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Rural Free Delivery
at Union Mills

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History Routes & Carriers Photos Postmarks Links Union Mills Home

History of RFD in Carroll County

Louis E. Shriver correspondence regarding future of Postal Wagons
Louis E. Shriver recollections of RFD

Article about Joshua N. Corbin
Obituary of Edwin F. Shriver
Donation of RFD materials to Carroll County Historical Society by F. S. Klein

(reprinted from the Carroll County Times)

Carroll County Times
Page 10               April 20, 1967

Carroll Had First RFD
Postal Service in Country

It was a cool, brisk autumn morning when the Western Maryland mail train pulled into the Westminster Station in this picturesque Carroll County community. The day was October 6, 1896. Four men stood waiting at the station. It was their first day on a new job as Maryland's first Rural Free Delivery mail carriers.

They were Joshua N. Corbin, David R. Geiman, Eugene Tubbins, and Mark Yingling. Only one of these men is alive today -- Joshua Corbin.

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After the mail was taken off the train it was loaded into a wagon and hauled to the Westminster Post Office a block away, where it was sorted by the carriers. Anxiously awaiting to start his new job, Mr. Corbin hurried out the post office door and began his route before the others an thus, became the first Rural Free Delivery mail carrier in Maryland.

According to early postal records, Congress appropriated funds for a Rural Free Delivery system in the United States in 1896, and the Post Office Department selected 44 localities in 29 states as experimental "guinea pigs." The first three were in West Virginia, established on October 1, 1896, but only a few days later a second group was set up. This group included two localities in Indiana, four in Ohio, and one each in Missouri and Maryland. Carroll County was designated as the scene of the Maryland try-out and four routes were started from Westminster on October 6, 1896.

Mr. Corbin explains that the Carroll County experiment was one of the few that really worked out. And just three years later, R.F.D was official. On December 20, 1899, the United States Post Office Department graced Car- [sic] having the first Rural Free Delivery Service in the United States.

Mr. Corbin's route, which averaged about 30 pieces of mail per day, covered the southern end of Carroll County, with Westminster as the central distributing and starting point. He made his rounds on a small wagon, pulled by his horse "Harry."

Mr. Corbin was not required to take a Civil Service Exam at that time. He received $25 per month and he worked 27 days a month.

"At first," Mr. Corbin reported, "the farmers didn't like the service too much. They thought they would have to pay for it and getting free mail from the government didn't make much sense at all. But after some time had passed, they were very pleased with it. Of course, they didn't have the type of mailboxes we have nowadays, so you found anything from tea pots to cigar boxes to serve as a mail holder."

Mr. Corbin's recalls one snowy March that it took him a whole week to cover his 34-mile route. During this week he rode his horse bare-back, but still couldn't get through the high dritfts. Mr. Corbin paid about $9 per month to feed and house his horse and when he decided to get married he found himself paying $15 a month rent. This left him $1 to live on. So after three and half years as Carroll County's first R.F.D. mail carrier, and perhaps one of the first in the United States, he quit and went on to seek a better paying job.

He found one, too. For many years after he was a Tollgate collector on the Baltimore Pike, a turnpike which ran from Baltimore to Westminster. Later he owned and operated a grocery and liquor store in Westminster. The liquor establishment was said to have the longest bar in the county and the best liquor in the state of Maryland. Business was good until prohibition put him out. During the 1930's, he was a chauffeur for a wealthy Baltimore family and made several trips to the West Coast and back.

For the past 30 years Mr. Corbin has been in retirement. Still healthy and active at 92, he spends most of his time watching television and talking to neighbors at his home in north-west Baltimore.

He has two sons, one daughter, eight grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.

-- K.R.M.

 

Obituary in the files of Frederic Shriver Klein. Source and date unknown.

Edwin F. Shriver

Services were held March 14 for Edwin Frysinger Shriver, 76, a former Westminster resident and R. F. D. historian who died March 12, at the Dixie Hospital, Hampton, Virginia, following a long illness.

The son of Edwin W. Shriver, originator of rural free delivery in Carroll county, Shriver contributed his father’s 1898-1904 log book of R.F.D. information to the Carroll County Historical Society in 1959.

This book "the most highly prized" R. F. D. historical item according to the Society, helped Carroll county to have what experts called then "the most outstanding collection of R. F. D. material, in the United States. The recently deceased Shriver and his wife, Marian Neilly Shriver, have been residing with a son, Edwin L. Shriver at 13 Laydon Way, Poquoson, Virginia. He was born in New York City son of the late Edwin W. and to Jospehine Vacheron Shriver and he came to Westminster at an early age.

He was a retired employee of the Pennsy1vanla Railroad, Baltimore, where he had been employed for 40 years. Surviving besides his wife and son are two grandchildren. Funeral services were held Saturday, March 14, at the Myers funeral home, Westminster. The Rev. Pinckney M. Corsa, pastor of the Ascension Church, Westminster, officiated and burial was in the Westminster Cemetery.

Paul A. Welch

 

1958 Donation of RFD materials to
Carroll County Historical Society by F. S. Klein

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excerpt from thank-you letter from Lillian Shipley, Sept. 13, 1958

Historical Society of Carroll County, Maryland, Inc.

Westminster, Maryland

Sept. 13, 1958

Dear Professor Klein.

The C and D postal covers you gave me last Thursday fulfill a dream of many years and complete our display of postal markings. I'm enclosing A and B to add to your collection. Many thanks.

I know everybody enjoyed your party. You have an unusual homestead and Carroll County is proud of it. It was thoughtful of you to include the Historical Society in your festivities....

...

My thanks and best wishes,

(Signed) Lillian Shipley


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2000, J. Douglass Klein
Page last modified, 09/21/2009