Posts Tagged ‘Pacific County Historical Society’

It certainly wasn’t the first time…

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Historically Speaking – The Baptist Church and Parsonage

I had to chuckle a bit at someone’s remark about our house a few days ago.  I had written something on my blog about Oysterville needing a museum and a reader responded, “I thought your home was the Oysterville Historical Museum.”  It’s not the first time that the “museum” word has come up in connection with this old house but, usually, it’s in the context of a question and not always with complimentary overtones —   As in, “Don’t you feel like you’re living in a museum?”

The answer to that, of course, is easy.  I’ve known the furniture and many of the other contents of this house for my entire life.  At various times I lived here or stayed for prolonged periods with my grandparents and with my parents.  The old rocking chairs have associations going back to sitting in granny’s lap to have my tears dried or a skinned knee bandaged or just to hear a story on a rainy afternoon.  I’ve set the table with my great-grandmother’s silver and my mother’s china a gazillion times.  Not once have I ever thought or uttered the word “museum” in connection with any of it.

All Set for Dinner

Nyel, on the other hand, as the most recent full-time occupant of the house, may feel differently.  We met shortly before he received his Master’s degree from the UW in museology and the only remark I’ve ever heard him make relative to the house is something like, “…and little did I know that before long I’d become an owner and full-time curator of our very own house museum!”  But said in a joking way.

But, I do sometimes feel a bit of responsibility beyond family when it comes to some of the “stuff” that has been deposited here.  Take Reverend Robert Yeatman’s chair, for instance.  His daughter, Dorothy, brought it to my mother shortly after my folks had retired in the early ’70s and moved into the family house.

Reverend Yeatman’s Chair

Dorothy, who lived in Ocean Park,  had spent several years in this house when she was a little girl.  “My father used to sit in that chair when he was writing his sermons,” Dorothy told Mom.  “The chair belongs here as a reminder of the days the house served as the Parsonage for the church across the street.”

And, though I never knew Reverend Yeatman, I do think of him each time I use that chair!  I “remember” that he and his family lived here from 1898-1901 — just before the Reverend Josiah Crouch took his infamous turn as the Baptist pastor and left behind his ghostly wife.

In a way, I guess, that sort of memory-association with the things in the house do make it seem a bit like a museum. The house not only provides a context and an environment for the artifacts that are associated with it, but it also helps keep the stories of those artifacts “alive.”  The downside, though, is that our “artifacts” are still in use so there are no guarantees about their longevity or protection.   And, as wonderful as it would be to have an honest-to-goodness Oysterville Museum, the reality is that it takes more resources than our little village could possibly provide.

So, until that changes,  let’s hear it for the Columbia Heritage Museum and the Pacific County Historical Society Museum – two worthy institutions that we all need to support in order to keep our local history alive — even the history associated with our old houses and old folks!  Hear! Hear!





“Grab his tail! Grab the horse’s tail!”

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

The Strathblane

When I ran out of reading material the other day – temporarily, until my book arrives at the library – I decided I would take a look at some the old Sou’westers… but which one?  The first issue was published in 1966 and for years the Pacific County Historical Society published them quarterly.  They are a treasure trove of our County’s history!  I have most of them and, before I knew it, I had started at the beginning and am now working my way through the lot!

I think it will be a slow process – mostly because I feel compelled to share some of my favorites with Nyel or with Tucker and Carol or… maybe (like today) in my blog.  This is an excerpt from an article by Eleanor Barrows Bower, published in Volume 1, Number 4 – the Winter 1966 issue:

            A country doctor unhitched his horse from the buggy and became a hero as the Strathblane disintegrated on the sands near the Ilwaco Beach Lifesaving Service [Klipsan Beach] on November 3, 1891.
            Charles Nelson, Sr. keeping solitary watch in the tower found the lines of communication downed by the storm and dispatched riders to obtain aid for the stricken ship.  From Cape Disappointment, Captain A.T. Harris and his men arrived by the narrow gauge railway but were unable TO SHOOT A LIFELINE ABOARD.  All but one of their lifeboats having been destroyed, the stranded sailors were obliged to jump for their lives, and the surfmen joined hands with local citizens to form a human rescue chain.
            On the Peninsula making his usual hose calls, Dr. T.H. Parks responded to an appeal for help from Nelson.  Astride the horse he had trained to enter the surf, he directed the survivors to grab hold of the harness, or the horse’s tail to be towed to safety.  Of the thirty men aboard, twenty-four were saved, including Jack Payne and First Mate James D. Murray both of whom became prominent Pacific County citizens…

Klipsan Life Saving Station

Years ago, maybe in the early 1970s before I moved permanently to the Peninsula, I saw a poem about this rescue in the New Yorker magazine.  I wish I had saved it.  I’m very curious about who wrote it and how they knew about Dr, Parks and his rescue horse.s

Letter from the Blacksmith’s Son

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

The following paragraphs are excerpts from a letter written on March 26, 1972 by Clarence Dolan to Katy Kimura who was then the Mayor of South Bend:

I was born at Willapa in 1885.  I well remember when the waterfront was lined up with saw mills and shingle mills and other industries.  Long before Raymond was ever dreamed of, I used to help the Morris boys out and harvest tideland grass where the city of Raymond is today.  Before going to Alaska in 1906, I was offered lots on the main street of Raymond at 25 dollars.  After 3 years in Alaska I returned and found these same lots selling at $750.oo.  I then returned to Alaska and spent 2 more years up there, and on my return, was informed that a bank had paid $4,400 for a lot on which they built their bank.

My parents landed at Oysterville in 1877, where my dad set up a blacksmith shop.  Later on the family moved up on Cedar River on a claim where one of my sisters and a brother were born.  The family then moved to Willapa, formerly called Woodards Landing.  It was here that my twin brother and I were born.  Then in a little over one year, my sister was born, and this completed a total of 12 children born to my parents.  The family originally migrated from Iowa, and on their way to the coast, they stopped in Denver where my dad set up a blacksmith shop where he used to shoe WILD BILL’S black mare for him.  The family then headed for San Francisco, and then by boat came to SHOALWWATER BAY in 1877.

I was about 6 years old when I seen my first railroad.  All supplies came to Willapa by boat.  I knew what PIONEER life was like and the hardships those early settlers endured.  I knew what poverty was like and I do not mean maybe.  I was limited to as little as 3 months of school in one year because the district was so far in debt.  I could easily write a book on the PIONEER days of Pacific County.  It used to be a full day trip by horse team to South Bend and back to Willapa.  I remember such men as Tom Rooney as SHERIFF and Zack Brown who was also SHERIFF of Pacific County, attorneys H.W.B. Hewen, John Welch and Dr. Schenk who married my niece, formerly Pearl Shay, and it just may be that the bank building you live in is where Dr. Schenk had his offices 30 years ago.

Thanks to Steve Rogers for sending me this and to Ken Kimura for posting it on his FB page (which is where Steve found it.)  Great stuff!  I never tire of reading and sharing the memories of the “old-timers.”  More of Clarence Dolan’s reminiscences may be found in various issues of  the Pacific County Historical Society’s magazine, the Sou’wester.

High Water Slack

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Naselle-Grays River Valley School

Every year about this time, the Pacific County Historical Society (headquarters: South Bend) holds its annual meeting in Naselle.  The gathering is always timed to coincide with the American Legion Auxiliary Smorgasbord – a fabulous array of main dishes and desserts with, as you might expect, a distinctive Finnish emphasis.  The luncheon is served, cafeteria-style, in the Commons at the Naselle-Grays River Valley School and the PCHS meeting takes place just down the hall.

We went with our neighbors Carol and Tucker, or rather they went with us.  Nyel drove and, in typical old folks’ double-date style, Tucker rode shotgun and Carol and I were in the back seat.  We drove the river way – through Chinook, past the Columbia River Quarantine Station and into Naselle.  Carol and Tucker had never been on the school campus before and they seemed properly impressed at its size and layout.

Quarantine Station at Kanpton

Quarantine Station at Knappton Cove

The guest speaker at the PCHS meeting was Betsy Millard, Director of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum (headquarters: Ilwaco) and the audience was comprised of history buffs from both sides of the bay, many of them members of both PCHS and CPHM.  I couldn’t help thinking back to the 1980s when CPHM was just beginning and how we all wondered how if our little county could sort out having two museums devoted to local history.  Although there were rocky spots along the way, thanks to the professionalism and leadership of both organizations, they continue to support and bolster one another.

Betsy’s talk was grand – complete with a power point accompaniment and sprinkled throughout with mentions of people who happened to be in the audience – giving kudos and credits to their contributions over the years. I couldn’t help but think about the dynamic quality of both organizations – of the ebb and flow of energy and commitment by the volunteers and staffs and how, right now, there seems to be a feeling of forward movement, collections and organization-wise, on both sides of the bay.

Point Ellice from Megler Rest Stop

On our way home, the river looked full.  And quiet.  I wondered if it was high water slack – that time when there is no movement either way in the tidal stream occurring right before the direction of the tidal stream reverses – “a time when the water is completely unstressed” says one dictionary definition. Sort of like the feeling between CPHM and PCHS – a kind of détente.  Like river and ocean, each organization is on the move but where they meet is a place of calm.  For the moment in the case of the Pacific and the Columbia and for the duration, I hope, in the case of our repositories of county history.  Probably a dumb analogy, but there you have it…  I probably just like the sound of “high water slack.”

“Public Enemy Number One”

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Connecting With The Outside World by Robert M. Danielson

The package felt like it might contain a book – a heavy book – and had been mailed to me Par Avion from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  It was from Robert Danielson – a name that sounds familiar, though I don’t think I know him.

Within the carefully taped bubble-wrapping was a 125+ page book, chock-a-block full of information quoted from historic documents, maps, charts, and copies of stunning old photographs.  The title:  CONNECTING WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Construction of the National Park (1913-1918) and Ocean Beach Highway (1919-1934).  The accompanying letter began: “Hi Sydney, We have read your recent article on place names which helped familiarize us with your part of Pacific County…”

I think the “article” Mr. Danielson is referencing is the recent Sou’wester magazine issue I wrote, A Sense Of Place – Names of the North Beach Peninsula.  There is nothing that warms this author’s cockles more than knowing that something I’ve researched and written has actually helped another historian.  But, the surprises weren’t over.

Senator H.A. Espy at his desk, 1911

As I flipped through the pages, my grandfather’s name, Harry A. Espy, caught my eye.  I checked the index and, sure enough!  He appears on page 65 in a section called The Naselle River Toll Bridge: Public Enemy Number One.  There, in the fourth paragraph of that section, I read:

With no plan and no money appropriated in 1927 to resolve the bridge problem, the matter was left to sizzle through the summer as other parts of the road were being improved; there were plenty of needs to go around.  On September 7 “the war on [the] toll bridge” was renewed by Harry A. Espy, former State Senator and president of the Pacific County Taxpayers League, in a presentation to the County Commissioners.  Based on data collected by Senator Norman, an “implacable foe of the toll bridge from its inception,” Espy cited data that showed the Pacific County Bridge Company had, in 1926, experienced extremely large profits from operating the bridge.  The bridge tolls totaled $26,354 with disbursements of $5,607, and allowing for deprecation, the profits taken in the form of dividends to the shareholders were what he considered to be excessive.  It was recommended that an investigation be made to substantially reduce the tolls and eliminate them entirely for county vehicles.  This seemed to be a softening of the previous positions that called for total elimination of tolls an impossible choice as long as the operation or tolls, an impossible choice as long as the operation of the bridge was in private hands.

Poster in Oct. 4, 1929 North Beach Tribune, Page 69 Connecting With The Outside World

I knew that Papa had been concerned about roads during his term as State Senator and, in fact, during the 12th Legislative Session in 1911, he served on a number of Senate committees including the one on Roads and Bridges.  But if I had ever known that he was an advocate of toll-free bridges, I had forgotten.  Way to go, Papa!  And a HUGE thank you to Bob and Barbara Danielson for their kindness in sending me a copy of their handsome book.  I shall read it with interest!

The Best Approach

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Jimmy Kemmer, Judy Heckes and ‘Aunt Rye’ at the Oysterville Approach, c. 1940

Here on the Peninsula, when we talk about one approach versus another, we usually aren’t talking golf strategies or planning a sales campaign.  We’re talking beach approaches – the traditional ingress/egress roadways to and from the ocean beach.

At Oysterville – and probably at other early settlements, as well – the approach road was originally constructed for wagons and stagecoaches that carried freight and passengers from one end of the Peninsula to the other.  Travelers journeyed along the only available north/south highway – the hard sands of the weather beach.  Each ‘approach’ was marked by a large, clearly visible sign constructed in the area of the primary dune.  Or, more accurately, as clearly visible as a sign could be made, considering the constraints of stormy weather, wind-blown sand, fog or any of the usual constraints and challenges.

Winter 1983 Sou’wester

Communities took pride in their approach Signs.  When I was a child, the sign said “Come Again” as you left Oysterville Road and drove onto the beach.  And, coming back, the big letters that spelled OYSTERVILLE may have been the first word I ever could read.  Community members took pride in constructing approach signs that were distinctive.  In 1983, the Sou’wester featured a photograph of Ocean Park’s “Sunset Arch” and provided the following information about it:

This old Ocean Park beach approach sign was dubbed the “Sunset Arch”. It stood at the east end of Bay Avenue and was erected in the spring of 1932. It replaced a weather-beaten sign which stood at the approach for many years. Two local clubs called the Nit-Wits, a men’s club, and S. I. O (Six in One), a women’s club, joined forces to build it. Club members were Les Wilson, Bob Delay, Henry Edmonds Jr., Bit Wins Sr., John Morehead Jr., Walker Tompkins, Lucille Wickberg (Mrs. Les Wilson), Edith Lundquist Winn (Mrs. Bill Winn), Alva Slagle, Nancy Peterson, Sharlie Peterson, and Edna Burden. Les Wilson says his club feted a fir tree, sawed the trunk into three pieces, and transported it to the dunes at the approach. After several failures, the sign was finally erected. Walker Tompkins painted it to read “Ocean Park” on the west side and “Sunset View” on the east side. Henry Edmonds says that Charles “Fitzy” Fitzpatrick set up his camera and waited for two hours to get a photograph of a car driving under it. This photo, without a car, was also taken by Fitzpatrick. The “Sunset Arch” finally rotted in the late 1940s and the sign was replaced by a new community group led by Lyle Clark in 1949. The new sign utilized the metal masts of the wrecked ship Arrow. One of the masts still stands, but it is now badly rusted. In December1981 the North Beach Peninsula Association instated a beautiful new sign at the beach approach.  The legend “Ocean Park, 1883, 46° 30′ W., 124°2′ N.” is etched in the wood. 

Long Beach Approach, Historic

I understand that nowadays, replacing an approach sign isn’t all that ‘easy.’  There are right-of-ways and easements and laws and liability issues to consider.  Estimates to replace the Seaview approach sign (damaged by a vehicle) are in the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars range.  In our complicated, litigious society, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) no longer exists and liability rather than visibility determines the best approach.  A sad commentary, indeed.

Now’s your chance!

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
Pacific County Historical Society Museum

Pacific County Historical Society Museum

I’m always taken aback when someone tells me they’ve never been to the Pacific County Historical Society Museum in South Bend.  Especially if the ‘someone’ purports to be a history buff!  Admittedly, these are usually people who live in “South County” – aka on the Long Beach Peninsula.  And, certainly, the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco is closer at hand.  But still…

The PCHS is older by thirty or so years and was begun ‘back in the day’ (as they say) when the sons and daughters of Pacific County’s pioneers were the main movers and shakers in the area. They had a wealth of history at their fingertips – letters, memoirs, documents, photographs and artifacts that held answers to many of the questions about our early history.  In 1949, they decided to create an organization to encourage interest in our County’s history and to establish a repository for some of its treasures.  The Pacific County Historical Society (PCHS) was formed and the museum soon followed.

Inside the PCHS Gift Shop

Inside the PCHS Gift Shop

Of course, it’s a long way around the bay and, gradually, as the Peninsula has become more populated and the County has established satellite offices on ‘this side of the bay,’ our focus has fractured.   I find that even serious students of local history are not always familiar with the little museum and treasure trove on Robert Bush Drive (aka Highway 101, the main drag) in South Bend.

Published June 13, 2016

Published June 13, 2016

So… if you are one of those who’s been thinking, “I really should pay a visit to the PCHS museum,” now’s your chance!  Next Wednesday, July 6th at 3:30, I’ll be doing a book talk there and I would love it if my audience included folks who have seldom, if ever, been to the PCHS museum.  I promise to give you the ‘inside scoop’ on some of the County’s most infamous bad guys,  as well as a look a few of the amazing tactics used by those who pledged to keep law and order here in the rip-roaring days of the 1880s and ‘90s.

And, of course, the super-duper bookshop at the Museum will have Jailhouse Stories of Early Pacific County for sale.  I’ll be happy to sign and personalize as many copies as you’d care to get!  The book is guaranteed to be the perfect gift for all your far-away friends who can’t quite imagine that there’s much here beyond beach sand and winter storms…

Out of yet another loop?

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

museum-frontMy publicist (PUBLICIST???  I have a publicist???) contacted me last week and said that I have a July 6th book-signing date scheduled at Pacific County Historical Society.  Wow!  Since most book marketing opportunities in the past have usually been dates I’ve set up myself I was pretty impressed.  But also a little disbelieving.  Or maybe I’m just a control freak.

So… I called over to South Bend to talk to the PCHS people for confirmation.  The manager, Patricia Neve, herself, answered the phone and confirmed the time and date – 3:30 the Wednesday after the Fourth of July.  Yay!

Sou'wester Winter 2015But… in the course of our conversation, she said that the event has been mentioned on the front page of the PCHS Newsletter.  (It has?) Later, I went online to the PCHS’s recently updated website and saw that they have a new Sou’wester out:  “A Gym is Born: The story of the “New” South Bend High School Gymnasium (1953)” by Steve Rogers.  (Really?)  I didn’t know anything about either publication being available.

There could be a couple of reasons for my not knowing: 1) Neither issue is actually ‘out’ yet; or 2) my PCHS membership has lapsed.  YIKES!  I hope it’s the former, not the latter, reason.  Also… I long ago promised Steve, valiant president of the Historical Society that I would write the “next” Sou’wester which would be due shortly after publication of this current one.  Am I overdue with my copy already?

Not that I haven’t been thinking about it, mind you.  It will be about an ‘Oysterville Girl’ I knew very well, indeed.  Steve and I have even chosen the cover color.  Hot pink!  I’m not saying ‘who’ but I have no doubt that some readers will know exactly the amazing woman I’m talking about!

Meanwhile… I think there’s a loop I need to get back into.  And maybe some good graces, too!

Pacific County, 1900

Friday, January 15th, 2016
F.A. Hazeltine, circa 1901

F.A. Hazeltine, circa 1901

In 1900, the South Bend Journal published a 32-page supplement called the “Pacific County Edition.” It is a treasure-trove of information about the each of the communities in our County at the turn of the last century – at least “important”  in publisher F.A. Hazeltine’s opinion.

In my own view and with the added advantage of 116 years of hindsight, I think it is heavy on North County material and not as thorough with regard to South County. Especially with respect to Oysterville. Granted, I am totally biased – but I think old F.A. was, too. Consider: six-and-a-half pages devoted to South Bend and two columns devoted to Oysterville; forty-seven pictures devoted to South Bend and three to Oysterville. I mean, come on!

Oysterville School circa 1880

Oysterville School 1875-1905

The three Oysterville photos were of R.H. Espy and his family, I.A. Clark, and M. Wachsmuth. Two other movers-and-shakers get special mention – Andrew Wert (a mis-spelling of Wirt) and F. C. Davis. And when it came to the little article on “County School Statistics,” Oysterville School is not even mentioned, never mind that it was the first public school in the County and in 1900 was going strong – even had a two-story building with two teachers.

SB Journal Centennial Edition0005

From the South Bend Journal Souvenir Edition, 1900

Notwithstanding the skewed nature of the edition, it is a fascinating look back in time and gives a clear idea of South Bend’s dream of becoming the “Baltimore of the Pacific.” Real estate businesses and building contractors dominate the four pages devoted to advertising. South Bend had been the County Seat for a full seven years (as compared to Oysterville’s thirty-seven years) and no mention at all is made of the infamous “kidnapping” of County Records. But… I digress.

This Souvenir Edition was given to me by Mike Lemesko at the Community Historian class the other day. He says others are available at the Pacific County Historical Society in South Bend, free of charge! Getting one would be well-worth the trip, so hurry while they last! Your winter reading entertainment will be assured.

One of the Pleasures…

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
Ruth Dixon

Ruth Dixon

I’ve sung the praises of the Sou’wester many times over the years. When I’m getting background information on almost any aspect of Pacific County history, I search its pages first. Begun in 1966 by Ruth Dixon, the magazine was, for many years, published quarterly (now semi-annually) and is one of the membership perks for joining the Pacific County Historical Society. Current and back issues are also available at the PCHS Museum in South Bend.

Besides being a fabulous source for local history, the Sou’wester is just flat out fun to read. Pick up any issue, the older the better, and you are in for an hour or more of fun. One of my favorite parts, particularly of the early magazines, are the “fillers” – those little bits of (often) unrelated information that filled in a blank space here or there. I give you just a taste here.

In the Spring 1967 issue: With Her Flag At Half Mast and Cannon Ball Ballast – The sloop MARY HOBSON rushed news of Lincoln’s assassination from Astoria to Oysterville. Built in 1861 at Cape Disappointment, she was also known as the MARY H. Transportation of goods and passengers being her usual duty, she was ballasted for this trip with pig iron bearing the stamp of the Oregon Iron Works of Oswego, and with cannon balls. The ballast was put overboard and the sloop loaded with oysters for the return trip.                                                                                                                            -Charles Nelson.

Sou'wester Reprocuction of Postbox Advertisement

Sou’wester Reproduction of Postbox Advertisement

In an article about the Chinook post office, the Summer/Autumn issue ran a copy of this old advertisement from a Baltimore newspaper: SADLER PUB. CO., BALTIMORE, MD. IMPORTANT TO POSTMASTERS. The rental from boxes in Post-offices where the salary is less than $1,000 belongs to the Postmaster. They can, therefore, increase their income very materially by having their offices fitted up in an attractive manner. The money received from rentals alone will pay for a Cabinet in a few months. With this in view we would call attention to the line of POST-OFFICE CABINETS AND CASES shown on the following pages. These Cabinets are made of best material, finely finished and are furnished to Postmasters at very low prices either on cash or installment plan.

One of my all-time favorite is this bit from the Spring 1966 issue: TIDELAND CHICKENS – Rev. Wolfe of the Raymond Methodist Church has solved the problem of raising chickens on the tidelands. He has just completed a floating house for his chickens which insures a safe, dry place for them when the tide is high, while at low water they can feed outside. Rev. Wolfe did not say whether or not he had supplied his flock with tide tables.                                 -Raymond newspaper in 1908.


From McKenney’s Pacific Coast Directory 1883-1884

In the Spring 1984 issue of the Sou’wester is an excerpt from McKenny’s Directory (L .M. McKenny and Company, San Francisco) for 1886 showing that the population of Oysterville was 100 people and its leading citizens were: Alf D. Bowen – join councilman; A.M. Brown – postmaster; W .A. Carruthers – furrier and general merchandise; F.C. Davis – tannery and county treasurer; R.H. Espy – justice of the peace; Joseph A. Gill – publisher and agent for Wells Fargo Bank; M .S. Griswold – justice of the peace; P. Henselman – coroner; Mrs. Ada Hicklin – school superintendent; Benj. Hutton – county commissioner; I.S. Jones – general merchandise; W.C . Lupton – blacksmith; S.D. Stratton – proprietor of Pacific House; J.P. Pall – carpenter; N.S. Porter – district attorney; L.M. Preston – county commissioner; C.A. Reed – notary public; J.H. Turner – sheriff and assessor; J.S .M . Van Cleave – county judge; Jos. A. Whealdon – county surveyor; Geo. W. Wilson – county commissioner; A. Wirt – hotel proprietor; E.B. Wood – county recorder and auditor.

Great stuff! I highly recommend putting these wonderful magazines at the top of your reading list. Many are online or at our local Timberland Libraries.