Archive for the ‘Blogetty Blog: Oysterville Daybook’ Category

“Tales from the Jumping-Off Place”

Monday, August 24th, 2015
"Priswon Record Book Number One, Pacific County

“Priswon Record Book Number One, Pacific County

Just when Oysterville is all agog and a-buzz with the County’s announcement of abandonment (see my August 22nd blog), I received a new book contract in the mail. There may be some irony in the fact that the book concerns our County Jail from 1886 to 1919.

According to the rather daunting language of the contract, the book is “provisionally entitled: Jailhouse Stories from Early Pacific County: Tales from the Jumping-Off Place.” Quite a mouthful and probably too wordy for the final book cover, so we shall see.

Some years ago I wrote a series of stories for our local paper with a similar (though shorter) title, and the book will be based on those articles. The stories (more than a dozen of them) are based upon an impressive leather-bound, eight-pound tome entitled “Prison Record Number One, Pacific County.”

"Register of Prisoners"

“Register of Prisoners”

Contained within its pages are names and descriptions of the unfortunates who were incarcerated here in Pacific County as well as some particulars as to their offenses and their ultimate fate. The information is far from complete but it provided a beginning point for several years of research which, of course, is not complete either. Research is never-ending as historians and genealogists well know.

However, within its pages there were a number of familiar names – sheriffs and judges and prisoners “known” to me through stories told by their descendants and chroniclers. The names of the four men accused of the Frederiksen murders show up as does the name Lum You – the only person ever hanged in Pacific County. Great information with the potential for being a fascinating book.

There are also many unknown names in the Prison Record. They were people (mostly men) arrested for crimes that cover the gamut – larceny, vagrancy, running a bawdy house, operating a still. The entries in the book, in old-fashioned Copperplate handwriting, told part of the story. My goal is to tell the rest – or at least enough to convey a picture of yet another side of our County’s history. One thing for sure: it’s never dull here in Pacific County!

I think I need people…

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Sydney June 12, 2014 (17)

Sydney Stevens, Oysterville 2014

Once again, I’m already two hours into my day and I have had to abandon several more requests for information so that I can get on with my blog – which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because it’s usually the blog that’s generating the requests. Questions come to me through my website as well as through the Oysterville Restoration Foundation website and through FaceBook and through my personal email.  Yikes!

I do believe that my blog is the main culprit here. I began it five years ago to raise my profile, hoping that more of my books would sell. I don’t know if that has occurred or not. It’s pretty hard to quantify. But, I have certainly generated a blog fan base and, beyond that, people interested in any aspect of Pacific County history seem to find me eventually.

By Sydney Stevens

By Sydney Stevens

Often their questions have to do with Oysterville, specifically, or with early settlers or businesses or situations I’ve mentioned in my blog, Oysterville Daybook. The questioners range from folks interested in their own genealogy to graduate students on the search for information and documentation for their dissertations. Usually, I can answer part of the question but have to do a little research to provide a really definitive response. And, being the sort of person I am (curious!) I delve into whatever it is and… time goes by.

I think I need people. And not the kind that Barbra Streisand was singing about, either. I need a secretary/research assistant/data organizer person or persons who will take care of these things for me magically. Maybe in the night when I don’t need my computer. For free. Yes, at no salary. After all, none of these time-consuming chores generate any income so it’s not like I am able to ‘grow my business,’ whatever that means in the historian world.

Truth to tell, I love being a go-to person and very often, as a bonus to my research for someone else, I find out pertinent bits of information that could be useful to me later. It’s just the time it all takes that frustrates me. Maybe it’s not people I need. Maybe it’s some sort of cybertime discovery. You know, the companion to cyberspace. A place you could go while in cyberspace that would magically generate time beyond the 24-hour day. Where is Einstein when we need him, anyway?

Roads and Ferries and Cars… oh my!

Monday, June 15th, 2015
Shamrock and Reliable, Passenger Ferries

Shamrock and Reliable, Passenger Ferries

I get the most interesting emails from folks who ‘find’ me because of my Oysterville Daybook blog. Yesterday it was a man named Dave who collects highway maps and guides. He was writing in response to something I wrote about ferries (I think), though he was non-specific as to which blog in particular.

He says only: I discovered it while looking for information concerning a ferry across Willapa Bay as a part of a little research on the Ocean Beach Highway (State 6 and US 101 today) in the late teens and early 20’s of the last century. And he goes on to say:

Chehalis to Nahcotta, 1921

Chehalis to Nahcotta, 1919

The matter that relates to your interest are the citations concerning a ferry between Nemah and Nahcotta in that period. I haven’t exhausted my resources, but two citations are of interest. My 1919 Automobile Club of Western Washington strip map (attached) shows a ferry, and my 1921 Automobile Blue Book also notes a ferry, and makes note that it connects to a road south from Nahcotta.

Willapa Harbor - Chehalis Ferry Schedule

Willapa Harbor to Chehalis Route, 1921

What makes it especially interesting is that it was very probably an auto ferry! In 1919 the Ocean Beach Highway from Chehalis ended around Nemah. The extension southward that would soon reach the Long Beach peninsula was not yet competed. 1923 maps show the road completed, so by 1923, and probably sooner, the road was completed to the peninsula.

Along with a bit of speculation, he included three attachments – the above mentioned strip map and two pages from the Blue Book listing the route/distances from Chehalis (via Pe El, Raymond and South Bend) to Willapa Harbor and the reverse.

I have forwarded it all to Jim Sayce who knows more about the early road system in these parts than I do. Perhaps he can shed more light on the questions that both Dave and I have – was there actually a car ferry from the Nemah to Nahcotta? Where would a car have been able to drive once it got to this side of the bay? Were there any roads ‘improved’ enough for auto use out of Nahcotta? (By 1926 the Oysterville mail was still being taken to and from Nahcotta by Mr. Lehman’s mail wagon, pulled by a mule and a horse.)

Another piece to the ever-growing Community History puzzle! I just love it when my blog results in contacts and information like this. Keep it coming, folks!