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.


  1. "In AUGUST 1996 after vandals had cut a four foot hole in the nylon net at the fishermen's memorial statue,..." should read AUGUST 2004 AFafter vandals had cut a four foot ...."

  2. Thanks to the City of Gig Harbor for a fitting memorial to the Ancich family and the fishermen who made Gig Harbor their home port. I fished with John Jr. on the FVs Hyda Boy and Courageous. John Sr. showed us how to build a seine the spring following the loss of the Hyda Boy. We worked for days on the net, along the dock attached to the shed.
    As a historian, I commend you all for your efforts towards preserving the character and heritage of your town.