Wednesday, July 1, 2020

U.S. Postal Service and Bossier Parish

First US Postage Stamps, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, issue of 1847, 5c and 10c
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin greatly influenced how the postal service operates today in the United States? His work in postal services began in 1737 when the British Crown appointed him as the postmaster of Philidelphia. Franklin was dismissed as postmaster in 1774 because the British Crown felt he was too sympathetic to the colonies as he vocalized support for their independence.

On Jul. 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general of the United Colonies. The Declaration of Independence created the United States in July 1776, making Franklin the first postmaster general of the United States.

The Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were both written to ensure the vital services were preserved. In 1792, President George Washington signed into law the Postal Service Act, which established the United States Post Office Department as a permanent part of the Federal government.

General Jean Pierre Baptiste Bossier
Charcoal drawing by John J. Audubon, Nelson
Museum, Kansas City.
Patrick D. McAnany Collection: 2001.044.001

Louisiana’s first post office was established in New Orleans in 1804. It wasn’t until 1843 that Bossier Parish was carved out of Claiborne Parish, and that same year General Pierre Bossier began his term as a congressman for Louisiana’s fourth district. According to the official Bossier Parish historian, “One of the first actions taken in 1843 by the newly elected General Bossier in the U.S. Congress was to obtain postal service for his namesake, Bossier Parish.”

General Bossier introduced a bill to authorize a survey for a postal route from Shreveport to Bellevue by way of Willow Chute and on up to Conway, Ark. Unfortunately, General Bossier died of tuberculosis just 13 months into his term, before his efforts for a postal route were realized.

The first post office in Bossier Parish was established at Red Land on Nov. 20, 1846, with Jerome Bonaparte Mading serving as the first postmaster. After nearly 63 years in service, the post office in Red Land was discontinued on Apr. 15, 1909.

This year, the Benton post office celebrates its 150th anniversary as the oldest post office in Bossier Parish; it was established in March 1870 with Elias O’Neill serving as the postmaster. Through the implementation of the Rural Free Delivery, postal mail was delivered to Benton residents, beginning in 1907 before this time residents had to travel to the post office to retrieve their mail or pay a private delivery service.
Unidentified postal carriers for the RFD (rural free delivery) in Plain Dealing C. 1910
Buelah Findley Collection: 1997.054.054

Another fascinating part of postal history in Bossier Parish can be discovered in the Apr. 17, 1913 issue of The Bossier Banner, where the following article appeared.

“Our fellow townsmen Mr. Edwin W. Doran has been granted a patent on a mail box indicator. The device accurately indicates the last hour the box was ‘robbed’ by the postman, thus serving as a convenient guide to the public when wishing to post letters. It is particularly intended for use in cities, but would be practical anywhere. Mr. Doran has received encouraging communications from the postmaster general and others regarding his patent and he will no doubt later reap considerable pecuniary gain from it.”

Bossier Parish currently has seven post offices located in Benton, established 1870; Bossier City, established 1891; Elm Grove, established 1902; Haughton, established 1884; Plain Dealing, established 1888, and Princeton, established 1910.

The History Center is excited to announce that our branch of the Bossier Parish Library System will be re-opening our doors to the public this Monday, July 6. Until then, we are here to answer your calls and emails. What do you want to know about Bossier Parish History? Email or call us at 318-746-7717.

By: Amy Robertson

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