Niagara County

1921 History of Niagara County Post Offices

Augustus Porter was the first postmaster of Niagara Falls, then called Manchester – J. C. S. Ransom first postmaster of Ransomville – Both men were first settlers – James Matthews first postmaster of Somerset – Other Early Post offices – The Old Stage Mail Routs – The Avent of Rural free deliver – List of the Present Post offices and Postmasters

Probably the first post office in Niagara County was at Niagara Falls, then called Manchester, and Augustus Porter, the first white settler, who located there in 1806, was the first postmaster. Before the completion of the Erie Canal, in 1825, the public conveyances were the stages that ran from Canandaigua. from whence Judge Porter came, either to Buffalo direct or by way of the Ridge Road to Lewiston and thence to Niagara Falls. The stage route on the Ridge Road and to Niagara Falls was established in 1816. Of course, they carried the mail. Connection was made at Wright's Corners for Lockport. These stages ran until about 1850. Interesting facts in reference to them and to the advent of railroads are given in another chapter.

At Ransomville, in the Town of Porter, named after Judge Porter, the first postmaster was J. C. S. Ransom, after whom the village was named, who located there in 1826. Previous to 1825 the people of the Town of Somerset received their mail at the hands of some person going to Buffalo, Rochester or Batavia.

About 1820 James E. Matthews became the pioneer merchant in the Village of Somerset, and in 1825 was appointed the first postmaster. In 1848 Otis Nye began running a stage from Somerset to Lockport, and these stages continued to run for many years, not only from Somerset but from Johnson's Creek, Olcott, Wilson, Ransomville. Youngstown, and other Niagara County points. The establishment of the rural free delivery service, electric railroads, and the arrival of automobiles, ended the stages. Now an automobile runs easily the twenty miles from Somerset to Lockport in half an hour over paved roads, while the trip by stage over dirt roads took several hours. A post office was established at West Somerset in 1844, with Marvin S. Hess as postmaster, and another one was later established at Lake Road, with Joseph Babcock as the first postmaster. Both of these post offices were discontinued after the rural free delivery service came, and the Somerset post office which was the pioneer was made a postal station. For a long series of years Henry H. Frost, and later his son. Solomon W. Frost, was the postmaster here. John W. Thurber was the postmaster under the first Cleveland administration, and James A. Fisk the second. For a long time previous to that Sidney Smith served in that position.

In Lockport the post office was established in 1822. The first postmaster was George H. - Boughton. The mail was first brought from Molyneux corners to the northwest, taken from the Ridge Road stages, on horseback. In 1823 a sufficient clearing was made through the forest so that connection was made with the stages at Wright's Corners, along the Creek Road. With the opening of the Erie Canal, in 1825, the situation changed, and eventually stages ran into Lockport from adjoining towns for the mails. During the past forty years the men holding the postmastership of Lockport have been John A. Hubbard, S. Wright McCollum, John A. Merritt, Spalding Evans, Charles W. Hatch, R. Nathaniel Roberts and George W. Batten.

The first post office in the Town of Cambria was established in the stagecoach tavern at Molyneaux Corners, and the first postmaster was William Molyneaux. He was succeeded by Colonel Charles Molyneaux. When the latter died the post office was kept in several private homes in the vicinity and called Cambria while in the Village of North Ridge was later established another post office bearing that name. Both disappeared with the advent of rural free delivery.

In Pekin a post office was established in 1822, and called Mountain Ridge. The name was changed to Pekin in 1831. The first postmaster was John Jones. This is another post office that has given way to rural delivery.

In the Town of Hartland there were post offices at Hartland Corners. Johnson's Creek and North Hartland, established in pioneer days, and all have now been succeeded by the rural free delivery service.

There were post offices in the Town of Lewiston, at Lewiston. Dickersonville, Modeltown, Pekin and Sanborn. The Dickersonville office was discontinued many years ago, and the one at Pekin with the rural free delivery. Benjamin Barton was the first postmaster at Lewiston. He came to Lewiston in 1807, and became a member of the famous portage company of Porter. Barton & Company.

Even before the days of the Ridge Road stages, in fact as early as 1802 mail was carried on horseback along an Indian trail from Canandaigna to Fort Niagara. This trail passed near to Cold Spring in the Town of Lockport, and here in 1802 Adam Strause built a shanty which the mail carrier. Stephen Bates, used for shelter. This shanty is said to have been the first structure of any kind erected in the Town of Lockport.

At the Hamlet of Wright's Corners, where the Ridge Road intersects the Creek Road running from Lockport to Olcott and connects by means of the Turnpike Road with the Ridge again at Warren's Corners, a post office was established in 1828. The former Turnpike Road which is now a part of the State Route No. 30 paved the whole length of Niagara County, is the town line between the towns of Newfane and Lockport, but the principal part of the little hamlet of Wright's Corners is in the Town of Lockport, at least the post office was. Solomon Wright, after whom the place was named, located there in 1822 and opened a hotel. He was the first postmaster, which position he held for forty-five years. His hotel was burned in 1861.

The post office in the Village of Newfane was established there many years ago when the village was called Charlotte or Charlotteville, it being names after the daughter of Honorable George R. Davis of Troy, New York, who owned the land upon which the village stands.

In the Village of Olcott, which is also in the Town of Newfane, the first post office in that town was established, the date being 1817. The first postmaster was Dr. Alexander Butterfield. People in the vicinity brought the mail occasionally from Hartland Corners where it was taken from the Ridge Road stages. Another post office was established at that town at Coomer Road in 1863, and Theodore M. Titus was the first postmaster, it was discontinued with the advent of rural free delivery, as were other post offices in Newfane, located at Hess Road, Ridge Road and the one at Wright's Corners.

In the Village of LaSalle, Town of Niagara, the post office was established in 1852. The first postmaster was Henry Clark.

In the Village of Niagara Fails, then called Manchester, as already has been stated, Judge Augustus Porter, the first white settler in that territory, was the first postmaster, and the second was Judge Samuel DeVeaux, the first merchant, and founder of DeVeaux College. When the City of Niagara Falls was incorporated in 1892. Ensign M. Clark was the postmaster. The postmaster of the Village of Suspension Bridge at that time was John C. Lammerts. A short time after President Cleveland took office on March 4, 1893, he appointed Walter P. Horne as postmaster of Suspension Bridge, and a little later the two offices were consolidated and Mr. Horne became postmaster of the City of Niagara Falls. He was succeeded by Francis H. Salt who served sixteen years, and the postmasters following Mr. Salt have been James Hulls. Robert H. Gittins and Edward T. Williams. There are two sub-post offices in Niagara Falls, called Falls station and Bridge station, and also three contract stations- stores where stamps and money orders are sold and letters registered. The Niagara Fails post office business has grown enormously. Ten years ago the receipts were $45,000, while in the year 1920 they were over $266.000. The parcel post business has grown to large proportions while during the summer season as high as 50,000 souvenir postcards a day are mailed from Niagara Falls.

The Village of Youngstown in the Town of Porter was one of the first served with a post delivery on the Holland Purchase. The carrier's name was Philip Beach. He carried letters in a bag in his coat pocket, from Batavia to Youngstown. He is said to have traveled on foot. Judge A. G. Hinman was the first postmaster of Youngstown.

Until the establishment of post routes, the people of the Town of Royalton got their mail by means of a boy on horseback, from Batavia, the nearest post office. The first post office in that town was at Reynale's Basin, and was called Royalton. Eventually there were post offices at Middleport, Reynale's Basin, Orangeport, Royalton Center, Gasport and Wolcottsville. Since the advent of the rural free delivery the post offices remaining are at Middleport and Gasport.

Another post office that disappeared with rural free delivery was that at Shawnee in the Town of Wheatfield. Timothy Shaw settled there in 1828, and the village was named for him.

Still another post office in that town was formerly located at the Village of St. Johnsburg, Martinsville and Bergholtz where the other post offices in the Town of Wheatfield, and the only one remaining is Martinsville. The post office at Bergholtz was established in 1850, and John Sy was the first postmaster.

As the Town of Wheatfield was the last erected in Niagara County, and North Tonawanda was not incorporated as a village until 1865, the post office there is therefore of much later date than in many localities. There was, however, a post office there long before the village was incorporated.

In the Village of Pendleton, Town of Pendleton, a post office was established in 1823, and Pendleton Clark was the first postmaster. At Beech Ridge in that town a post office was established in 1853, with William Beebe as the first postmaster, while there was another post office at Pendleton Center, but all three of them have given way to rural free delivery.

The first post office in the Town of Wilson was established in 1824, and Reuben Wilson was the first postmaster. Daniel Holmes carried the mail from Olcott and Wilson to Youngstown once a week.

Present Post Offices and Postmasters

The establishment of the rural free delivery system throughout the country greatly diminished the number of post offices, and as indicated in the preceding paragraphs, that situation applied to Niagara County. In the Town of Pendleton all, and in several of the towns three or four post offices were abolished. In the country-at-large there were at one time over 75,000 post offices, but at the present time there are only about 55,000. In Niagara County there are now twenty post offices, and at least twenty-three have been discontinued.

The following is a list of present post offices and postmasters:

Appleton - Frank J. Johnston
Barker - Charles Ray
Burt - Mrs. George E. McCullough (acting)
Gasport - Caleb C. NcNair
LaSalle - Eugene H. Schmeck
Lewiston - Joseph J. Daley
Lockport - George W. Batten
Martinsville - John T. Kopp
Middleport - Thomas P. Hammond
Modeltown - Malcolm McKerral
Newfane - W. D. Schaffer
Niagara Falls - Edward T. Williams
Niagara University - Thomas A. Gorman
North Tonawanda - W. Cooke Oille
Olcott - G. W. Aiken
Ransomville - H. Seymour Ransom
Sanborn - Ross N. Hudson
Stella Niagara - Sister Leonard
Wilson - Elizabeth Harrington
Youngstown - M. G. Wellman

Source: Niagara County, New York; One of the Most Wonderful Regions in the World; A Concise Record of Her Progress and People, 1821-1921; Published During Its Centennial Year," by Edward T. Williams, J. H. Beers & Company, Chicago, 1921.

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