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BLOG: Post Master: 50 plus years, One family

by Peter Palmer

The position of Postmaster for a long time was an appointed position, dependent on public standing and being known to those in power.

The position of Postmaster for a long time was an appointed position, dependent on public standing and being known to those in power. Charles Sterry of Tolland was a well respected leather worker and hunting guide. In 1903 he had a contract to transport the daily mail from the post office at Rockville to the Tolland Post office. When the position of Postmaster became vacant he was appointed.

Sterry, a Tolland native lived on Old Post Road just off the Green. In 1922 he purchased the house on Tolland Green next to and north of the Tolland County Court house and established the Tolland Post office in the front room. He and family lived in the back and upstairs.

The position of Postmaster did not require that he (or she) be at the office whenever the office was open, so it is reasonable to assume that his wife and foster child attended the customers along with their daily home activities.

Charles Sterry maintained his position until 1935, throughout the changes in political structure. At his death his foster child, Bertha Place was appointed to fill the position.

Bertha Place maintained the office open for 12 hours a day, Monday through Saturday. Although Tolland had grown, it was often that she was not needed in postal activities. Being in the front of her home, she could attend personal activities. Also since it was her home she was allowed to and did maintain a separate retail activity, selling odds and ends, particularly desirable for children, various kinds of candy.

Bertha Place maintained her position continuously until in 1956 at the age of 70 she was forced to retire. After her retirement, the Post Office remained at her house until a new dedicated building was constructed north of the green. From 1903 to 1956 the position of postmaster was held in one family, a total of 53 years.


Peter Palmer
Written by:

Peter Palmer

Peter Palmer is Tolland Historical Society's Assistant to Barbara Cook and Archivist. Submissions are on behalf of the Tolland Historical Society.