|Source: State Historical Society of North Dakota|
[Click to enlarge...]
By Charles Cavileer
The contract was a go-as-you-please, on foot, horse back, cart or canoe, anyway-to-get-there affair. The contract price for carrying it was $1,100 a year. Kittson, being postmaster, could not act as sub-agent. He appointed me as assistant postmaster, and I ran the machine until some time in 1853 or '54. I did all the business of the office, made the quarterly returns and deposit of funds due the department, attending to every detail of the office, which at that time was no child's play as every letter and package had to be tied up in wrappers, waybilled and addressed to its destination. St. Paul packages contained nearly all of Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit and east and west exchange.
|An example of an 1868 letter with U.S. postage |
sent from Red River to St. Paul via Pembina.
Source: The Minnesota Territory in Postmarks
Letter rates of postage ran 6 1/4, 12 1/2, 18 3/4, to 25 cents, according to distance, from 6 1/4 for short distances to 25 for 500 miles and over. Every letter and package had to be wrapped and addressed. Even single letters had to be wrapped and addressed to their proper offices. All wrappers had to be saved and used as long as they would hold together and an address could be put on without showing another.
But when it came to making out the quarterly reports the dance had just commenced. Every letter received and dispatched must be returned from the records kept on bills for that purpose, and it made a package about the size of a family Bible, and the footing up of columns with the amounts running from 6 1/4, 12 1/2, 18 3/4 to 25, was a corker. And right here let me tell you, with a feeling of pride, that I never had a quarterly return come back to me for correction.
Let me give you a sketch of the business at that early day, and the hardships and tricks of some of our carriers.