Oysterville’s Jail

Feb 11, 2011 | 2 comments

County Jail circa 1940

     Ever since I have become the temporary custodian of the hefty volume, “Prison Record Number One of Pacific County,” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the old jail building here in Oysterville.  Nowadays it is long gone, but I remember it from my childhood.  In those days it was Mr. Wachsmuth’s chicken coop.  Even so, we kids went in now and then and enjoyed the shivery feeling of being where “bad men once had awaited their fate.”
     I’m talking about the jail building, itself, not the iron cell that went over to South Bend shortly after those infamous raiders “stole” the county records from the courthouse here.  The chicken coop-cum-jail building was a wooden structure and had been located near the original county courthouse on School Street here in Oysterville.  By the time I came along, the courthouse was gone and the Wachsmuths owned the property.  But the jail was still there.
     The building was in pretty bad shape by then.  During World War II, the Wachsmuths removed the iron bars from the windows and donated them to the war effort.  I remember that the floor was uncertain and, even though we kids were only wisps, we stepped with caution, terrified that we would fall through.  I imagine that would have been a distance of a whole foot or two, but it seemed threatening all the same.
     It wasn’t until I was grown that I learned that the iron cell – the business part of the jail – was on display over in one of the parks in South Bend.  By then, the wooden jail building was no more – a victim of benign neglect and too many winter storms.  I remember visiting the cell for the first time and realizing how small it was – much too cramped for the four men who were kept there before Oysterville’s infamous lynching in 1891.
     The lynching…but that’s a story for the series I’m doing for the Observer.  It should be in the paper a few weeks from now.


  1. MaryBeth Kelly

    I mention this only in case you aren’t seeing the response showing on my page under your usual FB announcement of your blog entry. Below that is a comment from you filled with gibberish links.

  2. Sydney Stevens

    Wow! I have no idea what that is. I didn’t file it. I wonder if I’ve been hacked in some way. Thanks for the alert. I’ll see what I can find out about it.


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