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Once the route was organized, rural carriers needed to be hired. The Postmaster General urged postmasters to look to their community for hiring. War veterans (Civil War and Spanish American War at first, World War I later) were given hiring preference. But in truth the Department was seeking any man (women were not originally considered as suitable candidates) who knew and was trusted by the people along the route. Carriers were to be of the highest moral quality, neat and tidy, and not prone to bouts of drinking. As one postal official put it, carriers should “bring no disgrace upon the service with which they are connected.”

Rural carriers from Lebanon, Tennessee
Photographer: Unknown
Date created: 1902
Lebanon, Tennessee’s first rural letter carriers pose for a formal portrait. They are: Front row, left to right, Turner Jones, Jim Armstrong, Owen Reich, Al Golden. Back row, left to right, Cecil Phillips, Sam Tolliver, Marshall Phillips, Sheila Bryant, Jim Ferrell, Dee McClain.
National Postal Museum, Curatorial Photographic Collection

Lebanon, Tennessee's first rural letter carriers pose for a formal portrait. They are: Front row, left to right, Turner Jones, Jim Armstrong, Owen Reich, Al Golden. Back row, left to right, Cecil Phillips, Sam Tolliver, Marshall Phillips, Sheila Bryant, Jim Ferrell, Dee McClain.