Little native oysters bring settlers to Bruceport

Bruceport school, 1896-1897. Three children seated on the log in the foreground, left to right: Fred Wiegardt, little Julia Wiegardt, and Florence McBride. Children seated on log in the background, left to right: James McBride, John Wiegardt, Jessie Wiegardt, Anna Wiegardt, and Ellen McBride. The photo was taken by their teacher, the Rev. E. R. Loomis, of South Bend. Rev. Loomis was also the pastor of the South Bend Congregational Church.

Constructed on the site of an old Indian village known as Wahoot-sin, Bruceport was the first Euro-American settlement on Shoalwater Bay. There was no natural boat harbor, but the tidal shoreline was rich with native oysters.

Beginning in February 1852, Bruceport went through a series of political changes, first as a part of Lewis County, Oregon Territory. (The village was first called Bruceville, but then became known as Bruceport.) After the establishment of the Washington Territory in 1853, county lines were realigned, and from 1854 to 1860 the village was the county seat of Chehalis County. Once the 1860 boundary of Pacific County was established, Bruceport lost its county seat status. (Following several boundary changes, Chehalis County was renamed Grays Harbor County in 1915. See the Summer 2001 issue of the Pacific County Historical Society's The Sou'wester for the excellent piece on early Pacific County and county boundaries that was written by former state senator Bob Bailey.)

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