Shelby County Postal Routes During the Republic by David Swanzy

March 24, 2016 - On April 1, a new issue of “We the People of Shelby County” will be available for free access at Featured will be early Shelby County communities that were served with post offices. Specifics include some of our little-known postal routes in operation during the years of the Republic of Texas. Fortunately, after that, our post offices after statehood (1845) are well documented.

An early and relatively rare article, "The Postal System of the Republic of Texas," written by W.L. Newsom and appearing in the October 1916 issue of the “Southwestern Historical Quarterly,” states that the first postal route in Texas dates back to about 1835. First, mail service to the United States from the Republic was established "from San Felipe de Austin to Cantonment Jessup" in Louisiana. Very soon after that, an ordinance of the General Council of Texas was passed, providing that a postal route be established from the General Post Office (San Felipe de Austin) to the principal town in each municipality. "These routes were to go into operation as soon as contracts could be made…for transporting the mails and for determining post-roads …."
Almost exactly one year later, the Congress of the Republic of Texas authorized several routes, one of which was "from Liberty, via Jasper and San Augustine to Nashville in Shelby County." Then, by May of 1838 a series of additional routes, including "Shelbyville, in Shelby County, to the town of Milam, in Sabine County, via Hamilton on the Sabine River," was authorized. Such routes ran either weekly or bi-weekly.
In January of 1839, several other weekly routes were established throughout Texas, including "San Augustine to Port Caddo, via Shelbyville and Shelton's Store." (Readers: Does anyone know the location of Shelton's Store?) Then, in February of 1840 many of the postal routes were abolished, undoubtedly for economic reasons, with only thirty-six remaining in the Republic. Those remaining included "San Augustine to Port Caddo, via Shelbyville…." and "Jefferson to Hamilton, via Shelbyville…" Minor revisions of these Republic routes were made rather frequently until Texas entered the United States in 1845.