I ran across this article from Mary Ellen and Don Sehmel which was read by Mrs. W. E. White on Old Settler’s Day at the Peninsula Fair , unfortunately though other than that notation the paper is undated. However we do know that, based upon the Tacoma Public Library Image Archives that the 4th annual Gig Harbor Fair was held on September 11-13, 1925. The archive continues with the statement “It reminded all that the friendly community of “Rosedale Always has a Welcome” And that it had been named in 1883 by W. E. White for the many roses that grew around the inlet.”
But I think it gives us a better understanding of live around the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. And, also how resilient the early settlers were.
I have been asked to write an article on the early history of Rosedale. It would take some time to hunt up dates, to recall a few incidents land events, in their order, so will skip over a few on hand. I do know that the general public gets tired of listening to the old settlers tales of pioneer days.
I started with my two children Walter and Willie from Nebraska and arrived in Tacoma in Oct. 1882, coming by way of the N. P. Railroad to San Francisco then taking a boat to Seattle, then to Tacoma, changing again to Steilacoom but the boat dropped us of at Fox Island. Then we got a rowboat to take us to the head of Wollochet Bay. We rested there at our good neighbor’s George Ferguson then we started through the trail to our last stopping place, beautiful Henderson Bay. Henderson Bay was called after Capt. Henderson on of the officers to Admiral Rainier’s fleet. At the head of this bay, on the place now owned by Mr. Peters (1) were two log cabins, relics of the Hudson Bay Company One was a large bunk house with a primitive fire place built of mud and stones at the bottom and the roof of the house being open at the top for the smoke to go through. This place was occupied by a family by the name of Eason (2), the original owner of the point across from the Lay Store. We lived in the other one. Every evening we would sit around the fireplace and talk and sing and make huckleberry pudding in a large pot on the rods across the fireplace. When done we would eat our dinner. Each family contributed their share. Soon we departed, they to their home and we to our little shack on the homestead. We were finally alone, “the Gude Mon” going away to work, then with the two babies we learned to row a little. After a while we became brave enough to visit our neighbors. When we became very lonely, would tie Willie in a soap box in the bottom of the boat, row down to Mrs. Henry’s, stay a night or two bringing her home to stay with us a while. Often when rowing up in the evening I used to imagine a great canoe load of Indians coming up, remembering the stories I had read of their cruelties to early settlers. I awoke many a time putting my hand to my head to see if my scape was still there. But the Indians never came.
Our mail used to come over to Wollochet Bay by way of Steilacoom, carried on the “Baby Mine” by Capt. Emmett Hunt. The few settlers along the Bay used to take turns going after the mail as it only came once a week, we were very anxious. This is where our dear neighbor, Mrs. Whitmore should come in. Her house was usually the stopping place for volunteers. We only had one Christmas dinner. Usually we met at Capt. McLean’s (now Mrs. Warren’s home) each contributing some part of the meal, and with one fiddle used to dance away the long hours; not the fox trot then. Our first school was held on the point now occupied by White’s Store. As the new settlers came we decided to be on the map and have a Post Office of our own. Mr. White and Mr. David Petrey went around the bay and got signers. We called a meeting at Capt. McLean’s and these names were mentioned: Ferndale, Rosedale, Alpine, Brownsville, McLeans Landing (anything but Brownville, says I. That means whiskers and a sunbonnet). As there were two families of Browns, I didn’t say it aloud, but to myself. When Mr. White went to the Chamber of Commerce to see about it we found Ferndale on the map of Washington, so Rosedale was decided on and Rosedale it remains.
Our first mail boat was the “Sophis” owned and operated by the Lorenz family. News came to us that a great steamer was going to come over and try to establish a route betweenTacoma and Rosedale and adjoining stations. The great day arrived; we were there with our boys and girls, our gun and lunches. When the “Clara Brown” came around the island and whistled, such shouting and yelling, such firing of guns. The opening of the Panama Canal was nothing to it. We used to go in a rowboat for supplies two or three times a year, a couple families going together and bringing enough to last some time. By and by a trail was blazed between here and Gig Harbor; also on the way to Purdy. The Charles Sehmel brought his bride from Germany and Henry soon followed suit. We were very happy that we had neighbors about us.
We used to pay our minister in this manner; we would each bring a dozen eggs and have a crate of chickens or ducks. Each family brought one or two and the minister shipped them using the money for himself. Of course there were other ways such as socials and entertainments. I do not want to forget our literary society or the little paper read at the society.
Now would be a good time to tell you about the well on Mr. Peter’s place. It is about sixty five years old. Messrs Winchester and Jones, two Hudson Bay Co. men told me it had been there thirty five years when we came. Us young folks used to shut our eyes, dip a bucket up and down three times and wish. It always came true. Try it. I could tell you a little incident about Dead Man’s Island. Have you read Herbert Bashford’s poem about it? And the stories about a wild cat terrorizing the neighborhood; people that were lost and found again; but it would take too long. And now I shut my eyes holding my head up to catch the first rain drops of the season - and glad my home is on the shores of Henderson Bay.
(1) The Peters’ place was at the head of the Slough where Mr. McMasters and his sister live. Mr. Peters developed into a very pretty park like place.
(2) Wm. Eason HD6496 homesteaded what later was developed as Henderson Bay Orchard Tracts-from Cherry Cove to Yakima Pt.
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