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Mason County Memories

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Origins of local postal service

This is another gem of local history that I have run across in submitted in the original text for your enjoyment. The information was compiled by a number of sources by an unknown author.

“The first depository for mail in Mason County was the hollow of a pine tree that stood on the point south of Sweet & Taylor's mill: near the Pere Marquette memorial mound. That was in 1847, when two men named Parkes were making shingles up the river, and the "Hooker", which took the shingles, brought their mail to the pine, and carried their letters back to Grand Haven, the nearest post office. In 1851 a man named Cooper made three trips during the winter, carrying the mail from Grand Haven to Manistee, and was paid a small amount subscribed by the inhabitants. Thomas Livingston carried the mail on this route in 1852, and a man named Holmes had the task in 1853.

(1) In 1851 William Quevillon, a FrenchCanadian furbuyer for Louis Campau, and later a sawmill operator on Butterfield Creek in Kent County, moved his family to what is now known as the Beckman farm, a homestead of 160 acres on the banks of Lake Michigan about six miles south of Ludington, He had cruised through the region as woodman for W. M. Ferry of Grand Haven, and shortly after moving to Mason County, the first postoffice here was established, through the influence of Mr. Ferry, at Mr. Quevillon's house, called Fairview, and Mr. Quevillon held the job of postmaster for eighteen years. Anderson says that an Indian carried the U. S. mail from Grand Haven to Traverse City about four times a year, and that postage on a letter from Grand Rapids to Fairview (Mason County Postoffice) was fifty cents.

(2) Other references state that the government established a postal route in 1855, and that the first contract for carrying mail was let to one Metcalf, who carried the mail on the back of one pony, and rode another alongside. On one occasion, a young man sent by Metcalf was drowned while crossing the ferry at the mouth of the Pere Marquette river. The ferry, an old raft, went to sea with the man and two horses upon it, The ferry at that time was just north of the bluff, and on mail day, someone about the mill would keep watch until he saw the carrier, then take the ferry across for him, and bring the man and the mail back on the boat, letting the ponies swim behind. The mail was left at the mill store for several years, until a post office was established at Pere Marquette in 1864, but the name of the postoffice was Ludington. The first office was kept in James Ludington's store, with David A. Melendy as postmaster.

The first Post Office close to Scottville was established at Amber Village in 1870, and was conducted by Chauncey Richert, who later came to Sweetland, a new village two miles east of Amber on the right of way of the Flint &, Pere Marquette Railway Co. Sweetland became Scottville in 1882. At this time, Amber had a mill, a store, and a physician.

According to notes prepared for the Scottville Woman's Study Club, Scottville people first received their mail at George Readers' store, located in a brown building where Lapenas' Feed Mill, now Swinehart's Feed and Grain is now. The Reader building was later moved to the corner of Crowley and West First street (where the little white house now stands), but was finally torn down and a new house built, George Reader was a jack of all trades: grocerystore clerk, depot agent, postal clerk, with a cap he wore for each different type of work. These caps he hung on the wall, and was very careful to always put they right hat on for the particular job he was about to do. That postal department was far different from the present day post office: two cracker barrels with a long board stretched between them. This board was marked off with painted lines into sections and each family had a section into which their mail was laid.

The exact date the first Post Office began operating here in Scottville is not known, but the aforementioned Chauncey Richert was the first postmaster, and the earliest records available are dated 1880, and refer to the Post office at Sweetland as having been "a going concern" for some time. The first Post office was in a building just south of the tracks on the east side of the street. Later C. W. Jones became Postmaster and the office was moved across the street to the store where the Scottville Cream Station was located and where the new postoffice building is now. The large pine tree cut down to make room for the building was planted by Mr. Jones.

The first depot was also located on the east side of what is now Main street, and in the same building where the first Post Office was located.” End of part 1    

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