Map

Regional post office locations in the 19th century.

Mail delivery in 1836 was very different than it is today. After it won independence from Mexico, the Republic of Texas immediately created a Post Office Department and mail routes specifying routes and mode of transportation were contracted to the lowest bidder.After the mail was delivered to a post office folks had to pick it up themselves because home mail delivery didn’t begin until well into the 20th century. So people could use whatever post office was convenient to them. Nineteenth century newspapers regularly published a list of people who had mail waiting to be picked up. 

The Nov. 4, 1837 Houston Telegraph and Texas Register describes Postal Route No 7 as “the route from Houston to Galveston Island, via Harrisburg, Lynchburg, and Spilman’s Island for a total distance of 60 miles.” The mail left Houston every Monday at 8 a.m. and returned to Houston every Sunday. Mail service was conducted by boat. It arrived at Galveston and steam boats would take it to Houston making stops along the way. Spilman’s Island was across the San Jacinto River from Hog Island so if you used this mail stop you would have to go by boat to get your mail. 

The Cedar Bayou Post Office was established in 1847 with W. J. Mills as postmaster. It was located in Liberty County at W. J. Mills’ store near the ferry he operated on today’s Old Needlepoint Road in Chambers County, just south of Interstate 10. An old timer interviewed in 1896 remembered that after the Lynchburg office opened “N. N. John and I, each with a horse, went to Lynchburg and took the ferry on Cedar Bayou at Mills’, who lived on the east bank and reached West Liberty after dark.” In 1858 Chambers County was created from the southern part of Liberty County meaning the office was in Liberty County from 1847 to 1858 and in Chambers County from 1858 until it closed. This was the post office which served the entire area from the Trinity to the San Jacinto Rivers until the Lynchburg office with Mills as postmaster the entire time. With the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, US Post Offices in the Confederate States were discontinued, although they were still listed in official records without a postmaster until 1866.

The Lynchburgh Post Office was established in 1853 with H. Washington as postmaster. This office served all of Harris County east of Houston. The location near the ferry made mail transportation convenient since good roads were still in the future. The name was changed to Lynchburg when the town was established in 1855. The office went through a series of postmasters until it closed in 1861. It reopened after the war with A. P. Tompkins as postmaster. Mary Jones, the widow of Anson Jones, lived just north of today’s W. Main Street (see map) and a January 12, 1875 letter to her from Col. M. Woodward showed Lynchburg as her mailing address. The office permanently closed in 1927. 

The Baytown Post Office was established in 1859 with Simon Hagerman as postmaster of this short-lived office serving the area around Goose Creek. Mail was delivered by steam boat to Midway landing, located on the peninsula just south of the ExxonMobil docks and the post office was located at the dock, known at the time as Hagerman’s Landing. Mary Jones’ Nov 9, 1860 letter to her publisher used Baytown as her mailing address. This office closed in 1862 and never reopened.

After the Civil War, the Bayland Orphan Home was established on the west side of Goose Creek stream. The Bayland Post Office was established in 1869 with A. Gregory as postmaster. It was in service only a year. The 1870 census mentions other mail stops which were not US Post Offices; Midway Landing, Baytown, and Hog Island Landing.

The Cedar Bayou Post Office in Harris County was established in 1871 with C. F. Ilfrey as postmaster and was originally located at his store in the town of Shearn inside the bend in the road where Cedar Bayou Road becomes Ferry Road. The office served a large area, covering West Chambers County and much of East Harris County. Mary Jones’ Nov 19, 1871 letter to her son said “Your letter … had no doubt been at the Cedar Bayou Office for some time as I had no means of sending over there.” Katie Scoregga lived west of Goose Creek stream (see map) but her 1897 letter to the Houston Post also showed a Cedar Bayou address. Even Fred Pelly had a Cedar Bayou address. The office was moved to a frame building near the store in 1918 and in 1954 the building was moved and became a substation of the Baytown Post Office with Louise Himes serving as postmaster. It finally closed in 1974 when she retired. Sam Houston died in 1863; he never used this post office.

For 20 years, Wooster had a U.S. post office. Willard D. Crow became the first postmaster on March 29, 1894, followed by Steve Steinman in1895, and Junius Brown in 1896. Brown remained postmaster until the Wooster Post Office was discontinued on January 31, 1914. Today the safe that he used to keep stamps and other post office documents is on display at the Baytown Historic Preservation Association on North Main Street.

 

Baytown resident Chuck Chandler is retired from the Exxon Refinery and currently serves as Vice President of Baytown Historical Preservation Association. Contact him at chuck.chandler@baytownhistory.org

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