Hamlet, Oregon

Hamlet school-2014

Hamlet is an end of the road community located on Hamlet road which extends southeasterly from Necanicum. It first had a post office in about 1905. Herman Ahlers, Necanicum postmaster reported that the the postoffice was established in response to a petition brought in by a resident of the valley of the North Fork of the Nehalem River called Hutinen.

It is reported that the petitioner was asked if the requested name "Hamlet" had something to do with Shakespeare or was just a reflection on the community size as in small. It is said that the petitioner gave the latter was a response.

Hamlet is part of West Oregon Electric's most westerly service area.

Update: April 2005

Of late, this writer has heard from Jack Layton. He reports that his parents bought out the Tokolaw place in 1949, and that consequently he grew up in Hamlet. Apparently, the Post Office came with the farm as the Tokolaws had run the Post Office and then Mrs. Layton became the post mistress.He recalls that approximately 5 families got their mail at the Post Office.

He knew August Tokolaw who was pretty much an authentic native of Hamlet--Not quite though. It seems that August Tokolaw was a native of Finland who ended up in Hamlet because his parents homesteaded there in 1889. In accordance with Finnish tradition, he had no indoor plumbing (and didn't see the need for it), but did have a steam boiler and Friday was bath day. Fire up the steam boiler and take a steam bath, he did. By 1949 when my informant knew him, he had lived in Hamlet for 60 years and didn't see a lot of need for change.

Other names mentioned include Henry and Edna Hill, Ollie Cox, the Waltons and Painters. The mail carrier was Orville Sandy.

When things were slow, he reports there was a community owned dip net stashed in the ferns near the falls in the North Fork of the Nehalem which produced enough salmon to keep everyone's smoke houses busy. Electric power was unknown in Hamlet at this time, but ultimately, the neighborhood did get together and build a 'farmers line' phone service which provided a party line for the community.

The economy included some agricultural activity. There were some fields for hay and livestock, lots of abandoned homesteads in the woods, and some subsistence crops. Jack speaks of peeling Chittim Bark, picking ferns and selling blackberries for cash.

For those not familiar with "Chittim Bark", I would explain that this is a common name for Cascara Sagrada which is an odd hardwood tree found scattered in the Douglas Fir regions of the far western North America (Mostly the Coast Range from British Columbia into California). The Spanish are said to have discovered that the Indians processed this bark into an herbal remedy. As with many herbal remedies its use is varied, but treating constipation is the best documented use, however, I have heard of it being used for other internal maladies, and have even read of it being used to treat breast cancer.

One authority gives this list of things that it has been used for, though use as a herbal laxative is the most common.

As for timber, Layton reports that the area had been burned well before he arrived there and the remaining timber was windfalls and snags from the fire. I am unclear whether this was part of the Tillamook Burn or not, but the fire was dated to 1933 which was the year of the first of the various Tillamook forest fires. Layton reports the salvage logger of the area was Jens Lerback who like many loggers of the day, was short on equipment and long on ingenuity.He loaded the logs with his bulldozer right onto the truck. He would set a couple of brow logs as differing heights, and push the first layer of logs on using the lower brow log and then move to the higher brow log to push on the upper logs. The trucks of the day typically had cheese blocks instead of stakes so getting the logs over the stakes wasn't a problem.

My dad's name was Vernon Layton and my mother who ran the post office was Alice Layton. Dad died in 1966 mother died in 1998 or 1999. there were several school houses there. One school house is completely gone with no sign left of it at all now but I know its location. I am sure the children either walked or rode horse back in those early days. When I went to school there was a car who shuttled us down to the main school bus, Clint Painter ran the shuttle car...One of the Hamlet school houses is still standing and was used for community get togethers until just recently , and it is pretty far gone at this time and probably will not be restored.

Edna Hill who used to teach at the Hamlet School house said she had a picture of big burned snags all around the area, she has passed away now, was Henry Hill's wife...She was a very sweet lady and also very pretty!! I knew her well. She used to walk over the hill ever day to get her mail, rain or shine, snow or sunshine... My folks lived there from 1949 until 1967 when my mother sold the 250 acre homestead and it was split up into many small subdivisions now..

------Narrative as per Jack Layton April 2005

Jack Layton also has a twin sister named Jean Phelan. She is still a resident of Hamlet.

- - Updated 12/08/2012
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- - Updated 03/23/2008