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 Brač 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.

1 comment:

  1. My name is Srdjan Skansi from Sumartin island of Brac.

    Mr Petar Skansi and his brothers is my grandmother brothers, also Tomazina Skansi-Ursich is sister.
    My grandfather is from Sumartin, also, but different Skansi family.
    Yes, he is right, there is no E in original family name.

    Thank you for this article, to let us Skansi family from Sumartin to know Petar Skansi and brothers life in USA.

    I will appreciate if any of superseding family will wish to contact me on my e-mail