Letter Carriers Deliver to Homes

Letter Carriers Deliver to Homes

by Sandra Merville Hart

Before the Civil War, everyone had to visit the post office to pick up their mail.    

The U.S. Postal Service begins home delivery in Ohio.

In 1863, Joseph Briggs, one of the postal workers in Cleveland, Ohio, convinced the officials to deliver the mail for free to those living in the city. Soon other cities received free mail delivery.  

After the Civil War ended, many soldiers who had been disabled in the war became letter carriers.

Only cities with over 20,000 people received free mail delivery.

At first, the Post Office only provided free mail delivery to cities with a population over 20,000. After 1887, the number was lowered, but it still didn’t include small towns and those living in the country. Those living on farms might come to town once a week to check for mail at the local post office. 

Those living in rural areas ask for home delivery. 

In 1896, the Post Office experimented with Rural Free Delivery Service. The letter carriers provided their own vehicles and horses. They traveled in buggies, on horseback, and even on sleds in the winter.

Those living on farms loved the mail delivery. Only 100 signatures were needed to request free delivery, and, by 1915, over one million miles of rural areas received it.

The carriers who delivered to these country areas provided more than the mail. They were asked to help with repairs, run errands, write letters for those who couldn’t read or write themselves, or for the latest news from town.

These early letter carriers went above and beyond their duty.

 

Sources

“Joseph Briggs and the Free City Delivery,” National Postal Museum, 2012 January 4 http://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/2b1b1_briggs.html.

“Rural Free Delivery Mail Sled,” National Postal Museum, 2012 January 4 http://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/2b2b_sled.html.

 

 

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