The first post office in Lark, Utah was in a building owned by the Bingham Mine. The building housed the mine offices and a store. Tucked away in the corner of the store was the post office. Mr. Green was the store owner and postmaster. Archie Latimer was the next postmaster and then the store was sold to Mr. Zwickey, but it is not clear if he also served as postmaster. Successive postmistresses were Mrs. Erdman, Grace Brooks, and Stella Kuphalt. On Sept 19, 1919, Adeh Moore was appointed postmistress and served in this capacity until September 30, 1923. Millie Mykert replaced Moore on November 1, 1923 and held this position for the next 30 years. During this time, for those who did not pick up their mail at the post office, their mail was delivered by a wagon team that would drive down the hill to the post office and pick up the mail and anyone who needed a ride (Neilsen 1969).
At some point after becoming the manager of the Zwickey store, William J. Fahrni, purchased a building in Herriman and had it moved to Lark and placed alongside the store. This building served as the post office until 1953. In 1953, the mine laid claim to this building and tore it down. In its place the mine built an addition onto the store. This addition served as the post office for 14 years. It was in this addition that Jesse Neilsen would begin her tenure as postmistress. Neilsen was appointed postmistress on July 1, 1953 (Neilsen 1969).
Neilsen was responsible for getting the post office saving stamps program up and running. When she took over as postmistress, the post office had $10 of credit for savings stamps. After several years of no change, she approached the local Parents Teachers Association (PTA) to see if they would be interested in sponsoring a stamp day at the school. They were receptive to the idea and during their first year (1961), they sold $1,264.90 worth of stamps. Even during the copper mine strike of 1967, they managed to sell $1,250.65 worth (Neilsen 1969).
The Postal Savings System had been around since 1911. It was established for these reasons 1) attracting immigrant savings since in many countries post offices functioned as money saving depositories; 2) people did not trust banks (unregulated and unstable) and tended to keep their savings in cash, thus creating a localized money shortage; and 3) banks were scarce in rural areas, but post offices were usually present. In essence, the post office acted as banks in areas that lacked banks or where the banks were not trusted. Deposits could only be made in $1.00 increments, so a stamp system was developed where individuals could gradually accumulate the necessary amount by purchasing 10 cents stamps and adhering them to cards. The postal savings system was extremely popular and within the first two years $33 million dollars had already been deposited in the 12,820 offices scattered across the country. The stamp program also played an extremely important role in the financing of both WWI and WWII. The program raised billions of dollars for the war efforts and provided a rallying point for the citizens at home. The war saving program was similar to the savings program, except for the dollar amounts and that the payout for stamps was delayed. For example, a $5 War Savings Certificate stamp series 1918 was not payable in full until 1923. The postal savings account system was officially ended in 1966, but the sale of stamps continued until June 30, 1970 (Charles 2008).
Examples of Stamps and Cards Used in the Postal Savings System (Charles 2008).
Jessie Virginia Seal was born on November 26, 1916, in Herriman, Utah to Horace Martin Seal and Emma Virginia Bodell (Deseret News 2002, Neilsen 1969). Around 1922, the family moved to Lark when her father obtain employment at the Ohio Copper Company. The plan was to work at the mine for a year and then move back to Herriman and farm. They never moved back to Herriman. Her father continued working at the mine, which had changed ownership and was now the Bingham Mines. Neilsen completed elementary school in Lark and later attended Bingham High School in Copperton (Neilsen 1969).
She worked in Salt Lake City for a year or so, but missed home, so she returned and took a job at the hotel that housed the miners. Neilsen’s future husband, Leland D. Neilsen was one of these boarders. They were married on October 15, 1937. They had three children and a fourth was on the way when tragedy struck on July 16, 1950 (Deseret News 2002, Neilsen 1969; Salt Lake Telegram [SLT] 19 July 1950:17). A fire at the lead mine in Lark, operated by the U.S. Smelting Refining and Mining Company, had trapped three miners underground. Two others were found asphyxiated in the Mascotte Tunnel. One of the recovered miners was Seal’s father, Horace Martin Seal. The fate of the three trapped miners was unknown. One of the trapped miners, Leland David Neilsen was Neilsen’s husband (SLT 19 July 1950:17). It was an agonizing 25 days before the fate of the trapped miners was known. Unfortunately, they did not survive, their bodies were found at the 1,000-foot level in four feet of water on August 9, 1950 (The Midvale Sentinel [MS] 11 August 1950:1). Neilsen never remarried (Deseret News 2002). Paradoxically, in May of 1950, two months prior the tragic mine fire, the Lark mine was awarded the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association certificate of honor for its safety record of 1,449,615 man-hours without a fatal accident (The Bingham Bulletin [BB] 12 May 1950:11).
Neilsen found her role as postmistress in the small community of Lark a gratifying experience and she found that her interactions with the public made her a more tolerant and considerate person. The highlight of her career as postmistress was the dedication of the new Lark post office on June 15, 1968. (Neilsen 1969). Jesse Virginia Seal Neilsen passed away on January 29, 2002, at the age of 85. A loving wife, grandmother, sister, and friend, she left behind four sisters, four children, 12 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren (Deseret News 2002).
In December 1977, Kennecott Copper Corporation (KCC) bought the town of Lark from UV Industries Incorporated, the former operators of the US and Lark Mines. With the acquisition of the property the residents of Lark were notified that the town was to be evacuated to make room for mine expansion. There was resistance from Lark residents, but eventually an agreement between the residents and KCC was reached, and the last inhabitants of Lark were gone by the end of January 1980. The post office ceased operations on January 25, 1980 (Jordan Valley Sentinel [JVS] 3 January 1980:3; Salt Lake Tribune (SLTRB) 5 May 1978:21; SLTRB 25 May 1978:20). Today (2022), the majority of the Lark townsite has been reclaimed with the exception of the large brick Lark Hospital, the remnants of the Bingham and Mascotte Tunnel portals and associated mining infrastructure, and the large green water tower.