Laguna Beach Post Office
(May 15, 1891 – October 14, 1893; May 26, 1894 – )
Laguna Beach had a little trouble with its post office name in the early days. It was originally established as Lagona Beach (1891-93). The mistake may have been made in Washington, since the misspelling does not seem to show up locally before then. Then, after being briefly de-commissioned, the post office was re-born as Lagona in 1894. The misspelling persisted until 1904, when postmaster “Nick” Isch took the steps to expand and correct the name to Laguna Beach.
William H. Brooks, 1891-1893
William Brooks was one of the pioneers of Laguna Beach, settling along the coast in 1876. He was running a store in Laguna Beach in 1891. In 1893 he built an elaborate wooden commercial building – the Brooks House – that was part hotel, part store, part barbershop, and part post office, but it soon burned and the post office died with it. Brooks also served the community as a deputy sheriff and as constable (1891-94). He also carried the mail from El Toro for several years (an easier job than postmaster that offered a regular paycheck in the days when the postmaster’s salary was still based on postal receipts). He died in 1936 at age 80.
Washington M. Boring, 1894-1895
Washington Boring was running the grocery store in the Brooks House when it burned in 1893. Following the fire he moved the store to the Hotel Laguna building. Boring had settled in Orange in 1882 and later served as “custodian” of the new Orange County Park (today’s Irvine Regional Park). He died in 1905 at age 71.
Joseph Yoch, 1895-1903
Joseph Yoch (1844-1926) came to the area in 1887 when he bought the Black Star coal mine. He later served as both a Santa Ana city councilman and an Orange County Supervisor. By 1889 he had a cottage in Laguna Beach and in 1895 he bought the Hotel Laguna and got the post office along with it. “In addition to the hotel, Mr. Yoch has a well-supplied grocery and provisions store, in which is also located the post office. Mr. Yoch is postmaster but the business of both store and post office is mainly attended to by his courteous and obliging deputy, Mr. Nicholas Isch.” (Santa Ana Blade, 7-8-1898)
John Nicholas Isch, 1903-1920
“Nick” Isch was Joseph Yoch’s brother-in-law, and managed the Laguna Beach Post Office for several years before being appointed postmaster. Aliso Canyon pioneer Joe Thurston later recalled: “Nick Isch and his grocery store do not need any introduction because that was the only place where there was any activity in the village for about nine months of the year, as it was both post office and store combined. The only trouble was when the mail came in and had to be sorted there wasn’t anyone to wait on the customers when they came in for goods unless they wanted to wait till Nick was through with the mail, so if they were in a hurry the only thing to do was to leave the money on the counter for what they might want, or if they had a charge account it would be set down on a piece of paper. As it was an event when the mail came in most of the people would come around at about that time of day and all those who would wait for the distribution of the mail would sit on the railing in front of the store and cut niches in it while swapping stories with each other.” (South Coast News, 11-22-1935) The old store building was finally torn down in 1923.
Blanche B. Brown, 1920-1921
Brayton S. Norton, 1921-1934
Brayton Norton originally settled in Newport Beach in 1912. He had previously served as assistant postmaster under “Nick” Isch. Besides his work at the post office he sometimes served as a newspaper correspondent and short story writer and wrote least one novel El Diablo (1921). During his tenure the Laguna Beach Post Office was raised to 2nd class after yearly receipts topped $8,000 (post office box rentals also grew from 27 in 1921 to 515 in 1926). “The jump from third to second class will give Laguna Beach better service. Employees will be recruited from the civil service and there will be enough help to that the window will remain open all day. At the present time the window is closed during the hours for distributing the mails.” (Santa Ana Register, 1-7-1927) Norton went into real estate after leaving the post office and later served for many years as general manager of the Laguna Beach County Water District.
Ada E. Purpus, 1934-1945
Mrs. Roy W. Purpus had worked as a hotel manager in Laguna in the 1920s. She also served as president of the Women’s Club, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and the local chamber of commerce. Home delivery of mail began soon after she took office (which incidentally raised the price of local letters from 1¢ to 2¢). Purpus resigned as postmaster in 1945.
Baird B. Coffin, 1945-1953
“[Baird] Coffin, 33, has resided here for five years. He is employed now with the Staats Shipbuilding Co., Newport Beach. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he was graduated from Kenyon College … and George Washington University law school…. He is married and has two children.” (Register, 4-4-1945) In 1950 he was elected president of the Festival of the Arts Association. He was still living in 1994 at age 82.
Walter E. Parke, 1953-1961
Eugene T. White, 1961-1968
Eugene White worked in banking before his appointment as postmaster.
Donald Willard Rose, 1968-1969 (Acting Postmaster)
H.L. Almond, 1969 (Officer-in-Charge)
E. Jackson Bryant, 1969-1970 (Officer-in-Charge)
Charles Covault, 1970-1971 (Officer-in-Charge)
Don W. Rose, 1971-1974
(You can find more about Orange County’s post offices and postmasters here)