Milam County Texas Archives
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  Contributed by: Milam County Genealogical Society

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(Copied from Post Offlce files 1936-1939)

James A. Muir was First Postmaster: Of the 17 Only Five are Now Livlng

The Rockdale Post Office was established as an offce of the Pourth Class on October 20, 1873, since which time fifteen men and two women have served as postmaster. Names and dates follow:

James A. Muir Oct 20, 1873 - Mar 03, 1874
Robert Doenicke Mar 03, 1874 - Jun 06, 1876
Milton Anthony Jun 06, 1876 - Apr 26, 1877

The office was advanced to the Third Class on Jan 01, 1879

Albert G. Wilcox Apr 26, 1877- Apr 14, 1882
Herndon C. Travers Apr 14, 1882 - Mar 26, 1889
John C. Witcher Mar 26, 1889 - Nov 18, 1892
Hugh L. Witcher Nov 18, 1892 - Mar 30, 1893
W. B. Woody Mar 30, 1893 - May 17, 1897
Miss Esta Witcher May 17, 1897- Apr 25, 1901
E. J. M. Hopkins Apr 25, 1901- Jan 14, 1909
B. Loewenstein Jan 14, 1909 - May 20,1913

The offlce was advanced to the Second Class on Jul 01, 1911

John A. Shapard May 20, 1913 - Jan, 1918
Herman P. Talley (Acting) Jan 19, 1918 - Apr 01, 1918
Mrs. Nannie Shapard Apr 01, 1918 - Oct 24, 1918
Herman P. Talley Oct 24, 1918 - Jul 07, 1923
Elmer I. Wade Jul 07, 1923 - Dec 24, 1927
H. H. Turner Jan 01, 1928 - May 13, 1936
John Esten Cooke May 13, 1936 - Jun 01, 1940
Mrs. Leona Cooke Jun 01, 1940 - Mar 01, 1941
Clyde Franklin Mar 01, 1941- Nov 30, 1963
Sam P. Peebles, Jr. Nov 30, 1963 - Present P. M.

Rockdale raised from Second Class to First Class Post Office Jul 01, 1953.

James A. Muir, the first postmaster, was a brother of the writer of this story. He was editor and publisher of the Milam County Messenger, published at Cameron, and when the railroad reached Rockdale he moved his paper to this city and changed the name to The Rockdale Messenger, which is still being published under the merger name of Reporter and Messenger by William H. Cooke, son of the present postmaster. Muir was a native of Petersburg, Virginia. He lived a useful and honorable life in Rockdale, and died in 1897.

Robert Doenicke was appointed to succeed Muir in 1874. Very little is known of his record in Rockdale.

Milton Anthony, third postmaster, was a practicing physician in both Cameron and Rockdale. He was a native of Augusta, Ga. His only son, Hon. Ed. L. Anthony, was an attorney, and was appointed congressman to fill the unexpired term of Roger Q. Mills.

Albert G. Wilcox was appointed postmaster in 1877. He was an attorney and served as trustee of the Rockdale schools. He was married to Miss Julia Fullenwilder, moved to El Paso, where he served as district judge.

(Copied from Rockdale Reporter dated Aug 31st, 1939)

Herndon C. Travers was postmaster when the off~ce was advanced to the Third Class. He was a special speaker, whose services were sought on all public occasions. He was president of the leading clubs while serving as postmaster and was one of the principals in a notable double wedding to Miss Shelby Raby of Gatesville; the two other principals were J. Sid Hudson and Miss Emma York.

John C. Witcher was made postmaster in 1889. The Witcher Family was prominent in the early days of the city. John C. Witcher located here in 1883, as a contractor and builder. When the town was incorporated in June 1874, he was elected city marshal and served four years during which there were some turbulent times.

Hugh L. Witcher succeeded John C. Witcher in 1892. He entered the mercantile business with J. R. Rowland, who later sold his interest to J. F. Coffield, Sr., the firm becoming known as Witcher and Coffield. He later served the city as Alderman and Mayor, and in 1884 was married to Miss Ruth Stribling.

William B. Woody became postmaster in 1893. He was a native of Virginia, and at the age of 16 he had enlisted in the Confederate Army, serving in the Army of Northern Virginia, and surrendering with General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox at the age of 18 years. With his wife he came to Rockdale in 1875, and both died and are buried here. He was a member of the early mercantile firm of Woody and Perry and later had responsible connection with several industrial, mining, and manufacturing concerns. In his later life he was prominent in all ax-Confederate affairs.

Miss Esta Witcher was appointed postmaster on May 17, 1897. With the late C. K. Stribling as her assistant, her term was the most satisfactory in the life of the city up to that time.

Elias J. M. Hopkins succeeded Miss Witcher. Prior to his taking the off~ce he operated an ice factory in Rockdale and during his term he was also in the grocery business. He died and was buried in Huntsville on Sept. 30, 1938.

Benjamin Loewenstein was appointed postmaster in January 1909, serving under two administrations. He was a native of Prussia, but came to Rockdale in 1873, where with his brother Joe he opened a mercantile store under the firm name of B. Loewenstein & Brother. From a modest beginning the business grew until it occupied three modern brick buildings. He was a public spirited man, and was identified with every forward movement of the city; was member of the first school board, helped build the German-American Academy, and helped organize the First National Bank in 1890. He made a good postmaster and during his administration the office was advanced to the rating of Second Class on July 1, 1911. In the early 80's he built one of the finest homes in Rockdale. This home remained in the ownership of the heirs until 1938, when it was sold to the Government, and on the site now stands the $70,000 Federal Building which will be dedicated Monday September 4, 1939.

John A. Shapard was named postmaster under the Wilson administration in 1913, and served until January 1918, when he died suddenly at his desk, after engaging in the sport of snow-balling. He was a native Texan, having been born at Richmond, Texas, August 31, 1850. He was raised on a farm and learned the printer's trade on the old Brenham Enquirer. He located in Rockdale in 1881, and worked on the old Messenger, and later on The Reporter & Messenger. He was a Democrat of the old school, and a fine all-round citizen.

When Shapard died Herman P. Talley, his assistant, was named Acting Postmaster, serving as such until April 1, 1918, when Mrs. Nannie Shapard (Mr. Shapard's widow) was named by recess appointment to succeed in that capacity. She served until October of that same year, at which time Mr. Talley was appointed regular postmaster.

Talley resigned to take up the practice of law, and Elmer 1. Wade, was named postmaster and received his commission on December 19, 1923. Mr. Wade was killed in an unfortunate accident in front of the post office on Christmas Eve night, 1927.

(Copied from Rockdale Reporter dated Aug 31st, 1949)

Homer H. Turner, assistant postmaster, was appointed Acting Postmaster after the death of Wade, and received his commission for regular appointment in April 1928. He served until May 13, 1936, when he was succeeded by postmaster John E. Cooke, who for 25 years had been editor and publisher of The Rockdale Reporter.

John Esten Cooke, a public-spirited southern gentleman, active in civic affairs, past President of Rockdale School Board and past Worshipful Master of Rockdale Lodge 414 A. F. & A. M., father of William H. Cooke, now owner and publisher of The Rockdale Reporter, and Mrs. J. C. Wallis, now residing in Rockdale.

Mrs. Leona Cooke, widow of John E. Cooke served the remainder of this appointment.

Cbde Franklin, it appears, served longer than any other postmaster, 22 years, 8 months and 29 days before retirement. He was a veteran of First World War, a kind and public spirited gentleman in every respect. He lived and served his day well. His unstinting public services will long be remembered as the very best. Unfortunately, he is now nearly blind and resides at 516 West Cameron, in Rockdale.

Present Postal Employees

Sam P. Peebles, Jr., present postmaster, resides at 501 East Belton in Rockdale. He and his wife, the former "Bootsie" Camp, have two children, a son, Parker, and a daughter, Patti. Sam is a continuance of all the characteristics of the good postmasters we have had in the past.

Present postal employees include: assistant postmaster, Robert N. "Babe" Baker, clerks, Vesper Christian and Clifford Caffey; carriers, Louis Rinn,, Rufus Graves, Lester Hirt, Forrest Lee Pounders, Wilhelm Backhaus, Alfred Garza, and Glen Frie; custodians, John Mendoza and Charlie Denmon.

(Researched by W. F. Sange)

The Soil Conservation Service established a work unit office in Rockdale in November of 1940. The first Soil Conservation Service employees were W. F. Saage, work unit conservationist, and Allyn Bennett, engineer.

The primary function of the Soil Conservation-Service is to assist landown,ers and operators through legally organized soil and water conservation districts to plan and apply soil, water, plant and wildlife conservation programs on their farms and ranches. The Soil Conservation Service also provides consultive technical services in planning and applying needed conservation treatment to urban and industrial areas, school and church grounds, airports, roads and highways where erosion or soil conditions are problems.

The main objectives of the Soil Conservation Service programs are to make efficient and economical use of soil, water, and plant resources, minimize erosion by wind and water, beautify the landscape, enhance wildlife and recreational opportunities and reduce pollution of water supplies in streams and reservoirs.

The Rockdale work unit was also a training center for SCS personnel. As personnel completed their training, they were transferred to other SCS work unit offices in the state. Some of those who received their training in the Rockdale office were later promoted to positions of greater responsibilities in area offices, two to the state and one to the Washington office.

During the time that the Rockdale work unit was in operation quite a number of personnel worked in and out of the office. A number of the personnel were employed here long enough to become residents of Rockdale with their families and became a part of and were active in the affairs of the town and community. These were E. R. Neuman, Gerald Draper, Newell N. Newman, Herbert Armstrong, Gus Johnson, Bill Meadows, Alvin Camp, R. C. Barnes, Bronson Hanks, Leroy Werchan, Robert Lee Bounds, and Mrs. Eleanor Weems.

From November of 1942 to July of 1952 the Rockdale SCS office was also designated as a district office. W. F. Saage was the district conservationist. The district office supervised SCS personnel and conservation work in ten SCS work unit offices and served as SCS representative in relations with the governing bodies of four soil and water conservation districts.

The last employees were W. F. Saage, Newell N. Newman and Herbert Armstrong who served most oftheir entire careers with the SCS in Rockdale. Upon their retirement from the SCS in 1969 the office was closed. SCS services are now available to the Rockdale community from the Cameron field office.

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