Tucker Wachsmuth’s best guess is that his great-grandparents arrived in Oysterville in 1870. They came in time to be counted on the 1870 U. S; Census: Meinert, age 28, Day Laborer from Schlesing, Germany, and Lizzie Wachsmuth, age 20, from Ireland. Meinert had left an unhappy home situation 14 years earlier, had worked as a sailor for ten years and had then settled in San Francisco where he eventually met and married Elizabeth “Lizzie” Josephine Sullivan.
Perhaps Meinert was working for the Morgan Oyster Company which was based in both Oysterville and San Francisco. And perhaps he first came north on the company’s oyster schooner, the Louisa Morrison. In another “best guess,” Tucker believes that this area, and the Peninsula in particular, felt familiar to Meinert.
“I’ve visited the Isle of Sylt where he came from and it looks very much like it does here. It’s long and narrow, running north and south, and is surrounded by the sea. Even the vegetation is similar. I think Meinert might have felt at home here,” Tucker says.
Meinert and Lizzie’s first three children were born in Oysterville, Theodore in 1871, Harry in 1872, and Meinert (“Meiny”) in 1873. The family then returned to San Francisco for a time that great-grandson Tucker surmises was so that Meinert could earn enough money to fully establish himself in the oyster business.
By the time they came back to Oysterville in 1881, Meinert had his own oyster company and would eventually be the first grower to bring “Eastern” oysters into Shoalwater Bay. In addition to a new business, the family also brought two more children with them: Louis (who would become Tucker’s grandfather) born, in 1877, and Christina, born in 1878.
The Wachsmuths built their house on the corner of Territory Road and School Street, just east of the courthouse building and across the way from the new two-story school. It does not take much to imagine the oldest Wachsmuth boys, by then 10, 9, and 8, scurrying across to class each morning as the school bell rang, and the youngest following in their footsteps a few years later.
But could Meinert and Lizzie Wachsmuth and their children possibly have dreamed that almost 140 years later their descendants would be also be “attending” school in Oysterville, not in the two-story building and not even in the one-room school house that took its place and, actually, not quite “in” Oysterville? No, probably not. Not in their wildest dreams.