In El Dorado County there were, at one time or another, over 100 post offices with some 120 different names. Some had a short life and some apparently never even existed at all, although history books make reference to them. The latter were appropriately called phantom post offices. Others existed, but nobody was sure of their exact location. These were called ghost post offices. Many others, once established, continue to operate until this day.
INDIAN DIGGINGS: This post office, four miles south of the town of Omo Ranch, in the southern portion of El Dorado County, was established on Nov. 22, 1853 with Jacob Wolf as the first postmaster. The name came from miners finding a group of Indians mining along the creek.
Service at the post office was discontinued on June 15, 1869 when it was moved one and one-half miles to the northeast and the name changed to Mendon.
The Mendon Post Office had been first established on Dec. 2, 1857 with J. Edmondson as postmaster. The community was generally known as Brownsville, but Mr. Edmondson wanted to name the post office after himself. The Post Office Department would not allow him to do that, so he rearranged some letters from his name and came up with Mendon.
The Mendon Post Office was discontinued on Feb. 15, 1869 and then reestablished on June 15, 1869 when the Indian Diggings Post Office was closed and moved there. On Mar. 23, 1888, the post office was again closed and moved back to Indian Diggings.
With the closing of the post office, the name Mendon was dropped and the town was again called Brownsville.
When the post office was moved back to Indian Diggings, the last “g” was dropped renaming it Indian Diggins. The Indian Diggins Post Office was discontinued on Nov. 30, 1935 and the mail moved to the post office at Omo Ranch.
JAY HAWK: This short-lived post office was named for the area which had been first settled by members of the ill-fated “Jayhawkers Party”, a group of 1848 gold seekers (not from Kansas, but from Missouri, since Kansas wasn’t a state yet). It was established on Aug. 29, 1860 with John S. Tipton as the first postmaster.
There is no specific location for the post office in the federal archives (ghost post office), but it is known that it was about ten miles southwest of Coloma and twelve miles northeast of Folsom City. On Dec. 26, 1863 the post office was discontinued and the mail moved to Folsom City.
JOB’S STORE: This was a phantom post office, for which there are no official records. The Aug. 2, 1858 issue of the “Sacramento Union” erroneously reported that the Postmaster General had appointed Mosses Job as the postmaster of a post office by this name near Lake Tahoe.
JOSEPHINE: Located fifteen miles northeast of Georgetown, the Josephine Post Office was named for the Josephine Gold Mine, which was nearby. It was established on Aug. 12, 1895 with Jerome C. Akley serving as the first postmaster. On Oct. 31, 1917, the post office was discontinued and the mail moved to Georgetown.
JURGENS: Named for its first postmaster, Annie G. Jurgens, this post office was located six miles southeast of Rescue. It was established on July 1, 1903 and discontinued on the last day of December in 1914. The mail was moved to the post office at Rescue.
It was named for two brothers, Benjamin and Samuel Kelsey, who discovered gold here in 1848. It was discontinued on Jan. 15, 1872 and then reestablished on Feb. 1, 1875. On Oct. 2, 1895, the post office was moved one-half mile to the west and, on Nov. 16, 1896, moved one-half mile to the southeast. On Mar. 3, 1903, the post office was again moved and the name changed to Slatington.
The Slatington Post Office, which was located at the top of Chili Bar Grade, six miles north of Placerville, was named for the hand-split, slate roofing shingles that were produced nearby. James McGraw was the first postmaster at Slatington. Service was discontinued on Oct. 31, 1912 and then reestablished on July 3, 1916. On Sep. 23, 1920, the post office was discontinued, moved one and one-half miles to the northeast and renamed Kelsey. The Kelsey Post Office, officially still located six miles north of Placerville, is still in operation.
Sources for this story include, “History of California Post Offices, 1849-1976”, researched by H. E. Salley (1976); “The Gold Rush Mail Agents to California and Their Postal Markings”, by Theron Wierenga” (1987); “California Town Postmarks, 1849-1935”, by John H. Williams (1997); “Short Stories Regarding The History of South El Dorado County”, by D. A. Wright (undated); the “History of El Dorado County”, by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); and the archives of the Mountain Democrat, Empire County Argus and Placer Times (on microfilm at the El Dorado County Main Library).