|A rural family in Westminster, Maryland gets mail.|
Photo courtesy of the National Postal Museum.
RFD expanded rapidly, and by 1902 was a permanent and much-valued service in rural America. The down-side of RFD's success was the closing of small, fourth-class post offices. Over 18,000 small post offices closed between 1902 and 1912. But the mail, thanks to RFD wagons (and then trucks), went through.
RFD was a service that could cover long distances, and deliver those large packages from Sears and Roebuck to remote locations. However, more localized mail delivery of letters and small packages in rural communities required only a postal worker and a good horse, as in the photo below taken of a U.S. Mail carrier in the Chandlersville-Rix Mills area. If you look closely, you can see the carrier has a badge on his hat. This was required of all U.S. postal carriers, except for those working for the RFD, a fact for which no explanation has been provided. The badge, like a police badge, carried the postman's identification number.
|A mounted U.S. Mail carrier in the Chandlersville-Rix Mills area about 1905. |
The badge on his hat is similar to the one shown here.
For more information and photographs about the history of U.S. postal delivery, visit Smithsonian's [Virtual] National Postal Museum