Thursday, May 5, 2016

Postmarked Washington: Pierce County by Guy Reed Ramsey

Postmarked Washington:  Pierce County by Guy Reed Ramsey

This is a book in the Harbor History Museum Resource Room and it shows what one person can do when they develop an interest in a specific subject.  According to the “Introduction” in this book written by Richard Hitchman, President of the Washington State Historical Society, Mr. Ramsey was one of those people.  

“Guy Reed Ramsey was born in 1894 at Warrenburg, Missouri where he was educated in public schools, graduating from the Warrenburg High School in 1913.  During World War I he served in the Naval Aviation.  At the age of 31 he enrolled in the College of Forestry, University of Washington.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry in 1929 and Master of Science in 1931.  He taught identification of trees and tree diseases at Davey Institute of Tree Surgery, served as foreman at C. C. C. camps at Mount Rainier National Park and Riverside State Park, Spokane.  For ten years he was on the Forestry School staff at Iowa State College.  In 1944 he returned West and entered the wood preservation business, with headquarters at Portland.  He retired in 1960 and from then on his life was dedicated in large part to his study of postal history.  He died at Corvallis, Oregon on April 28, 1980.  Shortly before his death the Board of Curators of the Washington State Historical Society voted to name Mr. Ramsey, a David Douglas Fellow in recognition of his unique contribution to the record of the State’s history.”

What caused me to pick up this book when I happened to be in the Harbor History Museum Resource Room was some notes both handwritten and typed on “Information on Gig Harbor Post Offices” which had been researched by Jean Insel Robeson, 9/1/01, found in a file box by Vicki Blackwell.

These notes basically listed the various postmasters and their terms’ starting date.  Mrs. Robeson had used Mr. Ramsey’s book as research when she compiled her list.  Some of the names will be familiar to us as we read Mrs. Robeson’s notes, but some of the names will have been lost in history.  So now it will be our responsibility to discover more about the unfamiliar names.  Perhaps, you will be the one person who checks the postal records to see if you can discover more background information.

Information on Gig Harbor
Post Offices
(Jean Insel Robeson)

Gig Harbor post office established Dec. 14, 1885.  No information on postmaster James A. Tryer or location of post office.

Alphonso W. Young, March 7, 1887:  Post office located in Young’s home on east side of Gig Harbor - known as Young’s Landing.  Young credited with being first postmaster in Gig Harbor.  Mail delivered to floating dock by small boat “Baby Mine” owned and operated by Capt. Emmett Hunt.  “Baby Mine” made trip from Wollochet to Tacoma to Gig Harbor once a week.  (There is a short blog on Mr. Young's son, Fennimore Fremont Young)

Emmett Hunt, whose parents, Mr. and Mrs. M. B. Hunt homesteaded 80 acres at Artondale in 1876, was one of the well-known “Hunt Brothers” who owned and operated such well known Sound passenger and freight boats as the “Sentinel”, “Atlanta” and the “Crest”, later renamed the “Bay Island”.  Other Hunt brothers were Forrest, Ardah, Floyd, Lloyd (twins) and Arthur.

Zethro Bale, August 21, 1894:  According to recollection of Mrs. Irwin Rust, Gig Harbor pioneer, Jethro Bale was not postmaster.  His daughter, Miss Jessie E. Bale was the postmaster.  The post office was located in small building on Kitsap Street (now Peacock Way).  Miss Bale delivered first mail ever delivered in Gig Harbor.  With mail bag strap over her shoulder, she went across Harbor on small passenger boat to Millville (Gig Harbor Mill Co.) on west side of Gig Harbor and delivered mail on foot.  Mail brought to Gig Harbor by boat from Tacoma - boat made 3 trips daily.  (I found Jethro Bale on born in Burton Diss, England on Feb. 21, 1839-died Mar. 9, 1902, buried in Artondale Cemetery.  His daughter Jessie Elizabeth Bale 1874-1951, married Ernest Elwood Magoon and daughter Hazel Mcgoon)

Sarah H. Franklin, Nov. 27, 1896:  Maiden name, Sarah H. Benway:  born in Buffalo, New York.  Husband’s full name, Robert Irwin Franklin.  Post office located in Franklin home (house since burned down) on Front Street in North Gig Harbor - Front Street now known as Harbor View Ave.)

During Mrs. Franklin’s term of office, Edson C. Kimball, then 18 years old (died May 11, 1968) carried mail to Olalla and later during term of George Magoon - a total of 5 years.  He carried mail on horseback with mail in saddle bags, particularly during winter time when roads were impassable for a “sulky” - often times it was necessary to detour through woods and then return to trail.  Mail was brought from Tacoma on steamer “Crest” every day - Ardah Hunt, captain.  ( The Franklins donated a reed organ to the First Methodist Episcopal Church when it was built 1893)

George A. Magoon, Oct. 12, 1901:  Post office located in first floor of two-story building in North Gig Harbor on waterfront; later Magoon built another building - also on waterfront.  Magoon also sold real estate.  Post office clerk Miss Lillian Julia Goodman, daughter of pioneers Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Goodman, who came to Gig Harbor in 1883.  She is now Mrs. Irwin Rust and still lives in Gig Harbor.  Mrs. Magoon also assisted in post office and Miss Goodman took care of post office when Mrs. Mcgoon was sick.  Rachel Crowley (maiden name Cates) also carried mail to Olalla during Magoon term of office.  She used a “sulky”.  (George A, Mcgoon is discussed in a Harbor History Museum blog July 9, 2015)

Thomas H. Harris, July 11, 1903.  Mrs. Rust says Harris’ first name was Fred.  Post office located in same building as that used during Magoon term of office.  Harris with brother-in-law, Ora Oliver, sold hay, feed and groceries.

George A. Magoon, June 30, 1904:  Post office in new building mentioned above.

Cassius D. Fuller, Nov. 19, 1906:  Post office located in building on waterfront at North Gig Harbor on Front Street - now Harbor View Ave.  ( Cassius D. Fuller (1854-1923) was born Illinois, married Nelcina (Nellie) M. Fuller and was a brick manufacturer.  He is buried GH Cemetery and children shown as Bess Patrick and George H. Fuller)

Carrie M. Wroten, April 30, 1909:  Maiden name, Carrie M. Kingsbury, Husband’s name not known, nor location of post office.  ( identifies Carrie’s husband as Alexander Wroten, 1844-1916 and showing him as postmaster in 1910.  He is buried in GH Cemetery.  They had a daughter named Sophie.)

Axel I. Uddenberg, June 5, 1912:  Post office located in addition to Uddenberg store on waterfront - adjacent to dock at North Gig Harbor.  Mail delivered to Harbor by boat from Tacoma.

Axel Uddenberg was born in Stockholm, Sweden.  He went to sea in 1871 following graduation from high school.  He proved an excellent seaman and promotions came rapidly.  He attended navigation school and received his master’s papers at the age of 21.  He commanded both sail and steam vessels and visited most of the important ports of the world.  He married his wife Angela in Hull, England, and she went to sea with him.  He made his first visit to Puget Sound in 1888 at the Port of Tacoma to load lumber for Australia.  After leaving the sea, he returned to Washington, settling on a farm at Spanaway and later a hop ranch at Roy.  He located in Tacoma in 1890 where he operated a grocery store.  He moved to Gig Harbor in 1906 where he also operated grocery stores.  He became postmaster June 5, 1912.  (

Mrs. Teresa Sweeney, March 5, 1915:  Maiden name, Teresa McCambridge, born in County Antrim, Ireland; came to United States in 1898 and Washington in 1908.  Husband’s name James Sweeney.  Post office located in Sweeney home on Front Street - now Harbor view Ave.  Later post office moved to Sweeney building across street from home - building now torn down.  Mail came from Tacoma by boat.  Lillian Goodman (Mrs. Irwin Rust) and Miss Verna Wheeler (her niece) employed as postal clerks.  (

Franz S. Drummond, Feb. 10, 1922:  When Mr. Drummond died, Mrs. Frances Drummond completed his term of office.  First mail deliver to Gig Harbor by stage (bus) July 1st, 1922.  Stage line operated by Hubert Secor.  Buses crossed from Tacoma on ferry.  Post office located in Axel-Uddenburg-John Vernhardshon building at North Gig Harbor on Harbor View Avenue.  Margaret Alvestad (Mrs. Edward Goldman of Wauna)  In additional notes, Jean Insel Robeson goes on:  Drummond (known for) “good humor”, “chewed tobacco”  “good aim” (at) “spittoons”.  Moved the post office from the Sweeney Building to the Axel Uddenberg-John Vernhardson Building {date of move not given - Postmarked Washington:  Pierce Co. by Guy Reed Ramsey PP 32 & 33)  The location of the post office was the concrete brick building in North Gig Harbor now occupied by the dry cleaners.  (Franz Drummond was also the editor of the Bay Island News)

Mrs. Teresa Sweeney, Sept. 7, 1933: Post office in Uddenberg-Vernhardson building.

Albert L. Hopkins, August 24, 1935:  post office located in Uddenberg-Vernhardson building at North Gig Harbor.  Gladys Hunt (Mrs. Don Edwards) and later Miss Henrietta Hunt (Mrs. Frederick Babbitt) employed as postal clerks.

During the observance of National Air Mail Week, May 15-21, 1938, Gig Harborites gathered on the beach at East Gig Harbor (near site of Young’s Landing) to celebrate the event of the first air mail ever to leave the Gig Harbor post office.  A. L. Hopkins was master of ceremonies.  He welcomed Bert E. Echkstein, pilot, who had been commissioned for the day to carry the mail.  Echkstein landed his plane on the beach at 1:50 p.m.  John Insel acting postmaster, attended to the posting of letters at the beach post office.  He was assisted by clerk, Miss Gladys Hunt (Mrs. Don Edwards) with 626 air mail letters aboard, the plane soared away to the Mueller-Harkins airport in Tacoma on the first air mail flight out of Gig Harbor.

Intel, then carrying R.F.D.1 out of the Gig Harbor post office was awarded a post office Dept. citation for selling the largest number of air mail stamps in the state of Washington during Air Mail Week.  (  (Mr. Hopkins also owned a drug store in Gig Harbor)

Mrs. Gertrude B. Hopkins (wider of Albert L. Hopkins) May 20, 1942:  Maiden name Gertrude Baker.  Post office located in Uddenberg-Vernhardson building.  Mrs. Ann Berkheimer, clerk.

Mrs. Mary New, Oct. 1, 1942:  Post office in Uddenberg-Vernhardson building.  Mrs. New (wife of Edward New) was born in Coshocton County, Ohio; maiden name, Mary Scarborough - was teacher of home economics in Canton, Ohio schools.  Mr. and Mrs. New came to Gig Harbor in 1923.  Mrs. Ann Berkheimer, clerk.  (Edward New was school principal)

Thomas W. Tait, Nov. 26, 1943:  Post office located in Uddenberg-Vernhardson building.  Post office later moved from North Gig Harbor January 1952, to Richardson building at West Gig Harbor on Harbor View avenue.

Mail brought from Tacoma by Star Route carrier when Tacoma Narrows bridge opened July, 1940.  First bridge crashed to bottom of Narrows in November of that year.  Frances Borgen (Mrs. Maurice Carlson) carrying the star route to Tacoma was on the deck of the bridge when the cement began breaking up - she just made it across before the bridge collapsed.  When Narrows bridge again rebuilt and opened for traffic in 1950 mail again was brought from Tacoma across the bridge.  ( )

John H. Insel, veteran mail carrier of the, out of the Gig Harbor post office retired Oct. 31, 1956, after 37 years of postal service.  Intel’s service dates from Dec. 15, 1918, when the 29.8 mile run was only rural free delivery route out of Gig Harbor post office.  At that time, the post office was located in the Sweeney building, the late Mrs. Teresa Sweeney postmaster.  As population of area increased, many extensions were added to original No. 1  Considered one of the longest rural routes in the state, it served communities of Gig Harbor, Shore Acres, Wollochet, Midway, Artondale, Cromwell, Warren, Arletta, Horsehead  Bay, Rosedale, North Rosedale, North Gig Harbor, East Gig Harbor and Crescent Valley.  No. 1 was divided into two routes on June 16, 1946 - Herbert J. Cook who served as Insel’s substitute carrier, now carries R.F.D.No.2.

Intel has “cased” mail in three postoffice - two located at North Gig Harbor and the office at West Gig Harbor.  He has served during terms of postmasters Mrs. Sweeney, F.S. Drummond, Mrs. Drummond, A. L. Hopkins, Mrs. A. L. Hopkins, Mrs. Edward New and Thomas Tait.


Gig Harbor owes its distinctive name to Lt. Commdr. Cadwallader Ringgold, a United States Naval Officer, who discovered the harbor on July 3, 1841.  The lieutenant was an officer with the squadron of six ships that made up the first United States Exploring Expedition - Capt. Charles Wilkes in command.

Samuel Jerisich, the first white settler, founded Gig Harbor in 1867.  The town of Gig Harbor was incorporated June 30, 1946 with Dr, Harold Ryan elected first mayor.

  • For information, indebted to 
    • Mrs. Irwin Rust (Lillian Goodman)
    • Hubert Secor
    • John Sweeney
    • Mrs. Al Kingsbury
    • John Insel
    • Miss Jean Wiley
    • Clarence Burnham
    • Edson C. Kimball
    • Arvid Brown
    • Mrs. Ebba Uddenberg

Mr. Ramsey goes on to write a three to four page outline of Gig Harbor and its history, including bits and pieces about certain postmasters.  He also wrote separate entries on the postmasters in Arletta, Artondale,Fox Island, Glencove, Herron, Home, Lake Bay, Long Branch,Minter, Purdy,Rosedale, Wauna and the other small communities that also housed post offices with their own individual postmasters.  A charming look back into history for those interested.

  • Research by Jean Insel Robeson, 9/7/01, regarding notes found in File Box, V. Blackwell
  • Postmarked Washington:  Pierce County by Guy Reed Ramsey
  • Various Blogs by Harbor History Museum referenced as well
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Carrie M. Wroten, Postmaster April 30 1909 - Sophie was the granddaughter of Carrie & Alex Wroton, not their daughter. Sophie's father was Archie, Carrie & Alex's son.