The rattlesnake poked its flat, triangular and ugly head under the Post Office front
door in Helendale early last summer, surveyed the taut scene with obsidian eyes, then
slithered casually in, while a frantic mother, Christine Stone, held her 4-year old son
and tried to maintain a safe balance on a precarious rocking chair, meanwhile rending the
quiet desert air with ear-piercing screams. It was shortly after the dramatic killing of
the snake that it was decided definitely that Helendale needed a new post office.
Helendale is now showing off its brand new post office-rain-proof, snow-proof,
wind-proof, fool-proof (we hope) and last but not least, snake-proof.
Putting facetious comment to one side, Postmaster Helen Mc Cleary, is the third
Helendaler to handle the extensive duties of Postmaster since Charles Burden's demise in
195O. Betty McCorkle and June O'Brien held tenure in succession, and then Helen took the
reins in May of 1957.
Building the new post office was the summer project of the McCleary family. Ralph,
Helen, and her three boys Michael, Wayne and Lloyd Chaffey graded, installed plumbing,
erected the 20 x 28 foot building. Even though the building is family-owned it took
signatures of Helendale mail delivery patrons before the change to new quarters could be
The post office handles the mail of 18 box holders, 12 general delivery and an even 100
rural route box holders. The post office has an interesting history as evidenced by the
partial filling in of data supplied by Cora (Decrow) Jones of Burbank and Ruth Horning,
former Victor Valley resident now residing in San Bernardino, at the request of Mr. and
Mrs. Fred Orebaugh the letters in part:
October 27, 1960
Dear Mrs. Orebaugh:
Edith Miller sent me your note requesting information on the post office. She thinks my
memory will be better than hers, but am unable to give you much of the information you
I do not remember when the post office was established, but it seems to me there were
some records there when we had the office. If you had the time for research you could
likely find out from real estate records.
My mother, Mrs. Scullin, took over the office from a Mrs. L. Harding in or near July,
1914. I do not know how long Mrs. Harding had it. After that, there were a succession of
post masters; Mr. Gordon Chapman, Walter Trickey, and at one time when the store was
closed, Bert Higginson, the Santa Fe agent, took care of it in the station. I think
Charles Burden took over from Trickey.
The office was opened as Judson post office, as the station was Helen Station, and
later both were changed to Helendale. At that time the store and post office were in a
corner of Peter Herlick's pasture across the tracks from the station.
I took care of the post office for mama and of course could reminisce a lot about the
years we lived there; Nearly every one coming in for their mail came on horseback or by
team. There were only about four cars in the neighborhood from Oro Grande to Hodge. Hodge
was then Hicks station and Palliser post office. The model T Fords were owned by Wm.
Robinson, Oro Grande; J.B. Bledsoe, Helendale; Conrads near Helendale and Carter Bennett
The highway was unpaved, rutty road clear to the Summit.
Cora (Decrow) Jones
October 27, 1960
Dear Lillie and Fred:
I am afraid I can't tell you much about the start of the post office. My early days on
the desert, back to 1911, were spent at Newberry, you know. I do know that the first
little store was started by Mrs. Decrow's (Jones) mother, across the tracks sort of back
of the old school house. She sold it to a family named Chapman, and I think Mrs. Chapman
was the first post master. The Chapmans moved the store, building and all, up to the
location it was when Charlie bought it. I don't know whether she started the post office
in the old location or at the new one. They sold it to a family named Trickey, and Charlie
bought it from Trickey in January of 1926. Just two weeks after he bought the place, the
business building burned down and all the old post office records were burned.
The Chapmans son is still living and he stopped to see us and we had a long visit about
two years ago. He remembered many interesting things about the early days of Helendale. At
that time his address was E.C. Chapman, 5477 Fifth St., Ontario. I think if you wrote him
he could probably tell you for sure that his mother was the first postmaster, and where
she started the office, and other derails that you wanted to know.
Why don't you stop in to see us sometime when you are down this way. We are always glad
to see someone from home.
Because our community's bicentennial celebration is just around the corner complete
with parade and activities June l9th we would like to inform our readers about the history
of our area.
Our appreciation to Mrs. Sarah C. Orebaugh for the following article about Helendale.:
Daily Press, Victorville Calif. Wednesday May 19, 1976
BY SARAH C. OREBAUGH
It is believed Father Francisco Garces was the first white man to come through this
area. He was hunting for a route to the missions on the West Coast, following the Mojave
River. After Father Garces, Jedediah Smith came through on fur trapping expeditions.
In 1844 Kit Carson, Gody and Fremont were going east. The men came in through the
Wrightwood area, then down through Point of Rocks on the Spanish Trail. The Spanish Trail
came from the west through the Cajon Pass to what became Lane's Crossing (Turner Ranch),
through Halleck (Oro Grande) through Point of Rocks on across to the Colorado River. Then,
in late 1846 or early 1847 the Mormon battalion came through here and camped at Point of
Rocks on their way to Los Angeles. They were released from the military shortly and part
of them came back through Point of Rocks on their way to Salt Lake City, Utah. Then, in
approximately 1851, they brought the first Mormon wagon train through Point of Rocks.
In 1857, Capt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale came through with his famous camel caravan. At
Point of Rocks, Capt. Beale turned west crossing the river near the present site of
Bryman. At Lane's Crossing, they picked up the Mormon Trail again and went on south to
Wilmington. At Point of Rocks there was a stage stop. From the old store, it was located
west of the railroad tracks.
As is understood, the Piute Indians of the Shoshone branch burned the stage stop about
Mrs. Nettie J. Turner is believed to be the first white child born in the Point of
Rocks area in approximately 1879. She was the daughter of William Bemis.
There are conflicting stories on how Point of Rocks was changed to Helen. I think
probably the most accurate one is this. Santa Fe station was originally called Point of
Pocks. It was changed to Helen on Dec. 15, 1897 in honor of the daughter of G. Wells, vice
president of the company. On Sept 22, 1918, the name was changed to Helendale.
The school in Helendale is from kindergarten through the sixth grade It has three
classrooms, an office and a multi-purpose room with a modern kitchen. Helendale also has
its own voting precinct.
In addition to the school Helendale area has its own post office which opened under the
name of Judson.