By Morgan Cook
Leicester – Before the days of cellphones, texting and social media, the most reliable way to communicate was through the mail. Letters are much rarer now, and people send very few as a way to keep in touch with loved ones. However, in their heyday, there were plenty. Sending so many more letters through the mail meant there was a greater need for post offices and mail carriers to serve small rural communities.
As these smaller post offices were consolidated into more extensive facilities due to better transportation, many people are forgetting just how widespread they were at one point in history. One prime example is the area of Leicester. Looking all the way back to June 10, 1859, when the area was known as Turkey Creek, there were six post offices to serve the Leicester community.
One of these offices was in the Linville McGee General Store. The store unfortunately burned down in 1954, according to information found in the Leicester Library files. In December of 1953, right before the store’s destruction, Marion Current was the postmaster. In Odessa, NC there was a post office that served the Big Sandy Area. This post office was near Payne’s Chapel.
The next post office was in Canto, which is near the current Madison-Buncombe line. This post office served the Little Sandy Mush area.
Mrs. Sella Brown Reeves was also a postmaster from 1900 to 1906. The area known as Mascot also had a post office. Mr. Joseph S. Wells was a young man who was a postmaster for the office. This post office served the Early’s Mountain area. Newfound also had a post office. This office served Junction Browntown road, Upper Newfound road and the area near Grace Church. The next office was in Glenes. This office was at the Steve Hall Place. The sixth and final post office was in Gem. This post office served the Big Sandy Mush area.
Upon further inquiry from The Leader, Greg Brookshire, a local historian, was able to share some other locations of post offices in the Leicester area. There were nine other offices listed in his research book. These offices were in Alto, Glenco/Glen Coe, Gudger Mills, Alice, Proviso, Success, Cleelum, Juno, and Dix’s Creek.
These offices were smaller facilities in the area. Each office was served two or three times a week from its main Leicester office. These post offices remained an essential part of these areas for over a hundred years. The more individuals moved to an area, the more important it was to have enough post offices to serve the entire community. Post offices were vital in the development of an area historically. Even now, post offices are faithfully delivering mail every day of the year.