November 27, 2021
Although this colorized photo may have been staged, sending children through the mail via Parcel Post was actually a thing for a few years at the beginning of the service. Not many children were mailed, nor were they stuffed into mail carrier sacks with postage pinned to their clothing along with anything else you needed to send, but there were a few incidents of people relying on the mail for human transport. Honestly, the practice wasn’t as heartless as it may first appear, since the postal carriers were considered trusted members of the community, and people were trying to overcome the challenges of early travel.
On January 1, 1913, the U.S. Postal Service began to accept packages over four pounds to be sent through the mail. With this new service, there weren’t a lot of regulations. This provided increased access for individuals across the country, as people in rural areas could now order more easily from mail-order companies, but the lack of rules led people to try to see what they could get away with. They tested the limits by sending bricks, eggs, and snakes, as well as other things that wouldn’t normally be mailed.
The First Baby To Be Mailed
A few weeks after Parcel Post started, the first child was sent through the mail. A couple in Ohio, Jesse and Mathilda Beagle, sent their 8-month-old son to his grandmother. She did not live very far, only a few miles away in Batavia, Ohio, and the child, James, was just under the 11-pound weight limit. To mail, James cost the parents 15 cents, but they insured him for $50. This first incident made the newspapers, as it was a bit unusual. Other parents soon tried their luck with sending their children through the mail. It was cheaper to mail a child than to send him or her on the train. The weight limit quickly increased, allowing for larger children to be sent.