Friday, September 21, 2012

Lower Waterford Post Office 150 Years

[typed by Beth Kanell from a mimeographed brochure]
If you have seen on Channel 3 from Burlington, the picture of a low brown building with flag flying from the front porch, you have seen the location of the Lower Waterford, Vermont, Post Office.

This office will have been in operation 150 years February 9, 1980, having been established February 9, 1830 [as Waterford-Littleton]. Three other post offices have served other parts of the town, but have long since been closed. This office was established at the time of the building of the covered bridge across the Connecticut River near the village.

The post office at Waterford was called Upper Waterford, and because this village was down river, it was called Lower Waterford, the only town of that name in the United States. The name has been kept for historical reasons.

The post office has been housed in several locations in the village, and in Curran's store on Route 18. At the time Edwin Bowman was postmaster, the post office was then in the building which is now Rabbit Hill Inn, then one of the main taverns on the Montreal to Portland route. Mr & Mrs Goss had the office in their store, the building which now houses the Davies Memorial Library.

There was evidence that many years before Annie Morrison became postmaster, the office had been in the ell of the present location, for when Mervyn and Arthur Morrison were boys, they climbed up over the room then housing the store and post office, and found pouches so old that they fell apart at a touch. Also, there is a slot in one of the doors in the ell, for letters to be deposited. This slot has not been used by either Mrs Annie Morrison or Mrs Dorothy Morrison

After William J. Morrison became crippled from polio, Mrs Morrison kept a store in the room at the end of the ell, and had the post office in one corner. Mr Morrison used another corner for his wood working and repairing of furniture. The model house, church and covered bridge which he made are now on display in the room now used for the post office, which was the kitchen when the family occupied the house.

In addition to the model buildings, there is a collection of pictures of the area showing how the town looked many years ago, and a collection of pictures of the village proper taken from calendars, candy boxes, greeting cards, etc. The picture of the old brown house which contains the post office had been on many calendars recently, and several people from various parts of the country have come to visit the office after seeing the picture.

It will be noted that there is a great difference in the length of the terms of postmasters. This was no doubt partly due to political appointments, before the office came under Civil Service.

Postmasters                  Appointment Dates
Nathaniel Bishop          Feb. 9, 1830
Thomas Hall                  Jun. 17, 1837
Timothy R. Fairbanks   Feb. 13, 1844
Russel Armington         Sept. 26, 1844
John Q. Hoyt                July 2, 1845
Hiram Cutting              May 14, 1849
Lorenzo Bingham          Aug. 27, 1853
John A. Harriman          May 27, 1856
Otis G. Hale                  Dec. 11, 1858 
Curtis G. Goss              Mar. 3, 1863
Ozro B. Hurlbut            Nov. 16, 1863
John N. Oakes               Mar. 29, 1865
C. H. Colby                   Mar. 20, 1867
Hale Mason                   Apr. 25, 1867
Ephraim M. Swett         Mar. 23, 1874
Asa P. Taft                    Feb, 6, 1879
Harry W. Hedgcock       Jan. 15, 1883
Asa P. Taft                      Mar. 10, 1884
Claudius L. Davison       Jul. 17, 1885
Mrs. Lucy J. Wilber        Aug. 6, 1889
Edwin Bowman              Jan. 13, 1890
Edward R. Goss              Dec. 11, 1907
Cora B. Goss                  Nov. 18, 1913
Mrs Annie Morrison      Feb. 17, 1820
Mrs Dorothy P. Morrison   Jan. 30, 1945 (Confirmed)
                                           Feb. 22, 1945 (Assumed charge)
Mrs Gertude B. Curran    Sept. 1, 1946 (Assumed charge)
Mitchell J. Curran           Jan. 30, 1947 (Confirmed)
                                        Mar. 1, 1947 (Assumed charge)
Mrs Dorothy P. Morrison  Jan. 18, 1955 (Assumed charge)
                                          Jan. 27, 1955 (Acting)
                                          Oct. 21, 1955 (Confirmed)
[added in ink, handwritten]

Mail for the Lower Waterford Post Office was brought by Star Route driver from St. Johnsbury. There have been many changes in schedule of arrival of the mail. It was not until the late '40s or early '50s that mail was delivered to the homes of the people living on "the Hill" -Youngs, Wrights, Williams, Powers, etc.

The influx of people during the building of the Samuel Moore Dam caused the class of office to change from fourth to third. Later, the opening of the Rabbit Hill Motor Inn and the Aldrich Formica business have brought much postal business.

Mrs Morrison enjoys the postal work. She attempts to see that mail is delivered where it belongs -even holding mail three months at one time until she has found where the person lives in town. Most of all, she enjoys the people -the local people and the guests from the Rabbit Hill Inn who are told to be sure to see the model buildings.

There was a young couple from New Zealand who wished to have a variety of stamps on the package they were shipping back home, so that their collector friend would have them. One day there was a man from Argentina, and it took only a few words in Spanish to help the man feel he was not lost. Some visitors ask if we receive mail in winter, and what do we find to do in winter. They are assured that mail arrives every business day, and that the town crews keep the road plowed and sanded so that there is no difficulty on the hill.

Many people come to the Post Office to inquire about their ancestors -in which town cemetary they may be buried. Because Mr Morrison is one of the oldest residents in the town, he is called on to answer these questions.

In November, after the death of Mrs Annie Morrison, Dorothy Morrison took over the work in the post office. In the summer of 1946, after the birth of their son, David, she resigned and the office was moved to the store run by Mr and Mrs Mitchell J. Curran on Route 18. After Mr Curran's death in 1954, the office was moved back to the Morrison home, this time in the room which was formerly the kitchen, using the counter and old mail boxes from the old store and office. A few years later, an inspector suggested getting more up-to-date boxes and a set from the old Franconia Post Office was installed.


Dorothy Morrison was born May 1, 1911, in Center Stafford, N.H., the second daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Lester Pease. She has spent most of her life in Vermont. Dorothy attended rural schools in Middbesex, and graduated from Montpelier High School in 1929. In 1933 she graduated from the American International College, Springfield, Mass., with the B.A. degree in Social Work. In order to secure a teaching certificate, it was necessary for her to attend one of the State Normal Schools for one year. This year was spent at Johnson Normal, where she served as assistant to the Dean of Women, a position which she also held for one year at AIC. Aside from the studies at college, the association with people of over twenty nationalities helped her to know people of all countries as individuals.

Teaching positions included one year at the Young School at the head of Caspian Lake in Greensboro, Vt. After that, the school was closed, and the last time Mrs Morrison visited the place, trees where growing where the school house had stood.

Two years were spent at the Ward Hill School in Tunbridge, Vt., where she was janitor as well as teacher. In the Fall of 1939 she came to Waterford to teach at the Woods School. In 1944 when that building was dismantled after the closing of the school due to lack of sufficient pupils, Mrs Morrion asked for the flag pole that was made from a sapling or branch of a tree, and it is used each day for displaying the flag at the present post office.

Mrs Morrison became involved in community life aside from the school activities. Many winter evenings, she recalls, the children from Lower Waterford joined the children on the Hill in sliding parties with games and refreshments in the schoolhouse afterwards.

On June 21, 1942, Dorothy Pease and Arthur T. Morrison were married in the Lower Waterford Congregational Church by her father, and they made their home with Arthur's parents, William and Annie Morrison, while building their own home nearby.

Mrs Morrison assists her husband in caring for the Davies Memorial Library and is active in the Union Baptist Church in St. Johnsbury, of which she is a member. She has been, for nearly ten years, the Waterford correspondent for the Littleton Courier.

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