Early Post Offices and Station Towns

Early Post Offices and Station Towns

Audio by Kay Melia

News from back home was very important to the early settlers who were more or less isolated from their families.  They also welcomed packages from the mail order houses which were a good source of supplies for many of their needs.  Mail arrived just once a week and was a special day.  People came from miles around to collect their mail, staying to visit with their friends, talk politics and discuss neighborhood happenings. 

Before there were towns in Sherman County, post offices were located in the sod homes of the post master, who sometimes kept a small supply of staples needed by the homesteaders.  A mail route was established between the Kansas Pacific Railroad at Wallace Kansas and the Atwood Kansas branch of the Burlington & Missouri River Railway. 

W.N. Bangs had the contract to deliver mail on this route, he had a hack pulled by a two horse team.  It had open sides but canvased shades could be pulled down in case of bad weather to protect the mail or an occasional passenger.  It is said that Mr. Bangs had a customer living close to the route who paid him 25 cents a month for special service. 

The first post office opened on February 15, 1883 and was named Shermanville, it was located in the northeast part of the county.  Barney McCluskey who had come to this area in 1882, with 335 head of Texas cattle was the first post master.  The position of post master was a political appointment, so the election of a new president often brought about a change of post master and thus a change in the location of the post office.   Sherman County was served by 18 rural post offices between 1883 and 1907. 

The railroads arrival made station towns along the line necessary.  Post offices on rural farms became unnecessary as communities grew and train traffic increased.  Ruleton began as a post office, a rural post office, but when the railroad came through moved 1.5 mile east and became the first station town along the line; it was started by John H. Rule.  Kanorado the second town to get its start in the county in 1888 was also started by the railroad.  It was originally assumed that the rails would go by Carlyle, a little town a mile south of the site of Kanorado and across the state line in Colorado.  On that assumption, several buildings had gone up and the Wood and Wynn hardware store was doing a good business.  However, the Railroad chose a location for its station about half a mile east of the Kansas Colorado border, and on July 5th, a day after the rails had reached Goodland, John E. and Lydy M. Rule filed the town plat of Kanorado for record. 

Started in 1888, Edson was the last of the station towns along the railroad in Sherman County.  The town was named and platted by Albert and Laura Harris.  The plat was filed for record August 10, 1888.  Of the early post office sites, only Goodland, Ruleton, Kanorado and Edson remain in Sherman County.