Post office history includes baby mailed from Florida to Christiansburg

Photo courtesy of National Postal Museum
Mailing a baby over 500 miles from Florida to Christiansburg is one of the stories from the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., that has people scratching their heads.

Over the years, almost everything has been sent through the mail via the US Postal Service.

Historian Nancy Pope with the National Postal Museum said among the more interesting items sent through the mail was a package holding a live lobster and handful of live shrimp mailed at the New York City post office, addressed to Philadelphia, and a brindle bulldog delivered by crate at the Yonkers, New York, post office.

Someone in Ohio mailed a coffin and then the unusual things have also included children, and recently a national news story was circulated about the longest trip being in 1914 when six-year-old Edna Neff was “mailed” from her Pensacola, Florida mother’s home to her father’s home in Christiansburg.

That trip to Christiansburg was one of the reasons for the new policy that humans could not be mailed which forced the practice to stop in 1915.

According to the National Postal Museum, there is little information on the specifics of Edna’s trip, which was made by a railway mail train. Her weight was listed under the 50-pound limit resulting in a 15-cent charge in stamps.

There is also the story of May Pierstorff, a five-year-old who was mailed between two towns in Idaho. May cost 53-cents to mail from her parents’ home to her grandparents for a visit. Her mailing was also by a mail train car and was the basis for the children’s book “Mailing May.”

Pope said the request sparking the change in policy came from postmaster G.W. Merrill of Stratford, Oklahoma. “He wrote that J.B. Denton of Twin Falls, Idaho, wanted to send his two-year-old baby from that state to Oklahoma and had inquired about costs and regulations. When Merrill checked the postal laws, he noticed that there was no rule forbidding the mailing of people,” she said.

Thus, Christiansburg, Virginia has its place in U.S. Postal Service history and helped to change the policy of allowing babies and children from being shipped through the mail.

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