20 Min 04: Paw Paw Post Office


Built in 1833, the Paw Paw Post Office was one of the first frame buildings in Naper’s Settlement. Serving as both a family home and mercantile business, the Howard home became the post office and stagecoach stop when Alexander Howard, a carpenter by trade, was named postmaster in 1836. Mail in the mid-1800s came by wagon, stagecoach, and even steamboats. In Naper’s Settlement, the sounding of the post horn announced the approaching delivery. Upon hearing the horn, residents would gather by the paw paw trees surrounding the Howard house to read and listen to letters.  


In the days before the telegraph, news traveled only as fast as it could be humanly transported which meant that news could take weeks to arrive at its destination. As there were no pre-paid paper stamps before 1847, postmasters charged recipients based on the numbers of sheets of paper used and the distance traveled. For those living in the area, sending mail to Aurora was six and one-fourth cents, mail to Chicago was twelve and one-half cents, and mail to places four hundred miles away or more was twenty-five cents.  


The Howard family house came to Naper Settlement in 1977 from its original location at Webster Street and Jefferson Avenue.