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. 

Photos of Webley and Mary are from the
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum 
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 moved there from Salem with his Yamhill Indian wife Mary (Wat-Tiet ) and their four youngest children in 1867 because it reminded him of Long Island, New York, where he grew up. He filed Homestead Claim # 843. The patent was eventually granted to Mary after Webley died in 1874. 

In the fall of 1948, Jack Medcalf, a Salem artist and teacher who was a native of Tillamook, built a small cabin on Bayocean by himself and lived there through the winter. His writings of that experience are at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. Jack seemed to enjoy listening to Mrs. Mitchell talk about the Bayocean she knew back in 1907. She told him the area was then known as Barnegat, which meant "place of peace" and that "Webley Hauxhurst built his house down near the cape with a view of both the ocean and the bay through the meadows...that it was a large house, sprawling out but two story. A large fireplace was of rock mortised with clay obtained in the banks of the bay over by Pitcher Point." Nothing of the house remained in 1948. 

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.

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