Danville Express

Living - April 17, 2009

Presenting the Past: The Alamo Post Office: Who were all those Bells? ***TWO PHOTOS***

by Beverly Lane

Alamo's post office was the first established in the San Ramon Valley and is remembered as a community gathering place from the beginning. John M. Jones was the first postmaster and, in the 20th century, Bell family members were postmasters for more than 50 years.

At the start the post office was run by a remarkable pioneer pair: John and Mary Ann Jones. They came through the valley in 1847, lived in San Jose, and moved to Alamo in 1851. On May 18, 1852, he became the first postmaster. This post office was the only one between Martinez and San Jose.

In those days the post office was the place people picked up mail and stayed to visit. Mary's autobiography described the post office: "When his (her husband's) business called him away from home, I took care of the office. Many times men would come and get their mail and sit and read and talk until I felt like saying, 'Do go, I have to work.' We had no stamps then, nor envelopes. We wrote our letters, folded and sealed them with sealing wax, and then paid ten cents for delivery. We had mail twice a week."

Beverly Lane is curator of the Museum of the San Ramon Valley and co-author of "San Ramon Valley: Alamo, Danville, and San Ramon" and "Vintage Danville: 150 Years of Memories."


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