Plymouth’s Pioneer Post Offices

Plymouth’s Pioneer Post Offices

By: Ella Vincent

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Plymouth Historical Society!

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day with this vintage 1919 Valentine. It was given from an Aunt Anna to her nephew, Harvey, more than 100 years ago. Photo Courtesy of the Plymouth Historical Society Collection.

With Valentine’s delivered across the city this week, you might be interested to know how mail delivery in Plymouth began. Famed explorer Antoine LeCount was the first person on record to bring mail through the area. 

The first post office in the Plymouth area was founded in 1859 at the Day home, near the shores of Medicine Lake. Back then, there was no mail delivery. People had to visit the post office to pick up or send their mail. Postage stamps and envelopes had only just begun to be widely used on the frontier. Shown here is an actual mail collection box from the Day home (circa 1860-1880). 

Fig. 1. Pictured here is a mail collection box that was painted red. It was from one of Plymouth’s first posts offices, which was located at the Day home, near today’s intersection of Highways 55 and 494.

Population growth coupled with the required travel time- by horse or on foot – prompted the need for several Plymouth post offices. The South Plymouth Post Office was founded in 1862 and was led by Mrs. Matilda Clay. Unfortunately, this post office was shut down two years later when the nearby Wayzata Post Office resumed its operations. 

While the South Plymouth Post Office closed its doors in 1864, the new Plymouth Post Office opened just one year later in 1865. Nathaniel Day was its first Postmaster, with operations taking place at least partly out of his home until 1867. He was succeeded by Amos Dickinson, who was then followed by James Hough. Hough was Postmaster until this post office, too, ceased to operate.  

It wasn’t long before a crop of new offices grew to support Plymouth. In 1871, Parker’s Lake Post Office began operating with J.M. Parker as its Postmaster. Yet another Plymouth post office was opened in 1878, with operations led by Fred Guesman.

Fig. 2. Pictured here is a collection of correspondence between Roland W. and M.A. Knapp, as well as an 1891 postcard from Alice Carpenter. Courtesy of the Plymouth Historical Society Collection.

Back then it was not difficult to start a post office. A “reliable citizen” could simply make a request to a congressional delegate or to the Post Office Department. Many storekeepers would apply because having the mail was a convenience for their customers and would draw them to their store. Whatever the reason, we are grateful for the many sentiments carried and delivered by these pioneering post offices. 


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