Allentown Post Office in New Home

Originally published in the Allentown Messenger dated November 16, 1911.


For the first time in its history, the Allentown post office is now located in a new and commodious specifically constructed for its use. During all of the past years the business of the office has been transacted in stores and other places of business of the different postmasters. On Tuesday morning, November 14, 1911, the office was removed from its old quarters on Main street to the new building just completed on [5] Church street, adjoining H. D. Bunting’s store. The plans were submitted to the Post Office Department by Mr. Bunting, the owner of the building.


It was during the administration of George Washington, 115 years ago, that a post office was first established here. A mail route then extended from Trenton to Freehold, passing through Allentown and other villages. The mail carrier made but two trips a week, and for a long period this was our sole mail dependence.


Owing to the almost entire absence of public travel over the above route, a regular stage for passengers was not put on; and it was not until 1840, when Daniel C. Jones, of Allentown, established a daily stage and mail service to Bordentown, that a vehicle for carrying passengers was first used.


It is now about 71 years since this pioneer daily stage service was put in operation; and it has been continued under different proprietors without any intermission up to the present time.


The first postmaster appointed for the Allentown office was Samuel Quay, whose term extended from 1796 to 1798. The following are the name of those who have held the position since the expiration of Mr. Quay’s term:


The next appointee was Samuel Rogers, who continued in office until 1801, when he was succeeded by Richard L. Beatty.


Mr. Beatty was a business man of Allentown [who resided at 39 S. Main St.]. He was one of founders of the Monmouth Manufacturing Company, organized in 1814, and which built the brick building on Doctor’s creek now used a gristmill by G. H. Kirby. He was a son of Gen. John Beatty, of Trenton, and was the father of the late John Imlay Beatty, of Allentown. His term expired in 1804.


Next came James Imlay, who served for one year only – until 1805, when James B. Stafford became his successor [residing at 40 Church St].


Mr. Stafford continued in office for fifteen years, the first lengthy term yet held by any postmasters. He had previously been principal of the Presbyterian Academy here, having held the position for seven years and for a long times he had been a justice of the peace in Allentown. It was just before the expiration of his term that Mr. Stafford discarded the continental costume which he had worn and adopted the more modern style of dress.


The longest period of any of our postmasters up to the present time was that of William Imlay, whose term extended from 1820 to 1845. The post office was located in Mr. Imlay’s drug and hardware store [8 S. Main St.], which was at first in a building situated about where the store of Miller M. Coward now is [across at 9 S. Main St.]. His business was afterward removed to the corner store building now standing opposite the Farmers’ National Bank.


In 1845 Dr. A. A. Howell was appointed postmaster. The doctor was then a practicing physician and was located in the house on Main street now occupied by John S. Hulse [47 S. Main St.]. The post office was in the small one-story extension at the south end, which in after years was removed to Hamilton street. Dr. Howell served one term only. 


The post office was next located at the corner of Main and Church streets, in the store of Daniel W. Bills, who was the next appointee. He held the office until 1853, when he was succeeded by William C. Norton.


Mr. Norton was carrying on the business of tailoring in a building that stood on the site of the residence of C. R. Hutchinson on [37 S.] Main St. His term extended through the Democratic administrations of Presidents Pierce and Buchanan, and continued until 1861. The tailor shop post office will be remembered by some of our residents as being the scene of many interesting arguments during the exciting political campaign of 1860, which ended in the election of Abraham Lincoln.


The first Republican postmaster was John C. Vanderbeek, who received the appointment under the new Lincoln administration in 1861. For the following twenty-four years he held the position, and it was the second longest term in the history of the Allentown post office. During a large portion of this period the office was located in Mr. Vanderbeek’s store, in the apartment now occupied by the Allentown Messenger [30 S. Main St.].


When the Cleveland administration came into power, in 1885, the post office was removed to the Bergen millinery store on Main street, the new appointee being Stephen B. Bergen.


In 1889, Ephraim V. Bower became the postmaster. The office was then removed to the opposite side of the street, to the building now occupied as a dwelling by Gardner Bird, but which was then used by Mr. Bower as a grocery store.


During the second Cleveland regime (1889-1897) Mr. Bergen was the appointee. The office then was in a part of Nathaniel Cafferty’s building on Church street, in the room now occupied by the Robbins news stand.


The next Republican postmaster was Charles Cafferty, who received his appointment in 1897 under the Mc Kinley administration. For fourteen years he attended to the duties of the office in person; but on account of failing health during a part of his last year, he was compelled to partially retire from its management. After Mr. Cafferty’s decease, in February 1911, his daughter, Miss Emma Cafferty, was appointed by the Department to fill the unexpired term of her father.


Samuel Quay and Samuel Rogers were members of the old Federalist party, they holding office respectively under Presidents Washington and Adams.


Richard L. Beatty, James Imlay and J. B. Stafford belonged to the Democratic-Republican party which came into power on the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800.


William Imlay served under the Democratic administrations of Jackson and Van Buren. He afterwards became a Whig and held office under Harrison and Tyler.


Dr. Howell was appointed while the Democrats were in power under James K. Polk.


D. W. Bills was a Whig and was in office while General Taylor and Millard Fillmore [an earlier namesake for Cream Ridge] were Presidents. Mr. Bills was the last Whig postmaster, as his party was afterward absorbed into the new Republican party.


Since the establishment of the Allentown post office, 1796, the rating of it has been fourth class until the year 1909, when, owing to an increase of business, it was raised to a third class office. During all of this period the business has been transacted by but twelve different postmasters, the combined terms of three of which – Messrs. Stafford, Imlay and Vanderbeek – have covered the long space of sixty-three years. Charles H. Fidler