Rural Free Delivery, RFD, brought speedier mail service to folks in the country, making a trip to town unnecessary. Richard “Dick” Marshall is seen here delivering to a home in Surry County. The buggy is pulled by Old Doc and heated by a coal stove inside. The problem is there were three Dick Marshalls who delivered mail when buggies would have been used and we’re not sure which one this is or if it was taken in the White Plains or Westfield communities. The undated photo (probably from 1890-1915) came from the collections of Warren Nichols and Ruth Richards who were related to all three men.
Rural Free Shipment, RFD, brought speedier mail service to folks in the nation, making a trip to town unneeded. Richard”Cock” Marshall is seen here providing to a home in Surry County. The buggy is pulled by Old Doc and warmed by a coal stove inside. The problem is there were three Dick Marshalls who delivered mail when buggies would have been utilized and we’re unsure which one this is or if it was taken in the White Plains or Westfield neighborhoods. The undated photo(most likely from 1890-1915) originated from the collections of Warren Nichols and Ruth Richards who were related to all three males. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”Some days that was more an obstacle than others. Rural totally free shipment began in 1896. In order to get the service, 100 households along a proposed path had to sign a petition, send it to their Congressman for approval and suggestion. Dick Marshall is pictured here in the early 1900s providing mail along a snowy, muddy path in Westfield. The United States Postal Service relied greatly on railway deliveries but as more people traveled by automobile and bus, the Southern Railroad discontinued its guest train from Greensboro to Mount Airy in August 1955. This was the train utilized by the postal service for mail shipments to the post offices in Surry and Wilkes counties. On August 1 of that year the inaugural run of the United States Highway Post Office left Greensboro, stopping in Pilot Mountain, Mount Airy, Dobson, Elkin and North Wilkesboro and after that did the route in reverse. The mobile office implied mail would still get here everyday and be delivered in timely manner. Pictured, from left, are Elkin Postmaster Lin Hendren; Arthur Bobst, assistant basic superintendent of Postal Transport Service (PTS)from Washington D.C.; G.D. Martin, district superintendent of PTS Greensboro; T.O. Howell, Martin’s assistant; Thomas Ashby,
Few locations had dedicated buildings for postal service outside of metropolitan areas until well into the 20th century. Many were in established businesses such as hotels or general stores. Rockford, established as the Surry County seat in 1790, is home to one of the oldest Masonic Halls in the state, built in 1797. The county seat moved to Dobson in 1851 but the little town remained viable. In 1914 a small addition was built onto the Masonic Hall and served as the post office until 1975. The Rockford Preservation Society Inc. now owns the property.
postmaster Mount Airy; Maurice Stroll, postmaster North Wilkesboro. The last 2 men are unidentified. Tom’s Creek Post Workplace was developed in 1832 under Postmaster Hugh Armstrong.
The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has a few items from the postal service in its collection such as the wooden sign from the Crutchfield Post Office where Julia Garner Marion was the Postmistress. It is seen here in the general store exhibit at the museum. The exhibit has many things from the H.F. Wright General Store from Big Creek Township near the Stokes Surry border including the mail boxes from the store which also served as the community’s post office.
In 1838 it was renamed Pilotville, back to Tom’s Creek, to Olive Mount, back to Tom’s Creek, and, finally in 1874 to Pilot Mountain. This undated picture likely dates from the 1890s. In 1939 it was one of just 4 post workplaces carrying out adequate company to make a” very first class rate” which implied the postmaster was a salaried position. Mount Airy, Lowgap, and Elkin were the other 3. The structure was later on utilized as the Farmers ‘Bank and the Ed Swanson Law Workplace. Few locations had dedicated structures for postal service beyond metropolitan areas until well into the 20th century. Numerous remained in recognized services such as hotels or general shops. Rockford, developed as the Surry County seat in 1790, is house to among the oldest Masonic Halls in the state, built in 1797. The county seat relocated to Dobson in 1851 however the little town stayed feasible. In 1914 a small addition was developed onto the Masonic Hall and acted as the post office till 1975. The Rockford Conservation Society Inc. now owns the property. The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has a few products from the postal service in
its collection such as the wood indication from the Crutchfield Post Office where Julia Garner Marion was the Postmistress. It is seen here in the basic store display at the museum. The exhibit has many things from the H.F. Wright General Store from Big Creek Area near the Stokes Surry border consisting of the mail boxes from the store which also functioned as the neighborhood’s post workplace. The Mount Airy Post Office, constructed of native granite in 1932, is seen here in December 1947 or’ 48. Excavation on Renfro Hill began the end of July 1932 by the Algernon Blair Construction Company of Montgomery, Alabama. The$125,000 contract would deserve$2.3 million today. A few days prior to work began, the wood office in Toast and several organisations adjacent burned due to defective wiring.
The old horse drew the mail buggy through the rain down the rough, rutted dirt roads around Lead Mines in Wythe County, Virginia. A sudden squall drove the New River out of its banks and knocked the horse off his feet. The swirling waters brought the buggy off the road, bags of mail floating away as motorist and horse combated to keep their heads above water. The mail provider, Vera Virginia Soyars, managed to clinch an overhanging branch. Regretfully, the horse, mail, and buggy were all lost. Vera was a no-nonsense 20-something when she started delivering mail. Initially from Patrick County, Virginia, her family had farming issues there, in Wythe County, and near Dobson and Westfield in Surry County. She had taught school for a while in the 1910s however by 1920 she was a full-time letter carrier. A job she kept for more than twenty years in Westfield where she settled. There has actually been a strong postal presence in the area for several years, driven not just by the lots of production and shipping organisations in the area however by the farmers who petitioned for postal service frequently. A good argument can be made that the postal path, established in the 1790s from Salem to Wytheville, Virginia, played an essential role in Mount Airy’s start. The path followed an ancient Native American path that had actually been broadened by the Moravians in Salem. They called it the Hollows Wagon Road. Settlers here called it the Salem Wagon Roadway. Whatever it was called, it traveled straight to the Buffalo Path and the break through the mountains we understand today as the Cumberland Space. It was a prime roadway to the western settlements and Mount Airy was completely put for the mail coach to rest their horses. Mail service was expensive from its start in 1775 and main establishment in 1792. Congress decreed the postal service required to be self-sufficient so stamps were not low-cost. After the Civil War Congress took steps to bring the cost down. Lower cost combined with the increased demand as numerous member of the family moved West and the volume of mail rapidly grew. In 1865 there were 29,000 post offices across the country. That number grew to more than 70,000 by 1895. Surry County had dozens scattered across the hollows and hills. Normally in existing businesses such as hotels or basic shops, or in private houses, they served a small geographical location in the days before cars made a trip to town easier.
People in the countryside petitioned for someone to establish a post office which is how Ladonia became. Mrs. Cora Martin was permitted to operate a 4th class post workplace from her house. Workplaces were ranked by the quantity of revenue the workplace created and the variety of pieces of mail.
The post office needed a name. She and her husband recommended Martinsville however the postal authorities said there were already too many offices with that or similar names. Second they recommended Skull Camp for the neighboring ridge but it was considered too gruesome.
Cora had pals who lived in Ladonia, Texas, and she ‘d constantly believed the name was quite. She recommended it and it was passed. From that day in 1888 up until the workplace closed in 1939, the area near Lowgap was called the Ladonia section.
Cora and another woman, Mrs. Lula Leftwich, were the only postmasters. Their pay was a percentage of their stamp and parcel post sales. The office was closed when Lula’s hubby got a job in Galax, Virginia, and nobody could be discovered to take control of the workplace.
The Mount Airy office has a long history of walking around. Long-time regional historian Ruth Minick reported that Mount Airy initially received mail service in 1798 from a store front in what was then business district near where Hamburg Street crosses the Ararat River south of town. Jonathan Unthank, Dabney Walker and James Lawrence established a mail route.
In the 1800s, she stated, “strong tradition and proof” showed that mail route began lacking Unthank’s plantation just south of Hamburg on Old US 52.
By 1832 the mail was provided to and distributed from an area “classy” probably heaven Ridge Hotel, Constantine Perkins’ brand-new facility. This was the first official record of a post workplace and James Tucker as postmaster, also owner of the hotel. The wooden hotel burned in 1835 however was reconstructed in bricks by brand-new owner Thomas B. Wright who was called postmaster.
The people of the location were served by numerous places over the years and the earnings grew year over year as business and market grew. In 1893, in the midst of a hard recession, the Mount Airy News reported the regional office collected $9751 for the month of August ($279,308 today), an astonishing figure for a non-urban area.
And we continue to be well-served by a devoted personnel of postal workers across the area.
Kate Rauhauser-Smith is the visitor services manager for the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History with 22 years in journalism before joining the museum staff. She and her family transferred to Mount Airy in 2005 from Pennsylvania where she was also involved with museums and history tours. She can be reached at KRSmith@NorthCarolinaMuseum.org or by calling 336-786-4478 x228