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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nick Jerovich Jr., A Third Generation on the Oregon Coast

Out of the Past 
Lee Makovich

Nick Jerovich Jr., A Third Generation on the Oregon Coast
September 2002


I watch Nick Jerkovich Jr. skillfully guide his Delta seiner Pacific Raider under the Megler Bridge in Astoria, Oregon and out across the Columbia River Bar into the mighty Pacific Ocean.  The sardines are back in the area again, you know, and one can be damned sure that Nick and his Pacific Raider will corral their fair share of today’s market.
Pacific Raider 

Nick Jerkovich has been a top producer in practically every known fishery, from the Bering Sea in Alaska to Southern California.  But this is a different and exciting adventure for Nick and his Pacific Raider, an opportunity to become involved in a harvest of a new fishery.  Nick will take full advantage of that opportunity to be sure.  No Southeast Alaska salmon scales aboard the limit seiner Raider the last couple years.  Sardine fishing is Jerkovich’s prime focus recently.

But a brand new fishery?  Wait a minute here.  Nick’s grandfather John Jerkovich Sr. was crossing the Columbia River with his first purse seiner Washington and fishing for sardines, or pilchard, here over 76 years ago.  No, this is not a brand new fishery.  We all know that.  But so many years have passed since the sardines abounded in such great numbers out of this Oregon port, that only an older generation will vividly recall the excitement of those prosperous times in another era of the fishing industry.  More on that in a moment.
John Jerkovich Sr. and Mary Castelan's wedding with Family

Once the Pacific Raider is beyond the bar and out in the ocean, Nick is in constant contact with the pilot of his spotter plane.  This is strictly a daytime fishery, unlike sardine fisheries off the California Coast those many years ago.  The pilot will watch for brown spots and “flippers” in the ocean.  Those indications of the presence of sardines may occur just a short distance beyond the bar perhaps, but at other times the signs may appear in a more distant area.  

Once the fish are spotted, the pilot will direct the Pacific Raider to that precise location, even indicating to Nick, exactly where the net should be dropped.  A basic round haul is made at that point, with no towing of the net unless a problem might occur.  The spotter pilot has replaced a lonely and daring man of another era.  A man who was positioned precariously in the crow’s nest, high atop a swaying mast, performing the task which the airplane pilot routinely  does so easily these days.  Yes, perhaps not a brand new fishery, but certainly a modern and advanced version of one long past.

The Pacific Raider is a modern and advanced participant in a modern and advanced fishing industry.  In the expansive pilot house, the array of electronic and computerized equipment makes me wonder if I haven’t accidentally wandered onto a set of a Star Trek movie.  Computers, plotters and other innovations that would surely have made Nick’s grandfather’s head spin in disbelief.  The elder Jerkovich first crossed this bar in 1926, with only a small compass and a foghorn to assist him in working this demanding area of the West Coast.  Yes, John Jerkovich Sr. would not have believed it was possible. 

And how does one begin to learn to make use of all this hi-tech stuff I wonder?  But for Nick Jerkovich Jr., it’s simply another aspect in the handling of his productive fishing operations.  No big deal for Nick Jr.  It is readily apparent that this is a young and determined man who knows what he is doing.  Perhaps a slight indication of why Nick is considered by his peers to be one of the top skippers in the fishing industry.

And although all the modern equipment aboard the Pacific Raider may not have been available to Nick’s grandfather in those early days, the vessels of the Jerkovich fleet have consistently continued to be state of the art for their time.  The family has always believed that in order to be successful, it is necessary to be in a position to challenge your competitors with the finest boats and equipment available.  Throughout the fishing community, it is well known that the Jerkovich family will settle for nothing less, in striving for their ultimate goals.  It’s first class all the way.  

“The sardine operation is a very efficient and clean fishery here.” says Nick Jerkovich.  “There were several boats fishing for sardines this summer and we had an observer on board at least a dozen times.  The by-catch is practically non-existent and we work together with the observers to try and affect a continued and expanded fishery.  We deliver our fish to the Astoria Holdings Company in Astoria.  The sardines are used almost exclusively for longline tuna bait and the product is shipped literally around the world.”
Sardines - Possibly on the Pacific Raider

Nick spoke of the great care that is used in taking only the amount of fish needed to fill the day’s quota perhaps.  “There were times when we needed about 40 tons of sardines to complete the day,” Nick said.  “The spotter pilot would often lead us past a school of a hundred or more.  Soon, we would locate another school, which would provide us with almost exactly the 40 tons that was needed for our quota.  There is very little waste in this operation and all of us involved are doing our best to protect the future and the expansion of this fishery.”

Also, the freshness of the product, from the catch to its preparation for shipping is truly amazing.  “I take on 10 tons of ice every time I leave Astoria,” says Nick.  “There are times when we have been able to head out fishing and are back at the Astoria Holdings plant in just a few hours.  Working with other boats in our pool, one vessel is out in the early morning and one in the late afternoon.  The product is quickly unloaded and immediately flash-frozento insure quality.  It’s hard to imagine a fresher seafood harvest than that.”

Nick’s latest seiner is the fifth of the Jerkovich family vessels carrying the name Pacific Raider.  And as mentioned earlier, Nick’s grandfather, John Jerkovich Sr., was operating a sardine seiner out of Astoria over 76 years ago.  He had the 70’ Washington built at the Skansie Shipyard at Gig Harbor in 1926.  She was powered by a 100 h.p. Washington diesel and was the forerunner of an eventual fleet of Jerkovich family fishing boats.  John was a leader in the sardine industry and in the later years, he would pass the benefits of his knowledge and experience on to his sons, the late Tom, Nick Sr. and John Jerkovich Jr.

in 1937, Mr. Jerkovich decided to upgrade his fishing activities and he had the 78’ seiner New Washington built at the J. M. Martinac Shipyard in Tacoma.  The durable Washington was sold and later became a fixture in dragging operations on the Oregon Coast for decades.  She is still based in Astoria and current owner Ken Johnson is taking good care of the venerable warrior.  The sleek, New Washington was powered by a 200 h.p. Washington dieseling Jerkovich would operate the vessel for the next five years.  She was last seen in Anacortes just a couple years ago.

The 82’ Corregidor was the next step forward in Mr. Jerkovich’s continual upgrading of his vessels.  Built at Pacific Boat yard in Tacoma, the Corregidor was powered by a 250 h.p. Atlas Imperial diesel and she was acquired by John’s brothers-in-law, Mike and Nick Castellan two years later.  And, then in 1944, possibly one of the most graceful appearing fishing boats ever constructed was launched from that same Pacific Boat yard.

The beautiful and substantial sardine seiner was fully 86’ in length and powered by a magnificent, direct reversing, 400 h.p. Enterprise diesel.  This classic sardiner was named Pacific Raider and, of course, her proud owner was none other than John Jerkovich Sr.  The Pacific Raider was as efficient a fishing boat as one could possibly hope to own.  As time went by, she was also a virtual training ship for John’s three sons, as well as a number of other fishermen who learned a great deal from this productive skipper.

The original Pacific Raider was the pride of the sardine fishing fleet for a number of years.  When the sardines disappeared some years later, the Pacific Raider, along with the Corregidor, was sold to Canadian interests.  The Corregidor is still operating in British Columbia waters.  The Pacific Raider returned to American registry just recently when she was purchased by an Alaska-based concern.  Her name was changed to Barren Islands and I saw her in Bellingham a few weeks ago.  She remains a classic and beautiful example of wooden boat construction that occurred in the sardine heyday.  And that good old Enterprise diesel is still below deck, still purring like a contented kitten after more than 58 years of excellent service.

After the original Pacific Raider was sold, the Jerkovich family concentrated their efforts in other fishing activities.  Before long, John’s sons were beginning to make a name for themselves in the industry, too.  Along with a number of other fisheries, the Jerkovich boats became positive forces in Southeast Alaska salmon fishing for decades.  As Nick Jerkovich Jr. mentioned a couple years ago, “With my being involved in Oregon sardine fishing this year, it will be the first time in 45 years that a Jerkovich isn’t fishing in Southeast Alaska.”

But the family has enjoyed an ongoing representation in Alaska with the leasing out of the packer Howkan and their limited seiner Legend.  For many years, John’s sons, Tom, Nick and John Jr. kept the family tradition alive and well, primarily with their Alaska fishing activities.  Although John Jerkovich Sr. was for the most part a sardine fisherman, the knowledge he imparted to his sons served them well in every fishery  they participated in.  John had taught them well and Nick Jerkovich Sr. taught his son Nick in the same effective manner.
Nick Jerkovich (plaid shirt) hands while mending net

And as for Nick Jerovich Jr., fishing and fishing boats have been his life since he was just a child.  He has never worked in any other endeavor, nor did he ever have any desire to do so.  He recalls going out fishing with his dad when he was just eight years old.  While Nick was still in high school, during summer vacation, he was again aboard his father’s purse seiner in Southeast Alaska.

Martin Skrivanich was running the Frisco that year for the Plancich family of Tacoma.  Martin suddenly became ill and had to return home for a few weeks.  Amazingly, although he was just a teenager, Nick took over as skipper of the Frisco and ran the boat until Martin was able to return.  Perhaps not so amazing after all, when you think about it.  Nick was literally born and raised in the fishing industry.

“The boat I own is expensive to acquire and very expensive to operate.” said Nick.  “But in order to remain competitive in any fishery, this is the kind of operation that is needed.  I keep the boat going in different fisheries nearly all year around.  Having the boat fishing 10 or 11 months during the year is pretty much normal.  And the Oregon sardine season is something I’ve really enjoyed.  It was a chance for me to do something different…something I haven’t done before.  It is also a great opportunity to keep the boat going while working in a totally new environment.  I’m glad I became involved here.”

Surprising to me was the fact that the Pacific Raider’s sardine operation is handled by just four men.  Just Nick and three of his crew members.  When John Jerkovich Sr. was fishing the first Pacific Raider out of the Port of Astoria those many years ago, there was a full, 10-man crew aboard.  But that was a time long before power blocks and drums were ever thought of.

Some of the boats working out of Astoria use the drum to retrieve the net.  By choice, Nick prefers to use a power block and it works out very well.  “I’ve had the same basic crew for a long time,” Nick said, “and fortunately one of my knowledgeable crew members, Mike Hull, runs the boat for me if I become too tired or need to take a few days off.”

“Two members of my crew are from Seaside, Oregon,” Nick added.  “They have traveled to Alaska and to California to fish for a very long time.  I’m very happy for these guys.  A fishery has finally come to them.  The plant in Astoria is just 18 miles or so from their homes.  We take turns in unloading the fish an sometimes they can head for home as soon as the boat touches the dock.  It’s a great situation and the men are glad it worked out for them in this manner.”

Nick’s sister Nancy is also involved in the family fishing business as part owner in the limit seiner Legend.  And of course , another sister, Julie Dahl, has been of great assistance to the Jerkovich fishing operations since she was just a child.  The late Tom Jerkovich’s son, Tom Jr., is known as a top producer in a number of Southern California fishing ventures.  Not much chance that a Jerkovich won’t be involved in the fishing industry at any time in the near future it appears.  John Jerkovich began a legacy those 76 years ago that is continuing into a new century.

When the weather and conditions change in this area of the Oregon Coast, Nick will likely head his Pacific Raider south to California for squid fishing opportunities.  That will keep the boat busy for a while.  But if all goes according to plan, Nick will be back, guiding the “Raider” out over the Columbia River Bar and his spotter pilot will be locating those schools of sardines in the mighty Pacific again next year.

It was Nick’s good fortune, perhaps, to have grown up in this fishing family and to have had the opportunity to pursue a career he loves so much.  But good fortune has little to do with the success that Nick has achieved in his years in the industry.  He learned well from his father but his determination and dedication allowed that knowledge to be combined with his own experiences and applied to a variety of fishing activities.

“Like my dad and my uncles, and everyone else I guess,” Nick said, “I suppose I’ll probably retire too someday.  But as I understand it, retirement means doing what you like to do best and doing it as often as possible.  We;;, if that’s true, then I guess I’ve been retired all my life.  I love to fish, whether it’s in Alaska or California or on the Oregon Coast.  And I intend to keep on fishing for as long as I can.”  Nick Jerkovich Jr., a third generation on the Oregon Coast.   

Nick Jerkovich, Jr. and his Mother, Pat, in Friday Harbor 1976

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry September 4, 1889

Beautiful day.  Steamed up and came home reaching here at 5 o'c.


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry August 28, 1889

Weather improving and at night calm and nice--Before day break our scow of last night was sunk but no lumber lost - so at 9 o'c we take the other and pull back to Gig Harbor and thence to Tacoma.


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Out of the Past: The Monitor: a fond remembrance

Out of the Past:  The Monitor:  a fond remembrance 
By Lee Makovich
October 1994
Spiro Janovich

While in the old country Spiro Janovich had been a sailor in the Austrian Navy.  Upon coming to America he went to work for Hunt Transportation Company of Gig Harbor, Washington as a skipper on several of the small vessels of the Hunt mosquito fleet.  Janovich also became somewhat involved in the commercial fishing business.

In 1915 Janovich believed the time had come to take the big gamble:  a total commitment to become fully involved in the salmon fishing business on the Puget Sound.  Spiro knew the risks were great, but felt if he was going to take the chance he might as well go all out and build a brand new fishing boat.

Spiro talked to his friend John A. Martinolich of the Martinolich shipyard in Doctor, on Vashon Island, Washington about building a 58-foot seiner at the yard.  Janovich was stunned to learn of the amount of investment that would be required to have his plans become a reality.

When Martinolich suggested a figure of about $4500 to complete the new vessel, Janovich knew he would have to do a bit of creative maneuvering to come up with that staggering amount of money.  After all he had just recently purchased an acre of downtown Gig Harbor view property for a whopping $150.  “Money doesn’t grow on trees you know,” Janovich was quoted as saying.
"Monitor"

Consequently Janovich took in two partners in order to get the project off the ground.  George Dorotich and Priscilla Johnson helped finance the completion of the new vessel which Spiro christened the Monitor.  Dorotich and Johnson were involved in the new vessel for a short time but their interest was subsequently taken over by Janovich shortly after the end of the 1915 fishing season.

The Monitor must have been quite an impressive vessel in her day.  She was a sleek 58 feet and powered by a “state of the art” three byliner 40 h.p. Frisco Standard gasoline engine.

Several other vessels were completed at the Martinolich yard in 1915.  Among them were the 67-foot Chomly built for Alaska Pacific Fisheries, the 56-foot St John built for Pasco Dorotich, the 54-foot Elmer built for Sam Mezich, and the San Marco also 54-feet long, built for John Malich, Sr.

Mr. Janovich operated the Monitor in Puget Sound for many years, ran her to Southeast Alaska, and at one point took her down the coast to Oregon and fished for salmon on the Columbia River.  The Monitor  remained in the Janovich family for over 42 years until she was sold to the PeliganPacking Company of Peligan, Alaska in 1957.
Spiro Janovich and his crew

Early on Spiro operated the Monitor himself, but in the later years he began to divide his time between running his boat and working for the Skansie Transportation Company, as First Mate on various ferry boats on the Gig Harbor/Tacoma run.

When the first Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940 the ferry boats were rushed back into service.  That, along with the start of World War II, found Janovich unable to leave his duties aboard the ferry boats.  As a consequence he had a number of other skippers run the Monitor  for him during the fishing season.

In 1941, John Stanich had his boat the Welcome engaged in dragging off the Washington Coast and ran the Monitor in the San Juans Islands for Spiro that summer.  In 1942 Marion Covich had a similar situation with his Favorite, and operated the Monitor that year.  Paul Puratich ran her the next year and Covich was back again in 1944.

When Marion Covich approached Janovich about running the Monitor in 1944, Janovich agreed to have Covich skipper the vessel on one condition:  that Covich would take Spiro’s oldest son Tony along as a crew member.  Tony Janovich remembered, “Covich was a top notch skipper and had a very experienced crew of his own.  He certainly didn’t want a greenhorn 16 year old kid on his crew, but eventually found he had no choice in the matter.  That turned out to be my first year as a regular crewman on a fishing boat.”
Tony, Spiro and George Janovich

Tony found the experience of fishing with a top skipper like Marion Covich to be a great learning opportunity, although it may have been lost on his young age.  Tony reminisced, “But how much can a 16 year old learn?  I learned which end of the boat went down the bay first, but that was about it.  I wish I could have had a little more experience before fishing with Covich.  I certainly could have learned a lot more.”

“I remember an occasion near the end of the 1944 season.  We were at Point Roberts and were having some problems with the old Frisco Standard engine.  It started knocking and lost most of it’s power.   Suddenly fish began showing up ahead of us.  The other boats were going a lot faster than we were able to go, and by the time we got there the other boats  were already  in a haul.  Covich kept the boat knocking and chugging ahead until we reached the school.  There was no way we could get ahead of the fish so Covich set on their tails, a backward haul.  I thought he was making a big mistake.  Quite a mistake all right, we loaded the Monitor down with sockeye in that haul.”

The engineer and crew suspected a damaged crank shaft was responsible for the engine problems, but later learned it was “merely” a loose fly wheel.  Tony said, “We did a little precision tuning on the engine with a sledge hammer, driving the flywheel key into the shaft more solidly.  We had no further trouble with the old Frisco Standard after that.”

In the early 1940’s Frank “Kecko” Martinis took the Monitor out as a tender during the fall season.  Tony remarked that the experience was rather uneventful except for a couple of mishaps such as running into a dock at Vashon Island in the fog, and going high and dry near Old Tacoma, Washington.  “When we hit the docket Vashon, we sort of glanced off of it and ran up on shore,” Tony recalled.  “There were trees and branches hanging all over the boat, but once we managed to hack our way out of the woods, the Monitor was undamaged.”

A year or so later, Angelo Susan leased the Monitor to go out after dogfish in Puget Sound during the winter.  Tony said, “I sort of went along for the ride.  I don’t recall catching any dogfish, but I do recall running aground near Dungeness one evening.  A large steamer went by while we were stuck on the beach.  I thought the waves it was making would pound the boat to pieces by fortunately that didn’t happen and we got out of there with no damage.”

I recall an incident in the mid 1940s when Tony and his brother George Janovich were moving the Monitor  from a piling in the bay, to the fishermen’s dock in Gig Harbor.  The Monitor’s Frisco Standard engine had not yet been equipped with pilot house controls.  Tony was on the pilot house and I was down in the engine watching George answer the bell commands from Tony.  Suddenly the bells began ringing like crazy.  George became a little confused and there was a tremendous jolt as the Monitor bounced off the fishermen dock and sailed out into the middle of the bay.

As was always the case with the Janovich brothers (who are truly very close I might add) there came a great shouting and fist waving episode which lasted fully about 30 seconds, followed by uncontrollable laughter from everyone, which lasted a good deal longer.

The Monitor was repowered with a 150 h.p. Cummings diesel in 1945.  In 1947 new bulwarks were added at the Glein Shipyard in Gig Harbor, and in 1948 the Monitor received a complete new pilot house at the same yard.

Tony Novak skippered the Monitor in 1945 and Spiro was able to leave his position on the ferries after the war.  He returned to running his own boat for the 1946 and 1947 sessions.  Early in 1948 Spiro Janovich became seriously ill and was unable to continue in the fishing business any longer.  

Tony said, “In the spring of 1948, out of the blue, my mother said to me, ‘You’re taking the boat this year.’  I said, ‘Taking it where?’  It finally dawned on me she meant I was going to be running the Monitor that summer.”

Tony Janovich is a very modest man, never one to take himself too seriously.  He said, “When my mother told me I was going to run the boat, if I’d had any brains I probably would  have been scared to death; but I wasn’t.  It was no big deal I thought, I can do it.”

A little reconsideration of that thought may have occurred when Tony realized, “I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to hang the net, how much web to put in and so forth.”  Spiro had become too ill to help and Tony found himself asking some of the old timers for advice.  In those days the art of hanging a seine to assure it’s greatest efficiency was a closely guarded secret, and sometimes still is.

“When I asked some of the old timers how much web I needed to put in per fathom, for example,” Tony said, “They would gesture with their hands to indicate an amount anywhere from three inches to three feet and say, ‘Oh you know, about this much or so.’  They were basically telling me to go  and figure it out for myself.”

Tony remarked, “Either by accident or by instinct, I managed to make a net that worked just great that first year.  I remember when I realized that the net was fine, it was a tremendous relief.”

A few years later Tony had some serious problems with a net he made.  “We had used some sisal rope as we were unable to get a better quality of rope because of a shortage,” Tony said.  “The sisal rope stretched giving us a lot of problems.  That rope shouldn’t have been used on a net.  It was much better suited for typing up cows or something.”

In the fall of 1949, Mike Galligan Sr., current owner of the seiner Margaret J., and I were in the skiff together, as two raw greenhorn crewmen with Tony aboard the Monitor.  There were no radios in the skiff in those day and the Monitor’s whistle was not operating.  Tony had started a haul in Colvos passage and Mike and I were towing our end of the net at full speed near the shore.  We were blissfully singing songs and laughing while towing away, when suddenly Mike noticed Tony waving his arms frantically, like a giant bird in flight.  “I wonder why he’s doing that?” Mike asked.  “Is he trying to signal us?”  I looked and said, “Who knows, maybe he’s trying to tell us there are some sea gulls coming our way and we should watch out so they don’t deposit on our heads.”

This explanation seemed to make sense to Mike and we continued blissfully towing away.  In a moment we saw Tony throwing a dish, a coffee cup and some ranger overboard and waving his arms even more frantically.  We both thought “What’s going on here?”  In another moment we noticed that the cork line we were towing began passing us up and that the Monitor was running for the skiff, full bore, on a long towline.

With the wisdom of two Albert Einsteins, Mike and I finally realized why Tony was so upset; we had towed our end of the net onto a snag.  When the Monitor got closer, the words coming from the pilot house should not have been heard by anyone not old enough to vote.

Suffice it to say, Mike Galligan and I were not very popular young fellows on the dock that evening as the entire crew had to work until almost morning to repair nearly 100 fathoms of net that was damaged.  Tony was, shall we say, a little tense with Mike and I that evening, but by the next day all was forgotten and forgiven.  

Tony Janovich was the skipper of the Monitor for nearly 10 years, until she was sold in 1957.  Tony ran a number of boats after that including the Halo,  Wawa, the Gary Denn, the Parks # 11, the Congress, the Pacific Breeze, the Pacific II, the Kathy H. and the St. Mary.

Tony purchased the 58-foot seiner Barbara S. from the New England Fish Company in 1959 and seined with her for a number of years, also taking her king crabbing out of Kodiak, Alaska for three seasons.  The Barbara S. was sold in 1965.

The 65-foot seiner Shenandoah, formerly owned by John Dorotich who passed away in 1965, was purchased by Tony from Dorotich’s sister Lena Bez, in 1967.  Tony still owns and operates the Shenandoah in the San Juan Islands every summer.  He of course would never say it, but Tony is aware that he is considered one of the top skippers in the fishing business today.

It was great fun to reminisce about all of the amusing events that took place aboard the old Monitor over the years, but as we all know it is never all fun and games.  There were tough times, hardships and problems that had to be met.

Spiro Janovich, like his son Tony, met all of those challenges and I guess, so did the old Monitor.  She’s still going up in Alaska; still floating, still doing the job Spiro had intended for her when she was launched in 1915.


Like many other great ladies the Monitor has aged gracefully.  One would never suspect she’s going on 80 now.  We should all be so fortunate.


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry August 21, 1889

Pleasant enough-- Lay on the beach today to take the measurement for our wheel which was done and at night the wheel came down so we probably get resurrected tomorrow.


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry August 14, 1889

Somewhat clear with quite a shower at midnight --- Lay around till night then steamed to shingle mill in West Passage with scow.


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

District 37, Crescent Valley School District, Gig Harbor

District 37, Crescent Valley School District, Gig Harbor

Joseph Goodman - He first lived in Samuel Jeresich's cabin behind spit, but since area was military reservation, he built home and farm in Crescent Valley (Crescent Drive near Drummond intersection)

Joseph and Rose Goodman, along with their children, arrived in the Gig Harbor area in 1883.  Joseph was a Civil War veteran having served in the 45 Wisconsin Voluntary Infantry.  The education of their children was of foremost importance.  This is why three of their children remained in Tacoma to finish high school when they arrived.  At first Joseph taught his and the Jeresich children in the evenings after he finished his farm chores.  By 1886 the local Gig Harbor tribe of the Puyallup-Nisqually tribe loaned him their potlatch house to use as a schoolhouse.  His daughter Anna was employed as the teacher, and now the student body included the Novak children as well as the Jeresich and Goodman children. 

The community was experiencing growth, which meant a new school house was needed.  In 1887, the school house was finished, but before a teacher could be hired the citizens needed to form a school district.  Joseph Goodman took it upon himself to see that this was done.  As Therese Hogan wrote in her “The Early Years of Education in the Gig Harbor Area and the Goodman Family”, August 9, 2000 paper:  Joseph Goodman walked several miles to get a petition signed and to conduct a census.  He walked north along the Kitsap County Line, west to Purdy, east to The Sound.  The southern point is unknown as to where he walked but his effort resulted in one of the largest school districts in the area.  He obtain the names of every school age child.  At this time funds were allowed to schools for the number of school age children in an area, although they were not required to attend.  With the documentation of a proposed school district and the names and head count of school age children Joseph Goodman traveled across The Narrows by row boat, 10 miles to Tacoma, and met with the County Superintendent of Schools and “others”.  His proposal mapped the largest school district in the area, which would be designated District #37.  Joseph Goodman was a trustee and a clerk of the school board for many years.”.

This area became Crescent Valley School District #37.  The Harbor History Museum has a hand drawn map of the area which identifies it as:  beginning at the point where the shoreline of Puget Sound known as Colvos Passage intersects the north boundary line of Pierce County T 22 N R 2 E thence west to N W For. of Sec. 17 in said T & R thence south to S W For of Sec 29 thence west to N W For of Sec 31 thence south to SW For of Sec 7 T 21 N R 2 E thence east to the intersection of the said line with the shoreline of Puget Sound thence along said shore line in northernly direction to place of beginning.  There was a conflict in the descriptions of boundaries with District # 36, both of them evidently being given section 31.  It was left with District #37.  Later (5/3/1912) the Lincoln School District in Gig Harbor was formed of most of the lower half of sections 5 and 6, section 8 and most of section 7.  Earlier when #79 was formed part of the southeast corner of 7 had been transferred to it.”

The school District as described above contains numerous land patents, and there are no land patents associated with the district itself.  By 1941, all the greater Gig Harbor Community schools were incorporated into on district, that being Peninsula School District #401. 

In 1887 another building had been constructed to house the school and the students fas the student free as more people settled in the area, and the school district identified was so very large.
Crescent Valley School, Winter

By 1915 another new school building, which we currently remembered as the Crescent Valley School aka The Masonic Temple was built.  This last building is still standing and is located at 3025 96th Street NW, Gig Harbor.  (It was recently purchased by the City of Gig Harbor and adjoins the City Park).  It was built by E. L. Major & F. C. Bradshaw of Olalla, WA.  Unfortunately I have been unable to trace these two men.
Crescent Valley School, West Side with fire escapes - 1948

Crescent Valley School, Rear View, Boys bathroom at end of woodshed, Steps leading up to main floor.  March 1948.  Frank Owen Shaw

The following information was found in the Research Room at the Harbor History Museum.

“The following material was written by Mrs. John H. Insel for the Tacoma News Tribune:

“When the Crescent Valley school building is sold this Saturday at public auction to the highest bidder, another district school will join “the little red school house” in history.

“This notable landmark, located at the head of Crescent Valley, one half mile northeast of Gig Harbor, was constructed in 1915 by Pierce County School district No. 37 to provide a school for the large number of children in the fast growing community.  Heretofore, the children had attended the two room school house which was built in 1887 at he head of the bay on a site donated by Dr. A. M. Burnham who came to Gig Harbor in 1884.  The building has since been divided, one room now houses the Peninsula Gateway, weekly newspaper at Gig Harbor, and the other is a part of the Edward New house.

“Directors of the district at the time the Crescent Valley School was built were Peter Alvestad, Homer Benson, and Arthur Peterson.  The two story frame building with its distinctive tower that is visible at a long distance was dedicated in August, 1915, with Principal Nash of the Bellingham Normal School giving the main address.  Contractors who erected the structure were Major and Bradshaw of Gig Harbor.  The building originally had two rooms, but an increase in enrollment necessitated building a third room in the basement.

“The first primary teacher was Miss Lucy Goodman of Crescent Valley and the other teacher was a Professor Hatch.”

In a later column, Mrs. Insel tells of the sale of the school and the plans for he future use of the building and site:  

“Plans for a new Masonic temple on the site of the Crescent Valley school, one-hale mile northeast of Gig Harbor, were announced Saturday by the Masonic Temple Association.  Excavation for foundations and basement will be started as soon as weather permits.  The second story and tower of the school building which occupies the site will be razed and the interior of the lower floor will be remodeled to conform to the new architectural plan for the building.

“‘Architects’ plans, drawn by Mock & Morrison of Tacoma, show that a 30 X 39 foot addition with basement will be built on to the west end of the present structure.  The first floor level will have a 38 X 46 lodge auditorium, an adjacent anteroom and preparation room.  The basement, besides a 30 X 40 foot banquet and social hall, will contain a modern, fully equipped kitchen.

“There are separate chapter rooms for Waconda Chapter, No. 217, Order of the Eastern Star, and Waconda assembly, No. 122, Order of Rainbow for Girls.

“At present the Masonic Lodge is housed in private quarters in the Community Hall.”

A newspaper article, presumably Tacoma News Tribune although note noted, tells us that the drive to acquire a new lodge building originally started in 1943.  At the time they were meeting in private quarters in the Community Hall, owned by Herman Uddenberg, Post No. 1854, VFW.  The Masonic group then formed the Gig Harbor Masonic Temple Association in 1946.  Byron L . Conan was the worshipful master of the John Paul Jones Lodge.  

A booklet entitled “Freemasons in Gig Harbor” written and produced by Joe Hoots in 1997 tells us that the Masons were active in Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula area prior to 1920, although much of its history has disappeared.  However the booklet provides much history of the organization from the 1940s forward.  He states that “We do know that eighteen local sojourning Masons became charter members that established John Paul Jones #271 F & AM in 1926.”

The City of Gig Harbor Parks Page has this to say about the adjoining park:  Located at 3303 Vernhardson Street, Crescent Creek Park is still known to long-time residents as "City Park". The park's large, open air structure, natural creekbed, and specimen trees represent an important historic landscape that embodies Gig Harbor’s early rural lifestyle. It was the first (and for many years) only park within city limits. It signifies a national economic period of significance with architectural characteristics of a type, method of design, and construction typical of WPA projects around the country. Although the Park is not currently listed, the WPA structures at City Park are eligible for Gig Harbor's Register of Historic Places.
The site was originally owned by Crescent Valley School (built 1915) and was used as a playground.

The first homesteaders to stake claims in the Crescent Valley appeared as early as 1883, and made a living off the valley land through ranching, farming, and dairy operations. In 1915, the Crescent Valley School was built and remained the primary school house for the valley until it closed at the end of the 1946-1947 school year. Crescent Valley School owned the stretch of land along Vernhardson Street upon which the WPA recreational structures had been built near Crescent Creek. With the school set to close, the school board donated this piece of land to the town of Gig Harbor in 1946 to be used as a park. This park soon became known simply as Town Park. 
Now, at the end of 2017, we await to discover what the City of Gig Harbor has in store for this property.

Notes:
  • Old Town, Gladys Para
  • The Early Years of Education in the Gig Harbor Area and the Goodman Family by Therese Hogan, August 9, 2000
  • Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room
  • Harbor History Museum, Research Room document with Mrs. Insel’s article
  • Washington Dept of Archaeology & Historic Preservation
  • City of Gig Harbor Parks

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