Fannin County Museum of History

   

One Main Street, Bonham, Texas

Hereby Created - Post Office

Bonham Daily Favorite, October 2, 1994


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, in Congress assembled, That there shall be, and there is hereby created and established, a general post office, to be under the charge and direction of a postmaster general... Signed, Ira Ingram, Speaker of the house of representatives, Richard Ellis, President protem. of the senate. Approved, December 20, 1836, Sam Houston.

In creating and organizing the government for the newly established republic, the Texas Congress lost little time in assuring the regulated and timely distribution of mail throughout the country. Postal services on the North American continent had, at best, a sketchy history, and in the nineteenth century there were few assurances that either the sender or the recipient of mail would be successful in their attempts at communication.

Part of the blame for the failure of mail delivery must lie of course with the waves of westward moving emigrants who simply failed to make their whereabouts known to those who were left behind nor were emigrants always in the proximity of postal services. Many families reported instances of loss of contact with family members because mail failed to be delivered for months or even years.

Often those who remained at home were forced to send mail to vaguely defined post offices known to be on the emigrants route and often the travelers had already left the vicinity before the arrival of the mail addressed to them. One common service offered by the area newspapers, perhaps in conjunction with the Republic of Texas general Post Office, was the publication of the names of persons having mail at area post offices. The Northern Standard newspaper, regional journal for northeast Texas, contained a list of such names in every edition. In those earliest years the mail was being held at Jonesborough on Red River. A reading of these lists often yields the names of the first settlers of what was to become Fannin County. During these days Jonesborough was the temporal seat of government in the area and it was necessary for the settlers to travel there to attend to business.

Even before the law enacting the General Post Office of the Republic, a special committee was appointed in 1835 to establish mail routes and John R. Jones was named Postmaster General. Jones continued in the office, after the official creation of the department, until he was succeeded by Robert Barr. After Barr's death, Jones again assumed command and served until 1841. It is generally conceded that Jones was the managing force in establishing the postal service for Texas. He modeled the plan after that which had been refined in the United States. Under his guidance the first mail route was established from San Felipe de Austin, to the headquarters of the Texas army, to Bexar, as San Antonio was commonly called, to Velasco and to Nachitoches Parrish in Louisiana.

Despite the U.S. model, Jones had great difficulty insuring that the Texan system worked. Not the least of his problems was the fact that the Congress, at the outset, failed to provide any funding. This was eventually remedied by special appropriations from time to time. But even then the shortage of money in the republican government was a major block. One thing Texas did have, in lieu of cash, was land and lots of it. Congress authorized payment to those who transported the mail through the offer of land at fifty certs an acre and the payment of the costs in recording and surveying these acres.

Jones established the first rates in 1836 and these rates were based on the mileage incurred in delivering the letter. The first twenty miles costs 63 cents; the second zone, up to fifty miles was 12 1/4 cents; to one hundred miles, 18 3/4 cents; 25 cents up to two hundred miles, and 37 1/2 cents for any distance beyond that.

The records of the Post Office department are fragmented. It appears that often the appointed postmasters simply failed to file their quarterly reports. Among much of Jones' correspondence are letters of admonishment and threats to terminate the postmaster's position for those who failed to followed the regulations.

From the records it appears that the first mail route established in this area was created by an act of Congress on January 26, 1839 with the route running from Port Caddo (in Harrison County) to Shelton's Store, (Red River County), to Coffee's Station, (Fannin County). Coffee's Station was the trading post established by Holland Coffee at Preston Bend in present day Grayson County.

The first post office of record for the seat of justice of Fannin County is found in the records of appointed postmasters on February 27, 1839. The office is listed as Fannin County Courthouse, postmaster Chancy Miller,

The location certainly was at Fort Warren which had been designated county seat by this time. Chancy Miller may be actually Chaney Miller, son-in-law of Fannin County founder Dr. Daniel Rowlett. Two conflicting records however confuse the correct information about this office. A record dated February 25, 1839, lists a post office at Montague, in Fannin County with Joseph Murphey as Postmaster. Montague was the name sometimes given to the village which had sprung up around Fort Warren, but the Fannin County official records always designated the county seat as Fort Warren or Warren.

The other conflicting record, also dated February 25, 1839, shows the post office at Warren, J. Murphy, resigned. Perhaps Murphy who was also Fannin Justice and Associate Commissioner of the Board of Land Commissioners declined his appointment as Postmaster.

One curious transaction involves the transfer of the Post Office at Warren in 1840. A letter from Post Master General John R. Jones, dated January 31, 1840, was received by Thomas Lindsey, Post Master at Warren. Short and to the point the letter opens, " The department has thought proper to discontinue the Post office at Fannin Court House and establish one at Lexington. You will please let Dr. Daniel Rowlett have all the papers &c relative to the Post office. There appears a bal. of $10.28 due from your office to the time you will receive this letter, You will pay over to Dr. D. Rowlett."

Why did the Postal Department reason that a post office should be removed from a county seat to another small commuity probably less that 15 miles away? No records exist that Lexington, founded by Daniel Rowlett, was in any way a much larger thriving village than the site of Warren’s trading' post. The fragmented records of the postal service do not show that a post office was re-established at Warren at least until 1841.

Three years after the transfer, the county seat was of course moved to Bois d'Arc (Bonham) and the previously established office at Fort Inglish was designated for the county.