Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gig Harbor Grange No. 445

If you grew up in the mid-west or in an agricultural community, there was probably a Grange in town.  But what is a Grange?  What’s it’s purpose?  Is it a social organization?  Is it an insurance company?  They always seem to be in attendance at State Fairs; in fact, the Gig Harbor Grange won second place in 1972 and third place in 1975 on their booths at the Washington State Fair (Puyallup Fair) for their arrangement of the produce grown on the Gig Harbor Peninsula by their members.

“The Gig Harbor Grange No. 445 was formed on December 30, 1910, but did not have a permanent home until January 27, 1956 when they bought a building located at the intersection of Wollochet Drive and Artondale Drive.  The building was originally built in 1912 as the Methodist Episcopal Church, and became the ‘Artondale Gospel Lighthouse - Pentecostal’ in 1938 or ’39.

GH Grange #445

“…The Grange spent a year repairing and remodeling it before it was ready for use.    The building in the rear is now gone, but it was for horse and buggies to park in during the Sunday services.  

Prior to purchase of the building it is recorded that  “through the years the Grange met at Fortnightly Club House, VFW Hall, Midway School Building, Briesh Shed.”

“The Grange began in 1867 by Oliver Hudson Kelly, District of Columbia Clerk in the Agriculture Department, and 6 associates who felt the need for an agricultural fraternity and is officially known as the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. The Order takes its format from the English rural grange (or farm).  Owner was Master; there was an overseer and steward on these farms; and these are (names of) the officers in the Grange.  The symbol, a sheath, represents the 7 organizers.”

“In 1938, the prize winning entry selected as the definition of Grange was:  “The Grange is a great farm fraternity, building character, developing leadership, encouraging education, promoting community betterment, instilling an appreciation of high ideals teaching through work and play the value of cooperation and service in the attainment of happiness.”

When you read this definition of a Grange, and you look at all the accomplishments of the Gig Harbor Grange No. 445 itself you think our community is so lucky.   Then you discover that our Grange returned its charter to the Washington State Grange on September 30, 2013, just three months short of their 103rd birthday, you feel disappointed. 

Why did the Gig Harbor Grange No. 445 close their doors?  They were unable to attract younger active members from the community.  Our farms have mostly disappeared, there are few industries supporting agriculture in our area, and most families have two working parents and don’t have the time to devote to activities outside their families.  The Grange building and property at 5725 Artondale Drive NW was placed for sale in 2013 and when no buyers were found, the property ownership reverted to the Washington State Grange Association.  And, the Gig Harbor Grange is not alone in closing; Granges are suffering the same lose of active membership across the country.
But now, let us concentrate on the community programs and activities that this organization advocated for on our behalf.  

Some of the early  members included Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Trombley who joined in 1924, Milan Mikich joined in 1926, Mrs. Otille Katzenbarger on 1931, Bob Olson in 1933, Robert Roby in 1935.  Those who served as Master prior 1960 included Henry Marcum, Elza Bryant, Robert Olson, John Siebold, Alfred C. Bowman, Albert Roby, Elsie Roby, Robert Teeter, John B. Borgert, Robert Roby, James L. Olson, Florence Hofbauer, G. W. Campen, Elsie Jacobson, C. E. Trombley, M. Jacobson, Albert Hammerlund, W. T. Yarnell, Homer Benson, J. B. Cottle, B. F. Pratt, Homer Pepper, Lee Pace, and the first Master in 1910, J. J. Sellers.
GH Family with Cider Press

1930 Hammerlund Family

Jack Sellers

Arvid Brown's Farm (formerly Hammerlund's Farm) on Dana Drive

In 1912 the local Grange petitioned the US Congress to favor the bills currently in front of Congress to extend the Postal Savings Bank Service, to enlarge railroads, and abolish the interstate restriction on sugar.   In 1923 they started their first fund raising public card parties (the first earned them 10 cents) and they also petitioned President Harding to support a new peace treaty.  1929 their petition to the County Commissioners brought paid deputy sheriff to the Peninsula.  They set up a gas cooperative in 1933 with price for a gallon at 20 cents.

Florence (Mrs. Frank J.) Hofbauer served as Master in 1933 and 1934, and during her service worked under the impetus of the National Recovery Act, the Works Progress Administration and other governmental agencies to achieve objectives such as Rural Electrification and Public Utilities Districts (PUD).  PUD in Washington was initiated and achieved under the Grange Power Bill; Grange Supply units of Washington, Oregon and Idaho; benefits of Grange Life Insurance of Nampa, Idaho; Cooperative Cold Storage plant built at Bethel, Kitsap County; the Well Baby Clinic for Gig Harbor and the peninsula (the first in our County); the Pierce County Rural Public Library and in the 1960s, a Bookmobile and the Supply Credit Union.

Mrs. Hofbauer’s pet project was the Well Baby Clinic.  Through this program the Grange was able to bring doctors to the Gig Harbor greater community and to assist the Pierce County Health Department service on this side of the Narrows.   I found a thank you letter sent to Miss Mary Jane Turner, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Gig Harbor as follows:
Dear Miss Turner:
I have been assigned the pleasant task of writing you a note to thank you and the First Presbyterian Church for the use of the church basement in the conduct of the Well Baby Clinic in the past six years.  In do so I am conveying the Grange’s sincere and often expressed appreciation of your cooperation and the freedom we have enjoyed in the use of premises and the facilities.  In evaluating the combined application in this endeavor we gratefully acknowledge your part and your every effort in bringing about and maintaining this service for the benefit of those many little tots and now we feel that we can lighten your responsibility toward the clinic and we want to assume it, cherishing the knowledge that you have been grand.
With sincere regards, Milan Mikich, GH Grange #445, Patrons of Husbandry, Frances Foster, Sec.
1943 Milan Mikich

They petitioned for more local labor be used in the construction of a high school addition; asked that a national noxious weed program be started, and most important for the local farmers they promoted the interests of rural America.  More recently the Grange petitioned for a traffic light on Point Fosdick Drive and a better grade crossing on Wollochet Drive.

Their “Pies for Polio” raised money until polio was eradicated and them the money raised was donated to the March of Dimes.  The Grange gave high school scholarships for five years to encourage education and vocational training; the recipients were not selected on the basis of high scholastic achievement.  The scholarship program was stopped when the program “Words for Thirds” was started.  This program provided personal dictionaries to every third grader in peninsula schools with the expectation that knowledge of words learned at an early age would increase the children’s ability to learn and grow throughout their lives.  This program was continued until funds ran out.

But not everything the Grange did and provided was public advocacy.  It provided a very needed social community, especially for the wives of the farmers, their children and even the farmers themselves.  It gave them the opportunity to get together for fellowship, discussion, and engagement with the affairs of their community both large and small.    

  • Thank you to Dorothy Byrant, Former Secretary of the Grange and member since 1948  All Dorothy’s children are active in one way or another with the WA State Grange  Association.
  • Peninsula Gateway articles written by Gladys Para
  • Tacoma News Tribune article written by Adella Holmaas
  • Harbor History Museum Resource Room

According to the US Census, the population of Gig Harbor Greater Community was as follows:

  • 1910 623
  • 1930 1,095
  • 1940 1,283 - The City of Gig Harbor was incorporated in 1946
  • 2010 7,798 (City; GH Peninsula 48,599; Key Peninsula 15,595
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Emmett Hunt's diary entry Wednesday, August 1, 1883

Bright large day.  Steamed up & went to Tacoma with scow for lumber.  Stayed till 9 PM to return

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Memories of a Father

When it comes to naming children, everyone has their own way.  Some people name the children after members of their families from both the present and the past.  Others name their children after celebrities, or make up names that mean something if only to themselves.  And some use names of flowers, most common is Rose.

Although Ebenezer Rhys Roberts’ his first son was named after himself, Ebeneezer Jr, he used more unusual names found in horticulture and botany for his other three children:  Woodland, Reseda and Trillium.   
Wisconsin refers to Mrs. Roberts home - Left to Right: Woodland, Reseda, Trillium

Mr. Roberts, a Welshman, arrived in Tacoma with his wife, Ann Jones Roberts in 1888 after living in several different places in the West.  He was a professional gardener, having served 7 years as a gardeners’ apprentice at Kew Gardens in England. and upon arrival in Tacoma was hired by a Mr. R. F. Radebaugh, owner of the Tacoma Daily Ledger,  to design and develop his 80-acre estate located at Wapato Lake where he had built his cottage.  The lake was formed during the retreat of the Fraser Ice Sheet around 15,000 years ago, and was named by the Native Americans after a wild plant (sagittaria latifolia) that grew there in large numbers, although the spelled it “Wappato”.
1907 - Roberts & spooning benches which he placed tactfully about Pt. Defiance Park for benefit of sweethearts to cuddle in privacy 

Roberts 1907

Two years later, Mr. Roberts was hired by the first Tacoma Park Board where he was befriended by  Edward O. Schwagerl who had originally received a commission to design Wright Park.  But when Mr. Schwagerl became Superintendent of Public Parks in Seattle in 1892, Roberts became the chief designer of Wright Park.  Charles Barstow Wright, a Philadelphian and also president of Tacoma Land Company, had given the 20 acres to the City of Tacoma with the provision that it be developed as a publicpark within a limited time frame in 1886.  In 1891 the City acquired an additional 7 acres.  However it was due a friendship between Roberts and the president of the Park Board George Browne that Tacoma managed to obtain plantings for what was called “the finest botanical collections on the Pacific Coast”.  When Browne was going to Europe for a business trip, Roberts provided him with a letter to some of the officials at Kew Gardens asking their help in selecting some tree seedlings for planting in Wright Park.  

President Theodore Roosevelt visited Tacoma in May, 1903, and in front of a red oak tree known as the Teddy Roosevelt Oak planted in his honor, gave a speech to the crowd in attendance. A copy of that speech can be found at Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt - Complete Speeches of Theodore Roosevelt - Teddy Roosevelt.  The red oak is located in front of the Seymour Conservatory. If you happen to be interested in old trees, Seymour Conservatory has a map of all the champion trees in the park identifying the trees for you.  It was during this visit that a chair built from 6 antlers of elks grown in Point Defiance Park and rumored to be the “largest antlers on record” was presented to the President.  

According to the history of the park on Metro Parks site, “it is believed Roberts personally supervised the placement and planting of the majority of trees, shrubs, and flowers within the park. He spread out its infant roots, and firming it with his foot (heel).”  It is also believed that it was largely due to Roberts’ endeavors that William W. Seymour donated $10,000 for the construction of the Seymour Conservatory in 1907.

While acting as Superintendent of the Tacoma Parks in 1898, the Board of Park Commissioners approved $2,200 to build a residence in Point Defiance Park referred to as the Keeper’s Lodge.  According to Trillium’s description of the Lodge “The beautiful maple paneling of the ‘front parlor’ and the library was a distinctive background for the fine furnishings and rare pieces of bric-a-brac so beloved as home decoration in those days…  The decor of the dining room was a combination of handsome wallpaper and panels of royal-blue burlap.  A grooved, polished plate rail held a collection of hand-painted souvenir plates from every state in the Union.”  Roberts and his family (wife, and three children) lived in The Lodge until 1908 when he retired.

Living in the midst of Point Defiance Park allowed Roberts to provide additional security and to prevent illegal cutting of firewood by vandals.  It also allowed Roberts time and opportunity to tend the plantings and to take care of the zoo animals that also reside there.  But, living there also had some unexpected funny situations.  For example, the streetcars were operated by electricity on the same current to the Lodge and at times when the outbound cars climbed the steep grade on Pearl Street they used almost all the current.  As a result, it made the lights at the Lodge to either dim, or go out entirely.  The Lodge continued to act as a residence for several Point Defiance Superintendents and for Metro Park Executive Directors and their families until 1980.  You can learn so much more about The Lodge at the Metro Parks site; Roberts’ daughter Trillium Roberts Insel is responsible for most of the information known about The Lodge and Point Defiance’s early days from an article she wrote in 1967 for the Tacoma News Tribune.  
The bridge formerly in Pt. Defiance Park with Trillium on the railing, Roberts on walk 1905

While at Point Defiance Park, Roberts started the Rose Garden by involving the school children in 1895.  He asked them each to bring rose clippings to the park, where he planted the clippings.  This result in more than 75 varieties of rose in the Rose Garden in 1898. In 1937 the All American Rose Society was formed and they chose Point Defiance’s Rose Garden as one of the earliest gardens to be accredited.  The accreditation was withdrawn in 1986 but regained in 1990, thanks to the Tacoma Rose Society. Roberts also developed the sloping lawn at the entrance known as “the bowl” area and greenhouses (1901-1920) at the park among other things.  
1907 Left to Right: Reseda, Woodland, Trillium

Following his retirement, Roberts operated commercial greenhouses on Gravelly Lake, and from 1912 until his death in 1918, wrote gardening and horticultural articles for the Tacoma Daily News.  He maintained an office in the Perkins Building at 1101 A Street, Tacoma, where he spent three days a week writing his articles, answering mail, and seeing anyone who wished to consult with him on gardening matters.  Such consultations were offered free of charge. 

Not only did Roberts have his education at Kew Gardens to fall back upon as well as his more recent work in the US, but he was also a contemporary of Frederick Law Olmstead’s )  sons, (1822-1903), John (1852-1920) and Frederick, Jr. (187-=1957.  Olmstead was the designer of New York’s Central Park and considered to be America’s foremost landscape architect.  His sons came to Washington and worked on several parks and playgrounds; to name a few Woodland Park, Volunteer Park, Frink Park and developed plans for several others.  It is hard to believe that the Olmstead’s work did not also influence Roberts.

It’s great that there is so much history about one of the most important park superintendents and botanists connected to the City of Tacoma parks, but what does that have to do with the greater Gig Harbor community.  True, on the infrequent visits to Tacoma, maybe people from Gig Harbor visited Point Defiance and Wright Park.  Few I think but don’t know went to Wapato Park though.  But that still doesn’t explain this blog about Tacoma parks, does it?  Well, in a round-about way it does.  

You see Trillium Roberts Insel, a long-time Gig Harbor resident and Roberts’ daughter, was also a writer for the Tacoma News Tribune through the years.  She wrote many articles for both the Tacoma Times and the Tacoma News Tribune as a news correspondent, but especially some very detailed articles on both her father and the parks.  She was a member of the Tacoma Mountaineers and the Tacoma Manuscript Club as well as being an active member in several civic organizations in Gig Harbor.

Trillium married John H. Insel on June 30, 1926 and they lived in Gig Harbor where they raised their three children.  In the beginning of their marriage, John was a post carrier. John was an active member of the Gig Harbor Lions Club and, because of his service as Sea Scout Skipper during WWII (15 years as skipper), became one of Gig Harbor’s best known-members.  John was also an active member of the Gig Harbor Improvement Club, the Fortnightly Literary Guild and the PTA. 

A devastating fire occurred in 1944 destroying several businesses in north Gig Harbor and John Finholm, his brother Eddie, and several neighborhoods and friends got together and formed an all volunteer fire department.  One of those volunteers was Trillium’s husband, John.  He was later in 1946 to become Fire Chief, and still later a Fire Commissioner. In 1946 the the Pierce County Fire District commissioners announced the selection of a permanent site for District No. 5’s fire station.  The property was leased from Bert Uddenberg and located to the rear of his garage at 3720 Harborview Drive then the main highway and now occupied by Speedy Glass.

The Fire District had been established in January 1945 by special election with John Finholm, Gig Harbor; Keith Swinney, Purdy, and John Sails, Horsehead Bay, all elected fire commissioners.  Mr. Sails resigned in 1946 and Oscar Dulin, Arlette, was applied to succeed Sails.  John Insel, acting assistant fire chief, was appointed to fill the position of chief.  Chief Harold Rucker had moved to Ephrata.  

Trillium died at age 89 on October 15, 1986.
John died December 12, 1988 at age 97.

If you happen to have any photos of the Insel family, or of the Roberts family, we would appreciate your sharing them with us.  Thank you.

Tacoma News Tribune articles 
Record of Minutes #1 - City of Gig Harbor DataNet2
Metro Parks Tacoma 
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Emmett Hunt's diary entry Wednesday, July 25, 1883

Just the same as yesterday if not more so.  Finished on the little boat except a little more paint & did some brushing.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Emmett Hunt's diary entry Wednesday, July 18, 1883

Still smoky & warm but not unpleasant.  Worked some on little boat & then slashed.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Barbara Ogden Pearson 1934-2014

Barbara Ogden Pearson 1934-2014

On July 4, 2014, Gig Harbor lost a most valuable and dedicated member of our community, Barbara (Barb) Ogden Pearson.

Although Barbara dedicated much of her time, energy and talents to numerous Gig Harbor Peninsula charitable community and social organizations, her most passionate interest was in the local history of Gig Harbor, the Peninsula and the surrounding areas.  

You have been touched by her whether you are aware or not whenever you learn something about our community and its people.  As a founding member of the museum, her dedication will continue to shine throughout the years.  And, as you read through the museum’s timeline and the reminiscences of her friends we hope you will come to know Barbara better, and thank her for all she has done and what she has accomplished for our benefit.

Barbara’s love of history started early in life, or as she put it “for as long as I can remember”.  Throughout her life, from a very early age and continuing through the present, Barbara loved every minute researching the history connected to her own genealogy but also the history of her “unique” community.  The way she expressed it was “I love it.  It’s just part of me”.
And speaking of Barbara’s growing up in her unique community of Gig Harbor, she shared this memory with Linda McCowen:  “Her family had a sailboat that they sailed all over the Sound.  She learned to row a dinghy by being put in the boat, tied to the dock, and rowed around the front of her property.  Later, she and (her Sister) Dorothy rowed across the bay to go to school, ditching the rowboat at the dock below Berkheimer’s Hardware Store and her life jacket underneath the store counter.  The store was in the now Harbor Inn (Windermere) parking lot across from Spiro’s (Pizza & Pasta).”
This picture explains why rowed across the bay was faster than walking around the harbor.  Barbara’s childhood hood is the house on furthest left (Goodman Drive); it no longer exists and in its place is a huge cream stucco house.

As you read through the Timeline of the museum Barbara’s handprint is very visible.
  • November 6, 1963:  Gail Reed, Jewel Holsinger, and Esther Snowden, members of the American Association of University Women, met to organize a group of Peninsula women to find out about local history, industry, geology, transportation, etc.  Each was asked to bring 3 or 4 prospective members, with Bruce LeRoy, Director of the Washington Historical Society, Tacoma, to be speaker.  The group would include any woman in the community that was interested, AAUW members or not
  • February 18, 1964:  First meeting was held at home of Jewel Holsinger’s.  The meeting date would be the 2nd Tuesday of the month, 9:30-11:30 am.  There were nine meeting that day; Barbara Pearson was there.  The group would meet monthly, September through June.
  • January 15, 1965:  Barbara Pearson and Esther Snowden began slide shows.  The next month Kay Weaver and Barbara Pearson gave a presentation to the Wiggenagamote Round Table.  
  • April 2, 1966:  Members gave a program to AAUW, each presenter speaking 5 minutes.  Pat Lantz (Rosedale), Ann Kirby (Wollochet), Esther Snowden (Fox Island), Barbara Pearson (Warren), ArtaLou Kennedy (Purdy), and Marilyn Arnold (Wauna/Burley).  
  • June 5, 1970:  Jean Lyle, Esther Snowden and Barbara Pearson take took the papers of incorporation to Olympia to file on May 21. 
The Peninsula Study Group incorporated under the name of The Peninsula Historical Society“The objects of the society shall is the discovery, preservation, and desimination of knowledge about the history of the mainland part of Pierce County lying west of the Narrows, South of the Kitsap County line, known as the Gig Harbor Peninsula and the Longbranch Peninsula.  More particularly the objects shall be:
·  To discover any material which may establish or illustrate the history of this area.
·       To provide for the preservation of such material and for its accessibility, as far as may be feasible, to all who wish to examine it or study it…
·       To disseminate historical and arouse interest in the past by publishing historical material in the newspapers and otherwise; by holding meetings with addresses, papers, and discussion; and by marking historical buildings, sites and trails.
Dues will be $2.00 a year.  
  • 1970:  the first Harbor Holidays celebration 
6/13/70 Barbara Pearson at center; riding with Geri & Roy Peterson, Dorothea Peterson, Brad Peterson in Dr. Searl's horse wagon rig - They won the Judges' Award

1972 Christmas Picture of the members of GHPHS Seated Jean Lyle-Robertson, Barbara Pearson, Joan Bassett, Standing Unknown, Helen Matthaei, Shirley Wendle, Unknown, Dorothea Peterson, Esther Snowden, Unknown, Bonnie Anderson
  • 1970:  Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society started having school classes come to the museum to learn about its history
  • President:  Barbara Pearson;  1975 and 1976;  Corresponding Secretary (they also had a recording Secretary) for 1977
  • 1976:  Began using acid-free boxes, and learning about cataloguing and filing artifacts, manuscripts and photos.  Barbara Pearson studied the best practices to teach other members.  
  • 1976:  The Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society started their first Quilt Raffle to raise funds for the museum with a Bicentennial Quilt.  It was also in 1976 (until 1987) that the GHPHS started publishing an historical calendar with local artists reproducing old historical photographs of the community.  

1979 - Barbara Pearson with winner Jim Wright at Quilt Raffle
  • 1977:  Groups went to the Southwest Washington Association of Small Museum Workers meeting, listening to Dave Nicandri, former head of the Washington State Capital Museum in Olympia and the Washington State Museum in Tacoma.  Barbara Pearson and Esther Snowden went to Ellensburg to meetings. 

  • 1977:  Dorothy Hull, from the Elizabeth Forey Chapter of the DAR contributed these memories:
    •   She was very proud of her Patriot, Jedediah Ogden, a private from New Jersey.
    • She served our Elizabeth Forey Chapter in many ways, as an officer, committee chairman, as a delegate to State Conferences and to Continental Congress held in Washington DC,  and annually hosting a meeting at her home.  She also organized the monthly Gig Harbor carpool to our meetings.  She was warm and welcoming to members and guests at all our meetings.
    • She held the office of Registrar, helping prospective members, and the office of Chaplain twice.
    • Some of her committee interests were in Lineage Research, Genealogical Records, American Heritage, and Conservation. 
    • She attended several DAR Lineage Research Training seminars held by our national society and in turn helped in giving seminars to our chapter members. 
    • Several times she participated with other members in the 4th of July parade in Steilacoom. 
    • When our chapter celebrated our 75th anniversary in 1997 Barbara contributed to our memory booklet that she remembered at the end of WWII there was a celebration "Gig Harbor style -- Church bells rang, fishing boats blew whistles, guns saluted.  'We sat on our bulkhead crying, laughing, and yelling while sound reverberated around the harbor.' 
  • 1978:  After consulting with the Lewis County Historical Society, Barbara Pearson and Esther Snowden drove to Chehalis to pick up archival boxes.  
  • 1979:  The GHPHS moved into the basement of the old St. Nicholas Catholic Church to house the museum. 

9/1981 L to R:  Dorothy O'Donnell, Shirley Wendle, Unknown, Barbara Pearson, Jean Lyle-Robertson, Joan Bassett, June Doherty, moving into original St. Nicholas Catholic Church basement
  • The GHPHS published Bridging the Narrows by Joe Gotchy which was edited by the then GHPHS Director, Gladys Para. 
  • 1997-2003:  Chris Fiala Erlich served as Director of the Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society and Museum and this is what Chris had to say:
  • “Barbara had great passion and dedication to Gig Harbor history that was evident from the first time I met her. She was the personification of the society’s mission to preserve and share the community’s story of its past.
  • I admired her encyclopedic memory. Anytime I researched and wrote something on Gig Harbor history, I depended on her review.  She would often be able to point me in directions that “ordinary” research methods did not uncover.  During my years at the museum, she took on the monumental task of organizing the society’s research files – an extensive collection of newspaper clippings, memoirs, and other materials.  It was not an easy task or a quick one, but she kept at it.   
  • What I most remember, however, was her kind and generous support of my work. She was always there, to do whatever I asked, or to just offer a few words of encouragement.   She was a gracious lady, who will be long and well remembered. “ 
  • 2000-2013:  Victoria Blackwell, Curator, put it this way:  “For me, Barbara Pearson was the heart and soul of the museum.  Her incredible knowledge of the people and events that shaped Gig Harbor was, and forevermore will be, unmatched.  It was an honor to know her and to help her achieve her dream of creating the Harbor History Museum.”
  • 2004:  Jennifer Kilmer, the new Executive Director, started the Leadership Council, comprised of former board members:  Barbara and Gene Pearson, Rosemary Ross, Jake Bujacich, Don McCarty and Joe Hoots.  
  • 2007:  The GHPHS acquired the former Peninsula Light Company and Beach Basket Gardens property at the current location of the museum, and broke ground for the new museum.
Ground Breaking July 14, 2007

Barbara Pearson at construction of the current Harbor History Museum

  • 2009:  Barbara and Gene Pearson named the Resource Room in honor of Barbara’s mother, Marjorie Ogden, and worked with the architects to make it a workable and flexible space that it is.
  • 2009:  Barbara is successfully nominated for the DAR Community Service Award by Jennifer Kilmer, Executive Director and Rosemary Ross, member of the Leadership Council, of the Harbor History Museum. 

Rosemary Ross and Barbara both attended Peninsula High School where they became friends even though Barbara was younger and a grade behind Rosemary.  After graduation, they completely lost track of each other and it wasn’t until Rosemary retired from the Peninsula School District in 1995 and Rosemary began volunteering at the museum that they resumed their friendship.  

Rosemary went on to say “Barbara lived and breathed the museum and was very much looking forward to being a huge part of this 50 anniversary.  What a tragedy in the timing of her death.”  

Barbara, you are missed.  But your gifts and contributions to the community and to the Harbor History Museum will live on.  Thank you.

Thanks to the following Contributors:
  • Linda McCowen
  • Rosemary Ross
  • Dorothy Hull
  • Chris Fiala Erlich
  • Victoria Gehl-Blackwell

Written by Tomi Kent-Smith

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Iliff Family

Ella M. Gilbert traveled from Independence, Iowa to Gig Harbor, Washington in 1890 to settle her brother Fred’s estate, a tract of land near Point Evans.

While here, Miss Gilbert attended the Settlers’ Fourth of July 1890 picnic in a grove near Young’s Landing.  It was there she met Maurice V. Iliff, who was visiting from Seattle where according to the 1890 census he resided and worked as a carpenter.  And as  both young people related, it was “love at first sight”.  
Young's Landing

Ella returned home to Independence and her parents.  Maurice and Ella were married later that year in Buchanan, Iowa on October 29th, although some documents say they married in Gig Harbor. I believe they actually did marry in Iowa in the present of Ella’s parents, especially since her brother had died, she was their only living child.  Following their marriage they lived in Independence hoping to convince her parents, William Wallace Gilbert and Hester H. (Palmer) Gilbert to move west with them.  It took Maurice and Ella six years to convince her parents to join them in Gig Harbor, and it was during those six years in 1892 their daughter, Mabel E. was born.  

The family traveled by train and once back in Gig Harbor, they lived in Millville in the house across from the General Store which is known locally as the Stanich Brothers Store.  The house was built by John Novak and Joseph Dorotich and in 1898, the house was owned by a Mrs. M. K. Anderson.

They searched for property of their own  and purchased Lot 12 in the abandoned Military Reservation on the east side of the harbor from a squatter, Mr. Bonelli, for $205.00 on July 27, 1898.  According to a letter written by their daughter Mabel, “on November 10th, 1898, the Iliff brothers built a ‘ten room house, 4 other out buildings, barn 32 x 38, Valuation $1,800 with a promise of clearing 6 1/2 acres’.” 
The Iliff and Sund Houses
The Neighborhood

“It wasn’t until 1908 that Congressman Francis W. Cushman introduced a bill in Congress to gave the squatters a deed to their properties.  When the bill passed, a new survey was conducted “which resulted in our giving cleared land on the south, and acquiring huge stumps on the north.  This deed was for 9.42 acres at $2.50 per acre.  Later we got our tidelands.”  (again from Mabel’s letter regarding her family)  Mabel sold the family property in 1943.
The Iliff Family Home with Family in Front Garden

Maurice died August 16, 1909, and is buried in the Gig Harbor Cemetery, Plot Lot 48, Section 3;  Ella M. Gilbert Iliff died September 4, 1938 and Mabel E. Iliff Proctor died in January 1968 and both buried in the same plot and section as Maurice.   

Gladys Para, who used to write “Old Town” articles in the Peninsula Gateway wrote an article on the Iliff Family on Wednesday, August 6, 1986.  In it Gladys mentioned several other families that lived around the same area and were neighbors to the Iliff family.  She stated that Fred Kaehler purchased the Iliff property, and since he was a log scaler the waterfront property became a log dump as it had been in the early days when the Iliff first purchased the land.  When the Iliff family originally purchased the property there was a steam railroad which carried logs down 3 miles of Crescent Valley; then dumping them on the bay just in front of the house before Iliff received the rights to the tidelands in 1908/09.
The railroad tracks for the logging in Crescent Valley

* Mabel E. Proctor letter
* - 1890 Census; Marriage Record
* Find a Grave site

* Peninsula Gateway August 6, 1986 (Gladys Para)

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Emmett Hunt's Wednesday diary entry, Wednesday, July 11, 1883

On July 11, 1883, Emmett Hunt wrote:  Moderately warm & hazy.  GW's people moved home again & left me.  I spent my time in putting timber.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Fourth of July

What does the Fourth of July immediately bring to mind?  Fireworks, picnics, barbecues, swimming, family reunions, and on and on with summer in full swing.  Oh, occasionally, a little history facts might enter the picture but most of the time, those facts are in the background.  So today I thought it might be interesting to share a few facts and myths about the Fourth of July.

July 4, 1776 - the first Fourth?  Nope, the Continental Congress decided on July 2, 1776 “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States” as published that same day (July 2, 1776) by the Pennsylvania Evening Post.    

This was confirmed in a letter John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3rd wherein he stated or predicted “the Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.  I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”   John went on to say  the occasion should be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of the Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”  However it was not until a year later  that the first fireworks were exploded.  Again, according to the Pennsylvania Evening Post  on July 4, 1777 “The evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.  Everything was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal.”  Similar fireworks were displayed in Boston.  Unfortunately a nineteenth century scholar quietly “corrected” the document to read not the second but the “fourth”.

Celebrations in honor of the Fourth of July really became more common following the War of 1812, and it wasn’t until 1870 nearly a hundred years after the Declaration was written that Congress first declared that July 4 be included as a national holiday as part of the bill recognizing several holidays including Christmas.  In 1939 and 1941 further legislation was passed regarding national holidays.

The Declaration of Independence was not signed on the 4th of July.  Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in June, 1776.Most delegates signed the document on August 2, 1777 and several signed later, with names of all signees not released to the public until January, 1777 according to David McCullough in his biography of Adams.  It, the Declaration of Independence, was delivered to Great Britain, not on July 4th, but in November 1776.

Did the Liberty Bell ring in honor of the American Independence?  No one really knows.  The story about it happening was made up by writer George Lippard in a children’s book he wrote in the nineteenth century for children, Legends of the American Revolution.  According to the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, although it did not ring on the 2nd or the 4th, it rang for the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence on July 8.

Who sewed the first flag? There is no proof that Betsy Ross did, although she was a seamstress. However, Frances Hopkinson designed the flag and he sent a bill to the Board of Admiralty in May 1780 for designing the “flag of the United States”.  As for Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, there is no proof that Betsy Ross herself ever lived there according to a study by the Joint State Government Commission of Pennsylvania conducted in 1949.  

Did John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both die on July 4th?  Yes, on July 4, 1826 fifty years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence both men died.

The pictures include only a few from the Gig Harbor Washington peninsula.

Grange Float 4th July 1922

4th July Parade - 1950 ?

4th July Parade - 1950 ?

4th July Parade - undated

4th July Parade - undated

Cromwell School Flag Drill for the 4th July 1917

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Emmett Hunt's Diary Wednesday, July 4, 1883

Warm, warm.  Went to ..ake Bay for fun & pulled a skiff all the way alone.  Considering circumstances did well but paid pretty dear for the whistle.  Had it not been for that big "skewlmarm"& that other girl should have been left.  Played about 1/2 the night.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.