Postal-related Articles, Dallas County, Texas

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To Postmasters & Post Offices of Dallas County
(Updated May 1, 2002)





The New Postmaster for the
City of Dallas.



A Sketch of His Life and His Equip
ment for that Position.

     Major Wm. M. O'Leary was busy all day yesterday shaking hands with a legion of friends who were congratulating the new Dallas postmaster upon his appointment to the important post that handles some millions of letters, papers, and near about $150,000 annually of Uncle Sam's funds. And, it would have been the same thing when the news of his appointment came had he been in Galveston, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, or any other of these Texas cities. And this because Mr. O'Leary long since earned the title deeds to the esteem, admiration and love of all manner of people, though a course of public and a career of private life that are stamped sterling because of untiring devotion to duty, conscientious work, unflagging industry and fidelity to friendship and to principle. To business abilities and methodical habits, in general, outlining, or in routine detail, he adds rare literary abilities and practical journalistic skill, discretion, alertness and absolute reliability. That the will make a first-rate official should go without saying, and his ability to furnish the $66,000 bond is equally a surety.
     Major O'Leary was recommended warmly and most earnestly, not only by Dallasites, but by people throughout Texas, and by leading prominent characters, politicians, old army comrades, etc., from the several parts of the country. He made a brave young soldier on the federal side during the civil war, he was a faithful official for seven years as inspector of customs at Brazos de Santiago. As an officer for the government in the Cortina's matters, he saved to American claimants, several millions of dollars. As correspondent, or as editor of the Dallas News, Houston Post, Texas Siftings, and great dailies in other states, he has been the same steady-going, trustworthy character During the national campaign of 1896, he became Mr. E. H. R. Green's private secretary, when that gentleman was made chairman of the Republican state committee, and through whose influence, in great part, Mr. O'Leary secured the position into which he will soon be installed.

- February 27, 1898, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 2, col. 3.
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Maj. O'Leary Relieved Mr. Hill
Last Night.



Albert G. Joyce Reappointed As-
sistant Postmaster--Mr. Hill
Presented with a Chair.

     Mr. W. M. C. Hill, at the close of business last night, turned the postoffice over to Maj. W. M. O'Leary. Mr. A. Green, formerly assistant postmaster in Galveston, assisted Maj. O'Leary in checking up the property.
     Maj. O'Leary continues Mr. Albert G. Joyce as assistant postmaster. Mr. Joyce is an expert in that line of work, and familiar with the routine of the Dallas office.
     As a token of their regard for Mr. Hill, the attaches of the office presented him with a handsome reclining chair last night. Mr. Homer M. Price, chief mailing clerk, made the presentation speech; he said:
     "Mr. Hill, your friends in the postoffice desire me to present to you, this chair as a slight token of their esteem and regard. It is a trifling present in itself, but, we wish you to accept it as an emblem of our good wishes. We desire to assure you of our appreciation of the many kindnesses and courtesies uniformly extended us by you during the last four years of our social intercourse. In the language of the old prayer, may be some of us would, 'if receiving our just deserts, long since have been cut off.' But, we are here to-night in good health; all firmly (we hope) attached to the public udder and wishing you, as you will sit in this old chair in the cool of the evening, to think kindly of us, and, as the drowsy dusk comes on, may your thoughts of the old postoffice and its associations be pleasant ones. And, wishing for you and yours, long life, happiness, prosperity and friends, we simply say, each and all of us, 'God bless you, sir," and be seated."
     Mr. Hill was hardly equal to the occasion, and he got away from sentiment as quickly as he could be referring to the growth of the business of the office in the four years it had been under his management. He said the annual receipts of the office had increased from $120,770.39 to $145,318.90. The number of street letter boxes had increased from 121 to 151, and the increase of miles covered by carriers had been 3 1/2 in Dallas, and four miles for Oak Cliff, Station A. He thanked one and all for the assistance they had rendered him in the office and assured them that, personally, he was sad to part with them.
     When seen by a reporter of this paper to-day, Maj. O'Leary said he had nothing to give up in the way of interview; that the office was rocking along about as it rocked on yesterday, as it is run by the same people.

- April 1, 1898, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 8, col. 6.
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Documents Found in an Ancient Bag
Still Preserved in This City,
Vote for Senator.

     From the postoffice of a frontier village in the days when Texas was so far from civilization that few letters were ever sent into it, to the postoffice of a metropolitan city where mail pours in in abundance comparable with cities of 50,000 more inhabitants than has Dallas, seems a far cry. Yet, only a little over half a century ago, the mail that came into the town of Dallas was so small as to be easily held in a single canvas sack divided into twelve small compartments the size of a coat pocket.
     This was a matter of fifty years ago, in the then village which has now become a city that handles as much mail as municipalities nearly twice as large.
     The sack that served for a letter case in those pioneer days still exists, and is the property of Will Cochran of the money order department of the Dallas postoffice. Mr. Cochran came by the heirloom from his aunt, the wife of the first postmaster of Dallas.

Dallas' First Postmaster

     Charles H. Durgin, who first held the position of postmaster in this city, was a native of Massachusetts and came to Texas in the early '40s. He was made deputy clerk of the newly organized court. In May, 1847, he married Miss Elizabeth B. Thomas, a daughter of Judge John Thomas, who came to Texas in 1844, settling on White Rock Creek, six miles from the village of Dallas. This county was then known as Nacogdoches, and the county seat was at the town of that name.
     It was soon after his marriage that Mr. Durgin, already, by reason of his connection with the court, a man of considerable prominence in this section, was made postmaster. The home which Mr. Durgin had provided for his bride was a two-room log house on the court house square, corner of Main and Jefferson streets, and this building was destined to become the first postoffice of Dallas. The mail sack now in the possession of Mr. Cochran, and a small letter box, made up the entire paraphernalia of the postoffice, and had a place in a corner of the room which served as dining room and kitchen.
     Mr. Durgin moved to Jefferson, Tex., in 1849, and the last account rendered by him to the Auditor's Department at Washington shows business done amounting to $204.15. A comparison with any of the recent monthly statements of the Dallas postoffice shows rather a startling contrast.
     Several interesting documents and letters are to be found in the pockets of the old postoffice sack. There are a number of letters from Mr. Durgin's mother, then living in Exeter, Mass., and from his father, who went to California during the gold craze, and remained there several years.
     One epistle from the elder Durgin tells of the condition of the country round about him in 1851. It was written from Downieville, Yuma County, California, in 1851. Among other things, it is mentioned that supplies are to be reasonably had, "flour 16¢ per pound, pork 30¢, beef 25¢, potatoes 20¢, sugar 25¢, coffee 35¢." The court was located 200 miles from Sacramento, in the mountains. The letter says:
     "The business of mining is probably as good here as at any other point in California, and yet not more than one man in ten is getting rich at the business, and the most reckless gamblers and drunken sailors appear to be the most fortunate; but a man may take hold of any legitimate business and follow it up with determined industry and perseverance, and it will count."
     Among the documents in the sack is one certifying that Charles H. Durgin has been made Notary Public of Dallas. This paper is dated at Austin, Feb. 26, 1848, and is signed by George T. Wood, Governor, and W. D. Miller, Secretary of State.
     Among the interesting letters is one from Judge Nat M. Burford to Mr. Durgin, who was then at Jefferson. The letter is dated Dec. 17, 1850, at which time he was serving as District Attorney. Judge Burford notes that business of every description in Dallas is flourishing; that town lots are commanding very high prices, Mr. Crutchfield having paid $275 for a lot on which to erect a fine tavern, and that the country is flooded with emigrants.
     But the following letter, by reason of the prominence of its writer and the nature of the contents, bearing on the political conditions of the State, is perhaps most interesting of all the epistles to be found in the quaint old pioneer postoffice sack.
     Representative Hall, Austin, Tex., Dec. 15, 1847.--Dear Friend: I will send you a regular file of the Austin Democrat, which will be the readiest means of communicating to my fellow citizens of Dallas County a knowledge of what is doing here. You will do me a great favor by filing in a conspicuous place in your office for public inspection, such papers and documents as I may be able to send you. You will receive as fast as they are published, the journals of both houses, and all other public documents that may be printed. This will be a source of gratifying information to my friends of Dallas County, and your compliance with the request will place me under renewed and lasting obligations to you.
     Both Houses of the Legislature are now organized. My colleagues, Messrs. Sterne and Lott, are at their posts. Senator Parker is present. Senator Gage has not yet arrived. Everything is smooth as yet, and I hope we may be able to meet the expectations of our constituents by the faithful and prompt discharge of our duties.
     This evening we received the Governor's message, which in my humble judgment is a document of superlative merit. The election of our United States Senator came off this evening, which resulted as follows:
    For Sam Houston, 69 votes.
    For Antonio Navarro, 3 votes.
    For James Webb, 2 votes.
    For Edward Burleson, 1 vote.
    For J. Pinckney Henderson, 1 vote.
    For Timothy Pillsbury, 1 vote.
    For John C. Hays, 1 vote.
     Tomorrow, the votes for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor Elect will be counted out. We suppose Wood and Greer to be elected.
     Tender my respects to Judge Thomas, Col. Hewitt and my friends and acquaintances generally.
     With much respect, I subscribe myself your obedient servant.
P. S. --- Please inform Col. John Hewitt that I will also send a regular file of the Austin Democrat and other printed public documents to him at the Cedar Springs, to be filed at his store for public inspection. I adopt this course in order to keep my fellow citizens fully and regularly advised of all that is done here, and in order to account as fully for my stewardship as possible at the earliest possible period. Yours, J. H. R.

     A document that must have seemed ironical in those frontier days, existing in a wild and sparsely settled country, is the bill of fare for table d'hôte dinner at the Syracuse House, Syracuse, N. Y., dated July 21, 1852. It names articles of diet that must have been a source of most profound envy to the people of Dallas at that time, and must have caused pangs of homesickness to the settlers who loved the fleshpots of the mature East.
     Mr. Durgin, the first postmaster of Dallas, died in 1850 in New Haven, Conn., where he is buried. His widow died about a year ago in Dallas County.

- July 19, 1903, Dallas Morning News, p. 14, col. 3-4.
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New Federal Officer Took Charge of
Affairs of Local Postoffice Fri-
day Afternoon.

     B. M. Burgher is now actively in charge of the Dallas postoffice. He assumed office at 4 o'clock Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning, commenced his active duties. George F. Rockhold, retiring postmaster, was not able to attend to the transfer in person, owing to the fact that he is confined to his bed by an attack of mumps.
     The incoming official was checked in by Assistant Postmaster Bruce Luna, who has been connected with the postiffice department since 1887.

- May 24, 1913. Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 3.
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