Her Death Was Front and Center

R.H. Espy Family, 1895

Page 1 of the April 26, 1901 South Bend Journal features a small headline, Death of Mrs. R.H. Espy and  one two-column photograph of the R.H. Espy Family taken on the occasion of eldest daughter Dora’s wedding some six years previously.

I don’t really know much about my great-grandmother.  By the time my mother and her siblings were born, R.H. had remarried “Aunt Kate” and  Grandma Julia had already become a shadowy, saintly woman who “had been taken much too early from this mortal coil.”  So I was interested in reading the news story about her:

Mrs. R. H. Espy died Monday afternoon at the home of her daughter in Portland Mrs. A. King Wilson from abscess of the brain.  The disease first affected the right eye of which she lost all control and the various muscles of the body were in turn affected.  She was first taken to St. Vincent’s hospital in Portland, Feb. 12 and later removed to her daughter’s home.  On her death bed as through her entire life she thought of others first.  Her entire life has been one of unselfish devotion to her family and to those in need of sympathy and help.  She was a consistent Christian woman, a member of the Oysterville Baptist church and one of its main supporters.

Julia Jefferson Espy’s Funeral Cortege, 1901

Her remains were taken to Oysterville for burial where the funeral took place Thursday afternoon, Rev. Yeatman officiating.  The funeral train was crowded with people from Portland and along the line while many came from Bay Center and other points so that the funeral was one of the most largely attended ever seen in the county, testifying to the esteem in which the deceased was held.

Mrs. Espy was the representative of two of Oregon’s eldest families, the Appersons and the Jeffersons.  Her father Delos Jefferson came from Ohio to Oregon in 1846 by way of California, stopping there to do some mining.  Arriving in Portland, he engaged in carpentering and building, also did some school teaching from ’49 until ’52.  In 1850 he married Miss Matilda Apperson, who had crossed the plains with her mother, Mrs. J.G. Apperson, afterwards Mrs. Robert Moore, and family, in 1847.

Julia Jefferson Espy on her wedding day, 1870

In 1852, Mr. Jefferson sold his Portland claim and removed with his family to Waldo Hills, and later to Salem Prairie.  Here Mrs. Espy, with the other children attended public school, and later, in 1867-68, the Williamette University, in Salem, making her own way by working for her board and teaching school during vacation.  While thus occupied, she took charge of the school at Oysterville, Wash. where she met R.H. Espy, a pioneer of 1852.  She was married to Mr. Espy at her father’s house on Salem Prairie, August 7, 1870.  He survives her and is 75 years old.  Seven children — Mrs. A. King Wilson of Portland, R.H.E. Espy and H.A. Espy, of San Francisco, Susie M. Espy, T. Willard Espy, Cecil J. Espy, and Verona I. Espy of Oysterville, Wash., were born to this union.  The deceased was born Sept. 6, 1851, in Portland.

Come to think of it, I guess I did know all of this.  My own knowledge only differs from what the Journal reported in one respect, and that was how Julia happened to become the Oysterville schoolteacher.  For that bit of information, check out http://sydneyofoysterville.com/2020/robert-julia-lewis-and-louise-1869-1871/  (It was probably a little bit too racy for the 1901 readers of the Journal!

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