Photo of the Week 

——— December 11th > 17th, 2023 ———


“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck 


Long Island’s First Rural-Free Postal Delivery Route



Photo: Mailboxes, Sound Ave., Riverhead, c. 1899, by Hal B. Fullerton.  (From the Harry T. Tuthill Fullerton Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library & Archive. Image copyright (c) Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

[To view the Fullerton photo, please visit the SCHS website:]


For many years in the nineteenth century, mail for the residents of Northville was delivered in an unusual manner. The closest post office was in Upper Aquebogue, and mail addressed to Northville residents came to that office by rail after 1844. A separate post office called Success was conducted in North Road farmhouses between 1838 and 1880, with farmer-postmasters managing the system during those years. The mail was picked up at Upper Aquebogue and brought to the farmhouse-post office for distribution.

Finally, in 1899, the Riverhead Town Agricultural Society solved the mail delivery problem by having the Riverhead Post Office establish a rural-free delivery route. This was the first rural delivery route on Long Island, and it ran north on Roanoke Avenue, east on the North Road to Herricks Lane, south to the Main Road, and west to Riverhead. Mail boxes were placed on the roadside in front of the houses, and each weekday the carrier drove the route by horse and wagon to deliver the mail. At the same time, the North Road’s name was changed to Sound Avenue, the name it bears today. In this Fullerton image from our collection, the center mailbox reads “99 Sound Ave.” 


Further Reading: Long Island Postal History Society Newsletter and Journal, 1980+; Thomas M. Stark, Riverhead: The Halycon Years, 1861-1919 (Maple Tree Press, 2005).

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian


For the entire month of December, when you buy a reusable $2.50 Community Bag at the Riverhead Stop & Shop store, the Suffolk County Historical Society will receive a $1 donation!

 Thank you for your support! 


Copyright © 2023 Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.  


Suffolk County Historical Society
300 West Main St.
Riverhead, NY 11901



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