Volume Four  Issue Seven  July 2019
The History Center on Main Street
 83 and 61 North Main Street
Mansfield, PA
The Museum of Us
The History Center on Main Street
Director- Joyce M. Tice: President - Deb Talbot Bastian: V.P - Kathy McQuid
R.F.D. Linking the Farm to the World
We can’t put our smart phones down for even a few seconds for fear of missing something important. Hearing the news, whether public or private, as soon as it happens is a very new phenomenon. Take yourself back a little over a century to before 1901.
Your news came from the newspaper or letters you picked up at the post office. Postage fees paid for delivery from one post office to another, nothing more. Townsfolk might be able to go to the post office on a daily basis and might get the unofficial news, A.K.A. gossip, as well. In rural areas and small towns like Mansfield, the post office was usually in a store or business, not a separate building. In the above photo in Burlington, it was in the hotel.
Rural residents went maybe once a week to the store/post office for the mail. What good to the farmer was a weather report from last week? Rural townships had several post offices located often in a separate room in the postmaster's house.
In 1863 the idea of home delivery came about. Postmasters did not like seeing the people waiting in the cold for letters from their soldiers in the Civil War or receiving sometimes very bad news in public. A post office could apply for home delivery, but letters required an extra postage charge. Also, to qualify a city had to have sidewalks, house numbers, street signs, and cross walks. That left the small town people still trudging to the post office.

Wellsboro qualified for home delivery in 1906. Mansfield had sidewalks, made of wooden planks, but the rest of that – not at all. In October 1909 the borough council passed a resolution to name the streets and number the houses. The 1910 census was the first that in-town houses were recorded with numbers and streets. 
In 1901 Rural Free Delivery was proposed and implemented. This allowed daily home delivery with no extra charge outside of town. Three rural routes were created out of the Mansfield post office. On the second of September, 1901 it was ready to go. The newspaper headline read “Three Routes Established, Starting from this Boro - Carriers will Begin Regular Rounds Monday, Sept. 2nd. - Fifteen Hundred People Affected - First in this Congressional District”
These routes, designated R. F. D. 1 through 3 have not changed much in the century plus since they were established. The address of R. D. #, etc. was discontinued only two or three decades ago and replaced with road names and house numbers, but the rural carriers drive nearly the same route these early horse-drawn carriages followed. 
The first route included Richmond (Canoe Camp area) and Sullivan Townships covering 21 miles, 115 houses and 516 people. Albert J. Rumsey was the first carrier. No. 2 was 24 3/4 miles long including the Newtown road, Rutland within a mile of Roseville, the Lawrence Corners district and Pickle Hill. Andrew J. Brown was the carrier. No. 3 included Lambs Creek, Mann Creek and Schodac for 27 1/2 miles, 120 houses, and 540 population. The carrier was John L. Hagar. Substitute Carriers were Stephen G. Mudge and Claude L. Hagar.
These carriers had to provide their own horse and carriage and were paid $500 per year for this six day a week job.
By 1908 Tioga County, which had 106 post offices in 1901, was down to 54. In the intervening decades post offices have closed one after the other. The identity of the communities they represented has been lost. Ten years ago there were roughly 17 post offices still operating in the county. Since then some have been closed or reduced to limited hours.
Post office history is intricately linked to our lives and the way we live. With Rural Free Delivery farmers got their weather report while it could still do them some good. Catalog shopping from Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward was a major convenience just as Amazon is to us. Local merchants complained then just as they do now. It brought the world to the farm's door.
Mansfield's Lost Decades
If we are to base our knowledge of Mansfield on the Mansfield Advertisers, we might guess that Mansfield had retreated into the mist like Brigadoon for three decades. The Mansfield Advertiser started in 1873 and continued until 1972. These locally produced papers are the best resource we have to tell us about our town and the people in it. They are treasure to the historian.

Between 1912 and 1929, all but a few of the papers are missing. There are a few individual issues of that period in the Pennsylvania Archives, and we at The History Center have a few issues, but for the most part they are lost. Why?

The better question is why do we have the ones we do. We can thank Dr. Oramel Newell for that. He is the dentist we talked about a few newsletters ago as having started a dental practice that lasted a century. He saved every Mansfield paper from the first in 1873 until his death in 1909. His only daughter, Myrtle Newell Baker of Rutland, died in childbirth in 1912 and that's when the saved papers stopped. Fortunately the copies ended up at the newspaper office and were preserved and in recent years digitized.

Dr. Newell's granddaughter, Ruth Baker Broadfield was Rutland News Correspondent for many years and also worked at the Mansfield paper and print shop. She is likely responsible for salvaging Dr. Newell's papers.

In 1926 Edwin Coles took over the paper from his father, Sheridan Coles, and apparently by 1929, started saving copies of the paper again.

If you have issues from this period in your attic or around, know that they may be the last in existence and should be at least loaned to the History Center for copying.
Upcoming Events
July 27  Joyce speaking at the Sayre Historical Society Meeting 1 PM
August 17 - MHS Class of 1979 Reunion 11 AM at The Museum of Us
September 06 - Steve McCloskey - Mansfield's Greatest Baseball Players. From Mansfield to the Major Leagues
September 14 - MHS Class of 1964 Reunion Time at The Museum of Us TBD
October 04 - Mansfield Then and Now - A Photographic Journey Through Mansfield's Street from the earliest photos to the present.
Class Reunion Updates 1959 and 1969
Many thanks to the MHS Class of 1959 on their 60th anniversary and visit to the museum this month. Six class members have been members and supporters of the History Center from our beginning and two more joined. We appreciate the support of this class.
The MHS Class of 1969 had a good turnout for their 50th reunion and visit to the museum.
Class Memorials
Many of the high school classes that visit the History Center as part of their reunion weekend leave a memorial donation.

Our memorial plaque commemorates those classes with a lasting tribute to Mansfield's most important product, the people who launched their lives from our town.

Add your class to our memorial plaque.

Be remembered at
The Museum Us!
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The History Center on Main Street
The History Center on Main Street provided no goods or services in exchange for your contribution. Your contribution is deductible to the extent provided by law. The official registration and financial information of The History Center on Main Street, may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement