Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gig Harbor Lumber Company

I have been quite interested in Gig Harbor Lumber Company since the early 1980s when I purchased a home in the Millville District of Gig Harbor.  So I have been researching on and off the 3 interrelated companies: Lumber, Logging, and Mill but it is very hard to find comprehensive information on them.    In fact, my home was owned from 1890 until 1897 by George M. Savage who was a pile driver and foreman for the GH Mill Company before he went off to become a very successful businessman first as a contractor in Olympia and then, in Tacoma as Savage & Scofield.

George Savage & Annie Sibley Savage

John Novak and Joseph Dorotich along with their spouses have named the area and platted the Town of Millville on June 23, 1888 after the Gig Harbor Mill which was located on the waterfront nearby.

“Along The Waterfront” complied and written by Students of 1974-75 at Goodman Middle School write on page 21, “…The first mill in Gig Harbor was established in 1887 on the west side of the harbor (platted as Millville).  It was called the Gig Harbor Mill Company, and Frank Hall (one of many settlers from Alberta Lea, Minnesota) was president.  ….The Gig Harbor Mill Company employed a large crew, and soon a shingle mill was built near it. ….Because of the growing industry, men drifted into town, and to house them, a group of rough cabins were built in the vicinity of Dorotich Street and Harborview Avenue.  This area became known as “Millville”.

An Excellent Little Bay, A history of the Gig Harbor Peninsula” by J. A. Eckrom, tells us on page 64 that “The Gig Harbor mill had a wharf 450 ft. long and 80 ft. wide to handle the volume of lumber flowing to the ports of the world.”  Mr. Eckrom goes on to tell us on page 65 that “In November 1891 the West Coast Lumberman told its readers, “The Gig Harbor mill was sold under foreclosure sale to the Washington National Bank of Tacoma for approximately $23,000 (in 2014 = $605,360).  The purchasers contemplate reorganizing the company as soon as the title is settled, and expect to increase the capital stock to $100,000 (in 2014 = 2,500,000).  (Puget Sound Lumberman, January 1893, p.9.

And, lastly, published in an unknown publication and date (c. 1926) Anna Goodman Wheeler wrote the following:  “During the winter of 1887 and 88 the Gig Harbor Mill Co. was organized with Frank Hall of Alberta Lea as president.  A sawmill was erected on the South Side with George Atkinson as manager, he having previously served in that capacity in the Old Tacoma Mill.  Through his influence a number of vessels came to the harbor for cargoes of lumber, among them being the Republic which took a cargo of one million feet of lumber.  A shingle mill was built near the sawmill and it is due to this that Millville became so named.  Although it is now known as either West Side or South Side.  Near the mill a ship yard was erected which built the Steamer Alberta Lea that, used to make daily trips to and from Tacoma; also a large three-masted schooner called the Vine for Capt. John Burns of Tacoma.”
"Vine" built for GH Sawmill, launched 10/7/1890, commissioned by J. E. Burns, First load of Lumber

Ed Shannon, a columnist for the  Alberta Lea Tribune wrote the following on August 19, 2011: 
“The Alberta Lea Colony goes west

When museum volunteer Anita Lotts did the research on the local ties with the communities of Gig Harbor and Tacoma, Wash., she used the word colony for a group of area folks who moved to the Puget Sound region.

She made a list of 20 individuals and families who went west by railroad in the late 1880s.  Before these folks are listed, I want to stress that they did not go as a group.  Instead, they went at different times.  In some situations one person might go out west to check on the situation, then return to Alberta Lea for the rest of the family or friends.

Now here’s the list:  Dr. A. M. Burnham family, Hans E. Knatvold family, Major Frank Hall family, Powell family (Ida Hall), George A. Parker, Ed Parker family, Bunk Bickford family, A. H. Bartlett, J. H. Parker, Ozro Fobes, E. S. Prentice family, Cline Wannemaker, E. E. Budlong, George Hyatt, Capt. George T. Gardner, Gunder O. Gunderson family, Judge Ira A. Town family, Dr. M. M. Dodge family, L. P. Lock family and the Van Vechten family.

Some of these people went west to become a part of the operations of the Gig Harbor Lumber Co.  Several years later when the lumber firm went out of business, a few remained in Gig Harbor and the majority soon ended up in nearby Tacoma or other parts of western Washington.”

So it was of great interest to me when I obtained the incorporation documents from the State of Washington for the Gig Harbor Lumber Company and the Gig Harbor Logging Company showing they were incorporated in 1889.  I have been unable to find any documentation from Pierce County Archives of the State of Washington archives showing a license to operate prior to these articles of incorporation.  Still, I thought it might be of interest to be able to read those documents.  The mill is referenced in the Articles of Incorporation of the Gig Harbor Lumber Company (Article VI).  I realize that not everyone will find the Articles of Incorporation as interesting as i, but i still think they are important, and hopefully give a fuller picture of the companies.

We will start Gig Harbor Lumber Company filed on March 24th, 1888 and follow with Gig Harbor Logging Company filed on March 9th,1889. 
The capital at time of incorporation was $100,000 (or if converted to the dollar in 2014 that would be $2,500,000).

The Articles read as follows:

We, Francis Hall, Ozro B. Fobes and Ira A. Town from Pierce County, Washington Territory, and  Edward S. Prentice and James H. Parker of Freeborn County, State of Minnesota, do hereby associate ourselves together, and become a corporation under the laws of the Territory of Washington and the United States of America, and do hereby make execute and acknowledge in triplicate these Articles of Incorporation.

Article I.  The corporate name of the said company shall be and is Gig Harbor Lumber Company.

Article II.  The object for which the said corporation is formed is to lease, purchase, own, hold & sell Real Estate, to construct and operate one or more sawmills.  To buy and sell logs and lumber.  To manufacture lumber, to carry on logging business, to build or purchase or lease all such boats, vessels, wharfs and landings as may be necessary or convenient to carry on said business and to operate said boats overseas for the carriage of passengers & freight.  To buy or build and and all houses, stores or shops there may be necessary or convenient to carry on said business.  To buy & sell goods, wares and merchandize and particularly to buy and sell goods to supply the employees of said company.  To manufacture furniture such as blinds, moldings and any such all wood materials used in building and to erect & operate all mills necessary therefore.

Article III.  The amount of the capital stock of said corporation shares shall be One Hundred Thousand dollars, which shall be divided into one thousand shares of one hundred dollars each share, and which said capital stock may be increased in the manner provided by law to the amount of One Hundred and fifty Thousand dollars.

Article IV.  The time of the existence of said corporation shall be fifty years.

Article V.  The management of the concerns and affairs of said corporation shall be by a board of five trustees, who shall be elected at such times and in such manner as is and may be prescribed by law and provided by ByLaws hereafter to be enacted by said corporation, and for the period of six months from the date hereof.  The following named persons shall be and are the trustees of the said corporation to wit:
Frances Hall, Ozro B. Fobes, and Ira A. Town of Tacoma, Washington Territory, and Edward S. Prentice and James H. Parker of Alberta Lea, Freeborn County, State of Minnesota, all of whom are stockholders in the said corporation and citizens of the United States.

Article VI.  The location of the said mill and the operation of said manufacturing shall be at Gig Harbor, and at such other place as may be hereafter determined, and the general office and principle place of said corporation shall be at Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington Territory.

Signatures of all men were witnessed by Miles L. Clifford and E. S. Shull 

Notary Public:
Territory of Washington}
Pierce County              }
Be it known that on this 23rd day of March A.D. 1888 before me, a Notary Public in and for said Territory & County personally appeared Frances Hall, Ozro B. Fobes, Ira A. Town, Edward S. Prentice and James H. Parker each to me known to be the identical persons described in, and who executed the above and foregoing article of incorporation in triplicate, and they each acknowledge that they signed and sealed the same as their free and voluntary act and deed for the uses and purpose therein mentioned.
Miles L. Clifford, Notary Public

Filed and recorded at the request of Ira A. Town March 24th at 1:20 o’clock P.M.
Edward Huggins
Auditor Pierce County
W. T.


The capital at time of incorporation was $20,000 (or if converted to the dollar in 2014 that would be $500,000).

Know all men by these presents; that we George E. Atkinson and James H. Parker of Tacoma, Francis Hall, M. J. Darling and George T. Gardner, of Gig Harbor, all of Pierce County, Washington Territory, and Asa W. White of Alberta Lea, Freeborn County, State of Minnesota de hereby agree to become and be a corporation under the corporate name of the “Gig Harbor Loging (sic) Company; for the object and purpose herein after stated that is to say:  To lease, contract, buy, hold, own, release and sell real estate.  To purchase and sell timber, standing or otherwise, to contract, lease, buy, own, and operate loving (sic) roads, tramways and railroads.  To do a general loving (sic) business.  To contract,own and operate booms, to build, buy, run & operate Mills.  To manufacture and sell all kinds of building material and to contract, run & operate barges and boats for transportation.  The capital stock of said company shall be Twenty Thousand Dollars, to be divided into eight hundred shares of Twenty Five Dollars each.

The time of the existance (sic) of said corporation shall be twenty years from the first day of March A. D. 1889.

The concerns of said corporation shall be managed by five trustees, and the name of the trustees who shall manage the concerns of the company for the period of six months from the date of these Articles are George E. Atkinson and James H. Parker of Tacoma, Francis Hall, M. J. Darling and George T. Gardner of Gig Harbor, all of Pierce County, Washington Territory.  The principal place of business of said company shall be located at Gig Harbor, Pierce County, Washington Territory.

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 7th day of March A. D. 1889.

In presence of  } George E. Atkinson
W. W. Likens   } James H. Parker
E. S. Prentice } Francis Hall
M. J. Darling
Geo. T. Gardner
Asa W. White

United States of America }
Washington Territory       }  SS
County of Pierce             }

This certifies that on this 7th day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine, before me a Notary Public in and for Pierce County,Washington Territory personally appeared the within named George E. Atkinson, James H. Parker, Francis Hall, M. J. Darling and George T. Gardner and Asa W. White whose names are subscribed to the foregoing instrument as party thereto, personally known to me to be the individuals described in & who executed the within deed, and acknowledged the same to be their free and voluntary act and deed.

Witness my hand and Notarial seal the day and year above written.

{Notarial Seal} W. W. Likens
Notary Public Wash. Terry.

Filed and recorded at request of Gig Harbor Logging Co. March 9th 1889 at 1:05 P.M.
Edward Huggins
Auditor Pierce County
W. T. by W. H. Hollis, Deputy


In closing I want to mention a specific blog I came across on the internet which research these companies which is probably the most comprehensive background on the Gig Harbor Lumber Company available.  Unfortunately it is copyrighted and I was unable to obtain permission to use any of it in writing this blog.  It has been written by Greg Spadoni, a member of one of our community’s older founding families.  I definitely recommend you read his piece.  You will find it most interesting.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.


  1. What are your sources?

    1. All sources are referred to in the course of the blog itself: On The Waterfront; An Excellent Little Bay; an Unknown Publication and date (c 1926; the Alberta Lea Tribune August 19, 2011, Articles of Incorporation from WA State Archives