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. In 1961, Samual Dicken, head of the Oregon State University Geology Department, wrote in a report titled "Some Recent Changes of the Oregon Coast" that the Williams cottage was on a bench in the dunes about 50' above the beach and that he measured erosion at 1' per year from 1926 (when it first became noticeable) until 1932 when it jumped to 6' per year. 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. 

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 held by 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 stories. A large fireplace was of rock mortised with clay obtained in the banks of the bay over by Pitcher Point." 


Cropped from the survey map published in Cape Meares And Its Sentinel  by Clara
M. Fairfield and M. Wayne Jensen, Jr. (2000, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum)
In June 1886, US Army Corps of Engineers Captain Charles F. Powell surveyed the area near Cape Meares in preparation for building the lighthouse. He showed the "Hoxie" house about 3/4 mile north of the cape. This places it at the south edge of Bayocean Park, halfway between today's Bayocean Park Rd. and Pacific Ave about 1000' off the modern dune ridgeline. Perhaps you stand under it as you chase the retreating waves on low tide. Note Henry Sampson's house also shown. It's most likely the smaller house still standing up close to the cape in the photo in my story on the Steinhilber house sliding to the sea in 1899. 

A.B.Hallock: OrHi 9824
Oregon Historical Society
Portland builder and civic leader A.B Hallock began visiting the spit just before Webley died (Absolom Hallock papers, Mss 92, Oregon Historical Society), retired there at the end of 1880, and filed Homestead Claim # 2517, which included what would eventually become the heart of Bayocean Park. Hallock built a cabin at the south end of his claim, on the bay side of the spit, just north of what would later be called "Jackson Gap." 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 for them on occasional trips to Hoquarton (later called Lincoln, finally Tillamook). The June 12, 1891Tillamook Headlight announced: "Capt. Hallock has received his commission as postmaster at Barnegat." On August 27 they reported Barnegat locals 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 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 low lying Bayocean streets and buildings that survived the November 1952 breach and subsequent erosion were buried by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1956. Three houses at higher elevation survived initially. The last one fell in 1960. A few streets above the fill line were far enough back to not fall into the sea but were eventually buried by sand carried by the wind. 
Photo from Phyllis Locke Anderson of neighbors
hanging out at the site of the 2015 excavation 

In October 2015, Perry Reeder and his family excavated a small section of curb and pavement on the west side of High Terrace (see plat map below; Bayocean alumni knew it as High Street), a little north of 12th Avenue, just before it turned northwest and uphill. In my photo to the left, taken soon after the excavation, the curb is the horizontal strip, aligned approximately north/south. The semicircle just below and east of it is the pavement. The spot straddles lots A and 2 which was vacated to connect High Terrace directly with 12th in block 55 of Bayocean Park. Walter and Betty Locke's family lived right across the street in lot 4. During WW II, Walter (Shorty) managed the cottages distributed along the west side of High Terrace going up the hill for Portland attorney Lyman Latourette. 

When I asked Perry how he found the spot, he said he used two crabapple trees to get his bearings. I was impressed with his memory and surprised 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 photographed them on my next trip. They're nestled in the lee of the highest point south of the hills, lone sentinel to the Bayocean that once was. 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 and that 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 it and watch for a trail to the right (north) and a small driftwood fence. GPS coordinates are 45.527324  -123.952463. To get to the townsite sign, walk north from the parking lot on Dike Road and look for a post engraved "Bayocean Town Site." Follow the trail west. Look for another post on the left and take the trail south from there to the townsite sign. When I visited the excavation in September 2018, I found that sand had already filled the bottom of the hole by more than a foot - the deepest I cared to dig with my hands.

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