This structure has had a long and colorful history. We believe that it was built in 1850 by Daniel Todd May (1819-1888) when he purchased the land. Unfortunately historical records are not kept of buildings, only the transfer of land from property owner to property owner. So many times a judgment call must be made as to construction dates of structures based on other factors. We do know that Mr. May was the local druggist and sold school books to the students attending the Poland Schools. He must have had a soda fountain in his drug store as records show that in 1866 his annual profit from the sale of soda water was $131.85.
Daniel May was first married to Hannah Fankell and later to Mary McKinley, the sister of President William McKinley. Daniel and Mary lived above the drug store. Although very frail, Mary often helped in the store as did other members of the McKinley family, including brother William before he went away in 1861 to fight for the Union cause. On June 19, 1868 Mary opened the drug store at 5 am, became ill at 8 am, and by 5 pm became unconscious. Eight hours later she died at the age of 32 and was buried in the Riverside Cemetery. Mary and Daniel had no children. Daniel May remarried a third time to Cynthia Adair, widow of John Adair, who was Daniel’s partner. The drug store was sold to a Mr. Thomas Ford in 1869. When Daniel died, he was buried next to Mary McKinley and a three year-old son he had to Cynthia in 1877.
Jumping ahead we learn that in 1878 the building was used as a post office until 1927. Sometime in 1891 John Wishard Nesbitt (1840-1912) was Poland’s postmaster; a position he held for many years. Mr. Nesbitt also operated a large diary farm where Nesbitt Street is now located. From the beginning, all residents of Poland had to walk or ride in their buggies to the post office to pick up their mail as there were no house to house deliveries. Residents in the Township were more fortunate as they had free delivery following the Civil War when the U.S. Postal Service put veterans to work delivering mail in the rural areas (RFD). It wasn’t until 1949 that the Poland Village houses and businesses were number and home deliveries began.
In 1927 Poland’s postal service was moved between the fire station and the Old Stone Tavern and the old P.O. building was sold to Henry McCrone (1880-1952). He in turn sold it to Brooks Reed in 1948 who later leased the building to Ben Billings (1913-1997). Ben operated a floor covering business well into the 1970s. In the 1980s the Kimmels and the Macklins had an antique furniture business in this old post office building.
The building exchanged hands in 2003 when Kathryn Reed, widow of Brooks Reed, sold the property to Ron and Joanne Eiselstein who now operate both The Village Pantry and the Yellow Creek Theatre under the 224 bridge on Fridays during the summer. Today after school, Poland’s students once again stop at the Pantry for sodas just as they did back in 1866.