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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

History Of The Lebanon Post Office

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 28 September 2004
Source:
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

March 8, 1923.

The appointment of a new postmaster at the presidential office at Lebanon has induced me to hunt up and give the leading facts in the history of what has long been the central, largest and most important postoffice in Warren county, Ohio.
There was no postoffice within the limits of Warren county for more than eight years after the first settlements were made in the county. While more early immigrants were drawn to what is now Warren county, than any other part of the Miami country north of Hamilton county, no postoffice was established in the county until after Ohio became a state in 1803. Previous to 1804, it is said that Cincinnati was the only postoffice in all western Ohio, and the early settlers on both sides of the Little Miami, were compelled to go to that town for their mail, a distance of from 25 to 50 miles for any of them.Pioneer Mails.
The first settlement on the Great Miami which was thought to be entitled to a postoffice was Dayton and Benjamin Van Cleve opened the office at his cabin in the spring of 1804. Within two years after Warren county was organized postoffices were established at the four oldest towns in the county in the following order, Waynesville, Deerfield, Franklin and Lebanon. These were considered enough for the new county for eleven years and not until 1816 was a fifth postoffice established at Ridgeville.
For several years only one mail a week was carried in the Miami country. The route was from Cincinnati, thru Lebanon, Xenia and Springfield to Urbana; thence to Piqua and thence down the great Miami thru Dayton, Franklin, Middletown to Cincinnati. A letter written at Piqua, Dayton, Franklin or Hamilton for Lebanon was sent first to Cincinnati and the next week was started on its northern journey.
No postage stamps were used but the amount of post- age due on a letter was written on the outside. Postage was sometimes prepaid but oftener was collected on the delivery of the letter. The kindness of the postmaster often led him to allow letters to be taken out without the postage being paid and thus considerable sums were often never paid to him.
The rates of postage in 1836 varied from six cents for 36 miles, ten cents for 80 miles, eighteen cents for 150 miles, to twenty-five cents for over 400 miles. To calculate the postage in a large number of letters would have required much labor by the postmaster. At this period money was scarce and for the pioneer's wife to pay 25 cents postage on a letter from her mother in an eastern state was no easy matter.

List of Lebanon Postmasters.

Ten years after the first settlement was made at the site of Lebanon, on April 1, 1805, William Ferguson was commissioned the first postmaster of the town. The Centennial Sketch of Lebanon which I compiled in 1902 contained a complete list of the postmasters with the years of their service from 1805 to 1901, which list was obtained from the Postoffice Department at Washington. This list I have brought down to the present time and here reprint it:

William Ferguson 1805-08
Jeremiah Lawson 1808-10
Matthias Ross 1810-11
Daniel F. Reeder 1811-16
George Harnesberger 1816-25
John Reeves 1825-31
George Kesling 1831-41
Thomas F. Brodie 1841-53
Elijah Dynes 1853-59
Ira Watts 1859-61
Hiram Yeo 1861-66
Mrs. Belle E. Parshall 1866-78
Thomas H. Blake 1878-87
John W. Lingo 1887-91
Thomas Starry 1891-95
Mrs. Mary V. Proctor 1895-97
Owen S. Higgins 1897-01
William H. Antram 1901-09
John M. Mulford 1909-10
Ed. S. Conklin 1910-14
Charles B. Dechant 1914-23
Miss Mary E. Ross 1923-..

We have here a list of twenty-one persons who have served at the head of the Lebanon postoffice in a period of 118 years. The average term of service has been a lit- tle over five years. Only two have served a dozen years each.
Only three women have been appointed in the whole history of the office. The first of these was Miss Belle E. Parshall, a soldier's widow, appointed in 1866 and who served a dozen years.
The earlier appointments were made when the Jeffersonian Democrats had complete control of the government and the first postmasters were probably members of that party.
When Lincoln became president in 1861 the first Republican was appointed postmaster at Lebanon and for a period of twenty-six years all the postmasters of the town were Republicans. The first Democratic postmaster at Lebanon after the Civil War was appointed in 1887 in the first administration of Grover Cleveland and it was note- worthy that President Cleveland permitted Thomas H. Blake, a soldier to serve out the term for which he had been commissioned.
Since the election of the first Republican president, sixty-two years ago, only three Democrats have been commissioned postmaster of Lebanon--John W. Lingo, a leading business man in 1887, Mrs. Mary V. Proctor, editor of the Lebanon Patriot, in 1895, and Charles B. Dechant, a member of the Lebanon bar in 1914. The last named has been fortunate in holding the office for a much longer period than any other person in recent years and he can now retire with satisfaction having discharged the duties of this important position in a most efficient and painstaking manner.

The World's Greatest Business.

While all intelligent persons have a general idea of the rapidly increasing importance of the postal service, all do not know that it is growing in importance much more rapidly than the population. We have the authority of the last number of the Postal Guide for saying that the Postal Service of our country is now much the biggest business in the world.
It employs the year round about 330,000 workers--a hundred thousand more than any other business institution in this country or in any other, and it handles during the course of every twelve months the gigantic sum of $3,000,000,000.
In January it was announced that there are now 51,787 post offices operated by our government, exclusive of the many branches and substations in the larger centers. No other nation in the world has a postal system that begins to compare with ours. But the Department is working steadily to reduce the number of postoffices. The largest number of post offices was reported in 1901, since which some 19,158 have been eliminated.
In a rural county such as Warren, the number of postoffices has been reduced since the beginning of the present century. The official Postal Guide for July, 1922, names only 15 postoffices in Warren county. Such old and important places as Ridgeville, Butlerville, Maineville, and others are no longer postoffices but are supplied from towns on railways. The two towns of Waynesville and Lebanon each with five rural routes supply a large portion of the mail of the county.
The revenue for conducting this mammoth business is derived chiefly from the sale of postage stamps, stamped envelopes and postal cards. The printing of postage stamps of a score of denominations from 1 cent to $5.00 has become an immense business and nine-tenths of all the stamps sold are of the 1 cent and 2 cent denominations. This indicates that the common people make extensive use of the postoffice.
The demand for one-cent postal cards is increasing. It is now not unusual for an entire carload of postal cards to be ordered at one time, amounting to six million cards with a value of $60,000.


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