The Huntington Beach Post Office, circa 1950 (courtesy the Orange County Archives).

The Huntington Beach Post Office, circa 1950 (courtesy the Orange County Archives).

Huntington Beach Post Office

(June 22, 1903 –       )

Huntington Beach was originally known as Pacific City but was re-named when a new group of developers stepped in, led by Pacific Electric railway magnate Henry Huntington. The post office does not seem to have actually opened until around August 1903, and the new name took a while to catch on. “The old name, Pacific City, clings to our town yet and leads to some confusion with strangers. The Post Office is Huntington Beach, and the town when incorporated will bear that name.” (Santa Ana Blade, 5-14-1904)


Walter C. Smith, 1903-1906

Walter Smith and Ross Brown had a general store in Huntington Beach, with Smith as postmaster and Brown as his assistant. “During the first three months of its existence the office did a business amounting to $14.35, or about $1.10 per week.” (Santa Ana Register, 10-17-1916) Smith & Brown sold out to Taylor & Raymond in 1906. 

Isaac M. Clippinger, 1906-1915

Isaac Clippinger had worked for the post office in Ohio in the 1870s, came to Southern California in the 1880s, and moved to Huntington Beach in 1905, where among other things he served as the president of the chamber of commerce. During his tenure, in 1909, the Huntington Beach Post Office added its first rural route. 

Thomas C. H. DeLapp, 1915-1924

With the switch from a Republican president (Taft) to a Democratic one (Wilson) in 1912, at least nine local Dems threw their hats in the ring for the postmastership, and more than a year before Isaac Clippinger’s term was up, Thomas DeLapp was lined up to take the job. He was officially nominated by Congressman William Kettner at the beginning of 1915. “De Lapp’s appointment has been hanging fire for several weeks. Postmaster Clippinger’s term is ended, and the naming of a successor has been expected for some time. De Lapp got the [Democratic] central committee’s recommendation two years ago. The beach city’s job has been the center of turmoil. Efforts were made to oust Clippinger before his term was up, but those efforts came to naught. Within the last six weeks a movement was started to secure the appointment of some other man than De Lapp, but the movement died a-borning, for it was soon learned that the congressman was standing pat with De Lapp. It will probably be six weeks before De Lapp gets possession of the office and its salary.” (Santa Ana Register, 1-8-1915) 

Elson G. Conrad, 1924

Elson Conrad, editor of the Huntington Beach News, served only six months as postmaster before resigning “to devote his time to newspaper interest.” He later served on the city council and as mayor (1931-33). 

Charles W. Conrad, 1924-1929

Charles Conrad was also a newspaperman (and presumably a relative of Elson Conrad). His health failed near the end of his term and he did not apply for re-appointment. 

Walter I. Clapp, 1929-1933

Walter Clapp (1870-1935) came to Southern California as a boy in the 1870s and was a construction worker in Long Beach in the early 1900s, where he served on the city council in 1913. He moved to Huntington Beach around 1920 and served as president of the chamber of commerce before becoming postmaster. 

J. Edward Huston, 1933-1948

Ed Huston had been a druggist in Iowa before coming to Huntington Beach, where he invested in oil lands and sold real estate. He served on the city council from 1931-33 when he resigned to take over the post office. 

Martin G. Murray, 1948-1958

Martin Murray came to the area during the oil boom of the 1920s. He went to work for the Huntington Beach Post Office in 1931 and was assistant postmaster in the 1940s before his appointment as postmaster. Besides his 27-year career with the post office, he was widely known as an amateur astronomer and meteorologist. 

Louis E. Mitchell, 1958-1964

Louis Mitchell was a World War I vet and the son-in-law of Santa Ana postmaster Linn Shaw. In the 1920s he had a service station in Huntington Beach. He went to work for the post office in 1931 and retired in 1964 after 33 years of service. 

Parino Di Fabia, 1964-1972

Like Murray and Mitchell, Parino Di Fabia was also a longtime postal employee, with 29 years of service when he was appointed postmaster.

(You can find more about Orange County’s post offices and postmasters here)