Monday, July 20, 2015

Have You Heard the News* About Paul Myren's Accident?

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."(1) This unofficial motto of the US Postal Service covers a lot of conditions. But what about fire?

My Great Uncle Paul Severin Myren was a rural postal carrier in Traill County, North Dakota, for many years. A brief newspaper article told of his brush with a fire in which he was seriously burned. Apparently getting rid of weeds so that the mailboxes remained accessible was part of the job for a rural mail carrier in those days.

Pioneer Express, 17 Nov 1922(2)

Fortunately, this accident did not end Paul's long-time career with the post office. In fact, at the time of his accident, Paul was serving as President of the Rural Letter Carriers in North Dakota.(3)

Lessons Learned: That wonderful picture of Paul found at the beginning of my post was one I obtained some years ago, back before I realized how important it was to keep up with sources. The picture came from a local history book probably written in 1930-1940 in Traill County, North Dakota. Online I had come across an index to the book, saw Paul listed, and wrote to ask if someone could send me a copy of the picture. A look-up volunteer promptly honored my request. I'm just sorry that I cannot tell you the title or compiler of the book or anything about the photograph. Lesson: as soon as you find or receive information, attach a source to it. If only I had followed my own advice.

* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from copies of newspapers available through,, and Chronicling America by the Library of Congress.

(1) "Postal Service Mission and 'Motto'",
(2) "State Summary", 17 Nov 1922, Pioneer Express, Pembina, ND; accessed through Library of Congress Chronicling America.
(3) "State Summary", 30 Sep 1921, Pioneer Express, Pembina, ND; accessed through Library of Congress Chronicling America.

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