Thursday, July 28, 2016

Old Town, Gladys Para

Puyallup-Nisqually Indians Lived near head of Bay by Gladys Para, Gateway Staff and Executive Director of Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society 1985

I received a request to reprint this article which originally appeared in The Peninsula Gateway in 1985.  The request was based upon the fact that the Puyallup-Nisqually Native Americans history and contributions are generally overlooked except in certain circumstances.  So in an effort to correct that, here is Gladys’ original article.

Old Town, Gladys Para
The Joseph and Rose Goodman Family
Lillian Goodman Rust was only an infant among the six children Joseph and Rose Goodman brought to the Harbor in 1883.  Here to meet them were Sam and Anna Jerisich and their family, John and Josephine Novak and children, and Joe Dorotich, who only a week previously had married the eldest Jerisich daughter, Caroline.

In addition, many of the people who called Gig Harbor home were Puyallup-Nisqually Indian families who moved from it to Vashon and back with the seasons.  They had lived for generations in cedar houses on the creek (Burnham) [we know it now as Donkey Creek] whose mouth forms the northwest corner of the Harbor waters.  They called the place Twa-wal-cutx.

One resident of the Indian village was addressed by his white neighbors as Buckshot, Quickshot, or sometimes Shinshot.  He was knows to the Puyallups as one of their “trainers” of the children, a man who taught them their own history.  They gathered for this training in the potlatch or meeting house.  This building was recalled in her old age by Puyallup tribal member Lucy Gur as being 100 feet long.

It, therefore, must have seemed logical to the Twa-wal-cutx teacher to loan it, later, to the new Gig Harbor teacher.  It was the largest structure in Gig Harbor at the time.

The Goodman family stayed in Sam Jerisich’s first log hut on the spit while Joseph Goodman built a house near the mouth of Crescent Creek.  Within two years, Lillian’s 17 year-old sister, Anna, stepped forward as teacher of the local children — from the Indian families, the Jerisich and Novak families, and her own brothers and sisters.  Classes kept only slightly warm in the potlatch house near the clay and stick fireplace that would self-destruct in too hearthy sic a blaze.

Lillian, who was the last surviving Goodman of 10, before her death in 1969, was taken by her mother to visit Mrs. Jerisich, who occasionally persuaded Mrs. Goodman to wrap her into a papoose board, as was her own child, Julia.  To the little girl growing up  in early Gig Harbor, Indians were people who were familiar neighbors and friends.
Early Gig Harbor Native Americans fishing on Puget Sound 

Her father set her an example, Barbara Pearson, local historian, writes, “The Goodman girls’ father made them return beads (they had found) to the east Gig Harbor site, because he felt they had taken something that was not theirs, and was important to the Indians living at the head of the bay.”

When Lillian became Mrs. Erwin Rust, her home continued to be in Gig Harbor.  The important things in her adult life included her membership in the Amateur Garden Club and her writing.  One of her poems suggests first hand knowledge of an even in an Indian child’s life.  One of her stories reads strongly like an eye witness recollection.  In it she speaks of an Indian woman she must have known.

“…At dusk on Crescent Bay a boat with young folks left the north shore, gay voices and laughter in its wake…a tiny breeze no stronger than a breath of air conveyed a strain of strange music.  In hushed voices they asked each other, “What was that!

“…With one accord…the oarsmen turned their course westward to follow the eerie music, guiding their boat through a narrow lagoon ‘till they came within the shadows of a sparse hedge of wild roses.

“There beyond the thorny hedge, lighted by the flames of an open wood fire, was the Indian village.  On the beach were canoes, hewn from logs of cedar; in the background stood cabins of driftwood with chimneys of round limbs and clay.

“In the doorway of her cabin sat old Hosanna, wife of their leader, Buckshot (Quickshot).  Around her stooped shoulders was wrapped the plaid shawl worn by her kind; across her forehead a gay kerchief was found.  Her face twisted into contortions of suffering…Hosanna was in great distress.  A headache, an annual ailment, announced the presence of an evil spirit within her, wracking her very being, and it must be cast out.

“Within the circle of light the Indians stood in duplication, their heads bowed, chanting in cadence, while one kept perfect rhythmic beats on a crude drum made by the use of a hide drawn tightly over the mouth of a large iron kettle:  ‘Tum-tum-tum.’  Buckshot held out his hand for silence, then, lifting his scarred old face toward heaven, raised a prayer with such entreaty that surely the pleading tones could not go unanswered. 

“The drum took up its measured beat, but faster” ’Te-tum-te-tum, te-tum.’  The voices started a joyful chant  blending in unison, until at last, long-drawn high note ascended the tree-fringed hills…raised heavenward and was heard no more.

“Old Hosanna, relieved of suffering, stood up, her face with trans…. looked upward…The Evil spirit had departed.  Turning, she entered the cabin door.

“Released,…the oarsmen….their homeward course…the strain of music remained with them, leaving impressions that endure too a lifetime.”

I found in an article written in 1948 for The Tacoma Times by local resident, Mrs. John H. Insel, the following information which adds a bit more to the story of the first school in Gig Harbor.  The article was based upon a personal interview by Mrs. Insel with Mrs. J. A. Wheeler aka known as Anna Goodman.

“Sixty-two years ago in January, 1886, the first school was started in Gig Harbor.

First Gig Harbor School loaned by the Native Americans.  It is the shack in front of the sawmill in middle of picture.  It was all that remained of the longhouse offered by the local tribe members as a classroom to teacher Anna Goodman Wheeler.  Picture taken 1915
Miss Anna Goodman, now Mrs. J. A. Wheeler of Crescent Valley, was the first teacher.

She doesn’t remember the exact date on which the school opened, but recalls ‘It was shortly after the beginning of the new year.’

The school was the “potlatch house” belonging to the Indians who donated the building for use by the white man.  It stood near the Indian village on what is now the site of the Galbraith mill (formerly the Austin Mill) and the Peninsula Light Company’s office.
Anna Goodman Wheeler with dog and friend
ROUGH BENCHES SEATS:  There was a fireplace at one end of the room with the chimney made of alternate layers of flat sticks and clay.  Rough board benches were placed against the wall for seats and a blackboard improvised from a piece of cardboard painted black completed the school’s equipment.  In order to write, pupils held their slates braced against their knees and books, when not in use, were laid on the bench.

The first pupils to attend the pioneer school were John, Mike, Sam, Melissa, and Catherine Jeresich, children of the late Samuel Jeresich, the first white settler who founded Gig Harbor in 1867, and the late Mrs. Jeresich; Lee, Cora, and May Goodman, brother and sisters of the teacher, whose parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Goodman came to Gig Harbor in July 1883; Peter St. Louis, and William Peterson.

$30 MONTHLY SALARY:  Mrs. Wheeler was 17 years of age when she began teaching school, receiving a salary of $30 a month for the 4-month term. …

…She was one of the first three pupils graduating from Tacoma public schools to receive a diploma.

The other two members of her class — June 1887, were Lizzie Hazard and Walter Harvey.

She recalls the title of her graduation “essay” was “What Science Has Done”.  Principal of the school was Edmond Young.  She attended the old Central school in Tacoma, when it was located on So. 11th St. across from the courthouse.  She received her teacher’s certificate by “passing” the county’s teacher’s examination.”

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for August 26, 1885

A trifle warmer otherwise ditto.

Managed to do a little work again in the way of clearing.  Nothing else.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for August 19, 1885

Weather ditto.  Did some repairing on the boat besides wooding and water.  At night -- Miss L -- bring cross we keep painfully quiet, and rush off to bed at the earliest opportunity.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

July, 2016 70th Anniversary of Incorporation of Gig Harbor.

The newly incorporated Town of Gig Harbor
Held their first meetings in Judge H. R. Thurston Building 
July, 2016 70th Anniversary of Incorporation of Gig Harbor.

Seventy-nine years after Samuel Jerisich discovered the bay of Gig Harbor on a fishing trip and decided to move his family here, the growing settlement decided the best way to govern was to join forces and file for incorporation.  Not everyone agreed, but eventually the majority voted for incorporation.  (It is true that the bay of Gig Harbor was discovered and named on July 3, 1841, but none of Captain Wilkes' crew members remained behind to start a settlement.)

This blog was originally published as you see, on October 10, 2013.  However as we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the incorporation this July, 2016, I thought it appropriate to republish. 

But before you continue reading this perhaps you should also read an earlier blog about the incorporation of the Town of Gig Harbor published June 26, 2012.  

Politics and Gig Harbor

It's Fall and politics are in the air…  It is a good time to practice and put into use those debating skills you learned back in school, or if you are young, will learn.  Several examples, good and bad, follow.

I was reminded of this when I picked up a newspaper article date 1906.  Unfortunately the actual date in 1906 and the name of the paper was missing, but the section was entitled "Gig Harbor and Vicinity, The Choicest Suburb of Tacoma" and the article or, if you prefer, editorial was captioned "Let Us Organize".  

It is a very short piece but one that started in play a lot of changes within this village know as Gig Harbor.  So, here it is:  "LET US ORGANIZE  The time is now at hand when the residents of Gig Harbor should awake from their lethargy and by a concerted action do something for the advancement and upbuilding of this community.  Heretofore there has been some excuse for inactivity in this direction, owing to the unsettled condition of the titles of much of the land within the village.  This obstacle is now practically removed and there is no further excuse for delay.  Gig Harbor is beautifully and conveniently situated, and has tributary to it a country of large and varied resources, which is being rapidly settled by intelligent and thrifty people.  These natural advantages must be utilized in a business-like manner if we would reap the harvest which naturally flows therefrom.  We suggest that our people get together and organized a commercial club for the purpose of pushing to the front a uniform and systematic scheme of development and progress.  Let us act at once.  Delay is dangerous." 

Although I didn't find anything about the Peninsula Community Club until 1917 as explained in the next paragraph, I think it is important to give some very active members of Gig Harbor, mainly the women, credit for their part in growing the community.  The Ladies' Fortnightly Club, founded in 1907, explained in their mission statement that they intent was to serve social and economical needs of its members.  However, this mission soon grew to include things such as the social welfare of the entire community.  You can read in more detail the history of this woman's club in a blog publish October 25, 2012.

The next news I saw regarding the founding of a commercial club was in the Bay Island News, Issue #1, May 10, 1917.  This article was announcing the list of the charter members of the newly founded Peninsula Community Club.  The list of charter members includes almost every man's name of those who lived around Gig Harbor bay.  They proposed to hold meetings at different points on the Peninsula to make certain the club lived up to the name.  The article goes on to state "Unity with a solid community front will accomplish results; and there is no other way in which results may be obtained."

In 1922, a business owner found her business increasing and decided to expand from a small mercantile business, which eventually grew into a well-stocked department store.  Theresa Sweeney, being an experienced and knowledgeable business person, rented space in her new building to for a new post office, a restaurant, a pharmacy and the first mayor of Gig Harbor, at that time dentist  Dr. Harold Ryan.  (Dr. Ryan did not become mayor until 1946 when the Town of Gig Harbor platted by Dr. Burnham and the Town of Millville platted by Joseph Dorotich and John Novak joined forces and became a fourth class incorporated city.  Mrs. Sweeney wasn't only active in managing her building, but was actively involved in real estate and promoting the charm and benefits of Gig Harbor.

By February 1924 the community leaders organized the Peninsula Federation of Good Roads and Improvement Clubs.  Their idea was to provide strong efforts to better and improve conditions on the peninsula and to avoid the "rocks of discord".  Unfortunately those rocks of discord appeared to block some of the road work by April 1924 when a "Mr. Ball" refused to give the new district their tractor.  He claimed that he had spend considerable funds in maintaining and repairing the tractor, and he wouldn't give it to them until they provided him with concrete plans of work to be performed. 

By June 1924 the club was in negotiation with the State of Washington to finish the construction of the Port Orchard-Gig Harbor state highway; they did not have enough money for the last mile and a half of the road in the Federated Club of the Peninsula bank account.  (The road was originally intended to run from Port Orchard to the Pierce County line.)  

It was in 1925 that Leander Finholm, a very active leader in the Gig Harbor community, and his son, Hugo, invested in a telephone service bringing telephone and telegraph services to our community.  We found this out back in February, 2013 when The Finholms blog published.  

Jumping ahead to November 6, 1925, and the Peninsula Gateway publishes a lengthy impassioned  letter from H. R. Thurston regarding the incorporation of the Peninsula Light Company because the welfare of the people depend on electrical power and light, and the power also means water.  In this letter he is basically outlining how the company would work, the costs and benefits,and how it could be supported by bonds.  He also explains that each member would have stock in the company and one vote per one share.  His argument for the Peninsula Electric Company is promoted by a Mr. F. M. Hunt who explains, obviously in answer to questions brought out during the debate as to whether or not the Peninsula Light Company should obtain formal status as a rural electric company, that no  one member could gain full control of the company.   

The area grew by leaps and bounds during the 1920s with the introduction of gasoline, used in both boats and automobiles.  And boatbuilding was the major industry in town, followed by the agriculture community.  This period of growth came to an end with the Depression Era, the collapse of the stock market and people losing their jobs.  The folks in town were hard hit, as were the farmers.  But the farmers had the advantage of producing food, not only for their families but also for others to buy or trade various items for.   In 1931 the Lions Club was founded (the second oldest on the western shores of the Puget Sound).  The club became an informal ad hoc committee dealing with some of the governmental needs of the area.  Many of those founding members listed in the May 10, 1917 article in the Peninsula Gateway as charter members of the Peninsula Community Club were also founding members of the Lions.

Following the end of the Second World War, the community leaders in North Gig Harbor, the original area platted with the name "Gig Harbor" filed a petition to formally incorporate as a town.  It was not received with open arms.  The residents on the west side of the bay where the bulk of the community businesses were located voiced loud objection should the new corporation take the name Gig Harbor.  H. R. Thurston spoke saying no one objected to the head of the bay incorporating, but they did object to their taking the name Gig Harbor.  The Pierce County Commissioners sent everyone home with instructions that the two groups needed to come together, file a new petition for the incorporation of the entire community "and have a real town."

So the residents followed the advise, but when the election was held in September, 1945, the petition was defeated.  "A total of 188 votes were cast, but one voter expressed complete confidence in the candidates for municipal offices, but failed to vote for or against the incorporation."

So in April, 1946 a new petition was filed and when the election was held in July 1946, it passed.  Mr. C. E. Trombley, Editor of The Peninsula Gateway wrote an editorial  entitled "Gig Harbor Incorporated"  He explains his belief that it was a good thing for the community.  He went on to say "For some time our town has been like a large over-grown family without proper parental control.  We are living in an ever changing world, and Gig Harbor is a part of that world.  We have local problems on our hands today that we had no thought of five years ago and the immediate years will bring more."  And he ends with "Gig Harbor has finally taken a step that was positively necessary for its proper growth and development, and in our opinion it is now on the threshold of a brighter and better day."

Early Dentist and First Mayor of the Town of Gig Harbor, Harold Ryan
And many additional benefits came to the community such as a police department, making the volunteer fire department into a formal organization, and establishing the governing body of the village with the Incorporation of the Town of Gig Harbor 

First Town of Gig Harbor Police Car
L to r: Mayor Ryan, Tony Stanch, Judge H. R. Thurston

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for August 12, 1885

Just the same except the smoke which is worse and hurts my eyes at night.  Today we finished painted the Queen again and got it on in good shape.  Wood and water at night.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for August 5, 1885

Smoke and sun about the same.  In AAM slashed.  In PM trimmed up the boat and did some burning. Fires run maginficiutly now but tonight I predict rain.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for July 29, 1885

Quite warm but exceedingly smoky.  All day abed -- getting over the dance and at night prepared Gipsy 2 for her tomorrow's run.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.