Humboldt Historical Society marks 100 anniversary of city’s post office

POST OFFICE CELEBRATES 100 – The Humboldt Post Office celebrated it’s 100th birthday last week with a short program and ribbon cutting ceremony. Humboldt Historical Society’s John Blankenship led the program. He said there were other post office buildings prior to the current one located on Osborne St. in Humboldt. He also noted that there probably aren’t very many post offices across the state that are still in operation for 100 years.

A moment in history

A history of the Humboldt Post Office was presented by the Humboldt Historical Society when they hosted a 100-year celebration of the opening of the landmark building here. John Blankenship, of the society, presented a short history.

The first Humboldt Post Office was established October 25, 1858 with John C. Gillespie appointed as first postmaster. James O. January was postmaster in Trenton at the time of application.

The first Humboldt PO was located just south of McKnight Street where Central Avenue dead ends. It was inside a log structure that was also Gillespie’s store and the Mobile & Ohio depot.

The second postmaster was Soloman L. Jackson who served from Jan 28, 1859 until Feb 22, that year. The third postmaster was John C. Gillespie again who served Feb. 23, 1859 till June 7, 1865.

The Humboldt Post Office location was most likely moved to the Osborne House at the Crossing around the time of the Civil War. Another postmaster was Dr. William H. Stilwell who served from June 8, 1865 until August 4, 1885. Stillwell was also the town’s first doctor and published the town’s first newspaper before Civil War, “Humboldt Cosmos”.

Stillwell married John Gillespie’s daughter, Mary Ann in 1850. Stillwell was a strong Unionist during the war. Two of Stillwell’s sons also worked for the postal service.

The next postmaster was William C. Penn from August 5, 1885 until June 10, 1889. He was a captain in the 6th Tennessee of the Confederate Army in Madison County and owned and operated a dry goods store in Humboldt for many years.

The ninth postmaster was Col. Robert H. McNeely who served Sept 26, 1901 through March 18, 1914. McNeely served as mayor of Humboldt and was a colonel in the U.S. Marhsall Service. During his term as postmaster the office moved from about where Brasfield’s Jewelry is now on Main Street to a new location on the Southeast corner of Main and 13th Avenue (Gillespie St). This occurred in 1906.

Next postmaster was James W. McGlathery who served March 19, 1914 until September 25, 1921. McGlathery was no stranger to the postal business; his father Frank McGlathery, served as postmaster in Mercer, Tenn. McGlathery was in the retail dry goodd business and married the daughter of O.C. Sharp, a longtime dry goods merchant in Humboldt. He also operated his own store in the building on the Southeast corner of Main and 13th Ave. This was the McGlathery building and also the location of the post office.

McGlathery was responsible for pursing a new building for the Humboldt Post Office. Cnstruction began on the new post office building in the summer of 1916.

The land was acquired from a local Attorney W.H. Bobbitt.  The Victorian house that stood at the corner of Central and Osborne was moved to the back of the lot to about where the Papa Chuck’s small engine repair shop is located now.

The new building officially opened in February 1917. The eleventh postmaster was Mamie Bryan Riley who served September 26, 1921 until November 18, 1926. She was the first female postmaster in Humboldt. She was followed by postmaster Mary P. McNeely who served until 1931. She was the wife of Col. R.H. McNeely.

Harvey G. Fitzgerald served from Sept 28, 1962  until October 28, 1976. Upgrades, remodeling, and an addition were made to the building. The original lobby and interior were changed during this time. The Jarrell lot next door was purchased for a parking lot.

Postmaster Richard B. Morford, Sr. served July 16, 1977 through Sept 20, 1989. He was responsible for donating several items to the Strawberry Festival – Historical Museum. Over the years, one of the original counters and other items were saved from the trash along with a couple of ledgers. Longtime employee Lynn Hazelwood also saved a few items from a previous remodel.

COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE – Humboldt Historical Society’s John Blankenship presents Postmaster Laura Rice with a plaque commemorating the Humboldt Post Office’s 100 years of serving the Humboldt area. A celebratory program led by Blankenship was held last Wednesday that included history of other Humboldt Post Office buildings and postmasters.

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