Archive for the ‘History Forum’ Category

Is Wed. Dec. 6th marked on your calendar ?

Thursday, November 30th, 2023

Inside an Oyster Station

Will we see you next Wednesday, December 6th at the Oysterville Schoolhouse?  I surely hope so.  It’s going to be all about oysters and clams — history, stories, maybe even a recipe or two for your holiday enjoyment!

If you’ve been attending our first few History Forums, you know that they are informal and definitely a work-in-progress.  Our goal is to get as much participation at possible — especially as we get a little farther along in our chronological look at Pacific County.  So, I was so pleased to learn that Dobby Wiegardt and Tucker Wachsmuth are going to have a discussion between themselves and act as “Discussion Leaders” with the rest of us.  No more “Speakers and Audience”… we hope.

Tonging Oysters

I’m eager to see how it goes.  We are hoping that some of the many experienced and knowledgeable oyster workers and aficionados will be among us to weigh in.  I have a couple of interesting letters from from the days of the native oysters that I hope to have time to share and perhaps others will bring some family memories along with them.

I am always impressed as how much collective information we have once we have an opportunity to put it together.  I hope Wednesday will be one of those times!

And the answer to Question #3 is:

Tuesday, November 7th, 2023


Ed Loomis 1825-1889

Another question asked at last week’s History Forum was: What ever happened to that infamous sawmill — the first in Washington Territory — that Ed Loomis and Wallace Stuart set up?  After a bit of hemming and hawing, several of us had part of the answer but we weren’t very coherent about it.  It was another one of those “I know I should know this” kinds of things and I knew right where to look once I got home.  I’m embarrassed to say that I had written about it, myself, for the Chinook Observer back in 2020.  Well… all I can say is, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

In my series, “Once Upon A Time In Pacific County,” I wrote an article called “Pacific City: Almost But Not Quite Real.”  As part of that article, I wrote a sidebar (I love sidebars!), ” The First Saw Mill.”  All of those bits of information went rattling around in m head and I could almost see the last two paragraphs which would answer the question.  They included information provided by Ed Loomis’s nephew, L. E. Loomis (1877-1955) of Ocean Park which went like this:

When the Federal order came to vacate Pacific City, the Milling Company’s buildings had to be removed, as did all the other structures in Pacific City.  Loomis dismantled the mill, plugged the flues of the boiler, and floated it down Tarlett Creek to Shoalwater Bay.  A start was made for a mill structure near Nahcotta, but the project was abandoned when there came news of a gold strike in northern Idaho in 1855. 

Yesler’s Steam Sawmill in Seattle, 1853 (The 2nd one in Washington Territory)

The Pacific Milling Company’s machinery was used again in the first mill at South Bend, built by the Riddell Brothers in 1868-1869. The bricks that had surrounded the Loomis/Stuart mill were gathered by the residents of Ilwaco and surrounding settlements to be used for various purposes – from fire places and chimneys to garden walkways.  And, for years, the shell of the boiler was on display in Nahcotta at Morehead Park – a true artifact from the first sawmill to operate in Washington at Dr. Elijah White’s “imaginary metropolis.”  Sadly, in recent years, the boiler has disappeared.

Well… at the Forum we had bits and pieces of this entire story but in a bit of confused order.  So, now we have at least part of the boiler’s later provenance in correct sequence.  Perhaps a reader will weigh in with what happened next…





Answering The Questions

Sunday, November 5th, 2023

Winter/Spring 2014 – Summer/Fall Sou’wester – a great resource, if I do say so myself.

Rummaging through the information that I’ve collected over the better part of a century is becoming more problematic all the time — especially those bits and pieces that (presumably) have been stored among my mental synapses.  “Total Instant Recall” is not my middle name!  But, often, answers attack me hours, days, or even weeks after the question has been posed.  Here are a couple of questions that were asked at the History Forum the other day… and my late-breaking answers.

What was the old name for Baby Island?  I think that question was directed to Charlie Funk, who immediately said “Round Island” and many of us nodded in recognition.  But I mean the island’s Chinook name came the clarification.  We all shook our heads, though I’m sure there were others besides myself who were trying to dredge that information forward.  Finally, this morning I looked online!  Duh!  Tenas Illahee  is the answer that came up,  Vaguely familiar but I’d like to check it out with Tony Johnson or another of the WaWa speakers among the Tribe.

Someone also asked how it was that ‘far off’ Oysterville became the  County Seat after Pacific City failed?  I was able to say,  It didn’t immediately.  First it went to Chinookville but getting there proved difficult for the commissioners who had dispersed throughout the area after the demise of Pacific City.  It then went to … and here I blanked.  Someone’s schoolhouse in the area that would become Ilwaco.  THEN, in 1855 the commissioners voted to move to Oysterville.  

Another “duh!”  It was Holman’s schoolhouse on Baker’s Bay, built for the his and neighboring children of the area .  Although the Commissioners held their meetings there from March to May 1855, it was never officially made the County Seat.  Oysterville was voted in as the next (and third after Pacific City and Chinookville) Pacific County Seat in May 1855.”

“For information about Pacific County history, this is an easy way to get the basic facts,” she said modestly.

One further aspect that we didn’t get into was the matter of Pacific County’s changing boundaries during those early days.  Seven (count ’em, seven!) boundary changes shaped Pacific County to the form it now holds.  The first change was defined in the first regular session of the Washington Territorial Legislature in 1854; the last was approved November 13, 1879.

One other interesting tidbit that didn’t come up at last week’s forum — Bruceville, later known as Bruceport, served as the first “permanent” county seat on the shores of Shoalwater (now Willapa) Bay.  However at that time Bruceville and the rest of the upper bay were in Chehalis, not Pacific County — so many of the hijinks among those early Bruceville Commissioners described by James Swan in his book, The Northwest Coast were not actually a part of Pacific County’s history…

I think there might have been other questions-without-immediate-answers last week.  Sometimes the braincells  just take a while to activate…  If you come up with other topics without closure, do weigh in.  Inquiring minds are needing reboots!


If you missed the Nov. 1st History Forum…

Saturday, November 4th, 2023

…or even if you didn’t, pour yourself a cup of coffee, fire up your computer and go to  Michael Lemeshko’s video (all in one piece this time and complete with visual aids!) is up and running.  And, even if you were there, if you are like I am, you will come away hearing more than you did when you were up close and personal!  Annoyingly, I even knew immediately the names of things I couldn’t think of at the time!  Doncha just hate when that happens?

Dr. Elijah White

Besides the story of Willie Kiel’s unusual trek along the Oregon Trail to get to Pacific County in 1855, Steve Rogers peppered his talk with lots of fascinating information about North County, about Baby Island, and about other bits of fascinating early Pacific County history.  And besides that, he had us all laughing with his banter about the infamous Kidnapping of the County Seat from Oysterville and some gentle offers of loaning it back to us… or something like that!

Michael’s presentation on Pacific City turned out to be a Power Point Program complete with plat maps and photos of a few the early property owners of that ill-fated endeavor.  We all got a better idea of just where Elijah White’s dream city might have been located and a  glimpse of the man himself — just enough to make us all wonder if he was an impassioned promoter or a downright shyster.  In addition, Michael had some great suggestions for sources for those who would like to follow-up with a bit of research of their own.

And as for the “audience” — fabulous participation!  In fact, let’s scratch the word “audience” and call the participants exactly what they were — a forum-in-the-making!  Hooray!  Next step (maybe) a website where we can “carry on” between our First Wednesday get-togethers!  Fingers crossed!



History Forum: Two Experts + A Harridan!

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

November 2023 History Forum

Our third History Forum was a great success, if I do say so myself!  Each of the previous sessions have been fabulous, but more on the “lecture” side of things rather than like a true Forum.  So, today before I introduced our Guest Historians, I put on my old Teacher’s Hat and explained (sort of) the difference between a lecture during which you mostly listen and then leave and a Forum which requires your engagement afterwards and maybe even during.  I also explained that I wouldn’t be “moderating” so much as acting as a Harridan* to get their participation going.  (*Harridan: shrew, harpy, harpy, termagant, vixen, nag, crone.)

Halloween Sunrise Over Willapa Bay

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

I don’t know if there such a thing as a “Halloween Sunrise” — but there is now!  What a glorious spectacle out my front door this morning!  (The real front door that is.  Not the back door that has been used as the front door for the last eighty or ninety years.)

I thought of the old adage:  “Red sky in the morning; Sailors take warning.”  But I’m hoping, instead, that the glory of it is a promise for tomorrow — and for many “First Wednesdays” to come.  I’m hoping that we’ll have a fine turnout (sailors notwithstanding) for our third Pacific County History Forum — 1o:00 a.m. to 12:00 at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.

Our topic:  “The Best Laid Plans.”  Our subjects:  “Pacific  City — Almost but not Quite” and “The Story of Willie Kiel.”  Our speakers Michael Lemeshko and Steve Rogers.

See you there!


It’s time to celebrate — even before the holidays!

Friday, October 20th, 2023

The 3rd History Forum will meet from 10 until 12 at the Oysterville Schoolhouse on Wednesday November 1st.

Who’da thunk that I’d be looking forward to blustery old November with such excitement?  And even before the holidays begin!!  (Although I have to say that I did see some Christmas fruh-frah for sale at the Ocean Park drug store yesterday and had the uncharitable thought that maybe if I looked a little farther I’d see some Easter bunnies hopping around offering Valentines.)

But, “be that as it may” (as they say). November in Oysterville is shaping up to be a month to remember.  For starters, the History Forum meets on the first Wednesday of each month at the Oysterville Schoolhouse and in November that means November 1st!  Author Michael Lemeshko and Pacific County Historical Society President Steve Rogers will be our speakers.  The topic — “The Best Laid Plans”  will explore two of the earliest settlements in Pacific County — back in the days that we were just becoming independent of Oregon Territory!  The Forum is free and open to the public.  Hope to see you then.

Randal, Susan, Clint will be here Sunday, November 5

And hard on the heels of that Wednesday-the-1st gathering will be the House Concert here at the “White House” on Sunday, November 5th featuring internationally acclaimed Irish fiddler Randal Bays with his wife Susan Waters and their friend Clint Dye. Many of you remember Randal and Susan and their boys Willie and Owen from years of Vesper performances.

Larry Murante will be in concert here Sunday, November 19th

And, to put us right over the top here in the village, singer/songwriter Larry Murante will be here on Sunday, November 19th presenting his first House Concert in our area for a number of years.  Larry, you might remember, wrote “The Ballad of Mrs. Crouch” and so I’m wondering if she will manifest herself in any way during Larry’s performance!

If you are interested in attending either or both House Concerts, please email me at sydneyofoysterville@gmail. com.  But hurry!  Space is limited.  And, if you are like I am… I can’t wait for the fun to begin!


“One by Land; Two by Sea” on Wednesday!

Saturday, September 30th, 2023

Tucker Wachsmuth, Storyteller, 2014

Did you mark your calendar?  The second-ever History Forum will convene at the Oysterville Schoolhouse at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 4th.  Speakers will be three of us “old ducks” — Dobby Wiegardt, Tucker Wachsmuth, and yours truly — and we’ll be talking about a subject near and dear to our hearts!  In fact, if it weren’t for what we’ll be telling you, we might not have been here at all!

Dobby with his grandfather’s hats, 2019.

We hope that you’ll have questions about our presentations — and, of course, hope even more fervently that we or someone among those gathered has the answers — or at least suggestions of where to find out.  Even more fervently, we hope that there may be some others among us who can share stories about their own ancestors who arrived in this area in the last half of the nineteenth century!

There are absolutely no prerequisites to attendance at the History Forum beyond an interest in Pacific County and Southwest Washington history.  And, whether you come to listen or to question or to share, you are bound to take away at least some new understandings about our past — maybe even some aha moments that illuminate the present.  You never can tell when the old-timers get to telling their stories!



Have you marked your calendar? Sept. 6th!!

Thursday, August 24th, 2023

Oysterville Schoolhouse

We* are gearing up for the first session of the History Forum here in Oysterville and hope those of you interested in SW Washington history will be among our participants!  We begin at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6th at the Oysterville Schoolhouse – but if you can get there a tad early so you can “register,” we can be sure to keep you posted month-by-month in the future.  Better yet, if you are planning to come, write and I’ll “pre-register” you!.

Charlotte and Her Button Blanket, 2019

There will be an article in the Chinook Observer next week giving some particulars about our speakers and telling you a little about our initial plans for these monthly get-togethers.  When I was talking to our Editor, he mentioned that the History Forum is reminiscent in some ways of Diane Buttrell’s “Oysterville Talks.”  Certainly as to place and frequency (and I hope as to popularity!), that is true.

However, the big difference is that the intent of the Forum is that it be as  participatory as possible.  After a short presentation by each of our panelists (two to three speakers each week who will set the stage for the day’s topic) it will be up to the rest of us to discuss, question, speculate, suggest and, in general examine the topic and the avenues it takes us.

“Town of the Old People” by Charles Funk

I’m excited about the possibilities!   I so hope that some of you readers who have responded to my blogs over the years with history questions or comments of your own will come if you are able.  Also, we fully expect to record each session and post it on YouTube so those who don’t have the opportunity to be here in person can “weigh in.”  See you soon!

*At this point “We” includes Michael Lemeshko, Tucker Wachsmuth, Kathleen Davies, Dayle and David Olson, Jim Sayce and myself.  The History Forum is “a work in progress” so DO join us and invite your friends who might be interested!

Ready! Set! Mark Your Calendars!

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

The Oysterville School 

Whether you’ve moved here recently or  your roots go deep into the past of Pacific County — or even if you are a wannabe resident, we hope you will join our HISTORY FORUM — a monthly gathering of folks who want to share their knowledge, find out more, and generally enjoy the bits and pieces of information we can glean about Pacific County’s past.  Here is what you need to know about our first get-together:

WHEN:  WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6TH (and every 1st Wednesday of the months Sept-May)
TIME:  10 A.M. – NOON

The Louisa Morrison, Oyster Schooner

SPEAKERS:  Linda LeClaire, Charlotte, Killien, Charles Funk(all of whom trace their Pacific County ancestry back to pre-settlement times
DISCUSSION: Wide open —  how it was back then;  how others of us got here; how those experiences were different.  Artifacts, pictures, old correspondence all welcome. 
If possible, please let me know at if you plan to come (and how many in your “party”) so we can arrange the seating appropriately.  And please feel free to “spread the word” to others who are interested in our history.This is a free event; there will be a donation basket toward upkeep of the Oysterville Schoolhouse.
Hope to see you there!
(From:  Sydney Stevens, Michael Lemeshko, Jim Sayce, Dayle Olson, David Olson, Kathleen Davies, Tucker Wachsmuth)