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Charles Sterry returned from New York to Tolland
When Charles Sterry returned from New York to Tolland, the household was, Charles and his wife Elizabeth, (Lizzie), his father Samuel with his second wife Harriet (Hattie), and their young son, George, age seven.
Their family property was small for a farm of the time. In order to advance the family standing, Charles with experience in running a business established a delivery service to and from the Rockville section of Vernon. (I do not know his predecessor in this activity.) Charles was a good record keeper, maintaining a separate page for each of his customers. Some of his records survive and are available through the Tolland Historical Society.
Charles made as many as two tips a day transporting both parcels and passengers. A convenient addition was to pick up and deliver mail to and from the Rockville and Tolland Post offices. Charles maintained his contract of delivery with the postal service for many years.
During the blizzard of March, 1889, the snow was too deep to travel using horse or oxen. But the mail was waiting. From period newspaper accounts and oral histories, we learn that for three days (five depending on your source) Charles walked the ten mile round trip. While there was little mail the Tolland Bank and maybe county business was considered important.
To find his way and to make the trip less difficult, Charles walked on the top of stone walls or followed fence posts. This dedication surely was probably taken into account in his appointment as post master in 1903. This position did not require his full attention, his wife could deal with customers in his absence. Charles continued his delivery service.
His father Samuel as farming undoubtably allowed, continued his leather work. There is evidence that Samuel at one time had an apprentice. Charles learned the trade from his father and established a strong reputation.
In 1922 Charles purchased a house on Tolland Green, (now number 55 and the first home of the Tolland Historical Society) maintaining the post office there and some retail activities. The post office remained there until it moved north of the green to the present child care facility. Later it moved to its present location a bit further north.)
Being in the public eye Charles and his wife Lizzie were in a position to be active in town affairs. Lizzie was active in what is now the Congregational church. Charles is reported to have attended.
Submitted by Peter C. Palmer
Copyright January 2016, Tolland Historical Society