In order to transport people, especially children, we need to adhere to certain policies and regulations. There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re thinking of having a minor travel on their own. But did you know that the post office used to transport children too?
Throughout the early history of the postal services, parents sent their children via mail. The postage was way cheaper than train tickets. By 1913, sending children by parcel post was banned.
Children Sent in the Mail
The Postal Service has been around for more than a century, thanks to Benjamin Franklin. Franklin created innovative systems to improve the services offered then. And on January 1, 1913, a parcel post was made. It allowed individuals to send other non-mail items via post.
This new service granted many Americans access to all kinds of goods and services out of reach to them. But in a few weeks since its introduction to the public, a couple in Ohio made their way to the newspaper with their parcel post.
Jesse and Mathilda Beagle mailed their 8-month old son James to his grandmother, who lived in Batavia, just a few miles away. Baby James was just under the 11-pound weight limit during that time. The Beagles only paid 15 cents in postage but insured their son for $50.
Soon after, a few other children were mailed, and stories usually came from more rural areas than in the cities. One famous case was of Charlotte May Pierstoff. When Pierstoff was four years old, she was mailed via train from her home in Grangeville, Idaho, to her grandparents’ home, 73 miles away.
Pierstoff was accompanied by her mother’s cousin, who was the clerk for the railway mail service. There were other stories of children being mailed, but on June 14, 1913, some newspapers ran the story where the postmaster general decreed that children could no longer be sent. (Source: Smithsonian Mag)
Bizarre Items Sent in the Mail
Aside from mailing children in the past, other items were shipped out before better policies for post services were put in place. The very first bizarre post was in 1849 when a Virginia slave named Henry Brown mailed himself to Philadelphia. (Source: Mental Floss)
Brown, helped by a local storekeeper, boxed himself along with water and biscuits. He was then sent to James Miller McKim, a Philadelphia abolitionist, on March 23. Brown was received after 27 hours, and when he came out of the box, he was released as a free man.
An article in The New York Times on August 7, 1895, reported that Daisy James, a New York Post Office worker, noted several dead animals sent out to taxidermists. She also handled various strains of smallpox, diphtheria, and scarlet fever mailed out by different physicians to the National Health Board.
The Bank of Vernal, or at least the bricks that created its facade, was mailed out by banker W.H. Coltharp in 1916. All 80,000 bricks were delivered from Salt Lake to Vernal. (Source: Fantastic Facts)