Captain Stream Under Siege

Dec 31, 2013 | 0 comments

Oysterville Cemetery Lot 6, 1978

Oysterville Cemetry Lot 6, 1978

Nyel and I have been working up at the Oysterville Cemetery finishing up a mapping project that I began almost two years ago.  It has involved finding and recording every single stone and marker, making sure the Oysterville Cemetery Associations’s records match with reality.

In the process, we have found that the years are taking their toll.  Many of the gravestones are gradually sinking into the sandy soil; in the shady places, the moss is several inches thick on tombstone bases; some of the oldest stones are so weathered that the words are now difficult to read.  And there is evidence of vandalism – not, thank goodness, anything recent; just the continued absence of the lovely wrought iron fences that once graced certain lots.

Take Lot 6, for instance.  That is the burial site of Captain Stream and his family – one of the largest and, once-upon-a-time, the loveliest of the entire graveyard.  That was in my childhood but, even then, I realized that it was a very special place to spend eternity.

By 1978, though, when Larry Weathers drew pictures of all the pioneer graves, only the stanchions that supported the large-linked iron chain fence were left at the site.  Now, they too are gone.  And to make matters worse, the large marble stone – the signature marker – has come off its base and is propped up several feet away from where it belongs.

Captain Stream House, cartoon

Captain Stream House

In town, the Captain Stream memory is equally “under siege” – or at least that’s the way I feel about it.  Martie and Steve, the new owners of his little house are in the process of upgrading it by constructing a beautifully conceived addition.  However, when the got ‘into’ the process (literally), they discovered that the original house is riddled with powder post beetles and who knows what else.

It’s a miracle is is still standing – one of those “only held together by the layers of paint” situations.  While they consult with the historic preservation folks and examine next logical steps, the poor old house is only partially clothed in siding.  We are all devastated at this turn of events and it seems like the village is holding its collective breath to see what happens next.

Captain Stream House, December 2013

Captain Stream House, December 2013

I wonder what the Stream family would think of all this.  Captain Stream was a decorated hero of the Life Saving Service and became a realtor when he retired.  He moved across the bay about 1890, joining forces with other promoters who dreamed of making the little sawmill settlement of South Bend “the Baltimore of the Pacific.”  Within three years their efforts had resulted in getting the bay’s name changed to “Willapa” and the county seat moved to South Bend, much to the distress of Oysterville’s citizenry.

It is my belief that their house in Oysterville was a summer place after 1890.  Nevertheless, they must have had a continuing presence in Oysterville.  My grandmother spoke in her letters to Medora about going on a picnic to Long Island with the Stream family; when their son Tom was drowned in 1914 she wrote about attending the funeral; and when Stream was elected to the Washington State Legislature she wrote resignedly that he wasn’t “a bad, bad man.”  (Presumably he did not agree with my grandfather politically.)

I do hope that the “Captain Stream problems” will eventually be solved in a way that preserves his memory and enhances the historic village and cemetery.   Stay tuned…

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