Towns & Businesses Fought Over Post Office
a note from history...
It was very important to the development of an early town to get a post office. In fact, it was almost essential to a new community’s survival.
The job of postmaster was often highly coveted and led to some interesting situations and occasionally outright hostilities.
Woodland, Washington, was established in 1882, with Christopher Bozarth as its first postmaster. (Woodland is located on I-5, about 20 miles north of the Washington-Oregon border.) He hadn’t been in the job very long when a distant relative, Adolphus Lewes, decided he wanted the job and “stole” the post office.
Supposedly, this was accomplished by simply picking up all the post office paraphernalia and moving it to his own store, about a mile up the Lewis River, hoping to lure Bozarth’s customers away. (At that time, the post office was always located in someone’s place of business.)
Bozarth didn’t quit, however. He set up a shoe box in his store with a slit in it, where his customers could deposit their mail, and the required postage. Then he took letters and money both to the nearby boat landing and when the weekly boat was in, he entrusted the letters and money to his friend, the captain. The captain, when he arrived in Portland, would buy stamps and affix them to the letters.
This removed from Lewes his only source of postal income, since payment of the postmaster was based on the number of cancellations he had.
Lewes next step was to legally change the name of the post office from Woodland to Kerns. This, however, suited Bozarth just fine. He applied for the now-unused name of Woodland, which was accepted and the post office by that name was once again set up in his store.
Both the Kerns and Woodland post offices continued in operation until 1906, when the road along the Lewis River was extended from Woodland to Cougar. The site of the Kerns post office is now within Woodland’s city limits.
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