History of Post-Office and Mails, Rome, New York
From: Our City and its People
A Descriptive work on
Edited by: Daniel E. Wagner
The Boston History Company, Publishers 1896


Matthew Brown, jr., was postmaster of Rome in 1800 and kept the office in his store on the site now occupied by F. A. Brockett, formerly J. D. Ely. Mr. Brown was doubtless the first postmaster of Rome. Joshua Hathaway was appointed about 1808 and held the office until his death in 1836. He was succeeded by his son Jay who remained in the office until 1849, when he was succeeded by R. G. Savery and the latter by A. J. Rowley. In 1857 D. E Wager succeeded Mr. Rowley and in 1861 E. H. Shelley was appointed. In the fall of 1867 S. P. Lewis was appointed to succeed Mr. Shelley, but in the spring of the next year Mr. Shelley was reinstated, and was succeeded in 1870 by B. Whitman Williams, who was succeeded in 1881 by G. M. Palmer. J. D. Corcoran was appointed by President Cleveland in 1885, and was followed by Judge Scripture in 1889. Judge Scripture resigned in 1893, and the present postmaster C. H. Dunning was given the place.

In 1820 and previously the mails were brought from Utica to Rome sometimes on horseback and some of the time in a one horse conveyance, Bildad Merrill, of Utica, having the contract and his son being the post rider. This was a semi weekly mail seventy years ago. About the same time George Washington Frederick Steuben Parkhurst, of Whitesboro, carried a weekly mail from Utica north via Rome to Sackett’s Harbor. In 1824, or thereabouts, Mr. Nichols, son-in law of James Thompson, who then kept the American Hotel in Rome, ran a line of stages and carried the mail between Utica and Oswego via Rome. A man in Jefferson county succeeded Mr. Parkhurst in this contract. Not far from 1830 Col. Elisha Backus, of Trenton, and Samuel Buckley, of Watertown, succeeded the Jefferson county contractor. The sons of Mr. Thqmpson also carried mails north from Rome about that time. M. L. Kenyon, stage driver under Backus, bought out the latter and after that he, M. D. Hollister and Giles Hawley were successively interested in these stage lines and in carrying mails. It is related that while Joshua Hathaway was postmaster he would permit no talking, wearing of hats, or standing up in the post-office while the mail was being distributed. As soon as the mail was brought in he would remark in a stern voice to those present, “Gentlemen, the United States mail has come; be seated and take off your hats, and no talking while the United States mail is being opened and distributed.” The order was obeyed with as much deference as is the similar order at court to keep silence under pain of imprisonment, while a judge delivers a charge to a grand jury.

After Jay Hathaway’s incumbency in the post-office, the office was about 1840 removed to the southwest corner of James and Dominick streets, and about 1845 to the Arcade. Soon after the cars, began running west from Utica in 1839, the mails were brought here thereon, and as Kenyon & Co. had the carrying of the mails north of here, the post-office department insisted that it belonged to those contractors to carry the mails between the depot and the post-office. The mails were so carried by them for a number of years, but at last they gave it up and the postmaster had to see to it himself for a time. The first regular mail carrier between the depot and the post-office was Warren Raymond; he received $80 a year compensation. After him Charles Yorkey was carrier at the same pay. In May, 1849, Mr. Williams commenced in the position and continued twenty to thirty years. When he began he carried the mail on his arm in a small leather bag, the bag being about as large as himself. In a year or two the mail increased and he had to use a wheelbarrow and still later a hand-cart. In 1852 he was compelled to use a horse and wagon. When A. J. Rowley was appointed postmaster he removed the office to Elm Row. Sunday, July 29, 1866, Elm Row was burned and the post-office was temporarily removed to the court house. When the block was built on the site of Elm Row the office was removed thither in February, 1867.

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