My Blogs
Horseless Carriage Mail Delivery
I have the remnants of an old Danville, Va. newspaper
“The Farrago” published on January 26, 1899. The
newspaper claimed to have the largest circulation in
Pittsylvania County and that the population of Danville
was then 25,000.

I thought this was interesting because I carried mail for
about twenty five years. The newspaper seemed to have
enjoyed ridiculing government workers so this item
about Colonel George Lumpkin, who apparently carried
mail in downtown Danville in 1899, may have been
entirely fabricated -

“Col. George Lumpkin, the mail carrier, who has been
doing his root afoot, has ordered a horseless carriage
for his business. The new vehicle is run by electricity,
and is shaped like a canoe. He can come down the
street or on the sidewalk and save much time and
fatigue. If he wants to deliver mail upstairs, he goes up
stairs in the old fashion way, gets permission to raise a
window, throws down a rope and then pulls his
horseless carriage into the office and leaves the mail.”
Date:  October 14, 2007
Horseless Carriage Mail Delivery,  Farmers' Warehouse & Nathaniel Pruett
By the end of the 19th century,
America’s cities swelled and the
demand on the postal service new
innovations: streetcar mail service,
underground pneumatic tubes.
Letterboxes had to be bigger.
In 1894, free-standing mail boxes
began to appear. But the biggest
innovation of them all was the
horseless carriage. It changed the
way we carry people and it
revolutionized the way people carried
the mail.
[Excerpt from "On The Road: Moving the Mail in
America's Cities" - on the website:
<http://www.postalmuseum.si.
edu/ontheroad/OnTheRoad_transcript.pdf>]
Mail carrier driving 1914 Ford Model T
Farmer's Warehouse & Nat Pruett
There are two items about my great-grandfather
Nathaniel Pruett (1838-1900).  The newspaper was
printed the year before he died. Nathaniel and his wife
Laura lived at 503 Middle Street in Danville, Virginia.  
Three years after Nathaniel Pruett's death, my mother
and his granddaughter
Annie Marie Jones (Ricketts) was
born on Nov. 12, 1903. The proud parents - Dan and
Annie (Pruett) Jones - were living with Nathaniel's widow
Laura Lavalette (Driskill) Pruett.  

These were probably paid advertisements for Farmer’s
Warehouse which was located where the Charles Harris
city financial center is now located.

“With Nat Pruett as night watchman at the Farmer’s
warehouse you are never without good fires and nice
clean camp rooms.”

“Rich and poor are treated alike at Farmers’ Warehouse.
Nat Pruett is night watchman at Farmers’ Warehouse.
He stays up all night, keeps good fires and looks after
the interest of the farmers generally. The Guerrants are
up to date in business.”  Apparently the Guerrant family
owned the warehouse.

I have a wooden “jumping jack” toy (right) which
Grandma Jones said her dad made while sitting around
the barn in Sutherlin. The family moved to Danville in
1888. Grandma Jones told me often about coming down
the Old Halifax Road on a wagon with the family and
furniture. It was just about dark and she had never
seen electric lights before. In 1886, Danville was on of
the first municipal electric companies in the country.
Before she died, my grandmother's sister -  Ethel
(Pruett) Hardister - gave me a fragment of an apple tree
leaf. She had written on a piece of paper long before:
“Daddy brought this back when Lee surrendered.”
Nathaniel was a Confederate soldier under Gen. Robert
E. Lee at the surrender at Appomattox in April of 1865.
At right is a picture of his Smith & Wesson pistol which
he carried during the Civil War.
Nathaniel Pruett & Laura (Driskill) Pruett
Nat Pruett's Civil War Gun
Nat Pruett's Handmade Jumping Jack