Joe Johns Some More

Ocean Park Theatrical Troupe

Adelle and Bob Beechey were good friends of my folks.  They had both grown up on the Peninsula and, since their marriage in 1937, they had lived in Ocean Park.  I spent a lot of time with Adelle in the ’90s and ’00s.  She was a storehouse of information about the history of the Peninsula, especially of Ocean Park.  I loved looking at the keepsakes in her Treasure Trunk – costumes worn by The Ocean Park Theatrical Troupe (the all-male performance group who put on melodramas and other plays in the hall above Trondsen’s Store in Ocean Park),  mementos of the old narrow-gauge railroad, and interesting bits and pieces of “the olden days.”

It was Adelle who shared with me the reason for the name of Joe Johns road.  She remembered that when she was first married, an old Indian named Joe John was the only person who lived along the sandy road north of Nahcotta.  “Of course,” she told me, “it became known as Joe John’s Road.”  I don’t remember that I asked her any particulars about Joe John but the fact that the road was called by his name made perfect sense to me.

I have repeated Adelle’s story over the years – even included it in the 2014 Sou’wester “A Sense of Place.”  But recently I’ve come into possession of new information which throws a big monkey wrench into what Adelle told me.  Research specialist Stacy at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum did a little delving into the matter and found that Joseph Johns is listed in the 1900 census for Nahcotta District #141.  According to the census, he was a White male, born November 1852 in Ohio.  His father was from Germany; his mother from Ohio.  Joseph was a Day Laborer, could read and write, owned his house and was single. The only part of Adelle’s story that jibes with the census data is that Joe John(s) was “old.”

In fact, when Adelle married and moved from Long Beach to Ocean Park, Mr. John(s) would have been 85 – very old, indeed!  I can’t help but wonder if he was still living or if Adelle was repeating what others had told her.  How I wish that she or Dorothy Elliott or Johnny Morehead or any others of that generation were still around to add to the story!  And I can’t help but wonder what new piece of information might be forthcoming to give yet another slant on the name of Joe Johns Road!  I think I’ll give Dorothy Trondsen Williams a call…  And I hope readers will weigh in if they have a pertinent fact or two!

One Response to “Joe Johns Some More”

  1. Marion says:

    I have always loved this picture. The fella on the right is my dad. Such a funny group and I’m sure they all loved performing. He really enjoyed this bunch and mentioned so much about them.

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