Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry October 31, 1888

Some mist in morn but fine later.  Came via Steilacoom to town and deliver up Gispy Queen to her new owners.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hudson’s Bay Company

Hudson’s Bay Company 
Incorporated 2nd May 1670

There has always been questions whether or not the Hudson’s Bay Company had an outpost in Rosedale, or on the east shore of Henderson Bay.  Especially since Mrs. Mary Frances Keane White wrote of such an outpost in her autobiography.  

Well in 1976 Ms. Madeline Summerhays, Corresponding Secretary of the Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society wrote to Hudson’s Bay Company asking for documentation of the outpost.  I found Hudson’s Bay Company’s response and I am reproducing it below.

Hudson’s Bay Company 
Incorporated 2nd May 1670

March 16, 1976

Ms. Madeline Summerhays
Corresponding Secretary
The Peninsula Historical Society
P. O. Box 74-A
GIG HARBOR, Washington 98335

Dear Ms. Summerhays:

We have been unable to find any information to substantiate your understanding that the Hudson’s Bay Company operated outposts on the east shore of Henderson Bay, in the community now known as Rosedale.  The Company’s main activity in the area was farming, under the auspices of the Puget Sound Agricultural Society, and based at Fort Nisqually.  No journals from Fort Nisqually have survived in the Company’s Archives.

We would suggest that you write to or visit the Huntington Library at San Marino, California, where, in the Soliday Collection, are deposited journals, letter books and account books covering the Hudson’s Bay Company and Puget Sound Agricultural Companies various posts (including Nisqually) from 1833 to 1870.  You might also approach the Washington and Oregon Historical Societies and consult such publications as the Washington Historical Quarterly, Pacific Northwest Historical, British Columbia Historical Quarterly, and two publications of the Hudson’s Bay Company: The Beaver and the publications of the Hudson’s Bay Record Society (list enclosed).  The Beaver contains numerous articles relating to H B C activity on the west coast.  (Please consult the following issues in particular:  Sept. 1934, Sept. 1940, March 1951, Summer 1965, Spring 1963.)  These should be available to you at a University or major public library, either on microfilm or as published.  If you are unable to gain access to The Beaver we will be pleased to photocopy some articles for you.  A list of available back issues of The Beaver is enclosed.

Yours sincerely,

Robert V. Oleson
Public Relations Officer

I didn’t see the list that was enclosed, nor do I know whether or not any further research was conducted to find additional information.  So that is a project for the future.

However I did look up the Puget Sound Agricultural Company (PSAC) thinking that perhaps it would add a better understanding of the HBC operations in our area. Wikipedia had an article, so let’s see what they have to tell us.  It starts out explaining three variations of the name:  Puget Sound Agricultural Company, Puget Sound or Puget’s Sound and that PSAC was “a subsidiary joint stock company formed in 1840 by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC).  However from Mr. Oleson’s letter we know that PSAC was in fact operation from 1833.   Wikipedia continues informing us that the outposts in the Pacific Northwest were under the HBC administrative division of the Columbia Department.

The license granted to HBC by the British Government restricted their operations to the fur trade; in order to get around that restriction, HBC formed the PSAC.  They used the PSAC in their letters to England and with the British officials stationed in Canada, to promote the British position in the Oregon boundary dispute with the United States.  Remember originally Canada extended down the west coast to approximately Oregon City or the Columbia River.  President Polk wanted the border between Canada and the Pacific Northwest at the 49th parallel.  After extended negotiations, and threats of war, the two countries agreed on a final solution, and the US got Washington and Oregon.  

But let’s get back to PSAC:  their primary operations were at Fort Nisqually, founded 1833,  and Fort Cowlitz.  Fort Nisqually had very poor soil and so it was most used for sheep flocks, for wool, and cattle herds, for beef and cheese.  The grazing lands surrounding Fort Nisqually was responsible for over 5,872 sheep, 2,280 cattle and 228 horses by 1845. Dr. William Tolmie was appointed Chief Trader at Fort Nisqually and managed this location from 1843 until 1859.   Fort Cowlitz though was a different story-it was the company’s agricultural center.  Just one great big farm:  principal production was in grain, peas and potatoes.  HBC would continue to handle and concentrate on the fur trade whereas PSAC would handle all agricultural business, and their purchase of sheep, cattle and horses would be from HBC.

American settlers however interrupted their plans by moving west and settling on HBC/PSAC lands even though these lands were guaranteed under the Oregon Treaty of 1846 in both Washington and Oregon above the 49th Parallel.  This treaty gave them (HBC/PSAC) the right notify any settlers who might encroach upon their lands that they were trespassing.  British settlers were sent to the company’s land that was not used by PSAC but the British settlers were dissatisfied with the fact that PSAC received preferential treatment.  

By 1855, American settlers were involved in battle with the Native Americans sometimes called the Puget Sound War of 1855-56.  The Americans felt that Dr. William Tolmie favored the Native Americans or Indigenous people.  The US government in Washington Territory set high taxes on the PSAC lands making it difficult for HBC to  make a profit on their operations located in the territory.  HBC closed the PSAC operations at the Cowlitz Farm in 1855, and Fort Nisqually in 1869.  The United States government paid PSAC $200,000 for all PSAC properties south of the 49th parallel.

Although PSAC was not yet formed on March 19, 1825, the most prominent fort belonging to HBC was established on the north bank of the Columbia River, 99 miles upstream from the mouth of the river.  They named this fort, Fort Vancouver, and it became the headquarters for the Columbia Department.  This department consisted of 695,000 square miles and covered the area from Russian Alaska to Mexican California and from the Rockies to the Pacific. 
Hopefully this will answer everyone's question until someone else does further research and delve into the Hudson's Bay Company archives.


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry October 24, 1888

Rainy and breezy.  Steamed to Steilacoom and left our delegation then out to the City of Destiny.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry October 17, 1888

Fine day.  So drove up to town and do a bit of work after our fun which was put in to use.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rattlesnake Scare - Gary Newton - 1964

Rattlesnake Scare - Gary Newton - 1964

In 1960 the population of the Town of Gig Harbor was 1,094.  

In 1964 the things that were showing up in headlines throughout the US were the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Bill, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Cassius Clay  winning the Boxing World Championship from Sonny Liston, changing his name  and refusing to to fight in Vietnam.  Martin Luther King Jr. won the Noble Prize, The Warren Commission was investigating the J. F. Kennedy assassination.  Gig Harbor was not in the national or international eye.  

But on July 2, 1964, The Bridgeport Telegram reported the following from Bridgeport, Connecticut :  Rattlers Scare Gig Harbor, Wash GIG HARBOR. Wash. -. (AP) People ‘In this Puget Sound town across from Tacoma walked softly and carried big sticks yesterday, me reason.' Rattlesnakes. Rattlers are unknown here but abound tn the sagebrush country east or in Palouse. : 

That’s where Gary Newton, 31,(note:  actually 21) of Gig -Harbor, a ' snake-lover. acquired 21 snakes while attending Central Washington State college in Ellensburg. He said he brought them home and let them loose on the theory they couldn't survive. He was wrong, and the big snake hunt was on. Nineteen have been killed in the past week, and Newton has offered a reward of $13 for each of the seven left. He's also In trouble with the law: The county prosecutor charged him Tuesday with allowing a vicious animal to run at large— a misdemeanor With a pns-Bible penalty of 91 days In jail Iand S250 fine. The case is being delayed for developments. No one has been bitten yet. But Newton has been warned by prosecutor's office he's liable for any accidents.

In 1964, Gary Newton was 21 years old and a student at Central Washington State College in Ellensburg, Washington, where he was studying for a Bachelor of Science degree.  Or, more specifically, Herpetology (from Greek "herpein" meaning "to creep") is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians (including frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians (gymnophiona)) and reptiles (including snakes, lizards, amphisbaenids, turtles, terrapins, tortoises, crocodilians, and the tuataras).  According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (wdfw) “of a dozen or so species of snakes found in Washington only the Western rattlesnake is capable of inflecting a venomous bite, which it seldom does.”  “Rattlesnakes do not view humans as prey, and will not bite unless threatened.  A rattlesnake seldom delivers enough venom to kill a human, although painful swelling and discoloration may occur.”  I also found it interesting that the number of segments of the rattle have nothing to do with it’s age as well as its fangs are hollow in order to inject venom into its prey and they cannot spit venom.

As mentioned above, part of his studies were rattlesnakes which he had borrowed from from an Ellensburg couple who owned a collection of approximately 300 snakes.

Nevertheless, on June 22, 1964 when Mrs. P. E. Camerer was taken to the hospital in Tacoma after being bitten by a 2 foot rattlesnake, I don’t think any of the WDFW information would have calmed her even if it was known.  Mrs. Camerer had been meeting with her architect and contractor to discuss the house she and her husband were building on a bluff overlooking Western Passage.  Like anyone else, when she saw a snake she attempted to get away from it.  Unfortunately she was standing on a log, and when she jumped she injured herself and thought she had been bitten.

Mrs. Camerer was the first person to be bitten, and I believe the only one.  Everyone was concerned about the rattlers because as the old-timers said “this is the first rattlesnake ever found here”, and it was thought “it might have been brought in a load of hay from eastern Washington”.

However, Mrs. Camerer’s injury was enough of a scare that a search of the surrounding area took place.  By Saturday, the 27th, a nest of five rattlers ranging from 2 feet to 4 feet were found.  As the community hunted snakes, there was still the question lingering — how did the snakes get to Gig Harbor?  Was it a prank?  A practical joker with a venomous sense of humor?
News Tribune Staff Photo 
“Because of the age of the snakes and the fact that the problem has never been brought to our attention previously, we believe someone recently set them loose in Gig Harbor — possibly bringing them from eastern Washington” George Janovich, chief criminal deputy for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday June 29th.    

By the end of the day on Monday, the mystery of how rattlesnakes traveled to Gig Harbor was solved.  Ed Perdue, Local news reporter wrote an article entitled Snake Mystery Unraveled, Student Admits Loosing Retiles.  Unfortunately the newspaper and date are missing on the article I have, but I believe it might have been the Bremerton Sun or Kitsap Sun.  By the time Ed Perdue wrote his article, the sheriff deputies had found 18 snakes and were still searching for an additional eight.  “The mystery of how the rattlers got into the area was solved Monday evening when a 21-year old Central Washington State College student admitted to deputies that he had released 26 snakes on June 12.”   Gary went on to explain to the deputies that “he had borrowed the snakes from a fellow student for study in one of his courses.  When he attempted to return the snakes, the original owner had left on summer vacation…  He claimed he had tried to return the snakes on several occasions but had not been able to locate the owner.  Rather than kill the snakes, the student released them in the Sea Cliff area thinking they would not survive.”  “A retile authority at the University of Puget Sound said that the rattlers could survive in western Washington although not native to the area.  He said they would have to hibernate longer in this area but the wetter, cooler climate would not necessarily prove fatal to the snakes.”  

Picture which accompanied Don Tewkesbury article-Bremerton or Kitsap Sun (unknown )
Don Tewkesbury wrote a similar article entitled Student, 21, Admits He Released Rattlesnakes.  Again undated and newspaper name missing.

By the end of the search on the following Friday all the snakes had been captured, and none had been found to stray more than 600 feet from the point of release.

Finally, all the residents were able to sleep through the night without fear of snakes.  But the remaining question:  did Gary Newton graduate and go on continue working with retiles, or did he too give them up for good?  I couldn’t find the answer to that question, perhaps some of you know the final answer.

  • Several unidentified dated newspaper articles presumedly from The Peninsula Gateway, Bremerton Sun or Kitsap Sun and Tacoma News Tribune.
  • Bridgeport Telegram, Bridgeport, CT
  • WA Department of Fish & Wildlife

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry October 10, 1888

Some mist but a good day.  Towed donkey scow along side the "Great Victoria" then bot and put in a new safety valve - then a screen on siphon.  There took up some slack on journals and quit satisfied.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry October 3, 1888

No change.  Put in PM and put off for Tac. Mill Co. then towed a raft of lumber to grain warehouses besides towing "Windward" into port.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.