OYSTERVILLE - The famous Will Rogers was fond of saying, "My ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower, they were here to meet those who did." We have such a person in historic Oysterville, and his name is Edwin "Bud" Goulter.
It is very rare that one can trace his ancestry back five generations living in the same area, but Bud can. It goes back to James R. Johnson, M.D, Bud's great-great-grandfather. He was born in England and arrived at the east side of Willapa Bay in the 1840s. He had sold his small hospital in what is now Lacey, near Johnson's Point, deciding that he wanted to be closer to the coast.
The Sou'Wester magazine had an article about him some years ago. It described a medical case about a little girl, who had been blind for years after a very serious illness had fused her eyelids together. Dr. Johnson was able to restore her sight with what today would be a very simple operation, but then people thought it was a miracle. He came across Willapa Bay to the little village Isaac Clark had platted in 1853. It was called "Shell Beach," later Oysterville.
Dr. Johnson's daughter married Richard Osborne Goulter, Bud's great-grandfather. When Osborne Goulter (he was always called that) purchased hundreds of acres of land north of Oysterville village, he planned to run a herd of cattle there. (Bud thinks that his great-great-grandfather, Dr. Johnson, brought the first few with him from England). His property bisected the north road to the ocean beach.
With his strong teams of horses he was able to build a mile-long road to his property. The Goulter Road is now Stackpole Road. It's hard to realize now, but the land was almost treeless: mostly meadow and prairie, with sand and shallow pools throughout - ideal for cows and sheep, but nothing more. There were no herd laws, of course, and no fences. If anyone had a fence, it was to keep the cattle out.
With all that beef, he was also a butcher. He had two shops, one in Oysterville and the other in Nahcotta. With his team of horses he frequently hauled freight and his beef between the two shops. Bud's father, who spent a great deal of time with his great-grandfather, told him that as a very young boy he was allowed to take the reins as they traveled. However, the horses were gentle and knew the way.
Nahcotta and Oysterville were thriving communities then. The small native oysters they shipped to California were highly prized by the influx of prospectors who were infused with "gold fever." Oysterville had many new enterprises and an equal number of new saloons. It was reported that those rich California men would pay up to a dollar each for those tasty bivalves. Of course the rumored benefits of eating them did not hurt the sales!
Nahcotta boasted two hotels, one on each side of the road leading to the dock (one in what was called Sealand and later became a part of Nahcotta).
There was no refrigeration in those days, and one had to butcher as circumstances demanded; the surplus Osborne canned in the little cannery he built for that purpose. His colorful label was "Pacific Beef." Osborne and Lydia had three sons; one was Theophilis, Bud's grandfather. Later they were divorced and he married a widow, Louise Hughes, who owned one of the hotels in Nahcotta.
When the small native oysters began to disappear due to overproduction - some thought from a devastating winter freeze - those communities were no longer thriving. The Morgan Oyster Company folded; Mr. Morgan sold his land for a fraction of its former worth, and left town. Quite different from watching San Francisco seamen drawing a line in the sand and tossing gold pieces to the line - winner take all! Bud's father saw this as a young boy.
A certain young lady arrived in Oysterville to take employment with one of the families. Her name was Mary Margaret Louise Cloquet. Her father was French and her mother part Cowlitz Indian. She was fluent in French and English, as well as several Indian dialects, and was often used as an interpreter. She did not stay with the family for very long, for she met and married Theophilis Goulter. He continued with the herd of cattle and the butchering, but things had changed. Because of new regulations the little cannery did not pass inspection, the beef business was not profitable, and Oysterville was not doing well. When Ira Murakami decided to see if the Japanese oyster seed would flourish in Willapa Bay, and the results were great - some families were in the oyster business again and the industry picked up.
Theophilis was Bud's grandfather and one of his sons, Edwin Robert Goulter, was Bud's father. His mother was Gladys Kistemaker Goulter. The parents had known one another since childhood for they attended the little Oysterville schools, both the two-story one that was destroyed by fire and the present one. The Nahcotta waterfront had suffered a disastrous fire a few years prior in 1917, and both hotels were gone, as well as the butcher shop. This was the Oysterville area into which Bud was born; he was their only child.
When Bud was six, his parents lived on the Heinz ranch, an isolated area north of Oysterville. In order to attend the little school, he had to travel four miles each way. Sometimes his father was able to take him or bring him home but often he had to resort to his horse or his bicycle. He preferred the bike because if he set it down, it would still be there when he returned; he could not say as much for the horse.
Bud spent some time as a guest of Uncle Sam in the Army and a year in occupied Japan. He came home itching to see the world, but his marriage to Ilma Jo O'Shaughnessy made that impossible for a while. Bud and Ilma Jo had three sons - Thomas, Gerald and Phillip.
Bud is very proud of the part he played in the Oysterville Centennial, the largest celebration held in the little schoolyard. He and Charlie Nelson (who Bud calls his hero) worked very hard to make it the success it was. He and Ilma Jo dressed for the part, and Charley Fitzpatrick took their picture. The derby hat and swallow-tailed coat were loaned by my mother-in-law and are now in my possession.
Bud later went to California and worked in a variety of jobs; including one in a logging camp, where he was severely injured. A huge log fell on him, crushing many bones in his body, including his neck, back and knees. He was in a body cast and hospitalized for three years. He finally refused further surgery, and came back to the Peninsula in considerable physical pain. Later, he and Ilma Jo were divorced.
On his return to Oysterville, he drove a truck hauling oysters to the fresh market in Portland. There he met a telephone operator named Sherry Burnett, who later became his wife for 37 years. Both she and Bud are very compassionate people, and since he retired, he spends many hours of the day driving around in his pickup, hauling hay and grass to feed his cows, calling on elderly sick friends, and driving "little old ladies" to their doctor's appointments. This leaves Sherry home, doing most of the chores and herding the cattle off the highway when they break through the fence. Although she is a slightly-built lady and looks like a strong wind would blow her away, looks are deceiving. Sherry is also the keeper of the heritage records and the strong force behind this unusual guy.
I first knew Bud when he came to visit my husband, who was recuperating from a knee-replacement operation. My interest in Peninsula history coincided with his and one of our first conversations was about bears. He told me he talked to them, but I thought he was kidding me. When he told me that many times when he was picking blackberries, chasing cattle, or hunting in remote areas, he had contact with bears. "I just calmly talked to them," he said, "and they never bothered me." I knew then that he was serious, particularly when he told me of one frightening encounter with a young mother bear and two little cubs. When he came upon her, she made a sharp clicking noise with her teeth threatening him and warning him not to get closer, and then pushed her cubs up a tree. Bud said he quietly told her that he did not intend to harm her babies and slowly backed away.
Bud has always been a collector; anything large or small he drags home and stores it on his property. Good things were planned for each item, and he had lots of acreage for them, but there were never enough hours in the day to accomplish all of those plans.
No one has ever been a stranger to him. He knows everybody! When he meets a newcomer, he tells them where on the beach to find the best clams, what time to be there for the tide, and how to dig the delicious bivalves. He has been known to go with them and demonstrate - he is an expert.
Recently, Bud has been more involved with his Indian heritage and has been attending tribal meetings. He has always been registered with the Cowlitz Tribe. He feels badly that the Chinook Indians are not on the National Registry. Today, these tribes are not fighting with bows and arrows - their weapons of choice are hostile words. Although some of his tribal friends disagree with him, he feels that all local tribes, that is the Shoalwater, Clatsop, Cowlitz and Chinook, should be one tribe, the Chinook. With all that has been written in the Lewis and Clark journals about the Chinook Indians, one would think that might be best.
Age is catching up with Bud these days. It is getting more difficult to haul all those heavy loads of hay and grass for his cows, visiting the elderly takes a bit more of his time, and those "little old ladies" still have to be driven to their doctor's appointments! Digging clams is harder on his injured back than it was, but we know Bud - he is going to do it all until he breathes his last breath. And Sherry will be home doing the chores, trying to keep the cows out of the road, and preparing him a good dinner when he does get home.