Talbert Post Office
(November 15, 1899 – August 15, 1907)
Residents of Fountain Valley hoped to use that name for the new post office in 1899, but it was rejected by the Post Office Department because they did not like “long double names.” So instead, someone suggested Talbert, the name of an active ranching family in the area. “Talbert! Talbert! Talbert! We say, three cheers for the new town in Orange county! The U.S. department at Washington has established us a post office. Talbert is southwest of Santa Ana eight miles, three miles south and a half a mile west of Bolsa, in the Willows Peatland country, the most desirable ranch country in the United States, taking into consideration climate, artesian wells, vast productiveness of the soil and other heretofore only dreamed of advantages in farm life; crops growing all the year – no stop at all – producing greater average income per year than any orange or lemon lands. Settled by an active, intelligent, wide-awake class of people…. The town contains a fine new store building filled with goods owned by Mr. Corbett, who is also postmaster. There is a brand new post office outfit. Many thanks to you, Mr. C.” (Santa Ana Blade, 11-8-1899) Even so, the locals insisted the town was still Fountain Valley (Blade, 12-22-1899)
The Talbert Post Office never grew very large, and as rural free delivery extending into the area from Santa Ana, business only declined. As a 4th class post office, the postmaster received no regular salary, only a fee from cancellations and a small percentage on money orders. There was a “strong probability” the Talbert Post Office would be closed, the Santa Ana Register reported on January 5, 1907, “unless conditions materially change and prospects for the change are not at all encouraging. The office was established a number of years ago and for a long time the compensation was sufficient to justify its continuance. In fact the office has always been a paying one until quite recently, when the establishment of rural route No. 6 cut off considerable revenue in the way of stamp cancellations…. The Talbert people buy just as many stamps as they ever did, but the letters are mostly mailed in the rural boxes and consequently are brought to Santa Ana. For some time past Postmaster Tubbs has been considering the giving up of his office now that his income has been reduced to such an extent that he is not paid for his trouble, and unless some persons who will be content with a bread and water salary petitions for the job, the office will be abolished and the Talbert people put on rural route No. 6.” Since no one stepped up, the post office was closed later that summer. “It is not believed that the closing of the office will seriously inconvenience any one besides the [Japanese] who use it in sending their money to Japan.” (Anaheim Gazette, 8-1-1907) The lock boxes and other fixtures were reportedly moved to the new Balboa Post Office. It was not until 1958, after the city had incorporated, that a new Fountain Valley Post Office opened as a branch of the Santa Ana Post Office.
Thomas B. Talbert, 1899-1904
Tom Talbert (1878-1968) was a prominent developer, investor, civic leader, and politician in Orange County for decades, serving on the Orange County Board of Supervisors from 1909 to 1926. But he was just a storekeeper in Fountain Valley when the post office opened. In his autobiography, My Sixty Years in California (1952), he recalled:
“Now that we had a trading center and a blacksmith shop at the Fountain Valley crossroads, the need of a post office was badly felt, as Bolsa and Westminster were the nearest places of mail delivery. It was a long drive by horse and buggy and required hours of time just to go for the mail. My father rode a saddle horse while he secured signatures for a petition to the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C., asking permission to establish a new post office, designating the name of the place as Fountain Valley. The petition was returned with the statement that a two-word name for a post office could no longer be used except in case of unusual historical significance. Upon this notification we called a meeting of our neighbors. Someone suggested that we amend the petition and send it back with Talbert as the name for the new post office. We did this. The post office was granted in 1899, and at the age of 21 I was appointed postmaster by President William McKinley…. We were [also] authorized to write domestic and foreign money orders. It was surprising what a large number of money orders went to foreign companies, particularly to Mexico. Since there was no rural free delivery, everyone came to the store for their mail which was very advantageous to the growth of our mercantile business. Our mail came from Santa Ana via Bolsa….”
Tom Talbert sold out to Frank Taylor in 1903 and moved to the new town of Huntington Beach, where he later served on the city council.
B. Frank Taylor, 1904-1905
Frank Taylor came to Fountain Valley from Glendora after buying the Talbert store. But he only stayed briefly, moving first to Huntington Beach and then to South Pasadena.
John W. Tubbs, 1905-1907
John Tubbs, who came to Santa Ana from Iowa around 1901, had the store for the next few years. His partner, J.G. Parsons continued the business after Tubbs left town, running the store until his death in 1926. By then, Tubbs was back in Santa Ana, where he served as mayor in 1923-25. For many years he ran a local trucking business.
(You can find more about Orange County’s post offices and postmasters here)