Parcel Post Children

The short-lived event may not have affected your ancestors personally, but then again maybe it did.

A major innovation came to the US Post Office system by the 20th century. They were now going to carry and deliver large parcels and packages through the US mail. Any package prior to the 20th century was handled and delivered by private delivery companies.

This new Post Office Parcel Post began officially on January 1, 1913 and opened the door to small towns and rural areas now having mail-order products delivered to their door. This was truly a great advancement, probably for your ancestors also.

People came up with some creative ideas. An Ohio couple named Jesse and Mathilda Beagle from Glen Este sent their 8-month-old son, James to his grandmother, who lived just a few miles away in Batavia. The baby weighed 11 pounds so he met the weight limit for packages. The delivery cost was just 15 cents for postage. As with any package, there could also be insurance for him which they did for the value of $50. Now the baby was never wrapped in paper or in a box but a normal baby in his regular clothes. This was a method to get a child transported to another location by a much less expensive method, such as a train car. The cost of postage was much less than a train ticket. The required stamps were attached to the outside of the child’s clothing. Plus rural communities trusted their local postal workers. Each baby or child was carried or walked the route with an adult postal worker. It was known then as ‘Baby Mail’.

The longest trip taken by a “mailed” child took place in 1915 when a six-year-old girl traveled from her mother’s home in Pensacola, Florida, to her father’s home in Christiansburg, Virginia via a mail train. The cost was 15 cents.

The practice was not overly used but occasionally practiced a few times over the next several years. It was the First Assistant Postmaster General Koons who stated that officially children would not be transported by the US Mail as of June 13, 1920. After the end of parcel order children, any kids traveling on a train, bus or later a plane had to be accompanied by an adult.

Photos: Staged publicity photos of the 1910s.

Related Blogs:

US Postal Service

Railroad Systems

E-Mail Week

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