Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On this day...Emmett Hunt's Diary

Emmett Hunt's DiaryOn this day April 11, 1880, Sunday, Emmett wrote in his diary "Again am I at church and with the range of the reverberating and echoing >>> which issues forth like distant thunder from the dentist office of our beloved Mr. Wickson."

Meet Emmett Hunt...

Emmett was the second son of Miles B. and Maritta Hunt. The family homesteaded at Wollochet Bay in 1877. Miles established one of the first post offices in our area near Wollochet Bay and called it Artondale. Emmett was 18 years old at the time.

Emmett took his teacher’s examination in 1878 and opened what was called Artondale School.  But he was also a traveling teacher and taught school in Puyallup, South Prairie and Roy as well as in Artondale.

Emmett was one of the first to provide steamboat travel in south Puget Sound. His small boats were part of the famous Mosquito Fleet. His brothers (six of them) would eventually join him at some point as steamboat operators and owners. It was said by his competitors that Emmett always had a hand up in the industry because there were enough brothers to supply any help he needed...while the other operators had to depend upon hired help!

In 1881 at age 22 Emmett began his venture into the steamer business when he bought the contract to carry mail between Steilacoom and Artondale. Rowing was too hard, even for a young man such as himself, so he built his first small steamboat to carry the mail and, to make more money, cargo. Eventually, as his business grew his brothers joined him. They transported passengers and cargo, including lumber and livestock. It wasn't an easy job, what with the competition, and sometimes he barely broke even.

Emmett lived in the Gig Harbor area until his dear wife, Henrietta, died from complications of child birth. His business was not as successful as he had hoped so there was no reason to stay. At the age of 49, Emmett moved to North Central Washington and became a farmer.  He eventually returned to the area and helped when needed in his brother's steamboat business. He died in 1933.

The original Emmett Hunt diaries are in the collection of the Puget Sound Maritime Society. All but one diary has survived.

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