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Gateway to the Mountains

George Wireman

Chapter  7: The First Post Office

As Mechanicstown grew, the need for a post office was soon felt and although there are no records to confirm the fact, it is believed that Jacob Weller was the moving spirit behind it. The Wellers were lusty men, shrewd, capable, farsighted and quick to make use of the riches nature had lavished on their lands. They were dedicated citizens and devoted much of their time to community projects.

It was around 1811 when the first post office was opened in the, community and this was located on West Main Street on the site now occupied by the home of Melvin Trout. Here Mr. Reuben Osier, a tinner, had a small shop, ten feet by sixteen feet, and he served as local postmaster at the time.

The post office was so crude that a small cupboard was the only item of furniture. This was divided into sections into which the mail was placed until it was picked up by the citizens for whom it was intended.

Several years later, the post office was moved across the street to a room in the building which today houses the office of Dr. Thomas Love. As business increased due to the expanding population of the community, the post office was moved across to the North side of West Main Street for a short period of time. Mr. Frederick White then became postmaster and the office was moved to a storeroom on Church Street, in the building owned by Gilmore Flautt, Jr., and located next to the residence of Edwin C. Creeger.

In 1891, Samuel M. Birely and Van B. Osier built the Thurmont Bank building on the Square and soon after the building was completed, the post office was moved there, where it occupied a room on the West side of the bank. It remained at this location for several years and was then moved into the Masonic Building on East Main Street, which is now occupied by the Thurmont Pharmacy.

The post office remained at this location until 1959, when it moved into the new post office building on Water Street. This new building, modern in every respect, was built by the Thurmont Masonic Temple Association, Inc. and leased to the Federal Government.

On Saturday, February 28, 1959 at 2:00 P.M., citizens of Thurmont and surrounding areas gathered on Water Street to dedicate the newly constructed post office building. It was a gala occasion for the community. On hand for the dedication was R. E. O'Donovan, Postal Installation Manager of the Washington Region of the Post Office Department, who was the principal speaker during the ceremonies.

As the guests and officials gathered for the special ceremonies, the Thurmont High School Band, under the direction of Calvin Wacker, rendered several instrumental selections which added much to the occasion.

The ceremonies began with the invocation by the Reverend Eugene R. McVicker, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church.

Lee Munshour, Acting Postmaster, then welcomed all visiting guests and officials and introduced Samuel L. Birely, who acted as Master of Ceremonies. Letters and telegrams addressed to Acting Postmaster Munshour offering congratulations on the dedication of the new post office building were then read, among which were those of President Eisenhower and Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield.

Charles R. Ambrose, Mayor of Thurmont, was then introduced and welcomed everyone to Thurmont. In his closing remarks Mayor Ambrose stated: "and may all the mails received at this Post Office, bring only good news."

At this point in the program, Mr. O'Donovan was then introduced and delivered the dedicatory address.

During his remarks, Mr. O'Donovan stated that at the present time there are more than 36,000 post offices, and 8,400 postal branches and stations throughout the country. There are more than 31,000 rural carriers, traveling in excess of 1.6 million miles each working day a distance approximately equal to three round trips from the earth to the moon. More than 9.1 million families, comprising approximately 33 million individuals, are served by Rural Free Delivery. More than 3.4 million business firms and approximately 37.6 million residential families are served each

working day by mail carriers covering more than 89,000 delivery routes. Over one million money orders are issued each working day. If piled flat, one on top of the other, they would make a stack one and one-half times as high as the Washington Monument. Today, the postal service operates more than 85,000 vehicles the largest motor vehicle fleet in the world. The Post Office Department employs over half a million people more than any other government agency except the Department of Defense. In 1959 the Postal Service was estimated to handle approximately 61 billion pieces of mail. In looking over these figures, we can visualize the size of the Postal Service of the United States and have a better understanding as to its impact on our social and economic life.

At the close of Mr. O'Donovan's address, Carroll E. Kinsey, President of the Thurmont Construction Co., who built the new Post Office Building, presented the keys to Ernest P. Hammaker, President of the Thurmont Masonic Temple Association, Inc., Lessor. Mr. Hammaker then presented the keys to Postmaster Munshour.

An American flag, which formerly flew over the Post Office Department in Washington, was presented to Mr. Munshour by Mr. O'Donovan.

Color Guard of the Edwin C. Creeger, Jr., Post 168 of the American Legion accepted the flag from Postmaster Munshour and participated in the flag raising ceremony in front of the building at the main entrance. As the flag was raised, the audience, assisted by the Thurmont High School Band, sang the National Anthem.

Under the able direction of Miss Mildred Trevvett, the Thurmont High School Choral Group rendered several vocal selections, after which the Reverend Lloyd L. Wolf, Rector of Catoctin Parish, pronounced the benediction.

At the close of the ceremonies, the public was invited to inspect the new facilities and light refreshments were served.

Postal personnel of the local office at the time of dedication were Lee Munshour, Acting Postmaster (later appointed Postmaster); Howard F. Shire, regular clerk; Sam H. Starbuck, Jr., substitute clerk; Charles D. Walter, temporary substitute clerk; James R. Eyler, Jr., Regular rural, carrier; Mehrl T. Ecker, temporary rural carrier; Lester L. Moser, substitute rural carrier; and Sterling H. Kelbaugh, substitute rural carrier.

Former rural carriers of Thurmont were William H. Damuth, J. Harry Freeze, J. Frank Albaugh, C. Luther Munshour, Emory F. Stottlemyer and Lee J. Kelbaugh.

Former postmasters include Frederick White, Leonard R. Waesche, J. Henry Cover, Joseph C. Gernand, Morris L. Rouzer, Howard R. Damuth, Earl T. Kelbaugh and Lee Munshour who is the present postmaster in charge of the local postal operations.

Chapter Index | Chapter 8: The Matchmaker of Mechanictown

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