Please Mr. Postman…*Dec 11th, 2008 | By Leonard Legends & Legacies | Category: How-To, Real People, Real Stories
An old family legend said Daniel “Uncle Dan” Leonard opened his own post office because was tired of walking fifteen miles to town only to find the weekly stagecoach delayed. Think about that for a second. 1) Mail delivery via stagecoach. 2) No home delivery at all. 3) No phone or phone number to call. 4) No horse to ride. Now quitcherbitchin’.
Turns out that old story was true. Know how I found out? The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and a very old map. Of all the documents and materials produced by the federal government, only 1-3% are actually saved. NARA has documents dating back to 1775 and postal records made the cut.
From a $34 dollar roll of microfilm, I discovered that my great-grandfather was appointed postmaster of “Post Office Dan” on October 7th, 1870. He noted, on his application to open the post office, that it would be run from his house and that there were no roads connecting the nearest towns to the north and south.
Once his application was approved, it was up to the postal service to get the mail to him as often as six times per week, roads or no roads. It was Dan’s responsibility to deliver it to the twenty-eight families living within two miles of his home. He did that, on foot, for several years, before he hired a neighbor to do it on horseback.
When Uncle Dan decided to close his post office in December of 1876, a neighbor volunteered to open a new one two miles away, naming it “Post Office Leonard” in Uncle Dan’s honor. Technically, “Dan” and “Leonard” both show up in government records as “towns” and as such, generated even more government records over their lifetimes. Those, too, are available for purchase or loan.
NARA has records of government land grants, military records, immigration reports, and hundreds of other information-laden documents. Worth checking out. Give their web site a peak for information on holdings and how to view them.
Before we leave the subject of postmasters, I know of at least two more in the Leonard line… Uncle Dan’s brother James Heron Leonard in Marion, Ohio… and my very-much living cousin Doug Leonard in Corning, Iowa. I’m sure there are probably more. One of the Isaacs, after all, was the founder of Leonardsburg, Ohio.
And speaking of towns, what can you tell me about Leonard, Texas… Leonardsville, Kansas… Leonard, Missouri… Leonardsville, New York… Leonard, Michigan… Leonardtown, Maryland… Leonard, Oklahoma… Arkansas and West Virginia???
* “Please, Mr. Postman” was Motown’s first number one record, by the Marvelettes, in late 1961. Who says we’re not a full-service site?.