Thursday, December 31, 2015

Estella Rust's Diary entires 12/24/1906-1/1/1907 and Christmas . . .

Estella Rust’s Diary Entries December 24, 1906 to January 1, 1907

Ettie, Arthur & Herbert came down on the morning train. Dr. went to Buckley.  Could not get turkey.  Got one turkey & two chickens at our market.  Gave the turkey to the Minister McHenry [?] and Gladys a little umbrella.

Arthur Ettie Herbert & Gus brought Abbie Brough & Dr & me here Xmas to dinner, had 2 chickens &c [etc] Had a Xmas tree looked very nice  Fred & Minnie sent us a stove for our feet in buggy a nice drawn work scarf and Laura sent me a cushion very pretty. 

Ettie gave me a paper holder very pretty & a red rocker bed and her & Arthur gave Dr a pr of Masonic cuff buttons A gave me a box stationary  He gave Dr a tooth pick holder *& me a bookThe Lady of the Lake Oscar Park gave Dr a jackstand  Annie Hanson gave me a lovely white apron  I gave Dr a rubber blanket for the carriage and a tin horn  He gave me a ring, a manicure set, nice, a book Prof at the Breakfast Table, a rose bowl  

He gave Abbie Brough a heller [Austrian coin] & box candy her father a tie & candy box

We gave Oscar Parks a book (150) candy tinhorn  We gave Ettie a spice cabinet A nice tablecloth candy  We gave Arthur The Circle Magazine one year a tie &c [etc]

Fay (?) got The Circle Mag one year
Laura a glove box perfumery
Missie [?] & Fred 6 volume of Poes works & a doll baker, perfumery Calendar
Vernon & Maud gave us a china plate & tea cup & saucer & a set of sleeve buttons for Dr very nice 

We gave them a glass water set must get them something more
I gave Mrs Ashman my rose bowl

Thursday night we went to an Eastern Star banquet given by the single gentlemen and initiated Tillie Cleymire

Ettie & Arthur & H went home Sat morn  Dec 29th  Dr drove them to Buckley to the ferry at the White River bridge and a livery team took them the other side of river and drove them all to the depot where they boarded the train for home the freshet [the flood of a river from heavy rain or melted snow; a rush of fresh water flowing into the sea] took out the RR bridge & wagon bridge too makes it very hard to travel

Fay [?] came up Sunday morning and went back Monday morn Dec 31st the last day of 1906  Oscar & me washed & swept the parlor & sitting room thoroughly  Doctor drove Fay [?] to the ferry and had team to meet them the other side and took him to Depot.
Snowed a little Jan 1st 1907

New Years Day

It is noon Dr arose at a few minutes to 6 o’clock built the fires and I arose at 6  He went to Kangley Oscar drove.

I ironed all of my clothes that was dry and have practiced one hour on my violin

Mrs Mc Haury called and gave me a picture of Gladys and one of church  They have left for Southern Oregon this church is to be supplied  Dr went to Kangley and earned & got $30

And now let us repeat a Christmas Blog originally published on December 19, 2013:

Christmas …. 

A glance at any social networking site reminds us of some people’s annual holiday viewings during the holidays.  They seem to take us back in memory to something we saw when we were young or younger; many an annual event we celebrate with our families as a holiday viewing or reading.  “A Wonderful Life” is one, normally an annual TV movie but this year shown at the Galaxy Theatre in Gig Harbor to a movie audience and it received lots of raves from the attendees.  In my family The Dead” by James Joyce, Guy du Maupassant’s “The Necklace or La Parure” and “Joyeux Noel” a true story about the truce called by the British, Germans and French for Christmas Day during WWI. Other selections include Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”; “The Gift of the Magi” O. Henry; Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story and “T’was the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore.  Let’s us not forget that there are some less serious movies/books in the annual custom - “How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss”, movie by Ron Howard  or Jodie Foster’s “Home for the Holidays”.

But for the purpose of this holiday blog, I would like to share some memories as recorded by some of our earlier residents.  I hope you enjoy these few records of the holidays specially Christmas day/s in Gig Harbor’s past.

Emmett Hunt’s Diary for December 25, 1882 (Monday) “A day of surprising beauty.  Lovely Christmas!  Stroll promiscuously in AM.  In PM go to Mother’s get a huge dinner followed by Xmas tree, taffy pulling, a little invigorated, etc.”

But Lillian Vernhardson Fries description paints a large picture of their Christmas.  We always had a Christmas tree with real candles, Mamma made “Icelandic pancake,” a flat pancake made right on top of the stove.  She also made the little sweet rolled pancakes (crepes susette).  The best we had was our Christmas dinner.  On Christmas Eve we all went to church, where they had the Christmas program.  Little Sarah had not started school but she recited “Twas the Night Before Christmas” one year.  It was often raining hard.  Papa would go ahead with the lantern, we would follow in the mud.  It was (the) only time Papa ever went to church.  Our only Gig Harbor church at the Head of the Bay was Methodist, but our family was Lutheran.  Sam and Sadie later joined the Methodist church.

“The church was decorated and full of people.  All the children took part and it was a gay, warm time.  Each child received a stocking with candy.

“After we came home, we sang the Christmas carols that we had sung in church.  Papa sang “Hily Night, Silent Night” with us off-key, but it was so good to hear him singing.  Mamma said it was the only fault she could find with him was that his singing was not good.  We ate our candy and opened our presents.  Our presents from our folks was always needed clothes, but we got wonderful gifts from an aunt in Vancouver, B.C.  

“One year it was a necklace, one year it was an exquisite little doll, about 10 inches tall, with many clothes.  Aunt Ena worked as a domestic and how kind of her to think of her little nieces and nephew who would get little.  She also sent c;other from the children in whose household she had worked.  One was for me, a lovely cream-colored dress with a sailor collar.  

“In Hoquiam, our Christmases had been different the last few years there.  Papa had been a foreman at the mill and had Greeks working under him.  At Christmas they came with elaborate gifts for our family.  Black-eyed, black-haired mustached men, thinking perhaps of their own families back in Greece.  A big basket for Mamma filled with oranges and nuts and candy.  We always had that big basket afterwards.  Mechanical toys for Sam and a doll for me.  One year it was a marvelous jointed doll, its neck, arms, elbows, wrists, hips, knees were all jointed.  It had real hair and eyes that opened and closed.  I never got such a doll again.”

Then there are Clarence “Nick” Burnham’s (Dr. A. M. Burnham’s son) diary entries from 1930, 1942 and 1943.  “1930:  Spaded some.  Took the truck out to see if the speedometer worked, it did.  Bis *took Lee for groceries.  Lee went to town to Don’s for dinner.  … stopped & gave Bis & I a drink of whiskey.  Fine day.”   1942 “Bis, Smith & I piled the mill wood that was dumped in the yard.  I gave Smith lead & ladle to … a jigger to fish for Ling Cod off Pt. Defiance.  I finished cultivating the … berries.  Made an iron shoe for Ashford’s boat.  Cold & heavy frost tonight some ice.”  1943 “Rain last night clear & warm today.  Arthur & Zell came to Lee’s we had a small tree and we had a fine time.  Lee had a turkey.  We had a lot of funny toys among the real presents.”  *Throughout the records you will find Bismark’ nickname spelled either Bis or Biz.  Nick wrote it as “Bis” which I used.  Since they were brothers I believe it is only appropriate. 

Estella Rust wrote in her 1912 Diary on Wednesday, December 25th “A good Xmas day.  We ate dinner at Etties had duck, chiken (sic) and everything good.  We sent cards to Mrs. Van Der Volgen & Wm. Mrs. Thompson, Ulman, Taylor John Frank & Hal, Herb & wife, Miss Kiet Kieth, Ettie & Herbert.  The (sic) all ate supper here.  Rec’d card from Miss Newman.”

And lastly, Chester Edwin Dadisman wrote in his memoir “I remember well that Dad and Mom bought me my first bicycle for Christmas in 1924.  Dad had assembled and hit it in Grandmother Dadisman’s vacant house.  What a great surprise when I was told to go there and look around.  It was a 26-inch wheel Schwinn model, without training wheels.  Though anxious to ride it, I wasn’t very proficient on the gravel roads in Home so I experienced many scrapes.  Neighborhood kids, especially Ada Sorenson, helped me take off on my own.  Her folks operated a competing grocery store located next to the Home dock.  They resided on a houseboat a short distance away.”

And our last remembrance is from Gertrude Emma Strebe, born in 1879, died in 1976.  Unfortunately her memories remind us how hard life could be, especially for the children.  She lived in Wisconsin until 1902.  Most of this comes from the eulogy given at Gertrude’s funeral and written by her grandson and her daughter.  “There was no religion in their household.  August [her father] was a German Lutheran and Elmira [her mother] was Catholic, and in order to make their marriage survive, they must have had an agreement on no religion.  At that point in history, in Europe, not so far removed from the Lutheran Reformation, feelings were strong for or against Catholic doctrine.  The glorifying of Christmas, for one thing, was taboo in Puritan New England and so probably among the German Lutherans, as well. The little cabin she and her four brothers and one sister grew up in was of the crudest type. …

“Every winter for eighteen years, August would go up to  Northern Wisconsin to log in the woods.  … If he came home at Christmas time, the children got apples or oranges.  For whatever reason, the little Strebe children were never allowed to have a Christmas tree.  After they saw the neighbors’ pretty Christmas trees, Gertie and her brothers begged for a tree too, but only once did Elmira relent and allow a tree.  It was decorated with little apples, molasses cookies and popcorn, and to the children it was the prettiest tree in the community.  Maybe August wasn’t home that Christmas.”  *”Our McIntyre Family  In loving memory of Fredrick David McIntyre and Gertrude Emma Strebe, Rosedale, Washington Pioneers.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for January 21, 1885

Very fine day and quite warm.  Beached the Queen and put a little more paint on her bottom besides cutting a little wood & playing whist.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for January 14, 1885

Very fine day.  Slept most of A.M. & in P.M. distributed what freight I had which included a trip up to Evans in a rowboat that ended our day.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Best Laid Plans . . .

Well, Robert Burns said it best when he wrote “To a Mouse”  and the line I remember as “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry …”

That is exactly what happened when trying to write this particular piece for you.  The plans:  write about Ellen Victoria Forsberg using excerpts from her diary covering her life from October 1906 (age 19) to January 1910 (age 22).

In 1906 Ellen was in her “second teaching year she was located near Eatonville (Elbe, Alder)” per an unsigned note of helpful information relating to her diary.  Unfortunately, the diary was written on both sides of the pages and the niece or nephew who photocopies it, only copied what appears to be the odd numbered pages.  

According to, Ellen taught school in Washington State for 57 years:  Alder, American Lake, Hay, Hooper (Whitman County), and then finished at Poulsbo for the last 27 years.

Ellen’s parents, John Victor Rosberg and Sophia Carolina Stromberg had five children:  Julia, Ellen Victoria, Lily Magnahild, Ruth Sophia and Ruben Victor.  Following Sophia’s death in 1895, John married Johanna Bjur and they had three children:  Eva M, Victor John, Laura Erikka, Leo Julian, Malcom Iver and Alma Leona.

Despite a lengthy search for the missing pages of Ellen’s diary, we found nothing.  But, I found quite a bit of information on Ellen’s sister, Lily Magnahild Forsberg Knapp.  So switching gears, let’s share a little information on Lily and her husband, Earl Horace Knapp.

A lot has been written about Josephine Fuller Knapp, mother of Earl Horace (he when by his middle name and I’ll use that going forward) and his father.  Issac Hawk sold 19 acres of land in what is now Purdy to Horace’s father in 1884 for $23.75.  His mother was the first white woman to live on Henderson Bay following her marriage in 1885 to Horace Knapp, Sr. 

Harbor History Museum has been very fortunate to have received substantial information from Laura M. Knapp Otto regarding her family, her own recollections, her father’s recollection on his father, etc.  There is also information in “Along The Waterfront, aa history of the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula Areas” complied and written by Students of 1974-75, Goodman Middle School, Gig Harbor WA and in Colleen A. Slater’s recently released book “Peninsula Pioneers” to mention a couple sources for further research, including the internet. 

My Father, Horace Knapp (Born March 23, 1845)

How does one go about writing a biography of one’s father?  To be objective is commendable but hardly possible.  I will start with the earliest associations I remember.

Father owned two logging camps on Puget Sound when I entered the picture.  One on Hartstine Island the other around Purdy.  I say around Purdy for headquarters was a floating camp.  It consisted of a one story building eighteen by thirty-six feet which rested on five huge cedar logs.  The rear ten feet was a bedroom in which I was born.  The remaining space was used as office, living room, and kitchen.  The furniture was home made but well built by father and his men.  I still have the bureau and  part of the writing desk.  The interior was decorated with newspapers from which I learned to read.

My first recollections of Father were of a dark haired man with a mustache, wearing a navy blue double breasted wool shirt.  Much of the time he was with other men.  Several of the crew boarded with us.  When alone with us he sat at this desk, book-keeping or studying and writing.  He had a surprising;y complete library consisting of reference works such as Webster’s unabridged dictionary, Chamber’s encyclopedia, Bullion’s English grammer and many other books.  He had current periodicals from Harper’s to Little’s Living Age.  Books were his joy and pride.  To misuse a book was unforgivable.  My love for books stems from this living example.  I felt at times that Father though more of his books than of his family.  Of course I know better now.  But he built up years of association with books before he met Mother.  Father had lived some forty years as a bachelor before I was born.  A chasm of years hard to bridge.  I had great respect for Father but perhaps little love.  Mother was seventeen years his junior and more of a companion to me.  

Father was a true pioneer in spirit.  The twenty-six years I lived before his death were not years of continuous association.  He spent many months and sometimes years prospecting for wealth in far places.  But we were never neglected.  Father was a good provider as far as material wants were concerned.  I well remember sitting at Mother’s knee, around the turn of the century, watching her lips spell out words of a months old letter saying this would be the last message until the ice broke and the steamers could get within lighter distance of Nome.  The tear on Mother’s cheek induced no response in the heart of this young hero worshipper who pictured his father a bold knight challenging the icy darkness.

The few years I spent in close contact with Father were tense and impressive.  Father was a tense man.  What he believed he believed with all his heart.  What he did he did with all the fervid ardor he could summon.  Birth meant maturity.  The formative period, youth, held no place in his pattern of life.  To him there was no childhood.  Perhaps because his was cut so short.  He was in the army a few days after his sixteenth birthday.

The lessons I learned from Father have never been forgotten.  One incident will illustrate.  When I was between five and six years old I was playing on the beach near home adjoining a mill pond where logs were kept.  A pickaroon, used in handling lumber, had washed up.  I was playing with it when Father happened along.  He accosted me abruptly, “Where did you get the pickaroon?”  “Right here,” I answered and indicated the drift wash.  “That’s stealing young man.  Come along .”  Grasping my arm in one hand and the pick in the other he marched me to the mill office not far away.  Confronting Frank wright, the superintendent and part owner of the mill, father held up the pickaroon, “The boy took this Wright.  He’s brought it back.”

The boss took the rusty pick, looked at the grinding culprit and decided amnesty was in order, “Well, Knapp it looks as though the tide must have helped in this get-a-way.  We lose quite a few that way.”  “The boy knew whose it was” answered Father, “Stealing is stealing.  I won’t have it in my house.”

Mr. Wright reached down and took me by the arm, “Let’s step outside in the sunshine, it’s too nice to waste our time in here.”  Sitting down on a bench he took me in his lap.  Brushing his bushy gray bread against my face he said, “I’m going to tell you a story.  Maybe Daddy would like to hear it too.  My little dog, he pointed to a black pup lying on the sawdust, was playing out here early this morning.  The corner of the office building was damp from the fogs that drift in at night.  The heat from the early sun made it steam.  Carlow saw it and thought the house was on fire.  Being a smart dog and an honorable little fellow he decided he must do something about it.  He ran up and pee peed on it to stop the smoke.  But it smoked all the more.  So he pee peed some more and more and more until he was all pee peed out.  Being a wise little dog and seeing his effort had been wrong and only made things worse he decided he would forget all about it and take a snooze.  Now my lad, I want you to do the same, I’m giving you this pickaroon, run back to the beach and peck away until you are all tired out, then go to sleep and forget all about it.”

“Thank Mr. Wright for the pick,” said Father.  I did, then we went back to the beach.  Father admonished, “Now remember never to take a thing that does not belong to you.”  How can I ever forget?

Father was tense and just.  He believed in each person standing on his own feet.  Live and let live was his oft quoted motto.  But living, to him, meant independent, active living.  The broader the field of knowledge the wider the base for freedom.  Our home was the center for the best books and literature.  That meant reading, digesting, and discussing.  It was the tense active participation in life that was offered and demanded by Father.  That applied to all branches of home life indoors and out.

I was big for my age.  Physical development was ahead of mental.  To master one’s self and control the emotions was a must.  We had a large boar who had served his purpose as a breeder.  He must be castrated.  We roped and readied him for the operation.  Father noticed I was holding back bit.  I was nine years old.

“Now my boy,” said Father, “This is necessary and must be done.  You are as able as I am to do it.  I will tell you how.”  He handed me the razor sharp knife.  Between sympathy for the squealing beast and the paralyzing terror within me I stood rigid, white as a ghost.  “Now my boy, the quicker done the better for all.  Get busy.”  I obeyed.  I have thanked Father many times for spurring me to do the impossible.

We had a very fine Marino ewe sheep.  She gave birth to three of the cutest lambs I have ever seen.  They were given the run of the orchard and became next to household pets.  Since we were not in the wool business in the fall it became necessary to get rid of the lambs.  The very thought of those darling creatures being slaughtered gave me the cold creeps.  I worried over it several days then suggested we call the buyer of the slaughter house.  Father called me on it quickly.  “Why do you suggest the cattle buyer, my boy?  You are not saving their lives.  You are merely side-stepping an unpleasant task.  We do not know how they may suffer at the slaughter house.  We can dispatch them quickly and with a minimum of pain.”

We stunned them with a blow on the head first.  I have thanked Father many times for this realistic approach to a sentimental stymie.

Yet Father had an achilles heel in his emotional armor, a soft spot that endeared him to us all.  And strangely enough it showed up in the barnyard in connection with the disposal of surplus stock, the arena in which he had trained me so thoroughly against emotional imbalance.  We had always sealed our male calves and sold them to the butcher.  Once when we were leaving with a veal Mother remarked that it seemed so foolish to sell such fine meat and then buy back inferior pieces at higher prices.  We decided to follow her logical advice.  With a choice platter of veal cutlets we started our breakfast.  Father cut a piece, put it in his mouth but could not for the life of him swallow it.  He gagged, went out of doors and didn’t come back for breakfast.  Sometime afterward when I thought it safe I tackled him about it.  With his usual frankness he told me, “All I could see when I tried to swallow the veal was the big brown eyes of the calf pleading for mercy.”

At first I was completely at a loss to account for it.  But after mulling it over for a time I arrived at a reasonable answer.  Father had been logging for years with oxen.  He had always taken unusual care in raising and training of the calves and young bulls.  I still have a calf training yoke.  Not until the young bulls had gained a heavy neck and weighty front quarters with the spirit of aggressiveness well developed did he alter them into steers.  He never dehorned because he said it dampened their spirits.  It was his pride to be able to control his oxen with a gentle tone of voice.  He reserved a short, sharp chirp-like whistle for emphasis.  He carried a goad stick but seldom used it.  He would spend hours with bull calves studying their dispositions in order to select the one most promising for oxen.  In short he really palled with his bovine friends.  I am sure his long years of almost fraternal association with the sturdy kine was the answer to the lapse in emotional rectitude.  One has to rationalize a bit in defense of his own Father.  Anyway that he bowed to an exception to prove his rule brought us much closer to each other.

I realize I am injecting myself into this record to an unpardonable degree but in this personal contact part of the story it seems necessary.

The following incident interfered with and postponed prospecting trip to Atlin, British Columbia.  He had recently returned from a search for gypsum up the Green River country in the Cascades.

It happened on Sunday July 3, 1898.  The Spanish-American war slogan “Remember the Maine to hell with Spain” was ringing in the air.  I was eleven years old and around ten o’clock that forenoon I was in swimming near the south end of a bridge that spanned the mouth of Purdy Creek.  The bridge began on the point where the present oyster plant is situated and ended on the townsite near the old mill office where Marian Riley now lives.  The bridge was part of the first Purdy-Gig Harbor road.  Our home at that time was standing in almost the exact spot of the present store site.

While I was in the water Father came driving along with his well groomed span of black mares.  In the surrey sat Mother and Luella McKinney (a former teacher who had boarded with us).  They were on their way to Sidney (now Port Orchard).  They stopped for a chat with me then drove on.  After leaving the bridge they had to pass through a heavy stand of thistles.  The blossoms were alive with honey bees.  The horses were nervous and began backing and plunging about.  Before Father could get them under control Mother jumped out.  She fell and the wheels ran over her ankle twice crushing the bones badly.  By the time we got Dr. Steward from Tacoma the ankle was painfully swollen and hard to set.  Mother was crippled the rest of her life.

The horse were shy of bees on this occasion because we had been plowing for Nick Gooch the day before and had unearthed a nest of yellow jackets.  The horses were stung unmercifully.

The Stlin trip being called off Father started taking out piling near Elgin.  Although I was busy helping Mother he called on me frequently to help in the woods.  Thanks to his tutoring I knew the fine points of sharpening and handling a cross cut saw.  I could fall and buck well.  To learn by doing was Father’s formula for acquiring and education.

He had very decided ideas in regard to education.  He fought for better schools at all times.  Better schools, better roads, and more settlers were the crying needs as he saw it.

Education was something that the individual should strive for.  It was a continuous process in life.  Schooling could be helpful or not depending on the pupil.  Mother urged me to finish high school and college if possible.  Father disagreed.  Learn by doing was his motto.  If you wished for proficiency study while you worked.  I have always felt the Father’s knowledge on a wide range of subjects was a vindication for his theory.  Little of his education was acquired in school.

I did not always agree with Father’s idea of work, that is the physical kind, for he applied himself with all the energy he could command.  He would never ask anyone to do anything he would not do himself.  That was little consolation to me considering Father would tackle anything that presented itself.

Speaking of roads.  A road was badly needed to Gig Harbor.  Father contacted a Mr. Fay who represented our district.  The board told him there was but $400.00 available.  If he could complete a road for that amount he could have it.He took it.  Not having time to take charge himself he turned it over to a Mr. McLoud who lived across from the Murray Place south of Horse Shoe Lake.  Bismarck Burnum (sic) of Gig Harbor bid the lowest for the right-of-way.  But all who could donated labor.  Father gave freely of time and labor including the team.  A road of sorts was built from the first creek below Purdy winding easterly through the trees to connect with the Peacock Hill road to Olalla.

Father was civic minded.  A layman, he had a good grasp of the law, business fundamentals and surveying.  He was consulted ofter and responded cheerfully.

As to religion, Father belonged to no church or formulated creed.  He fostered the idea of one everliving supreme being or God.  He considered religion a personal matter, sacred to the individual and to be respected by all.  The Golden Rule was a good formula to live by.  It was the essence of human experience.

He had many controversial books which were mine to read.  That was as far as he went in pointing the way for me.  Yet, I have a tiny, leather bound volume of the New Testament which apparently he had carried for years.  He had many close friends of the cloth.  He was a Freemason.

Once we were discussing and evaluating unusual phenomena in front of the fireplace.  Suddenly Father caught my eye and said “Lad (that was the nearest he ever came to using an endearing on me) I am going to tell you something I have never told anyone before.”  As I waited all attention he continued, “At my logging camp on Harstine Island I had a small building overlooking the camp which served as office and bedroom for me.  I arose each morning at 4 A.M. to awaken the cook and feed the oxen.  It was June of the early seventies.  The door and window by which I slept were wide open.  I had been lying awake for perhaps fifteen minutes listening to the birds and looking at the cook shack, the hovel, and over the grounds in general when suddenly in the doorway there materialized the form of a woman.  She was enveloped in a filmy, shroud-like garment tinged with the morning light.  As I stared , wide awake and as conscious as I am at this moment, she walked or floated beside my bunk.  She spoke, “I am your Mother” I reached out my hand, She said, “No you cannot touch me, but I am near you always”.  After a bit she smiled and said “I must go.”  She moved to the doorway and vanished from sight.

Father still looking at me observed “I have no explanation to offer, just an experience that impresses me deeply.  My practical self says ‘an hallucination, a vivid dream’ but dreams fade, this does not.  Just another sign along the mystic trail, Lad.  Sometime we will understand.”

In every day, active life Father was realistic and practical.  In reflective, thoughtful moods he was nominalistic and philosophic.

“Rough hewn - a poet at heart -
In fancy oft took wings:
Through simple verse, expressed in part
His sense of finer things.”

Hanging on the wall was a shadow box frame into which Mother had arranged her wedding wreath, beneath which were pictures of her only two children my bother and me.  Accompanying were these few lines composed by Father,

“Two little boys with flaxen hair,
with laughing lips and eyes.
Two little spirits pure and fair
as Angels from the skies.”

Interspersed among the few meager, fading notes dating from his childhood, which I have been fortunate enough to recover are bits of verse, all of which I shall decipher and preserve.  I will interpret faithfully even though I find, 

“Recorded in some missal
In shaded, fading script,
A passioned love epistle
Unposed and unzipped.”

To read more, please visit us at Harbor History Museum Research Room.

  • Recollections of Earl H. Knapp
  • Christmas 1997, 2004, 2007-Laura M. Otto
  • Along the Waterfront, A History of the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula Area by Goodman Middle School Students 1974-75
  • Peninsula Pioneers by Collen A. Slater

 © 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for January 7, 1885

Strong S. wind and heavy rain fall all day.  Wood and water for a towing trip tomorrow and that is all.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for December 31, 1884

Cold but wind gets southerly and a mixture of sleet, snow & rain is the most important meteorological event of the day.  In P.M. steamed over to McNeil's Island with scow for the German boys.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Elmer Quistorff (August 10, 1907-September 26, 1999)

I happened to run across document entitled “Quistorff Family History” written in 1990 in the Harbor History Museum Research Room and was immediately curious as to why although I had seen the name somewhere had never heard anything about the man.

A quick search on the internet immediately pulled up an article from The Seattle Times dated October 2, 1999,  Elmer Quistorff, 92, Pioneer Fisheries Expert.  Since Gig Harbor is known as a commercial fishing village by people all over the world I find it interesting that he isn’t spoken off when we discuss famous Gig Harborites.  

So what follows is a greatly condensed version of his history taken from that original Quistorff Family History paper I referred to earlier.  Elmer wrote his version of the family from his memories and it was to become part of a more lengthy history started by his nephew, Kirk Quistorff, which reaches back to 1841. 

“I was born on August 10, 1907, in Tacoma, Washington, where my mother, Tessie, had lived with her stepfather Fritz Mensing, and where she and my father were married.  We eventually became a family of eight:  Mother, Father, my older brother Wallace William (Born November 7, 1905), myself, Ralph, John, Helen, and Fred, in that order.

Our mother was born in the Dalles, Oregon, daughter of Wolfgang Shreder and Therese Rosencratz.  When he father died, her mother married Fritz Mensing, who adopted her.  My mother’s mother passed away when my mother was 12, and my mother and her stepfather moved to Tacoma, where he married Christina Nuschler.  All four of those who made up my mother’s family were immigrants from Germany.

My treat-grandfather Fred Quistorff was an immigrant from Denmark (later Germany), and a carpenter by trade.  The language he and his wife brought to the United States was German.  My grandfather grew up in the Michigan-Wisconsin area, and like his father, became a carpenter and millwright.  My father also took up the carpentry trade and was working in Tacoma when he met and married my mother.  Fritz Mensing, my mother’s stepfather, was a carpenter and building contractor.  To carry the coincidence of craftsmanship background further, my father’s brother Adolph, also a carpenter, married Lydia Miller of Tacoma, whose father, Henry Miller, was likewise a contractor and builder.  Adolph’s son Albert became a carpenter, and my brother Wallace worked several summers as a carpenter for my grandfather Mensing.  My brother Fred also worked briefly at the trade.  

My parents moved to a logged-off area in what we referred to as Gig Harbor (now referred to as North Rosedale) in the fall of 1907.  My father and his brother purchased 16 acres from G. H. Wood (who continued to hold as his home the area north of our property extending down to Henderson Bay).  My father and Adolph divided the property between them, the north eight acres being ours.  

…. In 1927, my father purchased the 40 acres of land containing the water-wheel site, which was located about a quarter-mile east of the home place.  Here he installed a large hydraulic ram taking water from a spring on the hillside.  This delivered water to a 5000-gallon tank, which released gravity water to our house and a number of neighbors’. (NOTE:  G. H. Wood had erected a waterwheel on a small creek that ran through his property to provide water for his and both the Quistorff properties.  Elmer’s father had tw wells on his property including a 300-gallon tank.)  

… My brothers Wallace and Ralph and I attended Booster Grade School, which was located about a mile and three quarters south on the Purdy-Rosedale Road.  …This school was consolidated with the Rosedale district in 1919, the year Wallace was due to enter high school.  This was favorable timing as there was no high school closer than Tacoma.  With the consolidation it was possible to add the ninth and tenth grades to the Rosedale School, so that Wallace was able to continue his schooling without interruption.  …

Our father had provided much leadership during the consolidation.  Two years later, in 1921, he was instrumental in organizing a high school district that consolidated nine grade school districts, including Purdy, Elgin, Rosedale, Crescent Valley, Lincoln, Midway, Arletta, Wauna, and Artondale.  The consolidate high school district was centered in a new two-story brick building in Gig Harbor.  For the first several years, it took in seventh and eighth graders from those schools which by then were overcrowded.  …..

….We children were aged 15, 13, 8, 6, 4 and 2 when our mother passed away April 19, 1921.  For the remainder of that school year, Mrs. Blomley, who lived near the Purdy bridge, came in six days a week to be with the younger children and to do baking and washing, as our father had to continue working.  He drove to Purdy each morning to pick up Mrs. Blomley, and took her back again in the evening after returning from his work.  Wallace did the farm chores, milking and feeding the stock.  I helped get dinner underway, and mind the younger children.  

When school was out that summer, I took over caring for the children during the day.  Mrs. Blomley came in one day a week to bake bread and wash clothes.  Wallace often helped our father at his carpentry work.  When school took up in the fall, we resumed our spring schedule, until our father married Mary Murray in October that year.

Wallace and I both went to high school in Gig Harbor from the start.  This school met in the newly built community hall in Crescent Valley until Christmas time, then moved to the just completed high School building, centrally located between Crescent Valley and Lincoln schools.  When we entered, Wallace was in the eleventh grade, and I in the eighth (Rosedale was one of the grade school districts to share the high school building at the same time.)

The first senior class numbered two:  Millard Blakesley from the Elgin district and Ovid Grant, who came from Fox Island.  Ovid and his brother came by skiff to Warren each day to meet the bus that started from Arletta.  In Wallace’s graduating class, there were five students.  He was the only male and had the honor of being valedictorian.

Elmer continues talking more about his father and how he had become acquainted with the Murray family, and of course, Mary Murray who became their second mother.  How difficult and much changed life was following their father’s death in 1929, a mere 8 years after she and Elmer’s father married.  Raising the four younger children during the Depression without accepting any public assistance.  And he shares his memories on his stepmother’s life following the last two children’s graduation from high school.   There is a delightful memory of Wallace and Elmer’s adventures while growing up such as learning to swim, the heavy rains and landslides in 1915, the blizzard of 1916 and, of course bits and pieces about his brothers’ lives as they grew up and married.  He then continues with more on his own life after high school.

“… After high school and before, during and after my trip through the University of Washington, I was a commercial salmon and herring fisherman in Puget Sound and Alaska, worked on patrol boats for the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service (then Bureau of Fisheries) in Bristol Bay, on the Kuichak, Naknek, and Egegik Rivers.  More of these experiences later.  

I married Anna Louise Sivesind at Cashmere, Washington, May 28, 1938.  She is the daughter of Claus William and Lena Sivesind of Seattle.  I met her while she was teaching school at the Gig Harbor Union High School.  We have a daughter, Nancy, born February 15, 1940, and a son, Ned, born December 2, 1942. ….

…. My work from 1937 through December 1949 was with the Washington Department of Fisheries, mostly at the Lewis River and Issaquah salmon hatcheries; from 1937 to 1938 it was connected with the fisheries problems created by the building of Grand Coulee Dam.  From Issaquah, I went to Okinawa, Japan, for three years, where I was in charge of the rehabilitation of the Okinawa fisheries.  This was followed by 2 1/2 years as a fisheries consultant for the Point Four program in Lebanon and Egypt.  Louise and the children were able to be with me during most of both tours.  Louise taught school at all three places.  She also taught for seventeen years in the Issaquah school system after our return from the Middle East in 1954.  

Back in Issaquah in September 1954, I undertook a project concerned with fisheries problems confronted in the proposed building of Puget Power’s Upper Baker River Dam.  These problems were unusual and called for solutions employed nowhere else where fish were affected by power dam construction.  The job lasted eight years, requiring an integration of my part as building of the dam progressed.

Following this, I went to the Department office, and I retired from the Olympia office in 1972.  While there, I was concerned with the planning and budgeting of a wide range of money sources for projects, such as my field work on the Baker River Dam, which were outside of regularly appropriated state funds.  For nine years, I drove back and forth from Issaquah to Olympia, a matter of 65 miles each way.

So, again we will skip a few paragraphs and jump down to his closing, and how his love of fishing dates back to his days as an eighth grader attending Gig Harbor Union High School (now Harbor Ridge Middle School) at the head of the harbor.  

“… When school opened each September, many small fishing vessels could be seen as they lay at their moorings on those calm waters below.  A mile from the school, the easterly and westerly headlands dipped toward each other to form a narrow inlet.  Through this gap could be seen a part of Puget Sound, the waters of West Passage (Colvos Passage) to the north, the Narrows to the south, and a part of Commencement Bay beyond.  Across these waters and further eastward, framed by the two headlands, the high school had an unobstructed view of Mt. Rainier and adjacent foothills.

Before the first week of school was over, we suddenly found that just overnight, the fishing fleet had vanished.  The first week in November, they were back again.  Again in December, they were missing.  These comings and goings were not as we saw them from our vantage point at the school.  Actually, during the latter part of the year, some of the vessels were back at their moorings again during the hours of darkness, these having been fishing in West Passage while we were at school.  

During the winter and spring, we seemed to take for granted the scene in the harbor as we saw it from the end of December to June.  Then, on a warm May day, we became aware of a stirring, that something was changing.  There was a faint fragrance drifting up to our heights on the hill.  The smell of newly tarred nets signaled the start of a new year of activity for the fishing fleet.

That wonderful smell will forever linger with me, as it became a starter for a series of activities and events that were to see  me in many out-of-the-way places, combined with unusual circumstances and people.  To cite a few:

  • Standing hip-deep in herring as I brailed 500 barrels of the fish, which filled up the hold and made a deck-load on the seiner Shenandoah, off the coast of Baranof Island in southeastern Alaska.
  • Alone on a 16-hour towboat up the Egegik River, tributary to Bristol Bay, a wide inlet from the Bering Sea.
  • A trip to the foundations of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, to be sure that salmon could continue to pass upstream as the construction of that giant continued.
  • Eating dried squid with Okinawa fishermen on an outlying island, while inspecting the progress of their bonito boat construction.
  • Visiting the Temple of Baalbek in the Baka’s Valley of Lebanon.
  • Snapping a picture of the Rose Red City of Petra from a Jordanian Air Force plane, while the pilot circled so I could get the best view.
  • Spending the night at Mersa Matruh on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, where Cleopatra is said to have seduced Mark Antony.

Elmer Quistorff died at age 92 and left behind a rich history as a pioneer fisheries expert.  He wrote a memoir for the University of Washington School of Fisheries, as well as technical books on fisheries biology.  I hope this brief view into his life as he recorded it spurs you on to find out more about his mark on fisheries around the world.  

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for December 24, 1884

Pretty fair day tho we have some sleet at night.  Ran to Tacoma & bro back a big load of young folks.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.