Elleda Wilson: Shively's cabin

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Jun. 23—The Daily Astorian, on June 26, 1883, included a letter to the editor from Oregon pioneer, John M. Shively, who helped map out early Astoria.

Shively opined that if Sir Francis Drake had come as far north as the Columbia River in 1579, "... about 10 miles up the river, south side, he might have found a village of ... buccaneers enjoying themselves by a rousing fire made of spruce limbs, with plenty of corn beef and pork, a barge and all other appliances to repair their fleet.

"... In 1844, I built my log cabin a mile above (meaning upriver of) the old fort of J.J. Astor (at 15th and Exchange streets), and proceeded to clear a garden. In spading up the ground about 8 inches deep, I came to many beef bones, evidently the bones from corn beef, horn handles of table knives with other kitchen implements of by-gone days.

"It is evident that all iron from length of time has oxidized to dust, for the old horn handles had once held a blade. The place was grown up with maple, spruce and hemlock with nothing to distinguish it from the adjacent forest. The trees cut down and burnt showed a square hillock about 6 feet high.

"Curiosity led me to dig into it, I came to charcoal, and on further examining the place came to the logs of the house which the charcoal had preserved from decay. It must have taken many years to oxidize all iron and bury these things 8 inches beneath the surface ...

"The place is on Lot 8, Block 2, Shively's Astoria, where anyone can go and see traces of the coal to this day. The coal would be abundant but was carried away for blacksmith purposes years ago."

Liisa Penner, archivist at the Clatsop County Historical Society explained where this lot was. "Shively's first home was supposedly at 1416 Grand in 1954," she wrote, "which changed to the current address of 3024 Grand."

As to whom the kitchen utensil-wielding visitors were, one guess it was probably not buccaneers, but quite possibly the Lewis and Clark Expedition instead, since they stopped at Tongue Point in March 1806 after wintering at Fort Clatsop.