Historical Details

Whitman Postoffice

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 11/05/1953

Whitman Postoffice, Put Into Service in 1924, Closed Saturday

Last Saturday, Oct. 31, the Whitman post office, which was established in 1924, closed and all mail in that area will now be carried on the route out of Harrison.

E. R. Whitman, (Estle Rollo Whitman), for whom the post office was named and who has operated it continuously since, has come to retirement age, and the Postal Department has decided to discontinue the post office and extend the route four miles farther north to the Faye Swope ranch. Mr. Swope has carried the route from Harrison to Whitman for the past 12 years.

Herbert Lawrence, postal inspector from Cheyenne, spent much of Saturday with Mr. Whitman and they then went to Harrison to complete the turning-over of records.

Mr. and Mrs. Whitman came to Wyoming in 1910 filing on the homestead along the east line of Wyoming. They were among a number of families that came from the Crawford, Neb. area, and moved their belongings and family of three small daughters and a son in a hayrack.

At that time there was a post office at Arid, Neb. operated by Mrs. Theresa Lewis, but when she decided to quit that position the postal department threatened to close the office. It was then that Mr. Whitman was asked by neighbors to apply for the position. He received his commission on June 29, 1912, and the Arid, Neb. post office was operated from the Whitman home just over the line in Wyoming.

Since the Postal Department didn't provide for a mail carrrier from Harrison, the neighbors would come to the office when they were going to Harrison and take mail sacks in and bring others out. In this way the Arid post office was continued for four years until it was discontinued altogether in 1916.

Then for some time ranchers got their mail at different places - some at Harrison, some at Kirtley, some at Hat Creek, some at Lusk. And, as Mr. Whitman says, some didn't get any mail at all. "But we never did like the name of Arid, sounded too dry."

In 1923 Mrs. Jim Rice, post master of Harrison, suggested that the people of the neighborhood around Whitman try for a new post office under a new name, and she suggested that it be called Whitman, Wyo. She agreed to help all that she could to get such an office and began communicating with postal officials.

The post office was established and Mr. Whitman commissioned postmaster January 10, 1924 with Mrs. Whitman (Tina Dot "Tee" (Sprague) Whitman) as assistant postmaster, a postion which she has also held since.

Still the Postal Department provided no mail carrier from Harrison, so the neighbors decided to try to raise a fund to hire a carrier for a trial period of several months. Mr. Whitman was designated to do the soliciting. So, on horseback, traveling around in a wagon, buttonholing neighbors wherever he could catch them, money was raised, and James Clyde VanBlarcum was hired as the first carrier. He served until August when the Postal Department established a regular route. Mr. VanBlarcum hnow lives at Warrensburg, Mo. on R. R. 4.

Mr. Whitman still has the list of contributors to that project. Neighbors contributing included: E. J. Priddy, J. C. VanBlarcum, E. R. Whitman, Ferdinand Holtz, R. L. Keel, B. C. Gilbert, James Slatlery, E. C. Clark, S. M. Thomas, W. S. Hales, Mrs. Theresa Lewis, J. W. Dryer, M. L. Townsend, Earl Hales, Sam Thomas, Jr., Frank Cross, C. M. Swope, John Burke, John Swope, Herman Leeling, Henry Kraft, Sam Knora, August Gieke, Ray Larson, Frank Moore, C. M. Wolff, Henry Kieke, S. S. Williams, E. L. Gunerius, Freank Bryan, Lee Lewis, T. C. Lewis, Floyd Moore, C. L. Finley, C. F. Breneman, Sam Holloway, C. A. VanBlarcum, Paul F. Zerbst, Jr., Paul Zerbst, Sr., Milo Wolf, Paul Zerbst, Jr., Henry Thomas.

When the neighborhood and people along the route donated all they could the people of Harrison assisted: Koch Mercantile Co., Marsteller & Son, T. M. Powell, T. E. Phillips, Morrison Lumber Co., C. H . Unitt, Harrison State Bank, Max Federle, C. F. Miller, Alex Lowery, Z. B. Johnson, J. A. Anderson, Geo. Walker, Bob Jordan, F. H. Wallace, Paul Gieke, Ferd Federle, J. H. Newlin, Geo. Hill, Harrison Pharmacy, F. W. Meyer, Harrison State Bank, Marstellers & Co., W. H. Priest, M.D. Peters, M. Wilhermsdorfer, Mary Howard, A. C. Davis, W. L. Lacy, Foreest Porter, B. S. Wefso.

Frank L. Moore offered the low bid of $800.00 to become the first regular mail carrier in August of 1924. He left the Whitman post office at 6 a.m. with horse and wagon and did not get back until six in the evening, having to open some 20 gates enroute. Sometimes people along the way would help by opening gates ahead of him to hurry him on his way. Mr. Moore now lives at Lance Creek.

Walter Swope, who now lives in Lusk and has the star route from Lusk to Chadron, was the second carrier. He makes the trip to Chadron, and back in less time than it took then to carry the Whitman route. Other carriers were Myron Townsend, Albert Lewis Luray, Earl H. Hales, and now Faye Swope. During the depression years bids on the route went as low as $542.00.

At first the postmaster's salary was just the cancellations, and to help the Whitmans get a little more for their job, the neighbors used to send their eggs, butter and cream to Harrison by parcel post, or anything else that would help the income to the little post office.

July 1, 1944 all fourth class postmasters were put on a salary basis. This meant a yearly salary of $72.00 but Uncle Sam took out five percent for the retirement fund. Even at that it was better pay than the cancellation basis. The salary had been raised to $375.36 a year at the time of Mr. Whitman's retirement. But he laughed about hunting the past several weeks for a good buck deer so that he and his wife could hang their hats on the horns and retire on the fund they have established with Uncle Sam. But he never got the deer, so he figures he will have to keep puttering along.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Whitman said they did want to thank all the neighbors who helped not only in the early days of getting the post office started, but those who through the years have always helped so much. They still have great appreciation for the work Mrs. Rice did in getting the post office established. Mr. Whitman urged, too, that the same type of cooperation be given the present mail carrier "so that we will always have a mail carrier down the valley."

Mr. and Mrs. Whitman left Monday for points in Nebraska and Missouri to visit relatives. At Huntley, Neb. Mrs. Whitman will see some of her cousins for the first time since they were children. So they are forgetting about the post office, for which they always had to make arrangments before. The neighbors are going to feed the chickens, but they cows are being turned dry.

It's kind of a good feeling to be so free say Mr. Whitman, but adds, "If I hadn't gotten so old so quick we might still have a Whitman post office." Sunday, Nov. 1, was the Whitman's 47th wedding anniversary.

Images & Attachments

The E.R. Whitman Family at their homestead, taken about 1914 at the Whitman Post Office. The children, l. to r., are Elizabeth Seaman of Harrison; Esther Gibbs of Casper; Hazel Seaman of Harrison; and Milton of Burlington, Colo.

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Burke, John (11/25/1920 - 01/20/1999) View Record
Obituary Burke, John (12/11/1883 - 09/24/1954) View Record
Obituary Holtz, Ferdinand (04/05/1875 - 11/21/1966) View Record
Obituary Howard, Mary (11/30/1885 - 07/05/1969) View Record
Obituary Leeling, Herman (08/23/1930 - 03/10/1996) View Record
Obituary Leeling, Herman (02/23/1889 - 03/21/1964) View Record
Obituary Miller, Alex (07/01/1911 - 03/31/1985) View Record
Obituary Moore, Floyd (01/24/1885 - 01/30/1964) View Record
Obituary Moore, Frank (03/09/1882 - 01/28/1958) View Record
Obituary Swope, John (04/01/1887 - 10/05/1963) View Record
Obituary Swope, Walter (10/29/1897 - 05/21/1973) View Record
Obituary Townsend, Myron (01/29/1922 - 12/05/1973) View Record
Obituary Townsend, Myron (10/06/1882 - 05/17/1965) View Record
Obituary Kraft, Henry (12/26/1892 - 11/26/1948) View Record
Obituary Thomas, Henry (11/09/1880 - 08/12/1955) View Record
Obituary VanBlarcum, Clyde (08/27/1933 - 12/18/2018) View Record