When, on Feb. 26, 1852, property owners of Pacific City were ordered to vacate the site immediately to make way for a military reservation within which Fort Canby would be located, James Duvall Holman, did three important things. He moved his wife Rachel and young family down the hill to his Donation Land Claim and built a house there near Baker Bay; he had a small school building constructed so that his children might begin their educations; he drew up the plat for the town of Ilwaco and submitted it to the Pacific County Courthouse.
His son, Frederick had been born in 1852 in Pacific City, the first white baby to be born in Pacific County which was then still a part of Oregon Territory. Frederick, apparently a stickler for detail, later insisted that he was not the first but the second white baby born in Pacific City, but he was the first to survive, the other child having died in infancy. Frederick also had this to say about the building known as “Holman’s School:”
“It was lonesome for my father, mother, and family living in their dwelling house, although Mr. Rufus Scudder and wife, who had resided at Pacific City, lived in a house near my father’s. Mr. John Meldrum, wife and family, who had lived at Pacific City until after its collapse, moved to their Donation Land Claim on the Wallicut river, about two miles east of our house. Miss Lincoln, who afterward married Alonzo Skinner was a governess in the family of my father, who built a school room in which she taught. Her pupils were my three older sisters and two daughters and a son of Mr. and Mrs. Meldrum. There were a few Indians and fewer white men. The latter had Indian wives and half-breed children. White settlers from Shoalwater Bay would occasionally stop on their way to and from Astoria. But my father had to live four years on his claim to perfect his rights to a donation claim for himself and my mother’s lifetime and always considered him-self a real county pioneer.”
Several other mentions of Holman’s Schoolhouse are found in early writings about Pacific County. James G. Swan wrote of the school in his 1857 history of the area, “The Northwest Coast or Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory.” It seemed that Captain James Johnson’s boys “going to school one morning, dis-covered a barrel lying near the fence at Mr. Holman’s house, and, having a great curiosity to find out the contents, adopted the very original method of knocking in one of the heads with an axe lying nearby. The contents, being vinegar, were, of course, speedily swallowed up by the dry sand, over which it poured in a promiscuous manner. Holman was demanding redress from Johnson and, for his part, Johnson saw no reason to pay “for my boys’ mischief; in fact, I won’t pay a cent.” In the end, of course, he did pay, and through his recalcitrance managed to trip himself up and had to pay even a great sum that he had first calculated.
The other infamous mention of Holman’s Schoolhouse was its one time use as a meeting place for the county commissioners, giving it the distinction of being the third County Courthouse, the first being at Pacific City and the second at Chenookville. It was at Holman’s Schoolhouse that Oysterville was voted to become the county seat, a function which it served from March 1855 until February 1893 when the records were “stolen by South Bend Raiders” and taken across the Bay to that city which has served as County Seat ever since.
Both Holman’s house and his schoolhouse were still standing as recently as 1970, though the little schoolhouse had been used as a garage for some time.