Arkansas City, Kansas.
Winfield Courier, December 18, 1884.
It is said that Captain G. H. Norton, Arkansas City’s first postmaster, is now one of the richest men in the orange growing districts of Florida.
Winfield Courier, December 18, 1884.
The A. C. Democrat gets the following historical information from the first biennial report of the state board of agriculture. It will be read with interest by all identified with Cowley’s pioneer days.
First post office: Creswell Township, Arkansas City, G. H. Norton, postmaster.
Notes by RKW.
The streets in Arkansas City were laid out north and south and east and west. The main street traversed the summit of the mound upon which the town was located.
The first structure built on the townsite was a log cabin, erected in the 100 block on North B Street. This house was later moved to the northeast corner of B Street and Central Avenue. It was first occupied on April 7, 1870, by Capt. Gould Hyde Norton as a residence and store. G. H. Norton & Co. opened a general stock of groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes in this cabin. It also became the first post office. Captain Gould Hyde Norton was appointed as the first postmaster of Arkansas City on May 16, 1870.
[Note: Many years later the cabin was moved to Paris Park. It was demolished by the flood of 1923. The stone chimney survived. It was torn down in the 1960s.]
According to Notes by RKW.
The order in which the postmasters served Uncle Sam and this community is said to be as follows.
NAME DATE APPOINTED.
Captain Gould Hyde Norton May 16, 1870.
Mortimer J. Martin June 13, 1871.
Aylmer D. Keith January 19, 1872.
[The Postal Money Order system started in 1872.]
Cyrus M. Scott April 26, 1875.
Dr. Nathan B. Hughes November 7, 1878.
James C. Topliff December 21, 1880.
Martin N. Sinnott October 5, 1885.
William H. Nelson September 28, 1889.
[City delivery of the mail started in 1902.]
Martin N. Sinnott April 1, 1894.
Richard C. Howard May 20, 1898.
Cyrus M. Scott July 7, 1902.
[Rural Free delivery started in 1902.]
Charles N. Hunt February 11, 1911.
[Postal Saving and Parcel Post started in 1911.]
George S. Hartley February 16, 1915.
Charles N. Hunt September 15, 1923.
Helen E. Hunt (Acting) February 4, 1926.
Mark Mollett (Acting) September 10, 1926.
Mark Mollett December 14, 1926.
Lynn B. Mohler January 26, 1932.
Charles T. Hill April 25, 1936.
Georgia V. Long (Acting) June 1, 1954.
Wayne E. Richards October 8, 1954.
Wayne E. Richards was the last Postmaster to be appointed. He was appointed by President Eisenhower after Richards completed his term as Commander of the National V. F. W.
The postmastership then changed from a political patronage job to a competitive job.
James L. Flick November 28, 1970.
Irvin E. Kramer June 29, 1974.
John L. Cox August 30, 1986.
Rose M. Duncan July 11, 1992.
[Changes after 1992 are not noted.]
C. N. Hunt, Postmaster at one time...
[HISTORY OF THE CITY IS FOUND IN OLD POST OFFICE RECORDS.]
Arkansas City Traveler, Monday, July 17, 1922. Front Page.
While Marion Smith, assistant postmaster, was looking over some old records of the Arkansas City post office recently, he dug up the record which showed when the money order business was established in this post office. It was just fifty years ago today. The first money order was written by the postmaster himself and was for $25, dated July 17, 1872. The postmaster at that time was Aylmer D. Keith.
According to Postmaster Hartley and Assistant Smith, Keith was the first postmaster, but according to some older residents, particularly M. N. Sinnott, the city clerk, the first postmaster was Capt. Norton. Both Captain Sinnott and Judge C. L. Swarts say that Captain Norton had the original post office in a combined store and residence at 104 North B Street, the corner now occupied by Senator R. C. Howard’s modern residence.
The first uptown location of the post office, it seems, was on the corner of Summit Street and Central Avenue, in the William Rowan building. This building still stands the same as it was nearly half a century ago, except that it had a new roof put on it the other day.
During the reign of C. M. Scott as postmaster, the post office was moved to the location now occupied by the Saddle Rock café. It being the general tendency of the post office to travel southwest, its next location was in the 200 block on the west side of Summit Street, either in what is now Kuntz’s clothing store or the building adjacent to it on the north occupied by the New Home restaurant.
When the post office was young, it was active and didn’t like to stay in one place very long. It saw a good location on West Fifth Avenue in the building now occupied by the Fifth Avenue Book Store, and proceeded to move into it. After resting for a time, it then roamed up the avenue a little farther and stopped in the old Carder building, only three doors west of its previous location.
Here it stayed until a contract was entered into with the Odd Fellows for the occupancy of the first floor of their building, corner of Fifth Avenue and First Street. The first floor of this building was built especially for the home of the post office, and here it proceeded to stay and grow.
The majority of Arkansas City residents know the movements and conduct of the post office from that time on and know that it has behaved itself very well. Only a few years ago it made its last and final move for an indefinite time, when it went into a home of its own and stopped paying rent, made possible by an appropriation secured by Congressman P. P. Campbell of the third congressional district. Ever since, both the post office and Mr. Campbell have been doing business at the old stand.
The order in which the postmasters served Uncle Sam and the people of this community is said to be as follows: Captain Norton, Aylmer D. Keith, C. M. Scott, Dr. Hughes, J. C. Topliff, M. N. Sinnott, W. H. Nelson, M. N. Sinnott, R. C. Howard, C. M. Scott, C. N. Hunt, and George S. Hartley, the two-times being C. M. Scott and M. N. Sinnott.
Mail Carrier By Stage
The first mail was carried to Arkansas City by stage, the Santa Fe railroad not having been extended to Arkansas City till the late 1870s. Billy Preston was the first stage driver. The mail was carried from Emporia, that being the terminus of the Santa Fe. Preston operated a two-horse-power stage between this city and El Dorado, and from there a four-horse stage was run to Emporia. They resembled an automobile in that they got stuck in the mud, but they were not equipped with speedometers.
The driver occupied a seat high and dry on top of the omnibus, and it is said that on some occasions when crossing streams raging with high water, the water would come up a foot or two in the stage, almost floating its occupants, and the matter would not be noticed by the driver until some of the passengers called his attention to it after getting on dry land.
By and by the Santa Fe was seized with worldly enthusiasm and extended its line west from Emporia, running a spur from its main line down to a little cow town called Wichita. Then a stage was operated out of Wichita to Arkansas City and a lot of other towns in the southwest. It was near 1880 when the Santa Fe ruthlessly competed the stage lines along its route out of business, little realizing that in forty years it would have a competitor in the automobile and aeroplane.
Business Doubled in Ten Years
The growth of the post office business is indicated in the cash receipts for years selected about five years apart as follows: 1907, $20,728.95; 1913, $27,460.70; 1916, $29,513.54; 1921, $53,258.24; ending December 31, 1921.
It will be seen from the above figures that the business of the office practically doubled in the last ten years. For the first quarter in 1922, the figures show a gain of $809.26 over the first quarter of 1921. “Regardless of war conditions and the stringency following the war, the post office has never shown a loss or slump, but has continued to increase each year,” said Postmaster Hartley.
Pay Roll is $4,000 a Month
Money orders issued since the money order business was established amount to a total of $314,515. The post office force consists of the postmaster, assistant postmaster, superintendent, 9 clerks, 9 city carriers, 6 rural carriers, and 2 janitors. The payroll if about $4,000 a month.
Clerks and carriers receive from $1,400 to $1,300 per year according to length of time they have been in the service or in the case of rural carriers according to miles traveled. The pay of a rural carrier is $1,800 on a 24-mile basis, and $30 a year for each mile in excess of that. The carrier on route 6 makes 32 miles daily, drawing down pay for eight miles in excess of the 24-mile minimum, which would be $240 a year, thus making his annual income $2,040.
In the original record which the assistant postmaster dug up, some of the names familiar to the Arkansas City public are: E. D. Eddy, who is reported to be living in Chicago; H. O. Meigs, who has been dead several years; Amos Walton, whose widow is a resident here; E. J. Hoyt, “Buckeye Joe,” who is dead; T. H. McLaughlin, who is a merchant in Pawhuska; Herman Godehard, who was a merchant here, but is now dead; I. H. Bonsall, dead; C. R. Sipes, hardware merchant, dead.
George S. Hartley’s tenure in the post office will expire July 29, 1923. The present post office building was completed in 1915. Although there are no vacancies at the present time, twelve men took the civil service examination held in the post office building, Saturday. Those passing will be qualified as clerks to take any vacancy in that line that might occur here or anywhere in the country.
[Note: E. J. Hoyt was known as “Buckskin Joe.” MAW]
[Godehard’s first name was given as “Herman” and “Hermann.” MAW]