End of an era: Kilbourne Post Office closed after 180 years


KILBOURNE — Operations were suspended, the doors shut and locked promptly at 4:30 p.m., and the sign turned to “Closed.”

That’s how the almost 180-year uninterrupted run of the Kilbourne Post Office came to an end last Friday.

In the lobby, patrons buzzed in and out, checking their mail boxes one last time, turning their keys in and saying goodbye to Jessica Lilly, who has worked at the office since November 2015. Lilly’s job extended beyond just conducting daily business, she had become part of the community, like the old post office itself.

“Older people said they have only known this location as the only post office,” she said. “People are disappointed because it’s been convenient.”

The holiday season was an especially busy time for the small office, Lilly said, because people tried avoid the Delaware location that time of year.

The Kilbourne post office was closed because “the deterioration of the entire building has created an unhealthy environment,” according to the U.S. Postal Service. There is no running water or restroom in the building. Since operations are only suspended, maybe some day the office will be reopened, Lilly said.

In an Aug. 1 letter to residents, Post Office Operations Manager David Huelsbeck stated … “the building is in need of repairs. … the Post Office is located in just a portion of the of the total building. The other part of the building has become unsafe and unhealthy to occupy causing unsafe and unhealthy conditions in our facility. … the deterioration of the entire building has created an unhealthy environment.”

Several historical documents were found in the office safe. After gaining permission from the Delaware Post Office, The Gazette was given the opportunity to copy the unclassified documents for this report.

The U.S. Post Office opened in Kilbourne in October 1837 with Coton M. Thrall as its first postmaster, according to a brief history left behind by Postmaster Joan G. Will, dated October 1993. Will was one of the 24 postmasters who served the people of Kilbourne. She ran the office from April 1990 to June 1995.

Among the documents was a list of postmasters of the Kilbourne office. Delia A. Knapp was the first woman to be appointed postmaster, taking the job in May 1885. The last person to serve as postmaster was Kathy D. Nolting, appointed in September 2000.

The Kilbourne location was converted to a remotely-managed post office under the direction of the postmaster of the Delaware Post Office in May 2014.

In a March 1, 1878 document, the Second Assistant Postmaster General requested the exact location of the Kilbourne office for U.S. Post Office maps. In another document dated July 1894, the topography department requested the correct spelling of Kilbourne.

The First Assistant Postmaster General requested the location of the new post office in 1934, for the official map, because the office had been relocated. According to the documentation, the office has possibly moved five times during its history.

According to an Official Program for Bicentennial Day in 1976, small community post offices used to be more than a place to pick up the mail and purchase stamps, “they specialized in extra service that could not be gotten in city post offices.” The post office was also “a place to keep up on the local gossip.”

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Patrons of the Kilbourne Post Office checked their mail boxes for the last time Friday before the office suspended operations and locked the doors.
http://www.morrowcountysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2017/08/web1_DSC_4809F.jpgPatrons of the Kilbourne Post Office checked their mail boxes for the last time Friday before the office suspended operations and locked the doors. D. Anthony Botkin | Aim Media Midwest

The U.S. Post Office at Kilbourne closed its doors Friday for the final time. Reasons cited included the condition of the building and the possible health and safety issues related to the age of the structure. Patrons will now receive mail at their homes for the first time ever. The post office has been in existence for almost 180 years.
http://www.morrowcountysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2017/08/web1_DSC_4815F.jpgThe U.S. Post Office at Kilbourne closed its doors Friday for the final time. Reasons cited included the condition of the building and the possible health and safety issues related to the age of the structure. Patrons will now receive mail at their homes for the first time ever. The post office has been in existence for almost 180 years. D. Anthony Botkin | Aim Media Midwest

By D. Anthony Botkin

abotkin@delgazette.com

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.