County History Postal Service


Unicoi County, Tennessee

TNGenWeb Project

Updated October 10, 2015

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History of Unicoi County Postal Service



Photo circa abt. 1905:  Allison Woodville Hensley delivering mail by horseback on Spivey Mountain / Coffee Ridge area via the Brownlow Post office.   Delivering mail to these remote parts of the Appalachian was part of the Rural Free Delivery [RFD] program of the U.S. Postal Service established in 1896.  Before the RFD program, people living in remote parts of rural America would have to make the journey to the post office to pick up their mail or pay for a private delivery service.  Early RFD routes could range between 20-30 miles long and were based upon what a carrier with a horse and buggy could travel on unpaved rural country roads during a workday [sunrise-sunset].   An average RFD carrier' pay was about $30-45 a month depending on the length of the route and location.  The carrier had to provide his own horse, buggy, feed and water. Rural Free Delivery vastly improved the lives of rural folks keeping them connected with information for more informed choices with commerce, government, politics and current affairs.  Before the use of post boxes, the post carrier would have to personally hand deliver the mail to the addressee.  As mail service expanded, hand delivery become costly and inefficient.   On March 1, 1923, the US Postal Service mandated the use of post boxes for efficient and quick delivery service.   In the above photo, the post boxes were used in conjunction with the RFD program.  Notice the 5 ft. height boxes for easy reach on horseback.  The RFD Postal Program can be compared to the Internet with its interest in reaching out to all  for connectivity to information.


Early Unicoi County Post Offices/Couriers

Alpha order by Township


Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Bulow L. Briggs              	25 Oct 1886
John S. Ray                        	2 Jul 1890
Office discontinued on January 14, 1906, and moved to "Flagpond."


Postal Carrier		Effective Date   
John B. Hensley                   	28 Jul 1882
Allison W. Hensley                  	17 Apr 1895
Thomas W. Hensley              	14 Feb 1899
William G. Hensley              	6 Apr 1899
Burgess G. Hensley              	30 Dec 1903
Office  discontinued on March 30, 1907, and moved to Kittyton.

NOTE:  Burgess G., Allison Woodville [in photo] and William Garrison were brothers and sons of  Silas Hensley and Sarah Hensley of the Coffee Ridge /Spivey Mountain area.  Thomas Watsel Hensley, s/o John Hensley and Mary McCrackin, is first cousins of Allison, William and Burgess G.  John Burton Hensley, s/o Robert Burton Hensley and Catherine Jane Edwards, was also first a cousin to Allison W. and Burgess.  The Hensley men of Brownlow P.O. were descendants of William Allison Hensley and Lucinda Higgins servicing the Spivey Mountain area up to the NC state line of Yancey Co.



Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Mary J. McNabb		 1 Feb 1899
Office discontinued on October 15,  1900, and moved to "Erwin."


Postal Carrier		Effective Date   
Stuart Wilder		20 Dec 1894
Cora Moorecraft		11 Jun 1901
Samuel Corn		6 Mar 1902
Jason P. Edwards		24 Mar 1905
William M. Erwin		21 Nov 1907
David F. Duncan		28 Apr 1910
Nathaniel C. Duncan		9 Oct 1913
David F. Duncan		21 Jan 1918
Office discontinued on May 31, 1921, and moved to "Erwin."


Postal Carrier		Effective Date
William A. Sams		19 Jun 1870
George W. Tompkins		2 Sep 1878
John H. Higgins		23 Mar 1881
John Quillen Tilson		25 Apr 1883
April 26, 1895, post office changed its name to "Clearbranch"


Postal Carrier		Effective Date 
Barry O. Runnion		26 Apr 1895*  [see photo on right]
Leroy S. Tilson		13 Apr 1897
Eliza E. Erwin		4 Mar 1910
Office discontinued on March 21, 1923, and moved to "Kittyton."
Name changed from Kittyton.
Elijah B. Sams                    	15 Dec 1923
Pearl Sams                         	1 May 1938
William F. Hensley                 	1 Oct 1938
January 1, 1939, post office changed its name to "Mountain Dale" 

COMMENT: *Photo is of Barry O. Runnion [b. Sept. 25, 1833 - d. Oct. 24, 1904]; s/o Thomas L. Runnion and Elizabeth Hensley. He served in the US Civil War, Pvt. 64th CN Infantry from 11 Sept 1862 - 20 July 1864 CSA.  He was a member of the Flag Pond Masonic Lodge.  Info/photo courtesy of Robert L. Runnion, Jr.



Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Jesse W. Callahan		9 Aug 1888
On January 12, 1889, post office changed its name "Ernestville" 


ERNESTVILLE   [Name changed from Ernest]
Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Jesse W. Callahan		12 Jan 1889
William Holcomb		 1 Jun 1889
Ezekial G. Sams		18 Jul 1890
Rhoda M. Callahan		 27 Feb 1894
Jasper N. Tompkins		 20 Feb 1900
Elbert S. Tucker		4 Oct 1900
James M. Riddle		 3 Jan 1902
Robert Willis		 1 Dec 1911
Office discontinued on 20 Oct 1920 and moved to "Kittyton."


ERWIN   [transferred from Washington Co.; name changed from Vanderbilt]
Postal Carrier		Effective Date
William  McInturff 		5 Dec 1879
Peter W. Emmert		18 Mar 1880
William T. Davis		23 Apr 1886
William B. McNabb		8 Feb 1889
Peter W. Emmert		9 Apr 1889
William T. Davis		9 May 1893
Laban W. White		24 May 1897
William S. Erwin		 2 Feb 1899
Grover S. McNabb		 15 Feb 1911
J. R. Roberts		 10 Jun 1913
Fred B. Harrington		 1 Oct 1919
James F. Toney, Jr.		30 Apr 1928
Orville E. Bogart		28 Jun 1932
Grover B. Woodward                	31 Dec 1934
Walter W. Ryburn                  	11 Jan 1935
Paul E. Sams                      	16 Nov 1943
Mr. Ruby R. Elliott                	15 Jan 1953
Ralph Lewis                       	18 May 1962
Willis E. Edwards                  	8 Dec 1972


Postal Carrier		Effective Date        
William H. Banner                  	15 Nov 1897
Hattie E. Jones                   	29 Jul 1899
James L. Peterson                    	21 Nov 1905
Etta M. Keesecker                 	19 Sep 1907
Office discontinued on 30 Jan 1908 and moved to "Erwin."


FLAG POND  [transferred From Washington Co.]
Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Josiah B.                         	3 Jan 1876
Office discontinued on 3 Oct 1881.
Ira Lemmon                        	30 Jun 1878
James L. Treadway                 	21 Apr 1879
William W. Bailey                     	17 Apr 1882
Lee W. Sams                        	5 Sep 1882
Silvanus H. Gould                 	15 Jan 1883
Calvin Nanney                     	14 May 1883
William C. McCarthy               	30 Jul 1884
Lee W. Sams                       	 7 Apr 1889
William F. Guinn                  	16 Apr 1889
Armstrong Harris                  	15 Nov 1892 **
Thomas C. Hensley                  	5 Jul 1898
James B. Moore                    	15 Aug 1902
William W. Smith                   	8 Dec 1903
William N. Moore                   	3 Jun 1904
Lizzie Crain                       	3 May 1911
Lizzie C. Washburn                 	4 May 1912
William N. Moore                  	17 Feb 1913
Theron E. Sams                    	26 Dec 1914
Ethel Tilson                      	23 Apr 1917
Melvin Washburn                   	17 Dec 1932
William W. Smith                   	8 Mar 1933
Ray Tilson                        	28 Nov 1934
John F. Anderson                   	4 Feb 1935
Olive P. Barnes                   	30 Jun 1939

COMMENT:  **Photo is of Armstrong Harris, courtesy of  Paul Harris [direct descendant].   Armstrong "Olmstead" was the son of Jason L. Harris and Nancy Hensley and a lifelong resident of the Flag Pond area.  In addition to being a farmer and Rural Postal Carrier, he also served as Justice of the Peace adjudicating  many Coffee Ridge/ Flag Pond area marriages.  He married Mary Louisa Crain [d/o Leroy Crain and Lydia Tilson] on March 19, 1870.  They had 10 children:   Margaret S., Annie M., Nancy L., Jane, Fuller Garfield, Fletcher, Walter B., Birtha E., Clay Chester, Estil Joseph.  Olmstead and Mary are buried at Higgins Chapel Cemetery.


Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Charles Ford		2 Jan 1903
Name changed to Fordville on 29 Jan 1903.


FORDVILLE  [name changed from Ford]
Post Carrier		Effective. Date
Charles Ford                      	29 Jan 1903
Thomas B. Garland                 	12 Apr 1909
Pearl Callahan                    	17 Mar 1910
Office discontinued on 15 Oct 1917 and moved to "Ernestville."


INDIAN CREEK   [transferred from Washington Co.]
Postmaster		Effective Date
William E. Parks                   	3 Jan 1876
Charles B. Ledford                	30 Sep 1878
Robert Clouse                      	8 Dec 1879
William A. Duncan                 	20 Jan 1881
Charles R. Bean                    	9 Nov 1881
Office discontinued on 30 Jan 1904 and moved to "Fordville."


Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Jacob Smith		9 Aug 1888
Samuel T. Effler                  	18 Feb 1892
Office discontinued on 23 Nov 1892 and moved to "Logantown."


Postal Carrier		Effective Date
William A. Sams                   	17 Feb 1885
Office discontinued on 5 Aug 1887 and moved to "Clearbranch."
Kennedy F. Foster                 	18 Oct 1888
John T. Harrison                  	26 Jun 1890
Office discontinued on 9 Jan 1892 and moved to "Clearbranch."
Martha J. Hensley                 	27 Apr 1895
Thomas F. Willis                  	10 Mar 1905
George W. Guinn                     	1 Sep 1916
Elijah B. Sams                     	8 Feb 1922
On December 15, 1923 the Post Office changed its name to "Clearbranch."


LIMESTONE COVE  [transferred from Carter Co.]
Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Elisha L. Garland                 	28 Jun 1876
Thomas J. Wright                  	27 Sep 1881
William A. Norris                 	24 Dec 1887
Thomas J. Wright                  	11 Apr 1889
Elizabeth Wright                  	6 Feb 1894
Obadiah R. Miller                 	16 Apr 1897
Dosser W. Buchman                 	31 Aug 1900
Jackson E. Campbell               	10 May 1901
Dosser W. Buchman                 	1 Dec 1902
Office discontinued on 14 Dec 1903 and moved to "Unicoi."


LIMONITE   [name changed from Swingleville, Washington Co.]
Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Frank H. Hannum                   	25 May, 1876
On November 26, 1890, office changed its name to "Unicoi. "


Postal Carrier                             	Effective Date
Charles H. Settles                	1 Apr 1903
No further entry in Post Office Department ledger.

Postal Carrier                            	Effective Date
John D. Wolfe                     	10 Feb 1885
William J. Clouse                  	9 Aug 1887
Henry A. Wolfe                    	13 Oct 1892
William J. Willis                  	8 Apr 1899
Office discontinued on January 31, 1902, and moved to "Kittyton."

Postal Carrier                       	Effective Date
Cena Love                        	27-Feb 1907
Office discontinued on May 14, 1910, and moved to "Erwin."

Postal Carrier                       	Effective. Date
Alice Haynes                     	15 Jul 1889
Office discontinued December 14, 1903, and moved to "Unicoi."

MOUNTAIN DALE  [name changed from Clearbranch]
Postal Carrier		Effective Date
William F. Hensley               	1 Jan 1939
Office discontinued on October 14, 1939, and moved to "Erwin."

Postal Carrier		Effective Date
Nathaniel T. Bowman               	6 Jan 1881
William Phillipe                  	8 Jan 1883
Mary A. Hammer                   	25 Apr 1883
On March 27, 1886 the office changed its name to "Rose Hill."

ROSE HILL  [name changed from Pipkin]
Postal Carrier                       	Effective Date
William J. Peebles               	27 Mar 1886
Virgil S. Bowman                  	1 Jun 1889
Office discontinued on March 22, 1894, and moved to "Marbleton."

Post Carrier                       	Effective Date
Lizzie Deaderick                 	25 Jun 1886
Arthur V. Deaderick              	20 Jul 1887
Henry McD. Deaderick             	27 Oct 1913
Mary E. Brown                     	1 Jul 1927
Office discontinued on September 30, 1930, and moved to "Erwin."

UNICOI  [name changed from Limonite]
Post Carrier		Effective Date
Frank H. Hannum		26 Nov 1890
William A. Norris                 	13 Nov 1895
Robert C. Forbes                  	28 Aug 1899
William P. McLaughlin             	16 Jul 1901
Robert McInturff                  	12 May 1903
Jams W. Lucas                     	18 Feb 1913
Mary J. Street                    	24 Oct 1916
Lorena M. Howell                  	15 Jul 1918
Mrs. Doak Bowman                  	19 Mar 1919
Everett H. Benfield               	8 Sep 1921
Mae Harvell                        	1 Sep 1923
George F. Keene                    	8 Jan 1925
Chase M. Beavers                  	17 Jan 1933
Emma Anderson                      	1 Aug 1943
Richard W. Cash                    	9 Jul 1973
James H. Rice                     	20 Jul 1974

VANDERBILT  [Formerly Longmire, Washington Co.]
 Post Carrier                        	Effective Date
James C. Roberts                  	27 Mar 1876
On December 5, 1879, the office changed its name to "Erwin."


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