Another Parsonage – Another Ghost!

Aug 10, 2014 | 0 comments

Oysteerville Parsonage (1892-1902)

Oysteerville Parsonage (1892-1902)

By now, most people who know us and have visited us here in Oysterville have heard the story of our resident ghost, Mrs. Crouch. She was the wife of the first preacher at the Baptist Church across the street and lived in this very house when it was a parsonage. She died under mysterious circumstances back in 1893 and has become the subject of many stories, both written and oral. There is even a song about her – “The Ballad of Mrs. Crouch” by Larry Murante.

Yesterday, I had occasion to learn that the former parsonage of the Methodist Church in Ocean Park also has a ghost! A number of people have reported strange noises – banging and thumping – coming from the upper floors of that house next to the church, though careful investigation never reveals a cause. Members of the Methodist congregation take it for granted that it is the ghost of John Freeman who served as their minister in 1974/75 and again in 1990/91.

Ocean Park Methodist Church (1914-Present)

Ocean Park Methodist Church (1914-Present)

Of the 46 ministers who have served the Methodist Church, first in Oysterville and for the last century in Ocean Park, Pastor Freeman is the only one who has died “in office.” Those who remember him say he was tall and thin with very white hair. He enjoyed running on the beach each morning and it was after a usual run when he went home to take a shower that he died. “In the shower,” I was told by one person. “In the bath,” said another.

Either way, his death did not take place under questionable circumstances as did ‘our’ Mrs. Crouch’s demise by drowning. Nevertheless, a ghost in the parsonage is one more interesting connection between the Methodists of Ocean Park and the Baptists of Oysterville. The history of the two denominations here at the north end is an interesting one. Here is a capsule version:

Oysterville Methodist Church (1872-1921)

Oysterville Methodist Church (1872-1921)

Oysterville was founded by Baptist R.H. Espy and Methodist I.A. Clark. The Methodists built their church (the first house of worship in the county) in Oysterville in 1871. In 1883 Clark platted the town of Ocean Park for the Methodist Episcopal Camp Meeting Association and gradually the Methodist population of Oysterville moved south. By 1892, most of the remaining population in Oysterville was Baptist and they finally got around to building their church – the one that still stands in Oysterville, now non-denominational. Meanwhile, the Methodists’ little church at the north end of Oysterville was all but abandoned. In 1921 it blew down in a gale. By then, the Ocean Park Methodist Church was up and running and… the rest is history, as they say.

I find it ironic that I learned about the ghost of Parson John Freeman just as I am correcting the final proof of my soon-to-be-published book, Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula. Perhaps the Methodist minister’s story will be the start of a sequel…

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