Come to think of it…

Day 18 at Nyel’s St. Vincent bedside.

I’ve been thinking of all the Portland connections in my life and am somewhat amazed to realize that there are so many.  And, that they go back very, very far, indeed.

As far as I know, it was my great-great grandfather Delos Jefferson (R.H. Espy’s father-in-law) who was my earliest forebear to arrive in Portland.  He and his wife, Matilda Apperson Jefferson arrived in 1848, three years before Portland was officially named.  Delos had been born at Machias, a frontier  village in Cattaraugus Co., New York, April 15, 1824. H 1835 he removed with his parents to Huron Co., Ohio, and in 1846 and 1847 he was enrolled in the preparatory department of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. He and Matilda left for the west coast in 1847, spending that winter at Fort Hall, Idaho and reaching Oregon next spring.  He taught music for a time in Portland, then moved to the Salem area where he took up farming.

Portland Cousin Barbara Espy Williams in Oysterville, 1950

Over the years, many of Delos and Matilda’s descendants settled in the Portland area, including their  granddaughter Dora (my grandfather’s oldest sister) who married King Wilson.  King became the first mayor of Lake Oswego; they had three children. Dora’s youngest brother, Cecil Jefferson Espy became a banker here and he and his wife Ruth Davis had four children..   My grandmother’s sister, Ruth Richardson, married hotel keeper Herman Alfred [Von] Hagedorn and they had one daughter.  The “Portland Cousins” and the “Oysterville Cousins” of my mother’s generation visited back and forth regularly.

In addition to visiting family in Portland, this was the go-to center for business dealings from the time that R.H. Espy founded Oysterville in 1854.  Although Portland “wasn’t much” in those days, it had more to offer than Oysterville which was, after all, the seat of Pacific County and by far the most important settlement on  Willapa Bay.  If an attorney or a banking transaction was needed and getting to San Francisco was too time-consuming, Portland was the to-go place.

St. Helen’s Hall, c. 1895

Although I was born in Boston, by the time I was three my folks and I had moved to Portland.  We lived on College Avenue.  I remember that when my mother’s best friend Gyla Cannon came to visit, she’d have her husband Ding drop her off at the bottom of the hill and she would walk up.  She thought it was too steep for driving.  My dad worked at Montgomery Ward and I began school at St. Helen’s Hall and had all those childhood ailments — measles, mumps and chicken pox — right here in Portland.

We moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the summer of 1941 when my father was made General Merchandising Manager for Ward’s Catalogue Order Department, headquartered in Oakland.  For the next thirty-five years, through the college years and the early marriage years and beginning career years, Portland was always the place to “lay over” on the way to and from Oysterville.  When I moved north it became the place to go serious shopping and, later, the center for serious doctoring.

Nyel, Today

It is hard to believe that, at this stage of my life, it is the hospitals of the Portland area that I know best.  Come to think of it… maybe it’s not so strange after all.



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