Was New York’s First Female Letter Carrier From Mastic Beach?

Local resident Tami Southard, has always been a big history fan and knows that there is so much to learn about our communities past that she asked Tri Hamlet News, “Do you guys know that the first female letter carrier is from Mastic Beach?  Mrs. Potts?”

We didn’t know this information so we decided to do a little research.

We found on spoonercentral.com, that Phyllis Callahan Potts had lived mainly in Mastic Beach on Daisy Drive since 1937.  In 1985, she retired from a very long career at the Mastic Beach Post Office.  It is stated, “that she truly made history when she became the first female mail carrier in New York State.”

Before we could post this historical finding, we needed to dig a little deeper on the internet to see if other websites or blogs had any information on the first New York female letter carrier.

Wikipedia notes that Susanna A. Brunner from New York, was known to be a mail carrier in the 1880’s.  It doesn’t state if she was the “first” female to take on this position.  Miss Brunner carried the mail from Port Washington to Great Neck, Long Island, from 1881 to 1885, while in her early 20’s.

After the introduction of rural free delivery in October 1896, more women joined the ranks of carriers delivering mail to customers.  At least 11 women are listed as substitute rural carriers in the 1899 Official Register of the United States, filling in for husbands or family members when the need arose.  In the 1901 Official Register of the United States, it listed Mrs. Allie M. Merville of Bliss, New York, as a full-time rural carrier.  It doesn’t imply that she was the “first” female carrier in New York.

Other than spoonercentral.com, there are no specific findings that would prove Phyllis Callahan Potts of Mastic Beach, to be the first female mail carrier of New York.  On the contrary, it doesn’t prove that she wasn’t the first either.

“For 35 years, she has always been the first in my eyes,” said Tami Southard.  “You never know who your neighbors are unless you treat them like family.”

PHOTO (courtesy spoonercentral.com):  Phyllis and friend sitting pretty on a 1937 Ford about 1945.

  1. Phyllis (my mom) was the first MOUNTED female letter carrier in NYS, as I understand. That meant she was able to drive the mail truck. I guess they delivered by horse back before that. She was always thankful that she got that job at the post office. I guess she broke the glass ceiling for many women, but she is humble when it comes to her accomplishments. She remembers the William Floyd Parkway when it was a dirt trail. she remembers walking around the neighborhood after the Hurricane of ’38 and seeing only plumbing pipes in the air with a bathtub attached, where a house used to be. She remains a woman of character, is a student of positive thought and actions, is a human rights and world peace activist. She has a varied group of people who remain her friends. Thank you Tami Southard for your interest, and Ken Spooner for her photo, as a teenager in Mastic Beach. Kathy Potts

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