Thursday, May 18, 2017

Moses N. Marsh and the Tallahoma post office

Artifacts related to Tallahoma --- one of three Western Stage Coach Co. stops in Lucas County and U.S. post office from 1853-1875 --- are few and far between. But, somewhat remarkably, the certificate confirming the appointment of Moses N. Marsh as postmaster on March 10, 1863, has survived in near perfect condition and has been on display since the 1970s at the Lucas County Historical Society museum. 

It was donated during 1971 by Theo Lang Wilson, then of Indianola, a descendant of Marsh.

If you were traveling through Lucas County by stage coach during 1853, your coach would have stopped to change horses first at Lagrange, on the Lucas-Monroe county line, then at Henry Allen's log hotel on the southeast corner of the Chariton square. Exiting northwest Chariton on the stage route to Osceola, Tallahoma would have been the next stop --- on rising ground just west of White Breast Creek in Jackson Township, a couple of miles northeast of Lucas. The latter town did not appear until after the railroad passed through in 1867.

Tallahoma was a joint commercial enterprise of East Tennessee natives John Branner and his protege, Edwin C. Rankin, who arrived in Lucas County during 1853 with military land warrants purchased at discounted rates from Mexican War veterans and, using them, acquired thousands of acres of land. Branner, who located in Chariton, was the major player; Ranken, acting on his own behalf and as Branner's agent, located at Tallahoma.

The name was derived from a town in Tennessee, Tullahoma, familiar to both Branner and Rankin. But the postal department inadvertently spelled the name with an "a" rather than a "u" and Tallahoma it became.

In addition to the stage stop, stabling for horses and a blacksmith shop, the Rankins also operated a small general store at Tallahoma. Beds and meals were available for travelers, too. It was never a town, however, and vanished a few years after the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad was built a couple of miles to the south and the new town --- and post office --- of Lucas established alongside it.


Rankin was named postmaster on Aug. 23, 1853, and held the post for 10 years before passing the torch to Marsh during 1863.

Marsh, a native of Massachusetts, arrived in Jackson Township during the same year Branner and Rankin, did --- during 1853 --- along with his wife, Maria, and their older children, and settled just southwest of what became Tallahoma. By 1860, he was prospering --- the owner of real estate valued at $7,000, a considerable sum at the time.

Sadly, Moses had very little time left to serve, once appointed, as postmaster. He died at age 42 on Sept. 8, 1863, and his remains were brought into Chariton for burial in the new cemetery just established on the south edge of town.

Without a postmaster, the Tallahoma post office was discontinued on Oct. 16, 1863, but re-established on Nov. 28 of that year when David Webster was appointed to fill the vacancy. A year later, on Dec. 15, 1864, Edwin Rankin was reappointed and continued to serve until June 7, 1875, when the Tallahoma post office was discontinued for good. He packed up his family and headed farther west.

By this time, Lucas was a thriving village and the Norwood Post Office had been established, too. Passengers who once traveled by stage coach now traveled in considerably more comfort aboard trains. Those who once had purchased goods at the Tallahoma store now shopped in Lucas --- or Chariton, or Norwood --- instead.

And Tallahoma became little more than a footnote to Lucas County history.

No comments: