1907 postal delivery photo in Richland Township
Does RR 1 or RR 2 mean anything to you? How about initials RFD?
Those last three initials stand for “rural free delivery.” And, prior to 1901 there was no rural delivery available of any type for persons living outside of the Bluffton village.
Here’s the story, of how rural free delivery arrived in Bluffton and the eventual creation of RR 1 and RR 2, Bluffton – what are those anyway?
Much of the details are from “The Town at the Fork of the Riley’s.”
On June 6, 1901, the Bluffton News reported that Colonel T.H. Houpt of the rural free mail delivery service, recommended establishing a rural route from Bluffton through Orange Township, in Hancock County.
Several petitions were earlier filed by the citizens of Richland and Orange townships, but Orange Township was the only one recommended.
Apparently Orange was selected because Allen County already had 12 rural routes of the 26 existing routes in this congressional district at that time.
In 1901, Bluffton postmaster Russell Day was notified by the postal authorities that the request for the route was granted. And, as a point of interest, In 1901 the Bluffton post office was located on Vine Street.
Lloyd Murray was approved as the carrier and Joe Mumma was the substitute. On Sept. 2, 1901, the first rural mail delivery was made from the Bluffton post office to Orange Township residents.
Murray traveled the 20-mile-long route with horse and buggy and because there were so few passable roads, he often walked as far as three or four miles to reach some of the mailboxes. He kept two horses, which he drove on alternate days.
The newspaper informed the public that the postal laws for rural routes were the same as those governing other postal matter and that all letters must bear a two-cent stamp.
The creation of RR 1 and RR 2 Eventually that Orange Township route became known as Bluffton Rural Route 1 (or RFD 1).
Even into the 1950s it was common to see letters addressed to rural Bluffton residents with simply the person’s name, accompanied by “RFD 1, Bluffton, O.”
We aren’t certain of the year mail delivered began in Richland Township, eventually known as Bluffton Rural Route 2. However the photo with this story shows Charles Steingraver identified as the mail carrier delivering mail to a young Weldon Luginbuhl in 1907.
The photo was taken by Sam Amstutz, the first serious photographer in the Swiss Settlement of Richland Township, which indicates at mail was being delivered in Richland Township by 1907.
Notice the “crack” in the photo, which indicates this was a 5 by 7 glass negative that at some point broken.
Not only is Bluffton RFD 1 and Bluffton RFD 2 now part of forgotten Bluffton, so is the fact that prior to 1901 rural free delivery didn’t even exist in our community.