Friday, October 20, 2017

Steinhilber House Slid Off Cape Meares Not Bayocean

Over a year ago, I read a retrospective article in the Tillamook Headlight Herald of November 16, 1977, looking back twenty-five years to the storm that put an end to Bayocean. The photo in the microfilm version was so bad I could not see any details, but the caption said the house sliding into the sea belonged to someone named Steinhilber. I didn't recognize the name, so I called Bayocean alumni. They didn't either. 

At the next opportunity, I looked through deed indexes at the Tillamook County Clerks' office but could find no evidence of a Steinhilber ever purchasing property in Bayocean Park. I did find that Theodore and Nannie Steinhilber had purchased part of Henry Sampson's original land claim on the north side of Cape Meares on September 14, 1898. This was long before the Potters platted Bayocean Park or any houses fell due to erosion. 

Searching Ancestry.com and online newspaper archives I discovered that Nannie was a niece of Henry and that Theodore had a land claim that eventually became part of the Lake Lytle subdivision. Friend and historian Don Best shared "Rockaway Memories," a history that his parents helped publish in 1981, which confirmed this. 

Sometime later I found a folder titled "Steinhilber" at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, but all it contained was a photo with "Mr. Steinhilber" written on the back. The 1977 article's caption attributed the photo to the museum, but I could not find it among their Bayocean photo collection. A few trips later I got a better copy of the photo itself from the original newspaper article that the Tillamook County Library was kind enough to let me view. It immediately became obvious the photo was not of Bayocean. The background looked like the north side of Cape Meares to me. I sent a copy to Perry Reeder and Mike Watkins. They both concurred. 

Realizing this made me wonder if the photo had been taken during the Cape Meares landslide of May/June 1899 that I wrote about earlier, which had nothing to do with erosion eventually caused by the north jetty. Sources I'd used then provided a drawing with buildings, but no names. So I looked through issues of the Tillamook Headlight during that period and found the progressive destruction of Steinhilber's house reported in each issue for a month. The June 1st edition said that the same weekend Mr. Steinhilber visited his place an "excursion party came from Tillamook on Sunday, and also the brass band to see the landslide." The only photographer in Tillamook at the time was Otto Heins, so the photo was likely taken by him. The photo was not published in the Headlight, but Steinhilber's name was mentioned a lot during the 1890s. He had been one of the early owners of the Headlight, served as deputy sheriff, and made a living buying and selling property. He obviously didn't have good timing on this transaction, but uncle Henry only charged them $75 and took other property in trade.

When I shared my frustration at not being able to find the photo among their Bayocean collection, Ruby Fry-Matson suggested I look through their more general photo albums. Bingo. It was in "Album 2: Places," item #500 contributed by Mr. & Mrs. Carl Hunt of Tillamook. The caption was clear to me, but the reporter had evidently not understood how Barnegat and Bayocean were related in 1977. The photo in the newspaper cropped out one of the two buildings not affected by the slide. These WERE eventually destroyed by erosion.

See the Index page to find more stories like this.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sherwood House

Photo from Lorraine Eckhardt's Bayocean album. The first and middle names of Albert 
George and Orilla Sarah Jones are reversed in many official and unofficial records.  
After the Bayocean Natatorium became unstable from ocean undercutting in 1932, it was closed permanently. A handwritten note from Howard Sherwood, Jr. (Buck) in the Cape Meares (Bayocean School) Community Center scrapbook says that George A. Jones salvaged its lumber to build a large house for himself and his wife "Rilly" on Cape Meares in 1933 and 1934. He also installed a buggy above a tall hop plant out front, rented out a few rooms, kept a few grocery items to sell picnickers, and called their place the "Buggy Knot Inn." 

Photo of the south side of the house from Cape Meares Community Center
(Bayocean School) scrapbook. People unidentified. A buggy wheel is just
barely visible on the left, which would be in the front of the house. Columns
attributed to the Bayocean Natatorium are shown extending above the roof.
Photo of Buck Sherwood from Mike Watkins, taken six years
before his death in 2005. Buck took many photos of Bayocean 
used in newspaper articles, books and on websites, like mine.  
















Testimony submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) by Jones in 1938* suggests another source of lumber for their home. He reported surveying and supervising early construction on Bayocean, from 1907 to 1909, and returning to the area in 1930. In 1932 he purchased and deconstructed the summer cabin of D.S. and Vesta Williams. Tillamook County Deed Book 32, page 535 (DB 32:535) shows they purchased lot 22 in block 67 (67:22) in 1915. Judge George Bagley and Swan Hawkinson, who also had Bayocean cottages, confirmed Jones' account in their testimony to the USACE. Hawkinson said the Williamses first tried moving their house uphill and away from the ocean. Their cottage would have been much smaller than Jones' house so he needed more lumber. 

Buck Sherwood told Mike Watkins, his boyhood neighbor and lifelong friend, that Jones built the house for less than $1000. This figure would have included what Jones paid Williams and the Tillamook-Bayocean Company who then owned the Natatorium. Why didn't Jones mention Williams to Buck (his family didn't move to Bayocean until 1938, so all of what he wrote must have come from Jones)? Perhaps it just wasn't as good a story. If Jones had realized it, he could have bragged that some of his home's lumber came from the most northerly home ever built on a Bayocean lot. The Williams cottage was near the end of the paved section of High Street, a half-mile north of the first house lost five years earlier, and 1000' north of the Mueller cabin (see the map in that post to locate these properties) moved over to the bayside five years later.  

Jones had purchased the lot (12:15) in the Oceanview Subdivision from George Higgins back in 1915. While still serving as the Cape Meares Lighthouse Keeper, Higgins took advantage of Bayocean publicity by developing and advertising his lots in Tillamook newspapers (the Potters advertised in big city papers) as a lower priced alternative. Jones and his wife bought eight adjacent lots (7-12 and 16 -17) during the 1930s. Buck said his family moved into the house in 1940. The deed for Howard (Sr.) and Maude Sherwood's purchase of all nine lots was not recorded until 1948 (DB 116:269) so they likely bought them on contract. Members of the family continued living there until 1990, which is why neighbors still refer to it as the "Sherwood House."

See the Index page to find more stories like this. 

* From USACE records at the Seattle branch of the National Archives: POR-81; Civil Works Project Files, 1902-1968; Box 175; File 7250 Bayocean Preliminary Exams & Surveys.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Moving It Didn't Save Mueller's Cabin


 Lorraine Eckhart's Bayocean album includes this photo with notes added by Buck SherwoodThe Notdurft cottage at the top
 was the last house to fall. The "Rainbow House" in the middle was deconstructed by Lewis and Hilda BennettTheir garage 
was the last structure to go, in 1971.
When the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) built the breakwater that reconnected Bayocean spit to the mainland in 1956, they also bulldozed and burned all but three of the buildings still standing, and then backfilled the entire area with sand dredged from the bay to add elevation and avoid future breaches. The house in the photo with its basement filled with sand and labeled "Mueller place" had been moved there from the northern ridgeline a couple decades earlier - to escape erosion. 

According to Tillamook County Deed Book 67, pages 280-281 (DB 67:280-281), Conrad and Elvira Mueller purchased lot 52 in block 67 (67:52) on June 11, 1932. This was on the ocean side of High Street, about 3/8 of a mile north of the Poulsen (later Hicks/Dolan) houses, directly across from the first Bayocean house owned by Judge George Bagley, at lot 62:A (he also owned adjacent lots 13-16). 

Testimony submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1938 by Judge Bagley (POR-81; Civil Works Project Files, 1902-1968; Box 175; File 7250 Bayocean Preliminary Exams & Surveys. Seattle NARA) said that a newer house across the street from his had been moved down to the bay just the year before (1937) in order to avoid the threat of erosion. Bagley and others mention two other houses in the same block that were deconstructed instead of moved. The Muellers likely chose to move theirs because they had just built it (one can only imagine that the rate of erosion had suddenly increased). 

D.C. Baker built a basement and placed the house for the Muellers on a lot they purchased June 7, 1937, at 57:29 (DB 74:89). "Bayocean News" columns in the Tillamook Headlight Herald gave periodic updates during the summer and fall of 1937, talked about Baker having been an early manager of Cottage Park, and declared on October 7th that the house was "practically ready for occupancy again, after being moved from the hill to a location near the [Rainbow] Girl's Club building." They later purchased adjacent lots 30 and 31 at foreclosure sales. 
Section of original Bayocean plat map from Tillamook County Surveyor's office. Mueller locations are colored green,
as is the route their house would have taken. Bagley lots are in orange. Other landmarks are purple. 
The Muellers called their cabin on the bay "Huckleberry Inn" and traveled from their home in Portland to stay there frequently. A sketch on page 81 of Bayocean: The Oregon Town That Fell Into The Sea refers to Conrad as "Horse." This is interesting given his WW II draft card lists his height at just 5'5". Censuses and directories indicate Mueller was a building contractor, so perhaps great strength earned him the nickname (sources were viewed at Ancestry.com).  

On May 8, 1945 (DB 90:607-608) the Muellers sold their cabin. By the time Perry Reeder's family rented it in 1947 subsequent owners had hung a sign on the front porch renaming it the "Dew Drop Inn." Perry recalls the vine roses clinging to a fence that ran the perimeter of the property and made good use of the large chicken coop in the back. 

The last owners of the house were the Currins, who purchased it June 25, 1952 (DB 134:90-91), just five months before the entire southern part of Bayocean was blown out by a winter storm. This was the fourth house lost by the Currins on Bayocean. If they reasoned that "this would have to be one of the last houses to go" when they bought it they would have been right - but it did go. 

See the Index page for other posts listed by category. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Barnegat Before Bayocean

When T.B. Potter created Bayocean Park in 1907 (see The Bayocean Story In Brief) he imagined it becoming a Pacific Coast version of Atlantic City. As it turns out, Potter wasn't the first person to be reminded of east coast beaches by the spit. 


Webley Hauxhurst was the first white settler on the mainland section of Bayocean Park, now known as Cape Meares.  The  Dictionary of Oregon  History says Webley brought his Yamhill Indian wife Mary and four younger children (eight were adults by then) with him from Salem in 1867 and purchased a squatter's claim. He filed Homestead Claim # 843, but it was eventually granted to Mary because Webley died in 1874. A 1996 calendar dedicated to Bayocean by the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum (TCPM) said Webley was attracted to Bayocean because it reminded him of Long Island, New York, where he grew up. Webley's photo is from the calendar. Mary's photo is from Ruby Fry-Matson, the TCPM archivist, who also let me know that Mary's Indian name was Wat-Tiet.

A.B.Hallock: OrHi 9824
Oregon Historical Society
A.B Hallock, a prominent Portlander, started visiting the spit the same year Webley died according to biographical notes in the Absolom Hallock papers (Mss 92) at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. He retired there at the end of 1880 and filed Homestead Claim # 2517, which included most of the land where buildings would eventually be constructed in Bayocean Park. Hallock built a cabin at the south end of his claim, on the bay side of the spit. He reported "Ben Hoxie" herding cattle past his place on a regular basis and seemed fond of Mary who he visited regularly. Journal entries in Mss 92 indicate neighbors were getting their mail at Hallock's cabin by 1890, which he'd pick up them on occasional trips to Hoquarton (later named Lincoln, finally Tillamook). The June 12, 1891Tillamook Headlight announced: "Capt. Hallock has received his commission as postmaster at Barnegat." On August 27 they reported that Barnegat locals were paying George Handley (grandson of Daniel Bayley who founded Garibaldi) to deliver the mail each Monday until the U.S. Postal Service established a contract. 


Homestead Land Claim map pre-Bayocean, scribbles by author
In Oregon Geographic Names Lewis A. McArthur discredited firsthand reports that Hallock had named the post office after a childhood home on New Jersey's Barnegat Bay because he found no mention of this in Hallock's journal. He attributed the naming to Thomas Sutherland who claimed to have dubbed the alcove nearby as Barnegat Bay prior to Hallock's arrival. However, all newspaper referenced to the area called it "the spit" until the post office was established.  

When Hallock died in 1892 his duties were transferred to Mrs. Bert Biggs according to McArthur, who noted that she was one of Webley Hauxhurst's daughter. Bigg's Homestead Claim # 3471 surrounded Pitcher Point, explaining why the coordinates provided by Sateliteviews.net and other websites refer to that location. The name of the post office was changed to Bayocean in 1909, but the 1910 Federal Census still used Barnegat to identify the precinct. 

To find stories about the earlier use of the spit by Tillamook Indians, and its exploration by earlier white men, see the Index page.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Crabapple Park

All the Bayocean streets and buildings that survived the breaching of November 1952, and subsequent erosion, were buried by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1956. Along with the construction of the breakwater that reconnected Bayocean Island to Cape Meares, this was designed to prevent future gaps from occurring. 

Thanks to excavation by Perry Reeder and his family, fans of Bayocean can now view a small section of sidewalk on the west side of High Street just north of where it joined 12th Avenue. In my photo to the left, the sidewalk is the horizontal strip, aligned north/south. High Terrace (which Bayocean alumni will remember as High Street) is the semicircle just below it, which is east. This spot straddles lots A and 2 (vacated to connect High Terrace directly with 12th) in block 55 of Bayocean Park (see plat map below). Walter and Betty Locke lived right across the street in lot 4. They managed the cottages distributed along the west side of High Terrace. 

When I asked Perry how he found the spot to dig, he said he used a couple (70-year-old) crabapple trees for guidance. I was surprised and pleased to learn of fauna that had survived the wrath of the sea in this southern section of Bayocean. I'd not noticed them before but found them on my next trip. They're nestled in the lee of the high point, south of the trail to the beach from the town site sign. Using Coast Atlas and adjusting for known discrepancies in tax lot overlays, my best estimate is that the trees are in lot 39 of block 54, perhaps extending into lot 38.  Perry said he never met the owners. No houses were ever built along the south side of 12th Avenue, so it remained park like. 

Deed records show lot 39 was owned by Gerald and Nellie Reeher during Perry's era, and lot 38 was owned by Martin and Jeanette Nelson. The Reehers eventually lost their lot to the county, but the Nelsons' son Donald is still on record owning theirs. Gerald and Nellie Reeher moved to Tillamook in 1922 and started Reeher Furniture. They moved to Salem in 1935 according to the September 24, 1935, Statesman Journal. They must have become close friends with Francis and Ida Mitchell while in Tillamook because the Tillamook Headlight-Herald reported them giving Francis a ride (from the Oregon State Hospital in Salem) to Ida's funeral in 1953. And when Francis died in 1965, Nellie purchased a joint cemetery lot for them. It's nice to know Francis had friends who visited him during his 12 years at the hospital. 


All of this is just west of the Bayocean town site sign put up by the Reeders. Follow the trail to the ocean from and watch for a trail to the right (north) and a driftwood fence enclosure. If you don't know how to get to the town site sign, it's a little trickier because trails to it twist and turn and guide posts tend to disappear. As you walk north on Dike Road from the parking lot, look for the highest point on the dune ridge to the west. Then watch for the next well-worn trail to the beach north of that point. Take the next well-worn trail south and it will take you to the town site sign, just northeast of that high point. GPS coordinates recorded by my smartphone when I took the photo are 45.527324  -123.952463. If you find the hole, be very careful as you approach it. The barrier is flimsy and sand is - of course - unstable. Certainly, do not go down into it.

Find other posts in this and other categories on the Index page.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Farley Reset


In Stand Under Bayocean Hotel Annex's Chimney I used datasheets for two survey control stations on Bayocean that no longer exist in order to pinpoint where the Bayocean Hotel and the Bayside Inn had been located on today’s landscape. Three other stations have also disappeared. Only one station, maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, remains. The Farley Reset datasheet says it was first established in 1935. Like Bayocean's initial point, the original monument has been replaced with a  bronze disc. But it still has historical significance, so I wanted to find it. On October 30, 2016 my bushwhacking buddy Eleanor Culhane joined me in the search.

Following datasheet directions we hiked 2.5 miles north from the gate at the Bayocean parking lot, and then west on a game trail to the top of a high dune just a few hundred feet away. In 1975 the dune was still described as being covered with short vegetation. Now the trees and brush are so thick that I’d hiked past it many times without knowing it was there. When Eleanor found Reference Mark No. 3 (another bronze disc) near the end of the trail at the top, we knew we were close. We had to do a little bushwhacking, but nothing like that required to reach Bayocean’s highest point. An orange, plastic witness post stood out from the greenery, but that was different than described in the last datasheet update, and the station disc was not two feet east of it, so that threw us off for a bit. But after clearing a circle all the way around the the post we found the disc two feet north of it.

Why was it there? David Moore, a surveyor from Albany, Oregon, said stations like this were set up all along the coast, and for miles inland, after average sea levels were determined in 1927. They were used by land surveyors to calibrate their equipment for elevation, after checking for updates. Though latitude and longitude were added to the datasheets, surveyors used other monuments to calibrate for that. This dune was an obvious choice for a station because it was high and stable. A hydro signal originally placed next to it must have have been visible from Tillamook Bay before trees obstructed its view. 

"Farley house in Barview before the Jetty" Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, 82.254.R. 
Why the name Farley? It must have been to honor Captain Robert Farley, who was in charge of the first Coast Guard Lifesaving Station at Tillamook Bay from its beginning in 1908 until his retirement in 1935, when the station was named. Ironically, Captain Farley’s own home at Barview was a casualty of coastal erosion prior to the first jetty being constructed.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Four Currin Cabins

The photos below were taken by Carl Schonbrod (Dorian Studies, Tillamook, OR) during the week prior to January 24, 1953, when a photo similar to the one on the right appeared in the Oregonian, with just a caption saying the cabin and its furnishings had since slid into the ocean. I wanted to know where the cabin started its journey and who owned it. 

Contact photos provided by John Chaix, friend of the Schonbrods. 
After chasing leads nowhere for months, I sent the photo to Perry Reeder. He recognized the house as one of two little cabins sitting next to each other uphill and to the northwest from the Strowgers on Bay Street, who Bayocean alumni will likely remember. Perry didn’t know the owners of the house. He and his buddies just called it the “fish pond house” because it had a manmade pond with some gold fish in it.

Perry’s description best fit block 48 on the Bayocean plat map. I noticed that property taxes on the 1958 Tillamook Circuit Court foreclosure proceedings were much higher for lots 23 and 24 than others in the area. These lots were owned by H. W. and Laura E. Currin. I found a 1919 photo of Harvy William and Laura Estella Currin’s family at Find-A-Grave provided by their niece, Anna Dunlap, and a biography written by one of their daughters, Ruth Currin Spaniol. After Dunlap confirmed that the Currins had lost a cabin on Bayocean, I read Spaniol's biography Over the die-or-do: a story of a marriage at the Oregon Historical Society.

1919 Currin family photo, from niece/cousin Anna Dunlap.
Harvy Currin’s ancestors arrived in Oregon as pioneers in 1845 and settled at Currinsville, just north of Estacada. By the 1940s Harvy and Laura had a thriving real estate business in Hillsboro. They knew houses had been washing away for decades on Bayocean, but in 1945 decided to take a chance on “two little houses sitting side by side…they and all their family could have at least $600 worth of fun there before those houses, too, were washed away.” Even grandchildren helped fix up the cabins, including painting Dutch designs on shutters, which they recognized eight years later in the Oregonian photo. In 1949, seeing the ocean approaching their hilltop cabins, the Currins bought another house further south.

Next I searched Tillamook County deed book indexes and discovered that the Currins bought a lot more property on Bayocean than mentioned in their biography. In addition to cabin lots 23 and 24 in block 48, they purchased most of block 47, which was between them and Bay Street, just north of the Strowgers. The Oregonian caption said the Hance brother had built the cabin, so Ella May Hutchinson, first owner of the lots in 1911, likely had them built soon after that, while the Hance brothers were active on Bayocean. W.B. and Esther Combs were later co-owners. Together they sold the cabins to Will and Mary Stacey in 1932, who then sold them to Currins.

The house Currins purchased in 1949 was on lot 33 of block 44. In his papers, Buck Sherwood said Judge Richardson owned the house, so I’m guessing that's the name that living Bayocean alumni will know it by as well. However, John and Carrie Fosdick sold it to the Currins, and James McDrea and A. M. Crawford also owned it after Richardson. The Currins actually lost this cabin first, when the ocean ripped out the southern section of Bayocean on November 13, 1952. “Fish pond house” and its partner were at the southern end of the island that remained. They fell within a couple months.

What most surprised me is that on June 25, 1952, the Currins bought lots 29-31 of block 57. The house on lot 29 may be remembered as Mueller’s by Bayocean alumni, but Frank and Rose Dordan, John and Ethel Scott, and Edwin and Jean Jenkins owned it after them. This Currin house was half filled with sand when the US Army Corps of Engineers built the dike that sealed the gap in 1956, one of just three houses left standing. The last of these, belonging to the Notdurfts, fell in 1960. 

In 1957 the Currins bought a lot in Garibaldi but sold it just four years later, not long before Harvy's death. Tillamook County deed books show the property passing through many hands over the decades since then. The current tax lot number eluded me but Wendy Schink, Tillamook County Cartographer, quickly determined it was 21BD02200. This .86 acre lot climbs the hill behind Garibaldi and the home there has a great view of Bayocean. The Currins would have loved it. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

T. B. Potter's Success Before Bayocean


Photo of Thomas Benton Potter, from 
Dobbins-Duff  family Tree at Ancestry.com.
The 1900 U.S. Census shows T. B. (Thomas Benton) Potter working as an advertising agent, and his family living as boarders in a household of ten, at 232 S. Hill Street in Los Angles, California. A year later they were living at 418 Eugene in Portland, Oregon, and Potter had formed a real estate partnership with H.L. Chapin, with offices at 246 Stark (1901 and 1903 R. L. Polk Portland City Directories via Ancestry.com). Burt and Margie Webber say Potter amassed a fortune from 1902-1906 developing subdivisions in Kansas City, Missouri, Portland, Oregon, and Half Moon Bay, California (Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea, Appendix D). He lost most of his fortune chasing a dream at Bayocean, but neighborhoods and buildings give tribute to his earlier success to this day, several of them named after his daughter, Arleta Natalia Potter. 
I was surprised to discover that Sail (Multnomah County’s GIS system) lists not just one, but four Alberta Parks. The first was platted in NE Portland in 1902. Alberta Parks No. 2, 3, and 4 were platted in 1903 and 1904 in SE Portland. Neither Potter or Chapin are listed as original owners, but Potter & Chapin are shown as sales agents in newspaper ads. City directories show that they were in the same office as William Grindstaff, a realtor who owned and platted the first Arleta Park. Multnomah County deed records show an Arleta Land Company purchasing and selling all four of the Arleta Parks, plus three additional subdivisions: Lester Park, Ina Park, and Elberta in NE Portland. Incorporation papers at the Oregon State Archives list the stockholders of the Arleta Land Company as Potter, Chapin, and their wives. 

Arleta Park No. 3 is the only subdivision located within the Mt. Scott –Arleta Neighborhood, and it makes up just a very small part of it. The reason its name was attached to the larger neighborhood is that Arleta quickly became a community of its own, with its own Arleta School, post office,  and library, all named after it. Grocery stores and other retail stores made it a retail hub. Potter and Chapin likely chose the location because it was midway between downtown Portland and Lents on the Mt. Scott Trolley. The lots were cheap relative to downtown, so working families could afford to buy them, build a home, and catch the trolley to work each day. 

A. Natalia (Potter) Dobbins,
from Dobbins-Duff Family
Tree at Ancestry.com
In 1906 T. B. Potter developed another Arleta Park at Half Moon Bay on his own (as well as another subdivision called Reis, per California newspaper ads). He likely saw the potential of this area becoming a suburb of San Francisco by way of the Ocean Shore Railroad, which reached there in October, 1908. Local history buffs indicate (via Wikipedia) that there was an Arleta Station at Railroad Avenue and Poplar Street that is now used as a residence. 

Webbers suggest that Arleta started going by Natalie as an adult because she didn’t appreciate her father naming subdivisions after her. One can just imagine schoolmates kidding her about having an entire community in Portland named after her. She must have got her point across, because nothing in Bayocean Park bore her name. However, Arleta was the last Potter to own any property on Bayocean. She stopped paying taxes on lot 81 in block 39 only after an ocean storm destroyed it in 1952.

Between the Arleta Parks in Oregon and California, T. B. Potter developed Marlborough Heights Addition in Kansas City. Francis and Ida Mitchell, who always claimed to have bought the first Bayocean lot, were from Kansas City (1900 US Census). Dr. G. W. Rice, who bought the Mitchell's store in 1914, but lost it to Tillamook County Bank just a year later, was from Jackson County, where Kansas City is located (Torrens Registry Certificate # 386, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum). So were many others listed in Bayocean Park deed records at the Tillamook County Clerk's office. As late as 1911, the Kansas City directory (via Ancestry.com) shows an office for T. B. Potter Realty Co. at 416 R A Long Bldg. They may have had a Bayocean sales office there as they did elsewhere across the U.S.   

Potter and Chapin had no problem selling Bayocean lots. They went fast. But building and running a resort requires a completely different skill set, and the railroad to Tillamook took three years longer than projected to finally get there. The hectic schedule and stress may have been what caused Potter's health to fail. In 1910 he retreated to his home in California, where he died in 1916. By then, his son Thomas Irving, and wife had lost control of Bayocean to a court receivership. Two succeeding ownership groups couldn't make a financial go of it either. The Bayocean dream failed financially long before the ocean washed it away. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

William George Owned Mitchell's General Store

The store operated by Francis and Ida Mitchell was the heart of Bayocean for most of its existence. It stood on the southwest corner 12th Avenue and Bay Street, which was the central intersection. The Bayside Hotel stood on the southeast corner of that intersection. To get to the natatorium on the ocean beach, you'd travel west on 12th. And to get up to the Bayocean Hotel you'd veer off 12th onto Laurel Street. In the 1940s, the children of Bayocean would hang out at the store and catch the bus across the street. Everyone assumed the Mitchells owned the store. But they didn't. From 1917 on it belonged to William George. 


Photo of the Mitchells in front of their store; Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. 
Tillamook County Deed Book (DB) 21, pages 219-220, show the Mitchells purchasing lot 44 in block 54 of Bayocean Park (the store's legal description) on June 23, 1911 from the T.B. Potter Realty Company for $450. Tillamook County Mortgage Book (MB) U, page 114, shows the Mitchells taking out a loan for $500 from the Tillamook County Bank just a couple weeks later - on July 5th, 1911. On February 3, 1913 (MB U:413) the Mitchells took out a another loan for $1200 which paid off the first loan. They agreed to keep $1000 insurance on the store they'd built.

On August 6, 1914 the Mitchells sold their property to G.W. Rice of Jackson County, Missouri, for $2000 cash. Rice also agreed to pay off their loan (DB 28:268) but did not. The Tillamook County Bank foreclosed on Rice and the Mitchells June 21, 1915, and bought the property back at auction two months later for $1461.85 (including accrued interest at 8% and fees; Circuit Court case 1633; DB 35:187). The bank then sold the property to William George on June 6, 1917 for $1374.30 (DB 36:2). George maintained ownership until Tillamook County foreclosed on the property for non-payment of taxes June 19, 1958 (DB 166:579). Two years earlier the store ruins had been burned and buried by contractors who built the dike that sealed the gap created by a 1952 storm

The 1915 foreclosure and auction notices were published in the Tillamook Headlight, but if anyone noticed that the Mitchells no longer owned their store, they must have kept it to themselves. 

So who was William George? Neither the deed book nor tax foreclosure show a middle name or home town for George. The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum has file folders for families with the last name George, but none mention a William. A mystery that will continue for now.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sandbags Couldn't Save E.H. Roberts' House


This iconic photo is attributed to Ben Maxwell at the Salem Library. 
Their date of 1947 cannot be correct. The copy in Ed Culp's 
album in Lorraine  Eckhardt's collection gives the date as 1938, 
would have been before it was moved back. 
When Tom Olsen of  Anchor Pictures shared his video on the history of the Port of Garibaldi last year, he told me of a video on Bayocean he'd produced twenty years ago. He recently found it, digitized it (the original was shot on Hi-8) and uploaded it to Vimeo for all to view. What a treasure. It tells the story of one of the houses that were lost to the sea, using an interview with Nancy Lee Goldberg and photos provided by Betty Lou Roberts. Tom had not been told who owned the house, or the women's relationship; but I had to know. 

Betty's last name was the key clue. I had previously identified E.H. Roberts as the owner of the house shown on the right, by way of captions on photos of the same house in an Oregonian story February 19, 1939 and a 1940 Army Corps of Engineers report. Ancestry.com records show Betty having been the daughter of Evan Harry and Sylvana Huddleston Roberts, anhd that she died in 2002. Nancy was her cousin, daughter of Winbert Huddleston, Sylvana's brother. Nancy refers to "Harry" in the video, and the woman she describes gathering items while the house hangs precariously on the edge must have been Sylvana. Pat Patterson told me he helped the Robertsons remove items from the house before it fell. Unfortunately, Nancy died May 10, 2016 - before I could interview her. 

Tillamook County deed records show E.H. Roberts bought the house in 1919, from the estate of W.J. Clemens, a Portland insurance man. He had bought the house 1912 from the Potters. They owned most of the surrounding lots at this early stage. This was in Block 39, just north of Jackson Gap in Block 38. 

"Westview" (as the Roberts called their summer home) was moved back from the edge in 1940, after storms first breached Bayocean; but the sand kept giving way, and by early 1945 the house was again in danger. Near the end of February that year, the Roberts finally gave up and sold it for salvage to the Strube and Barry familiesIt was so large that each family planned to build a house for themselves from the materials salvaged (with eleven rooms it must have rivaled the three Poulsen houses). After just a couple weeks of deconstruction - on March 13 - the house crashed into the sea. Beachcombers got what they could before continuing storms washed the rest away. (Oregonian 3.19; Tillamook Headlight Herald 3.15 and 3.22). 

E.H. Roberts was the President of the Roberts Brothers department store, located at SW Morrison and 3rd in Portland. His father Thomas had founded it fifty years earlier, and his sons Richard and William (Betty's brothers) carried on the family tradition. (Oregonian 10.18.1952). In Tom's video, Nancy identifies the boy in the photo to the left as Dick. He's lifting driftwood up from the beach below, for use as firewood, using a winch they rigged up for that purpose. 

Nancy makes an interesting point: that summers at Bayocean were wonderful for kids but hard on their mothers. These women left behind all the conveniences, social life, and cultural activities of city life, for the relative isolation of a spit that could only be reached by boat for three months each year. Their husbands could bring a few thing with them when they took the train to visit on long weekends, but mostly they were stuck with whatever provisions the Mitchells offered in their little store. They must have been dedicated mothers!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Southern Pacific Railroad Brochures

Sue Bagley Barr recently sent me three brochures, produced by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1913, 1914, and 1915, that promote travel by rail to visit the beaches of Tillamook County. Interior pages are full of wonderful historic photos. Front covers show bathing beauties in period fashion and Sue's skill at digital restoration. She was kind enough to let me share the brochures with readers. You can download them here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The First House To Go


After figuring out the last house on Bayocean Spit to fall into the ocean, I began to wonder which was the first to succumb. The first clues arrived last month when I acquired a copy of the "Report on Beach Erosion Studies, Tillamook Bay, Oregon, With Reference To Bay Ocean [sic]", published by the US Army Corps of Engineers on August 26, 1940. On page 49 it says, "A total of 11 houses, 3 during the last winter, have either been wrecked or had to be moved since 1927..." The appendix included photos, including the on the right. The caption read, "About 1928 - Looking north from the top of dune midpoint of spit. House in lower left destroyed by a storm the following winter." The Corps doesn't attribute the photo, but the perspective is very similar to one in the Donald Burkhart Collection at the Oregon Historical Society (Org Lot 371) dated August 19, 1928.


The Corps photo reminded me of one I'd been trying to identify for a long time.  It's labeled "Ackley 53" in Lorraine Eckhart's collection. A note on it says "home of M. Burns lots 6-7-8 block 61." This location matches the description in the Corps photo caption. The Burns house was built right on the beach, like the natatorium: one just north, the other just south, of the Bayocean Hotel. Both were early casualties of the north jetty being constructed without a south jetty to match. Though similar in style, there are differences between the photos. The house in the Corps photo has a chimney, roof dormer, and side room not in Ackley's (this would have been Mig, who took many of the earliest ones). But the latter was obviously taken during construction, so could have been modified before completion or remodeled later. The other possibility is that the Burns house was close to the house in the Corps photo but swept to sea before the photo was taken.  


Next I looked at the Tillamook County deed books. They show that Mrs. Alberta M. Burns purchased lots 6-8 in block 61 on December 15, 1917, but lost them to foreclosure in 1936, having stopped paying taxes in 1928. The timing suggests the house was destroyed before tax bills were sent out in the fall of 1928, but it could be that the house was a lost cause by 1927 but didn't actually disappear until 1929. In any case, if they are not the same house, Burns' went first. 

Census records from Ancestry.com show that Alberta lived with her husband Elmer G. Burns and son Elbert in Portland. Elmer was a machinist, and did well enough to have his own shop in 1920; but they were likely not as wealthy as the Poulsens and others who built more extravagant summer homes on Bayocean. This may be why there was no media coverage of their home's demise. Or maybe no one knew it happened until much later. The Webbers said (Bayocean: The Oregon Town That Fell Into The Sea, p.78), "in at least one instance, a distant owner arrived on the spit to spend the summer but he couldn't find his house." In any case, I'm sure Alberta, Elmer, and Elbert loved their little cabin on the beach, and hated to loose it as much as anyone, perhaps more.  By 1930 they had moved to California and Elmer was working in a steel plant in Los Angeles County. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The House at Jackson Gap

Whenever I show Perry Reeder a photograph and ask "who's house was that?" his first reply is always, "well, what year?" After many hours of looking through Tillamook County deed books (the source of most information in this post), I know what he means: the houses on Bayocean changed hands regularly. A great example is the house at Jackson Gap.
Photo and caption from November 1911 Surf newsletter in University of Oregon microfilm collection 
E. Mortimer Fouch built the house in the summer of 1911. Like Johan Poulsen, and many other early adopters of Bayocean, Fouch was a successful Portland businessman, President of Western Electric Works. The photo, looking north, is from the the Surf , a monthly newsletter published by the Potters for a short time as part of their marketing plan. The caption provides a detailed description.

Fouch sold the house in March 1912 to Elizabeth Kerns Potter, the wife of Thomas Irving Potter, who was the principal manager of Bayocean Park. Fouch and Potter must have been close, because in 1915 Fouch was named as a Potter representative on a committee set up to guide Bayocean Park development through receivership by the Multnomah County Circuit Court (Judgement #35700A). 


This photo was presented as evidence in a lawsuit the Potters filed against George Breitling for non-payment of his Bayocean contract (because it eventually became Oregon Supreme Court Case #8739 wonderful archival records like this photo have been preserved). Taken in 1914, the view is uphill and southwest from Bay Street, which had been cleared of top soil. It never would be paved with concrete like other roads on Bayocean, and no road of any kind reached Tillamook until 1926. The Potter family would have arrived at the Bayocean dock by boat and then traveled south a mile and a half to their cottage.  



Map from Potter vs. Breitling. The house at Jackson Gap was on lots 14 and 15
 of block 38, northwest of Bayocean School, on the main route to Bayocean center
In 1918, Elizabeth Potter sold the house to Carl and Maude Jackson. The Jacksons owned it for a combined total of 14 years, the longest of any owner, explaining why the eventual gap was named for them. For a few months in 1928, the Jacksons lost ownership to Henry and Ava Shofner, Carl's nephew and his wife, who paid delinquent taxes and then returned it.  According to records on Ancestry.com, Carl Jackson died in 1933. He was likely failing in health when Maude alone signed the deed transferring the property to Bertha and George Joseph in October 1932. The Josephs only kept ownership a month, selling it in November 1932 to Swan and Othelia Hawkinson. The Hawkinsons had long been full time residents of Bayocean and had a house on the higher ridge a mile north. The Hawkinsons sold it to Mignon (Mig) and Maud Ackley in May 1936. They would be the last of the seven owners of this home during its short lifetime. 

Every archival institution I've visited has photos contributed by the Ackley family. For obvious reasons, their photos of this house are all labeled "Ackley House." (Luckily one adds "at Jackson Gap"; I have no photos labeled "Jackson House"; for months I thought several photos I had of it were different houses; lot numbers from deeds, photos comparisons, captions, newspaper articles, and other stories eventually brought it all together). As an auto dealer in Tillamook, Mig had been interested in Bayocean Park since it's inception, fortunately taking photos throughout the years. He was among the group of Tillamook businessmen who formed the Tillamook-Bayocean Company in 1926 that took over from the Bayocean receivers. 


Buck Sherwood photo, from his niece Bonnie Reddekopp Lawrence
Jackson Gap on January 5, 1939. Photo looking out to the ocean, from
"Report on Beach Erosion Studies Tillamook Bay, Oregon With Reference
to Bay Ocean [sic]".  August 26, 1940. Army Corps of Engineers 




The Ackleys were only to enjoy their beach cabin for three years. It was destroyed by a storm that hit the Tillamook Coast January 3,4, and 5th of 1939. Based on a photo taken by Buck Sherwood, some time after his family moved there in 1938, beach erosion had been a problem earlier; but this storm was so bad that the Tillamook Headlight Herald reported ten railroad workers at Barview being swept out to sea (all survived) and tracks being thrown 60' to the other side of Highway 101. By the end of January, three more Bayocean homes were destroyed. Mig and Maude Ackley's son Walter was a teenager at the time. He would later become mayor of Tillamook. In the Oregonian  of August 27, 1984, he spoke fondly of the few childhood summers spent there. Losing the cottage was so devastating he never returned to the spit. The Tillamook County tax foreclosure deed is dated September 13, 1944.