Archive for the ‘Oysterville Cemetery’ Category

Today, I had a little talk with Dorothy…

Sunday, June 18th, 2023

The Ginger Jar

Nyel and I have waited for more than a year to  transport him to his final resting place.  Not that we are in a hurry, you understand.  He has been waiting patiently since I brought him home in the Ginger Jar more than a year ago.  I’m quite sure he is content.  My father and, eighteen years later, my mother, also waited in that Ginger Jar until the time was right.

For Nyel, the time will be right in the next few weeks when Charlie and Marta will be here for ten days.  Then we can go together to place Nyel in front of our stone — a stone he never saw but helped plan, right down to the size of the lettering.  He also knew exactly where in the Espy Lot it would go and where he and I would spend eternity together.


The burial (or probably properly, the internment of the ashes) for us has a bit of a ritual.  Charlie and Marta will go up to the cemetery that morning and dig the appropriate size rectangular hole.   Then in the afternoon, we will take the Ginger Jar up to the Espy Plot, take turns putting handfuls of Nyel’s ashes in the hole, perhaps saying a few words as we do so.

Last, we’ll cover the ashes with mounds of flowers — traditionally Dorothy Perkins — and, in a day or two, we’ll replace the sod that was removed to make a nest for Nyel.  This time, though… we may have to find a suitable substitute for the Dorothy Perkins.  And that’s what I had to speak to her about this morning.

Dorothy Perkins in bud

Her buds aren’t even as big as petite peas.  She is just lollygagging all over our west fence, not a pink patch of petals in sight.  What the heck?  I looked back at some photos of past years and by mid June, Dorothy was always struttin’ her stuff.  But not this year…

“You have a week or ten days,” I told her.  I hope she was paying attention but it’s hard to tell sometimes with Dorothy Perkins!

Dorothy Perkins in Ten Days?

Hurry up Spring! Decoration Day’s a-comin’!

Tuesday, May 9th, 2023

A Slow Beginning for the Jean Maries

Finally!  The Jean Maries and their Rhodie friends are beginning to bloom.  But, except for the Mrs. G. W. Leaks, they are sort of spotty.  I’m thinking, “and so far, so has Spring been spotty.”  Not just “sort of” either.  VERY spotty!  I guess I should be thanking the flower goddesses that we have any blossoms at all!

And, of course, almost everything is a tad late but, I must say, trying mightily to catch up.  My dad’s birthday is May 12th (he’d be 113 this year) and the Jean Maries were always in full flower for his natal day.  I’m not sure they will be this year… but close!

Memorial Day 2009 – Espy Lot,  Oysterville Cemetery

And on the plus side — maybe we’ll have some of the late bloomers coming on at the end of the month in time for “Decoration Day” at the Cemetery.  (I really do like that name better than Memorial Day, don’t you?  Much more festive; not so somber.)

In “the olden days,” the whole town would turn out on Decoration Day, itself, and clean up the graveyard, putting flowers on the graves of loved ones and making sure that each stone was swept clean of pinecones and free from moss and encroaching grass.

Jason Huntley, Oysterville Cemetery 2010

Nowadays, the Oysterville Cemetery Association hires someone to mow  the grounds and keep the blow-down picked up, so most of us only need to go up a few days before Memorial Day to put out our flowers.  It always looks so welcoming on May 30th when the VFW comes to do their short ceremony, and the townsfolk gather to pay their respects to those who have preceded us.

It’s a tradition that will have more poignancy than ever for me this year.  I wonder how I will manage to make it through the playing of taps.


Tombstone Questions For Posterity

Thursday, November 10th, 2022

The Pioneer Section of the Oysterville Cemetery.

The recent interest expressed by a relatively new tombstone placed in the Oysterville Cemetery reminded me of an entry in Marie Oesting’s 1988 book, Oysterville Cemetery Sketches.  “More questions than you could shake a stick at!” my mother said at the time.  In this case, according to Marie, the graves on lot 33 are all problematical.  The Oysterville Cemetery Book records an entry for October 5, 1897, “Mrs P. Lyn purchased 1 grave for $5.”  The old linen map reads: “Collins, John Lyn.” An old list reads only “J.Lyn.”

Marie goes on to identify a J Linn, listed in the 1885 Pacific County census for the Oysterville area as John Linn, age 42, an oysterman born in Sweden.  He appears again in the 1887 census, now age 45 and a farmer.  Is this his grave?  Marie asks. But what intrigues me even more is her “report” under the heading “THE PROBLEM OF COLLINS”

W.D. Taylor House, 1969

Is the grave that of the parents of Nellie, Lizzie, John, Annie, Frank and Kate Collins?  The three youngest, all born in California, are listed in the 1883 Pacific County Census:
   Annie, age 5 staying with W.D. Taylor
   Frank, age 3 staying with W. D. Taylor
   Katie, age 2 staying with John and Anna Brown
The 1885 Pacific County census lists all 6 children, with Nellie, Lizzie, and John all born in Maine:
  Nellie, age 14,staying with Lewis A. Loomis
  Lizzie, age 11, staying with R. Carruthers John, age 10 “laborer” staying with Potter
   Annie, age 8 still with W.D. Taylor
   Frank, age 6 still with W.D. Taylor
   Katie, age 4 still with the  Browns.

There is considerably more to Marie’s entry — all leading to more questions about the children — if they were “farmed out” and why etc.  She doesn’t point out what came to my mind immediately — W.D. Taylor, a somewhat older contemporary of my grandfather, Harry Espy, was one of the Loomis Stage drivers and he and his wife, Adelaide moved about five miles north in 1886, soon beginning their hotel and restaurant which became a community focal point.

Adelaide Stewart Taylor

But before they moved from Oysterville, while Bill was driving the stage back and forth along the weather beach, Adelaide served as Oysterville’s primary midwife.  It’s not clear to me whether or not the Taylors had begun their own large family by the time they moved in 1886 to the area that would soon be known as “Ocean Park.”  That they took in two of the Collins kids doesn’t surprise me one bit.  I think they liked children.  I wonder if any of the Taylor descendents can fill in more  of the story.

All of which just goes to show — not only is the information on gravestones informative, it can also be the source of many unanswered questions!  Great fodder for historians and genealogsts!


The Privacy Issue. What are the rules?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2022

Oysterville Cemetery

It sometimes appears that we are all about privacy these days.  Every time we turn around it seems we run up against HIPAA laws or laws with other ominous initials like FCRA, FERPA, GLBA, ECPA, COPPA, and VPPA.  It’s hard to know which covers what and even harder to figure out why they seem so important when everyone somehow has access to whatever they want about us. Or so it seems to me

So I was somewhat surprised at my reaction to a string of FB comments about a gravestone that has been recently placed in the Oysterville Cemetery.  As it happens, the marker belongs to friends of mine, still very much alive and in good health but the questions people were posing (as well as some of the answers) seemed intrusive and a bit out of line.

Drawing by Larry Weathers, c. 1978 from “Oysterville Cemetery Sketches” by Marie Oesting, 1988

“Why?” I asked myself.  “Once your marker goes in the graveyard, privacy issues no longer seem to be the main concern.”  But what if you are still alive and well — what then?  Was I feeling defensive for no reason at all?

Many folks weighed in — some with pertinent information, perhaps, but many with speculations that seemed to border on the rude.  Or was that just because I know them?  And, really, I have no idea of their thinking on the matter.  When we consider the hundreds of thousands of burials there have been throughout history with no markers at all — or perhaps with temporary markers that didn’t last…  what does privacy or posterity or lineage or remembrance really have to do with it?

I guess mine is a very short-sighted view.  I am thankful that my own forebears chose to put whatever information on our family gravestones that they felt was important.  When I go up to the cemetery and linger at the Espy graves, I feel a connection to my past for which I am inordinately thankful.  I can only hope my descendants will feel the same way.

Maybe it’s a sign… for Tucker?

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

New “Cemetary” Sign

When I saw the newly posted sign by the Oysterville Cemetery Road, I immediately thought of our neighbor, Tucker.  Not only is he the current president  of the Oysterville Cemetery Association, but he has an abiding interest in signs.  This one would a perfect addition to his sign collection!

Oysterville Cemetery

It is located just across the road from the large wooden “Oysterville Cemetery” sign which has been there for years.  The original one was done by Herman Eberhardt’s Boy Scout troop back in the 1950s or ’60s.  I think it’s been replaced at least once by the Oysterville Cemetery Association.  You’d think that the signage team might have noticed the discrepancy in spelling while they were installing the new marker.  But… apparently, not.

Once upon a time, Oysterville Road had another name…

I’m not sure if it’s State or County that bears the responsibility for the signs along the Oysterville Road.  Probably the County.  And, it probably falls to Tucker in his presidential capacity to call the Public Works Department (or whoever is in charge of signage) and asking them to correct their spelling error.  And, maybe — just maybe — since they will have to discard the incorrect sign, anyway — they will let him add it to his sign collection.

Come to think of it — I wonder if all the cemeteries in the County have been newly (and incorrectly) posted.  Further, I wonder if Tucker could successfully claim them all if nobody else wanted them.  After all, it’s not everyone who collects signs — especially those that have an interesting story.

Here’s hoping!

Our Cemetery on Davis Hill

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

“Oystervile Cemetery Sketches” by Marie Oesting

In yesterday’s Observer under “Dispatch Reports” is this small item:
“Aug. 13 — At 8:47 a.m. it was reported that an older woman had been missing since 7 p.m. the night before.  At 8:52 a.m. she was found at the Oysterville Cemetery.  She had allegedly fallen and broken her hip and had been outside all night.”

I spoke about that report to a few folks here in town but no-one had heard anything about the situation — not about an overnight guest in the cemetery, not about an alleged broken hip, and not about an older woman who had gone missing the night of August 12th.  In addition to concern for this unknown woman, my thoughts went to my Uncle Willard Espy and his relationship to our quiet old resting place on Davis Hill.

Willard Espy, Raconteur

In his book Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village, Willard wrote: When I visit Oysterville now, my first impulse is to stop by the cemetery on the ridge, where through a hole among the spruce trees I can watch the slow breathing of the bay, six hours in and six hours out.  I pause by the gravestones — of grandpa and grandma and Aunt Kate; of papa and mama; of Nahcati and nameless sailors whose bodies washed ashore long ago; and I feel very much at home.

“Skulduggery on Shoalwater Bay” by Willard R. Espy

That was written in 1976.  Some twenty years later he wrote Skulduggery on Shoalwater Bay (Whispered Up from the Graves of the Pioneers) — a book of poetry in which the speakers, long buried in our cemetery, tell of their lives during the early days of Pacific County.  A fabulous book with an unusual presentation of our local history.

Now, of course, Willard, himself, is among his beloved family members in the Espy plot.  I couldn’t help wondering if the unfortunate woman who spent the night up there had been favored with a conversation with Willard.  Or, for that matter, with any of the other denizens who rest on Davis Hill.

Another Oysterville Meeting

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Special School Board Meeting, 1912

It is a long-standing joke in Oysterville that many of our most productive “meetings” happen in the street.  Often, these gatherings occur while we are on our way to or from the Post Office.  A neighbor’s car slows and stops next to you as you stroll down Territory Road or, perhaps, two cars stop – one coming, one going – so that drivers can have a chat through open windows. Lots of big decisions are made that way –like when to convene for a picnic or whether a whiffle golf game will begin sooner rather than later.

If a vehicle is involved in the “meeting” chances are that traffic clots up a bit.  Locals know to “just go around,” perhaps pausing for a moment (if there’s room for three cars abreast) to join the conversation.  Visitors are amazingly patient, sometimes even joining into the discussion.  I often think that those encounters are one of the few remaining vestiges of true village life.

Espy Plot, Memorial Day at the Oysterville Cemetery

Yesterday, as we were getting ready to go up to the cemetery with our flowers, a huge RV with Montana license plates pulled over in front of the house and the passenger rolled down her window and spoke to Nyel.  I was soon summoned and the driver introduced himself to me:  “Hi.  I’m Isaac Clark’s great-great-grandson,” he said.  Wow!  “And I’m Robert Espy’s great-granddaughter,” I responded.  Imagine!  All these years later, Espy and Clark’s descendants meeting in the town the two friends had founded back in 1854!

We chatted.  A few cars waited patiently to get by.  Ben didn’t know that Isaac Clark had married a second time and that he had half-cousins right here on the Peninsula!  A few more cars joined the queue.  Hurriedly, I got their email address.  “We’ll be in touch,” we said.  And the traffic moved on, everyone waving and smiling as if they knew that the generations had converged right before their very eyes.  It was just “that” kind of day in Oysterville – sunny, breezy, friendly feeling.  The best kind of day for a street meeting.

I.A. Clark’s Tombstone, Oysterville Cemetery

As Nyel and I distributed our flowers around the Espy tombstones, I took a moment to tell old R.H. about our encounter and mentioned it, also, to Isaac as we passed by.  I hope they were pleased that two more of their descendants have made contact!  We certainly are.

Great Aunt Verona

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Mossy Marker

As I scrubbed the moss from her gravestone, I idly wondered if everyone had a ‘Great Aunt Verona’ – a forebear shrouded in mystery, beloved yet not much talked about.  She was the eighth and youngest of R.H. and Julia Espy’s children, and although my mother and her brothers and sisters remembered her, no one spoke about her much.

She was born in 1889 here in Oysterville, as far as I know an unremarkable birth.  She was named Ida Laura Verona and, although her mother referred to her in letters to the older children as “Laura,” the rest of the family always called her Verona.  Only the name ‘Verona Espy’ appears on the tombstone that was placed over her grave in 1923 – perhaps because her mother was no longer living and couldn’t have her say. I don’t really know.

Aunt Verona – c. 1900

The references to her in that early correspondence indicate that she was a spirited little girl, perhaps slow to talk or to pronounce words correctly.  One of the family stories concerns three-year-old Verona and her older sisters meeting their mother at the train in Nahcotta.   Julia had been in Portland for a few weeks and Verona apparently was quite upset that she came home in a new “set.”  A year or so later, Julia wrote to the older children, “Ida says to tell you that she can now say “dess” instead of “set.”

When Julia died (at 49 of a cerebral hemorrhage) in 1901, Verona moved to Portland with her twenty-three-year-old sister Susie.  From that time on she lived with one of her sisters or with other relatives and grew progressively worse from a disease which was subsequently described as “similar to multiple sclerosis.”  In later years, she lived with a companion/nurse and, as far as I can tell from contemporary correspondence, was doted on by family and friends.  I want to make some Butter Scotch for Verona, as she is so fond of homemade candy and does not get any, my grandmother wrote in 1908.  And another time, Remember to send Verona a card.

At The Oysterville Cemetery

There was more moss on Verona’s stone than on any of the others.  The logical reason is that her grave is the most northerly in the Espy lot and is often shaded by the stand of spruce trees nearby.  But, as I peeled back the soft, encroaching layers to reveal the lettering on the old grave marker, I couldn’t help but think that it was wrapping Verona’s memory in a protective layer – much as the family safeguarded and nurtured her when she was living.  I had mixed feelings about leaving the gravestone bright and shiny…

How can we help?

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Espy Lot

My thoughts are a bit of a jumble this morning.  Our early coffee conversation concerned our plan to go up to the cemetery this morning to clean up the Espy Lot – general tidying, picking up any recent blow-down, and cleaning off the accumulated moss and dirt on the gravestones there.  We talked about the tools we need and I checked our list against several online sites concerning care and preservation of old tombstones.  We began to gather our cleaning implements – spray bottles of clear water, natural-bristle brushes, non-metal scrapers and spatulas.

With my second cup of coffee, I checked out emails and FaceBook messages as I thought about my morning blog… But the day came to a screeching halt when I read our friend Erin Glenn’s entry written “14 hours ago.”  I reprint it here in its entirety:

Liberty and Justice for All ….

The propaganda on the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement website is appalling and their efforts to silence people from speaking out against these crimes against humanity is unbelievable. It is a disgrace to be an American right now and to live in this country, with such a horrible, horrible person governing our beautiful Nation. Another friend taken from our community today…

The person’s house was staked out, he was stalked and followed and then arrested. This is what ICE does when they do not have a warrant, when there is no official reason to arrest an immigrant. This person is in no way shape or form a threat to national security and is the father of four American children.

Internet Image

Suddenly, cleaning up our monuments to the dead seems like a rather useless endeavor.  The problems at our little cemetery pale in comparison to the terrifying troubles threatening friends and neighbors in our community.  How can we help?  Is there information to be found on the internet? What tools can we gather?  And where do we go?

My thoughts are a-jumble and all I can think to do is to contact Erin and other folks who might know better than I how to proceed.  What did my grandparents do back in 1942 when their friends and business associates, Ira and Jeff Murakami, who owned Eagle Rock Cannery, were interned (“relocated”) under FDR’s Executive Order 9066?  Clear back in 1935, my grandmother had written to her son Willard who was in New York:           

Jeff and Ira Murakam c. 1930s

As to the Japanese problem, most stand with the whites tho justice points clearly in the opposite direction…       We of course are in an uncomfortable situation.  No sentiment has broken directly upon us as yet but doubtless there is a lot of rumbling about our having leased to Eagle Rock…  The paper stated that Pa was going to try the case soon coming to court, but this thank goodness is not true.  He was asked by the Japanese to take their case (they have their own lawyers) but he excused himself on the ground of being “prejudiced.”

I hate it that history repeats itself.  I hate I that I feel helpless.  I hate it that this is happening

Which alias this time?

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

We are trying to do our ‘due diligence’ concerning our end days – the things my mother often referred to as her “dying plans.”  Hers usually involved tidying up her bureau drawers if she was going on a trip.  Ours veer more toward Advanced Directives and other scary documents.  And also, our gravestones.

We have friends, alive and well and younger than we are, who have already placed their tombstone in the cemetery, complete except for death dates.  I think it’s a great idea – saves a lot of angst for the next generation and, if being memorialized at the cemetery is important to you – it is to me; Nyel not so much – then you are assured that it is a done deal.

Larry Weathers Drawing

However, I’ve been dragging my feet because I’m not sure how to account for my various names.  I want to include Medora as my middle name because of the family connection.  Ditto my maiden name, Little.  Then there’s Howell that will make the connection with my son, Charles Howell.  Also, I need to include LaRue, the name by which I was known for almost 20 years and under which I wrote my first published books.  Plus, if my step-daughter Marta LaRue decides to make the Oysterville Cemetery her final resting place, that connection will be clear.  So far, a neat and tidy solution to all that name placement hasn’t manifested itself.

While I’ve been wrestling with my many former names, I’ve also been running into name/password problems related to my new computer.  I feel like I have a dozen aliases and suddenly don’t know which to use where.  I’ve been getting “Locked Out” a lot.  Many people tell me that they use the same password for everything so they can remember it and personal privacy be damned.  They are of the opinion that there isn’t such a thing anymore, anyway.  I tend to agree.

Certainly, after I’m dead and gone, the question of my privacy will be moot.  Maybe I should include all those computer aliases on my grave marker, too.  After all, someone somewhere identifies me as a series of alphanumeric characters (at least one capital letter, don’t forget)…  What do all those spies do?  Do their aliases die with them?  Seems a shame.