Amateur Historian Campaigns For "Barefoot Mailman" Postage Stamp

Top Quote A 15 year old Florida girl wants the post office to honor the "Barefoot Mailman of the 1880's & 90's, idea was rejected 42 years Ago for "ridiculous" reason. End Quote
  • West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL (1888PressRelease) August 13, 2010 - When 15 year old Hayley Crowell started researching the legendary South Florida Barefoot Mailman, she discovered that in 1968 there was an effort to get the United States Postal Service to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of the shoeless pioneers.

    The idea was rejected out of the fear that "hippy, non-conformist" letter carriers, particularly in California, would emulate the 19th century mailmen and make their rounds barefooted.

    Crowell, who has spent two years studying the Barefoot Mailman, now wants the postal service to take another look and pay tribute to their old time predecessors, one of whom lost his life on the job.

    "The hippies are gone and 42 years have passed, I think it's time for a Barefoot Mailman stamp", says the high school student, a sophomore at Saint. Andrew's School in Boca Raton.

    Crowell has contacted Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee/ Stamp Development Department at the U.S. Postal Service in Arlington VA. asking them to consider the idea. She has also contacted Florida Senator's Bill Nelson and George LeMieux, as well as Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ron Klein, hoping they might help.

    The Barefoot Mailmen carried mail from West Palm Beach to Miami. They walked along the wet, hard pack sand on the Atlantic coastline from 1885 to 1892, finding it advantageous to remove their shoes. It took almost a week to make the arduous round trip a total of 136 miles. It was among the most unique mail routes in US postal history.

    During their trips, the mailmen walked through the completely uninhabited seaside that would eventually become towns such as Riviera Beach, Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Highland Beach, Boca Raton, Hillsboro Beach, Pompano Beach, Hollywood and others.

    On October 11, 1887, letter carrier James E. Hamilton perished on this route while crossing the Hillsboro Inlet north of Ft. Lauderdale. Until Crowell's research, it was generally believed Hamilton was attacked by alligators while attempting to swim the murky 200 foot wide channel.

    Then in 2008, the amateur historian uncovered evidence that contradicted the widely accepted version of the story. Crowell discovered long lost and forgotten accounts that stated the ill-fated mailman's small boat was overturned at the inlet by sharks and he was devoured by the man eaters. A witness to the tragedy offered a chilling, and previously unknown details.

    Some of Crowell's friends call her a Nancy Drew for her investigative and mystery solving abilities. She has started a Barefoot Mailman Facebook page which is becoming a central source for information on the topic.

    In her attempt to gain the postal service's attention, Crowell has gone so far as to design five Barefoot Mailman stamps as she imagines the final versions, if produced, might appear.

    Whether the postal service can be persuaded remains to be seen but to Crowell, the historic men need to be honored and appreciated and to her, a postage stamp would be a fitting and appropriate tribute.

    Contact - 561 361 7003

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