A Time to Reflect and A Time to Vote

R. H. Espy, 1870

Both Oysterville and the Espy Family have had a complicated relationship with Pacific County since the beginning.  Well… almost the beginning.  Pacific County was formed on February 3rd/4th 1851 with Pacific City as the county seat.  My great-grandfather, Robert Hamilton Espy, arrived here in what would soon become Oysterville on April 12, 1854.

By then the county seat was “in flux” — Pacific City had been closed down so Chenookville (about where the bridge begins now) was designated to serve as county seat but, apparently, travelling there was too difficult and they could seldom get a quorum.  County business, such as it was, languished.   So, the commissioners met a few times at Holman’s Schoolhouse in what is now Ilwaco.

Oysterville was just a year old when the county seat moved here in May 1855, and here it stayed for the next 38 years.  Early on, November 4, 1862 to be exact, Espy was appointed sheriff.  He stuck it out for a year and nine months and then resigned because the county commissioners refused to supply him with a sheriff’s badge.  They told him to buy his own.  For Espy, that was a line over which he would not cross.  Good for him, I say!  Cheeky commissioners.

I don’t know what other problems they had with their sheriffs in those days, but between 1860 and 1871, there were 10 sheriffs, three of whom resigned and one who was murdered while on county business.  Stability was a big problem in early Pacific County.

A Sign Marks The Site

Fast forward to the early 21st century.  Nyel and I, at the urging of one of our neighbors, were interested in having Pacific County take advantage of a federal program which provides residents of historic homes with a tax break.  Several other counties in Washington participate in that program and we were hopeful that our county might do so, as well.  Little did we realize that the commissioners not only had no interest in the Oysterville National Historic District — the only designation of its kind in the county — they had no interest in historic structures.  Period.

We attended the county commissioner’s meeting when they were to make their decision in the matter.  We listened in absolute amazement as the (then) director of the Department of Community Development said, “We have nothing against historic buildings.  In fact we oversee their construction every day.  You just have to wait fifty years.”  His testimony was duly noted by the county commissioners.  Our proposal: denied.  Did the commissioner who represented Oysterville speak out for us?  Nope.

Fast forward once again to the matter of the Oysterville Design Review Committee which the county commissioners decided to abolish in favor of a Hearing Examiner a few years back.  It wasn’t only R.H. Espy’s descendants who spoke out at the SRO hearing in Oysterville.  Were any of us listened to?  Not that you’d notice.  As the years passed and the guidelines for the Historic District were bypassed, ignored, overlooked, and misunderstood by the hearing examiner, my cousin David finally asked him at one of the hearings, “Have you ever been to Oysterville?”  Guess what the answer was?

Dan Driscoll

So, after reflecting on all the above (and a good deal more), this Espy descendant heartily endorses our neighbor Dan Driscoll for County Commissioner.  I think he has our interests at heart but, more importantly, I think he’ll listen to all viewpoints on the issues at hand, try to make the best decisions, and try to inform and educate his fellow commissioners. It’s the year to vote for change.  Change for the better!  Beginning right here at home!


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