Submitted by Rene’ Carroll
The driving curiosity and love of history of the late Curtis Hughey continues to have a significant impact on the future of the Camas-Washougal Historical Society and the Two Rivers Heritage Museum.
Hughey, long- time historian and 16-year president of the CWHS, passed away November 25, 2017. His son, Mark, recently bestowed volumes of research notes and a complete second set of Camas-Washougal Homestead Records complied and organized by his father.
“It is a treasure trove of historic information,” said Brian McClatchie, CWHS Board Member and Accessions Director. “In my opinion this research and notes are the most important records we have for telling stories of the people of Camas-Washougal. Much of it we did not even know existed until it was dropped off for us.”
Sorted alphabetically by last name, the Homestead Record notebooks cover property from Cape Horn to 192nd Ave in East Vancouver. They feature land records, court documents, affidavits, verbatim testimony from homesteaders and their witnesses, newspaper clippings and additional family information that Hughey collected and organized. These records have been used extensively by researchers who come to the museum for information on area families and property.
“You can look at official homestead land records, but they don’t tell the story” McClatchie said. “It is all the rest of the information that Curtis compiled that is the most meaningful in storytelling.”
This second set of Homestead notebooks will be offered to the Clark County Historical Museum to be added to their collection.
In addition to the Homestead documents, Hughey also used excerpts from local newspapers written by and about local residents, to author and publish two books, The Good Old Days 1877-1906 and Good Old LaCamas News, 1887-1892. “The donation included eight notebooks of historical research documentation and his notes used for writing these books,” explained McClatchie.
Born in 1929, Hughey came to Camas in 1946 with his mother to live with his grandparents. He graduated from Camas High School that year. He was active in civic work and was involved in the start of the Fern Prairie Fire Department. Hughey retired from the Camas papermill in 1991 and began dabbling in genealogy research. He and his wife, Bev, were very active in CWHS activities and were docents at the museum for many years. Hughey left the CWHS Board in early 2017 and it was McClatchie, in fact, who filled the empty seat. “I never had the chance to meet Curtis,” McClatchie said.
Hughey’s work will be used extensively to build stories for the museum’s new Gathering Place project, a plank house-inspired pavilion to help tell stories of the Native Americans and early pioneers of the area. “We are finding so many remarkable stories to be told from this research,” McClatchie said. “There are even some early accounts of Dr. Parker and the founding of Parkers Landing. Curtis’ work was a true labor of love, and one that our historical society will be forever grateful for.”
Community members who have artifacts, historic documents or information that helps to tell the story of the area are encouraged to consider donating those items to the museum. McClatchie has office hours at the museum each Friday from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. for accessioning. “People can just give me a call or swing by and we can talk about what they have and if it would be of interest to the museum,” McClatchie offered. “I can tell pretty quickly in a conversation if it is something we’d like to accession. We need to avoid duplication and ensure items we accept have a strong tie to the area. We appreciate community members offering us items of historic value knowing that they are often a family treasure as well.”
The Two Rivers Heritage Museum is located at 1 Durgan Street in Washougal and open March through October. Regular hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission costs are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and free for children under 5 and all CWHS members. Group tours are available any day of the week (by appointment only). Call Lois Cobb 360-835-5449 for scheduling.
Join CWHS to help support additional historic presentations and preservation of local history. Membership and volunteer information will be available at the presentation. For more information about the CWHS and the Two Rivers Heritage Museum go to www.2rhm.com.