Appalachian Thursday – Rural Mail Delivery
I love getting mail.
Well, REAL mail. And there’s so little of it anymore. Email has become a nuisance (often a convenient one!) and even physical mail is diluted with catalogs, flyers, and other junk mail.
But when I get a real package, card, or the oh-so-rare handwritten letter delivered to the box at the end of the driveway . . . what a delight!
And I’m betting you didn’t know that Rural Free Delivery began in West Virginia. Yup. It was on October 1, 1896–123 years ago–that the post office launched its effort to deliver mail to every household in America. And they started in the eastern panhandle of the mountain state.
Prior to 1896 everyone had to go to the post office to pick up their mail. And the post office was often some distance for folks on foot or horseback. When funding was approved for the effort in 1895 William Lyne Wilson was postmaster general. A native of Jefferson County, WV, he chose his home state to launch the inaugural deliveries.
Initially, there were five mail carriers. It was so successful another 15 routes were quickly added in other states. By the end of 1897 there were 82 routes and so began the introduction of R.F.D. into the American lexicon.
So when’s the last time you got something good in the mail?