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McRea Post Office


McRea Post Office Momento

By Jerry B. Devol

            One of the naturally great pleasures in the collection of county postal history is to discover a postal marking from an office long missing from one’s collection.  A year ago I was missing 23 of the 151 offices that had existed in Washington County, and the McRea office would have seemed one of the least likely to turn up due to its very short life. 

            The McRea Post Office was established at the village of Milltown, about one mile north of Newport, 16 November 1893, in the store of Moses E. Hanna Jr.  He was its first and only postmaster.  After serving some 150 citizens of Milltown and a total of 400 including surrounding farms for about 20 months, the McREa office was discontinued 11 July 1895, with mail going to the Newport Post Office.  The closing of this tiny office was probably due in part to the illness of Postmaster Hanna; he died four months later, at the age of 33 years. 

            Moses E. Hanna was born in Monroe County in 1861 and came to Newport as a child.  In 1885 he was employed as a butcher; by 1890 he acquired his own shop on Main Street.  He undoubtedly was acquainted with the Rev. Thomas Ison McRa (1954-1933) of Monongahela County, West Virginia, who was well liked in the Newport-Lawrence Methodist circuit in the 1880s.  It appears that the little office of Milltown was so named after the Reverend McRa in spite of the misspelling of his name. 

            Following the demise of Moses Hanna and the McRea Post Office, the store was taken over and operated for many years by Hugh Henry.  Another post office was established at Milltown on 22 June 1897, but it was installed in the larger store near the bridge over Dana’s run toward Newport—Bevan Brothers, with James A. Bevan as postmaster.  His younger brother, Harmen E. Bevan, took over the Bevan Post Office in 1903 and kept it for 30 years until it closed 8 September 1932, mail going to Newport. 

            About 40 years after Hugh Henry locked his store for the last time, a great auction sale was held there in 1983.  Some fine collectors’ items were sold out of the old store and out-buildings.  The natives and bidders were shocked when a handful of cigarette baseball cards from the 1910s brought $1100.00.  While rooting in boxes of junk, I found some envelopes, including eleven bearing postal markings of McRea, Ohio.  Fortunately for me, no one at the auction was interested in old letters, so I got them cheap. The McRea postmarks ran from 5 May 1894 through 22 May 1895.

            I’m still missing example postal marking from the following Washington County post offices: Aurelius 1850s; Barber 1850s; Cat’s Creek Mills 1813-1817; Corner 1890-1902; Cornerville 1890s; Devol’s Dam 1880s; Gray 1873-1889; Halfway 1890s; Hope 1890s; Liberty Hill 1855-1865; Limburg 1890s; Lower Lawrence 1846-1867; Maxon 1901; McGuire 1840s; McIntosh 1830s; Mildred 1898-1902; Olds 1855-1863; Olga 1888-1899; Parker 1880s; Prosperity 1898-1902; Rinard’s Mills 1846; and Warfield 1880s.  Most of these probably exist in manuscript only.  I will pay good prices for examples of any of the above:--J. B. D.

Tallow Light, Vol. 18, No. 2