Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


Some interesting history can be gleaned from a study of early post offices. Many post offices dotted Van Buren's landscape, in areas where you might not expect them.

For example, the New Lexington Post Office was on a bank of a tiny creek, one mile west of present Bonaparte Inn and Bonaparte Retreat. This village, as the forerunner of Bonaparte, existed from 1837 to 1842, when the post office moved to the new village of Bonaparte. Without the post office, New Lexington soon disappeared.

New Market had a post office from 1850-1865. Others were Niles, 1860-1874; Oak Point, 1849-1880; Pameko, 1854-1857; Pierceville, 1865-1903; Portoro, 1837-1846; Rising Sun, 1840-1844; and Pittsburg 1844-1903 to name a few.

A glimpse into the community’s history is sometimes revealed from the names of the local postmasters who served in some of the early post offices. For example, Samuel M. Brice was Portland’s first postmaster in 1840. Following him were James S. Park, 1840-1846; John M. Doud, 1846-1849; Aaron Park, 1849; William H. Holcomb, 1849-1851; John D. Woodworth 1851-1855; John P. Brown, 1855-1862 and Eliab Doud who served from May 2, 1862 until the office was discontinued on August 9, 1864. (Eliab and John Doud were among the founders of Doud Station across the river.)

Rising Sun was on the north side of Chequest Creek, and was settled by the Pearsons who later built the Pearson House in Keosauqua. A post office began on January 11, 1840 with Cyrus Gibson, postmaster.

Under Gibson’s name the post office changed to Pittsburgh on June 13, 1844 and was moved across the creek. His successors were Phineas M. Janny; George Kisinger; Archibald M. Donald; Thomas Rankin; Archibald M. Donald (again); Mark A. Newton; William Funk; Meshack Kent; Thomas Rankin (again); James C. Claypool; Boylston S. Wilson; Joshua H. Duffield; John C. Smith; John M. Bonner; John C. Smith (again);L. S. Funk; Voltaire P. Twombly; Joshua H. Duffield (again); James M. Elerick; and James B. Stong who served until the post office was discontinued in 1903.

The ‘h’ in Pittsburgh was officially dropped under Postmaster James B. Stong. The Pittsburg(h) Post Office was the first in Van Buren County to offer rural delivery, with its first rural route serving 800 customers.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick