The Berea Post Office

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Title

The Berea Post Office

Description

When the Berea College and community leaders returned from exile after the civil war, postal service was reestablished with Schyler Johnson as postmaster. People got their mail out of the "pigeon holes" in a roll-top desk at Johnson's blacksmith shop which was located about a mile north of Berea on U.S 25 near the Silver Creek bridge.

In 1869, William Embree, a son-in-law of John G. Fee, became postmaster at his store which was located on land now owned by Berea College. Other early postmasters were Arthur Hanson, P. B. Robinson, Tom Robinson and D.N. Wealch. L. C. Adams was postmaster when the post office was destroyed by fire in January, 1924, when most of the west end of Berea was burned in zero weather.

In the early days, mail arrived at Richmond by train and then was taken on to Berea by wagon or horseback. In the 1870's a "mail hack" route was established, carrying passengers as well as mail from Richmond to Berea by way of Bobtown and Blue Lick. Two of the drivers from this time were Elzie McCollum and J. W. VanWinkle. After 1882, Berea started receiving its mail by rail when it became a station on the Kentucky Central Railroad.

The present post office building was constructed in 1937 on the site of the original pioneer home of John G. Fee, founder of Berea College. This land is said to be part of the original 10 acres given to John G. Fee by Cassius M. Clay at the time Fee conceived of the idea to establish a school at that place. The small four-room house was used for many years until the larger Fee home was built a few hundred yards from this site. When Fee was an old man, he gave this house and lot to his granddaughter, Hollie Embree, who later sold it to Mrs. S. R. Baker from whom the federal government bought it for a post office site in September, 1935.

At the rear of the post office building is a stone marker on which are the words, "On this spot in the study of John G. Fee were held the first meetings to plan with prayer and faith Berea, college, 1855-1859. First signers of the Constitution, John G. Fee, J. G. Hanson, Jas. S. Davis, Thomas J. Renfro, John A. R. Rogers, George Candee, William Stepp, John Smith."

When the present $53,000 post office building was completed in September, 1937, there was a dedication ceremony presided over by J. Edgar Moore, the postmaster at that time. Speeches were made by acting Governor Keen Johnson, Congressman Virgil Chapman, President William J. Hutchins of Berea College, and J. L. Gay who at that time had been mayor of Berea for 27 years.

Two features of the building which were pointed out at that time were the front steps made of granite cut from Great Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Ga., and the oak floor which was built on top of 10-inch-thick concrete. After this new building was completed, mail was sorted there to go on to a number of other post offices, the most distant being Goose Creek in Clay County.

Creator

Dr. Robert Grise

Date

9/15/1971

Rights

Content may be freely copied for personal and educational purposes with appropriate citation. Permission is required to reprint.

Files

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Collection

Citation

Dr. Robert Grise, “The Berea Post Office,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 19, 2024, https://madisonsheritage.eku.edu/items/show/748.