OF THE POSTOFFICE.
Published in the Kansas City
Journal of Commerce
January 19, 1870
In the year 1853 the
City of Kansas contained 400 or 500 inhabitants, and its mail
accommodations were limited to a tri-weekly mail East, a weekly
horse back mail as far West as Westport, and a similar mail to
Parkville, Platte City and Weston. The mail was then kept in a
dry goods box in the rear of Gilham & Daniel's store, on the Levee.
The office dodged about the Levee two or three times, and finally,
in the year 1854, upon the appointment of Daniel Edgington to
the postmastership, he removed the office from the then center of
business, the Levee, two blocks south up Main street, which was then
nothing but a cow path, no business being done anywhere in the city
except upon the Levee, and no improvements south of it but one brick
house, the Colorado House, on the corner of Main and Fourth streets.
The salary of the office was then $150 per year.
The Leveeites raised a
big muss over the removal, and peace was only restored by a
compromise, the postmaster agreeing to deliver mail matter on the
Levee, which he did, his hat serving as a mail bag. Thus
matters wagged on until 1855, when J. C. Ransom was appointed
postmaster. The new postmaster at once made a flank movement,
and moved the office back to the center, to-wit, the Levee.
This movement was exceedingly popular for two reasons: First,
the hat delivery was played out, and second, Ranson's clerk, Mr.
William Bales (who now lives eight or nine miles south of this
city), had previously clerked in the other Levee house when the dry
goods box had played the role of postoffice, and thus had made
himself conversant with the business of the office. About this
time the postoffice box system was introduced, and in the year 1856
more than 200 boxes were rented. The office that year, 1856,
paid (as appears by memoranda made then) a little over $600.
The year 1856 was one of
great commercial prosperity in this city. The Santa Fe trade
had become fixed here, and the Levee and all avenues leading to it
were crowded with wagons, mules, and oxen belonging to Santa Fe
traders and Kansas emigrants. About that time Main street was
cut to a passable grade and great improvements had been made.
In the summer of 1857,
the business of the postoffice had increased to such an extent that
a larger office became a necessity and Postmaster Ranson, being
unable to procure an allowance for rent and clerk hire (as is now
customary), sent in his resignation, which was accepted, and
R. T. Van Horn was appointed to the position thus vacated.
In his turn Colonel Van
Horn made a forward movement, which brought the office to a small
one-story frame building on Main street, between Main and Walnut,
and here Colonel Foster, our present Postmaster, made his first
debut. He was employed in the office on Third street by Col
Van Horn, and it is stated that he attended to the office for its
proceeds. This, however, is but hearsay. The next move
Swope's building on Main, between Third and Fourth streets,
where it remained until the spring of 1861, at which time Col Van
Horn resigned, and upon the unanimous request of the people, Col
Foster was appointed to the vacancy. The office remained
stationary between Third and Fourth streets until 1864, when A. H.
Hallowell was appointed Postmaster and moved the office to the
building now occupied by The Journal. H. B. Branch was the
next Postmaster, and he removed the office to the corner of Fifth
and Main streets. Col. Branch did not hold out long, and Col.
Foster once again assumed command, and removed to the old Union
Hotel building. During the winter of 1869 the office was moved
into the Foster building. Here it remained until January,
1870, when it was removed to its present location.
When Col. Foster first
received the appointment of Postmaster, he had only one assistant,
and that was a boy who helped him in his duties. Today he
employs six clerks and has 2,340 boxes, nearly all of which are
In the last six months
of 1869 he sold over $12,000 worth of postage stamps, and the
Postoffice Inspector sent last fall from Washington city, said that
no office in Missouri or Kansas has more perfectly kept books or
better arranged postal facilities than the one at Kansas City.
Certainly no office in Western Missouri or Kansas does a larger
business than ours, and that business increases fully fifty per
cent, each year. In 1869, $71,799.39 worth of money
orders were sold. It is far greater than that of St. Joseph,
and, we suppose, over double that of Leavenworth.
We are indebted to the
News and to our efficient Postmaster for the facts contained
in the foregoing article.