Sunday, July 26, 2009

Milton, North Carolina Post Office History

The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 44 ("Milton Post Office" by Jean Bradsher Scott, Postmaster):

The earliest record of a post office at Milton is the appointment of Henry Hooper as postmaster on April 25, 1818. Although the town of Milton was incorporated in 1796 and has remained so since then, there is no available record of a post office as such. Mail was generally taken from one tavern to the next by stagecoach in the keeping of the stagecoach driver. Thus it might have been delivered to the Yellow Tavern from Red House Tavern and on to Lea's Tavern.
After Semora Post Office was established in 1877 following the building of the railroad, mail was "walked" from Milton to Semora, but not on a daily basis. One of the men who "walked" the mail was John Asa Case. He chose to walk the railroad rather than the public road because the railroad was so much better. Case had a very stooped posture which he blamed on "walking the mail."

Until the 1950s mail came by train twice a day, then by Star Route truck from Danville. In 1964 the Star Route changed and mail is now brought from Greensboro via Reidsville.

The Milton Post Office has been housed in numerous buildings during this writer's lifetime, notably Thomas's Store; the Milton Hotel (burned in 1947); the building which stood where Jean and John Williamson live and last lived in by Mrs. Lucy Williamson, John's mother; also at least twice in the First State Bank Building, home of the late Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Walker. From there it was moved in 1964 to the present post office site, built to postal specification during the time Rosa Vernon was postmaster. During the service of Martha C. Newman the post office was elevated from fourth to third class, which it remains at this time.

Little definitive record can be found of rural route history. For many years there were two mail routes out of the Milton office -- one south toward Yanceyville and probably last served as a single route by Mr. John Moore, father of Warner Moore; the other route went north and east into Virginia, probably last served by Sol Angle. At one time there was a rural contract station called Delilah near the junction of present Highways 58 and 119. For as far back as any record can be found about one-third of the Milton route served Virginia patrons in Halifax County. In 1961, in a great coterminous change nationwide, Virginia residents of Milton, North Carolina, changed their addresses to Route 2, Alton, Virginia. In the same change the Mountain Hill area residents became Milton residents, having had a Ringgold, Virginia, address since long before any living person can remember.

This writer had the opportunity to talk at length to Mr. Hester Fowlkes, now a resident of Pelham, about the Milton route, since he served it about the time of World War I. He tells many stories of horse and buggy mail service with a lantern in the foot of the buggy for warmth, being dressed in a oilskin coverall covered with ice, returning to the post office long past daylight mud-covered and nearly frozen. All this was way long before any roads in the area were paved. This writer can remember her father, J. T. Bradsher, coming in long after dark in the winter, covered with mud, having stuck numerous times and pulled out by mules of an obliging farmer. As a child, I often rode with my father in the summer. The route at that time went through a creek at Cunningham's Mill -- there was no bridge -- and here we stopped to eat lunch. In bad weather he backtracked in from one direction as far as he could go, then went back around and in the other end of the road and out.

There was a time when the rural mail carrier was also the link to the grocery and drug stores for shopping, correspondent for those who could not write. On one occasion, when a Postal Inspector was along, a patron came to his mailbox with a catalog and said, "Jake, order me a suit of underwear," Jake found the page, decided what kind and size, wrote the order, took the money for money order and stamp, and left. The Postal Inspector's only comment was, "You really don't have to do all that." The Postal Service has always been and is primarily a service to the people.

Rural carriers to my limited knowledge, have been: Mr. Hester Fowlkes, Mr. John Moore, Sol Angle, Nathaniel Palmer (possibly a substitute), J. T. Bradsher, J. V. Hudson, and, currently, Stephen E. Walker.

Following is a list of Postmasters who have served Milton, and the date of appointment of each:

Henry Hooper, 25 April 1818
John H. Perkins, 13 November 1819
Benjamin Cory, III, 2 April 1822
John Campbell, Jr., 1 June 1826
Theophilus Lacy, Jr., 15 October 1828

Atalbon Kenyon, 13 May 1829
Jesse Carter, 2 March 1831
Nathaniel J. Palmer, 22 December 1831
Jesse Owen, 29 February 1848
Charles N. B. Evans, 29 September 1849

James M. Allen, 14 December 1853
Benjamin Hines, 16 January 1858
Nicol B. Patton, 7 March 1859
C. B. N. Evans, 21 March 1861
Nicol B. Patton, 3 April 1861

John J. Jones, 17 October 1865
Samuel W. Taylor, 21 June 1866
John J. Jones, 30 January 1872
Edward W. Faucette, 17 July 1885
George W. Gordon, 22 July 1889

William A. Smith, 3 August 1893
Nathaniel J. Palmer, 6 June 1897
William T. Bryant, 2 April 1914
Charles R. Thomas, 21 February 1922
Nathaniel J. Palmer, 16 February 1927

Lester H. Haymes, 16 August 1927
Lurlene T. Mehaffey, 25 September 1931
Minnie Mae C. Jones (acting), 13 March 1936
Mary McAden Satterfield, 14 August 1936
John L. Satterfield 31 January 1942

Martha C. Newman, 26 January 1943
Rosa J. Vernon, 31 July 1962
Jerry Dennis, 22 April 1978
Jean B. Scott, 31 May 1980
Merry M. Willis, 22 November 1986

Rhonda W. (Moore) Dixon, 8 January 1994
Rhonda W. Moore's surname changed to Dixon 22 July 22 1995.

Sources: Post Office records and oral tradition.

----- Jean Bradsher Scott, Postmaster