Beaufort, North Carolina Postmasters 1794-1982
US Post Office Records
Written in 1982—Author and Sources Unknown
Transcribed, as written, by Mary Warshaw January 2013
(Postmasters names have been highlighted in bold type.)
The first United States Census, taken in 1790, indicates that there were 3,732 persons residing in Carteret County: 2,927 “free white people,” 92 “other free people” and 713 slaves. The only names shown are those of “Heads of Households.” All others are listed within age groups.
We begin our postal history of Carteret County in the year 1794. In 1792, the Congress of the United States enacted the “…first comprehensive postal law organizing the Post Office under the Constitution.” On October 7, 1794 the first recorded “return” from Beaufort was received by the Postmaster General. It was signed by one John M. Verdin.
The only other record concerning Verdin’s postmastership is a piece of correspondence from the Postmaster General, dated January 27, 1796 (obviously in reply to a complaint concerning pay): “I am well convinced that though the business is trifling at your office, it must be troublesome, and the commission is inadequate for your services…, I am restricted to twenty per Cent (sic)…” There is no record as to where Beaufort’s first post office was located. Verdin’s postmastership ended on October 1, 1797.
On October 2, David Hall became postmaster. Born in 1746, the Census of 1800 enumerated him as a head of household (age 45+) consisting of five males under the age of 25, one female between the ages of 26 and 45 and 2 females under the age of sixteen. He evidently had standing in the community for on November 15, 1779 he had been appointed, together with Lewis Welch and Joseph Bell as Commissioner of Forfeited Estates. Their task was to deal with and dispose of property of those Loyalists who had fled North Carolina during the Revolution.
Other recorded information includes a letter of instruction from the Postmaster General: March 29, 1799. Tomorrow morning you will proceed to Newport and take charge of the two horses purchased of Hardy at Mr. Miller’s stables.”
Finally, we find Mr. Hall being put on notice and at the same time being requested to assist in keeping the office functioning: “The office at Beaufort must be discontinued unless someone will act as your successor. Will you endeavor to find out a suitable character for it?” This letter, also from the Postmaster General, is dated January 21, 1800.
A “suitable character” was found, in fact, the Hellen family was to provide postmasters for Beaufort for more than a quarter century. Their names and tenures of office were: Bryan Hellen, July 1, 1800 – June 30, 1813; Bryan Hellen, November 26, 1816 – December 5, 1822; John Spence West Hellen, December 6, 1822 – September 9, 1825; and, Isaac Hellen, September 10, 1825 – June 25, 1840.
Bryan (Brian, Briant) Hellen had married Abagail, the daughter of John Easton. They were received into the Quaker community in 1811. In the Census of 1800, Bryan and Abagail were a household with three sons, sixteen years of age or less, and one daughter, also under ten years of age.
Were the other Hellens postmasters sons of this Bryan? If so there were rather young men at the time of their postmasterships, although this would not have been unusual. We do know that they were brothers. Isaac Hellen, who married Sarah Fulford, was the father of five sons and ten daughters. One of those sons was named John Spence West who lived but six months. In the Hellen Bible record, it was noted that this child was “named after my brother.”
Whatever the case, we have not information on the occupation of these postmasters before or after their tenures. As residents of Beaufort, were they merchants or mariners, farmer or professional men? By 1850 Isaac was dead (July 12, 1847) and his wife Sarah was living in Beaufort with two daughters and two sons (ages 19-5). Brian Hellen, son of Isaac and Sarah, was a thirty-one year old school teacher with a wife and four children. John Spence West Hellen died on June 21, 1819.
The Hellen family name continued to be recorded in the census records as least until 1910. In that census, one John Spence West Hellen, age 58 and a “Captain” (he had been a farmer in 1900), is recorded with his wife Sarah Chadwick, age 58, are listed living in Beaufort.
Between the terms served by Bryan Hellen, there were two other postmasters. The first, Thomas Cooke (July 1, 1813 – May 11, 1814), served as a Beaufort Town Commissioner in 1814. He was the son of Silas Jr. and Ann Lechmere Cooke, who ancestry can be traced to Rhode Island.
Thomas, born November 11, 1787, was lost at sea ca. September ¾ 1815. He had married (1810) Esther Wallace (March 17, 1795 – October 11, 1816) and they had a son, Captain James W. Cooke, CSA, commander of the Confederate Ironclad “Albemarle” at the battle at Plymouth in 1864. James settled in Norfolk after the Civil War, dying in 1869.
Esther Wallace’s parents were James and Jane Gaskill Wallace. Jane gave Thomas and Esther the old family home at Old Town Lot #29. Their daughter Harriet, living in Tennessee, sold Old Town Lots #s 29 & 30 to Benjamin Perry in 1838. These properties are located at the northwest corner of Moore and Front Streets.
Thomas Cooke’s replacement as postmaster was the Reverend Bridges Arendell, who had arrived in Beaufort from his native Franklin County in 1807. At that time, a Circuit Rider for the Methodist Church, he was age twenty-five. In 1817 he married, for the second time, Sarah Fisher Jones, a widow with three children. She was a descendant of the Paquinet family.
When Arendell relieved Thomas Cooke as postmaster, both were serving as Town Commissioners. After his term as postmaster, he was appointed to and served many years as a justice of the Carteret County Court.
In the 1850 Slave Census, Bridges Sr. is listed as owner of 21 slaves age 65 to 1 month. His son, Bridges Jr., is shown as owner of 14 slaves, ages 105 (F) to 2 years. It is written that in 1849 Bridges Sr. gave tow of the last slaves he owned to his son Thomas. Their names are given as Martha James and Dan Henry. Thomas is said to have freed them and that they remained with the family as long as they lived. In the slave Census of 1860, Bridges Sr.’s widow is shown as owner of two slaves, one a 45 year old female and the other a fifty year old male.
Son Bridges Jr. became the first Mayor of Morehead City (the family had moved to Morehead in 1834). Bridges’s Arendell’s term of office as postmaster ended on November 25, 1816. Bridges Arendell Sr. died October 8, 1850; his wife Sarah Fisher Arendell on July 5, 1865.
The Hellen postmaster “dynasty” came to an end on June 25, 1840. The following day, Dr. James W. Hunt assumed the office in which he was to serve but eighteen days. Hunt, from Franklin County, had arrived in Carteret County during the War of 1812. He was a surgeon and married with two children, one male and one female. The Census records confirm that his wife was living in 1840. She died between that year and 1848. He remarried to Alice Hancock. It is written that he had the distinction of being married (for the second time), making his will and dying on the same day August 23, 1848. He was forty-six years of age. Dr. Hunt also served on the Beaufort Board of Commissioners as Clerk in 1824-25.
William J. Potter began his first term as Beaufort Postmaster on July 14, 1840. The son of David and Mary Adams Potter, he had moved from Anne Arundell County, Maryland to Carteret County in 1827 to help build Fort Macon. He is reputed to have supervised the Fort Macon brickmasons in their “off” hours in constructing the Masonic Hall (now the Odd Fellows Lodge) on Turner Street.
Born October 31, 1801, he married (1828) Elizabeth Harris Davis (born January 19, 1810) of Core Creek. Her father was James Davis, who built 22 houses in Beaufort, and her mother was Elizabeth Adams Davis. He was Episcopalian and on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Church in Beaufort, she was a Quaker and, after their marriage, they embraced the Methodist faith. They were parents of ten children.
In the Census of 1850, William J. Potter, age 48, is listed as a brickmason with wife Elizabeth, eight children and two male black servants. A son Stephen B. Potter, living at home, is listed as a teacher. One daughter, Ann C.D. Potter, then 14, was to follow in her brother’s avocation and died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1864. She was the Sunday School Class teacher of a group of ten children who lost their lives in this epidemic.
Mr. Potter was also in the mercantile business and served as a Beaufort Town Commissioner in the years 1847 and 1853. His first term as postmaster ended on February 3, 1847. He was to serve again from December 14, 1853 until June 8, 1862. William died, age 84, on December 19, 1886. Elizabeth survived him until March 12, 1904. She was 94. Both are interred in the “Old Quaker Cemetery” on Highway 101.
On December 14, 1841, William Coale Bell Jr., replacing William Jackson Potter, began his first of two terms as Beaufort Postmaster. William Jr. was the grandson of Malachi Bell, a plantation owner on Bogue Sound. His father’s family lived there until Malachi’s death, after which his mother, Elizabeth Howard Bell, moved to Beaufort with her four daughters. There she had a home constructed on the corner of Ann and Turner Streets. This house was deeded to William Jr. in 1834. Five years later, on January 17, 1839, William married Mariah Alida Manney, daughter of Dr. James Manney. Dr. Manney was also father to Nancy Manney, the heroine of a famous Carteret County story of unrequited love.
William served as Town Commissioner, Tax Collector and Clerk in the years 1828 and 1830. He was also Inspector of Naval Stores. In the Census of 1850, he is listed as “postmaster,” head of a household that included his wife and four daughters. The same year, the Slave Census of the county lists him as the owner of seven slaves.
William Coale Bell Jr. relinquished his position as postmaster on February 3, 1847, but was returned to the office only some three months later (May 10) and served until his death on December 5, 1850. Mariah Alida was appointed to replace her husband and served until December 13, 1853. In 1850, she was living next to her brother, Dr. James Manney Jr., with three of her four daughters. The slave census of that year recorded her as owner of one sixty year-old male slave.
For those three months in 1847 when William Coale Bell Jr. was not in office, Belcher Fuller Jr. served as Beaufort’s postmaster. He was a descendant of Edward Fuller, who came to Carteret County in the 1730s from Fairfax [Fairfield], Norwich, Connecticut, with his wife Hannah and their children.
In his will he named six sons and one daughter. The Fullers were a seafaring people engaged in the nautical trade. The elder Fuller led a family of importers, “sailing his ships all over the world.” They also acquired land in Beaufort. It has been said that the block encompassed by Orange, Ann, Turner and Front Streets was known as “Fuller Land.”
Belcher Fuller Jr. was the fifth generation of his family in Beaufort. Born in 1817, the 1850 Census lists him as a thirty-three year old “tailor,” living with his forty-four year old “merchant” brother, Christopher. Was the post office located in one of their business locations?
On June 22, 1853, he married Amanda A. Lindsey. Evidently a widow, she brought three children to the marriage. Belcher and Amanda are not listed in the Census of 1860 (his brother, also now married was enumerated that year); however, in 1870, Deputy Sheriff Belcher Fuller and family return to the Carteret listing. By 1880, Amanda was again a widow, living in Beaufort with her son and daughter.
We have noted the second term in office of William Coale Bell Jr. and that of his wife Alida. Also noted above was the second term of William Jackson Potter. One addition only need be added here. It provides us evidence that in the pre-Civil War years Beaufort’s mail was delivered to New Bern:
“Accident: An accident happened to the stage on the trip from New Bern to this place, by which the arrival of the mail delayed several hours. Fortunately none of the passengers were injured.” The Halycon and Beaufort Intelligencer, March 31, 1855.
The Federal occupation of Carteret County in 1862 resulted in a change in postmasters in Beaufort. This was not necessarily true throughout the county. A number of pre-War postmasters made the transition from Federal to Confederate and back to Federal during the brief period when the Confederate postal service exercised authority in the coastal area.
Joseph James Davis was appointed postmaster on June 9, 1862. He was the son of James and Elizabeth Davis and in the Census of 1850, both father (age 70) and son (age 29) are listed as carpenters in the Harlow’s Creek district. A brother, William, age 27 and a teacher, is included in the family household. By 1860, Joseph James Davis is living in the Straits district in the home of David Whorton. Mr. Whorton was a farmer and at that time Davis is listed as a “mechanic.” Mrs. Whorton (Susan) was James’ sister.
On February 13, 1862, Joseph James Davis was united in marriage to Louisa R. Arthur, daughter of Gilbert and Charlotte Author of Straits. Louisa evidently died prior to 1870, for James (listed as “Postmaster”) was head of a household enumerated that year consisting of his brother William (“Assistant Postmaster”), also a widower; three children, ages 9 to 15; and two elderly sisters, Mary (64) and Sarah (62).
On November 19, 1872, William J. Bushall was appointed Beaufort postmaster. He was the son of Marmaduke and Rachel Ward Bushall, who first appear in the Census of Carteret County in 1840. William’s father died before 1850, the year in which he was nine years of age. Rachel Bushall was living in the household of Jane Ward Mace, her sister, with her three children in 1850. In the Census of 1860, Rachel, daughter Sally and son William were part of the household of her daughter and son-in-law, W.C. and Ann Bushall Lewis.
William J. Bushall and Annie Piver were married on September 13, 1866. William was a printer by trade and had entered politics by 1866 being elected Beaufort Town Commissioner. He was to serve as Commissioner, Clerk, Tax Collector and Mayor. He was also a Justice of the Peace.
In 1872, he resigned as Mayor of Beaufort to accept the Postmaster’s position. In 1876, during his tenure as postmaster, Bushall was appointed as “Chairman of the Board of Trustees” for Beaufort. (In 1875, the North Carolina legislature revoked the Town charter and the county commissioners were ordered to establish a “Board of Trustees” to administer the municipality. The charter was restored in 1877.)
In the postmaster position until February 9, 1879, he returned to the Mayor’s office in 1881 and 1882. One can, with certainty, say that William J. Bushall served his community to a “full measure.”
Following Postmaster Bushall were two Duncans, William R. Duncan and William E. Duncan. Of William R., we know nothing excepting his term of office, February 10 to November 19, 1879. The descendants of the Duncan family that I have spoken to all deny any knowledge of a “William R.” Duncan, at least in the local family.
As to William E., I have chosen to accept that he was William Ernest Duncan, son of William B. and Sarah Ann Ramsey, who were married on September 21, 1856. Following this child, born 1858, through the census records, one learns a little more than he was married to Lula W. Duncan sometime between 1870 and 1880. No children are enumerated through 1910 (he was fifty-two and she was forty-nine). No occupation appears in any of the Census records.
His term of office, November 20, 1879 to October 24, 1883 left us with a “down east” mail schedule and one small editorial comment in the local newspaper: “Lick your own stamps. We are apprehensive that our accommodating P.M. will be afflicted with dyspepsia from the waste of saliva in granting the oft repeated request, ‘Please put a stamp on the letter.’” (Carteret County Telephone, April 7, 1882)
On October 25, 1883, John Forlaw assumed the office of postmaster. He was the son of Lewis Skidmore Forlaw, a minister of the Methodist faith. Lewis was also in the general merchandising business and a slave owner. Among his many children, John was the second son, born September 10, 1851. In adulthood, following in one of his father’s footsteps, he “kept store,” probably the site of the post office during his tenure. He was also associated with the old Bank of Beaufort and was a property owner in the community, listed as “landlord” in the Census of 1900.
John was married to Lucy Jane Trader and their home was in the 500 block of Front Street. Her father, George G. Trader of Havelock had married Elizabeth Frances Stanton of Beaufort and when her father died in the Civil War, she lived with her grandfather Stanton, a member of the lighthouse service.
John Forlaw served as Commissioner, Treasurer, Clerk and Mayor (1903-1904) of Beaufort. His term as postmaster ended on June 29, 1885. John and his wife Lucy are buried with their son in the Ocean View Cemetery. The boy died at age twelve “accidently from an accident.” John died in Beaufort on March 14, 1936 and Lucy in Charlotte on May 18, 1947.
“Mr. David Pierce our accommodating Postmaster treated the Record office to milkshakes yesterday. Dave you are a glorious fellow. This is a new summer beverage in these parts, and friend Dave knows how to mix them. May the roses never fade from your cheeks, and may you never be compelled to stick type or write locals for a livlihood.” The Beaufort Weekly Record, June 23, 1887.
David Pierce a confederate veteran, assumed the postmastership on June 30, 1885. This was his first of two terms. The Pierce family first appears in the Census of Carteret County in 1870. In that enumeration there are four Pierce households: Christopher, a tailor; Isaac, a farmer; John, a painter and, David, age 30, a “seaman.” David and his wife Margaret have one child, a five month old son, William. By 1880, six more children had joined their household.
David Pierce was a merchant and evidently had his place of business on Turner (often referred to as Market Street in the 19th century). If, as it would seem logical, the post office was in that business location, we know from George W. Charlotte, editor and publisher of The Beaufort Weekly, that the Beaufort Post Office was relocated in the 1880s: “Our friends will please bear in mind that the Record office has been removed to the old post office building on the opposite side of the street. We are now in most commodious quarters, and out latch string, as of old, hangs on the outside. A cordial welcome is extended to all.” The Beaufort Weekly Record, May 12, 1887.
David Pierce’s first term as postmaster ended April15, 1889. His second term in office began May 11, 1893 and ended September 10, 1897. In 1910, age seventy-one, he was living with two of his daughters and listed as a merchant. Mr. Pierce is buried in the Old Burying Ground.
Seldon Dawson Delamar was Beaufort’s postmaster from April 16, 1889 until May 10, 1893. He was the son of Christopher and Susan J. Gibble Delamar. His father, a farmer in Straits in 1860, had moved to Beaufort by 1870 and become a “ship captain.” In that year Seldon was sixteen years old and had five siblings.
Prior to his appointment as postmaster, he had served on the Beaufort Town Board from 1886 to 1888. He had also married, to Cora Dickinson, and begun a family that, by 1900, would consist of nine children. In the year 1900, he was recorded as being an engineer, age forty-six. Ten years later he was in the “bookeeping” trade. Mr. Delamar lived until February 1, 1936. His wife preceeded him in death on January 28, 1933. Both are interred at Ocean View Cemetery, Beaufort. Again, there is no specific information on the location of his post office.
As previously noted David Pierce resumed the office on May 11, 1893 and served four more years until September 10, 1897.
The turn of the century postmaster for Beaufort was George W. Wheatley Jr. His father was a Maryland native, who had married Mary Jane Ramsey, daughter of James and Sarah Ramsey of Beaufort. In 1850, George, a carpenter and his wife, were living with her parents. James Ramsey was listed as a “ship carpenter.”
In 1860, the George W. Wheatley family had grown by four. George Jr. was eight years old. His father was a “mariner.” In 1870 other children had been born, including Charles who was to father a Beaufort postmaster of the future. This son was to marry the sister of yet another Beaufort postmaster. (See Raymond B. Wheatley and C. Wilbur Whitehurst.)
Appointed on September 11, 1897, George Jr. would serve until August 6, 1901. By the time of his appointment, and between 1874 and 1896, he had been married three times. His first wife, Sarah A. Tarlington, was the mother of Claud Roberts Wheatly from whom descends the Wheatly lawyers of Carteret. Jemima Sewell was George Jr.’s second wife and, in 1896, he married Mary F. Barnett Willis. Her parents were William W. and Emily Willis.
The new century arrived. George W. Wheatley Jr.’s postmastership ended. The office was offered to another—he declined. Offered the appointment on July 17, 1901, Malachi R. Geffroy declined the position. The son of W.V. and Merena Geffroy, Malachi was to be best remembered in Carteret County as the husband of the legendary “Miss Nannie” Geffroy of St. Paul’s School fame.
On August 7, 1901, two days before his twenty-sixth birthday, William Arendell Mace accepted the appointment of postmaster and served the citizens of Beaufort for the next twelve years.
William Arendell, the son of Francis Borden Mace and Lillian Close [Closs] Davis, is remembered as, “…a public spirited man and was always willing to accept responsibility wherever and whenever he could be of service to his fellow man.”
Married on October 9, 1913 to Maybelle Kaiser Carrow, William and Maybelle lived in the Allen Davis house at 102 Queen Street (the “General Burnside” house) until moving to 619 Ann (the “Mace House”). They were the parents of four children: William A. Jr., Laura Abernathy, Francis Borden and Mary Elizabeth. William had attended the University of North Carolina and the Medical College of Virginia, but left the latter before graduation, returned to Beaufort and opened a drug store. (He was called “Doc” by friends and patrons.)
The Beaufort Post Office was located on the south east corner of Front and Craven Streets and remained there during Mace’s tenure. He also ran Gaskill-Mace Hardware, was president of the Bank of Beaufort, Taylor’s Creek Fish Scrap and Oil Co. and the Fish Meal Company at Fernandina, Florida. In 1925, together with William Blades and George J. Brooks, he was an incorporator of the Inlet Inn, Inc. In 1926, as President of the Atlantic Beach Bridge Corporation, he applied to build a bridge to Bogue Banks, did so and managed the Atlantic Beach Casino and Resort for a year thereafter.
He found time to serve as Chairman of the County Board of Commissioners, Beaufort Town Commissioner, Vestryman of St. Paul’s & Church Warden and Beaufort’s School Board. His term as postmaster ended on June 4, 1913. At his death in 1933, he was interred in St. Paul’s cemetery. Mrs. Mace was to follow him forty-one years later.
On June 5, 1913, C. Wilbur Whitehurst assumed the postmastership. He was the son of sailmaker James Haywood Whitehurst and Sarah James (Sally) Congleton. C. Wilbur Whitehurst had served as a Beaufort Town Commissioner in 1910. (Interestingly, he was not among the enumerated in the Census of 1910.)
It was during his tenure that the post office was moved to the “old railroad building” at 121 Turner Street. Now the site of “Waterfront Antiques and Collectibles,” the building has also hosted a newspaper, The Beaufort Eastern Weekly, in the recent past.
C. Wilbur’s younger sister Bertha married Raymond Wheatley, a future Beaufort postmaster. Raymond was the son of Charles Franklin and Emily E. Noe Wheatley. Charles was the brother of postmaster George W. Wheatley Jr.
C. Wilbur Whitehurst left the postmastership on June 30, 1917. The United States entered World War I in 1917. That year, on July 1, Benjamin B. Arrington became postmaster at Beaufort and served until July 15, 1921. Arrington was the son of George Washington and Mary Elizabeth Arrington from Hyde County. His brother and sister-in-law, Methodist minister Joseph Arrington and wife Mary Liza, were the first of the family to arrive in Carteret County. Joseph Arrington was pastor of Ann Street Methodist church. George and Mary Elizabeth followed and five other children, including Benjamin, became citizens of the community. George Washington Arrington died in 1894.
Benjamin B. Arrington married Theresa Higgins and, in the 1900 Census, he and his wife were residing with his widowed mother. By 1910, Benjamin, a salesman and school teacher, and wife were parents to four year old Benjamin Jr. Benjamin was forty-three and Theresa thirty-five. They were to have one more child, Maggie. Benjamin B. Arrington Sr., born September 24, 1866, died on November 30, 1932. Theresa Higgins Arrington, born April 28, 1874 died on February 20, 1960. Both are interred in St. Paul’s Cemetery, Beaufort.
The month before Benjamin Arrington left office, Luther McNeill of the United States Postal Service announced that at Beaufort’s population had reached 3,000; free mail delivery would soon be initiated. In response, the town began to erect street signs and house numbers. (The free delivery of mail began November 1.)
On July 16, 1921, Raymond B. Wheatley was appointed postmaster. Raymond B. was the son of Charles Franklin and Emily Noe Wheatley. Her parents were Benjamin and Lydia Ann Johnson Noe; he was the son of George W. and Mary Wheatley. As noted above, Raymond was nephew of former postmaster George W. Wheatley Jr. And, his wife Bertha was the sister of another former postmaster, C. Wilbur Whitehurst.
By 1926 the local newspaper was editorializing on the postal service: “The Postoffice building here is entirely too small to accommodate the business and this business is growing steadily.”
Recall that the post office had moved from Front to Turner Street during the postmastership of C. Wilbur Whitehurst. On June 30, 1927, the office was moved from the “old railroad building” to the Potter Building on the northwest corner of Front and Craven Streets. (Later the site of House’s Drug Store and now Stampers Jewelers.)
Raymond B. Wheatley served as postmaster for a dozen years. He left the position on August 30, 1933.
On August 31, 1933, Wiley Higgins Taylor Sr. assumed the postmastership at Beaufort. He was to retain that office for fifteen years and nine months. During his tenure he was to oversee the relocation of the post office from “Old Town” to “New Town” (i.e., east of Pollock Street to its present location) and the hanging of one of Beaufort’s unique assets, the Post Office Murals.)
Mr. Taylor was the son of Warren and Emiline Bryan Hellen Taylor. Born on the “Hellen Farm” in the community of Bettie on May 4, 1878, his family moved to Beaufort when he was a small child. They first resided on Front Street in a house that sat behind the small “Robert Taylor” home in the 800 block. The Taylor’s later moved “around the corner” to 106 Marsh Street, known as the Gibble House. Eventually, the family settled at 206 Marsh, the present home of Wiley Higgins Taylor Jr.
Wiley Higgins Taylor Sr. married Ruth Elizabeth Ives, a native of Grifton. Mrs. Taylor was the daughter of John H. and Pattie Roundtree Ives. Listing his occupation as a “sailor” in 1900, in 1910 he had moved into the “salesman” business. He was employed in a local wholesale grocery business, known as the “Beaufort Grocery.”
Mr. Taylor served several terms as Beaufort Town Commissioner and Clerk of the Board in the period 1902-1907, 1912 and 1914-1915. He also worked on the mailboat to Ocracoke before his appointment as postmaster.
In August 1938, The Beaufort News announced that the Joe House Drug Store would move into the old post office building at Front and Craven Streets. The new edifice had opened on the northeast corner of Front and Pollock, former site of the Atlantic Hotel/Hammond Army Hospital. The Dr. Duncan house had been displaced to the east to make room for the new building.
The following February, the newspaper reported that artist Simka Simkhovitch had arrived in Beaufort to “get inspiration ideas” for his Post Office murals commission.
In 1940, Wiley Higgins Taylor Sr. was appointed “lifetime postmaster” for Beaufort by the United States Senate. He retired on May 31, 1949. He died March 15, 1970 and is interred, as is his wife, in the Oceanview Cemetery, Beaufort.
Charles Zenus Chappell Sr. was born in Guinea Mills, Virginia on September 19, 1893. He was the son of Albert Wiley and Elizabeth Yarborough Chappell. He entered William and Mary College but dropped out to enter the Navy at the advent of World War I. His service was to send him to Carteret County where he was attached to a unit stationed at Pivers Island.
During his duty time here in Carteret, he met Lutie Jones and they were married on July 3, 1923. He and his wife purchased a home on Marsh Street and here they raised two sons, Albert Christopher and Charles Zenus Jr. Mr. Chappell Sr. was a merchant and also a public servant, serving as both Town and County Commissioner. His appointment as postmaster was effected on June 1, 1949. He remained in that office until September 19, 1950. Mr. Chappell died November 24, 1978—age 83.
The office of postmaster was assumed on September 20, 1950 by John Porter Betts Sr. Mr. Betts and his wife, Josephine Mitchell Betts were natives of Raleigh. He had worked for the Norfolk and Southern Rail Road in Raleigh and Charlotte, later (1918) becoming Station Agent at Mount Gilead. During some of this time, Mr. Betts took a correspondence course in advertising and, as a result of this interest, he answered an advertisement seeking a part owner in the Beaufort News. In 1922, an investment of $1,000 brought him into partnership with W.G. Mebane. Five years of newspaper work convinced him that the pay was not sufficient and he left to become bookkeeper for W.A. Mace Hardware and the Beaufort Fisheries.
In 1929, with money loaned on Beaufort News stock, Betts bought the “Electric Bakery,” renamed it Bett’s Bakery and operated this business until 1944 when the shortage of sugar forced him to close the business. He became the distributor for “Bambi” Bread and “Ambrosia” Cakes and Cookies, an occupation he continued to pursue until being named postmaster on September 20, 1950. His tenure of over fifteen years as postmaster was one of Beaufort’s longest, only ending with his mandatory retirement at age 74 on October 30, 1965.
Robert P. Humphrey became Acting Postmaster at Beaufort on October 31, 1965, and held that position until January 27 of the following year. Mr. Humphrey’s family operated a dairy farm north of Beaufort. He attended North Carolina State University and was a member of the ROTC.
After serving as a Lieutenant in the Army, he joined the Post Office Department and rose from clerk to supervisory rank. After the tenure of Cleatus Odell Merrill, he was to assume Officer-in-Charge status on September 15, 1973 and, on March 16, 1974, become Beaufort Postmaster. Mr. Humphrey retired on disability April 21, 1976.
Cleatus Odell Merrill was appointed Acting Postmaster on January 28 and Postmaster May 18, 1966. At the time of his appointment, he was Carteret County Registrar of Deeds. Having served on the Board of County Commissioners, Mr. Merrill had engaged in the men’s clothing business following his return from Army service in World War II.
Mr. Merrill is the son of David S. and Rosa Eubanks Merrill. Born on a farm, he moved with his family to Beaufort in 1941 where they made their home at 807 Ann Street. Cleatus Odell Merrill’s tenure as Beaufort Postmaster ended on September 14, 1973, when he accepted a postal service appointment as Director of Field Operations, Sectional Center, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Upon his retirement after twenty years of Army and Post Office Department service, Mr. Merrill entered into a private accounting practice in Beaufort. Since his recent retirement from that occupation, he and his wife, the former Betty Jane Safrit have made their home on Front Street.
At the time of Robert Humphrey’s disability retirement, the Post Office Department assigned Officer-in-Charge to Beaufort. Clarence E. Hunter, postmaster at Bridgeton was moved to Beaufort for the period April 21 to November 5, 1976.
Michael E. Webb rose through the postal ranks from clerk to supervisor and was named postmaster at Beaufort on November 6, 1976. On January 25, 1982 he was to take promotion to the postmastership of his native Morehead City.
Webb was followed by an assigned Officer-in-Charge. Vernon L. Kennedy, from the Kinston office, filled the position from January 26 until July 9, 1982.
On July 10, 1982, Dan W. Wade assumed the postmastership in Beaufort. A native of Morehead City, he had been a Beaufort postal employee since 1965, rising from carrier, to clerk to supervisor before being named postmaster. Mr. Wade has a heritage of postal service in his family. His mother and her sister both worked in the Atlantic Beach Post Office. He remains Postmaster at Beaufort as of this writing.
Over two hundred years, Beaufort has been served by thirty-four postmasters. Five served two terms: Bryan Hellen, William J. Potter, William Coale Bell Jr., David Pierce and Robert P. Humphrey. There was one husband and wife team, William Coale Bell Jr. and Maria Alida Manney Bell. She also had the distinction of being the only female Beaufort Postmaster. There was one declination of the office, by Malachi R. Geffroy and one black officer-in-charge, Clarence E. Hunter.