Flashback: From the Lewiston Tribune, the edition of April 8, 1973


SOUTHWICK — When the “closed” sign went up at Southwick Post Office recently, it marked the end of a 90-year operation that once handled bags of gold from Pierce in the log cabin home of the community’s founder.

Southwick’s was the last post office on Potlatch Ridge to be discontinued and replaced by a rural route out of Kendrick.

This small farming community’s first post office was a log cabin built by Mr. and Mrs. Steven Southwick about 1883 for their home.

The mail was brought here by horseback once a week from Lewiston. The service improved when the railroad was opened through Kendrick, and the mail came more often by horse-drawn hack from Kendrick.

Many bags of gold from Pierce were brought here by John Gaffney and registered at the Southwick Post Office. The leather bags full of the precious dust were mailed to many places.

The men who carried gold down the Clearwater Country and their horses were tired from traveling the narrow mountain trails and crossing streams.

After reaching the North Fork near Ahsahka they had to ford the river and continue their journey up the mountain trails north to Southwick. When the river was too high for the horses to ford, the gold dust was transferred to a canoe manned by an Indian woman who then took it across the river where Southwick’s son Harvey was waiting on horseback to return with the gold to his father’s post office.

In the early 1900s Steven Southwick moved the post office from his home one-half mile west of its present location to the townsite known as Grafton, named after another pioneer settler. After some debate as to which name the post office would take, a letter from the federal post office designated its original name of Southwick so the rest of the town of Grafton was also changed to Southwick, and has never been changed back. The post office was sold to Walter Dagget so Southwick could carry on his teaching career while his sons operated the farm.

Other postmasters have been Pete Specker, Emil Schuestler, Mr. Coones, Gus Zeeman, Raleigh Whitmore, Mrs. Lee Davis (Southwick’s daughter Myrtle), Mrs. Wickcliffe Smith, Mrs. Aaron Wells and finally Mrs. Willard Schoeffler. Three of the early day postal service offices were destroyed by fire and each time they were rebuilt in a different location of the townsite. The last was in a portion of the grocery store owned by Clay King where it remained until closing permanently. The store closed last year but the post office remained open.

When it became a government requirement for all postal service employes to take a Civil Service examination, “I was the first one to take it from around the area and we had to go to Moscow to take the test,” Mrs. Myrtle Davis of Lewiston said with a proud smile as she relayed this portion of the history of the Southwick post office. Being the daughter of the pioneer Southwick family, she clearly recalls the methods of mail handling then.

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