EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
The inauguration of rural free delivery of mail in Hancock County in September 1899 set some historical records.
Hancock was the first county among the 88 within Ohio to have as many as four rural routes.
Only one other county in the entire United States had a four-route system in 1899. That was Delaware County in Indiana, of which Muncie is the county seat.
Hancock County and the Indiana county were chosen as areas in which to experiment with “so many” routes within a single county area. The selection was made by the United States Post Office Department at Washington.
The success of the “experiment” here and in the Hoosier State lead to the gradual expansion of the system over the entire country within a very few years.
At the time the four routes were started in Hancock County, there were only 400 routes over the entire United States.
Today’s rural free delivery system is vastly different in Hancock County from that in 1899 when the first routes started. Today (1969) there are five routes out of Findlay and one functions our of Jenera that is handled our the Findlay post office. Then there are rural routes out of Arlington, Arcadia, Mount Blanchard, Van Buren, Mount Cory and Rawson. There were as many as nine routes out of Findlay at one time.
The carriers today (1969), with their motor vehicles, travel much further than did those in 1899. The longest route today is No. 4 on the south — runs to 79.8 miles. The shortest is that out of Jenera, which is only 52.05 miles long.
A new assistant postmaster was taking his post at the time rural free delivery started in Hancock County in the fall of 1899. He was P.S. Shoupe, who was to later on become a leader in municipal government. In the 1910-20 decade, he was elected president of the city council and in 1916 he became mayor of Findlay, succeeding Theodore Totten, who died in office.
E.L. Mansfield had been assistant postmaster and he retired, Mr. Shoupe filling the vacancy.
William H. Gray, the carrier on the west side of Findlay when rural free delivery started, had an exciting experience during his initial week of service. While making his rounds one morning, he was startled to see in the sky a meteor-like display of brilliant nature. He reported it to Postmaster Jacob Boger upon his return and subsequent reports from northern Ohio showed that many others had witnessed it too.
(Descriptions of three of the four 1899 routes were given in previous articles. Here is the fourth route:)
The west rural route went out the Benton Ridge Road to the Infirmary Road 2.2 miles; then north along the Infirmary Road 1.2 miles to the North River Road; then west along the North River Road to the Dukes Church, 6.7 miles; then south on the Dukes Church Road to the B.B. Powell Road, 1.1 miles; then east along the B.B. Powell Road to the Benton Ridge and McComb Road, 1.25 miles; then north on the Benton Ridge and McComb Road 0.9 mile to the South River Road, 4.3 miles to the Sherrick Road; then south along the Sherrick Road 0.9 mile to the Benton Ridge Road; then backtracking on the Ridge Road 2.5 miles to the Radabaugh Church; then east along the Ridge Road 0.7 mile to the West Sandusky Road; then east along the West Sandusky Street Road 4.4 miles to the corporation line.
The west route covered 27 miles and an area of 18 square miles. It was the biggest route in population with 1,038 inhabitants. Collection boxes were at the intersection of the Infirmary and North River roads, one at the Blanchard Township House and one at the Radabaugh Church.