|Image courtesy of the Erik Overbey Collection,|
University of South Alabama Archives
This 1905 street scene shows the Wilmer, Ala., post office building on the far right and an unidentified building on the far left.
Free home mail delivery began in cities in 1863, but the U.S. Post Office didn’t begin Rural Free Delivery (RFD) directly to farm families until 1896. Before then, farmers had to pick up their mail at sometimes distant post offices or pay private express companies to deliver it.
But a trip to the Wilmer post office no doubt gave Napoleon B. and Julia M. Pierce and their neighbors and friends in the Mobile County farming community a chance to share pleasantries, news and gossip of the community.
Many rural communities built their identities around their post offices. Today, those post offices are closing, victims of inefficiency and the same communications revolution that is leading to the elimination of newspapers, magazines and phone booths.
Did you have an ancestor who was a postmaster or postmistress? Did he or she leave stories about people who came into the post office and the life of the community?