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Post offices played an important communications role in early Haywood County.  Poor road conditions necessitated that mail be carried weekly by horseback from Asheville to Murphy and points inbetween.  Haywood County's first post office was established in 1831 in Waynesville. Forks of Pigeon, Bethel's earliest post office, came ten years later in 1841.  Simultaneous with the arrival of the railroads in the late 1800s, additional post office locations developed in the Bethel/Cruso area: Cecil, Chinquapin Grove, Cruso, Forks of Pigeon, Garden Creek, Lavinia (Inman), Little East Fork, Livingston, Retreat, Sonoma, Springdale, Spruce, Sunburst, and Woodrow.  A total of 14 post office operations existed in Bethel during a century's time, beginning in 1841 and ending in 1942.


When Rural Free Delivery began in Haywood County in 1901, the need for so many rural post offices dwindled. A person needed a petition of 100 signatures to request service, thereby allowing delivery close to home without having to travel to the post office for the mail.  At this point, mail carriers became more significant in rural regions than postmasters and postmistresses.  In addition to letters, rural carriers often relayed news about current events and weather forecasts while also delivering newspapers, magazines, and catalogues.  The last post office in the Bethel/Cruso area (for which we have dates), Cruso, closed in 1942.  After that date, Bethel/Cruso mail was directed to post offices in Canton or Waynesville while rural delivery continued and expanded.


*Information for this report was derived from the following sources:

1. Haywood County: Portrait of a Mountain Community, the Bicentennial History of Haywood County produced by The Historical Society of Haywood County, edited by Curtis W. Wood, Jr. in 2009.  

2. Pigeon Valley, the history project of Cheryl Inman Haney's 1992 Bethel Junior High School eighth grade class that was reprinted by Bethel Rural Community Organization in 2008.

3. Norman Long provided information about the Chinquapin Grove Post Office

4. Bill Terrell provided information about the Sonoma Post Office

5. Cheryl Haney provided information about Cecil, Cruso, Forks of Pigeon, Garden Creek, Lavinia, Little East Fork, Livingston, Retreat, Sonoma, Springdale, Sunburst, and Woodrow  Post Offices based on interviews, family history, original documents, national archives, and the US Postal Museum records.            

6. Douglas Chambers located photographs of some of the post offices from his digital files.

7. Bill Holbrook provided information about the Woodrow Post Office

8. Carroll Jones provided information about the Forks of Pigeon Post Office



CECIL POST OFFICE was situated on the Little East Fork of the Pigeon River.  The last postmaster, William H. Green, and his family also operated a store in the community.

Dates of Operation: 1898-1914.  After 1914, delivery moved to Sunburst Post Office.       

Postmasters/Postmistresses with dates of appointment:

Louisa G. Green (October1, 1898)

Elbert P. Haynes (October 13, 1905)

George Franklin (December 12, 1906)

William H. Green (June 27, 1912)


CHINQUAPIN GROVE POST OFFICE, in addition to being a mail drop, was originally  a school as early as 1867 and was later used as a home.  Location was Mountain Grove Road.  Norman Long, current owner, has moved the structure to a location adjacent to its original site and has restored it as a mini museum with memorabilia from its school, post office, and homestead past.  Norman Long who restored the Chinquapin Grove School recalls that a postman stopped at the school and picked up letters and postal items that were left there for delivery to areas outside the school community.  Letters and postal items sent to residents around the school were left in the school for pick up by those residents.

Dates of Operation: 1875-1883

Postmasters/Postmistresses: Unknown


CRUSO POST OFFICE existed in a variety of locations through its five decades of operation.  The area that would become known as Cruso was served by Springdale and other small post offices. Post office locations moved as new postmasters were appointed.  The first Cruso Post Office was on Cold Creek Road, then near Tom J. Reece's farm near Pisgah Creek, later across the Creek from the Free Will Baptist Church, then to Lucy Poston's and Oder Burnette's. The last location recorded was in the Ira Cogburn Store near East Fork Baptist Church and the Cruso Fire Department.  This building is still standing.  

Dates of Operation: 1890-1942. After 1942, delivery moved to the Canton Post Office.

Postmasters/Postmistresses with dates of appointment:

US postal archives lists a total of 16 postmasters for this area, though our available documentation lists only 12.

James R. Trull (May 2, 1890)

William J. Trull (June 10, 1890)

Thomas N. Massie (January 3, 1901)

William W. Pless (September 10,1904)

James N. Osborne (January 31, 1914)

Thomas J. Reece (September 30, 1919)

Ira H. Cogburn (November 10, 1925)

Roy L. Pless (January 4, 1937)

The Reverend Oder F. Burnett (March 26, 1937)

Frank D. Grogan (March 18,1938)

Arnold Poston (August 16, 1938)

Jacob Arnold Poston (January 14, 1939)      

     

FORKS OF PIGEON POST OFFICE was in Colonel Joseph Cathey's Store (also called Cathey's Store Post Office).  Postage for a letter was five cents. Colonel Cathey charged an additional three cent fee for writing the letter. This post office was eventually moved and operated out of the Blaylock home near Silver Bluff in Bethel. During the Civil War era (approximately 1861-1867) Forks of Pigeon operated as a CSA post office.  It reopened as a regular post office in 1867.

Dates of Operation: 1841-1901         

Postmasters/Postmistresses with dates of appointment:

William Cathey (September 23, 1841)                              

Joseph Cathey (April 7, 1851)

Armand Ermintia S. Deaver (January 9, 1867)

Mary C. Evans (February 26, 1867)

William S. Evans (August 19, 1869)

James A. Blalock was the last postmaster (     -1901).







GARDEN CREEK POST OFFICE was operated on the Osborne Farm in the vicinity of today's Crestview Baptist Church on Highway #110.  The Osborne family ran one of the finest dairy farms in the state into the twentieth century on the Osborne Farm, and the post office was operated by the family on the farm.  Available historical documentation lists Arthur and sisters Mary Louisa and Florence Osborne in charge of operations at the Osborne Dairy Farm, though other family members may have been involved with the post office operation also.

Dates of Operation: 1878-1901

Postmasters/Postmistresses with dates of appointment:

Members of the Osborne family




LAVINIA POST OFFICE (Sometimes referred to as INMAN POST OFFICE)              

The Reverend James Anderson Inman built the Lavinia Post Office near his home just off McClure's Creek Road. Later the operation moved to the home to Joseph and Susan Inman near McClure's Creek.  Their son Lon walked approximately twelve miles to Waynesville twice a week to bring the mail to the post office.  James Ballou Inman contracted to carry the mail three times a week from Waynesville to Livingston, Sonoma, Retreat, and Lavinia Post Offices.  He earned $112 per year.

Dates of Operation: 1886-1913     

Postmasters/Postmistresses:

Charlotte L. Penland

Joseph W. Singleton

Minnie Franklin

Joseph Pingree Inman (1893-1913)

Susan Franklin Inman (acting postmistress) (1893-1913)

Mail Carriers to the post office with dates of operation:

Lon Inman

James Ballou Inman (May 1896-1900)

Mr. M.J. Boyd

James Inman     


LITTLE EAST FORK POST OFFICE  was primarily a horseback delivery arrangement.

Dates of Operation: Unknown

Postmasters/Postmistresses:

Holden G. Warren was the mail carrier


LIVINGSTON POST OFFICE was described as being on the route from Lavinia to Waynesville. James Ballou Inman was enlisted by the postmaster general to add the post office of Livingston to his route.

Dates of Operation: 1898 – 1913. The post office was discontinued on March 15, 1901, and delivery was directed to the Waynesville Post Office.

Postmasters/Postmistresses:

George E. Boggs (August 22, 1898)

James Ballou Inman (1898 -   )  

       

RETREAT POST OFFICE existed near the Edmonson farm and homeplace which was known as "The Retreat" in a store building near today's Mooney Lane and Lake Logan Road on Highway #215 South. When this post office closed, mail was sent to the Sonoma Post Office.

Dates of Operation: circa 1886-1902

Postmasters/Postmistresses:

Thomas B. Edmonson

Maria (pronounced Mariah) Edmonson



SONOMA POST OFFICE was in the Terrell Store (later called the Sentelle Store) in the field adjacent to today's Jukebox Junction.

One of the postmistresses who operated the post office also ran the Terrell Store, Mary Lucinda Terrell, always wore a large white apron in which she kept

candy to give to children.  By some accounts, Mary Lucinda Terrell played some role at the facility during its entire existence and resented the closure

of the post office.  The office closed around 1905, and mail was sent to the Canton Post Office.  

Dates of Operation: Circa 1878-1905

Postmasters/Postmistresses:

Sarah M. Wilson

Harrison Singleton (1887)

Mary Lucinda Kirkpatrick Terrell

Lydia A. Evans









SPRINGDALE POST OFFICE was on the Lenoir Gwyn Farm, now part of Springdale Golf Course.

Dates of Operation: 1876 –1923.  After 1923 mail was sent to Cruso Post Office

Postmasters/Postmistresses:

James M. Gwyn (1876)

Thomas L. Gwyn


SPRUCE POST OFFICE existed at the area known as Three Forks of the Pigeon River near today's Sunburst Campground.

Dates of Operation: Unknown

Postmasters/Postmistresses: Unknown


SUNBURST POST OFFICE was also the Suncrest Lumber Company Post Office that was in the same building as the depot.  Postal employees may also have been employed as depot managers.

Dates of Operation: 1906-1928. After 1928, delivery was moved to the Canton Post Office.

Postmasters/Postmistresses with dates of appointment:

Mary Smith (March 25, 1906)

Harry W. Raynolds (January 31, 1907)

Perla P. McClure (May 27, 1907)

Andrew U. Robertson (September 21, 1908)

Benjamin F. Gudger (February 8, 1913)

John H. Peebles (February 24, 1914)

William C. Allen, Jr. (March 8, 1915)

Robert L. Burgin (March 29, 1918)

Sadie L. Burgy (July 1, 1924)


WOODROW POST OFFICE was in the depot of the Tennessee and North Carolina Railroad on Highway #215 near the intersection of Sonoma Road. Postmaster Cathey was noted for his fine Spencerian script he used to write and cancel letters as well as for his excellent furniture and cabinetry (known as C Line Furniture) that he sold at his nearby shop.

Dates of Operation: 1914-1927. The post office closed after 1927 and delivery moved to the Waynesville Post Office.

Postmasters/Postmistresses with dates of appointment:

Thomas J. Cathey (February 3, 1914)

Arthur G. Burnett (October 1, 1918)


Historic Post Offices That Existed in the Bethel/Cruso Area

Envelope from an 1846 letter from Thomas Isaac Lenoir to his sister Sarah at Fort Defiance, NC.  with Forks of Pigeon on the label.

From the Carroll Jones Collection

Woodrow Depot/Post Office

from the Charles Cathey collection provided by Bill Holbrook

Sonoma Post Office (located in the Terrell/Sentelle Store)

From the Bill Terrell collection