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Early Postal Service in Sandwich - Part 5

Early 1900s - Women Postmasters

By Kaethe O’Keefe Maguire

By 1889 the Sandwich Observer newspaper reported that there were 300 women in charge of post offices in the nation.  Over the years many women took up the role working right out of their own homes.


In his book Cape Cod, Henry David Thoreau declared that "the mail was delivered on Cape Cod by post mistresses and they were the best!".


Mr. John Richardson, a member of the Society of Friends, reported that in his travels through Sandwich that women for the most part had taken on the role of Post Mistress. [1]


By 1895 Miss L.B. Taber was post Mistress of Spring Hill, and Mrs. Rebecca Ewer was in the same position in East Sandwich. As reported earlier Miss Sallie Cozzens, eventually replaced Miss Taber after her death as the Post Mistress of Spring Hill. [2]This post office was located at 379 Route 6A, or the Old King’s Highway.

Anna Fish had a home at Talbot’s Point near the rail road crossing where Joseph Ewer was born and she served as Post Mistress for East Sandwich out of her home.


A notable Sandwich character who played many roles in town, and was a longtime Sandwich Selectman, George McLaughlin, who had a lovely Victorian style home in Jarvesville, no longer there, was also a post master. 

The Sandwich Observer quotes an article in the Boston Herald about Mr. McLaughlin that is reflective of the character of the man.

It seems that in 1885 following the inauguration of President Cleveland a delegation of Provincetown Democrats wanted to oust their current post master, always a political appointment. McLaughlin listened carefully to them and then replied.  “Gentlemen, in as much as your present postmaster is a Union soldier with a bullet hole in his throat and suits the people in his place, I do not feel it is my duty to interfere; but if you will bring me a good Democrat with two bullet holes in his body, I will consider the matter.”[3]


Mr. McLaughlin did not perform his duties as post master without the help of women who eventually replaced him upon his death. 

While he was confined to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton for several months Miss Ellen Wynne and Miss Edna Small kept affaires in order. [4]


By August of 1928 Edna Small was acting Post Mistress and Ellen Wynne was her assistant. They were handling huge quantities of mail since there were then 300 men stationed at Camp Edwards. [5]




[1] The Friends A Religious and Literary Journal, Philadelphia, 1866, #26 pg. 201.

[2] Barnstable Patriot 8 October 1900.

[3] The Boston Herald as cited in the Sandwich Observer, 23 July 1889. Pg.2.

[4] The Yarmouth Register 10 March 1928.

[5] The Yarmouth Register 4 August 1928.

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