For many years the National Grange and other organizations interested in the welfare of citizens residing in rural areas advocated the establishment of rural free delivery of mail. In October 1896, the Post Office Department introduced experimental rural delivery in West Virginia. The new service was favorably received, and by June of the following year there were forty-four routes in operation in twenty-nine states.
On October 3, 1898, rural free delivery of mail in Delaware was initiated with the formal establishment of a route originating in Harrington. Joseph G. Peckham was appointed to serve as carrier for the circuit, with an annual salary of $300. The route was seventeen and one quarter miles in length.Approximately 600 families were served.
The establishment of the rural free delivery service resulted in the elimination of many small rural post offices. In 1902 alone, twenty-nine were closed in Delaware. By 1938, some 23,000 offices had been discontinued throughout the United States since the introduction of rural delivery.