Built in 1879, the Wetmore Post Office building contained more than the mail. It also included the office, store, and the home of Dr. John W. Walters and his wife, Margaret A. Walters, who managed the post office. In 1896 Margaret Walters became the town’s postmistress. She operated the post office out of the store. The post office has occupied the building ever since. The building was repaired and improved. It now includes the Wetmore Historical Center.
Drug Store and Post Office
In 1880 the town of Wetmore started along Hardscrabble Creek. Wetmore came from a 160-acre homestead that belonged to William and Francis Wetmore. They offered free lots to anyone who would build on the land. The town had a post office the following April. Wetmore’s first postmaster was S. H. Callen.
In small towns like Wetmore, the post office was an important sign of stability. Small-town post offices were often found in the postmaster’s home or retail store. The location of the Wetmore Post Office changed depending where the postmaster lived and worked for the next fifteen years.
In 1896 Margaret Walters became postmistress of Wetmore. From then on, the post office operated out of the L-shaped wood-frame building that her husband built. Dr. John Walters had constructed the building in 1879 as a place to live and work. Soon they also opened a store in the building, selling drugs and dry goods.
John met with patients in one part of the building. Margaret operated the store and post office in the other rooms. The building became an important place. People picked up mail at the post office. They exchanged news with neighbors and posted information. John died in 1899. Margaret continued as postmistress for many years. The position then went to her son, Fred Walters, and his wife, Lela.
From 1910 to 1961 the Siloam Telephone Company operated out of the Wetmore Post Office. The telephone company made the building the local communications hub. The telephone company served many families in a five-square-mile area. Telephone lines hung along fence posts. Lela Walters worked the switchboard. The rise of the telephone made communications easier for local residents. However, the telephone reduced the importance of the post office as a place for meeting with people. In 1961 Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph acquired Siloam. The Wetmore switchboard was no longer needed.
The post office building has received several additions and improvements over the years, the most notable being an interior remodel. The building was electrified in 1940. The stucco covering most of the exterior walls in 1953. In 1962 the United States Postal Service improved the post office portion of the building. The telephone switchboard and a candy counter were removed. The post office was sealed off from the building’s other sections.
In 2005 Wetmore native Jeannie Culpin founded the Wetmore-Hardscrabble Genealogical and Historical Society. Two years later, she bought the post office building. Culpin turned the building into a local history center. She began extensive renovations. Culpin got the property listed in the National and State Registers of Historic Places. In 2009, the Wetmore Historical Center opened in the improved post office building. It includes a library and museum. The historical center holds Wetmore-Hardscrabble Genealogical and Historical Society meetings and events.
The building also continues to house the local post office. It delivers mail to more than 200 households. Wetmore Post Office is one of only three original post offices still working in Custer County.