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Thursday, October 19, 2017

William Oberndorfer

As my usual practice I want to reintroduce an early businessperson whose history seems to be missing in the community's records.  My search was not very successful with only isolated pieces of information showing up:  a past blog on the Gig Harbor Lion's Club, ancestry.com, until I saw a private family tree, and thought I would take a chance.  I contacted the administrator of the family tree not knowing if I would receive a response.  Not only did I get a reply, but also this beautiful, loving biography.  William Oberndorfer is the Great Grand Uncle of Carla Schubert.  Carla's generosity included permission to publish her biography of her Great Grand Uncle, but also to use her pictures related to his life.   
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WILLIAM OBERNDORFER, HIS MOTHER, HIS BROTHER AND THREE SISTERS
Front:  Frederick Henry, Mother Mary, Mary Paulina,  Back:  Anna Elizabeth, William, Amanda Christine


William Oberndorfer 

William Oberndorfer was born on February 24, 1872 in Goshen, Indiana.  He was the fifth child born to Johann Friedrich ("Frederick") Oberndorfer and Anna Maria Julianna ("Mary") Dick.  At the time of his birth, Goshen, the county seat of Elkhart County (approximately 120 miles east of Chicago), had a population of about 3,300.  It was during this time that the infant town was experiencing a significant population growth - a direct result of the newly opened railway service.  
Both of William's parents had immigrated from Germany:  his father from Boelgental, a municipality near Stuttgart, and his mother from Mittenberg, near Heidelberg.  Though his father became a naturalized citizen before their marriage, the German language, as well as its culture, remained a foundation within the Oberndorfer household.  The family were members of Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church, where the Sunday sermons, lessons and hymns were delivered in German.  It was here that William  was baptized, along with his sister, Amanda, on April 21, 1878.  His sponsors were his mother's sister and brother-in-law, Christina and Johann Krau.  
William's mother filed for divorce shortly after his birth.  To support herself and her children, William's mother went to work as a washer woman.  William's older siblings, (Mary, Fred Jr., Anna and Amanda), bonded together to take care of their baby brother.  While the four older children remained in close proximity to one another throughout their lifetime, William had an adventurist spirit.
In 1891, William joined the Umbenhower's Goshen Military Band, under the direction of Frank J. Umbenhower.  The band had 17 members.  William played 2nd B-flat clarinet.  Beginning on July 15th, 1891, and continuing for 30 days, the band furnished music during the entire session of the Spring Fountain Park Assembly in Warsaw, Indiana.  This was a most flattering engagement.  Before leaving for Warsaw, the band provided a preview concert for the Goshen community at the pavilion in Court Park.  
Della [Short] and William Oberndorfer – far right
On November 1, 1894, William married Miss Della Short, of LaGrange, Indiana.  Della, who was born in 1873, was the daughter of J. Edson and Elizabeth (Longcor) Short.  Della’s father was a farmer.  
William and Della's wedding was held at the home of her parents, on 208 Purl Street in Goshen.  The bridal couple was heralded by the beautiful strains of the Mendelssohn March.  They took their vows beneath a bower of flowers in a doorway between two parlors.  Nearly eighty guests were in attendance.  Della looked charming in a simple cloth gown.  William made little effort to conceal his joy.  Following the ceremony, the guests were treated to a tempting nuptial feast.  Many beautiful and useful presents were bestowed upon the happy couple.  William and Della set up house at 213 South Third Street in Goshen.  At the time of their wedding, William was employed at Dale's Dry Goods House.  
Della [Short] and William Oberndorfer
During their marriage, William and Della moved many times.  By 1900, they were living in Cook County, Illinois.  While in Chicago, William was employed with Carson Pirie Scott & Company.  Then in April 1906, they moved to Muncie, Indiana, where William became the manager of W. A. McNaughton Company department store.  By October 1907, William was a partner and manager of Oberndorfer & Co., a women's cloak and outfitter establishment.  A little over a year later, William bought out his partners.  The Star Press reported that William was one of Muncie's most progressive merchants.  With this new business deal, William professed to make his establishment more up-to-date and attractive to its customers.  He decided to change the name of his store to Oberndorfer & Company, The Women's Shop.  
During this time, life treated William and Della well.  They were active in the First Evangelical Lutheran Church:  William as a superintendent and a deacon, and Della as an organist and an accompanist.  Friends and relatives from Goshen made frequent visits to the young couple.  They, in turn, returned to Goshen to visit their parents and siblings.
William took trips to New York to purchase some of the finest garments for his store.  Though his clients marveled at the splendors in his shop, fewer and fewer could afford such luxuries.  By August 1911, William filed for bankruptcy.  William and Della spent the next year repairing their establishment's finances.  In February 1913, they filed articles of incorporation for the Oberndorfer Cloak Company, having capital stock of $10,000.  
William was quite well known in Muncie.  He was said to be enthusiastic over the city's future.  William was also well known for his creative and elaborately worded newspaper advertisements.  Some referred to William as "the writer."
  The well known young couple, soon left Muncie and headed westward.  They  bought a ranch in Flathead County, Montana.   While there, William became a buyer at a dry goods store.  Finally, sometime around 1921, they moved to Tacoma, Washington.
In November 1922, Della traveled from Tacoma back to Goshen for an extended visit with her sister, Atta Hope.  Shortly before Christmas, Della was suddenly stricken with apoplexy while in downtown Goshen.  She was taken to her sister's residence in an ambulance.  Della remained in an unconscious condition and clung to life for ten days.  At one o’clock in the morning, two days after Christmas, Della passed away at her sister’s home.  Funeral services were held at the home on 712 Emerson Street.  Della was buried in Oakridge Cemetery, in Goshen. 
Less than a year later, on August 18, 1923, William remarried.  He and his new wife, the former Cathreen Nina Coulter, were married in Tacoma.  Cathreen was the daughter of Samuel McConnell and Lucy [Kindig] Coulter.  She was born on March 23, 1873 in Creston, Ohio.
Sometime around 1925, they moved to Shore Acres in Gig Harbor.  William became the owner of the Peninsula Dry Goods Company there.  Gig Harbor, about 12 miles from Tacoma, was only a rural area at that time.  It was not yet incorporated as a city.
Though such a new community, the men and women of Gig Harbor were visionaries.  They looked to the future and dedicated themselves to working hard at making Gig Harbor a successful and prosperous community.  Many of the service clubs and organizations that these early pioneers established are still in operation today.  The Lions Club of Gig Harbor is one such operation.  After the Lions Club established a chapter in Bremerton, Washington in 1925, the men and women of Gig Harbor soon learned of all of the good being accomplished by the organization.  On September 3, 1931, William, along with other prominent men of the community, met and established the Gig Harbor Lions Club.  Their first meeting was held at the community hall, which later was the Masonic Hall.
William and Cathreen's store, the Peninsula Dry Goods Company, weathered the Great Depression.  It also fared well during World War II, even amid the rationing in effect at that time.  In a June 1944 advertisement in The Peninsula Gateway, the Peninsula Dry Goods Company reminded its patrons of upcoming Father's Day on Sunday, June 18th.  "You'll Want to Remember Father on His Day," the ad read.  Various and numerous gift suggestions were offered.  These included tan summer hats for $1.45, smart new sport shirts in popular shades of tan, blue and white from $3.25 to $3.95, and dress shirts in white and colors in sizes "to your liking."  Regarding the ties in stock, the ad advised that "You'll want several when you see the new colors and combinations."  
In addition to men's' wear, the Peninsula Dry Goods Company also carried a full line of ladies' wear, as well as clothes for infants, toddlers and children.  Their domestic house wares department carried lovely blankets, towel sets and luncheon and table cloths.
During World War II, William proclaimed his support for the military men and women, and the war efforts.  William had two grand nephews serving in the Navy:  George Lakemond Doll "Sonny" (grandson of William's sister, Mary) and William George Lloyd (grandson of William’s sister, Anna).  In his company store's newspaper advertisements, he, along with other prominent businessmen, encouraged the men and women of Gig Harbor to support the war effort by buying war bonds.  One advertisement in the Peninsula Gateway, dated July 14, 1944, is particularly poignant:
"Bow your heads.  Pray with millions of mothers the country over, as their hearts reach out over the seas, each one seeking out her boy, to protect him with the shield of her love.
Believe that in this world there is definite strength in decency and honor.
Believe that in our devotion there is moral force.  Believe that our will to victory will aid that victory.
Seek and ye shall find!
Let us seek added strength and fortitude for our men in our own sacrifice and devotion.
Let us focus every thought, every action, and every prayer on the boys fighting for us.
And, while each one bends to his task with every-growing fervor and energy, let us adopt a common symbol as our faith in Victory.
Let that Symbol be War Bonds.  Let us pour our money in a gigantic flood of goodwill toward our sons and brothers, as a spiritual shield for them.
This is the Invasion.  The lives of our boys are at stake.  Let them see that the Soul of America is with them.
Let it not be too late...not next month, next week, or tomorrow, but today...now."
In February 1945, William’s grand nephew, William George Lloyd visited him and his wife, Cathreen.  William George Lloyd was in the Navy at the time.  His ship came to port at the naval base in Bremerton, Washington.  Bremerton was only about 20 miles from where William Oberndorfer was living.  Included below is a partial transcription of a letter from William to his grand nephew, William George Lloyd.  The letter was dated February 21, 1945.  
“Dear Nephew,
... Well today I am at it to answer, and first of all Cathreen & I want to thank you a million for the lovely red Roses.  Don’t think there is anything that pleases your Aunt better than the Red Roses.  Me, too.  You don’t owe us anything; the pleasure to have you with us has more than paid what little trouble there was, only sorry you could not have been here a longer while, but I guess, as you say, a sailor here today and gone tomorrow.  Sorry you could not have had the other Sunday with us as we wanted to get you down to Olympia to get some of their fine oysters and a trip to Hoods Canal, a fine drive of about an hour along the water.  If ever you get near Gig Harbor, don’t stop to write, phone us at once [#]2437 and we will be here with lard in our hair and ears pinned back.  How’s that? ... I am going to try and get down to the store tomorrow afternoon awhile to see how things are and will tell Barbara [Underwood] what you said.”
Shortly after his grand nephew’s visit, William Oberndorfer’s health began to fail.  In the next letters that were written to William George Lloyd, both Cathreen and William Oberndorfer mention the latter’s health issues.  It is not known exactly what William’s ailments were.  However, it is poignant that the last letter he wrote to his grand nephew was dated March 21, 1945, just 3 weeks before William Oberndorfer died.  Also worth noting is the fact that William George Lloyd had narrowly escaped death two days earlier (March 19th) when his aircraft carrier was bombed.  
 
"Gig Harbor, Washington
March 22, 1945" [just 3 weeks before William Oberndorfer passed away]
"My Dear Nephew,
Your welcome letter rec’d and sorry [to] have to beg off for being so late in answering, but as you will probably know, I am not 100% yet and pretty wobbly. ...  We rec’d your picture OK, but I am afraid we’ll have to put it the safe to keep it.  Barbara [Underwood, a girl who worked for William and Della] [has] seen it and wanted to grab on to it, but Aunt Cathreen said ‘no, nothing doing, that is mine’.  Well, thanks a million for it, Billy.  We have been looking for you [on] the 6 o’clock bus, but here’s hoping you come back soon and give us a good visit. ... Well Billy, you almost caused a riot when the news was spread of a box [of] Red Roses.  Who from?  Where?  How? etc., etc.  Where is that sailor?  Show me, hurry, etc.  Don’t think anyone was hurt, but I think there was [a] loss of sleep that night.  Next time you come again, you [had] better bring along about a regiment of sailors with you to handle the crowd.  Ha!  Ha!  We do have a fine bunch of girls in Gig Harbor (all looking for sailors).  How’s that?  ... [We] Have plenty to eat.  Your Aunt Cathreen is sure a good nurse, but too good.  [She is] Making me lazy and I won’t want to do anything after I get going again.  [She] Waits on me tooth and tongue, so you see what I have to overcome.  Just too bad you did not know we were so close to Bremerton, as we might have seen more of you.  Well, no use to cry over spilled milk.  You’ll just have to have a visit here when you get away again.  We have a fine country here and a good place to live and that ain’t all.??  Well Billy, I hope you can read the letter as my glasses and [eyes] don’t jibe very good.  Aunt Cathreen sends her best to you, same as I.  Hope these lines reach you and that you are OK.  Don’t let your tonsils get you down.


Bye Bye.
Aunt Cathreen & Uncle Will

Dear Billie:
Your Uncle left a space for me to add a line.  I want to thank you very much for the lovely box of candy, (oh my but it is good), and the gorgeous roses.  Bill, you should not have done so much—and let me tell you how much we enjoyed having you with us.  We just loved you at once and you just seemed to fit right in with us, even [though] we are a couple of “oldsters”.  I think your Uncle Will was happier to have you than anyone else in the world.  He just can’t talk of anyone else.  And glad you liked Barbara [Underwood], too.  She is a fine girl—and when she received her roses, she was the happiest girl.  ‘Real roses for Valentine and red ones, too’, she cried—and said she never had a Valentine like that before—and asked me if she could call her pal June and tell her.  All the girls were envious of her.
So Billie, when if ever you should come back to Bremerton, look us up right away—and when all this mess the world is in is ended, do make us a visit.  We may not have the store—for I am sure we must get out of it, for it’s just so hard on both of us.  After a long rest, we will find something to keep busy.  Your Uncle was a very sick man; for a few days he had overdone and just gave out.  [He] has been up and around the house—but not down town yet. .[..This is Washington’s Birthday and [the] store [is] closed all day.  Barbara [Underwood] [has] been home this week with a ‘fluey’ cold.  Saturday Will will be 73 years old.  We will think of you anyhow.  Now again, thanks for candy, the phone call and the roses—and most of all that you looked us [up].  
Love,
Aunt Cathreen"
On Monday evening, April 9, 1945, William died at his home at Shore Acres in Gig Harbor, Washington.  He was 73 years old at the time.  Funeral services were held at 2:00 p.m. on the following Thursday at Perkins Chapel, with the Revered Rolf D. Brandt, pastor of the Peninsula Lutheran Parish officiating.  In an act of pure love, devotion and selflessness, Cathreen brought William's body back  to Goshen for burial.  Funeral Services were held the following Monday, on April 16th at the Culp Funeral Home.  William was buried beside his first wife, Della, in Oakridge Cemetery in Goshen.  A letter written by Cathreen to William George Lloyd, offers a heartrending insight into Cathreen's grieving heart.  
  "Dear Billy:
I am writing on the train going back to Indiana -- Did you hear from Barbara? [Underwood]  She told me just before I left, she had your letter and I know 
she is quite proud to reply.  Your dear old Uncle Will became ill again on Sunday, 
April 8 [1945]--and on Monday [April 9, 1945] night slept peacefully away.  So I am taking him to Goshen to lay him away beside his first love [Della Short Oberndorfer].  
You of course did not know her, but he loved her before he knew me, and I think it's 
the way it should be.  I am thankful for knowing him and loving him and we were happy these years.  Billy, you gave him much pleasure by coming to see him those few weeks and he talked so much of you.  He was 73 Feb. 24 [1945].  He had his gold watch that 
his mother gave him on his 21st birthday [February 24, 1895] and I know he would love for you to have it.  So I am taking it to leave with your mother for you just as a remembrance of him.  I loved you, too, Bill and hope some time to see you again.
Aunt Cathreen"
      
William Oberndorfer's watch that was handed down to William George Lloyd  
William Oberndorfer's watch that was handed down to William George Lloyd  


William Oberndorfer's watch that was handed down to William George Lloyd  

Cathreen's four siblings had predeceased her.  Her only living relatives were nieces and nephews.  Norris Overly of Detroit, son of Cathreen's sister, Ella, accompanied Cathreen to William's funeral in Goshen.  After the funeral, Cathreen joined Norris on his trip back to Detroit.  She had planned to return at once to Gig Harbor.
On April 18th, just two days after William's funeral, Cathreen was getting ready to take her train westward.  It was nearing the dinner hour.  Cathreen was feeling tired.  She was persuaded to lie down and rest before her long trip.  She fell asleep and it is heart wrenching to learn that Cathreen never awakened.  Though the scientific cause of her death is not known at this time, it is safe to say that emotionally Cathreen died of a broken heart.  Her love and devotion to William were unquestionable.   Cathreen is buried in Jackson Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Caston, Ohio.

  
William and Della [Short] Oberndorfer grave site – Oakridge Cemetery, Goshen, Indiana
  
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THANK YOU, CARLA SCHUBERT




© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry July 11, 1889

Warm and sunny as usual.  At 11 steamed out to Salmon Bayand at 11:30 returned against our native land and pulled in safely.


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry July 3, 1889

Splendid day, In AM did O --in PM towed scow out to Clay Works and nothing more.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gig Harbor Abandoned Military Reservations Number 23 and 24

Gig Harbor Abandoned Military Reservations Number 23 and 24

Often times when people visit the Harbor History Museum and look at maps or stories of people homesteading on old abandoned military reservation property they become curious about the history of these reservations.  When the Executive Director asked me if I knew the history, I gave my idea but also the short answer:  no!

So I thought I would try to discover their history; who established them, when and why.  Were they established before Washington Territory was separated from the Oregon Territory in 1853?  Were they established before England (Canada) and the US governments reached an agreement on the border at the 49th Parallel between the two countries?

In April 2012 there was a blog on the Harbor History Museum site about Captain William J. Duley, the military officer living in they Gig Harbor community.  The US Government and the acting governor of the Washington Territory had named Duley as supervisor of the military reservations on the eastside of the harbor.  Unfortunately though it did not include any actual history about the reservations themselves.

This meant a lot of research because I know nothing about early American military reservations, or the history of Washington.  I don’t believe they are covered in any great detail in the history books unless you are majoring in military history.  I decided to start where I normally would if there was nothing other than the maps available in the museum.  My first sources were the internet, the Puget Sound Region of the Secretary of State Washington Archives, the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, and the National Archives.

Let’s start with my email questions to these agencies, and their responses.

As someone who has not studied Washington State history I am hoping you can help me understand the reasons behind the US Army establishing military reservations in the oregon Territory later to be separated into Washington Territory.

Was it in case the dispute between England (Canada) and the US as to where the border was between the two countries; or were the abandoned military reservations in Pierce County those original established by the Hudson Bay Company and the US became owner once the 49th parallel was established as the border?

Or were they established because of the vast number of American (and other settlers) immigrating to the west to find a better life?

Or was it because of the Indian Wars of 1851/55?

I wrote a blog for the Harbor History Museum on the Puget Sound Agricultural Company (PSAC) established by the Hudson Bay Company and in it mentioned their operations at Fort Nisqually and Fort Cowlitz.  http://harborhistorymuseum.blogspot.com/2017/08/hudsons-bay-company.html  

This is why I thought there might be a connection with the US Abandoned Military Reservations.  Although I found a google book excerpt which stated “Reservations were established by Executive Order of September 22, 1866.  These two reservations were relinquished by the War Department by authority of Executive Order October 18, 1904.  When so relinquished the two abandoned military reservations became subject to disposal by the Secretary of Interior under provisions of the act of July 5, 1884 which act made general provisions for the disposal of Abandoned Military Reservations. “  (Reservations were in every state of the Union)

We have many visitors at the museum asking us about the history of the reservations which is why I’m asking you.  We had settlers to Gig Harbor who attempted to settle on the abandoned military reservation on the east side of the harbor and were evicted by the US Army.   Any information you might provided is greatly appreciated.

The Puget Sound Region-Washington Archives responded:  
“I do not know anything about the Military Reservations except that they exist.  Perhaps all the reasons you suggest played some part in the decision.  I suggest you direct your questions to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and perhaps they can direct you to someone in the U.S. military or to a military historian that would know more of the history.“

















However there was a link included directing me to a google book “The Enemy Never Came:  The Civil War in the Pacific Northwest” by Scott McArthur.  Fortunately the Peninsula-Gig Harbor Library had the book and it is a great resource.  I recommend it for anyone wanted to know more about the Civil War in the Pacific Northwest.  Amazon also had a copy for sale.  But for the purpose of this blog I am only going to quote the reasons found in Chapter 13, The Threat from the Sea, second paragraph.

Several theories developed about why fortification was necessary:

  1. At a time when both the United States and Great Britain laid claim to the Oregon Country, if the U.S. built forts at the mouth of the Columbia it would help secure the U.S. claim to the Oregon Country.
  2. It would keep Great Britain, which ceded title to the lands south of the forty-ninth parallel in 1846, from taking back what became known as the Pacific Northwest.
  3. It would guard against a fear that with the U.S. involved in the Civil War in the East, foreign powers might try to invade to seize control of the Oregon Country and its valuable gold deposits.
  4. It would guard against invasion by Confederate privateers, who, in fact, never threatened the Oregon-Washington Coast and made themselves felt in the Northern Pacific only after the war ended.
  5. The United States had decided it should defend all of its principal harbors.  This decision had marginal military merit after the end of the Civil War and continued until the last of the coastal forts were decommissioned at the  end of World War II.

So it appears my guesses were not too far off.

National Archives responded:

Thank you for your interest in our records.  Unfortunately, without an extensive amount of research on our staff's part, we are unable to point at any specific records in our collection that answer your many questions.  We cannot do research for patrons and can only spend one hour in locating records related to specific requests.  The background to why these reservations were created and then abandoned would be a large research undertaking.  I would suggest, as a staring point, that you contact the Washington State History Museum and see if they can point you at any secondary sources that would start you on a research path.  Another possibility would be to contact a local Washington State History professor that may have a background in this field.  He/she would be able to suggest some other sources too. 

We have Military Reservation records at our facility; however, they are spread over several Record Groups and Series.  There are also records held at our College Park, MD and Washington, DC facilities.  These are our main offices and would hold headquarter level records and Executive Orders.  For example, here is a series entry from our Online Catalog for records held in Washington, DC: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/300279.  If you find that you might want to do further research using the National Archives' records, I would suggest you search in our Catalog to get a better idea of what kind of records we hold in our various field sites.

My searching on-line found Google has put several documents from the Congressional Records on line however you cannot print them, and sometimes they are very difficult to read.  They are however e-books which can be downloaded.  But I did discover the following information:

iPhone photo of google ebook Congressional Records-Proceedings

iPhone photo of google ebook -Congressional Records-Proceedings

iPhone photo of google ebook - Congressional Proceedings

Reservation on the west side of narrows of Puget Sound, at south side of entrance to Gig Harbor, in Pierce County, embracing the E 1/2 NE 1/4 and E 1/2 SE 1/4 sec 7, the NW 1/4 NW 1/4 S1/2 NW 1/4 SW 1/4 and lots 1,3,4 and 5, sec. 8, T21N, R2E.  Established by Executive Order of September 22, 1866.  Relinquished for disposal under act of July 5, 1884, by authority of Executive order of October 18, 1894.

Reservation on the west side of narrows of Puget Sound, in Pierce County, in Pierce County, embracing lots 3 and 4, SW 1/4 SE 1/4 and SW 1/4 sec. 21, lots 1,2 and 3, W 1/2 NE 1/4 NW 1/4 and NE 1/4 SW 1/4 sec. 28 T21N R2E.  Established by Executive order of September 22, 1866.  Relinquished for disposal under act of July 5, 1884, by authority of Executive order October 18, 1894.  Surveyed.  Area 637.20 acres.  Action suspended on above reservation.

Reservation on the west side of narrows of Puget Sound, south of Point Evans, in Pierce County, and described as S 1/2 and fractional S 1/2 of N 1/2, sec. 32, lot 3 and part lot 2, sec. 33, lots 4, 5, part of lot 3, and NE 1/4 SE 1/4 sec. 31 T21N R2E; lots 1 and 2 sec. 5, and lot 3, sec. 6 T20N R2E.  Established by Executive order of September 22, 1866.  Relinquished for disposal under act of July 5, 1884, by authority of Executive order of October 18, 1894.Survey, but further action necessary to define northern boundary, which crosses subdivisions, so that portions of such subdivisions within reservation may be indicated on the township plat.  Estimated area, 635 acres.  Action suspended as above.

Reservation on the north side of Gig Harbor, at narrows of Puget Sound, in Pierce County, embracing lots 1,2,3 and NW 1/4 NW 1/4 sec. 4; lots 2,3,4,5,6, NE 1/4 and NE 1/4SE 1/4 sec. 5; lot 1, sec. 8 T21N R2E; SE 1/4 SE 1/4 Sec. 32 and lot 4 and SW 1/4 Sw 1/4 Sec. 33 T22N R2E.  Established by Executive order of June 9, 1868.  Relinquished for disposal, under act of July 5, 1884, by authority of Executive order of October 18, 1894.  Surveyed 633.33 acres.  Action suspended as above.

And then there was the confusing document showing these two sites had been abandoned so to speak before they had even been reserved as potential military reservations:

At Narrows of Puget Sound:
South end of Vashons Island…..President’s order June 9, 1868.  A part of these lands declared reserved were disposed of prior to date of order reserving same, viz., NW 1/4 of SW 1/4 and lot 3 T21N R2E; lot 5 and NE 1/4 of SE 1/4 sec 2 T21N R2E and SW1/4 of SW 1/4 of sec 22N R2E.  All in Tps 21 and 22 N R2E

President’s order June 9, 1868.  A part of these lands declared reserved were disposed prior to date of order reserving same, viz., NW 1/4 of SW 1/4 and lot 3, sec 1, T21N R2E; lot 5 and NE 1/4 of SE 1/4 sec 2 T21N R2E and SW 1/4 of SW 1/4 od Sec 33, T22N R2E
In The Official History of the Washington National Guard, Vol. 1, Heritage of the Washington Territorial Militia we learn that, on page 32, paragraph 2 of the Organic Act which established the Washington Territory that we became the first territory where the Governor was given the right to establish the militia without waiting for either Congress or the President to authorize its formation.  As a military man, one of Issac Stevens first acts presented to the Legislative Assembly of Washington Territory included the organization of the militia.  Unfortunately whereas the code of laws, school system with military training in the higher schools were enacted, the formation of the militia was not.
iPhone photo of cover to WA National Guard Pamphlet

This was most unfortunate because suddenly the population of Washington Territory had no military defense when the Indian Wars broke out.  Stevens wrote D. C. for arms and ammunition for defensive purposes but was turned down flat.  Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, refused on the grounds that there was no militia in Washington Territory to receive the arms.  Finally on January 26, 1855, the Legislative Assembly approved the act to organize the militia, a year after Stevens first request.

I also found on the internet a google ebook entitled Congressional Records, Proceeding and Debate, Vol 43, Part 1 which spoke about the hearings in Congress between Francis Wellington Cushman, a Tacoma Congressman At-Large (term: 3/4/1899-3/3/1909) and Mr. Stevens, Texas Representative.  They were discussing the abandoned military reservations in Mr. Cushman’s backyard, 6 miles west of his home in Tacoma, WA..  Those abandoned military reservations were Gig Harbor Numbered 23 and 24 and are located on the east side of the harbor waters in Gig Harbor, Pierce County.  

Cushman explained to the legislative committee that “if the military reservation land had been abandoned before 1864, they (the lands) became part of the public domain —then Congress passed an Act approved July 5, 1884 which provided that although abandoned the lands remained government land with restrictions.  As a result when abandoned in 1894 they did not become subject to the general Homestead Act.” 

Cushman was arguing on behalf of his constituents who were unaware the lands they squatted on and built their homes and farms was government land. They were actually living on the lands, having spent considerable money and time and effort improving the land.

Mr. Cushman, speaking about his Act No. 15859  which would amend Act. No. 342 and how it would benefit some settlers who had squatted 2 to 6 years previously on the abandoned military reservation lands.    Cushman’s Act would allow these families to purchase 20 acres at $2.50 cost per acre and require the families to continue to live on the land for 5 years.    

Unfortunately Cushman died (July 6, 1909) before the final version of the Act of Congress was passed on July 3, 1916 (39 Stat., 342).  Circular No. 662 giving the instructions for the disposal of the lands in the abandoned military reservations #23 and 24 in Gig Harbor.  

Paragraph 1 granted the E 1/2 of NW 1/4 of SE 1/4 Sec. 32, Tp. 21 N, R 2 E, to School District No. 71, of Pierce County, WA upon payment of $2.5/acre.
iPhone photo of Certificate of full payment for School District #71, Pierce County land

iPhone phone of BLM Land Patent Details including School District #71

iPhone phone of BLM Land Patent Details including School District #71

Paragraphs  2 - 4 included much of Cushman’s amendment and allowed the squatters (claimants) to file an application to purchased 20 acres of said lands that they had occupied on January 1, 1910 for purchase of securing a home.  However the price was not given in the instructions other than referring to the appraised value.  Said claimants could not apply for said lands under the Homestead Act.  If said claimant did not file a purchase application within one year, said lands would be disposed of at public auction.

Bottom line, I suppose could be that “Reservations were established by Executive Order of September 22, 1866.  These two specific reservations were relinquished by the War Department by authority of Executive Order October 18, 1904.  When so relinquished the two abandoned military reservations became subject to disposal by the Secretary of the Interior under the provisions of the Act of July 5, 1884 which Act made general provisions for the disposal of abandoned military reservations/

Observations:
  • WA Territory extended to parts of Idaho and Montana in 1853; in 1859 all of Idaho and part of Nebraska; and by 1861-1863 became the portion we know today as WA State
  • WA Territorial Governor in 1866 - Wm. Pickering (1862-1866) and Geo. E. Cole (1866-1867)
  • US President 1866 - Andrew Johnson; 1884 - Chester A. Arthur; 1904 - Theodore Roosevelt
  • This blog is the result of two weeks research so anyone having a longer period to devote to the research of subject matter can easily add to the history.

Notes:
  • Harbor History Museum Research Room
  • Google Congressional Records - Proceedings and Debate online
  • Puget Sound Region WA Archives
  • The Enemy Never Came, The Civil War in the Pacific Northwest by Scott McArthur, 2012, Page 151-152, Chapter 13
  • National Archives at Seattle
  • Wikipedia -
    • Francis W. Cushman biography 
    • Territory of Washington
    • American Presidents
  • WA government Territory Governors
  • US Department of the Interior, BLM General Land Office Records





© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry June 26, 1889

Clouds and squalls & some rain increasing towards night."DOE"got his check this morn and I in rain for his successor.

Emmett's handwriting is extremely spidery and his ink very light making it most difficult to read.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry June 19, 1889

Nice day in every respect.  Old Peter came with the ? and at 10 ? an in haft sufficient to start out.  Run to Nicholson's take a small raft of piles in tow and about 10 pm land them in Scoffle & tie up.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mark Lafayette Fenton (1851-1943)

Mark Lafayette Fenton (1851-1943)

I happened upon a newspaper article Mr. Fenton in the Harbor History Museum Research Room and thought it might be of interest since he was on of the early settlers at the Burley Colony arriving before 1900.

But before we read the article let me tell you a little bit about Fenton’s history before he arrived in Burley.  He was born November 23, 1851 in New York to Lafayette Fenton and Jane F. Nutting.  He was the oldest of five children, having two brothers and two sisters.  By the time he was 23, he was living in Clinton County, Michigan where he married Ellen Louisa Tracy.  He and Ellen had two children, Bessie Fay (1879-1961) and Paul Tracey (1888-1941).  Mark moved west where he stayed with the Purdy family while his wife and children remained in Michigan.

So with that background information, let’s get to the newspaper article.  Unfortunately, the newspaper’s name and date is not included on the photocopy.

‘Looking Backward’ at Burley “Dream” Colony

Dad Fenton Tells of Troubles of Those Who Tried to Live Bellamy Concept

By Staff Correspondent

BURLEY, Aug. 3—Among the last of the old Burley colonists who settled in this section of Henderson bay almost a half century ago in M. L. Fenton.  “Dad” Fenton, to his friends, can tell many an interesting story in connection with his exodus and those of friends from the east and middle western states to what they believed was to be the Eden of their dreams.  Mr. Fenton, born in New York state in 1861 (sic), will celebrate his birthday, marking 89 years, on Nov. 23.  The years have taken light toll from this pioneer and he goes about the wok on his place with a spryness usually attached to a man many years younger.

Back before the times usually listed as the “delightful 90s”, Edward Bellamy, newspaper man and publisher, was writing such stories as “Looking Backward” and “Equality.“  The books  had a wonderful appeal for those who believed in a different deal than was being dealt to their fellow men.  The result was that colonies were being formed in different sections of the country with the thought in the mind of the founders that ideas set forth by Mr. Bellamy could be put into practical use.

Burley was one of these projects.  A large section of land was obtained here; newspaper, shingle mill and other industries were established in this then wild section.  The only road then to the head of the bay colony was a trail.  The colonists brought their supplies in from a very rough road across the country from Olalla.  The print shop was set up in a log house located between Olalla and Burley until a permanent home could be built at the colony site.  Fenton still has copies of some of the first publications of the organization.

Ran Colony Boat
As a youth Mr. Fenton sailed on Lake Ontario, in fact was almost born on the lake.  The knowledge gained there in seafaring came in handy here where for a time he had charge of the company boat Kingston, used in towing and delivering supplies from Tacoma to the colony.

In Chicago, where he was engaged in the hardware business the stories of the colonization scheme intrigued this old timer.  He quickly decided the Burley colony held his future and came west.  “The idea appealed to me” he said.  “I knew the program called for a general ownership of all property and a man could not even own a dog or  cat.  But that was all right as far as I was concerned.  The scheme meant the doing away poverty, less work in general and a happy community.  However, there were a few and very vital things we failed to take into consideration and the big one was human nature.  But at the time there wasn’t a flaw in the measure anywhere.

“People came from all stations in life.  Some had never touched the working end of a cross cut saw or knew the art of burning stumps and there were some who turned out to be elocutionists.  We found these gathered at the old hotel and willing to tell the other fellow how things ought to be done.  Naturally this started dissension.  Some of the colonists, not satisfied, went to the Home Colony on Joe’s bay where they figured there was more freedom.

Shingle Troubles
“Each colonist had 10 acres of land but all belonged to the community.  We had trouble with the shingle mill.  We burned thousands of shingles under the mill boiler.  They were not cut properly and we did not seem to be able to locate the trouble.  This mill was a Flynn outfit.  I believed the difficulty was with the saw.  I suggested getting some one to show us how to work it.  This was voted down because we were not allowed to hire any one outside the colony.

“Finally this ruined shingle trouble reached a stage where something had to be done.  I told our members that I would try and find a man who knew something about the shingle business and get him to make the repairs.  I would pay such a man myself.  I located an old fellow in Old Tacoma who said he had operated the Hall type of machine.  He came to Burley; filed our saw and started us on the right track towards making good shingles.  That was only one of our problems.

Four Cents an Hour
“There was a lot of hard work put in at Burley by a number of members of the colony and little pay.  There were times that all I made was 4 cents an hour.  The internal rifts grew with several of the strongest advocates of the scheme trying to get the organization on a mutual and satisfactory working basis.  It was found that people wanted to own their home and litigation followed with the enterprise being taken over by a receiver.  The property was finally sold to satisfy the different individuals.  I obtained a tract here and have made this my home.

“So a beautiful dream of brotherhood ended.  Theoretically, the idea appeared sound.  I know I was for it as it seemed to be the cure of our social problems.  But the plan would not work.”

Following the collapse of the colony, Mr. Fenton drove the mail stage for about 12 years.

Mr. Fenton died age 92 on October 5, 1943 and is buried in the Burley Cemetery.  His wife, Ellen Louisa died on September 12, 1935.  Their son Paul died January 8, 1941, and their daughter Bessie Fay Fenton Tilton on February 2, 1961.


Notes:
  • Ancestry.com
  • Harbor History Museum Research Room



© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.