Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rural Community Identifier—the Post Office

by Harvey S. Teal
Kershaw County Historical Society Update May 2009

In my youth during the Depression, World War II, and later, members of my family made occasional visits to the Cassatt Post Office to mail a letter or buy stamps. As a general rule, however, we relied on Mr. Rozier for stamps and other mail needs.

He was our R.F.D. carrier who delivered mail to or picked up mail at our mail box on his R.R.D. route. The Cassatt Post Office also had a few P.O. boxes rented primarily by a few individuals in the village.

When I first remember the Cassatt Post Office in the early 1930s, it sat adjacent to the present post office on ground now occupied by the raconteur and owner of the Hard Times Café, H.C. Robinson.

The present Cassatt Post Office building was constructed in the early 1960s by Joe Cooper, the Cassatt railroad depot agent for many years. The service window, the post office boxes, and the oak woodwork framing them were removed from the old post office and installed into the new post office.

On a recent trip to the Hard Times Café for lunch, I was photographed inside the front lobby of the post office. It looks much like it did 60-70 years ago.

After the present post office building was completed and occupied, Joe Cooper removed the old post office building to a spot about three miles up the Providence Church Road to Robinson Town. He located the building on a pond he had constructed and added a porch on its front overlooking the pond.

The pond and building changed hands some years ago. When I visited the site recently, the pond had partially died up and the old post office building sat empty and deserted. The photograph below showed its condition on that visit.

I reflected on my visit that it was in this building that my brother, J.R. Teal, arranged his mail for delivery on this R.F.D. route out of Cassatt. It was also to this building that my letters from Italy in 1946-47 to my future wife were delivered, and letters from her to me were sent. Likewise thousands of other letters to and from all of us at Cassatt to loved ones during World War II came through this building.

This building had the word “Cassatt” emblazoned on its front, a word that gave our community its name, identity, and distinction. The present Cassatt Post Office continues to be the identifier of our community, our “home place.”

Thirty-four small post offices were created and operated between the Civil War and World War I (1865-1917) to serve the rural, sparsely populated areas of the county. All but five of the post offices have now been closed due to population shifts and transportation and technology advances.Of these remaining five post offices, Bethune and Elgin (formerly Blaney) now serve incorporated towns. Lugoff, not a town, serves an area not now sparsely populated.

Of those 34 post offices originally created and the five remaining, only Cassatt and Westville continue to serve rural and sparsely populated county areas.

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