Clay County’s mail delivery and dating customs different a century ago

Mary Jo McTammany
Posted 10/25/17

Nothing indicates that young Fyd Thomas set out to be a mail carrier in order to find the love of his life but that’s what ended up happening.

Fyd’s given name was Lafayette but family and …

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Clay County’s mail delivery and dating customs different a century ago

Posted

Nothing indicates that young Fyd Thomas set out to be a mail carrier in order to find the love of his life but that’s what ended up happening.

Fyd’s given name was Lafayette but family and friends soon shortened that to “Fette” and then just “Fyd.” He lived in an area near where the Green Cove Springs, Starke and Middleburg roads intersect. The vicinity got the name of “Waller” when Nick Waller established a post office there.

Homesteads and other settlements now lost in memories were widely separated by distance and a dense network of creeks. People only got together at one of the two area churches, Beulah Baptist and Union Baptist, when the circuit ministers made a periodic visit.

They kept in touch with each other and the outside world through the regular visits of the rural mail delivery man.

Fyd Thomas was barely more than a boy when he began delivering mail in the neighborhood where he grew up. His first notions to bid for the job were nipped in the bud at the onset. His father refused to submit the paperwork or allow his sons to participate because the other bidder had only one leg and the job was considered easier than cutting timber or chasing cows. It was his conviction that they were all able bodied and better be grateful.

But Fyd was destined to deliver the mail and, after a time, “Doc” Harris got the contract and hired him. In about 1915, Fyd got the route for himself and considered himself in high cotton because he was making $1.50 a day doing what he loved best – visiting with people and riding a horse or driving a buggy through the woods around Black Creek.

The job was by no means easy. Roads were mostly trails and dotted with creek crossings and low ground. Too little rain and the sand dragged the mule and the buggy wheels to a near stop.

One day a real frog strangler loosened the bridge at Mill Creek from its foundation. It was floating. Fyd secured the scarred leather mailbags under his feet, held his breath and drove onto the now pontoon bridge. The weight settled the bridge back onto the supports and he made it across.

Another time he put his saddlebags on his head and swam his mule to the other side.

Fyd started his route at Nick Waller’s store and post office stopping at mailboxes along the way. He wound his was to Middleburg along about noon. With time to kill until the train arrived with mail from points north, he settled on the porch of Chalker’s Store for a lunch of potted meat, crackers and cheese.

With all this to and fro, Fyd, ever alert for opportunities, managed to court his future wife, Ellen Conway, to boot. She took to finding some chore that required her to be on the front porch when Fyd stopped at the mailbox and before long the two married and shared a long and happy marriage.

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