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|The Valentine contract post office used to be located in a shed to the left of this abandoned gas station. 1-04.|
Two stepping in Valentine. There was a time when ranch hands could dress up in their Saturday finest and head down to Bert's County Dancing bar for some two stepping and a few brews. That was when Bert Denton, a retired cowboy and sometimes fiddle player, had his imprimatur on the place. A hound would greet guests at the door, and a draft beer could be had for a dollar. A sign on the wall notified guests of Bert's credit policy, "The banks don't sell beer. I don't make loans."
When Bert was interviewed in 1992 by the Arizona Republic, Valentine was on it's last leg. Under the headline, "A faded Valentine: Tiny village hangs on," Bert told of his concerns that Valentine might not make it through another Valentine's day. Before I-40 bypassed this stretch of Route 66 in 1978, the community was home to a couple hundred residents.
Heart-shaped postmark and murder. Even after the bypass, the community held on, with the post office contributing some notoriety. Valentine's contract post office was housed in a shed next to an abandoned gas station directly across Route 66 from Bert's Country Dancing bar. As February 14th approached each year, thousands of Valentines would flood into the tiny post office for its heart shaped Valentine Arizona stamp.
That came to an end on the afternoon of August 15, 1990, when forty-four year old Jacqueline Ann Grigg was working alone in post office. A stocky 5'4" white man wearing a black tank top and faded blue jeans pulled his motorcycle up in front of the building. Witnesses would later report that they had seen the motorcyclist drive back and forth in front of the post office earlier in the day.
When he emerged from the post office he had the post office's cash and 30 or 40 blank money orders. In the post office Jacqueline lay dying from a gunshot wound.
The motorcyclist climbed into Jacqueline's 1979 Ford Fairmont station wagon and sped off to the east. He returned a few minutes later to move his motorcycle to the back of the shed housing the post office. After removing the cycle's plates, he headed west on Route 66.
Jacqueline Grigg's husband who owned the building that had housed the post office she operated for a dozen years was grief strickened. He bulldozed the building and left town. The famous valentine postmark was retired to the Kingman post office where workers will still use the cancellation for those who know to ask for it.
Valentine Indian School. The Valentine township lies in the Truxton Canyon. It was named Truxton when it was established in 1998 near where the tracks of the Santa Fe railroad tracks were laid nearly a decade earlier. 660 acres of land immediately east of the township were set aside for the Indians in May of 1900, and an Indian school was built in 1901. Children from the Apache, Havasupai, Hopi, Mohave, Navajo and Papago tribes boarded at the school, while children from the nearby Hualapais were day students. The school closed in 1937. A separate school for white children was built past the railroad underpass south and east of the Indian school.
The Indian agent for the school also served as the postmaster, and the post office was named Truxton. The school was closed for a brief period, and when the post office was re-established, postal rules required that a new name be chosen. The new name chosen was to honor of Robert G. Valentine, Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1908 to 1910.