Look Back: Low water, robber trouble for post office

Historical newspaper excerpts from the Wood County Historical Society

Photos provided by Jeff Little

An earlier Look Back included an 1893 puzzle involving an attractive young lady, a somewhat baffled postal clerk, a dollar bill, and stamps. The question was asked if any of today’s readers could figure out the correct proportion of 1, 2, and 3 cent stamps that could be purchased with the dollar. Richard Hartley, of Cairo, submitted a solution that could be conceived to work, but it wasn’t exactly what the young lady requested.

The two responses shared in the April 12, 1893 edition of the Parkersburg Daily State Journal follow:

Can’t be solved

Editor State Journal. Your “Postage Stamp Problem” cannot possibly be solved, and come out exactly. Probably the pretty mathematician can inform us of the sleight ‘o hand part of it.


To the puzzle editor State Journal

Your “Stamp Puzzle” of last night is worse than the “13, 14, 15” puzzle because it is impossible.

The sum of the ones and twos must represent some multiple of 9, and there is no multiple of 9 which if subtracted from 100 leaves a remainder divisible by 3.


Staunton Turnpike

The Staunton and Parkersburg Mail Coaches commenced running last week. The teams are in fine order, and appear as though they could take the passengers through in the quickest possible time. Thus far [several] passengers have been brought to and taken from our place by this line. We hope the travel on this road may increase and richly repay Proprietor Hieskell for his enterprise. The days of departure are Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The Parkersburg Gazette

July 8, 1847


River mail

We learn that a contract has been entered into with the Post Office Department to carry a tri-weekly mail, between Parkersburg and Wheeling, by steamboat. Our surprise is not so great, that this arrangement has at length been made, as that it was not made years since. It has ever been a mystery to us that the towns and densely populated neighborhoods, bordering on our noble river, should enjoy such vast natural facilities as to commerce and yet to be denied them as to its chief hand-maid, the mail.

Excerpt from the Parkersburg Gazette

Jan. 14, 1847


The mail

The Ohio river continues at so low a stage that the mail boat cannot perform her usual trips, so that we have been most woefully behind hand in the receipt of exchanges for this week. We trust that the water will soon rise to such a stage that will favor us with a sight of the Arrowhead [the mail boat] or her consort — for, we learn, the Clipper will take the place of the first named steamer so soon as the river rises.

The Parkersburg Gazette Courier

Sept. 28, 1850


Burglars rob the post office at Nicolette

When the clerks at the store of the Nicolette Lumber Company at Nicolette, three miles east of the city, opened the place of business this morning, they discovered that burglars had made a visit there during the night and Postmaster Frank Wilson was immediately notified, the post office being located in the store building.

When Mr. Wilson arrived he found that the safe in which the cash and money were kept had been broken open and, about ninety dollars in stamps and cash were missing, the greater amount being in stamps.

It is believed that it was committed by yaggmen traveling along the railroad.

Excerpt from the Parkersburg Weekly Journal

Aug. 21, 1914


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical Society. Would you like to help preserve our past for future generations? The society offers informative monthly meetings and an interesting, 20-page quarterly newsletter. Dues are just $20/year. Send to: WCHPS, P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.