The History of Mail Service to Boggy Bayou/Niceville

(A section of the NICEVILLE, FLORIDA - Online History Center)

(Note: The Post Office Act, of June 8, 1872, formally incorporated the U. S. Post Office Department into the U. S. Cabinet. The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 abolished the U. S. Post Office Department, and created the U. S. Postal Service, a corporation-like independent agency with an official monopoly on the delivery of mail in the United States.)

Narrative Summary of Niceville Mail Service 1868 - 1930:

Prior to 1910 Niceville was known as Boggy, Florida. Efforts were made both to improve and to eliminate its mail service.

After the Civil War almost 1000 citizens lived along the shores of the Choctawhatchee Bay without any mail facilities. The nearest mail service to Boggy was a one-horse line between Marianna and Pensacola that served Vernon in Washington County, Knox Hill and Eucheeanna in Walton County, and Milton in Santa Rosa County. To improve mail delivery and also provide passenger transportation a “two-horse hack line” (a wagon drawn by two horses) was established on July 21, 1868. It covered approximately 180 miles and ran the previously charted course from Marianna to Eucheeanna but then went to Freeport in Walton County. The route continued from Freeport by steamship to Alaqua Bayou, then to Boggy Bayou and Rogersville (Mary Esther) and on to Live Oak and Town Point in Santa Rosa County and finally to Pensacola.

The route changed in 1881. Boggy Bayou began receiving its mail from Mary Esther in Santa Rosa County, a distance of 20 miles. Another change was made in 1887 when a mail route from DeFuniak Springs to Boggy Bayou by way of Alaqua Bayou, a distance of 45 miles was established. Although this route was longer, it may have been Walton County’s intent to reclaim mail service to Boggy.

By 1906 the mail was sent to Boggy from Pensacola three times a week by the steamship, Capt. Fritz. There was also a dedicated mail launch, The Ruth.

On December 26, 1906, a post office for Bolton, Florida was established at Rocky Bayou, six miles east of Boggy to serve a population of about 200. James T. Bolton was commissioned Postmaster. On January 25, 1909, Boyd H. Munn became the Postmaster.

Bricknal P. Edge, Postmaster at Boggy in 1910, filed to change the name to Niceville. His request was approved on November 5, 1910. According to a newspaper article it had outgrown the old name and one more "euphonious" was needed. Niceville remained in Walton County for five more years before Okaloosa County was created in 1915. The Niceville Post Office was located ¾ miles east of Turkey Creek 100 feet from the wharf on the east side of Boggy Bayou where mail was received by boat.

At least two attemtps were made to eliminate the post office at Niceville. One was in 1916 when C. S. Sessions was the Postmaster. He wrote to E. A. Mooney at Garniers, Florida on May 15, 1916 admonishing him for misrepresenting the intention of a petition for a Star Mail Route to bring mail daily from Crestview instead of tri-weekly. The actual intent was "to do away with our Post Office" at Niceville. The Okaloosa News reported failure to establish the Star Mail Route on December 21, 1917.

Another attempt to close the post office at Niceville was by the developers with a marketing strategy to develop the Choctawhatchee Bay from Black Point (near today's Shalimar) to White Point (near today's Mid-Bay Bridge at Niceville) as “The Vale of Paradise”. On September 8, 1918, a written notice was sent to the “Postmaster at Valparaiso” that the Post Office at Niceville would become the Valparaiso Post Office effective June 17, 1919. Niceville's Postmaster, Cheever S. Sessions declined the name change on November 12, 1918.

On May 30, 1919 The Okaloosa News Journal reported that the matter of changing the name of the post office was taken up personally by a Congressman and First Assistant Postmaster General. An order was issued that Warren Armstrong, Postmaster at Niceville, be reappointed Postmaster at Valparaiso and that the commission and other necessary papers had been forwarded to him by the proper authorities. Four months later on September 17, 1919, Warren J. Armstrong was reported to have received appointment as Postmaster for Valparaiso, Florida at Niceville, Florida.

The 1920 Census count for Niceville included those living on the west side of Boggy Bayou (today's Valparaiso). Warren Armstrong was a Retail Merchant and Lula Edge was the Postal Clerk at Niceville.

On March 7, 1921, Harold J. Engel filed as Postmaster to establish a post office at New Valparaiso, Florida located on the west side of Boggy Bayou. It was established on June 14, 1922.

The 1930 Census enumerated that Niceville had more than 200 households and a population of over 800. Lula J. Edge was the Post Office Bookkeeper. With the advent of automobiles and improved roads, mail delivery by boat ended. Valparaiso's first census was enumerated in 1930. It had 38 households with a population of about 99.

Beginning in September 2012 the Niceville post office facility again serves the residents of Valpariaso. No longer located on Boggy Bayou on Bayshore Drive the larger Niceville facility is on Palm Boulevard North. The USPS plans for mail carriers for Eglin Air Force Base in addition to those serving Valpariaso to be based there.

Documentation for Mail Service to Boggy Bayou and Niceville:

First mail service to Boggy Bayou established 1868: The request for a two-horse hack line from Marianna in Jackson County to Vernon in Washington County, then to Knox Hill, Eucheeanna, and Freeport in Walton County, then by steamer to Alaqua Bayou, then to Boggy Bayou and Rogersville in Walton County, then to Live Oak and Town Point in Santa Rosa County, then to Pensacola, the terminus, the total distance being about 180 miles was established on July 21st 1868.

Before that date, a one-horse mail line established from Marianna to Pensacola by way of Vernon in Washington County, Knox Hill and Eucheeanna in Walton County, and Milton in Santa Rosa County was as close as a route came to Boggy Bayou. It was inadequate to the wants and needs of the people of West Florida. Almost 1,000 citizens lived along the shores of Choctawhatchee Bay without any mail facilities and the citizens of Pensacola could receive their mail from Tallahassee two or three days sooner by establishing the two-horse hack line. It would not only be beneficial to the citizens of the section through which it passed as a mail facility, but also in many other respects. (Source: Florida. Laws, statutes, etc. Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida. No. 16, pages 190-191.)

Mail Boggy 1868 Cover

Mail Boggy 1868 pg 190

Mail Boggy 1868 pg 191

The mail delivery service established in 1868 must have proven inadequate for Boggy Bayou because in 1881, Florida Law No. 4 established a mail route from Mary Esther in Santa Rosa County to Boggy Bayou in Walton County, a distance of 20 miles. (Source: The Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida. Office of Secretary of State, Eleventh Session 1881. Legislature Attorney General)

On June 3rd 1887, a Mail Route from DeFuniak Springs in Walton County, Florida, to Boggy Bayou via Alaqua, in Walton County, Florida, a distance of 45 miles was established. (Source: Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida. No. 5, page 295)

On *April 17, 1893, James C. White was Postmaster at Boggy, Florida.

Bolton Post Office Request: On *December 26, 1906, A Post Office for Bolton, Florida was established. The nearest mail route to proposed office was from Pensacola, Florida to Boggy, Florida (six miles west) three times a week. The total population to be supplied with mail was 200. James T. Bolton was commissioned Postmaster.

Pensacola Journal, Pensacola and Boggy Bayou Schedule for Mail Launch Ruth: May 30, 1908

Mail Launch Ruth.jpg

On *January 25, 1909, Boyd H. Munn became the Postmaster at Bolton, Florida in the place of James T. Bolton.

Boggy and Bolton Post Cards Below:

Boggy Post Cards

Boggy News “James Gerald, engineer of the mail launch, Ruth, is taking his annual vacation and is here this week with friends." (The Breeze 07/14/1910)

Boggy News "The many friends of James Gerauld will be glad to know he is again on the “Ruth” as engineer."

On *November 5, 1910, Boggy, Florida changed to Niceville, Florida. Bricknal P. Edge, Postmaster.

Boggy PO to Niceville

On November 4, 1915 Bricknal P. Edge, Postmaster of Niceville, signed forms showing the site of the Niceville post office to be in the newly created Okaloosa County and with the post office situated 3/4 miles east of Turkey Creek and 100 ft. from the wharf.

(Note: Since he did not indicate a change in location, it would be the same as the Boggy post office. On June 4, 1914 he had signed forms stating that the Niceville post office was 1/2 mile from Turkey Creek and 100 feet from the beach and wharf. On May 18, 1928, Warren J. Armstrong, Postmaster, identifies the site as being 1/2 mile east of Juniper Creek. The creek at the head of Boggy Bayou has been known as Juniper and Turkey Creek. On September 10, 1932 Mill Creek is identified as the nearest creek to the post office and the post office being 200 yards to the west of it. The location of the post office apparently did not change from its original location as the Boggy post office until 1950 when the Niceville post office is identified as moving to a new location 118 feet south of its old site and Lula Edge is the Postmaster.)

Niceville: "Mrs. George W. Parish, who has been visiting her daughter, Mrs. J. E. Jeralds of Pensacola, returned home Monday on the mail boat." (Source: Okaloosa News 03/24/1916)

Letter from C. S. Sessions, Niceville to E. A. Mooney, Garniers, Florida dated May 15, 1916: "Dear Sir: After you were here yesterday morning I found out that the interest of your petition was to do away with our Post Office at this place and I undertood it to be a Daily Star Route from Crestview, Fla., and I find that almost every one who I have spoken too are opposed to the discontinuance of this Office and I want you to Erase the name of L. L. Shaw also myself from that petition and prevent that petition in its present shape as we intend to get up another petition showing that the interest of yours was not fully explained and that the names must not be used to secure the proposed route. Yours Very, C. S. Sessions" 

Letter of C.S. Sessions at Niceville, May 15,1916

(Note; This original letter from C. S. Sessions is written on company letterhead stationary and has their Niceville business heading, dated May 15, 1916. It is displayed inside the 1918 Garniers Post Office at the Heritage Park and Cultural Center at Fort Walton Beach.)

On *October 29, 1917, Cheever S. Sessions was Postmaster at Niceville, Florida.

Niceville: "The people here were sorry to read in The News of the failure of the Star Mail Route to be established which would have given us a daily mail instead of tri-weekly as it is now." (Source: The Okaloosa News 12/21/1917)

On *September 8, 1918, a written notice was sent to the “Postmaster at Valparaiso” that the Post Office at Niceville would become the Valparaiso Post Office effective June 17, 1919.

On *November 12, 1918, Cheever S. Sessions declined the name change.

C.S. Sessions declined to continue to serve as postmaster.

“Niceville changed to “Valparaiso” Washington, D. C. May 28: Upon request of prominent citizens of Niceville, Fla., it has been changed to Valparaiso, Fla. The matter was taken up personally by Congressman J. H. Smithwick with J. C. Koons, First Ass’t. Postmaster General, who issued the order making the change requested. Mr. Warren Armstrong, Postmaster at Niceville has been reappointed Postmaster at Valparaiso. This commission and other necessary papers have been forwarded to him by the proper authorities” (Source: The Okaloosa News Journal 05/30/1919)

On *September 17, 1919, Warren J. Armstrong received appointment as Postmaster for Valparaiso, Florida at Niceville, Florida.

Mr. B. P. Edge Again Making Money: For several years Mr. B. P. Edge conducted a general merchandise business in the town of Boggy, and made money. Later the name was changed to Niceville, and is a part of the town of Valparaiso. Mr. Edge retired a few years ago, and the town of Niceville lost its fame as a merchandise center. Since the town became part of Valparaiso, Mr. Edge is again making money in the Niceville section, and can be found waiting on his friends and customers. He has a congenial partner, Mr. Warren Armstrong, who has many friends.

Mr. Edge is one of those men whom it is a pleasure to know, and when he comes up to Crestview, as he did this week, his arms got sore from shaking hands. He declared Tuesday that he would have to return home, not because he wanted to, but as a matter of self protection, or his good right arm would be still for a week. As he stood on the front porch of the court house, the News-Journal news gatherer could not but help notice that every man who came to the courthouse - and it was county court day, and many came - knew Pomeroy Edge.

The News-Journal news gatherer was in Mr. Edge’s store a few days go, and could not get a chance to say “Howdy,” not liking to but in. But when we met Mr. Edge in Crestview he caught particular fits for not butting in, hence this statement of facts in order to square himself.

Some day the News-Journal news gatherer will go down to Mr. Edge’s store, sit out on the gallery, look out over the beautiful water view, and smoke up every dogon cigar Mr. Edge has in his store, and tell Mr. Edge they will be paid for when the news gatherer kills his hogs, which will be several years from now. If ever. Of course it will be all right with Pomeroy, for many of his friends have pulled off worse stunts than that, for if they had not Mr. Edge would be better off in this world’s goods.

When you go down his way, make a call, and you will meet two genial men when you cut in on Messrs. Edge and Armstrong.” (Source: The Okaloosa News Journal 12/19/1919)

The 1920 Census for Niceville enumerated 185 households. Lula Edge is the Post Office Clerk. The primary occupations were laborers at the turpentine farms, sawmill, shipbuilding and fishing. There is no census count for Valparaiso. Residents of the West side of Boggy Bayou were included in the census of Niceville as at that time it was officiallly Niceville.

On *March 7, 1921, Harold J. Engel would be Postmaster at New Valparaiso, Florida. Location of Proposed Post Office to be situated at the NW ½ of Section 18 in T1S R22W on the West side of Boggy Bayou.

"McCaskill Investment Company of DeFuniak Springs opened office in new drug store where new post office is located in Valparaiso." (The Breeze 01/26/1922)

On *June 14, 1922 New Valparaiso, Florida became Valparaiso, Florida. Harold J. Engel, Postmaster.

Pensacola, Nov. 18 - "The federal court has ordered the acquital of Mr. R. Cartwright, J. F. Goss and Leslie and C. A. Perrine charged with using the mails to defraud in connection with the development of Valpariso, Florida." (The Watchman and Southron, Sumter, South Carolina 11/22/1922) (Note: Leslie Perrine was also known as L. F. or Leslie Frank Perrine. C. A. Perrine was also known as Charles Perrine. A copy of this news article can be seen on Niceville 1917 - 1929.)

On *July 17, 1923 Warren J. Armstrong is Postmaster at Niceville, Florida.

On *May 18, 1928 W. J. Armstrong, Postmaster at Niceville, Florida. Located in the NW quarter of Section 7 in T1S Range 22 West. “The nearest post office on my route is Valparaiso, Florida a distance of 3.5 miles from my office”.

The 1930 Census for Niceville, Florida is 202 households with a population of 824. The Bookkeeper at the Niceville Post Office was Lula J. Edge. The first census for Valparaiso, Florida was in 1930. It had 38 households with a population of 99.

Capt. Fritz: (Note: Photo of the steamboat Capt. Fritz below. In the early 1900's it brought mail, supplies and passengers to Niceville as it traversed the Choctawhatchee Bay between Freeport and Pensacola. In 1900 R.R. Bludworth of Freeport was the Captain. (Photo courtesy Florida Archives.)  

Steamboat Fritz was the mail boat

On *August 24, 1932 W. J. Armstrong, Postmaster at Niceville, Florida corrected the exact location of the Niceville Post Office; located in the NE quarter of Section 7 T1S R22W; had been reported as NW quarter in 05/18/1928 and 200 yards West of Mill Creek and in 1928 it is ½ mile East of Juniper Creek.

*Lee Woodmansee, Postmaster at Valparaiso, Florida reconfirmed the location of the Valparaiso Post Office, in the NW quarter of Section 18 T1S R22W.

Post Office temporarily located in Finck's Restaurant, Niceville: “Business Concentrates Around Pioneer Establishment: The destructive fire which recently almost obliterated the business section of Niceville, had very little effect on the business life of Niceville. The activities of nearly an entire block simply concentrated in Finck’s Restaurant, and business went along. It began on the morning of the fire. While the ruins were still smoldering, space was being made in Finck’s for the post office. During the day the Niceville Fish Company set up offices there. Within a little while a grocery had been added. And now Adolph’s establishment represents the bay country’s first and only complete arcade. In it is found a post office, a wholesale and retail fish house, a grocery, a restaurant, a bakery and the bay country’s only draft beer dispensary, while the Niceville Masonic Lodge occupies the floor above.” (The Valparaiso Star Vol. 12 #41 02/01/1934)

Leased Post Office space in new Edge Store, March 1, 1934: The appellee's testimony confirmed the admissions made in his bill. The fire, which in 1933 destroyed the Edge store building, also destroyed a fish house near the shore line which is the south boundary of block 18. The appellee had been occupying the fish house as a tenant of the Bayou Fish Company. The evidence indicates that the fish house had been located on lot 2; but its location before the fire is of little or no importance. After the fire the appellee built, in 1934, a new fish house, the length of which along the shore was approximately twice the length of the old building. The appellee testified that the new building "overlapped" the lot on which the Edge store building had been located and that he "made a deal with Mr. Armstrong at the time * * * and I agreed to lease his part." The lease agreement, dated March 1, 1934, was that he should pay the lessors (Joe Edge and Jessie Alma Edge, his wife, Lula Edge, and W. J. Armstrong and Lula Armstrong, his wife) $100 cash, and $100 on March 1st of each year for five years and that, as a part of the consideration, W. J. Armstrong (who was the local postmaster) should be furnished rent free space in the new building for use as a post office. The agreement was effectuated, the rental was paid and the westerly end of the building was used (for some time prior to W. J. Armstrong's death) as a post office. The appellee further testified that he discussed with W. J. Armstrong before his death, and with members of the Edge-Armstrong family after his death, "a trade" (which, however, was not consummated), in which he was to "give them title to three lots over across the road * * * for title to that portion of lot 1 that my building occupied." (Source: SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA, DIVISION A, July 30, 1954 - PORTER ET AL v. MEIGS)

*Effective: February 3, 1937, Mrs. Mary L. Woodmansee, Postmaster (from 03/18/1930 - 1/31/47) had the spelling of the name Valparaiso, Florida changed to Valpariso, Florida.  (Note: The spelling of Valpariso was also used in the 1920's.) 

Niceville Post Office in the 1940s Below: (Note: Located across from Boggy Bayou on Bay Shore Drive.)

Niceville Post Office in the 1940s

On *January 12, 1941, Lula J. Edge, is appointed Postmaster at Niceville, Florida, located in T1S NE ¼ of NW ¼ of Section 7 T1S of R22W.

On *January 28, 1950 Lula J. Edge, Postmaster at Niceville, Florida moved the Post Office to a new site on Bayshore Drive at T1S R22W a distance to the South from the old site of 118 feet.

 Postal overhaul takes effect: Valp. carriers based in Niceville. By Del Lessard The Bay Beacon Staff Writer. "On Saturday, mail carriers who serve Valparaiso began using facilities at the Niceville post office to pick up and sort mail destined for Valparaiso addresses, according to the U.S. Postal Service, which described the action as a cost-cutting move. Valparaiso postal customers should notice no changes as a result of the new home base for their carriers, said USPS spokesman Stephen Seewoester. A previously announced plan to also base Eglin Air Force Base carriers at the Niceville post office has been postponed, with no new date given. Both changes were described as cost-cutting moves when announced earlier this year. In February, USPS announced that it planned to have Valparaiso and Eglin Air Force Base mail carriers start being based at the Niceville post office as part of a nationwide cost-cutting move. The consolidation was originally scheduled to take place April 23, according to USPS. It was delayed for reasons not publicly explained. Under the original consolidation plan, all incoming mail for Valparaiso, Eglin and Niceville addresses was to be trucked to the Niceville post office, 90 N. Palm Blvd. That meant carriers for all three post offices would be based at the larger Niceville office, and would sort their route mail there before heading out to deliver it. (Note: This is an example of  'everything old is new again' as Valparaiso was established on a portion of Old Niceville on the West side of Boggy Bayou and received its mail from the Niceville post office addressed to residents of Valparaiso. The establishment of Eglin Field also began at Niceville (see the 1940 census of Eglin Field at Niceville 1930 - 1941).  In the 1930's men assigned to the Civilian Conservation Corps Camps  located in Niceville where they received their mail helped build Eglin Field.) For now, Eglin carriers will remain based on the Eglin post office, Seewoester said. The consolidation is not feasible at this time, he said, because of troops being moved to Eglin from North Carolina, a reference to the 7th Special Forces Group, which will complete its BRAC-ordered move of about 1,900 soldiers, plus their families, to Eglin by mid-September. Moved to the Niceville post office are employees handling the three carrier routes in Valparaiso, which serves 231 post office box customers and 2,038 delivery customers. Another 21 Niceville routes are operated from the Niceville post office. Valparaiso customers should not experience any major changes in their service, Seewoester said. The Valparaiso post office will remain open and continue to serve customers with counter service and postal boxes, he said, and post office box customers will not see any change in posting times. Seewoester said savings will be realized by a reduction in non-management staffing, manager-level reduction, and reduced transportation expenses because the mail trucks piciking up or delivering mail to the post offices will make fewer stops. He also said that the Valparaiso postmaster position will be either be downgraded or eliminated. As of Monday, the current Valparaiso postmaster, Jerry Maynard, is detailed as the Officer in Charge at the Eglin Post Office, Seeowester said. There will be no change in management structure at the Niceville Post Office, he said. Seewoester also said that there have been no layffs in the local reorganization. A few clerks will be repositioned within commuting distance. he added. The Valparaiso post office is not on the list of 3,600 possible post office closures nationwide, including 34 in Florida. The postal service, said to be facing an $8 billion deficit this year as it grapples with declining mail volume and high labor costs, has proposed ending Saturday mail delivery nationwide, but such a change would require Congressional approval. Postmaster General Patrick Donahue was quoted last month as saying that the postal service would become insolvent on Septemmber 30 unless it is relieved of certain pension-funding reuqirements. The USPS in February announced that "despite significant cost reductions and efforts to grow revenue, current financial projections indicate that the Postal Service will have a cash shortfall and will have reached its statutory borrowing limit by the end of the fiscal year." (The Bay Beacon - Wednesday August 31, 2011)

* Information obtained from copies of Post Office Records from Baker Block Museum.