Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Ross Family

As you wander through the museum you'll find the Ross family well represented, or you might happen to meet one of our docents, Rosemary Ross, hard at work with the Midway classes of young children.  I thought you might enjoy learning a little more about the family Rosemary married into.  There is so much more to tell about this prominent family that what is contained in this brief blog; but it's a start.

John (Yodrossich) Ross Sr. arrived in Gig Harbor in 1888. He had left his home on the island of Premuda in the Adriatic Sea on a year-long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean traveling down the around Cape Horn and up along the west cost of South America, Baja California and the west coast of the US arriving in Gig Harbor. 

He was the first white settlers in Gig Harbor and first built a cabin near the sand pit.  From there he ran an eight man oar boat and the crew set the nets and pulled the catch in, all by hands.  He was one of the first Gig Harbor fishermen to take his open vessel north to the San Juans and Alaska where he and the crew camped ashore at night to cook and collect both fuel and water.  Even then, they were gone for three months at a time.  

John's first purse seiner was a 45-foot open vessel named "Bogdon" was built in Seattle at the H. W. Lake Shipyard in 1909 and powered by a 20 h.p. Frisco Standard gas engine.  John Sr. had named it after his son "Danny" who passed away as a young boy.  John operated the "Bogdan" in the Puget Sound until 1914 when he sold it.  He immediately had his new boat, a 52-foot seiner "Brooklyn" built at the Strubstad yard in Tacoma. 

He was one of the first Gig Harbor fishermen to take his open vessel north to the San Juans and Alaska where he and the crew camped ashore at night to cook and collect both fuel and water.  Even then, they were gone for three months at a time.  

In October 1902 John Sr. purchased Lot 8 Block 6 in the Town of Millville for $350, and in September 1907 purchased Lot 9 for $100.  John Ross Sr. died on July 20, 1928 leaving behind his brother Luca Ross, his sons John Ross Jr. and Emmett Ross, four daughters, Mrs. Anna Masnov, Mrs. Famie Bruncev, Mrs. Winnie Bujacich and Miss Agnes Ross and 16 grandchildren.  Emmett, Adam and Johnnie Ross all began their long fishing careers as skippers in the early 1920s.  

His son, John Ross, Jr. was one of the first non-Indian children born in Gig Harbor, and he carried on his father's tradition of fishing not only in Puget Sound but also in the San Juans and Alaska.  John Jr. also skippered the early ferry boats"Skansonia" and "Defiance" whose run was between Gig Harbor and Pt. Fosdick and "The City of Tacoma" run from Pt. Fosdick and Fox Island. John Jr.the oldest son also ran "Providence" and "Advocator" for Lee Makovich Sr.  He also skippered the "Majestic", "Juno" and Gerald Crosby's "Sea Comber".    

His purse seiner was named "Home II" which he owned with his brothers Adam and Emmett.  It was built at Blind Slough, Oregon in 1916 and was 62-foot powered by 40 h.p. Frisco Standard powered. Adam Ross Sr. ran the vessel exclusively from 1924 when they bought it until he fell ill in 1966.  During the mid-1940s the vessel was completely rebuilt by the master carpenter Jack Bujacich, Sr. repowered with a Cumminns diesel.  Adam was a top skipper around the Sa Juan Islands and he and the "Home II" provided a training ground of sorts for a number of future skippers.  His son, Adam Jr. was one of those future skippers who eventually owned and operated the "Chinook" in the Puget Sound.  Adam Jr. sold "Chinook" and in and  had a new 58-foot seiner "Adana R" built in Richmond, California at the Don Bishop yard.  "Adana R" was operated in southeast Alaska until Adam Jr. retired in 1994.

In 1923 it is believed that Emmett had his first year as skipper of Lee Makovich Sr.'s "Providence".  Story has it that the first year Emmett skippered he took the "Providence" out and was scouting Eagle Point (San Juan Island) and suddenly fish were jumping everywhere.  Even though it was a Sunday closure, Emmett couldn't resist.  He went in for the haul and filled his net, and the crew pulled the net in as fast as possible hoping the fish commissioner didn't show up.  They filled the hatch and the deck with hum pies and 2 or 3 nets (brailer) into the skiff.  

The 3 Ross brothers got the 63-foot "Westland" in 1928 so that now they had 2 boats among the 3 brothers.  It is believed that because Johnnie still wanted to skipper ferryboats when he wasn't fishing they did not acquire 3 boats.  In the 1940s "Westland" was rebuilt from the guards up acquiring a new pilot house and again the carpenter was Jack Bujacich Sr.  Then in 1970 they sold it.Emmett and Spiro Babich had one of the closest competitions always trying to outdo the other.  Sometimes the 2 of them would be the only fishing boats out. 

From the beginning in 1888 through the years the Ross men lived by the sea and fishing.  Their boats ranged from Alaska to Mexico harvesting salmon, tuna, anchovie, crab and sardine.  The family fleet of boats carried the names of "Bogdon", "Juneau", "Brookdale",  "Westland", "Chinook", "Home II", "Marilyn R." and "Adana R." 

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday April 26, 1882 Emmett Hunt's Diary

Sun and rain continued but Old Sol got the best of it & all is clear at night with more moonlight.  Put 10 more pieces on the boat.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Peter Ancich Sr. and the Ancich Brothers Waterfront Park

Peter Ancich, Sr.,  was born January 22, 1872. At the age of 30, he left Croatia for America, having grown up near the town of Brucia, Island of Hvar, which at that time was part of the Austrian Empire. Like so many young people from all over Europe, he was looking for a better life and more opportunity.  He and his wife Katie found their way to Gig Harbor where Peter joined the Croatian fishing community already established here.
Ancich home in Gig Harbor
As you walk or run along Harborview Drive and glance out at the harbor you will notice their property that Peter purchased from John Novak, though only the net shed that he built in the 1920s remains. The net shed was reroofed in the 1950s but otherwise remains in its original condition. The net shed has always operated as a commercial fishing working dock. The tidelands at this property are low water to inner harbor. The City of Gig Harbor, as they attempt to protect our waterfront assets, was able to purchase this property and has named it the Ancich Brothers Waterfront Park.  At present the actual design for the property is underway, but in the meantime let's concern ourselves with Peter and his family who owned the land and worked there.
First fishing boat "New World"

Peter and Katie had five children:  Celia, Joseph, John, Peter, and Peter's twin, Mary.  Peter's first boat was "New World." As the boys grew into adulthood, they were groomed to following in his fishing footsteps.  Peter's second boat was  "Invader" and co-owned with Pete Skarponi.  When Joe was old enough to run a boat, his father bought Skarponi out and Joe and his dad ran it..  Their third boat was  "Voyager" which was acquired in 1946.  The "Voyager" was considered one of the most productive local boats during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.  Joe and his brother, Peter,  ran the "Mary Jane," a sardine boat, but only for two seasons.  John Ancich never ran his own boat, instead he only operated company boats.

Ancich's second boat "Invader'

Peter Ancich, Sr., died in February 1948; Katie his wife, born in October 1883, died in 1968.  As was the custom in Peter Sr.'s family, the daughters were left out of the will, with the property going only to the three boys.  Both daughters moved to California  

Celia moved to Coachella Valley where she and her husband had 1,000 acres in grapes.  It has been said that she was the only family member to have a sense of humor.  Although she was left out of her father's will, she died a rich person in 1995.

Mary, Peter's twin, married Nick Tudor and died in 2003 after Joe. I didn't find much on Mary at all.  Joe, the oldest boy, was born February 25, 1913 in Tacoma, died November 1999; his wife Mabel was born in Flin, Michigan, August 24, 1915 and died June 10, 2002.  Peter Jr. born March 14, 1921, died May 23, 2000.  Peter Jr. was the only son to have children.  He and his wife Marie had moved to San Pedro, California. 

John was born February 11, 1916, died December 31, 2004.  John's wife Tereza Jaspricia Ancich was born March 22, 1932 in Janjina, Croatia and died December 23, 1996.  They had no natural children but had adopted John Peter Ancich Jr. who died unexpectedly and suddenly August 26, 2001 on his purse seiner "FV Heritage."  His death is memorialized on the Fishermen's Memorial on Jerisich Dock.  John Sr. took his death very hard.  John Jr.'s former girlfriend Laura Petrarca and Michelle Parker, a crew member of John Jr.'s FV "Heritage" helped him through some of his heartbreak.  In August 1996 after vandals had cut a four foot hole in the nylon net at the fishermen's memorial statue, Michelle Parker went with John to Jerisich Dock where John worked to mend the net, despite the fact that he was just out of the hospital following a serious fall.  John Sr. fished for nearly 60 years, and as he said "That's about all I did."  

With the family gone, it is only fitting that the City of Gig Harbor and the community honor this founding family's history in our 'Maritime City."   Although the net shed remaining on this property is inactive, it still stands as one of the 17 historic net sheds in Gig Harbor.    

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday April 19, 1882 Emmett Hunt's Diary

Rainy & blustery.  Completed the model made stern front & set it & stem on keel & all on the stocks.  Tomorrow begin to build

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

C.E. Shaw and the Rooster Races

Several of you may have attended the most recent Tea and Tour presentation in March.  We thought it would be very interesting for those of you who were unable to attend to have the opportunity to take the same virtual tour that was present by Marie Sposato.  Our docent spent a vast amount of time researching the topics for those virtual tours, and we believe that everyone will learn something new no matter how much of the greater Gig Harbor's history we know.  We hope you enjoy this and will thank Marie for all her hard work and excellent presentation

Clarence Elvin (C.E.) Shaw was born in Nebraska on November 30, 1885.  He arrived in Gig Harbor in 1924 with his wife, Vie, and their three children, as the Northwest District Salesman for the Masonic Supply Company.  Not long after moving to the Harbor the family permanently settled down at 3916 Benson Street, just west of Peacock Hill Avenue.

Shaw and his family soon became a part of the fabric of Gig Harbor.  He was outgoing and interested in the community.  He was a pretty colorful character, too!  His children remember him as having a perpetual attitude of, “What can we do for fun today?”  

Not surprisingly, Shaw was a man of many interests.  Listed here are a few of his more noteworthy interests and talents:
  • Musician (violin, guitar)
  • Composed ditties for entertainment of family and friends.
  • Avid archer.
  • Painted scenery and portraits.  (including the ceiling murals at original Hy Iu Hee Hee near Burnham and Sehmel, its large outdoor signs, as well as the Indian maiden who stood on the roof.)
  • Cartoonist – the community experienced that aspect of Shaw in the many fliers he posted around town when he was moved to express his opinion on some town-wide topic.   
  • He could be as prolific as he liked with these flyers and posters because for 30 years he owned a sign shop and printing business in town.
  • Patented several inventions (His Revolving Card Device is in the museum’s Main Gallery along with other Shaw items).
Outside of Gig Harbor, however, Shaw was most notably known for his Rooster Races.  

The head of the harbor began to experience rapid growth in 1918 after Pierce County renovated the dock at the head of the bay so a car ferry could stop at Gig Harbor.  This was a first for the Harbor – to have vehicles able to drive off and on the ferry.  This, along with the new Union High School built above the waterfront, where Harbor Ridge MS stands now, brought a commercial and residential boom to the north end.  The north end was where the action was!

However, this was short-lived because in 1923 the landing was moved to the renovated People’s Dock on the west side of the harbor, by today’s Tides Tavern.  Then, due to increased traffic and larger vehicles, it was moved again in 1928 to a new dock just outside of the entrance of the harbor at the end of a newly extended Harborview Drive.  Today there is a nice viewing platform there.

A second downtown grew up around these two docks.  This pretty much put the skids on the boom at the head of the harbor.  Most people didn’t have to travel to that end of town if they were just passing through.

The people at the north end of town were still having fun, though.  They tied up a barge down at the dock, brought in music (local and professional), and put on dances and concerts.  In 1935 they pulled together and raised the money to build a real bandstand so they could do these gatherings up right.

It was at this point that the idea for the rooster races was hatched.  Shaw and his friend, Bill Slonecker, who had recently opened the Home CafĂ© on North Harborview Drive, wanted to cook up something different to lure people back to their downtown for the bandstand celebration.  The area was still smarting from the loss of the car ferry landing in 1923.  The area along the west side was growing like mad, and the people on the north end wanted some of that business back!  What could they do that was unique?

Shaw thought of his childhood on the farm in Nebraska and how his mother’s roosters could be incited to run, and how he would often get in trouble for being the cause of it.  A ROOSTER RACE WOULD BE UNIQUE!  As a kid, Shaw used to tie a red rag around the rooster’s tail to make it think it was being followed, and it would run to get away.  He and Bill thought that would draw fire from the SPCA, so they decided on a red tag attached to the tail.  If they put a number on the tag they could defend it by protesting that they had to identify the roosters in some way, didn’t they?

There were a good number of chicken farms in the area then, so they put out a call in the newspaper for entrants by offering cash prizes for 1st and 2nd place winners.  Nine entrants showed up the day of the race, which was held right down the middle of today’s N. Harborview Dr., in the Finholm District. 

Imagine the scene:  Crowds, lots of noise, unnerved roosters, hovering handlers, expectations great and small.  BANG! went the starter’s gun.  And there are the nine roosters just standing there, bewildered.  Hopeful “jockeys” ignore the rules and begin to nudge their birds along toward the fishnet stretched behind the finish line.  Some trip over their roosters, some model by pantomime what’s expected, some run ahead hoping to inspire. At the end a great tangle of man and beast has to be extracted from the net.  It took the judges several hours of interviewing participants and spectators before declaring a winner:  Mrs. A.L. Hopkins’ black rooster hit the net just behind his jockey.

What a hit!  The Rooster Races (they are now capitalized!) became a weekly event in Gig Harbor; up on Benson Street behind Shaw’s house.   There was a real race track, oval and 80-yards around.  Betting, pretty local girls hired on as Roosterettes, and a chicken-coop town called Roosterville all added to the allure of the races.  For major town-wide events the races would be moved to a local park or open area.

Shaw copyrighted Rooster Races and anything that had to do with them.  Races were held around western Washington at fairs and other events.  He tried hard to get a sponsor for the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair, but was unsuccessful.

In December 1938 the roosters received national attention when they were featured on the Hobby Lobby radio show live from Madison Square Garden in NYC.  The show featured unusual hobbies, many of which revolved around animals.  It took a year of preparation, with letters back and forth between Shaw and David Elman of the Hobby Lobby show to get all the details arranged.  

In spite of all the effort put into the planning, things did not go as expected.  Elman had arranged lodging for Shaw and his roosters in a suite at a center-city hotel.  But roosters are early risers, and numerous guests phoned the front desk with complaints about the racket at such an early hour.  Elman received a call from a harried Shaw after he and his roosters had been removed from the hotel and put into a taxi.  Mr. Elman, professional that he was, managed to find a stable for the roosters and returned Shaw to his hotel room.

Shaw insisted on a rehearsal at Madison Square Garden.  After all, his racers had never been to the venue before, nor were they familiar with the starter.  What he hadn’t counted on was the press.  When the starter’s gun went off, so did the reporters’ flash cameras.  The roosters, blinded and traumatized, fell to the ground as though dead!  One, however, flew around in a fit until he found his way into the main arena, where he recovered during the several hours it took to retrieve him.  That evening the race went on without a hitch.

Movie studios made newsreels of the roosters which were shown at theaters across the nation.  Through these newsreels, along with the Hobby Lobby show, and numerous newspaper and magazine articles (for example: Life, Popular Science, Argosy), Shaw and his Rooster Races managed to put Gig Harbor on the map for over 50 million people worldwide!  The Movietone newsreel can be viewed in the museum at the Shaw exhibit.

The good times rolled on for Shaw and his roosters until 1948, when Washington State passed a law prohibiting gambling.  It seems that as entertaining as they were, the races didn’t have the allure they once had without the thrill of having a payback for picking the right rooster.

Roosterville was eventually moved up to Skandia Gaard on Peacock Hill (current site of Kona Coffee Company) where it was on display until the buildings deteriorated.  You can see one of these miniature buildings on display in the museum at the Shaw exhibit.

Racing roosters and Roosterville may have become history in 1948, but that didn’t stop C.E. Shaw from finding ways to have fun.  He went on to institute the Round Rock Contest in 1951.  The museum has some of the winning round rocks on display in the Shaw exhibit and in the lobby.  If you find a “roundest” rock in Washington State, you can still win money for it in Gig Harbor!  The contest is co-sponsored by the Harbor History Museum and the Chamber of Commerce.  Entries must be submitted by April 19, 2013.  You can download an entry on line or pick one up at the museum or the chamber.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday April 12, 1882

Nice warm day.  Finished roofing the main elevation to our house except the ridge also did a little work preparatory to ship building.  We will give the cottage a long farewell now and build a steamship.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Seglems

Oly Johanson left his home in Segle, Norway at age 24 and never returned to his homeland.  

Upon arriving in the U.S., Oly went to Minnesota, and then at age 29 moved west to Tacoma, Washington. In Tacoma he met a fellow Norwegian, Anna, and they were married in 1901. Together, they purchased 20 acres of land on today's Wollochet Lane. They had difficulty receiving their mail so Oly changed his last name to "Segle" after his hometown Segle, Norway because there were just too many Johansons in Gig Harbor. We learned in a previous blog for the Alvestad family that it was a common practice to take the name of your hometown in Europe for your surname if you decided, for reasons like Oly's, to change your name.

Oly and Anna had five children: Esther, Clara, Ruth, Herbert, and Nora. Clara, Nora, and Herbert left us a brief written document from the time they lived in Gig Harbor.   

Clara's reminiscence covered the period 1907 to 1965, Nora's 1912 to 1930, and Herbert's the logging activity at Sleepy Hollow when he was a schoolboy.  

I thought it would be interesting to let their own words explain the memories of living in East Cromwell.

Clara Seglem Attlesey:  

"Lived on 20 acre farm - we walked 1 mile to school at Cromwell 8 years. Many happy days spent at school. Had play and social time at Hall at Sunny Bay - where we played games and danced to a small orchestra. We walked to all these affairs. Our school had 2 rooms. 1-4 grades 5-8 grades. We also had 9th grade for a couple years.

Cromwell Community Hall

"Mrs. Kellogg who was post mistress at Cromwell and she had many social gatherings for her 2 sons and included all the upper grades. She played the piano. We all could sing very well. We had bon fires on the beach in this days. We could go any where on beach, no one objected. Lots of good times - we picked strawberries & cherries for the neighbors, sometimes for money, sometimes just to get the crop picked.  We were all good tree climbers.  Just as good as monkeys.  I think we ate as many as we picked.

"The Bay Island, a steamer, picked up all freight & passengers to go to Tacoma every day where we met neighbors and friends, and the not so friendly.  It was an all day trip - there were docks along the whole water from (missing)….  What fun it was.

Cromwell School

"Our school picnic end of year was held at Pt. Defiance Park. In May when school was out. That was a highlight for us all - everyone came & brought lots of food. And to spend a day at Park was an occasion we didn't want to miss. It was real cool & sometimes fog & rain. No matter we should go if possible. There was no other way to get there.
Cromwell Picnic
"Our church also had many doings we all could go to - good musical programs all local talent, and there were some very talented people amongst us Norwegians, Swedish, Italians, French, and mixtures of a kind. There were large families, medium and small - no children in some. We had good times & sad ones. When the flu hit in the winter 1918 many we knew did not make it. But somehow everyone comes out of the tragedies unharmed and go about the business of living.
Cromwell Lutheran church
"I was ten...and came back in 1974. We built a new home near where we lived for so many years. And my brother still has a few cattle & farms.  And it always seems nice to go down to his house on Wollochet Bay - I have a sister living here also."

Herbert J. Seglem:

"When I was going to school they were logging Sleepy Hollow with horses and they had their barn and house just below the hill. They had two teams, one they used to haul the logs to the bay and the other to skid the logs out of the woods.  They dump the logs at Bay view and I used to play and swim off the raft. The names of the men that logged the land were Max Landen and Felps. We built our house in 1907 and it cost us about 2500 dollars."

Horse-drawn logging wagon
Nora Seglem Anderson:

"One of the few things I remember about my days at Cromwell school is one Valentine's Day we had about two feet of snow, but I insisted on going to school because our teacher always had a nice party for us - with a lot of goodies and valentines. That day (and I was real small in those days) my sister Ruth had to walk in front of me and make a path in the snow so I could get through - and was I wet and tired when we got to school because it was a mile from our home.

"Another thing - coming home from a dance or program at the Old Community Hall (we had no rides) we were scared - so we took our shoes off - and ran as fast as we could down, through "Sleepy Hollow".  We were always afraid someone was hiding in the woods and would jump out and scare us."
Nora Seglem

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday April 5, 1882 Emmett Hunt Diary

Another warm sunny day.  Hired a nag and went in search of a bondsman found him easily & returned to F. J's where I put in the eve pleasantly.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.