Tracking the lineage of Clayton’s Post Office

Tracking the lineage of Clayton’s Post Office

Tracking the lineage of Clayton’s Post Office
The back room of the Village Market became the post office when “Dodie” Bloching was Clayton’s postmistress.

CLAYTON, CA (May 2, 2023) — The Clayton Post Office became an official entity on Oct. 4, 1861, and it would be housed in a variety of locations throughout town, depending on who was postmaster.

You could be mailing and receiving letters at a hotel, restaurant, grocery store or someone’s home, and a postmaster or postmistress could have been your neighbor, a local business owner or a member of your family.

Horse-drawn wagons collected and delivered mail in the early days. The arrival of the Stockton/Oakland stagecoach, roaring down Main Street to make a stop at the Clayton Hotel in the 1860s, caused great excitement in this little town.

Local brothers Jack and George Atchison operated their own stage line 1898-1914, carrying mail, money and passengers to Concord, Pacheco, Martinez, Antioch, Nortonville and Somersville. However, any Claytonite headed out of town could be politely asked to make a delivery or pickup.

First postmaster

George O. Chapman, who opened the second hotel in town, is listed first on the U.S. Postal Service roster of historical postmasters, along with a note that says: “He may not have served.” Therefore, Samuel M. Barrow is the official first postmaster of Clayton. Like Chapman, he was a hotel proprietor. But his establishment burned in the disastrous fire of 1864, and he left to find employment in San Francisco.

A stable keeper named William Morris took the helm for 10 months after Barrow’s departure. He was followed by Romeo Mauvais, yet another hotel proprietor who built the Clayton Hotel after the fire. The year 1867 marked when Charles Rhine, owner of the general store on Main Street, began his role as postmaster – serving two separate terms that totaled more than 22 years.

Clayton’s first postmistress, Lucinda Wallace, served four years in between Rhine’s terms. Recently widowed, she was attempting to raise five daughters on a meager wage as a seamstress. She was a beneficiary of the Postal Service’s change of heart toward hiring women after the Civil War. At that time, it was recognized that many women were in need of employment to make up for the loss of the men on whose wages they had depended.

A similar situation occurred with another widow, Louise Pusey, postmistress 1893-1911. She lived in a rented house at Main and Oak streets from which she handled the mail and sold candy.

Thomas O. Graves served for 11 years as postmaster, in addition to his occupation as a schoolteacher. After his term ended in 1926, women filled the Clayton post for the next 55 years.

Tat’s Place

In the 1940s, “Dolly” Murchio Foubert ran the post office in a small dining room located at the back of the bar in the former Clayton Hotel – at that time known as Tat’s Place and owned by her brother. The building we know as Skipolini’s Pizza was a home built for her in the 1950s. It became the new post office, adorned with a little evergreen tree in the front yard.

Dolly trained “Dodie” Bloching to take over in 1953, and once again the post office moved. Dodie and her husband owned the Village Market. The back room became the center of postal activity – with Dodie’s mother acting as “relief clerk.”

Dodie hand-canceled all outgoing mail, which was placed in a large locked chest behind the store. The mailman had a key to open the chest and would replace the outgoing mail with incoming for the postmistress to distribute.

Many people still remember the post office located on the west side of the old Clayton Cash Store (now the location of Cup O’ Jo and Chick Boss), just before the construction of a building that was actually meant to be a post office: a wait of more than 130 years. As the plaque in front reads, the Clayton Post Office is one of the oldest, continuously running post offices in California. That distinction was earned thanks to the hard-working postal employees of the past and present.

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Debbie Eistetter
Debbie Eistetter

Debbie Eistetter has been a resident of Clayton for almost 30 years.  She serves on the Board of the Clayton Historical Society and believes that history shows us the way to a more enlightened present and hopeful future.  For more information about the CHS Museum please visit