(courtesy the Orange County Archives)

(courtesy the Orange County Archives)

Silverado Post Office

(August 27, 1878 – January 22, 1883; October 31, 1906 – May 21, 1907; November 30, 1931 –        )

The Silverado Post Office was born during the brief silver mining boom of the 1870s. Though authorized in August, the necessary paperwork had still not reached the camp by the start of October, so the office operated unofficially, with the postmasters of Anaheim and Santa Ana forwarding the mail. By 1881, Silverado was all but dead, but the post office held on another year and a half. The post office was revived in 1906-07 while the Western Zinc Co. tried to revive the mines, but they soon went broke. It was re-established in 1931, as the canyon became better known as a vacation destination. 


Pharez A. Clark, 1878-1882

            “P.A.” Clark (as he was known to both friends and family) laid out the Silverado townsite early in 1878. Besides postmaster, he also served as recorder of the local mining district, an assayer, a mining superintendent and a notary public. During the height of the boom the Santa Ana Herald reported: “Arriving at Silverado we found the town or camp … containing a population of about 100. The place, we are informed, is a true representation of an old-time California mining camp, the only difference being that a few of the miners are camping here with their families. Mr. P.A. Clark, of Anaheim, has an assay office here, and is also Recorder of the district. Mr. Clark was the first to take any interest in the new discovery, and so sanguine was he that the mines would prove important that he surveyed out a town, calling it Silverado. He has a cozy little office, neatly fitted up and furnished in good shape…. Mr. Clark is interested in several mines in the district, which promise well….” (quoted in the L.A. Herald, 7-30-78) 

Mrs. Eugenia Harvey, 1882-1883

            Eugenia Harvey (d 1940) was the wife of Cash Harvey, who established a livery stable and feed lot in Silverado in 1878. They were about the last of the boomers to leave, in the summer of 1883. Their son, Len Harvey, later worked in the Santa Ana Post Office for many years. 

W. Scott Franklin, 1906-1907

            Walter Scott Franklin of San Francisco was in Silverado in 1906-07 as the agent for Western Zinc Co., then working the old Blue Light Mine. 

Elsie McClelland, 1931-1938

            Elsie McClelland was the first of more than 40 years of female postmasters in Silverado (officially, there is no such title as “postmistress”). Though the canyon’s post office was officially re-established on November 30th, it did not actually open until a month later, in a log cabin on Hazel Belle Drive which also served as McClelland’s home and a branch of the county library. There were about 25 families living in the canyon at that time. McClelland’s home was originally in Seal Beach, where she served as City Treasurer in the 1920s. She first came to the canyon as a vacation spot. Along with her other duties, McClelland also occasionally published a miniature newspaper. “Silverado goes after small things in a big way. After claiming the smallest post office and public library building in the country and the smallest telephone equipment building, there has been added the smallest newspaper. The little sheet, seven by nine, carries everything from personals to editorial and is distributed free. It is called Silverado News Flashes. Miss Elsie McClelland is editor.” (Register, 12/17/1932) 

Virginia L. Brand, 1938-1939

            A resident of Shady Brook, in the canyon, Virginia Brand (Mrs. Kenneth Brand) followed Elsie McClelland as both postmaster and librarian. 

Ethel C. (Burns) Hatfield, 1940-1945

            Like Elsie McClelland, Ethel Burns had a home on the coast (Laguna Beach) and a cabin in Silverado in the Hough Tract. The post office at that time seems to have been in the Shady Brook Store. Burns, who married in 1944, also served as secretary and bookkeeper for the Silverado Mutual Water Co. in the early ‘40s. 

Geraldine O. Graves, 1945 (Acting Postmaster)

            “Jerry” Graves had sometimes filled in at the Silverado Post Office in the early ‘40s, when Ethel Burns was away. 

Inez B. Donovan, 1945-1955

            Inez Donovan came to the canyon from Long Beach around 1938. During her tenure the post office building burned and she was forced to run the post office from her home temporarily. 

Ilah M. Odem, 1955-1967

            Ilah Odem went to work for the Silverado Post Office in 1944. The building was so small then, “I didn’t have room enough to change my mind,” she joked. By 1959 it was serving 185 families in the canyon and in 1967 (the same year Odem retired) the current post office building opened. Her husband, Carl, was president of the Silverado Chamber of Commerce in 1951. 

Larelda G. (Heim) Stutsman, 1967-1971 

Anna M. Collar, 1971-1974

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