Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nicholas Castelan Daughter, Pauline Castelan Stanich

Nicholas Castelan Daughter, Pauline Castelan Stanich
[Originally Published September 20, 2012]
Castelan home. Left to right: Winnie Malich, Rachel, Anna, and Pauline Catelan

I dearly love it when I can let the voices of the past reveal the history that lies behind present day Gig Harbor. I love it even more when the voice I am sharing is that of my former neighbor, a most lovely lady, Pauline Castelan Stanich. 

The home Pauline shared with her husband and daughter is on Harborview Drive, at one time referred to as "Captains Row." Close your eyes and "hear" Pauline's voice as she described Gig Harbor to us (Pauline recorded this in April, 1986)...

"Gig Harbor was a small village, a harbor protected by the forest and the bay and founded over 100 years ago. The first cement road was paved from the west end of the town known as Millville to the east end of the town known as the Head of the Bay (ca. 1919-1920). For pastime, young girls walked from one end of the road to the other to greet the steamers and ferries at the private docks. There was a grocery store on the dock, a pool room and a saw filing shop. A large building housed a bakery, clothing and barber shop where the Shorline Restaurant is today. It was called Sweeney Block since the Sweeneys owned. Also, Gig Harbor's post office was located across the street in the Sweeney house. Around the bend, was Donkey Creek. The "donkey" engine was stationed in the middle of the creek pulling logs out of the woods, under the bridge and into the bay. Girls picked berries along Harborview Drive. Many fishermen from Yugoslavia came here to make a living fishing. The rumor was that Washington had an abundance of fish. When the fishermen settlers came to this country, they left their families and fiancees in Yugoslavia. Later, they brought them to the "new country" and married them.

"Today properties, as well as occupations and businesses, are passed from generation to generation. Some people live in their grandparents' houses.

"In earlier years, fishermen used large skiffs, oars and a net. They rowed out to the "fishing ggrounds" outside the harbor and came back later in the day. The crew members, three or four men. had nowhere to sleep.  The boat owners built cabins for the crew on their waterfront property. A considerable number of cabins were built. Later, they moved the crew to new homesteads and used the cabins as garages. The last cabin was recently torn down on the property of the family of Nicholas Castelan.

"Next, the gas engine and larger boats were used. There were 6 to 8 men plus the captain as crew. They had a roller on the stern with a winch to bring in the catch. The Puretic Power Block, which was attached to the boom, came later. This was a much easier way to pull in the catch.

"Then came the bigger boats run by diesel. Most of the older boats had their engines changed to diesel. The large boats went to Alaska, Bering Sea and San Juan Islands. The boats had to anchor in the middle of the bay because the tide was too low to dock at the wharf. They had to wait for high tide to bring the boats to the net sheds. The crew had to prepare for fishing. The men wore canvas gloves, boots and oilskin fishing gear. The fishermen would tar the nets to preserve them. They would build a fire under large vats of 150 to 200 gallons of tar. When it was hot, they dipped the net into the tar. The net was made of white twine. A wringer attached to the end of the trough was connected to the vat. Slowly, they would take the net out of the vat. Step two was to take the net to a nearby field and stretch it out to dry. The creqw would stretch it two or three times a week. When  it dried, they took it to the net shed to put on rope, lead, cork and brass rings. Tarring was performed to prevent the salt water from eroding the net.

"The tar vat used by Nicholas Castelan has been donated to the Peninsula Historical Society by his son, Mike Castelan, from the estate of Nicholas Castelan."

Pauline Castelin and John Stanich wedding portrait, 1937

Next week I will continue Pauline's story of her father, Nicholas Castelan, and the family.

Pauline was a beautiful lady, she never appeared outside her house if she was not perfectly groomed. Not even to pick up the newspaper, to gather the mail, or any other task performed out-of-doors.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for May 9, 1888

Squally and rainy.  In morn took "Rip" and beached her and in PM took scow to ?uellyard & waited for brick - then anchor out for the tide.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for May 2, 1888

Fine in every respect.  Steamed out to the city then down to 'Frump ?' Harbor where we find our piles high on the beach - whereupon we cuss and sleep till 8 AM when we start out with them to stem the tide.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Dairy Entry for April 25, 1888

Blustery with a shower or two.  Towed pile driver & a raft of piles for H. O. G. to ??? and at noon C&M hoister to water & back down to ////

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Milan Mikich

Milan Mikich
[Published originally August 23, 2012]

Have you ever noticed how not all history is formed by the well-known names. And, aren’t you intrigued when you run across someone who has accomplished a tremendous variety of different things that made his or her life as well as the lives of their community better?

A young Milan Mikich
Well, I found one such individual while doing a little research at the Harbor History Museum. Milan Mikich is just one of those rare individuals.

I am going to allow a memory of Milan compiled by Margaret Jamieson Paul for the Gig Harbor Grange No.445 tell part of Milan’s story...

Gig Harbor’s Milan Mikich will be remembered by many of us as a man of many interests, which made him subsequently a most interesting person. Born in BenetYugoslavia in 1890, he lived a quiet life and was a modest, unassuming person. Yet he left his mark on this area and will be remembered by many citizens, young and old; he was many years ahead of his time in his observations about people and the world. He felt humans needed to be more responsible for their actions in order to achieve harmony with the rest of the world. He was a human concerned with humanity, curious about everything, and at ease with every generation. In his poverty-ridden environment, he had four years of formal schooling, wherein he learned the Cyrillic alphabet, the Serbian mother tongue; Hungarian, the state language, old Slavic, the church language, and geography, arithmetic and Serbian poetry.  He was quick physically as well as mentally.

“The homes in his town had dirt floors, and the mothers cooked over rudimentary fireplaces; the work was endless and opportunities for advancement for young people almost non-existent. There was an unbelievable lack of money and worldly goods, a shortage of provisions and “sometimes even of food,” Milan stated.  

“Milan’s two older brothers had already come to America when Milan was fifteen, in 1905. He was grateful to them for their help in getting him started in America, after he bade farewell to his dear parents he knew he would likely never see again. He was impressed by the Statue of Liberty’s inscription and felt, as he ended his long voyage to the United States from Yugoslavia, that he had been guided by a kindly fate. His relatives helped him find work and attend a barber college to learn a career, and to learn the English language. Milan worked as a barber while learning the trade, and at anything else which would pay; he worked for the railway, factories, a soap company, and learned all along the way. In the meantime he was going to museums and art galleries and parks; anyplace free! –including the New York Public Library. He used their dictionary to learn new words. At the time, he didn’t realize he would be eventually speaking several languages well, and translating poetry from one into another! He became quite a learned person, as everywhere he went; he studied and learned from experience as well as from books. His writings took on a style formalized by discipline and graced with dignity. Music and dance had always been of interest to Milan, and national and international affairs and history as well. A devotee of Henry David Thoreau, he also discovered Aldo Leopold and later naturalists. Always close to nature, he began writing poetry to try to express his awe of her miracles and wonders all about him.

“Later he traveled to Detroit and joined the U. S. Army, serving 5 ½ years. Wounded several times in France he was later dismissed and again became a civilian. An old Army buddy, Norman Kimball coaxed him into coming to Gig Harbor to live, in 1925.

Milan at mic during Midsommarfest in Gig Harbor. The Serbian
heritage costume he is wearing in this photo is on display in the
permanent exhibit at the Harbor History Museum.
“Milan liked Gig Harbor so well he settled and worked here, first digging (by hand) holes for poles for Peninsula Light Company, and later working in a bakery and at other jobs locally. Best of all, he stated, he enjoyed being a brush-picker, a gatherer of evergreen huckleberry, salal and fern sprays for brush packers who sold these to the wholesale florists trade. In the beautiful woods around Puget Sound, he felt a oneness with nature and a peace that brought out the best in his poetic nature. He for a while owned his own evergreen business. For recreation, and to further his musical interests, Milan sang in choirs and was a charter member of the Peninsula Singers, and sang with the Tacoma Oratorio Society and the Sibelians. He sometimes had his poems printed in the Peninsula Gateway, and he joined a dance group, first square-dancing, then doing ethnic folk-dancing. He wore colorful costumes, authentic, and some direct from their native lands. Milan was active in Grange work and in 1977 was given the Golden Sheath Award for his fifty years of work in the Gig Harbor Grange.  He was active in Pierce County Library work also, where he served two terms of six years each on the Board. Milan helped organize the first Bookmobile on the Peninsula.

“He married in 1955 and he and his wife Jane lived several years in Mexico. She died in 1962 and Milan spent most of his last years alone in Gig Harbor. He leaves a legacy of good works and fine examples; Milan truly was an unforgettable person. We are better for knowing him, and sharing his lively and intelligent personality, his humor and his concern for all people, for all humanity and for nature in its entirety.”

Milan Mikich left behind numerous collections of his poetry and here is one that might intrigue you.


Like some ship of old laden with gold
            rounding her maiden lee,
Within her hold treasures untold,
            promise from land, from sea,
Her form is slim her deck is trim,
            smoothly her lines conform;
Rigging is free that she might be
            worthy in calm or storm.
She plies her course with a grand resource
            touching each friendly shore,
Where throngs appear from far and near
            seeking her precious store.
Forward and aft on board this craft
            volumes and charts abound,
Farmers and clerks, merchants and cooks
            the captain’s bridge surround.
Brief is her stay, she must away---
            her shining sails unfold,
Seekers that be, on shore, on key,
            to you she bringeth gold.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for April 18, 1888

Just as fair as a lily but O to do so I did nothing.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Emmett Hunt's Diary Entry for April 11, 1888

Excellent Day.  Lay idle in AM and got in PM towed a raft of logs from smelter to Cannery.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.