Bit of HiStory: The Stories behind the Parks


This summer, as we are drawn to enjoy the many dedicated parks and green spaces in Southwest Washington, we are exploring the history of the land and the names of these beloved local parks.

Davis Park, in the middle of Old Town Ridgefield, was the donation of one John W. Davis. A fascinating fellow he was, too. He came to Ridgefield as a rough and tumble cowboy, sometime around 1910. He captured the heart of the local society daughter, Birdie Shobert. In spite of family objections, they married in 1916. He bought Bachelor Island (located on what is now the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge) from the three bachelors who had run cattle on it. He followed their lead, also raising cattle, and became wealthy enough to buy a big red Cadillac that he’d drive around town. He was always alone. Why? It seems he chewed tobacco and would spit the juice into the passenger seat of the Cadillac. No one would ride with him.

Daybreak Park, in Battle Ground, WA. Photo courtesy Clark County Parks.

Daybreak Park along the East Fork of the Lewis River was originally the farm of J.C. Roberts. He wanted the farm to be a perfect gentleman’s estate for his beloved wife, so they lived in Portland while he commuted to the farm. He stocked it with Guinea hens and peacocks. Eventually, in 1892, he brought his wife to live on the farm. Unfortunately, at dawn each day the Guinea fowl would screech, the roosters would crow and the peacocks would begin to scream. That was too much.

“I’m moving back to Portland,” she told him, “I don’t like this daybreak place.”

Roberts kept the wife, got rid of the birds, and renamed the land Daybreak Farm. When the county dedicated the park there, they kept the historic name.

To read more, pick up a copy of the July 2018 issue at any of these locations, or view the digital archive copy here.

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About Author

Pat Jollota retired from the Los Angeles Police Department and came to Vancouver to find a new career in historic preservation. She was curator of education at the Clark County Historical Museum for 22 years, while almost concurrently serving for 20 years on the Vancouver City Council.

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