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February 3, 2004 > Niles Postmasters

Niles Postmasters

The Niles Post Office was established October 8, 1873 with William Snyder as postmaster. He was paid $12 per year to handle two daily mail deliveries in his general store. Appointed by President Grant, he was reappointed in 1898 and served for eight more years. He held the position for 17 years, making his tenure the longest for any Niles postmaster.

The office was closed 30 minutes before trains departed to give Snyder time to get the mail over to the train depot. This happened four times daily and twice on Sunday in 1899. He was also the local agent for the Wells Fargo Company. Snyder was elected trustee of Niles School when the district was formed and served until his death.

William T. Dickey was appointed postmaster in 1890, and the office was moved to his store on Main Street across from the railroad depot. The Parmelee Circulating Library of 145 books was housed in Dickey's store.

J. E. Briscoe succeeded Dickey and served from 1893 to January 1898 when Snyder was reappointed.

Minnie Snyder Chalmers, William Snyder's daughter, took over the office when he died in 1905. Minnie's husband also died and she was left to make her way alone and raise her six-month old daughter. She was officially appointed postmaster February 3, 1906. Rural free delivery was established in Niles in 1904.

Minnie's daughter Georgia carried the post office receipts to the bank when she was old enough. The office was robbed twice in 1909. One time thieves stole $250 from the office safe. The sound of their work was deadened by 5,000 catalogues being mailed by the California Nursery.

John Barnard was appointed postmaster May 15, 1916. The government held a lease on the office building, and there were rumors of Barnard purchasing the lease. Barnard was a leader in forming the Citizen's Water Company and bought the local itinerant movie business from Mel Duffey.

Carolyn Kell became postmistress November 1, 1924. She married three years later and became Carolyn Orcutt. There was some confusion about where the office would be located. It was moved up and down Main Street with each change of administration. J. A. Silva constructed a new 22x26 foot post office building on J street in 1932. Frank Duarte was in charge of the carpenter work and Frank Lopes the concrete pouring.

Howard Fornier took over the office in 1933 and was confirmed April 4, 1934. Mamie Duarte was the regular assistant for ten years. Fornier's assistants for the 1934 Christmas season were Katherine Sullivan and James Cull.

Edward Enos became postmaster in 1937 but was not confirmed until April 9, 1938. Joseph L. Enos was the acting postmaster from May 15, 1944 to November 4, 1945. Edward was the postmaster the remainder of the period from 1937 until the office was consolidated with Fremont January 23, 1960.

The headlines of the Township Register for October 12, 1945 read, "Niles to Have New Post Office." There was considerable confusion about when and where, but the office was to cost $85,000.

The article continued, " All we know is that Niles is going to have a new $85,000 post office. If this were an OPA release, or Save-Waste-Paper, or War Loan release--then we'd have reams and reams of stuff to print. During the war these publicity departments have filled our waste basket daily with their stuff."

Edward Enos served his community in other ways besides handing mail that arrived five times a day. He was secretary of the Township Chamber of Commerce, The Men's Club, the Odd Fellows Lodge, and chairman of the World War II Chest and the Community Chest drives up to 1949. He was a volunteer fireman and a leader in the local chamber of commerce, Rotary Club, and Niles Merchants Association.

Niles was the first office in the area to go from first to second class. There were nine train mail dispatches daily, but the number dropped to four when trucks replaced the trains. The California Nursery, Pacific State Steel, and Kraftile made Niles a busy office.

The Niles Post Office celebrated its 78th birthday by moving into new quarters at the corner of Second and J Streets in late November 1951. The new building was owned by Mrs. J.A. Silva and was a half block west of the former building. It had 2414 square feet of space, 230 new lock boxes and served 644 rural free delivery boxes that represented 820 families. Dedication ceremonies were led by Judge Iuaresma, president of the Niles Chamber of Commerce.

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