Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the establishment of the postal system in the nation, southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
Georgia became part of the plan for a colonial post office from the very beginning. In fact, the Post Office Report #103 (1835) shared how important Georgia was considered in the colonies.
By the turn of the new century, handling the mail was big business indeed. The document, “1801 Georgia Post Office Operations,” shows that Georgia’s post office business had grown by leaps and bounds. Georgia’s post office revenue in 1801 included $10,1211.93 spent on stamped letters, $1,012.46 spent on newspaper stamps, $174.58 spent on letters mailed on ships, and $9.63 spent on “way” letters, mailed in between post offices.
Georgia’s Post Office expenses in 1801 included $51.30 in “free postage,” franking by postmasters, postmaster commissions on letters ($2,543.84) and newspapers ($506.43), and postmaster salaries ($3,201.37).
There was also $522.79 spent on what were called “contingent expenses,” $6,244.68 spent on transportation costs, and another $981.34 to state creditors. Georgia’s post offices were operating at a substantial loss.
The 1816 Statement of Post Office for Georgia listed 66 post offices, 1,784 miles of post roads, $7875.25 in postage, $6,356.23 in transportation costs, leaving a $1,351.78 profit. There were post offices in Athens, Augusta, Birdsville, Brunswick, Bryan Court-House, Darien, Dublin, Frederica, Jacksonborough, Louisville, Haven, Milledgeville, Saundersville, Savannah, Shoals of Ogeechee, St. Mary’s, Sunbury, Waynesborough and Wrightsborough.
Records show that in 1832 and 1834, mail stages crossed 282,598 and 283,536 miles, and post-riders and sulkies carried mail over 374,236 and 509,182 miles.
According to the document “Extent of Mail Routes and the Expense of Transportation” published in 1825, numerous permanent mail routes had been established between Georgia’s largest cities.
They included: route 276, taking one path from Savannah to Augusta once a week; route 278, going from Savannah to St. Mary’s twice a week; route 281, which took a separate path from Savannah to Augusta three times a week; and route 282, going from Savannah to Louisville every two weeks.
In addition, there was route 285, going Augusta to Athens twice a week; route 286, going Milledgeville to Augusta three times a week; route 297, going from Milledgeville to Athens once a week; and route 304, going from Milledgeville to Louisville once a week.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.