If you write, they will answer — with luck!

Nov 28, 2023 | 0 comments

John Douglas Grave Site, Oysterville Cemetery

During the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve had many wonderful responses from people who have visited Oysterville, who sometimes have questions about Oysterville, or even from a few who have ancestors who once lived here.  I love those communications and if I can help with a question I am inordinately pleased.  I’ve even been lucky enough to have visitors come from as far away as Australia whose forebears not only were neighbors of my grandparents but who I knew growing up here.  Another one of those “small world” pleasures that have occurred because of my blog..

But recently, I got the most wonderful feedback of all  — from not one, but from TWO  direct descendants of John Douglas who, apparently have never before heard of one another!  You might remember that John Douglas was the first settler on the Shoalwater Bay (arriving in 1840 or 1841) and is the one whose blind daughter, Mary, was cured by Dr. James R. Johnson, the first doctor in the area.  Dr. Johnson,, incidentally, was the great-grandfather of Oysterville’s late, life-long resident, Bud Goulter.

The first communication I received was from Ronald Mayer back in July 2022:  I am the great, great grandson of John Douglas. Frank and Mary Garretson are my great-grand parents and their youngest son Frederick was my grandfather. My mother Thelma Garretson Mayer knew most of the family and in her later years she wrote down much of the family history. I did some additional research with some success but drifted away from the project and never got back to it. I would very much like to learn more. I will read your other articles but I would really like to talk to you more directly. I have no issue with the misinformation you have cited. Much of it I already knew and you cited a fact or two in this article I did not know. Sincerely
Ron Mayer

Tommy Nelson’s Cannery

The following August, Ron wrote again:  Thank you for your quick reply to my note,,, I am hoping you can tell me more about John Douglass’s granddhildren. Irene was one of them and I can remember her well. My grandfather, Fred Garretson, her brother, lived in Seaside in his later years and we visited Aunt Irene and Uncle Tommy several times when I was just a little kid.. She had seven siblings: Edgar, Lucy, Helen, Alfred, Agnes, William, Francis, and Frederick. Irene was the sixth surviving grandchild. The first, a girl, died in infancy. At least maybe you can tell me about Irene.
   Your articles about John Douglas are spot on. The family never claimed anything about the founding of Oysterville. However, John Douglass was said to  be the first white man to settle north of the Columbia River in or shortly after 1841. Another early settler arrived there after 1841, his name escapes me now. He claimed no other settler was there at the time but Douglass was not continuously present because he went out on whaling ships until he broke his leg.   Ronald 

To say I was thrilled is the understatement of my research “career.”  And, to top all of this off, in the last few weeks I received this note from a second John Douglas descendant, Tom DeGandi: I’m the great-great-great grandson of John Douglas and have a portrait of John and a picture of Mary.  I would like to talk to Ron Mayer if possible.  Sincerely, Tom DeGandi

Wow!  I have put the two in touch with one another and can scarcely wait for the next “installment!”  Stay tuned!

 

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