News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle
February 27, 2020
Oneida Is Gone but Not Forgotten
Oneida Road and the few residents that live there today is a visible reminder of a once thriving community that became a ghost town nearly a century ago. The Columbia River, Grays River, and Deep River were the main highways for the early settlers who settled in what was to be called Oneida. They were mainly from Sweden and Finland and they cleared the land and built their homes. As these first pioneer families, who had relatives in the east, began to flourish, it became necessary to have a school and a post office. The only way to the school and new post office was by boat.
The school was right on the edge of the west bank of Deep River with classes held only in the summer months. This school boasted of as many as 20 students in attendance. Some were able to walk to school while others had to row a boat. If the young people wanted to go to high school then they had to live with friends or relatives in Astoria so very few attended high school.
John Nelson (1851-1934), who was born in Sweden and immigrated to the United States in 1873, built a house with his wife Emma Frances Ditmars Nelson (1850-1934) in 1880. He had 240 acres on the west bank of Deep River near the mouth of the river. This would become not only his home but also the post office with him as the first and only postmaster from June 14, 1892, until it closed in 1934. He named the area Oneida after his niece, Ida Anderson, because all other names he wanted were already in use in the State of Washington. John and his wife Emma are buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Astoria in Section B, Block 75, lot 2, and grave 2.
As the 1930s and the Great Depression were wreaking havoc on the nation, Nelson was growing older, and time was running out for him and the post office. The new highways connected Cathlamet to the coast over the KM Mountain. This allowed trucks to carry the mail much faster than by boat, thus establishing the rural mail routes. Grays River, Deep River, and Rosburg post offices could all be reached by road, but the Oneida Post Office was two miles off the main highway without a county road. The Great Depression caused the price of lumber to fall to the extent that Brix Logging Company barged out their logging train. The Oneida Post Office closed, so John and Emma Nelson moved to Astoria where they passed away the following year. Gone was the riverboat George Washington, no longer bringing passengers and mail to the dock. Oneida became a ghost town gone, but not forgotten.
Rosburg Hall update
For information and rental of the Rosburg Hall please contact Frieda Footh 360-465-2574 or Sonja Kruse 360-465-2251.
Free Seed Exchange
Johnson Park is the place to be on Saturday March 21 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for the free seed exchange. If you have saved seeds from the previous two years, bring them to exchange with other gardeners. Seed envelopes will be provided, and there is no charge to participate. There is no requirement to have seeds to exchange, and all are welcome. Washington State University Master Gardeners will be on hand to give advice on seed starting and seed saving.
Seeds should be commercial seeds not over two years old or saved seeds from your own garden labeled with varieties and cultural tips and date when collected. This event is sponsored by the Grays River Grange. Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and special needs who contact Carrie Backman by two weeks prior at 25 River Street, Suite E, Cathlamet, WA, 369-795-3278, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Friends of the Naselle Timberline Library will meet 6 - 7 p.m. on March 10. We are having our election of officers. Join us and help plan library events and activities. The Friends help with funding of various library programs, children and adults. For further information call Sherry Hartline at 360 484-3877.