I try to keep chastity of my eyes.

Mar 1, 2024 | 2 comments

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When it comes to internet information about Oysterville, I try not to look.  It’s better for my peace of mind, my blood pressure, and my general feeling about the intelligence of my fellow-historians and travel enthusiasts, in general.  But, sometimes I get sucked right on in which says very little about my own intelligence… or my will power.

The last few days there have been a lot of pop-up sites appearing about visiting “the oldest cities” in Washington.  On one of said sites, I was amazed to see Oysterville listed — as in when did we become a “city” and how did the article justify  our population of “20” (their figure) with the term “city.”  I couldn’t help myself.  I read further.

I found pictures of the church and my house along with other old residences in town.  Yep.  It was the Oysterville  my great-grandfather co-founded but… “in 1841″ said the article.  I don’t think there were any white settlements at all in Washington in 1841.  Espy and Clark arrived here in 1854, Clark took out a donation land claim and they platted the town.  For all of the years since, the date of Oysterville’s founding has been said to be April 12, 1854 — the day Espy and Clark arrived on the salt marsh drummed in through the fog by Espy’s Indian friend Klickeas.

“Oysterville” – Facts, Pictures, and More!

And, we’ve never claimed to be first.  We were founded a bit after Steilacoom which, according to its “official website” celebrated the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of its incorporation as the first city in Washington Territory on April 20, 2004. Presumably it took a bit to become well enough established to incorporate — a fete Oysterville never undertook, even in its heyday.  And I remember specifically in 1975 when Oysterville was awarded its “National Historic District” designation, that it was pointed out that Steilacoom had existed for a longer time that we had.

But being first is not the issue — certainly not for me or any of our family.  However, the year is important.  And what’s the bottom line, anyway?  If its incorporation, we are out of the running on all counts.  No matter.  I’m really getting tired of “arguing” with all the nitwits who can’t do a little research — as in Lord knows, there have been enough reliable books and articles written about our history.  1841, indeed!  No wonder I didn’t like history in school.  It is completely f***ed up.




















  1. Carol

    Interesting post! I would suggest using the term Indigenous though, rather than what you used.

    • sydney

      Thanks for your interest, Carol. Let me assure you, that I use the term “Indian” when referring to the Chinook Tribe and its members with the full blessing of Tribal Chairman Tony Johnson. I have been writing about the Chinook since the 1990s and have checked with my Chinook friends and tribal officials at every step of the way. Consistently they have laughed and said, “We’re Indians! Use that word!” So, until the Tribe, itself, takes a different position, I’m sticking with “Indian”, knowing well all of the objections and rationale by well-meaning others.
      Again, thanks for writing and giving me an opportunity to explain my own rational.
      (I should point out that not all Tribal groups feel the same way and were I writing about others I would try to do my due-diligence with them, as well.)


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