April 24, 2014 - 14:42
Adams Makes Post Office History
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Article Author: Marian Bailey Presswood, Polk County Historian
For most of us it was just an ordinary Saturday, but when Paul Adams was officially appointed Benton's new Postmaster on October 6th 2012, he went down in our history books as Postmaster # 30.


For most of us it was just an ordinary Saturday, but when Paul Adams was officially appointed Benton's new Postmaster on October 6th 2012, he went down in our history books as Postmaster # 30. That's counting from when the county was formed the 28th of November 1839 with Jonas Hoyal selected as the first postmaster of Bentonville on July 15, 1840.  Hoyal only served one year as did many subsequent appointees, with a few exceptions, and several people served more than one non-sequential terms.  And there were a couple of acting postmasters over that 173 year history. 

I won't name all the postmasters nor all the dozens of post offices we've had around the county since it was formed, for all that info has been published many times in the Polk News. And it is all in our History of Polk County book by former Historian Roy Lillard edited by Marian Presswood in 1999 and available at the Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society's Library.

Paul is not a new face to patrons of the Benton Post Office - nor even those of Tennga, Ducktown, Decatur, Tellico Plains nor Apison, for he served short stints in all of them since he first came to Benton as a clerk in September 1998. Even the office of Postmaster is not new to Paul, since he served Ducktown and Tennga in that capacity and as Officer-in-Charge in others.

Paul is a native Polk Countian, having been born in Copperhill to Linda Early, and is married to Laura Darden, niece of Dr. David Darden, our county medical examiner, and wife Jan.  Paul and Laura are parents of two sons, Noah, 12 and Seth, 8. 

When asked why he sought the position of Postmaster at Benton, Paul replied that having a wide variety of experiences over the county he had learned that the one issue that so many patrons had was with out-of-town postmasters who might not understand the ways of small town people in Polk County. Since he's 'one of us' his goal is to serve the needs of all the patrons of the Benton Post Office with efficiency and courtesy.

Today's process is totally unlike the olden days when mail was dropped in the slot in the foyer or simply handed to the clerk at the front desk who hand stamped the item and just walked over to the patron's box and placed it inside. Today, everything is shipped out to a local distribution center, ours is in Chattanooga, where it is sorted overnight and shipped back to the local facility in what they call 'delivery point sequence' to then be placed in the boxes either in the facility or out on the rural route. By the way, our local mail carriers are Mark Brian, Terri Freeman, Jen Stinnet and Heather Hamby, and our clerks are Regina Milen and Cindy Pankey.  Regina is currently on medical leave until December. 

I recently saw an old ledger from the Benton Post Office in the 1930s that said Postmaster J. D. Clemmer's salary for April 1934 was $49.25, and clerk Barton 'Granny' Sweeney was paid $18 that month.  J. D.'s son, Dan Clemmer, had the longest continuous service of anyone, as he was appointed Benton Postmaster 11 April 1937 and retired 36 years later, 12 October 1973.

Paul has proven to be very friendly and helpful, trying his best to meet the wide variety of needs required of today's postal service We congratulate and welcome him in his official position as Benton's 30th  Postmaster, and wish him the best as he strives to serve our community. (We also hope the salary schedule has improved a bit since the 1930s.)

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