Monday, July 28, 2014

Who was Thomas J. Presho?

Presho Monument
Presho Cemetery
From Robert's Historical  Gazetteer of Steuben County Part I  1891
         "Thomas J., son of Josiah N.  and Betsy (Curtis) Presho, was born in Broome County, N.Y., August 21,1828.The family lived at Dalton, near Pittsfield, Mass., prior to their settlement in Broome County. The subject of this notice, after a residence of some years in Bradford County, Pa. came to Erwin Centre (now Presho) in 1855, where he engaged in the grocery business, and , also,  dealt extensively in lumber. Through his influence, a switch was put in at that point, from which time to time was lengthened as business required until it is now nearly a mile in length. On the establishment of a station there, he was appointed station agent, was the first telegraph operator, and has been postmaster for eight years regardless of changes in administration.(*At that time, the Town of Lindley had two Post Offices) For two terms, he has represented his town on the Board of Supervisors, and has been twice elected town clerk. His wife is Emeline Watkins of Bradford County,Pa."

          From Lindley History -Looking Back 200 years 1790-1990  -Lindley Heritage Days Committee

                        History of the Mersereau/Presho Home

      Thomas Presho purchased the Mersereau home in 1864 and the home remained in that family until Thomas's daughter- Emma Bennett died in 1927. According to this history, Emma ran a boarding house for Railroad workers.
 The home still exists and is now owned by the Mortzheim family.

       The original name for that part of the Town of Lindley was called Erwin Centre. In January- 1888, the name was changed to Presho to honor its influential citizen.
        The Presho store, also, is still present and is owned by a member of the Allyn family. 
          When the 1946 flood washed the old Presho bridge away, the new bridge was re-located a short distance to the south. But the old bridge  abutment is still there and that area is a favorite place for young folks to cool off in the summer.
          The RR Depot no longer exists.

                                                  T.J. Presho Store

Presho RR Depot

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tidbits of Lindley/Presho Post Offices

Interesting Tidbits about the Postal System in

Steuben County, Lindley and Presho, New York

Steuben County

            1836- Steuben County had 37 Post Offices and 9 post villages (a community, settlement or hamlet that has a Post Office. (A rural neighborhood.) *12

            1837- Mail was being transported by Railroads. *13

            1840- 41 –The local post office was moved from Centerville (Riverside) to Corning where a bridge across the Tioga River had been built and stage coach drivers with mail were encouraged to use this route.* 6

            1851 – List of 74 post offices in Steuben County* 11

            1860 –Prior to Civil War, Post office was the largest organization in the United States.*12

            1891 –Mail was still being delivered by Stage Coaches.

            1910 –Present Corning Post Office opened.*12

            1930’s – Works Progress Administration (WPA) under FDR, financed the painting of    murals in Post Offices. The one in the Painted Post- Post Office  is labeled Recording the Victory  and shows a  Native American adding marks on a post.*( Internet)

            2000 – About this time, several new post offices were built. Included are The Corning Northside and Addison,N.Y. buildings. *12

Bath,N.Y. was unique in that bicycles that could carry 70 pounds were used to deliver the mail.

Lindley-Presho, New York


(The following information was found in various local reference materials. The Post Office Archives may have a more complete file)

1812 -The Postmaster history of these 2 hamlets begins with Judge Eleazer Lindsley, Jr. (son of Col. Lindsley) being listed in the Steuben County histories as the first postmaster.* 3/4 (In the Lindley  town files is a letter written during the War of 1812 to Eleazer,Jr. and is addressed to Postmaster-Lindleytown ,N.Y.)

1829-30 – A.C. Morgan is listed as Postmaster. (In Lyon –Morgan store) *3/4

1851–Postmaster is William Moore * 11     Lindleytown

1868-69 -William Moore*5                     Lindleytown

1876-(?)- Hiram Middlebrook   

1891- Edward Leggett *4    Lindley

1893-Marcus Stowell*10      Lindley

3/2/1914 – George Riffle is appointed as a Lindley mail  carrier* (In his 2010 Memoirs,*9  George’s son,  Richard (Dick ) wrote that his father took the Civil Service Exam for mail carrier in 1914-the beginning of WWI and passed. When questioned why he choose the Post Office position over one in a factory which would pay more, his reply was that after wars there are Depressions and that he saw a better future with the Post Office job. On a postal evaluation form,*2 he was still listed as a carrier in 5/28/1941 (-the year WWII began…) at 64 years of age. His route at this time was by automobile for 25.3 miles with 94 families and 89 boxes. (Dick has some interesting stories about his Father’s experiences a mail carrier and since he has given me permission to use his Memoirs on the HS blog- watch for some of these stories in the near future.)

1923/11/6 – Miss M.J. Losey is appointed Acting Postmaster*2

1/1/1933- 1954 (?)    Murial Cobb*2 Was this Miss Losey?    (Kitty)

May 26, 1954 - Joyce Holmes signs a carrier evaluation as Acting Postmaster*2

1988 –Earl Wheeler resigns as Postmaster with 30 years credit which included military credit*7

1988-present-Kerry Rice*7

Postal Clerk’s names found were Kathryn Loughridge and Darla Bakeman Pierson Neal. Records of other Postal Clerks have not been located at this time. *7

Carriers Names found were *2

George Riffle  -    3/2/1914- 1941 (?)   Rt 2

Harrison Toby -    2/1/1926 -1954         Rt.1

Lawrence Toby -    1954-1979

 Bill Wales                        1979- (?)*7

Substitute Mail Carriers:*2

Giles Baker Soules-   Veteran   1946

Luke Wood   Rt. 2   8/2/1920

Earnest  Harrison     6/22/1920

Hugh Orcutt             11/5/1925

Leon Terwilliger     2/28/ 1926          

Lawrence Toby - with his Father Harrison Toby*7

Erwin Centre-Presho Postmasters:

1851 –Samuel Mersereau *11      Erwin Centre

1868 –Henry Bull*4                         Erwin Centre

  1/9/ 1888  Name was changed to Presho to honor Thomas Presho *4

1884-1891 – Thomas Presho*4      

Historical facts of interest :

Records show that floods of 1927, 1937, 1946 and 1972 have disrupted mail delivery for short periods of time. *2

 1946, Post Office records were lost. The flood occurred on May 27thand by the 29th, mail delivery was back to normal.   Except---- The Presho Bridge was destroyed which necessitated the carriers retracing the route from Lindley to Presho on the River Road for some time until the bridge could be replaced. *2

          1972 -Since the current Town Hall was nearing completion, the contents of the Post Office were relocated to the new building away from the river.  Some of contents are still in use.*7

One of my memories of the 1972 flood was on Saturday morning after the flood and finding Lawrence Toby standing outside the old Post Office in his boots  --sorting mail. Since my parents were his neighbors, I asked if he knew anything about them. His reply was” No-but there’s my car  -go see.” They were doing okay, but the experience of driving a mail carrier’s car with a block on the gas pedal (to allow him to reach the mail boxes) is something that I never forgot nor his kindness.

In reading stories about mail carriers, there are many stories about not only their dedication to delivering the mail, but, also, their many acts of kindness and of being a good friend and neighbor to their customers. They practiced the Postal System motto. 

It does not appear to be true in Lindley, but often the postmaster was changed with the election of a new U.S. President.

Mail that was delivered by train discontinued in Lindley in 1935. In the old files, are copies of permission to change the location of the Post Office with RR routes numbers listed. A guess would be that this was to change the location of the mail drop. Old RR photos show the mechanism used to exchange the mail while the train was moving.  See photo on - Mail Catchers on Internet)

There are several evaluations of the mail carriers in the old files. These give the times the carrier was to leave and return. (Interesting to note that the times in 1923 list are by horse and automobile…).  According to the motto, mail must be delivered in all kinds of weather and in the winter this often meant that roads were not plowed. These were times when the Carrier’s sons were put to work… The sons would accompany their Fathers on the mail routes (horse and sleigh or even automobiles). When necessary, the sons would deliver the mail on foot to the customers snowed in. (Some good stories were told by Lawrence Toby, Dick Riffle and Francis Toby has a couple with his Dad –Harrison.

The old evaluation of 1954 showed a total of 54 miles of mail routes.  RFD (Rural Free Delivery)- Routes #1 and #2 had been combined by then.)  Kerry Rice says the 2 mail carriers now have 114 miles to cover all Lindley mail under the 14858 Zip Code.

I apologize for not having a list of names of the current Carriers, Postal Clerks and Kerry’s date of appointment. (This has become a larger report than I had originally expected to do)-(A huge thank you to Kerry Rice who found and donated some old post office records to the town files- This started the entire search for more information.
1.      World book Encyclopedia 1968                           8. Burr History of Lindley  1951             

2.       Old Records -Lindley Post Office  1923-             9. Memoirs of Dick Riffle  2010   

3.      History of Steuben County- Clayton                   10. History of Steuben County Hakes 1891         

4.      A History of Steuben County –Roberts               11.1851 Post Offices  Steuben County

5.      7 County History  -1885  Star/Gazette                 12. 2012              

6.      Corning/Vicinity History Mulford  1920              13. History of U.S. Postal System

7.      History of Lindley 1990                                           14. Grit Magazine Nov./Dec.201
The WPA, Star Routes and Rural Free Delivery were researched on the Internet

Lindley Post Office just  Before Veteran's Monument Was Dedicated
October 2007

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Quick Glimpse of U.S. Postal History

            With the future of the Lindley, N.Y. Post Office on the minds of most Lindley residents, it seemed like an appropriate time to research the history of the United States Postal System. The sources of the information found will follow a short history on Postal Service in Steuben County and Lindley in the next blog posting.

            As long as I can remember, I have heard the following quote in relation to Post Office service.  (“There is no mortal thing faster than these messengers-neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”) While the motto is used in connection with the U.S. Post Office Service –would you believe? , it was written in 500 B.C. by the Greek historian, Herodatus about the Persian Postal System??*1

                        There are many important dates in this country’s Postal Service, but only the more interesting ones will be mentioned here.

1639 – The first record was when the Massachusetts Colony gave permission to a local citizen to receive and send ship mail from his Boston home. (The Boston Post Road received its name because it was used as a mail route. (Most mail was delivered on horseback by Post Riders-first contractors to carry mail between Post Offices.*2 Colonists were unhappy with the British mail system.

1773-Stagecoaches started contracting to carry mail.

1775 – Benjamin Franklin –appointed first Postmaster General by the Continental Congress.      

1789 –First Postmaster under new Constitution was appointed.( 75 post offices in 13 Colonies )

1791 –NYS had one post office in NYC.                                                                                                    (Of local interest-NYS Legislature granted Ontario County (all the State west of Seneca Lake), the right to elect a Member of the Assembly. Founder of the Town of Lindley –Col.Eleazer Lindsley was alerted to this fact by friends so he called a Town Meeting to elect town officials. Notices were posted after the first meeting that a meeting would be held to choose a member of the Assembly.  Guess who was elected by a unanimous vote??  Col Lindsley was a member of the Legislature that met in NYC in 1792. Since there were no Post Offices or any of today’s modern means of communication, the settlers in Northern Ontario County did not learn about the Assembly Office position until after Colonel Lindsley had been elected….Col. Lindsley died at his home June 1, 1794. 3

1845 – Lowest bidders for mail routes was initiated –the beginning of Star Routes by private contractors.  (1970-these were named highway contract routes)

1860-61- Pony Express carried mail from Missouri to California –(cutting delivery time down).

1864-.Railroad Mail Cars were introduced.

1896 –Rural Free Delivery began in West Virginia and with promotion by the National Grange and farmers spread across the country. Taxes supported the Post Office.

1918 –Airmail delivery began

1963 –Zip Codes introduced.

1971 - The Post Office Department became the -United States Postal Service and began operations. The basic function was to provide postal services. It received the last public service subsidy in 1982.   The Postmaster General ceased to be a member of the President’s Cabinet.

2008-2012 -new modern methods of mail delivery were introduced.

Postal Facts.

Since 1900, the number of post offices has declined due to the use of automobiles. Lindley had a post office in both Lindley and Presho in 1880’s.  Thomas Presho was Postmaster and prominent citizen so the hamlet named Erwin Centre was changed to Presho to honor him.

Mail was delivered not only by horseback riders, horse and buggy and sleighs, stagecoaches, trains in the old days, but today it is delivered by automobile, trucks, airplanes, snowmobiles, mail boats, dog sleds in Alaska and mules in Arizona’s Grand Canyon. And according to the Postal History Website, *4, Phoneapp,  Everydoordirect,  Gopost and Metro Post are available.

If you are curious –for more facts     Google     The History of the United States Postal Service and read their Publication 100.  

Next  blog posting – Some facts about the Postal history  in Steuben County  and Lindley/Presho.

             Old Lindley Town Hall-Post Office-Grange

Friday, July 4, 2014

From Town of Lindley blog Concerns All Lindley Residents

Lindley, New YorkLindley Post Office Community Meeting July 21st at Lindley Town Hall
Attention all who utilize the Lindley Post Office

The US Postal Service will be holding a Community Meeting Monday, July 21st at 6:00 pm at the Lindley Town Hall, 637 US 15, Lindley NY 14858 to answer questions about possible discontinuation of US Post Office Services in the town of Lindley

Options being considered by the Post Office include:

1). keeping the Post Office open limited hours.

2). stopping US Post Office Services and allowing a local town business to offer limited services.

3). closing the Post Office and having customers purchase mail delivery services through a carrier, or

4). relocating Post Office Box service to another location.

Surveys due back to the Post Office by July 7th are available at the Lindley Post Office counter, if you do not receive one in the mail.  All interested parties are requested to attend.
Gerald Simcoe, Lindley Town Supervisor

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some Interesting Facts About Tobacco Growing in Lindley

After posting the photo of Don Gorges in his Father's tobacco field,(June 25,2014-blog),I remembered writing the following report. I hope it helps explain a little of why tobacco was such an important part of Lindley's agricultural history.

Tobacco growing was a major”cash” crop from about 1864 to 1948/9.(Most of the other crops raised were used to maintain the farm.)
Tobacco growing was a family affair with wives and children assisting in the process.
In 1864, 5000 pounds of tobacco were grown in Lindley.
  Profits from a tobacco crop afforded the grower a means of having cash for paying his taxes, buying land or even a car.
A tobacco crop was usually 2 to 10 acres.
  Prices ranged from 3 1/2 cents to 33 cents a pound.
One acre could produce 1200 to 1500 pounds.
  Weather and tobacco worms could destroy a crop and the grower’s dreams.
Tobacco grown in Lindley was ideal for the manufacture of cigars.
The Civil War generated a demand for more tobacco, but cigarettes during WWI slowed the demand for need for cigar tobacco.
  In WWII, the shortage of farm labor, caused local farmers to cut back on their tobacco crops.
  Local tobacco barns have horizontal side vents as opposed to the vertical vents seen in Big Flats.
26 Lindley farmers are listed as growing tobacco in the early 1900’s.
  18 are recalled as growing tobacco in the 1930/ 40’s .
  Each farm growing tobacco had a tobacco barn for the curing process.
The Clineburg/Bronson/ Adam’s farm had 3 tobacco barns at one time.
A tobacco barn was usually about 24/28x100 feet and 20/24 foot high with tiers of poles five- foot apart for hanging and drying the tobacco.
  Cost to build was $200 to $600.
  At last count, Lindley still has 6 tobacco barns used for storage purposes.

CM Pierce 10/2006

Unfortunately, since 2006,several of the tobacco barns have met their

Photo of tobacco barn on Stuart/Knapp farm (from Kathy Biggio)

Have a safe and happy 4th of July-2014             Kitty