Ear: Benjamin Young

From the Sunday, Jan. 31, 1881 edition of The Daily Astorian:

• The high tide on Friday carried away about 50 feet of the new roadway at Upper Astoria, in front of the house of Mr. B. Young. Enough assistance was immediately rendered to save all materials, and the roadway will be up again in a few days.

Note: Benjamin Young (1843-1911, pictured) arrived in Astoria in 1874, and became one of the leading salmon-packing cannery owners on the lower Columbia River. However, the house referred to in the clipping was probably his first house (of three), which was quite modest.

Liisa Penner, archivist at the Clatsop County Historical Society, says the typed reminiscences of Benjamin Young's daughter, Mrs. Caroline Ogilvie, explained the location as being a "little beach house," probably on what was once Scow Bay.

The bay divided downtown Astoria from Uppertown, and before a bridge was built in 1878 from 18th to 21st streets, you could only row or sail between the two parts of town. Scow Bay has since been filled in.

"It was their first home in 1874," Liisa explained, "… It was in Upper Town, one of several shacks or scows on the beach. Benjamin Young was fishing on the Columbia River then."

"Lots of people, poor families, found shelter in that little house afterwards," Caroline added, "and it stood there quite a while, and finally was torn down."

The second house, "was like a small ranch, for we had cows and chickens and a pig, cats, pigeons and a dog and an old horse and buggy. Mother was a farm woman at heart, and loved to grow anything that would grow there, all kinds of flowers and vegetables."

"I can remember Father's telling us so many times that someday he was going to build us a big, lovely house, and after it was finished, he intended to retire and enjoy himself — and that was exactly what he did," Caroline recalled, referring to the final house he built, pictured, in 1888 or 1889. It's still standing at 3652 Duane St., and is a far cry from the "little beach house." (bit.ly/BYoung3652, bit.ly/BYoung1911, old300.org/ahistory.html)

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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