Early Sodus NY Postmasters and Mail Stages

These lists and passages about mail and travel routes were abstracted from the book "History, Reminiscences, Anecdotes and Legends of Great Sodus Bay, Sodus Point, Sloop Landing, Sodus Village, Pultneyville, Maxwell and the Environing Regions The Ridge Road and the 4-Horse Post Coaches of Pioneer Days", privately printed by Walter Henry Green, Sodus, N.Y., in 1947. Mr. Green put it together by talking to area "old timers", many of whose memories stretched back prior to the Civil War, as well as viewing documents owned by local residents. An 1839 government map is referred to. If anyone has info about the current whereabouts of this map we'd like to know about it!

In Reference to Sodus Point:

"Williamson's dream was called Great Sodus, but when in 1801 he was succeeded as agent of the Pultney Estate by Col. Robert Troup its official name became Troupville and the first postoffice was established under that name, but the exact date cannot be ascertained. Neither can the exact date that the first postmaster, William N. Lummis was appointed but his first account was under date of April 1, 1811. Assuming that the reports were made once a year, he must have been appointed April 1, 1810.

The name of the office was changed to Sodus, February 7, 1826, and on December 16th of the same year the name was changed to Sodus Point. ...William Wickham, who succeeded William N. Lummis, was postmaster continuously for forty-two years.

The following list gives the names of all the postmasters from the time the office was established until the present (1943). It shows when they were appointed, how long they served and gives the dates on which the name of the office was changed."

PostmasterDate Appointed
William N. Lummis - Troupville
William WickhamMarch 2, 1814
The name of this office was changed to Sodus, February 7, 1826
William WickhamFebruary 7, 1826
The name of this office was changed to Sodus Point, December 16, 1826
William WickhamDecember 16, 1826
Benjamin R. LummisApril 12, 1856
Charles S. FowlerJune 6, 1859
George F. DunningJanuary 23, 1860
George H. CaseMarch 22, 1860
Frederick E. WickhamFebruary 27, 1864
James H. LewisJuly 25, 1881
John W. PrestonJuly 29, 1885
Clark J. HopkinsMarch 13, 1889
Matthew M. FarrellFebruary 13, 1894
Ida C. EmeryJuly 31, 1897
George EmeryJune 9, 1903
Van L. DeVilleMay 4, 1914
Carlton H. ToppingMarch 23, 1922
Mary J. Schuyler (Acting)October 1, 1923
Armon P. GunnisonJanuary 8, 1924
Eugene C. Morley (Acting)August 31, 1929
Eugene C. MorleyDecember 11, 1929
Jacob M. Garlock (Acting)August 13, 1933
Jacob M. GarlockSeptember 22, 1933

"A government map of the post roads made in 1839, shows that the mail was brought from Lyons on a two-horse stage via Alton, Sodus, Granger schoolhouse and the Lake Road. In 1845 mail was also received by way of the lake on steamboats as shown by the "Oswego County Whig" of July 1, 1845:

"The mail is now carried between Oswego and Ogdensburg and between Oswego and Lewiston by the steamboats.

This arrangement has long been needed and extends important accommodations to the public. Way mails are taken to the intermediate ports on the lake where the boats touch.

The lake mails close at the office in this village at half past seven o'clock in the morning. The contract is held by the Lake Ontario Steamboat Company."

In Reference to Sodus Village:

"Historians vaguely have mentioned that Sodus Village originally was called East Ridge. Undoubtedly it received that name in 1812 and it was on December 17, 1833 that the name was changed to Sodus."

PostmasterDate Appointed
Sodus, Wayne County, New York
This office was established as East Ridge.
Thomas WickhamJanuary 21, 1825
Samuel ClessonMarch 18, 1831
The name of this office was changed to Sodus December 17, 1833
Samuel ClessonDecember 17, 1833
Josiah D. DunningApril 26, 1834
Alonzo M. WinchesterDecember 5, 1839
Jonathan WarnerMay 12, 1841
Alonzo M. WinchesterNovember 14, 1844
John WhiteMay 11, 1849
Willis T. GaylordMay 13, 1853
Alonzo M. WinchesterFebruary 23, 1860
Edwin A. GreenMay 10, 1861
Adam PiferJuly 7, 1869
Silas P. HulettMarch 28, 1873
Levi M. GaylordApril 14, 1881
Edgar W. KellyJune 8, 1885
Whitney J. ToorApril 24, 1889
Myron W. GurneeJuly 7, 1893
Prine RiggsSeptember 17, 1897
Henry W. ShaverSeptember 11, 1909
M.M. KellyJanuary 27, 1914
George F. HendricksJanuary 12, 1923
George W. Kelly (Acting)March 5, 1935
George W. KellyAugust 2, 1935

"Until an office was established at East Ridge letters addressed to Arms Cross Roads (Wallington) were sent to Troupville and before that office was opened letters addressed to East Ridge were sent to Canandaigua. In 1803 a letter was advertised at the Canandaigua office addressed to Matthew Clark, Sodus.

A government map made in 1839 shows that mail came to Sodus by the Oswego-Lewiston 4-Horse Post Coach Line. A 2-Horse stage carried mail from Lyons to Sodus Point via Alton, Sodus, Granger Schoolhouse, and Lake Road. Between Sodus and Newark the mail was carried in a sulky. A 2-Horse stage carried the mail from Canandaigua to Pultneyville via Palmyra, Marion and Williamson.

Thomas Wickham, the first postmaster in East Ridge, was a merchant in this village and in 1847 he was supervisor of the Town of Sodus. He was brother of William Wickham of Sodus Point, who was postmaster of that village for forty-two consecutive years, and during that time the place had three names. ..."

In Reference to the stage lines:

"Originally the ridge which parallels the shore of Lake Ontario between the Niagara and Oswego Rivers, for its entire length, was called the Niagara Ridge, but at an uncertain date, between Rochester and Oswego it became know as the Sodus Ridge. It was in about 1818 that the Lewiston-Rochester line of 4-hourse post coaches was extended eastward from Rochester along the Sodus Ridge to Oswego. It was called the Oswego-Lewiston Stage Line and carried both mail and passengers. Along this stage line from end to end, were many inns, which in those days were called taverns, and stops were made for travelers to refresh themselves and the more leisurely ones to take a night's rest. A few of these ancient buildings that once were taverns, still remain and around them cluster the memories and romance of the almost forgotten oldtime 4-horse stage coaches. A government map made in 1839 of the post roads in this region indicated it to have been a 4-horse post coach road. This map shows that the systems of post roads was far more intricate than when the railroads became the principal carriers of the mails.

The coaches were the heavy Concord-Thorough brace type swing on straps, and carrying from twelve to sixteen passengers. To get through with these coaches in all kinds of weather and conditions, often was a great hardship and at times really dangerous.

Even though the Oswego-Lewiston stage road was a regularly surveyed and constructed state road, it bore little resemblance to the macadam and concrete roads of 1943. It was just plain dirt and in the wet seasons of spring and fall, or at anytime when there were heavy rains, it was a morass of slippery mud and travel upon it was slow and tedious. Even when at its best it was far from being a model road. Here and there stones, and roots of trees protruded through the surface. The drivers often were more concerned about getting through on schedule time than they were for the comfort of the passengers and when rushing to make up lost time the people inside were bounced about in a manner that was not conducive to good nature nor a placid state of mind. In winter they were often stalled in snowdrifts and in wet seasons they got stuck in mudholes and the passengers were rustled out to pry with fence rails and lift by main strength until the heavy coach was again on firm ground. What the man clad in a broadcloth suit and patent leather shoes had to say then was not fit to print, so, thoughfully, is left to the imagination of the reader.

At the close of navigation late in the fall there would be many lake sailors who at Oswego would take the coach for their homes in the country. They looked upon the drivers as inferiors and often derided them as land lubbers. When the coaches got stuck in the mud it was the driver's opportunity and delightedly he would order them out to help lift the coach out of the mudhold."

[A note to the readers: this topic goes on for 6 more pages, describing floating bridges, naming inn proprietors, mail contractors, individual stage drivers, vivid description of what happened when the snows melted, info about routes of other early stage lines in New York State, etc.]

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Created: 6/24/99
Copyright © 1943, 1947 - 2011 Walter Henry Green
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