MARILYN HAGERTY: Grand Forks' 24th postmaster to be sworn in June 10

Travis Larson wants you to be pleased with the service at the Grand Forks post office. And he wants about 100 employees to be happy with their jobs. He is the new Grand Forks postmaster, and customer relations are his No. 1 goal. He was appointed...

Travis Larson wants you to be pleased with the service at the Grand Forks post office. And he wants about 100 employees to be happy with their jobs.

He is the new Grand Forks postmaster, and customer relations are his No. 1 goal. He was appointed postmaster Feb. 12, and he will be officially sworn in June 10. He is, as near as I can tell, the 24th postmaster in the history of Grand Forks. He succeeds Wanda Cleveland, who became postmaster in 2007 and now is working out of the Bismarck post office.

Larson has been with the Grand Forks post office for 10 years. He was an electronics technician until December 2007, when he was named maintenance manager. He has an associates degree in electronic service from North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton and a biomedical equipment technology degree from Northwest Technical College in Detroit Lakes, Minn. He previously worked for Altru Health System as a biomedical technician. He graduated from DesLacs-Burlington (N.D.) High School in 1989. His parents now farm near Fordville, N.D.

Larson and his wife, Tammy, live in Drayton, N.D. A daughter, Nicole, attends UND. Another daughter, Grace, and a son, Joseph, are in school in Drayton. So, he commutes to his work at the post office and finds the 50-mile drive "good decompression time."

In the course of a day's work, Larson oversees operations of sorting and delivering the mail along and the service window. The local post office has about 100 employees, and there are 39 letter carrier routes. The goal is to make routes more efficient and, as there are changes, the carriers are allowed to bid on them.


The Grand Forks post office sorts mail for all zones beginning with 582 and 567 in an area that stretches north to Langdon, N.D., and toward Warroad, Minn., as well as south and southwest. All mail posted in Grand Forks is sorted here, Larson said, except for mail Saturdays that is sent to Fargo for distribution.

Larson wants current postal employees to sometime look back on their jobs as "the good old days." But he knows the times are changing. More bills are being paid online. More people are buying online with various modes of delivery. Christmas, of course, is the heaviest mailing season of the year, and Larson said Mother's Day comes in second.

Long, long ago in 1870, Sanford C. Cady was appointed postmaster here. The post office was in the Cady and Loon Way Station. And history tells us that Cady named the city Grand Forks because it was called "les Grandes Fourches" by French fur traders. Some postmasters have become public figures and held office for years. In the early days, there was a change every couple of years.

The succession of Grand Forks postmasters continued on from Cady:

- John Stewart was next in line and ran the Grand Forks post office from his cabin at the foot of Blue Hill.

- O.S. Freeman was appointed in 1873 and held forth in the same location.

- Alexander Griggs, who is known as the father of Grand Forks, was appointed in 1875, and the post office was in the Griggs, Walsh & Co. Store.

- D.M. Holmes succeeded Griggs in 1877, and the post office was moved to Holmes Drug Store.


- Don McDonald became the next Grand Forks postmaster in 1879. He ran it from Hudson Bay Co. Store on Third Street and Kittson Avenue, and later moved it to the Gotzian Block on South Third Street.

- D.P. McLaurin was appointed in 1888 and continued in the same location until 1893.

- John Bray was next in 1892. In 1893, the post office was moved to the Union National Bank Building at the corner of Third Street and First Avenue North. It remained there until a new post office building was constructed at 311 S. Fourth St. The location is 2501 28th Ave. S.

Postmasters who have come and gone since 1893 include Willis A. Joy, William Budge, Minnie L. Budge, Frank Kent, George E. Duis, J.H. McNicol, Mary A. Ness, E.J. Collette Sr., Gale Paul, Bill Gilmour, David Kolander, John Carlton, Gloria Hauge and Gary Lemieux.

Compilation of postmasters was done several years ago by the League of Women Voters and Leah Byzewski, director of Grand Forks County Historical Myra Museum, along with retired postal employees Bill Hennessy and Mike Swendseid. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it seems to take a whole city to compile a list of postmasters.

Reach Hagerty at or (701) 772-1055.

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