In my September column, I referred to the Record of Appointment of Postmasters. Some people were surprised that these records existed and even more surprised to learn that these, and other Post Office records, are available a short distance from Broomfield at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Branch in Lakewood. The records that I used for my research are part of NARA Record Group 28, Records of the Post Office Department. This collection also includes records pertaining to post office locations and letters sent by the Postmaster General. These records contain information about postmasters, post office locations, and the community in which the post office was located.
Postmaster appointments are found in two NARA microfilm publications, M1131, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, Oct. 1789-1832 and M841, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832- Sept. 30, 1971. These records are arranged alphabetically by state, county, and post office name. Records show the names and appointment dates for the postmaster, dates the post office was established, and any change of name for the post office. If the post office was discontinued after 1870, it will show the name of the post office to which the mail from the discontinued office was sent.
The postmaster appointment records can be used to research ancestors who were postmasters and they can also be used to compile the history of a post office.
I found that the Broomfield appointment records extend from 1884 to 1971, with Druella Coulson as the first postmistress/postmaster. A list of Broomfield postmasters compiled from these records is available on the Broomfield GenWeb site at www.rootsweb.com/~cobroomf/.
Records of Post Office Locations can be found in NARA microfilm publication M1126. These records consist of site reports containing information about the physical location of the post office and its proximity to nearby post offices, railroad stations, creeks, and rivers. Some of the reports include a map which can be hand-drawn or an annotated copy of a published map. Information about a town’s history can be found in these records.
Broomfield appears in the location records for the first time in 1894, ten years after the post office was established. Postmaster Charles W. Harrell wrote that the site of the Broomfield post office was also known as Zang’s Spur. The report is accompanied by a map showing the exact location of the Broomfield post office along the railroad track from Denver. In 1940, the report from Postmaster Francis McCrea describes Broomfield’s new post office site and its distance and direction from the old site.
The Letters Sent By The Postmaster General, 1789-1836, NARA microfilm publication M601, contains copies of the original letters written by the Postmaster General. The letters include information about post offices, postmasters, mail transportation, mail contracts, postal laws, and more. An index of names and places mentioned in the correspondence appears at the beginning of each microfilm roll.
I found a letter in these records written by Postmaster General John McLean on 24 April 1827 to John B. Budd of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Postmaster McLean describes in this letter the route a letter would take from Philadelphia to New Orleans. The letter details the transportation, “Steam Boat,” and how often the steamboat runs from Mobile to New Orleans. The postmaster goes on to explain that this is a new route but that the old rate, twenty five cents for a single letter, still applies. For anyone who has an ancestor who moved from Philadelphia to New Orleans around 1827, the route described in this letter would be a possible route taken by the ancestor.
Letters Send By The Postmaster General consists of 50 rolls of microfilm and there is no general index. This makes the task of researching in these records very time consuming and tedious.
Other Post Office records which can also be helpful depending on the time period being researched are Index and Registers of Substitute Mail Carriers in First-and Second-Class Post Offices, 1885-1903, M2076 and Indexes to Rosters of Railway Postal Clerks, ca. 1883-1902, M2077.
A complete set of microfilms for all the records mentioned can be found at NARA-Rocky Mountain Region, Denver Federal Center, Building 46.
If you have an ancestor who was a postmaster or if you would like to enhance your research with information about an ancestor’s community, these records can help you. I never imagined that my search for Broomfield’s first postmaster would unearth a collection of records so rich in genealogical and local history information.