Kidnapping the County Seat!

Feb 7, 2016 | 1 comment

"An Outing on the Bay"

“An Outing on the Bay”

According to all reports, Sunday February 5, 1893 was cold and miserable – “slushy” Commissioner John Morehead called it. While the good citizens of Oysterville huddled in the uncertain warmth of the church’s woodstove, two plungers sailed across the bay from South Bend. One went straight to Oysterville; the other headed for the dock at Nahcotta.

After fortifying themselves at the local saloons, the hundred-or-so men converged on the courthouse at Oysterville.  There, according to Morehead: …the two parties went into a huddle to talk over their method of procedure. Finally, an egotistical tailor and taxidermist named John Hudson, who afterward was an exhibit at Chicago World’s Fair from Pacific County, stepped forward and after rolling up his sleeves, so as to show his well-developed biceps, assumed an attitude and kicked in the door of the court house. The mob swarmed in and seemed to be more intent on satisfying their curiosity than in carrying away the contents of the offices.

County Courthouse in Oysterville 1875-1893

County Courthouse in Oysterville 1875-1893

The rest of the story is a familiar one – at least to those of us who live in twenty-first century Oysterville. Ultimately, the South Benders did take away some of the records and the furniture and, wrote Morehead: in due time the contents of the court house were removed over to South Bend by the usual method of transportation.

But it’s the last part of the Commissioner’s story that I like the best: To show that there was no demand at that time for nerve tonic in the booming city on the banks of the Willapa, bills were presented to the Commissioners for services rendered to the county while looting its property. It is unnecessary to say that those bills were disallowed by the board without a debate, by a two to one vote.

A Sign Marks The Site

A Sign Marks The Site

That infamous day of 123 years ago was the first Sunday of the month, just as this is the first February Sunday of 2016. There aren’t too many other similarities. Today, the temperature is a mild 57° with sporadic sprinkles predicted. The church is empty except for the occasional tourist and the courthouse is no more. As far as I can tell, this will be just another quiet day in greater downtown Oysterville.

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    I sometimes speculate on how different the development of South end of the county and the Peninsula might had been if the South Bend contingent had stayed home and gone to church.

    Reply

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