Editor’s Note: In this series, local historian Sydney Stevens examines the many connections among Pacific County residents — connections with one another and with the past; connections that bind us in special and unexpected ways.
By Sydney Stevens
For the Observer
Even the oldest Peninsula residents have no recollection of BGC — Before the Goulter Cows. Those cows have been a part of the Chinook landscape for well over a century. … it is all such a warm, nostalgic memory, wrote Eleanor Barrows Bower of a childhood excursion in the early 1900s. She was traveling from Chinook to Long Beach on the old IR&N narrow gauge railway. The train left early in the morning and what a day we had!… After leaving Chinook we would pick up more along the route. When we passed through the Wallicut, we could see Grandma Soames’ old abandoned farm, and the Goulter cattle grazing along the track into Ilwaco…
And still we see the Goulter cattle grazing along the highway. The Lazy Diamond Bar Ranch has been in the family for more than 150 years and is now owned by fourth generation Goulters, Sharron Goulter Mattson and Allen James “Jim” Goulter.
The first Goulters in the United States, emigrated to San Francisco from Wiltshire, England in the early 1860s. They were twin brothers John Richard (“J.R.”) and (Joseph Gabriel) Allen, born in 1841, and their younger brother Osborn. They traveled north, staying for a time in Oregon City.
By the time of the 1870 census, the twins were 30 years old and were residents of Oysterville; J.R. was listed as a farmer and Allen, an oysterman. Later that year, Osborn also arrived in Oysterville and his descendants have continued living there to this day. Allen eventually moved to Canada and, later, to New Zealand.
Most importantly to this Goulter story, however, is older twin J.R. Goulter’s 1865 purchase of the John Meldron and the Pickernell land claims on the Wallicut River. For the next 15 years J.R. would divide his time between the farm on the Wallicut and the oyster boomtown on Willapa Bay. When Irish schoolteacher Jenny Moran arrived in Oysterville in 1867 to visit the Crellins, J.R.’s next door neighbors, J.R.’s bachelor days were numbered.
Years later, Jenny would relate to her granddaughter Catherine Williams Jeffries, “He fell madly in love with me!” They were married five years later and shortly after their second child Allen James was born in Oysterville in 1880, they moved permanently to the Wallicut. In addition to his dairy farm there, J.R. continued working at other jobs and was active in community affairs.
Since 1875 he had served as secretary to the Ilwaco Steam and Navigation Co. Later he worked as purser and then supervisor for the OWR&N (Oregon Washington Railroad & Navigation Company). In addition, from 1870-1872 and, again, from 1875 to 1880, John R, served as Pacific County clerk and auditor and, in 1910, he was elected Pacific County commissioner.
It was during his term that the present-day courthouse was built on Quality Hill in South Bend and a plaque bearing his name, along with the other commissioners of the time, can be found in the courthouse lobby. J.R. was also a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge, took an active part in the Baptist church in Ilwaco and is credited for organizing the first Sunday school in Pacific County. He often said, “I’ll never go back on God almighty or the State of Washington.”
“They were both strong characters,” Catherine said of J.R. and Jenny. “Grandma was Catholic and Grandpa was hard-shelled Baptist and they were forever arguing over the Virgin Mary. I’ve seen Grandma throw a piece of stove wood as Grandpa was flying out the back door!”
In 1904, the J.R. Goulter home in Ilwaco was torn down and a larger house was built on the Wallicut — where the Wallacut [sic] River Campground (formerly KOA) is now located. The silver poplars now lining Highway 101 in that area were once in the front yard of the old home.
An enduring family story about J.R. and Jenny’s son Allen James Goulter (Allen, Sr.) recounts that he had said or done something at school and, in order to be allowed back in the classroom, he needed to apologize for his action. To reinforce the disciplinary requirement, his parents said, “Apologize or leave home.” Allen chose to leave home. It was 1892 and he was 12 years old.
Allen built himself a two-room shack on the Wallicut, near the farm’s main bunkhouse and about one mile upstream from the J. R. Goulter home. That was the beginning of the Lazy Diamond Bar Ranch. For several years, Allen went to work in the woods to earn money to buy workhorses. By 1903 he owned three work horses and had become stable boss for the lower Columbia River seining grounds. It was a job he held for the next 31 years.
His duties included hiring and firing all teamsters plus caring for the horses that worked the river. Daytime found him driving the fish wagon collecting the salmon caught by the seining crew. At the peak of the seining fishing in the 1920s, Allen owned more than 160 workhorses and rented out horses for most of the Lower Columbia seining grounds including Taylor, Cabath, Desdemona, Mehan Sands, Pillar Rock, Sand Island Camps, Elliot, Hog Back, Rooster Rock, H&B (near Stella), Peacock, Deer Island, Jim Crow and Miller Sands.
Allen met Esther Lorraine Criteser Glazer when she worked as a cook on the farm. In later years, she asked him why she got the job when he already had someone cooking for the crew, and his response was that she had cut his grocery bill in half. Dan Williams (who had the grocery store in Chinook) agreed, telling Esther he’d really lost money when she cooked for Goulter.
Despite local sentiment that Allen would forever be a bachelor, he and Esther were married in Salem, Oregon in 1918. She and her three children, Edna, Myrtle and Raymond Glazer returned with him to the Ranch. The following year their only child Allen James Goulter was born at home with Mrs. Emma Timmen attending as midwife.
For many years, the seasons at the Goulter Ranch would follow the salmon runs on the river. Every spring the workhorses would be rounded up and driven down the Wallicut River to be loaded onto barges and ferried to the to the seining ground camps. In the fall, they would be ferried home to Ilwaco, landed close to the mouth of the Wallicut, and driven home to winter on the ranch.
The winter season found Allen Sr. busy tending the workhorses and to his growing number of milk cows. In 1920, he milked 15 cows and by the late ‘20s the number had grown to 35 or 40. In the 1930s he hit a high of 160 cows and hired five milkers besides himself, Raymond, Allen Jr. and Esther.
Like his father before him, Allen was busy with many projects beyond the horses and cows on the Ranch. In 1938, he formed the North Beach Transit Company and hauled freight to Portland, soon buying out their competitor Hawkins Transfer. In the mid-1920s he went into partnership with Ed Saunders and formed the Point Ellis/Astoria Ferry Company. Their boat, the North Beach (later renamed Tourist II) was the first to offer passenger and car crossings between the Washington and Oregon sides of the Columbia. Among other projects, Allen Sr. was a shareholder in the Naselle Toll Bridge, served many years as a member of the Ilwaco School District Board of Directors, was a member of the Wallicut Diking District and was an Ilwaco port director.
During the Great Depression, Allen, Sr. often borrowed on his farmland to help keep his surrounding neighbors from losing their farms. Many managed to stay on their farms working for themselves but if they were no longer able or moved on to other professions, they often sold their adjoining land to Allen. By the time of his death in 1953, the Lazy Diamond Bar Ranch had increased considerably in acreage.
Meanwhile, son Allen James Goulter, Jr. had attended all 12 grades in Ilwaco graduating in 1937, had attended the University of Washington for a time and had then gone to work for Boeing. He had also served for three years in the United States Navy during World War II, married Elaine Pulliam of Altoona, graduated from the Washington State College Veterinary School, and established the first veterinarian clinic to serve the Peninsula. Elaine was his receptionist, medical assistant, and kennel cleaner — his “Girl Friday.” They were the proud parents of Sharron Lynn and Allen James “Jim” III.
Allen’s meeting with Elaine had been as romantic, in its way, as his grandfather J.R.’s meeting with his wife-to-be Jenny Moran. As their daughter Sharron tells the story, “Elaine met Allen when she was 13 years old and in the eighth grade. Allen had just completed his Freshman year at the University of Washington and was working for the summer on Mechan Sands seining ground.
“He always parked his Plymouth in a wide spot in the road near the Pulliam home. When Elaine saw him, she went into the house and told her mom, ‘He has those beautiful blue eyes, black curly hair and is shy. BOY! If I marry anyone that is the kind of guy I’d marry.’ And marry him she did in November 1944!” But first, she graduated from high school, the war came, and Allen enlisted in the Navy and was sent to Boston for “secret” training in sonar technology.
After Allen’s honorable discharge from military duty in October 1945, the couple lived in Pullman where Allen was a member of the first four-year veterinarian class to graduate from WSC after the war. In 1952, he returned home to begin his veterinarian practice in his home on Bear River. He chose the Bear River hill as a building spot, put in the road, cleared the land, and learned to put up the building blocks for the home/clinic. For many years, he lived and operated his clinic and farmed on the Lazy Diamond Bar Ranch.
In 1977, the Goulters bought the old Sugarman’s Grocery Store in Seaview and transformed it into the state-of-the-art Ocean Beach Animal Clinic. Allen also coached peewee baseball and continued to take classes to further his education. He was particularly interested in local history, animals, reading, fishing on his boat and hunting with his son, Jim. He belonged to the VFW and to the Elks Lodge in Long Beach. The Goulters also found time to continue raising beef cattle on their Chinook ranch and were active Long Beach Boosters.
Like both his grandfather and father, Allen James Goulter, Jr. felt strongly about his obligations to family and to the land. “Our ties to the land are like our ties to one another,” he wrote. “Our hearts bleed to see change come but change is inevitable. We, as overseers of our land, will plan for the very best use of it, hopefully, passing on to future generations the love and pride in our forefathers, preserving the ideals of what has been achieved in the past and reverence for the compassions farming has taught to us…”
These days, Allen and Elaine’s children are stewards of the Goulter legacy. Their firstborn, Sharron Lynn Goulter Mattson, lives with her husband Ron at the Ilwaco end of Stringtown Road on property that was part of the original Lazy Diamond Bar Ranch. After retiring from her teaching job with the Ocean Beach School District, Sharron has devoted a large portion of her time to collecting and organizing documents and photographs concerning the Goulter legacy.
Eight large binders provide a record of the Goulters here in Pacific County, and it is information from those volumes that she generously shared for this article. Sharron has a like number of volumes about the Pulliam Family history, but as she says, “That’s another story.” She and her husband Ron have two daughters (both of whom own homes on the Goulter Ranch) and three grandchildren.
Sharron’s brother Jim provides careful management of the Lazy Diamond Bar Ranch, which is still going strong. He is the fourth generation Goulter to live and work on the property. Jim has two sons, Allen James IV and John, and three grandsons, Allen James V, Remington, and Connor.
For the foreseeable future it seems a certainty that Goulters and their cows will continue to be a familiar part of the Chinook landscape. The Lazy Diamond Bar Ranch, begun so many years and generations ago, seems here to stay and so do the Goulters and their descendants.