Who is Harry Tichacek? We run across his name occasionally but there is so little information about him in files at the Harbor History Museum. We learned a little bit in the Harbor History Museum entitled “Drugstores in Early Gig Harbor” but it left gaps.
So I set out to see what additional facts I could find on Harry. The most complete was his biography in “History of Pierce County” by W. P. Bonney, 1927, and on Ancestry.com. So, for all of you out there that like mysteries, help me out and maybe we can correct any errors in the following.
W. P. Bonney’s biography reveals that Jacob E. Tichacek emigrated to the US in 1889 from Bohemia. Bohemia was part of the Holy Roman Empire and included at one time parts of Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine until it was dissolved in 1806. It’s capital was Prague. In 1867 it like so many of those countries became part of the Austrian Empire until 1918. So with all the conflict going on in Bohemia, it is easy to understand why Harry’s father left Europe. Harry’s mother Anna Wilke Tichacek was born in Germany. This much was confirmed on Ancestry.com and Find-a-Grave.
Once in the US, the Tichaceks settled in Wisconsin and Jacob became a wheelwright in the sawmills there. Harry was born on September 12, 1900 in Wisconsin and was baptized on November 18, 1900 in Sheridan, Wausau-Merrill CSA, Wisconsin. The next year, 1901, he moved the family to Everett, Washington where he became superintendent of the Baker Lumber Company’s large mill. Jacob lived there until his death June 6, 1931. His wife, Anna, remarried Frank A. Lall, and they lived in Skagit County.
Harry received his education in the public schools in Everett, graduating in 1915. Following graduation he enrolled in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Washington. The Washington Legislature had passed a bill in 1893 requiring all Washington pharmacists to have their Ph.G. degree. and have at least 4 years experience before practicing on their own.
After Harry finished his classes at the University of Washington, he moved to Leavenworth where he was working for E. G. Wheeler at the City Drug Store basically doing his apprenticeship. It was there, on his 18th birthday he was drafted to serve in the First World War. According to W. P. Bonney (History of Pierce County), Harry enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to the Hospital Corps where he served until his discharge in 1920. On the internet, I discovered on the National Archives “On May 17, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson directed the secretary of the navy to ‘issue the necessary orders for service with the Army a force of Marines’. The force eventually consisted of the Fifth and Sixth US Marines, who were attached to the Second Division.” These men served in France. Interestingly, I only found one significant US Naval operation in the Pacific — and it related to Guam, a US Territory. The German SMS Cormoran was involved in an attempt to coal to run the engines. There being little coal on Guam, the Captain Adalbert Zuckschwerdt was unable to leave and the crew and captain were interned on the island. When war broke out on April 6, 1917, the USS Supply operated by the marines, ordered Captain Zuckschwerdt to surrender or they would sink the ship. Nine Germans were killed when the marines opened fire with America’s first shots in WWI. This was prior to Harry’s service in the military.
Now, for all you military buffs out there, I am hoping you can find something that collaborates w. P. Bonney’s record regarding Harry’s service in the Pacific as described in the next paragraph. Perhaps the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton has historical archives and can help out.
Whereas W. P. Bonney (History of Pierce County) goes on to say “ During that time he was in Honolulu, Guam & the Philippines, and then went to Shanghai, China, from there to Vladivostok, Siberia, and to Yokahoma, Japan. After leaving the Navy, he worked as a pharmacist in a drug store in Bremerton, Washington.”
In October 1925 Harry and Miss Esther Naslund were married in Olympia. Miss Naslund has an interesting background as well. She was born and raised in Seattle as well as having received her education there. However during WWI, she was the only woman in the US who operated a large electric crane at the Bremerton US Naval Shipyard.
In “Drugstores in Early Gig Harbor” we learned that in March 1926, Harry bought Mr. A. E. Allen’s drugstore (Peninsula Gateway) located in the Sweeney Building in what is now referred to as the Finholm District. It is also in this blog that we learn Harry served as a member of the Board of Directors for The First National Bank of Gig Harbor, which open in 1927. Unfortunately, the bank was placed in receivership August 13, 1933.
Harry appears to have been quite successful as a businessman, which as stated in the Peninsula Gateway dated March 1926 when talking about a business trip to Seattle to purchase additional inventory stated “It is Mr. Tichacek’s intention to supply every need that this community may desire in his line of business and with this idea in view he is enlarging his stock every day, with a first class quality of goods.” This is made more evident when on March 1926 the Peninsula Gateway published “The Gig Harbor Pharmacy has secured the Eastman Kodak agency for this district” … and it goes on to say “…those who have kodaks, which have been causing trouble to bring the same to him and he will repair and adjust them properly.”
W. P. Bonney (History of Pierce County) tells us that Harry was a member of the Masonic Lodge, Leavenworth;Royal Arch Masons and the Knights Templar in Wenatchee; Nile Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S, Seattle; Far East Lodge No. 1, IOOF, Yokahoma; Bremerton Lodge No 192, K.P.; President of the First National Bank of Gig Harbor and President of the Chamber of Commerce. Bonney goes on to say “He is active in all community affairs looking to the advancement of the public welfare, being specially interested in good roads and schools. Personally he is cordial and friendly and has a host of warm friends.”
So it must have been quite a shock when people read in the Peninsula Gateway that Harry was being held for Federal Grand Jury investigation in connection with the Federal Prohibition raid in 1930. The Peninsula Gateway tells us in June, 1930, “The Federal Grand Jury in session at Tacoma this week returned 46 indictments, most of which were liquor cases. Harry Tichacek, proprietor of the Gig Harbor Pharmacy, was indicted on the charge of selling and possessing liquor unlawfully.” Prohibition ended in 1933 on December 5th. I was unable to discover how long his sentence was, but I did discovered that by 1935 he and Esther were living in Seattle.
By 1940, Harry and Esther had divorced, Harry continued to live in Seattle for a little while longer but Esther moved to Poulsbo. Eventually, they both remarried others. Harry married Mildred K. Farmer Knowles in 1956, and moved back to Leavenworth where his sister Anna lived with her husband. Harry died on November 28, 1974 and is buried in Leavenworth.