Mail Route

1875 When I came to St. John’s, St. Joseph was still the only Post Office. It had originally been called Clinton P.O., which name was changed to St. Joseph, or “St. Joe”, as it is commonly called by high and low, to correspond with the name of the village. There was only one train a day each way-a “stub” composed of an engine and one or two coaches which ran between Sauk Rapids and Alexandria, the western terminal at the time. The station house- a little red structure – stood on the south side of the track; the agent was a big, one-eyed Norwegian, by name of Colbertson (if that spelling be correct) who had also charge of the express and telegraph. Here St. John’s (or St. Louis) got its mail once a day. Brother Thaddeus (everyone called him B. Taddy) drove in every afternoon on a springless lumber wagon drawn by two powerful, well fed horses which were not more anxious than Taddy himself to make time. The Brother, with his shabby coat, broad-brimmed hat, short pipe in mouth sat meditatively on his seat and let the nags amble on, convinced that St. Joe would wait. Arrived in the Village, he would drive to the station (or “deep-o”) and get what human or other freight there might be, also the mail in a sack (the kind potatoes are kept in). Then he would, if he had time, call on the pastor, take his lunch, and drive home at walk, arriving about 5 p.m. Apparently an easy task, but, I imagine, monotonous enough and scarcely attractive during the winter. Poor B. Taddy probably learned lessons in patience in that way. I drove from St. Joe with him a few times; it was slow, I could have done it afoot in less time, but would have been more tired – although less shaken. He was driver for many years; had, before 1875 and before the railroad was built through, been mail driver by ox team from St. Cloud, I am told. Gradually he grew older and slower – so much so that Abbot A. E. removed him.

(written 1918, by Rev. Alexius Hoffmann, O.S.B.) (typed: Dec. 9, 1939)

Located in ARC folder:
St. John’s University: History – 1857-1907 – Index / Alexius Hoffmann