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.

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

Observer correspondent

“There are still quite a few of us here on the Peninsula,” says Dan Gove, “even though most of the older ones are gone now and the younger ones are moving away. But, when you think about it, there are all the cousins and nephews and nieces with last names like Lehman and Jenkins and Byrd and Taft; also, Martin, Wallace, Winn and Dye — well, they’re quite a few of us!”

All can trace their ancestry back to Hiram and Martha Harrington Gove, Dan’s great-great-grandparents.

“Hiram was the first Gove here. He was born in Vermont back in 1828, close to 200 years ago. He must have done quite a bit of moving around because his son Birdsey (my great-grandpa) was born in Florida in 1874 and by 1913, Hiram and his wife were living in Klipsan Beach here on the Peninsula — just about where my nephew, Clayton Taft, has his plumbing business.”

Hiram died in 1901, a good many years before Dan was born. “He and his wife are buried in the Taylor Cemetery in Ocean Park. So are Birdsey and his wife, Martha Anne Richman, as well as their son, Hollis, and his wife, Pearl Dye. Hollis and Pearl were my grandfather and grandmother.” Dan remembers both Birdsey and Hollis, but neither of their wives.

“I remember playing Chinese checkers with Great-Grandpa Birdsey when I was in first grade. That was when we went to visit him in Olympia. And, no, he didn’t let me win!” Dan laughs. “He was a Gove, after all!” And he laughs some more. “I think Birdsey had a pretty good sense of humor. With a name like Birdsey, I guess he’d have had to, though he might have gone by ‘Guy’ or maybe by ‘B.G.’ Gove. That’s how he signed his letters. I just called him ‘Grandpa.’ Of course, I called Hollis ‘Grandpa’ too, but we all knew which was which.”

One of B.G. Gove’s letters that has survived was written to his employer, H.A. Espy in 1925. Espy, who had been badly injured in an accident, had hired Gove to run his Oysterville dairy farm while he was recuperating at a hospital in the Portland area. The letter is typewritten. Between B.G.’s difficulties with the machine, itself, and his creative spelling, and his sense of humor, the letter undoubtedly cheered Espy along his road to recovery.

Nov 12-1925

Dear Frend,

I have bin thretig to write you for son tie but wwhen ever I have tie I think that I probeely feal more like it to mrrow and when tomrrw comes I find som other exuse. I will make a start to day. Can’t tell when I will get it finished…

George Little Ernestines husband has bin promoted to Number one at Neay By and when they left Ernestine left her dog for us to take care of and I had a habit of ptig n teath to soa on the sink outside the back door. The next morning I couldn’t find them. After hnting all over the place I found the Pup trying to weair the upper set but he couldn’t seem to make them fit. I later found the lower set where he had discred them as a bad job

Perhaps more in line with his responsibilities and concerns as ranch foreman, Birdsey Gove also brought Espy up to date on the erupting controversy over the open range laws (or lack thereof) in Pacific County:

A man run into a cow some where neare Chinook some time back and smashed his car. Of course no one owned the Cow so his Layer toald him that as long as the Officers wasent trying to put the herd law in force the Conty was responsal for the car. so they broat suat agenst the county and the county comisheners to clear their skirts sent the sherife to round up everyone that had stock running out. They arrested Looes Loumes and Will Shagran so now Looes and Will are working to get the Herd law squashed… They Sure Mis you here. Nelson was telling me that you had a herd Law passed (a State Law) when you were in the Senet. If that is so why all this fus to get it a county law. The county can’t make laws to conflick with the State can they…

“That was before my time, of course,” says Dan. “I think great-grandpa was probably living in the Espy ranch house south of Oysterville. It was built from the lumber of the old Oysterville Courthouse annex. I’ve been told that the main part of the courthouse was just across the street and had been converted into a big dairy barn. Before that, Great-Grandpa Birdsey may have lived in Ocean Park since my Grandpa Hollis was born there in 1896.” Dan is pretty confident that the family were among the first settlers there — not long after the town was platted in 1883.

“I remember Grandpa Hollis, too. He, also, was living in Olympia about the time I started first grade. But I know that he lived in Oysterville before my time. His place was a house across from the Carl Andrews Garage and you can still see where there were cranberry bogs out to the east of it. I’ve been told that they were prize-winning bogs back in the 1920s, but that was before Grandpa Hollis lived there.”

“I’m not sure when the family moved to the Peninsula. My dad was born in Raymond in 1927 and so it was sometime after that. I know that Dad and Bud Goulter were at the Oysterville School together and then they were both on the basketball team when they got to seventh grade at Ocean Park School. Dad remained friends with Bud his entire life.”

Dan was born in Oysterville. “It was in 1949 and I was born right across the street from the Oysterville School,” he says. “Well, actually it was in Ilwaco at the hospital, but my folks were living in that little Wachsmuth cabin on School Street at the time. It was the middle cabin,” he says confidently, though he doesn’t really remember it.

The family moved around a lot, at various times living in— both East and West Olympia, Kelso, Longview, Vancouver, Ilwaco and, finally, Ocean Park. “Dad was a roamer — always looking for an opportunity. He finally bought a backhoe and went into business for himself. He put in septic tanks and did a lot of construction jobs. Being self-employed was the answer for him.”

By the time Dan was in 10th grade, he’d been enrolled in 13 schools. “I went to school for one day at Ilwaco High School. They gave me an English book and assigned me a locker. The next day when I opened my locker, the book was gone. Gone! That’s when I dropped out of school for good and went to work in the oysters. Later, when I was 21, I went on to get my GED. Out of all of us kids (there were five) I was the only one who finally finished up.”

Dan says his dad “sorta tricked me into that GED. He said we’d do it together. We went up to Raymond High School and enrolled. Dad just went once and never went again. I wasn’t all that pleased about going but, looking back, I think it worked out to my betterment.”

Dan worked on and off in the oysters, had some construction jobs, and finally went to work for the Ocean Beach School District — at first in the janitorial department and then in maintenance.

“I retired four years ago. I was 64 and had 24 years in for the district. Time to retire and enjoy my own great-grandchildren!”

Dan is also a member of the Beach Barons and works at keeping his 1950 Chevy Teardrop in good shape. It’s the second one he’s had — the first one had belonged to his mom.

“My very first car, though, was a ’39 Olds, four-door,” he says. “I got it for $15 when I was in ninth grade. I wasn’t old enough to drive but that didn’t stop me! We were living in Raymond at the time …”

There’s a twinkle in his eye that’s a sure sign of another story coming on.

And well there should be. There may not be many Pacific County residents who can discuss as many generations as Dan can. Not only discuss, but remember them!

He and his siblings are the fifth generation of Goves and he is a great-grandfather, himself, “That’s eight generations altogether,” Dan smiles. “Hard to believe!”


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