QR Manglieu 6
Town and hamlets – Alfred the postman
In the 19th century, the population of Manglieu was divided between the village and numerous hamlets, a dozen of which had more than 10 houses.
At the time of the 1851 census, the year the village reached its demographic peak, only 358 inhabitants were counted, while the hamlets were home to over 1,300 people.
At that time, the hamlet of Champciaux, where we are, had 27 houses, occupied by 31 households. With 114 inhabitants, it was the largest hamlet in the commune. But over time, the population declined, just like the other villages in Manglieu. In 1936, only 17 houses remained occupied and the hamlet had just 45 inhabitants.
The hamlets were located somewhat logically: they were close to good farmland, had a spring or stream, and were south-facing. Isolation ruled in winter, and contact with the village was limited to essential travel. The only daily link with the outside world was the postman, who was always eagerly awaited.
From one hamlet to another
Alfred travelled through these hamlets all his life. Born in Échandelys in 1885, he was a rural postman until he retired in the 1940s.
Established by a law in 1829, rural postmen quickly became familiar faces in the countryside, symbols of the power of the state and essential messengers. Numbering 5,000 in 1830, they had risen to 25,000 by 1900. Tireless walkers, they did their rounds come summer or winter, day after day, sometimes covering distances of 30 km. It was not until after the First World War that they were given Sundays off. By the time they retire, some have covered almost 400,000 km! Until 1890, postmen were paid by the kilometre.
In the early 20th century, the bicycle made a timid appearance and its use was encouraged by the granting of an allowance. However, given the weight of the first bicycles, the poor state of the roads and the fact that they were ill-suited to winter conditions, many rural postmen, especially in mountainous areas, preferred not to use them.
- Map of the hamlets of Manglieu
- Although unoccupied for a long time, many of the houses have received regular maintenance, which testifies to the villagers’ attachment to this family heritage and makes the hamlets of Manglieu ever so characterful.
- Outfit of a 19th-century rural postman