Friday, August 04, 2017

from the Friday, July 9, 1909 issue of THE DOTHAN EAGLE (W.T. Hall, editor)


The post office of Dothan, Alabama is fifty years old, going on fifty-one. In fact, it will be fifty-one this fall.

Considering that the town is counted only a little over twenty years old, this statement about the post office is hard to believe to those who have had a hankering to look into such things. AS FOR OURSELVES, WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD A HANKERING TO KNOW ALL ABOUT DOTHAN THAT IS POSSIBLE. So much were we interested, till we went to the trouble a little over a year ago to get up the pictures of all the mayors the town ever had since it was incorporated. We even went back to the old Henry County records, and got the paper, the petition the citizens of this town signed, asking the judge of probate to call an election to see whether or not the place could be incorporated. After showing the pictures of all the mayors, it occurred to us that we ought to find out something about the post office. Some of the older citizens told us that it was once Poplar Head. We took the matter up with the post office department at Washington, and put the question to them. When was Dothan post office in Henry County, Alabama created? The department said August 29, 1871, and that was what we stood by. The department further said that THERE HAD NEVER BEEN A POPLAR HEAD POST OFFICE.

When this statement was published, one man, an old citizen, told us that the department must have been wrong. Said he had seen a letter(ed. note: postmarked "DOTHAN"), only a few years ago, written by a soldier from Virginia, back to a woman living in this section, informing her that her husband had been killed in battle during the war. That was too far back for our records, but he said he couldn't be mistaken for he had seen the letter, it being used to substantiate this woman's claims for a pension only a few years ago. This got our dates mixed, and we were never fully satisfied but that a Dothan had existed in or about here, before the year 1871. Then came a report from Dale County, from some old citizen, to the effect that the post office had once been in Dale. It was generally understood, that the post office had been moved all over this section of the country, that the post office of the country, to any man's house they could find who would look after the office, for there wasn't much mails in those days.

So we again took it up with the post office department, and requested that they look over in Exhibit A, and see if a Dothan post office in Dale County, Alabama had ever existed, and if so when it was established, and the postmaster. Very promptly the reply came, through the assistance of Uncle Henry Clayton. There had been a Dothan in Dale and it was established way back in 1858, and lived a sort of dog's life till 1866, when it died, surrounded by but a few friends.

It was laid to rest, and nothing was said about a post office for this section of Alabama, till the South began to rebuild, and the natives of this section saw they needed a post office again. It was at this period the office was reestablished, but this time, put just over the line, in Henry County. So here are the list of all the postmasters, from the first to the last:

Duncan R. Stevender, October 18, 1858

Stephen Lee, June 25, 1860 to '66 (when it was discontinued)

Reestablished, John W. Hays, August 28, 1871

James H. Hooten, October 20, 1874

Thomas J.G. Clark, December 28, 1875

James L. Hays, January 10, 1877

Mary L. Hooten, April 2, 1877

Mary F. Folkes, November 6, 1879

James Z. E. Connelly, February 21, 1882

John T. Keyton, February 5, 1889

Rachel E. Booth, December 2, 1891

William W. Millikin, March 21, 1902

Byron Trammell, July 30, 1904 and he holds it still.

So this shows all the postmasters filling the office for its creation, over a half a century ago, down to the present. NOW WE CAN ALL KEEP UP WITH IT.

It is gratifying to know also, that the man who said he had seen the letter written and received at Dothan post office during the war. HE WAS RIGHT, AND HIS NAME IS W.J. BAXLEY, who has been here a long time and ought to know. Of course, at that time, the office was just over the line in Dale County but it was the office that supplied this territory. When it was reestablished four years later, in 1871, it was put in Henry County, but at that time the man sending in the name spelled it "Dothen", and it ran along this way until the year 1897, when the spelling was changed back right to Dothan, which all knew it ought to be.

The old post office was spelled "Dothan." We can only draw upon our imagination as to the amount of mail matter received at the Dothan of old post office. It only got a mail once a week, with possibly not a dozen letters, for a period of nearly thirty years. A man could put it in a very small hand bag.

There's a difference now. There are about eighteen or twenty mail pouches a day, with something like 750 pounds of mail matter received at the office each 24 hours, to say nothing of the pouches that are transferred here, unopened.


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