US #Q5 – Several instances of children traveling through the mail were by train.

On February 19, 1914, parents in Idaho took advantage of the affordable Parcel Post rate to mail their daughter to her grandmother’s house.  It was one of several instances of people mailing children using stamps.

A year earlier, the Post Office Department had initiated its Parcel Post service for fourth-class mail on January 1, 1913.  Parcel Post service could be used to send items weighing 16 ounces or more through the mail.  The mail is divided into four classes, with Parcel Post making up the fourth class.  Almost any type of merchandise could be mailed parcel post, including day-old chicks, baby alligators, and honeybees.  Only items that could be dangerous to handle could not be sent through Parcel Post.

Q4 - 1913 4c Parcel Post Stamp - Rural Carrier
US #Q4 pictures a rural mail carrier.

It wasn’t long after the new service began that parents found an interesting loophole.  None of the regulations concerning parcel post prohibited the mailing of people, and other living beings were being mailed that way.  In January 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beauge of Glen Este, Ohio, sent their young son via Rural Free Delivery one mile to his grandmother’s.  The parents paid 15¢ for the stamps and insured their son for $50.  Later that month, a family in Pine Hollow, Pennsylvania mailed their daughter to relatives in Clay Hollow at a cost of 45¢.

Q3 - 1913 3c Parcel Post Stamp - Railway Post
US #Q3 pictures a railway postal clerk.

Then on February 19, 1914, five-year-old May Pierstorff’s parents in Grangeville, Idaho, wanted to send their daughter to visit her grandparents 73 miles away.  They placed 53¢ in stamps on her coat and handed her over to the postal worker on the railway mail train, who also happened to be a relative.  Despite her safe delivery to her grandmother’s doorstep, once Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson heard her story, he officially prohibited postal workers from accepting humans to be mailed.

Q1-12 - 1912-13 Parcel Post Stamps 12v
US #Q1-12 – Click the image to get all 12 Parcel Post stamps.

In spite of this, a woman mailed her six-year-old daughter 720 miles from Florida to Virginia the following year for 15¢.  The last known instance of a child being mailed came in August 1915, when three-year-old Maud Smith was mailed from her grandparents to her sick mother in Kentucky.  Even after this, some people attempted to mail children, but postmasters rejected their applications claiming they couldn’t be classified as “harmless live animals.”

US #JQ1-5 – Click the image to get all 5 Parcel Post Due stamps.

Click here to pick out the individual Parcel Post and Parcel Post Postage Due stamps you need.

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  1. On February 16, on the PDF format, you had the pictures of the stamps in color, which was great and I commented on it. But that was only for one day. I have printed This Day in History articles every day since you started the program to send to a friend. The PDF format saves paper and ink. Hope you will be able to produce the articles with the stamps in color again. Thanks for creating this program …. very interesting history lessons revelant to stamps.

  2. I can’t imagine sending a child through the mail be it then or be it now. Call me over protective, but sending my child into the unknown just seems impossible for me. I know we are in a different time and place, but have we really changed that much? Thank you Mystic for showing the many ways in which stamps have been used. Very interesting!

  3. This was very intriguing article! I had heard of this but didn’t know the detail.

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