Last updated: May 25, 2011
November 23, 1988
Kirtley Post Office opens for business in the Spring 1889
by Kathy McDaniel, contributing writer
In the spring of 1889 people from Iowa and Wisconsin began settling near the Nebraska line northeast of Lusk. They went to a post office along the railroad track at the Voorhees ranch south and west, now known as the Cockerham ranch for their mail. The community was called Pleasant Ridge.
People took turns going for the mail for the community, which was fourteen miles away. In the spring of 1895, Miss Mary Steer (according to her diary) circulated a petition around the community for signatures to send to the "proper" Washington authorities for the establishment of a post office, to be called Pleasant Ridge.
The petition was signed by Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Christian, Mr. and Mrs. Chris Christian, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob ZumBrunnen, Miss Mary Steer, Grandma Sutton, John Sutton and Mr. and Mrs. S. L. Kirtley.
Later in the summer, Mrs. Kirtley was notified that the post office had been allowed and that the petition named had been changed to Kirtley. Mrs. Kirtley was appointed postmaster as of April 10, 1895.
Mrs. Kirtley's son, U.O. rode to the Voorhees Ranch (post office) between Node and Van Tassell, to get the supplies that had been shipped. The supplies consisted of saddle bags, cancelling stamp, ink pad and a few stamps. With a few wooden boxes, the Kirtley Post Office was born.
Different people carried the mail gratus for a few months before a contract was let for a carrier. On July 1, 1898 it became a money order office.
The Post Office changed several times over the years during it's existence.
The Kirtleys lived across the road from the present Browder ranch buildings. Mrs. Kirtley resigned in July, 1899. Miss Eva Church was appointed to take her place. Eva Church lived on what is now the John Hammond place with her mother. She served until October, 1916 when she resigned and moved to California.
Eliza Nicodemus was appointed to take Eva Church's place in 1916. They lived about three miles south of the present Harlan Lohr buildings. She served until 1918, when they sold their place and moved to Pennsylvania.
Hazel Sawers who lived on the old Kirtley place was appointed acting postmaster for four months. Mrs. Eva ZumBrunnen was appointed and served from October, 1918 until May, 1922. Goldie Church was then appointed to serve until 1923.
J.J. ZumBrunnen was appointed that same month and served until March, 1935. Roy ZumBrunnen was appointed acting Postmaster until April of that year. Bama T. ZumBrunnen was appointed and served until it closed on March 31, 1950. The Postmaster's pay was stamp cancellation and money order fees.
Soon after Eva church was appointed, Hill Shatto built the post office cabinet for her with mail boxes, desk and a place for supplies. Each succeeding postmaster bought the cabinet for $10 from the former postmaster.
A few months after the establishment of the post office, John Sutton received a contract to carry the mail three times a week from the Voorhees ranch, a round trip of 28 miles at $14 per month for four years.
About 1900, the Voorhees Post Office was closed. The mail then was carried from the Lusk Post Office, about 40 miles per trip at $20 per month. The mail was carried in two bags, one locked bag for first class mail and a regular bag for regular mail.
The carriers carried the mail on horseback, using saddle bags for several years and then they had to go to horse and buggy or sled because of the volume.
Somewhere along the way the saddle bags wore out or were lost. About 1914, the mail days were cut to two trips a week until 1935 when mail days returned to three times a week.
In 1914, a car was used in summer but horses and sled were still used in winter. In the spring of 1919, a big storm blew in and there was no mail for two weeks. It was shipped from Lusk to Van Tassell by train and met there by a four horse team and sled, the biggest load of mail ever brought to the Post Office.
In the spring of 1938, the county had its first air mail carrier service. There were 14 post offices in the county and each had a special cancelling stamp.
The mail was picked up at each office by Harley Johnson with his plane and delivered to the Lusk airport where it was picked up by a mail plane and flown to Cheyenne where it was distributed all over the country.
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