Experience as Postmaster

by Ekekiel Sweet

source: Emmett Index, February 19, 1931

The first post office in that section was at Squaw Creek, now Montour, and quite often the Squaw Creek settlers had to swim the river to get their mail. Ed Marsh was the postmaster there. Later a mail route was established from Horseshoe Bend. After a time the settlers applied for the establisment of an office at Sweet and Mr. Sweet was appointed postmaster. Cal Baird was postmaster at Ola. Each of these offices had a quarterly income of about $3, but as the routine technical quarterly reports were demanded by the post office department at Washington, the duties proved burdensome to the pioneer postmasters who were more interested in looking after their herds of cattle than official duties which were not taken so seriously. Especially did they resent the form of qualifying to their accounts which involved being sworn to their reports by a notary or justice of the peace when such officers were not to be found in the entire section.

Every quarter the department officials would write them sharp letters calling their attention to the fact that they had failed to qualify to their reports. Thoroughly disgusted, Postmaster Clark finally advised the department that "if they could not take his word for such a small account, they could take the postoffice and go to h-ll." This letter brought a postoffice inspector from Washington hurriedly. Getting off the stage after a stage trip of more than four hundred miles, he entered Clark's store, which was also a saloon, where the office was. He observed Clark selling goods and decided that he would find out something about him before bringing the matter to an issue. He left and went to Sweet, where he confered with Mr. Sweet, then postmaster at Sweet. He asked Mr. Sweet if Clark was an honest man, after telling of his letter to the department. Mr. Sweet says that upon being advised of the official capacity of the inspector, he advised him that Clark was not only an honest man, but a great deal smarter than he, himself, was or that he would have written the department a similar letter long before.

"I told him that he was the very man I wanted to see as I wanted him to go over my books and see if he could not find something in them for which he could fire me as I was tired of the office."

The official remained with Mr. Sweet two weeks and returned to Washington with an entirely different view of the west and its pioneer citizens and there were no more demands made upon them for sworn reports. Upon receiving data relative to mileage and other details from Mr. Sweet, this official had a mail route established from Boise.


This article was a reprint of an earlier article and accompanied Sweet's obituary.

Presumably "Postmaster Clark" is Hugh Clark, who was appointed Horse Shoe Bend postmaster July 1870.

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