Some things don’t change…

Oct 11, 2022 | 0 comments

John Didion, Pacific County Sheriff 1998-2010

Last week’s paper, our esteemed Chinook Observer — the  October 5, 2022 issue — was hard for me from the first cursory glance.  “Serial rapist faces life ‘treatment’ on remote island – Sheriff Didion tried to warn county” was the week’s top story.

And just below it — “Grayland killer gets 21 years in prison – Emotional families make contrasting pleas.”

Certainly not the community news I was hoping to delve into in our faithful weekly periodical.  And, probably, not the news they would choose to deliver.  But the news is the news…  And, once again, I miss my friend John Didion.

I set the papers aside and directed my attention to some file folders I was reorganizing.  “Newspapers” said the label and the very first article dated October 14, 1892 (130 years old this very month) was from the front page of the South Bend Journal.  Here is what it said:

The would-be Wife Murderer of Ilwaco, Sentenced to Three Years Imprisonment
Astoria, Or, Oct. 12 — W.W. Ward was today sentenced to three years and four months in the penitentiary.  The court stated in passing sentence, that it was his intention to give Ward the full limit of the law, but his children had come to him in tears pleading for leniency for their father, and that they would be more miserable than their father were he to be given the full sentence of the law. Hence the light sentence.

Now known as “The Murakami House,” this building at 270th and Sandridge in Nahcotta was the original Pacific Journal building in Oysterville and was moved to its present location (then Sealand) in 1892. Photo Credit – Stephanie Frieze

Ward ran a saloon at Sealand for some time but with the removal of the Pacific Journal to Ilwaco, he had to close up on account of lack of patronage.  He afterwards engaged in business in Ilwaco.  The crime for which he was sentenced was that of shooting his wife.  He had some trouble with his wife and they had separated.  Both were in attendance on celebration of Gray’s discovery of the Columbia river, held in Astoria last May, and on the morning of May 12, as Mrs.  Ward was leaving the dining room of the Hotel  Northern her husband fired four times at her wounding her severely but not fatally.  He was promptly arrested and as he was being taken away he expressed the wish that he could “finish her.”

So… there you have it.  Some things don’t change, as I stated at the get-go.  On the other hand… quite a few things have changed, apparently, whether for better or worse is hard to tell.  All of which makes me wish we could read “the rest of the story!”


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