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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
An Esteemed and Confoundedly Combatitive Pioneer

In October 1880, two months following the protest over the Board's assessment, Captain Lane had to contend with further frustration when his endeavor to get mail service in his area met with failure. In June of 1879, the federal government had advertised a new contract for delivering mail between Colton and Mohave City, Arizona. That September the Captain completed the paperwork necessary to establish a post office on his ranch in Bryman, and on October 24, 1879, he received his appointment as postmaster.

Lane called the mail station "Coyote," and may have chosen the name because it was a mining term. "Coyote mining was popular with the Mexicans," one source states, and according to legend the name derived from the resemblance of the miners to coyotes when they would "pop out" of the holes they had dug at "the approach of night or any alarm...."

The government contract called for the mail to leave each terminus three times a week -- Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays -- and to travel through Tecopa and Ivanpah. Up to this time the mail had been dependent on "transient" teams that went to the various camps.

It was estimated that nine-tenths of all correspondence with the mines originated in the locale of San Bernardino, and that the establishment of a secure line of communication would induce potential financiers to more readily invest in the distant mines. The stages or wagons would provide rapid and comfortable travel, and, as the paper phrased it, the "horrors of the desert" would come under the civilizing influence.

The new mail service was of no advantage to Captain Lane or the others living nearby on the Mojave River. The contractor had chosen to use the shorter Stoddard Wells route, thus the settlers on the river were completely bypassed. They were understandably displeased with the situation, and their complaints reached the newspapers:
    We learn from the Times that people living on the Mojave River, in the vicinity of Lane's, complain that they are not served by mail.... The mail goes past them tri-weekly...but they are unable to get the mail nearer than San Bernardino. We are reliably informed that the post office at Lane's named Coyote is some ten miles off the mail route.... The office at Coyote has been established since the contract was let, and, thus far no provision has been made to supply that office.
The Captain was unable to convince the mail contractor to use the longer route, and on October 5, 1880, the Coyote station was discontinued. Several months later, on March 28, 1881, a second post office, called "Desert," was approved for the Mojave River, and its postmaster was Samuel Rogers.

The Desert station was north of the Mojave River on the Stoddard Wells road, and was ideally located along the mail route, but it eventually was discontinued on December 17, 1883. Its closure evidently was due to the mail route's having been switched to the river road the preceding year, following the installation of a third post office in the vicinity; on January 3, 1882, the Halleck mail station had been established at Oro Grande, with Gerard D. Blasdel appointed as its first postmaster.

Blasdel was not the original petitioner for the station. The application to the Post Office Department requesting the establishment of the Halleck station was dated February 21st of 1881, almost a year prior to Blasdel's appointment, and was submitted by Abner J. Spencer, who listed himself as the intended postmaster.

The post office was named after E. G. Hallock, one of the original investors of the Oro Grande Mining Company. When Spencer filled out his application, he mistakenly wrote the name as "Halleck," an understandable error. The mining company, either in an effort to correct the misspelling or simply to honor a company founder, used the address of Hallock, San Bernardino County, California, on its letterhead. But it was too late; the incorrect spelling had been officially approved by the postal authorities and the area was known as Halleck until the name of the post office was changed to Oro Grande in 1925.

Abner Spencer never was able to get his post office appointment, so apparently he could not find the political backing necessary to get the mail rerouted. Politics were behind many of the decisions made regarding post office matters in the 19th Century. In Gerard Blasdel’s case, his sister was married to Edward P. Johnson, the manager of the Oro Grande Mining Company, thus Blasdel had a strong connection to the politically influential men who owned the company. This would explain not only his appointment, but also the ability to have the mail switched from the Stoddard Wells route to the river route.

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