(See map with long gone post offices in Wilkes County on page 5.)
What’s in a name?
The answer is plenty when it comes to place names in Wilkes County, which reportedly had more post offices than any other county in the state at one time.
Wilkes had so many post offices because it’s a large land area with mountainous terrain and circuitous roads, which once discouraged traveling very far beyond one’s community.
These little post offices often were given the first or last names of their first postmasters, a wife or a daughter, but some appear to reflect a sense of humor or stories.
For example, there was Radical, which had a post office from 1902 -1948. Radical Road still exists and is between Cane Creek Road and Dehart Church Road in the McGrady area. Major F. Myers was the first postmaster.
Chuckle was a post office established in Charlie Pruitt’s house in 1902, with Pruitt as first postmaster, near the East Prong of Roaring River and on what now is Crossroads Road in Traphill. Chuckle Post Office was absorbed by Lomax Post Office on 1917. The Pruitt home still stands.
The Offen Post Office, on what now is Old Offen Road, was nearby from 1916-1935. Columbus F. Holbrook was first postmaster.
Zebra was a post office in the Dockery section of Hays from 1903-1923, with Robert S. Stiller as first postmaster.
The Austin community in northeastern Wilkes was named for Austin Lyon, who became the first postmaster of the Austin Post Office in 1885. It was discontinued in 1920.
New Castle Township in southeastern Wilkes was named for the farm of James Hunt, who also became the first postmaster of New Castle Post Office in 1828.
Lovelace Township in southeastern Wilkes was named for Archibald Lovelace, who came from Maryland and settled in the Hunting Creek section of Wilkes in the late 1700s. Lovelace was a justice of the peace when justices elected the sheriff, coroner, clerk and other county officers.
In 1818, the Wilkes Court granted Lovelace’s petition to emancipate a juvenile slave named Caroline Matilda.
Clingman was named for James Clingman (J.C.) Green, who became the first postmaster of the Clingman Post Office in 1880. The Clingman Post Office, discontinued in 1907, was in J.C. Green’s store. It continues today at the four-way intersection in Clingman as H.G. Green’s store, the oldest business in Wilkes.
The Oakwoods community was named for Oakwood, the farm of William Gilreath Jr. William A. Ellis, a physican, became first postmaster of Oakwoods Post Office in 1893.
William Gilreath was the brother of Alexander Gilreath, for whom the Gilreath Post Office on the Brushy Mountains was named. Both were active in the Wilkes militia during the American Revolution and local public affairs after the war.
William Gilreath was buried in what became a community cemetery behind Oakwoods Baptist Church and Alexander Gilreath was buried near New Hope Baptist Church on the Brushies.
The Darby community in far southwestern Wilkes was named for Darby Hendrix, who settled on Elk Creek in that section in the late 1700s.
The Pores Knob community is named for the tallest mountain (at 2,657 feet) in the Brushies and the mountain is named for the Poore family, which early county records show lived in that area in the late 1700s. Moses Poore was among residents designated to work on the road through Rich Cove Gap (now Cove Gap) on the south side of what now is Pores Knob in 1778.
The Vannoy community on the North Prong of the Reddies River was named for Joseph C. Vannoy, who became the first postmaster of the Vannoy Post Office in 1888. That post office was discontinued in 1960.
The nearby Wilbar community on the South Prong of the Reddies River was named for Henry T. Wilbar, who became first postmaster of the Wilbar Post Office in 1852.
Finally, there was the Cricket Post Office and a fire department of the same name, which still exists. The story told is that when that community learned it was getting a post office, several residents met to choose a name but couldn’t decide.
To resolve the matter, they decided to sit and wait and let the next word or sound heard be the name. About that time a cricket chirped and they had their name.