Throwback Thursday (Saturday Edition): The Postal Service in DeKalb County

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, but we were having so much fun at EPL Spring Break, we didn’t have time to throwback until today! So, let’s get our #TBT on … on Saturday!

The postal service in DeKalb County has been around since the county’s early years. Today, let’s take a look at the history behind this important service.


On March 5, 1839, DeKalb County’s first post office was established in Auburn. In July, another post office was installed at Newville, and by November, Spencerville had one as well. In these early days, there was no delivery service—instead, there were many small post offices throughout the county. Money order services were established at some of these offices starting in 1868, which made financial transactions much easier in a time when currency and checks weren’t generally accepted outside one’s own community.


The first postal carrier service in the county was established in Auburn on February 1, 1906. The institution of “Rural Free Delivery” made things easier for those living outside of town, allowing them to order from catalogs and purchase money orders and stamps from their mail carrier. According to John Martin Smith, it wasn’t unusual for carriers in rural areas to become like “one of the family,” often receiving treats like baked goods, fresh eggs and other items.


Before the 1950s, when trucks began handling most of the delivery, the railroad system played an important role in transporting mail. Trains could stop at Butler, Waterloo, and Garrett up to about 26 times a day, picking up and dropping off mail each time they stopped. The mail was sorted en route in a special postal car so it was ready for the post office to deliver when it arrived. A letter sent from Butler might be delivered in Waterloo later that day!

Want to see more? Click here and search for “Post Office.”

About Jenny

I am the Associate Director of Eckhart Public Library. My office is in the Administrative Annex, but I can often be found roaming the Eckhart Public Library Campus, performing acts of librarianship in every department! I love to read and learn about history. I'm also a huge fan of movies, TV and pop culture in general, and I love to read books of all types. Currently, I'm working my way around the romance section, with some historical fiction and graphic novels thrown in for variety! But you never know what I'm going to pick up next.
This entry was posted in Throwback Thursday, What's Up At Willennar. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Throwback Thursday (Saturday Edition): The Postal Service in DeKalb County

  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Happy New Year! | Charlie Chat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s