Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The House at Jackson Gap

Whenever I show Perry Reeder a photograph and ask "whose house was that?" his reply is always, "well, what year?" After many hours of looking through Tillamook County deed records (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.
From University of Oregon microfilm collection. 
E. Mortimer Fouch, President of Western Electric Works in Portland, built the house in the summer of 1911. The photo, looking north, is from the November 1911 "Surf," a monthly newsletter published by the Potters for a short time as part of their marketing plan. Its caption and text accompanying the photo below combine to provide a detailed description of the house.

From the Oregon State Archives
 Fouch sold the place in March 1912 to Elizabeth Kerns Potter, the wife of Thomas Irving Potter, who ran Bayocean Park operations after his father Thomas Benton left for California due to health reasons in 1910. 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). 

The May 1912 "Surf," photo to the right and map below were presented as evidence in a lawsuit the Potters filed against George Breitling for non-payment of his Bayocean contract. Because the suit 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. The Potter family would have arrived at the Bayocean dock by boat and traveled south a mile and a half to their cottage, likely on the only car on the spit. 

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 Maud 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 were full-time residents living in a house on the ridge a mile north. The Hawkinsons sold it to Mignon (Mig) and Maud Ackley in May 1936. They were the last of the seven owners of this home during its short lifetime. 

Every archival institution I visited had photos contributed by the Ackley family. For obvious reasons, their photos of this house were all labeled "Ackley House." Luckily one adds "at Jackson Gap." I have no photos labeled "Jackson House," so for a long time I thought the several photos I had of it from varying perspectives were of 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 its 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. 

1938 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. Corps of Engineers 

The Ackleys  enjoyed their beach cabin for less than two years. Swan Hawkinson later told the Corps of Engineers that the house had been moved back from the cliff, though not clarifying when or by whom. On March 3rd, 1938, the Tillamook Headlight Herald reported that the Ackleys were dismantling the cabin known to old-timers as "Maudy-Carlo," explaining why I never found one called "Jackson House." The Ackleys planned to "rebuild it in part on their ranch." A fierce storm from January 3rd to 5th of 1939 blew all of Jackson Gap into Tillamook Bay. 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.