The Postman

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My 2nd great-uncle, Erastus Laban Tower, served a number of years as the postmaster in Uniontown, Indiana. I wanted to find out more about his time as postmaster which at first I thought spanned from 1886 to 1911 (his obituary).

Then I found that he was appointed on January 13, 1892 (U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 on Ancestry.com).

The 1900 census listed him as a farmer but perhaps being postmaster did not pay well enough so he combined farming and postal work. In his wife’s obituary, it said she served as assistant postmaster. There was a 1903 list with the compensation for being a postmaster. It listed Erastus L. Tower as receiving $103.87. I believe that amount was the total annual payment, not a monthly payment.

Laban and Clarvina Tower

The USPS site gave this information on how a person became a postmaster:

From 1836 to 1971, postmasters at the larger Post Offices were appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the Senate. Postmasters earning less than $1,000 per year were appointed by the Postmaster General, generally upon the advice of the local congressman or townspeople. Regulations required that postmasters execute a valid bond and take an oath of office. Prior to 1971, it was also required that postmasters live in the delivery area of their Post Office. 

I’ve shared some information about Erastus Laban Tower on this blog and also on a page at a site called Hubpages. Below is his obituary which I found in a library when we visited Indiana some years ago.

The newspaper mistakenly put an “s” on Tower.

This post is part of my participation in the Sepia Saturday blog challenge. They post a photo each week which sets the theme. Here’s their picture for this week, a postman in Sweden. I doubt that small town postmasters in the U.S. had official looking hats like that.

Sepia Saturday Theme Image (P) Postman, Swedish National Heritage Board

6 thoughts on “The Postman

  1. kathyfumc

    I have a postmaster, farmer, and assorted other things great, great-grandfather. Took all those jobs to pay the bills, I think. And maybe a contribution to community service in the small towns.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mollyscanopy

    Great post! I also have a postmaster in my family tree, my third great grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee, who was also a farmer and later a rural store proprietor. I believe you are correct that postmaster was a supplementary job to the main source of income — particularly for farmers who needed income in the winter then crops lay fallow.

    Liked by 1 person

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