Establishment of rural route 1 in Rock, West Virginia
In the summer of 1926, William O. Keys prayed for a job, and God showed him a mail route which was not in existence. He wrote to the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C. for an application blank for a rural route. It came in a few days. A few days later, he was on horseback with the application, getting signers for the proposed route. Then he mailed the application with the signatures back to the P.O. Department.
The application was accepted and he received a letter from an Inspector Buckley, who asked him to meet him in Matoaka, WV. He said he needed a car with a speedometer to measure the route. They went out on the street and the first man they asked, said he had a car with one in it. They got in the car with the man and went to the post office in Rock, and started measuring the route. When they returned they had 20.6 miles. That was the length of the route for a short time. It increased to 41 miles.
William O. Keys started carrying the mail on October, 1, 1926, as a temporary carrier and was appointed regular carrier in 1927. The route grew to 42.8 miles. He had a T-Model Ford, but when winter came, he had to carry the mail on horseback or use a horse and buggy. It was too hard for one horse to pull the buggy, so he used two horses until an accident happened. At a place on Rock River Road called Cedar Cliff, some children were playing on the side of the cliff. They kicked shale down on one of the horse’s back. It scared the horses so bad that they grabbed the bridle bits and took off. He got scared and jumped out of the buggy. The horses ran about two miles. He followed and found the buggy against a stump beside the road smashed so badly that he couldn’t move it. The mail was all intact. One of the horses was in a field eating grass, the other one was feeding beside the road. He borrowed a saddle from a farmer nearby and put it on the horse beside the road and took all the mail on around the route and left the other horse in the field. The roads and weather were bad in those days. One day he was carrying the mail in his car and it started snowing and got so deep that he had to go so slow that it got dark on him. A chain came off of the wheel. He went to a nearby house and repaired it and put it back on the wheel, delivered the mail and did not make it home until 2:00 a.m. Still another time, his car spun on ice into a ditch. He walked and carried the mail on his back until a man came along and gave him a ride. He made sure his patrons received their mail, no matter how extreme the weather or the circumstances. He was truly dedicated to his work.
In the early 1940’s William O. Keys became an ordained minister. Still working as a mail carrier he was able to reach out to the people on his route anytime there was a need. He would pray with patrons who were ill, comfort those who had lost a loved one, deliver groceries to the shut in, even perform a marriage ceremony if requested. He was able to provide a service in the rural hills which people still remember. In “The National Rural Letter Carrier”, a newsletter style publication of the Postal Service, an article appeared in February,1992, which told of the ministerial service which he provided while working as a employee of the Postal service–a story of service which one would be hard pressed to repeat in the 1990’s.
Inspector Buckley came to Rock post office one day and told the postmaster,this man did something I never heard of before, he worked up a job with the Post Office Department and also got the position. After twenty-eight years and four months, he retired from the mail route on January 31, 1955.
William O. Keys was born October 24, 1891 and lived to be 100 years old. Below is a list of the Presidents of The United States that held office during Mr. Keys’ lifetime:
Benjamin Harrison 1889-1893
Grover Cleveland 1893-1897
William McKinley 1897-1901
Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909
William Taft 1909-1913
Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921
Warren G. Harding 1921-1923
Calvin Coolidge 1923 -1929
Herbert Hoover 1929-1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-1945
Harry Truman 1945-1953
Dwight Eisenhower 1953-1961
John F. Kennedy 1961-1963
Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969
Richard M. Nixon 1969-1974
Gerald R. Ford 1974-1977
Jimmy Carter 1977-1981
Ronald Reagan 1981 -1989
George H. W. Bush 1989-1993
Mr. Keys lived through the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II, The Wright Brothers’ first flight, prohibition, the beginning of radio broadcasting, Lindberg’s first solo flight, the first “talkie” motion picture, the Great Depression, F.D.R’s New Deal, Truman’s Doctrine, the beginning of television, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sputnik 1, Apollo, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, the Cold War, Vietnam, microchips and computer technology. He not only witnessed the history of this century, he also, was one of the key ingredients in the recipe of the success of this great nation. A caring, loving, hard working citizen, which has enhanced the lives of many people.
On December 4, 1991, after years of service to God and his fellow man he quietly slipped away to be with his Lord.
Rock Postmark and Stamp commemorating Elvis Presley’s Birthday.
On January 8, 1993 Elvis Presley stamps went on sale celebrating the King of Rock N’ Roll. The most “Rocking” Post Office of all was in Rock, W.Va. Fans came not only for the stamps, but to get the unique Rock, W.Va. postmark, dated January 8, Elvis’ birthday. There was a party at Rock Post Office that day to commemorate the event. Elvis Presley music was played on vintage eight-track cassettes. Many patrons bought Elvis records and other collectibles. Requests came in for the stamp and postmark from Massachusetts, Iowa, Virginia and Pennsylvania, said postmaster Hattie Crouse. Fans sent envelopes and money to get both the stamp and postmark. Crouse said she checked and discovered there is a Roll, Arizona. She planned to get that postmark and have Rock N Roll. One Thousand Five Hundred letters were postmarked on that day at Rock Post Office with the Elvis stamp.
The below photos shows the new Rock Post Office and the dedication of the new building.