MANY CHANGES IN LOCATION OF POST OFFICE
FIRST POSTMASTER HERE WALKED FROM ELYRIA WITH MAIL
NEW GOVERNMENT BUILDING GIVES VILLAGE FINE PLANT FOR SERVICE
With the completion in 1934 of a new government building here to house the postoffice the village saw the definite establishment of a physical plant for postal service in keeping with the excellent work done by postal employees here and in keeping to a great degree with the handsome building erected by Oberlin College in the course of the last quarter of a century. The new building, located on South Main Street opposite the town hall, was completed and dedicated in August 1933, under the administration of Postmaster Eugene Dick. Mr. Dick was succeeded by Morton A. Houghton, who was named directing postmaster early in February of this year.
The beginning of postoffice service in Oberlin was almost coincident with the founding of the town. Pioneers who came here in the spring of 1833 to do the work of building the town and college were given official mail service beginning with January, 1834. The office was first established under the name of Russia, the township name. The first postmaster was David D. Crocker. Postal records in Washington showed that the name was changed to Oberlin on March 16, 1835.
At the time of the establishment of the office and for a good many years thereafter mail was carried on horseback through almost unbroken forest and over primitive roads which were at times impassable. Mail service in those days was not so certain as it is at present. Harvey Gibbs, who succeeded Crocker and whose appointment was dated March 16, 1835, regularly walked from Elyria to deliver mail to Oberlin.
At the time of the starting of service here it was the duty of the postmaster to furnish his own postoffice. Mr. Gibbs built a two story frame building for this purpose on North Main Street, the location in those days of almost all the business of the small community. The first office occupied ground on which was later built the home of Dr. Alexander Steele, pioneer physician and father Judge John W. Steele. This piece of ground stood just north of the old town hall site and almost opposite the center of the east side of the College Campus.
Mr. Gibbs served two terms as postmaster and was succeeded by Governor D. Reed. Mr. Reed served for almost two years and the place was then given to Timothy Dwight Eells. On the appointment of Mr. Eells he moved the office to his store on North Main Street. Not being satisfied with this location, he moved it a little later again to a small building a little east of Main street on the south side of East College street. In 1843 E. F. Munson, for years a leading Democrat in the village and county, was appointed postmaster and he established the office on the site of the present building of the Oberlin Savings Bank company, at Main and East College. This block was destroyed by fire in 1848 and the office was temporarily located in the college treasurer’s office in Oberlin Hall. It was afterward moved to a houseon North Main Stree, north of the original 1834 site. Here it remained until 1850, when David McBride, who had been appointed postmaster, moved his office to the W. H. Plumb bookstore at East College and Main. Mr. Munson, with a change of administration, was again made postmaster in 1853 and he established the office in his own building on the west side of South Main Street. Here it remained until 1855, when Mr. Munson moved the office to a building on the east side of South Main.
The election of Abraham Lincoln as president resulted in the transfer of the position as postmaster from Mr. Munson to George Stevens, who established the office in the J. M. Fitch building on East College, where it remained until 1865. In this year J. F. Harmon, one of the founders of The Oberlin News and a Civil War veteran, was made postmaster and he took the office to 11 North Main Street. Four years later it was moved to the Carpenter block on West College. In 1886 the office was moved to 4 North Main Street. It was conducted at his place the site of the present BeView-Weber store, until 1896, when it was removed to the Beckwith block, now owned by the Oberlin School of Commerce, where it was located until the business was finally established in the new government building on South Main Street in 1934.
In contrast to conditions in 1860 and prior to that date Oberlin now has complete modern housing for its postoffice and a service which compares favorably with that given in much larger cities. Under the poastmastership of Judge Steele, in October 1889, carrier service was inaugurated in the village and has been maintained since. The first regular carriers named were: L. F. Champan, A. J. Monroe, and A. S. Glenn; assistants were: Fred Chauncey and G. C. Cahill. Chauncey was soon made a regular carrier.
Lorain county was one of the counties selected early for the establishment of rural free delivery service. While the decline in passenger traffic in railroads, due in the main to buses and private automobiles, has resulted in the curtailment of mail service by train, this difficulty has been met by the establishment of a Star Route, which goes out of Oberlin East and West and furnishes in this way quick connections with main line trains of the New York Central at Elyria.
It is significant of the growth of the government’s business here that at an informal banquet served in honor of retiring Postmaster Dick at the postoffice a few weeks ago about thirty employees were present. In 1880 the volume of mail did not require more than one-sixth of this number for prompt handling.
Postmasters who have served in Oberlin, with dates of their appointment, since its founding are as follows: David D. Crocker, October 20, 1834; Harvey Gibbs, March 16, 1835; Grovesnor Reed, December 11, 1839; Timothy Dwight Eels, June 11, 1841; Edward F. Munson, November 25, 1843; Harvey W. Stevens, June 23, 1849; David McBride, February 21, 1850; Edward F. Munson, March 30, 1853; George F. H. Stevens, March 26, 1861; J. Frank Harmon, March 20, 1865; William O. Allen, June 12, 1874; Evan J. Phillips, July 22, 1880; John W. Steele, April 23, 1889; Flavius A. Hart, January 9, 1894; John W. Steele, January 14, 1898; Judson N. Stone, June 2, 1905; Morton A. Houghton, May 4, 1914; Eugene G. Dick, February 9, 1923; Morton A. Houghton (Acting), February 12, 1935.