Tama County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Star – Clipper Supplement
Traer, Iowa, January 14, 1887
History of North Tama
By Daniel Connell

Chapter VIII
Postoffices, Postmaster, etc.

Probably the first and greatest hardship an eastern man, when moving west, is called on to bear is the lack of postal facilities. They are anxious to receive a letter from home at least weekly, and are so desirous of sending one that they keenly feel the loss of the privilege. The settlers here were no exception to this state of feeling. The nearest accessable (sic) postoffice was Vinton, as the travel of that day was east and west, passing through that village, and the mail for this settlement was addressed to Vinton. The postmaster there in that early day and for several years was James Wood, recently deceased. He was an obliging man except on the Sabbath, and he would not open the office on that day. Becoming acquainted with all the people far and near he would forward the mail by the first man who called, who left it at some convenient point. When the stores were opened at Buckingham and West Union they became accommodation postoffices for the settlement.

Although the letters would pass through many hands no complaints were heard. The writer was daily in receipt of letters to be forwarded. There was a heavy travel in those days, the settlers west of us going east for supplies. Every morning a bundle would be made and handed to the first passer. Of the hundreds so forwarded he never heard of one being lost. In the winter of 1856-7 it was proposed to change the address of mail to Toledo, a new town of 200 inhabitants, where a weekly mail was received and hired a carrier to make weekly trips. A subscription was opened and West Wilson was engaged as carrier at three dollars a trip. He made twelve trips when the service ended for want of funds. In the meantime efforts were being put forth to have a post route established, Mr. Wood, postmaster at Vinton, giving it his attention. A route was established from Vinton to Albion, the latter place at that time being the most important town in Marshall county, formerly called La Fayette. An office was established at the west side of Yankee Grove named Wood, George Young, postmaster. Wolf Creek office, Stephen Klingaman postmaster, was in the grove on the site of Traer, about twenty rods west of the postoffice of Traer; a postoffice was established at Collins’ Grove with L. B. Collins postmaster; at Union Grove, William B. King postmaster. Service was placed on this route July 1, 1857. Mr. Klingaman retained the office for about one year, when he resigned. He was succeeded by Dexter Higgins, who removed the office to West Union to the great inconvenience of the patrons on the west side of the creek. It remained at West Union until 1873, when it was removed to Traer and the name changed. Miss Zoe Taylor was appointed postmistress. Between the incumbency of Mr. Higgins and Miss Taylor the postmasters who held the office were many. From the establishment of this postal route efforts to establish an office at the village of Buckingham were made without avail. Finally in 1859 an office was established with O. Gravatt postmaster. This did not bring a mail. The National administration was Democratic, and the influence that obtained the route was of the same party and was able to prevent the carrier crossing the creek to accommodate “black Republicans” of Buckingham. Senator Harlan, being in Toledo in the autumn of 1859, came to Buckingham to examine the situation. On his return to Washington he personally represented the situation to the Postmaster General and succeeded. In May, 1860, the office was re-established, D. Connell, postmaster. At first the service was weekly, then semi-weekly, then tri-weekly, and finally a daily service. In due time it became a money order office, giving the settlement all the privileges necessary. This office was continued in the same building and under the same postmaster until his resignation in 1874. J. R. Holman was appointed and removed the office to near the center of township. Not being needed, after a few months it was discontinued. At an early day the “Forks” office was established, and Andrew McElhinney was postmaster. That gave way to the Evergreen office. The postmaster was Joel Haywood, who resigned in the autumn of 1875, and removed to California after a residence in Geneseo of twenty years. An office was established at the west side of Crystal. Mr. Chambers was postmaster. Also an office was established at Crystal Center with West Wilson as postmaster. He did not attend to the office but constituted James Atchison, a merchant there, for his deputy, who filled the position for several years. Mr. Chambers’ office and the one at Collins’ Grove were discontinued. An office was established at the north side of Buckingham called Bovina, Charles Blanchard, postmaster, and was discontinued in 1873. Ettie was the name of an office in Clark township, established in 1870, prior to the birth of the town of Dysart, with Tyler Converse postmaster. The office was removed to Dysart and the name was changed. Connell office was established in Grant township to accommodate that neighborhood which was fast filling up with Scotch, Scotch-Irish and Canadians principally. Alex Mitchell was the first postmaster, followed by James Davidson. Mr. Mitchell is the present treasurer of Grundy county. Mr. Davidson had a blacksmith shop on his land and kept the postoffice in it. He has now a large farm, an extension of his beginning. An office was established in Lincoln at Fifteen Mile Grove, and at a later day one between the Grove and Connell called Coldville, George Cold, postmaster. The one at the Grove is still in commission. The others have been superseded by the towns which have sprung up on the line of the railroads. These offices were a great convenience to the settlement – a cause of rejoicing among the beneficiaries and established through the influence of one man.

Chapter IX

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