Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gustav (Gus) Carlson

I want to give a shoutout to Pierce County Public Works Record Department.  They spent considerable time helping me try to discover more information on Gustav (Gus) Carlson.  They also allowed me to visit their office and look through the files they had on the Pt. Fosdick-Gig Harbor County Road and the ferry dock and landing constructed at Pt. Fosdick.

Friday, June 8, 2012, Linda McCowen published a blog entitled “Pt. Fosdick Ferry Landing Opens, June 8, 1928.    It’s a very interesting blog and I thought that I might expand upon it somewhat.  I’ll discuss not only the Point Fosdick ferry landing but also upon one family whose head of household  lost his life during the construction of the ferry landing.

However I do want to ask your help in solving a mystery I encounter while doing research on this family.  It is most rare that you will find two families who not only share the same surname but also the same first names of the family members, but also of their spouses and children.  And the two families located in the same general vicinity.  But that is what has happened to me. 

But let’s start at the beginning, and as we go along I explain what I found confusing.

Gustav (Gus) Carlson was born in Sweden in 1864.  He immigrated to the United States in 1885 and went to Burlington, Iowa where his sister was living.  Gus decided to move on, first to North Dakota where he met his future wife, Anna Matilda Munson, another Swedish immigrant.  Anna left North Dakota for Tacoma, Washington.  Gus followed here there, and they were married in 1890.  They had six children:  (Carl) Oscar, Elvira (Elve), Lillian, Leonard in Tacoma, and Helen and Margaret following their move to Cromwell located in Pierce County as cross Puget Sound.  Unfortunately, like many others Lillian and Helen both lost their lives during the 1918 flu epidemic.  Helen was only 13 and died on Christmas Eve; Lillian was 23 and died on New Year’s Eve.

They moved to East Cromwell when Gus purchased 10 acres there for $750 which included 1200 feet of beach frontage.  A little later he purchased an additional 8 acres.  The family farm produced cherries, strawberries, tomatoes, and other fruit and vegetables for the Tacoma market, as well for their own family use.  Oscar (born 1892) rowed across the Sound to Tacoma delivering the produce standing at the bow of the bow and rowing with a single paddle.  Sometimes his sister Elve would go with him.  Fog is not unusual on the waters of Puget Sound and the surrounding waters.  On one of these occasions the fog was so heavy it was hard to see the shore.  So Elve jumped out as soon as they spotted the land and, with a rope tied onto the boat, walked along the shore while Oscar rowed until they reach home.  

Gus helped build the Cromwell Grade School in 1902.  Gus also worked on the road works projects building roads around Cromwell and Wollochet Peninsula areas as road foreman.  And Oscar worked with him on some of the projects between 1909 and 1912.  Solely with horse power, the road crews removed stumps, scraped mud, spread gravel and build bridges through the forest.  
Gus Carlson - Pile Driver - Pt. Fosdick Ferry Landing & Dock

In 1920 Gus deeded 60 feet of his East Cromwell waterfront property to Pierce County so a ferry landing could be build, although that didn’t happen until 1928.  And when Pierce County decided to build the Pt. Fosdick ferry landing Gus was foreman on that project too and Oscar worked along side him.  Unfortunately, Gus died tragically in 1927 while the ferry landing was being constructed.  He was killed instantly when a piling attached to a crane stuck him in the head.

Anna, his wife, remained in Cromwell keeping up the farm and farmhouse, repairing various farm buildings, and even building a cottage that she sometimes rented out.

On  October 28, 1927 a 4 1/2 mile long gravelled road was completed between Point Fosdick and Gig Harbor; the road was also extended to Bremerton, Washington in Kitsap County.  

According to the news releases on the completion of the new Pt. Fosdick ferry landing it was a first class dock in every respect.  Direct ferry service to Sixth Avenue in Tacoma took only 8 minutes; but once stops were added for East Cromwell and Fox Island the trip was an additional 2 minutes, or 10 minutes total.
Defiance Ferry  - Pt Fosdick Dock

In a 1929 advertisement for the ferry system operated by Washington Navigation Company the following information appeared.

Regular schedule are maintained on thee routes…..
Point Fosdick-Sixth Avenue.  A short quick ferry route to Hood Canal and Peninsula highways.  
Point Fosdick always has good fishing.  There are boats and cabins to rent, an extensive campground.  A pebbly beach appeals to young and old - picnic here some time. 
NOTE:  Practically continous ferry service is rendered between Tacoma (Sixth Avenue or Pt. Defiance) and the Olympic Peninsula (Point Fosdick or Gig Harbor).  If ferry is not at dock consult ferry schedule to see if there is a ferry leaving from another dock namely on the Tacoma side - Sixth Avenue or Pt. Defiance; on the Peninsula side - Point Fosdick or Gig Harbor, Fox Island-Sixth Avnue.  On Fox Island and around East Cromwell are summer homes that offer all the quiet beauty of outdoors a short distance from Tacoma, good roads and trails abound and intrigue you into fascinating woodland that opens on cool beaches everywhere..
Wollochet Ferry
Now, what was it I need you help on?  I was looking on the internet, in the records at the Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room, and on for additional information on Gustav Carlson’s death, on his son, Oscar, and other family members.

I found Gus. A. Carlson, obituary date 12 November 1927 whose wife was Anna Matilda, 2 sons, 1 daughter but this Gus Carlson lived in Wilkenson, WA and was a merchant.  I found several Gustav Carlson born 1864, Tacoma, married to Anna Matilda, but not the right ones.  I found Carl Oscar Carlson, same name of his wife, his parents, etc. but died in 1964 where our Oscar celebrated his 100th birthday on October 14, 1992 according to a birthday notice in The Morning News Tribune, Tacoma, Wednesday Food/Family Section Page 6.

Some of the information found in the Pierce County DPW Records included the following:
  • Pierce County requested permission to build the ferry landing on Hales Passage at Pt. Fosdick  about 5 miles west of Tacoma on October 28, 1927.  On December 31, 1930, permission was given by the Engineering Office, Northern Pacific Division in Portland on behalf the Secretary of War.
  • The dock had to be extended 45 ft. due to the Ferry Defiance drawing 3 ft more water than the Ferry Wollochet; cost $451.40
  • McHugh & Johnson were awarded the contract for the Pt. Fosdick-Gig Harbor County road designated as Permanent Highway 27 on April 12, 1927
  • P. J. Henson & Son entered into a contract with Pierce County DPW on January 11, 1928 to build the dock for $3,511.40.  The 1927 Road & Bridge Budget had $4,000 included for approach and new ferry landing. 
  • On June 2, 1931 Pierce County DPW entered into a contract to demolish the first Pt. Fosdick dock adjacent to the new slip and landing place for $500 contract and the posting of a surety bond by contractor for faithful performance of contract.
  • It appears that all the residents and business along the route of the new Pt. Fosdick-Gig Harbor County road had to grant x-number feet of Right of Way to Pierce County for the road construction.
Pt. Fosdick Landing with the Ferry "Tacoma" nearby

So now it is your turn to help like Pierce County DPW did. I would appreciate very much if you have any information regarding Gustav Carlson, his wife Anna Matilda Munson, their children Oscar, Elvira (Elve), Leonard and Margaret, please share it with me at the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, WA.    Oscar had a son, Dr. Ralph Carlson (Janet) in Olympia in 1992; a daughter Arlene (Cy Hanson) in Tacoma 1992.  Elve had a son Ted Bartholemew.  If you could help us complete our information on this family, it would be most appreciated.  I did notice at the DPW that there were three Carlson families living in the Pt. Fosdick road area: Hans Carlson and  C. F Carlson and a John Carlson.  But I have no information of a relationship with Gustav Carlson’s family.© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I have a small collection of photos from around 1900 to the early 60s, but most are from the 1920s-40s. One of the 1920s or 30s photos has hand written on the back side "Grandpa Johnson & Gus Carlson". Both those names are in this article, ("McHugh & Johnson were awarded the contract for the Pt. Fosdick-Gig Harbor County road designated as Permanent Highway 27 on April 12, 1927") so I'm wondering it's the same folks.