Julia Jerisich VanWaters (1884-1961)
I was looking at some old Metsker maps of early Gig Harbor, well perhaps not that old 1930, 1936, 1941, etc., and noticed an area identified as Nesika. This area includes the property at the intersection of Soundview Drive and Harborview Drive. Metsker Maps had identified the owner as A. Jerisich in 1930 although Annie Jerisich had died in 1926. I can only imagine that the property title had not yet been transferred due to the settling of Annie Jerisich’s estate.
In 1936, owner was shown as L & M Kavanaugh 1941 J. VanWaters; and 1951 J. VanWaters. So a search was begun. Who were the L & M Kavanaughs (could this be Leo Michel Kavanaugh a telephone lineman whose father was a farmer at Wollochet?); and the J. VanWaters? I haven’t yet found the Kavanaughs but I found J. VanWaters.
J. VanWaters turns out to be Julia Jerisich VanWaters, Annie’s daughter. Although we know a fair amount about Annie and Samuel Jerisich, I thought it would be interesting to discover a few things about one of her daughters, especially the one child who apparently was the beneficiary of the real property.
Julia was the seventh of eight children born to Samuel and Annie Willits Jerisich; Caroline Jerisich Dorotich, John J. Jerisich, Michael Jerisich, Samuel Jr. Jerisich, Melissa Jerisich Skansi, Catherine J. Sellen, Julia Jerisich VanWaters, and Mary E. Jerisich.
|Annie Willits Jerisich, C. Julia Skansi (Babich) and Julia Jerisich VanWaters (Harbor History Museum)|
Gig Harbor was suffering the effects of the Spanish Flu epidemic and a TB epidemic during the early days of the twenty century. The Jerisich family was affected with the deaths of Melissa and Catherine in 1902; Michael and Samuel Jr. in 1904; and Mary E in 1909. I cannot say for certain which disease caused their deaths but in Mike Jerisich’s (John J. Jerisich’s son) oral history, he mentioned the three girls died of TB.
When Melissa died in February 1902 just short of her 23th birthday, her daughter was just a few months old. However there is a disagreement on Ancestry.com stating Julia Skansi Babich was born in 1906. Impossible if Melissa died in 1902. I believe Clementina Julia Skansi was born July 1901. However too many sites: ancestry.com; find-a-grave; etcetera are showing her name as Julia Jerisich, only adding to the confusion.
Whether C. Julia Skansi Babich was named for her Aunt Julia VanWaters, it is another mystery. However Aunt Julia became very close with Julia Babich and the relationship lasted until the elder Julia died of dementia while living at the Babich home. (Julia Van Waters lived with the Babichs from the death of her husband, Mark, in 1941 until her own death in 1961.)
But let’s back up a little bit and see what we have been able to piece together about the Julia Jerisich VanWaters.
Samuel’s oldest son, John, married Maud Stella September 1905 just a short two months before his father died on December 21, 1905. Samuel’s survivors besides his son included only Annie, his wife, Caroline his oldest daughter who had married Joseph Dorotich in 1884 and had 8 children. And Julia, age 21, and Mary, age 15, who was to died in February 1909.
Little is known of Julia’s life or activities during this time. One can only assumed that she helped her mother manage their various properties and business dealings. Annie and Samuel had homesteaded the full allotment of 160 acres. But the time of Annie’s death in 1926, the business section of South Gig Harbor occupied a portion of said property. Earlier Samuel had sold Miles Hunt 5 acres where Frank and his brother, Arda, built the Hunt mansion on Soundview Drive. Before Annie died, she had also gifted a tract of land to the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) where they build St. John’s Hall and their meeting rooms.
The property from the mouth of the harbor on Harborview Drive to the intersection with Soundview Drive belonged to Samuel. He divided the ownership up as follows: Lot 3, overlooking the mouth of the harbor and Puget Sound - Peter Skansi 7 acres, and next to that 13.6 acres to Julia Jerisich VanWaters; Lot 4: 20 acres to Julia Jerisich Van Waters and 11 acres to Annie Jerisich; Lot 5 Wickersham* 25 acres, Julia Skansi Babich 20 acres, Sam kept 3 1/2 acres, and 15 1/2 to Peter Sellen (Catherine Jerisich’s husband). *Judge James Wickersham was attorney representing Samuel Jerisich regarding the eviction of squatters on Samuel’s right of pre-emption in 1901. Mike Jerisich, John’s son, mentions in his oral history that John, his father, built the houses for the family members on those properties. Ken Babich, Samuel’s great-grandson mentions that the property running all the way to Fred Meyers was part of Samuel’s homestead.
In 1916 at age 32, Julia married Mark VanWaters in Snohomish. Little is known how they met, or exactly when.
Mark was born in North Dakota in 1879, and moved to Seattle when he was 13 with his father, mother and sister.
In 1918 when he registered for the WWI draft, he was employed by Albert Zbiden, Tacoma Interurban Depot in Seattle. The Tacoma-Seattle Interurban ran from 1902 until 1928. So perhaps it is this connection that brought Julia and Mark together. Mark and Julia had been married for 2 years when he registered for WWI Draft, and were living in Seattle where they continued to live until Mark’s death in 1941. From the 1920 US Census until his death, Mark continued to report report his occupation as clerk in a cigar store. This might indicate that he was laid-off from the Tacoma-Seattle Interurban Depot; or perhaps he worked two jobs.
Following her marriage and moving to Seattle, Julia continued to return to Gig Harbor to spend time with her mother, Annie, and her niece, Julia Babich. Annie, her mother, following Samuel’s death moved to Seattle where she lived with Julia and Mark. It was at their home in Seattle, Annie died.
In 1941 after Mark died, Julia moved back to Gig Harbor where she lived with Spiro and Julia Babich until her death in 1961. During the later part of those 20 years, if became difficult for the Babich family as Julia developed dementia as mentioned earlier.
Julia was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, and is buried at Artondale Cemetery along side Mark. They had no children. She was survived by six nieces: Hannah McCarthy, Portland; Katherine Dorotich, Marie Gustafson and Mattie Skansi, all of Gig Harbor; and Anne Skansie, Santa Barbara, CA. and a nephew, Mike Jerisich of Gig Harbor.
|The mouth of the Harbor,Peter Skansi's House in upper right corner - Harbor History Museum Collection|
Mike Jerisich Oral History - Harbor History Museum Resource Room
Randy Babich Oral History - Harbor History Museum Resource Room
Tacoma Daily News Obituary - December 26, 1905
Peninsula Gateway Julia Van Waters Obituary - No date shown
Metsker Maps 1930,1936, 1941, 1951, 1965 - Gig Harbor
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.