Finding History Hidden In Plain Sight

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Chapter 4. The Post Office.

What is this??

On our walk we encountered this. It's at the end of the dotted yellow line on the previous page. Very cool, somebody made a neat potting shed and they made it look like an old post office! But wait a minute... nobody makes a potting shed this elaborate and this large.

 
The carved sign over the doorway.
 
To give you an idea of its size, I'm 6' 2". This is not a potting shed or a kids fort.
 
It's sitting at the edge of the woods at the far end of the Church of the Messiah property.
 
Andrea goes inside to post a letter.
 

What we had discovered is a real post office. Thanks to James A. Quinn we know a little about it, but what is it doing way out here?

Quinn tells us:

Historic Gwynedd Post Office has been in existence since 1810. At that time, it was one of only 35 in the entire state of Pennsylvania.

The second post master was David Acuff, owner and host of Acuff's Tavern which is now the William Penn Inn.

From 1835 when Charles, son of Edward the first postmaster, took over the office, it was in the Jenkins Country Store with members of the family succeeding each other as postmasters until 1914. In the old account books kept during the years 1841 to 1851 (still in the office archives), there are 71 different names listed as paying patrons. Since this was before postage stamps, each item mailed was paid for in cash according to weight and distance. The books show charges of from $0.03 to $0.37 and the most distant points listed are places in Ohio, Rochester, N.Y., and England.

In 1914, the Post Office was moved to the grounds of Gwynedd Friends Meeting. It was financed by donations from community residents until July, 1957 when the U.S. Post Office Department began rent payments of $26.00 per month which barely covered expenses of building upkeep.

In 1955 the tiny structure was moved across Route 202 to the site on Meeting House Road just in front of the new building, still on ground belonging to the Friends.

POSTMASTERS

Edward Jenkins 1810 Walter Jenkins 1896
David Acuff 1830 Sarah Jenkins 1911
Charles Jenkins 1835 William Swayne 1914
Algernon Jenkins 1867 William Frame 1924
Catherine Jenkins 1875 Elizabeth Tramontina 1939
William Jenkins 1883 Edna Mae Harrison 1956

The last bit information on the location was from 60 years ago. At some point the building was moved again to its present location. The intersection of Meeting House Road and Route 202 was moved several years ago during the construction of the 202 Bypass. I would guess that at that time they moved it (back) across 202 and squirreled it away on the church property.

 
Inside the post office. Peeling paint, crumbling plaster and exposed  lath board. And mice! We saw a mouse running up the wall.

After exploring the post office we went behind it, looking for the path leading to the rude bridge. There was none to be found. Whatever path existed in the 1700s is long gone after 300+ years. Also, it seemed, so was the house in the 1927 House Beautiful article. That couldn't be. How could the house be gone? We must be looking in the wrong place.

It turns out we were. Though the article said to cross the bridge, the "long path" leading to the bridge is not the same path as the modern walking trail. The path apparently existed on the OTHER SIDE of the bridge. So, when we crossed the bridge we were walking AWAY from the house.

Time to head home, we'll look again on another walk.


 
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