by Barb Chapman, Wheatland Town Historian
Let’s leave our instant text messages and emails a moment and think about what it was like when people waited, sometimes for weeks, for a letter to bring them news - a new baby in the family, word about a son fighting a war far from home, or a long-awaited message from a sweetheart. The first brave settlers in the Wheatland area traveled long distances, usually on horseback, over roads that were merely trails to get their mail. Canandaigua was the end of the line for mail from the east. The situation improved a great deal in 1812 when the mail route was extended to Batavia, and a post office was established in Caledonia.
The first post office in Scottsville opened in 1820. Dr. Freeman Edson was the postmaster, and both his medical office and the post office were in his house at 7 Rochester Street. It seems that for many years the person who was appointed postmaster got to choose the location of the post office. In Scottsville, David B. Lewis and B.B. Carpenter oversaw the post office in a frame building on Main Street approximately where the orthodontist office is now. When Otto Bennett was named postmaster in 1861, he moved the post office to his liquor store at 10 Main Street. (One has to wonder how the temperance and prohibition advocates, who were very active at the time, felt about going in there to get their mail.) In 1886, Bridget Scanlon became the first woman postmaster in Scottville. She moved the post office back down the street to its previous location.
From 1896 until 1918 the front east room of Windom Hall (now the Scottsville Library) was the post office. The Scottsville Post Office began Rural Free Delivery service in 1902 with one route up the present Scottsville Road to the Ballantine Bridge and the other extending as far as Garbutt. From 1918 to 1929, James Butler conducted the post office in the same building with his insurance office at 12 Main Street. In 1944 Romeyn “Dubby” Dunn became postmaster and moved the post office to half of his store building at 32 Main Street, where it remained until the building burned in 1959.The present Scottsville post office was built by the United States Postal Service in 1961.
The Mumford post office was established in 1844, and Duncan McNaughton was the postmaster. He presided over the mail in a room of his hotel, now the Mumford Fire Department building. The post office was moved to various stores along Mumford’s Main Street as the proprietors were named postmasters. In 1893 William Buckley moved it to the little stone building at 1093 Main Street where it remained for many years. Some of the postmasters in charge there were James Freeman, J. Stewart Grant, John A. Campbell, Francis Callan and Glenn Sickles. In April 1962 the Mumford post office moved to the corner of Dakin and William Streets, and has since occupied space in an addition to the old Mumford School building.
During the heyday of the gypsum business, the hamlet of Garbutt had its own post office. Most of the time it was located in the Garbutt store. Harlan Wheeler was postmaster in 1880, succeeded by Ezra Price and Duncan McQueen. Frank Garbutt served as postmaster for 22 years. In 1943 the Garbutt post office closed for good.
Our post offices have served the people of Wheatland throughout our history. Although we no longer completely depend on “snail mail” for communication, we recognize the dedication of the past and present postal workers who have faithfully brought us our mail.