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”.
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|
“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
*Ancestry.com - 1890 Census; Marriage Record
* Find a Grave site
* Peninsula Gateway August 6, 1986 (Gladys Para)
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.