History of Mount Morris
The first settlers of Mount Morris township were not often favored with mail matter and the receipt of a letter, parcel or paper was considered quite an event. In Peter Knodle's diary, page 31, Mr. Knodle makes a special entry announcing the fact that he had "received a pamphlet," which illustrates the importance of the receipt of mail matter at that early day. The first regular mails to arrive in Mount Morris were brought in 1839 and 1840 by a stage line run between Chicago and Galena by Frink & Walker. Hon. R. R. Hitt remembers that the stage driver always stopped at his father's house (the old house north of the farm residence now occupied by Gera Watts) to water his horses.
The mails were brought by stage from the eastward for probably nearly fifteen years, until finally the Illinois Central railroad was built through, Polo in 1853 and a mail route established from that place. F. B. Brayton, who was postmaster from 1860 to 1881, acquired the stage line between Polo and Oregon in 1864, and carried both mail and passengers from that time until the coming of the Chicago & Iowa railroad in 1871, when" it was of course done away with. This stage operated by Mr. Brayton made daily trips between Polo and Oregon, thus affording the Mount Morris people a daily mail. At about the beginning or closing of the school years at Rock River Seminary this stage line had to be increased by several additional vehicles, and did a prosperous business.
After the coming of the Chicago & Iowa railroad and the commencement of the passage of numerous Illinois Central trains over the line to Chicago, the people of Mount Morris had a very good mail service for many years. Since the Illinois Central trains reach Chicago by another route, the mails have been somewhat less frequent, but sufficient for all purposes, nevertheless. Mails now arrive from the west at 10: 28 A. M. and 6 P. M., and from the east at 12: 25 P. M. and 9: 45 P. M. Most of the mail comes in, however, on the 10: 28 A. M. passenger from the west.
A postoffice was first established in Mount Morris in 1841, and Rev. John Sharp appointed postmaster. Mr. Sharp was succeeded by his son-in-law, Frederick G. Petrie. After him, followed for a short time, Hiram Beard; then John Ankney for many years, who was succeeded by Benjamin G. Stephens, followed by Edward Davis, and then Frederick B. Brayton, who held that position for twenty-one years, as previously mentioned. Prior to this time the postoffice was usually kept in a store of which the postmaster was generally the owner, and consisted of nothing further than a box with the necessary pigeon holes and which could, and usually was, moved from one place to another, when the postmaster changed, on a wheelbarrow. It is remembered that John Ankney kept it in his store which occupied and old grout addition to the house on Center Street. , between Wesley and McKendrie streets, now occupied by John Blacker as a residence. This old grout addition has long since been removed, but the remainder still stands. It is numbered 27 in the view on page 51 of this book. Mr. Brayton, who held the office for so long, was first appointed postmaster by Abraham Lincoln in 1861. He kept the office in the store.
Following Mr. Brayton the succession of postmasters up to the present time has been as follows: O. H. Swingley, 1882-1886, Henry Sharer, 1886-1890, Frank Tice 1890-1894, John E. McCoy, 1894-1898, Holly C. Clark, 1898-to the present time. In 1894, Mr. McCoy, upom coming into possession of the office, purchased the elegant new office fixtures which are now in use. The case is one of the finest in the country.
Mr. H.C. Clark, the present postmaster, took possession in March, 1898, and will continue in office until March 1902. It is seen that each postmaster holds over about one and a half years after the presidential election, due to an irregularity made years ago.
Since the Civil War there have been but two Democratic postmasters in Mt. Morris, -Messrs. Henry Sharer and John E. McCoy. The re-election of President McKinley in November 1900, assures another Republician postmaster following Mr. Clark, or Mr. Claark's re-appointment. The salary at present is $1,500, a reduction of $300 over 1899 and several previous, due to the removal of the Brethren Publishing House.
Postmaster Clark is at present ably assisted in the work by Mr. U. C. Nye.
[Source: "Mount Morris, Past and Present" Compiled and Published by the Kable Brothers, 1900 - Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Collette Jenson]
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