Notes from the Past

The Duties of the Postmasters - Part II

In the introduction of this discussion of the duties of a postmaster in the previous Note from the Past, the Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department included in Postal Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department published in 1847 established what could enter the mails.  In the next chapter, the procedures for 'making up the mails' were established as follows:
CHAPTER 9.

How the mails should be made up.

    78.  Letters received to be sent by mail, should be carefully marked with the name of the Post Office at which they are received, and the initial of the State or Territory, they day of the month on which they are forwarded in the mail, and the rate of postage chargeable on them; of if they be free with the word Free.  The name, date , and Free may be either written or stamped on them.
    79.  At offices where there is much business, the work of rating and marking should be performed as fast as the letters are received, and not left until the time of closing the mail, when, in the hurry of business, many errors might be committed.
   80.  Letters, however, must bear post mark, and post bills must bear the date on which the mail leaves the post office.
   81.  The postmaster will carefully assort the letters -- and all letters addressed to offices in his own State, and all letters addressed to distributing offices, capitals of States and Territories, and all letters to offices in other States situated between his office and a distributing office, he shall mail direct.  When a letter necessarily passes through a distributing office, it shall be the duty of the postmaster to mail to the nearest distributing office short of the place where the letter is directed, and write upon the packet the name of the office and State, and the letters D. P. O. (the usual abbreviation for "distributing Post Office,") for example: A letter from Richmond, Virginia, to Dayton, Ohio, should be mailed and directed; "Columbus, Ohio, D. P. O."

An appendix to the Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department provided a list of the 47 distributing post offices in 1847.  Distributing Offices described the function of these offices.

To be continued.

Posted June 21, 2000

Editor's Note:  Modern philatelists are indebted to Theron Wierenga who republished this volume in 1980.  Italics follow the original.

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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