As a volunteer researcher for the National Archives,  I am routinely more and more inspired to do original research based on the overwhelming abundance of history at my fingertips. Many of NARA’s regional facilities have overlaps in their microfilm collection. These are duplicate microfilm publications created by the Archives in Washington and donated to regional archives. The one which I was interested in happened to be NARA Microfilm M841, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832- Sep 30, 1971.

Our ancestors interacted with the United States Federal Government in a diverse number of ways. Many of them were civilian employees for the Federal Government, such as postmasters and mail carriers. The reference to Azro’s occupation came to my attention after contacting a genealogist in Wisconsin who found records related to my 3x great-grandfather in a local history publication including that he was the postmaster for the Belmont Township from 1856 to 1864. [1]

Azro arrived from Westville, Franklin Co., New York in the middle of the 1850s. One of my goals in my research is to pin down exactly when he arrived in this area, because this is where he had most of his children. Other evidence of his residence in Wisconsin includes Civil War muster rolls, census records & agricultural schedules, and federal land records. Tracking down these westward-moving frontier families can be tricky because settlements and townships generally have scanter records in their early years. He and other Freemans moved around to other states after Wisconsin including Kansas and Washington State.

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Fig 1. Appointment of Azrow D Freeman as Postmaster for Belmont, Portage County, Wisconsin on 25 Sep 1856. Image reproduced from National Archives Microfilm M841, Records of Appointments of Postmasters, 1832 – September 30, 1971, Roll 144, Wisconsin: Polk-Wood Counties. Accessed at National Archives and Records Administration – Northeast Region (Boston), 23 Dec 2015.

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Fig 2. Close-up manipulation of microfilm image in Fig 1.

Records of the Appointment of Postmasters are arranged alphabetically by state and thereunder county. Each county has manuscript volumes arranged chronologically and thereunder by the name of the post office.  The record of Azro’s appointment, created by an unnamed clerk of the Postmaster General’s Office, provides only basic information including full name, Azrow D Freeman, date of appointment, 25 Sep 1856, and the name of the post office (Belmont). Post offices and their locations could often be discontinued and relocated to other townships. The clerk’s appointment book also shows that the position was superseded by John Price on 27 Oct 1857. [2]

Surely this discovery isn’t a genealogical goldmine, but it was nice to work on some personal research at the National Archives. Having the source was able to at least correct the actual duration of Azro’s service as postmaster, concluding it was much shorter then eight years. This also happens to be the earliest record of Azro documenting his residence as  Wisconsin, therefore I am able to better approximate his migration to this part of the country. Consider the diverse ways in which your U.S. ancestors interacted with the Federal Government and left records.


  1. E-mail from LuAnn Elsinger, 10 Nov 2014.  Information cited in Wayne Allen Guyant, History and Memories: Portage County, Belmont Township, (W.A. Guyant, 1984) . 
  2. Records of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832- September 30, 1971, microfilm publication M841 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1973) roll 144, Portage County, Wisconsin, 25 Sep 1856, Belmont.


Further Reading:

National Archives, “Appointment of Postmasters, 1832 – September 30, 1971,” https://www.archives.gov/research/post-offices/postmasters-1832-1971.html

National Archives, “Post Office Records,” https://www.archives.gov/research/post-offices/

NARA Genealogy Home Page at www.archives.gov/research/genealogy/index.html

National Archives Catalog at www.archives.gov/research/catalog

Microfilm Catalog (Order Online) is available for viewing at https://eservices.archives.gov/orderonline. When you find a title of interest, click on the title, then click on important publication details which will allow you to view a descriptive pamphlet or roll list.


Copyright (c) 2015 by Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.

Jake Fletcher, “Azro Freeman, Postmaster of Belmont, Portage Co., Wisconsin,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 23 Dec 2015. https://fletcherfamilytree.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/azrow-freeman-postmaster-of-belmont-portage-co-wisconsin/