Note: The following is one of a series of articles looking at events in the history of Bulloch County.
According to the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, (1838), the first official postal dispatches in America were recorded in Massachusetts Bay in 1639.
Stewart Holbrook’s book, The Old Post Road (1962) reveals in 1672, King Charles 2nd ‘injoined’ his American subjects to "enter into a close ‘correspondency’ with each other."
The British Colonial Series, (of State Papers) of the Americas (1869) disclosed “all letters from beyond the seas were to be taken to the tavern kept by Richard Fairbank in Boston.”
Alison Gavin’s article, “In the King’s Service,” published in Prologue Magazine (2009), reported “(Fairbank) charged a penny for each letter but had to answer all miscarriages through his own neglect in this kind."
The “Official” U.S. Postal Service history, The United States Postal Service (2007), stated that in 1692, Englishman Thomas Neale received a 21-year grant from the King to create a North American colonial mail system.
Neale never came to North America, appointing instead New Jersey Governor Andrew Hamilton of New Jersey to do his bidding as his Deputy Postmaster General.
William Douglas’ book, A summary of the British settlements in North-America (1755), revealed that the first post offices were established in both Massachusetts and New York in 1717.
In 1737, Britain’s Crown Post appointed Benjamin Franklin to be Postmaster of Philadelphia. Franklin, the official printer for Pennsylvania, published Pennsylvania’s newspaper of record.
Robert Bolton, Esq., the first Postmaster of Savannah, was appointed in 1764, by Benjamin Barron, Esq., Postmaster General of the Southern District of America.”
Documents in Vol. 5, Papers of Benjamin Franklin (1962) recorded the “Deputy Postmasters General and Manager of all his Majesty’s Provinces and Dominions (of) North America” salaries were “£300 per annum.”
Franklin, dismissed from his duties for the Crown Post in 1774, was appointed Postmaster General by the Continental Congress one year before they declared their independence from the crown.
According to Tom Kelleher ‘s book “Mail and the Postal System in 1830’s” (1997), the Post Office’s 8,700 postmasters made up 3/4 of the nation’s civilian work-force. Mails were delivered over 94,052 miles.
The first post office in Georgia opened in Savannah in 1775. More post offices opened: Athens, Augusta, Brunswick, Bryan (C.H.), Darien, Dublin, Frederica, Jacksonborough, Louisville, Milledgeville and Sandersville.
In addition, a number of smaller post office “way stations” opened: Birdsville, Frederica, Haven, the Shoals of Ogeechee, St. Mary’s, Sunbury, Waynesborough, and Wrightsborough.
Around 1800, the post office established a "Post Road" between Louisville and Savannah over the old Ogeechee Road, which became known as the Louisville Road.
Post Office Report #103 (1835) revealed the 1801 post office revenues: $10,1211.93 for stamped letters, $1,012.46 for newspaper stamps, $174.58 for letters mailed on ships, and $9.63 for “way” letters mailed on the road.
Communities were served by mail carriers even before there was an established post office. Letters were addressed to plantations or taverns, where they would be delivered.
The first American postage stamps were printed in 1842 by a private mail service, the City Dispatch Post in New York City. These 3-cent stamps bore the image of George Washington.
According to the article “Going Postal” in The American Archivist (1998), in the 1840’s a letter’s weight, rather than the number of sheets, was used to determine postal rates, which were 3 cents per half-ounce.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email him at email@example.com.