Arnold & Ritchie Ranch – 1876 Present Arnold Post Office – 1959
Arnold’s Post Office story began long before 1959, the year that the present post office was built by W. B. Hagler, and is presently owned by the Erikson Family. Back in the late 1800’s early 1900’s, people needed to send mail, but frontier delivery was quite different from present day delivery. Arnold’s first mail service consisted of delivery addressed to “Arnold & Ritchie Ranch, % (care of) Postmaster.” Since 1876, mail was delivered to the Loup Valley every two weeks by horseback from Plum Creek (Lexington). The two ranching partners took turns handling the mail. By 1881 a change needed to be made, so Richard (R.E.) Allen offered to have the post office in his sod house. Richard Allen, Landis Correll, and George Arnold, met on March 21, 1881 to choose a name for the new post office; all three men’s last names were considered. ‘Arnold’ was finally chosen and a letter was sent to Washington to procure a new rubber stamp. Sadly, George Arnold, who was partially paralyzed from a stoke he’d had the prior year, may have never known that the post office with his name grew to be a bustling town. G. Arnold died in 1900 after moving back to his family home in Ohio, leaving no relatives in Arnold. (Before entering the cattle business, George Arnold had served in the Civil War and married Ella Taylor, daughter of the Omaha Bee editor, Edward Taylor, a one-term governor of the state by appointment. The Arnolds had four children when they came to the ranch. Their baby was the only baby in the country at that time.) In the spring of 1884, the little town and its people had a spirit of optimism, hoping to become the county seat, and expecting the railroad to arrive soon. In just a few years, the village reached a population of 1500. That spring, wagons coming to Arnold along the Loup River carried many land seekers who also had a vocation: blacksmith, printer, butcher, carpenter, lawyer, merchant, harness maker, and doctor, to name a few. With all the new arrivals, people began building as soon as the snow melted. Allen’s Pioneer Store was the first to go up on the corner of Walnut and Arnold Avenue (Archie’s Cafe/empty building 2020). R.E. Allen soon moved his supplies and the post office from his soddy to the Pioneer Store. Abner Brown and Josiah Wilcher, Milldale homesteaders, were hired by Allen to haul the lumber and build his Pioneer Store. Allen then hired John Finch, nephew of Swain Finch, to clerk his store and manage the post office. John was newly married to May Kelley from Cozad, where he had been the postmaster and operator of a general store for two years. The post office, in those days, was often a room in the resident’s home. In 1887, Ben and Edner (Sprague) Hardin secured a tree claim just south of town. Adjoining their claim was a preemption occupied by Solomon Case (Mary and Don Hardin Residence). They acquired the property by paying for the relinquishment. The “improvements” consisted of a sod house, sod stable, ten acres already broken, and a dug well. The Hardins made a deal with Case and moved in. It was well known that Ben had a fine education in vocal and instrumental music. Years later his grandsons, brothers Don and John Hardin, were members of “Sargent’s Melody Masters” a young Arnold dance band in the 1950’s. Don taught music in the Arnold School System for many years. Ron Sargent, pianist in the band, was an uncle to my husband Dave Crow.~ Not too long after the Case transaction, Hardins built the Hardin Store (Pinnacle Bank Hardin Store (Pinnacle Bank Site). An addition was added to the north side; Mrs. Hardin had become the Postmaster, using the addition as the post office, from 1887-1899 (June 13, 1912 Sentinel) ~When she turned the postal books over to the new Postmaster, W. M. Beach, there was an error of thirty-two cents extra. The postal department in Washington sent Edner Hardin a quarter, one nickel, and two pennies to even the balance.~ (Beach may have continued to run the Post Office in the Hardin store until Frank Needham took over.) The Needham Building (Grazer’s Corner) housed the post office when Frank Needham was postmaster in 1902. In 1907, the post office moved again to Mrs. Ernestine Black’s residence just north of where the Rose Hardware (Sandhill’s Motor Co.) would be built. The post office finally got its first “permanent” home when Charlie McGuire built a frame building (Grazer’s site) with a post office space in front and living quarters in the back. That building was used until 1930 when George Bennet took occupancy in a “modern” brick building (Mrs. Bassett’s Shoe Shop). The new post office had 180 mail boxes, but that increased to 300 by 1937. ~An Arnold “first” occurred on May 19, 1938, “Arnold’s First Air Mail Flight!”~ A final move was made in 1960 to the present location, with Lawrence “Art” Cason the first Postmaster in the new building. By 1923, many rural carriers were also employed by the US Postal System. ~Arnold’s Western Union telegraph service was discontinued in 1964 due to lack of business.~ The following is the list of Postmasters in Arnold since 1877: Thomas Ritchie 4/18/1877, Henry Goodyear 5/6/1878, Thomas Ritchie 1/31/1879, George Arnold 3/31/1879, Richard E. Allen 3/21/1881, Mrs. Ben Hardin 8/02/1887, Walter M. Beach 4/10/1899, Frank Needham 4/25/1902, Ernestine Black 3/25/1907, Charles F. McGuire 11/11/1911, John Menary 1/5/1914, George W. Bennet Jr. 4/7/1924, John L. Lewis 6/25/1934, George H. Wayland 9/30/1949, (Code Titles for 1952 to the present: P-Postmaster, OIC- Officer in Charge)— Lawrence A. Carlson-P 4/19/1951, Lois E. Turner-P 6/3/1978, Connie D. Daily OIC 11/20/1986, Arvid D. Wiest-P 1/31/1987, Harold R. McClintic-OIC, 1/22/1990, Carl D. Christen-OIC 3/16/1990, Gregory G. Lamphiear-OIC 6/01/1990, Holly A. Tullis OIC 1/17/1991, Donna E. Jensen-P 2/23/1991, Melva Phillips-OIC 1/26/1993, Pamela L. Schaben-P 10/30/1993, Ann Griebel-OIC 11/13/2002, and Ann Griebel-P 03/08/2003.
Some information for the markers was taken from the book “One Hundred Years on the South Loup” by Norene Hall Mills. Written and prepared by Berni Crow 6/6/20