Sault Ste Marie
Post Office
Chippewa County MI

Post Office about 1920 from by Paul Petosky


Michigan was admitted to statehood on January 26, 1837. Name changed to Sault Sainte Marie on November 6, 1903. Sault Sainte Marie, MI was established in 1668, and is the third oldest continious settlement in the United States and the oldest in Michigan. It ranks among the top ten in Michigan for having the oldest post office.



(This is a first day cover postmarked June 28, 1955   at Sault Sainte Marie, MI for the issuance of the Soo Locks Centennial postage stamp)


This was a letter from John Hulbert to Rev Abel Bingham in the Soo in 1848. John Hulbert was the second postmaster at the Sault Ste. Marie Post Office, and was the secretary under Henry R. Schoolcraft when they signed the 1836 Ottawa & Chippewa Indian Treaty.

Contributed by Paul Petosky
Click here to View Contents of the Letter








This is the New Post Office in Sault Ste. Marie, MI (1910).
It was built in 1909 and opened for business in 1910.
They moved to a new location in 1958. This building is now City Hall.
The building was restored a few years ago. (Contributed by Paul Petosky)


The Territorial Governor Lewis Cass raised the Stars & Stripes in Sault de Ste Marie in 1820. The post office was first established as Sault de Ste Marie in Michigan Territory (Michilimackinac County) on September 11, 1823 with Samuel B. Griswold as its first postmaster. It was changed to (Chippewa County) on February 1, 1827.

(Sault De Ste Marie Postmark Nov. 2, 1849)      








History of the Sault Sainte Marie, MI Post Office by Paul E. Petosky

Sault Sainte Marie, MI was first named by the French Jesuits, Issac Joques and Charles Raymbault, in 1641, due to its location overlooking the rapids. Father Jacques Marquette built a mission here in 1668, thus the year of establishment. Sault Sainte Marie is Michigan's oldest city and is also the third oldest continuous settlement in the United States. The first oldest being Saint Augustine, Florida and second is Santa Fe, New Mexico. Governor Lewis Cass raised the Stars and Stripes in Sault Sainte Marie in 1820. In Michigan Territory and Michilimackinac County at the time, Henry B. Griswold became the first postmaster on September 11, 1823, and he shortened the name to Sault de Sainte Marie. Although not the oldest post office in Michigan, it ranks within the top 10, with the oldest post office in Michigan established in Detroit (Wayne County) on January 1, 1803.

I would like to pay tribute to William M. Snell, Postmaster in Sault Ste Marie from November 21, 1921 to February 20, 1932 for his foresight and knowledge and to take upon himself to write about the 100th Anniversary of the Sault Sainte Marie Post Office and keep the spirit of the past alive, so that it can presented again at this time for future generations to come.

The early history of the Post Office here is lost in the mist of the dim past. All we have is a definite record of is the date of establishment and the 11th day of September next (1923) will be its one hundreth anniversary. On that day in the year of Grace 1823, under the name of Sault de Ste Marie, this office was duly authorized and Samuel B. Griswold commissioned as the first postmaster thereof.

As the Post Office is the local focus for the exchange of news, gossip and friendly greetings in every small community, so in the early days at the Soo, especially so in the winter when the embargo of snow and ice and lack of railway transportation that actually isolated the town from outside communication, except such as was afforded by the irregular and infrequent service then in vogue.

About as far back as present day recollection extends is to the administration of Samuel Ashmun. A writer of a "Do You Remember" story tells us of the receipt of the news of President Lincoln's assassination in 1863 and how the entire village population gathered in the Post Office in "Plank Alley" to get further details.

Plank Alley in those days was a busy throughfare between Portage Avenue and Water Street (Ashmun Street terminated at Portage) and is recognized today as the alley between Conway & Halls Drug Store and the Strand Theatre.

Samuel Ashmun was postmaster (May 31, 1861-May 22, 1866) and the post office was located about half way between Portage and Water Streets.

Oron S. Lyon, his successor, (May 22, 1866-March 24, 1868) moved the post office to a small frame store on the south side of Water Street at the corner of Plank Alley.

Edward Ashmun, the son of Samuel was the next postmaster (March 24, 1868-May 16, 1868) and he moved the post office just across the alley to the east side where it remained until his successor, Richard Payment (September 2, 1872-March 12, 1873), again moved it into his drug store in what was known as the Boyle and Roach building on the south side of Water Street. It remained here also during the term of Alexander Gurnoe (March 12, 1873-December 26, 1876), until coming again into the hands of Edward Ashmun (December 26, 1876-July 2, 1877), he placed it in a building which stood on the south side of Water Street, about at its present intersection with Ashmun Street. Upon being succeeded by Myron W. Scranton (July 2, 1877-July 6, 1885) the latter, as during a previous term as postmaster (May 28, 1869-September 2, 1872) conducted the post office in his general merchandise store, located on the North side of Water Street at the East side of River Street (a continuation of the present street of the same name to the waterfront). At the expiration of Scanton's second term he was succeeded by Thomas Ryan (July 6, 1885- July , 1886) who placed the post office in what was then known as the "Old Court House" on the north side of Water at the Ashmun Street park entrance. Here it remained until taken over by Louis P. Trempe (July 3, 1886-October 16, 1889) who moved it into a frame building about where the old Custom House now stands on the west side of the Government Slip. On the completion of the splended Sault National Bank building on Ashmun Street where the Soo Hardware Company warehouse now stands, the post office was moved in 1888. It remained here until this building with many others was totally destroyed by the Great Fire in September 1896. It was then given temporary quarters near by and soon moved into the West side of the Conway and Hall Drug Store (the partition has since been removed).

Shortly after William Webster (September 14, 1897-December 21, 1907), having outgrown this location, it was moved into the Savings bank Block occupying the rooms now used by the Telephone Company and the Sault Insurance Company, these rooms at that time being connected. It then remained here until moving into its present home, the beautiful and commodious Federal Building, August 10, 1910.

Very little information can be obtained regarding the character or service of the mail supply for this office during the early days before the advent of the railway. The Department at Washington even is unable to furnish any data, as their records only go back to 1919. It is known from recollection of the older inhabitants however that the service was extremely meager and infrequent. Coming overland from Saginaw and Bay City by courier or dog sled in winter and steamboat in summer. Often in the spring and fall, weeks and even months would elapse without the arrival of the mails. After winter once set in and the trails were established mails came and went twice per week with fair regularity. After the railroad was completed to Cheboygan and St Ignace, which was some years before reaching the Soo, it came daily by means of stage from St Ignace. Our present esteemed fellow citizen James L. Lipsett was one of the last of the contractors for carrying the mails over this route.

With the simultaneous entry of three railroads (Soo Line, D.S.S. & A & C.P.R.) into the Soo in 1887, coupled with the coming of a syndicate of western capitalists who had purchased the right of way of the proposed power canal and announced its development on a large scale, there came a veritable "boom", the population doubled over night. 700 houses were built that summer and fall found many families living in tents. Postal receipts quadrupled and the postmaster at this time was forced to discontinue then practice of reading every postal card and cancelling the stamps with an indelible pencil. The Soo was no longer a Hick Town.

The coming of a new order marked also the passing of the old order of pioneer postmaster. The last of these was Louis P. Trempe (July 3, 1886-October 16, 1889), a fine courteous gentleman of the old school, and who with the assistance of his son Louis, Jr. and daughters conducted the office with marked efficiency considering the unusual burdens upon the service.

Succeeding him came in order Chase S. Osborn (October 16, 1889-September 28, 1893), James R. Ryan (September 28, 1893-September 14, 1897), William Webster (September 14, 1897-December 21, 1907), all of the younger and more aggresive type of businessman. Each of these in turn like their successors C. Horatio Scott (December 21, 1907-January 18, 1916) and James McKenna (January 18, 1916-November 21, 1921), were men of forceful character and each contributed during their respective administrations many innovations and improvements to the service which aided materially in bringing it up to its present development.

Undoubtedy the greatest gains in modernizing this post office were attained under the service of William Webster (September 14, 1897-December 21, 1907). This was due in part of his ability and persistency, and in part to the fact that during this period the Soo attained to the peak in population and prosperity under the benign influence of the Clergue dynasty of industrial development, actual and prospective. During this time the first city delivery was established on March 1, 1898 with four carriers, along with the first rural free delivery with one carrier. The first sub-station at the Canal Office opened on July 16, 1906. *The year 1898 opening is subject to verification. The Canal Post Office by the way is a unique feature in postal service. It was established for the benefit of sailors and marine men passing through the locks and unquestionably gives them the best and most convenient service of any point on the Great Lakes. This is one of the very few Post Offices in the United States that is open day and night. Every hour in the twenty four a competent clerk is in charge to receive and distribute mail, sell money orders, register or insure packages or do any of the varied services of a regular office. Under Postmasters C. Horatio Scott (December 21, 1907-January 18, 1916) and James McKenna (January 18, 1916-November 21, 1921) these various features have been expanded and enlarged. Additional city and rural carriers secured and many additional improvements made.

Today this post office maintains a force of 26 people consisting of eleven clerks and eleven carriers, four substitutes and mail messenger. The carriers include three rural routes, two mounted carriers and one parcel post.

Each day our rural carriers cover a distance of eighty two miles, serving 400 families living in the country, a population of over 1800 and a territory of 75 square miles, delivering pieces of mail. The five foot carriers daily travel an average distance of ten miles each, the two mounted carriers 18 miles each delivering to our citizens 10,000 pieces of mail per day. The parcel post carrier travels from 30 to 50 miles per day handling an average of about 400 parcels.

During the last fiscal year we dispatched 30,000 pieces of registered and insured mail; this year it will be over 40,000. The receipts of this class of mail are much larger. Last year 25,000 money orders were issued 10,000 paid a record which will be broken again this year. This post office now receives and dispatches daily, including railway and star routes, seperate mailings and the average daily turn over is 30,000 articles of mail.

No records are obtainable showing receipts prior to 1885, all others having been destroyed but the Comptrollers Office furnished us with the following:

1885 1886 1887
Gross Receipts 2,174.59 2,066.35 3,345.91
Salary 1,100.00 1,100.00 --953.33
Clerk Hire --100.00 ----99.92 ----86.51
Expenses 1,200.00 1,199.92 1,040.04
Revenues 974.59 1,416.43 2,035.87

The gross receipts in 1922 were: $46,842.09
Salary $ 3,200.00
Clerk & Carrier Hire 36,468.65
Expenses 896.11

This does not include Money order business or other sources of revenue but bare postal receipts and compares with the peak of $61,101.63 attained in 1919, but the latter included sales to district offices amounting to about $1,000 a month, which have since been handled otherwise, it may be assumed that the present year which has thus far shown a fine increase over 1922, will establish a record for the Soo Post Office proper.

This is a far cry from the days before the boom, with the arrival and dispatch of one mail per day, or before the railroad when at some seasons of the year the mail only arrived and departed once per week, and sometimes once per month, but the postal service has always been at the heels of the pioneers and an advancing civilization. Pioneering never stops in the Postal Service. Faster and faster and better and better is the continual slogan. This summer through airplane service will be inaugurated between New York City and the Golden Gate, and we hope in due season to see the Soo become a stopping place on this transcontinental service...

Creed of the Postal Service

"Messenger of sympathy and Love;
Servant of Parted Friends;
Counselor of the Lonely;
Enlarger of Common Life;

Carrier of News and Knowledge;
Instrument of Trade and Industry;
Promoter of Mutal Acquaintance;
Of Peace, and of Good Will
Among Men and Nations."

Having been raised in Chippewa County in my younger years, it has been my pleasure to bring you this story of the Sault Sainte Marie, MI Post Office with the cooperation of the staff at Bayless Public Library and Chippewa County Historical Society, without their cooperation this could not have been presented.

I would like for you to also read my monthly column, "Postmarks from the Past" featured in The Great Lakes Mariners newspaper.


Sault Ste. Marie, MI Post Office (1930s) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

Timeline of Historical Facts on the Sault Sainte Marie, MI Post Office

by Paul E. Petosky

SAULT DE SAINTE MARIE, MICHILIMACKINAC COUNTY, MICHIGAN TERRITORY

TERRITORIAL GOVERNOR LEWIS CASS RAISED THE STARS & STRIPES IN THE SOO IN 1820. (In 1813 he was appointed Michigan's second territorial governor. He registered Michigan to statehood and designed the State's Coat of Arms. He also founded the Historical Society of Michigan in 1828. He served 18 years as Territorial Governor)

POST OFFICE ESTABLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 11, 1823

CHANGED TO CHIPPEWA COUNTY ON FEBRUARY 1, 1827

MICHIGAN ADMITTED TO STATEHOOD ON JANUARY 26, 1837

POST OFFICE WAS CONVERTED INTO A FOURTH CLASS OFFICE ON JULY 1, 1864

DOMESTIC MONEY ORDER BUSINESS ESTABLISHED ON JULY 1, 1875

INTERNATIONAL MONEY ORDER BUSINESS ESTABLISHED ON JANUARY 1, 1880

POST OFFICE WAS ADVANCED TO A THIRD CLASS OFFICE ON OCTOBER 1, 1883

POST OFFICE WAS ADVANCED TO A SECOND CLASS OFFICE ON JULY 1, 1890

CITY DELIVERY SERVICE ESTABLISHED ON MARCH 1, 1898

CANAL STATION POST OFFICE BRANCH OPENED ON JULY 16, 1906.

NAME CHANGED TO SAULT SAINTE MARIE ON NOVEMBER 6, 1903

RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE ESTABLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1904

POST OFFICE OPENED FOR BUSINESS IN THE NEW FEDERAL BUILDING, 209 EAST PORTAGE AVENUE, AUGUST 10, 1910. BUILT IN 1909 WITH JAMES KNOX TAYLOR, SUPERVISING ARCHITECT FOR THE TREASURY, AND GEORGE B. CORTELYOU, SECRETARY OF TREASURY, SERVING UNDER PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT AT THAT TIME. THIS BUILDING IS ON THE LAND THAT ONCE WAS OCCUPIED BY OLD FORT BRADY. IT WAS PURCHASED IN 1989 BY TENDERCARE, INC WHO UNDERTOOK AN EXTENSIVE RESTORATION EFFORT AND PROVIDED SPACE FOR THE RIVER OF HISTORY MUSEUM WHICH OPENED ON JUNE 26, 1992. THE MUSEUM IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

POSTAL SAVINGS DEPOSITORY DESIGNATED ON JUNE 17, 1911

POST OFFICE ADVANCED TO A FIRST CLASS OFFICE ON JULY 1, 1917

FIRST POST OFFICE IN THE UPPER PENINSULA TO RECEIVE AIR MAIL SERVICE BY PENNSYLVANIA CENTRAL AIRLINES, ALSO KNOWN AS CAPITAL AIRLINES IN 1938.

POST OFFICE MOVED TO ITS CURRENT LOCATION AT 161 RIDGE STREET IN 1958.

POSTAL SAVINGS DEPOSITORY REVOKED ON JUNE 21, 1963

CANAL STATION POST OFFICE BRANCH DISCONTINUED OPERATION IN 1990.

POSTMASTERS DATES OF APPOINTMENT

SAMUEL B. GRISWOLD SEPTEMBER 11, 1823
JOHN HULBERT JANUARY 19, 1826
   
HENRY A. LEVAKE JULY 11, 1838
STEPHEN R. WOOD DECEMBER 23, 1839
THOMAS EDWARDS JULY 1, 1841
JAMES L. SCHOOLCRAFT APRIL 11, 1846
LEWIS M. DICKENS OCTOBER 23, 1846
EDWIN I. HULBERT MAY 28, 1850
SAMUEL ASHMUN JULY 28, 1851
MICHAEL DUFFY AUGUST 8, 1852
ALBA JONES JANUARY 13, 1857
EBENEZER WARNER MAY 18, 1858
WILLIAM F. CLITZ JULY 26, 1859
SAMUEL ASHMUN MAY 31, 1861
ORAN S. LYON MAY 22, 1866
EDWARD ASHMUN MARCH 24, 1868
ORAN S. LYON MAY 16, 1868
MYRON W. SCRANTON MAY 28, 1869
RICHARD PAYMENT SEPTEMBER 2, 1872
ALEXANDER GURNOE MARCH 12, 1873
EDWARD ASHMUN DECEMBER 26, 1876
MYRON W. SCRANTON JULY 2, 1877
THOMAS RYAN JULY 6, 1885
LOUIS P. TREMPE JULY 3, 1886
   
CHASE S. OSBORN OCTOBER 16, 1889
   
JAMES R. RYAN SEPTEMBER 28, 1893
WILLIAM WEBSTER SEPTEMBER 14, 1897
C. HORATIO SCOTT DECEMBER 21, 1907
JAMES Mc KENNA JANUARY 18, 1916
WILLIAM M. SNELL NOVEMBER 21, 1921
WILLIAM E. DAVIDSON FEBRUARY 20, 1932
MARY A. RIPLEY APRIL 5, 1933
STEWART T. MORAN OCTOBER 31, 1957
BYARD G. RAEBURN MAY 2, 1958
THOMAS J. KRELL FEBRUARY 2, 1973
GARY J. WHITE JANUARY 2, 1987
JIMMIE A. CARROLL MAY 23, 1987
BILLY R. NORTON JANUARY 22, 1999
BRENDA S. STAIN JUNE 3, 2000-PRESENT

**JAMES McKENNA WAS MARY A. RIPLEY'S FATHER

**THOMAS RYAN WAS JAMES R. RYAN'S FATHER

**SAMUEL ASHMUN WAS EDWARD ASHMUN'S FATHER

**JAMES L. SCHOOLCRAFT WAS HENRY ROWE SCHOOLCRAFT'S BROTHER

**JOHN HULBERT WAS EDWIN I. HULBERT'S FATHER

AUTHORS NOTE:
MY MOTHER HAZEL PHILAMEN (McMULLEN) PETOSKY WAS BORN IN THE SOO ON MARCH 1, 1905. SHE GRADUATED WITH THE CLASS OF 1928 AT WAR MEMORIAL HOSPITAL AS A REGISTERED NURSE.


Mary A. Ripley, was postmaster at the Sault Sainte Marie, MI Post Office
from April 5, 1933 to October 31, 1957.
(This photo and the one of Mr. Wm. H. Snell both courtesy of The Evening News).


Be sure and visit Paul Petoskys website Postmarks From The Past

Current Post Office (Taken in 2003 by Paul Petosky)

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