Rural Mail Delivery’s First Year

Free rural mail delivery was still very new to folks in the Skidmore area in early 1901, but it was clearly popular, as this report from the February 22, 1901 edition, page 1, shows:

Rural Mail Delivery.
Two Rural Mail Routes were established out of Skidmore the 1st of last September, one east and southeast of town and the other west.  For the first month September, there were handled on the east route 2787 pieces of mail matter and on the west route, 4170 pieces.  During the month of January there were 4438 pieces handled on the east route and 6276 on the west route.  The gain was a little over 509 per cent on the east route and over 50 per cent on the west route.  The total handled on the two routes for the month of January was about 54 per cent increase over the first month – September.

We need the northeast route and then we will be alright until some other people want rural delivery.  Rural delivery of the mail has come to stay and let us help all the people we can.  The people along the proposed line of the route northeast of town want to see about the roads as the inspector may happen along just any old day, and if the roads are not in good condition he may not recommend the route.

Rural Delivery Begins

The much-anticipated and much-worked-for day had come.  No doubt it was a proud and happy day for Postmaster T. L. Howden.

From the August 31, 1900 Skidmore Standard, page 1:

Rural Delivery Begins Tomorrow.

Saturday morning, O. F. Hutchison, carrier on the west route, and Fred Shell, carrier on the east route, will make their first official trip over the post-roads with mail for the farmers along the line.

The impression prevails with some farmers that if they put up a box and receive mail from the carrier, they could not, if they so desired at any time, have mail handed to them at the post office window.  With this understanding, many have signified an unwillingness to put up boxes.  But in as much as this is an entirely false impression, we doubt not that all the families along the routes will soon avail themselves of the advantages offered by the rural mail system.

Farmers who have boxes up, may call for their mail at the post office window and receive it the same as if there were no such thing as free rural mail delivery.

It looks like things got off to a successful start, judging from this follow-up report in the September 7 edition:

Rural Mail Delivery Started Saturday.
The passenger train was more than an hour late last Saturday morning and the rural mail carriers were delayed until ten o’clock in getting started on their initial trips.  Notwithstanding this fact they made the round and arrived in Skidmore in good time to catch the evening mail.  The weather has been good so far and their work has not been unpleasant.  The novelty of the thing has not yet worn off and the carriers are watched by numbers of people who remain at the post office until they have departed.