By Carol Vaughn —
The building that houses the Pungoteague post office will be sold at auction next week.
The property, at 30296 Bobtown Road, will be auctioned Saturday, April 9, at 1:11 p.m., with Zeb B. Barfield Inc. conducting the live auction. Register to bid at https://www.zebsauctions.com/auctions/detail/bw76485
The owner listed in Accomack County real estate records is Elsie D. Jones, of Pungoteague, who died in November at age 83.
The value of the land and building was assessed in 2022 at $22,500.
The property was sold in 2006 by Mary Frances Drummond and several other owners for $37,800, according to county records.
The building was built by Roy Drummond around 1960, according to longtime residents. It is around 300 to 400 square feet and has a bathroom and shallow well, according to auctioneer Zeb Barfield. The hardwood floor in the customer area was recently refinished.
The Postal Service’s current lease on the building ends March 31. Barfield said negotiations are underway for an increase in rent for the next owner, should he or she want to keep the building as a post office.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service in an email Tuesday said, “Since we have not been informed of any possible change to our lease at this point, the service continues as normal from the Pungoteague Post Office.”
Philip Bogenberger, USPS corporate communications team member, continued, saying, “In general, when it’s necessary for a Post Office to relocate, the Postal Service transitions services to a nearby Post Office, a temporary location as close to the current site as possible, or a mobile unit until a permanent location can be found. The Postal Service remains committed to ensuring continuity of services to our customers no matter the circumstances.”
Although the village dates back much longer, in the mid-19th century Pungoteague was a stop along the stagecoach route between Wilmington, Del., and Eastville.
According to a list of Virginia postmasters and post offices between 1789 and 1832, compiled and transcribed by Edith F. Axelson and housed in the Eastern Shore Room of the Eastern Shore Public Library in Accomac, Pungoteague post office was established in February 1816, with Abel R. Rogers as the first postmaster.
Alan Patera in a February 1981 article, “Post Offices of Virginia: Accomack County,” also found in the Eastern Shore Room, lists 96 post offices as having been in operation in the county at some period, or 118 if name changes are taken into account.
Patera listed the Pungoteague post office as having been established Feb. 29, 1816, discontinued Oct. 20, 1862, and reestablished Aug. 18, 1863.
Scott Walker Jr., of Nassawadox, in a 1993 listing of Accomack County post offices, also found in the Eastern Shore Room, said Pungoteague “has one of the oldest continuous post offices on the Eastern Shore, giving testimony to its early importance as a transshipment point for waterborne mail and commerce.”
According to his account, the post office was renamed Bobtown post office in October 1862 and again was renamed Pungoteague post office in August 1863.
According to Walker, the first post office building there “exists as an outline of bricks in the ground in front of the present post office.”
The post office next moved across the street to a building that burned in spring 1976.
“This building (was) so decrepit that the floor had license plates over the cracks; chickens shipped COD were strung from the wall to keep the rats away,” Walker wrote, adding that the post office after the fire was relocated back across Route 180 to its present site.
A Sept. 19, 1885, article in the Peninsula Enterprise, quoted by Walker, notes the Pungoteague post office was made a money order office “to the great convenience of the citizens of the community.”
One Pungoteague postmaster, William H. Hopkins, had the second longest tenure of any Eastern Shore postmaster, serving from April 1914 to June 1956, according to Walker.
The name Pungoteague comes from an Algonquin word meaning sand fly river, according to Ryan Webb, author of a blog about Eastern Shore town names, https://blog.esvatourism.org/2018/08/07/eastern-shore-town-names/
Accomack County court sessions were held in the town’s two taverns from 1663 to 1708. It is also thought to be the site of the first English-language play performed in America.