Rural Free Mail Delivery

T. L. Howden, Skidmore’s Postmaster, was an enterprising fellow who kept the local paper up-to-date on all matters related to the post office.  In return, the paper supported his efforts, as seen in the November 17, 1899 Skidmore Standard:

Rural Delivery
The prospect for a free rural delivery route in the territory south, southwest and northwest of Skidmore is now very bright.  The route selected is an exceptionally good one and Postmaster Howden has every reason to believe that it will be established.  He has gone over the route securing petitioners and the people in general are very enthusiastic over the prospects of a free daily mail delivery at their own doors, so to speak.  The route selected will be, from the Skidmore postoffice 3 miles south, thence 4 miles west, thence 2 miles north, thence 1 mile west, thence 2 miles north, thence 2 miles west, thence 1 mile north, thence 3 miles east, thence 2 miles south and 4 miles east to Skidmore.

Postmaster Howden’s recruiting efforts were not without a few difficulties, as this item from elsewhere in the paper shows:

Tom Howden was taken to be a confidence man, the other day, while he was out securing petitioners for the rural delivery route.  Just think of it – our own genial, frank, open faced Tommy!  That man is no student of human nature.

As it so often does, success inspires more success, and the following week, the Standard reported another expansion:

Another Rural Delivery Route
Postmaster Howden was so encouraged by his success with the western route for rural free delivery mail service that he mapped out another route for the district east southeast and northeast of Skidmore and has been securing petitioners on his list this week.  Tom is acting on the belief that if a little of a desirable feature is good, more of it is better; and his efforts for the east route are meeting with such great success that he may map out another route yet and thus secure the whole thing.

The farmers are the ones who are chiefly benefited by rural free delivery mail service as it brings them in close touch with the outside world.  Each farmer can have his daily and weekly papers fresh from the press and be as well informed on public affairs as is town and city cousin.  And strange to say, in the face of this fact, many farmers hesitate before placing their names on the petition; in a few instances they absolutely refuse to sign the petition.  Most of them fear that some cost may be attached to the service in the future; but it would be impossible for such a condition to rise.  The government establishes the route and pays the carrier and if it is not self supporting the route can be discontinued.

The country adjacent to Skidmore is populated by a good class of farmers – most of them wealthy – the kind of people who make the rural free delivery routes most successful and the prospects for securing two routes – and perhaps three – are very flattering.  The second route will be east from the post office to the cross roads – south and east to Liberty school house – south to John McDowell’s – east to W. A. Sewell’s – south to New Hope church – east to Morgan school house – north to Rockford church and west to Skidmore.  Mr. Howden said he would have his petitions ready to send in this week.


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