BY JAMES WINTLE
EARLY MAIL ROUTES
Prior to 1818 the nearest post office to Dexter was Bangor. A haphazard delivery and pickup service was arranged out of Bangor and Skowhegan. Any Dexter citizen that happened to be coming or going to Bangor or Skowhegan could pick up the mail and leave it at a central place.
In 1818 the mail route from Bangor came through Glenburn, Levant, West Corinth, Garland, Dexter, Ripley, Harmony, Athens and Cornville to Skowhegan. Then from Skowhegan through Canaan, Hartland, Palmer, Etna, Carmel and Hamden to Bangor. A Mr. Hayes of Skowhegan was the mail carrier for a number of years. Colin Campbell of West Cornish succeeded him in the year 1822. Some of the other men that carried the mail at this point in time were, Samuel Cropland of Exeter, Calvin Osgood of Exeter and Sylvester Eddy of West Cornith.
In 1822 Dr. G. M. Burleigh was appointed Postmaster and the office was located at his home where the Amos Abbott Library now stands. Mr. Burleigh held the office for nineteen years. (1822-1841)
Augustus French was appointed to the office in 1841 and his store on the corner of Wall and Main Streets became the Post Office. This building at one time was known as the Titcomb Block. George Hamilton and Charles W. Curtis were his assistants. (1841-1853)
On March 29, 1853 George Hamilton was appointed Postmaster and served until 1861. He moved the office to a small building on the lot where the Call Studio was located, now the home of the Dexter Cafe. (1853-1861)
Nathaniel Dustin was next appointed to the office and again the location was changed, this time to a store on the site of the former G. A. Dustin Block, the Hoyt Block on Main Street. Captain Henry L. Wood was his Assistant for two years and then he resigned because of the pressure of other business interests. 1861- ?)
Captain Henry L. Wood later received the commission as Postmaster(no date given but it could have been in 1869)and served the government and the citizens of Dexter well, in that capacity, for twenty years. The office was located in the Hoyt Block until 1876 and then it was moved across the street to the Bank Block. Half of the lower floor in the Bank Block was built and especially fitted for use as quarters for the Post Office. While at this location temporary removal was made necessary because of a fire in the building and quarters were found for a time on Grove Street at Downing’s Garage. After repairs the office moved back to the Bank Block. (1869-1887)
Dr. Simeon Mudgett became Postmaster January 29, 1887 serving about one year, when he passed away on February 7, 1888. His son, David Mudgett succeeded him, taking office March 12, 1888. Assisting as clerks were Miss Gertrude Chase and Mrs. Louise Wood Mudgett, the latter also acting as telegraph operator. It was during Postmaster David Mudgett’s term that town delivery was first established but after four years trial it was dropped as an unsuccessful venture. The first carrier was Joseph M. Mountain, who was followed by L. C. Sheperd, Ernest Lane, Ernest J. Hill and Otis J. Roberts. The Post Office was located at the Bank Block Combined terms of Dr. Simeon and David Mudgett: (1887-1892)
The next Postmaster was Nathan F. Roberts who held the office five years at the Bank Block. With him as clerks were Ernest Lane and Miss Imogene Wood. Miss Wood also acted as telegrapher. (1892-1896)
Edward H. Chase was appointed Postmaster in 1896 to 1900. The office was located in the Bank Block. Hid daughter Gertrude Chase assisted in the work at the office. (1896-1900)
Freeman D. Dearth was appointed Postmaster to the Dexter office on June 5, 1900. On August 1, 1905 larger quarters being necessary, the office was moved from the Bank Block to the Dustin Pharmacy. (This building at the present time is connected to Tillson Hardware Store.) Clerks employed by Mr. Dearth during his term included Agnes Chisholm, Gertrude Dearth, Gladys Ayer, Anne Ryan, Grace Moore, Kathryn Hutchinson, Clara Brewster, Daniel Clark, Frank Haines and Glen Ayer.
On September 1, 1802 the first two rural free delivery routes were established with Frank E. Page as driver of R. F. D. No. 1 and Harry W. Brawn driver of R. F. D. No. 2. On July 1, 1902 routes 3 and 4 were started with Lindley H. Folsom and Almon R. Page as carriers.(All of these drivers used ‘horse and buggy’ to deliver the mail.) (1900-1914)
Frank J, Carsley became Postmaster in 1914 and served in that capacity until 1923. In 1916 the office was moved from the Dustin Block down the street to the Gerry Block. In 1917 two more routes were established with Ralph Lowell and Joseph P. Rand as carriers. Mr. Rand resigned and Wesley C. Richards took his place.
Frank W. Haines was made Assistant Postmaster and resigned a short time later. Daniel C. Clark was named to fill his place and remained in that position more than fifteen years. Harry W. Brawn resigned as a rural carrier and served as clerk under Postmaster Frank Carsley. Others working for Mr. Carsley as clerks were Carrie T. Palmer, Frank D. Howard, Harold Hatch and Miss Mabel Tarrio as substitute clerk. (1914-1923)
Almon R. Page was appointed Postmaster in 1923 and served until 1931. The Post Office was located in a new building constructed by S. L. Small on the south side of Main Street. (At the present time this building is the Dexter Family Practice Doctor’s Office.) Working for Mr. Page were new rural carriers Elwin Farnham and Edgar M. Page . Also Merle Knox as mail driver and clerk. All or most of the employees that worked under Postmaster Frank W, Carsley also worked for Postmaster Almon R. Page. (1923-1931)
Wilford E. Slater was appointed Postmaster in 1931 until 1935 and the Post Office was located in the same building. During Mr. Slater’s tenure several changes and retirements were made. L. A. Millett retired, Lloyd Wentworth , Wilbur Copeland and Elwin Farnham were hired. James Morrison was transferred from Bradford and Charles Doble was transferred from Milo. (1931-1935)
In 1935 Joseph M. Mountain was appointed Postmaster. Mr. Mountain served four years in the Main Street Post Office up until 1939 and then moved into the new United States Post Office constructed at 6 Spring Street. He served twelve more years in this new building ending his postal career in 1951. Mr. Mountain’s employees were Assistant Post- master Daniel Clark; Mrs. Carrie T. Palmer, money order and register clerk; Frank D. Howard and Edgar M. Page, postal clerks; Harold E. Hatch and Merle Knox, substitute clerks and carriers; Wesley Richards and Lloyd Wentworth, carriers; R. F. D. carriers were Ralph Lowell, Rt. No. 1; James Morrison, Rt. No. 2; Charles Doble, Rt. No. 3 and Elwin Farnham Rt. No. 4. (1935-1951)
Roger Gilbert, a brilliant young man was appointed Postmaster in 1951 at the age of twenty-five. He was the youngest Postmaster ever to serve in the Dexter Postal Service and probably one of the youngest in the nation. (I was hired by Mr. Gilbert in 1966 and worked as a mail carrier for about one year.) Here is a list of some of the workers that were employed at the Dexter Post Office at that point in time: Ken Hill, Omar Cleaves, Lane Mountain, Dick Reid, Fred LaFountain, Terrance Gilbert, James Wintle, Lionel Laferriere, rural carrier and Assistant Postmaster Clyde Richards. (Roger Gilbert’s term 1951-1966)
Clyde Richards was appointed Postmaster August 25, 1967 and retired in 1984. The Postal Service seemed to run in the family as Clyde’s father Wesley Richards was employed back in 1917 as a mail carrier. A few of the employees that worked for Mr. Gilbert retired or resigned and Mr. Richards hired two or three more. They were Lloyd Clukey as a carrier, Gary Dubay,carrier, Ralph Tetu, carrier, John Hartley, clerk and Ken Brasier, rural carrier.
Clyde and his wife Clara now reside in Scarborough, Me. where they enjoy sporting events, travelling and writing. Clyde said that he isn’t very fond of that wild Route 1 traffic out of Scarborough!! Nothing like the good old Dexter traffic meandering up Spring Street!! “Come on home anytime you want to Clyde, we’d love to have you and Clara back!!” (1967-1984)
Charles Gokas became the new Dexter Postmaster in 1984 and resigned in 1999. A number of new faces were added to the office personnel during Mr. Gokas’s last few years. They seemed to be coming and going from other post offices around the State. (1984-1999)
In 1866 Loring D. Hayes built this hotel on the corner of Main and Spring Streets. At that time it was called “The Merchants Exchange Hotel” and he operated it until 1876. Then leased it to Col. Walter G. Morrill. In 1884 William C. Elder became a partner with Mr. Morrill for two years and then Mr. Elder became the sole proprietor until 1889 when it was leased to Asa Spooner. Owen E. Blackden purchased the property in 1890 and remodeled the hotel and continued to carry on the business until 1901. He then leased the business to Herbert M. Gates who managed it for six years, then was leased to Fred R. Wheeler for one year.
Owen Blackden sold the hotel to David H. Mudgett and Nathan Daggett in 1908. They leased it to D. M. Cleveland who managed it until 1910 and then purchased the property. The name of the hotel was changed to “Exchange Hotel” in 1890 by Owen Blackden.
Mr. Cleveland conducted the business until 1922. Mr. and Mrs. Hal Homstead leased the property in 1929. They managed the business until 1931 and then the owners, David Mudgett and Nathan Daggett leased it to Ralph Bryant of Liberty, Maine. On June 27, 1932 demolition was started on the then 66 year old historic Exchange Hotel to make way for the new 1.43 mile cement road. Beginning at the Fay & Scott Machine Shop traveling up to Church Street, the long awaited road finally got underway on July 7, 1932. It was built by Wyman & Simpson Construction of Waterville with a price tag of $36,275.00.
This writer can remember that the hotel was located on the corner of Main and Wall Streets near the traffic light. I can remember that the road between the Exchange Hotel and Wall Street was very narrow. (There was a rumor at that point in time that there was an underground tunnel from a ‘certain store’ on Wall Street to the Exchange Hotel .......for the purpose of transporting illegal booze.) Speaking about the narrow road between the hotel and Wall Street, these folks, Clyde Richards, former Dexter Postmaster, Phyllis Shirley Ambrose and Roland “T. T.” Clukey also remembers how narrow the road was. Clyde as a young kid in knee-high knickers can remember that he hauled a cart full of beer bottles up to the kitchen door of the Exchange Hotel and sold them.......didn’t say how much he got for them!! Lots of interesting stories about the Exchange Hotel. Thanks to Isabel Ansell Jacobs for information about when the Exchange Hotel was razed.......she also remembers when her family dined at the hotel but she didn’t know why or what the occasion was about.
The next building beyond the Titcomb Block was Hammie’s Poolroom and upstairs was the “Villa Banner Clubrooms”.This club was organized during the 1930’s by a few Dexter boys that were interested in athletic activities such as baseball, basketball, pool or anything to keep them busy. This venture started out with about twenty or more young men and they became known as the “Villa Banner Club”. (I have never found out how or why “Villa Banner” was chosen for the club name.) Names of some of the baseball and basketball players were:Omar Cloutier, Fred “Tweedy” Hale, Charlie Atwater, Dustin “Dud” Farnham, Dennis “Bigshot” Landry, Homer Carsley, Phillip “Sippy” Cookson, Edmond “Momo” Landry, Harry Westgate, Geddy Brewster, Fay Harrington, Scott Harrington, John Quigley, Bill Conway, Sid Fanjoy, Perley “Cooney” Robichaud, Wilbur Hamilton, Lawrence “Snibe” Tibbetts, Keith Crouse, Jack Higgins, Abbie Landry, Kip Landry, Omar Nesbit, Phil Godreau, Calvin “Kelly” Seavey, Nate Hibbard, Bernard “Bun” Pomroy, Cliff Chase, Victor “Pet” Wintle and Nate Pease. Howard “Hinky” Davis was the secretary Villa Banner Club and Carl “Red” Sands was the manager of the Villa Banner baseball team.
As the older members and players tired of the activities some of the younger boys joined the club, and they were:Vernon “Buttons” Burton, Geddy Hall, Norman “Hardrock” Cookson, Willie Cookson, Jim “Ace” Wintle, Dana “Twink” Curty, Vincent “Buster” Clukey, Albert “Bulabut” Daigle, Norman “Greek” Gilbert, Maynard Prescott, Bill Seavey, Bill “Juseph” Perry, Everett Sands, Dent Flagg and Joe Bolduc.
Now back to the Exchange Hotel. As I mentioned before the new road that was started in 1932 was the year that the Exchange Hotel was torn down. The new road was completed in 1933 and the Exchange Hotel became ‘a ghost of the past’.
NOTE: I would like to thank everyone for their e-mails, interest and encouragement on my “History of Dexter”. Keep the e-mails coming, thanks!! Email Jim Wintle.
Contact Jim Wintle by email or call 207-924-7598.
|The Daily Me * 122 Number 10 Road * Dexter, Maine 04930 * 207.924.3067|