Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle

 

April 20, 2023

Karen Bertroch

Maude Butler's painting of Chinese workers flying kites in early Cathlamet.

I've had questions from folks about miscellaneous things, so with the help of both Irene Martin's book, "Beach of Heaven," and Ruth Busse Allingham's book on Naselle, "Glimpses of the Past," here are some answers. Early settler, Andrew Rosburg, was the first postmaster of the original Rosburg post office established in 1893. Rosburg school at Johnson Park was opened in 1938. Rosburg bridge was built in 1948. Rosburg Hall was built in 1957. New Methodist Church built in Grays River in 1962. Crown Zellerbach ceased wood operations in 1986. The Deep River Appelo Store was opened in 1918 when CA Appelo (Carlton's father) borrowed $100 from his wife's Grandpa Paju, plus a wood log for fuel. In 1921, CA became a Standard Oil dealer with his gas station at Deep River. In 1934, CA Appelo bought the Ferndale Creamery in Grays River and opened a second store there. In 1940, CA bought Norman Schuler's building on the highway in Naselle. It is now owned by the Appelo Archives Center. In 1948, the Appelo family ran three stores: in Deep River (now gone), Grays River (Burned in early 2000's), and the Naselle store. In the 1950's, a radar station was established on what is known as Radar Hill in Naselle. In 1958, it became known as Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE). It ran from 1958 to 1966. In 1968, the phone company built their headquarters on Miller Point Road where they are still located. CA closed the Deep River store in 1975. I hope this information answers some of the questions I've been getting. As always, I treasure Irene Martin's book and check it often. Here's a quote I love in the Allingham book from the chapter on Katherine O'Conner Olson: "When Mother was teaching, she taught Mrs. Wirkkala English. She (Mrs. Wirkkala) was a tiny person. Fifteen children and all nice kids." Think about her workload, ladies!

Through Julia Butler Hansen's writings and her mother Maude's paintings, I realized how many Chinese workers were brought to our area. This is from Irene's book: "A group of immigrants instrumental in the early life of Wahkiakum, but who left almost without a trace, were the Chinese. They first appeared in the 1870's as butchering crews in the local canneries. Cannery operators contracted with "Chinese bosses" who recruited crews and provided their food and other necessities under terms that today would be considered exorbitant. By 1880, the census showed 551 Chinese residing in the county of whom 533 worked in the canneries." The following account by Julia Butler Hansen describes her memories of the Chinese in Cathlamet in the early 1900s: "In February each year the first contingent of Chinese arrived at the cannery to make the tin salmon cans and to this day beneath many of the old canneries there remain piles of old tin slag from the cuttings which went overboard. The Cathlamet Chinese workers lived in what was known as the "China House" which was at the foot of the hill toward town, adjacent to the cannery (on pilings out from museum-marina area today, I believe. KB). When I was a child, I can still remember the Chinese workers early in the morning coming to our woodshed with a tin bucket full of ice and that most delicious of morsels – salmon cheeks. They would stand outside the door and call, "Salmon cheeks, Missy; salmon cheeks, Missy!" and for fifteen or twenty cents, a half gallon of fresh salmon cheeks could be procured for frying for that day's breakfast or lunch. They used to go to the tideflats and dig the Indian potato known as wapatoes, as they seem very fond of this food. On their way home in the evenings they flew kites. They were great vegetable gardeners and from the very earliest days in Cathlamet many "moonlighted" by gardening for other people. "China Jim," as he was known, worked every spring for my father. Chinese were also employed in the logging camps. My Grandmother and Grandfather had a Chinese cook and a Chinese gardener there, since all produce for the camp "cookhouse" had to be raised on the farm." Samuel Williams, Eagle editor, mentioned seeing Ling, a former cook at the Skamokawa Hotel, in the messhouse at George Ashley's logging camp in 1893. The oral tradition clings to the belief that the Chinese sojourners eventually returned to their families in China, but no proof exists to confirm this supposition. All identifying traces have vanished." Hope these snippets of dates and stories increase your knowledge of your homeland in Wahkiakum and Pacific counties. The Chinese worked in, to my knowledge, all the canneries up and down the Lower Columbia. When I worked in the Haines, Alaska cannery in 1967-69 packing salmon eggs for Japanese caviar, we always had Japanese technicians to teach and monitor our work. Daily they would use red salmon cheeks for the fish soup they made. It fed all of us in the "egg house" and it was addictive.

Events:

Mondays: First Monday of the month, Naselle Library has a men's coffee gathering 10-11:30.

Tuesdays: Naselle Lutheran Church sponsors morning quilters and knitters in afternoons.

Third Tuesday: Naselle Grays River School Board meets at 6:30 in school library.

Second Wednesday of the month, Grays River Habitat Enhancement District meets at Grays River Fire Hall across from Duffy's at 5:15.

Wednesdays: AA meeting at the Grays River Grange at noon.

Wednesday, April 5-May 31: Young Children's Play Group at Naselle Library from 10-11:30.

First Thursday of the month: Grays River/Rosburg Gardening group meets at Johnson Park at 6.

First Thursday of the month: Caregiver Support Group at Naselle Library with OBH staff 1-2.

First Fridays of month: Legos Group April – May 31, 10:30-11:30 at Naselle Library.

April 23: Henry Aalto performing at the Naselle Community Center at 3 p.m.

April 27: Take your son/daughter to work day.

May 6: Saturday: Naselle Lutheran Church: Spring Festival from 10 am until 2.

May 7: Sunday, Rosburg Hall Annual Chicken Dinner 11:30 to1:30. Adults $12.50/Kids $7.

May 19: Wednesday at 4 at Naselle Library: free movie "Wings of Life."

May 20: 4-H Great White Tail Run in Skamokawa beginning at Vista Park. Register at 8:30.

May Wednesday Senior Lunches on: May 3 and 17.

CAP/Thursday Senior Lunches are located inside Rosburg Hall at noon.

 

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