Thursday, January 29, 2015

Delano Beach

Delano Beach is located on the Key Peninsula in the vicinity of Lakebay and Longbranch.  The Delano Beach Park is 3.1 acres of undeveloped land listed on the Pierce County, Washington Proposed Park System.  It’s classifications have not yet been assigned to a zone, a management unit, or a proposed park classification.  

But that is not what we want to talk about; instead we want to remember the man whose name is attached to Delano Beach:  Captain George E. Delano.

Our story begins whenCaptain Delano was in command of a 3-masted square rigger, “Austria”, owned by A. M. Simpson, a San Francisco lumber baron.  The “Austria” was heavy with ballast headed for the Puget Sound on January of 1887.  When they were about a week out of San Francisco they got caught up in a raging storm just off Cape Alava’s Umatilla Reef, and were pushed towards the rocky coastline.  Captain Delano described it as:

“Immediately we made all possible sail and headed northwest by north.  The vessel, making leeway, bore around heading south-southwest.  Lost foresail, fore topsail and mizzen stay sail - all new canvas blown out of the bolt ropes.  The vessel was still making leeway and drawing nearer  the shore.”    

Captain Delano realized that the best he could hope for was to try to hit the softest spot on shore.  At 7:30 a.m. on January 21 they hit the jagged rocks just south of Cannonball Island.  Again Captain Delano “It was one chance in a thousand that anyone was saved, but we succeeded in getting on shore all safe and no one hurt, although the sea was running mountains high and breaking all over the rock.”   

“The next day it moderated some and we went on board and got our stores and clothing.  It was intensely cold and had it not been for the Indians (Ozettes) on the beach, I guess we would have froze to death.”  

The Captain then started out on a 30-mile hike to Neah Bay to report the shipwreck, and hope to returned in another vessel to pick up his crew and whatever salvage they could recover from the wrecked “Austria”.  He reported back to his wife, Edith Helen Weeks Delano, “ I frosted my face walking from the wreck to Neah Bay . . .over the roughest ground I ever saw.  I got through all right, but pretty well used up, so stiff I hardly could move the next day.”  

While in Neah Bay he learned that the distress signal had been heard but the “Wolcott”, a revenue cutter that would have rescue them was awaiting fuel there in Neah Bay.  Once fuel arrived and the “Wolcott” refueled, it returned with him to Cape Alava.  

Captain Delano removed everything possible from the wrecked “Austria” before he allowed the “Wolcott” with him, his crew and the salvage to leave.   Taking the salvage was important because as was customary, the captain or master of a sailing ship was given a share of the total capital invested in the vessel and cargo.  The “Austria” built in 1869 had an estimated value at time of loss of $20,000 ($571,428.57 in 2014).  The vessel’s insurance coverage was $7,000 ($200,000 in 2014), and salvaged materials another $3,000 ($85,714.29).  The ship’s loss meant that he, Captain Delano was bankrupt. *(Captain Delano’s percentage or share was not provided in in the information I had for this article.)  He wrote his father-in-law telling of the incident and said “I don’t know what I will do now, but I guess I will have to go to farming.”

Captain Delano sent for his wife, Edith, and their daughter, Virginia, to join him in the Pacific Northwest.  He chartered a small boat from Captain Lorenz and spent about a month hunting for a piece of land to make their new home.  The spot that finally appealed to him was a small harbor, nine miles from Tacoma, and had a quarter mile of tide flats on Carr Inlet.  He bought 200 races from the federal government and had planned to open a hull-scraping business.  But that plan fell through when Bremerton installed up-to-date dry docks.

So then he and Edith did turn to farming, but having left home at age 13 for the sea to avoid farming, it still held little interest for him.  And so, in 1890, they decided to invest what little money they had in building a 20-bed hotel, including a living room, and outdoor dining room, and a postoffice.  Later they added 24 separate sleeping cottages.

Neither Captain Delano nor his wife had any background in hotel management.  But back in Maine, Edith’s family always seemed to have a house full of guests.  Edith wrote her parents: “I shall be happy to act as hostess for the hotel, but I will do none of the work.”

Edith’s skills of supervision were most likely picked up back home in Maine and were the results of watching her father’s ability to manage the farm and the farm crews, as well as her mother’s management of the house and household staff.

And, as hostess Edith,  she ran the hotel for a successful 40 years while Captain Delano went back to sea . . .  The last vessel I found that Captain Delano sailed on, and captained, was the “Everett Griggs”.   I believe it was owned by the St. Paul Lumber Company, Tacoma, WA.  It was a six masted barquentine (barkentine) sailing ship.


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary entry for Wednesday, February 13, 1884

Just the same or a truffle colder.  Finished ribbing our boat and began dressing her surface which goes along beautifully.  W- boys came down in eve.  Firring Baby night & morning now to keep her alive & free from frost if possible.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hubert Blaine Secor

A couple weeks ago while reading the blog on Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co., we learned that Tom Myers owned a bus line running from Bremerton to Tacoma, aptly named Bremerton-Tacoma Stage Line, in 1939.  This naturally reminds us of Hubert Secor and the bus service which he started in 1922 with the total capital of $45.

But before we discuss the bus line let’s step back a moment and start with the arrival of the Secor family in the Gig Harbor area.  Hubert’s maternal Grandfather, Robert Irvin Franklin arrived on the Gig Harbor Peninsula in 1886 with his second wife, Sarah H. Benway Franklin (1847-1901).  His first wife, Elizabeth Ann Dickens Franklin who had died in 1875 was “Littie’s” (Artalissa Naomi Franklin Secor) mother.  

David E. Secor had married Littie Franklin in 1878 in Colorado where he was engaged in mining. They then moved to Elma, Washington from Colorado with their two sons, Eugene (1879-1946) and Hubert (1892/1972), and then to Tacoma in 1904; in 1905 David served as a Deputy Sheriff and assisted in the quelling strike disturbances in Pierce County.  The Lonshoremen’s Union and the Sailor’s Union disagreement erupted into battle causing one death and numerous injuries.  

The family arrived on the Gig Harbor Peninsula in 1907 to care for Littie’s ailing father.  (Hubert was 15 that year.)  

Littie went on to become one of the founding members of the Gig Harbor Fortnightly Club.
1907 Gig Harbor Fortnightly Club members
  David was active in political and civic affairs, as well as associated in the bus business with Hubert.  Hubert’s brother, Eugene, was employed by the Peninsula Gateway following his schooling.   Eugene was also known throughout the community as being one of the better horseshoe pitchers in Gig Harbor.
Eugene Secor, Peninsula Gateway's office

Like so many of the early Gig Harbor residents, Hubert took the ferry to Tacoma where he attended Stadium High School.  Following his graduation, Hubert went to work for the telephone company, first in Tacoma at Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company, and then in Gig Harbor with the Island Empire Telephone & Telegraph Company.

In 1922 at the age of 30, Hubert and his father, David, began a bus service.  On May 12, 1922, the State of Washington Department of Transportation issued a certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to H. B. Secor, to furnish passenger, express and freight service between Gig Harbor and Tacoma.  Certificate was transferred to Henry Kaffenberger and H. B. Secor d/b/a Gig Harbor-Tacoma Transportation Co. on September 8, 1922.   Followed by a transfer to H. B. Secor on 2/16/23, passenger and express service only.  The route was to and from Gig Harbor and Tacoma.

This was the original garage in 1922

Hubert leased the Scarponi family garage at 8802 North Harborview Drive, located just a few doors southwest of Uddenberg’s Market.  His first bus was a White Motor Company bus, and soon exchanged for a larger Pierce-Arrow bus, and in 1924, a second Pierce-Arrow bus was purchased.   Roscoe Savage was hired to drive the second bus, and then, perhaps as early as 1926, Roy Clark 
took his place.

As well as transporting passengers, Hubert had a contract to carry mail between Tacoma and Gig Harbor twice a day for approximately 10 years.  The fare was 25 cents one-way to Tacoma including the ferry fare.  Rides in and around Gig Harbor only to run errands, et cetera, were free.

Passengers in the early days included students going to Stadium High School in Tacoma since Gig Harbor did not yet have a high school.  Some of those students included Ruth and Erick Erickson, Nellie Austin, and Bertha Lund.  Dr. William Treutle, Sr., a dentist in Tacoma, and Mr. Brintnall, a printer for one of Tacoma’s newspapers were also passengers.

Sometime between 1922 and 1928, Hubert added a run from Gig Harbor to Bremerton using an eleven passenger Studebaker bus, again with two round trips daily.  By 1928 two additional daily bus routes were added to the Tacoma run.  All the drivers were required to be 21 years old or older.  The drivers, Hubert and Oroville Hemphill, worked 12 hours a day; Hubert 6 AM to 6 PM, and Oroville 8 AM to 8 PM.  Their daily wages were each $4.40 per day.
Gig Harbor Stage at Head of Harbor in front of the Sweeney Building
C. Mojean, driver, Gig Harbor Bus

On February 1, 1931, according to information provided by a Mr. George R. Llewellyn of Silverdale, WA, the route’s certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity was transferred to Joseph Lyons, owner of the Tacoma Bus Company.  However, Hubert continued to drive the bus until 1934.

In 1929, Hubert and his wife, Marian, had started Minterbrook Oyster Company on the Key Peninsula at Minter Bay and Rocky Bay.  So it was only natural that when he decided to sell the bus company and stop driving, he would devote his full time attention to growing the oyster business.  He and Marian would continue to maintain and operate the oyster company until 1954.  That year, they sold the operations and company to Harold and Beverly Wiksten who continued expanding the business until finally selling it in 2012 to Kent, Donna, Austin and Garrett Kingman.  The Kingman family operates Mintercreek Oyster Company today.

In 1964, Hubert Secor was elected mayor of Gig Harbor; in 1969 he had a stroke which led to his death in 1972 at age 80.  He worked for a few years for the Pierce County Road Department and was involved in many community activities during his lifetime.
Secor's Garage as listed on the Gig Harbor Historic Inventory 2008 Listing

Note:  Courtesy of Mr. Llewellyn:  “On May 12, 1922, the State of Washington Department of Transportation issued a certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to H. B. Secor, to furnish passenger, express and freight service between Gig Harbor and Tacoma.  Certificate was transferred to Henry Kaffenberger and H. B. Secor d/b/a Gig Harbor-Tacoma Transportation Co. on September 8, 1922.   Followed by a transfer to H. B. Secor on 2/16/23, passenger and express service only. Transferred to Tacoma Bus Company, 2/1/31.  Added service between Tacoma and Bremerton via Gig Harbor.  Certificate transferred to Bremerton-Tacoma Stages, Inc. 12/10/1934.  Added service between Purdy and Longbranch via Wauna, Vaughn, Home, and Lakebay, Bremerton and Shelton via Navy Yard; Bremerton and Eldon; Eldon and Port Angeles 9/4/46.

Find-A-Grave Memorial for Secor Family Members
Peninsula Gateway Obituaries    

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary entry for Wednesday, February 6, 1884

A cloudless day again & cold.  Albert & I put in 27 ribs today & it was doing well enough for the time we worked.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

“History of Purdy”

I came across this wonderful history of Purdy that was presented by Mrs. Jessie K. May for the Peninsula District Federation of Women’s Clubs, Horseshoe Lake, September 28, 1929, and Mrs. Josephine Knapp.    The history was published in the Peninsula Gateway here in Gig Harbor.  

I think it is very important to share the document with you, and I believe we will all come away with a new understanding of the Purdy area.  Maybe even check out what happened to Purdy after 1929!

“ In the early  “eighties” a jolly party of four Tacomans were fishing and hunting around Henderson Bay; the party consisted of Wm. Rowland and J. W. Purdy, grocers of Tacoma; Newman Kline, then sec’s. for J. M. Buckley, Gen. Mgr. of Nor. Pac, R. R. and James M. Ashton then Att’y. for the Villard interests; these gentlemen fished and hunted around the present location of Purdy for some years, and fancied Purdy Point for a town-site, and especially for a mill town as, the state in 1889 disclaimed all right, or title, to the tide and overflow lands, thus making it suitable for mill operations.

Mr. Purdy, having customers there and having agreed to supply lumber for a school house, the town-site idea was further considered.  Mr. Horace Knapp deeded the land on which the school house was subsequently built; said school house still occupies the same site and is now known as “The Purdy Womens’ Club House”.

On one of the mentioned hunting trips, after much discussion, pro and con, these gentlemen unanimously agreed to call the town “Purdy”.

Mr. Wm. Rowland, Gen. Ashton and Newman Kline are still living.  Mr. Purdy died many years ago.  They all boosted for the town, as was customary in those days, claiming it was sure to grow, as it was equidistant from Port Orchard, Hoods Canal and Tacoma.  Mr. SeuartRice was Tacoma’s mayor at that time; he and their associates dubbed Mr. Ashton the “Mayor” of Purdy” to which he would retort, “Never mind, you fellows will all be pulling for purdy before you die.”

About 1888 a mill was built and operated for some time.  Later on it was deemed advisable to discontinue operations and sell the mill.  At that time, my father was in the mill machinery business, and was given the sale of this mill machinery, the consideration for sale was to be the mill site, which, I believe, consisted of some thirty lots.  As children, our family and friends spent our summers at Purdy, and in 1910, I built my present home there, and am still “boosting” for Purdy, as Purdy comes for its share of summer holiday makers and vacationists, as my cottages are rented, likewise my neighbors’, and there are calls for many more.

I take great pleasure in introducing Mrs. Knapp whom, to many, needs no introduction as she was the first white woman in Purdy.

(Mrs. Jessie K. May)


As i whirled up here today, comfortably seated in Mrs. Johnson’s sedan, I thought back forty-five years ago when a board seat on an ox cart, behind a yoke of steers, was the best to be had.  As I noted the uniform grades and smooth roadbeds, I thought back of the days of Indian paths and deer trails and recalled the time and effort it required to get through the uncut timber to Horseshoe Lake.  A few incidents in my life since I came West will give you an idea why the changes that appeal to me most are in transportation and communication.

My father, Thomas Fuller, came here in 1883 and took up a piece of land on the waterfront north of Wauna.  The homes of Mrs. Amos and Mrs. Dow are situated on the homestead.  My oldest brother, Theodore, and I decided to leave the old place in Michigan and surprise father by dropping in on him.  There were many surprises as you may imagine, but they didn’t all fall on father.

We stepped off an emigrant train in Tacoma February 22, 1884.  In place of the open roads and balmy climate we found ourselves barricaded with from four to six feet of snow and the patter of a cold rain to add to the chill.  This was surprise number one.  We planned to get out to father’s cabin on Henderson Bay immediately, in spite of unfavorable conditions.  We casually inquired the way to Henderson Bay or Carr’s Inlet as it is officially called.  Our first inquiries were fruitless so we intensified our search for someone who could tell us how to get there, but few had ever heard of the bay and those few could not give us satisfactory information.  So this was surprise number two.  We then decided to write father and lay over a few days until he could come, but surprise number three was in watching our few days grow into three weeks.

We learned during this lay-over that Tacoma boasted of but two hotels, the Willard and the Halstead House, both of course on the American plan.  

Father found us and we were loaded into his big row boat.  We rowed and rowed, got tired and rowed some more until we landed ten o’clock at night on the flats near Wauna; for of course the tide was out.  We couldn’t continue our trip until 3 a.m.  We enjoyed the interval, however, for Mr. House, who owned Dr. Pratt’s place, and George McCormick had a little shack on the beach and invited us in for rest and refreshments.  The refreshments consisted of a big pot of beans, bread and black coffee.  We each took turns at fishing the beans out of the big black kettle.  While the novelty of it amused us, we found the beans well worth the fishing, for they certainly did taste good after our long row.

Passing around the sand-spit and drifting with the tide we finally landed on the homestead in front of father’s cabin.  In place of green lawns and beautiful flowers we find there now, the little cabin was nestled in, the midst of tall firs and cedars with spreading maples on the beach.  Yet as I think back, the natural beauty and fragrance compared favorably with the setting of today.

Game and fish, of course, were plentiful.  With a shake one could get a bucket of clams in a few minutes.  I loitered for a while getting my fill of deer and clams and then returned to Tacoma where I stayed for some time.

On coming back to Henderson Bay I settled at Purdy in a little house near the end of the present bridge.  Many times people from Wauna and beyond came to the end of the sand-spit and hailed us that we might get them with our boat.

The Bob Irving, a flat-bottomed stern wheeled boat started weekly runs up Henderson Bay.  They dumped the freight and mail on the beach and we all helped ourselves.  We had a large hovel or cattle shed near the water which was free to all to put freight in until they could get it.

The mail was the biggest drawing card and everyone was on hand, if possible, to sort his letters from the pile.  But of course the mail was dreadfully slow.  I received in one mail two letters, one telling me my sister in Puyallup was sick and the other telling me she was dead.  Mr. Knapp prevailed on the captain to wait until we could get ready.  We arrived in Tacoma at Midnight and in Puyallup the following night only to find the funeral was over.

I remember once about forty-three years ago I was taken seriously ill.  Mr. W. E. White and Mr. Ed. Ferris went to Tacoma to get a doctor.  They followed a trail to Gig Harbor, got a boat and rowed to Tacoma.  It took a day to go and a day to return.  The doctor refused to come, but never-the-less I am here to tell the story.

Yes, transportation and communication in those days were surely slow.  Who is it that will mourn for the days that are gone, even though they were good old days never to be forgotten?

(Mrs. Josephine Knapp)

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary entry for Wednesday, January 30, 1884

Nicest kind of day tho a truffle sharp in morning.  Hammered away at the boat & put on 10 full strips & 6 pieces & nearly finished stripping it.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co.

Someone asked me a few weeks ago why there had never been a blog written on the Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co.  I personally knew nothing about the firm as it was tone long before I arrived in Gig Harbor back in 1977.  I checked through the research room at the Harbor History Museum, and haven’t been able to discover anything.  I’ve check the internet and again, came up empty handed.  I checked the Peninsula Gateway’s back issues and was able to find a few advertisements for the company.
Very crude drawing representing Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co. based upon John Platt's description of operations

But some of the limited information I discovered is below.  

We’ll start with Col. George A. McDonald’s obituary because it contains the most history I have been able to find so far, and then we will work our way backwards.

Col. George A. McDonald was attending the University of Southern California when his education was delayed while he served in the U. S. Army during World War II.  Following his discharge from the service as a colonel, he continued his education at USC and graduated.  He taught for a while at a junior college.  After teaching, he became a builder, and on May 9, 1952, opened his business, Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co. 
Peninsula Gateway - First advertisement for Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co. under Col. GeorgeA. McDonald

As his first advertisement stated:  “Now open for Business.  Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Company, Ready Mix Concrete - Washed Sand and Gravel,  Prompt service in meeting the needs of a growing community.  Located Opposite Uddenberg Motors - Phone 4240”.

While running the business he also returned to school earning a master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Puget Sound.
Peninsula Gateway advertisement

By July 4, 1952, his advertisement read:  “Concrete  Do you want concrete that will last?  Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co. uses only the best of materials and equipment.  We take pride in supply our customers with highest quality Concrete.  Prompt service.  Crushed rock for driveways.  Immediate Delivery.  Phone 4240.  Building Blocks, Pier Blocks, Brick, sewer pipe, drain tile, reinforced steel, cement, lime.”

Then, in 1969, he was reactive by the U. S. Army as a full colonel and played an important role in restricting the post-Vietnam army.

In 1978, he retired and he and his wife, Aggie, remained active in various community activities.  Col. McDonald was active in the Gig Harbor Lions Club and in the Reserve Officers Association.

He died on June 2, 1993 at age 71, and is buried at Haven of Rest.  He was survived by his wife, Aggie.

Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Company was located at 3711 Harborview Drive (currently Eddon Park) and was quite extensive, housing not only their offices, but also an equipment shop (which the Gig Harbor Fire Department used on occasion when their own shop was unavailable).  And, of course he had the crusher on site as well. 

Well, as I said at the beginning, because I was unable to find information other than a few advertisements and Col. McDonald’s obituary, we would start there.

In checking with the Northwest Room of the Tacoma Public Library, they too came up empty handed with one exception.  The only item they could locate in their vast files were three pictures regarding a hunting trip to Chilcotin District around the Lake Williams area in British Columbia, Canada.  In one of those pictures, a member of the hunting partner was Thomas P. (Tom) Myers, owner and operator of J. P. Myers Fuel in Tacoma, Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel in Gig Harbor and Bremerton Lines (a bus service operating between Bremerton and Tacoma).  The picture was dated 11/27/1949 and published in the TNT on page B-11. 
Copyright (c) the Board of Trustees of the Tacoma Public Library.  All rights reserved, including those of publication and reproduction.
L-R Geo. Peterson, Reuben C. Carlson, Arne Strom, H. D. Maxwell, Thomas Myers and Lewis Boen

Oh, other members of the hunting party included George Peterson, Reuben C. Carlson, Arne Strom, H. D. Maxwell, and Lewis Boen.  And what a successful hunting trip it was, they bagged three moose and one deer.

So this means that Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co. was in business prior to Col. McDonald’s ownership and operation.  It would appear that following Col. McDonald’s discharge after the end of WWII, he purchased the business from Tom Myers.  

And, the search goes on. 

 I have discovered that Tom Myers was born approximately 1896, and died age 79, on January 27, 1976.  According to the obituary published 1/28/76, Tom was born in Orting WA and lived his entire live in the great Tacoma area.  He married Sophia Schultz, of Tacoma, and they had one son, Joseph C. Myers.  Joseph became a minister, and at the time of Tom’s death, Rev. Joseph C. Myers lived in Smith Center, Kansas.  Tom and his father, J. P. Myers, worked in the drying business and also owned harness-racing horses shown throughout the country.  In 1939 Tom and his father acquired Tacoma-Bremerton Stage Line.  He later founded J. P. Fuel Co. which was located in the Tacoma Tideflats.  Tom also owned Gig Harbor Sand & Gravel Co.  He retired in 1967, and was a member of the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce and Gloria Del Lutheran Church.

Tom’s father, J. P. Myers’ biography was published in the Wm. P. Bonney History of Pierce County, Vol. III, p.576-577.   Born in Ohio, the family moved to Nebraska , and then he moved to Orting, Washington at age 26.  Shortly thereafter he moved to Tacoma where he established J. P. Myers & Son in 1902.  The company specialized  in wood fuel; at first only forest wood and then including also planer ends and other similar wood from manufacturing concerns. J. P. and his wife, Dinah had two children:  Rebecca who died at age 8 and Thomas.   

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Emmett Hunt's diary entry for Wednesday, January 23, 1884

Hazy & cool all day and Old Sol never showed his head once.  Got started later this morn, also had to shop and put in a cross-section but nevertheless accomplished our 8 strips & she begins to look some boat.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.