Jean Schwieder


As I was picking up the mail from our mailbox the other day, I got to thinking about the advantage of having mail delivered to us. In checking through the internet I have found that, according to Google, nearly 4.1 million people, or 66 percent of the American population, lived in rural areas in 1891. It seems that town and city dwellers enjoyed home delivery of mail since 1863, but the rural inhabitants were required to get their mail at the post office. This meant a trip to the nearest town with a post office. And it would sometimes be weeks before a trip to town was made and that was by horse drawn wagon or horseback.

Digging deeper, I found that the postmaster general from 1880 to 1893 was John Wanamaker and he was considered one of the “most innovative and energetic” men to ever be head of the Post Office Department, which was the predecessor of the United States Postal Service. His thinking was that it was “more sense for one person to deliver mail than for 50 people to ride into town to collect their mail” so he suggested rural customers should receive free delivery. However, this change took time.

Reach Jean Schwieder at 208-522-8098 or by email at straddlin

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