The Fort North of Oysterville

Jan 31, 2022 | 0 comments

I. A. Clark

The story of Fort Oysterville is one of my favorites!  I think my Uncle Willard told it best so I will give his version here.  From Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village:

By the 1850s, reports of Indian uprisings sent spasms of apprehension through Washington Territory.  Forts rose in the forests almost as fast as high-rise apartments shoot up today in Manhattan.  Even Oysterville, perhaps more to be in fashion than through true worry, organized a militia.  Grandpa was elected commander, with the rank of Major.

John Crellin, Jr. circa 1870

Finding that the available ordnance was limited to a dozen dubious jager rifles and a few shotguns, grandpa dispatched an urgent plea back east for modern weapons.  He also ordered his men to construct a fort north of the village.  It did not occur to anyone to set up a picket stockade around the fort, and for the next few weeks, the Siwashes spent much of their time at the edge of the clearing, exchanging ribald comments among themselves while the white men sweated; though for hard cash the reds did occasionally lend a hand with the filling of one log to another.

By the time the walls were in place, it was generally agreed that the Siwashes had never represented a danger.  Besides, an exceptionally good run of oyster tides was due, and not to utilize them would have been criminal negligence  So the militiamen never got around to putting a roof on the fort.  Instead, they returned to their oystering.

John Briscoe

A few months later, the weapons grandpa had ordered — rifles as good as most fired later in the Civil War — reached Oysterville.  The settlers, having  enough guns already for their hunting needs, sold the government issue to the Indians.

And that is how grandpa became a Major!

(Pictured here are some of those early fort-builders who stayed on in Oysterville, contributing to the development of early Pacific County, Washington Territory, and ultimately, to the organization of Washington State.)


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