Tombstone Questions For Posterity

Nov 10, 2022 | 0 comments

The Pioneer Section of the Oysterville Cemetery.

The recent interest expressed by a relatively new tombstone placed in the Oysterville Cemetery reminded me of an entry in Marie Oesting’s 1988 book, Oysterville Cemetery Sketches.  “More questions than you could shake a stick at!” my mother said at the time.  In this case, according to Marie, the graves on lot 33 are all problematical.  The Oysterville Cemetery Book records an entry for October 5, 1897, “Mrs P. Lyn purchased 1 grave for $5.”  The old linen map reads: “Collins, John Lyn.” An old list reads only “J.Lyn.”

Marie goes on to identify a J Linn, listed in the 1885 Pacific County census for the Oysterville area as John Linn, age 42, an oysterman born in Sweden.  He appears again in the 1887 census, now age 45 and a farmer.  Is this his grave?  Marie asks. But what intrigues me even more is her “report” under the heading “THE PROBLEM OF COLLINS”

W.D. Taylor House, 1969

Is the grave that of the parents of Nellie, Lizzie, John, Annie, Frank and Kate Collins?  The three youngest, all born in California, are listed in the 1883 Pacific County Census:
   Annie, age 5 staying with W.D. Taylor
   Frank, age 3 staying with W. D. Taylor
   Katie, age 2 staying with John and Anna Brown
The 1885 Pacific County census lists all 6 children, with Nellie, Lizzie, and John all born in Maine:
  Nellie, age 14,staying with Lewis A. Loomis
  Lizzie, age 11, staying with R. Carruthers John, age 10 “laborer” staying with Potter
   Annie, age 8 still with W.D. Taylor
   Frank, age 6 still with W.D. Taylor
   Katie, age 4 still with the  Browns.

There is considerably more to Marie’s entry — all leading to more questions about the children — if they were “farmed out” and why etc.  She doesn’t point out what came to my mind immediately — W.D. Taylor, a somewhat older contemporary of my grandfather, Harry Espy, was one of the Loomis Stage drivers and he and his wife, Adelaide moved about five miles north in 1886, soon beginning their hotel and restaurant which became a community focal point.

Adelaide Stewart Taylor

But before they moved from Oysterville, while Bill was driving the stage back and forth along the weather beach, Adelaide served as Oysterville’s primary midwife.  It’s not clear to me whether or not the Taylors had begun their own large family by the time they moved in 1886 to the area that would soon be known as “Ocean Park.”  That they took in two of the Collins kids doesn’t surprise me one bit.  I think they liked children.  I wonder if any of the Taylor descendents can fill in more  of the story.

All of which just goes to show — not only is the information on gravestones informative, it can also be the source of many unanswered questions!  Great fodder for historians and genealogsts!



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