Bryan County History: Post office openings were a cause for celebration
Many Oklahoma towns date their “official beginning” to the day they were recognized by the federal government and designated a United States Post Office. Some were even named or renamed by the postal service since town names couldn’t be duplicated. There were also a few disagreements about correct spelling.
The first location for the post office was usually in someone’s store. It didn’t need a lot of space and often had only one or two employees. Before statehood, the government had little to do with construction or upkeep of buildings. As better facilities were available, the post office simply moved and expanded a bit.
The first authorized post office in what is now Bryan County wasn’t established in a town, but at Fort Washita on Nov. 4, 1844, with Samuel C. Humes as postmaster. The fort was originally built to protect the Choctaw lands. It was occupied by confederate troops during the war and is now a tourist attraction.
A post office was established at the Armstrong Academy in November of 1850. Phillip P. Brown was the postmaster. Other Armstrong post offices were established in 1882 and 1896. Some of the postmasters were William W. Richards, Thomas W Hunter and William and B. Maupin.
The Colbert post office was established in 1853 with Walter D. Collins in charge. The Colbert family operated a ferry crossing and in 1858, when Butterfield Stage Coach Line was opened, Mr. Colbert agreed to carry the stages free on his ferry and to keep the approach roads in good repair.
The Butterfield Trail entered Bryan County west of Kenefic at Nail's Crossing on the Blue River. The Stage line needed a relay station about half way between Nail's Crossing and Colbert's Ferry, so Carriage Point was created. It was also known as Fisher's Station. After the Civil War, Minerva McPearson managed the post office there.
Once the Katy came through the Territory, post offices were established all along the tracks and Bryan County saw the establishment of Caddo, Durant, Calera and Bennington.
Town residents generally picked up their mail in person and the post office became the town gathering place. News and gossip were exchanged and exciting mail was shared. Some post offices were combined with newsstands and confectioneries.
Routes were also developed to deliver rural mail. In 1911, a new route was announced for the Caddo area:
“… Starting at the post office, crossing the Katy Railroad at C.A. Semple’s, taking from there a south course on the section line to Leroy Airrington’s, then west by W. R. Damron’s on the section line crossing the Katy under the bridge by the lake close to Armstrong; then north by the W. T. Smith farm to Mr. Hibdon’s, then east one mile, north one mile, west by the Pate, Gravitt, and Rector Bryant farms to Mr. Holcomb’s. Then north by Ira Smith’s to the Kenefick School building, then east to Caddo on the old Nail and Caddo Star Route.”
The opening of a new post office was a good excuse for a celebration, as noted in the Caddo newspaper in April of 1901: “A new post office has been established twelve miles northeast of Caddo and is called Calloway, of which Mr. Gunter is postmaster. There will be a big free barbecue there Wednesday with plenty of dinner for all.”
Another post office was established that fall: “A new post office has been established at the Dolph Riddle’s place called Banty. There is a gin and mill there and quite a number of people will get their mail there.”
The basic components of the Banty post office are on display at the Indian Territory Museum in Caddo.
Bryan County History is a weekly feature contributed by members of the Bryan County Genealogy Library and Archives in Calera. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group. Is there a historic event or topic you want to read about? Contact the library at P.O. Box 153, Calera, OK 74730.