Olive Through the Ages

Community: Olive Station U.S. Post Office

Churches | Fire dept. | Post office | Railroad | School & Civic Center | Other

In 2009, Olive Station U.S. Post Office, included on the list of post offices across the country slated for possible closure, remains open today in 2010, having been retained by the U.S. Postal Service. Next to Olive's public school, this historic post office is the second oldest public serving organization from its past; a significant remnant of this once-flourishing town.

My thanks to Gordon McClelland and Phil Brigandi for contributing some of the resources used in writing this article.


A post office on the move

During the first half of the 1800s, the site that would become known as Olive was a sleepy, informal, pastoral area carrying forth the familial atmosphere established by its founding family. As such, there was little need for governmental intervention in the daily lives of its residents, since the Yorbas and their extended families took care of their own needs.

By 1871, a few years after the Yorba land grant was declared void, life for residents began to change as the region that would become known as Orange County was becoming settled. Desiderio Burruel, son-in-law of Teodocio Yorba—José Antonio Yorba's youngest son—set up an unofficial post office in his general store at Burruel Point, the name for the Olive area at the time. Local historian Tom Pulley writes in the May 2010 edition of "County Courier": "[Burruel] sold stamps [at his store] and picked up the mail for local residents from the Anaheim P.O. as well as delivered their outgoing mail to the post office."

Don Meadows' book Historic Place Names in Orange County sets the opening date of the official U.S. post office named "Olive" on February 2, 1887, four months before Olive Heights tract was established.

An article published in the March 7, 1887 edition of Los Angeles Times states: "Our friends at Burrel [sic] Point are to be congratulated on their new postoffice. It is called Olive, and L.Z. Huntington is P.M. [postmaster]. Burrel [sic] Point is soon to attain the dignity of a lively town, and will be quite an important station on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. It is a beautiful place, commanding an entrancing view of the valley and ocean, and land in and around it is proving A No. 1. The people up that way are wide-awake, and will 'keep pace with the procession.'"

From 1887 up until the late 1890s, the post office was located inside the Bush general store near the Olive Mill (see image from 1890). In the 1910s up until the early 1920s, the U.S. Post Office building stood on the south side of Hope Street (present day Lincoln Avenue) at 4 east Olive Boulevard (present day Olive Avenue).

By 1923, the post office was housed in the brick building at the northeastern corner of Railroad Street (later called Canyon Way, and Orange-Olive Road today) and Hope Street (later called Santiago, and Lincoln Avenue today). The post office remained here until the brick building burned down in 1961, at which time it temporarily relocated across the street to the vacant Santa Fe depot structure near the northeastern corner of Lincoln and Orange-Olive Road, the Santa Fe agency having closed in 1960.

Before the Santa Fe depot was razed in 1964 due to the realignment of Orange-Olive Road, in 1963, the Olive Station post office became a station of the Orange post office and relocated to 2683 N. Orange-Olive Road in the strip mall at the Orange-Olive Center.

In 2009, the U.S. Postal Service listed the Olive Station post office for possible closure, but in early 2010 the decision was made to keep this post office open.

Olive had a number of postmasters throughout its history. Among them:

1887 - 1888 Lewis Z. Huntington — owner of the local grocery store before the Olive Heights tract was established; his daughter Ada served as assistant postmaster.
1888 - 1890 William T. ("Billy") Bush — son of the Bush pioneer settlers in Olive; briefly operated the grocery store at Olive Heights.
1890 - 1891 James P. Small — served as postmaster while working as a bookkeeper at the Olive Milling Co. from at least 1889 to October 1894.
1891 - 1892 Albert K. Small — relative of James P. Small; operated the local grocery store.
1892 - Feb. 1895 Warren D. Small — acquired the post office when he began operating the local grocery store. In 1894, he became the Santa Fe agent at Olive and resigned as postmaster.
1895 Frank L. Carr — married into the Small family and briefly served as postmaster.
1895 - 1896 Theodore Danker — member of the Danker family of pioneer settlers in Olive; operated the town's general store.
1896 - 1897 Alonzo R. Williams — operated the grocery store and post office.
1897 - Sept. 1900 Frank E. Upham — served as postmaster until the post office's brief closure from September through December 1900.
Dec. 1900 - 1906 Frank E. Upham — continued to serve as postmaster after the post office reopened at the end of 1900, following its brief closure.
1906 - 1909 Harrison W. Borden
1909 Julius W. Kusel — half-owner of the Olive Store and postmaster until his death on December 22, 1909.
1910 - 1920 Andrew M. Lorenzen — brother-in-law of Julius W. Kusel; bought Kusel's partner's half of the Olive Store and continued the business as Kusel & Lorenzen. He later became one of the founders of the First National Bank of Olive.
1920 - 1928 Leonard G. Holman — bought the Olive Store with D.E. Trefy; in 1923, oversaw the relocation of the store housing the post office to the brick block building, and later served on the Olive Elementary School Board.
1928 - 1931 Myrtle V. (Stinchfield) Tackett — worked in dry goods and the post office at the Olive Store that in 1928 became the Olive Department Store; married Bixby Ranch foreman Gus Tackett in 1929. Her father H.L. Stinchfield was a real estate agent at the Olive Realty Company.
1931 - 1932 Marian A. Cole
1932 - 1946 Theodore H. Mieger — named Deputy Postmaster soon after his appointment; operated the Olive Meat Market which was adjoined to the Olive Department Store. He was a founding member of the Olive Improvement Association.
1946 - 1963 Mrs. Ella A. (Williams) Dominguez — married Roger Dominguez in 1947; served as postmaster in the brick block building and subsequently the decommissioned Santa Fe depot after the brick building that housed the post office burned down in 1961. In 1963, when the post office became a station of the City of Orange and relocated to its current site at 2683 N. Orange-Olive Road, she continued to serve as station superintendent.

Sources include: "Olive Post Office" from OC Historyland website (https://www.ochistoryland.com/olivepo) by Phil Brigandi, accessed March 2, 2019; Orange County Place Names A to Z by Phil Brigandi, Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, 2006; Thurston's Business and Resident Directory: Anaheim, Orange, Fullerton (1913-14); Directory of the City of Orange and Adjacent Territory (July 1916); Hansen's Orange Residence and Business City Directory (1919); Orange County Directory (1924-32); Barbara Oldewage's memories of Olive; "After 106 years, Olive closes door on history of Orange and its citizens," by Mary-Ann Unland, Orange City News, June 20, 1984; "The Busy Story of Olive in Orange County" by Clyde Leech, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, June 28, 1963; The Olive Mill: Orange County's Pioneer Industry by Wayne Dell Gibson, Orange County Historical Society, Santa Ana, CA, 1975.


Olive Station post office images

Click/tap the thumbnail images below to view larger images in a separate browser window or tab:

Olive Mill, Bush store, Hotel, 1890

This photo from 1890 shows the Bush general store in which Olive's post office was housed in its early years.

brick building, circa 1925

This image from circa 1925 shows the brick building on Canyon Way (Orange-Olive) where the post office resided.
brick building, 1951
The post office, shown in this 1951 photo, remained in this brick building until it was gutted by fire in 1961.
brick building, 1961 "U.S. Post Office, Olive, Calif." still appears on the face of this brick building after a fire in 1961.
Santa Fe depot, 1961
This 1961 photo shows the Santa Fe depot that would house the U.S. Post Office from 1961 to 1963.

Olive post office in old Santa Fe depot, 1963 This photo from 1963 shows postmaster Ella Dominguez beside the post office that occupied the former Santa Fe depot.
Orange-Olive Center, 2009
This 2009 photo shows the post office at its current location in the Orange-Olive Center where it has been since 1963.
Olive Station post office, 2009 This 2009 photo shows a close up of the Olive Station post office which has been a part of the Orange station since 1963.
Olive Station post office sign, 2009
This 2009 photo shows the sign on the window at the Olive Station post office at the Orange-Olive Center.

Go to Main menu