Shall we take yet another trip back in time to explore a little more of Harrison’s history? This article takes us way back to 1891, sometimes referred to as the “Mauve Decade” because a newly developed dye of that color was the fashion statement at that time.
All of the ladies were wearing their new lavender gowns around town. Also, this time in our history was known as, “The Gay 90s.” This term, then under the definition of the word “gay,” simply referred to merriment and frivolity. I’m sure some Harrison-ites had their own good times and frivolity in 1891. Wink – wink.
If you look closely at the envelope pictured in this article you can see clearly that it was postmarked in Harrison on July 17th, 1891. July 17th happened to be a Friday in that year.
The letter is addressed to a Cincinnati lady, Miss Alice Sickles, on John Street in Cincinnati. Now look more closely at the envelope front and back and you will discover that the letter was postmarked at 7 a.m. on the 17th and arrived in Cincinnati the same morning at 10 a.m., just a three-hour trip.
How in the world did that letter make it to Cincinnati so quickly? There were no cars or interstates, no big brown trucks delivering mail and packages, no “Par Avion,” aka airmail. That didn’t start until after WWI around 1918, when the Army initiated delivering mail in their “Jenny” Bi-Planes.
Special delivery, via courier, was available for letters in 1891, but only a few post offices offered that service. Also the cost was a whopping 10 cents, as opposed Miss Alice’s envelope which is bearing the standard 2 cent, George Washington postage stamp.
The answer to our question is simple; the letter was transported to Cincinnati via the Iron Horse—steam engine train. The letter had to be taken along with other mail from our Post Office in the Town Hall, down to the depot on the Indiana side to catch the train.
The postal bag was put on the 7:21 train leaving Harrison, arriving at 8:42 in Cincinnati. There, a Cincinnati postal worker would have picked up the bag and taken it to the Cincinnati Post Office, where it was received and postmarked at 10 a.m. the same day, July 17th.
Since the letter arrived at 10 a.m. in Cincinnati the letter would have been delivered to Miss Alice on John Street the same day it left Harrison.
Today we cast aspersions on our current mail service by calling it, “snail mail.” Well, you can see clearly in 1891, snail mail via the train was quite efficient and quick.
For just two cents a letter was sent from Harrison, received and delivered the same day in Cincinnati. Does this sound like “snail mail” to you? We shall never know, but maybe the letter to Miss Alice said, just like the song, “Here I am baby, signed, sealed and delivered for you,” love Harold from Harrison! xxxoooxxx
Terry Viel is an avid Harrison history buff who collects and restores vintage Harrison photographs.