R.F.D. Mail Route No. 8

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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R.F.D. Mail Route No. 8

source:  Mansfield News, Saturday Evening Edition, 18 Oct 1902


Submitted by Laurie M.

R.F.D. Mail Route No. 8

By A. J. Baughman

As all roads led to Rome, so all Richland county roads lead to Mansfield in a centripetal way, while centrifugally they go to all parts of the country and each has features of interest pertaining to the locality through which it passes.

Rural free delivery route No. 8, on which E. W. Kyle is carrier, goes over a portion of the country northwest of Mansfield, covering parts of Madison, Jackson, Sharon and Springfield townships.

Mr. Kyle goes out Spring Mill street and road and makes his first delivery at the Hahn farm, which was once the home of the Hon. Mordecai Bartley, who for eight years (1823-31) represented the Richland district in the congress of the United States, and later was governor of Ohio.

<<…eight paragraphs omitted on history of Ohio…>>

The grist mill at Spring Mills was built by Governor Mordecai Bartley at an early day. It has been rebuilt several times and is soon to be again improved. This mill was operated by the late Alexander Welch for  many years. Mr. Wentz, the father-in-law of the Hon. James P. Seward, lives just this side of the mills, in a comfortable-looking, old-style home, and is one of the most prominent men in that part of the country. Spring Mills is a station on three railroads and one trolley line, and has its place upon the maps in the country.

Leaving Spring Mills, Mr. Kyle continues along the Shelby road about a mile to Hess’ corners. Here the Shelby road veers to the left, but Mr. Kyle continues due north a mile further passing Mr. Kuhn’s and going to the Vinson corners, where five mail boxes are located – Jacob Rackensbaugh’s, Henry F. Finnicle’s, John Adam’s, John W. Elliott’s and J.W. Vinson’s.

From Vinson’s, the carrier goes due west, passing the Mount Bethel church – commonly called the Sherriff church, from the fact that a Mr. Sherriff gave the land upon which it stands. This church was formerly of the German Reform, but is now the Lutheran denomination. The road here passes through a lovely stretch of country, dotted with fine residences.

A half-mile from the church the Shelby road is crossed. The road from Spring Mills to Shelby is sometimes called “McCluer’s road,” for Judge McCluer, the founder of Bellville. Settlers from the south came by way of Bellville and Judge McCluer, being well acquainted with the country, frequently acted as guide, and accompanied parties to different parts of the county to show them desirable locations. Being a man of means, Judge McCluer entered a number of quarter-sections for himself, several of which are in Jackson and Sharon townships. A tract of land on the Blackford, part of section thirty-nine, Sharon township, is called “McCluer’s mill-seat,” although he never built upon it, but later, Joseph Coltman built a mill there, which was operated for a number of years.

From the Shelby road the mail route continues west, passing ex-Commissioner Iler’s to the Hawk corners, Sharon township, near the old site of the Kerr grist-mills, built in 1829, and destroyed by fire in 1875. From Hawk’s the carrier turns to the south, up the Blackfork to George Fichter’s blacksmith shop, thence southeast, crossing the Pennsylvania tracks on the high bridge a short distance west of Spring Mills. Thence west, passing the Niman, Taylor and other farms, to the Sander’s school house, then west to Cookton.  The Sanders farm, from which the school hosue derives its name, is a fine tract of land. It was the home for many years of ‘Squire Sanders. A large brick house sits in from the road. The large yard in front of the house is aligned with trees. On this farm W.H. Shryock has resided for twenty-one years and has prospered. He has a farm of his own a few miles further north and also owns Mansfield property. He is now building a new house on Arthur avenue, and we hope to soon have him a resident of our city. West of Sanders’ are the Sturges and Dougal farms.

From Cookton the route is south, passing the Bell-Brinkerhoff farm and the Crestline water works pumping station; at the cross-roads, a half-mile north of Five Corners, the carrier takes east, paralleling the Mansfield-Crestline trolley line to Shafer’s hollow.

Shafer’s hollow is where the new electric road crosses the Blackfork, near to its headwaters. Here the wagon road jogs to the north, then comes due east, passing Shafer’s and Hartupees’ and coming out on the north and south road at Harris’, where there was formerly a hedge-like row of quince trees around the garden. Another jog to the north is made here and in a half-mile a turn is made to the right and the Walker lake road is taken for the “home stretch,” passing Walker’s lake. The road from the lake to Mansfield is too well known to need any description here, except to give an “underground” story about the old-time Finney farm—now owned by Frank G. Carpenter, the journalist and writer. This farm is just west of the little jog in the road west of the Ferguson farm—now owned by W.M. Hahn.

The Finney place was a former station on the underground railroad, in ante-bellum days. “Uncle” John Finney was an abolitionist and assisted many runaway slaves on their journey to freedom—to Canada. He secreted five fugitives in his granary one night and at early dawn a pursuing party arrived and wanted to search the premises. This “Uncle John” would not permit to be done without a warrant. Two of the party were sent to Mansfield for a warrant of search and seizure. Those who were left on guard were invited to take breakfast with the Finney family and when that was over Mr. Finney requested them to join him in family worship. As a matter of courtesy, if not devotion, the Southerners knelt with him. Mr. Finney kneeled with his face to the window, looking out towards the barn. He literally obeyed the injunction to “watch and pray.” He prayed long and earnestly and watched anxiously until he saw the fugitives leave. After prayer he read the 119th psalm, which contains one hundred and seventy-six paragraphs. He then sang a hymn, in which his guests joined and at the close of the service the fugitive slaves were far away. This is only one of the many instances in which he aided fugitives.

At the intersection of the Walker lake road with that running between the Hahn and Daum farms, Mr. Kyle’s route takes to the south, then to the left on McPherson street, where his last deliver is made.

Mr. Kyle served his country as  a soldier in the civil war and ever since his discharge from the service has been engaged in public business and being familiar with business methods, succeeds admirably in discharging his duties as a mail carrier. He drives thirty miles daily and delivers mail to one hundred and fifty-three families and 476 people. Did space permit, it would be a pleasure to write each of these and such an opportunity may be presented in the future.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010