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 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 goldfish 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. I learned that the two cabins had been on lots 23 and 24 in block 48. They purchased most of block 47 in September and October 1947. This was land between the cottages and Bay Street, just north of the Strowgers, who are remembered by Baycoean alumni. The Oregonian caption said the Hance brothers had built the two cabins, so Ella May Hutchinson, first owner of the lots in 1911, likely had them built soon after that, at time when 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. Buck Sherwood recalled Judge Richardson owning the house. Deed Book 74, page 244 shows Richardson purchasing the lot on October 17, 1936. Bayocean News columns of December 17, 1936, and February 25, 1937, in the Tillamook Headlight-Herald, describe Swan Hawkinson building a cabin there. Judge Richardson sold the cabin in 1945, it turned over a couple times before the Currins purchased it. The Currins lost this cabin first because was part of the spit that the ocean tore out on November 13, 1952. “Fish pond house” and its partner were at the southern end of the island that remained, but they fell within a couple months.
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.