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HISTORY 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 was to 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 occupied.

     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.

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