CHAPTER XXVI
RURAL FREE DELIVERY.

A few years ago the free delivery of mail from the postoffice to individuals was regarded as a luxury which was only possible in large cities. It is indicative of the rapid progress of our country during the last two decades that at the close of the fiscal year in June, 1906, there were in the United States 35,766 routes for the free delivery of mail from the postoffice to country residents, some of those who received the benefits of the system residing as much as a dozen miles from the postoffice. The annual expenditure of the government during the above year for this kind of service amounted to about twenty-five million dollars.

Free delivery of mail through country districts was first given a practical trial in the United States in 1896, only ten years before the remarkable system had been attained which is indicated in the statistics for 1906. At the end of the first fiscal year in June, 1897, only $14,840 had been expended on these experiments, and but eighty-three carriers were employed. Rural delivery was begun as an experiment, and its continuance and expansion were left to the discretion of the postmaster general. It was on this experimental basis that appropriations were made until July, 1902, when the service was formally adopted and declared to be a permanent part of the postal system of the United States.

The conditions precedent to the establishment of rural free delivery routes are-Good roads, unobstructed by gates, no unbridged creeks or streams not fordable at all seasons, and a possible patronage of one hundred or more families on each route of twenty-four miles. Such conditions represent a long advance over such primitive roads and scattered settlement as prevailed in Sullivan county during the first half of the last century, and for this reason rural free delivery is entirely characteristic of modern life.

The first rural delivery routes in Sullivan county were established in April, 1903, two wagons being started from Sullivan, one north and one south, and Farmersburg was also chosen as a center of distribution. By July, 1904, there were six routes radiating from the county seat, and by April, 1905, sixteen routes were in operation in the county, and a little later seventeen new ones were established, giving daily mail facilities to practically every corner of the county.

A noteworthy result of rural delivery has been the abolition of rural postoffices, formerly maintained for the convenience of a neighborhood, but which under present conditions are not justified by the business and population of the locality. The postoffices in Sullivan county in January. 1903 were 22 in number, being as follows:

Alum Cave
Burchard
Caledonia
Carlisle
Cass
Delcarbo
Dugger
Embury
Fairbanks
Farmersburg
Farnsworth
Graysville
Hymera
Jackson Hill
Merom
New Lebanon
Paxton
Pleasantville
Riverton
Shelburn
Staffordshire
Sullivan

The postoffices of Sullivan county, according to the official postal guide for 1909, are the following:

Caledonia
Carlisle
Cass
Dugger
Fairbanks
Farmersburg
Farnsworth
Gilmour
Graysville
Hymera
Merom
New Lebanon
Paxton
Pleasantville
Shelburn
Sullivan




[an error occurred while processing this directive]