Rural Free Delivery 1901

Recollections of RFD

(Photo above:  RFD Route C showing Union Mills Homestead in the background. Photo taken by Louis Shriver at Union Mills, c. 1901.)

Louis E. Shriver’s Memories of the Post Office

(Source:  Carroll County Celebrates 100 Years of Rural Free Delivery, Spring 1999 Union Mills Homestead Newsletter, p2)

My father, Andrew K. Shriver, was postmaster at Union Mills during the Civil War, and at intervals, for a number of years after-wards, his death, in 1884. I succeeded him and remained in office for a long time.

Those were the days of the old Star Route System. A liveryman, named John Spalding of Littlestown, was the contractor on our route and he made a round trip daily from Gettysburg to Westminster and return. The mail coach consisted of a rickety vehicle of some kind, with a steed to match. Horses were changed at Littlestown which was the relay station.

The post office at different times was located in our dining room (southwest corner of house) in the front hall and in what we called the office, the room east of the hall. There were no restrictions in those days and when the old leather mail pouch was unlocked and its contents dumped on the floor there was a general scramble by all those present for any letters or other mail that might be addressed to them.

There was a lot of red tape connected with the dispatch of a registered letter. Part of it required that the letter be placed in a heavy cardboard envelope, sealed and stamped, to which a blank receipt was attached. That receipt was signed by the Postmaster at the next office and mailed back to the Postmaster who registered the letter, and that system of receipting, step by step, was continued through all the offices handling the letter until it reached its destination.

The post office on our route, between Westminster and Gettysburg, in order named, were as follows: Stonersville, Maryland; Biggs, Maryland (now Mount Pleasant); Union Mills, Maryland; Silver Run, Maryland; Littlestown, Pennsylvania; and Two Taverns, Pennsylvania.

Rural Free Delivery put the old Star route post office system out of commission in Carroll County in 1899. We were on R.F.D. Route A. Route A (and three others in the County) were served by two horse wagons, especially built for the purpose and was manned by a driver and a postal clerk. They were, in effect, post offices on wheels, as they handled registered letters and money orders as well as, all other mail matters.

Letters from Louis E. Shriver to the Rural Free Delivery Offices, Washington, DC

Letter Dated April 27, 1904:
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Union Mills, Md.
April 27, 1904
To the Supt. of Rural Free Delivery,
Washington, D.C.

Dear sir –

I understand that the P.O. Department is considering the advisability of replacing the four Postal Wagons in Carroll Co., with Rural Carriers.  I certainly trust that no such change will be made.  If it is it will surely work to the detriment of the service, will lower the high standard to which it has attained and the patrons of the various effected (both wagon and carrier) are bound to suffer in consequence.

I reside on the route of Postal Wagon D, which is about 26 miles long.  I can not see how an ordinary carrier, single handed, can serve a route of that length, supply some four or five carriers with the bulk of their mail, and at the same time look after his own horse and vehicle, and perform the work in the prompt, save and generally satisfactory manner in which it is now accomplished.  I believe in extending Rural Free Delivery, but do not believe in

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making it less effective, even on the score of economy.  The appropriations for it are being annually increased.

Well do we all remember the trials and tribulations attending the establishment of the service in our country, and the kicking that was made against it, and now, when things are working smoothly and the people satisfied, it would undoubtedly be bad policy to make a backward step.  I was always in favor of the service and used my influence to induce the people to accept it, and also assisted the inspection in laying out several of the routes in this section.

Carroll County is now referred to with pride by all of us, as a model of the Rural Free Delivery System.  Therefore, that its high standard be maintained, I emphatically urge that it is highly important that the Postal wagons be continued.

Apologizing for the length of the letter, I am
Yours very Respectfully,
Louis E. Shriver
a former PM of Union Mills, Md.

Judge Harry M. Clabaugh, Washington, D.C., knows me and if you see proper you can inquire of him regarding my standing in the community.

Letter Dated April 11, 1905:
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Union Mills, Md.
April 11, 1905
To the 4th Asst. P.M. General,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir –

Dr. George E. Baughman, Postmaster of Westminster, Md., advises me that the P.O. Department proposes to substitute a name other than that of Union Mills for the Postal Station to be established at this place, for the reason that there are a couple other Postoffices in the state having the word “Union” in their titles, as for instance, “Uniontown.”

Dr. Baughman has asked me to suggest a new name for the station.  That I do not want to do, but instead I urgently and emphatically request you to abandon the idea of using any other name than that of Union Mills.  Ours is not a large town.  It has age, however, and is well pleased with its present name.

More than one hundred years

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ago my grandfather, Andrew Shriver (a prominent and influential man in his day) with his brother David located here and erected a large brick grist mill which is standing today, in the possession of the descendants of Andrew Shriver, and is doing a thriving business.  The uniting of the two brothers in the erection of that mill suggested to them a name for the settlement, “Union Mills,” and the place was accordingly so called and has ever since been known by that name.  You can readily see and appreciate, therefore, why any one hearing the name of Shriver would deeply regret the loss of the time honored name our village now bears.

I was Postmaster here and am well aware of the fact that similarity of names sometimes makes trouble.  But in the present case, I am convinced that mail matter does not often get off the track and when it does it is not delayed more than a day or two.

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On the other hand I believe that if the change in name is made there will be more trouble than ever.  We now practically have two addresses for our mail, namely Westminster, Md., and Union Mills, Md. (and our correspondents would doubtless for a long time continue to so address us) and to these would yet be added the new name of the station.

I might also say in this connection that I have always favored the R.F.D. and when the Department had lots of trouble with the people and the routes I helped all I could to make the system a success.

In conclusion I am glad that the station is to be established and trust that it may receive no other name than that of “Union Mills!”

Apologizing for the length of this letter, I am, Yours Very Respectfully,

Louis E. Shriver,
Rep. County Cen. Committee