Thursday, June 25, 2015

Atlantic Trading Company (Possibly IXL Hardware)

What was the first really big retail store in Gig Harbor?  It wasn't Ernst.  Nor was it Target, Home Depot, or even Costco.  In 1915 the Atlantic Trading Company general store (possibly also known as IXL Hardware) was established in Gig Harbor, instantly becoming the biggest retailer in town.  Backed by one or more of the wealthiest people in Gig Harbor, described by The Seattle Daily Times as  the "'Wall Street' interests of the hamlet," the store had such an unusually large variety of goods that the newspaper called it the Wanamaker's of Gig Harbor, in comparison with one of the most famous department stores on the East coast.  Where in Gig Harbor the store was located is not known ... yet.

As grand and ambitious as the enterprise was, it turned out to be a colossal failure, going out of business before the year was out.  The owner claimed he could make more money lending cash to Allied countries involved in what would come to be known as World War One than in retailing locally.  (The U.S. was not yet involved in the war.)  Regardless of the real reason for the closing of the business, in October the entire inventory of the store was loaded onto barges in the harbor and towed to Seattle where it was liquidated at bargain prices.  The liquidator, Russian immigrant Israel Myer (Meyer) Aronson, in his first retail experience in Seattle after moving from Pennsylvania, was so successful with the sale (held half a block south of the Pike Place Market) that in December he announced he would continue to sell similar merchandise at similar prices at the same location.  The Aronson Mercantile Co. quickly evolved into Aronson Hardware and would be a fixture on the same block for fifty years.  The family eventually switched from retail sales to industrial sales under the name Aronson Industrial Supply Company.  The business still exists today as Aronson-Campbell Industrial Supply Inc., located in Bellevue.

The Northwest Room at the Tacoma Public Library responded to my request for information:
We have found no reference at all to an Atlantic Trading Company after a thorough search.

Jody Gripp
Special Collections/Northwest Room
Tacoma Public Library
253.292.2001 ext. 1605

I am still awaiting the response from the Washington State Archives.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry July 9, 1884

Sunny & too warm.  Did some calking on the boat then.  J.M.G. came & spent a long time in chat, then over to the island in eve.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Giant Pacific Octopus

Have you heard stories about the giant octopus living in the Puget Sound under the Narrows Bridge?  Did you know that back in 1963 the World Octopus Wrestling Championships were held at Titlow Park?  Scuba divers frequently gather in Titlow Park for lessons, and for exploring the remains of Galloping Gertie.  During the Championship the contestants dived anywhere from 30 to 50 feet to explore the ruins and to try to grab the giant Pacific octopuses out of a cave or the other places the octopuses had made a home.    Approximately 5000 people watched 111 divers in this contest.

The wrestling part is loosening the octopus who has firmly gripped the cave with its suction cups and arms.  According to Gary Keffler, a former diver and one of the organizers of the event, “They have good suction, but if you get their arms and pull, the suction cups go pop, pop, pop.  You roll around, staging that you’re fighting him; they’re not very aggressive.”

But not all encounters with octopuses are as entertaining as the following will reveal.

    Here's an explanation of the four attachments to this email:

    One of the downsides to finding history bits in old newspapers is that the news is almost always bad.  Good news doesn't make headlines very often.  Here are two stories of sea monsters encountered by Gig Harbor fishermen.  One is a puzzle and the other a tragedy.

    In 1907 a 700 pound sea monster caught in the net of a local fisherman merited a one paragraph story on page 20 of the Seattle Sunday Times.  In 1922 news of the death of a Gig Harbor fisherman dragged under water by a giant octopus was given a front page banner headline above the masthead.  Considering the dramatic headline, the article was quite short.  The news service wire story sent around the country was more detailed.  

As for the 700-Pound Monster, I could find no identification for such a fish.  A Lingcod  has a long eel-like body, and grows to 5 feet as well as weighing over 100-pounds.  However I was unable to find any record of a 700-pounder.

There is a picture of Giant Pacific Octopus (Enterotopus dofleini) on the National Geographic site.

Albert O. Garness (1904-1922) and is buried in the Gig Harbor Cemetery with other members of the Garness Family.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry July 2, 1884

Rainy most all day & quite windy.  What times could work was put in at helping lay floor & arrange in general for the 4th.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Autobiographical Sketch by Peter Skansi

Yes, I know, there’s no “e” on Skansi.  In The Tacoma Sunday Ledger, dated Sunday, October 13, 1918, Peter Skansi  had a letter published where he signed his name as “Peter Skansi”.  This letter was in connection with the article entitled “Two Brothers Austrian Born Bonds Boosters”.  The bonds referred to in the article are the Liberty Bonds being raised during the First World War.  

Only part of the Skansi family added the “e”, and yes it is difficult to know which family branch is which because the entire extended family was and is so valuable to our history and our community.  I ask the great grandson of Peter Skansi, Randy Babich, and he responded “I do not know which brothers added the “E” or not.  My grandmother, Peter’s daughter Julia, and wife of Spiro Babich, signed her name without the “E” prior to her marriage.”

I also checked the US Naturalization documents shown on  On it Peter is shown as the only “Skansi”; Andrew, Mitchell and Joseph are all shown as “Skansie”.  I’m still trying to check if there are official documents for changing the spelling and will add it in comments if and when I get it.  I was advised that “It was sometimes the case that individuals changed their names during the naturalization process.” by the WA State Archives for the Puget Sound Region.  I will continue to look further.  But if this is the case, then the Naturalization documents I found would definitely show that only Peter Skansi retain “Skansi” while the other three brothers added the “e” making their name “Skansie”.

“I never know then that 4th of July was such glorios day but I ask soon.

Left town San Martin Bra─Ź Province Dalmatia Yugoslavia 4th of July 1889 for America.  Arrived in New York around 16 of July in Emigration Office New York was transover on the other Boat to Norfolk Virginia and was Aboard Southern Pacific Train for San Jose California that was my Destination, then I acquire Job in Suburban Town Mission San Jose.  Picking fruit and Grapes for One Dollar Day.  By the Time the picking of Grapes was over it was hard to find Other Job even at one Dollar day and board you self.  no one question small wages but scarcity of Jobs.  I then diceded to go to Washington Teritory so I did landed at Tacoma and at that year what was of Seattle it burned down that was of that year some time in June 1889 and the Wages was better in Washington it was $2 to $2.50.  So I acquire Job in Employment Office at Brick Yard in Wollochet Bay and same time heard of Gig Harbor and know that some Country men from the same Place I was Born reside at Gig Harbor and some Other from the same Country Mr. Novaks and Mr. Dorotich are from same Place, the Other 2 Mr. Goodman and Mr. Samuel Jerisich from same Country.  While I was working on the Brick Yard I visited Gig Harbor often got gientend with Gentleman mention above.  never work on brick yard before I was young and Learn soon to tose bricks.  3 of us miling Bricks to the Kill one man building Kills of bricks and our days work was 9000 bricks a day at begining it would take all 10 hours to bring 9000 each of us 3, but in Month time we would bring 9000 bricks in 8 hours or 27 thousand all three, then we would work like over time.  at that time there was many Brick Yards in Puget Sound  it was 3 at Wollochet Bay 3 in Anderson Bay Tow on Fox Island, Lake Bay at Meridian Quarter Master Harbor 2 and Many others all over Sound.  In about year and half or two most of this brick yards boosted up.  by that Time I was well qiented at Gig Harbor and Gig Harbor Mill was operating.  I got job in the Mill the Mill was Cutting 100 Thousand feet Lumber a day or over and Employ over one Hundred men.  Mill was about from Mr. Novaks House to about where Undenberg New Store is Located, when this Mill was Built few years before same time was built St. Paul in Tacoma or little before by the People Mostly from Aberth Lee Minesota and it was consider than that Welter People build Gig Harbor Mill the one at Tacoma.  Well how ever that my bee Gig Harbor Mill after Couple years I was working there it bBoosted up like good many Other things did but St. Paul at Tacoma still stand.  After that I was experient Mill men being run Lath Machine and Skantling Machine.  Then I went in Tacoma and got job at Tacoma Mill and start to work what I could get to do.  So I was put to work at what they Called Long Side, cuting logs of hundred feet long more or less.  I was on one End and the other man was on the other end mostly we would be Swamped with Slabs and Lumber because the other Man could not keep up.  There was foreman by the name John Baxter he would help and other men to clear the pile of Slabs.  Then at that time Jack Anich come from the Old Country and from the same town I come from and got job there and I told foreman to put Jack on the Other End.  Jack was new but he was strong and willing when he got at this Long Side End the Slab pile and other Lumber was all ways Clear.  Then Mr. Baxter would wink to all around to watch us two keep that Clear.  It was not easy Job but for what Jack says we have $1.50 a day and I think we later years $1.25.  So small wages and hard work.  I went back to Gig Harbor as I allways like Gig Harbor and start to Fish with Mr. Sam Jerisich Boys John and Mike.  we would catch Lots of fish but like everything else was to cheap and sometime we could not sale it but we kept on, after we have purse Seines and Maned with 8 Men and 8 Oars 16 feet Oars and some time give chase to some poor Steamer or Bucky Gas Engine as they where then,  About later years of Oars Time my 3 brothers came from Old Country and they start to fish and we made our own oar Boat and in mean time around 1900 two men from Ballard George Shears and fred Prussy made power Boat and because of new way of fishing and more or less bucky Engines we that have Oar boats would make even better Season with Oars.  But around 1902 we made Power Boat and inlarge 30 foot Oar Boat.  Saw in two and aded in Center 8 feet longer and installed 7 horse power Standard Gas Engine.  It never failed to go and we made good season.  at same time and ride after Every body made Power Boats us Brothers start building Little Cabins on our Boats and Others Boats and little by little start built or repair small Boats from which present Ship Yard was Encrised by 2 Brothers.  Michael and Joe.  Poor Mitchell past away.  We, Andre and Peter left and stay fishing.  And all this years I kept fishing untill 1930.

I have to quit fishing on account of Acomulating Hearth Trouble and advice from Doctor Quevli of Tacoma by whom I was Doctoring And Doctor ask me after some time what I have being doing to have Hearth like that I said was mostly fishing and when younger was farming.  Doctor said that I most force my self as mostly Ateletes having hearth like that.  My Hearth was inlarged and hardly beated at all.  I told the Doctor that I did have puls and push with many men and some better than I ever was and to not be beaten by any o them I have to pull and push some and this was allkinds of grapling but mostly Tug of War.  How that started When I Landed at Norfolk Virginia by waything for Southern Train was there 4 or 5 hundred People and there was lots younger men and waiting for the Train they played all kinds Tricks including the tug of war and there was a man about 25 years old well built  at that time most people have mustache this fellow have it and he have pulled every one that come to pull, I was Watching on the side and Admired the man.  when it was to be over he looked around and Eyed me and make motion with his finger to come and pull.  he was moch Older man than I as far as the Age I was only 17 years old, we sat down and start pull then when he saw that he got to be raised or pull he slip his hands and the People got interested in contest and I saw that I got chance we start again and he sleept his hands again and people baying him quite hard then he got up to say wayt, he went in corner of floor and dusty is hands and came to pull again.  And we started again we both held for little while And that lasted for quite part of Minute and by not sliping his hand I pulled him up.  I tought that building was coming down of Aplaud.  And I being young and husky try that Tug of War where ever was chance to pull.  after I pulled with many men never was pulled by any one.  But once with one man we where at Tacoma Old Town we were pulling each other and Mr. Andrew Gulch quite older Man than I.  Than I was around 28 years and he my be 40  we set down on the flor and some how he got me on surprice in second.  I got up and called and beg him to pull again.  no he said for a Thousand Dollars so we did not pull us two any more.  I was sellected to pull Tug of War when Tacoma use to have Fair Midwinter Fair and they have International Tug of War and I was Practising with  and in the meantime I have sicnes at home and Married then and my poor Wife, first Wife Mellisa died, so I did not pull and my place was taken by Other man  it was 8 Teams    and they  pulled all the time a long as Fair last and Slavs of which I was one pulled every one other Team so did the Norvegians pulled every other Team.  So this two Yugoslavs Norvegians have to see who is the best.  At time was End of the fair and More than Month past since my Poor Wife Burial.  they have the Jugoslavs called me back again and to put this man out that took my Place, so I consent to be there but the Norwvegian Aneor Man by the name Plank Objected to that when I did not pull before that I should not pull but the other man that was allways there my be he was right so Yugoslavs did not want to pull with out me an the Norvegians did not want pul because of I been there so They never pulled each other.  Mr. Plank made remark he was Fisherman to and we know each other well.  that I pulled every one on fishing Ground to who ever want pull so they did not want any pulling that way.  Mr. John Malich was one of Jugoslav Team ad pull all the way to the End.

West of Gig Harbor and South before 1889 was Military Reserve but it was after open for Claim in around 1875.  Mr. Samuel Jerisich and Mr. John Fargo aplied for 160 acres claim each from Present Jerisichs place Jerisich Claim run up above now new Road taken Mr. Monaghy Splace toward Bay of Gig Harbor to now called Rosedale St. Road, And Mr. Fargo claim Run from Jerisich following Men Road and above to the Shore Acres Road.  Mr. Jerisich and Mr. Fargo aplied trough Mr. James Wickersham atorney to Secretay of Interior for this two Claims.  it past many years that they never heard in any way of having this claims.  Then around 1889 people taught that is still Military reserve some start to live on this Land in Mean Time Mr. William Dully allso come to Gig Harbor nice old Gentleman, when he saw whats going on he called Meeting and invite Mr. Jerisich and Fargo on the Meeting and propose to them that they never could have that Land but that they better divide this Lands an 10 Acre Tracts and aply to Secretary of Interior for the right of way and allso Made Jerisich and Fargo take 10 acres each and this two men could not do any other way. they took 10 acres each where they were living but allways stood Right for their claim of 160 acres and Mr. Duly Aplyed for all this settlers 10 acres each.  I my self took 10 acres where about is hospital now.  Then Answer come from Washington that this part of Land of both Claims aplied for by Samuel Jerisich and John Fargo and thes Claims belongs to them if they are Living or their heirs  Ii was big uproar but it could not be any other way it was this two men Land and they where more than fair with every one up to that time.  some Small Houses was allredy built by this 10 Acres Setlers and some improvements done.  They have sold to this men for $25 Acre to all does that made Improvements all or in part, and this part of West Gig Harbor from Rosedale Street (Keith Store) around School House by Mr. Kinvines Corner following that Road by Mr. Berth Udenberg Store to the Water was around 30 Acres.  Was first owned by Old Timer Nikola Janovich in the years 1880 and before.  That man left Gig Harbor 1880 or around there and sold this land in three Parts one to John Novak second Part to Joseph Dorotich and third Part to Mr. Samuel Jerisich. Mr. Novak and Mr. Dorotich plated their Part in Town Lots and made little Town called Millville as Mill was Built here of good size and Run then.  It was also at the Head of Bay where Business is now and the Post Office that was started town by Artena Land Co.  Mr. Samuel Jerisich was one of first 3 White Settlers that came to Harbor.  I am not sure of the other 2 but Peter Goldsmith could be one near nough and Nichola Janovich, they where here long ago.  

in all this time I my self start fishing.  We have many times Hard Times to Sale  thefish, then when this Caims of 10 acres lasted we would cut Cord Wood and we would Sale that Wood Delivered on the scow for $1.25 cord to Mr. Griffin in Tacoma.  I dont mean that it was Cheap there but that was the price for years.  So in all those years first working on the Brick yard, I got to know every one around.  On the Brick yard, I first know the Lady at that time was Cook at Brick Yard.  Mrs. Lilly Cofman after Mrs. Patrick.  I first meet there Capt. Ardie Hunt and ‘is two Twin Brothers Lloyd and Floyd visiting their sister Mrs. Cofman.  Capt was about 15 years old and Twin Brothers Small Boys.  My self about 17  after little over year Brick Jard stop.  Work all over then I went work in Gig Harbor Mill that soon Fell.  Then went in Old Town Mill work for my small wages, then went fishing for good.  With Mr. Samuel Jerisich Boys John and Mike.  Mr. and Mrs. Jerisich have Family of 3 Boys and 3 Girls and in few years after I married one of the Girls, the oldest Mellisa, we have one Girl.  Then Poor Mellisa Died and the little Girl of then to day is Mrs. Spiro Babich.  Then my Brothers after that haping to come in America and I ingaged trough the Mail My Present Wife then Kate Borovich and Brother Andrew bought Kate and we Married.  Miss Borovich was Born in the same Town I was born.

I have found here when I come Good Neighbors and Friends.  Old Timers Gig Harbor and Peninsula, Mr. Joseph Goodman Family, Mr. Burnham Family, Mr. Hunt Family, Mr. Sam Jerisich Family, Mr. Peter Goldsmith, Mr. John Fargo, Mr. John Novak and Family, Mr. Joseph Dorotich family.  All this and some others was here before me.  Mr. Kimbals Family, Mr. Conrad Andersons Family, Sehmels Family, Atkinsons Family, Mr. N. P. Sheylin Family, Paulsens Family and some others that move away or Died.
Peter Skansi

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary entry June 25, 1884

Rainy and sunny mixed.  All day at the cabin & just got it inclosed.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

This article originally appeared in the Kitsap Sun-Gig Harbor Life newspaper on April 28, 2010.  I have received permission to reproduce it in its entirety here.  

It is most important for the entire Gig Harbor community to remember George Bujacich (April 29, 1925 - May 17, 2015).  George Bujacich contributed greatly to our town, our people, to Gig Harbor’s commercial fishing industry, to the Gig Harbor Sportsman Club, to the Donkey Creek Fish Hatchery, and so much, much more.  

I loved running into him, as he was a neighbor, because he always had a smile, a funny story to tell, and comments on the   the city, county, state and world affairs.  George, you are missed.

His family will be holding a celebration to  honor his life on June 13, 2015 at the Gig Harbor Eagles between 1 to 5 PM.

The Bujacich Brothers — Elders of Gig Harbor's Fishing Community
Jack ("Jake") and George recall growing up in a fishing family.
Charlee Glock-Jackson (Gig Harbor Life)
4:58 PM, Apr 28, 2010

George Bujacich, Jake Bujacich  (Photo-Scott Turner-Gig Harbor Life)

GIG HARBOR - Gig Harbor's oldest remaining net shed, the Skansie Brothers shed, turns 100 years old this year.

The City of Gig Harbor will host a 100th birthday celebration of the net shed Saturday, May 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skansie Park, 3207 Harborview Drive.
The public is invited to participate and share in the fun.

For information, call (253) 853-7609 or visit

Jack and George Bujacich probably have saltwater in their veins.

The brothers hail from one of the long-time fishing families who have called Gig Harbor home for generations.

Their mother was a Ross. Their father, who was born in 1894, left his home in Croatia at the age of 13.

After working for a few years in the mines of Colorado, he migrated to Gig Harbor.

Winters, he worked at a mill in Eatonville. In summer, he fished out of the harbor.

"Back then, Gig Harbor was a unique community," Jack, the younger of the two — who's better known as Jake — recalled. "The Swedes lived in Arletta. The Norwegians were in Crescent Valley. And the Croatians lived in Gig Harbor. They all fished together in the summer."

In 1928, their father launched the Majestic, a boat he'd built himself.
"I first went out with my dad on that boat when I was 8," George said. "That would have been 1933."

In the 1950s, George inherited the Majestic and fished from it for many years. In 1966, he bought the Mustang, and Jake took over the Majestic. All in all, George fished for 47 years.

Jake started fishing in 1942, first with his uncle, then, a year later with his father and older brother on the Majestic.

He took a break from fishing in 1944 and joined the Merchant Marines. "Me and my buddies joined up together. We said we were going to go win the war," Jake said.

As soon as the war was over, however, Jake came home and went back out on the water.

He fished every summer until 1978, including the years when he was Gig Harbor's mayor.

"Back then, everybody helped each other. We'd get together and make a crew, if somebody needed help," he said.

He figures he's fished on at least 17 boats.

"In 1967, I fished with George Ancich. In '69 I had my own boat. In the 1970s, I ran the Shenandoah."

The latter is now on display in the Harbor History Museum, awaiting restoration.

In 1978, Jake ran for Pierce County Commissioner and "gave up my boats."

There were good seasons and bad, the brothers recalled, listing a few:

"The first year I fished, in 1942, I didn't even make enough to pay my union dues," Jake said. "1946 was a big sockeye season. In '47 it was a big humpy season."

"In the winter of 1949, the harbor froze completely over," George added.
In 1947, the fishermen struck. "We needed to get 14-cents a pound for fish in order to make it work," he said. "When we finally found a buyer at 14-cents, off we went."

Jake was appointed cook on that crew. "I got recipes from my mom and my sister. Just about every man in this town who fished knows how to cook."

That's because, until the 1950s, women weren't allowed on the boats.

"The old guys believed it was bad luck," George said.

George broke with tradition and hired a woman to cook on his boat in the early 1950s.

"He was a new breed," Jake said of his brother.

"I can't think of her name," George said. "But she went with us to Alaska. She was a good cook, too."

Like all the boys in fishing families, the brothers got their start filling the needles used to sew the nets.

"Our dad was an expert at making needles," George said. "He made them out of needle wood, which is a real hard wood."

"We'd go down to the docks and fill needles all day long," Jake added. "The faster and better you were the more they liked you. They had to be wrapped real tight."

It was a big day for a youngster when he no longer had to fill needles and got to go fishing.

"It was the highlight of every kid's life, when you finally got to go fishing," Jake said.

"We figured one of the reasons they put a kid on board was so they could have somebody to yell at," George added. "Kids did everything. Just like the grown-ups."

Next week: Fishing then and fishing now — how things have changed.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary June 18, 1884

Very warm again tho cloudy.  Put in a cross section astern and finished the floor with the exception of a few minor details.  Rain at night.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.