Fullerton Post Office
(March 24, 1888 – )
The Fullerton Post Office was authorized less than a year after the town’s founding. Records found in the post office in 1917 suggest it actually opened on May 22, 1888 (at least, that’s when the postmaster bought his first order of stamps). As the community grew, it became an important post office, with rural routes serving much of northern Orange County (four of them by 1909). This growth also made the postmaster job a desirable political plum, and there were several battles for the appointment over the years.
Edmond E. Beazley, 1888-1890
Ed Beazley came to the area in 1887 and was active in ranching, real estate, banking, and water development. He was an early citrus grower and served on the board of directors of the Placentia Orange Growers Association packing house for many years. He was president of the First National Trust & Savings Bank, and president of the Santa Ana River Development Company, which controlled property in the Santa Ana Canyon jointly owned by the Anaheim Union Water Co. and the Santa Ana Valley Irrigation Co. He also served on the school board for the Orangethorpe School District in the 1910s. He died in Fullerton in 1947 at age 84.
William Starbuck, 1890-1894
William Starbuck had the first drug store in Fullerton, the Gem Pharmacy. Besides the post office, Fullerton’s first library was also located in his store, as well as the first local telephone exchange. Sad to say, he was a prominent Klansman during the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan here in 1924-25. He died in 1941, at age 76.
Nancy M. Gregg, 1894-1904
“A change has been made in the Fullerton post office. Miss Gregg has been appointed to fill the vacancy made by the ‘outsing’ of William Starbuck. Miss Gregg is considered to be an acceptable Democrat to the [new] administration.” (L.A. Times, 7-7-1894) Besides the post office, Gregg ran a stationery store in Fullerton in the 1890s. She left town around 1910 and after a year touring Europe moved to Los Angeles. When she died in 1920 the Santa Ana Register praised her as “a very capable woman, which is attested to from the fact that while she was practically alone in the world she was able to service an appointment for a federal office.” “[S]he was personally known to everyone who was a patron of the post office, and that meant all residents, for there were no rural deliveries at that time, nor were stamps sold anywhere but at the post office, consequently some members of every family visited the post office at least once a week, and many oftener than that. There are hundreds of residents of this vicinity who will remember her kindly disposition and pleasing manner, for at that period the residents of the community were like one big family, everyone being acquainted and having a fellow feeling for the welfare of each other.” (Register, 4-8-1920)
Vivian Tresslar, 1904-1907
“Tress” Tresslar was a newspaperman in Los Angeles before coming to Fullerton. In 1901 he is mentioned as the “official photographer” for the Los Angeles Times. In 1902 he was the founding editor of the weekly Fullerton News and became a member of the Orange County Republican Central Committee. He also served as secretary of the local board of trade. He left the post office under a cloud in the spring of 1907. “About six months ago after an investigation was made of affairs here an inspector recommended to the department that a change be made in postmasters. At that time strong political influence was brought to bear and the present postmaster has continued in office. Some weeks ago a second investigation was made into local postal conditions and according to the latest news received from Washington, Mr. Tresslar was asked to resign.” He hesitated, then did. “According to a statement from a reliable source there have been shortages from time to time in various postal departments, but it is held by friends of Mr. Tresslar that they were unintentional.... Mr. Tresslar stated today that he had purchased an interest in a publishing firm in Los Angeles.” (Santa Ana Register, 4-25-1907)
Lucian C. Edwards, 1907-1916
When Tresslar resigned in 1907, a “bitter fight” broke out that threatened to “split the [Republican] party into factions.” “It is all caused by the recommendation of the Republican county central committee. The office was made vacant a week ago by the resignation of Vivian Tresslar, and nine candidates at once entered the field. With the exception of Captain E.C. Hilton, each candidate withdrew when he learned that Lew Edwards had been indorsed by the committee. It is said that after the election of last fall Edwards received the promise of the committee that he would be recommended by it for any office that he would desire in the future. As soon as he heard that Tresslar was out he reminded the committee of its promise, and an indorsement followed. A number of local Republicans are far from satisfied with the present condition of affairs and are vigorously pushing Captain Hilton’s candidacy. They already have a petition out for signatures.” (Register, 4-30-1907) The battle dragged on until late June, when – on a split vote – Edwards finally got the committee’s endorsement. “The post office imbroglio is settled,” the Fullerton News wrote. “Now close the book and let the public have a rest on the subject.” “Lew” Edwards had been in town for several years, and worked in the local oilfields until being elected constable in 1906. He resigned that office when he was appointed postmaster. A Republican, he managed to hold on for near three years after Democrat Woodrow Wilson took office – reportedly the last Republican postmaster in Orange County – but everyone knew he would “soon get the axe in favor of a Democrat.”
Merton E. Blackford, 1916-1924
Merton Blackford was the Democrat who won the prize. “The transfer … marks the last change made in this county by reason of the change in the national administration.” (Santa Ana Register, 3-14-1916). He served two four-year terms, then did not seek re-appointment. He ran a gas station for a while before moving to Bakersfield.
William M. Irwin, 1924-1925
Real estate agent William Irwin (1864-1925) was a recent arrival in Fullerton, but was urged to apply for the postmastership when Merton Blackford’s term was up in 1924. He had previously served as postmaster of Cripple Creek, Colorado. “Mr. Irwin has had nine years’ experience in different branches of the postal service which, added to his many years of business and his activities in civic affairs peculiarly fits him for the position, his friends declare,” the Fullerton Daily Tribune noted. He had previously served as secretary of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Orange County Republican Central Committee, and as the first president of the Fullerton Rotary Club. He died in office in June 1925. “In the death of W.M. Irwin of Fullerton, the entire county sustains a loss,” the Santa Ana Register editorialized. “Mr. Irwin was a fine type of citizen. He was a man of very pleasing personality and fine character and ability. He was always actively interested in public affairs, efficient in public service. He was liberal and broad-minded in his views, and while he gave Fullerton full measure of his love and loyalty, he viewed all public matters with a county wide vision.” (6-12-1925)
Anna H. Irwin, 1925-1926
William Irwin’s wife, Anna, was made acting postmaster upon his death, but though endorsed by the Republican Central Committee and rated first by the civil service examiners, she did not get a permanent appointment.
John B. Horner, 1926-1934
World War I veteran John Horner came to Fullerton in 1919 and initially worked for C.C. Chapman before buying his own ranch. He was a member of the Orange County Republican Central Committee in the 1920s and was on the board of directors of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce in the 1940s.
Richard S. Gregory, 1934-1949
Richard Gregory was a 30-year resident of Fullerton and a former mayor when he was appointed postmaster by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1936, the Fullerton Post Office was advanced to 1st class and Gregory’s salary rose from $3,000 to $3,200 a year. He continued as postmaster until 1949 when he retired at age 70.
Frank D. Lowrey, 1949-1954
Though Democrat Harry Truman was in the White House, Republican Frank Lowrey managed to win the postmaster appointment in 1949.
Charles C. Clark, 1954-1957
Charles Clark joined the staff of the Fullerton Post Office in 1911 as a clerk under postmaster Lew Edwards. At that time there were only four employees – by the time of Clark’s retirement in 1957 there were 140. Over the years, Clark served under seven postmasters, becoming assistant postmaster in 1926. Civically, he was active in the Masonic Lodge, the Izaac Walton League, the chamber of commerce, the Rotary Club, and the First Baptist Church.
J. Ralph Layton, 1957-1963
Ralph Layton was another longtime Fullerton Post Office employee, arriving in 1929 after a year of postal work in Los Angeles. Besides his work at the post office, he was very active with the 20-30 Club, serving as national president at one time. He died in office in 1963, at age 55.
Alvin C. Blackford, 1963-1965
Alvin Blackford joined the Fullerton Post Office staff as a janitor in 1916, when his father, Merton Blackford was postmaster. Over the years he rose through the ranks from clerk (1926-35), to rural carrier (1935-56) to assistant postmaster in 1961. He was named acting postmaster when Ralph Layton died and later received a full appointment, retiring at the end of 1965.
Earl Otis Good, Jr., 1965-1969
Earl Good, a 27-year veteran of the Fullerton Post Office, was named acting postmaster when Alvin Blackford retired and later received a full appointment.
Douglas Clair Ice, 1969-1979
Douglas Ice was another longtime Fullerton Post Office employee who rose through the ranks. He was named assistant postmaster in 1967.
(You can find more about Orange County’s post offices and postmasters here)