Postal Service history delivered full circle
by Juanita Hughes
Columnist
April 09, 2013 11:21 PM | 776 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Juanita Hughes
Juanita Hughes
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Preservation Woodstock recently received from the Cherokee County Historical Society copies of some records they had acquired from the National Archives.

They are part of a collection titled “Post Office Report of Site Locations 1837-1950,” and they give valuable insight into early days of postal service in and around Woodstock. Even in those years when life was supposed to be simple, there were endless forms, government, of course, so that matters that might seem mundane today could be documented.

It seems every pig trail and crossroads needed a post office. The term itself is misleading. There was seldom an office, as such. There was just a postmaster who tended to the mail wherever he lived, had a business, or could occupy space.

There are different forms. Some are requests from citizens to establish a post office. An interesting example, dated February 14, 1896, is addressed to John Dickerson in-care-of the postmaster at Brannon’s, a post office.

It is an application to establish a post office at Reno, but wants it to be named Bigenoch, or Big Enoch, perhaps. A short sentence gives these instructions: Select a short name for proposed office, which, when written, will not resemble the name of any other post office in the state.

Answers to some of the questions give us this information. The post office would be three and a half miles from present route running from Brannon’s to Woodstock, twice weekly. Nearby offices were Brannon’s, Woodstock, Crabapple, and Modesto.

The nearest streams were Little River and Merritt’s Creek. (This was important. Delivery of mail was by horseback.)

The nearest railroad was the Marietta/North Georgia. The proposed postmaster was John Dickerson, who signed the form along with the Brannon’s postmaster, J.P. Brannon. There are no documents among these to confirm if the post office was established.

Some offices were designated “special post office” which is described as one in which the postmaster was authorized to employ a carrier to supply the office as often as practicable for a sum not exceeding 2/3 of the postmaster’s compensation. Such an arrangement was requested by James McLain in July 1899. The proposed name of that office was Othela. (There was a community and school named Othello near today’s Lake Allatoona.)

Mr. McLain made precise, legible notes concerning the need for this office. He explained the proposed transportation route for the mail, giving mileage and road conditions and explaining how it could be added to the existing route.

“At the crossing of the Little Etowah River at Cherokee there is a substantial steel bridge. The school house for the school district is on land lot no. 754 less than 1/8 mile north of the proposed post office. There are about 100 pupils who attend this school.”

The late Glenn Hubbard attended this school beginning in 1921. In his memoir, he estimates the number of pupils at 70 at that time. He was related to the Lovingood family of that area, and the form mentioned above was signed by C.M. Lovingood, postmaster at Cherokee, Georgia. (This may have been Cherokee Mills, a post office mentioned on other forms.)

Pence was a post office mentioned in a number of forms. In 1905 the post office department Topographer’s Office sent location verification forms in an effort to determine the accuracy of locations to be correctly delineated on maps.

Toonigh’s information placed the post office one and one-half miles from Little River on the north side and three-fourths of a mile from Toonigh Creek on the south side. Pence was the closest post office, three miles southeast of Toonigh.

Mill Creek lobbied for a post office, but realized that name might already be in use. Alternate name suggestions included Cynthia, Baltimore, or Hustler. Mill Creek, according to the application, was one of the oldest churches in the area. It should be noted that Cynthia Pence was listed as the proposed postmaster for the Pence post office.

Some other unfamiliar post office names, which may or may not have materialized, are Payne, Arnold, and Victoria.

My, how things have changed. Seems nobody in the post office department cares anymore where the creeks and rivers are. And we seem to be coming full circle.

Twice weekly delivery became twice-a-day delivery for a while, but eventually settled into daily, six days, with talk now of cutting back.

Who knows. At some point we may all be meeting the train and waiting while the engineer unloads the carts of mail and the postmaster calls our names. Just like in the good old days.

Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.
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