Letter to the Editor “Walville Revisited” (napost.com, 2016)
(Sunday, March 19, 2023)
Thanks to your wonderful article of some years ago, my friend and I included a visit to the Walville cemetery as part of our walks along the Willapa Rails to Trails hiking path. We come up from Vancouver, WA just for these walks.
What a moving legacy and history you describe in connection with that visit to the cemetery. So heart breaking to register the neglect, a broken shard of ceramic pottery, and the plaque prepared for the infant gravesite.
You can almost imagine their voices murmuring down through the ages, speaking of a time long past in which their labor was extracted at a price few of us can imagine.
Again, many thanks for your heart felt article. It is my hope, at some future date, that the cemetery can once again see better days.
(Email 2): The photo included in your article was so striking. And your article was really evocative for me. Have any descendants of these sawmill workers ever been identified? Some folks apparently had been caring for the gravesites up to a certain point?
Is there any possibility of raising funds to restore the cemetery? When visiting the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island, I happened to chat with some very well organized supporters of that memorial.
Would supporters be found there or in the Seattle Metro Area for such a restoration? Just wondering. If ever such a fundraising effort develops, I would be pleased to make a modest contribution to the effort.
(Email 3): I happened to share my pics and your article with someone with whom I have communicated in the past on Bainbridge Island, Clarence Moriwaki. He wrote me back the following:
“My father, Nobuo Moriwaki, was born in Walville on September 1, 1921. I have been to this site, which apparently is just outside of where the original town of Walville existed.
“He was the oldest of 13 children, and upon the death of his mother at the birth of the last child, his father went back to Japan with all of his siblings except him and his next youngest brother. It was the last time that he saw his father.
“I’m not sure who owns this property, but I understand that the local historical society has some information about this site.
“Thank you for reaching out.”
I also found the below commentary on the Internet. Not sure if the last sentence could be accurate but part of the commentary is interesting to me.
Take care, Ellen (Sward)
“we currently live in Walville, or what on the old Walville map would have been known as “Cow town.” this was the part of town where they kept and raised the cattle that would pull the skidders up the ridge in the early days of logging out here. there was a fire lookout up on the ridge that burnt down, only a few boards from the base frame remain, they built another lookout further up the ridge which there is no trace of left. you can barely make out the railroad track, now covered in grass running from the meadow into the woods. town proper was located not far from the gate to what once was cow town, near Mill Pond. on one side of the creek was the japanese town, and there still remains a fenced graveyard of 9 marked graves, there are more graves throughout the hillside there but only the 9 are marked and fenced. there is little evidence remaining of the structures, mostly a few bricks here and there, and tons of fragmented remains of white and blue painted porcelain. the mill across the pond burnt down, which eventually lead to the towns collapse in 1934. the rest of town was located on the mill side of the creek stretching along the “rails to trails” which once was an active railroad line from chehalis to raymond. the town has a rich history, including the birth of the IWW union (the black-cat logo adopted by the IWW was the logo of the walville logging industry) as well as being a sort of haven for japanese workers who were under much persecution during those days. in a survey of walville taken in 1924 it is clear that racial tension was low, and living conditions were rather equal.”