Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jerry (Eiichi) Yamashita, The Oysterman (1923 - present)

The Fishermen's News, November 1999 Lee Makovich Article

On August 26, 2015, you will have the opportunity to meet and listen to Jerry Yamashita along with Rod Magden to learn about the Japanese involvement on the oyster business in western Washington and the Pacific Coast.  You won’t want to miss the event.  But in the meantime to whet your interest in Jerry I thought I might share a little bit of Jerry’s early background. 

Many of us think that Hubert Blaine Secor started the oyster business in 1929 when he and his wife started what is now Mintercreek Oyster Company on Minter Bay and Rocky Bay.  But there were others like Jerry’s father Masahide, and in 1921, two Japanese men from Olympia, Emy Tsukimoto and Joe Miyagi.

Lee Makovich wrote a wonderful article on Jerry Yamashita on November 1999 in The Fisherman’s News entitled Farming the Seashore, Jerry Yamashita …Oysterman.  I wanted to put a link to the article for you to read at this time but unfortunately it is not in the archived articles on the internet at this time.  However, you can certainly read it in the Research Room at the Harbor History Museum.   It is, as all Lee’s articles, an excellent explanation of the oyster business on Washington’s Pacific Coast.

In fact, there are so many excellent articles on Jerry and his involvement in the oyster industry, in various news outlets I cannot list them all.  But do check him out on the internet.  That way you’ll be able to access them including a video on entitled “Ebb & Flow, the Life Journey of Jerry (Eiichi) Yamashita”.

So the following excerpts are taken from Jerry’s own words in an oral biography he did for the Harbor History Museum back in March 2011.  But again we’ll will concentrate on parts of his life outside the oyster business during his early years.

It starts with Jerry explaining about his father coming to the US. 

Probably around 1900 my father came over from Japan.  I think initially he thought of going to school, however money was important to make a living.  So he ended up getting involved working for Hardy’s Jewelry Store in Seattle.  Then there were many young people of his race about the same age and there were also many young people that were growing up about the same time.  And as a normal thing, where there’s a lot of young people, there are problems of youth involved in things that they’re not supposed to be involved in.  So many father got involved in helping them organize a club; writing newsletter and things like that so that they would be occupied in constructive things rather than some of the other things that young people tend to get into, which is not very good for the community.  He also organized a baseball club.  That was for some of the old people of his age.

“… The name of the team was Tengu.  … Anyway, the youth organized a ball team and they played but they could seldom win.  They founded that pitching was a problem.  So they had to hire a Caucasian pitcher to fill in the gap.  I never learned whether they were a better team after that, but I do know that my father had a reunion with the old team members and this Caucasian pitcher at our home in Seattle on Beacon Hill.  They really had a great celebration.

“ …Everybody was getting married that he knew.  So he went to Japan to seek somebody.  He ended up - my mother was a cousin of my father’s.  Their mothers were sisters.  My maternal grandfather wanted him to stay in Japan and find something to do rather than come back over here.  So my father tried.  He tried all kinds of things that might be appropriate for him to do.  He really was not very successful at it.  My maternal grandfather gave up on that.  He was a lumberman in the city of Sowana which was very close to Tokyo.  So my maternal grandfather introduced my father to a fellow lumberman in the lumber district of Tokyo.  This man I guess was quite wealthy.  So he offered my father an unlimited letter of credit so that he could buy whenever the bargain showed up, he could buy it and send it to him.  That plan of action was very beneficial to both the lumberman and my father.  In a matter of just a few years they really, really prospered…, but it didn’t last long.  In 1923 there was a major, major earthquake and fire in the City of Tokyo.  In that earthquake and fire, this very generous man perished.  My father had a whole bunch of flat cars loaded with timber from Everett to Aberdeen.  He had to send it out, but the banks wouldn’t honor the letter of credit because they were not certain that the man was alive or whether he survived the earthquake and fire.  It turns out he did perish in the fire.  So my father, with all the flat cars loaded with timber, couldn’t send it to Japan because there was no one to receive it.  It was already there on the track on the flat car, so he had to liquidate everything that he bought.  He had to liquidate locally.  In the process he lost a lot of money.  If he kept it, then the demurrage the flat cars would be very expensive.  So he almost went bankrupt.  The short time that that operation went on, it was just amazing how well he did, but good things don’t last forever.

And at this point in the oral history, Jerry starts talking about his father getting involved in the oyster seed import from Japan.  This will with be covered in his presentation with Rod Magden on August 26.  Except, perhaps, this one little bit: 

 …There was this man by name of Harry Allen who operated a farm in Burley Lagoon.  Harry was involved in logging.  One day my father went to sell the seed (oyster seed) and visited Harry.  In the course of the conversation, Harry said, “You know, I lost a whole lot of money because this Japanese fellow that took my money.”  ….My father said, you know, he didn’t have the courage to tell Harry that he was that Japanese.

“My mother’s name is Masako.  My mother has quite a story to tell you know.  My mother was a very self-sacrificing person.  In order to encourage my father and not burden him with the support of the family, she wanted him to go and concentrate on whatever he was doing in business. …..As soon as he left, my mother quit and she decided for herself that she would sell some baby clothes.  She would sew some baby clothes and she did some sewing and took samples over to the old Bon Marche.  Of course her ability to speak English was minimal.  She said she used to go talk to the manager of the department perspiring and she would have a bad time.  But because the people there were very sympathetic and helped her and after seven trips or something like that, she finally got an order. ….After I was put to bed, then it was her time to do the work.  She spent a whole week with minimal amount of sleep but she did finish the order that she received - that first order.  She was so proud.  She took it over.  She said the manager was very kind.  He knew that she didn’t have any money so when she made the delivery, he wrote a note to the cashier to pay her.  So my mother was able to buy the supplies for the next batch of orders.  She did that for a number of years. …..For that time she made about $3,000 a month.  1920s - mid ’20s I think.

Jerry then talks about going to Japan for the years between 1932 - 1936 when he was 9 to 13 years old.  And then, he talks a bit about being placed in one of the internment camps and his difficulty with signing the “Loyalty Oath”.  

“What do you do?  I didn’t want to go fight my friends that I grew up with.  But I didn’t want to do anything against the United States.  There was a question(iare) sent out to all of us that we had to answer.   I left some of the questions blank and some I said no and put my explanation in as to why I feel the way I do.  Recently I looked up some of the letters I had written.  My letters said “that I cannot say yes, I will take up arms to defend the country.  I said the country was wrong in removing all of us and putting us in camp.  I said when the government sees fit to remove us from the camp and put us back to where we were, then I would do my part.  Until that happens, I cannot do it.”  There was a lieutenant colonel from the Presidio of San Francisco that came up to interview a lot of us, especially those who said they could not do it.  He said “I don’t blame you for being angry.  Any red-blooded American would be angry, but I want you to change your answer.  After the War the US and Japan may be the best of allies so I want you to think about all these things and I will come visit with you and talk to you again”.  I said “Thank you, I shall do that”.  Shortly thereafter I thought I’d better - rather than rot in camp, I’d better go to school.  So I made application to leave the camp and obviously the Army didn’t think I was a risk.  So they let me out and I got accepted at school.  Illinois Tech in Chicago.  

I  had a little bit of time so I worked a bit.  I was accepted by Illinois Tech so I was ready to go.  Then the War ended.  Then there was no more free room and board.  Then we had to worry about making a living.  That’s when we went back to oystering.  The good fortune that we had was that in 1941, the year the War started, that summer there was a tremendous set of oysters - big spawning out in Hood Canal.  The oysters from the spawning covered the whole of the canal and there were oysters all over the place.  When we came back we went and bought some of the oysters from the people that owned the beaches and that got us back into the business.  Then little by little like here - I worked Hood Canal first but when Jack Caston came to me, I said “I would love that”.  I had lots of help.  Lots of nice people helping me.

Let’s end our part of Jerry’s story here, but hopefully this will enable you to truly enjoy his presentation and be able to fully participate in the Q and A part of the event.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary entry August 20, 1884

Warm as usual & sun shining just as hot.  Put in a big day's work at making a gridiron for my boat.

In eve went for a gas but got very little.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nicholas Skansi (14 April 1890 - 1 October 1939)

Hopefully this will answer the question that some many people utter when they come into the Skansie Netshed to learn about its history.  To answer the football question that so many people ask when entering the Skansie Netshed: Paul Skansi (formerly of the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers) is related. He is a descendant of one of the cousins. Now, let's talk about the history of his Skansi family.

Fishermen's News, July 2004

Nick, and his brother, John Skansi, were cousins of the four brothers, Peter, Mitchell, Andrew and Antone.  Of the four brothers, only Peter wrote his name without the final “e”, similar to the cousins.

John Skansi and Nick were born in St. Martin, Yugoslavia (part of the Austria Hapsburg Empire) to Anton and Vie Kuzmanich.  The two brothers emigrated to the United States arriving in 1910.  Nick was naturalized in Tacoma District Court on September 9, 1915, and John on July 1, 1916.  
John Skansi Naturalization & WWI and WWII Draft documents

Nick married Mattie Dorotich  on January 13, 1916 in St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Tacoma and their daughter Winifred M. was born August 4, 1916.  Nick and Mattie are buried in the Calvery Cemetery in Tacoma while Winifred is buried in the Artondale Cemetery.
Nicholas Skansi's Naturalization & WWI Draft documents
Nick's first boat, Hioma

Like many of his fellow countrymen, Nick earned his living on the water.  His first boat, Hioma, was a 52’ packer which he purchased from the original owner, H. O. Benedict.  Nick operated this boat until 1919 when he and his brother, John, became partners in the Companion, a 62’ purse seiner and one of the last of the classic wooden vessels built by their cousins at the Skansie Shipyard in Gig Harbor.  The Companion was powered by a 60 h.p. Enterprise gas engine.  But, even though the Companion was constructed and designed as a purse seiner, it was never used to catch a single fish.  
Companion from Fishermen's News, July 2004

John and Nick decided to use it as a freight vessel carrying everything from fruit, vegetables, chickens and other commodities to the markets.  They also transported merchandise and various supplies on their return. Their territory covered Olalla Washington and several other small communities in the lower Puget Sound to Tacoma and Seattle. 

By 1921 the brothers decided to expanded their operations and added a second cabin near the stern.  The cabin would add seating inside and out, and so, on April 30, 1921, they were issued a license to carry passengers.  The business was growing and Nick was quite satisfied with their results so far.  

But on December 30, 1925 everything changed.  And Nick almost lost his life.  Nick and one of the crewmen were the only ones aboard the Companion as it drifted in Colvos Passage near Olalla.  It is thought that they were waiting on the tide so that they could pull alongside the dock and load freight aboard the boat.

It was cold and sick decided he would light the oil stove in the gallery below the bow deck.  He went into the engine room and got a container that he thought was filled with kerosene or stove oil because just a little in the fire box would get the fire burning faster.  (You know, like all those BBQers that put matchless lighter fuel on the charcoal briskets to get the them burning.)  Unfortunately for Nick, he picked up the wrong can.  The one he got was filled with gasoline for the Enterprise engine.

Well, you can imagine what happened with Nick poured some in the stove - first there was the brilliant flash of light as the gas ignited, and suddenly Nick was engulfed in flames.  Somehow he managed to escape and get up on deck.  His clothes were still smoldering no longer on fire.  But Nick was seriously burned.

Fortunately Egil Peterson was nearby on the St. John fishing and he saw the explosion and immediately rushed over to help.  The fire had completely consumed the boat, it is believed an anchor was thrown overboard to hold the boat in position offshore.  Peterson and his crew got both Nick and his crewman off and aboard St John and headed immediately to Point Defiance Pavilion in Tacoma.  He thought they could get the fastest medical help there and it would be easier to transport Nick to hospital.  

Unfortunately, that was the same evening that the massive trolley accident occurred injuring many and also resulting in a few fatalities.  As Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room described the incident: “At 7:55 p.m. a municiple streetcar crashed through the steel gate that closed off 11th Street when the bridge was raised. The wooden streetcar broke apart as it plunged toward the water, spilling passengers as it fell. The crew of the Virginia V, docked near the bridge, sped to the rescue, pulling survivors to safety. An undetermined number of passengers were pulled from the water, including four who were injured. The death toll reached five.”

However Egil Peterson was not a man who gave up easily, he left his boat and was finally able to flag down and convince one cab driver of the seriousness of Nick Skansi.  The men got Nick into the cab and he was rushed to the hospital where there was utter chaos.  But despite all the confusion, Nick was attended to by the doctors and nurses rather quickly, with the diagnosis he would live with proper care.  Nick’s daughter, Bernice Crosby recalled that “When my dad got home from the hospital his face was still blackened from the exposure to the fire.  I remember him saying that because the explosion had occurred on a blustery winter day, he had decided to wear long underwear under his outer clothing.  And that may very well have saved his life.  My dad also wore eyeglasses and he felt quite certain that because of the glasses his eyesight was not harmed in any way.

John and Nick ended their commercial vessel partnership and Nick stayed in the maritime industry on his own.nIck purchased the Genius from the Babich family in 1926.  It too was built in and by the Skansie Shipyard in 1920 and powered by a Frisco Standard 50 h.p. gasoline engine.  Nick was back in business, hauling freight as before - berries, chickens, miscellaneous goods but no passengers.  He also became involved in fish packing and tendering on Puget Sound.  This lead to buying fish for the Friday Harbor Canning Company during the summer seasons and, in the fall, buying salmon for several fresh fish markets in Seattle.  

Nick continued his involvement with the Friday Harbor Canning Company for the rest of his career.  Everyone on Puget Sound knew who Nick was and Genius was one of the most familiar sights around San Juan Islands.  He loaded fish every evening in Griffin Bay, off Eagle Point at the Salmon Banks.  

Nick died in 1939, but his boat, Genius, did not retire; it continued under the operation of Nick’s son-in-law, Gerald  Crosby as a tender.  Eventually it was converted from a tender into a power block purse seiner and still be seen in 2004 going strong with Gerald’s son, Gary as captain.   

And once again we owe tremendous thanks to the late Lee Makovich for his story “The Nick Skansi Legacy, The End of an Era” in the July 2004 Fishermen’s News.
* Note:  John Skansi (20/1/1885-5/3/19570); Neda J. Skansi (24/9/1899-20/11/20000; Anton J. (1927-?)
* Note: Nicholas Skansi (4/14/1890-10/1/1939); Mattie Dorotich Skansi (12/16/1895-11/1/1986); Winifred J. Skansi (8/4/1916-
*Note:  Gerald James Crosby (4/25/1912-11/24/1996); Beatice Adeline Crosby (11/12/1917-4/24/2003); Gary Lee Crosby (6/8/1952-6/2/2004) 

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary entry August 13, 1884

Rainy all day.  Painted the name on my boat & not much else.  Time passed & it seemed as tho I get nothing done.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for August 6, 1884

Sunny & warm again.  Peeled a little more bark, made a buoy for my boat, put some bark aboard, trimmed up our signal lights again & go to bed.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Elija Matkovich (Lee Makovich Sr.)

For those of us who want to know something about the early 20th century of Gig Harbor and the maritime community, we seem to always look to Lee J. Makovich, one of Lee Makovich Sr.’s children.  The junior Lee wrote articles about the maritime world for the Tacoma News Tribune, The Peninsula Gateway, the Fishermen’s News, and many other publications.

But I was reminded of the senior Makovich when I ran across a news article dated January 1942 titled “Two More Die in Collisions”.  One of the victims was an Olympia man and the other was Nick Makovich, age 22, of Gig Harbor.  Another article news article dated July 1946 was titled “Lee Makovich Killed in Auto Wreck”, age 69.  Such a tragic end to the lives of two members of the same family, father and son.

The story that follows was written by Lee Makovich Sr.’s son, Lee; unfortunately it is not dated although it was printed in The Fisherman’s News in 2003..
Lee Makovich Sr.

Mr. Makovich, The Good Godfather, by Lee Makovich. 

This is a story about a man that I have idolized and admired for my entire life.  The man named Elija Matkovich existed long before my time.  He was 57 years old when I was born and I never knew him by that name.  In the new land of America, Elija Matkovich became Lee Makovich Sr., a man destined to become universally known and respected as a leader in his community and throughout the entire fishing industry.  I have written about many other great men who made their presence known in the fishing business.  I believe not recording the life and times of the late Lee Makovich Sr. would be a great injustice to a man whose valuable contributions truly made a difference in the evolution of the industry.  He was a great guy and …he was my father.

When he died suddenly in an auto accident many years ago, Lee Makovich Sr. was the president and General Manager of the Fisherman’s Packing Corporation of Anacortes, Washington.  Makovich had helped organize the corporation in Everett in 1928.  He had written the Frazier River Sockeye Salmon Study of 1929 and helped to write and negotiate salmon treaties between the United States and Canada on several occasions.  Makovich had worked hard and was a leading fighter for the removal of the fish traps in the state of Washington.  He was a self-educated and influential man who was know and admired in both the United States and Canada.

Elija Matkovich left the old country when he was only 11 years old.  His father Nicholas had passed away at the young age of 35 and left a wife and two young boys behind.  There had been a younger sister named Angeline, but regrettably, she had become ill several years earlier and had died at just three years of age.  Eli felt that the burden on his mother to raise both him and his brother Joseph was more than she should be asked to endure.  He envisioned coming to the new world, establishing himself there and then sending for his brother as soon as he was able to do so.  Eli finished the fifth grade in Yugoslavia and having to fib a little about his age of 11, he obtained a position as cabin boy aboard an English sailing ship.  Within 4 years, at 15 years of age, he earned the rank of able seaman, a position he held aboard the ship Lydahorn out of Liverpool, England.  In January of 1893, the Lydahorn made her way into San Francisco Harbor.

Elija liked what he saw and decided to begin his new life in this new land on the West Coast of the United States.  As he was about to apply for his American citizenship, a friend told him that the name Lee in America, was somewhat equivalent to Elija in the old country.  At about the same time a court clerk inadvertently misspelled his last name dropping the “t” from the spelling.  When all was said and done, young Elija Matkovich became Lee Makovich.  A new name and a new life in a new land.

Makovich served as quartermaster aboard ships in the U. S. Revenue Service for about two years/  And then later, he held the same position aboard various Alaska steamships.  He had little formal education and knew nothing whatsoever about the fishing business, but in 1896, he began fishing the Frazier River for about a month at a time during the summer season.  As soon as he could get the money together, he purchased a ticket for ship passage and sent it to his brother Joseph, along with a letter asking him to join him in the new land.  About two months later, Makovich received a letter from his mother telling him that his younger brother Joseph had died of diphtheria a short time earlier.  Makovich was very saddened as he had looked forward to having Joseph with him again.  He wrote back to his mother and asked her if she would like to use the ticket and join him in America.  She came over on the next available ship.

In 1901, Mr. Makovich acquired an oar powered purse seiner which he fished in Puget Sound.  Ir was a hand pulled rig which was one of the first ever constructed in the district.  In about 1908, Makovich went into partnership with Martin Ancich of Gig Harbor and the purchased the 50’ Sokol, the first “real” fishing boat that either of them would own.  The Sokol had been built at the Babare Shipyard earlier that same year and she was powered by a 20 h.p. Frisch Standard gas engine.  The old boat was sold in about 1912 and she was still productive until about 1990.  She sank for the third time in her career that summer, and when she was raised, she was towed to the beach at Petersburg, Alaska where her remains were dowsed with oil and burned.

Mr. Makovich was also associated with the George and Barker Company at Point Roberts, Washington as their fishing superintendent for several years.  In 1912, he became involved in a brief partnership with three fishing vessels with the George and Barker Company.  The vessels were:  the 54’ Mermaid, which was built at the Skansie Shipyard in Gig Harbor.  The 54’ Olympic, was launched at the Babare Shipyard in Tacoma at about the same time, and the 56’ St. Martin, built by John Martinolich at his Doctor, Washington shipyard on Vashon Island.  All three vessels were powered by 40 h.p. Frisco Standard gas engines.  Makovich continued his association with George and Barker for a number of years, but he sold his interest the the three previously mentioned vessels in 1914.  The Mermaid became a Canadian registered vessel and the Olympic foundered off the Washington Coast on November 12, 1921.  The St. Martin burned in Wrangell Narrows on April 23, 1937 with the loss of two lives.

By 1913, Makovich was back in partnership with Martin Ancich again and they had the 54’ Mermaid II built at the Babare Shipyard in Tacoma.  The Mermaid II was also powered by a 40 h.p. Frisch Standard gas engine.  The vessel was later owned by John Malich of Gig Harbor for many years until she was sold to Wilhelm Leese of Everett in 1926.  She eventually headed north and as of this writing, the Mermaid II was reported to be barely clinging to life at Point Baker, Alaska.

Mr. Makovich purchased about 2 acres of property in downtown Gig Harbor from Joe Dorotich not long after the turn of the century.  My late sister Angeline mentioned she believed that he had paid a whopping $400 for the land.  He built a small house there for his mother and continued to live in both Gig Harbor and Tacoma.  He married Katie Rastovich in 1913, and built a house for her, also on the Gig Harbor property.  As if he wasn’t busy enough in his association with the cannery in Point Roberts and the operation of his fishing boats, Makovich opened a restaurant on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma called Lee’s Oyster House.  He did very well in the restaurant business but he eventually decided that it was really too much for him to handle along with all of his other activities.  He sold the establishment a few years later.

In 1915, Makovich felt it was time to build another fishing boat and he engaged Nick and George Babare to build the 54’ seiner Providence for him at their Tacoma shipyard.  The Providence was also 40 h.p. Frisch Standard powered and Makovich retained the boat until she was sold to the Constant family in 1930.  Many years later, in 1983, the Providence sank in Alaska with the loss of three men.

In 1930, Mr. Makovich had the 65’ purse seiner Advocator built at the Robert Crawford Shipyard at Gig Harbor.  The Advocator was powered by a 90 h.p. Atlas Imperial diesel, an extremely contemporary engine at that time in the industry.  Makovich soon became the president of the Fisherman’s Packing Corporation and he ceased his active participation in the production end of the industry.  Consequently, the Advocator was chartered as a packer in Alaska and Puget Sound in the later years, but he still owned the boat at the time of his death.  (1946 HHM note)

Mr. Makovich was a very civic minded individual with an abundance of ingenuity and energy.  He soon became a sort of good “godfather” to many of the new immigrants and others who came to him for advice and assistance in finding a place to live, a job, or perhaps some help in their attempts to acquire a fishing boat of their own.  As an example of the good godfather image Mr. Makovich enjoyed, I recall an incident that happened when I was just 5 or 6 years old.

A young man, who my father apparently knew, came to our house on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of winter.  My dad and I were alone in the house.  The young man apologized for disturbing my father on a Sunday and for coming to his house, but he said that he was in a desperate situation.  My dad ushered me out of the living room but I snuck back to the doorway out of curiosity.  I heard the man tell my father, “Mr. Makovich, the people I was working for went out of business and I lost my job.  I have a wife and a small baby and I need a job desperately.  I haven’t worked in over a month.  Is there any way that you could help me find some kind of work?  Is there anyone that you could suggest that I might see?  I’m an engine man by trade.  I’m a hard worker and …I wouldn’t disappoint you.”

I heard my father tell the man to sit down on the sofa and that he would be right back.  My dad came into the kitchen and telephoned his good friend Mitchell Skansie.  Mitchell owned the Skansie Shipyard at that time, but he was also the president of the Skansie Transportation Company* which operated the ferry boats between Gig Harbor and Tacoma.  In a few minutes my dad went back into the living room and I peeked around the corner of the doorway.  “You start to work tomorrow,” my dad said.  “Go see Mitchell Skansie the first thing in the morning at the shipyard.  He has a job for you running an engine on a ferry boat.  He’ll pay you well and he’s a nice man.”

My father reached into his pocket and handed some money to the young man and said. “This is just to tide you over a little.”

The young man was almost in tears.  “Mr. Makovich,” he said, “I don’t know how I can ever thank you, but I can’t take this money from you too.  You’ve done enough for me already.  I can’t take this money.”

My dad answered, “Yes, you can.”

“Well, all right,” the young man replied, “but I promised I will pay you back as soon as I get my first check.”

“No, you won’t,” my dad remarked.  “Your wife and baby come first.  I expect you to pay me back, but only when you can.  A little at a time will be just fine.  Now go home and tell your wife that you’re going back to work so she can stop worrying.”  I doubt if that young fellow ever forgot my father.

Visits of this nature occurred very frequently at our home when I was young and I don’t recall my father ever turning anyone away for any reason.  There were frequent parties and get-togethers at the house and I believe that there was an atmosphere and a way of life in those days that will never again be duplicated.

In 1928, Mr. Makovich helped to organize the Fisherman’s Packing Corporation of Everett, Washington.  The enterprise consisted of 32 original stockholders.  In the first year of the corporation’s existence, Mr. Makovich was its president.  He was named president again in 1932 and held that position until the death of the then General Manager, J. O. Morris in 1935.  After Morris’ death, Makovich was called upon to take over the duties of management and at the next stockholder’s meeting he was unanimously elected General Manager.

He guided the affairs of the corporation with a strong hand and the soundness of judgment born of his many years of experience in the fishing industry.  I believe, as do many others, that Makovich was directly responsible for many of the greatest successes that Fisherman’s Packing and its stockholders enjoyed in those early years.

Mr. Makovich was the kind of man who felt privileged to be able  to serve his country, his state and his community in any way he could.  He was a member of the chambers of commerce of Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Gig Harbor and Anacortes.  He served as president of the Gig Harbor school board and some of my sister’s high school diplomas are signed by their father, Lee Makovich.  In his “spare time,” Mr. Makovich helped to organize the Peninsula Light Company and the St. Nicholas Catholic Church.  He was one of the founders of the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association and acted as one of its officers for 16 years.  I cannot in my wildest dreams, imagine how my father could have had the dedication, the time and the energy to be involved in all that he was a part of.

Lee Makovich left the country of his birth as a young boy at just 11 years of age, with only a fifth grade education in a foreign land.  He went on to become the guiding hand and head of a major fish processing corporation and a leader in the fishing industry.  He unselfishly served his community and his state and never asked for any reward or recognition for doing these things, because he considered it a privilege.  a 1946 communication, written and signed by many leaders in the fishing stated, “Had it not been for Lee Makovich, the survival of the industry as we know it today my well have been in question.”  I think that says it all.

Some of the dates and information for this story regarding Lee Malkovich’s early life were obtained from the book, “A History of the State of Washington, volume IV, Lancaster and Pollard, published by the American Historical Society, New York, New York, 1937.  I wish to thank my sister, Pearl Peterson and acknowledge my late sisters, Angeline Teeter and Mary Strittmatter, for their valuable contributions to this effort.  They were fortunate enough to know my father much longer than I.  And like so many others who knew him well, they remember him as …Mr. Makovich, the good godfather.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry July 30, 1884

Nice fair day.  Arose with a terrible headache but steamed to McNeals Island to learn our tow was aground.  Nice job for a ???

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

George A. Magoon and Mary Etta Gray Magoon

Some things occur by happenstance and that is how this blog came about.  I had taken a picture of the house at 9017 Peacock Hill Avenue in Gig Harbor, WA which is being painted, having recently sold.  I had seen a picture one time of the main door titled ‘Frank Shaw’s new door’.  (Frank Owen Shaw was one of Gig Harbor’s most prolific and professional photographers during the 1940-1950s.)  So somehow it was fixed in my mind that this residence at 9017 Peacock Hill Avenue was Frank’s home before he moved to Seattle.

But while looking through some files at the Harbor History Museum Research Room, I ran across an article from The Peninsula Gateway, May 31, 1989, entitled “Work to Resume on Historic House” by Barbara Felver.  It was discussing plans by the new owners at that time, Sandra and Paul Westalls,  to renovate the building to house their beauty shop.  There had been a long delay due to city officials’ concern that it would allow commercial zoning to cross over Peacock Hill Avenue to the north.  (A residential zone)  And, a historic residence built in 1902 would disappear.  The Westalls promised the renovation would be in keeping with the historic architectural character.  What you see today is that renovation.  

But what was the history before the Westalls purchase of the property?  To clear up a bit of that history, what follows is an undated, unsigned document.

“A Short Talk About and Around the Scott House”

“The Scott house, as it is known, was built and lived in by George A. Magoon and his wife Mary.  They built the house sometime around 1902, as far as information and documents can tell us.  According to Mrs. Williams, the house is about 1890 style, which makes it out of style when built.

The Magoons were older people with grown children.  Mr. Magoon didn’t like the house because it was too near the water. 

A Quit claim deed, dated March 23, 1910, deeds the house to Mary Magoon, from George A. Magoon; and was executed before Joseph Goodman, Justice of the Peace for Gig Harbor.

The Scotts, Frank and Bertha with daughter Mabel, arrived in Dec. 1908.

Mr. Scott’s sister, Serena Scott Elmendorf, and husband Rufus, and three sons—Ray, Roy and Joseph were already here, living on the farm next to the Buckland place at the south end of Crescent Valley.  Mr. Elmendorf was a railroad man and not home much.  Because his sons were not interested in operating the farm, he asked the Scotts to come from Chicago to help out.

Mr. Scott acquired a team of horses—two—and with them and his wagon he hauled logs, did plowing, hauled wood, lumber, and moved people. 

About the time Scotts bought the Magoon place, April 1912, Mr. Scott bought a buggy and began a livery service in Gig Harbor.

The first horses were Barney and Dick.  Then came Dolly, who was pony-like; Lady, a white; and Ben and Frank, who were long and lanky and used as buggy horses.  All, except Dolly, were draft horses, but not large ones.

One could go into the barn at any time and the horses would not be upset.  All feed was purchased locally.  Mr. Scott didn’t like to sell his animals; he would rather keep them unless he knew they would be going to good owners.

There was one horse that only he could unharness—and harness, and that would give the other horses a bad time.

This was the livery service for the whole area, and was housed in the barn that stood until recently—winter 1969-1970—on the corner across from the Nautic Apts.  The building that was just torn down was remodeled from the stable to be a garage.

Gradually equipment was added to include wagons—probably two, one three-seated boggy, one two-seated buggy and maybe two one seated buggies.

Mr. Scott did all the driving, liking to be with his equipment.  Trips were made to Lakebay taking salesmen, and having to stay all night.

Mrs. Scott’s brother, Charley Dieball, worked in the livery stable for several years, and did some of the driving later.  He also worked for the Austin Mill.  He married Grace Johnson, and sometime in the 1920’s they moved to California.

Then about 1916, Scotts got one of the first cars on the Peninsula—a Ford with a fold-down top, either a 1915 or 1916 model.  Was it a Model T?

After this there were a couple of cars and one truck.  The first truck was a Traffic, then he bought a Dodge.  This helped him become a Dodge fan, and after he got rid of the Fords, there were only Dodges.  All cars were two-seater, touring car types.  At one time Don Edwards had a 1927? Dodge truck, the last one Scott owned.

Horses were kept until 1920 or so.”

It is not unusual for homes to be known as a specific family’s name other than the original builder/family.  And this is true for the “Scott House”.  We’ll leave Frank and Bertha Scott’s history, other than what is stated above, for a future time.  Not much is known of the Magoon family at the time of this writing, other than perhaps Ernest Magoon, the son.

What follows is the trail I followed on the internet:

George Albert Magoon was born  June 28, 1844 in Harmony, Somerset County, Maine.  He served in the Fourth Maine Battery Light Artillery during the Civil War.  He served from February 14, 1862 until June 17, 1865 according to tells us George mustered (enlisted) in the military on February 14, 1862 as a Corporal in the the Fourth Maine Battery Light Artillery.  He reenlisted on February 16, 1864 and was ‘mustered out” (discharged) on June 17, 1865 in Augusta, Maine.  They go on to state that in 1864 he was listed as hospital nurse according to

He married Mary Etta Gray in 1878, (b. ca1857) and, following the Civil War the family started west as so many other veterans did at that time. ( shows George’s parents both died in Minneapolis:  Matilda on January 4, 1872 at age 54; Joseph on September 7, 1872 also age 54.)  Their son, Ernest Elwood, was born March 29, 1884 in Beardsley, Big Stone County, Minnesota.  I found a Mary Gray Magoon on stating she died on April 29, 1910.  I also found Mary Gray on showing she was born March 1857, married to George Albert Magoon in 1878.  They had two children:  Ernest and Maud born August 7, 1878 in Wright County, Minnesota.  It also shows that Mary died on April 29, 1910.

The reason I’m so curious about Mary’s death is because remember, according to “A Short Talk  About and Around the Scott House’ they say George filed a Quit Claim on March 23, 1910 deeding the to Mary and executed by Joseph Goodman, Justice of the Peace.  All evidence points to Mary dying 37 days later.  But then there is more confusion on the US National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers 1866-1938 under “Domestic History Name and address of nearest Relative”, which shows Mary Etta Magoon living at 3539 Oregon, San Diego, CA.  Remember he wasn’t admitted to the Veterans Home until 1918 but she died in 1910.  In 1909 Mary was a member of The Fortnightly Club.

According to both and, the US Census of 1900 shows the family living in Gig Harbor and Mary’s father Nathaniel A. Gray living with them.  By 1903, shows Nathaniel had returned to Maine where he died on December 3, 1903 in New Portland.

In 1918, George was admitted to US National Home for Disabled Soldiers - Pacific Branch in Sawtelle, Los Angeles County, CA.  On the military History it shows his nearest relatives as Mary Etta Magoon, and she was living with him at 3539 Oregon in San Diego.  It was while he was in the Disabled Soldiers Home that he died on December 18, 1926.  His body was returned to Tacoma and he is buried at the Tacoma Cemetery, Tacoma, WA.

Maud, the Magoon daughter, married Nelson McGiffert Dewey (7/24/1864-2/24/1948) on July 11, 1908 in Tacoma, WA.  They had one son, Henry Wells Dewey born September 30, 1914.

Ernest, the son, first married Jessie Elizabeth Bale (1874-7/26/1951) on December 24, 1902, and they had a daughter, Hazel. Jessie is buried in the Artondale Cemetery. The marriage didn’t last and he married Adeline Anthony (1883-12/19/1954) December 6, 1921.  Adeline is buried in Puyallup, WA.  His third marriage was to Myrta A. “Myrtie” Proctor Peacock (2/1887-1974).  This marriage produced no children although Myrta had had five children with her first husband, Ernest Newell Peacock (1880-1935): Eva Belle, Gilbert Sidney, Beatrice Harriet, Francis Ronald and Stanford Newell.   Ernest and Myrta are buried in Gig Harbor Cemetery.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry July 23, 1884

Sunny and warm.  Today I made some cushions on the seats to my boat & a little other tinkering work.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Fourth of July

Normally I don't repost a previous blog, but in honor of Saturday celebration I though this might be meaningful.  
Frank Shaw, Photographer, 1956

However, I would also like to include a message that should you engage in fireworks that you follow the Gig Harbor Fire Department's request to be extra careful during our extremely dry holiday.  For information on fireworks regulations and legal as well as illegal fireworks, please visit their site at

Frank Shaw, Photographer, 1952

What does the Fourth of July immediately bring to mind?  Fireworks, picnics, barbecues, swimming, family reunions, and on and on with summer in full swing.  Oh, occasionally, a little history facts might enter the picture but most of the time, those facts are in the background.  So today I thought it might be interesting to share a few facts and myths about the Fourth of July.

July 4, 1776 - the first Fourth?  Nope, the Continental Congress decided on July 2, 1776 “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States” as published that same day (July 2, 1776) by the Pennsylvania Evening Post.    

This was confirmed in a letter John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3rd wherein he stated or predicted “the Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.  I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”   John went on to say  the occasion should be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of the Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”  However it was not until a year later  that the first fireworks were exploded.  Again, according to the Pennsylvania Evening Post  on July 4, 1777 “The evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.  Everything was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal.”  Similar fireworks were displayed in Boston.  Unfortunately a nineteenth century scholar quietly “corrected” the document to read not the second but the “fourth”.

Celebrations in honor of the Fourth of July really became more common following the War of 1812, and it wasn’t until 1870 nearly a hundred years after the Declaration was written that Congress first declared that July 4 be included as a national holiday as part of the bill recognizing several holidays including Christmas.  In 1939 and 1941 further legislation was passed regarding national holidays.

The Declaration of Independence was not signed on the 4th of July.  Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in June, 1776.Most delegates signed the document on August 2, 1777 and several signed later, with names of all signees not released to the public until January, 1777 according to David McCullough in his biography of Adams.  It, the Declaration of Independence, was delivered to Great Britain, not on July 4th, but in November 1776.

Did the Liberty Bell ring in honor of the American Independence?  No one really knows.  The story about it happening was made up by writer George Lippard in a children’s book he wrote in the nineteenth century for children, Legends of the American Revolution.  According to the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, although it did not ring on the 2nd or the 4th, it rang for the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence on July 8.

Who sewed the first flag? There is no proof that Betsy Ross did, although she was a seamstress. However, Frances Hopkinson designed the flag and he sent a bill to the Board of Admiralty in May 1780 for designing the “flag of the United States”.  As for Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, there is no proof that Betsy Ross herself ever lived there according to a study by the Joint State Government Commission of Pennsylvania conducted in 1949.  

Did John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both die on July 4th?  Yes, on July 4, 1826 fifty years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence both men died.
Fourth of July Parade

Fourth of July, Gig Harbor

Fourth of July, Centennial Celebration, 1947

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry July 16, 1884

Cloudy & cool & blustery with rain squalls in some traces.  Down to Tacoma again & bro back a T's scow.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.