The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Broadshoals and Clayce, Virginia Post Offices

By John Winfield Spangler © 1991

Issue: June, 1991

Editor's Note... For years John Spangler has pursued the hobby of researching and locating the sites of old post offices. He also collects old postmarks. We appreciate John sharing this information with The Mountain Laurel from time to time. It could be a great help to people hunting family locations by names of communities that, sadly, are no more.

The first time I ever heard of the Broadshoals area was when I read "The Way It Was" by Ruby Altizer Roberts of Christiansburg, Virginia. I was quite disappointed several years later to hear her voice on the phone, telling me she didn't know it HAD a post office. The Broadshoals Post Office closed on 30 November 1904, but I didn't know this when I called her. As she wasn't born until 1907, the post office there was certainly not a fresh subject of conversation, by the time she was old enough to remember things.

Helen Shank Atkinson of Christiansburg (Mrs. Macil NI.) loaned me an old 1900 Postal Manual which belonged to her son-in-law. Her daughter, Betty, is married to Mayor Harold Linkous of Christiansburg. I had been putting aside "strange" postmarks for some time, but a lot of local ones in that manual I'd never heard of, including the post office at Broadshoals.

Jack Donnelly, the Postmaster at Willis, Virginia, gets the credit for my having the Virginia postal records on microfilm. He has done quite a bit of research, particularly in the parts of Floyd and Carroll Counties served by his post office. He loaned me his own roll of microfilm on the Floyd County post offices when I first met him. It also covered the postmasters.

Later I ordered microfilm of my own, including some rolls on the locations of the post offices. I ordered Montgomery and Floyd Counties first. The prospective postmasters were required to fill out forms stating things such as: distance from other post offices and direction; distance from nearest river and direction; distance from nearest creek and direction; estimated number of people to be served; proposed name; etc.

Using these forms, I went over and rode around the Broadshoals area. One thing I did first was to figure out about where Mrs. Roberts said the "Broadshoals" or "Altizer" School had been. I stopped to look at my Floyd County map at the intersection of Route 738 and Route 606; and saw some folks down over the bank on my right, so I went down to chat. They were newcomers (from Delaware, I believe) and didn't know anything of local history.

On their recommendation however, I went down the road a ways to talk to a Ms. Underwood. They also mentioned a Mrs. Thompson (across the intersection from my motorcycle), but there didn't seem to be anyone at home then.

Ms. Underwood couldn't remember hearing of a post office in that part of the county except Sowers and Alum Ridge, Virginia. She did tell me that Mrs. Thompson was the daughter of Darius Williams, who was one of the Broadshoals postmasters on my list. I went back up the road, and was lucky enough to find Mrs. Trinkle Williams Thompson out working in her yard.

She was surprised to learn that her father had a post office in his store, and pointed out to me where the store used to stand. She said the steps were "over there in the meadow" long after the building was gone. She also joked some about being named "Trinkle." A very nice person!

I was quite pleased to finally locate ONE of the Broadshoals, Virginia post office sites, and called Mrs. Roberts as soon as I got home. She said Darius was the Drus Williams in her book; and she'd been to the store many times, but didn't know about the post office being located there. She also told me she didn't know Drus had a daughter named Trinkle.

After I got tired of bragging about my good luck that day, I brought up the subject of another post office. I told Mrs. Roberts that since I had the Broadshoals location to work from, I thought the Clayce post office was somewhere near the church; across the hill and two miles east of Broadshoals.

"Mt. Elbert," she said, supplying the name of the church. "You're probably right," she continued, "because I was born in the big house down over the hill from the church, and I can remember my mother speaking of Clayce. The house is pretty run down now, but I remember my mother had two phones. She could call Floyd on one and Christiansburg on the other."

"Did she have a telephone exchange in your house?" I asked.

"I don't know, as I was very young then," she replied. "She very well could have because my mother was a pretty remarkable woman!"

"I've got one more question to ask you and then I'll quit bothering you," I said, hastily flipping through my notes and copies of post office applications. "Who was Mandana Altizer?"

"Why, my mother, of course!" she said. (She calls her "Dana" in her book and I had never compared the two documents.)

"It's no wonder she mentioned "Clayce" then," I told her, "because she signed the application for the Clayce, Virginia Post Office on (20) 21 January 1895." (Different dates on two lines.) "She was the only postmaster that Clayce, Virginia had."

"Well, I certainly didn't know that!" She said this time.

(Sometime later I made her a copy of the Clayce, Virginia Post Office application with her mother's signature. She was familiar with the signature and told me that she and one of her brothers had found an old hymnal at White Oak Grove that had her mother's signature in it too.)

Broad Shoals, VA PO, Floyd Co. (1878-1894)
Virginia A. Fulcher, 3-4-1878
Daniel L. Altizer, 10-23-1889
Name changed to Braodshoals VA 6-9-1894

Braodshoals, VA PO, Floyd Co. (1894-1904)
Darius W. Williams, 6-9-1894
Leander G. Akers, 12-15-1897
Martha J. Akers, 7-12-1899
PO discontinued, mail to Sowers, VA 11-30-1904

Clayce, VA PO, Floyd Co. (1895-1904)
Mandana L. Altizer, 3-26-1895
PO discontinued, mail to Sowers, VA 10-31-1904

(I have seen no documented proof, but I believe the change in spelling from Broad Shoals to Broadshoals was probably part of a cost cutting operation. It was implemented nationwide, mostly in the 1890s. The savings realized by the elimination of the space in the manuals AND the handstamps, was probably a considerable sum! Examples: (other) Bigtunnel; Blackrock; Cavespring; Locustgrove (Orange Co.); etc.)