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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Julianne Johnson Ewings (1938 - )


I know, it seems almost every blog starts out with something that was discovered in the Harbor History Museum Research Room.  But you have to understand, outside of people’s memories and personal documents, the Harbor History Museum through its archives, exhibits and research room has the largest collection of documented history from and of our community. 

The research room is basically where the individual blogs are born; although , and people’s questions and comments play a part too.  When more information is needed or leads to further research, it is trips to the Northwest Room at the Tacoma Public Library or our own Gig Harbor Peninsula Pierce County Library.  But let’s not forget the internet, or the older residents of our community.

But today’s blog originates from notes that Julianne Johnson Ewing made in anticipation of recording her oral history, as well as the recorded oral history which expands her notes.

So sit back, make yourself comfortable, grab that cup of tea, or coffee, and enjoy Julianne’s family history which is also Gig Harbor’s history recorded in July, 2010.

The interviewer:  Pat Carter (PC); Interviewee: Julianne Johnson Ewings (JJE)

“ PC:  Julianne, could you tell us about your very beginnings.  Let’s start with your parents and their beginnings as far back as you can trace it in early Gig Harbor.

JJE:  Well I think basically I’ll go way back because I’ve always been proud of the fact that my great, great grandfather settled here I think in 1867 or so.  So basically he I think rode into the harbor while fishing with some friends, and they liked it so he decided he would move his family here. …

PC:  And what was the name?

JJE:  Samuel Jerisich and his wife, Annie.  I believe her last name was Willits and she was a Native American that I think he met when he was basically exploring the area.  I think he started fishing.  He’d come around the horn probably three times.  It is my understanding he sailed out of Kotor on the Dalmation coast.  The third time around he ventured beyond north of San Francisco and went to the area of Vancouver Island where I think he fished.  There he met Annie.  I believe by the time he rode into the harbor in 1867, they had a daughter.  I believe her name was Caroline.  So that’s where it all began. {Note: Annie Willet was a member of the Penelakut Tribe from Thetis Island in B.C according to boards.ancestry.com} 
Samuel Jerisich & Anna WIllits Jerisich and family
JJE:  [JJE Notes:  Initially they were near the sand spit, but later moved near what I remember as Maury’s boathouse.  I always thought they were rather adventurous and am amazed at the energy it must have taken to get through each day, although that is true of all of the early settlers in this country.]

After that I believe Annie and Sam were among the first settlers in Gig Harbor.  They were soon joined by others One of them was Joe Dorotich.  Joe ended up marrying Annie and Sam’s oldest daughter, Caroline.  They in turn had several children one of which turned out to be my grandmother.  Her name was Ann Dorotich.  . . . .  Anyway, it’s interesting to note that eventually they - quite a few of them married into the Skansie family.  [JJE Notes: Caroline and Joe Dorotich children:  I’m not sure about the birth order.  I know John must have died before I was born:  John, Martha, Anne, Amanda, Cathering, Jack {Jacob is referenced in Caroline’s will, but I only remember Jack}, George, Marie. ]  These (Skansie) were brothers that came here from - I think it was a town called Sumatran - an island off the Dalmatian coast.  So there were four of those brothers.  Joe Skansie - I think the first Skansie to come here was Peter - his brother Peter.  Then Andrew and Mitchell came so they were sort of key members of the Gig Harbor community as far as I could tell.  My grandfather, Joe married Ann Dorotich.  His brother Mitchell married Amanda Dorotich.  Let’s see - Mattie or Martha actually married another Skansie.  He was really a cousin of the four brothers.  Basically it was interesting how I guess it was sort of a limited social situation.  There were all these pretty girls and four brothers and they all got connected somehow or other.  Anyway, so great, great grandparents, Annie Willet and Sam Jerisich; great grandparents, Caroline and Joe Dorotich; and my grandparents were Ann Dorotich Skansie and Joe Skansie.  Of course, that’s the family I know most about.  

[JJE Notes:  I also have extensive memories of Catherine Dorotich and Marie Dorotich Gustafson, and saw a lot of Grand Uncle George Dorotich and Jack Dorotich.  George used to come to our house and listen to Seattle Rainiers’ baseball games.  Jack liked electronics.  He was the first in the family to make home movies and actually have a projector so we could see the films.  He also made a TV set from some sort of kit.  It seemed that whenever I went to Catherine Dorotich’s house (formerly my Great Grandmother Caroline’s house), we would watch TV.]

[JJE Notes:  I remember going to Uddenberg’s store when very young when it was across from Doctor Ryan’s office.  There was deep sawdust on the floor in the meat’s cutting area.  I also recall renting freezer space at Finholm’s store before home freezers became available.  And there was the dy the electric range was installed. . . . {Note:  At this time, JJE lived in Grandpa Joe Skansie’s house, later became Herring Bait Store and now Threshold Group}
Walking from People's Wharf from Westside Grocery to Skansie Shipyard, Joseph Skansie house on left side behind people
. . .Once “Galloping Gertie” was replaced with the second Narrows Bridge, my parents considered more choices for high school.  The father of one of our Harbor Intermediate classmates, commuted to Tacoma to work everyday.   . . . A few parents got together and decided we would attend Aquinas Academy in Tacoma instead of Peninsula High.  My mother had boarded at Aquinas when it also included elementary school.  Herb Duren dropped us off at Aquinas in the morning; after school one of our moms would pick us up for the trip home to GH.  . . .
Jane Stanich Dempsey, Mary Ellen Jerovich and Irene Stanich
{Note:  JJE schools were Grades 1, 2 & 4 - Lincoln School now the LDS Church; Grade 3 - Crescent Valley School Vernhardshon & 96th St near City Park; Grades 5 through 8 - Harbor Intermediate School} {Note:  Irene Stanich, Tony Stanich’s daughter and Jane Stanch Dempsey, John & Pauline Castelan Stanich’s daughter were JJE’s closest friends}
1948 Crescent Valley School with fire escapes west side (Frank Owen Shaw) HHM Collection
 . . . My dad was Julius Peder Johnson, eldest son of Peder and Christine Johnson who settled in Wollochet Bay after first living in Tacoma where Julius was born.  My Johnson uncles and aunt were Arthur, Ralph and Alice.  Grandfather Johnson fished, not in Puget Sound, but the Skagit River.  My Grandmother Christine died when I was about 5 years old so I don’t remember her at all. . . .

. . .My Uncle Arthur worked on the railroads before entering the US Army during WWII.  Later on he was a crew member on ferries, then moved to Vancouver, WA.  Uncle Ralph owned a car dealership and garage at the end of the harbor.  Ralph married Betty Merry.  They had a son Jim, and daughter Janice.  Aunt Alice married Paul Polman.  They had a son, John, and daughter, Bonnie, and resided in Tacoma.  Alice died in a car accident in about 1953. . . .

. . .Mostly, I socialized with my cousins.  Paul Gustafson (who I think was really a great uncle but the same age as JJE) and first cousins Joe, Dave, Chuck and George Uhlman, grandsons of Joe Skansie.  Their mom was Caroline Skansie Uhlman.  They lived in Fircrest, near Tacoma. . . .

. . . Paul’s dad Carl Gustafson was the town’s heating fuel dealer and he had an extra truck bed by his garage.  It was a generic background for many adventures. . . . Occasionally I would visit some of Paul’s Gustafson and Uddenberg cousins.  Of course I was also close to other cousins, sons of Amanda Skansie Pendergast (Jim) and Clarice Skansie Richardson (Michael and Richard).  I did not connect much with children of Bill or Mitchie Skansie.  I often visited my next door neighbors Mike and Sophie Jerisich a lot.  (I think Mike was a cousin also.)  . . .

. . . My Grandpa Johnson sold the home in the mid-1950s and moved to University {Place} to reside with daughter Alice Johnson Pohlman. 

The Johnson’s lived across the road from the Uhlman’s in Wollochet Bay.  They may have participated in some mischief together. . . .  Later on, George Uhlman, a Catholic, convinced my dad, a non-church goer, to participate in a play at St. Nicholas Church in Gig Harbor.  He did and as a result met my mother who was also on the program as a member of the Skansie band along with her sister Caroline and cousins Amanda and Tina Skansie (Mitchell’s daughters).  The standing joke is that my dad liked the way my mother puckered while playing her clarinet.


I hope this brief glimpse into Julianne’s history has whetted your curiosity, and left you with the desire to learn so much more about Julianne’s extended family relationships.  There is much more revealed in Julianne Johnson Ewing’s Oral history and her accompanying notes, and just another reason to visit the Harbor History Museum and its Research Room and pursue the records kept therein.
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