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Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Tioga County Post Offices, Tioga County PA
Early Tioga County Post Office History

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Taken from the 1897 Tioga County History, retyped for Tri-Counties by Claudia Garner.

Tioga County Post Offices

The Wellsboro postoffice was established January 1, 1808, and Samuel W. Morris was the first postmaster. The mail at that time was carried weekly, on horseback, over$the State road from Williamsport. A pair of saddlebags were sufficient to contein all the matter, with room to spare. Newspapers were few in those days, the Lycoming Gazette being the only paper printed within a radius of a hundred miles; and as postage was high, few letters were written. No envelopes were in use then; letters were written on foolscap and made as long as possible, covering all the availafle space, leaving only room enough for the address, when the sheet was folded and sealed with red wax or a wafer. A stamp or signet of some kind was used to press the paper into the wax or wafer, which left an impression and gave the enclosure an official appearance. The amount of postage was written, usually, on the upper right hand corner of the letter, and the price was governed by the distance carried. And it was collected at the end of the route from the party to whom it was addressed. The name of the first mail carrier has not come down to us, but in those days the duty was generally performed by a bright, active, venturesome boy. The route from Williamsport laid through a gloomy wilderness nearly all the way. The log cabins of settlers were few. Panthers and wolves roamed the forest and their howls frequently caused the mail boy to spur up his horse and dash swiftly through the gloom.

One of the early mail carriers was John Sheffer, Jr., born in Williamsport, February 8, 1803. When thirteen years of age he carried the mail from Williamsport to Painted Post on horseback, a distance of seventy-nine miles, by the way of the State and Williamson roads. The former started at Newberry and passed through Wellsboro.$It required nerve in those days to make this journey, and when the youth of the rider is considered it is still more remarkable.

The parents of this plucky mail boy were early settlers at Liberty, or the Block House, as it was then known, locating there in February, 1814. It is probable that he either went by this route on going out, or on returning, as he could make a complete circuit by doing so. The Williamson road passed through Block House, Blossburg, Covington and Tioga. The first post office in the county was established at the last mentioned place January 1, 1805. At Wellsboro he could leave the State road and proceed to Covington by the East and West pike, as it was called, or vice versa. It is highly probable, therefore, that he made the round trip in this way. It is fortunate that something of the history of this early mail boy has been preserved. A sketch of his life will be found in another chapter.

Postmaster Morris did not require much of an outfit to transact the business of his office. A small desk was sufficient, and often he could carry all the matter he received by a single mail in his hat. During the year 1808 the statistical reports show that the gross receipts were $27.06, and his compensation was $8.23. But he served the government faithfully for four years, retiring December 31, 1812. Since that time the succession has been as follows: Benjamin Wistar Morris, appointed January 1, 1813; William Bache, April 10, 1822; James P. Magill, July 24, 1845; Josiah Emery, September 6, 1845; George Dwight Smith, May 18, 1849; Alexander S. Brewster, April 26, 1853; Ira D. Richards, December 18, 1855; Alexander S. Brewster, July 20, 1860; Hugh Young, March 8, 1961; Morgan Hart, August 29, 1866; Joseph L. Williams, January 18, 1869; George W. Merrick, January 27, 1869; Susan R. Hart, June 14, 1882; Louis Doumaux, August 10, 1886, James L. White, February 1, 1891; Frederick K. Wright, February 1, 1895, present incumbent.

'Squire Brewster is the only postmaster thus far to hold the office twice; and Mr. Bache held it for the longest period -- twenty-three years, three months and fourteen days. The term of Joseph L. Williams was the shortest -- nine days. That was during the exciting period when President Johnson was in conflict with Congress, and postmasters were appointed by his excellency and quickly refused confirmation by the Senate.

Eighty-eight years have passed since the first office was opened. And during that time the most wonderful advances have been made both in postal facilities and the amount of mail matter received and forwarded. In the beginning a weekly mail sufficed; now it comes several times a day. The following tabular statement showing the gross receipts, and the compensation of the postmaster, by decades since 1810, will afford food for reflection:

Year Gross Receipts Compensation
1808 $27.06 $8.23
1810 31.62 10.11
1820 81.52 26.76
1830 188.52 60.52
1840 525.75 190.36
1850 848.42 354.59
1860 1,017.59 506.67
1870 2,014.14 945
1880 3,938.11 1,450.00
1890 5,368.08 1,700.00

At the close of the tenth decade the receipts will probably exceed $7,000, and the salary of the postmaster will be nearly $1,900. In 1805 there was but one post office in the county, and in 1808 there were two. Now there are eighty-eight. What an increase in ninety years!

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 6/9/98
By Joyce M. Tice

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