Back in August I related a story about the Bernardo General Store, which served the farming village of Bernardo, which was located about a mile south of today’s Westfield North County mall.
The store also contained the town’s post office. The town had been emptied out by the early 1920s and all traces of its buildings were gone a few years after that.
The founding of a post office, as well as its relocation or closing, marked an important point in the history of a community. An important source for my research on local history has been the website of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Readers may remember my references to “Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1837-1950,” which is a NARA site available to subscribers of certain genealogical websites.
I recently discovered another NARA site which has been made available by NARA directly to the general public, “P. O. Reports of Site Locations, 1837-1950,” https://www.archives.gov/research/post-offices/locations-1837-1950.html .
In 1837 the U. S. Postal Service (today known as the Post Office Department) appointed its first official Topographer of the Post Office to create maps of post offices and postal delivery routes. (Prior to that they’d relied on maps done by private commercial firms or individuals.)
The records on this website are chiefly forms sent out by the topographer to postmasters across the country to determine the exact locations of their post offices in relation to neighboring post offices, transportation routes and facilities.
Below is a report filled out in December 1887 and submitted to the topographer by E. L. Schellenberg, postmaster of Bernardo:
Among other things, it tells us that the post office was located 250 yards north of the Bernardo River (actually the San Dieguito River), that the nearest neighboring post offices were Escondido, five miles north, and Poway, 7 miles south, and that the Bernardo office was 20 miles east of the “Stewart Station of the Cal. Southern Railroad.”
History seekers can find similar information about post offices all over the county as well as across the state and in other states and territories. A lot of history available here! Check it out!
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