|Yorba Linda History|
|Home | Donations | Digital Collections | Map of Yorba Linda Historical Sites | Reproduction Policy | Timeline | Links to local historical societies | Yorba Linda Star index|
Chapter 5 - The Business District "Down Town”
The business district is the heart of any village and Yorba Linda was no exception in this. As in any group of business ventures, some of the early undertakings took hold and prospered. Some died after a futile try.
The tract citizens, who had been buying their groceries and other commodities at the Stern and Goodman store in Olinda during the first year, were happy when that firm opened a place in Yorba Linda on Main Street. After a short time the store was sold to Stein and Fassel who did a flourishing business for a number of years. This store was on the west side of Main Street across from where the Falkins Insurance is now.
The Pullen Grocery store was the first store on the town site. It stood on Olinda Street about where the veterinary building now is. Next to it on the south was the Buckmaster Hardware store. The post office was first placed in the Pullen Grocery until the postal inspector came and, for some reason, placed it in the Buckmaster store next door. Here, Esther Buckmaster acted as postmistress, not quite old enough, legally, to hold the office, so her father was appointed and Esther did the work. She is now Esther Brown and lives with her husband, Howard, in Brea, coming often to Yorba Linda to attend church and to visit her sister, Mrs Sam Oilman. 
Joe Buckmaster was a forward looking man and established two more businesses on the town site. He opened the San Pedro Lumber Yard, where the present lumber building stands. He built another large building still standing, next to the Friends Church lounge on the south. He opened the Buckmaster Garage in the north half of the building. The south half housed a blacksmith shop.
Hurless Barton, as a young man, learned his early mechanical skill working in the Buckmaster Garage. He soon branched out for himself and established his own garage on the corner of Imperial and Main Street where it stood for many years. It was remodeled a number of times as the business grew and a Chevrolet sales agency was added. A large, glass fronted sales room with offices in the rear was added in the late 1950's.
In 1966, the business, under the management of Barton's sons, Lee and Kenneth, moved to its new location on Imperial Highway west of town. This site was the original land acquired by John Howard Barton in 1912.
The large apartment building still standing on Olinda Street was originally known as the Holloway Apartments. It once housed a furniture store and as recently as twenty-five years ago the Yorba Linda Star was printed and published there. Abutting this building on the north was a restaurant, later moved back about seventy feet and made into an apartment, and still later purchased along with the larger, two story structure, by the Lloyd Julians who lived there a number of years before retiring to Leisure World at Laguna Hills.
The Yorba Linda County Water District office occupies the building to the south of the Julian apartments. This building is the one built by volunteer labor in 1911 to be used as a school house, and was used by the early organizers of Sunday Schools and civic clubs.
Lilly Jones built the first post office building to be designed as such, on the west side of Olinda Street across from the apartment complex. Here she operated the post office and sold dry  goods. This structure, of stucco over brick, housed the library for many years.
At the northwest corner of Olinda Street and Imperial stood a concrete structure that was the first attempt on the part of any organization to place a public monument in the town. Yet, it wasn't a monument . . . nor a statue . . . nor exactly a work of art. It was a 'horse fountain' and it did have artistic value. Its proportions were good, its design functional and free of embellishment. It was presented to the town by the Yorba Linda Woman's Club in an era when horses could well appreciate a drink of cool water after traveling several miles, pulling a heavy load of lumber, fertilizer, fruit or what-have-you. George Quigley built the fountain. It disappeared sometime after 1920 along with the workhorse, early automobiles having snubbed it disdainfully.
Returning to Main Street we recall the first blacksmith shop (with barbering facilities) mentioned earlier. This structure stood at the southwest corner of Main Street and Lemon Drive, where Dr. Cochran's office now is and was called the Quigley Building. It was one of the first business places on the street and was known as the Williams Blacksmith Shop.
At the southeast corner of Main and Lemon stood the old Bank building, constructed in 1917 by John Barton, father of Hurless, Clyde and Harry. This building was razed to make room for the present Bank of America structure.
Annually an itinerant watch repairman came into town with his wife and small daughter. He repaired all clocks and watches needing attention and this seemed to work out very well for all concerned.
The Masonic Hall was built in 1913-14 as a community center by Philip Ley who rented the space to organizations and business men. The building housed the first drug store of the town, owned by Mr. Kaueffer, a Belgian, who sold to Mr. W. G. Cannon..
People who grew up in Yorba Linda cherish the memories of this drug store. It was a favorite gathering place of the young folk, who as soon as they were old enough to have spending money,  came here to quaff the delectable cokes and sundaes concocted by the obliging Mr. Cannon, who was affectionately known as "Doc" Cannon. The Cannons lived in rooms at the rear of the drug store where Mr. Cannon obligingly answered emergency calls for drugs day or night.
The long hall on the north side of the building has served over the years in many ways for the citizens of the town. It has been the dining hall for various lodge functions as well as dinners put on by organizations needing such room. The Rotary Club met here for several years and the Christian Science Society has used it as a meeting place. Dance classes have been held here. All in all, it has filled a multi-purpose need for the community.
The Masonic Lodge, Eastern Star, DeMolay and Job's Daughters still make use of this early edifice as a meeting place and the City Hall is now housed in the entire first floor.
A bakery in a covered wagon type of structure had a short life on Main Street's west side and a similar type of enterprise, housed in a tent topped, wooden encased bottom operated briefly as a bakery and short order business on the site where Falkins Insurance now is. The large grocery store on the west side of Main Street had a succession of proprietors, among whom, after Stein and Fassel, were Clarence Panetta, Lloyd Julian, Jim Connors, the Gordiniers, Paul Gibbs and Ted Millers.
Luther C. Janeway who operated a grocery store in the Holloway building in 1921 on Olinda Street moved later into the building now occupied by the Yorba Linda Star, on Main Street.
Helen Zimmerman did a thriving business in a dress store beginning in September of 1938, adding a stock of gift goods later, in the building where Q's Apparel now is. Mrs. Gaylord Page operated Topsy's Beauty Shop in the south half of the same building. Other beauty operators of this shop were the Albee girls, Sara Jane and Katherine. Katherine is now Mrs. Herb Warren and Sara Jane died, a young woman, not long after her marriage, leaving a little daughter, Claudia. Mrs. Irene Chance and Grace Kennon were later proprietors of this shop. 
Evan Townsend, who was a partner of Charles Selover in the hardware business on Olinda Street, later moved into a two story building on Main Street where he remained for a number of years. Eventually he sold to Bob Parker who in turn sold to the present owner, Dave Anderson.
Herbert Worsham had an insurance business which he combined with real estate in a building north of the hardware store. He sold his insurance business in 1947 to A. B. Stephens, husband of Clara Janeway Stephens who came to Yorba Linda in 1921 with her father, Luther Janeway. She was, until recently, head librarian of the beautiful Hunt Library, of the Fullerton Library System and at one time was librarian of the Yorba Linda Dist. Library.
Dr. R. C. Cochran came in 1918 and established a practice in medicine during that year at the location where he now is. His wife, Ellen, came in the fall of 1920 and taught school in the building on School Street. She and the doctor were married on June 22, 1922. Richard Nixon was one of Mrs. Cochran's pupils while she taught in Yorba Linda. The doctor is still practicing part time in the office built at the rear of his home on Lemon drive, so he has earned the title of professional man of longest term of service in the city—fifty-one years.
Merlin Quigley, the carpenter, built a number of small rental cottages and a large two story house where the Steffes family lived for many years. These buildings were all moved or demolished to make room for the A &W Root Beer and lunch room business fronting on Imperial Highway at Arroyo Street.
The smaller buildings north of the old Barton Chevrolet building housed a number of various enterprises over the years. The post office was once north of the La Rosee Jewelry. Restaurants, barber shops, yard goods, Zim's Gift Shop and the Yorba Linda Star occupied space here at various times.
Everyone was happy when two enterprising sisters, Mrs. Lelia Rust and Mrs. Virginia Austin, built a brick building south of the present Star office and opened a variety store on July 30, 1954. They put in a good stock of yardage, gift goods and notions,  but after a few years they decided to specialize in yardage alone, and moved to Post Office Village, a shopping center in east Fullerton.
These ladies were the daughters of William H. Evans, a talented man who had a brilliant career. It was he who masterminded the Civilian Conservation Corps. (C. C. C.) of the Roosevelt administration. This was, perhaps, the maneuver of greatest value for helping the citizenry of the country caught in the depression dilemma. It took care of the many young men who were at loose ends with no jobs available and no money for college, by giving them work in the wholesome surroundings of our great mountain and other scenic recreational areas, and developed these sites for greater use in the years to come. Mr. Evans had a stable of beautiful Tennessee Walking horses which he frequently exercised throughout the countryside, and what a treat it was to watch them. Mr. Evans also was once a candidate for Governor of California.
In November 1938, our business section suffered a disastrous fire. A Santana wind was blowing gale force in dead of night when a fox terrier belonging to Carl Steffens, and staying with his master in the back of the Table Supply, sensed the fire, awoke Mr. Steffens and thus alerted the town to its danger and probably averted a much greater catastrophe.
The Table Supply building and contents suffered great loss, as did Zim's Dress Shop, building and fixtures (only two months after opening), and Topsy's Beauty Shop lost building and supplies. Most of Zim's stock was saved as were the fixtures of the beauty shop. The Water Company's store house was damaged. Other buildings and businesses suffered losses but were saved before being completely burned.
In a few days most of the businesses were moved into temporary quarters and operating almost as usual. H. A. Casparie who operated the meat department in the larger grocery store, promised the grocers he would have a new building ready for use in forty days. 
Credit for saving the town from complete annihilation was given to the Yorba Linda Fire Department under Fire Chief Fred Clodt and the Fire Suppression Crew under Assistant Ranger John Tomblin. Their work was termed sensational. The burned buildings were soon replaced with new structures and business went on as usual.
THE POSTOFFICE AND POSTMASTERS
As stated earlier, the first postal station was placed in the Pullen Grocery for a short time and then moved to the Buckmaster Hardware Store where Esther Buckmaster served as the town's postmistress.
The very first mail service in Yorba Linda was by rural mail delivery from Fullerton. The settlers put up about twenty mailboxes on Prospect Avenue and went there daily to collect their mail. Otto Dyckman was the carrier of the mail from Fullerton.
He became the first mail carrier in Yorba Linda after postal service was established here.
Helen Zimmerman recalls that the rent charged for her store in the new building was $15.50 per month. (Good ol' days . . . ?)
Miss Lilly Jones was the first permanent postmistress, appointed in 1912 soon after the formal establishment of a post office in the village. She replaced Esther Buckmaster and served for seven years. Having previously operated a substation in eastern Los Angeles she could claim experience. After her marriage to Mr. Harris she built the building on Olinda Street now housing the drafting rooms of the Yorba Linda County Water Company. Here she lived in two rooms in the rear of the building with the post office space in the front. She was paid about twenty-five dollars a month as postmistress, the amount determined according to cancellations made. She put in a small stock of dry goods which augmented her income. Mrs. Harris, still living, is now 84 years old.
The Stahlers were the next hosts of the post office. Their building still stands on Main Street just south of the Yarn Box,  and is occupied by Kathleen Netherlands Grafter's Shop. The Stahlers lived upstairs and operated the post office on the ground floor. Whit Cromwell, still in school at the time, worked part time in the post office for the Stahlers.
Ollie Beard followed Mrs. Stahler and was postmistress for several years after which Mrs. Olson was appointed to the position. During her stay the post office was housed in the building north of the present La Rosee Jewelery Store, but was moved to the building now occupied by the Yorba Linda Star. While the post office was in this building Whit Cromwell was appointed acting postmaster on September 30, 1951 and was made regular postmaster on October 1, 1952.
There was rejoicing when it was learned that the U. S. Government was to build a fine, modern post office building in Yorba Linda, on Lemon Drive just west of Main Street. Dignitaries arrived from Washington, D. C. for the cornerstone laying ceremonies. This writer, being Honorary Mayor of the village at that time, was proud to turn the first shovel of earth with a gilded shovel. The building was completed in 1960, and appropriate dedicatory observance was made. Mr. Cromwell left the post office after fourteen years of service, in 1964, to go into the business of selling securities. Thanuel O. Spessard was officer in charge for an interim period.
Carl Tice was appointed postmaster in 1965 and is in office at this time. Great strides have been made in our postal service during the past few years and the service has been able to keep up with the demands made by a rapidly increasing population.
In the year 1967 the post office people handled approximately eight million pieces of mail, 1,750,000 outgoing and 6,250,000 incoming pieces. Total number of personnel in January, 1968, is thirty-one as compared to seventeen in 1965. There are twelve routes serving the population in January of 1968, as compared to seven in 1965. These figures give us an idea of the amount of work done in our post office as well as of the growth in the past few years. 
When the community and business district had grown to a size large enough to demand it, a bank building was erected and a private bank opened in our village. The building was beautifully designed and matched the architecture of its times. John H. Barton, was the builder, as mentioned earlier.
This bank provided the town with its banking needs until 1933 when all banks in the nation were closed by what was called the "Bank Holiday." Banking in many areas had gotten into a precarious situation. The stock market crash in 1929 and the depression which followed brought about a disaster in monetary matters. Many banks did not reopen after the "holiday" and the Yorba Linda Bank was one of them. Banks were not insured in those days and the investors lost their money. Yorba Linda people took their losses with good grace, generally. Their biggest problem was the struggle to get another bank to open in the town.
Twelve years passed before citizens working on this task were successful. They had formed a committee of men from the Chamber of Commerce and from the Yorba Linda Business Association, and called it the Yorba Linda Community Banking and Betterment Committee. Discouraged with trying to interest individuals in a private banking concern, they tried for a branch of an established banking firm. They offered a "building fully equipped with furniture and fixtures, including vault and safe deposit boxes, ready to open for business."
The Bank of America was the only bank responding, and agreed to open a branch in the old building, but when application was made to the Federal Reserve Board for a charter it was refused. The bank, knowing of an inactive charter in San Juan Capistrano asked to have it transferred to Yorba Linda. This request was also denied.
Following an old pattern when completely and uselessly frustrated by senseless bureaucracy our citizens got angry. One of our men was in communication by mail with our then congressman John Phillips. There was a period when no word came from  Phillips and the letters sent him were somewhat heated. One accused him of ignoring Yorba Linda's request and of being against branch banks.
Finally a letter arrived from Congressman Phillips and it, too, was heated. He explained that he had been working on the problem and that he had several "friends" in the right places who had been instrumental in helping to get action on the case. He advised that the application be entered again and that it was reasonably sure to be granted.
This was done and the charter was approved on April 10, 1945. It was dated May 23, 1945. The bank opened June 4, 1945 in the old building and continued to grow and serve the community there until in the early '60's when the old building was razed and its space used for a bank parking lot. The new Bank of America building was erected immediately to the south, where the old two story Barton apartment building stood. The new building, modern in structure, is a handsome and welcome addition to Yorba Linda's Main Street. The number on the staff at this time is fifteen and total deposits in Spring of 1968 were five and one half million representing fifty-five hundred accounts. The present manager is Elden B. Huffaker.
Oh, yes. The men of the Yorba Linda Community Banking and Betterment Committee thanked Mr. Phillips individually and collectively for his invaluable and timely aid.
I leave to the last the story of the Yorba Linda Star. I have a great personal regard for the editor of a small town newspaper. He is the chronicler of his town's events from the trivial to the monumental. He is its personnel biographer, in the exercise of which he must walk a taut length of twine. He is his town's conscience and if he performs this duty well he is often subject to great animosity and even vilification. Even if he misspells a subscriber's name or errs in the date on which the customer left to visit Aunt Abbie, he can have his ears scorched. 
Your editor must belong to a rare breed of homo sapiens. He deliberately subjects himself to an occupation which has a deadline every seven days. And this can wreck the nervous system of less hardy individuals. As each publication date looms he often spends the night hours delving and sweating to get the paper on the press, folded, labeled and delivered to the mailing place.
He may be forced in all this turmoil to struggle with an antiquated and worn-out linotype which is apt to go zltrnx!?))* at any moment and his only resource is baling wire, chewing gum and a prayer. But most of the time the paper comes out right on the dot and on the rare occasions, when it is a day late it is usually the ones who say, "Oh, I never read the sheet — there's nothing in it" who scream, "Where's our paper today!"
A Mr. Douglas was the first editor of the Yorba Linda Star. He published the Star first in La Habra and then moved his equipment to Yorba Linda and started publishing here in about 1915. He sold to Charles Vernon some time later and Mr. Vernon kept at his job as editor and publisher until in the 1940's.
Ray Cook, who had worked as printer for Mr. Vernon for several years, leased the paper and acted as editor and publisher for six months. He had been in newspaper work for many years following a great disappointment in his life when he was working on a daily in South Dakota. He had considerable ability as a cartoonist and had worked at this art with great hope. Just as he was getting recognition in this field and his cartoons were appearing in some of the dailies his right hand was crushed in the job press. The surgeons did a great sewing job on the hand, but it had lost its skill and Ray did not draw again. He was my favorite brother and I remember how stoically he shouldered this wreckage of his plans while he was still in his thirties.
During his half year as editor and publisher of the Star, I acted as part time reporter and book-keeper. I did the billing and kept accounts as there was no capital to hire really efficient help. It is not surprising that Ray was happy to see Mr. P. S. Lucas take over the management of the paper in the late 1940's. He continued  to work for Mr. Lucas until a severe heart attack caused him to retire.
Val Lucas did a good job in his capacity as editor and publisher. Yorba Linda was starting its growth pains during Mr. Lucas' management. The issue of incorporation made its initial entrance, increasing school enrollment was demanding almost annual bond elections, Richard Nixon made some visits to the town of his birth and the local people and organizations kept up their weekly and monthly activities and good works, so Val was never at a loss for reportorial material. His editorials were good and we especially liked his column which appeared fairly regularly after he had relinquished the blue pencil to Bill Drake in the late '50's.
Mr. Drake, our present editor, is in the vanguard in assessing and evaluating events and trends of the times. His column, "William Tells," is the first read as the Star comes into the homes on Wednesdays. His reporting of Washington shenanigans is done with skill and, we feel, with accuracy. His warnings of the effects of various bills up before state or national legislature are timely and helpful. His stand on moral values of the times is taken with courage and read by the populace even though they may not always agree with him.
May the Yorba Linda Star live on with its city and may its editors retain the qualities of courage and sincerity that have been expressed in its pages in the past.
With the growth of the city have come supermarkets and shopping centers in outlying areas. The closest to the Main Street section is Michael's Market with accompanying shops and services. Alpha Beta developed the area once the home and grove of the Warren family. These two centers are the only ones lying within the incorporated city of Yorba Linda at this time, (early 1968), the city of Placentia having annexed the land of two other markets before the incorporation of our city. 
Top of page