DEAD POST OFFICES AND GRANDPAS

DEAD POST OFFICES

Matt Dakin is a retired Professor of Biology whose current passion is Mississippi postal history. This endeavor includes collecting envelopes and post cards that have been mailed from post offices in Mississippi. His special interest is post offices from the "Delta" - a region of Northwestern Mississippi that lies in the flood plain between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. Even more special is Bolivar County where he was born. There have been approximately 100 different post offices in the County. Many of these were open for very short periods of time and probably few if any covers from them still exist. Post offices that are no longer in service are known as dead post offices (DPOs). One such example is Harlow which was in service from August 1, 1908 until November 15, 1915. I am lucky enough to have found two post cards mailed from Harlow. One is pictured below.

At end of this page I am going to add more information about Mississippi Postal History. This will be an ongoing project and will change from time to time. Keep coming back to see new information and new images.

I have found the web sites below to be very helpful with my hobby.

LaPosta

American Philatelic Society

Gary Anderson

Phil Bansner

Jim Forte

If you are interested in postal history and wish to know more about it or you have information about Mississippi covers send me an email. Click here for Email

Pat Dakin is the Director of the Auburn/Opelika Convention and Visitors bureau. Her spare time is spent "looking for dead grandpas." She is working on the genealogy of her family lines and Matt's as well. If you are interested in any of the following surnames click above and send her an Email. Dakin, Falgout, Janoush, Eitel, Livingston, Morris, Gilliam, Shelton, Tyler, Thompson, Wood, Cloer, Whitney, Ison.

It is difficult for me to decide the exact eastern boundary of the "Delta." The western boundary is the Mississippi River. The northern is the beginning of hills just south of Memphis in De Soto County. The southern is at the junction of the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers just north of Vicksburg in Warren County. Traditionally those of us who grew up in the Delta recognized that any place that was not perfectly flat to the naked eye was in the "Hills" not the Delta. If you drive to the east on most roads from the center of the Delta just were the Hills begin depends on the eye I suppose. I consider each of the following counties to be almost entirely within the Delta - Bolivar, Coahoma, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tunica, and Washington. In addition there are some post offices in the following counties that are (or were) in the Delta - De Soto, Panola, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Warren, and Yazoo but the major portions of these counties lie in the Hills.

Bolivar County was established 9 Feb. 1836 from a part of Washington County. By my count there have been at least 104 different named post offices in the County. In addition there are several offices which were moved to different locations and there may have been two post offices called Bolivar operating at the same time in 1858. I suppose these should be counted as 2 offices but I have only counted those with different names. I did count minor name differences such as Oak Wood and Oakwood and Renova and Renovo for example.

Each month I hope to illustrate some facets of postal history collecting and I have decided to illustrate the first cover from Bolivar County that I actually paid money for. The cover below has a manuscript cancel from Bolivar Mississippi. Manuscript cancels (ms) are hand written instead of using a hand stamp or a machine canceling device. The fact that this is a Confederate States cover adds to the value of this cover. Bolivar was located on the Mississippi River and was at one time the County Seat. Like many of the early towns on the River, Bolivar was moved from place to place as the River shifted course and eventually was abandoned. Finally the addressee on the letter was almost surely the daughter of Dr. T. T. Meade. One wonders if she was just visiting at the time or was living with her father during the war. There was a post office north of Bolivar called Carson's Landing probably named after her husband's family.

For March I have decided to discuss Doane cancellations from Mississippi. The publication of a new book on some aspect of collecting tends to stimulate interest in that area. In 1993 La Posta Publications released United States Doanes edited by Richard W. Helbock. This started the "Doane Rush" by certain postal history collectors. Doanes are cancellations produced by certain types of rubber canceling devices issued by the Post Office Department between 1903 and 1906. These devices were primarily issued to 4th class offices, but were also issued to larger offices which needed replacement canceling devices. The POD never referred to these devices as Doanes. They are called this by collectors to honor Edith Doane who was a pioneer in the early studies of these cancels. The cancels are characterized by having four or five straight killer bars attached to the circular date stamp. The two middle bars are interrupted and a number is located in the gap. The number apparently signified the amount of enumeration the postmaster of that office received in the previous year.

The Doane book lists only 152 known offices with Doane cancels from Mississippi and speculates there should have been about 880 offices issued Doane devices. I currently have in my collection Doane cancels from 12 Mississippi offices. Nine of these are offices not reported in the book. Four of the 12, Boyle, Chotard, Clacks, and Lyons represent "Delta" offices. The post card below has a type 2 Doane cancel with the number 3 in the gap. The Boyle post office is still operating in Bolivar County.

If you want to learn more about Doane cancels check out Gary Anderson"s link listed above. Also the La Posta Journal has published many articles dealing with Doanes. One of the most complete and useful is "Postal Archaeology -- Digging for Doanes" by Charles Boubelik published in 6 parts starting in the March 1997 issue.