I.A. Clark's Version of the Founding of Oysterville Surfaces

February 5, 2015 by Sydney Stevens

An excerpt from Sydney Steven's blog of February 2, 2015.

All my life I’ve heard the tale of my great-grandfather, R.H. Espy and his friend I.A. Clark arriving here by canoe on April 12, 1854 in the midst of a rainy nor’wester. Their visibility was zero and had it not been for an Indian thumping on a hollow log on shore, they likely would have missed the peninsula entirely. As it was, they are credited with the ‘Founding’ of Oysterville.

Some years ago I found a written account of that story, recorded by my grandfather in an interview with his father, R.H. The one discrepancy between this first-hand written account and the traditional oral account was the name of the Indian. I had always heard that it was Nahcati, after whom Nahcotta was named; in the written account, the Indian’s name was ‘Old Klickeas.’ And since the interview with R. H. Espy predates any of the oral or written accounts I had ever run across before (and is from the horse’s mouth, so to speak), I believe that the Old Klickeas name is the correct one.

But look, though I might, I could never find anything that Clark had written. Although I knew two of his great-granddaughters very well – Edith Olson and Lucille Wilson – their story of Oysterville’s founding differed not a bit from the one told in our family, and none of us was ever sure if it came from their forebears or ours.

So, it came as a great cause for celebration (as well as a bit of a relief) when an envelope with Clark’s version of the story turned up not long ago. Written on the envelope was:

This envelope contains a history by my father Isaac Alonozo Clark about when he and Robert Espy landed in Bruceport, Shoalwater Bay (as it was then called), and later went together to Oysterville and lied together for a while in a log house which they built in 1854. He wrote the enclosed history later in 1942. His own handwriting. If I can figure out all his writing then copy for my brother Henry when the war is over.

I.A. Clark History of Oysterville's Founding

Unfortunately, the notation is not signed, nor is the two-page letter that it contained. However, for starters, there are not many basic inconsistencies between the Clark and Espy versions of the story – only that they began their journey to Oysterville from Bruceport in the Clark version and from Astoria in the Espy version. And maybe there’s a bit of truth to both. Could they have begun in Astoria as Espy said, and stopped off at Bruceport where Clark picked up the story? I await the next installment.


Comment by Keith Cox

February 21, 2019 at 10:14 AM

Interesting to add to this, according to the SB Journal special edition printed in 1900, that perhaps R.H. Espy had a place on the Palix River prior to going to Oysterville. Palix River is definitely closer to Bruceport, and even closer to Bay Centers, but perhaps his time on the Palix River pre-dated the communities development. That being said, Goose Point as it's known today, which is where Bay Center is and where the Palix River runs out into the bay, there was an Indian village, perhapps R.H. Espy corresponded with the Indians there and got the lead about the Oysterville location??