Tustin Post Office
(October 28, 1872 – )
Though officially authorized in October, the Tustin post office did not open until about January 1, 1873 (Anaheim Gazette, 12-21-1872). The post office was originally known as Tustin City, an optimistic name for the year-old community of just a few hundred residents in 1872. The “City” was finally dropped in 1894. One indication of Tustin’s small size is the fact that in the early days, just two families controlled the post office for 40 years. In the 1920s, it was suggested to rename the post office Valencia, but the City of Tustin incorporated in 1927 and the idea sank.
Columbus Tustin, 1872-1883
Town founder, namesake, and pioneer merchant, Columbus Tustin (1826-1883) was also Tustin’s first postmaster. A ‘49er, he had been a carriage builder in Petaluma before coming south to found his own town. He served until his death.
Martha Tustin, 1883-1889
After eleven years, Tustin’s daughter, Martha Tustin (1858-1915) took over the post office, serving six years before resigning in 1889. She later married J.E. Curry.
Harvey B. Lewis, 1889-1894
“An important change has taken place in our postoffice. Mr. H.B. Lewis has been appointed postmaster owing to the resignation of the postmistress, Mrs. M. Tustin. The office has been held by the Tustin family for a decade, and such is the respect in which they are held in our midst that they could doubtless have kept it an indefinite period. The appointment of Mr. Lewis meets with the hearty approval of our citizens.” (Santa Ana Blade, 11-7-1889) Harvey Lewis settled in Tustin in the mid-1870s and was one of the first people to grow lima beans in Orange County. He was Road Overseer for the Tustin Road District for most of the 1880s and was nominated for County Supervisor by one of the many political conventions held when Orange County was created in 1889. Originally a Republican, by 1896 he had switched to the Populist Party. He died suddenly in 1898. “Mr. Lewis was one of the pioneers of Tustin, an ex-postmaster of that place, and a prominent member of the G.A.R.” (L.A. Times, 6-20-1898)
Albert M. Downs, 1894-1897
“Tustin has a new postmaster in the person of Albert M. Downs, a well-known young man of this place. His appointment was made several days ago, but was kept so quiet that it was not generally known until today. H.B. Lewis, the retiring postmaster, handed in his resignation some months ago, and it has been expected for some time that another appointment would be made, but when it did it was in the nature of a surprise.” (L.A. Times, 8-8-1894) Downs’ sisters were both married to prominent Tustin pioneers, H.K. Snow and P.T. Adams. He died in September 1897 at just 28 years of age. “He leaves an honorable name and an upright career behind him.” (Blade, 9-14-1897)
Fannie L. Tustin, 1897-1902
“Miss Tustin has been the capable assistant for many years and she as well as Mr. [N.M.] Barnes, who is a well known citizen and veteran soldier, made themselves known as candidates at once on the death of Mr. Downs. All are sterling Republicans and competent to fill the place to the satisfaction of the people. The contest is likely to be a lively one.” (Santa Ana Blade, 9-17-1897) Fannie Tustin (1869-1939) was the youngest child of Columbus Tustin. She secured the postmaster appointment over at least two other men. After leaving office, she married Clayton H. Platt.
Arthur D. Turner, 1902-1914
Arthur Turner came to Tustin in the mid-1890s and had a ranch east of town. His wife, Myrtle Turner (1865-1930) served as assistant postmaster during her husband’s tenure. Arthur Turner died at the beginning of 1933, after an extended illness. “Mr. and Mrs. Turner were Tustin pioneers and developed a 20 acre ranch east of Tustin. They were in charge of the Tustin post office for a number of years.” (Santa Ana Register, 1-3-1933)
John A. Phiney, 1914-1920
John Phiney (sometimes spelled Phinney, but the single ‘n’ seems correct) came to Tustin in the early 1900s where he ran a barber shop. A Democrat, he had no opposition when he sought the postmastership in 1914. The post office was promoted to 3rd class about that time so the salary rose to $1,100 a year, but Phiney still considered it too low and eventually resigned. He kept his barber shop going long after he left the post office. He died in 1942 at age 82.
Florence Stone, 1920-1924
Florence Stone served just one four-year term as postmaster. Myrtle Turner, wife of former postmaster Arthur Turner, served as her assistant.
Nannie H. Phiney, 1924-1927
Nannie Phiney, the wife of John Phiney, served as assistant postmaster under her husband. “Mrs. Nannie H. Phiney, recently appointed postmistress, has taken over the office following the receipt of her commission from Washington, Saturday. Mrs. Phiney was postmistress of the office here four years ago. Miss Florence Stone, outgoing postmistress, completed her four year term May 10, but on account of the failure of the arrival of the commission for Mrs. Phiney she has remained in charge of the office. In response to an article printed in a local paper stating that Mrs. Phiney had acted as assistant to Miss Stone during rush times, Miss Stone stated: ‘Mrs. Piney has never acted as assistant under me in the post office nor have I assisted Mrs. Phiney after turning the office over to her. Mrs. M.V. Turner, wife of the former postmaster, Arthur D. Turner, has acted as the assistant during the past four years in the regular work and at all rush times.’” (Santa Ana Register, 7-28-1924) Mr. Phiney’s health began to fail in 1925 and her daughter, Cinderella Phiney, took over the day to day operations of the post office. Nannie Phiney died in 1927, at age 55.
Cinderella L. Phiney, 1927-1936
“Cindy” Phiney followed her mother as postmaster. She had grown up in Tustin and was one of the original students at Tustin Union High School. After graduation in 1924 she attended UCLA. After leaving the post office she moved to Long Beach. In 1939 she married Leslie Covalt and they moved to San Anselmo, California.
Sam H. Long, 1936-1943
In 1943, Sam Long, a 20-year resident of Orange County, was removed from office, charged with embezzling $300 in post office funds.
Carolyn H. Campbell, 1943-1955
Carolyn Campbell, a 16-year resident of Tustin, had previously worked as a secretary in the adult education department of the Santa Ana School District before being appointed. After 12 years she resigned as postmaster but continued as a clerk under her successor. She died in 1979 at age 79. “Senior clerk and Postmaster of Tustin from 1940 to 1965, Mrs. Campbell was also a member of the League of Women Voters and the Ebell Society of Santa Ana. She had been a resident of Tustin with her late husband, John, since 1928. During her tenure at Postmaster, the Tustin post office was raised from third to first class.” (Tustin News, 5-10-1979)
Jesse J. Parks Jr., 1955-1967
Jess Parks grew up in Tustin and first worked for the postal service when he was in high school. He served in the Naval Reserve during World War II. “After his release from active duty, Mr. Parks was transferred to China Lake, then known as Inyokern, where he aided in converting the post office from a Navy-operated unit to one manned by civilians.” He then returned to Tustin and was named assistant postmaster (Tustin News, 2-26-1954) His promotion to postmaster three years later was praised by an editorial in the Tustin News (8-8-1957): “Today is notable for some good news to the Tustin area; namely appointment of Acting Postmaster Jess Parks as permanent Postmaster of Tustin Post Office which received its first class rating last month. Those who know Jess Parks will be the first to say this appointment, which was confirmed by the United States Senate, is a move which will promote better postal service. Jess is one of the finest types of public servants. During his tenure as acting postmaster he has worked above and beyond the ball of duty in our opinion, to make the Tustin Post Office the fine, efficient office it is. We are glad for Jess that the federal government showed good sense and recognized merit. But we are gladder for ourselves that we have a top man running our post office.” “When he arrived,” the News noted on his retirement, “the post office was located in the building now occupied by the Tustin City Hall. The post office had eight employees and postal receipts of $34,000 per year. Today the post office employs 59 persons and has annual receipts nearing $500,000. The new post office building was built in 1962.” (11-30-1967)
Ronald David Huisenga, 1967-1969
Ronald Huisenga, a Tustin banker, served as acting postmaster after Jess Parks’ retirement, but did not receive a full appointment.
Brian J. Gillespie, 1969
Brian Gillespie was sent out from Washington, DC by the postal service to cover the interim between the departure of Ronald Huisenga and the appointment of Ray Kingsbury. His title was “Officer-in-Charge,” not postmaster.
Ray S. Kingsbury, 1969-1975
Ray Kingsbury had served as assistant postmaster since 1958; he was made officer-in-charge in 1969 but was not appointed postmaster until March of 1971. “Kingsbury, 48, received his appointment under the new merit selection basis established for the Postal Service in legislation recently passed by Congress and signed by President Nixon. Kingsbury assumes his new duties after extensive postal experience, since he entered the Service in 1955.” (Tustin News, 3-11-1971) During his tenure, in 1970, the current Tustin Post Office opened at 340 E. First Street. In 1975 he was transferred to Concord, California.
(You can find more about Orange County’s post offices and postmasters here)