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. 

1 comment:

  1. Jerry...This story is a great addition to your blog. Seeing the photo of the house sliding down the hill is a real treat having read about it in "Over the Die-or-Do". My Uncle Harvy was a very creative, adventurous person, with an easy-going personality, you can see it in the photo. Knowing this, it is not surprising he bought more than one house at Bayocean...just for the adventure of it. If I learn more I will certainly let you know...Anna