Prior to the year 1794, there was no mail route to the northwestern territory, nor any post office north of the Ohio river west of Pittsburg. The only communication the Ohio Company’s settlers had with the east was by private hands, and the receipt of letters or papers was a rare and interesting occurrence. In the year 1794, a route was established from Pittsburg, via Washington, Pennsylvania, West Liberty, Virginia, and Wheeling, to Limestone (now Maysville, Kentucky), and Fort Washington (Cincinnati). From Pittsburg to Wheeling the mail was carried by land, and from Wheeling down the Ohio river in small boats, about twenty-four feet long, built much like a whale-boat, and steered with a rudder. Each boat was manned by five persons, well armed and provided against attacks by the Indians. Though not covered, each of the little craft was furnished with a large tarpaulin, which, in case of storm or other necessity, was used to cover the arms, mail bags, etc. The boats, ascending and descending the river, met and exchanged mails at Marietta, Gallipolis, and Maysville. The time consumed was about twelve days from Cincinnati to Wheeling, and about half that time from Wheeling to Cincinnati.* By this route, the inhabitants of Washington county, and afterward those of Athens, received their mail matter once in two or three weeks. In the year i800, the only post route in southern Ohio was from Zanesville to Marietta. In 1802, a route was established from Marietta, by way of Athens and Chillicothe, to Cincinnati; and in 1804, the route from Marietta to Zanesville was discontinued.
*Though not strictly germane to the subject, we may be excused for presenting some facts concerning the early postal operations of the government, showing the very small beginnings of our present vast and beneficent system.
On the 1st of January, 1990, there were only seventy-five post offices in the United States. There are now more than twenty-four thousand. For the quarter ending December 13, 1789, the total receipts of the post office at New York were $1,067 08; the emoluments of the post master amounted to $317 32, and the incidental expenses of the office were $36 89. At the Philadelphia post office, the receipts for the same period were $1,530 73; post master’s emoluments, $315 28, expenses of office, $77 84. The mail was carried from Philadelphia to Pittsburg once in two weeks. The contracts for carrying the mail to the southward of New York city, for that year, amounted to $14,973 75; and to the eastward of the same place to $6,003 15. From New York to Albany, the contractors received all the postage for carrying the mail. The route from Boston to Providence, New London, and New Haven, was an expense to the department of $520, for that year. The route from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, was an expense of $800. The department fell in debt $34 84 for the quarter. In the year 1825, the mail was carried from Wheeling to Zanesville, Ohio, three times a week; from Zanesville to Lancaster, three times a week; from Lancaster to Cincinnati, twice a week; from Marietta to Zanesville, once a week; from Marietta to Chillicothe, twice a week, and from Marietta to Lancaster, once in two weeks. [American State Papers.]
The first post office in the county of Athens, was established at Athens in January, 1804, and the first post master was Jehiel Gregory. The office was kept at his house, across the river, east of Athens, where D. B. Stewart’s woolen factory is now situated. The office changed hands in the spring of the same year, and Dr. Eliphaz Perkins was appointed post master, and kept the office for a short time, on State street, near D. M. Clayton’s late residence, and afterward, for many years, in the brick building now known as Ballard’s corner.
The second post office established in the county was in Ames township, in the year 1821. Loring B. Glazier was the first post master there, and the office received the name of Amesville. Previous to the establishment of this office, Judge Ames, Judge Walker, Doctor Walker, Abel Glazier, Judge Cutler, and other citizens of the neighborhood, taking the Marietta paper, received their papers from the mail carrier, who brought them in a way-bag for distribution, for which service each person was required to pay fifty cents a year to the carrier. During the early years of this century, several copies of the National Intelligencer were taken in the Ames settlement. It was received every two weeks, and was at once the great news bringer from the outer world to the little community, and the political gospel of all its readers. The writer has heard an aged relative, herself a staunch adherent of the Jeffersonian school of politics, relate with what eagerness the Intelligencer was awaited during the war of 1812, and how its narratives of events, political and military, were devoured by those who could read, and read aloud to those who could not.
The following is a list of the post offices now in operation in the county, in the order of their establishment, with the names of those who have acted as post masters, from the first to the present: