Blocksburg is tucked away in the southeast corner of rural Humboldt County in northern California. Arriving from the south on Alderpoint Road off Highway 101, Blocksburg becomes visible atop a hill a couple miles from town. You can see the steeple of the church and a few houses. The road is narrow and crooked, but provides a beautiful view of the hills of Humboldt County.
The town itself is but a remnant of the once thriving community it was a hundred years ago. At last count, there were fewer than 50 people living in town. On the outskirts of town, however, are many more people scattered in the hills who consider Blocksburg home. The post office serves more than 100 families. We are a diverse community consisting of ranchers, farmers, loggers, retirees, and folks who escaped the big city. Cottage industries are becoming prevalent as more people try to make a living in this remote area.
Walk into the post office any day from Monday through Friday between 8 AM to 4:30 PM. If you’re ever out our way, stop in and say hello.
History of Our Post Office
The post office was established January 30, 1877 and the town officially became Blocksburgh with an “h”. It was authorized by the Post Office Department of Washington D.C. Mr. W. H. Forse of the Mendocino and Humboldt Stage Company brought the necessary documents to set the office in operation. He arrived by way of the steamer Humboldt.
The first postmaster was Phillip H. Mulford. He set up business in the corner of the general store on Main Street. By 1877, Blocksburgh had become a trading post for outlying ranches in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties. The post office was a distribution center for places such as Zenia, Hoaglin, Ruth, and Caution, which were accessible only by mule.
A document dated May 28, 1878, and completed for the Topographer’s Office of the Post Office Department, shows that while the official name of the post office was Blocksburgh, the local name was Powelville. The nearest office in a northerly direction was Bridgeville, then 22 miles away. Sixty miles to the south was Cahto, and 15 miles west was Camp Grant.
In the early 1880s, the post office was moved down the street to the Helmke building . It was again housed in a general store. The second postmaster was Frederick W. M. Georgeson. His term ran from January, 1881 to 1886. The first three postmasters occupied the same building, but then the post office began a series of moves up and down the street locating in various buildings. At times it was in the Overland Hotel and the Helmke Mercantile building. Other times the post office had its own building. Apparently whoever was the postmaster could determine the location.
Deming O’Connor followed Georgeson as postmaster in April of 1886. A major fire which occurred that fall burned the post office and part of the Helmke building, so Mr. O’Connor was forced to move his office to another location.
Two days after Christmas in 1891 Harriet Blockburger (wife of Benjamin Blockburger) was appointed for the first of her two terms as postmaster. She was also the telegraph operator. It was during her first term that the “h” was dropped, making the town officially Blocksburg. Her term lasted a little over two years when she was replaced by Martin F. Helmke. Three years later he was succeeded by Benjamin Blockburger. It is probable that the post office was located in their general merchandise store when the Blockburgers held the office of postmaster. Benjamin served for three years and was then followed by Vernetta Charles, the wife of a prominent rancher. Harriet Blockburger began her second term a year and a half later in November 1900 and lasted for three years. Soon afterward she left Benjamin and Blocksburg for San Francisco.
The next postmaster was Peter T. Hamann whose appointment date was November 23, 1903. His office was located in what was known as the Lane building, owned by a Dr. Lane of Fortuna. The second major fire destroyed his post office in the fall of 1907. It originated in the post office and spread to the Town Hall, a warehouse, a saloon, a barn, and the Palace Hotel.
During the time that William T. Asbill was postmaster from 1908 to 1914 records show that the nearest post office was in Zenia. It was located 14 miles in a south easterly direction accessible by trail. Alderpoint post office was later established in 1911, a distance to the south about ten miles.
Frank E. Henderson assumed the position of postmaster on June 5, 1914 and served a brief term. He was followed by Francis M. Scott on October 20, 1915. A year later Lucena Shields was appointed and served from 1916 to 1925, the longest term as of that date. Her office was a tiny building at the south end of Main Street that looked somewhat similar to the current building. Between 1925 and 1937 Charles E. Wilkinson conducted postal business in both the Overland Hotel and the Helmke Mercantile building.
Between 1938 and 1945 four people filled the role of postmaster for Blocksburg: Max G. Watson, Floyd Madden, Clara Snider, and Ruth E. Hofer. Then for the next fifteen years Barbara Burgess was the postmaster. She got the job when she and her husband, Pete, bought the Overland Hotel from retiring postmaster Ruth Hofer. The post office was located in the hotel for a few years until the Burgess’ decided to build a new general store. The old hotel was torn down. As was the custom, the post office moved into a corner of the new store. It stayed there for about ten years when they built a separate building for the post office a short distance away. The counter and “window” complete with bars was moved from the hotel to the store and then to the new building. They are still in use today.
When Barbara Burgess retired in 1960, her sister-in-law Georgette Ripple was appointed as her replacement. She served the longest term, retiring in 1980. Current postmaster, Bev Windbigler, was appointed in September of 1980.