Postal Service in Water Mill
Little is known about early mail delivery. Steamboats made regular trips to Sag Harbor and Long Island stagecoaches had scheduled runs to East Hampton by mid-19th century and they most likely carried mail to the east end. This mail was usually dropped at general stores or other places residents regularly visited.
The first post office on Long Island opened in 1789 in Sag Harbor.
In 1866, Stephen Squires was appointed the first postmaster in Water Mill. His "post office" was probably a locked desk in the water mill.
The first general store in Water Mill was owned by Samuel Corwith and later his grandson James. Both men were postmasters and had a small area set aside as a "post office".
James Jennings purchased the store and became postmaster in 1907. He kept a roll down desk, his "post office", in the front corner of the store. The desk usually had its top rolled down but a slit cut into the side of the desk served as a letter drop.
Bailey Scholtz purchased the general store. The post office continued to be in the store for a few years before he built an annex on the left for the post office. This was the first time the Water Mill post office had its own building.
Scholtz eventually added a second annex to the general store on the west for the post office as he wanted to use the first annex for the expansion of the store.
Scholtz was postmaster 1942 - 1946.
Many railroads, including the Long Island Railroad, had a railroad Post Office car (RPO) with a Railway Service Postal Clerk who sorted the mail as the train traveled between communities.
Water Mill ceased to be a railroad stop in the fall of 1950. With the creation of the Interstate Highway System truck transport gradually replaced trains and by 1970 trains no longer carried first class mail.
The 25 chick box on the left was shipped from Cameron, Texas to North Sea Mecox Road resident Carl Zeh.
This box was used by Charles M. Corwith who had his farm and chicken business on Deerfield Road.
The display eggs in the box are Corwith's dummy eggs that could be put in chicken's nests to stimulate egg production.
The second Water Mill Post Office is where Arthur Muller started his career as Postmaster. He was appointed Water Mill's thirteenth postmaster on April 12, 1946.
According to Arthur Muller all the furnishing except the roll top desk was homemade. The U.S. Postal Department only supplied a clock, scales, lock boxes and a safe.
"Peach baskets served as wastebaskets, a beer case was nailed to the wall to hold tags and labels, a Winchester ammunition box was used to catch mail as it came through the letter drop. The beer case was left unpainted so it could be redeemed at a later date for 50 cents."
In the early post offices most of the furnishings were homemade. It wasn't until 1961 that the Postal Service supplied the Water Mill Post Office with some old oak furniture. Arthur refinished those pieces and 50 years later they are still in use in the current post office.
Ccitation of Merit Award
President Johnson, at the urging of his wife, established a Natural Beauty Program whose purpose was to improve the landscape of the nation.
Federal post offices were encouraged by the Postmaster General to join the national campaign by improving the appearance of their post office.
Arthur Muller accepted the challenge building and installing wooden grids on the front windows of the post office. In front of those Windows he placed two flower boxes he had built and filled with flowers.
In May 1966 he received a Citation of Merit Award from a postal regional director which he accepted on behalf of the citizens of Water Mill and the Water Mill Community Club.