Happy International Women’s Day!

Sophia “Sissy” Johnson 1859-1932

Sophia “Sissy” Johnson was born in 1859, the daughter of Onatta, the great chief of the Tututni Tribe. Her tribe was one of the largest to be forced to the Coast Reservation the same year she was born. In 1887, the Dawes Act dissolved the Coast Reservation and tribal sovereignty and each tribal member was “allotted” 80 acres of land (the concept of land ownership was foreign to native people, and thus dismissed by many). Sissy and her husband Jakie’s combined allotments included most of the land that would become known as Taft, Oregon (Lincoln City).

They built a home and lived an isolated life until homesteaders began moving to the area in the early 20th century. They were known as warm, welcoming and helpful neighbors to all, despite the oppression that they suffered in their lives. They taught many early homesteaders survival skills, including where fresh water springs could be found, how to find and eat mussels and crab, and how to cross the bay with a team of horses. Sissy became a midwife and delivered many babies. She never failed to come to people’s aid when they were sick, as she knew of many medicinal herbs and remedies.

Sissy was a remarkable woman and exemplifies the spirit of independence, helpfulness and harmony with nature so valued by native people. She was respected and appreciated for her knowledge, traditions and values. Sissy and Jakie eventually sold their land and moved to Siletz to be with friends and family.

Photo from the archives of NLCHM. See and like our Facebook page for historic posts!

Japanese Glass Fishing Floats Exhibit, The Watson-Simpson Collection


Come join us at the North Lincoln County Historical Museum for Antique Week and the opening of our new exhibit on Japanese Glass Floats on Saturday, February 10th, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Avid collector and float expert Nick Simpson, along with members of the float community, will be there to discuss and answer questions about the exhibit. Also on exhibit from the collection of Nick Simpson is a display of beautiful American made glass floats. If you love floats, don’t miss this event!

For centuries the Japanese have had individual families own and operate the fishing industry along the coasts of the Japanese islands. This exhibit displays the various sizes, shapes, colors, and methods used in glass floats developed for the fisherman.

Fisherman initially made their own floats from whatever glass was available to them. This consisted of recycled glass from mostly bottles. That is why we see a wide variation of shades of green glass used to make these floats.  Over the years fairly large glass blowing companies were developed to supply the fishermen with hand blown floats.  This process involved hundreds of glass blowers, as each float was handmade.

Floats in this exhibit were lost by fisherman at sea, and some still have their nets.  They were caught up in the pacific currents and eventually, after long periods of time, were deposited by the tide on the west coast beaches of North America. Beachcombing became a hobby for some individuals that lived along the pacific shores, and large and small collections have evolved from these collectors. This exhibit displays floats from two large collectors that span many years.

JIM WATSON (deceased) donated several years ago to the museum, a cross section of sizes, shapes, and types of Japanese glass fishing floats.  Jim had probably the largest and most extensive collection of Japanese glass floats at the time he made this donation.  He was instrumental in giving educational talks at the museum, of which there are recordings.  The Watson Foundation was formed to hold his collection following his death.

NICK SIMPSON began float collecting when he found his first float while on a college marine biology field trip to the Oregon coast.  After graduation from professional school, Nick and his wife moved to the Oregon Coast, and over the next 55 plus years has been an avid collector of Japanese (Asian) glass fishing floats.  Recently he has helped assemble and create this current exhibit with floats he has donated, along with the Watson Foundation Floats.



New Director for NLCHM

The NLCHM has a new Director. To learn more about him, check out the recent article by The News Guard here in Lincoln City: