On April 9, 2020, the Molalla Post Office will celebrate its 170th anniversary. Have pioneers been here that long? The first Oregon Trail pioneer to hoist his wagon over the Oregon City cliffs and settle at Molalla was William Hatchett Vaughan. He arrived in 1843. Following closely behind him, in 1845, was Harrison Wright, who settled at the Liberal area. Before it was named Liberal, Harrison Wright became the first Postmaster for the Molalla Post Office. He was appointed on April 9, 1850. Harrison ran the first Post Office from the kitchen table in his home. He was also a farmer and avid horse racer. He had built his own racing track on a section of his Donation Land Claim near Macksburg Road. He also built and operated the first ferry and built the first covered bridge over the Molalla River. He became a state legislator in 1859. At that time, he turned the post office duties over to his wife, while he helped establish the early government of Oregon.
Before Rural Free Delivery, mail had to be picked up at the Post Office. With the appointment of the third Postmaster, Andrew J. Stubbs, in 1875, the Molalla Post Office relocated near the Four Corners of the early Molalla town. The 19th Century Postmasters were: Harrison Wright, April 9, 1850; Post Office closed August 25, 1851 to December 2, 1868; Joseph A. Wright, January 23, 1871; Post Office closed March 27, 1874 to January 4, 1875; Andrew J. Stubbs, January 4, 1875; William A. Stubbs, June 18, 1877; Laramie Mayer, April 9, 1879; Ida G. Mayer, October 12, 1886, Delilah C. Noyer, May 19, 1888; James A. Rundle, January 29, 1889; A. L. Cornwall, February 18, 1890; Nathan M. Moody, March 10, 1892; Anna Stubbs, November 23, 1892, and Anna (Stubbs) Clifford, April 18, 1894. In February, 1935, Sidney Powers took over as Postmaster and served until 1967. The Postmaster title is used for both men and women.
Anna Clifford served as Postmaster for 42 years. She was born in 1871, at Molalla. Her father, Andrew Stubbs, was an early Postmaster. Anna married Michael Clifford and they had one child, Agnes Marie. Anna was well liked in the community. She became a widow at an early age and did not marry again.
The Post Offices
The early post offices were often operated by a store owner. Anna Clifford was Postmaster from 1892 to 1935. In the early years, she operated out of her home, which was conveniently located on the corner of East Main Street and North Molalla Avenue. In May of 1916, Anna Clifford’s house was moved 115 feet east on Main Street. The new I.O.O.F. building was built on its former location. The new building was 90’ x 100’ and two-story in height. The first story held the Huntley Drug Store and Dicken & Co. Store. The Molalla U. S. Post Office also was on the ground floor, located in the back of the building behind the Drug Store. Huntley Drug Store and Dicken & Company’s Store faced East Main Street. The Post Office faced North Molalla Avenue. In early 1942, Dicken & Co. built an additional one-story store immediately east of the I.O.O.F. Hall. It held two store sections and the Post Office was relocated in one of these store sections from 1942 to 1944. In 1944, a large fire consumed both of these buildings. The Huntley Drug Store and Dicken & Co. Store were rebuilt on this same spot. These buildings remain today and comprise almost the entire 100 block of East Main Street. From 1944 to the late 1950s, the Post Office was located in what is now the Chamber of Commerce office, at 109 East Main Street. In the early 1960s to 1976, the Post Office was moved to the back of a hardware store. The current NAPA Store now operates out of that location, at 201 East Main Street. In 1976, the present Molalla Post Office was built, at 215 Robbins Street.
An interesting sign by the front door reads: “1776, 1976, Molalla Bicentennial, To be opened for Tri-Centennial 2076”. 1976 was the 200th birthday of our nation. Molalla was celebrating and had formed a Bicentennial Committee. A bronze plaque was presented to Post Master Marvin Perkins and Bill Peterkin. Bill Peterkin, from Peterkin & Company, had donated the metal stainless steel box and all the labor involved in making the time capsule. The plaque and “manuscripts to our children’s children” are in the time capsule.
Rural Route Service
Prior to 1914, the mail came from Oregon City to Molalla by stage, horse or auto. The stage would have been J. L. Waldron’s “Oregon City to Molalla Stage” and would have been pulled by two horses. Waldron hauled passengers and mail for nine years, making the round trip with his popular horse “Old Buck”. The roads were in poor condition and the complete trip took from 4:00 A.M. until after dark. After 1914, the mail arrived by train.
The first rural mail delivery route, in the Molalla area, was started in 1905, when the routes were dirt roads. The mail was carried in either a cart or buggy pulled by a horse. William T. Echerd was the first rural route delivery person. On February 9, 1906, the Morning Oregonian announced that “Rural Route 2 has been ordered established April 2, at Molalla, Oregon, serving 464 people and 103 houses.” On February 29, 1916, the Morning Oregonian announced that a “third Route, on the Molalla mail run, was being established after a long two year fight. The new Route would open on March 2.” According to Otis Ray Daugherty, Echerd’s substitute, “the route went to Russelville, then west to Glad Tidings School, then east to Mount Hope School, then south to Wilhoit, and then back to Molalla town. The route was called the “Free Daily Routes 2 and 3”.
Photo #1: Anna Clifford was the longest serving Molalla Postmaster. She served the community for 42 years, from November, 1892 to February, 1935. Photo courtesy of the Molalla Area Historical Society.
Photo #2: John Stubbs and his mail wagon, ready to start on Rural Route 2, in 1914. He was the son of Andrew J. Stubbs, Molalla’s third Postmaster, and Anna Clifford’s brother. Photo courtesy of the Molalla Area Historical Society.
Photo #3: The Molalla Post Office in 1939. At left is Sid Powers. Next to him is Don Allen. At right is Johnny Echerd. Photo is courtesy of Doris Pence.
Photo #4: A December 4, 1886, post card to Miss Ellen Trullinger, Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon. Photo is courtesy of the Molalla Area Historical Society.
“Anna Clifford”, Obituary, Molalla Pioneer, May 12, 1938
“Anna Clifford”, U. S. Census: 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, Molalla, Oregon, Ancestry.com
“Dicken & Co. Moves Into New Building”, Molalla Pioneer, April 3, 1941
“Fire Destroyed Molalla Business Block”, The Bulletin, January 9, 1980
“First Mail Route”, by Otis Ray Daugherty, Mt. Hood Genealogical Forum, Quarterly, V. II, #2, June, 1960
“History of Molalla”, Paper by Edna Joan Chelson, Page 11, 1980
“I.O.O.F. Will Build Hall”, Molalla Pioneer, May 25, 1916
“Molalla Celebrates 150th Anniversary”, Molalla Pioneer, April 12, 2000
“Molalla Mail Run Daily”, (#3), Morning Oregonian, February 29, 1916
“Molalla’s First Train”, by Irene Emmert, Molalla Pioneer, May, 2003, Information on J. L. Waldron and the Oregon City to Molalla Stage
“New Business Building Under Construction”, Molalla Pioneer, October 10, 1940
“New Post Office Boxes”, Molalla Pioneer, December 4, 1941
“Oddfellows Will Build”, Molalla Pioneer, April 13, 1916
“Postmaster Powers Notifies For Bids for New Post Office”, Molalla Pioneer, March 13, 1941
“Reflections of Another Time”, The Bulletin, March 21, 1973
“Rural Route At Molalla”, (#2), Morning Oregonian, February 9, 1906
“Sidney Powers Acting Postmaster”, Molalla Pioneer, February 7, 1935
“Sidney Powers Retiring”, Molalla Pioneer, August 24, 1967
@ 2019 Gail J. McCormick