This document, found in the Harbor History Museum, contains no author’s name. But it gives us an idea of Wollochet Bay until 1918. Should things be added, or subtracted? Perhaps, but someone spent considerable time in writing the history so that someone would read it. Let’s do that, and then afterwards, add an addendum to it as needed and perhaps continue further into history of the area.
Wollochet means “Cut Throat” in Indian, so at one time the bay was known as Cut Throat Bay.
Forsythes came in 1910 or 1911. They first lived at Wollochet near Dave Squally. There were some 500 Indians. There were three or four tribes: Mowich, Squally and Mrs. Forsythe were unable to remember the others. The Reservation ran from Pt. Fosdick to Berg’s Landing and back through the woods. Dick Uhlman had a store at Berg’s Landing and the road consisted of a path running from the landing to the head of the bay. She did not know where it went from there. There were 6 or 7 families living at Berg’s Landing.
Around 1913 Forsythes brought the land where Walter Hogan now lives. The Reservation was to be discontinued, so Mrs. Forsythe let Indian families live in the old house on the property rent free until they found a place. Three different families lived there at different times. Most of the Indians went to Tahoma down by the Ocean.
Mrs. Forsythe owns the ranch next to the Catholic Church property on the east side of Wollochet. The 12 acres originally owned by Emmett Hunt who purchased it from the US Government in 1893. Floyd Hunt planted the fruit trees still standing in the field. Moon bought from Hunt, Elmore from Moon and Mrs. Forsythe from Elmore.
Residents at the head of the bay were the McLaughlins who owned cabins at the head of the bay, (Forsythes lived in one of these for a time also.) Helen Maloney who resides above the road, was a McLaughlin and Ellen Sheldon Weeks and Her mother Mrs. Ganty also lived there.
Around 1906, Mrs. Bruce, a widow, started a little log cabin store out on Picnic Point, (next to the present Jack Rossi home.) There was a dock where boats landed. A little after 1914 Forsythes started their store, so there were two stores quite close to one another. At one time some 2800 crates of strawberries were loaded on the Bay Island in one day. Everyone raised strawberries. Mrs. Bruce bought 1/2 acre from the Dunbars. Their home is just across the road from Forsythe’s place.) On this land she built a Grange Hall and when she took out the mortgage she said there could be dances, but no rowdiness. Evidently a Scottish dance was held there with some 500 Scots and the Dunbars decided there was too much drinking. (One must remember there has always been some disagreement between these families so further checking into these facts would be advisable.) The case went to court but was thrown out, but for some reason the doors and windows were boarded up by Dunbar (So this point of view goes.) Mrs. Bruce then gave Mrs. Forsythe the 1/2 acre. Whether the Grange members went to the Church at Artondale for their meetings at this time is not clear, but the dances resumed because boats ran from Tacoma to Picnic Point for this purpose until 1917 and possibly later.
Mrs. Bruce built a new store next to her old one on the point and the “Wicky-up” (Old one) was floated to Warren. Forsythias later floated it back to use as a warehouse. It is still standing (leaning) on the property next to their home. Mrs. Bruce’s new store was later sold to the Munroes (H. J. Munroe). Four or five others tried to make a go of it, but were unsuccessful.
|Picnic Point at Wollochet Bay|
Captain Weeks owned a little house next to Forsythe present house and they rented from Mrs. Weeks.
Mrs. McLaughlin was the mid-wife around Wollochet around the year 1911.
Nellie Ferguson Christhompson now lives in Rosedale and her parents lived where the Yacht Club now is, on the west side.
Wesserfords lived on the present Catholic property. Mrs. Marvik was former Lisa Wasserford.
FROM BAY ISLAND NEWS JAN. 4, 1918 NEWS PUBLISHING CO. BURTON, WN.
Bay Island Fair meeting was held at Warren Hall. The trustees of the Bay Island Fair Association adopted by-laws and articles of incorporation and elected the executive board, subject to ratification at a regular meeting to be held in Arletta, Sun. Feb. 10. At a previous meeting it was unanimously decided that owing to the splendid success of the 1917 Fair, that Fair Assoc. should incorporate and buy the site at Picnic Point, so liberly (sic) offered by Mrs. Bruce. The trustees decided that $2500 should be the amount of the corporation, divided into 500 shares at $5.00 a share. A motion was unanimously passed by the trustees. A notice is to be introduced at the next general meeting to increase the number of trustees from 7 to 16. It was mentioned that it would be very much desired that members of such a board should represent as many communities of the Bay Island District as possible. Newly elected officers of the association are: President Mr. M. J. Mudgett; Vice-President C. E. Ludden; Recording Secretary Mrs. Guy I. Colby; Treasurer R. W. Ullman and Corresponding Secretary, Otto Jahn.
1917 Exhibits, first Bay Island Fair. September 30th through October first, 1917.
On Jan 12, 1918 the annual meeting of the Bay-Island and Wollochet Co. was held at Picnic Point.
And now we add so additional information from the “Along The Waterfront” Compiled and written by Students of 1974-75, Goodman Middle School, Gig Harbor, WA.
“Early days found Wollochet Bay populated mainly by Indians. They numbered about five hundred on the reservation which ran from Berg’s Landing, where there was a longhouse, to Pt. Fosdick. Indians would catch fish, and then sell them to the white settlers for 15 cents a piece. The women would weave baskets and trade them for clothing. There ere several tribes in the area, and the prominent families were Mowich, Squally, Bruce, Simon, Bridges, and Young families. In 1913 the reservation was discontinued, and the Indian population dwindled.” (Pg. 45)
“In 1905 two Ullman brothers came to the area. Harry brought a chicken ranch. Dick became the “Floating butcher” and sold meat from his boat up and down the bay. Dick bought a waterfront home from an Indian, Chief Slingshot, and he set up a grocery store. Eventually a permanent dock was added for his customers. Another store was started around 1906 near Picnic Point by Mrs. Bruce. Shed also had a dock for the boats to land.”
“Mrs. Bruce purchased one-half acre of land from the Dunbars who lived on the hill; and on this land in 1910, she built the original Artondale Grange Hall. It was located across the road from Picnic Point on the upper side of the present East Bay Drive. She said dances could be held there, but there could be no rowdiness. Once, a Scottish dance was held, and about five hundred persons attended. Local residents decided there was too much drinking, so the doors and windows were boarded. The hall was eventually reopened for the dances after 1917.”
“Mrs. Bruce’s store was later bought by Mr. Monroe. A little after 1914, Mr. and Mrs. H. N. Forsythe began a store which thrived as a center of commerce and activity for many years (Wollochet Bay Store). Today the building has been restored, and a craft shop exists there, using some of the original fixtures of the store.” (Pg. 46)
“Prior to 1900 very few roads existed on the Peninsula. Wagon roads and logging roads were the land transportation. By water, boats passed Cromwell to and from Tacoma. The steamers, “Alice” and “Dove,” served the Hales Passage communities once or twice a week from Tacoma. Floats that were anchored along the Bay were eventually replaced by well-established docks as more boats took to the water to serve the areas. Improved transportation provided the impetus to several businesses in the area including a logging camp, a machine shop, and stores owned by Mrs. Bruce and later, Mrs. Kellogg. . . . “ (Pg. 52)
“In early times the only dock in the area (Warren) was at Arletta. Something was needed at Warren for the steamboats to land, so a floating dock was put into the water. Mrs. M. B. Bruce of East Cromwell ran a store from there (complete with horse and buggy delivery), and passengers to or from Tacoma would stop at the float. Boats delivering cows or horses to the area could not get close to the shore, so the animals would be pushed off, and they would swim to shore. On land there were trails through the woods and about 1910, a road was made to the shoreline.” (Pg. 66)
Now, from An Excellent Little Bay, a history of the Gig Harbor Peninsula by J. A. Eckrom we’ll add:
“Money being made on the peninsula meant more opportunities for merchants, and stores seemed to sprout up like mushrooms. In 1911 Harold and Gladys Forsythe opened one near Picnic Point. They were Scots, who played Gaelic songs on their victrola and inspired wonder in their visitors with bookshelves that rose from the floor to ceiling on two sides of one room of their home. Their genderal store stayed in business into the 1970s.
Not far away, Mrs. Amanda Bruce started a store on her houseboat in 1910. She was bought out in 1913 by w. L. Munro, who operated the business until he sold it to a man named Harrison in 1922. …” (Pg. 104-105)