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Sending out a piece of history

Special postmark is available through Marshall Post Office

Photo courtesy of the Lyon County Historical Society As part of celebrations of Lyon County’s sesquicentennial, a special 150th anniversary postmark will be available through the Marshall Post Office until Sept. 11. People bringing letters or postcards to the post office can request to have the anniversary postmark stamped on.

MARSHALL — Lyon County officially marked its sesquicentennial this week. And even though some of the planned celebrations are on hold because of COVID-19, county residents still have a way to share the occasion with the world.

Members of the Lyon County Stamp Club have sponsored a special postmark for the county sesquicentennial, which people can request when sending letters or postcards at the Marshall Post Office.

“Any mail you bring in, you can say you want the special cancellation,” said Steve Klein, president of the Lyon County Stamp Club. The postmark will be available from Aug. 12 through Sept. 11.

The sesquicentennial postmark is what is called a pictorial postmark or pictorial cancellation. Groups can design a postmark to mark a special event and petition the Postal Service to use it.

“Over the years, we’ve done a few of these,” Klein said. In the past there have been pictorial postmarks for the 125th anniversary of the city of Marshall, the 50th anniversary of Southwest Minnesota State University, and the 50th anniversary of Schwan’s Company.

Many people collect pictorial postmarks as well as stamps, said Marshall Postmaster Johanna Leysen. Leysen said the post office has already received a lot of requests for the sesquicentennial postmarks, “from all over the country.”

The Lyon County pictorial postmark includes the date of the county’s sesquicentennial, Aug. 12, 2020. The date is counted from the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the Lyon County commissioners in Lynd, on Aug. 12, 1870. The pictorial part of the design includes images of the old Lyon County courthouse and a train, which emphasizes how important railroads were in the history of the county. The slogan “Celebration Station — 150 Years” completes the design.

All you need to get the sesquicentennial postmark is to have a letter with a first-class stamp or a postcard with a postcard stamp, Leysen said. People can ask for the postmark in person at the post office window, or they can request one by mail. Often, collectors will mail a self-addressed stamped envelope or postcard inside of another envelope, so they can be postmarked and sent back, she said.

To request the anniversary postmark by mail, envelopes should be sent to “Pictorial Postmarks” at 302 W Lyon St., Marshall, Leysen said.

Members of the public also have a chance to see examples of historic local postmarks collected by the Lyon County Stamp Club. The envelopes and postcards are on display at the Lyon County Museum in Marshall.

“Some are pretty rare,” said Lyon County Historical Society Director Jennifer Andries.

One postmark in the collection dates back to the dedication of Marshall’s airport in 1935. The postmark was signed by Marshall postmaster and historian A.P. Rose, and by airport superintendent Matt Ryan, for whom Marshall’s airfield was named.

“There’s a lot of old mail from the 1800s,” Klein said, including an envelope postmarked by the Camden Post Office in 1886. Camden was an early town in Lyon County, which was located near the Redwood River where Camden State Park is today.

There have been more than 30 post offices in existence in Lyon County at different points throughout its history, according to the display. Most, like the Camden Post Office, no longer exist.

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