HISTORY MYSTERY: Clay Post Offices
Pictured is the dedication of the New Clay Post Office on July 23, 1966 with Postmistress Margaret K. Schneider, Regional Post Office Director Sean Keating, and Congressman James M. Hanley. Frank Sotherden, first rural mail carrier for the Clay Post Office was present for the dedication. Mrs. Schneider gave the welcoming address. She had begun her service in Clay September 15, 1955. Mr. Keating talked on the improved service and Congressman Hanley presented Mrs. Schneider with a flag that had flown over the Post Office Building in Washington, D. C. The Rev. Paul T. Le Strange, pastor of Sacred Heart Church Cicero gave the invocation and the Rev. John Kissselburgh, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church Clay, pronounced the benediction.
Originally located in the Clay Railroad Station in 1871, the postal service was known as Ccigarvile, not to be confused with the Clay Post Office at Woodard Station. On May 2, 1903, it was changed to Clay. History shows the many relocations and renaming of the post offices in Clay through the years. The first record of a post office was in 1823 called West Cicero while Clay was still a part of Cicero. In 1825 Clay incorporated taking half of Cicero and the territory east of the Seneca River and Nathan Teall was appointed postmaster of a post office that was located in his home in Belgium. The Euclid Post Office was established Jan. 29, 1828 with Andrew Johnson appointed April 14, 1828 as the first postmaster. He was also the first Clay Town Supervisor, elected in 1827. Continuing until the 1940’s, a newspaper clipping dated January 11, 1942 shows the postmistress Elizabeth Duell in a corner of Gifford’s General Store located on the corner of Morgan Road and Route 31.
The Three Rivers Point Post Office was established April 23, 1852, but discontinued January 5, 1865 after Postmaster Horace Eno and re-established March 3, 1892 with Postmaster Frederick Barnum. Discontinued January 8, 1898 after Susan Porter, it was re-established as Three Rivers May 11, 1899. Postmasters were Frederick Barnum; then Emma Miller on February 6, 1903. It was discontinued September 30, 1904. The Young Post Office was established December 29, 1871 in the home of John G. Young and then Peter J. Young as Postmasters. In 1885, it was discontinued and combined with Cigarville. The Plank Road Post Office was established March 17, 1846 and after many postmasters was changed to North Syracuse on August 5, 1887. It became a branch of the Syracuse Post Office in the 1950’s.
Edwin H. Young remembers the Young Post Office from when it was in the Dutch Settlement about a mile north of the railroad station. The mail bag was thrown off at this point and the outgoing bag was picked up with a crane. The outgoing bag, having a strap around its middle, was suspended on a crane by the side of the railroad track and was snatched with a hook attached at the mail car door. “Little Pete Young (Peter J.), who was the postmaster, frequently had to go up the track because the bag was thrown off at the wrong place which made him pretty mad!” In his day, Edwin says they had to go to the post office for their mail. Very often it was in the country store and was the focal point of the community. Notices were .posted on a bulletin board and people met to exchange gossip.
Later on Edwin remembered the rural delivery of mail and compared it to the cities. First the country “folk” looked for old dobbin coming up the dirt road with the day’s mail. To mail a letter, no need to look for a mail box; just go to your rural delivery box and stick in the letter and put up the flag. (Many of us still do that today!) Then they began waiting for the “Tin Lizzie.” Now we look for the white mail truck! Today, no need to go the post office to buy stamps. Just fill out the order and leave it and a check in the box with the flag up and in a couple of days, the stamps are in the mail box with the mail.
Dorothy Heller, Historian