Notes from the Past

The Duties of the Postmasters - Part VII

The final installment in this series concerning the duties assigned to postmasters deals with distribution office mail.  The role of the distributing offices in handling the mail was discussed in Distributing Post Offices in 1847.  Briefly, the distributing post offices were responsible for mail addressed to locations in their vicinity which were not stops on the major post roads to which mail was sent directly.  Postmasters were directed to send mail to such destinations to the first distributing office en route short of the destination.  The distributing office would then complete regional mail sorting and routing.  This section of 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 defined the special duties for the distributing offices.

Distribution, in what manner to be made up.

    108.  Distribution offices are established to insure certainly and regularity in the transmission of letters and packets between remote points; and to this end, besides the usual business of a post office, certain peculiar duties are performed in them.
    109.  Letters addressed to distributing offices are not to be stopped or opened at any other office, and when received are not to be entered in the account of mails received for distribution.
    110.  All post bills proper for distributing offices are to be filled according to the directions in chapter 9, with the contents of each parcel, and addressed, as the case may be, either to the office for delivery, or to the proper distributing office.  These post bills are then to be dated, and entered in the Account of mails sent from the distributing office.
    111.  A postmaster at a distributing office will not open and distribute mail which is addressed to a particular office, though it may pass through his office.
    112.  If letters be sent by any postmaster to a distributing post office, when they should have been mailed direct to the offices to which they are addressed, the postmaster at such distributing post office, will request the postmaster so sending to correct his practice; and if continued, report him for such violation of instructions.
    113.  All letters and packets are to be distributed and remailed before the departure of the mail; and on no account are they to be delayed by a single post.

Distributing post offices were given special rules for closing the mails.  Surprisingly, the regulation cites the legislation for the requirement as follows:

Time allowed for closing mails at Distributing Offices.

    114.  The great mails are to be closed at all distributing offices, one hour before the time fixed for their departure; and all other mails at those offices, and all mails at all other offices, half an hour before that time, unless the departure is between 9 o'clock P. M., and 5, A. M., in which case the mail is to be closed at 9, P. M. -- Act of 1825, sec. 11, page 7.

Posted June 30, 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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