Linda Broday: A True Oddity

 

scenerySeveral strange things have come to light over the last few years but nothing odder than mailing children through the postal service in 1913. There were no laws on the books then so it was perfectly legal. You can bet the law was changed soon after.
While there were a few documented cases, most were publicity stunts according to the website Snopes.com. It was certainly not routine by any means to slap stamps onto children’s clothing and hand them over to the postman.
Most were cases of parents asking their mailman to carry their child a relative short distance to a relative’s house. The child would be put on the train with the appropriate postage and listed as mail. In that way they didn’t have to buy train fare therefore a lot cheaper.
In another instance, the newspaper in Batavia, Ohio reported this:
“Vernon O. Lytle, mail carrier on rural route No. 5, is the first man to accept and deliver under parcel post conditions a live baby. The baby, a boy weighing 10-3/4 pounds, just within the 11 pound weight limit, is the child of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beagle of Glen Este. The boy was well wrapped and ready for “mailing” when the carrier received him to-day. Mr. Lytle delivered the boy safely at the address on the card attached, that of the boy’s grandmother, Mrs. Louis Beagle, who lives about a mile distant. The postage was fifteen cents and the parcel was insured for $50.”
These pictures are in the Smithsonian but there is no verification of their validity.

 mailchildren

There were only two known cases of this happening but I’m wondering what those parents were thinking. Who in their right mind would mail their kid?
It would certainly make an entertaining detail in a story though. I’ve never read a book where the author used it.
Do you know of any other oddities?
I’m giving away either a Barnes and Noble or Amazon gift card for $25. Just leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.
Linda Broday
I live in the Texas Panhandle where we love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/
Updated: June 14, 2014 — 3:55 pm

46 Comments

  1. Who would even think of such a thing? And imagine what the postage would be today! LOL. Cool post.

  2. That sounds crazy to me. Then again, there are times that seems like a good idea. That little boy of mine is quite the rowdy one. Lol.

  3. That most certainly sounds crazy. I can’t imagine mailing a kid. It’s almost as bad as sending a kid all by them self on a plane somewhere.

  4. Oh my goodness. I just couldn’t imagine mailing a child. It puts an entire new meaning into the words “fragile” written on the outside of a package. I sure hope they were more gentle with anything shipped back then because we all know how they are now. Things sure have changed since then.

  5. I bet those old photos were kind of gag. Dad or grandpa was a mail carrier and they thought it’d be cute to stick the toddler in the bag for a picture.
    I can’t image sending a child on train or coach with a ticket alone either. At least the mail carrier would have to keep an eye on his “package” to be delivered.
    Neat post.

  6. Good Morning, Alisa…….Can you just imagine trying to decide how to send your child today? Fed-Ex? UPS? Regular mail? So many options. I found this bit of history really funny. Slap a stamp on them and give them to the mailman. I read of one instance where the child sat in the mail car of the train with all the other mail. Just crazy. Have a good day.

  7. AmyC and Faith……..This boggled my mind when I read it. But then it tickled my funny bone also. I’m picturing a mailman changing diapers and giving a baby a bottle as he made his rounds. Too funny. If that happened today we’d never get our mail. Just bizarre. You ladies have a good day.

  8. Hi Janine…….Yep, just slap a stamp on his/her clothes and write fragile across them. They did have a weight limit too. Nothing over 11 pounds. That meant the mailman would have to change diapers and give bottles. I’m laughing. You have a good day.

  9. Good Morning Janie……..I’m glad you enjoyed my post. And glad I could give you a laugh. A good way to start the day. I love finding these odd, bizarre bits of history. I’d love to put something like this in a book one of these days.

  10. This was very interesting. I’m wondering how much the mailman enjoyed delivery a baby.

  11. In the old days people were a lot more trusting!

    I read, possibly/probably here at P&P, about someone sending a building out West brick by brick.

    Now a days unfortunately, people mail bombs!

    I love to hear stories of letters miraculously being delivered 25 and 50 years later. Where were they resting for all the in between years?

  12. Good Morning, Cathy………Glad you enjoyed my post. I’m sure the mailman balked at having to deliver someone’s child, even in the rare instance where it happened. Maybe the sender had to slip him a few bucks. LOL Have a good day!

  13. Good Morning, Laurie G……..People were definitely more trusting back then. I, too, have read about people shipping a house brick by brick. That certainly happened. And Montgomery Ward shipped quite a few odd things. They were the Walmart of the day. I love looking at those old 1800’s catalogs and seeing what all they had for sale. Have a great day!

  14. This is not particularly exciting for those who are used to it, but as kids the mail-order chicks were always fun. My mother still gets a call each year from the post office begging her to come pick up her chicks (the cheeping of 30 chicks bouncing off and amplified by a stone floor and walls apparently can drive one mad in less than 15 minutes). Granted, immediately upon hatching chicks can go roughly 48-72 hours before they absolutely need water; children might be a different story.

  15. What a fascinating post which caught my interest. Thanks for this information.

  16. I had a cake decorator from a nearby town for one of my daughter’s weddings and she said when we were done with the base of the cake, a heavy round board, she needed it back.

    She said to just take the clean round board, slap an address label on it and mail it that way, don’t wrap it. She said people return it to her like that all the time.

    I wonder what other perfectly solid thing could be mailed like that?

  17. This is definitely scary and intriguing. Cannot overlook this at all since it is unbelievable.

  18. Linda, mailing children really was an oddity and thank you for sharing. The post office has other odd tales. I remember reading about a slave who mailed himself to freedom and it actually worked.

    And what about the college student who recently received a $350,000 drone in the mail by accident?

  19. Hi Rachel…….I have heard of people ordering chicks through the mail. That seems really weird to me but it seems to be done all the time. I’m sure that post office was grateful when your mom took them off their hands. They’re not very loud but after a few minutes all that chirping would rub your nerves raw. Have a great day!

  20. Hi Elaina…….I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. I thought it might be of interest. Have a great day!

  21. Hi Mary…….Wow! I never really imagined you could return something like that that way. Good grief. I’ll bet there are lots of things that we’d never think of that could be mailed through the postal service. Hope you have a very special day.

  22. Hi Anne…….Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. These unusual things really catch your attention. There were only two documented cases of this but those two got the law changed in a hurry. Have a great day!

  23. Hi Margaret……..How wonderful for that slave to reach freedom even if he did have to mail himself. Great story. I’m sure there are so many unusual things sent through the mail. I’d love to find some stories. And that drone mistakenly sent to that college student sure took the cake! I cannot imagine. Wishing you a wonderful day!

  24. That is one of the funniest blogs I’ve ever read! I laughed right out loud. Can you imagine leaving a note on the mailbox to the mail carrier to pick up a package and it be a baby all bundled up and waiting? 🙂 Just too funny! Great post, Sister!

  25. How the world has changed. I enjoyed learning about this thought provoking feature.

  26. This was the most intriguing post yet. I wonder how it happened and what people thought.

  27. Linda,

    Thankfully, it seems that most of these instances, at least, that you talked about, were just short distances. A mile, etc. I can’t imagine, as a mother, sending my baby even a mile down the road with the mailman in his mailbag! What a great post. Gives you something to think about, doesn’t it? LOL
    Cheryl

  28. Hi Jan…….I’m glad I could give you a laugh. This really tickled my funny bone too. I can’t imagine putting a postman in charge of your baby. Just too weird for words. I’m sure a lot of mothers would want to ship their child off somewhere at times. Glad you enjoyed it. I hope you have an awesome day taking care of your little bundle of joy. Love you!

  29. Hi Ellie and Pearl………I’m so glad my post entertained you. That was my desire. It’s an interesting piece of history that few know about. While there were only two documented cases, I’m still shocked at those two. There might’ve been others that didn’t get documented. It didn’t take long for them to get the law changed making it illegal to mail your children. Both of you ladies have a wonderful day!

  30. Hi Cheryl……..Glad you liked my post. I laughed all while I was writing it. Surprisingly, there are lots of articles about this on the Internet. Very strange deal. I cannot a mailman having to deal with a baby while making his rounds!! Lord help. Have a great day!

  31. Wow I cant believe people actually did that. I smiled because I joked with my kiddos that if they were getting a little to much to handle I would mail them to their grandma of course just joking. My boys always think its funny when I said it, and now my five year old tells me, “mom if you don’t behave dad and I will mail you to grandma” hahaha sometimes I think he is 5 going on 25 hahah.

  32. Linda,

    I couldn’t believe this story the first time I saw it. Like others commenting, I can’t imagine slapping a stamp on my child, stuffing them into a mailman’s bag and sending them on their way to grannie’s. 🙂 There are so many oddities in history, it’s always fun to find these “believe it, nor not” stories.

    Kirsten

  33. Hi Cori……..Glad you enjoyed it. It sure seems to be giving everyone a chuckle today. I thought it was hilarious when I ran across it. Better hide the stamps from your five year old! Have a great day!

  34. Hi Kirsten…….Thanks for dropping by to comment. Yes, everyone seems to be enjoying it. It’s too funny for words. Guess it’s good to be able to laugh. Have a good day!

  35. Linda, I just read about this the other day! Hubs and I both remarked about it. CRAZY. Our mail man is such a nutjob, I can’t even trust him with my mail! Great post.

  36. Interesating to say the least…

  37. Oh my goodness… the things you find out! I would not trust the post office… they have lost quite a bit of my mail through the years…

  38. The pictures are so funny. They have to be staged but what a great picture. I heard that they created the ‘parcel post’ designation and people mailed a couple of babies and the Postal Service refined their rules almost instantly to put a stop to it.

  39. I also found this:
    Mailing May
    Nowadays it’s no big deal for a girl to travel seventy-five miles. But when Charlotte May Pierstorff wanted to cross seventy-five miles of Idaho mountains to see her grandma in 1914, it was a very big deal indeed. There was no highway except the railroad, and a train ticket would have cost her parents a full day’s pay.
    Here is the true story of how May got to visit her grandma, thanks to her own spunk, her father’s ingenuity, and the U.S. mail.
    >>>
    It was about a five year old girl who didn’t have $1.55 for a ticket to go visit her grandma. SO instead they mails her as a baby chick through the US Postal Service. Instead it only cost her $0.53 than the $1.55 it would cost to buy a ticket.

  40. Hi Linda – Wow, that IS odd! I would never believed anyone would get away with it, but then, look what’s happening with children at our borders today. Truth is stranger than fiction, they say.

  41. Of all things! I have heard of plants and animals being mailed but never a baby. What a delivery that would be!

  42. I have seen these pics before and can’t believe anyone would do such a thing if they LOVED their child! It had to be risky. Truth is stranger than fiction, though, right?

  43. Hi Linda, this is a wonderful post. You had told me about it but didn’t ruin it by telling me the part about Vernon O. Lytle and the fact that the child was “just under the mailing limit” postage or whatever. Insured for $50.00! WOW, now we know what a child was worth in those days. I love this post. Honestly one of my favorites; although I have a ton of favorites from the fillies. I also loved that the baby was wrapped securely. In those days I guess the parents were proud that they could afford the postage and INSURANCE on the child. It is so much fun to run across a piece of history that few have heard about. Love it, my friend. P

  44. Mary………This would be great stuff to put in a book! There is lots about it on the Internet. I’m not surprised you found this about Charlotte May Pierstoff. Yes, I’m sure the lawmakers got busy because they got a new law passed right away making it illegal. This is just so bizarre.

  45. I have never heard of this before. Although I have been mad at my child enough a few time to think about mailing him somewhere but I would never do it. Just kidding I only have one son and I wouldn’t take a farm in Georgia for him. He is a good man now.

  46. I have to admit that there were times that I would like to have shipped on of my kids to their grandparents but it was only a fleeting thought. Of course it was illegal by then, 🙂

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