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Medford's postmasters.

by Irving B. Farnum.
[Read before the Medford Historical Society, March 18, 1912.]

THE first post-office in Medford was established in 1797 and was on the site of the present City Hall. President John Adams appointed Samuel Buel as the first postmaster in September, 1797. Mr. Buel came to Medford from Somesbury, Conn., about 1796. In addition to serving as postmaster, he filled the position of town treasurer until 1798. William Rogers succeeded Mr. Buel on July 21, 1813, serving as postmaster for fifteen years, the office being continued in its original location.

On May 17, 1828, Luther Angier was appointed postmaster, succeeding Mr. Rogers, and the office was removed to his drug store, in a building on Main street, at the rear end of Town Hall site. Mr. Angier later was in the coal business, building the first coal wharf in Medford. He later sold out the coal business to Joseph C. Chandler.

On April 6, 1839, Samuel S. Green was appointed and served as postmaster two years. At the expiration of this time Mr. Angier was given the office again, continuing the same until July 18, 1845, when he was again succeeded by Mr. Green, who served until July 30, 1847. Mr. Green conducted a dry-goods business in the building on High street now occupied by the Medford Flower Store, and the post-office was located there while he was postmaster.

Alexander Gregg was appointed to succeed Mr. Green, July 30, 1847, and removed the office into his grocery store, which was located in the Boston and Maine engine [p. 34] house, on Riverside avenue. The store was in the side nearest the square, the lower half being used to house the engines.

James T. Floyd, Jr., succeeded Mr. Gregg, May 30, 1849, and the office was located in the railroad station on Main street. At that time the entrance to the station and the platform inside was on the side nearest the bridge. The post-office was in the corner nearest the square.

James C. Winneck was the next postmaster, his appointment dating from August 23, 1853. He was in the grain business, occupying a building situated on High street on the present site of the building occupied by George Nichols Company. Mr. Winneck continued postmaster until October 21, 1859, when he was succeeded by Alvah N. Cotton.

Mr. Cotton was born in Rumney, N. H., but came to Medford when a young man to work on the Adams' farm, a large tract of land on Main street including the section later known as the Mystic Trotting Park. He later learned the ship carpentry trade and worked in Medford and at the Navy Yard, Charlestown. It is interesting to note that during the winter of 1859 there was a very severe snow storm and all traffic was at a standstill. No mail could be received or despatched by train for at least forty-eight hours. Mr. Cotton, on his snowshoes, took the mail to Boston, and returning brought out the Medford mail, carrying the pouches on his back. Mr. Cotton was very active in town affairs, serving several terms as selectman and assessor, and was a member of the Social Library Committee and Town Library Committee. He continued postmaster until April 22, 1861, the post-office being located in a small building on High street, near the Savings Bank.

George Hervey followed Mr. Cotton, serving until his death, March 7, 1868. He was succeeded by his son, George C. Hervey. Mr. Hervey conducted a tailor business in the railroad building and the post-office was located in the station during Mr. Hervey's term. [p. 35]

John H. Eames was appointed postmaster March 17, 1870, by President Grant. Mr. Eames was a member of the Lawrence Light Guard and responded to President Lincoln's call for volunteers, April 20, 186, serving three months. On the second call he went as sergeant of Co. C, 39th Mass. Vol., and was in many battles. Through Mr. Eames' efforts, a building for the post-office was erected on Riverside avenue by Henry W. Bigelow. During his administration Mr. Eames saw many changes in the postal service, including the introduction of the money order system and the issuing of the postal card. Letter postage was reduced from three to two cents, and the collection of paper postage from individuals was eliminated and the pound rate established. Valued as a curiosity is the clumsy hand-stamp now in a cabinet in the rooms of Post 66, G. A. R. It did service in Medford's ancient post-offices many years. Mr. Eames resigned March 8, 1886, owing to poor health, and moved to Marshfield Hills, Mass., where he continues to reside.

Frank T. Spinney succeeded Mr. Eames and served until June 16, 1897, when, owing to poor health and it becoming necessary to seek a change of climate, he resigned and removed to North Carolina. Mr. Spinney's first appointment was made by President Cleveland. Notwithstanding that he was a strong supporter of the Democratic party, Mr. Spinney was reappointed by President Harrison without any opposition. He was a very efficient postmaster and was considered one of the best informed officials on postal matters in the service. His knowledge of postal affairs was well recognized by the Department at Washington. In May, 1895, Postmaster General Wanamaker called to Washington, for conference with him, seven postmasters from various parts of the United States. Mr. Spinney was one of the seven and served as secretary of the conference. During his administration free delivery was established and the office considerably enlarged. He is now engaged in the real estate business at Pine Bluffs, North Carolina. [p. 36]

J. Henry Norcross was appointed postmaster June 17, 1897, and has served continuously since. Mr. Norcross came to Medford from Lexington in June, 1859, and was employed in the dry-goods store of T. W. Savage. In 1860 a fire destroyed this store and he went to Portsmouth, N. H., where he was employed for two years. He then became connected with the firm of Lewis, Coleman and Company, wholesale dry-goods merchants in Boston, and returned to Medford to live. He continued with this house for fifteen years. Later he entered the retail dry-goods business, having stores in Boston, Springfield and Manchester, N. H. He served as Representative in 1889 and 1890, being nominated by the Republicans and Democrats and received a unanimous vote each time. He has always been very active in town and city affairs, serving as town auditor and selectman, also as a member of the School Committee, Park Commission and Sinking Fund Commission. He is a director and trustee of the Medford Savings Bank, and was one of the original organizers of the Medford Co-operative Bank, serving as vice-president and president. Owing to poor health he has recently resigned the latter office and withdrawn from the active life he led for many years. Mr. Norcross is well known and highly esteemed throughout the State.


The post-office at Glenwood, or East Medford, was established through the efforts of Post-office Inspector Bushard H. Camp, whose father resided on Myrtle street.

Artimus D. Bickford was the first postmaster, his appointment dating from June 5, 1872. The post-office was located in Mr. Bickford's grocery store.

On August 29, 1872, John P. Gilman, a well-known druggist in the North End, Boston, purchased the grocery store from Mr. Bickford and also succeeded him as postmaster. Mr. Gilman conducted the business and the post-office until October 6, 1873, when, owing to the death of his son, he sold out to Andrew P. Perry, and [p. 37] the post-office was likewise turned over to Mr. Perry. Mr. Perry was a well-known vocal music teacher in and around Boston. Mr. Perry continued postmaster until the office was discontinued, with the exception of one year. John A. Yeaton was appointed postmaster and the office was moved across the railroad tracks to Mr. Yeaton's grocery store, but within a year's time Mr. Yeaton sold his business and the office was returned to Mr. Perry. On August 31, 1890, upon the establishment of free delivery in Medford the Glenwood post-office was discontinued and the free delivery extended to that section.


Mr. Charles A. Ellsworth was appointed postmaster at Wellington, July 11, 1883, when the office was first established, and continued as postmaster until 1905, when upon his resignation the office was discontinued and became part of the Medford office. The post-office was located in the Wellington railroad station, Mr. Ellsworth filling both positions of station agent and postmaster.

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