Archive for the ‘The Honorary Oysterville Militia’ Category

Sorry. The cannon is indisposed.

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018


By rights, THOM (The Honorary Oysterville Militia) should gather day after tomorrow to fire their cannon in commemoration of Oysterville’s founding.  It was April 12, 1854, according to accounts by both Isaac Clark and Robert Espy, that they paddled their canoe shoreward to the sound of Old Klickeas’s drumbeat.  That foggy day, as far as we know, marked the beginning of a permanent settlement here.  Worth noting with a cannon salute, eh?

But, unfortunately, THOM’s cannon is confined to quarters for a time.  After fourteen seasons – and not even the winter ones – out of doors in our northwest weather, her underpinnings are needing replacement.  New carriage wheels!  Nyel is ordering them today from an outfit in Pennsylvania and until they get here, the cannon will remain indisposed.  Which means she will stay tucked away in our garage until the new wheels arrive.

“Obviously, a canon of living in Oysterville is to have a gorgeous garden.” Diedre Duewel

We have been custodians of the cannon– a full-sized replica of an 1841 mountain howitzer made by Cannon Ltd. of Coolville, Ohio – for some years now.  We purchased it just in time to be used for Oysterville’s 2004 Sesquicentennial celebration. And, of course, as with most things in Oysterville, there is a story to go with it.

Oysterville has a long history of celebrations marked by cannon fire. According to my esteemed late Uncle Willard Espy’s account in Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa’s Village, in the 1870s R.H. Espy would don special black broadcloth pants, a maroon and black brocaded vest, a light linen duster, a stiff shirt with boiled bosom, a stiff collar, a bow tie, and a beaver hat and would discharge the cannon to begin festivities such as the annual regatta.

There are accounts that Oysterville’s original cannon was blown to bits by a rowdy group of midnight revelers, so for several generations we had to make do with only the stories about it. Hardly satisfactory thought Nyel. We happened to be in Gettysburg a few years before Oysterville was to observe the sesquicentennial year of its founding, and all those cannons on display prompted Nyel to make inquiries. He learned that for a mere ten or twelve thousand dollars Oysterville could once again have a cannon.

Cannon Squad, 2007

We pondered… and on the long road trip back home we conceived the idea of forming The Honorary Oysterville Militia. We would sell commissions to our friends and relatives and buy the cannon with the proceeds. General Nyel was the first to invest. The plan was successful beyond our wildest expectations and in early 2003 the cannon was ordered. It arrived in the spring of 2004, just in time for Oysterville’s 150th celebration. We’ve been celebrating loudly ever since!

THOM’s Call to Duty

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

General Nyel

In addition to his sobriquet as ‘Farmer Nyel,’ my husband is also recognized by many of our friends and family as ‘General Nyel’ or, more familiarly as, simply, ‘The General.’ This notable title harkens back to 2004 when, in preparation for Oysterville’s sesquicentennial, we invited friends and family to join the Honorary Oysterville Militia (THOM) and gave them the opportunity to purchase commissions. We thought it fitting that Nyel reserve the position of General for himself (and thus far there has been no challenge to that decision).

THOM Cannon

Our idea for the creation of THOM was to replace the once-upon-a-time cannon that had heralded the opening of important ceremonies in early Oysterville – events such as the Oysterville Yacht Club’s Regatta, the Fourth of July Parade, and various other celebrations, both solemn and jubilant. The fund-raising drive was successful and an 1841 Mountain Howitzer resides proudly on its own cement pad in our north garden. (During the rainy months, it is safely under cover nearby.) For the story of what happened to that first cannon, I commend you to my blog:

Cannon Squad, 2007

Like its historic predecessor, the cannon is used only on special occasions, the first of which for 2017 is fast approaching – Memorial Day, May 29th. As we speak, the General is preparing to call local militiamen to muster Monday morning at ten o’clock-ish, to fire the cannon at the close of the church service across the street.
In traditional manner, THOM Chaplain Pat McKibbin will speak a few words in honor of militia members who have died ‘in the line of duty,’ their names will be read, and the cannon will be fired in salute. The public is invited to attend this short ceremony. Bring your earplugs!