Hampton walks in ancestor’s footsteps
Joel Hampton of Leicester, who has worked for the United State Postal Service for about nine years, had put in for a transfer to Maggie Valley several times throughout his career.
However, he didn’t realize the significance of the potential move until he attended a Setzer family reunion in Maggie Valley a few years ago. Betty Ferguson, Hampton’s great aunt, made him aware that his great-great grandfather Jack Setzer was the first postmaster of the Maggie Valley Post Office from 1904-1909.
“I didn’t know when I first started,” Hampton said. “I found out he worked here several years back at a reunion.”
So when Hampton was named Maggie’s new postmaster in January, Ferguson was thrilled at the historical meaning.
“I love history,” Ferguson said. “And this is history in the making.”
According to a historical document written by Setzer’s nephew, Setzer was a prominent merchant farmer who decided a post office was needed because of the cumbersome process of getting mail delivered from the then Plott Post Office.
Officials approved Setzer’s request for a new post office once he proved the need. He was then tasked with selecting a name. Ferguson said Setzer submitted the names of his three daughters: Mettie, Cora and Maggie Mae.
“Fourteen-year-old Maggie Mae insisted her name was not appropriate, but her father went ahead with the submission,” the historical document reads. “Little did she know what a popular town her namesake would become.”
Maggie was selected, and Setzer was appointed postmaster to Maggie, N.C. The first post office was located at Setzer’s home on Setzer Cove. Valley was later added to the name in 1951 as a compromise when community members wanted to change the name to Jonathan Valley or Socoluska.
Hampton is now the tenth postmaster of Maggie Valley. He also has worked at the Canton and Asheville post offices. He said he didn’t expect to be working for the postal service.
“It was really by accident,” he said. “I was working for the Department of Corrections and the military (National Guard) and someone called selling the (postal service) test book and I got on as a non-career city carrier.”
After returning from deployments to Afghanistan and also Kuwait, he was hired as a career employee in June 2004.