Out of the blue

Woman stands over large certificate on table

A Texas family recently learned they have postal ties from generations ago, thanks to some historical detective work.

It began when Justin, TX, Postmaster Alicia Winn was contacted by Eric Wilder, a local business owner who discovered a Postmaster appointment certificate issued in 1907 to Susan McGinnis of Laird, CO.

The Post Office Department issued the certificates to people who were appointed to Postmaster positions. McGinnis’s document featured an embossed gold seal and the signature of Postmaster General George von Lengerke Meyer, who served during President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration.

Wilder told Winn that he found the relic behind a framed portrait he purchased and dismantled for cleaning.

“Mr. Wilder brought it to me to see if I could do something with it after we marveled at it,” said Winn, who took a photograph of the certificate and sent it to USPS headquarters in Washington, DC.

Steve Kochersperger, a senior research analyst in the historian’s office, received the image and determined that McGinnis had served as Laird’s Postmaster until 1911 and that she was married and had several children.

Using Ancestry.com and census records, he then located her great-great-great-granddaughter: Shawn Culpepper, a Texas resident who works for the University of Houston.

“It took some detective work to find living descendants, but within a couple weeks we had confirmation,” Kochersperger said.

Culpepper said she is “blown away by the steps taken by USPS to find and send it to me.” She shared the news with her relatives, including her mother, who didn’t know there had been a Postmaster in the family.

Culpepper, who is having the 21-by-16-inch certificate framed so she can display it, was also proud to learn that her ancestor was a “woman holding a leadership position within her community back in 1907.”

Winn said she hopes the story of the certificate holds a lesson for postal employees: You never know where history might be hiding.

“I hope this would encourage employees to take the time and contact the historian’s office with any old artifacts from the Post Office,” she said. “They have quite the collection and can advise us about preserving any items that might be of historical value to USPS.”

Contact the USPS historian’s office by emailing phistory@usps.gov. Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

Pandemic info

The Postal Service wants to remind employees that the organization has three websites that offer information about the coronavirus pandemic.

The first site, located at about.usps.com/newsroom/covid-19, provides the latest information on how the organization is continuing operations and protecting employees and customers.

This site also provides:

• Information on a variety of postal products and services for customers, small-business owners and commercial mailers;

• Videos on safety procedures for vehicles, mail carriers and Post Offices, as well as “Thank You for the Thank-You’s,” a series of 30-second videos that showcase messages from customers who are grateful for the organization’s service; and

• Links to several government resources, including coronavirus.gov, the federal government’s primary website on the pandemic, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which offers a list of symptoms, recommendations, updates and more.

The other two sites are the COVID-19 Employee Resources pages on Blue and LiteBlue.

These sites are located under the “Coronavirus employee resources” heading on the Blue and LiteBlue homepages. The sites are updated regularly by Corporate Communications to help educate employees about the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus.

The Blue page is available on any computer connected to the USPS network, while the LiteBlue page can be viewed on any computer with an internet connection.

Cancellation by Cupid

Collage of whimsical postmarks with love and romantic themes

The finishing flourish to many a valentine is an envelope cancelled with PDA — pictorial displays of affection.

This year, the love-themed images include a couple dancing cheek to cheek in Romeo, MI; a child’s line drawing of a puppy in Bliss, NY; deer antlers that form a heart shape in Valentine, TX; and a great big heart from Loveland, CO, also known as “Valentine Station,” where the latest in the Love series of stamps was dedicated during a virtual ceremony.

Of course, most valentine-senders don’t live in Romeo, Bliss, Valentine or Loveland, which is where a special USPS remailing service comes in. Senders place pre-addressed valentines and letters with the appropriate postage (at least First-Class Mail) in larger envelopes addressed to: Pictorial Postmarks, the name of the chosen station and its address, city, state and Zip code. Once there, the station cancels the contents with the special mark and the love notes are sent on their way.

The service is only available for a range of dates, and no letter can include postage issued after the requested date. Such letters will be returned.

More information on the pictorial postmark program for Valentine’s Day, as well as for other pictorial postmarks planned for holidays and events in 2021, is included in Postal Bulletin’s Jan. 28 edition.

Protect your refunds

If you’ve received a text message or email from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about your taxes, there’s a good chance it was a scammer trying to con you out of your tax refund.

Tax scams become pervasive as April 15, the deadline to file federal taxes, nears.

Scammers, impersonating IRS representatives, use phishing (email), vishing (phone) and smishing (text) to trick victims into providing personally identifiable information that can be used steal tax refunds by filing taxes in the victim’s name.

Scammers also con victims by demanding immediate tax payments, sometimes in gift cards.

However, the IRS never demands immediate payment to any source other than the U.S. Treasury and typically sends tax filers several “notices” in the mail before calling.

To help Postal Service employees and contractors avoid tax scammers, the Cybersafe at USPS team offers these tips:

• File early. Filing taxes early means criminals can’t do it first.

• Verify the sender. Remember: The IRS will never initiate communication by phone, email, text or social media.

• Monitor your accounts. Continuously monitor bank accounts for unusual activity or unauthorized deposits.

The IRS website and the CyberSafe at USPS Blue and LiteBlue pages have additional information.

News Briefs

Scanning snapshot

Scanning snapshot. A snapshot of Postal Service scanning data shows the national rating was 96.75 percent during the week ending Jan. 29, down almost a half percentage point from one week earlier.

The data was collected Feb. 3.

Western Pacific led the four areas with a rating of 97.09 percent, while Atlantic ranked fourth with a 96.05 percent rating.

Among the 67 districts, Dakotas, part of Western Pacific, ranked first with a 98.43 percent rating, while Philadelphia Metro, part of Atlantic, ranked last with a 91.06 percent rating.

Scanning data allows customers to track their mail and packages, which helps USPS deliver excellent service, boost loyalty and drive revenue.

To see the latest data, go to the Informed Visibility website and select “Customer Experience,” followed by “DES 2 Scan Performance.”

Postal Bulletin. Postal Bulletin’s Jan. 28 edition features an overview of Ergonomics Awareness Month, along with the latest updates to policies, procedures and forms.

Stamp ceremony. The Postal Service will dedicate its stamp honoring Chien-Shiung Wu, one of the most influential nuclear physicists of the 20th century, during a virtual ceremony that can be viewed on the organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 11 a.m. EST.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.