Grange and R.F.D.

The National Grange in the 1870s initiated the campaign for rural free delivery (RFD) of the mail. At the time rural people had to drive into town to the post office to collect mail while city dwellers had mail delivered to their door.

In 1896 experimental routes were established and by the turn of the century RFD was wide spread. There was opposition to RFD and the legislation allowing it passed by only two votes in the United States Senate. Opponents of RFD said it was a waste of money and would destroy rural life. RFD turned out to be a great boom for farmers. An 1897 study by the Post Office Department estimated that the availability of RFD increased the value of farm land $2.00 – $3.00 and acre and resulted in improvement of many rural roads since post office patrons were required to bring roads up to standards to receive RFD.

In 1887 the National Grange proposed establishment of the parcel post system. At the time there were five express companies handling parcel delivery at what were contended to be high prices with poor service. These companies opposed the Post Office entering the parcel business. In 1912 a parcel post law was enacted.

An article from the April 3 1902 edition of the Piscataquis Observer:

A petition was circulated and numerously signed by the rural citizens of Foxcroft and Sebec last week asking for the establishment of a rural free delivery. The proposed route as mapped out begins in Foxcroft, near the residence of C.C. Lee about two miles from the village postoffice, passes along the main road to Sebec as far as Blood’s Corner, thence northward pas the home of James. C. Philbrick in Foxcroft, thence on past Nathan Morrill’s and Daniel Severance’s to the Downs neighborhood and Charles Sands’ in Sebec, returning on the main road to South Sebec Corner along to Blood’s Corner, thence southerly to the four corners near East Dover, then on the back road to Foxcroft past the homes of O.C. Dunham, Luther Averill, etc. The distance over the route is 22 miles and 100 families live along the line. E.P. Boutelle, the government free delivery agent, was show a map of the route in question while in town last week and seemed very favorable to its establishment. He will visit Foxcroft again in about a fortnight to go over the route and make an examination of the line. Thus far there is little or no opposition to the movement. The only postoffice to be affected by the change, if it should be made, would be that at South Sebec, which would probably be abolished.

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