Newport Beach Post Office
(August 11, 1891 – )
Naturally there was confusion between the Newport Beach Post Office and the nearby Newport Post Office in the Gospel Swamp area, south of Santa Ana. “Parties who wish to send mail to Newport Beach should bear in mind that there is another Newport post office in this county and they should be sure and put on the word ‘beach’.” (L.A. Herald, 8-16-1894) As Newport Beach grew in popularity as a vacation spot it made things difficult for the post office, as business increased dramatically over the summer. In 1928, when home delivery began, the Newport Beach Post Office needed just one carrier over the winter, but two every summer.
Emmett C. Brockett, 1891-1895
Emmett Brockett (1850-1923) came to Santa Ana from Illinois in 1888. Moving to Newport Beach, “he conducted a bath house business for some time, later becoming postmaster at the beach when the post office was established there. He was one of the first city trustees and also was a member of the first board of school trustees there.” (Santa Ana Register, 1-29-1923)
Joseph H. Dixon, 1895-1896
Joseph Dixon was running a store in Newport Beach while serving as postmaster. He reappointed postmaster in 1901 but served only briefly (see below).
William H. Frazier, 1896-1898
William Frazier ran a store in Newport Beach, while his family lived in Fairview.
Elmer D. Atwood, 1898
Elmer Atwood and his father, L.A. Atwood, were running the store in the bathhouse at Newport Beach at this time. In 1916 Elmer was described as an old time resident of Santa Ana and for many years chief engineer at the city water works.
Conrad C. Crookshank, 1898-1901
Conrad Crookshank bought the bathhouse and store from the Atwoods in 1898. He had come to Santa Ana as a child in 1886 and later lived in San Juan Capistrano and Brea.
Joseph H. Dixon, 1901
Joseph Dixon soon resigned “on account of ill health.” By 1902 he was a resident of the veterans’ convalescent hospital at Santa Monica.
Henry A. Peabody, 1901-1908
Formerly the postmaster at Santa Ana, where he was editor of the Santa Ana Blade, Henry Peabody (d 1915) started a store at Newport Beach around 1901. In 1906 the “veteran newspaper man … and pioneer merchant” was appointed Newport Beach’s first city judge. His son, George, later took over the store. “Founded by H.A. Peabody, one of the pioneers of Orange County, ‘El Verado’ – the store, has grown with the increasing demands of the sandspit until it has for several seasons been greatly handicapped for room…. For the past year the senior member of the firm has practically been retired from business, having turned over the responsibilities of the work to his son George. His health has not been good from some time.” (Santa Ana Register, 11-18-1907)
John W. McMillan, 1908-1921
John McMillan was one of the pioneers of Newport Beach, coming to the area in the early 1880s before the wharf was built or the city even founded. After the City of Newport Beach incorporated in 1906 he was named city judge. “[P]eople know full well that honest John McMillan will be square and just. John McMillan has grown up with Newport as it were. That is, he has been here many years and knows its people and its needs.” (Register, 10-2-1907) He then served a term on the city council before being appointed head of the city water department, a job he held for the next 35 years.
Lawrence S. Wilkinson, 1921-1922
“Wilkie” Wilkinson “was given less than two years to live when he came here 35 years ago as agent for the Southern Pacific, for whom he has been agent ever since the Newport-Balboa line was built. Not only has he managed to live, and to act as agent for two railway lines [the Southern Pacific and the Pacific Electric], but he has been at one time or another postmaster of Newport Beach, city councilman [and] in numerous other public and semi-public posts. He is now one of the members of the library board and of the city planning commission, besides being prominent in chamber of commerce and other activities.” Register, 10-14-1929) He was serving on the city council in 1921 but resigned to become postmaster. “Like several of his contemporaries at Balboa,” local historian H.L. Sherman reported, “he found the work in a Fourth Class office … was out of proportion to the pay. Accordingly, he resigned.” He continued as the local railroad agent until he retired in 1930 and died in 1931 at age 66.
Ida P. (Durkee) Naylor, 1922-1935
Ida Naylor had previously worked in the post office for six years under postmasters McMillan and Wilkinson before getting the appointment herself. During her tenure she modernized operations and managed the introduction of home delivery and the move of the post office to its own building in 1932.
William H. Adams, 1935-1952
A native of Tustin, William Adams formerly had a store in Santa Ana, but worked for the City of Newport Beach in 1934-35 before being appointed postmaster. He died in office in March 1952.
Eugene W. Gillespie, 1952-1953
Following William Adams’ death, Richard Torrance temporarily took charge of the Newport Beach Post Office, but it was chief clerk Eugene Gillespie, a postal employee since 1946, who received the formal appointment as acting postmaster.
John T. Boyd Jr., 1953-1955
William Adams was followed as acting postmaster by John Boyd, a “hardware merchant and holder of a contract postal substation here” (L.A. Times, 3-20-1953). He soon received a full appointment, but retired in 1955 to devote more time to his business interests. Besides his hardware store, he was also active in local real estate and banking.
Henry Payne Thayer, 1955-1973
H. Payne Thayer served as postmaster until his retirement in 1973. Early in his tenure the Newport Beach Post Office moved from 32nd Street to a new building on Riverside Ave.
(You can find more about Orange County’s post offices and postmasters here)