Thursday, June 26, 2014

Home, Washington

In Utopias on Puget Sound 1885-1915 by Charles Pierce LeWarne, he opens the chapter on Home with the subtitle of “Nest of Anarchy or Haven of Individualism?”’

Of all the communities on Puget Sound, Home seems to be the most widely known, and like the communes of the 60s and early 70s, it was because of all the stories of free love and nudism.

1896 found the nation in a severe depression. and people were on the move trying to find ways, means and places to escape the financial crisis.  The settlement was founded that same year by three families who had left the Glennis Cooperative Industrial Company, a commune inspired by the Bellamy nationalistic movement and located on 160 acres near Clear Lake on the Eatonville Road, 17 miles south of Tacoma, Washington.  Glennis was founded in 1894 but didn’t survive the rigidity of the governing and diversity of the 30 members.

So three families, Oliver A. Verity, George H. Allen, and B. F. Odell built a boat to tour the Puget Sound and buy some land to start anew.  Their $20 allowed them to purchase 26 acres fronting Von Geldern Cove on the Key Peninsula.  However that $20 was only the down-payment.  They needed to pay the same amount ever 60 days until the full purchase price of $182 was paid.   
Home Bridge

George Allen, a Canadian university graduate and teacher, took a position in Tacoma to help raise money and the other two men remained in Home to cut and sell cordwood.  They were able to negotiate with Captain Ed Lorenz, owner of the steamer “Typhoon” to accept cordwood as payment for passage and freight.

Although the formal name of the small bay was Von Geldern Cove, it was commonly called Joe’s Bay.  It is not known whether Joe’s Bay was named for Joe Faulkner (he was the first settler in 1870) or for a drunken fisherman who fell into the bay from his boat and drown.

The three pioneer families, all from different backgrounds, each in their own way contributed to form the new commune.  Odell, a blacksmith and carpenter, Verity, an Oberlin College graduate and the most practical of the three families, and then the Allens, both husband and wife were university graduates and teachers from Canada.

George Allen lived in Home for nearly the half century that remained of his life.  Of the three, he remained the longest resident.  His granddaughter wrote a delightful remembrance of Home in 1982.   It is entitled “Home at Home” by Sylvia E. Retherford.  Sylvia was born in Home in 1919 as was her mother and only brother.  Her father, also a Canadian, was attracted to the community by the numerous leftist publications circulated nationwide.  Some, to name just a few, were:  “New Era”; “Discontent”: Mother of Progress”; “The Demonstrator”; “The Agitator”, and “Clothed with the Sun”.  The “New Era” was established in 1897 as the first newspaper in Home and O. A. Verity (as he liked to be called) was editor and invited “… all who believed in man’s rights to do and think as he pleased …” to join the new commune in Home, Washington. Many people decided to accept the invitation and move to the far west though the majority of the free thinkers were not just anarchists but included individualists, free love followers (sorry all you 1960 souls that thought you owned free love), vegetarians, atheists, and several people representing different religious beliefs and spiritual beliefs.  Radium (Ray) LaVene donated several albums including a collection of pictures of scenes and people in Home from 1898 to 1950; a complete file of “Discontent, Mother of Progress”; and listing of other articles appearing in the Seattle and Tacoma newspapers.  Insofar as being a nudist colony Mr. LaVene made the following statement “There was no ‘parading in the streets nude!  Small children went swimming nude and a few adults brought the nude bathing custom with them from Europe, who bathed singlely (sic) or in small groups in secluded areas.”  (Mr. LaVene was raised in Home, WA; his parents being Nathan and Bessie Levin.)

Home School

“Discontent, Mother of Progress”, the second newspaper and it too had O. A. Verity as editor with a short life as well from 1898 until 1902.  This was a weekly paper consisting of articles covering not only local news but also included national news and reprints of other articles of interest from across the country, Canada and even some from Europe, all within 4 pages of newsprint.  Some of the titles in the December 18, 1901 edition read as “The Insane Anarchists”, “The Dreamer”, Is the Indian an Aranchist?” and “The Bennett Case”.  D,, M. Bennett was very anti-religious and published many articles against religion in his newspaper “Truth Seeker” in the 1870s; eventually he was tried and convicted of obscenity for selling through his paper “Cupid’s Yokes” by Ezra Heywood.  The US Circuit Court sentenced him to “13 months imprisonment at hard labor and a fine of $400.”  “Discontent” also included a list of books and pamphlets for sale by it and, more importantly, included the Articles of Incorporation and Agreement of the Mutual Home Association (important if you considered joining the settlement).  It was also a source of information on life in Home and similar communities.   The University of Washington has copies of Pacific Northwest Labor and Radical Newspapers on their Labor Press Project

Does the name Jay Fox ring a bell?  Perhaps you remember studying the Wobblies and ran across his name then.  Jay left school at age 14 and started his working life as a laborer and working for the labor cause - an 8-hour working day, adequate compensation for all workers, a free press, women’s rights and individual freedom.  His connection with Home began in 1908 when he accepted a position as editor of “The Demonstrator” which was replaced 2 years later by “The Agitator”.  He lived on and off in Home until his death in 1961.  A great article on Jay is entitled Jay Fox: Anarchrist of Home.

The founders worked out fundamental principles that emphasized tolerance and independence.  They used a formula from the US Department of Agriculture to divide the land equally amongst all settlers and determined that number should be 2 acres.

After two years without a formal organization, practicality entered the picture and they formed the Mutual Home Association in 1898 and named their settlement “Home”, taking it from the charter itself.  The only stated purpose of the association was “to assist members in obtaining and building homes for themselves and to aid in establishing better social and moral conditions”.  

Interesting, although houses and other improvements to the land were owned outright by the owner/member of the association, the land title remained with the Mutual Home Association.  However the  membership certificates including land rights could be willed to family members or other beneficiaries.   In 1990 several Home residents petitioned Pierce County for Historical designations for many of their homes and other community structures.  When I checked I found that the David Dadisman House, and the Home School at 6th and C Street were listed; there may be more and if so, please let us know the names of the other homes and buildings.  Home is a Census-Designated place (CDC) which is a populated area without a municipal government but otherwise resembles an incorporated community.
Home Baseball Team

The history of Home is so rich that I cannot begin to cover it all.  There are several books and other resources including the internet should you wish to learn more including a visit to the Key Peninsula Historical Society.  

But before I close let me share Stella Retherford’s recollection of an attempted raid of Home by some Tacoma residents and others following President McKinley’s assassination in 1901.   

A story of Captain Ed’s (Lorenz) service to Home is not complete without recounting his part in averting a tragedy following President McKinley’s assassination on September 6, 1901.  Home was known as an anarchist colony and although Home’s anarchists were strictly nonviolent individualists, some Tacomans immediately became suspicious when the assassin, Leon Czolgosz, announced loudly that he was an anarchist.

Even though Home residents did not approve of McKinley’s policies, they condemned the assassination as wanton and useless.  The Tacoma Daily Ledger and the Tacoma Evening News published articles and editorials denouncing anarchists in general and the citizens of Home in particular.  These articles, and a few ministers from their pulpits, sponsored the assembly of a mob of enraged Tacomans who vowed to “wipe out the anarchists, atheists and free lovers of Home.” 

The raiding party chartered the ANACONDA on a Sunday in October to come to Home.  Local people were forewarned and frightened, but they set up tables on the dock to greet their visitors with handshakes, food and flowers as this treatment had calmed other excited antagonists.  This reception committee never did find it necessary to extend their hands across the tables, as Captain Ed, having heard some of their fiery speeches before embracing, had a plan.  He took the  party aboard and steamed out into Commencement Bay where the boat developed “motor trouble” and sat quietly for several hours while the angry passengers calmed down.  Then being too late for the trip, he returned them to Tacoma and refunded their fares.”

A very few resources for further reading:
  • Utopias on Puget Sound 1885-1915 by Charles Pierce LeWarne
  • The Anarchist Encyclopedia from the Daily Bleed - Home Colony, Washington
  • University of Washington Labor Press Project
  • Wikipedia
  • The Peninsula Gateway - Articles by Gladys Para
  • Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room
  • Washington State Historical Museum

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Emmett Hunt's Diary Wednesday, June 27, 1883

Warm & sunny.  All day do nothing but visit.  A party comes to our house at night & we have a gay time.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

History - Past and Present

I would like to share with all of you readers a little bit of historic preservation in action.  I believe it will give you ideas on how you too can become involved; and also a reminder that history is always in the making!

I also need to thank John Moist for allowing me to share his words with you.  John and Lita Dawn Stanton sit on the Board of Directors of the Coastal Heritage Alliance (CHA for short), a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, whose mission is the preservation and advancement of commercial fishing family cultural heritage.  To continue in his words:

“We do this by becoming a pivotal and guiding advocate for the maintenance and preservation of this cultural heritage through development, design, and implementation of effective research projects, documentation techniques and public programming both at sea and within coastal communities. …

Skansie Brothers Shipbuilding Netshed and Related Structures with Fog Hovering

“In short, our West Coast operation has leased the Skansie Brothers’ Netshed from the City as our base of operations, classroom, workshop, and display center for objects which were removed from the Netshed for safe keeping while piling replacement and renovation of the building took place.  We (CHA) are fairly new in Gig Harbor; however our East Coast operation , out of St. Michaels MD, was formed by our founding director and president, Captain Michael Vlahovich, a Master Shipwright, in 1994.  Michael originally from Tacoma was himself a fisherman and a member of a prolific fishing family.

“Another valuable asset that CHA possesses is the fishing vessel, Commencement, which has been converted into a floating educational center with charter trips available locally as well as to Alaska to observe the Gig Harbor (commercial) fishing fleet first hand and in action.”
Coastal Heritage Alliance's "Commencement"

The following is, as stated, the keynote Address, at the Second Annual Croatian Salmon Dinner held on June 6, 2014, at the Skansie Brothers Netshed.  Again, the address was presented by John Moist.

2014 Coastal Heritage Alliance Second Annual Salmon Dinner
Keynote Address

First please let me welcome each of you to this our second annual salmon dinner and thank you all for coming.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is John Moist and I am a member of the Coastal Heritage Alliance Board of Directors.  I have been active in Downtown Gig Harbor civic affairs for the past 12 years.  I am one of the three founders of the Downtown Waterfront Alliance, formally the Downtown Historic Waterfront Association.

I want to thank our Salmon Dinner Committee for their hard work and effort putting this gala event together especially Lita Dawn Stanton, without whose tireless dedication this wild caught salmon dinner would not have been possible.  Let’s give Dawn a huge round of applause.   
While I do not hail from here or even Washington State, I first passed through Gig Harbor in 1963 on my way to British Columbia.  Things have definitely changed these past 51 years.  Then in 1996 I moved my family to the Puget Sound where I fell in love with Gig Harbor and vowed to retire here.  Well, I have not retired yet, but Gig Harbor is now my home.  I have been the General Manager for Arabella’s Landing Marine since 2001 working for Stan and Judy Stearns.

Tonight I want to talk to you for a few minutes about another passion of mine, Coastal Heritage Alliance and this net shed.  I got involved with this 104 year old blue and red behemoth, as a volunteer, in 2007.  

This old place instantly reminded me of my childhood and my grandfather’s aging fishing shack on Herman’s Slough on the north east end of San Francisco Bay.  His shack was one of about thirty, 20 by 30 foot shacks filled with old fishing gear, memorabilia, homemade dinghies, boat parts machine and woodworking shops and more.  As a woodworking craftsman my grandfather contributed to the war effort by hand building more than 50 life boats for the US Navy.  He fished in the Bay for bass for 50 years out of his old double ender Italian fishing boat with its old one lunger engine – ka chunk – ka chunk.  If I ever pushed it above 3 knots he had a fit.  At night we would sit around 55 gallon drums of burning diesel fuel to keep warm and listen to the fishermen’s stories while my grandfather hand carved boats and wooden animals for me.  It was a wonderful time in my life and endeared me to the water, boats and fishermen for the rest of my life.  So as you can see I have a kindred connection with this Netshed and Gig Harbor.

May I see a show of hands for those of you have not been in the Netshed before?  

So why are we here tonight?  If you are a first timer to the Shed we are here to introduce you to this historic landmark following major renovation work or if you are an old timer to reintroduce you to the shed with hundreds of the original artifacts returned and on display. 

That said there is still a lot of work to be done.  Tonight I am here to ask for your help achieving these goals of returning this building to a place for fishermen to work on their nets and other gear, a place for crew members to train, a place to pass on traditional maritime skills, a place for guest speakers, presentations, workshops and storytelling related to fishing culture a place to introduce guests to Gig Harbor fishing family culture, a place to gather, to celebrate heritage or simply find a bit of solitude on the waterfront.  

We need people with a passion for all of those things I just listed and a desire to learn and pass along those skills.  

I am not going to stand before you tonight and ask for your time or your money, rather to point out the stamped self addressed cards on your table for you to fill out and return to us.  Think about what it is you would like to do to preserve this building and our proud and successful fishing heritage and let us know.

We are selling raffle tickets for an opportunity for you and five friends to enjoy a three hour summers evening on a champagne and hors d’oeuvres cruise under the bridge and around the south sound and Gig Harbor Bay aboard the FV Commencement.  The Commencement is available for both educational and pleasure charters.  We have brochures if you want to learn more about the Commencement.  The raffle tickets are $5.00 each or 5 for $20.00.  

If you are a fisherman
…Ever was a fisherman
…Are related to a fisherman
…Know a fisherman
…Ever dated a fisherman
…Want to be a fisherman
…Or just plain like fishermen
You belong at Skansie Netshed where 
We are making the invisible visible again by celebrating gig Harbor’s Fishing Heritage”

Boat under Construction during Active Shipbuilding Operations at Skansie Netshed

I am hoping, as stated at the beginning, this provides you with one more opportunity to become actively involved in our Gig Harbor, Washington community’s historic preservation and make a little history in the process.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Emmett Hunt's Diary Wednesday, June 20, 1883

Did some writing, cooking, got a little fuel & so on.  Nothing of any importance.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer’s Coming

It’s a busy time of year, especially in Gig Harbor, Washington, as we are gearing up for summer and all its wonderful outdoors activities.  

The commercial fishermen have been hard at work trying to finish all their winter repairs and updates to their boats as they head out for summer fishing in Alaska.  The start of the season is always the Blessing of the Fleet conducted by St.Nicholas Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus on Sunday.  At such time, wreaths are also placed upon the water honoring all those who lost their lives on the seas, and also to bring back safely all who are on their way fishing.  

The blessing of the fleet is a time honored tradition that goes back many centuries into the murky sea of legend and tradition. Some legends have the origins going back to early Greek fishermen. One story has it that the tradition of asking clergy to bless boats and their crews began in Sicily after some fishermen were saved from certain death in a storm. According to the legend, they had lost their way in a thick fog when they suddenly saw a glimmering light in the distance. Following the light, they were able to make their way back to shore. There, they discovered that the light came from a medallion of the Madonna del Lume (Mother of Light) set in a grotto high on a cliff. Whatever the origin, many fishing and boating communities throughout the world have been blessing their fleets for centuries.  This was taken off of the internet site for History of the Blessing of the Fleet.
Police Boat making rounds during the Blessing of the Fleet

As John Moist, Grand Knight of the St. Nicholas Catholic Parish Knights of Columbus Council 9238 stated Sunday “In 1971 St. Nicholas Catholic Parish Knights of Columbus Council 9238 in Gig Harbor (Washington) began this tradition.  A procession of Fourth Degree Knights in full regalia carrying the “Our Lady of the Harbor” Icon along with other Knights, dignitaries, the Priest and Alter Servers process from the 100 year old Church down to the Fishermen’s Statue at Jerisich Park.  There a service is held to honor those lost at sea the previous year and to pray for a safe and bountiful catch this season.  The procession then continues down to the foot of the dock, where the party boards run-about boats which then circle the fleet while the Priest blesses the boats and crew with Holy Water and wreaths are laid in the water.”
"Our Lady of the Harbor" 

Some of the Knights of Columbus

Some of the Knights of Columbus

And then, there is the news of of an anchor found off Whidbey Island which I’m sure you saw on TV and in the newspapers.  What’s important about this specific anchor?  Many amateur history buffs believe that it is the anchor which broke off the HMS Chatham 222 years ago.  It so, it is the only surviving relic of Capt. George Vancouver’s 1792 survey of the Pacific Coast off of what is now known as the State of Washington.
A month after Capt. Vancouver sailed into the Puget Sound his ships, Discovery and Chatham sailed as far down as Olympia, and them the expedition headed back north to Anacortes.  As often happens on the open waters, the currents change from slow to swift, and this time there were 5.5 knot currents on the way back.  Weather experts at NOAA have verified the currents in Admiralty Bay were 5.5 knots on June 9, 1792.  Scott Grimm and Doug Monk believe the journals kept during the expedition “more accurately fit the terrain described.”  Scott admits that he may be wrong (armchair historians have been searching off Bellingham Channel {where it was assumed to have lost the anchor} for decades and still haven’t found anything.”  “I think we’ll finally be vindicated,” Grimm said.  “At least I hope we will.”  (The Seattle Times, Local News, June 9, 2014 (modified June 10, 2014 @ 8:25AM)
Unfortunately I am unable to show a picture of the anchor found and raised off Whidbey Island.
Summers coming, next up are Summer Sounds featuring June 24 - Stephanie Anne Johnson (as seen on the Voice),July 1 - 133rd Army Band, July 8 - Off the Hook (a mix of old school funk R&B and classic soul, July 15  - Ranger & The Re-Arrangers (gypsy jazz), July 22 - Beatniks, July 29  - Chris Anderson (Jazz standards to motown to traditional pop), August 5  - Blue Rocket Music (uptempo blues, country & rockabilly), August 12  - Stick Shift Annie with Kimball & the Fugitives (Red hot blues, jazz swing & rock), and August 19  - Funaddicts.
If that isn’t enough there is Chalk the Walk on July 19th, Wine and Food Festivals on July 26th, and Summer Cinema Outdoors:
July 11th The Help 9:15pm at Donkey Creek Park
July 12th The Black Stallion 9:15pm at Skansie Brothers Park
July 25th Remember the Titans 9:00pm at Donkey Creek Park
July 26th Little Giants 9:00pm at Skansie Brothers Park
August 8th Big Miracle 8:30pm at Donkey Creek Park
August 9th Wall E 8:30pm at Skansie Brothers Park
August 22nd Jaws 8:15pm at Donkey Creek Park
August 23rd The Jungle Book 8:15pm at Skansie Brothers Park
See you around town!  There are more things but I can’t list them all.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Emmett Hunt's Diary Wednesday, June 13, 1883

Cloudy & pleasant  ... Wooded & watered Baby, picked 2 gall. g-berries then came home & chopped

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Flag Day

Sumner Washington will be joining a nationwide effort to mark the historic anniversary of the flag `raising’s 200th anniversary” reads the heading..  According to the news article in the June 2, 2014 issue of The News Tribune Sumner is one of the only communities on the West Coast that has so far signed up to participate and will hold their celebration at the gazebo in the center of their Reuben A. Knoblauch Heritage Park just off Main Street at 1 PM on June 14th.  Anyone with enthusiasm is welcome.

The article continues to state “Other participants include The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Park Service and the City of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, according to the “Raise it Up!” website.”

For those who have forgotten, Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777 although it wasn't until 1916 when a president (Woodrow Wilson) issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14 as flag day.  It took another 33 years before, In August 1949, Congress passed an Act establishing a national flag day, but the Act did not include the day as a federal holiday.

When I was growing up it seemed that no matter where I lived Flag Day was always celebrated with a parade, community picnics, bands, and just about everything you envision as "middle America" celebrations.  It didn't matter whether we were in Colorado, Arizona or Delaware - there were celebrations.  So you might be surprised to discover that Flag Day is not a state or federal holiday.  Gig Harbor, Washington has a celebration on the first weekend in June originally started in 1970s as Harbor Holidays and a community get-together and celebration, and now renamed the "Maritime Gig".   But no specific Flag Day celebration.  Although Gig Harbor residents do honor the flag as you notice when you drive along its streets - many homes display the flag all summer and the City of Gig Harbor has flags mounted along the main streets in and around the downtown waterfront.  Don’t get me wrong though, I’m certain other areas throughout the community are also displaying the flag.

According to Wikipedia, possibly the oldest longest continuing Flag Day parade is held in Fairfield, Spokane county, Washington.  Fairfield was founded in 1888 when Mr. E. H Morrison named the community for his wife’s hometown.  The population was estimated at 608 for the year 2013; and is comprised of 0.62 square miles.  Wikipedia's entry goes on to state that Fairfield's parade started in 1909 or 1910 and has held the parade every year with the possible exception of 1981.  The parade is still held today and is followed by all day activities, food and a beer garden.  

But prior to that George Morris of Hartford Connecticut is credited with having the first flag day celebration in 1861 although it did not become an annual tradition.

The next person known for being instrumental in establishing a national flag day was Bernard J. GiGrand.  1885 Mr. GiGrand, an elementary school teacher at Stony Hill School in Waubeka, Wisconsin, held the first recognized formal observation of Flag Day.  Mr. GiGrand spent most of the 1880s promoting patriotism and respect for the flag of the United States which was original adopted by the Continental Congress on that day back in 1777 - June 14th.  He felt the the citizens of the United States needed to observe the day the Flag was adopted and the Flag itself.

Mr. GiGrand spent the majority of his life promoting the holiday, and as the Chicago Tribune noting in one of their papers. that “he almost singlehandedly” established Flag Day.

He had moved to Chicago in 1886 at age 15 to attend dental school and while there published an article “The Fourteenth of June” in the old Chicago Argus proposing an annual observation of Flag Day.    He was 20 years old at the time.  During the years that followed Mr. GiGrand continued to publish articles and books regarding recognizing the flag and the meaning behind the recognition of the flag.   As a contributing editor of the Encyclopedia Americana he wrote “The Recognition and Meaning of Flag Day”, as well as a pamphlet on “Laws and Customs Regulating the use of the Flag of the United States”.

Mr. GiGrand continued his advocacy until his death caused by a sudden heart attack on May 16, 1932.  

Other men and women also were involved in the struggle for the observation of a National Flag Day but Mr. CiGrand stands out as the individual who worked the hardest and longest for this day of national recognition.  

President Harry S. Truman signed legislation in August 1949 recognizing June 14th as Flag Day.  And, surprisingly, on June 14, 2004, the United States Congress voted unanimously on HR662 that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Waubeka, Wisconsin - 60 years after HS Truman signed the legislation for establishment of a National Flag Day as stated in Title 36 of the US Code, Subtitle I, Part A, Chapter 1, 110.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

A Brief Puyallup-Nisqually Indian History

[Editor's note: Over the decades, the Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society has accumulated personal stories, narratives, publications, and newspapers relating to the Native American history of the Gig Harbor Peninsula. Some of the research in the museum's files is of a scholarly nature, most has been relayed through personal memoirs...which author Jerry Eckrom calls "hazy recollections." While we have these memories of the past, they are the memories of the European settlers and of their descendants. Our goal is to include information of the peninsula's Native American history by  Puyallup and Nisqually historians. Until then, here's a fragment of the story as in our research files...)

In 1792 it was documented that there were six permanent villages located on the Gig Harbor Peninsula. The Puyallup village was located at the mouth of today's Donkey Creek in Gig Harbor. The village was established centuries earlier by a band of Puyallup tribe members from Commencement Bay. Other Native American village locations established by the Puyallup and other south sound tribes included sites at the head of Wollochet Bay, at Quartermaster Harbor, on Carr Inlet above the town of Minter, on Glencove at Carr Inlet, and at the head of Burley Lagoon on Carr Inlet.

In addition to the permanent village sites, there were numerous temporary camps in and around the south sound. Some of the camps were used frequently and were significant as indications of which villages were friendly with one another. There were eight regions that were considered permanent camp sites. They were located at:  Redondo Beach; Vashon Island; Colvos Passage; Fox Island; Anderson Island; at the mouth of the Nisqually River; Squaxin Island, and the East side of Harstene Island. The camps and villages became centers of activity during the salmon runs, gathering clams, picking berries and natural fruits, hunting, and for gathering cedar bark and other natural fibers.  

Most of the members of the local bands of Nisqually and all of the Puyallup stayed on Fox Island during the hostilities of 1855-56. Governor Stevens held a Council at Fox Island in June, 1856, and asked the tribal elders what land they wanted for a reservation. Shackelford (1) noted that:

“the Indians asked for the northern part of the Nisqually Plain, a large part of the Puyallup Valley extending almost to Alderton, then northward to the Sound and westward by such lines that the dominion would cover all the Point Defiance Peninsula. This land represented the land over which the Indians were accustomed to roam, and in fact, the Puyallups had asked for their 'old homes.'”

[Visit Washington history online for more about the Indian wars:]

By 1900, the scattered villages were gone. The peninsula natives who remained lived on a government reservation wedged between Point Fosdick and Berg’s Landing, off 10th Street NW on Wollochet Bay. After the discontinuation of the reservation in 1913, the Native American population decreased until only a few families remained. Those that did stay mingled freely with the area residents and left lasting impressions on their memories.

Dawn Dressler on the Gateway staff wrote an article in August 15, 1984 on the memories of Gene Forsythe, Sr., whose parents owned Forsythe’s Trading Post, and of Ruth Denny, a school teacher at Wollochet School, as she recalled the Uhlmans and their store:  

Richard “Dick” Uhlman built his store near Berg’s Landing around 1910, although he originally started his business selling fresh meat to the residents from a boat called, appropriately, Butcher.  Dick learned the local Indian language. He helped those who were living on the reservation receive their government allotments. Later, when the Indians left the area, Dick purchased much of their property.

In the early days of the 20th century fishing was the way the majority of the Native Americans made their living. It was recalled in one of the memoirs that...Chief Dave Squally [English name] was seen fishing from a flat-bottom skiff powered by four Indian women rowing. Chief Squally would watch the movement of the water and direct the women to row to that particular spot. Once in position the women would scream loudly, and when the net was full, Chief Squally would raise the net where there would be a sizeable amount of large salmon.

There was also another local Indian, English name of Ted Simmons, who fished from a dugout canoe. Ted was able to dip his canoe to the side and slide his catch right into the boat.

Once a sawmill was built opposite Uhlman’s store and Berg’s Freight Landing, several of the Indians changed from fishing to working at the mill. A man named MacIntire built the sawmill and it was manned entirely by Swedes and natives. While showing some visitors around one day, the Swedish boss joked “We’re all Swedes. Some are just smoked more than others.”

The sawmill is gone, the Uhlman store is a private residence, the freight landing is a boat launch, but the history remains.

This is just another example of our rich heritage through the diversity of all the people who left their mark one way or another...from the first Native American villagers, to the European settlers, to the people who continue to arrive today.  

Note (1):  Elizabeth Shackelford, "The History of the Puyallup Indian Reservation," (Bachelor's Thesis, College og Puget Sound, June 1918, p. 26.  There are two versions of this thesis, both contain the same words, but the pages are numbered differently.  Both versions are on the shelves of the Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room.  Shackelford indicates she received much information from discussions with Henry Sicade.  

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Emmett Hunt's Diary Wednesday, June 6, 1883

Nice pleasant day.  Wooded & watered & cut down a few trees & did some writing.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.