Irvine Post Office

(March 17, 1914 – October 1, 1965)

A few years after the “Irvine” name became available the Myford Post Office was renamed to match the town. When the modern, master planned community of Irvine was born, “Old Town Irvine” had to look for a new post office name. The resulting confusion was summarized in an editorial by Bill Moses, longtime editor of the Tustin News (8-12-1965): “For some reason not announced to us the Post Office Department has been going through the throes of trying to re-name the town of Irvine…. The folks out there are understandably a little confused when they get one letter from the Post Office Dept. saying that their new town name is Valencia, followed by another letter saying to forget it. The second letter said in part, ‘You are to continue using the name Irvine, California 92650 as your post office and mailing address until you are further advised by this office.’ Now isn’t that a hot one! … The latest advice from the P.O. Dept. to the Irvine folk is that they would like the postal patrons to consider the name of ‘McFadden’ for the present Irvine Post Office. We don’t understand what all this is about unless the post office genius level is now trying to delete our neighboring agricultural center from using its historic Irvine name so that the University of California Irvine branch can succeed to it.”

The McFadden name came from Arthur McFadden, a pioneer rancher and Irvine Foundation board member. But in the end, the Irvine Post Office was renamed East Irvine. The new Irvine Post Office was originally a branch of the Newport Beach Post Office. It was later (1975) made a branch of the Santa Ana Post Office. It was not until March of 1988 that the current Irvine Post Office was officially established. 

Postmasters:

Kate (Munger) Cornelius Ross, 1914-1921

            Catherine “Kate” Munger (1889-1950) is said to have spent several years convincing James Irvine to allow her to open a general store in Irvine, which she did in 1911. The post office was probably moved to the store at that time, but it took three more years for her to secure the appointment as postmaster. Having the post office probably brought more customers to the store, but not too much income – in 1920 the job paid just $232 – one of the smallest post offices in Orange County. In 1919 Munger married Walter Cornelius, owner and editor of the Newport News, and a year later sold the Irvine General Store to Arthur Newell. “While running the store and post office, Mrs. Cornelius has also been farming a bean lease on the San Joaquin ranch, has looked after an apricot orchard that she owns at El Toro, and has conducted an insurance business. She will continue her ranch interests and insurance business.” (Santa Ana Register, 1-5-1921) In 1937 she married Dr. Garland C. Ross of Santa Ana. 

Mildred Newell Wilkinson Aiken, 1921-1927

            When A.C. Newell took over the Irvine General Store in 1921 his daughter, Mildred (1897-1953), got the job as postmaster. She is originally listed in the Post Office Department records as Mildred Wilkinson, but in 1927 she married Ira Aiken. She continued to serve as postmaster until her father sold the store in 1927. 

Alice M. Munger, 1927-1931

            The next owner of the Irvine General Store was Kate Munger’s brother, Horace, and his wife, Alice (1895-1978), became postmaster. 

Horace A. Munger, 1931-1935

            Horace Munger (1894-1965) grew up in El Toro and served in World War I before moving to Irvine to take over the store. 

Lillian E. Munger, 1935-1946

            Keeping things in the family, Lillian Munger (1902-1988) was the wife of Boyd Munger, the brother of Horace and Kate. Boyd Munger took over the Irvine General Store in the late ‘30s and owned it until 1945. Lillian Munger taught school before, during, and after her tenure as postmaster. She retired in 1959 after 18 years with the San Joaquin School District, including nine years at the elementary school on the El Toro Marine base. 

Thelma W. Zitlan, 1946-1951 

Lodema K. Cook, 1951-1965

Horace Munger’s service station next to the Irvine General Store ( Santa Ana Register , 1-28-1929)

Horace Munger’s service station next to the Irvine General Store (Santa Ana Register, 1-28-1929)

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