Mail Routes in the Republic of Texas
Bonham Daily Favorite, October 9, 1994
In addition to the Fannin County post offices mentioned in last week's column, one other settlement along Red River was authorized to provided postal services by Texas Post Master General Jones. John and Thomas Jouett established a small community north of present day Telephone which they named Raleigh for their birthplace in North Carolina.
The first of only two post office records for this community is contained in a Congressional bill enacted on January 6, 1840 establishing mail routes in the Republic. Route No. 7 was to run from Jonesborough (Red River Co.) to the seat of Justice of Fannin County via Franklin, Johnson, Ral'eigh, and Lexington, Fannin County.
It appears that the Raleigh post office was not a successful venture. In all likelihood the Jouett brothers operated the postal service from their general store in the village.
The post office records also have a copy of a letter sent from Post Master General Jones to John G. Jouett at Raleigh, dated February 17, 1840 which states, "It appears from the books in this department your commission bears the date from 19th December 1838 from which time up to the present no returns appears to have been rec'd from your office. The department therefore thinks it proper to discontinue it, and requires from you a full statement of the business transacted at your office up to the date your receive this letter."
Either this order was rescinded or the post office was re-established. One record shows the post office as being commissioned on February 17, 1841 with John Jouett's appointment as postmaster.
Report No. 68 from the Raleigh Post office from January 1 to June 30, 1840 shows revenue of $21.14. These dates indicate that the office was functioning before that February 17th commissioning.
None of the offices in the county show any spectacular income. Perhaps the amounts were spectacular considering the primitiveness of the mail delivery, the location of the offices, and the fact that many of our early settlers were unable to read and write
Daniel Rowlett submitted a report at the end of 1841 for the post office at Lexington. On January 20, 1839 he reported cash of $10.28; from the first of April to June 30, 1840 income was only $2.93; July 6th to December 14, 1840, $7.50 and From December 14 to the end of January, 1841 , 76<£.
At Warren the first report covered the period from October 1, to December 31, 1839: Cash carried over was $11.35 3/4 with revenue for the period amounting to $5.01 1/2. From January 1 to March 31 , 1840 revenue was $4.82. The receipts continued to grow slowly and at the end of the next reporting date on June 30th, $5.77 was taken in. The year end report listed $6.29 3/4 with the year's total just over $33.00.
From the end of 1840 to June, 1841 revenues totaled $47.85. This is the last report from the office.
There are no reports extant from the post office at Fort Inglish or the town of Bois d'Arc.
The only other recorded post office in Fannin County was at Coffee's Station, about twenty miles up river from Fort Warren. Located at Holland Coffee's trading post at Preston Bend, the site is in present day Grayson County but in those early years was an important post in Fannin County.
Although the reports of the Post Master General do contain some revenue amounts received from Coffee's Station only one actual report from the post office is in the archival files of the department. One record lists the date of commission of the office as December 2, 1838.
The account on file begins with a June 30, 1839 entry showing a cash balance of $3.83 3/4. From July 1 to September 30, 1839 revenue is recorded at $9.13 3/4 cents; October 1, 1839 to March 31, 1840 revenue declined to $6.35 but the second quarter April 1 to June 30, 1840 showed a jump to $8,924. Total revenue from the report was $28.23. The reports were signed by J.A. Caldwell, Post Master.
Included with the forgoing report is a supplemental account from Holland Coffee, Post Master. Coffee reported from March 31 to December 31, 1840 showing on October 22 a General expense of $9.00 and cash on hand of $19.25 for a total of $28.25.
The five post offices were obviously in operation from about the beginning of Fannin County in 1837 until the advent of statehood on December 29, 1845. During that eight or so years only at Fort Warren or Fannin County Court House and at Coffee's Station were the post master positions changed. John G. Jouett remained in office for the life of of the Raleigh office. Bailey Inglish was the only post master at Fort Inglish/Bois d'Arc. Dr. Daniel Rowlett was in charge at Lexington despite his frequent absences serving at Fannin County's representative in the Texas Congress. At Warren, Joseph Murphy, Thomas Lindsey, and Joseph Sowell were commissioned to serve. In fact Joseph Sowell was in his term of office when he was slain by Indians outside his tavern at Warren in 1842.
In addition to overseeing the proper operation of post offices throughout Texas, the Post Master General also had to insure the prompt and efficient delivery of the mail to the various offices. Under the terms of the law creating the Republic of Texas system, delivery of mail was accomplished through contracts to various individuals.
As with the individual post office records, these contracts and delivery schedules are fragmentary. The only description of the mail routes is to be found in a notice for bids probably published in regional newspapers and posted at the various offices. The notice stated, " Sealed proposals will be received at this office until 1st December next, for carrying the Mail on the following routes from the 1st day of January 1839, to 1 January, 1840."
Route No. 7 was to run from Jonesborough to the seat of Justice of Fannin County, 110 miles, once every two weeks. To leave Jonesborough on Sunday 7 a.m. and arrive at seat of Justice of Fannin County on Wednesday 8 p.m. Leave Seat of Justice of Fannin County Friday 7 a.m. and arrive at Jonesborough Monday 8 p.m. One 1839 report for this route lists payment to Jacob McFarland for $850. A January 1, 1840 account shows payment for the same route to William M. Williams in the amount of $1955.23 for the year.
Fannin County Museum of History
One Main Street, Bonham, Texas