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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Hawley’s post offices, 1837- 2011

  • Everyone loves getting mail- well maybe not bills or some of the solicitations. In Hawley, like anywhere across the country, the faithful postmen and women have been serving the public, as history -and postage stamp prices- march on.


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  • Everyone loves getting mail- well maybe not bills or some of the solicitations. In Hawley, like anywhere across the country, the faithful postmen and women have been serving the public, as history -and postage stamp prices- march on.
    As described in a previous article, Hawley has been known by different names- as new appointments were made for postmaster and places changed where people had to go for the mail.
    Beginning as Paupack Eddy in the 1790’s, the small settlement along the Paupack Falls grew to the east side of the Lackawaxen River. The arrival of the Delaware & Hudson Canal spurred big growth in the community in the 1820’s- yet there was no where to get your mail until 1837.
    You could always go to the Milford Post Office- opened in 1802; Lackawaxen, 1813; Dingmans Ferry, 1807; Honesdale 1828; Bethany 1811  - all a very long way by foot on bad roads and not that much better by horse.
    The post office was established under the official name of Paupack Eddy and was located on the east side of the Lackawaxen River. James S. Bassett was the first postmaster. The office was located on the west side, in the home of Orrin (Oren?) Hall.
    The basic rate for a single sheet of paper was then 6¢ if it was going no more than 30 miles.  Over 30 and not exceeding 80 miles, the rate was 10¢. Mail arrived by stage coach.
    Orrin Hall became the second postmaster. In 1842, Asher Atkinson was appointed and the office was moved into his store on the west side of the Lackawaxen. One reference says this was in the Eddy Hotel, although other sources give the Eddy Hotel’s construction as 1850 (today it is known as Cora’s 1850 Bistro Restaurant.
    East Side, West Side
    Post office locations moved frequently, apparently at the convenience of the postmaster in charge at the time. William C. Conkling, named postmaster in 1843, moved the office to the east side of the Lackawaxen, in the Hicks Building on Spruce Street.
    There was much discussion about the proper name for the town, which was about to enter a new phase of growth with the arrival of the Pennsylvania Coal Company Gravity Railroad. On March 7, 1848, William C. Conkling, who postmaster since 1843, received a letter from the Postal Department  saying in part, “The name of your post office has been changed to Falls Port, Pennsylvania, by which name only will it be hereafter known.” Conkling was reappointed, and the office was located in his store.
    In 1849, Henry B. Hayes was appointed postmaster. The office was in Hayes’ dry-goods store at the corner of Spruce Avenue and Prospect Street, on the east side. While Hayes was in charge, the name was changed to Hawleysburgh- for the Pa. Coal Company President, Irad Hawley.
    In 1851, with the accession of Patrick Jordan as postmaster, the name was shortened to Hawley.
    Page 2 of 4 - Postage was 3¢ prepaid, or a whole nickel if you paid later and the letter was not going over 3,000 miles.
    Jordan had moved the post office to the west side, at his place of business at River Street and Wangum Avenue. This caused such agitation, that the Postal Service was petitioned to establish a second post office on the east side of the Lackawaxen, effectively making two towns. The Postal Service gave it the name of East Hawley. This was located in the Ewen House, a large hotel and ball room owned by the Pa. Coal Company, at the corner of the plank road [Route 6] and Spruce Street (where the Hawley Medical Center is today). E. Richardson was made postmaster. The East Hawley office was discontinued in 1855, and the town was united again.
    In 1860, Hugh Cole was named postmaster and the office was set up in the Wayne County House, where he was proprietor. This landmark, former hotel is still standing on Church Street (last known as the Heritage House gift shop, across from Church Street Hardware).  Cole was replaced in three months by Joseph Hardenberg, who moved the office to the corner of Keystone Street and Chestnut Avenue where it stayed till 1861.
    At that time, E. Richardson was again appointed postmaster and moved the office back to the Hicks building on Spruce Avenue east of the Lackawaxen (likely to the delight of the East Hawley folks).
    It was here that girl friends, brides and mothers of Civil War soldiers in the Hawley area would post letters to their loved ones and anxiously await word from them.
    In 1865, Mark Bishop was appointed postmaster and moved the office to the Pa. Coal Company railroad West Depot (alongside the track near the present site of the Hawley Public Library). Two years later the office went a short distance away to the Erie Freight Depot. Bishop’s deputy, George Ammerman, was made postmaster until 1885, when he was replaced by P. J. Langan. Hawley had become a borough the year before, and in 1885, the Pa. Coal Company Gravity Railroad was closed, in favor of a new Erie steam train route to Dunmore.
    Steam trains had been moving between Hawley and Lackawaxen since 1863, and between Hawley and Honesdale since 1868. Mail now had the convenience of rail delivery, far superior to the horse-drawn coach.
    Same site as today
    In 1871, the Pa. Coal Company built a separate post office building close to the railroad depot, in approximately the same site as the present day post office which opened 95 years later. The 1871 facility was refitted in 1883. It was described in 1886 by local historian Alfred Mathews this way: “Though small, it is conveniently located near the center of town and is well appointed.”
    Langan was in charge only briefly; Ammerman was reappointed and continued until 1897. That year, James D. Ames was made postmaster and moved the office to a building at Keystone Street and Main Avenue, where the PNC Bank is today. The structure burned in 1897, and the office was moved to the Teeter building.
    Page 3 of 4 - James Colgate was appointed in 1905 and moved the office to the First National Bank building at Keystone and Main, which had been open only two years (Torte Knox is located here today).
    A postage stamp cost 2¢ then, for the first ounce.
    A. James Drake was appointed in 1913 and was succeeded in 1922 by George W. Murphy. In 1927, Murphy moved the office to the Murphy Building on Keystone Street (today, Murphy Insurance).
    This was another period of growth for the region, with the opening of Lake Wallenpaupack and the PP&L power plant in operation, in 1926.
    The post office remained in the Murphy building in 1935 under Postmaster Patrick H. Kearney. In 1936, John Sheridan was appointed and remained in office until his death in 1952. During his term in 1938, the office was moved to a small building at 212 Main Avenue which was originally the Hawley Bank.
    For many years later on, it was known as Brown’s Pharmacy and is today (2011) About Face Orthodontics.
    Joe Drake remembers
    While Sheridan was postmaster, a young Army veteran and Hawley native, who had served in World War II, got a job there- Joe Drake.
    “I began as a clerk, I served as a carrier, swept the floor, took the mail to the train,” Drake recalled.
    Postmaster Sheridan died in 1952. Joe’s brother Robert Drake was also a World War II veteran, and had been wounded in in the Pacific Theater.  Joe said that he helped his brother in being named for the job as postmaster.
    Robert had to circulate a petition around town, and needed approvals from both the Democratic and Republican committee chairmen in Wayne County.
    Although Robert Drake was a Democrat, he received the appointment as postmaster despite the current Republican Administration. Joe said that was unusual.  Robert Drake was appointed as acting postmaster in December 1952 and became permanent in July 1954.
    In July 1955, Hawley Post Office advanced in classification to a First Class Post Office.
    During Robert Drake’s charge, the US Postal Service instituted zip codes in 1963. Hawley, Pa. now was known as well by a number, 18428.
    Robert Drake remained in office until his sudden death in September 1965.
    This was the last of the political appointments. Career employees were then able to be promoted to postmaster on the basis of merit. Joseph J. Drake was appointed Acting Postmaster and received his permanent appointment on July 27, 1966.
    A first class postage stamp was then 5¢.
    They were desperately in need of more space in the small post office at 212 Main Avenue. Since the end of World War II, the area saw rapid growth, recalled Joe. There were more private developments around the Lake Wallenpaupack area. This meant more mail to handle.
    Page 4 of 4 - New facility
    A new, $200,000 Federal building was under construction in 1965 at the corner of Main and Columbus avenues. On January 30, 1966- during a heavy snow storm- the Post Office moved to their new quarters.
    “It seemed so big,” Joe recalled.
    Later that same year, the Hawley Public Library opened across the street. Joe retired on Jan. 4, 1980, after 34 years in the Postal Service. First class postage was then 15¢.
    He said he had seen a lot of change and growth. In his tenure, the Hawley Post Office took over the territory of the Blooming Grove and the Lords Valley post offices, both which were discontinued. Since then, the Lakeville office was closed and the routes merged with Hawley.
    He says that what he most enjoyed about being in the post Office, was serving the people.
    Gloria J. Kersey was officer-in-charge until Arthur Andrews was named postmaster, July 26, 1980. Joe noted that Andrew was the first person who wasn’t a Hawley resident to hold the position. Gwen H. Poltanis was named postmaster, the first woman to have this position in Hawley, July 29. 2000. She had been Officer-in-Charge since March 27.
    May 23, 2003, Gail M. Mroz was appointed officer-in-charge, followed by Donna Scullin as officer-in-charge on Oct. 29, 2003 and John J. McCarthy Jr. as officer-in-charge on Jan. 9, 2004.
    Robert W. McGowan was named postmaster on March 20, 2004.
    On Nov. 30, 2010, Judith A. Arnold became officer-in-charge and currently fills that role.
    A first class stamp now costs 44¢.
    One can still dispatch a letter anywhere in the United States from Hawley, Pa., for less than a half a dollar- and today you don’t even have to lick the stamp.

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