Early Mail Service
As soon as the first colonizers arrived in Cache Valley, in July 1856, and located Maughan’s Fort, later named Wellsville, messages or letters were carried by outgoing and incoming settlers and travelers. Mrs. Peter Maughan, among the first group of settlers, sent letters by outgoing travelers going south and asked them to enquire at each settlement until they found the persons to whom the letters were addressed.
During the early settlement of Logan in the spring of 1859, John F. Wright and Ed Nelson, two young husky lads, delivered messages and letters between Logan and Maughan’s Fort and the other early settlements. These young men almost lived in the saddle during that year delivering messages.
The first official mail route into and out of Cache Valley was established in 1860 when President Brigham Young called Samuel Whitney to carry the mail. This work was considered as a mission and Mr. Whitney did not receive any pay other than a little flour, bacon and other produce from the Tithing Office at Logan. Mr. Whitney provided himself with a horse saddle and mail pouch and carried the mail at points between Logan and Brigham City.
His route was s follows: He would leave Logan on a Monday morning and call at Providence, Millville, Hyrum, Wellsville and Mendon and go on to Brigham City by way of the summit. He rested a day in Brigham City and returned by the same route. The next time he would leave Logan, call at Providence, Millville, Hyrum and Paradise and then go west of Paradise over an Indian trail into Hunsaker Valley, now known as Mantua, and on to Brigham City. He would rest a day and return the same route. This gave the Valley a semi-weekly mail service. Smithfield and Richmond were the only towns north of Logan. Hyde Park was settled that year. The same was true with Millville, Hyrum, Paradise and Franklin. The mail from Richmond and Smithfield and what little there was at Hyde Park, was brought to Logan. They also received their mail at Logan, delivered from the south by Mr. Whitney. The mail was carried in this manner for one year.
The next year Ben Holliday and Egan & Company who had received the contract for carrying the mail in Utah, sublet the carrying of the mail into and out of Cache Valley, to three of the settlers. Frank Gunnell at Wellsville got the contract for carrying the mail from Wellsville to Brigham City. Mr. William H. Maughan, also at Wellsville, got the contract for carrying the mail form Wellsville to Logan and intermediate points. Mr. Peter Maughan, who then lived at Logan, for the contract for carrying the mail from Logan to Franklin and intermediate points. These men hired carriers. Frank Gunnell hired Dick Gunnell for his route; William H. Maughan hired Robert Baxter for his route, and Peter Maughan hired Joe Maughan for his route.
The routes and schedules were as follows: Gunnell would start from Wellsville Monday morning and make Brigham City, and return that evening. Tuesday morning, Baxter would leave Wellsville and make Hyrum, Millville and Providence and arrive at Logan at noon. Maughan would leave Logan at noon and make Hyde Park, Smithfield, Richmond and Franklin that evening and remain over night, and return to Logan at noon the next day. Baxter would then leave Logan at noon and make Wellsville that evening. The service would then be taken up again by Gunnell, followed by the other carriers, and this gave the Valley two mail services each week.
Each carrier was provided with a good saddle horse, machier saddle, buckskin leggings, a power horn, a six shooter, a long knife, and a mail pouch. After one year light wagons and light teams were used. In the springtime the rivers were high and sometimes the bridges were washed out and with the muddy roads, it was difficult to maintain a schedule. However, the carriers always came through even if they had to ford the streams.
With heavy snows, the road between Wellsville and Brigham City was a problem. The road followed the Wellsville Canyon which was narrow and easily blocked with snow. At Dry Lake the road went around the west side of the lake and at rocky point, the county maintained a half-way place, or what was known as the Dry Lake station. This was necessary to help keep the road open and when travelers were in distress they could stop over night. Lehi Curtis was caretaker for one winter at the station and Robert Baxter and his brother, Arch Baxter, were caretakers for two winters. A cabin was built and some sheds for horses. The road was staked with saplings so it could always be located in the deep snow and drifts. As the traffic increased it was easier to keep the road open and the station was abandoned.
On one occasion there was a terrific blizzard in Wellsville Canyon and Dick Gunnell, the mail carrier , did not arrive on schedule time. A company was organized at Wellsville and they went to search for Gunnell. They found him in a snow drift unable to g further. His hands and feet were frozen. They took him to Wellsville, placed his hands and feet in cold water and by careful treatment they saved them.
The tithing office soon became a community center for business in the early days for the settlement of Logan. It was natural for the mail to be received and distributed from this place. George L. Farrell a clerk at the Tithing Office also acted as clerk to receive and distribute the mail from this office. This was in a building near the present stake house, a little east of Main Street on First North Street.
July 1st, 1874 the first official post office was established in Logan. C. B. Robbins was the postmaster. This was also the first time money orders were handled in Logan.
Following are the first postmasters of the other early settlements of the Valley: Lizzie Maughan, Wellsville; Canute Olson, Hyrum; John King, Millville; Frank Madison, Providence; George L. Farrell, Logan; Abigail Hyde, Hyde Park; Evan M. Green, Smithfield and Henry Standage, Richmond.
After the transcontinental railroad was connected, Sam Howe received the contract to carry the mail form Corinne to Franklin. They did not get the Cache Valley mail at Brigham City any longer, as the through railroad went by was Corinne. Mr. Howe hired James C. Jensen of Hyrum to carry the mail. Mr. Jensen carried the mail for a number of years and made the trip from Corinne to Franklin in one day, and returned the next. He changed horses at Mantua, Wellsville and Logan.
When the Utah Northern railroad came to Logan in 1873, the mail for the settlements was distributed from this point until the line was extended north to Franklin, and later to Preston.