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 Samuel Leroy “Sam” Zane

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Samuel Leroy “Sam” Zane

  • Birth 16 Aug 1861 Menard County, Illinois, USA
  • Death 2 Dec 1953 Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri, USA
  • Burial Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri, USA
  • Plot Bl 22 Lot 10 Sp 6
  • Memorial ID 56616147

FATHER: James S. Zane
MOTHER: Rachael Purviance Zane
Wife: Mary Belle Zane
Resided at 422 Cooper St. Carthage, MO
Occupation: Mail carrier (retired

The following article was published in the Carthage Evening Press newspaper on Tuesday, August 10, 1926 at the time of his retirement


"You know, I just never could kill a chicken," said a Carthage woman recently. There is no "man of the house" at her home to do the necessary killing of chickens for Sunday dinners. "But I know at what time to expect Mr. Zane on his daily trip," she continued, "and so I have my chicken ready when he comes and he kills it for me."

Mr. Zane, or Sam Zane, as he is know to nearly everybody in Carthage, has in his 36 years of delivering mail become one of the town's best loved citizens. No doubt his popularity is largely due to his readiness to be accommodating. Kill chickens is just one of the incidents he considers as "all in a day's work."
In housecleaning seasons, as he drops a letter into someone's mail box he is likely to be greeted by the housewife, all *beginghamed and with a housecleaning implement in her hand, something like this: "Oh, good morning, Mr. Zane. Would you please help me move the piano?" Mr. Zane obligingly does so, and then, having again shouldered his mail pack, is on his way, and it may be that a few doors down the street he finds another piano to move. Or perhaps a chicken to kill.
Mr. Zane is going to retire from service on pension, having reached the age limit. He will celebrate his 65th birthday anniversary on August 16 and will deliver mail for the last time on Saturday, August 14. In point of service, he is probably the oldest letter carrier in southwest Missouri.

First Carried Mail on Horseback
When free mail delivery was established in Carthage in the late eighties, only two carriers were employed. George Taylor had the east half of town, and Ed Murdock the west half. George Blakeney was postmaster then. None of these three are now living.
On August 10, 1890 Mr. Zane succeeded Mr. Taylor as carrier for the east half. At this time T. K. Irwin was postmaster. For the first 15 months Mr. Zane carried his mail on horseback, with the pouch slung on the saddle. Then for nearly 15 years he used a cart and horse. On October 1, 1905 he began to walk. In the 21 years since then he has walked approximately 65,000 miles, and has lost only a few days from work on account of illness. This mileage estimate is conservatively made, computing at the rate of 10 miles a day. At intervals each year the government requires its letter carriers to use pedometers, and Mr. Zane's pedometer shows that he walks from 10 to 15 miles each day. Before 1905 he walked much of the time beside his cart and so he figures that in the entire 36 years he has walked at least 100,000 miles.

Slow to Accept Free Delivery
In the early days people were slow to accept free delivery of mail. They preferred to go to the post office, and loud was the protest when the post office was no longer opened on Sundays for the distribution of mail. Weekly newspapers largely filled the carrier's pouch. Letters were written far less frequently now. One winter the residence carriers delivered by lantern light because the train service and carriers' schedule were such that the afternoon delivery was not started until between 4 and 5 o'clock.
While using a horse and cart Mr. Zane experience several runaways, and in all the years since then he has had a frequently recurring dream in which his horse becomes frightened and runs away and the mail is scattered over the road.

Keeps Weather Record
For 20 years Mr. Zane has kept diaries which include a weather record. Weather conditions rarely deter a city postman from completing his daily mail deliveries. The flood in the spring of 1923 is recalled by Mr. Zane as the only time high waters actually prevented his completing the route. Not infrequently, in the early days, he says, Carter's branch overflowed so that in that neighborhood he rode on top on the box of his mail cart in order to keep dry, the water inundating the cart. He also recalls the snowstorm of December 7, 1917. It began snowing on Friday, and on Saturday and Monday following, the city letter carriers were among the few persons working in the open who were hardy enough to go ahead despite the depth of the snow. Newspaper carrier boys also were not daunted.
It is not generally realized how many falls on icy steps a postman may have in the course of a wintry day's work.
Every postman has observed that families moving in from northern climates and accustomed to snow and ice are among the first to have their walks and steps cleaned after a storm.

Christmas Card a Bugbear
To a postman one of the bugbears of the Christmas season is greeting cards. A large number of cards are mailed every year, and the fact that they are not uniform in size makes them difficult to handle in quantities.
The Christmas rush begins about December 22, and although extra help is employed, most of the postal force work several hours overtime every day for a while in that season.
There are about 20 persons still on Mr. Zane's route to whom he carried mail 36 years ago. Some of them are grandparents now, and he has followed the progress of their lives since the days when he delivered their love letters.
Here are the names on this list, all of them representing well-known Carthage citizens: Mrs. M. C. Buntin, Sam Lee, Bird Belts Wolcott, (Mrs. H. A. Wolcott), F. A. Cushman, George W. Fugitt, Sue Hart Fisher, A. P. Johnson, George D. Leggett, Ellen Logsdon, Floy Miller Sloan, Mrs. S. O. Morrow, Mrs. A. A. Metsker, C. B. Platt, Gussie Parke Smith (Mrs. Eb Smith), Mrs. Sarah W. Rhonds, Fred Stebbins, H. A. Wolcott, Georgia Wood Irwin (Mrs. Ed H. Irwin). George B. Wood and family, and Sam Wheeler.

Pension Pack Dwindles
During his first years in the mail service, Mr. Zane carried stacks of pensions every month to war veterans. Those have dwindled until now there are only a few Civil War pensions. He still delivers one Mexican War pension.
When American boys were overseas in the world war, the letter carriers at home had the task of facing anxious mothers watching for them daily, and so many times there was the necessity of says "no letter today." But there were also occasions when the postman was privileged to see on eager faces the first joy of receiving a letter from over there.
In addition to killing chickens and moving pianos, a postman finds on his daily round such duties as locating and rescuing lost children, calling doctors, putting out fires, turning fir alarms, rescuing children tied to trees, and even ordering groceries. And no carrier who is in the service any length of time escapes being dog-bitten. All of these things have gone into Mr. Zane's experiences.

The Postman's "Real Cross"
However, these are more trifles. The real cross a postman bears is that of "postage due." He is required to purchases postage-due stamps from the government with his own funds and to affix them to mail that is insufficiently stamped. Although technically the mail is not to be delivered to the addresses until payment of the postage due, a postman rarely holds back any mail but too often when he hands it over his only reimbursement for the postage due which he has paid is a light promise -"I'll pay you on your next trip." The incident is forgotten, and the carrier finds it difficult to keep account of these small amounts, which total in a comparatively short time to considerable sums. "I think I could buy a Cadillac with the money I've been out on postage due, if it were compounded," remarked Mr. Zane.
Another matter in which persons show themselves inconsiderate of a postman's time and duties is in asking him to purchase and affix stamps for the letters they request him to mail. Under government regulations carriers are not expected to take letters from homes for mailing, but is often done as a matter of accommodation. When the letters are unstamped they naturally require time and attention from the postman.

Came in Covered Wagon
Mr. Zane is a true old-timer, having come to Carthage in a covered wagon in the fall of 1869. He was born in Menard county, Illinois and from there the family traveled westward to Carthage when he was a boy of eight years. There were two younger brothers. The railroad point nearest to Carthage at that time was Sedalia. Mr. Zane attended school here that winter, and in the spring the family moved to what is now the W. O. Cragg farm, 12 miles northeast of Carthage. His father, James S. Zane, was elected sheriff in the fall of 1872, and the Zanes moved back to town and lived here during his time in office until 1878, when they returned to the farm. The father died in 1883. In the spring of 1890 Mr. Zane again moved to Carthage, and in August of that year began his work as letter carrier. He married Miss Minnie Gladden, who was reared in Carthage and is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Gladden, now deceased. His mother, Mrs. Marin Zane, lives at Pawnee, Okla., and visits here occasionally. She is 86 years old, and is active for her years.
Mr. Zane's memory for names often proves valuable at the post office. Frequently mail comes addressed to persons who have long since ceased to be on the delivery lists here, and usually Mr. Zane will know where they can be reached. An instance of this kind happened recently when a letter came addressed to the postmaster from a woman who wished to locate, if possible, a friend from whom she had not heard since they were school-mates years ago. She gave her friend's maiden name, not knowing whether she had married. the friend is a Carthage woman having grown children. The letter was shown to Mr. Zane, and through his recollection the two friends were reunited across the bridge of 25 years.

He'll Go Fishing
One other city letter carrier of Carthage is retired on pension. He is Frank Thurman, living at Sixth and Maple. He retired a few years ago after having served since October, 1890.
When ask what he plans to do with the leisure he will have after August 16, Mr. Zane smiled and said "I may go fishing." His home at 422 Cooper street is a pretty white cottage in a setting of beautifully kept lawn and friendly old trees, with flower and vegetable gardens, and the neatness and comfort of the place is a mutely eloquent testimony of the interest that both Mr. and Mrs. Zane have in their home and in growing things. One surmises that he will probably find a considerable part of his time pleasantly occupied in working around home, perhaps in further developing his garden.
Postmasters under who Mr. Zane has served are T. K. Irwin, Ben F. Thomas, T. B. Tuttle, R. T. Stickney, B. F. Hackney and L L. Amsden, of these except Mr. Thomas and Hackney were under --- administrations. The first three are no longer living.
Earl Heisten, who has a parcel post delivery wagon will succeed Mr. Zane as regular, while Charles, Jorian, will be a substitute carrier, with the position formerly held by . . . .(unreadable)


DECEMBER 3, 1953


Retired Carthage Mail Carrier
Came Here As Boy of 5 - Funeral Monday

Samuel L. Zane, 92, who retired more than a quarter of a century ago as a city mail carrier here after 30 years service at that post, ended his life late yesterday afternoon with a 32 caliber revolver.
His body was found about 5 yesterday afternoon in the barn at the rear of the Zane home, 422 Cooper street, by Omer Casey, Carthage police lieutenant, who was summoned to the home by Miss Alice Gladden, sister-in-law of Mr. Zane.
Deputy Sheriff Paul Archer, who with the city police, made an investigation, said the body was found in a corner of the barn with a bullet wound in the head. The charge entered just above the right ear and apparently lodged in the head. The revolver with one bullet discharge was found clutched in the aged man's right hand. He had fallen over on his left side. It is believed he died about 3 o'clock.
The county corner, Dr. W. W. Hurst, of Joplin was notified and said no inquest would be held.

Miss Gladden, who made her home with her brother-in-law, left the house about 2 yesterday afternoon to do some shopping down town. She told Mr. Zane where she was going and also she would be back soon.
When Miss Gladden returned home about 4 Mr. Zane was not there. She telephoned to several neighbors where he often visited and two nearby grocery stores in a an effort to locate him. She went out in the yard and started to go into the barn, but found the door closed and a chain on it and decided against going in.Mrs. Blanch Kester , a neighbor living on Clevenger street, where Mr. Zane often visited with Mr. Zane often visited with Mr. Kester., suggested Miss Gladden call the police.
Ernest Wampler, also a neighbor, accompanied Lieutenant Casey in the barn when the search was made.
Mr. Zane had been virtually blind for a number of years. His health otherwise was good for one of his age. He often took walks near his home, going as far south as the Charley Grimes market at Garrison & Centennial and north to the Morris Grocery, Pine and Garrison.
Miss Gladden came to Carthage a number of years ago after retiring as the librarian of the Salem, Ohio library, to make her home with her brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Zane. Mrs. Zane passed away December 21, 1918, and Miss Gladden remained at the Zane home to care for Mr. Zane
Mr. Zane was born August 16, 1861, in Menard county, Illinois. In 1869 his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Zane, came to Carthage, making the trip overland from Illinois. Samuel Zane was eight years old at that time. The following spring his parents moved to a farm 12 miles northeast of the city, but in 1872 the father, J. S. Zane was elected sheriff of Jasper county and he and his family returned to Carthage, making their home here six years. In 1883 the father passed away.

Samuel Zane was appointed a mail carrier here on August 10, 1890. He succeeded George Taylor in the east part of the city. The late T. K. Irwin was postmaster at that time. He continued at his post 36 years, serving under six postmasters. They included Mr. Irwin, Ben F. Thomas, T. B. Tuttle, R. T. Stickney, B. F. Hackney and Lon L. Ashcraft, all of whom preceded Mr. Zane in death.
For the first 15 months of his career as a carrier, Mr. Zane served his patrons on horseback, with the mail pouch slung across the saddle. He then switched to a cart and horse. The mail cart of that day had a step on the back on which the carrier stood and the mail was carried in a box in front of him.
On October 1, 1905, Mr. Zane began serving his route on foot, walking from 10 to 15 miles daily.
Mr. Zane retired at the age of 65.
Mr. Zane was married May 22, 1905 to Miss Minnie Gladden, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Gladden, prominent Carthage residents.
In addition to the sister-in-law, Miss Gladden, Mr. Zane is survived by a sister, Mrs. Mollie Mentzer, of Pawnee, Oklahoma. A brother, Frank Zane died last March 17 at the age of 84. Mrs. Ella Zane Calhoon, secretary to the board of education and daughter of the late Frank Zane is a niece of Mr. Zane.

The death certificate can be viewed at Missouri Digital Archives/death certificates online website.

Information added by NJBrewer

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  • Created by: NJBrewer
  • Added: 7 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56616147
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Samuel Leroy “Sam” Zane (16 Aug 1861–2 Dec 1953), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56616147, citing Park Cemetery, Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by NJBrewer (contributor 47097113) .