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U.S. Mail

This is a picture of the small building that housed the Pleasant Green Post Office from 1869-1871 and 1873-1954

It also served as a telephone office for a few years.


The presence, lack of, or loss of a post office, is a major indication of the size, success and duration of a town. Some post offices were closed during the Civil War, but later reopened. When trains stopped running through a town, populations declined, and the number of post offices did too. 


Some towns never had a post office, some had them for a very short time, and some still have them today. The earliest mail delivery was by horseback, from town to town, to a specific building in a town, usually the general store. Boonville had the earliest post office, in 1825.

Short-lived Post Offices and Towns

There were many very small settlements in Cooper County that never had a Post Office:

Bluff City, Browntown, Buzzards Roost, Crossroads, Dublin, Lone Elm, Martinsville, Merna, Mt. Moriah, Petersburg, Prairie Lick, Rankins Mill, Salt Springs, Sardine, Stoney Point, Sweeny, Hostonville (under water), all of these towns are gone.

Only Lone Elm is still an incorporated village and get’s it’s mail from Bunceton.


Windsor Place – has always received its mail from Boonville.

Adapted from: MOGENWEB, Post Offices, Jim Thoma.

Many things we take for granted today used to be luxuries - telephones, automobiles, and even free mail service. While many city dwellers have been receiving free mail delivery service since the 1860s, the same can’t be said for those in rural areas.


It wasn’t until October 1, 1890, that Congress authorized $10,000 to test the practicability of delivering mail to small towns of 300 to 5,000 people. Even so, Rural Free Delivery (RFD) became a political football as politicians began making promises for votes. And then, not everyone liked the idea. Some worried about the cost of the service. Private express carriers feared inexpensive rural mail delivery would put them out of business. Local merchants worried it would reduce farmers’ weekly trips to town for supplies and mail order houses like Sears would take all their business.

The first experiment consisted of twelve communities where the postmaster hired a man for an hour or two a day to deliver the mail. Meeting with success, the Post Office Department, on October 1, 1891, began five routes covering ten miles in Jefferson County, West Virginia. With continued success, RFD became an official service in 1896. Between October 1 and December 21 of that year, 24 states began RFD. Missouri was one of them, and Cairo was the first on October 15.

Soon farmers were helping the post office by putting out containers for the mail. Lard pails, syrup cans, and even old apple, soap, and cigar boxes were used. By 1901, it was obvious that service would be much improved with standardized boxes.

Specifications to manufacturers were:

  1. box must be made of metal, 6x8x18 inches, and weather-proof,

  2. boxes should be constructed so they can be fastened to a post at a height convenient to the carrier without alighting, and

  3. keys for customers’ boxes should be easy to use by a carrier with “one-gloved hand in the severest weather.”


By 1902, having a box was required for mail delivery.

Source:: "Historically Yours" by Elizabeth Davis


Otterville Post Office

There was no post office in Otterville until March 24, 1848. The mail for this neighborhood was supplied from Arator post office located near Smithton. When the post office started in Otterville, W.G. Wear was the first postmaster appointed. He held the office until 1851, when Thomas Starke was appointed, holding the office for almost 10 years. The mail was carried by horseback. Then the Missouri Pacific railway came through and that allowed the mail to be brought to town by train. The post office quit dispatching the mail to the trains in about 1965. At this time the mail was sent and received from Sedalia by truck. The trucks delivered mail twice a day to the Otterville post office till about 1970. At this time it was only delivered in the early morning and went out near the end of the day.

Source: Carolyn Aggeler

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