OCHS postal exhibit on display now

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 9/13/23

LINN   — From Adolph to Westphalia, Osage County has had many post offices and postmasters since the first was founded in the early 1830s. Post offices opened and closed over the years or …

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OCHS postal exhibit on display now


LINN  — From Adolph to Westphalia, Osage County has had many post offices and postmasters since the first was founded in the early 1830s. Post offices opened and closed over the years or merged with others, and postmasters often had to manage more than one branch.

“This exhibit showcases all of them we have records for,” said OCHS Board VP Linda Roberts. “We’ve come up with photos for a lot of them, but we’re always looking for more.”

The Osage County Cultural Heritage Center display includes multiple information centers, as shown in the photos accompanying this story.

According to an article written by Historian Hallie Mantle, the first post office in Osage County was at Lisletown, the second town formed here in 1831 or 1832. It was located near the present-day Mari-Osa Delta, where the Maries joins the Osage River.

Sadly, nothing of this very old town remains today. Goodspeed’s History of Missouri Counties notes the town never prepared for the founding of Westphalia in 1835. That town’s business life began with a general store opened by Dr. Bernard Bruns and a Mr. Bartmann. The former became the first Westphalia postmaster when services were transferred from the declining Lisletown.

Most people know where the post office is located in Linn, but some did not know that it was previously housed in what is now the Osage County Administration (Annex) Building across the street from the courthouse.

In that location, one interesting fact is that post office boxes did not use keys. Instead, they had a combination lock.

Many women served as postmasters in Osage County’s history, including Louise Agee, who ran the Peachland Post Office, which was opened in 1870 and closed in 1886.

In many cases, post offices were named for landowners in the area or families that heavily supported the USPS.

The now-defunct Ryors post office was named for prominent family led by attorney R.S. Ryors, who went on to become a Missouri state senator. Until his election, he might have been helping to deliver mail in his wagon.

A name that is still familiar in Osage County is Klebba, with John and Adolph serving as postmasters at Rich Fountain, along with J. Henry and Mary Schrader.

One display includes a U.S. Mail bag donated by former Bonnots Mill Postmaster Marjorie L. Starke. One photo at OCHS shows the mail hook pulling a bag onto a passing Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad train in 1923 at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Osage County had eight train locations scheduled for mail pickup and delivery.

“The history of these post offices and postmasters is fascinating,” said new Cultural Heritage Center Manager Ean Sanchez, who had family here.

His grandparents, Leon and Camary Bracht, live in Linn. His grandfather grew up near and graduated from Chamois. Ean grew up in Florida but moved here recently and plans to follow in his grandma’s footsteps. “She volunteers at the OCHS and loves history,” Sanchez said. “I’ve only been here a short time, but I love learning new things about Osage County that a lot of people take for granted.”

The exhibit opened on Aug. 28 with about 100 in attendance to see the display and enjoy a meal.

There is a lot of information at the Cultural Heritage Center. A map at the entrance shows the location of post offices, with each station showcasing postmasters and when they began. In many cases, OCHS has appointment records.

“We have a good handle on most of them,” said Roberts of the men and women assigned to oversee mail delivery.

That doesn’t mean the list is complete. OCHS has a list of more than 400 postmasters but only several dozen photographs. “If you have any photos or relevant information of former post offices, reach out to us,” said Roberts. “We would love to hear from you.”

Visit www.osagecounty.org or follow OCHS on Facebook for updates.


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