Shoalwater Bay stories, part 3


The author’s burg (image credit: Columbia River Images)

Kind of delayed, but not to worry: here’s part 3 of our mini-series, a 1913 collection of “Stories and Sketches from Pacific County“, by Isaac H. Whealdon.

Today’s installment is not a story told in Chinuk Wawa, but it’s a collection of highly valuable historical information on the early contacts between Aboriginal and Newcomer on Shoalwater Bay (Willapa Harbor), Washington.

What we read here corroborates various vivid Jargon-related anecdotes that have appeared on this website, like the one about Saul/Solomon. Use the “Search” function here to find and read more…


Historical Sketches

The first white man to permanently locate on land in Pacific County
was John E. Pickernell. He settled at the mouth of the Wallicut river,
probably about the year 1842. He has told me that the only man,
at that time, who spoke the English language with whom he met was a
negro named Saul, who was living nearly where the officers’ quarters now
stand at Fort Canby.

The first vessel to enter Shoalwater Bay for oysters was the barque
“Equity,” commanded by Captain Hansen. The ill fated brig, “Robert
Bruce,” came before Hansen with the “Equity.” She arrived at Bruce-
port December 11, 1851. Her officers consisted of: John Morgan, cap-
tain; Sam Winneat, first mate; Thomas Foster, second mate; and for
crew, Dick Hilliard, Mark Wineat, Frank Garitson and Dick Millwood.
But this vessel took out no oysters, as she was set afire by the cook, an
Italian, who escaped in the small boat and was never heard of again.
The officers and crew were taken off the burning vessel by the Indians.
They landed on the south side of North Shoalwater Bay and founded
Bruceport. The first shipment of oysters was made by Captain Morgan
and Sam Wineat in the schooner “Equity” about May 12, 1852.

Captain Weldon located at Hawks’ Point on the north side of North
Shoalwater Bay, just west of the mouth of North river, in the year 1852.
With him came Captain Crocker and V. S. Riddell. Weldon got out
and shipped to California a cargo of piling on the barque “Palus” with
himself as master of the vessel. This was the first shipment of lumber of
any kind from our county. Weldon commenced the construction of a
water mill in Smith’s creek in 1853, but this mill was never finished.

Pacific City was platted in 1851 by J. D. Holman, who
settled in 1850. E. G. Loomis and another man, whose name
has escaped me. But before the plat was made Mr. Holman had com-
pleted a fine and substantial hotel of one hundred rooms. This hotel,
however, was afterward burned by United States troops, Mr. Holman re-
ceiving indemnity from the government. E. G. Loomis, Mr. Holman,
and the other individuals built at Pacific City the first steam saw mill ever
built in Pacific County. It was afterward moved to the John Crellins
Donation Claim, near Nahcotta.

Captain James Johnson, the first Columbia river bar pilot, settled at
Whealdonsburg, that is, Ilwaco, in the year 1848 and was drowned
off the Columbia river bar by the capsizing of his pilot sloop in the year

The first court convened in Pacific County was held at Chinook in the
spring of 1853, and was presided over by Judge Monroe, a Kentuckian,
appointed by President Pierce. Court was held in Job Lamley’s dwelling
house. Job Lamley, first sheriff of our county, had the summoning of
the first jury. Many years afterward he gave me their names as he then
recalled them to his memory: John Mildrum, foreman; Henry Feister,
who was our first representative and county clerk; E. G. Loomis; William
Edwards, who was afterward murdered by Indians; Hiram Brown; John
V. Pickernell; Henry Neese and Thomas Martin. All that was done
at this term of court was that the grand jury found two true bills.

As our first representative, J. W. Cruthers was elected, but died be-
fore taking his oath of office. Then Henry Feister took the place, but fell
dead just as he was stepping up to the bar to take the oath of office.
Finally James C. Strong was elected and served his full term, thus really
making him Pacific County’s first representative in the state legislature.

The first salmon cannery in this county was built at Chinook by
Ellis, Jewett and Chambers in the year 1870, J. G. Megler joining
them in 1871.

The first salmon packed in salt was put up by Patrick J. McGowan
in 1854, and was shipped in the “Jane A. Falkenburg.” This last date
may be wrong.

What have you learned?