The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 2, Page 22.


Valparaiso Postal Service Dates Back To '37; Benjamin McCarthy First Postmaster; J. C. Ball, Deputy

Valparaiso postal service was inaugurated in 1837, or nearly one hundred years ago. Benjamin McCarty was the first postmaster of the Valparaiso, then called Portersville. For a time John C. Ball was his deputy.

There was some dissatisfaction growing out of the fact that Mr. McCarty did not reside in the village, and in 1839, T. A. E. Campbell was appointed. During his term the office was kept in the southeast corner of the court house and behind that Mr. Campbell kept bachelor's hall. He was at the same time deputy clerk of the court for George W. Turner.

In 1841, Mr. Campbell was elected treasurer and collector of Porter county, and G. W. Salisbury was appointed postmaster. He held the office during the administration of Harrison and Tyler. The office then was maintained in his house on the south side of the public square.

From 1845 to 1849, during Polk's administration, Joseph Lomax held the office, and it was kept where his business was, being for the most part on Main street, north side, and west of Washington.

When the Whigs came into power in 1849, George W. Salisbury was again appointed, and held the office for a time, until he left Valparaiso for Oregon, when John Dunning was appointed, and held the office until the accession of Franklin Pierce in 1853.

Then S. R. Bryant was appointed, and kept the office through the administrations of both Pierce and Buchanan, until the accession of Abraham Lincoln in 1861.

M. A. Salisbury was then appointed and held the office until 1866. The office was then "Johnsonized," as it was called, and J. Beekman Marshall, now of Kansas, became postmaster, and held the office until he was succeeded by C. C. S. Keech on April 20, 1867.

Mr. Keech held the office for a very short time, but was a most efficient officer, giving general satisfaction. He had not sufficient influence to retain the position, but gracefully yielded it on June 17, the same year, to Dr. J. F. McCarthy.

On April 24, 1882, Dr. McCarthy was succeeded by Colonel I. C. B. Suman, after having held it for fourteen years and eleven months, being by far the longest incumbent since the establishment of the office.

According to the tendency of the postal service, many improvements took place during Dr. McCarthy's term. In the increasing duties of the office, he was ably assisted by Mrs. McCarthy and by James R. Drapier.

Judge Jesse Johnston received the first letter ever delivered at the Portersville postoffice. The name of the village and postoffice was changed in the winter of 1837-38 to Valparaiso.

In the early days rates charged for letters ranged all the way from thirty-seven cents on a single letter from Madison, Ind., to Valparaiso, which sum was prepaid July 19, 1841, by Jesse D. Bright on a letter addressed by him to T. A. E. Campbell, concerning the compensation of the latter for taking the census of the county the preceding year, down to six cents for a letter dispatched a medium distance.

Colonel I. C. B. Suman was succeeded as postmaster in 1886 by Englebert Zimmerman, editor of The Valparaiso Messenger. He was an appointee of President Grover Cleveland.

When Benjamin Harrison was elected president Mark L. DeMotte was named postmaster. During his term the city mail carrier service was established with Arthur B. Christy, James Gray and J. Herschel Arnold as carriers. Mr. Christy later transferred to the railway mail service and is now retired. Mr. Gray and Mr. Arnold are deceased.

Mr. DeMotte was succeeded by James Brodie, a democrat, who was an appointee of Grover Cleveland. Aaron W. Lytle was successor of Mr. Brodie. During his term the rural mail delivery service was established. That was in October, 1898. Mark McNay, now of Los Angeles, Cal., and now visiting in Valparaiso, was the first rural carrier.

Mr. McNay's route covered 24 miles and he was paid $600 per annum, and horse hire. Several years later two more routes were added, with Emerson L. Bowser and William N. Muster as carriers. Mr. Bowser resigned from the service soon after, and Mr. Muster died. Mr. McNay continued in the service after leaving here for Colorado, and finally going to California. He was retired a few years ago on pension.

Other postmasters in order of their service were: John W. Elam, Arthur A. Finney, M. J. Stinchfield, John W. Scott, A. N. Worstell, F. W. Alpen, and the present postmaster, John D. Stoner.

Ben F. Smith, who retired from the service in 1930, holds the record of service in the local postoffice. Mr. Smith began work as a general delivery clerk on January 1, 1892, under Postmaster Mark L. DeMotte. He worked at nearly every job in the office until appointed deputy postmaster in 1913, and served in this position until May 15, 1930, when he was succeeded by Lynn V. Allenbrand.

The present postoffice building was started late in 1917 by the Clark Construction Company, of Danville, Ill., the contract price being $70,111. An Omaha, Neb., firm was the lowest bidder, but the bid of the winning firm, though higher, was more acceptable to the treasury department.

A big fight was precipitated when the government selected the site for the postoffice. There were the Louis Gast petitioners, who favored the site which was selected, and the Salyer petitioners, who wanted the postoffice built where the Meagher drug store is located.

The Gast petitioners did not sleep when they found opposition. They went to work to win it over. The city hall interests agreed to ---?--- it for the Gast crowd when the latter agreed to reciprocate by urging a new municipal building at Michigan and Main (now Lincolnway). The university interests were won over when the Gast interests assured them that a postal substation would be established on College Hill. Some opposition developed against the promise made to the city hall interests by citizens who declared that such a course would, if carried out, postpone the date when the city could take over the water works. They asserted that injunctions would follow if any attempt was made to build a city hall.

The new building was completed in 1919, and the postoffice was moved from the Sievers building on East Lincolnway, now occupied by the A. and P. store, on June 1, 1919. Previous to moving to the Sievers building, the postoffice was located in the Armory building, and prior to that in the building on Washington street, now occupied by William Schleman.

At one time the postoffice maintained three substations, one on College Hill, now the Varisty Shop, and the others at Erie and Garfield, in the Chris Kane grocery, and the other at the Specht-Finney company. The two latter substations have been discontinued.

About a ton and a quarter of mail is cleared through the local postoffice each day. The seven city carriers average about sixty pounds each; the five rural carriers, one hundred pounds each; the parcel post, 1,000 pounds, and box and general delivery, 100 pounds.

Business at the local office is showing a marked increase during the last three or four years. Back in 1924 and 1925 the total gross business for the year was in excess of $100,000. This was when the L. E. Myers and Company was at the peak of its operations. When business slumped with that firm the postal revenues went down. Later they have been increasing due to business provided by the McGill companies and the Continental Diamond Fibre company.

In 1935 revenues totaled $54,514.55 compared with $44,967.68 in 1932, indicating a healthy increase.

Postal money orders are issued during the yeat at the local office in the amount of $35,000, while money orders are cashed to the extent of $15,000.

On July 31, 1911, a postal savings bank was opened at the Valparaiso postoffice with A. L. Brown being the first depositer. For many years the deposits did not amount to much. With the bank crisis in 1932, deposits began to climb. Now the total deposits are in the neighborhood of $400,000, representing nearly 900 accounts.

Within the last six years seven employes of the local office have been retired on pension. They are J. A. Longshore, Roy Pierce and John R. Hall, carriers; Milan Sergeant and Harry Albery, clerks; Elmer J. Gay, rural route carrier, and Ben Smith, deputy postmaster.

The present personnel of the local postoffice comprises the following:

John D. Storey, postmaster; Lynn V. Allenbrand, asssistant postmaster; W. J. Alcorn, C. O. Dye, C. L. Basinger, Roscoe C. Gaston, R. R. Weiler, Harry Steppel and John R. Palmer, clerks; A. D. Burns, superintendent of mail; L. H. Pierce, Charles O'Connor, Allen Brown, R. A. Masterson, J. L. Forney, J. K. burns, Frank Decko and F. M. Reibly, city carriers; E. B. Lembke, Andrew Collins, P. W. Lindholm, substitute city carriers; Warren Wright, temporary substitute carrier; K. Sundin and Charles O'connor, custodians; Charles Magnuson, E. K. Brigham, E. A. Mitzner, A. M. Sheppard and Fred L. Kinzie, rural delivery carriers. Sheppard and Mitzner will retire on pension on January 1, 1937.

On March 25, 1925, the safe at the postoffice was blown and $68,246 in stamps and money was taken by the robbery. As far as is known the robbery was never solved. The robbery was carried out so successfully that persons living in the neighborhood were unaware that the postoffice had been looted. The actual loss was not made public by the government until 1930 when congress authorized payment to the account of A. N. Worstell, then postmaster.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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