The history of the post office in Rochelle


In 1848 Hiram Spaulding, Alba Hall, Amos Story, David Stiles, Jerry Barber, Caleb Boyce and several of their friends headed west from New York.

They settled in the wild lands of Illinois. A small creek and a beautiful grove of Hickory trees enticed the travelers to homestead. They named their settlement Hickory Grove. It was 1849 when President Zachary Taylor appointed Alba Hall to the position of postmaster for the area.

The first post office was located in the home of Amos Story next to the creek. Alba Hall, David Stiles and Jerry Barber bought a small parcel of land about a mile north of the downtown in 1850. The land was located east of today’s Illinois Route 251 and south of Kyte Creek. The location was selected because the Frick and Walker stage coach route from Rockford had a depot there. The post office was moved with the postmaster.

Franklin Pierce became president and appointed David Stiles as postmaster in 1853. David moved the post office back to town and into the Gardner Building at 301 Lincoln Highway. The town had changed its name from Hickory Grove to Lane Station. Dr. Lane was an honored physician and real estate promoter.

The post office moved again in 1854 to 418 Cherry Ave. New national elections brought new political appointments. James Buchanan became president and Jerry Barber was appointed postmaster in 1857. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Caleb Boyce in 1861 and in 1865 Lane was renamed to today’s Rochelle.

President Ulysses Grant, in 1869, appointed John Hoteling to the position of postmaster. John moved the post office to 300 Lincoln Highway. John became ill and the position of postmaster was passed to Henry Glenn.

Grover Cleveland was elected to the presidency and appointed W.J. Furlong to postmaster in 1884. For a short while, the post office remained on Cherry Avenue. Benjamin Harrison appointed A.W. Hartong in 1888 and kept the post office on Cherry. It was in 1892 when postmaster A.B. Pool moved the post office to 306 Lincoln Highway.

President William McKinney appointed George Dicus to the postmaster position in 1896, and George moved the post office to his place of employment on the corner of Lincoln Highway and Lincoln Avenue. Today, the Standard gas station occupies the location.

The postal service covered the town of Rochelle and three rural routes. There were three mail carriers and they covered the fifty-four-mile route twice a week. By 1930 there were four rural routes and 148 miles to be covered and these routes were completed daily.

President Woodrow Wilson came into office and another postmaster was replaced. John Coleman became postmaster in 1912 and served only a short while before he passed away and the position was moved to John Kahler. The post office itself was moved to 413 4th Ave.

To make it easier to follow the travels of the post office, I have used current addresses. Some of the buildings no longer exist, the addresses used are as close to the original location I am able to find. The point though, is that the post office at times seemed to move faster than the mail.

Land at 4th Avenue and Lincoln Highway was purchased in 1909 from Ms. Laura Gardner for around $7,000. It was in 1914 that the current post office was built on the corner with a price tag of $55,000. A commitment was made to establishing a permanent government facility in Rochelle.

For more than 100 years the post office has remained at the same location and hopefully will stay for 100 more.

Tom McDermott Is a Flagg Township Museum historian and Rochelle city councilman.

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