I understand those big words but…

Dec 2, 2010 | 11 comments

R. H. Espy Family, 1895

            The November 24th Chinook Observer had a couple of mentions of me – one good, one bad.  Both concerned my writing.  When I read them I wondered if they balanced one another out.  The “good” appeared in Cate Gable’s column.  She wrote about my blog and commented that I “tirelessly and cogently” record my perspectives of everyday life in my Oysterville Daybook.  I really like that word “cogently.”  Thanks, Cate!
     The other comments were in a letter to the editor and were written by a man I do not know.  Among other things, he said, “Ms. Stevens’ background seems to come from the fact that she is related to the Espys, and probably feels she and her family lost a lot of prestige and presumably money when Oysterville lost the county seat some hundred years ago in a legal election to the town of South Bend.”  I’ve been pondering that sentence for some time and I’m still not sure what it means.
     Related to the Espys?  Well, my mother’s maiden name was Espy and I’ve always thought that I am an Espy just as my father’s name being Little means that I am a Little.  “Related to them” seems a bit convoluted.  But, okay.
     It’s the losing “a lot of prestige and presumably money” that really has me flummoxed.  Had the county seat stayed in Oysterville, just how would we Espys have gained in either prestige or money?  In 1892, when the vote to move the county seat took place, my Great-Grandfather, R.H. Espy was 62 years old.  He was a partner in the Morgan Oyster Company, was on the Board of Directors of the Ilwaco Railroad and Navigation Company, and had lumber and mining holdings in Washington, Oregon, and California.  He was a staunch Baptist and gave the land and money for the Baptist Church which still stands in Oysterville.
     His wife, Julia, was 39 years old and, before their marriage, had been a school teacher.  They had eight children.  The fourth child was Harry, destined to become my grandfather, but in 1892 he was just sixteen years old and was a student at the Baptist Seminary in Centralia, along with his older sister and brother.  The four youngest children still lived at home; Verona, the baby, was just three years old.
     The prestige of the Espy family, as far as I know, was intact.  Since the head of the household was not involved in county politics or the construction business or in any other endeavor that might have impacted either his prestige or his income had the county seat remained in Oysterville, I can’t quite get the point of that peculiar statement.
     The letter writer went on to say that my purpose in writing about the kidnapping of the county seat is “to further foment the division between the northern and the southern ends of our county.  (“Foment” is another great word, though I must protest my innocence in that regard.)  It was John Morehead, a county commissioner at the time of the historic raid on the courthouse in Oysterville, who coined the phrase “Kidnapping the County Seat.”  He wrote about it and gave public addresses about it way before the turn of the twentieth century.  It’s a great story and needs to be told and retold as part of our local history.  Fomenting has nothing to do with it!
     And, speaking of  ‘nothing to do with it,’ yet another letter in this week’s Observer points out that my original letter said nothing about kidnapping the county seat or about a north/south county division.  So just who is fomenting what, anyway?


  1. Fern Fey

    Some people just don’t have a life!

  2. Nancy

    Seems to me that the letter writer is foaming at the mouth. The “attack” on your writing reminds me of The Four Agreements: Be impeccable with your word…Don’t make assumptions…Don’t take it personally, and….Always do your best. I believe you have lived the agreements and further believe the letter writer, just might not, as Fern suggests, have a life beyond narrow thinking and perceptions. Perhaps he could re-think and re-write! One can ALWAYS change one’s mind!

  3. Jan

    Rise above it Sydney, and don’t give the guy another quarter-inch of head space (or blog space). He obviously thinks by putting someone else down he improves his own lot. Not worth the aggravation, for sure! Hugs, J.

  4. Sarah

    Those of us who read what you write are so appreciative of what you do! You have no doubt devoted years to the telling of the history and the people of Oysterville and anyone who reads what you write knows that you do so out of love for the history and of your family. I can not imagine anyone else besides you telling me the story of Oysterville…except maybe Willard Espy : )

    • sydney

      Thank you so much, Sarah, for your kind words. I cannot think of a greater compliment than to have my interest in Oysterville’s history mentioned in the same breath with Willard’s.

  5. Michelle C.

    Maybe you’re just a Little related…and if you’re fomenting go see Jeff at the pharmacy. He may be able to give you something for that…

  6. Candice Stokes

    I enjoy your writing Sydney, it keeps me connected to my beloved Peninsula, and always makes me think, I love that!…Fern Fey, as in Willapa Hills? Love your music, sing along with it often…enjoyed you once at Sydney’s house, and many other times also!

  7. Stephanie Frieze

    The good news/bad news about the Chinook Observer is that they print everything. It’s great that on the Peninsula everyone’s voice, regardless of how confused it is, can be heard. The bad news is that some of the letter writers are unintelligent boobs. I agree with Jan about not letting this guy bug you. Clearly he’s suffering from an inferiority complex and envies your roots that go deep into the Peninsula. Your voice as a voice from Oysterville is entertaining and I enjoy it for the same reason as Nancy. It’s like getting a little visit with you each day which I would dearly love to be able to do!

  8. Brigid

    I suppose I am supposed to be defending Sydney and her blog here, but all I can think of is a big cement building in Oysterville. Thank God for public votes that got that monstrosity over on the other side of the bay. And Thank God for Sydney. I love your blog. It is something I look forward to every day.

  9. Diana C

    I have a friend who would no doubt use his favorite quote, Hanlon’s Razor,
    in this instance….

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity….

    Hang in there, My mother told me “there’d be days like this” I suspect yours did as well.

    Warmest Regards,

  10. Diana C

    P.S. You’ve got an angel on your tree, I don’t think he gets a gold star…


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *