to him : 

44 ' Tom, why don't you keep in the saddle ? ' 

" He replied : 

44 4 1 can't. Don't you see that when I go up, this horse goes 
down, and meets me on the rise, so I never get down ? ' 

44 But we got there, and got all three of our men and landed them 
in. jail. The next day they were tried and convicted. Price got 
ten years, Hoffman nine, and Kettle five in the penitentiary." 

Says another : 

44 1 was looking into a case of rifling registered letters and traced 
it to a colored boy about sixteen years old, who had been 4 carrying ' 
on a star route in Southern Alabama. I went to his father's house 
and was told that the boy was in a field, hoeing cotton. I struck 
out and finally came across him and found he was a dwarf. But I 
concluded I had better take him with me and perhaps I could re- 
cover some of the stolen property. I told him I was an inspector. 
Then he called out, 4 O mamma,' and a colored woman (weight three 
hundred pounds) came up. And the boy said : 

44 4 Mamma, the big boss is gwine to take me. He says I done 
stole sumfin.' 

44 The old woman said: 4 Look heah, mister, dat boy nevah done 
stole nuffin. I knows he nevah did. I done raised dat boy right, 
and if you tuk him you tuk me long too.' 

44 1 said I guessed I could carry her and the boy. I had a mule 
about the size of a good, big dog, but I thought we could all three 
ride him, and the boy went with me. But we did not prosecute 
him on account of his size and ignorance. 



356 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

"Another of my adventures was on a star route in Southern 
Alabama. I had traveled from 6 A. M. to 10 P. M., and it was so 
dark that I couldn't find my way ; so after looking around, I dis- 
covered a light, and, by letting down fences, I finally reached a 
house, or rather a cabin, and hallooed at the top of my voice. Finally 
an old man came out, and I asked him if he could keep me over 
night. He said he was not in the habit of keeping people, but as I 
was a stranger, he would let me stay. I tied the mule and gave 
him some corn fodder and went in and found the house occupied by 
a white man and woman. I asked for something to eat and the 
woman gave me some corn bread and buttermilk, and what she 
called 4 turnip-greens.' I enjoyed my supper (not having had any 
dinner), and then went up what they called stairs. There were 
only two rooms in the cabin. The upstairs room was a kind of an 
attic, but I lay down and went to sleep. 

" I was soon aroused by someone trying to get into the room, as I 
supposed ; but after listening some time, I again went to sleep. I 
was again aroused by someone trying the door, and asked who was 
there and was answered by a growl. It was the dog ! I struck a 
match, and then the dog began to bark and spring at the door. I 
expected it would give way and let him in. I was unable to find 
.an outlet, but I heard a movement below, and soon the old man 
came up with a light and asked me what was wrong. I asked him 
if he would be kind enough to take the dog downstairs. I could 
see by the tallow dip he carried one of the largest bulldogs that ever 
devoured trouserings. I waited for daylight, called for my mule 
(but not for breakfast), thinking only of putting distance between 
myself and that ferocious canine." 

" Sometimes an inspector will stumble upon clews most curiously. 
There had been a great number of losses reported on a star route 
once, and several vain efforts had been made to catch the thief. I 
looked over the reports in the case, and concluded I would take a 
new plan of action. I left the railroad several miles above the office 
where the star route came in, and there procured a horse and buggy 
and started out. A terrible wind and rain storm came up, and, 
crossing a stream, the water ran away over the buggy and I got very 
wet and cold. But I drove up to a little store and asked permission 
to dry my clothes and get something to eat for myself and horse. 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS ; PREVENTING CRIME. 357 

" While waiting I fell into conversation with a young physician 
and soon found him very talkative. He told me that about once a 
week he would go to the railroad and have a good time. He finally 
told me about a game of poker that he had enjoyed on his last trip 
to Blacksville, and he said : 

" i W'y? I broke the crowd, and Joe (calling the assistant postmas- 
ter by name) had to pay me in stamps, ten-cent stamps, and I would 
hold them until Joe got money enough to redeem them.' 

" Joe did not redeem them, for I had him 4 in ' in three days, and 
he's learning a trade now. 

" We once had a complaint from a man in Missouri in regard to a 
land and lumber company. I found that the person complained of 
was using a letter head of a company representing themselves as 
owners of one million acres of timber, coal and iron ore land, with a 
capital of $250,000. The fellow turned out to be a crank, but he 
had taken in shot-guns, molasses, fine setter dogs, flour, boots, shoes 
and numerous other articles. I found he had received by express 
and freight at different times large quantities of goods, and at the 
depot I found a crate of tinware and agricultural implements of vari- 
ous kinds marked to his address. His last speculation related to ten 
head of Jersey cows. All the necessary evidence was in, but he 4 played 
the crazy racket ' and got clear — although he was bright enough 
to secure about seven thousand dollars' worth of stuff and money. 

" The greatest fraud I have ever come in contact with was that of 
4 The Financial Cooperative Company ' of Dashtown. This was 
an order where you were supposed to pay in fifty dollars and in four 
or six months draw one hundred dollars. The swindlers had a fine 
office elegantly furnished, boarded at the best hotels, gave wine sup- 
pers, and swindled people out of between three and four hundred 
thousand dollars. Eight arrests were made ; but the 4 president ' of 
the company went to Europe, and left the others to work out their 
own salvation. 

" Another fraud, worked in West Virginia. A post office box was 
rented and all mail addressed to J. Smith was put in it. We found that 
this box had been rented by two well-known young men, who were 
carrying on»the merchant tailoring business, both active church mem- 
bers, and one of them at the head of the Young Men's Christian 
Association. They put this notice in various papers : 



358 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

" ' The West Virginia Investment Company. Send 25 c. and you will receive 
full instructions.' 

"We found that J. Smith was a myth and that the two young 
men were in fact J. Smith. To our letter asking what to do the 
answer came back : 

" ' Fish for suckers as we do.' 

" Well, we fished, and had the fellows dangling at the end of our 
line in very short order. His honor gave them $50 and costs each, 
which they did not mind. It was the exposure that hurt. Some of 
the old church members are still after them. 

" I had been out on a long trip in the back country once, and 
looked pretty rough when I got on the cars. Having a gray beard 
and wearing a skull cap, I attracted the attention of a little girl 
about nine or ten years of age, who finally came up to me and asked 
if I was Santa Claus. I told her c No,' and she then asked me if I 
was not some relation of his, and, falling into the humor of the 
thing, I told her I was one of his clerks. She then described a doll 
that she had received the previous Christmas, and insisted that I 
ought to remember it ; and finally she accused me of taking it, as 
she said it had been stolen. She wanted to know if I would bring 
it back next Christmas. I promised that she should have another 
doll." 

More stories by another : 

" An inspector was detailed to inspect some fourth class offices in 
Northern Alabama ; and one dreary, wet evening, peculiar for its 
murky, sticky feeling, he set out for a post office on Sand Mountain 
about twenty miles from Guntersville. The only vehicle he could 
procure was an ox team with a certain indescribable paraphernalia, 
called a 4 rig,' attached to a so-called wagon, that must have been a 
legacy from Cortez, or some of the ancient Spanish settlers. The 
appearance of the driver was indelibly impressed upon the inspector's 
memory. About six feet high, with trousers that revealed a long 
distance of bare leg and half hose between their lower edge and his 
shoes, knotty hair reaching to his shoulders, a full-grown, untrimmed 
red, shaggy beard, shabby and ill-fitting shoddy clothing, topped 
with a broad-brimmed slouch hat, he appeared anything but an 
inviting companion for the dreary ride. His long Winchester rifle 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS; PREVENTING CRIME. 359 

was most tenderly handled. In reply to a question, why he brought 
it along, the answer was : 

" ' Stranger, I guess I knows whar I'm going. I might want to 
shoot somethin'.' 

" 4 Any good game about here ? ' the inspector ventured to inquire. 

" ' A good number of skunks over there near Buck Snort Post 
Office, and some powerful mean ones at that. Say, boss, I reckon 
you are one of them moonshine agents, aint you ? ' 

" The inspector refrained from pressing any further questions. 
From the general conversation, however, he was led to the conclu- 
sion that the late war was not yet over. 

" The road had not undergone any modern improvements, and 
it severely tested the strength of the rig ; but with the exception of 
the loss of three spokes from the wheels, the team arrived intact. 
The structure designated as the United States post office was a 
three-room wooden house, in which the postmistress kept a general 
store for the sparsely populated neighborhood. In front of the 
building was congregated a crowd, men, women and children, 
typical representatives of the Southern mountain regions. The men 
chewed tobacco and whittled sticks, the women, with snuff boxes and 
wood brushes, divided their attention between caring for their 
children and criticising the labors of two men and the postmistress, 
who were intently engaged in slaughtering what was described to 
the inspector as ' a three-year old,' the second killed that year, and 
in i rousing steaks ' for supper. The whole scene was reflected from 
huge pine knots of resinous wood that sputtered in the drizzling 
night. 

" The postmistress (as soon as she could conveniently leave her 
employment) came eagerly forward and gave the officer an hospitable 
greeting, extending her hand with a ' Welcome, stranger.' With the 
object of his visit she appeared to be anything but pleased. 

" 6 Why, you 'uns think that we 'uns can't keep a post office up 
here. ' 

"'Oh, I don't think the Department labors under that belief,' 
the reply was. 

" * Well, why did you 'uns send that long-shanked officer up to 
me some six months sin' to ask why I was out m my accounts ? ' 

" 4 1 have nothing to do with anyone who came here before, 



360 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

madam,' replied the officer ; ' I have been ordered to examine this 
office, and with all due courtesy to you, I would like to do so.' 

" ' Come with me, ' she replied grimly, taking a pine knot to 
light him into the post office. 

" The woman conducted the inspector into a room totally devoid 
of furniture except a large oaken bedstead in one corner ; and, lifting 
up the curtains tacked around the bed, extracted from below a large 
cheese box containing three or four letters and a few postage stamps. 
Throwing off the cover, with tragic tones, she exclaimed : 

44 4 Here's the post office ; now inspect. I jes got in twenty-three 
cents last quarter, and it cost me twenty-five cents to swear to my 
account. Take the post office. You can have it ; I don't want it. ' 

44 The inspector attempted to soothe the irate woman, and the 
smell of supper wafted through the open doorway considerably 
helped his good intention. In a few minutes came a cordial invita- 
tion to sit down. 

44 The slaughtering of a beef in that neighborhood seemed to be an 
event which called for the presence of a large number at the table, 
but as the meal progressed the inspector carefully scanned the counte- 
nances of these men, and from a few remarks let drop, came to the 
conclusion that he had stumbled on a moonshiner's camp. His pre- 
dictions were soon verified ; for immediately after supper a demijohn 
was produced, and a gourd full of corn liquor was presented to him. 
He was not a prohibitionist, but the smell of supper, of kitchen, 
and of surroundings were enough. So he respectfully declined to 
drink. One of the roughest men present, who from the respect 
shown him by the others seemed to be a leader, with a horrible oath, 
said : 

44 4 You must drink with us, stranger. ' 

44 The officer thought it best to say : 

44 4 1 guess I'll have to go you, old man. ' 

44 The crowd became hilarious. The officer soon noticed signs 
passing between the leader and a short, crop-haired, bull-dog-faced 
individual, who looked askance at him. As soon as an opportunity 
presented itself, the inspector gave a sign to the leader, who in turn 
seemed to be astonished; and his demeanor toward the officer changed 
as the latter asked him what the mysterious signs meant. The reply 
of the moonshine chief was quiet but startling: 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS; PREVENTING CRIME. 361 

" 4 Ther jes calculating whether to shoot or hang yer. ' 

" 4 For what ? ' was the startled question. 

" 4 Ther ginerally opposed to revenue officers.' 

444 But I am no revenue officer; I belong to the Post Office De- 
partment, ' was the answer. 

44 On the ties of Masonic brotherhood the inspector was invited to a 
secret conference outside, when the leader said that his explana- 
tions, which were supported by the testimony of the postmis- 
tress, were acceptable to the 4 boys.' Then the hand of good fellow- 
ship was extended to him. The female portion of the party had been 
listening to the soothing tones of an asthmatic old violin, and as soon 
as the inspector's case had been decided, he was regaled with the pleas- 
ant strains of 4 Dixie.' After a grand flourish at the coda by the 
mountaineer violinist, the officer ventured to ask if the audience had 
ever heard the second part of that tune. A negative reply, and then 
he quietly proposed to favor them with it. A girl with a yellow 
dress on, standing near by, exclaimed, as he took up the violin : 

44 4 My lord, gals, aint that fiddler pooty ? ' 

44 The inspector blushed, but after repeated efforts, with the addi- 
tion of a new G string which he had in his pocket, he succeeded 
in getting the instrument into reasonably tuneful order. As the 
strains of 4 Marching Through Georgia ' fell upon their ears, though, 
he began to feel that their late decision as to his fate would be 
reversed, and the previous question made debatable again. How- 
ever, music had charms to soothe the savage breast, and the listeners, 
having witnessed his musical skill, set aside all feelings but enjoy- 
ment, and the inspector's exertions were taxed to the utmost to keep 
the fun going 4 fast and furious.' 

44 In the post office sleep refused to come, as all the geese, cats and 
dogs in the neighborhood seemed to be holding uproarious conclaves 
under his room ; for the house was mounted on stilts or upright 
poles, and as the cattle that had gathered outside to mourn over the 
departed one bellowed mournfully, the inspector's thoughts wandered 
towards wife and home. As they never closed any doors in this 
neighborhood, he had a full view of all the house, and he found 
how such a large number of guests could get so much rest in such 
contracted quarters. They slept in relays, each section of the 
party indulging in a 4 cat nap ' for the period of an hour. 



362 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



" After a nowise hearty breakfast the officer was conducted by 
three of the male portion of the party for about five miles on foot by 
a different road than that by which he came, and, after repeated 
assertions that he was not a revenue officer, a saddled horse was put 
at his disposal ; and so he reached Guntersville. The most aston- 
ished individual that he met that day was his quondam Jehu of the 




"the horse trainers attempted to arrest their FLIGHT. 

night before, who seemed relieved, though puzzled, that the inspector 
could still be in the flesh. 

" The Sand Mountain post office was discontinued." 

One of the experiences of another : 

" Wawkeya is a little village on the St. Paul road. Mail trains 
pass between 8 and 9 P. M . The pouches are left in the depot all 
night and carried to the post office in the morning by the agent. 
About eleven o'clock one October night a pistol shot was heard in 
the direction of the depot. Soon after, a man appeared in one of 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS; PREVENTING CRIME. 363 

the saloons and stated that his ; butty ' had been shot and was 
on the depot platform. A lantern party found the wounded 
man, and he was carried to a doctor's office. The ball entered 
the hip, but missed a vital point. In the morning the mail pouches 
were found in a vacant field about three hundred yards from the 
depot, cut open and rifled. A new jack-knife was found in one of 
the sacks. 

" The companion of the wounded man made a statement. They 
were horse trainers, had followed the races, c gone broke,' were work- 
ing towards Chicago. About ten that night they went to the depot 
to board an east-bound freight train. As they were crossing the 
platform two men emerged from the freight door, one of them carry- 
ing a large bundle which looked in the uncertain light like mail 
sacks. The horse trainers attempted to arrest their flight. In the 
altercation they were worsted. His comrade struck and then shot. 
The marauders retreated firing. A clear description of the men 
was given. The wounded man had a new knife ; the other had 
a razor. 

"I was ordered to the spot at once. I endeavored to interview 
the men, but they stood on their records and refused to talk. Two 
boys said they heard a pistol shot when the pouches were found at 
the depot. Spots, apparently of blood, were found in the same 
place ; small evidence to convict men on. But a crime had 
been committed. They were there before the robbery. They 
were there after the robbery. Were they there in the robbery? 
Sufficient was brought out to hold them before a United States 
Commissioner. They were rxeld, and I went groping in the dark 
for evidence. 

" They claimed they came from the West. I went west and 
obtained faint trace of them along the way. In Iowa I learned that 
a store had been broken into ten days before and a large quantity of 
silk wear, razors, knives, etc., taken. The two knives and the razor 
were submitted to the merchant. They looked like his. A good 
lead ! Where were the rest of the goods ? I identified these men as 
being in this Iowa town on the day of the robbery by fairly good wit- 
nesses, and then worked the express offices back again on the line. 
At Prairie du Chien the evidence showed a package sent to Chi- 
cago, 111., to the name given by the wounded man. I went to 



364 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

Chicago and learned when, where, and to whom this package was 
delivered. It was delivered to a woman in a shady locality who 
posed as the mother of one of the suspects. Much valuable time had 
elapsed, and it was doubtful if the goods were still in reaching 
distance. The idea of a search warrant was abandoned, and in 
the early morning I handcuffed a friend, who took the part of 
a captured confederate and informant, and who c guided ' me to 
the spot. 

" Inquiry for the woman was met with the information that she 
had gone out and would not be back until night. The prospect was 
not inviting, but I established myself with my friend, the criminal, 
as a fixture. After a wearisome delay the opposition weakened, and 
the woman appeared from a back room. The situation was fully 
explained to her — the capture of the whole gang, the dangerous 
wound of her son, the enormous advantages to be derived from giving 
up the goods, etc. The informant got in his work on the 'aside,' 
praying her to give in. Yes, she had the package ; hadn't opened it. 
She brought it in. She was too willing. It contained a pair of old 
trousers, a vest, etc., rolled up in the original package. It would 
be tedious to go further into the details of the controversy. We 
labored long and conquered. She sent the girl out somewhere in 
the unknowable regions of Chicago, got the goods, and brought 
them in. One ' criminal ' was relieved, and the chains were tighten- 
ing on two. 

" The merchant in Iowa identified the goods as his. They com- 
pared the knife found on the mail sacks and the knife and the razor 
found on the defendants. Twenty-five or thirty witnesses were 
called to fill in little links of evidence. The trial lasted five days. 
The defence was ably conducted. The jury found defendants 
guilty, and they were sentenced to five years at hard labor. On 
their way to the penitentiary they confessed that justice had not mis- 
carried." 

Other stories by one of the good men : 

44 1 was on an important green-goods case, where the postmaster 
had been invited to assist New York green-goods people. They of- 
fered him 8600, and he turned the bid over to the Post Office Depart- 
ment, and Leffin and myself were selected to go to Olga, Michigan. 
The postmaster was notified that we had come up there on business, 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS; PREVENTING CRIME. 365 

and we took him into our confidence. We asked the postmaster to 
accept this tender of $600 from the New Yorker. 

" The green-goods men sent out a letter-head, in which they called 
themselves the Coal Hill and Trust Company, having ten directors 
and ten trustees, whose names appeared on this letter-head. Our 
scheme was to decoy these people from New York to get the accu- 
mulation of mail at Olga ; so we fixed up a letter, which the post- 
master sent, saying he was fearful that the inspectors would come up 
and demand the mail, and that he thought the best thing they could 
do, owing to the fact that he was not on friendly terms with the 
expressmen, was to come out and express their mail to New York 
themselves. The best thing they could do was to come and get their 
mail. 

" Then they opened up on the postmaster. They said : i What 
will "the Postmaster General think of you when we go down to 
Washington and tell him that you have offered to help us for $600 a 
year, and that you weakened and backed out ? ' The postmaster 
replied that they could go to the Postmaster General. Then they 
sent several letters signed with alleged signatures of the chief in- 
spector and the attorney general ; and finally the inspectors got 
another letter from New York saying that they proposed to write 
letters to such and such people, showing what kind of a postmaster 
they had at Olga. The postmaster replied to that, that he didn't 
care what they did. Along came a telegram then, saying : l We will 
be with you by the 15th.' Soon he got another, this from Buffalo, 
giving the hour of their intended arrival. 

" Friday morning early the fellow walked into the post office at 
Olga. He said : 

" ' Is this Mr. Shippen ? My name is Mullen, and I see you recog- 
nize me. I want my brother's mail.' 

" That was not his brother's name, but he kept on : 

" ' You know who I am when I tell yon I want my brother's mail. 
He told me to give you forty more.' 

" He pulled out $40, but did not lay it down. 

" ; If you will have that mail wrapped up, like an express pack- 
age,' he said, ' I will be in about eight o'clock. I will ask you for 
the mail and be gone about my business.' 

I chased the fellow after he left the office and halted him. I 



366 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



told him I was a Government officer. He began fighting. Leffin, 
who had gone on ahead ; ran back and said : 

" c See here, we're not here for any prize-fighting or foot races. 
Better stop ! ' 

"We slipped the handcuffs on him and took him to Grand 
Rapids. He was searched, and there was some seventy-five dollars 
in gold and greenbacks found on him, and a physician's prescription, 
written in Easton, Pa. Leffin got on the train and went to Easton 
and found the doctor who wrote it; it was for George Moyer. 




"I CHASED THE FELLOW AFTER HE LEFT THE OFFICE AND HALTED HIM." 

Everybody knew him about there twenty-five years before. He 
would come back to Easton periodically. Leffin then went to New 
York and found that Inspector Byrnes had a photograph of this 
fellow. He had been arrested in Michigan, charged with having 
beaten a farmer out of $3,500 on a card trick near Seymour, Indiana. 
In that case they 'hung' the jury, and he was not convicted. After 
the jury had disagreed he was remanded to jail and his bonds 
reduced to a thousand dollars; and three men came to pay the 
money. So justice will miscarry. 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS; PREVENTING CRIME. 367 

" Another case was the Saginaw case. The Saginaw green-goods 
man had sent several letters around to different forts. They were 
written, not printed circulars. They were addressed to different 
sergeants of the companies, advising them that they had certain 
goods on hand, twos, fives, tens, etc., as good as any turned out at 
the Treasury Department. This green-goods man would tell the 
sender what box to address his mail to. Of course, in the letter 
that was sent in by the particular sergeant from Fort Brady it was 
indicated in what box he wanted his mail to go. This particular 
victim was a man by the name of O'Brien. 

'.' I went up to Sault Ste. Marie, and furnished the soldiers money 
to send. We wanted to catch the man with the letter upon him. 
I put that in the pouch, witnessed by the postmaster, who also wit- 
nessed the composition of the letter. I went through with it to 
Saginaw, and before I had the letter placed in the box, I ran over 
and was deputized as a United States Marshal. I stood in the Sag- 
inaw post office two days, watching that box. 

" On the second afternoon, a man, a great, big fellow, came in, got 
his mail, and was going out. I sprang out after him. I said : 

" ' Mister, I shall have to take charge of you.' 

« He said, ' What's that for ? ' 

"I said: 4 I will tell you all about that before the commis- 
sioner.' 

" « But there is some mistake about this. The idea of my 
coming here to get my brother's mail and being arrested is ridic- 
ulous.' 

" He insisted that his brother had got him in trouble. The United 
States marshal searched the man, and among other things found 
were directions how to make new money look old. Well, sir, I 
never saw a fellow perspire as he did. When the United States 
attorney arrived, the fellow weakened. He said : <• Well, I guess I 
might as well make a clean breast of it.' 

" His story was this. He had been an engineer on the Pierre 
and Marquette Railroad. He had been removed for something, his 
wife had been sick, times had been hard, and he received one of these 
green-goods circulars. He himself had been in the regular army 
and knew that the fellows ' blew ' their pay right and left as fast 
as they got it, so he argued that he might as well have some of it. 



368 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

So he sent out these green-goods circulars. The commissioner held 
him, but I think he was let off." 

" In Cincinnati once the division chief called me in and said : 

" 4 There have been half a dozen registered letters rifled, and I think 
you had better go to Indianapolis and see if they have any informa- 
tion up there.' I went, looked at my registered package envelopes, 
and had about come to the conclusion that it was either being done 
on the routes or else at the Plantville, Ind., post office. 

" Plantville was seven miles from Sunburn, and the mail had to 
pass through Centre post office. We fixed up our test and got up to 
Sunburn about four o'clock in the morning. At the post office at 
Plantville I a'nnounced to the postmaster that I was an inspector, 
and I only wanted to put a letter into the pouch. He informed me 
that the mail had gone. 

"I said : 'You had better give me a note to the carrier, then.' 

" He wrote me one. We got down about half way over the road, 
and I overtook the fellow. I said: 'I have a matter that I want to 
keep very quiet. I have got a letter that I want to put into the 
pouch and I want no one to know anything about it.' 

" He said : 'I can't read the note, and I don't know what's in it, 
and I can't open that pouch.' 

" ' I am going to put this letter in there,' I said. 

" 'You can't put anything in there,' he said. 4 If you open that 
pouch, you'll get your brains blowed out.' 

" Finally he let me put the register in the pouch ; but I was 
afraid that this fellow when he got to Sunburn would ' give me 
away.' So I said to him : 

" 'Now you've got j^ourself into a pretty fix, and if anything leaks 
out about this, you will be in trouble.' 

" My partner was still in town ' taking orders for a Grand Army 
book.' I got on the train and went away, because my test register 
was not to be dispatched until the mail was put on the postal car. 
There were three or four other registers. One was very flat, and, 
holding it up, I could plainly see that it had been opened. The 
letter contained $288. 

" Then we drove back to Plantville and requested the postmaster 
to send for the persons who had mailed the letters. He had sent out 
two registers ; they were found to have been rifled. One contained 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS ; PREVENTING CRIME. 369 

$50 and one $40. We got the two letters and a description of the 
money in them. After the registers were put in the package, partner 
4 went back into the country ' with his book which he was trying to 
sell. I went into the postoffice. The postmaster's boy looked very 
suspicious. I said : 

" - Mr. Postmaster, I suppose you are aware that there is stealing 
going on in your office. We are post office inspectors, and we are 
here to notify you that there is somebody in your office stealing.' 

" He said : ' 1 would not steal anything. I never stole anything 
in my life ; and there is nobody else that could steal anything with- 
out my knowing it/ 

" 4 But you have got a boy here. What do you know about him ? ' 

" ' Why,' he said ; 4 that is my own son, and I would trust him 
with my life.' 

" ' He is stealing registers.' 

" ' No, sir,' the old man said, 'he is doing nothing of the kind.' 

" Partner found the boy in a neighboring grocery. He came in 
looking guilty. I said to him : 

" c Young man, I came here to get that money you have taken out 
of the registered letters. We want that money that you have taken 
out of the letters. We want the $288. There was $288 you took 
out of one, and $50 out of another. What have you got to say 
about it ? ' 

"He said: C I never took the money, and besides that I have got 
a good reputation.' 

" i Aren't you a smart young fellow, T I said, ' to try to fasten 
this thing on your poor old father in this way ? ' 

" Pretty soon he said : ' Well, I have got the money and I will 
go and get it.' 

" The father broke down completely. He cried : 

" 4 My God ! My God ! I never want to set my eyes on him 
again ! ' 

" The boy produced $541 for us. He had been stealing for 
weeks. He was sentenced for one year, but was pardoned inside 
of four months. The father died of grief soon afterwards. The 
boy became a professional housebreaker." 

An inspector had a queer experience sometime ago in a pretty 
little town in Maryland. As his train neared this village, he 



370 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

walked into the mail-car, asked for the mail clerk, showed his com- 
mission and put in a letter addressed to James Lancaster, a fictitious 
name. The letter contained a $10 bill. The inspector stood upon 
the platform of the mail car when the train stopped and the 
pouch was thrown off. A boy took the pouch over his shoul- 
der and started up the village street. There was a crowd of 
visitors inside the post office who swarmed towards the little 
desk. The inspector waited fifteen minutes until they had all 
gone to get their mail. He entered the place. A handsome girl, 
seventeen years old and dressed in an old-fashioned bodice and 
light colored skirt, sat behind the wire grating in a rocking chair, 
sewing. 

" Is there a letter here for James Lancaster?" he asked. 

" No," she said, after sorting some letters in a case marked " L." 

" I am sure the letter must have come," said the inquisitor. 

" It's not here." 

" Are you the postmaster ? " 

" No. I am the assistant. My father is the postmaster." 

" Who opened the pouch that came in by the last train ? " 

" I did." 

" No one to help you ? " 

" No, sir." 

" Maybe it's stuck in the pouch. I have heard of such things. 
Won't you look ? " 

She took the pouch, turned it upside down, shook it, and looked 
inside. No letter. 

" Won't you let me come in and help you look for it?" 

" No. No one is allowed in here." 

The inspector drew out his commission. " May I come in now? " 
he asked. 

" Yes," blushing ; " I beg your pardon." 

" I mailed a letter myself to James Lancaster," the inspector said. 
u It is a fictitious name, Lancaster. The letter was put in that 
pouch by the mail clerk on the train, who took a memorandum of 
it, and locked the pouch in my presence. When that pouch was put 
off at the station, I followed it, and kept it in sight until it was 
taken into the post office. Now, you say you opened it alone, that 
no one else touched it ? Where is my letter ? " 



APPREHENDING CRIMINALS ; PREVENTING CRIME. 371 

"I never saw it, sir. If you doubt me, you can search me." 

The inspector began to pace the floor in deep thought. The girl, 
more beautiful than ever in her excitement, sat down in the chair, 
crossed her legs, and began to rock herself to and fro. 

" Call your mother, and she can search you in my presence." 

" My mother is dead." 

Again the inspector paced the floor. As he walked back and 
forth, he noticed the swinging feet of the postmaster's daughter. 
One of her stockings had fallen a little, and under it was the shape 
of an envelope ! 

" Your stocking has dropped," he said. 

The girl turned scarlet and then white, and stopped rocking. 
She caught her breath, and almost fainted. Then she recovered 
herself, took the letter from its hiding place, handed it to the in- 
spector, and burst into a flood of passionate tears. 

The girl had admirers, as was natural ; her father was miserly, 
not giving her the money even that was needed for a bright bit of 
ribbon, or ever a new dress. She had been tempted to take money 
from the mails for bits of finerjr. The inspector bitterly accused the 
old man of being the one to blame. 

w I suppose you will arrest her ? " he said. 

" Will you make restitution of the sum stolen?" 

It was handed over. " Will you arrest her? " 

" If I did, what would be her future ? No ; unless you or she 
tells, this will never be known." 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CAEDS. 




\jjfr HE Third Assistant Postmaster General is the finance 
officer of the Department. He receives and deposits 
the postal funds, collects drafts, prepares warrants for 
the payment of postal indebtedness, and all that ; and 
it is his figures which show at the present time that 
the usual postal deficit of five or six millions is surely 
disappearing, and that by the plans and estimates of 
the present Postmaster General they will soon be 
changed into a slight net revenue. The Finance 
Division requires fifteen clerks. Then the Third Assistant has the 
division of registration, which looks after all the registered matter; 

and he also has the division of .---—. — — ______ ___, ___ — 1 

files, records, and mails. This last 
division opens 1,400,000 letters 
and parcels in a year. The num- 
ber of registered letters and par- 
cels received is over 17,000 annu- 
ally, and the number of letters 
briefed, recorded and filed away 
after final action is 20,000 a year. 
The number of letters separate- 
ly written, copied, indexed and 
mailed, is 30,000 annually. The 
Third Assistant is the bookkeeper 
of the Department, as it were. 
Some of the methods of this office 
have become, during many years 
of contending growth and prece- 
dent, antiquated and not uniform. 
Effort was made two years ago, by 

372 





MR. A. D. HAZEN, 
Third Assistant Postmaster General. 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 



373 



the appointment of a special commission of expert accountants, to 
revise these methods, so that all the post offices should keep their 
accounts alike. 

Two thirds of the clerks of the Third Assistant's office are em- 
ployed in the Stamp Division, which has the regulation of the stamp, 
stamped envelope, post-card and 
letter sheet business, and also the i 
regulation of the second class mat- 
ter privilege. Most of the work 
of the Stamp Division is done in 

the rooms along the lower corridor j m 

on the Seventh Street side of the 
Post Office Building, and the 
chief's room, Mr. E. B. George's, 
is at the corner of Seventh and F 
Streets. The clerks of the Stamp 
Division are greatly overworked. 
If Mr. George had been provided 
with additional help in proportion 
to the increase of the work of this 
division as necessitated by the 
growth of the service, he would 
have twenty additional clerks now. 
The chief is a Haverhill, Mass., 
man, who was a member of the 
House of Representatives of the Bay State when General Banks was 
Governor; and he was a state senator in '62. In the legislature of 
'59 with him were Charles W. Upham of Salem, George M. Stearns 
of Chicopee, Tappan Wentworth of Lowell, and Caleb Cushing of 
Newburyport ; and Benjamin F. Butler was in the Senate. Mr. 
George was a soldier of the war and entered the Stamp Division as a 
clerk in 1866. 

The ordinary postage stamps used by the Post Office Department 
are manufactured by the American Bank Note Company of New 
York. They bid for this work, and as is the case with all Govern- 
ment contracts, there must be open competitive bidding and an award 
of the work to the lowest responsible bidder. The processes by 
which postage stamps are manufactured are secret, and much of the 




MR. E. B. GEORGE, 
Chief of the Stamp Division. 



374 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

patented machinery is in use in this manufacture alone. Informa- 
tion is often refused to foreign governments, and agents of the 
United States have repeatedly made fruitless visits to the company 
to be admitted to the rooms where the stamps are manufactured. 
Some of the most bitterly contested lawsuits on record- have arisen 
with regard to different patents employed in the manufacture of 
stamps, and an immense amount of ingenuity has been expended in 
bringing the art of printing them rapidly and cheaply to its present 
perfection. Postage stamps are used in nearly all civilized countries, 
but almost all are manufactured either in London, Paris, or New 
York. The entire American Continent, some European States, and 
many of the South Sea Islands are supplied with stamps from the 
American metropolis. 

A somewhat cursory description of the manufacture of stamps 
appeared some time ago in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and various 
other papers. The first step is to make the die. The device, which 
has generally been the head of some distinguished public man, is 
settled upon by the Government, and the drawings made. The 
service of the engraver is next required. An engraving in deep in- 
taglio is made upon steel, which has been softened by a peculiar pro- 
cess of decarbonization. The device is cut, and afterwards the 
border, which is a more or less complicated scroll. The steel is then 
hardened by a recarbonization, and the intaglio, technically known 
as the female die, is ready for use. 

The next step is to make the upper die, known as the male die or 
punch. A cylinder of soft steel is pressed by a hydraulic ram upon 
the intaglio engraving, and after it has been pressed into all the 
depressions is slightly touched up with the graver. A cameo coun- 
terpart of the intaglio is thus formed, and from these the sheet is 
made up by pressing the hardened steel, upon the softer metal. The 
discovery of the process of softening the steel for working and hard- 
ening it for use greatly simplified the task of printing stamps, as 
formerly but one pair of dies were used, owing to the cost of engrav- 
ing and the practical impossibility of making by hand a number of 
exactly similar devices ; and the process of printing stamps was 
therefore a very slow and expensive one. 

The dies are arranged in a press, each press producing a sheet of 
two hundred stamps. When this sheet is ready for use it is torn in 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 



375 



two, the stamps furnished to postmasters coming in half sheets. 
The paper is supplied by the Government daily on requisition from 
the manufacturer, a careful record being kept of the amount of the 
issue; and the company must return the full number of stamped 
sheets that have been issued unstamped. The sheets are placed in 
the press and by an ingenious device are fed to the dies and counted. 




A CABINET OF STAMPS IIST TIIK THIRD ASSISTANT'S OFFICE. 



The paper rests upon the female die, which alone is inked, the punch 
coming down upon it and pressing the paper upon the inked surface. 
The printing is true steel engraving, the process being exactly oppo- 
site from that employed in printing from type, the lower surfaces 
receiving the deep color and the upper one being light. 

The next step is to gum the stamped sheets. This was formerly 
done by hand, large brushes being used, but a more effective method 
has been devised by which a roller is passed over the sheets by 
machinery, applying the gum evenly over the entire surface. Great 
care is taken in the preparation of this glue, as it is necessary to give 



376 • THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

the sheets a coating that will not become soft and sticky through 
exposure to a moist atmosphere, and still will be sufficiently adhesive 
to prevent the possibility of detachment from the letters to which 
they are affixed. An entire issue of three-cent stamps, those printed 
in blue and bearing the figure of a locomotive, once had to be retired 
because of the imperfection of the gummed surface. The cost to the 
Government amounted to tens of thousands of dollars, and the incon- 
venience to the public was extreme, as the stamps frequently failed 
to adhere, and the letters were not sent to their destinations. 

After the process of gumming is completed the sheets are placed 
upon racks and dried by being pressed on a series of steam pipes. 
If a single stamp is in any way mutilated, the entire sheet of 100 
stamps is burned; and 500,000 are said to be burned every week 
from this cause. The greatest accuracy is observed in counting the 
sheets of stamps to guard against pilfering by the employees ; but 
during the past twenty years not a sheet has been lost in this way. 
During the process of manufacturing the sheets are counted at least 
eleven times. 

The last step in the manufacture is to punch the holes dividing 
one stamp from another. This seems simple enough, but as a mat- 
ter of fact the invention of a means by which single stamps could be 
separated from a sheet gave more trouble than any other process in 
their manufacture, and occasioned a lawsuit that lasted many years. 
Men scarcely beyond middle life can remember the trouble and 
annoyance occasioned by the old-fashioned sheets which were with- 
out perforation or division of any kind. A regular part of the equip- 
ment of every office and every house was a tin ruler and a pair of 
shears to cut stamps from the sheet. The inconvenience of such a 
process is evident, and about 1845 the English government offered a 
reward for any device by which the stamps could be printed so as to 
be easily divided from the sheet. A series of knives or lances cutting 
through the space between the stamps was first tried, but proved 
highly unsatisfactory. The stamps were liable to tear, and the 
knives almost immediately became so blunted as to be practically 
useless. A mechanic named Archer then presented a device con- 
sisting of a number of hollow punches, with sharp edges, which 
would perforate the sheets at short intervals. The post office author- 
ities declared that the paper soon clogged the machine and rendered 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 377 

it useless. It was neglected for a while, but finally one or two 
improvements were introduced, and a defect in the paper furnished, 
arising from its unequal thickness, was remedied. The perforating 
machine was then found to operate perfectly, and is now in use all 
over the world. 

In perforating stamps for use in this country, the gummed and 
dried sheets are piled up fifty thick and placed under a heavy piece 
of machinery provided with many hundred punches so arranged as to 
pierce the spaces between the stamps. The sheets are run through 
lengthwise, and afterwards changed in position, and the cross per- 
forations made. They are then ready for issue. Each sheet is 
divided into two equal parts, and the stamps are delivered to the 
Government. They are delivered by the million to the postage 
stamp agency in Trinity Place, New York City. 

It has several times been proposed to print the postage stamps at 
the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington. Postmaster 
General Dickinson in his time drew an amendment to the Post Office 
Appropriation Bill for this purpose. The printing of the stamps and 
postal cards would not be a very large enterprise in comparison with 
the work now done at the Bureau. The number of sheets of postage 
stamps printed per year of all kinds is 10,000,000, or about 50,000 
per day. There are about 200 stamps in a sheet of the ordinary size. 
It would probably take a force of seventy or eighty men and women 
to do the work. If the tax on manufactured tobacco should be re- 
pealed, the suspension of printing tobacco stamps at the Bureau 
would leave a chance for printing the postage stamps. This work is 
done on twenty hand presses and ten steam presses. One man is 
employed at each press, with two women assistants on the hand 
presses and one on the steam presses. This makes a force of seventy, 
to which would have to be added about fifty operatives in the other 
divisions of the office. About two thirds of this force, it is estimated, 
would be required to print the postage stamps, not including the 
postal cards. The cards would not require a large force, but would 
take considerable storage room. There are obvious advantages, 
according to the advocates of the scheme, in having the postage 
stamps printed by the Government in Washington. It would save 
to the Government whatever profit is now made by the contractors, 
would permit more rapid communication between the Post Office 



378 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Department and the printers, and the prompter filling of orders, and, 
as it was maintained at the time, would make fraud practically im- 
possible. 

The postmaster at San Diego, California, tells a story about a per- 
son living in that town who corresponded with his young lady ; and 
she certainly was an economical young lady. The economical fea- 
ture of the correspondence was that writing paper and envelopes 
were dispensed with and the thoughts of the writer were put upon 
the mucilage side of the postage stamp. On the lower edge of the 
stamp was of course the small margin of white paper, such as is 
often found on a row of stamps when several are purchased, and on 
this the address was written ; and the stamp, instead of being placed 
on the back of a letter, was sent on its important mission with a let- 
ter on its back. It arrived at San Diego all right, and was delivered 
to the person to whom it was addressed. But of the stamp crank, 
a chapter later on. The other kind is more numerous than this. 

The stamped envelopes are all manufactured at Hartford, Conn., 

by the contractors, the Plimpton 
Manufacturing Co. and the Morgan 
Envelope Co. These are made 
plain, without any printing on 
them, or bearing a blank return 
request, or what is designated as a 
special request containing a per- 
son's name. The printing is done 
at the factory at Hartford, in the 
course of making the envelope. 
All orders from postmasters for 
these envelopes are sent to the 
Stamp Division and forwarded to 
Hartford, and the envelopes are 
sent from there to the postmasters. 
Reckoning the different sizes, qual- 
ities, denominations and color of 
paper, the Department issues sixty- 
eight different kinds ; and a while 
ago an order for all of these was sent for the national bureau of 
the Universal Postal Union for distribution. Each nation is to be 




HON. ELISHA MORGAN, 
President, Morgan-Plimpton Envelope Co. 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CABDS. 379 

furnished with five sets of each kind of United States stamped 
paper. It is a general exchange among all the nations in the 
Postal Union. 

The denominations in which the stamped envelopes are issued are 
one, two, four and five. The five-cent ones are used entirely for 
foreign correspondence. There are three different qualities of many 
of the sizes ; and there are ten different sizes of envelopes besides 
the newspaper wrapper, which is issued in denominations of one and 
two cents. The wrappers are also made at Hartford, under the 
same contract with the envelopes. This contract is let once in four 
years. The contract for official, registered-package and tag envelopes 
is made every year. The terms, of course, from year to year are 
determined by the price of paper stock. The contract of a year ago 
was for less than the present one, paper stock having advanced con- 
siderably during the period. 

The cost of stamped envelopes to the public is no more with 
printing than without. Of course the contractor knows about the 
proportion of plain and printed ones that he will be called upon to 
furnish, and he takes the expense of printing into account in making 
his bid. But under his bid he is to furnish whatever proportion the 
Department may order of special request or blank request envelopes. 
It has been argued by job printers in many parts of the country that 
the Government has no right to secure the printing of these return 
request envelopes by the envelope contractor at such reduced rates, 
because it is in effect forming a combination and shutting out all the 
aforesaid job printers from a chance to do at least a part of the work. 
It is said in reply by the supporters of the present system that if the 
printing were not done by the contractors the number of stamped 
envelopes printed would doubtless be much smaller, and the amount 
of business anyway that would go to the different printing offices 
scattered throughout the country would be very small ; that they 
would not recognize it when they saw it. Furthermore, the accom- 
modation involved in the return request, printed without apparent 
extra cost on the stamped envelope, is a great convenience to multi- 
tudes of business men. In that way it is a public accommodation ; 
and again it is actually found to be of immense value to the Dead 
Letter Office, for evidently if the return request were printed on all 
envelopes dropped into the mails no letters could ever go to the 



380 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Dead Letter Office, because when they failed of delivery, they would 
be returned to the senders ; and it has even been argued that 
a law ought to be passed to compel all persons mailing letters 
to put this request on, not in printing necessarily, but in some way 
at least. 

But the argument of the printers has been strong enough to pre- 
vail, and in the last session of Congress the act providing for the 




$P'n&$$tti{pB£m%$« €nmn\ 







F— 



trr: 





A FRAME OF STAMPED ENVELOPES. 



return request on stamped envelopes was repealed. The Senate 
rejected the bill, but in conference receded from its objection. So, 
there is no more printing of the return request by the Government 
contractors. The demand for special request envelopes is in- 
creasing more rapidly than that for any other kind of stamped 
paper, and there are more special request envelopes issued now than 
of any other kind, even including the plain and the blank request, 
which has only one line across the envelope. When the stamp 
division does not specify just what kind of envelopes its orders call 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 381 

for, the contractors send half plain and half blank. Most of the 
large offices desire to have theirs plain, except when they order 
the special request put on. Almost every business man now 
uses this means of having his communication returned to him 
within a stated short period, in. case it cannot be delivered to his 
correspondent. 

The stamp division receives the requisitions of postmasters for all 
supplies of postage stamps, stamped envelopes and postal cards, 
sends a regular order each day, except Sundays and holidays, to the 
several agencies whence the stamp paper is distributed, directing that 
the postmasters named in the orders be furnished with the supplies 
specified, and charges to the account of each postmaster the value of 
the stamped paper which he has thus ordered. Each requisition is 
examined to make sure that the signature affixed is that of the post- 
master at the place mentioned, and also to ascertain whether the 
business of the office requires the supply ordered. If a postmaster 
at a small office should order an unusually large supply, or a quantity 
of any particular denomination of stamps larger than would ordina- 
rily be required at a post office of that class, he is called upon to 
explain why such supplies are required. 

This precaution is necessary as a matter of ordinary business, and 
also to prevent any attempts on the part of postmasters to increase 
the receipts of their offices, and hence their own compensations, by 
procuring matter to be mailed at their offices that should properly be 
mailed elsewhere. For, while everyone has the right to buy postage 
stamps and to mail his letters wherever he pleases, yet it is evidently 
not a fair thing to the Department for a person doing business in a 
large city, for instance, to take his postal matter to some small 
suburban office to mail it, for the reason that his city office has to 
receive and deliver all his incoming mail, and practically has to do 
all his work, and is consequently furnished with the means with 
which to do it ; consequently, the matter furnished from that office 
does not lessen the expense there, but does increase the emoluments 
of the smaller office at the expense of the Government. Yet it has 
sometimes been found that the business of a small office is enlarged 
in this way. 

Several years ago a post office was established in Connecticut near 
the New York State line, within a few miles of two or three other 



382 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



post offices. The pay, of course, was small. Soon the postmaster 
wrote to the First Assistant Postmaster General to be instructed 
whether he should receive and mail any matter that might be brought 
to his office. He was informed that he should not refuse to accept 
any matter that was entitled to transmission in the mails. A little 
later a firm in New York City wrote to inquire if, under the Postal 
Laws and Regulations, they had a right to mail their letters and other 




SPECIMENS OF STAMPED ENVELOPES. 



postal matter where they pleased. This query was replied to in the 
affirmative. The connection between these two inquiries became 
apparent soon after when the postmaster at the little Connecticut 
office began to order extraordinary quantities of stamps and to mail 
extraordinary quantities of matter ; and it was soon developed that 
the New York firm, who were the sons of the Connecticut postmaster, 
expressed their matter to his office in order that the old gentleman 
might increase his compensation from almost nothing to $250 a 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 383 

quarter. The postmaster was removed ; and it was then that this 
order was issued : 

" Every postmaster at a fourth class office is forbidden on pain of removal to 
solicit from any person residing or doing business within the delivery of another 
post office, or from any agent of such person, the deposit for mailing at his office 
of any mail matter, or to enter into any agreement or to have any understanding 
with any person whatever whereby either for or without consideration matter to 
be sent through the mails is procured to be mailed at the office of such post- 
masters." 

A sharp, desperate game was tried several years ago by a post- 
master at a small mountain town in the South. He began to order 
unusually large numbers of stamps, notably of the higher denomina- 
tions. When called upon for an explanation of the sudden increase 
of postal business at his office he built, on paper, a bustling business 
community, enumerated the number of families, manufactured a 
great shop that sent out many packages of merchandise by registered 
mail, and described the nourishing academy on the main street, 
whose students corresponded very extensively. It was all a pure 
fiction, of course. The nourishing town was a dozen deserted shan- 
ties. There was no shop at all, and the seminary building was a 
sheepfold. The postmaster was arrested, but he escaped from his 
captors by jumping from a fast-moving railroad train. 

An interesting case was brought to light .not long ago in the 
neighborhood of New York City. It appeared that some enterpris- 
ing burglar who entered a small post office near the metropolis had 
carelessly thrown away a package of newspapers which they found 
in the safe. They evidently considered it worthless ; but it contained 
all the. postmaster's stamps, and they were worth ten thousand dol- 
lars ! Evidently there were so many of them that if the patrons of 
the post office in question had spent all their time writing letters 
they could not have used so many stamps. This incident caused 
inquiry to be made at the New York post office. It was explained 
that the amount of this business of " booming " local sales is not to 
be gauged by the amount of stamp sales, because there is a consump- 
tion of stamps for mails sent out from that city to the value of at 
least $3,000,000 per year from stamps that were not sold in the city, but 
which reached consumers through other means. A great many buyers 
send pay to business houses in New York for goods in stamps ; and 
it was said that a good number of houses receive stamps yearly to the 



384 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

amount of $50,000 in payment for goods. Many houses receive 
more stamps than they can possibly use in their own mailings, 
and dispose of them to brokers at a discount, the brokers in turn 
peddling them out to other merchants at about three per cent, below 
their face value. 

There is no law effectually to reach sales of this kind, and even 
if there were, its operation could not be far-reaching, because such 
sales do not cut an important figure in the postage business. The 
receipts of stamps in payment for goods is an important matter, how- 
ever, and adding them to tho stamps brought to the city by merchants 
who purchase out of town to help the local postmasters, and stamps 
brought to the city by visitors who send out letters from New York, 
there is an aggregate of at least $3,000,000 in stamps that go through 
the New York post office which have been purchased elsewhere and 
for which the New York office gets no credit whatever. 

Some say, therefore, that the Post Office Department does the 
New York post office an injustice by basing its allowance for ex- 
penses on the stamp sales. The yearly receipts at the New York 
office amount to about $7,000,000. This, of course, is a larger busi- 
ness than is done anywhere else, but it is said that if the office were 
paid according to the number of stamps that must pass through it 
attached to letters, representing out-of-town as well as local pur- 
chasers, the year's business at the New York office would amount to 
$10,000,000. The New York postal authorities would be very grate- 
ful to anyone who might devise a way by which the business naturally 
belonging to the New York office would be turned in there. They 
confess their inability to see how any law can prevent a merchant 
from buying stamps where he pleases, and if he happens to live in 
the suburbs and wishes to help a friend by making his purchases of 
him, there is nothing that can stop him, unless it be discovered that 
his friend is also favoring him by letting him have stamps at a dis- 
count. It is regarded also as practically impossible to prevent people 
from sending stamps to merchants in payment for goods, and, of 
course, there is no way of regulating the use of stamps which visitors 
to the city may have bought elsewhere. 

The present contract for stamped envelopes is very advantageous 
to the Department. The bids amounted to $755,276, being 
$85,720, or 10.3 per cent, less than the cost of corresponding num- 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 385 

foers and kinds at the prices in the contract made in 1886. With an 
allowance of an annual increase of 12 per cent, in the quantities to 
be required, the reduction in cost for the four years of the contract 
term amounts to over $450,000, as compared with the previous 
contract. The United States is by far the largest consumer of 
stamped envelopes of all nations in the world. Upward of 
500,000,000 are used in an average year. In England, Germany, 
France, Russia, and Austria combined the number furnished in 1888 
was only a little more than 70,000,000, or about one seventh of the 
quantity used in this country. 

The attention of the Department is now and then called to the 
importance of a better system of checking at the envelope factory at 
Hartford, so that it may be absolutely certain that no stamped 
envelopes escape. There is a Government agent there, but he is not 
supposed to know about the condition of the stock of envelopes 
until it actually comes into his custody. He knows how many 
stamped envelopes he receives, and what he does with them ; but 
whether any are lost in the process of manufacture before they come 
to him he cannot determine, and really that is not his affair. The 
envelopes are counted automatically as thej^ come out of the 
machine, counted and banded in packages of twenty-five, and then 
put up inside of boxes holding 250 or 500 of the ordinary letter 
size. So, probably, all that he takes account of is the number of boxes. 
It would be difficult for anyone after stealing stamped envelopes 
to dispose of them, supposing that he could take enough to make it 
amount to anything. Within two years it has been necessary 
for the contractors to enlarge their factory materially, and while 
they were doing it a portion of the building was torn away. They 
employed a watchman to be on guard there all the while, but 
after the work was completed it was found that somebody in Hart- 
ford was offering stamped envelopes for sale at a discount. The 
matter was investigated immediately, and the theft was traced to a 
watchman. The Department recovered nearly all the envelopes that 
were stolen, and the contractors paid the postage value of all that 
were not recovered. 

The postal cards are all manufactured at Birmingham, Conn. Mr. 
Albert Daggett is the contractor and Wilkinson Brothers are the 
manufacturers of the paper. The postal card agency at Birmingham. 



386 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



is the main source of supply. There are two sub-agencies, one at 
Chicago and another at St. Louis, to which the postal cards are 
shipped, as freight, for distribution. All orders come to the Stamp 

Division and the agencies are 
directed to send the cards out. 
From Birmingham, New England, 
New York, New Jersey, Pennsyl- 
vania, Delaware, and all the South- 
ern States east of the Mississippi 
River, except Kentucky, are sup- 
plied. St. Louis supplies the states 
west of the Mississippi and south 
of Iowa and Nebraska. Colorado 
and California are supplied from 
Chicago ; and all the Northwest, 
and Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and 
Michigan get their supplies from 
Chicago. A postal sub-agency is 
about to be established at Wash- 
ington for the better supply of the 
South. At each of these cities the 
postmaster acts as sub-agent and 
has such clerical help as may be 
necessary ; and he is allowed clerk hire for them. 

There are three sizes issued, A, B and C, and also a two-cent 
international card and the new reply postal card, now so rapidly 
coming into general use. The big card is popular, but it costs 
the Government more to furnish it, and its tendency is to lessen 
the correspondence at letter rates and increase it at postal card 
rates. The Postmaster General's idea was, however, that the more 
space the people have to write on for one cent the nearer they 
come to one-cent postage. Business men find the card very useful 
in sending out announcements. Its size is different from anything 
else that goes in the mail, and one card tied alone in a big bunch of 
mail matter gets jammed and broken. That was one reason why the 
conference of inspectors recommended that stamped envelopes be fur- 
nished without including the cost of the envelope — - so that mail 
matter would be more uniform in size and therefore easier to handle. 




MR. ALBERT DAGGETT, 
Postal Card Contractor. 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 387 

The B, or ordinary, cards cost the Department 35 cents a thou- 
sand, the A cards 37 cents, and the C cards 50 cents. In the present 
contract for the ordinary cards the price is about one third cheaper 
than in the old one, the average price of the cards being about 9 
cents a pound in the former contract, and 6 cents a pound in the 
present one. The estimated number of cards required during the 
four years of the contract term is 2,000,000,000, at a cost of about 
$800,000, and the reduction in cost for the four years will amount to 
fully $150,000, as compared with the prices in the old contract. The 
postage on the estimated quantity of cards being called for during 
these four years is $20,000,000. The contract requires nearly 7,000 
tons of paper, or an average of six tons for each working day. Postal 
cards were first introduced into this country in 1873, and the issue 
for the first year was about 100,000,000 cards. The contract price 
was then $1.30 J a thousand cards, or about three and a half times 
the average price in the present contract. 

The postal card factory of ex-Senator Daggett is at Shelton, Con- 
necticut, which is only three miles from Birmingham, Ansonia and 
Derby, a celebrated manufacturing neighborhood, in which every- 
thing from a pin to a piano is made. The postal card factory is on 
the opposite side of the canal from the Derby paper mills of the 
Wilkinson Brothers. They supply the paper for the old, or medium 
sized card, and for the new manilla card, commonly called the big 
card. The paper for the small, or ladies' card is made by the Whit- 
ing Paper Co., of Holyoke, of which Hon. William Whiting, a former 
member of Congress from Massachusetts, is president. 

The plates from which the postal cards are made are of steel, and 
are produced from a die engraved at the Bureau of Engraving and 
Printing. The plates are made by rolling this die on soft steel plates, 
which are afterwards hardened and carefully gone over by an ex- 
perienced engraver. The time consumed in engraving one of these 
dies is about three months. The paper is received at the factory on 
small, four-wheeled trucks, four thousand sheets to a truck of the 
old card, and three thousand sheets of the new. The former lot 
weighs 2,112 pounds, and the latter 2,700 pounds. The cards are 
first printed on the Whitlock two-revolution press, which is also 
made in Shelton. These presses print 100 cards at each im- 
pression, of the ladies' size and of the old cards, so called, and 64 of 



388 



THE STORY OF OTJE, POST OFFICE. 



the big card ; and they all print in 10 hours 10,000 sheets of postal 
cards, or 1,000,000 of the small and medium size, and 640,000 of the 
large size. This is the largest number of postal cards ever printed 
on one press ; for, before the term of the present contract began, 
twenty-four cards only had been made at one impression. In one of 
the rushes of business which sometimes occur these wonderful presses 
are run twenty-three out of the twenty-four hours for fifteen con- 
secutive days without a skip or a break. 




THE POSTAL CARD FACTORY AT SHELTON, CONN. 

It happens not infrequently that one of these busy times occurs. 
Two or more big orders will come in in a single day sometimes. 
Once an order came from St. Louis for 10,000,000 and another from 
Chicago on the same day for 25,000,000. It took four freight cars 
to carry these cards away ; but there were enough on hand to fill 
both orders. The vault at the factory holds 125,000,000 cards, all 
packed in boxes, and the contract requires that 20,000,000 shall be 
constantly stored there. When these orders for 35,000,000 cards 
came, the contractor had on hand fully 50,000,000. 

The paper for the small card is made of rags and sulphide wood 



* 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 



389 



pulp in equal proportions. The old card is printed on the finest 
wood paper. The big card is made of a fine manilla paper manufac- 
tured from jute butts. After the cards are printed, they are dried 
carefully so as not to print on the backs, and are put through two 
machines, which cut the sheets into strips of ten cards each, and 
then cross-cut these sheets into single cards. The slitter, as it is 
called, is run by two persons, one of whom feeds the machine ; and 
the other carries the strip, when cut, to the cross-cutters. One 




THE POSTAL CARD FACTORY AT SHELTON, AGAlN. 

slitter cuts enough strips to supply three cross cutter machines. The 
cross cutters, are run by a "feeder," and three "helpers," or 
"banders." As the strips are fed through these cross cutters, the 
cards are cut exactly in the shape in which the purchaser finds them, 
and dropped into ten little compartments at the rear of the machines, 
and in front of the bandery. When 25 strips have passed through 
the machine, the wheel, on which there are four rows of these little 
compartments, makes a quarter turn and presents the cards to the 
banders in packages of 25, so that they may affix the gum band 
which is to retain them in their place. At the same time one of the 



390 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

hands examines the cards for spoiled ones, while another counts the 
packages to see that no mistake has been made by the feeders. 
The cards are then stacked up in piles of twenty packs, which are in 
turn placed in small pasteboard boxes containing 500 cards each. 
The pasteboard boxes are then packed in strong wooden cases (of 
which about five carloads a month are used), in two, five and twenty- 
five thousand lots, all ready for shipment. 

The paper for the C, or big card, is jute, and its manufacture is a 
long and difficult process. It is done by tearing apart the bales 
(which contain about 400 pounds pressed very tightly together). 
It is then passed through cutting machines and a picker, to cleanse 
it from bark, pith and other dirt. From the picker, or duster, it is 
packed in rotary iron or steel boilers and treated with a solution of 
lime, when it is subjected to steam pressure for a number of hours, 
which softens the harsh nature of the raw jute. It is then placed in 
a washing machine, designed especially for this work, where it is 
thoroughly cleansed of all lime and other impurities. The stock is 
then of a reddish brown color, and is treated to a bath of chloride of 
lime, sufficiently strong to bleach it to the shade seen in the card. 
Then it is thrown into beating engines, where the fibres are slowly 
and continuously, for several hours, passed between dull knives, 
until the fibres are reduced to a degree of fineness so thorough as to 
admit of their being thoroughly interlaced into the woven sheet, 
which is accomplished by passing the pulpy mass over finely woven 
wire cloth, thence through rolls to free it of water, and thence 
through dryers, heated by steam, to remove all moisture. After this 
process it is put through calendar rolls, which give it the even and 
smooth finish which appears in the finished card. The manufacture 
of the paper is now complete, and after being cut into sheets of the 
desired size, it is ready to go to the printing presses. 

The paper used in the regular or B card, which has been the one 
used ever since the Government first adopted postal cards, is com- 
posed entirely of wood fibre made from spruce and poplar reduced 
to pulp from the logs, after the bark has been removed, by cutting 
it into small chips. The machine which cuts up the logs is a most 
wonderful one. A log is put into the hopper of the machine and 
is cut into chips in the time it takes a man to lift another one from 
the pile and throw it into the hopper, — but a few seconds. The 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 391 

logs are four feet long and from five to ten inches in diameter. 
The chips are about an inch long and a quarter of an inch thick. 
They are placed in a bronze digester, and treated with sulphur- 
ous acid and subjected to steam pressure, which thoroughly dis- 
integrates the fibre and leaves it in a pulpy mass ready for the same 
process of manufacture into paper as is used in the case of the C 
card. The material used in the paper for card A is white linen rags. 




CUTTING POSTAL, CARDS IN STRIPS. 



The process used to convert them into paper is about the same as in 
the other cases. 

There was complaint at one time that the big card would not 
copy ; that is, that a good impression could not be taken of any 
writing put upon it, and this, though the material from which it is 
made was a strong, hard, firm paper. But any paper will absorb 
common writing ink. It is likely that the Department, in selecting 
the kind of paper to be used, did not consider that it would be used 
for copying. But if the experiment is tried with good copying ink, 
and if care is taken, the result is always satisfactory. There is nothing 
harder than to make the postal card paper of just the proper texture. 



392 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

The mania for the collection of cards is nothing like that for the 
collection of stamps, but people frequently try to see how much they 
can write on the back of one. President Cleveland's latest message 
contained 15,000 words. Yet a man in Belfast, Maine, put it all on 
the back of an ordinary postal card, with a steel pen and ink, each, 
letter, as seen through a microscope, being beautifully formed. 
Moreover, a border three eighths of an inch, wide was left around 
the card, representing a string of beads, 52 in number, each three 
sixteenths of an inch in diameter, and containing the Lord's Prayer I 
and 4,000 words were put into this border. The man was 77 years 
old, and insisted that he could get 18,000 words on a postal card. 
It took him 45 days to write this one. 

The Stamp Division manages the very important matter of the 
issue, distribution and collection of newspaper and periodical stamps, 
which, as may be inferred, are used in the collection and payment of 
postage on second class matter mailed at the pound rate. Of these 
there are a great many denominations — from one cent up to sixty 
dollars. They are arranged in such denominations as will be mul- 
tiples, and will enable postmasters, by making combinations of them, 
to represent any amount of postage. In one sense these stamps are 
never used at all ; that is, the public never uses them. The pub- 
lisher is always required to pay the amount of postage due when he 
sends his papers to be mailed. The postmaster is required to give 
him a receipt for it and to affix to the stub of that receipt stamps 
representing the exact amount paid. 

The method of attending to this business has been somewhat 
improved lately. Originally, a receipt book with stubs was fur- 
nished to each postmaster, and he filled out a receipt and gave it to 
the publishers, and attached to the stub the proper amount of stamps ; 
and at the end of the quarter he was required to send these stubs, 
with his statement of postage collected during the quarter, to the 
Stamp Division. There the statement was examined and the stamps 
on the stubs counted to see that the postmaster had affixed the proper 
amount and canceled them. Now the Stamp Division sends the 
larger offices manifold receipt books, made in sets of three sheets. 
The postmaster puts carbon paper under two of the sheets and writes 
the receipt on the first. That, of course, gives an exact copy on the 
other two, one of which he is to retain in his office as a record, so 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 393 

that when an inspector examines the office and looks into the trans- 
action of second class business, there will be something which he 
may consult. (Then, if he wishes, he may compare that record with 
the original receipts held by the publisher.) The third copy, to 
which the stamps are affixed, the postmaster sends now to the Stamp 
Division, in order that it may be known what amount of postage he 
has collected. After the stamps are counted they are all destroyed, 
as rapidly as the clerks can count them. During the first month of 
a quarter they rarely do this, there is so much other work on hand. 

The present system operates as a check on the postmaster, because 
it leaves him no chance to make a receipt to the publisher for an 
amount different from that entered on the stub. In the old way, for 
instance, he could have given the publisher a receipt for five hundred 
pounds, and could enter on his stub two hundred and fifty, and affix 
the stamps accordingly. Then, too, under the old method he had 
no complete record in his office ; so that inspectors, when they called, 
were at a loss. At a big office like New York, where they must do 
things systematically, a record would be kept ; but a great many post- 
masters did not keep systematic records, and had nothing from which 
an inspector could ascertain the amount of business actually done. 
The new method is of further advantage because it enables the post- 
master to keep, without any trouble, a complete record always on file 
in his office. He gets a fac-simile of the receipt which he gives to 
the publisher, without any extra work. Before, he had to fill out a 
receipt separately. 

The larger newspapers keep a sum of money on deposit at their 
post offices to draw to for the payment of their newspaper postage 
bills. The postage for the day is figured up according to the weight 
of the package, and the stamps to the extent of the postage are then 
selected. None of these stamps are ever sold, so that even if one 
passed into dishonest hands it would be of little use, for it is not a 
legal tender and could not be used for postal purposes. But a 
woman who had the craze for stamp collecting called at the Bangor 
post office recently and said she wanted to buy " some of the stamps 
which are canceled when postage is paid on regular publications." 
It is against the rule to sell these stamps, and the woman's remark 
led to an investigation by an inspector. As they were never allowed 
to go from the office, they were naturally of great value to collectors. 



394 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

The inspector found that the book had been taken by an employee, 
who believed it to be of no use. He sold them and found eager cus- 
tomers. But whatever ones he had on hand he cheerfully gave to 
the inspector who called on him. 

It is believed by many that there used to be considerable collusion 
between the business offices of newspapers and the second class matter 
clerks in post offices ; but now there is hardly any. The amount of 
revenue from second class matter to be expected in a given year or 
month from a given office is regular. It is known at the Stamp 
Division what the average increase is, and any marked falling off 
during any particular quarter would at once excite suspicion. The 
long and short of it is, however, that the postmaster has to be 
trusted. Some have contended that a stamp of small denomination 
should have been adopted at the beginning, so that it could be affixed 
to the bundle of papers when they were mailed ; and that would have 
been the end of it, as with other stamps. An objection would be, of 
course, that it would be a great source of annoyance to publishers ; 
and it would require a great many stamps of small denominations, 
down to fractions of a cent even. Most likely a departure like this 
could never be made. 

In the annual report of the Postmaster General there is always 
printed a table, giving the weights and postages collected on second 
class matter, at offices which send out 40,000,000 pounds, collect 
over $400,000, and earn over 23 per cent, of the amount collected in 
the United States for second class matter, as at New York, all 
the way down to Meriden, Conn., which sends out twelve or thirteen 
thousand pounds annually, collects perhaps $125, and contributes 
1/100 of one per cent, to the revenue from this source. 

It is frequently contended that large newspapers, which receive a 
great many more stamps than they have any direct use for, should 
have the privilege of exchanging these for stamps of large denomina- 
tions at the post offices, rather than sell their surplus at a discount to 
some dealer. The Third Assistant Postmaster General would say 
that such a change would seem to be improper ; that instead of 
enlarging the opportunities now afforded for the use of stamps as cur- 
rency, which the change suggested would do, they should be abridged, 
if possible. Moreover, if this change were made, there could con- 
sistently be no sufficient reason urged against extending the change 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 395 

so as to make large denominations of stamps receivable for postage 
due and special delivery purposes, or for the payment of any kind of 
postage, or, in other words, of having them made exchangeable for 
other ordinary stamps of any convenient denomination — a practice 
that would doubtless be advocated, but which would be unquestion- 
ably inexpedient. 

It costs the Post Office Department, as a careful estimate made by 
Postmaster General Wanamaker has set forth, from $12,000,000 to 
$15,000,000 as a dead loss annually to transport newspapers in the 
mails. But though he has pointed this out, he has also tried to im- 
press upon Congress and the country, as far as he could, the still 
more striking fact that, if the Department could secure credit for the 
free work that it does for the other executive departments, the pos- 
tal deficit would not only disappear at once, but there would actually 
be a surplus ; and he has even gone so far as to suggest that with 
these logical and right changes the privileges already accorded to 
the newspapers (which he has argued are right, because it is the in- 
tention of the Department to disseminate intelligence in every pos- 
sible way) might be extended even to the free carriage of papers 
altogether. 

The special delivery stamp is of particular design, to be used only 
for the purpose of securing the special delivery of a letter, and it is 
made of this different form and larger than others so as to attract 
this instant attention, and so that any person handling it, no matter 
how hastily, will discover this purpose. Yet the question is often 
repeated, why it would not do to put on the same value of two-cent 
stamps. This would not answer the purpose ; they would not clearly 
show that they were put on in order to secure special delivery, 
and they would not attract particular attention, either. A ten-cent 
special delivery stamp on a letter, as one writer has said, is supposed 
to keep it in constant motion from the time the letter is deposited 
until it is delivered. There is liable to be a little delay in starting a 
letter when it is deposited in a letter box instead of a post office, but 
everything must make way for special delivery letters after they once 
get into the vicinity of a mail bag. The clerk hustles them out with 
the first mail leaving the office and puts them on the outside of pack- 
ages, or in a bundle by themselves, so that the next employee may see 
them in an instant. If the special delivery stamp is put on a pack- 



396 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

age of second, third, or fourth class matter, it has to be treated in a 
first class manner — that is, it goes into a pouch instead of a sack, 
and is pushed through just as rapidly as a letter bearing the same 
stamp. 

Two years ago over two and a half millions of pieces of mail were 
sent by special delivery, and the average time consumed in the 
delivery of each, after it reached the post office of the addressee, was 
only twenty minutes. That same year the number of pieces delivered 
was nearly one third more than the average for the four years 
previous. The messengers are paid by the piece, so that the larger 
the number of letters the better the wages. At some offices where 
substitute carriers are awaiting vacancies they are employed on the 
special delivery service. In Boston three times as many special 
delivery letters were delivered in August of 1890 as were delivered 
in August of 1886, and in Baltimore almost a similar increase has 
been shown. 

There had been some complaint about the special delivery service 
at the Chicago office. An improvement ingeniously contrived was 
a mechanical carrier device, similar to the cash systems in use in 
large mercantile establishments, by which all special delivery mail 
was to be whisked across from the receiving to the recording division. 
This saved considerable time, but did not overcome the delay of 
entering the letters in the messenger's delivery book. Then a plan 
was suggested which it was thought would completely do away 
with the delay of carrying special delivery mail from the depots to the 
office, and of handling and recording it there. Upon eight of 
the railway post office trains arriving daily at Chicago, clerks from 
the Chicago post office distribute and " route " mail directly to the 
carriers. These clerks could, in a few minutes each trip, enter the 
special delivery mail in the delivery books of the messengers, hand 
the mail and the books directly to the messengers at the depots; 
and they in turn could immediately make their deliveries, and the 
records in the office could be made up from the delivery books after 
they were returned. 

Another suggestion is that the special delivery be supplemented 
by a plan for return messages. A person who puts ten cents extra 
on a letter to insure immediate delivery, would, it is presumed, feel 
equal to the payment of another dime to hear from his specially 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CARDS. 397 

delivered message without delay. So it is proposed that the sender 
of a special delivery letter may put with it a return envelope, with 
another special delivery stamp upon it, addressed to himself. The 
messenger takes the letter and the return envelope, waits five 
minutes for an answer to be written, and then delivers it at the 
return address before coming back to the office. The stamps on 
the return envelope are to be canceled before the messenger starts 
on the trip. If there should be no answer, or if the person to whom 
the letter is sent is not at home, the sender would, of course, lose his 
extra dime, unless, of course, this fact is the very information he is 
after. But here the special delivery service would again come in 
contact with the district messenger service, and that would be a 
serious thing. Some postmasters have hesitated to encourage it, 
because it so interferes. Some have employed district messenger 
boys. But most of the postmasters understand that it is a valuable 
facility which the public is willing to pay for, and they have 
accordingly encouraged it. The only forcible objection to the system, 
as has been many times pointed out, is that it does not work 
well on Sundays, as the post offices are not required to make Sun- 
day deliveries. All postmasters are allowed to fix Sunday hours for 
their offices, and some choose to make deliveries of special stamp 
letters ; but the rule of the Department has been to ease Sun- 
day work for men already overworked. The public probably 
sympathizes with this practice ; and there can be no charge of indi- 
rection made against the Department, as all who use the special 
delivery stamp know that post offices are only opened on Sunday for 
general deliveries and that no street deliveries are made. 

The folded letter sheets are furnished by the Postal Card Company 
of New York. They are supplied at the stamp agencies, but it is a 
small business, and the demand for this class of stamped paper is 
decreasing. Many think it had better go out of use altogether. The 
sheets are furnished only to Presidential offices. They were first 
tried during the War, as it was thought they would be useful to the 
soldiers for paper and envelope together ; but it was found later that 
there was no demand for them, and they were discontinued. The 
second demand arose mostly from persons who had a letter sheet 
envelope for introduction. None of the big concerns or old con- 
tractors even bid on them. The cost is $23 a thousand. The postage 



398 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

would be $20 ; that is, $3 a thousand is for the sheets. That is the 
price which is charged to postmasters. They are issued only in two 
cent denominations, and there is only one kind of them. Twenty 
per cent, less were issued this year than last. Business men use 
them but little, if at all. 

Official envelopes are the kind used by the Department, by the 
postmasters, and by all postal officials, or deputies of officials, for 
their official correspondence. The free registered package is similarly 
used tor registered letters. The Morgan Company has the present 
contract for these, but the year previous it was secured by White, 
Corbin & Co., of Rockville, Conn., — but the Morgan Envelope Co. 
made the envelopes. The Post Office Department has nothing to do 
with the official envelopes of the other departments. 

There has always been more or less discussion of the supposed 
abuse of the penalty envelope. The Department formerly had 
stamps, which were used in order that the Department might get 
credit for the matter which it was obliged to carry, and which it 
carried under the old arrangement for nothing and without having 
anything to show for what it did. When the stamps were used, the 
Post Office Department provided all the other departments with 
stamps and kept a record of them. Now each department provides 
itself with envelopes. A report was made in Congress a few years 
ago upon the abuse of the franking privilege. It was brought out 
that there were many hundreds of officials and clerks who could use 
stamps ; and having got them, these people would, of course, use 
them for much of their correspondence. 

A ruling of the Third Assistant Postmaster General is that in- 
dented or perforated sheets of paper containing characters which can 
be read by the blind are first class matter if they contain actual per- 
sonal correspondence, and that otherwise they are mailable at the 
third class rate. This means that the correspondence of the blind, 
bulky as it necessarily is, is treated like matter sent for any other 
class of persons. In fact, any class distinctions have always been 
objected to by the Department. It is well known that the fear of 
being charged double and treble the ordinary rates compels the blind 
to make their letters as short as possible, and it is argued that they 
ask for no discrimination in their favor on such matter as they are 
able to send in the ordinary form, which includes type-written and 



STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, POSTAL CABDS. 399 

pen- written letters. It is when they are obliged to put the same 
matter in an embossed system, either because they cannot afford a 
typewriter, or because the person addressed is blind and can only 
read the embossed letter, that they ask to have the same matter go 
at practically the same rate. The whole number of blind persons in 
the United States is about 60,000 ; and it is contended, furthermore, 
that the amount of mail matter sent by them at letter rates would 
be almost infinitesimal as compared with that sent by the seeing ; and, 
therefore, the cost of transportation and delivery could not be per- 
ceptibly increased. The blind complain of another difficulty. Their 
letters, being written on embossed paper, are rolled up and wrapped 
like a newspaper for the better protection of the pages, and open at 
both ends. Though they pay the first class rate of postage, their 
letters are apt to be treated as second class matter. These, accor- 
dingly, sometimes lie over with newspapers and packages in a rush, 
and the delay causes not only inconvenience, but disappointment and 
loss. But the chief foreign countries take this view that the per- 
sonal correspondence of the blind is first class, and, as has been 
stated, it is feared that the favor asked for them would be sought by 
many other classes. 



DISTKIBUTING STAMPS; HANDLING EEGISTEES. 



OSTMASTERS are required to make requisition for all 

the supplies of stamped paper needed at their offices 

er j^r of the Third Assistant Postmaster General. The 

requisitions all come to the Stamp Division, are 




arranged alphabetically, examined and compared with 
the books of the Department to see if the person 
S/^ who signs the requisition is postmaster, and to find the 
amount of his bond and the amount of stamps furnished 
him during the preceding quarter. Every requisition has to go 
through this examination; or the clerks have only the signer's 
word for it that he is postmaster. 

The first of a quarter the division receives several thousand 
requisitions every day. From about the 5th of July, say, the Stamp 
Division files requisitions from 1,200 postmasters a day, and this 
process continues for about twenty days. On 1,200 requisitions 
from postmasters the clerks probably fill 1,100 for stamps 1,000 for 
postal cards, 600 for stamped envelopes and 800 or 900 for special 
request envelopes. In addition to these are orders for postage due 
and newspaper and periodical stamps; so that, including all kinds 
of paper, they fill some days more than 4,000 requisitions. Blanks 
are furnished the postmasters, on which they order, on one blank, 
all the ordinary stamps, postal cards and ordinary stamped envelopes 
wanted ; and on other blanks they order special request envelopes, 
postage due stamps and newspaper and periodical stamps. The 
division sends seven orders a day to the several postal agencies, 
giving the names of postmasters, offices, counties and states, one 
order for ordinary and special delivery stamps, one for postage due, 
one for newspaper and periodical stamps, one for letter sheet 
envelopes, one for ordinary and one for special request envelopes, 
and one to each of the postal card agencies. All of the stamps and 

400 



DISTRIBUTING STAMPS; HANDLING REGISTERS. 401 

letter sheets are distributed from New York, all the envelopes from 
Hartford, and the postal cards from the agencies. 

There are forty-seven clerks in the Stamp Division continually 
employed on this work, not including the chief and eight laborers 
and messengers. The work of counting newspaper and periodical 
stamps which are returned, and of redeeming damaged stamps and 
envelopes spoiled by misdirection, occupies the time of several men. 
At the first of the quarter it takes all the available force to fill the 
postmasters' orders. When this rush is over, all the available force 
is put to the work of counting and redeeming the stubs of receipts. 
It is impossible, with the present force, to keep up with the requisi- 
tions at the first of a quarter, although they never wait more than a 
few days. The messengers are instructed, when they open the 
requisitions, to separate those of all the large offices (that is, the 
offices that order more than a hundred dollars' worth), and these are 
filled immediately; and the smaller ones go out as rapidly as possi- 
ble. There is never any serious delay. 

Postmasters rarely anticipate the end of the quarter, and many 
persist in ordering on the first of the quarter when there is no need 
whatever. The Stamp Division discourages the practice of order- 
ing on even quarters as much as possible, in order to have the work 
more generally distributed. The largest offices do not order so 
much on the first of a quarter. They order every month. New 
York orders a little over $ 300, 000 worth of stamps every month, and 
over 4,000,000 postal cards a month. The postmaster's bond is 
$ 600, 000, and he probably has on hand always a greater amount of 
Government property than he gives bond for. He deposits his 
money often, of course, but the New York office carries in stock 
always over $500,000 worth of stamped paper. The stamp and 
envelope agencies do not have any extra people to put on for a great 
rush of work at the beginnings of quarters, but they rarely fall 
behind more than a few days. The contractors put their goods in 
boxes and cases ready for shipment, and the force at the stamp 
agency does the rest, making out the receipts and writing the labels 
for the packages. The stamps are sent out to postmasters by regis- 
tered mail, as the envelopes and postal cards are, except that postal 
cards for Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati are sup- 
plied by freight. To all of the postal card sub-agencies shipments 



402 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

are made by freight. New York requires a car load of postal cards 
every thirty days. 

The distribution of these valuable supplies is such an intricate 
and immense business that it takes considerable time to complete an 
order. A nearby postmaster, say, makes a requisition. It reaches 
the Third Assistant's office the next morning, and the Stamp 
Division by noontime. All of the requisitions received at the 
Stamp Division before one o'clock are put in the order arranged for 
that day. The orders are first arranged alphabetically, so that the 
transcriptions to the order sheets for the agencies and also to the 
ledgers (both of which are arranged alphabetically) can be arranged 
more easily. The clerks have so many requisitions to examine every 
day that it is impossible for them to notice the names of the post- 
masters making them sufficiently to enable them to become familiar 
with the names to an extent that would help them in searching the 
ledger — though they know without any hesitation, of course, that 
Van Cott is postmaster at New York, and McKean at Pittsburg, 
and Harlow at St. Louis, and Wills at Nashville, and Backus at 
San Francisco, and so on. In some quarters (for instance, the third 
and fourth quarters of last year), it is impossible to do all the work 
without ordering the force back at night, for this work of issuing 
the stamped paper must be kept up with. And the work of redeem- 
ing stamped paper must be kept up ; all that is received during the 
quarter must be counted and properly allowed during that quarter. 
All the receipts that come in for stamped paper issued have to be 
alphabetized and entered on the impression books, and then turned 
over to the Auditor's office, before the close of the quarter. 

The only work that can possibly be let go, no matter what the 
rush may be, is the work of examining stubs. In some quarters 
the clerks are utterly unable to do it. All postmasters at whose 
offices second-class publications are mailed are required to submit 
quarterly statements of their collections of postage on that matter, 
and with that quarterly statement, as has been said, to send 
their stubs of receipts, with stamps affixed and cancelled, represent- 
ing the exact amount of postage collected. Those are all examined, 
with the stubs, and then counted and destroyed, and the amount is 
posted; and there are between seven and eight thousand offices at 
which second class publications are mailed. Thus far these state- 



DISTRIBUTING STAMPS; HANDLING REGISTERS. 



403 



ments have all been compared by the Stamp Division clerks, but 
it is getting to be impossible to do it. If a postmaster has not 
affixed the proper amount of stamps, he is called upon- for the defi- 
ciency. Every few days a bundle of from fifty to a hundred reports 
are received from inspectors of offices which they have visited in the 
natural course of business. A special inspection is requested in 
case any dishonesty is discovered or suspected; but the chance for 




WHERE RETURNED STAMPS ARE STEAMED, COUNTED AND DESTROYED. 

this discovery or suspicion is small, because the clerks could not 
recall continual mistakes on the part of one postmaster, and probably 
a different clerk would examine the postmaster's receipts each quar- 
ter. If the statement appears to be correct, and the stubs of receipts 
correspond, there would be nothing to excite suspicion unless there 
has been a material falling off in the amount of postage collected at 
the office in question during the quarter. 

It is not understood by all that stamped envelopes spoiled by mis- 
direction or by mistakes, or rendered useless by changes in firm 



404 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

names, addresses, etc., may be redeemed, upon presentation at the 
post office within the delivery of which the misdirection or the mis- 
take or change occurred, at their postage value in postage stamps, 
if presented in substantially a whole condition. But stamps cut or 
torn from stamped envelopes are neither receivable in paying postage 
nor redeemable. This is in order to prevent the redemption of 
envelopes that may have passed through the mails without cancella- 
tions of the stamps. For this same reason stamps cut from 
stamped envelopes uncancelled cannot be affixed to letters in pay- 
ment of postage, and letters so mailed are held for postage. Where 
stamps are damaged in the hands of postmasters, or stamped envelopes 
have been spoiled as just described, they are all sent to the Stamp 
Division each quarter. These have to be counted, and then a notice 
of credit of the amount is sent to the postmaster and a credit sheet 
made up for the Auditor, authorizing the Auditor's office to credit 
each postmaster with such an amount. New York sends in about 
forty large boxes full of stamped envelopes every quarter, contain- 
ing about 400,000, due principally to misdirections and changes of 
firm names, and about the same quantity is received from Chicago: 
for the larger the city the larger the business. 

In a hot month the Stamp Division receives nearly a hundred 
packages a day of damaged stamps. During the winter, in the cold, 
dry weather, there are very few received, not any more in a month 
than are received in summer in a day. The damaged stamps come 
mostly from the South and Southwest, because the climate is hotter 
and damper. They are nearly all twos, and batches vary from a few 
dollars' worth to several hundred dollars' worth. They all have to 
be counted. Most of them arrive solid, and have to be put in hot 
water and steamed apart in the first place. If they all come out in 
full sheets they are very readily counted; but the worst work is 
when the postmaster keeps his stamps he knows not how, and the 
playful cockroach riots among them and eats the mucilage off, and 
a few stick together, and a few tear, and he sends several hundred 
in, all separate and loose. Then each individual stamp has to 
be handled and counted. After they are counted, they are all 
destroyed. The stamps that are returned during hot weather are 
not damaged through the carelessness of the postmaster. It is the 
state of the atmosphere, for often they adhere when placed in vaults. 






DISTRIBUTING STAMPS; HANDLING REGISTERS. 



405 



The question has been studied how to find a mucilage that will not 
be affected by atmospheric changes ; for this business causes a great 
deal of annoyance to the public also. A man buys ten, twenty, 
twenty-five stamps, and puts them in his pocket. They stick 
together. He takes them back to the postmaster and wants him to 
redeem them, and is told that the regulations don't allow it. He 




DESTROYING RETURNED STAMPED ENVELOPES. 

cannot send them to the Department and have them redeemed, either. 
He may, however, dampen them and tear them apart, and then put 
mucilage on them again. 

To allow the postmaster to redeem unused stamps would be in 
effect to make them currency. All business houses who advertise 
extensively receive immense numbers of stamps, many more than 
they can use, especially of the higher denominations. But if the 
Department were to redeem them, it would be flooded. Nor can a 
postmaster sell stamps which he has in his possession as Government 
property except for cash; nor, indeed, is he allowed to exchange 
them for others of different denominations ; and all this because it 



406 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



would make currency of them. And it is argued that business 
houses which take stamps in payment for bills know that they are 
not currency, and hence must not complain that they are not allowed 
to pass them as such. Hence, no doubt, as before hinted, millions of 
stamps are sold at a discount, though not very much to the agents 
of the Department, as it is believed, for that is unlawful. A 
private individual may sell them, of course, as cheaply as he chooses, 
or he may give them away, or throw them away; and similarly he 
may buy them as he chooses. 

Said the redemption clerk at the New York post office recently : 

" The redemption business at the New York office is probably as large as that 
in all the other post offices of the country combined. The stamped paper comes 
to me sometimes in great batches, and one day alone I paid out $380 worth of 
stamps. The largest amount returned in a lump was one lot of about 10,000 
envelopes, one-cent and two-cent. I handed out for those just 8,700 two-cent 
stamps, or $174 worth. The large banking and mercantile houses and the clubs 
are about the only concerns that take advantage of the law. There are, un- 
doubtedly, thousands of stamped envelopes spoiled which are destroyed, as the 
fact that they are redeemable is not generally known." 

In a year the New York post office has redeemed as much as 
$20,000 worth of stamped envelopes; and it was a very smart metro- 
politan who saved the stamps of stamped envelopes to the value, 
as he thought, of $140, only to find that they were worthless. 

The immense business of the Stamp Division is illustrated each 
year by a table similar to the following : 



Articles issued. 



Ordinary postage stamps 

Special-delivery stamps 

Newspaper and periodical stamps 

Postage-due stamps -. 

Stamped envelopes, plain 

Stamped envelopes, request .... 

Newspaper wrappers 

Letter-sheet envelopes 

Postal cards 

Aggregate 



Number. 



2,397,503,340 

2,569,350 

4,098,263 

14,974,820 

224,611,250 

281,743,500 

49,871,500 

817,500 

424,216,750 



3,400,406,273 



Amount. 



$46,239,050.00 

256,935.00 

2,055,798.00 

361,573.00 

4,373,525.99 

6,078,140.45 

579,501.50 

18,802.50 

4,246,165.00 



$64,209,491.44 



The total number of requisitions filled during an average year 
for the several kinds of stamped paper is nearly 600,000. The 
most notable item of increase always is that of the special request 



DISTRIBUTING STAMPS; HANDLING REGISTERS. 



407 




THE BIG LETTER PRESS, 
Operated by two men to make copies of requisitions filled. 



envelopes. The number of parcels in which these supplies are put 
up and mailed to postmasters during an average year is almost 
three quarters of 
a million. Then 
there are issued 
13,500,000 regis- 
tered package en- 
velopes, 1,300,000 
tag envelopes for 
registered pack- 
ages, 1,800,000 en- 
velopes for return- 
ing dead letters, 
38,000,000 official 
envelopes for the 
use of postmasters 
and other postal 
officials, and 53,000 
newspaper and periodical stub books, or more, in an average 
year. The number of cases in which postmasters return damaged 
stamps and misdirected stamped envelopes for credit is usually 
almost 12,000. Credits are allowed to the extent of almost a quarter 
of a million dollars. 

The object of the registry service, an important division of the 
Third Assistant's office already mentioned, is the safer transmission 
of mail than the ordinary process affords. The chief safeguard of 
registered matter is to confide the registered matter to the care of 
those employees of the Department alone who are sworn officers. 
These include postmasters, their assistants and the sworn clerks of 
their offices, postal clerks, transfer agents and letter carriers. The 
aim is to have a registered letter, from the time it is deposited in 
the post office where it is mailed until it is received by the person 
to whom it is addressed, in the custody of one or another of these 
officials or employees. Every person to whom the custody of a 
registered article is intrusted must make a record of it, give a receipt 
for it when it is received, and take a receipt when he parts with it. 

To handle each registered piece separately would require a very 
large force of postal clerks, while between some points, no matter 



408 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

how large the force, owing to the limited time in transit, it would 
be impossible to give and take the usual receipts and make the 
necessary record. To overcome this difficulty the registered pouch 
and inner sack systems were introduced. In the pouches passing 
between given points are placed all the registered articles that 
would ordinarily pass to the office to which the pouches are 
dispatched. These pouches are locked, as has been said, with 
rotary or tell-tale locks, that indicate when they are opened. Each 
pouch is handled as a single registered article, and is receipted for 
by the label it bears and the serial and rotary numbers of the lock with 
which it is fastened. It may contain fifty or more articles, but 
the postal clerk who receives it counts it as a single piece. Its con- 
tents, when inclosed, are first carefully verified by two pouching 
clerks, and again by two witnesses when the pouch is opened at its 
destination. Nothing can be removed in transit without changing 
the rotary number of the lock ; and as each person who receives the 
pouch is obliged to receipt for it by the rotary, as well as the serial, 
number of the lock, it can readily be ascertained who, if anybody, 
opens the pouch. The postal clerks are not permitted to have keys 
to open the rotary locks ; these are furnished only to postmasters who 
exchange registered pouches. Thus, registered matter transmitted 
in these pouches is as safe (if, indeed, it is not safer, since it is not 
subject to the danger of being mislaid or stolen in transit) as when 
delivered separately piece by piece to the postal clerks. 

The difference between the registered pouch and the inner sack 
service is chiefly that registered pouches are received in person 
by postal clerks or transfer agents, both sworn employees of the Rail- 
way Mail Service, at the office of dispatch, and are either delivered 
by them in like manner at the office of destination or to another 
postal clerk or transfer agent for such delivery. Inner sacks may 
not at all times be in the special custody of postal clerks or transfer 
agents, but they are designed to meet, as nearly as possible, the 
requirements of the registered pouch service at offices where direct 
receipt and delivery to postmasters, postal clerks, or transfer agents 
are impossible. Where one or both of the exchanging offices is not 
a terminal office for postal clerks and where there is no transfer 
agent, the registered sacks, after being closed with tell-tale locks, 
are pouched in iron-lock pouches with ordinary mail, from the post 



DISTRIBUTING STAMPS ; HANDLING REGISTERS. 409 

office where it is made up, to a postal clerk, or from the latter to 
the post office of destination. They are never exposed to the view 
of outsiders, nor are they handled by any but sworn officials or 
employees, except in locked pouches, and then their presence is 
unknown. The brass-lock service is in operation only upon star 
routes, and is designed to relieve postmasters at small offices from 
handling, recording, and receipting for registered matter other than 
that addressed to their own offices, as they would be compelled to 
do if the matter inclosed in the brass-lock pouches were received in 
the way -pouches. 

The registry method of mailing articles is not as popular in this 
country as in some others. One reason is that other governments 
show their own faith in the system by indemnifying any losers. 
England, for instance, considers the fee paid on each letter or pack- 
age as insurance for the twenty-five dollars which the British Gov- 
ernment will pay the sender should the article be lost beyond 
recovery This is the highest rate of indemnification paid by any 
country. In the United States last year there were more than 
eleven million pieces carried by the registered mails. This repre- 
sented a special revenue of over 111,000. There were only nine 
hundred pieces lost, and if the insurance had been placed on a par 
with Germany's, say, each loser might have received ten dollars a 
parcel and the special receipts would yet have covered the actual 
disbursements. The indemnification for lost registered mail has 
been strongly recommended by Postmaster General Wanamaker, and 
many newspapers have desired it. Congressional action is, of 
course, required. It is very much assumed in this country, and 
rightly, that the ordinary mails are safe enough for most purposes ; 
and some time ago an insurance company in New York, which 
went into the business of insuring the delivery of letters, promptly 
went out of business. Much of the advocacy of indemnification by 
the Government is due to the fact that express companies, under- 
taking to deliver valuable packages, become responsible for them, 
while the Post Office Department does not. 




SECOND CLASS MATTER FIENDS. 

k HE office of the Third Assistant has its annoyances and 
its trials. It has its fiends who want their publica- 
tions admitted to the mails as second class matter 
when they are not second class matter at all, and its 
fiends who will not admit them. The Post Office 
Department, or its representatives in the different 
post offices, are very particular to know the exact character of a 
publication which applies for admission to the mails at the cent-a- 
pound rate. Not only must it be known whether the publication is 
to be a magazine or a newspaper published daily, semi-weekly, 
weekly, or monthly, where it is printed, who runs it, who edits it, 
and how the editor is paid, but the publisher has also to state 
whether the proprietors or the editors are interested pecuni- 
arily in any business or trade represented by the publication. The 
publisher must further state whether its readers consider his paper 
a general or special trade organ or not, how many copies he fur- 
nishes regularly to each advertiser, and whether these copies are free 
or paid for. The number of papers printed for each issue must be 
set forth, as well as how many of them go to subscribers who have 
paid for them with their own money ; and, besides stating the sub- 
scription price and the number of sample copies which it is desired 
to send out each week, the publisher has to disclose the ways in 
which he has planned to obtain the names of the persons to whom 
he intends to send these sample copies. 

The pound rate was established by the Congressional Act of 1874, 
but the distinction between advertising sheets and other newspapers 
was not made until 1879. All other rules of the Department in 
regard to advertising sheets have been made in accordance with the 
act of 1879. The act of June 23, 1874, in giving the pound rate 
of postage, gave it to actual subscribers and news agents only. 

410 



SECOND CLASS MATTER FIENDS. 411 

Under this act there was no definition ; the publisher only said the 
publication was issued periodically. But the act of March 3, 1879, 
stated conditions upon which a publication should be admitted as 
second class. This act enlarged the privilege of publishers so as to 
include sample copies. Prior to the Act of 1874 special mention 
was made of exchanges; they went free of postage. It is still 
assumed that they go at the pound rate. 

The work of classifying the periodicals has been done at the 
Department since September 15, 1887. Before that only difficult 
questions were referred to the Department. Any postmaster had 
authority to admit a publication, by exercising his judgment ; or, if 
the character of the publication were questioned, the case was carried 
to the Department. Until September 15, 1887, there was no general 
oversight by the Department of these publications. Many of them 
were admitted by the permit of postmasters ; and it is impossible 
now to determine whether they were really entitled to admission. 
There was almost an endless variety of rulings ; for there were 
almost as many judges as there were postmasters. Now, whenever a 
new publication is presented for mailing, it is the duty of the post- 
master to require the publisher to make sworn answer to a series of 
questions given in the Regulations, to furnish the postmaster with 
two copies of the paper; and the latter exercises his judgment 
whether he will issue a regular temporary permit allowing it to go 
at the pound rate, or a conditional permit allowing the publication 
to go on a deposit of third class postage, subject to the refunding of 
the excess over second class postage, if the Department decides that 
it may go as second class ; or he will refuse to issue a temporary 
permit and forward the publication to the Department with a state- 
ment of the facts. 

In passing upon a case the Third Assistant's office first sees 
whether the publication complies with the technical requirements 
— whether it is issued at stated intervals, bears the date of issue, 
and is published as frequently as four times a year and is numbered ; 
whether the application for entry is from the office of publication as 
shown hy the paper. The office of publication is defined as "an 
office where the business of the paper is transacted, and where orders 
for subscriptions are received during business hours ; " and " this 
office of publication shall be shown by the periodical itself." It 



412 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

would cause endless confusion if papers were printed in one place 
and mailed in another, and so far as the collection of postage on 
them is concerned, it would be almost impossible to attend to it 
properly. Of course, if all classes of matter went at the same rate 
it would make no difference ; but as long as the publisher of the 
second class periodical has special privileges, he is restricted to send- 
ing it from the post office of publication. 

These are the technical points. As to other requirements, the 
character and general appearance of the paper are taken into account ; 
whether it appears to be published in the interest of any one person, 
or is devoted almost entirely to advertising ; the number of copies 
printed ; the number of subscribers claimed ; the subscription price ; 
and the number of sample copies proposed to be mailed ; and, on 
these points, the office forms an opinion whether the publication 
comes under the clause which provides : 

"It must be originated and published for the dissemination of information of 
a public character, or devoted to literature, the sciences, arts, or some special in- 
dustry, and having a legitimate list of subscribers, provided, however, that 
nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to admit to the second class 
rate regular publications designed primarily for advertising purposes, or for free 
circulation, or for circulation at nominal rates." 

It is very difficult to determine whether a publication is issued at 
the nominal rate or not, by reason of the custom of offering pre- 
miums. The Department has not drawn the line very closely on 
the premium business. A few years ago a New York daily offered 
Webster's Dictionary as a premium. Numerous weeklies offer pre- 
miums for getting certain numbers of new subscribers. Agricultural 
papers offer seeds, and it is very difficult to say whether the publi- 
cations are intended more to advertise the seeds or to disseminate 
knowledge. 

A good many publishers think the Department very inquisitorial. 
But there is law for it all ; and all this is necessary, as well as law- 
ful, because of the great increase in the volume of new publications, 
and because so many schemes for advertising purposes are sprung on 
an unsuspecting Post Office Department every day. The law stipu- 
lates that the publication shall have a legitimate list of subscribers. 
Attorney General Devens rendered an opinion in 1879 that whether 
the list was legitimate or not was a fact to be determined by getting 
all the facts that could be ascertained ; that a publication might 



SECOND CLASS MATTER EIENDS. 413 

have a nominal list of subscribers and yet it would be an advertising 
sheet, the list being simply procured for the purpose of obtaining 
the pound rate, and the main object being advertising ; so that a 
publication that has a small list of subscribers and a large list of 
sample copies might not be admitted, while another publication 
having no large number of subscribers, but having few sample 
copies, would be legitimate. 

One of the worst of the mere advertising publications to secure 
admission to the mails before there was any regularity in the process 
was a sort of farmers' paper published in central New York, which 
the publisher would mail regularly to anyone who would send him a 
list of names ; and then he would send circulars, as well as papers, to 
the persons in the list. He would offer premiums of the nominal full 
subscription price, and that seemed to give the periodical some char- 
acter. Another publication of the same concern was issued from 
New York, and it claimed a monthly circulation of 500,000. A 
post office inspector found, however, that it did not have more than 
3,000 real subscribers, and that all the rest were sample copies. 
These two publications were later combined, and at the present time 
are probably legitimate. Some really first class papers are used to 
advertise certain things. For instance, one magazine used to send 
out with every copy a coupon for which the subscriber received a 
pattern, worth twenty cents, as a premium. The coupon, however, 
must not be detached from the regular sheets of the publication, nor 
must it be inserted in such a way that the evident intention was to 
have it detached. Some papers have printed among their pages 
coupons with perforations so that they might readily be torn off ; 
and a Philadelphia publication once sent out errata to a catalogue, 
(which had previously been issued by the same house), intended to 
be taken out of the magazine and put in the catalogue. The publi- 
cation was excluded as long as it carried this extra sheet, which was 
in effect merchandise. 

The disposition of the Department is unquestionably liberal. Its 
present head, and others who have directed its affairs, have believed 
in the American periodical. But the laws which draw the line so 
closely are necessary and wise, and there is no question that the 
legitimate and wise publishers of the country sympathize with the 
Department when it is brave enough to exclude an illegitimate pub- 



414 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

lication, no matter how powerful it may seem to be. The exclusion 
of mere advertising sheets would naturally throw more advertising 
into the hands of those legitimately in the newspaper business. 
The pound rate of postage was enacted for the purpose of encourag- 
ing the dissemination of information of a public character, and any- 
thing of a private character was supposed to be excluded, unless it 
might be incidental. Being for that purpose, it was not the intent 
of the law to allow a man's private business to be the main object of 
the publication. If he wanted to circulate any information in regard 
to that, he should do it in the proper way, by paying the legitimate 
postage on it. And otherwise, a great many papers would be practi- 
cally price lists that would crowd out all competitors. A publica- 
tion was recently before the Department which had a business house 
back of it ; in fact, it had been published by them. It was gradually 
merged, however, into an independent corporation. Yet it still 
remained true that a person who did business with that house and 
got them to handle his goods, must place an advertisement in their 
paper, and the price of the advertisement was deducted from his bill 
of goods. The business house before mentioned paid for a large 
number of copies of the paper and furnished to it a list of names to 
which these were to be sent, and this list formed an important part 
of the whole subscription list. 

The secret society papers and those intended to develop insurance 
associations are hard to reach. Generally speaking, their subscrip- 
tion lists would be merely nominal, because they would go without 
question to each member of the society or association. But the 
organizations get around that ; for the society or the association will 
contract with a publisher for a regular periodical, and it will take 
one copy for each member, and claim that all these members are 
legitimate subscribers for the paper, while the fact probably is that 
the different lodges, or councils, or subordinate assemblies, are called 
upon to subscribe for a certain number of copies ; and there is noth- 
ing in the postal laws and regulations to prevent this, although it 
would probably be admitted freely enough that the publications are 
primarily for advertising purposes. The publication price is usually 
very low, for with the large circulations that are inevitable the 
publisher can afford to furnish great numbers cheaply. 

There is trouble also with the "supplement" business, for the 



SECOND CLASS MATTER FIENDS. 415 

idea is prevalent that anything may be called a supplement. The 
law says that the supplement must be matter that is issued with 
the publication. The regulation provides that an independent 
publication that is not germane to the periodical is not supple- 
mental matter ; that a publication that is issued, and has advertise- 
ments, and is offered as a supplement to various papers, is not 
permissible ; but that literary matter may be accepted as a supple- 
ment. If a sheet is intended for more than one paper, it is not a 
supplement, but if it is for a particular paper, and if its advertising 
is for that paper, then it is a supplement. But where the advertis- 
ing is general and does not belong to the periodical, it is not a sup- 
plement. In order that a supplement may be identified with its 
paper it must bear the name of the paper and the date of issue. 

The Third Assistant's office has admitted on the average six thou- 
sand periodicals a year, for the five years in which the decisions have 
been with the Department. Many of them, probably two fifths, are 
old publications re-admitted. So that four clerks in the Stamp Divis- 
ion have passed upon eighteen thousand new publications in addition 
to the others. In making up this record, a publication that is in its 
first volume is called new ; if it is in its second volume, it is called 
old. Sometimes a publisher will number the first volume of his 
paper ten. There is no regulation to prevent his doing that. The 
Department is obliged to exclude not more than one tenth of the 
publications submitted to it, and probably one tenth of those 
excluded modify the forms and purposes of their publications so as 
to be admitted finally. The work of the clerks, or of the Third 
Assistant, or of the Assistant Attorney General of the Department, 
so far as it relates to second-class publications, is not entirely 
pleasant, unless the life of a man is pleasant who spends it chiefly 
doing unpopular things which are also right. The clerk in charge 
ought to have twice as many assistants in order to keep up with his 
mail. Probably two fifths of all the applications have to go back 
for correction. The technical requirements are specified on the back 
of the blank, but few notice it. For instance, they do not show the 
periods of issue, nor the subscription price; the applications may 
not show the number of subscribers ; and if that is so, the Depart- 
ment cannot take action. The correspondence cases are handled by 
the clerk in charge and an assistant. The other clerks do miscella- 



416 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

neous work, answering letters, which number from ten to fifty a 
day, and all that. 

Not infrequently the Department investigates an alleged subscrip- 
tion list. A suspected publisher is invited to send to the Depart- 
ment the names of twenty-five or fifty of his subscribers. He does it. 
The supposed subscribers are invited to say upon a slip (which is 
sent for reenclosure to the Department in a penalty envelope) 
whether he is really a subscriber or not, and often not one in the 
twenty-five or fifty will say that he is. But on the other hand all 
admit that they receive the paper gratuitously. Information in these 
cases is usually secured in this way, and from postmasters, too, at 
the offices of publication ; but now and then post office inspectors are 
required to make investigations. It is a natural thing for the 
rejected publisher to make as fussy a time of it as he can. The 
rejection is great advertising for him and he does not fail to see 
the advantage. He either gives up his publication, however, or 
else makes it conform to law. 

Many think the pound rate ought to be limited to actual subscrip- 
tions and to a reasonable number of sample copies, a number equal 
to one half the subscribers, say ; and something like this was recom- 
mended at the Postmaster General's recent convention of postmas- 
ters. Some, on the other hand, believe that every printed thing 
ought to go at a uniform rate, and that, if necessary, the rates should 
be raised. It is unfortunate that the Department is without any 
digest of rulings. The Postal Laws and Regulations are almost 
impossible to obtain, though just now they have been edited again. 
When questions relating to second class matter are appealed, they 
go to the Third Assistant, and from him to the Postmaster General. 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 




ESIDES being obliged to contend with the second 
class matter fiend, the Third Assistant's office has 
the stamp maniac to deal with. It ought to be 
said that the trials and annoyances of the Third 
Assistant's office which are due to the stamp maniac 
are confined to the amateur, for the professionals 
understand that the Department cannot supply any 
kind of stamps, foreign or domestic, old or new, in 
any quantity. For the comfort of the Department 
and everybody of influence in it, as well as for the 
public convenience, the following might well be posted in large red 
and blue letters on all bill-boards : 

The Post Office Department does not buy or deal in canceled stamps or those 
that have been used. No specimen stamps, either domestic or foreign, are sold 
or given away by the Department. Newspaper and periodical stamps, either 
perfect or canceled, are not permitted to pass beyond the custody of postal 
officials. On no pretext are they sold to anyone. 

But there is nothing of discouragement in this for the stamp 
maniac, professional or amateur. He goes on forever. He has his 
publications. They are devoted exclusively to philately, as the 
stamp mania is called. In almost every large city and town in the 
country are professional dealers in postage stamps. 

The methods used in the buying and selling are auction, approval 
sheet, and private sale. Auctions are carried on by several of the 
large dealers and many rare stamps are sold by auction at what 
seem enormous figures. The auctions result for the most part from 
the breaking up of fine collections, with such specimens added as 
the cataloguer may wish to dispose of in this way. These figures 
show about what amounts first class sales will bring, according to 
the rarities offered: 864 lots, $2,423.98; 981 lots, $2,522.16; 1095 

417 



418 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



lots, 14,056.57; 1,113 lots, 2,698.37; and 1,729 lots, $6,601.89. 
The highest prices paid for single stamps at these sales were $326 
and $140 ; and none of the stamps sold were very rare ones. The 
approval sheet method is a very satisfactory way of buying and 




VALUABLE STAMPS 

selling stamps. It gives a chance to examine the stamps before 
buying, and so one is able to see exactly the condition of the 
stamp ; and it brings into communication those who would do busi- 
ness together in no other way. Shops where nothing but stamps are 
sold are found in all the large cities. Paris has a stamp mart in 
the open street. 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 



419 



The prices of stamps vary, according to their rarity, from twenty- 
five cents per thousand to several hundred dollars apiece, some even 
reaching into the thousands. On the first page of a well-known 
catalogue one finds the following: 



Brattleboro, Vt 

Baltimore, Md 

Baltimore, Md 

Baltimore, Md., envelope 
Baltimore, Md., envelope 
Baltimore, Md., envelope 

Millbury, Mass 

New Haven, Conn., envelope 
New York, N. Y. ... 

New York, N. Y 

New York, N. Y 

New York, N. Y 

New York, N. Y 

New York, N. Y 

Providence, R. I 

Providence, R. I 

St. Louis, Mo 

St. Louis, Mo 

St. Louis, Mo 

Probably the cataloguer could not supply more than half a dozen 
of the above list and many of them could not be purchased at any 
figure whatever. 

That high prices are not restricted to United States stamps is 
shown by the following list of prices : 



1846 


5 cent 


. $250.00 


1846 


5 cent black on white paper 


200.00 


1846 


5 cent black on bluish paper 


300.00 


1846 


5 cent black on white paper 


300.00 


1846 


5 cent black on buff paper . . 


300.00 


1846 


5 cent black on blue paper . . 


300.00 


1847 


5 cent black on bluish paper 


300.00 


1845 


5 cent red 


200.00 


1842-3 


3 cent black on buff paper 


. . 100.00 


1842 


3 cent black on green paper 


. . 100.00 


1842 


3 cent black on blue paper . 


. . 20.00 


1842 


3 cent black on blue glazed pape 


jr . 7.50 


1845 


5 cent black 


3.50 


1845 


5 cent black variety . . . 


. . 15.00 


1846 


5 cent black 


. . 3.50 


1846 


10 cent black 


. . 20.00 


1845 


5 cent black 


. . 75.00 


1845 


10 cent black 


. . 50.00 


1845 


20 cent black 


. . 500.00 



Canada 1851 12d 

Cape of Good Hope Id 

Cape of Good Hope ..... 4d 
Hawaiian Islands . . . 1851-2 2c 
Hawaiian Islands .... 1851 5c. 
Hawaiian Islands .... 1851 13c. 
Hawaiian Islands .... 1851 13c 

Mauritius 1848 

Mauritius 1847 

Mauritius ....... 1847 

British Guiana 1850 

British Guiana 1850 

British Guiana 1856 

British Guiana ..... 1856 



$100.00 
100.00 
90.00 
500.00 
300.00 
200.00 



8d 


.... 200.00 


Id 


.... 350.00 


2d 


.... 350.00 


2c 


.... 150.00 


4c 


.... 215.00 




.... 250.00 




.... 350.00 



These are a few of the rarer stamps, but, as with coins, their value 
varies enormously with the condition of the specimen. Among the 



420 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

choice stamps are those issued by various cities and towns of the 
Confederate States of America. 

Philately is the name given to the branch of study which 
embraces the collecting and arranging of postage stamps. The word 
was introduced in 1865 by M. Herpin, a well-known French col- 
lector of the time. The word has been put in the dictionaries of 
Webster and Worcester and occurs also in the Century Dictionary. 
As M. Herpin explains it, the word means "the love of the study 
of all that concerns pre-payment." 

It is maintained by many that this study is a science ; but call it 
a study. It is a great study! It teaches history, geography and 
the arts. It teaches the use of the eyes, and it cultivates the 
memory ; for what collector is there who, though he has five or six 
thousand varieties, cannot tell at a glance whether a certain stamp 
has a mate among his treasures ? 

Every boy collector knows upon looking at the stamps of the 1869 
issue of the United States that, at some time in the past, letters 
must have been carried by men on horseback ; of course he asks, 
until he has been told that before railroads led to every part of the 
country the only communication was by pony post. On the fifteen 
and twenty-four cent stamps of the same issue he sees the pictures, 
taken from those immense paintings in the Capitol at Washington, 
representing the landing of Columbus, and the signing the 
Declaration of Independence. He again asks questions, until he 
learns about Columbus and about the men who signed the Declara- 
tion ; and he also finds out why it was necessary to sign one. From 
these he goes to stamps bearing portraits of the presidents. Turn- 
ing to Mexico he sees the great changes that have taken place in her 
history, the government overthrown, the empire created under Maxi- 
milian, and finally the restoration of the old government. It does 
not take him long to find out what this means, and he never forgets 
it, because his stamps are before him to keep it fixed in his mind. 

Every country contributes something to his history lesson. He 
learns geography partly from the stamps themselves and partly by 
locating the countries whence they come. If he has a Columbian 
Republic, State of Panama, issue of 1887, he will have a map of the 
Isthmus of Panama. An envelope of the Hawaiian Islands has a 
fine picture of Honolulu and its harbor. 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 421 

A stamp collection is particularly rich in objects of natural his- 
tory. Canada shows the beaver, India the tiger and the poisonous 
cobra de capello, New South Wales the kangaroo, the lyre bird (the 
most beautiful of the birds of paradise) and the emu. Tasmania has 
the duck bill, Peru the llama, the United States of America the 
eagle, the United States of Colombia a condor, New Foundland the 
seal, the cod and the New Foundland dog, Gautemala the quezal, 
Western Australia the beautiful black swan. One of the water- 
marks in the old Indian stamps is the head of the elephant and that 
of the island of Jamaica is a pineapple. Ancient history is recalled 
by the various allegorical figures, the finest of which are those 
found on the newspaper and periodical stamps of the United States. 
They are gems in workmanship and coloring. Even astronomy is 
touched upon, for on the stamps of the new republic of Brazil is the 
constellation of the Southern Cross. 

The young man soon learns the various styles of engraving and 
finally the very construction of the paper upon which the stamps are 
printed. So, before condemning the stamp crank, see how good 
he is to the world, and then understand how he can derive so much 
pleasure from his hobby. 

Scores of books go into the most minute descriptions of all the 
stamps known to have been printed. They give quality, color and 
kind of paper, water marks, colors and shades of colors, perfora- 
tions and variations of perforations, rouletting, size, variation in 
dies struck from the same plates, errors in die, color and paper, and 
so on. For a knowledge of everything accessible touching United 
States stamps a volume by Mr. John K. Tiffany of St. Louis suffices. 
The advanced collector will find in the catalogue of Moens & Co. 
of Brussels, the most valuable guide yet published. As to the 
envelopes of the United States new discoveries, errors, etc., are 
continually made, and the excellent book of Mr. Horner, which has 
long been authoritative, is a little out of date. A new and complete 
description of the United States stamped envelopes, wrappers and 
sheets by Messrs. Tiffany, Bogert & Rechert, experts on the 
subject, has just been published by the Scott Stamp and Coin Co. 
It contains reproductions of fifty different sizes and shapes of 
envelopes. 

The collection of postage stamps in the United States did not 



CATALOGUE OF POSTAGE STAMPS. 



75 



No. Date. Type. Value. Color. 



N4W. Used 




699 700 

74 1S87 6gg 50r blue 

75 ** 700 300r blue 

76 p8 701 soor olive 



701 



30 
50 



702 703 704 

77 1SS8 702 loot lilac 10 

73 " 703 700r violet 75 

79 " 704rooor pearl gray 1.00 




80 1890 705 2or emerald green 3 

81 ° J " sor olive green 5 

82 " " loor crircson 10 

83 " •■' 2oor purple 20 

84 " " 30or bluish purple 30 

Same re-engraved, 

85 1890 705 sor olive green 5 
8f> " " ioor crimson ic* 

87 '* li 20Cr purple 20 

88 n * 300r blu'sb purple 30 





SO 

25 



No, Date. Type. Value, Color, New, Used 

89 1891 706 toor blue and red 10 t 

REVENUES USED FOR POSTAGE. 




707 

151 1887 707 

152 " 708 

153 *• 




Perforated: ' 
icor gieenish p 
20or lilac 
2cor V> var 

NEWSPAPER STAMPS 

Rouletted. 



so 



201 1889 709 

202 " 

203 ' r 

204 " 

205 M 

206 «• 

207 «* 
20S " 

209 i! 

210 " 

211 ° 

212 r< 

213 " 

214 ,J 
2T5 " 

216 tc 

217 M 

218 »• 




lor olve 

20r green 

50r pale brown 
ioor violet 
20or black 
30or carmine 
SOOr green 
700r blue 
lOOOr brown 





7 o5 7'° 

A FAC SIMILE OF A PAGE FROM A STAMP CATALOGUE. 

422 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 423 

begin to be known until about 1860, though collections began abroad 
in the early fifties. There were a number of dealers in the United 
States as early as 1862. At the present time there are several firms 
of stamp dealers in this country, each having a capital of over 
$100,000 invested in stamps, envelopes, and so forth. In New York 
City there are seven firms which make a business of collecting rare 
stamps and disposing of them to collectors. These professionals are 
always in touch with the markets in Europe, generally having resi- 
dent buyers on the continent or in London, and the volume of busi- 
ness done by them is astonishing. For thirty dollars one can buy a, 
set of three albums, handsomely bound, with a separate space 
reserved for each of the twelve thousand different stamps which 
make up a complete collection, and with a description of each stamp. 
It takes many times thirty dollars, however, to make up the col- 
lection. The professional stamp collector is generally a dealer also 
in curious coins, fractional currency and Confederate notes. 

The Scott Stamp and Coin Company does business in two offices, 
in New York City. Up town they occupy an entire building. The 
basement floor is occupied by the coin department, and the first floor 
contains the salesrooms and assorting departments. A large force 
of women, trained in the business, is constantly occupied in making 
up packets, arranging approval sheets, and assorting the more or less 
permanent stock in trade. The salesroom occupies the front of the 
first floor. A long table extends from one end of the room to the 
other with a row of stools in front and several women clerks 
behind. The sales are mainly made from sales albums, in which a 
very large assortment of stamps is arranged and classified with the 
price indited in pencil over each stamp. The stock albums are kept 
in enormous safes arranged along the wall behind the table, and in 
these safes are also kept the reserve stock of stamps, which are 
arranged in envelopes in consecutive order in boxes, each envelope 
bearing the catalogue number of the stamps which it contains. A 
large royal octavo catalogue, abundantly illustrated and containing 
some four hundred pages, is the standard, by which sales and 
exchanges are almost universally conducted in this country. New 
editions are issued each year, and the prices of stamps are gauged 
for the most part by the results of the permanent auction sales. 
which have taken place during the year. The enormous correspon- 



424 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

dence of the company relates to the sales of individual stamps at 
catalogue prices, to the approval sheet system, and to the sale of 
packets. 

This sale of packets constitutes a large part of the business 
of most of the stamp dealers. Every dealer publishes his packet 
list, in which he offers the best bargains which he can afford ; and 
for comparative beginners the purchase of a series of graded packets 
forms the cheapest means of starting a collection. Packets contain- 
ing one thousand assorted stamps (including duplicates) are offered 
for twenty-five cents ; others containing one or two hundred, with 
110 duplicates, are offered for the same amount ; and as the quality 
of the contents of packets increases the price increases in a propor- 
tionate degree. For instance, seven hundred different stamps from 
fifty-five countries in the Western Hemisphere, called the " Colum- 
bus Packet," are offered for $25, and one hundred and fifty Mexican 
stamps, including some rare varieties, are offered for $15. Thirty- 
five South American stamps are offered at fifty cents. 

The stamp dealers and the stamp collectors want important 
stamps, whether used or unused, to be put upon the free list. Mr. 
R. R. Bogert, of the Bogert & Durbin Company, said not long ago: 

" To know how widespread this engaging pursuit has become, you have only to 
consider the fact that there is at least $300,000 of incorporated capital engaged 
in the business in this country alone and about 150 publications devoted to it, 
and several hundred thousand people engaged in it. Germany has not so many 
publications nor so many collectors as America, but the subject is approached 
even more seriously there than here. Their papers are more historical and ex- 
haustive than ours. Great Britain numbers her collectors by the hundreds of 
thousands, too, and France is not far behind. Boys no longer outnumber the 
others, but clergymen, lawyers, doctors, business men, and women engage in it 
heartily. One of the most earnest collectors in this city is a clergyman, who, 
when he attends an auction sale of stamps, gets genuinely excited over the 
bargains." 

An estimate made by a very conservative stamp dealer puts the 
number of collectors in the United States at 300,000. But thou- 
sands upon thousands of young people take up the occupation each 
year ; for stamp collecting has been found to be a most attractive 
way of interesting the young in politics and geography, and it is 
encouraged by many teachers and parents. Sales of dealers show a 
great annual increase, and there is not a large city but has its 
philatelic society, where members discuss and exchange stamps. 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 425 

As for albums, it is estimated that upwards of a quarter of a million 
dollars is expended on them each year, from the cheap twenty-five 
cent editions for beginners to the $25 editions for more advanced 
collectors, and the higher priced ones specially prepared for the 
very expert collector, who is not content with ordinary specimens of 
each die. 

The newspaper and postage due stamps, the former used entirely 
by the second class matter clerks in the post offices and the latter by 
postmasters or clerks only, with which to charge postage due, are 
supposed never to come into possession of the public ; but they some- 
times escape through postal people who are not sufficiently familiar 
with the regulations. Almost every considerable stamp dealer 
offers them for sale. A few years ago a postmaster in Massachusetts 
sold several hundred dollars' worth of periodical stamps. When he 
was notified to stop, he tried to recover all of these ; but they had 
got securely in the clutch of the stamp cranks, and of course could 
not be recovered. The stock of periodical and postage due stamps 
in the hands of dealers is augmented by the acquisition of stocks 
stolen from post offices. The burglars cannot use these stamps, and 
their only means of disposing of them is to "fences," and eventually 
-the stamp dealers (who, of course, cannot afford to be too particular 
about the sources of their supply) come into possession of them. 
Certain customers of the stamp dealers are frequently complained of 
to post office inspectors. They have sent for approval sheets (sheets 
from which the customer is supposed to select what he wants and 
return the money for his purchase), but keep the stamps and never 
send the money. The largest concerns, however, frequently send 
approval sheets to the value of a hundred dollars ; but this is only 
to customers of known responsibility. The stamp cranks exchange 
surplus stamps among themselves, of course. 

In Europe the stamp collection craze is much wilder than it ever 
was in this country. The Queen's counsel, Philbrick, had a large 
and fine assortment, and he kept up a continual correspondence 
for many years with all the principal collectors in Europe and 
America. Recently, however, he disposed of North and South 
American stamps, preferring to confine his attention to the Old 
World. At the same time he disposed of his collection of orchids 
to a stamp dealer of Ipswich. The Ipswich collector has a large 



426 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

building devoted to stamps, and he has made a fortune in the busi- 
ness. It is said that Alphonse de Rothschild sold his collection 
of postage stamps for $60,000. It was not generally known, even 
to stamp collectors, that he possessed a particularly fine assortment 
of stamps ; but that was because his collection was made many years 
ago, and for ten years or more he had apparently lost all interest in 
the subject. The largest and finest collection in the world is in the 
possession of Count Philip de Ferrary of the French Capital, the son 
of the late Duke of Galliera. The postage stamps of this titled 
individual are worth $500,000; at all events he spent that amount 
collecting them. The cost of the 3,000 volumes in which they are 
exhibited was $65,000. Next in value is the collection of the late 
T. K. Taplin, M. P., a linen weaver of London, who expended 
something over a quarter of a million on his hobby, paying $40,000 
for a single private collection, which he purchased not to incorporate 
bodily in his own collection but to cull out a few rare specimens 
which it contained. He bequeathed his whole collection, valued at 
$125,000, to the British Museum. The total number of different 
stamps which have been issued in all the world from 1840, judging 
by the face alone, is about twelve thousand, but there are minute 
differences in stamps in the same series and denomination, such as 
the texture of the paper or the different water marks, which are 
esteemed important by fastidious collectors, and which make a com- 
plete collection run up into the hundreds of thousands. At a recent 
sale of rare postage stamps in London a single British stamp of 1856 
brought $250 and was considered cheap at that price. Some Rus- 
sian stamps are so rare that they command almost any price, 
and attempts are frequently made to forge them. Sir Daniel Cooper, 
a far-off Australian collector, recently sold his fine collection for 
$15,000. In England, Belgium, France and Germany, there are 
stamp dealers having each a capital of over $100,000 invested. 

Single foreign stamps have been sold at auction for very high 
prices, and private sales are reported at fabulous sums. On very 
scarce stamps the differences in value for the same denomination are 
■controlled principally by the condition of the stamps, whether dam- 
aged, soiled, mutilated, or defaced, or in prime condition. The 
stamps of the Reunion Isles have brought various prices, according 
to conditions, from $200 to $400. The 12d stamp issued by Canada 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 427 

in 1851 has been sold at from $100 to $150, though numerous 
proof specimens can be bought for a five-dollar bill. In the 
Sandwich Islands earlier stamps are scarce, ugly and very valuable. 
The 13c (1851 and 1852) has been sold at from $150 to $300. 
Probably the highest priced stamp in existence is the common look- 
ing one penny of Mauritius, issued in 1847. A single one of these 
is valued at $1,000, because there are only six or eight of them 
known to be in existence. There is probably no genuine one in this 
country; but as the field for forgery is wide, there are a good many 
bogus ones. Of course, in order to be valuable, proof of the genuine 
character of the stamp must be had. Each of these six or eight 
recognized Mauritius stamps has a tabulated record of the different 
owners who have possessed it, corresponding to the pedigree of a 
blooded horse. 

In the United States one of the best collections of stamps is owned 
by Mr. John K. Tiffany, President of " The American Philatelic 
Association," author of the work on the postage stamps of the 
United States, and possessor of the finest philatelic library in 
the country as well. Like many other advanced collectors, Mr. 
Tiffany is a lawyer of high standing. His tireless industry and 
perseverance have enabled him to discover many new varieties in 
United States stamps. Other advanced collectors are W. C. Van 
Derlip, Boston, Gen. E. D. Townsend, U. S. A., Washington, 
D. C, R. C. Brock, attorney-at-law, Philadelphia, and P. H. Hill, 
merchant, Nashville, Tenn. The best collection of envelopes in 
Washington City is owned by Gen. Duncan S. Walker. At a 
recent New York sale of stamps from the collection of Mr. Brock 
the aggregate reached was upwards of $10,000. 

Of the United States stamps there are many varieties ; and includ- 
ing the so-called local stamps and varieties of paper, perforation, 
grille, shade of color, errors, etc., together with the many thou- 
sands of varieties of envelopes (when size, shape, paper, dies, errors, 
etc., are considered), they constitute probably the highest aggre- 
gate philatelic value of all countries. It is considered that the hand- 
somest stamps issued, taken altogether as sets, are the United States 
newspaper and periodical stamps, never used except to paste 
in account books, never seen by the public except in albums. 
These stamps, as is well known, range in face value from one cent 



428 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

to $60, being twenty-five in number, and are very handsome in 
design and color. Sets of these are not obtainable from the Govern- 
ment now, except by foreign countries for official purposes of identi- 
fication under the Postal Union agreement. Nevertheless, as some 
ten or more sets were given away by a former official of the Post 
Office Department as specimens, and as a number of the sets that 
went abroad have found their way back to this country, sets of them 
have been sold at various prices, ranging from $20 to their full face 
value. 

Perhaps the mostly high prized sets of United States stamps are 
the special stamps used for many years for the payment of official 
postage. These stamps, excepting those of the Post Office Depart- 
ment and of the larger values of the State Department ($2, $5, $10, 
and $20) were similar in design, though different in color. A 
fine set of them in first class condition might bring about $50. 

The issue of stamps was undertaken by several American post- 
masters before the use of the first stamps printed in 1847 by the 
United States. The attention of the Postmaster General was called 
to the matter, but he saw no objection to the arrangement, and the 
stamps were ignored by the Department. These stamps had no 
official sanction and no significance except as indicating the amount 
of postage charged ; and they represent merely an agreement be- 
tween the local postmaster and his patrons. Their object was to 
enable the public to- mail letters at hours when the post office was 
closed. The most valuable of these, perhaps, is a fine specimen 
of the original envelope of the stamped envelopes issued in 1845 
by the postmaster of New Haven. A poor specimen of this stamp 
sold at auction for $200. A fine specimen recently found among 
a lot of unwrapped letters costing ten cents apiece is held at 
$1,800. It is easily worth $1,000. Other varieties of the "post- 
master" stamps, issued mostly in 1845, have been sold as follows 
(sometimes at even higher prices): Brattleboro, Vt., five cent, 
$150 ; Baltimore, five varieties of five cent, from $150 to $250 ; 
Millbury, Mass., 1845, five cent, sold at $200 to $300, —one 
specimen held at $500. The Brattleboro stamp was engraved by 
Thomas Chubbuck, who lived in Brattleboro and afterwards in 
Springfield. This stamp was issued by Dr. F. N. Palmer (the 
postmaster at Brattleboro in 1845-8), and did duty in Brattleboro 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 



429 



and vicinity, recognized by all postmasters as a voucher of the pay- 
ment of the letter to which it was affixed. It was not the first 
postage stamp issued or used in this country, as has sometimes been 
claimed, being antedated by a stamp issued by the New York post- 
master as early as 1842, while the St. Louis post office had used 







jSEWO^LTANS^ 
$> 500 

stamps of this denomination at least a year before Dr. Palmer's 
stamp appeared in 1846. Only a few countries had then begun the 
use of postage stamps, Great Britain in 1840, Brazil in 1841, and 
Saxony soon after. The Palmer stamps were in use but a short 
time, for the Government soon after began the issue of stamps. 
Years after Mr. Chubbuck found among his specimens of work a 



430 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

single sheet of eight of these stamps, and sold them to a collector 
for a small sum. The purchaser afterwards told him that he sold 
the eight stamps for $10 each; "but the man I sold them to," he 
added, "got $20 apiece for them." A former Boston dealer in 
stamps two years ago said : 

"I only know of two persons in Boston who can boast of own- 
ing a Palmer stamp. One was bought about twenty years ago 
for seventy-five cents; the other, bought in 1882, cost per- 
haps $100." 

Other local or semi-local stamps highly prized by collectors are: 
Alexandria, Va., 1845, five cent, valued at $200; Providence, R. I., 
five cent, valued at $3, and ten cent, valued at $20 ; New York City 
Dispatch three cents, valued at from $1 to $15; and St. Louis, face 
values respectively five, ten, and fifteen cents. 

On July 23, 1845, Colonel Gardner, then postmaster at Washing- 
ton, issued stamped or prepaid envelopes of a five cent denomina- 
tion, which were sold to the public at six and one quarter cents 
each, or one "pip," as the half shilling was then called, or eighteen 
for $1. A full description of them has been found, but not a single 
envelope, used or unused. An advanced collector has stimulated the 
search by the offer of $1,000 for an undoubted specimen. 

Some collectors pay high prices for errors in color or impression, 
or for engraver's errors. Take the following combination of errors : 
The " horseman carrier, " as it is called, has printed upon it a picture 
of a horseman at ful] speed, and from his head flies the legend " one 
cent." Above is "Government" and below "City Dispatch." 
These stamps are said to have been used from 1851 until as late as 
1860. Several varieties were found, including long and short rays, 
prints in black and in red, and later one with the word " sent " 
instead of "cent." Finally a variety was found with "O R E" 
instead of "one" and "sent" instead of "cent." This unique 
combination of engraver's errors is found in the collection of 
C. F. Rothfuchs of Washington, and could not be purchased 
for $200. 

Errors in United States envelopes are very numerous. T n °se of 
the 1869 set occur in the fifteen cent, twenty-four cent, thirty cent 
and ninety cent, and were caused in printing, the medallion being 
inverted in each case. Errors in the regular stamps sell to dealers 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 431 

all the way from fifty cents to $7, according to the condition of the 
stamps and the eagerness of the collector. Errors in the small 
denominations have been sold at $50 and $75, and the ninety cent 
error is held at $250. The only error known in the color of the 
official stamps is in the two cent navy. The regular color is blue ; 
the error is of the same color of green as the State Department 
stamps, and sells at about $6. 

Foreign "errors" are plentiful as huckleberries in season. The 
British Colony at the Cape of Good Hope issued two triangular 
stamps in 1857, a Id red and a 4d blue. By mistake some of the 
Id were printed in blue and some of the 4d in red. The regular 
colors are worth now from $4 to $6 each ; the errors, from $100 to 
$150 each. 

The highest price at which a specimen of the ten cent Reay War 
Department envelope has been sold was received at auction many 
years ago, the price, paid by Mr. Tiffany, being $50. Since then 
specimens have been sold at much lower figures, especially those 
of the light red variety. The six cent special issue size of enve- 
lope specimens are of peculiar shape and are sold at $50. General 
Walker has specimens not held by any other collector, upon which 
he has uniformly declined to put a price. They embrace such 
oddities as the five cent Garfield envelope printed in blue instead 
of brown, old issues of shapes and water marks not chronicled, 
and issues of the Plympton series, numbering one hundred and 
fifty and of various dies, shapes and water marks, not chronicled by 
any one, and not, so far as known, officially mentioned in public 
lists. 

A few years ago the Postmaster General ordered a reprint of an 
obsolete design of a five cent stamped envelope. It was a mistake, 
and as soon as it was discovered, all of the envelopes, about ten 
thousand in number, were called in. A stamp collector in New 
York learned in some way that these envelopes were soon to be 
called in; so he bought fifteen hundred of them before the post- 
master had time to send them back to the Department. He soon 
had a monopoly of the issue, and was selling them freely at $5 each 
to stamp cranks. Another incident : a collector learned that there 
would be a short issue of a certain denomination put in circulation, 
so he went to the contractor and purchased $10,000 worth of the new 



432 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

issue. He attempted to sell them at greatly advanced prices, and 
complaint was made to the Department. An investigation was 
had, and the result was that an unlimited number was ordered 
to be printed, and the man who had invested his $10,000 was so 
badly off that he appealed to the Department to redeem his unsold 
stock. The Department is always on the lookout for counterfeiters, 
and suspicions are generally aroused when persons not authorized to 
sell stamps are found disposing of them in large quantities. But 
in twenty years it has not been discovered that any counterfeiting 
has really been done. 

In Chicago not long ago a woman entered complaint at the post 
office that many of her letters received from her brother in China 
came without stamps, and when received, the corners where the 
stamps should have been were wet. In some cases the thief had not 
stopped to remove the stamp by wetting it, but had cut it out, 
leaving the contents exposed. In one of the letters so mutilated 
was a check for $50. The lady said that her brother-in-law, who 
also received letters from China, had had his letters tampered with 
in the same way. It was some stamp maniac, — and such have only 
to be caught to be dismissed in disgrace. The stamp craze once got 
a New York letter carrier in trouble. When he entered the service 
even, he was beginning to show signs of a violent mania. Soon the 
unfortunate victim's movements became so queer as to attract atten- 
tion. The boxes of his fellow carriers seemed to have a fascination 
for him. He would plunge his arm into them and withdraw hand- 
fuls of letters, over which he seemed to gloat with immeasurable 
glee. This was especially the case when the foreign mails came in. 
It was simply thought to be good grounds for suspecting him of 
being an ordinary letter thief. But when he was searched his 
sadder condition was disclosed. In every pocket of his clothes, 
plastered about him, wherever they could be concealed, were stamps 
— cancelled, useless postage stamps. There were hundreds of them, 
stamps from all corners of the world. Had he worn them out- 
wardly upon his person he would have looked like a walking crazy 
quilt. 

The unsuspecting stamp collecting public is exposed to other 
handicaps and frauds. Awhile ago a person who pretended to be 
"John J. Morgan, philatelist, publisher Columbian Philatelist, 



THE MUCH ABUSED STAMP MANIAC. 



433 



Camden, N. J.," was found to have been operating for a year with 
circulars, price lists, etc., of what he called rare postage stamps. 
A great many persons, tempted by his liberal offers, sent him 
their valuable supplies, which they never saw again — nor any 
money, either. About the same time a person who called himself 
Horace Stone began a similar business in Philadelphia. He was 
suspected of being " Morgan " ; but just as the operations of this 
person, or persons, began to attract notice he, or they, silently dis- 
appeared. 




2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 




T had been a favorite contention of Postmaster General 
Wanamaker that the thousands of post offices in this 
country were not closely enough in touch with the Post 
Office Department at Washington, and he had sought 
in every way to bring the general post office and all 
its branches into better sympathy. The Department 
learns from the post offices that the postmasters unques- 
tionably do better work if they understand that the offices 
at the central bureau take an interest in them and support 
them in their efforts to improve the service. In all of his 
reports Mr. Wanamaker had advocated a wider inspection, or 
visitation, of the post offices. He first urged the division of the 
country into twenty-five or thirty postal districts, in which the 
best postal expert in each one, perhaps a postmaster, perhaps an 
inspector or a railway mail superintendent, should be deputed 
to visit all the offices from time to time, and not only make 
suggestions to the postmasters for their improvement, but also ex- 
amine all the phases of the postal business and see in what way it 
could be improved ; and he recorded his firm belief that an appropria- 
tion of $50,000 for such a purpose would actually save to the 
Department ten times that sum in the cutting off of useless service 
and especially in enabling the service, as it stands, to do a much 
more remunerative work in numberless quarters. This was too much 
new legislation for Congress, and the measure never passed. It then 
occurred to Mr. Wanamaker that he could enlist the cooperation of 
the postmasters themselves, without expense to the Department, 
depending upon their loyalty to the service, — which he had had fre- 
quent occasion to be made aware of. He said in his report of last year : 

There was, to be sure, no money to pay them for any services it was proposed 
to ask for; but I had had such frequent unsolicited evidences of their enthusiastic 
support that this objection did not seem material. The authority of the official 

434 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 435 

not specially deputized to do certain things might be questioned, but I depended, 
on the other hand, upon the adaptability and good temper of the visitor and the 
visited alike. 

A personally signed credential of the Postmaster General was 
therefore finally sent to each of the 2,807 county-seat postmasters 
in the United States. It was accompanied by a brief note for each 
visited postmaster to see, and the following questions for the visitor 
to answer with reference to each visited office : 

1. Is the post office located conveniently for the people ? If a map of the 
town, with location marked, or a picture of the building can be conveniently 
obtained, it will be useful to the Department. 

2. Is it within the eighty rod limit ; if not, why could it not be so located ? 

3. Is the post office well arranged, clean and orderly ? 

4. Are the books, accounts and reports kept properly and promptly written 
up ? 

5. Is the office used as a place for lounging ? 

6. State the time when the mails are received and dispatched. 

7. Is notice of the lottery law posted where the public may see it ? 

8. Do the patrons of the office generally regard the post office as efficiently 
conducted ? 

9. Does the postmaster study and understand the postal laws and regulations 
and realize the responsibility and dignity of being an officer of the United 
States ? 

10. State how much time the postmaster gives personally to the duties of the 
office ; and if the work is done by proxy, who does it, and at what pay ? 

11. If the postmaster has any other business of office, state it. 

12. What improvements in the postal service for this locality have occurred 
since the present postmaster was appointed ? 

13. State the names of and distances from your office to the four nearest 
post offices. 

14. How can the service be improved, and what is the chief obstacle in the way 
of improvement ? 

15. At what distance from your office is the nearest telegraph office ? 

16. At what distance from your office is the nearest savings bank ? 

What marking will you give the postmaster on the following basis: 1 means 
poor, 2 means fair, 3 means good, 4 means excellent, 5 means perfect. 

The elements to enter into the rating are the following: Convenience of the 
office, cleanliness, order, keeping of the accounts, personal attention of the post- 
master, improvements in the service made during the last year, growth of the 
business in the past twelve months. 

The postmasters were quick to realize the benefits of this visita- 
tion. The county-seat postmasters enjoyed making their trips so 
much, and saw that the visits would benefit the visitor and the 
visited alike so much, that they travelled in the aggregate thousands 
of miles, and spent out of their own pockets thousands of dollars. 



436 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

The magnitude of some of these undertakings was most notable. 
Fresno County, in California, for instance, comprises over eight 
thousand square miles, or nearly 5,280,000 acres. Its eastern boun- 
dary is the summit of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and its western 
the summit of the Coast Range. Fresno County is larger than 
Massachusetts or New Jersey, and four times as large as Rhode 
Island. Everywhere wonderful good judgment was exercised. The 
visits were just official enough, and just unofficial enough ; so that 
the visited postmasters were very glad to cooperate and to furnish 
all necessary information. 2142 of the 2800 county-seat postmasters 
actually made reports in the time specified, and not only did they 
report upon the condition of 45,600 of the post offices of the country, 
but they made thousands, even, of valuable suggestions for the im- 
provement of the service in detail. Many of these suggestions might 
seem trivial, but in the aggregate they were of immense importance. 
All suggestions were referred to the proper bureaus in the Depart- 
ment, and wherever it was wise and possible the recommended 
changes were made. The county-seat postmasters were reported 
upon in turn by the inspectors. 

The following were the leading items obtained by an actual com- 
pilation of over 38,000 of these reports: 

Post offices conveniently located 3(5,930 

Post offices inconveniently located 607 

Changes of locations suggested 162 

Post offices well kept, clean and orderly 34,718 

Post offices not well kept, etc., 3,126 

Books, accounts and reports properly and promptly written up ... . 31,107 

Books, etc., not properly and promptly written up 6,281 

Post offices lounging places •. 1,250 

Post offices not lounging places 35,691 

Offices having one or more mails arriving and departing every day (that 

is, supplied with daily mail service) 29,909 

Notices of the lottery law found posted 32,677 

Lottery law not posted 4,962 

Post offices satisfactory to patrons 36,267 

Post offices not satisfactory to patrons 1,066 

Postmasters found to understand the Postal Laws and Regulations . . . 32,573 

Postmasters found not to understand the Postal Laws and Regulations . 4,814 

Postmasters devote all their time to their offices 22,070 

Postmasters do not devote all their time to their offices 15,420 

Postmasters found to be engaged in objectionable employment in con- 
nection with their post offices 166 

Postmasters made obvious improvements in the service of their offices . 9,801 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 43T 

Postmasters who had not made improvements in the service 23,997 

Offices which could be discontinued and supplied from other offices . . 409 

Number of offices rated 5, or perfect 1,754 

Number of offices rated 4, or excellent ' . 8,495 

Number of offices rated 3, or good 14,797 

Number of offices rated 2, or fair 8,508 

Number of offices rated 1, or poor 1,919 

Two of the most interesting items (to quote from the last 
annual report) which every county-seat postmaster was asked to 
report upon, were the distances from the post office to the nearest 
telegraph office, and the distances to the nearest savings bank. These 
distances, reported in various terms of feet, blocks, rods, yards and 
miles, were reduced to a common term, and averages struck of 
the various parts of the country, with the following results : 

New England States. — Average distance to the nearest telegraph office, 4 
miles ; average distance to the nearest savings bank, 10 miles. 

Middle States. — Average distance to the nearest telegraph office, 3 miles ; 
average distance to the nearest savings bank, 25 miles. 

Southern States. — Average distance to the nearest telegraph office, 9 miles; 
average distance to the nearest savings bank, 33 miles. 

Western States. — Average distance to the nearest telegraph office, 7 miles; 
average distance to the nearest savings bank, 26 miles. 

Pacific Slope States. — Average distance to the nearest telegraph office, 13 miles; 
average distance to the nearest savings bank, 52 miles. 

Many of the visiting postmasters exercised great originality and 
acumen in making up their reports. Many sent carefully prepared 
letters discussing topics of postal interest. Many adorned their 
reports with maps, diagrams and other illustrations. Many sent 
photographs, which gave, of course, the exact appearance of the 
visited offices, inside and out ; and some of the county-seat inspectors 
submitted with their reports photographs of all the offices in their 
counties. 

Mr. J. B. Patrick, postmaster at Clarion, Pa., bound his reports 
and enclosed them in a stiff brown cover. He wrote that he visited 
every one of the seventy-four offices in his county. He made rec- 
ommendations about the star routes. He travelled in all about four 
hundred and fifty miles, three hundred by buggy, one hundred and 
thirty-three by rail and seventeen on foot. 

Mr. C. A. Wilcox, postmaster of Quincy, Ills., reported upon 
Adams County. His visit caused seven postmasters to supply their 
offices with new cases, and they soon experienced an increased revenue 




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438 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 



439 



from box rents. He found thirty-three offices in the county which 
had no banking, and twenty-four which had no telegraph, facilities. 
Mr. Wilcox submitted a map of each town and a very clearly drawn 
map of Adams County. Reporting upon the Richfield post office, 
he said : 

Supplied by stage 
from Fall Creek six 
times a week. The in- 
spector "will always re- 
member Richfield. If 
it were as large as 
ancient Rome, it would 
cover as many hills. 
Being circumscribed in 
area, it covers only one, 
or rather, seven com- 
bined in one. Beyond 
the town it slopes away 
to the four points of 
the compass, down, 
down, down. 



Postmaster James 
F. Sarratt of Steu- 
benville, Ohio, in- 
spected the offices of Jefferson County. He discovered a great inter- 
est, especially among the farmers, in the development of the star route 
service, and he recommended that letter boxes be put along all the 
star routes so that mail messengers might collect mail that had been 
deposited and deliver it at the termini of their routes. Postmaster 
Sarratt believed that the increase in the amount of mail would be 
perceptible. He noticed that those villagers in a township which 
were not provided with a post office felt rather keenly that they were 
discriminated against. He also discovered that the farms were not 
only more desirable, but actually more valuable, where those postal 
facilities were provided. 

The postmaster at Marion Court House, Iowa, Samuel Daniels, 
submitted handsome maps of many of the places in his county, and 
also sent photographs of many of the offices. 

Postmaster Lewis G. Holt of Lawrence, Mass., inspected the 
offices of Essex County along with the then postmaster of Salem. 
He noticed that all the postmasters were anxious to know if in any 




ROUGHING IT NEAR RICHFIELD. 



440 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



way they were behind the times, and they all expressed themselves 
as not only ready to learn and adopt newer methods but pleased with 
friendly criticism. The post offices of Essex County were marked : 
3 perfect, 26 excellent, 24 good, 14 fair and 3 poor. 

The Columbus, Ind., postmaster, Amos E. Hartman, sent fine 
photographs of all the post offices in Bartholomew County. The 
postmaster at Pomeroy, O., Walter W. Merrick, did likewise. So 
also did the county-seat postmaster of Branch County, Michigan, 
Albert A. Dorrance of Coldwater. 

A. A. Thomson, postmaster at Carlisle, Pa., reported upon 
Cumberland County. He visited fifty-one of his fifty-seven post 
offices. They were all conveniently located. Forty-six were well 
arranged, clean and orderly, and five were not. In thirty-seven the 
books, accounts and reports were properly kept and correctly written 
up, but in fourteen the stamp books were not posted nor the registry 
books properly checked. Twenty-one offices were not used as loun- 




ging places. In thirty 
lounging was allowed, but 
it could not well be prevented as 
the offices were principally shops 
or ticket offices. In five the 
anti-lottery law was not found to 
be posted ; in thirty-six the Postal Laws and Regulations were in 
use, but in thirteen they were not ; though in these thirteen their 
other business mostly engaged the attention of the postmasters. In 
twenty-five offices the postmasters gave all their time to their public 
duties ; in thirty -five the efforts of the postmasters were divided with 
private business, and in four the work was done by proxy ; twelve 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 



441 



had no other business or office, and, although thirty-nine did other 
things, the revenue of these offices did not justify making the postal 
work exclusive. There was no savings bank in the county. 




CRAWFORD COUNTY (PA.) SCENES. 

Mr. O. H. Hollister, postmaster at Mead- 
ville, Pa., enclosed his eighty-eight reports in 
a fine, soft calf binding, and the last page of 
the cover contained a pouch with the map of 
the county. Postmaster Hollister said : 

The change of star routes which I have indicated with the change from tri- 
weekly service to a daily, are the most important. 1 find that offices with a daily 
service *are more appreciated and usually better equipped than those with a tri- 
weekly service. Complaint has been made by the patrons of tri-weekly service 
offices that other offices in the county have a daily mail, which have no more 
claim to such service 
than theirs ; and they 
do not understand 
why there should 
be any discrimination 
made between offices 
of the same kind. I 
am of opinion that a 
post office in a dwell- 
ing house is not as 
desirable as in a store. 
Many of the offices in 
a store are reported 
to be lounging places, 
but it is usually a 
country store and the 
lounging is in the 
evening after regular MARK L. DeMOTTE, P. M., VALPARAISO, IND. 




442 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



business hours and is no detriment to the service. More efficient service could 
be obtained by increased compensation. 

Postmaster Hollister reported that he traveled five hundred miles, 
and that the ten hundred and six square miles of his county con- 
tained a population of 65,324 persons, and that of the eighty-four 
offices visited he found eleven perfect, eleven excellent, forty good, 
seventeen fair and five poor. 

Postmaster Jas. M. Brown of Toledo, Ohio, inspected the offices 
of Lucas County, and he accompanied his report with neat pictures 
of all the offices reported on. 

The postmaster at Valparaiso, Indiana, Mr. Mark L. DeMotte, re- 
ported upon the offices of Porter County. He submitted fine photo- 
graphs of all the offices in his county ; and he took them himself, 
because on the last page of the report appeared a picture of his horse, 
carriage and camera, and the postmaster himself. 

The women postmasters came grandly to the front in the county- 
seat inspections. A recent computation made out that there were 
6,335 postmistresses in the country, distributed by states and terri- 
tories as follows : 



Colorado 114 

Maryland 114 

Wisconsin 104 

Nebraska 103 

Louisiana 103 

Washington ." . 98 

Massachusetts 75 

Minnesota 75 

New Hampshire 73 

Montana 67 

Vermont 66 

Connecticut 57 

Wyoming 54 

New Jersey 52 



Pennsylvania 463 

Virginia 460 

North Carolina 322 

Ohio 256 

New York 243 

Georgia 216 

Texas 210 

Kentucky .209 

Illinois 194 

Alabama 190 

California 186 

Mississippi 184 

Tennessee 181 

Kansas 164 

Indiana 159 

Iowa 156 

Michigan 149 

Maine 140 

Florida 136 

North and South Dakota . . . 127 

Oregon 127 

South Carolina 125 

Missouri 124 

Arkansas 122 

West Virginia 120 

It fell to the lot of sixty-one of these women to make the county- 
seat visitations, and they displayed enterprise and determination in 
this work, and tact and judgment, too, of rare, though not surprising 



Utah 


. . . 52 


Idaho 


... 40 




. . . 29 




. . . 28 




. . . 24 




. . . 12 




. . . 11 




. . . 10 




. . . 10 




. . . 1 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 44B 

degree. Almost all took pains to report that they had been very 
courteously welcomed ; indeed, they probably surpassed the men in 
this respect. They travelled about with the same success as the 
men. In Idaho, one woman covered almost 300 miles on horse- 
back, and in Mississippi another visited almost all the offices in her 
county in a sailboat. 

A whole book could be written about the many admirable women 
who work away with all their tact and business prudence, and with 
a loyalty sometimes more loyal than a man's, trying to please their 
patrons and the Department alike, and pleasing both because they 
try. Sometimes they are popular and successful politicians in their 
way. Sometimes they are the most important persons in their 
towns. They know what is going on without reading all the postal 
cards that pass through their offices. They keep their books neatly 
and accurately, and having, usually, less of outside business than the 
average man, their time is less divided with other duties. They 
deserve to be known outside of their own localities. 

Mrs. Lucy S. Miller of Mariposa, California, inspected the offices of Mariposa 
County, — all but two or three of them, which were too far away. She reported 
that the postmasters were very critical and interested, and that most of the offices- 
were in good order. Mrs. Miller was appointed after the man first recommended 
had failed to qualify. "I have learned much of patience, forbearance and 
policy," she wrote, " and have acquired some knowledge of human nature, which 
should be in itself an education." The morning mail reaches Mariposa at five in 
the morning, summer and winter, and before that hour Mrs. Miller is faithfully 
at her post and has the mail in readiness for the different carriers as they call. 

Miss Mary I. Grow, postmistress at Colfax, La., reported upon Grant Parish. 
She found many postmasters who did not understand how to keep the postal 
account book; but she gave them advice and instruction, and was cordially 
thanked for her visits. 

Mrs. Mary E. Jones, postmistress at Downieville, Cal., inspected the offices of 
Sierra County. She gathered her information personally from the business men. 
A few of the offices in the mountains she did not visit, as it would have taken two 
weeks of travel by stage through three or four other counties. She insisted that 
the postmasters were above the average in intelligence and business capacity. 

Mrs. Mary Green, postmistress at Warrenton, N. C, had to travel for many 
miles in private conveyances in order to reach all the offices in Warren County. 

Miss Annie Mountien of Yernon, Florida, reported that it would be incon- 
venient for her to inspect all the offices in her county, as it would require journeys, 
aggregating 320 miles and mostly in private conveyances, and as the salary of her 
office was only $40 a quarter, she hardly felt like undergoing the expense. But 
she suggested that two other postmasters be called in to her assistance ; and the 
county was so divided. 

Mrs. E. A. S. Mixson inspected Barnwell County, S. C. She is one of the 







444 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 445 

brightest postmistress in the whole service, a Massachusetts woman, postmistress 
at Barnwell. She gained valuable experience in her office under President 
Arthur, and has made very many improvements under the present adminis- 
tration. Hers is the most conveniently fitted office in the county, and routes 
and offices have been established during Mrs. Mixson's incumbency which add 
greatly to the facilities of her neighborhood. Mrs. Mixson and her mother, who 
is also a widow, have taught school for years in the South, and they add fine 
educations, as well as experience, to the tasks before them. Mrs. Mixson visited 
38 out of the 40 offices of Barnwell County, travelling 300 miles for the purpose. 
The worst kept office was in an old building, partly made of logs and partly of 
slab boards with the bark on. The inside had been fitted up with a few shelves. 
There was a loft overhead filled with fodder and grain. The loft was reached 
by a ladder, and all about were plows, plow-lines, baskets, and bacon. The light 
was admitted only through the open door. It was a great surprise to the half 
dozen loungers that a woman should ride in with the mail messenger. There 
were rivers to be forded, but the hardest trip was a ride of 40 miles in a road- 
cart. There were bridges and swamps to be crossed, and sometimes the water 
was up above the feet. The carrier said the pouch frequently had to be put on 
the horse's back, at this point; and so it was kept out of the water. In another 
place were trenches thrown up as a protection against Kilpatrick's troops, and a 
field was pointed out where some Union soldier boys lay buried. One day Mrs. 
Mixson came to the smallest post office in the county, kept in a building 8x10. 
The postmaster said that his receipts for the first month had been 15 cents, 
and that the average after that was about .$1 a month. Here was a deserted 
village, once a lively manufacturing town, and there some rails, standing upright 
in the ground, marked the edge of the Savannah where it overflowed. The mail 
carrier had to swim the stream. A ride of twelve miles had to be taken one night 
through a cypress swamp, muddy, dark, and filled with swamps and trees, in order 
to take a six o'clock train in the morning. 

Miss Lucy Bowers of Tipton, Iowa, reported fully upon her county, and re- 
marked in her letter that she could not let the reports go without testifying to 
the unvarying courtesy of the postmasters whom she met ; they all wanted to see 
her again. Miss Bowers said recently that the most profoundly interesting event 
in connection with her appointment was the receipt of her commission from the 
Department: and she added: "I have ever since by diligence and care tried to 
make the work of the office show me worthy of this honor, and also as far as I 
could I have tried to further the general reforms advocated by the Postmaster 
General." 

Mrs. A. E. Frank, postmistress at Jacksonville, Alabama, inspected the offices in 
Calhoun County. She enjoyed meeting the postmasters, and thought the visits 
beneficial all around. The only drawback was the heavy livery bill. 

Miss Ionia B. Bomar, inspected Massac County, Illinois. She reported that, 
"being a girl," it was rather hard work, but she enjoyed it very much, and she 
consoled herself with the thought that she was working in a good cause. 

Miss Sarah Johnson, postmistress at Richfield, Utah, made returns from 
personal knowledge upon all but two of the offices in her county, and these, ac- 
cording to report, were well managed. This lady received her appointment on 
Christmas Day, 1890, and now six days out of seven she is at the office from eight 
in the morning till seven at night, and she does all her own housework in addition. 




A GROUP OF POSTMISTRESSES. 
446 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 



447 



She erected a new brick building for the post office, and besides supporting her- 
self entirely takes care of her mother. "I love my work more and more," she 
says, " and try to make the postal service what it should be. If I am requested 
to make another county inspection," she adds, "I shall do better than I did last 
time, because I understand it now." 

Miss Jennie J. Berrie, postmistress at Lexington, Mo., submitted maps and 
statements with her reports. " It would be the grandest piece of work," she 
said, " if all the post offices could be united by the postal telegraph. Some post 
offices seem so isolated, from seven to ten miles from the nearest telegraph office, 
and there is no communication with the outer world but the slow-going, twice-a- 
week mail." Miss Berrie was born and educated in the town where she is now 




postmistress, and naturally is known to all the patrons of the office — a good 
qualification, it has been said, in a county where half the population are Smiths, 
Browns and Joneses, and where it is sometimes of importance to know the 
"hand-write" of many of them. Miss Berrie's employment and her pleasure 
go on side by side. The men are chivalrous and the women kind-hearted. " And 
what more," Miss Berrie has written, "could a postmistress desire than to meet 
continually kind friends, friends of my childhood and friends of to-day." This 
little woman's effort now is to raise the office from third to second class. 
At Lexington, as elsewhere, there is the inevitable lost package and the letter 
that never came. Miss Berrie and her mother are alone in the world, but 
they have a cat and a dog; and the postmistress finds her day well occupied going 
to the office at half past six in the morning and returning home at half past 
eight. "Good health," she says, "remunerative employment, and a desire to 



448 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

please and be pleased, make life interesting and well worth the living." All of 
the papers spoke very highly of the appointment of Miss Berrie. 

Miss Kate Cox, postmistress at Graveton, Texas, reported upon Trinity County 
without referring to her own office, as she did not think that was expected. But 
she adds, " I would be very glad to have you appoint someone to visit my office at 
any time." 

Mrs. Sarah L. Christie, postmistress at Nyack, N. T., visited all the offices in 
Rockland County except two. These were so far away in the hills that they 
could not easily be reached in the required time. Mrs. Christie was born in 
Nyack and has always lived there. She was early a clerk in the post office and 
later assistant to her father, who was postmaster. She was first appointed 
postmistress by President Hayes on the death of her father in 1880, and she was 
re-appointed by President Arthur. She was removed by the last administration 
but re-appointed by President Harrison in 1890. 

Another eastern postmistress who made the county-seat inspections was Miss 
Erne J. Cooper of Port Royal, Juniata County, Pa. She and her sister support 
their widowed mother. A great deal of work was entailed upon the Port Royal 
office by the delivery and receipt of the Census mail, ,^or the enumerator for the 
seventh district of Pennsylvania lived in that town, and he mailed tons of matter 
at Miss Cooper's office; and as much of it had to be registered the postmistress 
often worked from half past six in the morning till half past ten at night. 

Miss Cassie W. Hull of Bath, divided the work of visiting the offices in Steuben 
County, N". Y., with the postmaster at Corning. He took forty-six offices and 
she forty-four, and Miss Hull visited all but two of hers. She found some 
imperfect bookkeeping, but as most of the postmasters had opportunity to study 
nothing but the Postal Laws and Regulations, and as these were sometimes hard 
to understand, or get at, it was not strange. Miss Hull added that she did not 
enjoy taking the time or money for making these visits, but she was satisfied all 
the same that they were a good thing. Miss Hull has reason to be proud of her 
friends, — and she is. Judge Ramsay, John Davenport, Ira Davenport, J. F. Park- 
hurst, and all the leading Republicans of the district were "for her" and Con- 
gressman John Raines willingly recommended her appointment. Miss Hull's 
success was very warmly greeted by all the papers of the neighborhood. She had 
been for ten years financial and business clerk in the Bath Courier office, and won 
great commendation for her energy and discretion. Miss Hull's brother was the 
editor of the Courier, and his sudden death had grieved the newspaper fraternity 
of the whole state. But it was not on this account solely that Miss Hull's 
appointment was warmly greeted. The Buffalo News called her a woman of 
unusual and marked ability. Editor Hull had a Bible class of a hundred young 
men at Bath, and they unitedly urged his sister's appointment as postmistress. 
As Miss Hull moved about the county on her tour of inspection, the local papers 
met her with complimentary and sincere greetings. 

Mrs. Mary Truly of Fayette, Mississippi, found the postmasters clamorous for a 
stated salary, so that they might realize the dignity of being United States 
officers, and not be compelled to do so undignified a thing as watch every little 
two-cent stamp that came in sight. She noticed some loafing in the post offices, 
but it was hard for the country storekeepers to get rid of this, or they would lose 
some of their trade. On this account Mrs. Truly suggested that as an adjunct to 
some woman's business, such as millinery or dressmaking, the small post office 



2,200 POSTMASTEKS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 



449 



would be better managed. This postmistress has never missed a mail, lost a 
registered letter, or heard a single complaint against her office. She has moved 
her quarters nearer to the railroad, so that the railroad company has to pay for 
the mail messenger service, which formerly cost $95 a year. Mrs. Truly has a 
fine grown-up- boy whom she is educating. 

Miss Margaret G. Davis, postmistress at Biloxi, Harrison County, Miss., sub- 
mitted maps and other drawings, and made numerous suggestions for the im- 
provement of the service. 

Miss Jeannie Hubbard, postmistress at Paris, Maine, reported upon Oxford 
County — upon eighty-four of the eighty-seven offices. Oxford County is per- 
haps one hundred miles long and fifty wide, and Miss Hubbard feared that it 
would cost her $200 to make the visits. She did most of the work by corre- 
spondence, and very satisfactorily, too; and she secured the attention of a number 
of weekly papers to the visitation, and hence prepared the postmasters and the 
public to be ready for it. 

Mrs. Flora H. Hawes of Hot Springs, Arkansas, visited all but two offices in 
her county, but satisfied herself before submitting her report that these were well 
conducted; and later she visited them. Mrs. Hawes is a remarkable woman. She 

was born and reared at Salem, Washing- ^ _____ 

ton County, Indiana. Her family is among 
the most notable and influential in that 
state. Her father, Dr. Sanford H. Har- 
rod, was a man of sterling worth, uni- 
versally esteemed. Mrs. Hawes is closely 
related to Hon. John C. New, and her 
sister married W. W. Borden, of Borden, 
Indiana, a man of wealth and scientific 
attainments, and a nominee for Congress. 
Mrs. Hawes was married to Professor 
Edgar Poe Hawes, a man of literary tastes 
and pronounced culture ; and in his work 
as a teacher he was much assisted by his 
wife, whose education and superior power 
as an elocutionist admirably qualified her 
for this. After the death of Professor 
Hawes, Mrs. Hawes accepted a position in 
the public schools of Hot Springs. Here, 
as everywhere, she won the warmest 
friendship of all. Though modest in 
manner, she is determined as a queen. 
With her, to determine is to execute, and 
to plan is to accomplish. More than once 
her shrewd abilities, excellent generalship, 
and sharp woman's wit have triumphed over self-reliant men opponents. She 
overcame thus the opposition to her appointment as postmistress at Hot Springs, 
an opposition based mainly upon the fact that she was a woman. In a cosmo- 
politan city of 15,000 inhabitants, with a population of at least 10,000 visitors, 
many women would have refrained from undertaking such a fight. Mrs. 
Hawes made a personal contest, however, and overcame all obstacles. She has 





MRS. FLORA H. HAWES, 
Postmistress, Hot Springs, Ark. 



450 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



for three years performed the intricate, responsible duties of her post with credit 
to herself and her people. 

One of the women visitors, Mrs. Mary E. P. Bogert, the postmistress at Wilkes 
Barre, Pa., inspected Luzerne County. She submitted reports of all of the forty- 
four post offices, 








MRS. MARY E. P. BOGERT. 



mark them ' 5 ' only 
highest number." 



each marked with 
the stamp of the 
office. She said in 
her letter accom- 
panying the re- 
ports : 

"I have been 
much interested in 
this work, and 
these personal vis- 
its have shown me 
the many difficult- 
ies under which the fourth class 
postmasters labor. Many of them 
have very imperfect facilities for 
work, and some of them little real 
knowledge just how the work 
should be done. All are anxious 
to do it well, but many fall short 
of any standard of excellence, not, 
f however, from carelessness, but 
simply from limited knowledge. 
They would so gladly welcome 
some special instruction. I 
spent much time in explaining 
to some of these fourth class post- 
masters things they were anxious to 
understand. Many of these offices 
would be in better condition if the 
postmasters had more definite knowledge. 
Great good must result from this effort 
to bring all the offices into closer union 
with the Department. In marking papers 
I have endeavored to make each mark a 
just one. Pittston, Hazleton, and Xanti- 
coke are very excellent. I should like to 
that nothing can be perfect, and '4' has been the 



The history of Mrs. Bogert, lately the postmistress at the largest town in this 
country, probably, where a woman has been postmistress in recent years (next to 
Louisville, where Mrs. Thompson was postmistress for so long) is very interest- 
ing. She is a descendant of the old historic line of Paterson, and her early home 
was at Sweet Air, near Baltimore City. Miss Paterson went to the Millersville, 
Pa., State Xormal School, and having lost her parents and her home, taught for 
one term at the Collegiate Institute at Salem, New Jersey, and from there, 
through the influence of school friends, she was called to the Franklin Grammar 
School in Wilkes Barre. She was a great success, teaching for the love of the 
work, as well as for the pay; and she taught until 1879, when she was married to 
Joseph K. Bogert, one of Wilkes Barre' s prominent men, who had been soldier, 
editor and politician. Mr. Bogert was appointed postmaster in 1885, and held 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 



451 



the position at the time of his death. The citizens of Wilkes Barre united in a 
strong, determined effort to secure the position for his widow, and sent a petition 
to the Department, which was acknowledged at the time to be the strongest paper 
of the kind ever presented there. The petition was gotten up regardless of 
politics, and President Cleveland appointed Mrs. Bogert postmistress of Wilkes 
Barre in April, 1887. She held the position for five years. She kept a general 
supervision of every department of the office, giving personal care to all details, 
stimulating each employee to give to his work the best that was in him, having 
entire control of both clerical and carrier force, and devoting the greater portion 
of her time to the work. The county-seat visitation called out some of Mrs. 
Bogert' s best work. She realized that a closer union with the Department would 
result in great good; she took especial pains to carry out the Postmaster General's 
wish to the very letter, making many explanations, giving instruction where 
needed, familiarizing herself with the difficulties under which the postmasters 
labored, and realizing more and more the great good that must accrue from this 
careful inspection. About two weeks after the completion of her term she was 
called back to the office by a series of sad circumstances. The new postmaster 
was called away by the death of his father. The assistant postmaster was ill at 
the same time; and he requested Mrs. Bogert to take charge of the office for a 
time. Later, the new postmaster desired her to accept permanently the position 
of assistant postmistress; and she did so. 

Miss H. L. Dear, postmistress at Pop- 
larville, is one of the Mississippi post- 
mistresses of note. She was appointed, 
as many postmasters in the South 
are, on the recommendation of her pre- 
decessor. 

Mrs. Bertha Kleven, postmistress at 
Culbertson, Nebraska. Her husband, 
Captain John E. Kleven, a veteran of the 
war, was postmaster at Culbertson from 
1874 till 1881. The appointment of his 
successor, made after his death in 1881, 
was unpopular, and the next year citizens 
of all parties urged the appointment of 
Captain Kleven' s widow. 

Mrs. Emma J. Zeluff is postmistress at 
Grant City, Mo. She was appointed 
under the present administration, but the 
post office work had been familiar to her, 
as her husband had been postmaster from 
1882 until his death in 1884. Mrs. Zeluff 
was removed in 1885, but she taught in 
the public school. Two hundred citizens 
petitioned «for her appointment in 1889. 
It has always been her earnest desire, 
she has written, to comply with the rules and regulations of the Department and 
to deal fairly and honestly with all. The local papers spoke very highly of 
this lady when she was appointed. 




MRS. MARY SUMNER LONG, 
Postmistress, Charlottesville, Va. 



452 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Mrs. Ada Hunter is postmistress at Kinston, N. C. She was appointed in 
September, 1889. Her principal assistant is her husband, who has charge of the 
money order department; and Mrs. Hunter's daughter is the separating clerk. 
The Kinston office is very well managed. 

Mrs. Mary Sumner Long, postmistress at Charlottesville, Virginia, is the daugh- 
ter of the Union Major General Sumner and the widow of the Confederate Major 

General Long, the military secretary 
and biographer of General Robert E. 
Lee. Mrs. Long is a lady of marked 
social and literary tastes and acquire- 
ments, as well as of great business 
capacity. She was originally ap- 
pointed postmistress at Charlottes- 
ville, March 2, 1877, by General 
Grant, and has been reappointed by 
every successive administration, hav- 
ing had commissions signed by Pres- 
idents Grant, Hayes, Garfield, 
Arthur, Cleveland and Har- 
rison. Her husband be- 
came blind from wounds 
received in the war and 
she was for many years 
the sole support of a fam- 
ily of five. Mrs. Long's 
business-like administra- 
tion of the post office, 
during all these fifteen 
years, has been very sat- 
isfactory to all her pat- 
rons. 

Mrs. Barbara Dickey, 
postmistress at Dover, 
la., was born at Mt. Joy, 
Pa., in December, 1813, 
and was married in 1841. 
Bride and groom moved to Fort Madison, Iowa, and lived there over eleven years, 
and then moved to Dover, established a store, and began a post office; and she 
gave it the name of Dover. Mrs. Dickey has managed this office ever since. 

Miss Amanda B. Shaver has managed the post office at Wegee, Ohio, since 1864. 
The proceeds of this office have varied during Miss Shaver's incumbency as 
assistant from $8 a year to $61. 11. Once twenty-eight persons, who the postmistress 
knew did not receive more than two letters every year, called twenty-eight times 
in one day for their mail, and Miss Shaver has answered the bell forty times many 
a day when her pay has amounted to one or two cents. Miss Shaver's grand- 
father was a soldier of the War of 1812, and her great-grandfather kept the horse 
and tent of George Washington. He was too young for regular service as a 
soldier. Miss Shaver's maternal grandfather was John Ney, He was also a 
soldier of the War of 1812, and used to transport goods by wagon over the old 




2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 



453 







MRS. M. A. MEILY, 
Postmistress, Ono, Pa. 



National Pike from 1815 to 1830. John Ney claimed to be a nephew of Marshal 
Ney. Miss Shaver's maternal grandmother was the oldest daughter of Thomas 
Kildare, one of the tea-spillers, — though he was pressed into that service by the 

others, being but a barefoot boy of seventeen 
years when the crowd found him on their way to 
the water's edge. 

Mrs. M. A.- Meily was appointed postmistress at 
Ono, Pa., May 28, 1863. Her husband was a 
Union soldier, and her father had been postmaster 
at Ono when the office was established; and it had 
been called Seltzersville after him. 

The oldest postmistress in the country is Miss 
Martha E. Stone of North Oxford, Mass. She 
was commissioned postmistress by Horatio King, 
then first assistant Postmaster General, April 27, 
1857. At that time there were two mails a day at 
North Oxford; now the business of the office is 
nearly quadrupled. The office has always been 
kept in the sitting-room of Miss Stone's home, 
however. Among her literary labors Miss Stone 
assisted ex-Senator George in his compilation of 
the " Davis Genealogy." She was also associated 
with Judge Learned of Albany, in his compilation of the genealogy of the 
Learned family. The Learned and Davis families were intimately connected by 

frequent intermarriages, and among the 

wealthiest and most influential in Ox- 
ford. From the former Miss Stone traces 
her descent, being the great-grand- 
daughter of Col. Ebenezer Learned, one 
of the first permanent settlers of the 
town in 1713. Later she was for nineteen 
years a teacher in public and private 
schools, and she has served on the school 
board, elected by the vote of her people. 
The champion whistling postmistress 
is Miss Hattie E. Connors, of Sorrento, 
Me. She was born at Sullivan, in the 
Pine Tree State, and educated at the 
Castine Normal School. After gradua- 
tion she taught school for several years. 
In May, 1888, she was appointed post- 
mistress at Sorrento. She has always 
been musical. She learned to play the 
piano at an early age; and though she 
does not profess to play any instrument 
very well, she makes good music on 
the banjo, mandolin, zither and guitar, 
as well as the piano. Her favorite in- 




strument is the violin, and upon this 



MISS HATTIE E. CONNORS, 
The Whistling Postmistress of Sorrento. 



454 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



she is very proficient. Miss Connors has always been a whistler. She does not 
claim to excel, but she whistles with her fingers, unlike any other feminine 
artist. It is this manner of her performance that makes her so unique. She 
has never practised whistling much; it came to her naturally, and she does 
it without effort. She is a bright, energetic young woman and remarkably 
well read. She is thoroughly self-reliant for a woman, and has a very 
charming personality, and is a favorite both with the summer visitors and the 
" natives " at Sorrento. Generals S. Y. Benet and A. W. Greely have heard Miss 
Connors whistle and they have written out most complimentary testimonials for 
her. She has had engagements with a Boston lyceum bureau. 







THE TEXAS QUARTETTE. 



The Texas quartette were born January 10, 1890, to Mrs. Page, the wife of 
Mr. E. P. Page, postmaster at Ingersol, Texas. With mingled feelings of 
happiness and consternation, the father wrote to Studebaker Bros., among many, 
to know if they would contribute to the amelioration of his situation. They sent 
him a fine road wagon. An elderly western woman sent a check for three hun- 
dred dollars to the mother. Encouraged by these and other attentions, Mr. Page 
resigned his post office and exhibited his babies. But having tired of this, he 
desired the office back again. Studebaker Bros, endorsed him for the position, 
and when he wrote to the Department that, though he was a Democrat, his babies 
were all girls and might yet marry Republicans, General Clarkson promptly ap- 
pointed him. The babies were photographed by Josh Whealdon, of Texarkana, 
Ark. 

The Postmaster General desired to repeat the county seat inspec- 
tions, and he called to the Department in May seven postmasters 
from various parts of the country who had interested themselves to 



2,200 POSTMASTERS VISIT 45,000 OFFICES. 



455 



the best advantage in the previous inspection. They were B. Wilson 
Smith, LaFayette, Ind. ; F. T. Spinne} 7 , Medford, Mass. ; L. H. 
Beyerle, Goshen, Ind. ; Jas. P. Harter, Hagerstown, Md. ; O. H. 
Hollister, Meadville, Penn. ; J. F. Sarratt, Steubenville, Ohio ; and 
Archibald Brady, Charlotte, N. C. They met at the Department on 
the 2 2d of June, sat for three days, and resolved that the visitations 
ought to be repeated. The conference agreed that, in repeating the 
visits, particular attention should be paid to the minute details 




F. T. SPINNEY, ARCHIBALD BRADY, J. P. HARTER, 

Medford, Mass. Charlotte, N. C. Hagerstown, Md. 

L. H. BEYERLE, B. WILSON SMITH, J. F. SARRATT, O. H. HOLLISTER, 

Goshen, Ind. LaFayette, Ind. Steuhenville, O. Meadville, Pa. 

THE SEVEN CONFEREES FOR THE SECOND VISITATION. 

of each branch of the service ; and a list of questions should be 
published to set postmasters to thinking. The visiting postmaster 
was to grade the post offices in his county as excellent, good, fair, 
or poor, and the following elements were to be taken into account : 
cleanliness, order, keeping of accounts, personal attention of post- 
master, improvements in the service, knowledge and observance of 
the Postal Laws and Regulations, and enthusiasm. It was recom- 
mended that all postmasters rated as " excellent " should be honor- 
ably mentioned by a special letter of the Postmaster General or 



456 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

otherwise, and all postmasters rated " poor " should be notified that 
there was room for improvement and should be instructed how to 
effect it. Each county-seat postmaster was to forward to the De- 
partment a report containing an alphabetical list of the post offices 
in his county, with the grading of each, and was to retain in his 
office, for future reference, the detailed report of the questions 
and answers upon which he based his rating. He was also to call 
special attention by letter to subjects requiring action by the 
Department. 

So, later on, the instructions to all the county-seat postmasters 
were sent out, and again the 2,200 or more visitors were to make 
their examination, were to learn and teach ; and again the condition 
of thousands of post offices was to be reported upon, and thousands 
of valuable changes were again to be recommended and effected. 




^=541*5*"^ 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTEK. 



HE oldest postmaster ! A theme for poets, rather 
than mere makers of books. He is a delightful 
old fellow, wherever he is found; and he is 
found in quaint localities, quaintly attending to 
duties every da} 7 , and quaintly believed by all of 
neighbors to be the oldest postmaster in the ser- 
vice, and that beyond a question. It should be a 
hazardous thing to say that the following list gives the 
names and offices, the states, and the dates of appointment of the 
oldest postmasters. It is safe to say, though, that the following are 
some of them : 





457 



458 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Name. 


Appointed. 


Office. 


State. 


Epliraim Miller 


November 24, 


1852 


Summit Mills 


Pennsylvania 


Alvin Weed 


December 16 


1852 


North Stamford 


Connecticut 


William Trexler 


September 6 


1853 


Long Swamp 


Pennsylvania 


Franklin Tourtillot 


May 20 


1854 


Maxfield 


Maine 


Henry Bartling 


May 20. 


1854 


Addison 


Illinois 


Charles N. Gery 


April 5 


1855 


Seisholtzville 


Pennsylvania 


Jacob Shaffner 


July 11 


1855 


Host 


Pennsylvania 


E. A. Leinbach 


July 20 


1855 


Leinbach' s 


Pennsylvania 


W. P. Coursen 


September 3 


1855 


Fredon 


New Jersey 


J. W. Kimball 


December 28 


1855 


Gilead 


Maine 


Joseph Keck 


February 2 


1856 


Keek's Centre 


New York 


B. C. Prettyman 


March 17 


1856 


Hollyville 


Delaware 


Andrew Smith 


November 11 


1856 


Wegee 


Ohio 


J. H. Keplinger 


November 11 


1856 


Winfield 


Ohio 


William A. Hight 


December 6, 


1856 


Wetaug 


Illinois 


R. N. Candee 


December 29, 


1856 


Pontiac 


New York 


William Dunlap 


February 17. 


1857 


West Salisbury 


New Hampshire 


Lewis Hammonds 


February 19. 


1857 


Royalton 


Kentucky 


Martha E. Stone 


April 27. 


1857 


North Oxford 


Massachusetts 


K. K. Thompson 


May 14. 


1857 


West Trenton 


Maine 


Ferdinand AuBuchon 


June 29. 


1857 


French Tillage 


Missouri 


William Folker 


July 6 


1857 


Acasto 


Missouri 


David Brobst 


July 27 


1857 


Marcy 


Ohio 


E. S. Cowles 


September 1 


1857 


Camp ton 


Iowa 


Josiah Willson 


October 2 


1857 


Oak Grove 


New Jersey 


I. G. Reynolds 


November 7 


1857 


South Brooks 


Maine 


S. K. Nurse 


March 3 


1858 


Denverton 


California 


John T. Parker 


March 31 


1858 


Granville 


Missouri 


James S. Chapin 


July 31 


1858 


Lincoln 


Massachusetts 


David Beck 


August 3 


1858 


Beck's Mills 


Indiana 


Silas Hatch, 2d. 


August 26 


1858 


Hatchville 


Massachusetts 


W. G. Harding 


August 28 


1858 


Berkshire 


Massachusetts 


D. D. Gore 


September 1 


1858 


McCameron 


Indiana 


J. B. Dunham 


November 4 


1^58 


Almoral 


Iowa 


A. W. Story 


December 4 


1858 


Pigeon Cove 


Massachusetts 


Amos Carpenter 


December 16 


1858 


Carpenter's Store 


Missouri 


R. J. Jewell 


January 18 


1859 


Elk Creek 


Kentucky 


W. H. Morse 


February 9 


1859 


Gilmer 


Illinois 


James Hibbs 


March 16 


1859 


Hibbsville 


Iowa 


R. T. Hutchinson 


August 25 


1859 


Gilead 


Connecticut 


P. W. Richmond 


September 1 


1859 


Potter Hill 


New York 


J. H. Trueblood 


November 18 


1859 


Canton 


Indiana 


Margaret Hunter 


December 31 


1859 


Weiseburg 


Maryland 


Addison Whithed 


February 29 


, 1860 


Vernon 


Vermont 


Cephas Haskins 


April 16 


, 1860 


Lakeville 


Massachusetts 


R. M. Nelson 


April 17 


, 1860 


Birds ville 


Kentucky 


C. S. Holden 


April 18 


, 1860 


Manton 


Rhode Island 


D. K. Marsh 


August 11 


, 1860 


Marshfield 


Pennsylvania 


L. F. Perry 


September 24 


1860 


Perry's Mills 


New York 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 



459 



Name. 


Appointed. 


Office. 


State. 


F. J. Schreiber 


November 28 


1860 


Cruger 


Illinois 


H. M. Selden 


December 29 


1860 


Haddam Neck 


Connecticut 


E. P. Higby 


December 29 


1860 


Mapleton 


Kansas 


William Moreschel 


January 7 


1861 


Homestead 


Iowa 


Xavier Guittard 


March 13 


1861 


Guittard Station 


Kansas 


Charles Hornung 


March 20 


1861 


New Bavaria 


Ohio 


B. F. Thomas 


March 25 


1861 


Mount Hope 


Indiana 


Thomas Machan 


April 10, 


1861 


Belle Isle 


New York 


E. S. Dewey 


April 13 


1861 


East Poultney 


Vermont 


Sylvanus W. Hall 


April 22 


1861 


Marion 


Massachusetts 


Chauncey Carpenter 


May 11 


1861 


Do ran 


Iowa 


John A. Blaney 


May 13 


1861 


Whitesburg 


Pennsylvania 


Washington Hildreth 


May 15 


1861 


Lock 


Ohio 


E. C. Sindel 


May 21 


1861 


Winameg 


Ohio 


Robert B. Hill 


May 30 


1861 


Leesburg 


Pennsylvania 


Albert Lair 


May 31 


1861 


Wright 


Indiana 


George M. Delano 


June 5 


1861 


Heyworth 


Illinois 


John M. Burr 


June 20 


, 1861 


Burrville 


Connecticut 


David Baughman 


June 26 


1861 


Oak Point 


Illinois 


Nathaniel Clark 


June 29 


1861 


Paxton 


Massachusetts 


Daniel Frelick 


July 5 


1861 


Broken Sword 


Ohio 


P. P. Poast 


July 9 


1861 


Poast Town 


Ohio 


S. B. Minnick 


July 11 


1861 


C as tine 


Ohio 


Joseph Greely, Jr. 


July 16 


1861 


North Sutton 


New Hampshire 


William H. Griffith 


July 16 


1861 


Marshall 


Ohio 


Samuel M. Currier 


July 26 


1861 


West Henniker 


New Hampshire 


Rufus Smith 


July 26 


1861 


North Littleton 


New Hampshire 


Samuel Everts 


August 2 


1861 


Cornwall 


Vermont 


D. I. Dewey 


August 7 


1861 


North Manlius 


New York 


B. B. Evans 


August 10 


1861 


Camba 


Ohio 


John Hall 


August 12 


1861 


North Springfield 


Vermont 


John Treat 


August 15 


1861 


Enfield 


Maine 


Jono. J. Blaney 


August 17 


1861 


Summit Station 


New York 


Horatio B. Magown 


August 31 


, 1861 


West Hanover 


Massachusetts 


M. H. Lufkin 


August 31 


1861 


Exeter 


Maine 


Eli W. Watrous 


September 11 


1861 


Kirkwood Centre 


New York 


Adaline T. Davis 


September 15 


1861 


Sunbury 


Ohio 


I. Edwin Smith 


October 3 


, 1861 


Smithville 


Massachusetts 


George Copeland 


October 4 


1861 


South Easton 


Massachusetts 


George 0. Sharp 


October 4 


1861 


Kickapoo City 


Kansas 


John Lemmax 


November 7 


1861 


Whigville 


Ohio 


John D. Davis 


January 16 


1862 


Annisquam 


Massachusetts 


H. W. Taylor 


February 11 


1862 


Aurelius 


New York 


Thomas Leonard 


February 14 


1862 


Leonard ville 


New Jersey 


J. M. Hagensick 


February 17 


1862 


Ceres 


Iowa 


Isaac A. Walker 


February 19 


1862 


Stow 


Maine 


J. M. Mattoon 


February 26 


1862 


Geneva 


Kansas 


W. E. Hammond 


March 20 


1862 


Oramel 


New York 


Theo. P. Cornell 


March 21 


1862 


Paulina 


New Jersey 


Adolphus Frick 


April 10 


1862 


Campbellton 


Missouri 


John Sparks 


April 18 


1862 


Fairport 


Iowa 


James Campbell 


May 8 


1862 


Peru 


Kentucky 


Charles G. Robeson 


May 9 


1862 


Saxon 


Illinois 


Hiram Ricker 


June 4 


1862 


South Poland 


Maine 


Warren Richardson 


June 25 


1862 


Wilson's Crossing 


New Hampshire 



460 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



Name. 


Appointed. 




Office. 


State. 


Andrew Tan Alstyne 


Julyl 


1862 


Chatham Centre 


Xew York 


Joel Xewson 


July 28 


1862 


Azalia 


Indiana 


John H. Lvtle 


August 1 


1862 


Magnolia 


Maryland 


Clarinda T. Battey 


August 11 


1862 


South Scituate 


Rhode Island 


Richard Thompson 


August 21, 


1862 


Spanish Ranch 


California 


Edwin Scott 


September 25 


1862 


Hawley 


Massachusetts 


John V. Fares 


October 4 


1862 


Kasson 


Indiana 


John Bake 


October 11 


1862 


Contreras 


Ohio 


Joseph H. Moulton 


December 17 


1862 


South Sanford 


Maine 


Bradford M. Field 


January 16 


1863 


Leverett 


Massachusetts 


William Tuttle, Jr. 


January 19 


1863 


Miracle Run 


West Yirginia 


P. J. S. Garis 


January 30 


1863 


Millbrook 


Xew Jersey 


S. G. Russell 


February 3 


1863 


Blurrdale 


Illinois 


"Wesley G. Scott 


February 21 


1863 


Scottsville 


Indiana 


John G. Sanborn 


March 23 


1863 


Horn's Mills 


Xew Hampshire 


J. M. Baldwin 


April 2 


1863 


Sidney 


Xew Jersey 


James R. Mead 


April 4 


1863 


Hanover 


Xew Jersey 


Phineas W. Turner 


April 11 


1863 


Turnerville 


Connecticut 


W. H. Boggs 


April 13 


1863 


Burnside 


Indiana 


Mary A. Meily 


May 28 


1863 


Ono 


Pennsylvania 


J. M. McCluskey 


June 5 


1863 


Alder Creek 


Xew York 


Stephen Bennett 


June 8 


1863 


Big Buffalo 


West Yirginia 


Pardon T. Bates 


June 11 


, 1863 


W. Greenwich Cen. 


Rhode Island 


Phebe D. Osgood 


July 9 


1863 


Xorth Penobscot 


Maine 


Francina Pratt 


July 13 


1863 


Greene Corner 


Maine 


Elizabeth Xelson 


July 13 


1863 


Hillsboro Centre 


Xew Hampshire 


Thomas Henderson 


July 14 


1863 


Black Horse 


Maryland 


John B. White 


August 5 


1863 


Garrettsburgh 


Kentucky 


I. C. Sherman 


August 7 


1863 


Xew Baltimore 


Xew York 


Charles Y. Minott 


September 25 


, 1863 


Phippsburgh 


Maine 


A. G. Shoemaker 


Xoveruber 11 


1863 


Rockville 


Kansas 


Reuben Dunbar 


December 24 


1863 


Horse Shoe Bottom 


Kentucky 


Henry Tilley 


January 11 


1864 


Castle Hill 


Maine 


Isaac G. Stetson 


January 25 


1864 


South Hanover 


Massachusetts 


Erastus A. Plummer 


January 26 


1864 


Raymond 


Maine 


Augustus S. Fayles 


January 26 


1864 


dishing 


Maine 


George B. Wilson 


January 27 


1864 


Hoi ad ay's 


Iowa 


T. H. Woodcock 


February 16 


1864 


Rockland Lake 


Xew York 


Dean Blanchard 


February 24 


1864 


Rainier 


Oregon 


Henry J. Lane 


March 30 


1864 


East Raymond 


Maine 


A. J. Jardine 


April 18 


1864 


Xorth Star 


Pennsylvania 


Richard Pantall 


April 20 


1864 


Millburn 


Illinois 


William M. Eldridge 


April 29 


1864 


South Harwich 


Massachusetts 


Thomas M. Pierce 


April 30 


1864 


Pierce Station 


Tennessee 


William W. Wood 


May 9 


1864 


Wood's Falls 


Xew York 


D. R. Harrison 


May 26 


1864 


Herrin's Prairie 


Illinois 


F. M. Hankins 


June 7 


1864 


Harrisonville 


Kentucky 


Lauton Pettet 


June 22 


1864 


Lake Road 


Xew York 


Henry E. Mason 


September 19 


, 1864 


Med way 


Massachusetts 


John P. Haskison 


September 19 


, 1864 


Healdville 


Yermont 


John S. Hutchins 


October 10 


1864 


Central House 


California 


Gasca Rich 


Xovember 1 


1864 


Richville 


Yerrnont 


Barbara Dickey 


Xovember 15 


1864 


Dover 


Iowa 


William M. Fowler 


Xovember 21 


1864 


Fowler' s 


West Yirginia 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 



461 



Name. 


Appointed. 


Office. 


State. 


Roger T. Clements 


January 25, 1865 


Union 


Kentucky 


Charles E. Libby 


February 15, 


1865 


Dry Mills 


Maine 


A. D. Birnie 


February 27. 


1865 


Cathlamet 


Washington 


William C. Davison 


March 1. 


1865 


Hart wick Seminary 


New York 


C. G-. Washburn 


March 24, 


1865 


East Taunton 


Massachusetts 


Elisha Winslow 


March 24, 


1865 


Virgil 


New York 


Martha A. Pond 


April 10, 


1865 


Whiting 


Vermont 


Joshua Griffith 


April 13, 


1865 


Ludingtonville 


New York 


Howard M. Curtis 


April 27 


1865 


New Castle 


New Hampshire 


James Rodgers 


May 11. 


1865 


Blakeville 


Iowa 


Thomas F. Palmer 


May 30. 


1865 


North Fayette 


Maine 


Calvin Z. Parmelee 


June 14 


1865 


East Windsor Hill 


Connecticut 


I. P. Wilcoxson 


June 29. 


1865 


Christiansburg 


Kentucky 


Charles F. Bryant 


July 26 


, 1865 


Sharon 


Massachusetts 


W. K. Green 


August 9. 


1865 


Nolens ville 


Tennessee 


John Dunham 


September 7 


, 1865 


Chilmark 


Massachusetts 


Cornelius Van Alstine 


September 18 


1865 


Marshville 


New York 


J. S. Lindsey 


October 6. 


1865 


Del Ray 


Illinois 


John Forbes 


October 11. 


1865 


Wilmington 


New York 


Sumner Evans 


October 26 


, 1865 


East Stoneham 


Maine 



Roswell Beardsley has been 
postmaster at North Lansing, 
New York, since June 28, 1828. 
He was born in 1809, is eighty- 
three years old, and has served 
as postmaster continuously for 
sixty-four years. He was ap- 
pointed during the administra- 
tion of President John Quincy 
Adams upon the urgent recom- 
mendation of Wm. H. Seward, 
then a young politician and 
a partner of Mr. Beardsley' s 
brother, Nelson. During all 
these years Mr. Beardsley has 
conducted his office to the en- 
tire satisfaction of the public, 
and he has never been repri- 
manded for failure to perform 
his duties. He gives the post 
office his personal attention 
every day, as well as his little 
store. His patrons all love him, 
and hope his life may be spared 
for many years. Nobody ever 
sought to get the office away 
from Mr. Beardsley. His health 
is good, and he eats three good 
meals every day with perfect regularity. 




\ 



f 



\ 



ROSWELL, BEARDSLEY, 
North Lansing, New York, the Oldest Postmaster. 



He is a Democrat in politics, but is 



462 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



not offensive. He lets his neighbors believe and practice any sort or quality of 
religious belief that suits them, and he does the same. He has never been in 
Washington. The post office over which Mr. Beardsley presides pays him an 
annual compensation of $170. The first year he held it the pay was $19.53. 
Mr. Beardsley has never failed to make out his quarterly report with his 
own hand. 

Joseph Strode, postmaster at Strode' s Mills, Pennsylvania, is one of the oldest 
of the old-timers. He was appointed October 2, 1845. Strode' s Mills is a quiet 




POSTMASTERS APPOINTED IN THE FORTIES. 



village, and the post office serves the farmers and the miners who live about. It 
is situated on the old Pittsburg and Philadelphia turnpike, and Mr. Strode' s father 
was postmaster from 1837 until his death in 1845. At that early day Strode's 
Mills had a daily mail by the east and west bound stages. When the Pennsyl- 
vania Eoad had been completed to Huntingdon in 1851, the mail for Strode's Mills 
went by rail. 

Peter Lansing, postmaster at Lisha's Kill, New York, dates back to 1850, and he 
remembers that in 1832 postage was computed by miles from his office to New 
York, a single letter costing 18% cents. He was then, at fourteen, the assistant 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 463 

of Postmaster Lewis Morris. They exchanged mails daily over stages running 
between Albany and Schenectady. In '34 the Lisha's Kill office began to receive 
mail from Albany and Schenectady by rail, and the mail was brought in on horse- 
back from a place called Centre, three miles off. At that time the railroad cars 
on the Albany and Schenectady road were drawn by horses. 

Osman Pixley, postmaster at Ingraham, Clay County, Illinois, since May 28, 

1852, says: 

" Ingraham post office was established in the fall of 1825, as Ingraham Prairie. 
The country was new and the government land not more than one half taken up, 
and the people were well satisfied with one mail per week. The Government 
gave the net proceeds to the contractor, the amount being but a few cents a trip. 
We carried the mail then from Louisville, fourteen miles, with creeks to cross 
and but one bridge on the line. The patrons of the office had to contribute 
something to help compensate the contractor, and sometimes one neighbor would 
carry the mail and sometimes another, so that it came lightly on the contractor. 
The twice-a-week mail we considered quite a treat, but on the new route there 
was not a single bridge, and some of the streams were so deep that in certain 
seasons of the year we would be weeks without a mail on account of the high 
water. This continued until about 1872, when we petitioned the postmaster 
general for a daily route from here by way of Wakefield Boot and Wilsonburgh to 
Noble. We placed it in the hands of Senator Logan and the route was granted. 
Some of the patrons of the office very reluctantly signed the petition, stating 
that they did not see any use of a mail every day, and thought it an imposition 
on the Government. When this office was first established, it would have taken 
as many weeks as it now takes days for a letter to reach New York City. Then 
all letters going out of the state, or very far, had to pass through a distributing 
office and would be delayed there about twenty-four hours. At that time the rate 
of postage was five cents for three hundred miles or less, and ten cents for over 
three hundred miles. I very well recollect when letters came unpaid and 
frequently the party addressed would not pay the postage, and the letter 
would be sent to the Dead Letter Office. It was not infrequent for one 
person who had a spite against another to send him a large letter with post- 
age to collect, and when the letter was opened, it would be found to contain 
waste paper, or something of that kind. The same thing was done for a joke 
among friends. 

" During the Rebellion we had but one mail a week, and well do I recollect with 
what great anxiety mail day was looked for, and the sad disappointments that 
nearly every mail would bring. Usually a crowd was in waiting and nearly every 
letter received from the army was read in the office, and such sadness as some of 
them brought caused much shedding of tears, for the people in this vicinity were 
loyal, and a very large majority of the able bodied men went to the army leaving 
wives, sweethearts and mothers. There are now about forty pensions coming 
to this little office, and very many of the anxious mothers and sweethearts and 
wives have passed away." 

Henry Bartling has been postmaster at Addison, Illinois, since May 20, 1854. 
" I thank God," he says, " that I could be of service to my neighbors and fellow- 
citizens for such a long period." He adds: 

" Everything has worked smoothly and quietly, even during the dreadful years 
of 1861 to '65. The office was given to me without my seeking it, and I had no 
knowledge of the petition my neighbors had sent to Washington. This fact has 
done much to sweeten the arduous and responsible labor connected with the office, 
and has encouraged me all these years to do my work faithfully. It was an honor- 
able and confidential position the citizens had placed me in, and it has always 
been my endeavor to run the affairs of the office for the welfare of the community, 
according to the postal laws. I have never interfered officially in the politics of 
the country, although individually I cared as much as any other citizen for the 




POSTMASTERS APPOINTED IN THE FIFTIES. 
(Except Curtis Wood, appointed 1849.) 

464 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 



465 



weal of our beloved country. My principle was, as postmaster : — This office is 
alike for all, no matter what political opinion may prevail, and the post office 
should be free from all influences and political partisanship, a free institution of 
a free and liberty-loving people." 

Jacob Shaffner, postmaster at Host, Pennsylvania, has had no predecessor nor 
successor in his office. He was first commissioned in July, 1855. In the early days 
the postmaster was amanuensis to nearly every man, woman and child in the whole 
vicinity; but he was more, — he was a mind reader; he would tell them what they 
wanted to say. Mr. Shaffner' s salary 
had risen to $20 a year until 1860 ; then 
it was reduced to $19 a year, but it has 
risen somewhat since that time. 

Postmaster Andrew Smith, of Wegee, 
Ohio, received his commission November 
11, 1856. For several years he had but 
one mail a day at Wegee on the steam- 
boat route between Wheeling and Park- 
ersburgh. In the fall of 1861 Mr. Smith 
raised a company, became its captain, 
and went to war in the 77th Regiment 
of Ohio Volunteers, remaining in the 
service until February, 1863, when he 
was mustered out for disability. He 
did not resign his commission. The 
post office remained under the faithful 
management of Miss Amanda B. Shaver. 

J. H. Keplinger, postmaster at Win- 
field, Ohio, took possession of his office 
in '56. The year before he had been 
made a justice of the peace, and two 
years later he was commissioned notary 
public for Tuscarawas County, and his 
latest commission in that capacity is 
signed by Governor McKinley. Mr. 

Keplinger remembers the famous campaign of General William Henry Harrison, 
in 1836, and he listened to a speech made by the general at Massilon. He 
walked over forty miles to hear it; but being only a little over seventeen, he was 
more taken up, as any boy would be, with the parade, the banners, and the 
ox-teams. Mr. Keplinger says : 

"I remember very distinctly the live coons perched on high poles fastened up- 
right on wagons, one wagon drawn by six yoke of oxen, with a threshing floor on 
it, and men on top the floor threshing with flails; and women on open vehicles 
were spinning flax. One wagon had on it a log cabin; one with a printing press, 
printing papers and scattering them to the crowd; others with nail machines in 
full operation, and many other things. In the parade were thousands on horse 
and on foot. General Harrison with his staff was in the parade, tall and erect, 
but looking careworn and feeble. The procession marched to the grove west of 
Massilon, where dinner was served upon long tables, with eatables of almost every 
description. One item was fine, fat pigs, with feet, ears and tails on, roasted to 
a nice brown, and standing on their feet on large plates." 




ANDREW SMITH, 

Postmaster at "Wegee, O., since 1856. 



466 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

David Brobst has been postmaster at Marcy, Ohio, since 1857. In that year he 
had the mail carried from Lithopolis, five miles away, once a week. The 
Department paid nothing for this service. After a while Mr. Brobst was 
allowed three dollars a quarter for carrying the mails, and finally he se- 
cured a tri- weekly mail from South Bloomfield, eleven miles away; and again, 
Marcy had a daily mail from Ashville by way of St. Paul. In the thirty-five 
years of Mr. Brobst' s service he has probably been absent from his office less than 
two weeks ; and during each year of the first eight or ten in which he conducted 
the postal business of Marcy, it cost him five hundred dollars or more. 

S. K. Nurse, postmaster atDenverton, California, had some early lessons at North 
Chili, N. Y., and at Strasburgh, Ohio. He spent a year at telegraphy at Spring- 
field, 111., and at St. Louis. He went to California in 1849, and in 1850 sailed for 
Valparaiso, Chili, with a party of railroad surveyors. They had great trouble to 
get their mail in that country, but Mr. Nurse was introduced at the post office and 
permitted to sort out his mail inside. It was customary there to post a list of 
letters received, and if a person found he had one, he called out the fact to the 
delivery clerk. As each steamer brought five hundred or a thousand letters, this 
was a very tedious process. Letters were sent to the United States through the 
consul on payment of fifty cents per letter. Mr. Nurse frequently sent his 
through the English consul at thirty-one cents a letter, and these were transferred 
at Panama. In 1854 Mr. Nurse settled in Benicia, Cal., and in 1858 he had the 
Denverton office established and was appointed postmaster. For a long time 
transient travellers, back and forth from Suisun City, nine miles distant, would 
carry the mail. Mr. Nurse used to have great times helping the Spaniards in his 
neighborhood to find their letters. 

J. B. Dunham, postmaster at Almoral, Iowa, was born in Bakers ville, Yermont, 
in 1835. He worked at farming and at wool carding in his father's mill, until he 
was twenty. In 1855 the family moved to Bo wen's Prairie, in Jones County, 
Iowa, and the next year they settled with a small company at Almoral, as they 
called it, borrowing the name of the Queen's residence and dropping the first 
letter. In 1857 a post office was established at Almoral. Mr. Dunham was made 
assistant postmaster. The mails were brought to the little post office, a board 
shanty from East Dubuque, forty miles away, by a single horse. In 1858 Mr. 
Dunham was a full-fledged postmaster. In his first year he organized a brass 
band, which did efficient work in 1859, in the Lincoln campaign; and this band 
afterwards went into the war. The women of the town made a beautiful flag for 
it out of their own material, and it was hoisted above the post office with every 
victory and lowered to half mast with every whipping. The citizens subscribed 
in those days for a daily newspaper, which was brought by a special messenger 
from Earlville, then the nearest railway station, and after work hours people 
would gather at the office and hear the news read. Mr. Dunham recalls the story 
of a postmaster in a neighboring town who, after securing the establishment of 
the office with great difficulty and managing it for some time at great loss, re- 
turned from work one night to find that his wife, tired of having this important 
place of public business right in the front room, had peremptorily removed the 
whole outfit to the front yard. 

Robert J. Jewell, postmaster at Elk Creek, Spencer County, Kentucky, is fifty- 
six years old. He has been in the service thirty-six years. He was appointed 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 467 

Jan. 18, 1859, and from that day to this has had no trouble with the patrons of his 
office, nor with the Department, a record, surely, to be proud of. 

John H. Trueblood, postmaster at Canton, Indiana, was commissioned in 1859. 
He was born in 1815 in the then territory of Indiana, in the midst of the tall 
timber. When he was old enough, he began to work on a farm, attending school 
for two or three months in the winter until he was twenty, and then, as he was not 
in very good health, his father gave him the rest of his time, and he took a 
clerkship in a store. In 1852 Mr. Trueblood, having built a storehouse and 
station at Harristown, on the New Albany and Salem Railroad, had charge of 
the railroad and post office business there for four or five years. He says: 

" When I first kept the office, we did not always have to prepay the postage. 
When prepaid, we marked the letter paid, and sent a bill wrapped with the 
letter stating it was paid. If the sender did not pay the postage, we sent a bill 
with the postage charged to the office of destination. All letters were wrapped 
up and sent to distributing post offices, except those to neighboring offices. 
Every paper, letter or mailable matter had to be accounted for and a copy of it 
sent to the Department at Washington and a copy kept in the office, in case it 
should be lost. All printed matter was then sent without being prepaid, and 
large amounts of printed matter were left in the office, parties refusing to pay 
the postage, for postage then was nearly as much as the price of the newspapers 
now. The work of tending the mail is not more than half as much now as it 
was when I first had charge of the office, nor is the pay as good. We then 
collected all the postage on newspapers, pamphlets and all printed matter, and 
considerable on letters, and that double what it now is, but there is much more 
correspondence now than then." 

Mr. Trueblood adds: 

" Southern Indiana, during the Civil War, had many sympathizers with the 
South, and a number of the ' Knights of the Golden Circle,' in the near vicinity, 
and some I knew very often would stop at my store in going and returning from 
their secret, dark lodges. The biggest scare I ever had was when the John 
Morgan raid came through this town and were all day in passing. The advance 
guard came whooping and firing their guns. They soon filled the store room and 
post office. I stayed in my store till 3 p. m., before I could get them out and close 
the store. Many of them stopped here and fed their horses and got their 
dinners. Dick, a brother of the general, took dinner at our house, as did also 
many of the soldiers. They robbed the store of $400 worth of goods, took all the 
mail and about $100 worth of horse-feed. Hobson followed next day, but did 
not get much for his tired men and horses to eat. After the raiders were gone, 
I found what they left of the mail in the corn-crib, letters all opened." 

Mr. Trueblood recalls that in the old time the postage on weekly newspapers 
was twenty-six cents per year and on monthly thirteen. His father used to have 
to pay twenty-five cents for every letter received from North Carolina, his native 
state, and sometimes he or some of the neighbors would get word that there was 
a letter in the post office for them, and not having a quarter, they would often 
be obliged to leave the letter in the post office for a day, and sometimes for 
weeks. 

Addison Whithed has been postmaster at Yernon, Vermont, since February 
29, 1860. He was a clerk in the Yernon post office, though, for fifteen years 
before that, as his father kept it. Mr. Whithed, in fact, succeeded his father, 
who had held the office twenty-eight years in its present location, and who was 
an old-time landlord and merchant, both of which vocations were transmitted, 
along with the postal business, to the son. The Yernon office was established in 




POSTMASTERS APPOINTED IN THE SIXTIES. 

(Except Osinan Pixley ('52) and William Irwin ('70).) 
468 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 469 

1820. The whole amount of postage received for the first quarter of 1821 was 
$2.16^. For years there was but one mail a week, supplied from Brattleboro. 
Then the stage went daily to Worcester, and so the mail went, until the comple- 
tion of the railroad in 1848. Mr. Whithed represented his town in the Vermont 
legislature in 1872 and 1874, and he has also been selectman and lister; and it 
hardly needs to be said of a public official of forty-seven years' service that his 
life has been characterized by a scrupulous regard for the public interest. 

The postmaster at Lakeville, Massachusetts, is Cephas Haskins. His post office 
was established in 1860, and he was appointed at that time. In war days there were 
usually three regiments encamped at Lakeville, and the soldiers, and especially 
those just from home, were great letter- writers ; and if a mail was to be dis- 
patched in the morning it had to be prepared the night before, with all its wrap- 
ping and recording. 

Xavier Guittard was appointed postmaster at Guittard Station, Kansas, March 
13, 1861. In those days he kept a station on the overland stage route, and his 
post office has never been moved. Those were prosperous times for the farmers 
who had corn and hay to sell to the army of emigrants. 

Charles Hornung, postmaster at New Bavaria, Ohio, was born in Bavaria in 
Germany in 1823, and came to this country at fourteen. His father entered 160 
acres of land, then a part of a wilderness full of wolves and bears. The Wyan- 
dotte Indians inhabited the whole region up to 1842, when they were taken to 
Missouri. In 1844 Mr. Hornung married and went to farming for himself, and 
ten years later he added merchandising to his pursuits. In '55 Mr. Hornung 
began the manufacture of pearlash, and in 1881 he built an elevator, and in 1882 a 
lumber mill. In 1848 he had a post office established in his neighborhood 
and named after the birthplace of a majority of his neighbors. Mr. Hornung 
was at once appointed postmaster. In '60 he took the stump for Lincoln, and he 
was appointed postmaster by Lincoln, March 20, 1861. The first mail route which 
supplied New Bavaria extended from Tiffin to Defiance, a distance of seventy- 
three miles. The service was once a week, and the first mail-carrier, a one-legged 
man named Nurbaum, had a hard time of it in the winter with eighteen miles of 
woods to traverse, and no bridges across the creeks. 

Thomas Machan, postmaster at Belle Isle, New York, was appointed postmaster 
in April, 1861. His name has twice been sent to the Department for removal on 
political grounds, once under Johnson and once under Cleveland; but friends came 
forward each time to prevent a change. 

Chauncey Carpenter, postmaster at Doran, Iowa, began work May 11, 1861. He 
goes back much farther than that in truth, for he first used to handle mail at 
Vermont, now Gerry post office, in Chautauqua County, New York, in 1834. He 
was then twenty-one, and the rates of postage, as he remembers, were 6% for 
less than 30 miles; 10 cents from 30 to 80 miles; 12% over 80 and under 150 
miles ; 18% over 150 and less than 400 miles ; over 400 miles 25 cents. Probably 
not one letter in 50 was prepaid. He adds : 

"We had a distributing office at Buffalo and at Erie, Pa., about equi-distant, 
(50 miles). Letters to those offices, or beyond, were put in one wrapper, with a 
way-bill of all the letters enclosed showing the amount of postage; but for all 
intervening offices it was a way-bill and wrapper for each letter, unless there 
happened to be more than one letter at the same time for the same office. We 



470 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

did not use twine, but folded the wrappers as circulars are now folded; one 
wrapper being used several times, by changing so as to get a new side for the 
address. It may be imagined what the labor of making out a quarterly report 
was, when we consider that a large per cent, of the letters sent and received were 
entered singly, and the yards of columns of figures, with fractions of cents, to be 
footed up." 

Mr. Carpenter goes on to say : 

" I well remember the first time I ever saw anything written on the absurdity 
of making out way-bills for letters and enclosing them in wrappers. It was in 
the New York Tribune, by Horace Greeley. He showed up the folly of so much 
labor, which was of no practical use. The registry system was first started since 
the date of my commission, the registry fee being 5 cents and the letter without 
envelope marked ' registered '; which in theory was to entitle it to receive extra 
care from those who handled it, but practically it was an advertisement to any 
thief what letters to select. It was probably safer not to register a valuable 
letter than to register it." 

Mr. Carpenter was married in 1843 to Miss Catherine C. Stoneman, sister of 
George Stoneman, Sen., and aunt of General George Stoneman, noted in the war, 
and later Governor of California. 

The postmaster at Whitesburg, Pennsylvania, J. A. Blaney, was not appointed 
postmaster until 1861, but he recalls one cold night in 1858 when he took the mail 
carrier in out of the snow and saved him from freezing to death. There have 
been cold times since then, but the carrier always finds a comfortable haven at 
Mr. Blaney' s. His office was robbed once, and once they lost the mail key; but 
these have been the postmaster's only misadventures. 

Washington Hildreth, who has been postmaster at Lock, Ohio, since 1861, is a 
dealer in merchandise. Mr. Hildreth' s office was special when it was established, 
and it was supplied from Horner, the nearest office, which was fifteen miles away, 
at first twice a week and then three times a week. Much of the pay of the carrier 
was formerly raised by subscription. Mr. Hildreth is sixty-three. 

R. B. Hill, postmaster at Leesburg, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, was born in 
1840. He was commissioned postmaster by Montgomery Blair May 30, 1861. 
From 1861 to 1871 the Leesburg post office received its mail by carrier on the 
route between Pittsburg and Mercer. As Leesburg was six miles south of 
Mercer and fifty miles from Pittsburg, Mr. Hill received the mail, when the 
roads were bad in winter, anywhere from dark to midnight, and from three in the 
afternoon to daylight. 

David Baughman, postmaster at Oak Point, Clark County, Illinois, was ap- 
pointed by President Lincoln in June, 1861. At first the proceeds of the office 
ranged from two to three dollars per quarter, and it was necessary for Mr. Baugh- 
man to ride from four to six miles to a justice of the peace in order to file his 
claims correctly. Mr. Baughman had some trouble during the war with Southern 
sympathizers to whom he would not sell ammunition, and who thought it all 
right to rob the mails. He was threatened several times. He was born near 
Ganesville, Ohio, in 1820, and in 1841 he entered the land upon which he still lives. 

The continuous service of Samuel Everts, postmaster at Cornwall, Vermont, 
dates from his commission of August 2, 1861, but his earlier experience of 
thirteen years from his first appointment, May 2, 1833, entitles him to honorable 
mention among the oldest officials in the entire postal service. Cornwall was on 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 



471 



the main route from Albany to Montreal with a daily mail, which was carried in 
a four-horse covered hack. A few years later this through service was enlarged, 
but the advent of railroads has caused so many changes in mail routes that now 
the Cornwall post office is on a small 
local route from West Cornwall to Mid- 
dlebury. 

The commission of John J. Blaney, 
postmaster at Summit Station, New 
York, was issued in August, 1861. He 
was twenty-two then, and he has been 
postmaster these thirty-one years since 
that time. The mails used frequently 
to be delayed on the railroad, as they 
had not learned in those days to lift the 
snow blockades with snow plows. 

George O. Sharp, postmaster at Kick- 
apoo City, Kansas, went to Kansas from 
Virginia in the spring of 1855 when he 
was forty-three years old. In 1857 he 
was in business in Kickapoo City and 
was that year elected a justice of the 
peace, an office which he still holds. 
Mr. Sharp's predecessor in the Kickapoo 
City office resigned because a number of 
the soldiers at Fort Levenworth had 
nearly bankrupted him by making away 
with his cigars and liquor. Mr. Sharp's 
brother had been a postmaster, and as 

early as 1837 he himself had been sworn in as assistant at Quarter's Landing^ 
now West Virginia. Mr. Sharp has had bullets whiz through his office while he 
was holding court in the old times. He has tried nine hundred and fifty 
cases among his neighbors and friends with such even justice as never to 
have one of them appeal, and he has married in his time two hundred and 
seventy-five couples, " two pairs a second time," as he once said. A few years 
ago every foot of Mr. Sharp's land was washed away by the Missouri River, and 
he lost all of his $7,500. 

John Lemmax has served as postmaster at Whigville, Noble County, Ohio, since 
the seventh day of November, 1861. The nearest post office was four miles away,' 
and Mr. Lemmax was accustomed to hire a boy to go there for the mail once 
a week. Three other citizens had tried the post office and found the work 
too arduous for the pay ; but as Mr. Lemmax had finally secured a regular 
weekly mail, and as he was merchandising, he accepted the post. In all of his 
thirty-one years nothing mailed from Whigville has been lost. In the wartime 
some of the Southern sympathizers used to gibe the mail carrier by saying that he 
was very foolish to work for a defunct government with an unconstitutional 
president, as he would never receive any pay. In 1886, Mr. Lemmax received a 
statement that the audit of his accounts from 1875 to that time showed that the 
Department was indebted to him in $2.33. 




SAMUEL EVERTS, 
Postmaster, Cornwall, Vermont. 



472 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

John M. Hagensick has been postmaster at Ceres, Iowa, since February, 1862. 
He is hale and hearty at sixty-six. 

Jonathan M. Mattoon has been postmaster at Geneva, Kansas, since Febuary 
26, 1862. He is hale and hearty at seventy-eight, and as he says, never poisoned 
his system with tobacco or liquor of any kind. He has tried, he adds, to serve the 
Government and the people honestly, but he finds by long experience that it is a 
hard matter to please everybody and at the same time strictly comply with all the 
regulations of the Department. Mr. Mattoon has noticed that he has to furnish a 
room, with fuel and light, to answer a great number of letters of inquiry from the 
different executive departments, and to keep a record of the work of the mail 
messenger, all for $35 or $40 a quarter, and that the messenger on his part 
receives $30 a quarter for two trips a day of about 100 rods. As is well known, 
however, this is not a unique experience. 

James Campbell, postmaster at Peru, Kentucky, was appointed in 1862, when 
the Peru office was established, and he has been postmaster there ever since. 
Peru is twenty-one miles from Louisville, on the Louisville and Nashville Koad, 
and it supplies Brownsboro, which is two and one half miles away, six times a 
week. 

Joel Newson was appointed postmaster at Azalia, Indiana, July 28, 1862. At 
that time he handled a weekly mail. Now he has two mails daily. Then it took 
five days for a letter to go to Washington. Now the time consumed is twenty- 
seven hours. In all these thirty-three years Mr. ISTewson has handled the mail in 
the same room. Mr. Newson is an ardent Republican, and at the beginning of 
the Cleveland administration he resigned. But no Democrat was found who 
could or would take the office, and so the veteran continued at his post. Mr. 
Newson remembers the war scenes at his little post office very well. Soldiers 
were allowed to have their letters franked by chaplains and on the payment of 
postage by the addressees, and they took many occasions to amuse themselves. 
Once some of the boys of the 39th Indiana wrapped up some hard-tack and sent 
it to one of the citizens of Azalia at a cost to him of twenty -four cents. But when 
the accounts of the sickness and the wounds and the deaths came, there was 
another side to the story. Then there were tears and sorrow. Mr. Newson was 
accustomed to take some newspaper during the war and from this he would read 
to the assembled crowds the news of the battles. 

John V. Fares, postmaster at Kasson, Vanderburgh County, Illinois, was com- 
missioned Oct. 4, 1862, by Montgomery Blair, and John A. Kasson, then First 
Assistant Postmaster General, forwarded his commission. Mr. Fares congratu- 
lates himself that the mails were never interfered with during the war by any- 
body, and that the patrons of his office are law-abiding German- American citizens, 
who appreciate his work. Though Mr. Fares is an avowed Republican, he was 
not disturbed by the last administration. " I have always aimed," he says, "to do 
the duty I owe to the public and to my office." 

Stephen Bennett, of Big Buffalo, West Virginia, goes back to June 8, 1863. He 
recalls when letter bills were sent along, when the rate was three cents for each 
half ounce or fractional part of one, and when, of course, there were no postal 
cards. Mr. Bennett remembers the great confusion during the war, though there 
was no active fighting in his neighborhood. 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 473 

Thomas Henderson, postmaster at Black Horse, Harford County, Maryland, 
remembers when the post office nearest to him was Bel Air, the county seat, 
which was fourteen miles away, and the next nearest was Baltimore, twenty-four 
miles away. It was customary for farmers when hauling their produce to the 
latter place to take out and bring the mail for themselves and their neighbors. 
Postage was twenty-five cents for an ordinary letter, and when this price was 
reduced to ten cents, it was considered very cheap. The county newspapers were 
sent out weekly from Bel Air by a youth on horseback, who carried them to the 
subscribers and took back items of local news to the editor. Neither envelopes 
nor mucilage had then been invented. The letter sheet had to be so folded as to 
form its own envelope, and then sealed with a wafer, prepared and purchased 
for the purpose, or with sealing wax, or with paste made of wheat flour. Mr. 
Henderson knew of a Frenchman who boasted that he was so expert that he 
could call at a post office for a letter of this kind under an assumed name, take 
it into a private room, unfold it, and read the contents, refold and restore it to 
the original state without breaking the seal, and then return it to the office with 
the explanation that the letter was not for him, after all. Black Horse was the 
first post office established in all that region. For a long time it received only 
one mail a week. For a while in the early history of the office it was removed a 
mile away to Shawsville, but during the war it was brought back to Black Horse. 
"Many stirring incidents," says Mr. Henderson, "happened in the post office 
in those times of alarm and danger. On mail hours the neighbors would often 
gather, and while one read the latest news the others would listen, in comment 
some sympathizing with one of the fiercely contending armies and some with 
the other." 

A. G. Shoemaker, postmaster at Rockville, Kansas, goes back to Nov. 11, 1863. 
This Miami County town was laid out in 1859. it was two and one half miles 
from the state line of Missouri. Mr. Shoemaker moved there in 1860 and began 
blacksmithing. There was no post office nearer than West Point, and in 1862, 
after Rockville became a military post, where Union soldiers guarded the Kansas 
border, Mr. Shoemaker got up a petition for a post office. Finally a daily mail 
came to supply the farmers and stockmen with prices. The first mail carrier was 
Harvey Campbell. He was a small man, but he would ride up to the office in war 
times with plenty of dignity, and the fifty or more soldiers of various colors (for 
there were Indians and Mexicans among them), all eager enough for letters from 
home, would gather about to hear the latest news from the seat of war. Mr. 
Shoemaker remembers one little fellow not more than six years old, whose legs 
would hardly reach across the horse's back, who would ride up and greet the 
postmaster with : 

" What is the latest news from the Potomac, Mr. Shoemaker ? " 
When the soldiers left the post, and there was no protection, Mr. Shoemaker 
frequently used to put the mail in a bushel basket and hide it away from the 
office somewhere, so that it could not be seized by the Confederates. In those 
times old and young women, with very little girls and boys, would come eight or 
ten miles on horseback for their mail. Now in the neighborhood of Rockville 
fine carriages and horses take the place of ponies and ox-carts. 

D. R. Harrison, postmaster at Herrin's Prairie, Illinois, since May 26, 1864, is a 
dealer in general merchandise. The Herrin's Prairie post office was established 




POSTMASTERS APPOINTED IN THE SIXTIES. 
474 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 475 

in May, 1864. It was supplied with a weekly mail from Fredonia, and Mr. 
Harrison employed the carrier, who used to receive two thirds of the proceeds of 
the office. That, at least, was the supposition, though Mr. Harrison really paid 
him fifty cents a trip, and what the proceeds of the office did not yield the 
postmaster himself paid, and that was about half of his salary for several years. 

I. P. Wilcoxson has been postmaster at Christiansburg, Shelby County, Ken- 
tucky, since June 29, 1865. In all of Mr. Wilcoxson' s twenty-seven years of service 
he recalls only one letter sent out from his office which contained money (and that 
contained $3 and was sent by the postmaster himself) which went astray, and in 
the same twenty-seven years only three letters or packages claimed to have con- 
tained valuables and to have been mailed to Christiansburg went astray. 

Jacob A. Horner has been postmaster at Hancock, Indiana, since January, 1867. 
He was born in Harrison County, Indiana, in 1838, and worked on a farm until he 
was of age. In 1860 he became a storekeeper in Hancock, and he was soon 
assistant postmaster. Mr. Horner has a letter from First Assistant Postmaster 
General Marshall, dated June 1, 1872, which assigned his office to the fifth class 
and fixed the annual salary of the postmaster at nine dollars per annum ; and 
the postmaster was permitted to apply, on the salary of a mail carrier between 
Hancock and Fredericksburg, Ind., a town four miles away, two thirds of his 
nine dollars. 

Harvey E. Wilcox has been postmaster at Ridge Mills, !Sew York, since July 
23, 1867. Postmaster General Randall signed his commission and established 
the office of Ridge Mills. 

Bernard Schneider, postmaster at Fulda, Spencer County, Indiana, was born in 
Prussia, in 1823, and came to this country in 1849. After he had lived at Fulda 
for ten years he was appointed postmaster. His salary rose rapidly from $28 a 
year to $56 a year, and now the pay is between $75 and $85 annually. Mr. 
Schneider, though nearly seventy years of age, is very healthy, except for the rheu- 
matism, now and then, which obliges him to work slowly. 

Elihu Phillips has been postmaster at Texas, West Virginia, for thirty-five years, 
and he calculates that his experience in the postal service has cost him a thousand 
dollars at least. Mr. Phillips is a farmer, and his work is much interfered with 
sometimes by the arrival of the mails. 

In the far northwest are some old-timers. William Irwin, postmaster at Ten 
Mile, Oregon, was appointed June 13, 1870, when his office was established. His 
office has been served from such romantic points as Lookingglass, Civil Bend and 
Olalla. The Ten Mile Office has doubled its. business since it was established. 
Mrs. Irwin is the deputy postmaster at Ten Mile. 

James Urquhart, postmaster at Napavine, Washington, went to the coast in the 
fall of '52. He remembers Portland, Oregon, as a straggling village. The mail 
went by steamboat from Portland to Montecello, Oregon, and from there carried 
to the Sound once a week on horseback. The Napavine post office was estab- 
lished in the wilderness, but now it is a distributing point for ten post offices in 
the neighborhood. Mr. Urquhart is the father of eight Republican voters. 

The Silver Creek and Mossy Rock post offices, in Lewis County, Washington, 
were established March 15, 1875. John Tucker was the first postmaster at Silver 
Creek. He had a weekly mail, and the carrier, in order to cross Cowlitz River, 



476 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



had to put his mail and saddle in a canoe and paddle across, leading his horse by 
his side, and the current was often so strong that he was obliged to proceed up 
stream a hundred yards in order not to land too far below. His horse soon learned 
to swim straight across, however. 

E. G. White, postmaster at Osceola, Washington, was born in New Hampshire 
in 1837. He had to do with the post office at Landaff, N. H., in 1858-9, and at 
Georgetown, Mass., from 1861 to 1863. He emigrated to Washington in 1873, and 
was appointed postmaster at Osceola in '77. The office nearest to Osceola at that 
time was Wilkeson, 11 miles away. The carrier made one trip a week, and had to 
ford the fiery White River, a wild mountain torrent. He was drowned in 1879, 
and neither the carrier nor the mail was ever recovered ; but Postmaster White 
hired another carrier and notified the Department. Six offices have been estab- 
lished since 1877 in the territory formerly served by the Osceola office. 

N. A. Wheeler, postmaster at Alpowa, Washington, is another old-timer. He 
has an idea that the chief need of the postal service is to have people understand 
it, and know how to use it. He would print in circular form articles from the 
Postal Guide, and send them in packages of a hundred or a thousand, as occasion 
might require, to every post office, so that they might be distributed to all. These 
would be saved and continually referred to, and the educational benefit would be 
tremendous. He would even have a law passed to prevent any person from 
sending a letter upon which the return request was not printed, and if persons 
did not desire their names to appear on the envelopes they could have a box and 
print the box number. He would even go farther and provide that no letter 
should be dispatched in the mails which had not been provided with the Govern- 
ment stamped envelope. 

Some of the old postmasters whose service has not been contin- 
uous are : 



Name. 


Date of first appointment. 


Office. 


State. 


John Datesman 


March 31, 1832 


Fennersville 


Pennsylvania 


Jesse M. Perrine 


May 5, 1836 


Perrine 


Pennsylvania 


William H. Wallace 


July 30, 1841 


Port Homer 


Ohio 


John Wilson 


July 14, 1849 


Plato 


Illinois 


John Lackland 


May 23, 1853 


Principio 


Maryland 


John C. Spencer 


February 10, 1854 


East Clarendon 


Vermont 


Jasper Workman 


July 13, 1855 


Bald Knob 


West Virginia 


Christopher B. Stout 


December 10, 1856 


Readington 


New Jersey 


Christian Schneider 


December 30, 1856 


Orland 


Indiana 


Hiram Smith 


April 3, 1858 


Bashan 


Ohio 


John B. Stone 


May 10, 1858 


Roxalana 


West Virginia 


William H. Balcom 


February 12, 1859 


Argo 


Illinois 


Elijah Watson 


April 3, 1860 


Rushville 


Missouri 


William Wagner 


September 18, 1861 


Buck's Ranch 


California 


John B. Wissler 


November 30, 1861 


Brunnerville 


Pennsylvania 



The most notable of the veterans whose terms of service in one locality have 
been for any reason interrupted is William H. Wallace, postmaster at Hammonds- 
ville, Ohio. He has seen sixty-two years of postal work. In June,, 1830, A. G. 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 



477 



Richardson was postmaster at Wellsville, Columbiana County, Ohio, and Mr. 
Wallace was his assistant. The next year Mr. Wallace opened, in partnership 
with Jacob Groff, a general store at Mouth of Yellow Creek, Jefferson County, 
Ohio, and upon his application a post office was established there, and Mr. Graff 
was made postmaster. Mr. Wallace was his assistant, but at the end of three 
years, on a dissolution of partnership, he was really postmaster. In 1839 Mr. 
Wallace removed to Port Homer, where he opened another store. In 1841 he was 
appointed postmaster at Port Homer by Postmaster General Granger. In 1852 he 
removed his post office to Hammonds ville, in Jefferson County, and was appointed 
postmaster there by Judge Hall. At Hammondsville he was also express agent 
forty years ago, and this position Mr. Wallace still fills. He says: 

"Old time rates of postage were figured thus: for a single letter carried 30 
miles, 6% cents, called then a tip; thence up to 80 miles, 10 cents; thence up to 
150 miles, eleven pence (12)^ cents); 
thence up to 400 miles, three fips (18% 
cents); 400 miles or to any part of 
the United States, 25 cents. Store- 
keepers in those early days were in 
the habit of taking all kinds of coun- 
try or farm trade for goods, and 
where a post office was connected 
With the store, it was as common to 
take produce for letters and papers 
as for goods. The prices of produce 
varied some seasons, but butter and 
eggs were always low in summer, 
the prevailing price being 6^ cents 
a pound for the former and 5 cents 
per dozen for the latter. To illus- 
trate: to pay postage on a 25 cent 
letter it required the amount of 
the following articles separately: 4 
pounds of butter, 5 dozen of eggs, 
2 bushels of oats, 2 bushels of pota- 
toes, 13^3 pounds of common coarse 
wool, a little over % bushels of wheat, 
and other articles in proportion. To 
illustrate further the cost of the ex- 
pense of correspondence: Suppose a 
farmer and family communicated 
with a New York correspondent and 
had to receive 32 unpaid letters, he 
must sell a good milch cow to foot 
the postage bill, for $8 would buy a 

good cow. It made it obligatory upon the postmaster, as far as it was possible 
for him to scrutinize rigidly every letter, and if it consisted of two pieces of 
paper, then double postage was charged." 




WM. H. WALLACE, HAMMONDSVILLE, O. 



Mr. Wallace goes on: 

" I have travelled in the stage when it 
reach Philadelphia from Pittsburg. One 
county town for the whole county was a 
scanned its columns ; and if they did, the 
under their eye.' Then farmers and 
hoppers. Ask them the governor's name 
families of some prominence in the county 
newspaper." 



took three days and three nights to 
newspaper of small dimensions in the 
rule, and many in the county never 
general or far off news did not come 
farmers' sons were dubbed clod- 
and they could not tell it. I know of 
when I was a boy, that never saw a 



478 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

Again Mr. Wallace says: 

" Just seventy-three years ago in the city of Baltimore, I witnessed the hanging, 
for robbing the United States mail, of the noted Haire and his co-worker, then 
the greatest robbers of mails. Then it was a death penalty to rob the United 
States mail. Shortly after was another hanging in the same city that I witnessed. 
Hutton and Hull robbed the mail not far out of the city, and murdered the driver, 
Heaps. Heaps and his family lived in the city, and his children were my play- 
mates. There were no express lines, the mails being the only public mode to 
send money. The villains stopped the mail coach in the night with none but the 
driver aboard. He was ordered to give up the mail. This he did ; but it was 
concluded, fearing detection and arrest, to take the driver's life by shooting and 
stabbing, each taking a hand. They then tied the two horses by the lines to a 
tree, and made off with the mail. They visited the city next day and were 
arrested. Hutton was an old offender, and young Hull inveighed as an accom- 
plice. He was only about twenty years old; had studied medicine in Utica where 
his father, who was a druggist, lived. 

"My first trip on business to Philadelphia was sixty-one years ago by mail 
stage, and I returned home via the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as far as it was 
built. The road was made to Ellicott's Mills, thirteen miles, with strap rail; two 
horses tandem; capacity of coach twelve or fifteen; rate of speed ten miles per hour. 
This mode was continued until finished to Frederick, when I was again a passenger; 
next, pony-sized locomotives from Baltimore to Cumberland, thence by mail stage 
to Brownsville, Pa. I crossed the Alleghenies twenty-six times before the railroad 
traversed them. The robbery of the mails while en route by stage was common, 
and for safety at times postillions were brought into requisition. The common 
way of carrying money by person was to encase it in a leathern belt, or silk 
bandanna handkerchief, and placing around the body next to the bare hide. 
Stockton and Stokes of Baltimore were the first stage owners that I have any 
recollection of more than seventy years ago; the next Reside and Slaymaker over 
the Baltimore route. My first trip over the Alleghenies from Baltimore to Browns- 
ville was in the month of August, 1820, just seventy-two years ago the past August, 
in my bare head and bare feet. The sun was hot, and so was the pike road. 

" On March 4, 1829, General Jackson succeeded Mr. Adams as President, and 
the way the Postmaster General, John McLean, and the postmasters of any note 
had to fly the track, was a caution. ' To the victors belong the spoils ' was the 
ruling motto. I visited Washington fifty-eight years ago; was formally introduced 
to General Jackson at the White House by a member of Congress, and had a good 
little talk. He held in his hand a two-cent clay pipe, which he had been smoking. 
I also had a good talk with Henry Clay. One day when the House was not in 
session my member of Congress seated me on the speaker's chair, saying, 'Now 
you can say that you have sat in the speaker's chair.' 

" Neither Philadelphia nor New York was flooded then with periodicals. No 
Tribune, no Herald, no Times, no Ledger. In regard to men of great wealth, they 
did not flourish, leaving out Stephen Girard. The Ridge ways were spoken of; 
Cornelius Vanderbilt of New York was then taking in pennies for ferrying with 
his skiff, ferrying in his teens; John Jacob Astor and his wife cleaned and pre- 
pared furs, and she said they must wait till they would get ahead before they 
could afford to eat a cooky. Large hotels did not abound in either city. Nearly 
fifty years ago the Washington House on Chestnut Street was opened. On my 
arrival in Philadelphia in the morning, after a three days' and three nights' stage 
ride from Pittsburg, a friend said to me, ' A new hotel has just opened on Chest- 
nut Street; try that for a change.' I accordingly repaired to the place, entered 
my name, etc. When dinner was announced, I entered the dining room and there 
was a most sumptuous repast, and a corps of caparisoned waiters. But behold! 
not a solitary guest besides myself; and all the waiters wanted to take a hand at 
serving me. It was really a strange ordeal to pass through, but I finally came 
out all right." 

Mr. Wallace was born in Frelighsburg, in the Province of Quebec, Dec. 2, 1811. 
His maternal progenitors originated in Germany and his father's people in the 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 



479 



land of William Wallace. His maternal grandfather laid out the town where 
William H. Wallace was born, and called it after his own name. He was a surgeon 
in the British Navy and descended from the same stock as Victoria. Mr. 
Wallace's father was a prosperous merchant and manufacturer in Canada, 
and when the War of 1812 broke out (being an American, born in Massachusetts, 
and never having sworn allegiance to the Crown) closed up his business at a heavy 
sacrifice and left for the United States. He finally settled in Baltimore. 








OLD POSTMASTERS WHOSE TERMS HAVE BEEN INTERRUPTED. 



John Datesman, postmaster at West Milton, Pennsylvania, was born in 1810 in 
Northampton County. He began the general mercantile business at Fennersville, 
Monroe County, in 1831, and gave the place its name, and was appointed postmaster 
there March 31, 1832. After a service of four years he went to Union County and 
bought the land where West Milton now stands. There he started a general store, 
named the place West Milton, and was appointed postmaster March 6, 1862. This 
position he still holds. In Fennersville, he was appointed justice of the peace; 
and at West Milton he was elected to this office for ten years. Mr. Datesman was 
for a number of years the most extensive grain dealer in all his region. His first 



480 THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 

goods were bought in Philadelphia and brought to West Milton in canal boats. 
Grain from Union, Centre, and Clinton Counties was hauled to West Milton by 
teams. Mr. and Mrs. Datesman celebrated their golden wedding in 1881 and their 
sixtieth anniversary in July, 1891. They have four grown-up sons and three 
grown-up daughters. 

Jesse M. Perrine, postmaster at Utica, Pennsylvania, was last appointed June 17, 
1889 ; but he is entitled to consideration among the oldest postmasters. His official 
experience extends back to May 5, 1836, when he was appointed postmaster at 
Perrine, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. The mails then came but once a week on 
horseback through the forest trails and over uncertain roads of a newly settled 
country. In the fall of 1842, another member of the family, Enoch Perrine, was 
appointed postmaster at Perrine, but in June, 1845, Jesse M. Perrine was re-ap- 
pointed and he held the position until April 22, 1854, when he was again succeeded 
by Enoch Perrine. In 1863, Jesse M. Perrine moved to Utica and became post- 
master April 6, 1866, holding the office until Sept. 10, 1885, when he resigned in 
spite of the remonstrances of both Democrats and Republicans. He was re- 
appointed by President Harrison June 17, 1889, and is still in office. Postmaster 
Perrine is now seventy-eight years old. 

John Wilson, postmaster at Plato, Illinois, was first appointed postmaster July 
14, 1849. He stayed until July, 1850. In October, 1852, he was re-appointed, and 
he held the position until March, 1891. His first appointment dates from the 
establishment of the Plato office. The Wilson family received considerable mail 
from Baltimore, Ohio, and Danville, and it was very inconvenient to get mail 
from Pickamink, the nearest post office, which was four miles distant ; and then, 
too, the saving of postage was an important consideration. Accordingly Mr. 
Wilson appealed to the Department. It was intended that his father should be 
postmaster, but the appointment was finally made in the son's name. At that 
time one could count, on the fingers, the settlers along the Iroquois River from 
Spring Creek for twelve miles north. At first the office was patronized by six 
settlers only. In 1849, though Plato (on paper) was the greatest town between 
Lafayette and Chicago, disputing the supremacy of Bunkum (now the village 
of Iroquois), then the county seat. It was the boom town of Grand Prairie in 
those days. It had water navigation, and wharves, and mills, and shops, and lots 
(all on paper) were sold according to plat, at fabulous prices, to eastern capital- 
ists. John Wilson was a young surveyor and civil engineer, having been sent 
from Danville to lay out the town. He remained through all its vicissitudes. 

The postmaster at Principio, Maryland, John Lackland, was first a clerk in the 
post office at Principio in 1848. In 1849 the office was moved to College Green; 
and in 1853, when it was moved back again to Principio, Mr. Lackland was ap- 
pointed postmaster. He stepped out during the administration of Buchanan, but 
was appointed again under Lincoln. He has held the office ever since. The mail 
service at his office was interfered with only twice during the war, once when the 
Massachusetts troops were attacked at Baltimore, and second at the time of one 
of the raids into Maryland, when Baltimore was put under martial law. 

J. C. Spencer, postmaster at East Clarendon, Vermont, first saw service in 
1852, when he was assistant. In 1854 he was appointed postmaster by James 
Campbell. He went out under Buchanan, but Montgomery Blair appointed him 
again in '61. 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 481 

Jasper Workman, postmaster at Bald Knob, West Virginia, was first commis- 
sioned as postmaster in the summer of 1855. Bald Knob post office was at that 
time the only one between Boone Court House and Oceana, the county seat of 
Wyoming County, and the distance between these two points was forty-five miles. 
Between Bald Knob and Logan Court House, which was thirty miles to the west- 
ward, there was no office, and between Bald Knob and Peytonia, which was thirty- 
five miles to the northeast, there was no office. Mr. Workman says : 

" When the War of the Rebellion broke out, a party of Confederates on a second 
visit to this place searching for arms seized the post office, in which I had about 
$16 worth of stamps and envelopes, and divided these and other booty among 
them. The key of the office I saved. On this occasion I was taken prisoner and 
kept tied to my brother William, also a prisoner, for one day and a night. During 
the war there was no post office here; and here through all that period I remained, 
caring for a young family and my aged parents; and through all the horrors of 
those times I stood true to the old flag and to my convictions. After the war, 
during the administration of President Johnson, I was again appointed postmaster 
at this, my old station. I am proud to say that during my official administration 
no charge of any kind has been preferred against me. Two years after my second 
appointment I was paid a salary, and from the first salary the Post Office Depart- 
ment at Washington deducted $16.06, the price of the stamps and envelopes which 
were confiscated by the Confederates." 

C. B. Stout, postmaster at Centreville, New Jersey, was first a clerk in the Reacf- 
ington, New Jersey, post office in 1846. In 1856 Mr. Stout was himself postmaster 
at Readington, but in 1862 he resigned and removed to Centreville. His commission 
as postmaster at that place is signed by Montgomery Blair, and dated April 8, 1862. 

Christian Schneider has been postmaster at Orland, Steuben County, Indiana, 
practically since December 30, 1856. He was appointed then by James Camp- 
bell, but in 1861 James Plass was put in his place. Mr. Schneider was deputy, 
however, and in 1865 he was again appointed postmaster. From the first of 
January, 1857, to the present time Mr. Schneider has not been out of his office 
a week. In early times Orland had a semi-weekly mail from Flint, Indiana, and 
Bronson, Michigan, but later it was made daily from Bronson to Orland. In 1870, 
the Orland office was made a money order office, and in the last twenty-two years 
Mr. Schneider has issued nearly 5,000 postal notes, and over 20,000 money orders. 
He was born in Germany in 1818, and came to this country in 1846. He has lived 
in Orland ever since this last date; and although almost seventy-five years old 
writes a fine, clear hand, and is a venerable, sturdy character. 

Hiram Smith was postmaster of Bashan, Ohio, until August 15. He was first 
appointed in April, 1858. During his thirty-four years of service Mr. Smith 
missed but four mails. One was interfered with by snowstorms and two by high 
water in the river ; and the fourth was lost in fording. He resigned at sixty- 
seven on account of ill-health and old age. Bashan is a small office in a beautiful 
country three miles from the Ohio River. 

John B. Stone was appointed postmaster at Roxalana, West Virginia, May 10, 
1858, by Postmaster General Aaron V. Brown, during Buchanan's administration. 
The mail was then carried once a week on horseback from Charleston to Glenville, 
Gilmer County, a distance of eighty miles, with only half a dozen offices on the 
entire route; and often the mails were delayed two or three weeks on account of 
high water and bad roads. In his earlier years as postmaster Mr. Stone's annual 
income from the service ranged from two dollars to two dollars and a quarter. 



482 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



During the war there was practically no postal service at Roxalana for several 
years on account of the "Rangers" that infested all of the back counties of the 
state. • Mr. Stone's commissions have been signed by nineteen postmasters general, 
and he now serves the second and third generations of his original patrons. 

Wm. H. Balcom, postmaster at Argo, Illinois, was born in 1810. He was 
appointed postmaster at Argo, February 12, 1859 ; and he served continuously in 
that capacity till August 19, 1892. 

Elijah Watson was postmaster at Rushville, Missouri, from April 3, 1860, to 
February 14, 1876. During the various changes of administration no attention 
was paid to Mr. Watson's politics, and during all this time the faithful old post- 
master hardly lost a day from his office. Mr. Watson was re-appointed March 28, 
1877, and he is still the postmaster at Rushville. This is a village of less than 
300 inhabitants, yet six railroads pass, and Postmaster Watson, who is now 
seventy-six years old, "makes" twenty-four mail trains daily, carrying the 
pouches on his back nearly half a mile. He has never lost a single letter. 
Once during the war bushwhackers broke into his office and robbed it of the 
supply of stamps. At another time guerrillas attempted his life. 

William Wagner, postmaster at Buck's Ranch, ' Calif ornia, went to Plumas 
bounty over forty years ago, and has lived at Buck's Ranch since June, 1860. 
He remembers the first mail route from Oraville to Quincy, established in 1859, the 
first regular route in Plumas County. There was little change in the transpor- 
tation of mails in the sixties, but in the seventies there was a fruitful field in 
Plumas County for the straw bidder. A happy thought of one contractor was to 
carry the mail by any route he chose, so it eventually got to its destination. 
Letters for near-by post offices were carried by way of Sacramento, and thence to 
Reno, one hundred miles to the eastward. When complaint was made the con- 
tractor was influential enough to have the Buck's Ranch post office removed 
thirteen miles to suit his convenience, and a man was appointed postmaster who 
could neither read nor write. But this flagrant performance was held up in time. 

John B. Wissler, postmaster at Brunnerville, Pennsylvania, up to June 18, '92, 
says : 

"I have before me a letter in sheet form, folded, mailed at Baltimore, June 24, 
1829. The postmark stamped in red, the postage '10' put on with pen and red 
ink. The addressee had to pay ten cents to get it. The writer has this apology 
inside : ' I should have paid this letter, but they never go so safe.' In 1858 we 
received our mail at Lititz ; any patron of the store passing through Lititz 
brought the mail, some forgetting to leave it here until days after they had 
carried it around in their pocket. In 1860 I made application for a post office but 
failed, being a Republican in politics. In 1861 I applied again and got the post 
office established through the Hon. Thaddeus Stevens." 

The following old postmasters have lately retired after long and 
honorable periods of service s 



Name. 


Served. 


Office. 


State. 


Charles Emery 
H. B. Stiles 
Jacob Renwald 


Sept. 15, 1853, to Nov. 15, 1892 
June 5, 1861, to Oct 20, 1892 
Feb. 13, 1864, to Oct. 17, 1892 


Townsend Harbor 

Brookline 

Summitville 


Massachusetts 

New Hampshire 

Iowa 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 



483 



One of the oldest living ex-postmasters is Dr. John Follett Baker, of Batavia, New 
York. He was born at Roxbury, New York, September 14, 1815. He began the 
study of medicine at twenty, and was graduated from the Geneva Medical College 
in January, 1841. He was a Whig, and his services to his party were early recog- 
nized by his selection as a school commis- 
sioner; and in June, 1841, President William 
Henry Harrison appointed him postmaster 
at Otselic, in Chenango County, N. Y. At 
that time he was the youngest postmaster 
on the records. Dr. Baker is among the 
acknowledged leaders of his profession in 
western New York. He has discovered a 
specific remedy for the cure of cerebro- 
spinal meningitis; and in 1866 he was 
called to the chair of surgery in the Penn- 
sylvania Homoeopathic Medical College, 
but was obliged to decline. He has always 
taken a deep interest in politics, and has 
been in his day an acknowledged leader in 
public affairs as well as in medicine. He 
secured the passage by the New York 
Legislature of '47-'48 of a bill to secure the 
better recognition of his chosen profes- 
sion ; and he has always been notable for 
accomplishing things. 




DE. JOHN F. BAKER. 



But the oldest postmaster is passing 
away, and sprightly as he is, and familiar 
with the service in the early and the late 

times, and beloved as he is by all his neighbors (who know him better than 
they do anybody else), his time comes and he travels on. "I am eighty-two," 
the venerated postmaster of Frankfort, Indiana, said a year ago. "I go, I trust, 
to the better land." He did not survive the perils of winter. 

John Barner reached Bloomington, Indiana, the site of the State University, in 
1828. He used to say : ' 



" There was then a mail route from Louisville, Ky., through New Albany, 
Salem, Bedford, Bloomington, Martinsville, the Bluffs, of White River, to Indian- 
apolis, the seat of government. The mail was carried on horseback by Colonel 
Green, once a week, and on nearing the towns he would sound his long tin trum- 
pet to announce to the citizens the arrival of the United States mail 'on 
horseback.' There was a mail route from Madison through Columbus and 
Franklin to Indianapolis — one from Cincinnati, via Lawrenceburgh, Greensburgh 
and Shelbyville to Indianapolis, and a route from Cincinnati via Oxford, Liberty, 
Connersville and Rushville to the state capital. I think as early as 1830 a stage 
was run on this route by John Lister, one among the first contractors for coach 
service in the State. 

" The Cumberland or National Road, from the east through Columbus, and 
Richmond, Ind., Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Springfield, 111., Jefferson City, Mo., 
— the road was ' cut out,' large trees removed, and the centre grubbed in 1828, 
'29, '30 and '31. Through Indianapolis on west the mails were first carried on 
this road on horseback, and frequently detained for a week on account of 
high water ; no bridges at that date. Stages and wagons got through the deep 



484 



THE STORY OF OUR POST OFFICE. 



soil, as far back as 1842 on this road by prying out the wheels at the deepest 
mud holes. 

" The Michigan road was surveyed and marked from Lake Michigan through 
Logansport, by act of the State Legislature, approved in January, 1828, under a 
treaty made with the Miami Indians for the lands with which to construct the 
road. This road was from Madison, Ind., to the lake. It became a mail route, 
and the mail was carried on horseback from the state capital north to the lake 
in 1833. A portion of this route was through swamps, and had to be travelled 
around to shun the impassable obstructions. After coaches, or stages, were put 
on the route, from about 1836 to 1852, passengers starting in the coaches were 
compelled to get out and carry a fence rail to pry the wheels of the vehicle out 
of the many mud holes on the road. Horses frequently sunk to midsides in 
water and mud. 

" The first mail was carried on horseback from Lafayette via Jefferson four 
miles west, to Frankfort, twenty-four miles east of Lafayette, in the year 1830. 
The county seat was located and lots sold July 12, 1830. Col. Samuel D. Maxwell 
was the first postmaster and first county clerk — a gentleman of fine culture and 
one among the best citizens and pioneers. He was afterward mayor of Indian- 
apolis. The first mail I saw arrive in the city was in April, 1832, the year I 
settled here. The 'postboy,' a young man, John Ross, carried it from Lafay- 
ette to Jefferson on horseback and then on foot to Frankfort, four miles, in a 
small pouch like an old pair of saddle-bags. I was appointed postmaster at this 
place in February, 1834, to succeed the first postmaster. I was then a poor young 
man, a mechanic, with a small family, and was well pleased with the position, as I 
thought it might bring a little revenue — about $30 per quarter. The first mail I 
opened was on the 3d day of February, 1834. Jerry Dunn, the ' post boy,' 

reached the western suburbs of the 
town and tooted aloud his tin horn. 

"Sometimes a new citizen residing 
near the principal stream, Sugar Creek, 
would send the carrier back with a 
note reading as follows: 'From my 
knowledge of Sugar Creek the mail 
cannot pass over with safety;' signed 
Joseph Wood; consequently we were 
without a mail for two weeks. In 1838, 
1839, and 1840, a four-horse coach was 
put on a ' new route,' as it was called, 
from Indianapolis north on the Michi- 
gan road via Kirklin, Frankfort, Jef- 
ferson and Huntersville to Lafayette. 
This line of stages ran daily between 
the points named. It generally took 
day and night to run the sixty-five 
miles. The coaches were well loaded 
with passengers from the east ' going 
west.' Daniel Hunter, the contractor, 
finally failed, and the coaches were 
taken off the line. In 1848 Jacob 
Jones put coaches on the line from 
Indianapolis via Kirklin, Frankfort 
and Rossville to Delphi. He and An- 
drew Mclntyre continued to run the coaches or light wagons three times 
a week till 1854. About that time the Indianapolis and Lafayette Railroad 
was completed to Lafayette and we were supplied with a daily mail, from 
Colfax Station to Frankfort, ten miles, by coaches over a swampy, 'bad,' mud 
road. 

" In October, 1838, Amos Kendall, Postmaster General, passed through Indian- 
apolis on a tour of inspection of the service, I suppose. A short time afterward 
he started an ' express ' or ' fast mail,' from Washington or Baltimore west on 
the National Road to St. Louis or Jefferson City. In February, 1839, I saw one of 




JOHN BARXEE, FKANKFOET, IND. 



THE OLDEST POSTMASTER. 



485 



the mail boys riding his horse in a lope on that road between Richmond and 
Indianapolis. I think he changed horses every forty or fifty miles, and carried a 
small mail sack. The experiment was soon abandoned. 

" The post office furniture in the Frankfort office from 1831 to 1841 consisted of 
a table, twenty-nine by thirty-six inches, with a drawer made underneath; an 
alphabet case of twenty-six for letters and the same number for newspapers 
placed one above the other on the back of the table. I could generally tell who 
had mail matter in the office, but many times went to the boxes to satisfy persons 
who thought differently. I was once twenty-four miles from home in a neighbor- 
ing town, and a patron of the office made his way through a large gathering of 
people and asked me if there was a letter in the office for him." 




OLDTIIERS IN THE SEEVICE. 




LDTIMERS, another theme for poets ! Hearty, 
old, young fellows they, full of activity and 
good for many other years ; full of years and 
pathos, some of them, trudging on, looking 
back now and then, loved by their fellows and 
their people. Thousands of others may stand 
faithfully to their friendship for the service for 
their growing love of it ; theirs is the sober, solid, 



indispensable attachment of a lifetime ! 



The Nestor of the Portland post office is James Harris, or " Uncle Jimmy," as 
he is called. Mr. Harris entered the service July 6, 1846, as clerk in the letter 
division. At that time there were but 
six employees in the Portland office ; now 
there are about sixty. The Eastern Kail- 
road ran as far as Portland, and one 
route agent did all the work, which was 
frequently performed by Mr. Harris him- 
self in the capacity of substitute. He 
has enjoyed the acquaintance and friend- 
ship of the many distinguished men whom 
Portland has produced. William Pitt 
Fessenden, Judge Clifford and Judge Fox 
were all pe