This page represents our first attempt to organize what we think we know about the early history of the Albany post office. Like all of our offerings, its focus is intended to be biographical and functional as it related to the emergence of the city of Albany. It is a skeletal and premature compilation of real and reminiscent references. That we know. Help us to do better!
The permanent Post Office in Albany seems to date to the 1770s. Prior to that, letters and other "mail" seems to have been carried by individuals on horseback over the Albany Post Road or by boat to and from New York and from Albany to its hinterland and beyond. The published papers of Sir William Johnson are full of references to the movement of mail by individuals!
In 1730, the provincial postmaster advertised for someone to carry the mail between New York and Albany. Based in his Albany home, merchant Henry Van Schaack served as postmaster from 1757 to 1771. By that time, he had been superseded by newcomer John Monier, who served until the outbreak of war in 1775. Centrally located innkeeper Richard Cartwright served as deputy postmaster for much of that time.
In 1775, the Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Frankilin as the first American postmaster. Abraham Yates, Jr. appears to have been Albany's first postmaster - serving under the auspices of the United States during the 1780s if not before!
By 1795, the Post Office was located on Market Street home and then in the back room of the home of Dr. Mancius. Following his father's death in 1808, Jacob Mancius succeeded in the post office in the house on the corner of State and Broadway. That building was torn down in 1861.
Printers (for example, Solomon Southwick) often were named postmaster.
Letter carrier William B. Winne was the known as the "three penny post" and has been made famous in an early twentieth century silhouette.
In 1816, the Post Office address was 353 North Market Street. Albany patrician Solomon Van Rensselaer served as postmaster in Albany from 1822 to 1839 and again from 1841-43.
Trains had taken over the mail service by 1840. Glen Curtiss made the first mail flight from an airstrip on Castle Island to New York in May 1910.
Sources: Website of the Empire State Postal History Society. De Lisle, Kenneth R., The W.L.L. Peltz Collection of Albany Postal History: the Hudson River Mail, 1804-1858 (Albany Institute of History and Art). History related website from the USPS.
posted privately 1/10/04; last considered 6/26/17