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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Lebanon Old Time Mails

Dallas Bogan on 28 September 2004
The following is taken from Dallas Bogan's book, "The Pioneer Writings of Josiah Morrow."
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Pioneer Post Offices and Post Roads In Warren County.

Over Twenty Miles to a Post Office--Only Four Post Offices in County Twenty Years After First Settlement--Once-A-Week Mails--Chronology of
Post Offices of the County.

May 14, 1908

In October 1897 I mailed two letters at the Lebanon post office to a city on the west side of the Mississippi, one in the forenoon, the other in the afternoon. Both were on the road a little over twenty-four hours and reached their destination and were delivered by the mail carrier the day after they were started. The hours postmarked on the envelope of one of the letters were: Lebanon, 7 a.m.; Cincinnati, 10 a.m.; Chicago, 10 p.m.; Fort Madison, Iowa, 9 a.m. The other was postmarked 2 p.m. at Lebanon and reached Fort Madison at 3:40 p.m., the next day and was delivered at 5:30 p.m. This is given as an illustration of the speed and promptness with which our government conducts the business of the post-office department, the greatest business in the world, at the close of the last century.
Very different were the mail facilities provided for Lebanon during its early history. There was not a postoffice within the limits of Warren county for more than eight years after the first settlements within the county were commenced. Cincinnati was the postoffice for all the settlements in the Miami valley for a number of years. In examining the files of old newspapers printed at Cincinnati near the beginning of the last century, I found advertisements of letters remaining in the Cincinnati postoffice addressed to pioneers of Warren county. Some of these addresses were "John Bigger, Fourth Range;" "Thomas Espy, Little Miami;" "John Wallace, School Master, Turtlecreek." Others were addressed "Bailey's Station," "Below the Big Miami," "Duck Creek," "Big Prairie," etc.
As late as 1805, two years after the organization of Warren county, a pioneer of Hamilton township received a letter, which has been preserved by his descendants, addressed thus:
"Mr. Samuel Walker, living in Warren county, state of Ohio, near the Little Miami."

Scattered Postoffices.

The first postoffice in Warren county was established at Waynesville in 1804. The next year three others were established at the other important places, viz: Deerfield, Lebanon and Franklin. Four postoffices were deemed sufficient for the whole county for the next eleven years. In 1812 a postoffice was established at Montgomery in Hamilton county, which accommodated a portion of the people residing in the southwestern part of the county.
The first mail route through the county appears to have been from Cincinnati to Lebanon, Waynesville, Xenia and Urbana, thence across to Piqua, and down the Great Miami valley through Dayton, Franklin and Hamilton to Cincinnati, the trip being made once a week. For some years the people of these places thought themselves fortunate in having mail as often as once every week.
Some of the most prominent of our public men of Ohio in its early history, many of whom were farmers, had no postoffice near their homes. When Jeremiah Morrow was elected the first representative to congress from Ohio in 1803, his postoffice was at Cincinnati twenty-one miles distant from his farm and during the greater part of sixteen years service in the two houses of congress his post office was at Lebanon ten miles from his home. Not until 1825, while he was serving his second term as governor was a postoffice established at Twenty Mile Stand (20 miles from Cincinnati) one mile distant.
In 1839 Gen. William Henry Harrison was living on his farm at North Bend, sixteen miles below Cincinnati, and he must have had an extensive correspondence concerning the Whig nomination for the presidency which he received in December of that year. He concluded a long letter, published after his death addressed to a correspondent at Washington and dated at North Bend July 20, 1839, by saying: "Our mail here comes only thrice in the week. To save time I send this to be mailed in Cincinnati this morning as there will be no mail from this until Wednesday next. Direct to North Bend, near Cleves, which latter is my postoffice." The letter to which he replies was dated at Washington on the 20th of the preceding month, and the general explained his delay in replying by saying that his correspondent's letter did not reach him as soon as it would have done had it been directed to North Bend instead of Cincinnati, and that he had been busy on his farm getting in a large harvest.

High Postage.

The rates of postage in the first third of the last century were high. The lowest rate for a letter was six cents carried thirty miles or less, and the rates increased with the distance up to 25 cents for 450 miles or over. The postage on a letter from Cincinnati to New Orleans was 25 cents and the freight on a barrel of flour between the same points was sometimes as low as that sum. On account of these high rates few letters were sent through the mails except by the well-to-do classes, other methods of carrying them being found. Prepayment of postage was not required in this country until 1855 and before that period the postage was rarely prepaid. Many a pioneer mother of the Ohio valley found that to receive a letter from her old home in a distant state was a hardship.

Post Boys.

Until stage lines were established mails were carried overland by postriders, boys being preferred to men, on account of their lighter weight on the horse. In 1817, Abner L. Ross, Sr., who was born in Lebanon in 1804, as a boy of thirteen began carrying the U.S. mail from Oxford via Hamilton, Blue Ball, Red Lion, Green Tree, Lebanon, Hopkinsville, Goshen and Batavia to Georgetown, near the Ohio river. Before he was twenty he became a contractor in mail carrying himself, and soon his contracts extended over several hundred miles of mail and stage lines.
In 1835 James S. Totten, who afterward became prominent in Warren county politics, was a poor boy living with his grandfather, Gen. David Sutton at Deerfield. His grandfather died in that year and left him in destitute circumstances. Young Totten, then fourteen, became a mail carrier in the employ of Mr. Ross, and made weekly trips on horseback from Lebanon to Eaton and from Lebanon to Felicity, receiving $8 per month for his services.
The mail roads of this period were ungraveled and in the wet season were often almost impassable. Long after the road through Lebanon became an important stage route, the coaches stalled in the mud, and not infrequently four passengers rode the four horses into town; and along the route postmasters set up at night awaiting the arrival of the mail due one or two days before.
Where the roads were good, fast traveling was expected of the carriers on the important routes, and relays of horses were kept at convenient distances. In 1826 the time for carrying the mail thirty miles between Lebanon and Cincinnati was four hours.

Chronology of Post Offices in Warren County--1804-1880.

The following list of postoffices in the county, dates of their establishment and names of the first postmasters was prepared for me in 1880 from the records of the Postoffice Department at Washington:
Waynesville, April 1, 1804, .Samuel Heighway, Jr.
Deerfield, January 1, 1805, Ephriam Kibbey.
Franklin, April 1, 1805, John N.C. Schenck.
Lebanon, April 1, 1805, William Ferguson.
Ridgeville, October 1, 1816, John Blair.
Springboro, March 3, 1821, John Pennington.
Gainsboro, January 18, 1822, Jacob Reeder.
Twenty Mile Stand, September 28, 1824, Samuel Clendenen.
Hopkinsville, February 25, 1825, James Hopkins.
Roachester, September 13, 1825, Oliver Cook; discontinued July 16, 1853.
Kirkwood, July 27, 1829, William N. Kirkwood; changed to Mason, 1835.
Mill Grove, January 9, 1832, James S. Duvall; discontinued 1845.
Rossburg, January 19, 1833, Jefferson Stevens; changed to Butlerville, 1838.
Mason, (in place of Kirkwood), April 25, 1835, Mason Seward.
Edwardsville, December 20, 1833, Thomas Adams.
Red Lion, February 2, 1834, .John S. Todd.
Level, February 30, 1834, Thomas Adams.
Butlerville (in place of Rossburg), December 17, 1838, Jefferson Stevens.
Harveysburg, August 3, 1839, Robert E. Lefferta.
Brown's Store, August 31, 1841, Samuel Brown; discontinued 1858.
Mount Holly, March 8, 1842, Samuel Hill; discontinued 1863.
Morrow, November 5, 1845, Warren Morrison.
Oregon, February 8, 1846, William H. Hamilton.
Fort Ancient, May 28, 1846, .Thomas C. Nelson.
Dallasburg, August 22, 1848, William Wene; changed to Cozaddale, 1871.
Liberty Hall, October 25, 1848, David L. Brown; discontinued August 12, 1851.
Dunlevy, January 17, 1850, B.A. Stokes.
Scottsville, July 8, 1852, John C. Bercaw, discontinued 1855.
Maineville, January 14, 1854, James Ford.
Pleasant Plain, June 29, 1857, .Peter C. Spurling.
Foster's Crossing, October 27, 1859, .Joseph T. Matthews.
Murdoch, May 4, 1866, William H. Walker.
Pence's Mills, June 21, 1867, Edward M. Pence; discontinued 1872.
South Lebanon (in place of Deerfieldville), July 28, 1871, John Cooper.
Pekin, December 8, 1874, David W. Earnhart.
Socialville, May 1, 1878, Abel Conover.
Camp Hageman, May 9, 1879, .John B. Jack.

The foregoing was intended to be complete up to the year 1880. There seems, however, to have at least one omission. In the list of Ohio postoffices given in Kilbourn's Ohio Gazateer for 1826, Lowe's is named as a postoffice in Warren county. This office was at the tavern of Judge .Jacob D. Lowe, northeast of the site of Mason. At what date it was established I am unable to state. It seems to have been changed to Kirkwood in 1829 and to Mason in 1835.
Deerfield does not seem to have a postoffice in 1826. At that time the old state road from Chillicothe to Cincinnati was an important thorofare and Clarksville, Roachester, Hopkinsville and Twenty Mile Stand, all on that road, could be more easily reached by the mail carriers than Deerfield.
In the twenty years following the preparation of the foregoing list, being the last twenty years of the last century, not many new postoffices were established in the county, nor were many of the old names changed. Among the new names were Carlisle, Kings Mills, Hill Station, Dodds (Utica), Leelan (Genntown), Lytle (Raysville), Oregonia (in place of Oregon), Wellman and Yukon.

The R.F.D.

The Rural Free Delivery service was commenced in the county on a route eastward from Lebanon, April 15, 1900, .John D. Steddom, carrier. There are now twenty-nine R.F.D. routes in the county.
On May 1, 1900, Lebanon was made a free delivery office, the first in the county.
The extension of the rural delivery service has caused the discontinuance of several offices. When that service was commenced there were thirty-four postoffices in the county, probably the maximum in its history. There are now twenty, and some of them may soon be discontinued.

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This page created 28 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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