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Friday, April 20, 2012

Gig Harbor is 124 years old this week



Dr. Alfred Mark Burnham and his second wife Rachel filed the plat for Gig Harbor on April 19, 1888.  The town extended from their farm near Donkey Creek to the head of the bay, now marked by the Bogue Viewpoint Park on North Harborview.  They had arrived in 1886 after slowly working their way west from Minnesota, finding the harbor a very welcome place to settle.

They quickly became friends with their neighbors and knew it was where they wanted to put down their roots.  Having purchased land from Sam Jeresich, one of the first white settlers, Burnham offered free lots to anyone willing to build a house and paint it white.


Dr. Burnham opened his store at the head of the bay, which had a wide variety of goods to sell as well as a small stage where small plays were performed.  He produced his own newspaper.  As he was a physician, the paper had medical advice and  patent medicine ads.  

The Burnham family is pictured above seated on the porch of their white house near the creek.  At left is son Nick, Biz, Rachel, Alfred, Luella, and Frank.  An unknown neighbor is at right.  Lower left is a portrait of Dr. Burnham and at right is Rachel with her dog Prince.

Dr. Burnham died in 1896 at the age of 72.  Rachel lived until age 88, passing away in 1933.

Linda McCowen, Historic Photo Editor
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

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