Walnut Hill Post Office Bicentennial Year
By Cris Cawthon-
History should never be forgotten; it is the foundation of our future that will help change us to be better than before. History tells a story of our ancestors, and those we so greatly desire to carry the torch after. From generation to generation, we have seen old buildings torn down, historic papers lost in dwelling fires, and great story tellers of our time die off. Although a building may no longer stand, the story must continue to be told.
The Walnut Hill Post office was established on April 7, 1821 under the name Farmington, Illinois which was located then in Jefferson County, Illinois. It is said to possibly be the oldest post office in the State of Illinois.
It all began with Rufus Ricker who was appointed as the first postmaster. Mr. Ricker had the post office in his tavern on the southwest corner of the intersection of Goshen Road (Walnut Hill Road) and Woods Lane.
Later, in 1831 through 1845, Israel Jennings became the new postmaster, and he relocated the post office into his trading post which was located on the southeast corner of the intersection.
On January 23, 1823, Marion County was formed and on September 1, 1823, the name of the post office changed from Farmington to Walnut Hill. During this time, Samuel Gaston was appointed to serve as postmaster.
In times past, it was not unusual for a post office to be in a home or business. When a new postmaster was named, that person determined its location. That is until November 28, 1845 when Walnut Hill Post Office moved into the village under the new postmaster William Cunningham.
Walnut Hill Post office relocated many times but never stopped being of service to the locals. Other locations of the Walnut Hill Post office were in Dornton Baldridge Kell’s store, then in a store building located north of the bank. In 1924, the post office was relocated to the east side of Ola Cruzen Beal’s home and it remained there for 37 years. In June of 1963, when Velta Gilliland was named postmaster, she relocated the post office in the Gilliland’s store which was located on the Southwest corner of Main and Harrison. A few years later it was moved to a small building on the east side of Harrison Street in the block between Main and Jefferson Street. The current location is at 61 Harrison St.
Pictured above: Current Walnut Hill Post Office