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. There was no story; just a caption saying the cabin, which was built by the Hance brothers, had since slid into the ocean. I wanted to know where the cabin started its journey and who owned it.
|These contact photos were provided by John Chaix, a 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 who lived right on Bay Street. 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. The 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.
Next, I searched Tillamook County deed indexes and learned that Ella May Hutchinson, a widow, had first purchased the two lots in 1911 for $450. She transferred an adjacent portion of each lot to P.D. and Elizabeth Hance in 1914, which is when the Oregonian listed Hutchinson among new cabin owners. The cabins went through several ownership transfers before the Currins purchased them. They went on to buy most of block 47 during September and October of 1947. This was land between their cabins and Bay Street.
In 1949, seeing the ocean approaching their hilltop cabins, the Currins bought another house further south 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 it 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 on January 29, 1953, the Tillamook Headlight-Herald reported them having fallen. The paper called them the "Pratt houses," mistakenly referring to previous owners.
What most surprised me is that on June 25, 1952, just a few months before Bayocean became an island, 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 by the US Army Corps of Engineers when they built the dike that sealed the gap in 1956. It was one of just three houses they 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 records 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.
October 30, 2021 update: eBay has the print version of the Schonbrod photo used in the Oregonian for sale. A note at the bottom says it was taken January 23, 1953.