Last updated: March 20, 2009
February 26, 1986
Lusk Post Office celebrates 102 years of service
by Pat Eikenberry
This February marks the 102nd year of processing mail through the Lusk Post Office. It was established Feb. 15, 1884, two years before the founding of the Town of Lusk.
According to records in the National Archives, Washington, D.C., J. S. McHenry was appointed postmaster Feb. 15, 1884. He declined the appointment and Frank S. Lusk became postmaster May 14, 1884.
The exact location of the first post office is sketchy. It is known that it was on property of Frank Lusk. In 1886 it was located in the Baker Brothers Store on the corner of 2nd and Main in the new town of Lusk.
In 1923 at the age of 56, Frank Lusk made mention of the founding of the post office here in an article he wrote for the Wyoming Annals.
Lusk had come to Colorado in 1876 where he entered the cattle business with partners. Excerpts from the article he wrote follow:
George Willson,….put in a sheep camp there that year….I located at what is known as Node Ranch, named after our brand, about 15 miles east of where Lusk is now located….In 1881 I purchased a desert claim about three miles out of where Lusk is now located from George W. Newton. It was proved up by Newton and George Willson and used by us as a hay ranch. The purchase from Newton included the old stone stage barn and the building at the crossing of the Running Water, which was used by Gilmer and Salisbury for the Black Hills stage when they ran from Cheyenne to Deadwood….Later I arranged to move my horse ranch to the site of the present town of Lusk.
"….The nearest post office for Node Ranch, the hay ranch and my horse ranch was Rawhide Buttes, and we used to send there for mail. In 1882 (or later), Luke Voorhees, who was then a partner in the Gilmer and Salisbury star mail route business, suggested applying for a post office at the ranch, the establishment of which would insure the mail being delivered to us instead of our riding 20 miles and back for it. He prepared the necessary application to the Post Office Department, and it was duly signed and completed except for the name. Mr. Voorhees asked me to name the post office, but I was busy and told him to do whatever he thought would, without doubt, establish a post office. Later he told me he had suggested it be called Lusk and in due course of time it was so established," wrote Frank Lusk.
The late Ralph Olinger, Lusk businessman and self-appointed historian regarding the Lusk family, wrote that he had been "reliably told that the residence standing just west of the American Legion Hall (1956) was the horse ranch cabin." Was that old cabin the first post office? Opal Plumb who lives in that area says she knew the building as the "Old Keller house" and she remembers standing in her living room and watching it being tore down within the last 25 years.
The Lusk Herald May 24, 1956, edition quoted from a story written by Nellie Griffith a number of years before that: "From the Eugene B. Willson memoirs we learn that Jack Madden had built the stone barn and roadhouse just north of the mining hill, and George Newton got the land from him (evidently it was a relinquishment, as Newton proved up on a 160 acre homestead about 1883 that included the roadhouse and other improvements). Newton had also acquired 500 acres to the south of the homestead, valuable for hay.
"Frank Lusk tells of buying the land from Newton in 1881. However the records show he bought the 500 acres November 10, 1882, for $700 and the 160 acre homestead land on Nov. 18, 1882, for $206; that he sold the Newton homestead a year later to the Great Western Mining and Milling Co. for $2500.
"It seems reasonable to assume that the Lusk Post Office was located in the roadhouse on the mining company's land in 1884, where there was a telegraph office, and in a building used by the public and stage line form Cheyenne to Deadwood," was the opinion of the Lusk Herald writer.
Buildings housing the post office have always been under private ownership. At one time it was in the corner room of the building also housing the Garden Theater. That building built by Hal Faust was owned in later years by the Henry Petz family and has since been torn down. Many residents here now will recall when the post office was in the building now housing the flower shop. From there it was moved to the present site.
A highlight in the history of the post office was National Air Mail Week, May 5 to 21, 1938. All 14 post offices in Niobrara County were served direct by airmail for one day – Thursday, May 19.
"So far as is known this county will have the distinction of being the first county in the United States to have all its post offices served by direct mail," Lusk Herald, April 14, 1938.
Airmail came by plane from Cheyenne to Lusk where it was sorted. From Lusk the mail was flown west to Node, Van Tassell, Kirtley and Whitney; then to Hat Creek, Spencer, Bright, Dogie and Leverette; returning by way of Lance Creek, Keeline, Jireh and Manville.
Ada Vogel, recently retired postmaster, brought the 102nd anniversary of the post office to the attention of this writer. She acknowledged that the 100th anniversary went by without fanfare probably because most people didn't realize that the post office is older than the Town of Lusk.
Mrs. Vogel, who retired Dec. 1, 1985, was appointed postmaster Sept. 4, 1962. Her 23-year tenure is longer than that of other postmasters serving here. A. B. Mills served from July 10, 1935 to Oct. 31, 1956. Then Robert Templeton became acting postmaster until Johnnie Thon was appointed Oct. 30, 1959. Thon served until Mrs. Vogel's appointment.
Serving as acting postmaster or postmaster between the terms of Lusk and Mills were Nathaniel Baker, Fred H. Redington, Daniel E. Goddard, G.C. Forsythe, Dean B. Beach, W. A. Olson, Samuel S. Minter, A. Verne Wiggins and Reuben A. Faulk.
Mrs. Vogel was postmaster during extensive remodeling programs on the present post office in 1964 and again in 1982. In May, 1982, the box capacity of the post office was increased from 856 to 1200.
During her term as postmaster, Mrs. Vogel noted many changes in the processing of mail in Lusk. When she became postmaster there were six other employees and when she retired there were 3 employees. Only five of the 13 smaller rural post offices operating in 1938 are still operating.
Modernization is taking over.
Rural residents are served by four star routes out of the Lusk Post Office. Drivers are Don Taylor, Shirley and Bud Owens and Shane Kraft.
Richard Graff is the newly appointed postmaster. Other employees are Vera Leeling, Thelma Kraft and Bud Morgan.
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