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Close-up of Yorkana, PA, postmark of October 3, 1906 (On postcard submitted by Grace Dietz)

Mary (Dietz) Poff was a Yorkana Postmaster

Grace Dietz submitted a Yorkana postmarked postcard with questions about a relation who served as its Postmaster. The close-up of the postmark indicates it was stamped on October 3, 1906; during the A.M.

Quoting from the e-mail query from Grace: “Hunkered down at home, a thought about this postcard caused me to search about it. Where I discovered the informative article on the naming of Yorkana for post office purposes. Your other articles have me hooked. I’ve found my reading material for the next few days. Back to the postcard. It has been passed down in our family with the story our relation Mary (Dietz) Poff stamping the postmark when she served as the Yorkana postmaster. The postcard was turned over to my son years ago to look into that story. I asked him to scan the postcard, to see if you can discover the facts.”

I was able to rapidly “discover the facts” using Online sources; since I had recently used those sources for a family history article. From that article, a little postal background is appropriate.

People living in major boroughs or cities enjoyed free home delivery of United States Mail as early as 1863. However, rural residents had to travel to a distant post office to pick up their mail.

Some rural areas hired private couriers, that traveled regular routes, to pick up and deliver mail to the nearest U. S. Post Office. The use of a courier was an additional mail delivery expense for the farmers; who wondered why are the city folks getting mail delivered to their door for the cost of a stamp, while they incurred additional costs to get the same service.

Through the remainder of the 1800s, the initial solution, to appease the rural folks, was to allow many rural post offices to dot the landscape; so the farmers did not have to travel as far to pick up their mail. The post office established in Yorkana on December 14, 1875, was one such local U. S. Post Office.

Records of United States Postmasters, within The National Archives and Records Administration, contain {appointment dates} for the seven Postmasters of the United States Post Office in Yorkana, York County, PA; while Ancestry.com was used to determine [year born – year died] of each Postmaster:

{Dec. 14, 1875} . . . Joseph B. Budding . . . [1854-1925]
{July 30, 1885} . . . Peter Poff . . . [1837-1893]
{Apr. 17, 1887} . . . Jacob K. Budding . . . [1856-1922]
{Aug. 2, 1893} . . . Mary Poff . . . [1843-1915]
{May 25, 1897} . . . Edward J. Libhart . . . [1873-1941]
{Jan. 3, 1902} . . . Jacob K. Budding . . . [1856-1922]
{Apr. 30, 1903} . . . William H. Kauffman . . . [1852-1921]
{Mar. 28, 1907} . . . Romanus T. Paules . . . [1861-1937]
{Mar. 31, 1909} . . . Post Office in Yorkana, PA was Closed

Yorkana postmarked (Oct. 3, 1906) postcard; Address side is to: “Elizabeth Williams, 352 East Locust Street, York, Pa.” (Postcard submitted by Grace Dietz)

Therefore the Yorkana postmarked (Oct. 3, 1906) postcard; addressed to “Elizabeth Williams, 352 East Locust Street, York, Pa.” was from the time William H. Kauffman was the Postmaster of Yorkana. Mary (Dietz) Poff was the Yorkana Postmaster from August 2, 1893 until May 24, 1897.

Therefore the Dietz family story associated with this postcard is actually: their relation Mary (Dietz) Poff served as a Yorkana Postmaster from August 2, 1893 until May 24, 1897; this is an example of the style of postmark stamp she would have used. I’ve seen a few women Postmasters in the 1900s, however Mary Poff is the first woman Postmaster I’ve seen in York County during the 1800s.

The United States Post Office at Yorkana undoubtedly looked like the following depiction; tucked into the corner of stores, in or near Yorkana. The brothers Joseph and Jacob Budding were retail merchants. Peter and Mary Poff, husband and wife, sold groceries and dry goods. Edward Libhart operated a general store. William Kauffman operated a grocery store and Romanus Paules operated a hardware store.

Typical rural Post Office that sat in the corner of a village store (Source: National Postal Museum of Smithsonian Institution)

The reason the Yorkana post office closed in 1909 was due to the emergence of Rural Free Delivery (RFD), which delivered mail directly to rural farm families. After years of turning down any appropriations for such an idea, in 1892, Congress added $10,000 to the Postal Service appropriation bill to experiment with Rural Free Delivery in limited areas.

Implementation was extremely slow. Congress was not about to appropriate the major funds to take RFD countrywide, besides, local storekeepers in and around all the local post offices, fearing a loss of business, lobbied against RFD. It was 1902 before the necessary funds were appropriated to start the widespread rollout of Rural Free Delivery.

The word “Free” was dropped in 1906; leaving Rural Deliver (RD). The RD service utilizes a network of rural routes traveled by carriers to deliver mail to and pick it up from roadside mailboxes; much like today, except with a reliance on individual road addresses rather than use of RD#s.

As rural delivery was implemented in an area, often one of the 76,945 post offices that existed in 1901, closed; such was the fate of the Yorkana post office on March 31, 1909. Yorkana was right on the line dividing two rural delivery routes; to the east was Hellam RD#1 and to the west was York RD#3.

Here is the picture side of the 1906 postcard. The first greetings-word of the printed message is a mystery “ ?? from Yorkana Pa;” however the sender signs the bottom, “from Henrietta Stein.”

Yorkana postmarked (Oct. 3, 1906) postcard; Picture side signed “from Henrietta Stein” (Submitted by Grace Dietz)

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos and illustrations in this post.

Links to related Yorkana posts include:

Woman born in 1794 inspired Yorkana naming
Love blossoms at a Yorkana Campmeeting
Satterthwaite artwork of unique store near Yorkana
Snowball fight in Yorkana Graveyard
Roy Rogers in York and at Valley View Park, near Yorkana

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts