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Mail wagon a link to history

June 4, 2008
COLUMBIANA— Nearly a century has passed since the last time Isaac Culp’s rural mail carrier buggy traversed the streets of Columbiana, but from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, it will once again be seen in the square.

Now owned by Columbiana resident Roy Hartley, the buggy will be a part of the Historical Society of Columbiana-Fairfield Township Museum’s special exhibit, which will also feature Poland resident Clyde Foor’s 65-key Pell Organ.

Built in 1901 by the Zimmer and Harmon company of Columbiana, the buggy belonged to mail carrier Isaac Culp, who was the first to deliver mail to the outskirts of the city.

Living next door to Culp’s family, Hartley said he has tried to collect everything that goes with the buggy, including its ladder, its pigeon hole mailbox and feed sacks for the horse.

When a dealer attempted to sell the buggy and its accessories, Hartley jumped at the opportunity to own the piece of Columbiana history.

“The buggy is part of Columbiana,” he said. “I didn’t want to see it go away.”

Having owned the buggy for approximately 25 years, Hartley only displays it sporadically, donating it for a display at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown and displaying it at the Canfield Fair.

Noted for its production of buggies, with 27 shops producing 10,000 buggies per year during the late 19th century, Columbiana served as a buggy manufacturing hub for many years around the turn of the century. Although the shops produced many buggies during the city’s peak years, the Zimmer and Harmon-produced mail carrier was one of a kind, Hartley said, designed specifically for the city for mail distribution.

Joining Hartley’s buggy will be Foor’s 65-key Pell Organ. Hand-built by Foor about five years ago, the organ is just one of two 65-key Pell organs in the United States and one of five around the world, numbers that Foor said Pell cited about two years ago.

Although it is not an antique, the organ is not a reproduction of another organ, simply a unique product of an inspired design, according to Foor. Even though the organ is not yet completely constructed, it is still a work of art that can be admired by people of all ages, he said.

Consisting of the keys, the pipes and two snare drums, the organ plays English music from World War II and an assortment of other festive songs.

As partners in the “display business,” Foor and Hartley said they enjoy sharing their passions with other people. “I like the history behind the items,” Foor said. “I love to display them for others to look at because what good is an item if it is stocked away in a warehouse.”

Both items, as well as lamps, telephones, musical instruments and other antiquities, can also be viewed at Foor and Hartley’s Canfield Fair display on the southend of the fairgrounds by the antique farm equipment.

Recognizing the hard work and effort put forth by the two men just to maintain the buggy and the organ, the Historical Society Museum’s curator Nora Salmen said the museum and the city are lucky to have the opportunity to view a piece of Columbiana history.

Kevin Howell can be reached at



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