Research Rapture? It’s what happens when a history mystery is handed to your historian correspondent and time and resources allow hours of delving into facts and figures. I was given a typewritten list of 114 post offices that once existed in Mendocino County and set off to find out when and where they existed. It wasn’t easy. It was the places I’d never heard of that intrigued me.
I bless the postal history fanatics that put up everything they know on the internet. It’s how I found the dates to go with the place names. Here’s what I learned about about post offices in the history of our county. Having a mail delivery route or hosting a post office in a building you owned many years ago was a way to get steady money from the government so there were P.O.’s all over the place
Today in the county we have 17 post offices (P.O.), but it took old maps, a gazetteer, and the internet to find the place locations for the rest. And for some P.O. locations on the list I found nothing. Even with 40 years of driving hundreds of miles on the back roads of Mendocino County some places remain a mystery. Where was Heran located when it had a post office in 1861? Persevere had postal service in 1903, as did Rockaway in 1896, but where were those places?
Railroad construction put pockets of people together for a while in small settlements. These places existed, then vanished, as train tracks extended into new territory. In the very northwestern corner of the county the rail line built from Bear Harbor to Andersonia (Piercy) promoted post offices in Scottsville (1899), French (1897), Kenny, Moody and Andersonia. Built along a rail line that seldom saw activity they all vanished. Any time a shipping center developed on the coast and enough folks settled around it there was justification for a P.O. Conway’s Landing (1870) had their services consolidated to Fish Rock eventually. Before Cleone existed it was called Kanuck in 1883 and had a post office. Hardy, or Hardyville was five miles north of Westport, Miller became Bridgeport, and Signal Port’s 1888 post office became part of Pt. Arena’s postal system.
A place called Jeram fascinated me. It was a Catholic Slovenian colony that mined copper and coal near Eden Valley and they had a P.O. Two Rivers P.O. in 1912 became Dos Rios along the Northwestern Pacific Railroad tracks. Poonkinny, in the same area, had a P.O. from 1896-1900. Farley was on the tracks five miles northeast of Longvale and Bentley’s P.O. was four miles north of Spy Rock in 1939. Was Monroe on the south fork of Mule Creek 11 miles south of Piercy what we now call Hale’s Grove? And five miles northeast of Hale’s Grove on the south fork of the Eel River was Tolson, which was a postal location in 1906. What was going on that justified creation of P.O. in such remote locations?
In previous research I’d discovered Salsig, also called Manzanita, 10 miles southeast of Greenwood/Elk where a train track split and a post office existed there. Fairbanks was four miles east of Boonville and had a P.O. from 1893 to 1910. Ornbaun got mail from 1897 to 1926 until Yorkville took over it’s postal service. Whitehall’s P.O. was four miles northwest of Hermitage, found 6 miles southeast of Yorkville, and Comfort’s P.O. sited 11 miles west of Boonville, had a P.O. in 1902.
From 1883 to 1887 Tilly, nine miles west of Cahto (which itself was three miles southwest of Laytonville) supported a P.O. Weltmer was out by Sherwood Valley near Willits and established a P.O. in 1908 and survived three years. Woodman was a Northwestern Pacific Railroad stop on the Eel River big enough to score a P.O. in 1922.
Union Lumber Company of Fort Bragg was probably responsible for a P.O. called ULCO 17 miles east of town. Also out that way was Hemlock P.O. on Highway 20. Gracy’s was 16 miles east of Fort Bragg on the train tracks and was also the place name for Old Camp Seven, or Harold’s. From 1896 to 1908 300 people lived there and had a P.O. Orr’s Hot Springs had P.O.’s two different times, from 1889 to 1911, then again 1915 to 1933, out on Comptche Ukiah Road.
Arthur was three miles south of Ukiah with a P.O. from 1903-1905 before Ukiah took over. Capehorn’s 1894 P.O. consolidated into Potter Valley. Tomkiah’s P.O. lasted two years, 1872-1874 and was also known as Glenmark. Redwine’s P.O.was five miles northeast of Cummings on a stagecoach route.
If place names and post offices interest you, go to Wikipedia and look up Mendocino County. That resource lists 120 “un-incorporated places” and 60 “former settlements”. To find out where places named Echo, Moiya, Hardscratch or Bucknell were the reader can go exploring on-line themselves, but I can tell you those places in Mendocino County did NOT have post offices. That honor belonged to those other 114 settlements.
ED NOTE: The late Joe Scaramella told me that Point Arena's mail, circa 1915, arrived overland on horseback via Cazadero. When the mailman approached town he sounded his approach by bugle, and the townspeople bustled out to greet him and get their news of the great beyond.