Chapter 15 from “A Lonesome Place to Live”

A couple of different stories have been told over the years to explain how and when Lemoore got its name. The name Tailholt for the town was mentioned by Hiram Clawson in a newspaper reminiscence, but that name had already been applied to a mining town in eastern Tulare County. Rosina Byron wrote that La Tache was the name of the village building up at what would become 18th and Bush.  Moore may have tried to call it that too when he first arrived. But the name couldn’t have lasted more than a few months. We found what appears to be the true story about how Lemoore got its name in paperwork submitted to the U. S. Postmaster and discovered recently in Washington D. C. by Bill Black. It is a story that has not been told until now.

On August 17, 1875, the first assistant postmaster general in Washington, D.C., James W. Marshall, was poring over an application that came to his desk from a far-away place near a big lake in California. A Dr. Benjamin Hamlin was seeking to establish a new post office there, and he requested that it be called "Lakeville.” The official asked Hamlin to select another name as “there is already a Lakeville post office in Sonoma Co. Cal.” And so, there is, yet today.

The application was returned, and Hamlin then scratched out the name Lakeville and sent it back with the name “Lemoore” on it. Hamlin probably knew that post office officials would not accept a proper name for a post office. How he got away with it may have been revealed in a high school yearbook.

A student at the time, H. D. Lindley, explained it this way in the 1908 Nuntius, the high school yearbook: “I am informed by an older citizen and the information is confirmed by several other older citizens, that our fellow townsman, Dr. Hamlin, now residing on Lemoore Avenue, was the author of the name selected for the town.  He tooled the name of Dr. Moore, dropping his first name, using his middle name "Lee" with the final letter "e" dropped, and wrote the name "Lemoore". The railroad company and everybody else adopted and perpetuated the name until it became a fixture on the records of California and our dear Uncle Sam. So, it stands today, and the name will undoubtedly remain Lemoore to the end of time.”

The postmaster over at Grangeville. J. S. Phillips, was required to attest to the correctness of Hamlin’s application. His own post office had been established just the year before. Among the information on the application was that the new post office would be “situated in the

S.W. quarter of Section Two, Township nineteen, range twenty-one. [Problem: it should have read range twenty]. . . . being the route from Visalia, Jonesa to Grangeville on which the mail is now carried three times per week.” The new office in Lemoore would be inside Dr. Hamlin’s drug store at the northeast corner of 18th and Bush, and Hamlin himself was the town’s first postmaster.