founding families


What follows is an alphabetical list of local families with brief narratives.  The intent is to continue adding more comprehensive family histories thru input (see the form below).  As an "open source" resource, each history will be posted and shared -- gaining visibility and accuracy as it is reviewed -- person to person, family to family.

Consider this an open invitation to anyone interested in scheduling time for an interview (oral history) at a convenient time and location in downtown Gig Harbor.  You can also go to to upload your photos and stories.  (Your contact information will not be shared and will remain confidential.)  You

(If you can provide names of the Lincoln School students from the late 1920's in the photo above or add to the list of families below, please submit)










Andrew Ahlberg (née Anders Johannesson) was born in Sweden. In 1882, he immigrated to the United States with his friend Elias Friberg. They went to work in the coal mines of Oswalt, Iowa. Andrew and Elias rented a place together. Maria Sophia was also born in Sweden. She immigrated to Des Moines in 1884 and found a job as a maid in a hotel. She met Andrew over dinner at her cousins’ home. They married and settled in Oswalt, where Maria gave birth to their first two children: Anna and John. Elias boarded with them. In 1890, Andrew was developing Black Lung from his work in the coal mines, so they decided to move to Des Moines where he could farm in the open air. Five more children were born – two died. The family moved to Fox Island in 1906, where they stayed with their friends, the Wahlquists, from Iowa. They purchased a house, but Andrew was not content because he couldn’t get anywhere without rowing a boat. Two years later, they bought an 18-acre farm at Warren, Gig Harbor. It was planted with strawberries, until weevils destroyed the crop in 1915. Andrew expanded the orchard, adding cherries, peaches, walnuts and loganberries. Andrew and Maria’s daughter, Anna,

married Clifford Pearson. (source: Barbara Pearson)                                             





Peter Alvestad was born Peter Peterson on the Island of Alvestad, Norway. He changed his surname to his birthplace, a practice common to many immigrants. He arrived to the United States in 1906 and worked on a farm in Minnesota before coming to Tacoma. There he met and married Karen Kahrs. Karen was born in Bergen, Norway. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1905 with her stepmother, Anna Nyhammer, her stepbrother Jacob, and her stepsister Martha. Peter and Karen moved to Gig Harbor in 1911 and purchased 20 acres of land in Crescent Valley. The property had recently been logged and needed to be cleared. They raised chickens and grew berries on a small farm. For many years, Peter worked as a pile-driver for Alaska Packers at Point Roberts, Washington. In 1934, Peter became the buyer for Olympia Canning Company. The business was located on the public dock in north Gig Harbor, near today’s Anthony’s restaurant. The cannery purchased all varieties of berries and cherries which were transported to Olympia by boat. Peter served on the local school board for 20 years and as a director of the Peninsula Light Company. His grandson, Paul, is a board member of PenLight today. Peter and Karen had four children: Margaret, Helen, Paul and Bernhard. Margaret served as postmistress in Wauna from 1945-1974. Helen worked for Boeing for several years. Son Paul was postmaster for Gig Harbor from 1961-1981. Peter’s brother, Klaus Alvestad, arrived in the U.S. two years after Peter. After settling in Gig Harbor, he became the owner and operator of the halibut fishing boat named “Yellowstone.” In later years, he retired to his ten acre farm in Crescent Valley with his wife Laura.

(source: A History of Pierce County Washington, Paul Alvestad)                            





In the early 1900s, two men named Ancich, Peter and Martin, left Croatia for America. Though not directly related, they both found their way to Gig Harbor, became fishermen, and built net sheds along the same stretch of shoreline. Peter and his wife Kate had five children: Cecelia, John, Joseph, Peter Jr. and Mary. Peter’s first boat, a purse seiner named “New World,” was moored off a piling at the family property on Harborview Drive until a net shed and dock were built in the 1920s. The net shed and modest house were destroyed by fire, so Peter built another net shed (next to the location of the first) and a second home up the street on Stinson. As his sons grew into adulthood, Peter groomed them for a life of fishing. He partnered with Pete Skarponi in the constuction and operation of second a purse seiner named “Invader.” When Peter’s son John was old enough to operate the boat himself, father and son bought Skarponi’s share. John fished for nearly 60 years. Peter and his 2nd son Joe ran the sardiner “Mary Joe” for two season. Eventually, they too purchased a boat together, the purse seiner “Voyager.” The Voyager was considered one of the most productive local boats throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Peter’s 3rd son, Peter Jr., was part of the family business as well. He crewed for a number of vessels and rebuilt the family net shed in the 1950s. By the mid-1990s, the family property and business fell to John Ancich Jr. (John’s son) who continued the fishing tradition. Tragically, in 2001, John Jr. died on his purse seiner the “Heritage.” He is one of eight brave fishermen from Gig Harbor memorialized on the fisherman’s statue in Skansie Brothers Park – a tribute to those who lost their lives at sea. When John Sr. died in 2003, his friend and fellow fisherman Frank Ivanovich was designated executor of the family estate. Frank sold the net shed in 2005 to Bruce Steele of the Rainier Yacht Club. Today, the Ancich-Rainier net shed is inactive, yet still stands as one of the 17 historic net sheds remaining on the harbor.                                                                                         


Martin Ancich was not an immediate relative of Peter, yet the parallels between their lives are many. Martin married Anna Steka, who immigrated from Croatia with her mother and sisters when Anna was just six years old. Martin and Anna had six children: Antone, Rose (Tarabochia), Jack, Nick, Kay (Franich) and George. Martin established himself in the fishing industry and, in 1908, partnered with Lee Makovich Sr. to build and operate the 45 ft. seiner “Sokol” and later the 50 ft. “Mermaid II.” In 1927, Martin built the 66 ft. “George A.,” named for his youngest son. Tragically, Martin died that same year. Left a young widow, it was up to Anna to keep the family business going. She hired Johnnie Ross to skipper the George A. Ross in turn hired Anna’s son Jack as crew. By 1937, Anna commissioned a vessel of her own, the “Anna A.” – a 75 ft. sardine boat. A woman negotiating contracts, chartering fisheries and leasing commercial boats was unheard of at the time, but Anna held her own for the family. By 1940, Anna’s son Antone was running the Anna A for sardines in San Pedro. Her youngest son George learned to fish the “the Trap” along the San Juan Salmon Banks with his brother-in- law, Nick Tarabochia. Years later, George and his sister Rose (Tarabochia) leased the family dock and net shed to the U.S. Coast Guard. Today, George Ancich and his nephew, Nick Tarabochia Jr., still own the property. Currently, the net shed is partitioned for use as an office and an art space for George’s daughter Lita Dawn Stanton.    




Charles Osgood Austin moved to Tacoma from his native New Hampshire with his parents, William and Rachel, in 1889. His father operated a mill across Carr Inlet on the Longbranch Peninsula at Vaughn. Young Charles was eager to learn the trade. He worked at sawmills in Centralia and Maltby, until he was he was ready to branch out on his own. With a growing community of fishermen and farmers, Gig Harbor needed a steady supply of lumber. In 1909, he approached John Novak who leased Charles the land (today’s Donkey Creek Park) on which he established the C.O. Austin Lumber Mill, a lumber, shingle and log homes business. Charles moved to Gig Harbor, where his business flourished and he became a fixture in the community. In 1946, he was popularly elected to the new City Council. However, his post was short lived. Four days before Christmas that same year, Charles died in a tragic accident at the mill. The Austin Estuary, located at the mouth of Donkey Creek, is named in his honor.  

GHPHS, BK/99 & 208







Related to two pioneer fishing families, the Jerisiches and the Lovroviches, Spiro Babich immigrated to the United States from Croatia in 1910. Like many immigrants, when he arrived to Gig Harbor he had little money and spoke not a word of English. But he was eager to learn and follow in the footsteps of his fishermen kin. He mastered the rigors of chasing salmon and hauling tarred cotton nets with his bare hands. Before long, Spiro purchased his first purse seiner, the “Ranger.” He would go on to buy 18 more fising vessels throughout his 40 year career as one of the most highly regarded fishermen in the Harbor. Spiro married Julia Skansie and together they had two sons, Paul and Peter. In 1934, he built his family a craftsman-style home; by 1938, he built a dock and a net shed and a purchased his second seiner. During the 1930s, Spiro expanded the business, fishing Wahington salmon in the summer and California sardines during the winter. The family moved between the two locations. In 1941, he added a second net shed to his Gig Harbor property. When Paul and Peter were in their teens, they joined their father on the boat, fishing mostly in the San Juan Islands. Spiro fished until his very last days. When he died in 1957 he left the family home, the northerly net shed and the seiner “Invincible” to his son Paul. Son Peter inherited the southerly net shed and the seiner “Julia B.” When Alaska gained statehood in 1959, Peter went to False Pass to fish the Aleutians Islands. He continued to fish there for the remainder of his career. He left his Gig Harbor net shed to son Randy, himself a fishermen since the age of 15. Randy purchased the purse seiner “Paragon” in 1982. Today, Babich family ties to the fishing community remain quite strong. Brothers Nick, Andy and Mike Babich are Randy’s cousins, and Joe and Bob Puratich are his second cousins.

All of these men currently run commercial purse seiners.

(see also, L.A. Times, 24 September 1989)                                                          





Anton Berntsen was born in Snoknadal, Norway. He settled in Cromwell in 1897 and purchased 40 acres of land for $466 in 1899. He met and married Anne Jansen. Anne had immigrated from Norway along with her parents, Henry and Antunette, and several brothers: William, Thomas, Jack & Andrew. Anton kept a flock of sheep and horned rams. He grew berries and tomatoes that were shipped to market in Tacoma. Anton and Anne had “six and one-half dozen” children: Inga, Alfred, Hannah, Arthur, Emma (Daniels), Oscar, Tilda, Henry, Fridtijof (Fritz), Valdemar (Val), Olaf & Olga. The family had a string orchestra consisting of Anton (guitar with double string neck), Fritz (Hawaiian guitar), Val and Henry (mandolin and banjo). They played for the church Christmas program and on many other

occasions throughout the year. (source: Cromwell Memories, Fritz Berntsen)                    





Julius and Lisa emigrated from Norway and settled in Wanona, Minnesota where their sons, Bert and Ingvald, were born. The family moved to Peninsula in 1905 and later settled in Cromwell, Gig Harbor where Julius’ brother, Anton Berntsen, lived. “Berntsen” is the original spelling of the family name, but Julius’ son Bert thought the spelling “Berntson” seemed more American. The Berntsons had an orchard that grew out-of-season vegetables in several large greenhouses on their property. Son Bert married Hannah Hansen in 1915. Hannah’s family (parents, Ole and Anne, brother Oswald and grandmother Ellen) also emigrated from Norway. Bert worked as a purser on the steamboat Bay Island – a vessel purchased by the local farmer’s organization (the Hales Pass and Wollochet Navigation Cooperative) to ensure that their produce was delivered fresh to market. As a condition of employment, Bert had to buy-in to the co-op, at $100 per share. Eventually, competition from eastern Washington farms undermined the demand for local produce and the Berntsons moved to Tacoma, where Bert worked at the Municipal Dock as a checker. He purchased a gas-powered boat, the Leah M., so he could deliver freight to Henderson Bay on the weekends. Captain Ed Lorenz, who operated seamboats between the Key Peninsula and Tacoma, contacted Bert and asked him to partner in the operation of Lorenz’s boat, the Thurow. No salary, but Bert would receive a share in the profits. He took the deal and moved the family, including daughters Annabell and Virginia, to Lakebay, the site of Lorenz’s home base. Bert’s wife Hanna participated in the Ladies Club and Bert became a member of the Modern Woodmen. They helped build the Lakebay Hall, where families enjoyed plays and community dances. After the move, Bert made $3 for his first month’s work – not even enough to pay the rent – but things got better. Bert and Capt. Lorenz sold the Thurow and purchased a larger steamer, the Sentinel, which they used until 1928. Later, they ordered a new boat, the Arcadia, which made both men a good living for years to come. In 1941, Bert and Capt. Lorenz fell ill and were hospitalized. Lorenz died and his brother Oscar, assuming that Bert wouldn’t make it either, decided to sell the Arcadia. But Bert did recover and gradually regained his strength. He purchased the steamer “Burro” from Lloyd Hunt and used it to service the Gig Harbor and Lakebay farmers’ co-ops with freight service. His business thrived until the construction of the second Narrows Bridge, when the farmers’ co-ops merged and began trucking their produce to market. Bert sold the Burro in 1956.

(source: Virgina Seavy)                                                                                                        





Ole Bloom was born in Norway. He came to the United States and lived briefly in Minnesota before moving to North Dakota, where he established a homestead with his first wife, Kari Hasledalen. They had five children: Adolph, Bernard, Mathilde, William, and Severin. After Kari passed away, Ole married Louisa in 1898. Louisa was 19 years his junior. She was born in a log cabin in the Dakota Territory. Louisa and Ole had eight children together: Mabel, Amanda, Clarence, Olivia, Lawrence, Clifford, Lillian & Walter. After hearing about the beauty of the south Puget Sound from Ole’s brother Thomas (who had settled in Arletta, Gig Harbor), Ole and Louisa came west to the area in 1904. They first settled on Fox Island. But Ole tired of rowing across Hales Pass to go to church so, in 1907, they moved to Cromwell. They purchased property that is still owned by the Bloom family. Ole and his sons farmed berries, vegetables, and other fruit and flowers they transported to Tacoma for sale. Louisa worked as postmistress for a few years. The post office was located in her father’s (Nils Stien) house, next door to the family home. Nils had joined the family in Cromwell in 1907 after his wife’s death.

(source: Jason Graham)                                                                                           





Jack and George Bujacich probably have saltwater in their veins. The brothers hail from one of the long-time fishing families who have called Gig Harbor home for generations. Their mother was a Ross. Their father Jack Sr., born in 1894, left his home in Croatia at the age of 13. After working a few years in the mines of Colorado, he migrated to Gig Harbor. Winters, he worked at a mill in Eatonville. In summertime, he fished out of the harbor. “Back then, Gig Harbor was a unique community,” Jack, the younger of the two sons – better known as Jake – recalled. “The Swedes lived in Arletta. The Norwegians were in Crescent Valley. And the Croatians lived in Gig Harbor. They all fished together in the summer.” In 1928, their father launched the Majestic, a boat built at the Skansie Shipyard. “I first went out with my dad on that boat when I was 8,” George said. “That would have been 1933.” In the 1950s, George inherited the Majestic and fished from it for many years. In 1966, he bought the Mustang, and Jake took over the Majestic. All in all, George fished for 47 years. Jake started fishing in 1942, first with his uncle, then, a year later with his father and older brother on the Majestic. He took a break from fishing in 1944 and joined the Merchant Marines. “Me and my buddies joined up together. We said we were going to go win the war,” Jake said.  He spent 2 years in Korea before returning to Gig Harbor. As soon as the war was over, Jake came home and took over the Majestic from 1960 through 1966. George had partnered with Antone Katich to build the Mustang.  Jake continued to fish every summer until 1978, including the years when he was Gig Harbor’s mayor (1967-1978). “Back then, everybody helped each other out. We’d get together and make a crew, if somebody needed help,” he said. He figures he’s fished on at least 17 boats. “In 1967, I fished with George Ancich. In ’69 I had my own boat. In the 1970s, I ran the Shenandoah.” The latter is now on display in the Harbor History Museum, currently being restored. In 1978, Jake ran for Pierce County Commissioner and “gave up my boats,” serving from 1978 to 1986.  There were good seasons and bad, the brothers recalled, listing a few: “The first year I fished, in 1942, I didn’t even make enough to pay my union dues,” Jake said. “1946 was a big sockeye season. In ’47 it was a big humpy season.” “In the winter of 1949, the harbor froze completely over,” George added. In 1947, the fishermen went on strike. “We needed to get 14-cents a pound for fish in order to make it work,” he said. “When we finally found a buyer at 14-cents, off we went.” Jake was appointed cook on that crew. “I got recipes from my mom and my sister. Just about every man in this town who fished knows how to cook.” That’s because, until the 1950s, women weren’t allowed on the boats. “The old guys believed it was bad luck,” George said. George broke with tradition and hired a woman to cook on his boat in the early 1950s. “He was a new breed,” Jake said of his brother. “I can’t think of her name,” George said, “but she went with us to Alaska. She was a good cook, too.” Like all the boys in fishing families, the brothers got their start filling the needles used to sew the nets. “Our dad was an expert at making needles,” George said. “He made them out of needle wood, which is a real hard wood.” “We’d go down to the docks and fill needles all day long,” Jake added. “The faster and better you were the more they liked you. They had to be wrapped real tight.” It was a big day for a youngster when he no longer had to fill needles and got to go fishing. “It was the highlight of every kid’s life, when you finally got to go fishing,” Jake said. “We figured one of the reasons they put a kid on board was so they could have somebody to yell at,” George added. “Kids did everything. Just like the grown-ups.” (“The Bujacich Brothers – Elders of Gig Harbor’s Fishing Community.” The Kitsap Sun, 28 April 2010)  George and Eileen had 3 children.  George died in 2015 at the age of 90.  Jake and Pat had 3 children and still live in Gig Harbor.  At age 89, Jake continues to crew aboard the Memories as the cook during the fall fishing season and is still active in town politics.




Dr. Alfred Burnham was a Civil War Veteran who came to Gig Harbor from Albert Lea, Minnesota with his wife Rachel and their children Albert Bismark (Biz), Clarence (Nick), Louise (Louella) and Franklin. In 1884, Alfred purchased 160 acres of land from fishermen Sam Jerisich, John Farragut and Peter Goldsmith (the earliest European settlers to the area), which he platted into the original townsite of “Gig Harbor” in 1888. In addition to being the town’s first physician, Burnham participated with Frank Hall in creating the first lumber mill and had the rights-of-way surveyed for roads connecting Gig Harbor to Purdy and Olalla.  He opened the first general store (operated by his son Clarence) and published his own newspaper promoting elixirs and good health. He was so eager to promote this new community that he offered a free parcel of land to anyone who would settle in the townsite, build a house and paint it white. He persuaded many of his friends from Minnesota to join him in Gig Harbor. Later, he provided land for the Methodist Episcopal Church, chartered in 1892. Alfred’s wife Rachel served as the postmistress of Rosedale. (Harbor History Museum blog, 3/29/12)                                                                                            









Frans    Gustav (“Gus”) Carlson was born in Sweden in 1864. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1885, arriving in Burlington, Iowa, where his sister lived. He moved to North Dakota and met Anna Matilda Munson, another Swedish immigrant. Gus followed Anna to Tacoma in 1890. They married and had the first four of six children: Carl (“Oscar”), Elvira (Elve), Lillian and Leonard. The last two girls, Helen and Margaret, were born after the family moved to Cromwell. Both Lillian and Helen died during the flu epidemic of 1918. Helen, only 13 years old, died on Christmas Eve. Lillian, 23, died on New Year’s Eve. Gus purchased 10-accres in East Cromwell, including 1200 feet of beach frontage, for $750. He later purchased 8 more acres. The farm was self-supporting. They grew cherries, strawberries, tomatoes and other crops for market in Tacoma. Oscar delivered the produce to the 6th Ave. ferry landing, rowing “the Swedish way” across the Narrows – standing at the bow of the boat and rowing with one paddle. Sometimes his sister Elve would join him. Once, when they were returning from Tacoma, a heavy fog blocked their view. When they finally spotted the shore, Elve jumped out of the boat and, while holding the end of a rope tied to the boat, walked along the shore as Oscar rowed until they found their home. Gus Carlson helped build the Cromwell Grade School in 1902. The building is still standing, now the home of the Gig Harbor Grange. In 1920, Gus deeded 60 feet of his waterfront property to the county so that a ferry landing could be built. The dock was in use until the opening of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge. When the county decided to build roads on the Peninsula, Gus was foreman of the project. Oscar worked alongside him. Gus died tragically in 1927 while constructing the Pt. Fosdick ferry dock. He was killed instantly when a piling hanging from the crane struck him in the head. Anna remained in Cromwell. As her granddaughter Arlene put it, “She was of tough Swedish stock,” keeping up the farmhouse, repairing the buildings and even building a cottage which she sometimes rented out. She remained strongly independet throughout the remainder of her life.
(source: Arlene Hansen [Oscar’s daughter], Ted Bartholemew [Elve’s son])          



Born in Gig Harbor to Swedish parents, John & Lydia, Phillip worked on

their homestead farm above the harbor and delivered the mail to earn his way through college. He proposed to his wife Thelma at the foot of Mt. Rainier and achieved a PhD in physics from Univ. of WA. As a professor at Pasadena College, he inspired young people, many of whom were soldiers returning home from WWII. He also worked as a physicist at Lockheed Aircraft and invented the concept of Aero-Electric Power. Upon retirement Phillip and Thelma opened their home to Fuller Theological Seminary graduate students from many foreign countries. On the occasion of their 50th anniversary they returned to Mt. Rainier and climbed the rocky trails to Pinnacle Peak, commemorating their honeymoon. After almost 70 years of happy marriage, Thelma passed away at age 99. Phillip died just one month later. They are survived by their children Cheryl, Bruce and Fawnia, and their many

grandchildren. (source: The Los Angeles Daily News, 7/26/09)




Nicholas Castelan travelled to the Peninsula from the Isle of Miljet, off the coast of Croatia. He sent home for his bride-to-be, Jela (Ella) Markovich, who came to marry him in 1903. He became a member of the local fishing fleet, fishing throughout the Puget Sound. His boats included the Union, Monarch, St. Joseph and the Editor. The couple’s first home still stands on Harborview Drive. They had seven children: Polema, Mary, Ann, Rachael, Pauline, Michael and Nicholas Jr. Polema died in an accidental fire when she was five years old. The other girls all grew up to marry fishermen. Nicholas aided in the construction of the original St. Nicholas Church in 1913. He operated a net-tarring business for the local fishermen, but died young, at age 47. Jela’s brother, Marko, joined the family to help raise the children. Jela is said to have never recovered from the loss of her daughter and husband. The couple’s sons, Mike and Nick, became fishermen and held an interest, along with their uncle and John Jerkovich, in the boats Pacific Raider and Corregidor. Mike and Marko were also partners in the Two Brothers and

Corregidor II.    





Joseph and Martha Cherry were married in Walla Walla, Washington and lived in Dayton, Colfax, Seattle, Tacoma and Steilacoom before settling in Rosedale, Gig Harbor. Martha’s brothers, George, Elijah, Nordyke (“Dyke”) and Jonathan moved to Rosedale with them. Apparently, Martha agreed to the move on the condition that her brothers attend church regularly. The bargain was short lived. One foggy morning they grounded their rowboat on a submerged rock and had to wait quite awhile before the tide returned and they could float off. That was the end of going to church. (source: Rosedale, Ellen Gauthier)




When steamboating was in its heyday on the Puget Sound, a number of women worked on the boats, usually as pursers or cooks. Only a handful of women operated their own craft. Elsie Claussen was one of them. When her father, Herman Claussen, died in 1930, Elsie replaced him as captain of the passenger launch, the Elsie C II. To the year-round residents at Sunrise Beach, the waters of Colvos Passage were as familiar to them as their front yards. It was easier to take a boat to Tacoma than to go overland to Gig Harbor. Elsie made the run on weekends between the Pavilion at Point Defiance Park and the three docks at Sunrise Beach. Many people from Tacoma rented cottages at Sunrise Beach. In the summertime, the Elsie C II made the round-trip daily. Elsie was a recognized personality along the Tacoma waterfront, known as a determined young woman who accomplished anything she set out to do. No one was surprised when she took over her father's business. For four years she ran the service, occasionally including trips to Vashon Island or taking passengers on other excursions. In 1934, fire destroyed her boat. Captain Elsie ordered a new boat, a 56-foot passenger launch. Elsie C III was completed in 1935. Sadly, Elsie did not live long enough to put the boat into service. Shortly after taking it on a trial run, she died.




Orville Clay was a doctor with an established medical practice before moving to Warren, Gig Harbor. According to neighbors, he came for his own health, on the advice of a colleague. Orville and his wife Elizabeth had two children, Charles and Elizabeth. In his new home, he delivered several of his neighbors’ children – including the three eldest of Clifford and Anna Pearson. On the Clay farm, the family raised a cow and chickens. Neighbor Philip Pearson built the chicken coop and Ralph Pearson worked for Dr. Clay caring for the chickens. The Clays had an extensive orchard. Most of their trees were red gravestein apples. The Clays were a family of “firsts.” Their well was believed to be the first drilled in Warren, and was one of the deepest. They were also the first to have electricity in their home. They had a gas engine and a generator to run several electrical appliances, including a toaster, an iron and lights. They were also one of the first families in Warren to have an automobile, an old Dodge touring car. Son Charles had a printing business over the family garage. He printed Gig Harbor Union High School’s first year-book, the PERCLAWAM (an acronym for the grade schools that fed into Union High School: Purdy,Elgin, Rosedale, Crescent Valley, Lincoln, Arletta, Wauna, Artondale & Midway). His boat also had the first outboard motor boat in the area.

(source: Ralph Pearson)                                                                                         





Lewis Cruver was born in Iowa, one of 10 children. His parents moved the family to Minnesota, where they established a homestead. There they hosted a traveling preacher from England, Thomas Wilkinson, and his two children Willam and Louisa. Lewis was instantly smitten when he met Louisa and the two were married when she was 16. Lewis and Louisa moved to the Dakota Territory for a time, then to Tacoma in 1888. They were joined by Louisa’s father and brother, and several of Lewis’ brothers – Joe, Horace & Marvin. Lewis and his brother-in-law William established a dairy business. In 1898, Lewis, Louisa and the Wilkinsons moved to Gig Harbor. The Wikinsons established another dairy farm, while Lewis turned to logging, worked on steamboats, and eventually opened his own gas station.








Shortly after the original Jerisich family settled in Gig Harbor, they were joined by other immigrants from Croatia. Joseph Dorotich came from the Island of Brac to Gig Harbor via Canada. He married Caroline Jerisich (the Jerisiches’ eldest daughter) when she was 16 years old. They lost one child at birth but had nine more children who grew up in Gig Harbor: John, Annie, Clementina, George, Mattie, Jacob (Jake), Marie, Katherine & Amanda. In 1877, Joseph and Caroline, together with John Novak and Sam Jerisich, purchased a long stretch of waterfront property on the west side of the bay. The Dorotichs and Novaks platted their portions into town lots, which in time became the town of Millville, just down the road from the Gig Harbor Lumber Co. sawmill. In 1884, Joseph and Caroline built a house on one of the four lots they kept for themselves. Rooms were added as the family grew. This house still stands near the corner of Dorotich Street and Harborview Drive. On their other lots, they kept a cow, raised a garden, and planted many fruit trees: apples, pears and plums. One valiant plum tree, a descendant of the original orchard, still exists. They grew fruit for their own use and also to sell to neighbors. With an influx of people settling to the area, there was an increasing demand for residential and commercial property. As one of Gig Harbor’s early land developers, Joseph Dorotich sold plots of land to new arrivals and invested in a number of commercial ventures in Milllville.

(see also, 1880 U.S. Census)






William J. Duley was a man with a tragic and distinguished past. When the Great Sioux Uprising began in 1862, Duley, his wife, and children lived on a settlement at Lake Shetek, Minnesota. On August 21st, the settlement was attacked by Dakota chiefs Lean Bear and White Lodge, with 100 warriors in tow. William was badly wounded, his 10-year-old son Willie and 4-year-old daughter Isabelle were massacred, and his pregnant wife, along with three other children, Jefferson, Emma, and baby Francis, were taken prisoner and held captive for three months. War erupted between white settlers and the Dakota Sioux until the U.S. Army intervened and secured the surrender of most of the Dakota bands. In the war’s aftermath, William was allowed a hand in an act of apocalyptic vengence. In the largest single-day execution in American history, 38 Sioux warriors were hanged on a huge scaffold at Mancato, Minnesota, the day after Christmas, 1862. Duley was the man who cut the rope that released the trap doors and launched the Sioux into eternity. One of the doctors who pronounced them dead was Alfred Burnham. 30 years later, William J. Duley was a Captain in the U.S. Army in charge of the Military Reserve lands that encompassed Gig Harbor and Millville – over 1,216 acres of bayfront property. The settlers residing in the area held William in high esteem and sought his counsel in their efforts to establish and grow the town of Gig Harbor. With his assistance, 134 people petitioned the U.S. Congress to sell the land to settlers already here in parcels of 10 acres at a price of $2.50 per acre. In 1895, that request was granted with the passage of U.S. House of Representatives Bill Resolution No. 342. Both William and his wife Laura are buried at Artondale Cemetery.

(HH Museum blog, 4/4/12; and Wikipedia: “The Dakota War of 1862”) 
 HHMA, BK/73-74







Alfred Erickson left his family in Sweden to work on the Alaskan railroad as a toolmaker. In 1915, his wife Esther and children, Ruth and Eric, joined him in Gig Harbor. Alfred worked at the Skansie Shipyard where he ran the blacksmith shop and did all of the iron work for the boats. His son eventually convinced him to go into business for himself. He made tools for fishermen and manufacturers, horseshoes and chains for homesteaders, and occasionally still worked for the Skansies. His shop was across the street from the family’s 10-acre homestead on Pioneer Avenue. On the farm, they kept a cow, some chickens and pigs. There was a large garden and many fruit trees.





Carl Eyrish came to Rosedale from South Dakota in the late 1800s. He homesteaded 180 acres in north Rosedale where he farmed corn and other crops and raised cattle and sheep. He also logged and cleared land. He met and married Catharina. When Carl died, he was buried on the homestead. Charlie’s granddaughter, Joan Eyrish, still lives on the family farm. (source: Joan Eyrish)      







In the 1890s, three of nine Finholm siblings – Leander, Alfred & Maria – left Larsmo, Österbotten (a Swedish-speaking coastal town of western Finland) for the United States. They settled in Olalla, Washington. A fourth sibling, brother Johannes (“John”), joined them ten years later. In America, all four Finholms married fellow Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnians. Leander’s wife Katarina and Alfred’s wife Hannah were both from the town of Munsala. Johannes married Katarina’s sister Ida. Maria’s husband came from Larsmo. The Finholm siblings purchased land and built homes in Olalla. Their farms specialized in growing strawberries, which they transported to Seattle markets by boat. After a time, Johannes became an administrator for a logging company in Olalla. Eldest brother Leander moved to Gig Harbor, where he was manager and principle stockholder of the Island Empire Telephone Company. He was active in the community and a long-time member of the Lions Club. He also served as City Treasurer. Alfred’s sons, John and Edward, followed their uncle to Gig Harbor where they owned and operated the well-stocked Finholm Market. They too were civic-minded, donating the land and labor to build the Finholm View Climb (1997) – a many-storied public staircase, adjacent to their market, that leads to a platform offering some of the best views of Gig Harbor. (source:                                          



Eddie Finholm is best known for his many years in business with his brother John at Finholm's Market, a pioneer business in Gig Harbor. Eddie was born Sept. 23, 1914 in Olalla and moved his wife and daughter to Gig Harbor in 1940. There, along with other members of the Finholm family, he was recognized as part of a ‘new wave of pioneering’ in the city of Gig Harbor. Eddie helped organize the Volunteer Fire Department and was the driver of the first fire truck. He was a member of the Gig Harbor Lions Club, the Eagles, the Elks, a pillar of St. Nicholas Catholic Church and one of the founders of the Gig Harbor Golf Club. Eddie spent many summers on one or another of Gig Harbors fishing fleets, commercial fishing in the Puget Sound and Alaska areas. Eddie's favorite past times were golfing, bowling and dancing, especially with his beloved wife Helen who predeceased Eddie by 17 years. Eddie and Helen were long time members of the Gig Harbor dance club "Let's Get Together." 




Brothers Evan and Ole Fosness were born in Norway, in a community just outside of Bergen. Leaving their wives behind, they immigrated to the U.S. in 1902 and changed their last name from Evanson to Fosness. In 1904, their wives joined them in Gig Harbor. Evan and his wife Olivia had ten children: Einar, Elmer, Adolph, Robert, Chris, Judy, Palma, Solvieg, Beatrice and Margaret. Einar, the eldest, was born in Norway and the rest were born in Cromwell. Ole and his wife Anna did not have children. Other relatives arrived from the old country; Olivia’s sister Marie and her husband John Grytten, Anna’s brother John Andestad and his wife Olivia – all settled in Cromwell too. Evan’s family attended the Cromwell chuch regularly, where the service was in Norwegian. His son Elmer once offered the pastor a cigar in exchange for a shorter sermon. The extended family worked their respective farms, picking strawberries and tomatoes, packing them in boxes, then delivering them to the Cromwell dock for the trip to Tacoma markets. Evan and Ole eventually went to work for Mason Construction in 1911. Evan’s five sons followed in their footsteps; skippering tug boats and working as pile drivers for the Company. Elmer helped set the anchors for the piers of the first Narrows Bridge and had a hand in the construction of the Fox Island Bridge. (source: Cromwell Memories, Nate Sears)





Robert and his wife Sarah were born in New York. They moved to Wisconsin, where their daughter Artalisa (Lettie) was born. In 1869, the family traveled across the plains in a covered wagon to Colorado. There, Lettie met and married David Secor. Robert and Sarah pushed west to Gig Harbor, arriving in 1888. They were founding members of the Methodist Church and they purchased the church’s first organ. Sarah was postmistress in Gig Harbor from 1896-1901. After Sarah’s death, Lettie and David moved to Gig Harbor (1907) with their sons, Eugene & Hubert, to help care for Lettie’s father (source: A History of Pierce County Washington, Paul Alvestad; and Gig Harbor Cemetery Association) 








Severt Garness emigrated from Norway when he was a young boy. He met his future wife, Matilda, in North Dakota. She had arrived to the United States from Norway when she was just nine months old. Severt moved to Tacoma in the early 1900s. He sent for Matilda and they were married in Old Town. Severt was a fisherman and established a homestead on Sunrise Beach in Crescent Valley. Matilda and Severt had five children: Marie, Laurie, Albert, Selmer and Ida. Ida died as an infant. When Severt wasn’t fishing, he worked the farm with Matilda, harvesting potatoes and other crops, and raising chickens, cattle and pigs. The children walked three miles to attend classes at Crescent Valley School. Tragically, both Albert and Selmer died young. Albert drowned just outside of Gig Harbor and Selmer died when his appendix burst. Laurie grew up and married Roland Smyth. They had two children: Corinne and Sonny. She later married Hans Seuness. Marie married Roy McDonald. She still lives in Gig Harbor. (source: Mary McDonald) 





Andrew Gilich was born February 25th 1882 in the town of Sumartin on the Island of Brac, Croatia. At 17 years old, he immigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia and went to work on a fishing boat named Rainier. He moved to Gig Harbor where he skippered the seiner Traveler, and later owned and operated the Saint Mary. Andrew is recognized by local fishermen as having played a major role in the development of the Gig Harbor fishing industry. Throughout his career, he owned outright or had an interest in nine different fishing vessels. He was also a successful businessman. He was one of the original organizers of the Gig Harbor First National Bank, and a founder of the Friday Harbor Canning Company. Andrew invested in stocks and bonds, and was active in local commerce and real estate. With his partner, Justin Richardson, he built and operated the Peninsula Hotel (now Peninsula Square). Andrew and his wife Annetta had three children: Nora, John “Buster,” and Andrew Francis. Andrew Francis died two weeks after his birth. Mother Annetta died two months later. (source:, American biographies A-J)



In 1915, 20 year old Tony Gilich came to Gig Harbor to fish with his brother Andrew aboard his 50 ft. seiner, Traveler. Under his brother’s teutelage, Tony took quickly to the sea and, after two years, he used his earnings to purchase an interest in the 62 ft. Skansie-built seiner, the Commander. With Tony as skipper, the Commander did well fishing the Salmon Banks in the San Juan Islands. After only two seasons, Tony saved enough money to commission his own boat, the Victory. In the summer of 1919, the run of Salmon in the Puget Sound was small. Tony made the risky decision to take his new boat to up Kodiak, Alaska in hopes of a better catch. Far away from home, in fishing ground he had never seen before, it was a tremendous challenge. But the challenge proved to be worth it. The catch was so good that he was able to pay the balance on his share of the Victory within a year. Tony never returned to Alaska, opting instead to focus his talents on the San Juans. Before long, he was known as one of the top skippers of the Salmon Banks. Back in Gig Harbor, Tony married Angeline, the daughter of John Novak and Josephine Cosgrove (of Puyallup Native American origin). Tony and Angeline had two children, son Donald and daughter Marien. In 1933, Andrew and Tony built a dock and a net shed on the harbor. It remained in the Gilich family for commercial fishing until it was purchased for development by Paul Gustafson in the early 1980s. It was remodeled in 1985 to become the Arabella’s Landing Marina Clubhouse.

(source:, American biographies A-J, and puyallup


Tony's son Don began his fishing career in 1935, when he was 15 years old. He crewed with skipper Tony Novak aboard the Harmony, a seiner in which his father held part interest. The next year, he crewed for his father's boat, the Victory, and received a full share. He would go on to spend the next 58 seasons on the same vessel. "I had always been interested in working on the net, and even at 16 years old, I was as accomplished a net-man as anyone else on my dad's crew," Don said. During WWII, Tony chartered the Victory to the US Coast Guard as a patrol vessel. As part of the arrangement, Don would enter the Coast Guard Reserve and serve as the Victory's skipper. The Victory was stationed at Port Angeles. Don said, "We went out looking for enemy submarines or planes, and we also ran errands which kept us pretty busy." The Victory was back in the fishing business in 1943, after the Coast Guard acquired another patrol boat. Don began running the Victory on a part-time basis in the 1940s. When Tony retired in 1971, Don assumed the helm of and made many improvements. He remained full-time skipper of the Victory until the age of 73.

(source:, American biographies A-J)




Along with Sam Jerisich and John Farragut, Peter was one of three European settlers to establish the town of Gig Harbor. In the mid-1860s, the men met on a steamer bound for Victoria, British Columbia and by the time the vessel docked at Nanaimo they had decided to become business partners. Peter hailed from Dalmatia, Croatia and, upon his arrival to America, changed his from Petar Zlatarich to “Peter Goldsmith.” Peter, Sam and John fished the length of Vancouver Island and throughout the Puget Sound in a boat they rowed by hand. On one of their excursions to the south Sound, they happened upon a sheltered little bay with ample fishing grounds nearby. They decided to settle there and start a community that would come to be known as “Gig Harbor.” They cleared land, built rudimentary homes and established a nascent fishing industry. Peter married Millie, a woman 30 years his junior, and together they had a son, Peter Jr. After 1880, when he was registered as a 51 year old Pierce County fisherman in the U.S. Census, little is known of what became of Peter and his family. But for a few documents recording the transfer of title to land, and as a witness to marriage, the trail of his wherebouts quickly grows cold. The Washington Death Index lists one “Millie Goldsmith” who died in 1900 at the age of 39. Fourteen years later, just miles away from Gig Harbor, there is a “Peter Goldsmith” interred at the Pauper’s Cemetery in Tacoma. His birth and death dates match our founding fisherman. Burried right next to him is 32 year Peter Goldsmith Jr. Both men died the same year. (source: “First Croatian Fishermen on Vancouver Island,” by Dr. Zelimir Juricic [cousin of Samuel Jerisich]. Zagreb:Matica. 2001; also                                        BK/28-29, WFL




Joseph w Goodman as born near Prague in Bohemia. He came to America in 1863 and enlisted in a Wisconsin regiment of the Union Army. In 1867, he married Rose Wright in Des Moines, Iowa. The following year they headed west. In 1883, the steamer Zephyr dropped Joseph, Rose and their children off on the sandspit at the mouth of Gig Harbor. The family lived in Sam Jerisich’s original one-room shack near the spit until a proper home could be built on the Goodmans’ 160-acre pre-emption claim in Crescent Valley. All provision were brought by rowboat from Tacoma. The Goodmans then carried their supplies 1 ½ miles up a narrow trail from the beach to their home. Joseph smoothed the skids of an old logger road near their land so his daughters could use a wheelbarrow to make the hauling a little easier. There were a number of families already living on the peninsula when the Goodmans arrived. There was a school in Artondale, but it was quite a distance away and the trail leading to it was not safe. In 1885, the first school opened in Gig Harbor with 17-year-old Anna Goodman as teacher. The local Native American community loaned the settlers a small building near their village for the schoolhouse. Its equipment was scant, the term lasted only four months, and sometimes the mud-and-stick chimney caught fire. Nevertheless, for the ten children (both Native American and settler) who attended classes there, it was the beginning of formal education in Gig Harbor. Of the seven Goodman girls, four grew up to be teachers. Anna and Lucy became very well known as educators in Pierce County. When she retired, Lucy had the distinction of having taught school longer than any other person in the United State – 76 years! 





John Gustafson came to the United States from Sweden in 1879. He first settled in Colorado, where he worked as a stonecutter and a miner. In 1883, he came to Gig Harbor and established a 160-acre homestead in the Midway area. He cleared the land and built a small house made of split cedar. He worked as a logger and raised dairy cows and chickens. He purchased more land in Gig Harbor, which he subdivided and sold. He also donated land for the construction of Midway’s first church. He served on the local school board and, as a foreman, mapped and supervised the building of many of the roads along the Peninsula. John married Anna Ferguson. They had a son, Earnest, who died at age 19 during a flu epidemic. John later married Inez Young House. (sources: Paul Gustufson, Shirley Knapp & The History of Pierce County) 





Like John, Oscar and Anna Lisa were also born in Sweden. The couple established a much smaller homestead, a 10-acre farm, also in the Midway area. They raised six children: Carl, Oscar Jr. (Al), Einar, Ebba, Mildred and Arnold. Oscar was a logger. Every Sunday night he walked to Rosedale by lantern light, met fellow loggers and together they rowed to the lower peninsula where they worked hard, physical labor, felling trees five days a week, before Oscar returned to Midway on Friday evenings. Oscar Jr., better known as “Al,” was an engineer aboard a number of steamships in the Puget Sound. For years, he transported freight between Seattle, Victoria, Port Townsend and Port Angeles. Al’s son Burton was lost at sea while stationed in Alaska during the war. Oscar’s son Einar was an engineer on diesel ships. He worked in the Puget Sound and on the open seas. He was on a ship in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked during WWII. Son Arnold was an electrician. He worked for Puget Sound Power and Light. He died in a car accident on the way to a job. Mildred married Ernest LeMay, who had a meat market in Olympia. Ebba married Bert Uddenberg and had six children: Jeanette, Lola, Shirley, Patricia, Rosalie & Bert Jr. Bert owned and operated the West Side Grocery Store (where Tides Tavern is now). After serving in WWI, he opened the town’s first Ford Dealership.





Carl Guttormsen was born in Kjolsdalen, Norway. He came to the U.S. in 1907. He first settled in Minnesota, where he worked as a lumber inspector. He then lived briefly in California before moving to Tacoma in 1917. There he met and married Karen Elizabeth Alsvik. Karen was also from Norway. She came to America in 1916. She spent two years working for the family that had sponsored her entry into the U.S. Carl and Karen moved to Gig Harbor in 1920. Carl built a house for Karen and himself, and another for his friend Tom Throsdahl. The homes were located at the head of the bay. Carl and Karen had four children, only two of whom survived childhood: Clarence and Elsie. When Clarence was two, the family bought 10 acres of land in Crescent Valley from Harry Rowley. The property had been part of the Rowley homestead. Carl cleared the land and built a small house. In 1929, he built a larger, permanent home for his family. He farmed the land and worked as a carpenter. He also crewed for Gig Harbor fishing boats when they left in the spring to fish Alaska and northern Washington. While Carl was away, Karen and the children kept the farm going. After completing high school, daughter Elsie attended the University of Washington. She married William Wenrich and had one son, William Douglas. Clarence worked for Spadoni Brothers for many years, retiring in 1983.  After her husband died, Elsie married Glen Baker. Clarence married Jean Otto in 1943. They raised three children, Gerald, Karen & Ronald, in

the family home (source: Clarence and Jean Guttormsen)                                       








Marius Hoy was born in Denmark. He and his wife Susanna bought 40 acres in Rosedale and moved onto the property around 1891. Their son Christian followed his parents to Rosedale, along with his children Robert and Janice. Marius was known as a painter, farmer and inventor. He is credited with the church motto, “Have we not all one Father?” One of his inventions was a self-bailing, unsinkable lifeboat. (source: Rosedale Cem.) 





Miles B. Hunt was born in New York. In 1854, he married Maritta M. Trim in Quincy, Michigan. He served with the Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War and suffered a severe head wound. Returning home, the family made plans to head west. After a short time in Kansas, Miles and his eldest son Forest took the train to California and a steamboat up the coast. They arrived in Tacoma on Christmas Eve, 1876. Miles purchased an 80-acre homestead at the head of Wollochet Bay. Later, when he became postmaster for the area, he named the community “Artondale.” Miles was reunited with Maritta and their other children: Emmet, Lillie, Arthur, Arda and twins Lloyd and Floyd. The trip from the Tacoma railway station to their new home in Artondale took two days. Maritta’s sister, Manda Trim, joined the family. Miles served as Justice of the Peace in the 1890s. He was a co-founder of the Gig Harbor post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a civil war veteran’s organization. Maritta was active in the Women’s Relief Corps. Their son Forest married Harriet Elizabeth Frost. They lived in Ketchikan, Alaska where they raised five children. (source: Jean Roberton)



The second son of Maritta and Miles, Emmett Hunt delivered the mail; rowing to and from Steilacoom, across the Narrows, to assure that Artondale was connected to the rest of the world. Seeing that this service was inadequate, Emmett, with the help of his brothers, built a seamboat, the Baby Mine. The Baby Mine was the first of many vessels the Hunt brothers (Emmett, Arda, Lloyd and Floyd) operated as part of the “Mosquito Fleet,” transporting passengers, produce and freight around the Sound. Emmett’s life was riddled with tragedy. He and his wife Nettie lost two infant children in childbirth. Nettie lost a third, and her own life, in childbirth years later. Only one of their children, Olive, survived to adulthood. Emmett later remarried May Pruett. (source: Jean Roberton)







Maurice Iliff and Ella Gilbert first met at a settlers’ picnic in a grove at Young’s Landing, Gig Harbor on July 4th, 1890. Ella had come from Independence, Iowa to help settle her brother’s estate, which was near Point Evans. It was love at first sight. Ella returned briefly to Iowa, Maurice followed, and the two were married that October. After the birth of their daughter Mabel in 1892, the couple sought to return to Washington but it took six years to convince Ella’s parents, Hester and William Gilbert, to make the move. The family joined Maurice’s brother Ray back in Gig Harbor and soon purchased land of their own on the east shore of the bay. With Ray’s help, they built a ten-room house.





Mato Ivanovich immigrated to Washington as a teenaged boy from Janjina, Peljesac, Croatia in 1910. He worked at the Tacoma smelter, where he labored ten hours to earned $2 a day, seven days a week. His cousin and some Dalmatian friends from Tacoma were commercial fishermen out of Gig Harbor. Mato joined Pasco Dorotich’s crew as a greenhorn fisherman. He loved the work and envisioned that he too could skipper a boat one day. At first he ran a cannery-owned boat, but his sights were on a boat of his own, so he borrowed money from friends to build and operate his first vessel. Mato’s was so successful in his early days of fishing that he was able to repay his friends and begin a business building, operating, then selling fishing boats. During his years as a fisherman, he owned and operated more than a dozen commercial salmon and sardine boats, amongst them: The Forward, Silver Wave, Mayflower, Arizona, Southland, Frances and Maria Rose. His success allowed him to provide financial support to his siblings and the children of his late uncle, Ante Ivanovich. That support, in turn, enabled them to pursue professional careers in law, medicine, mathematics, academics, the priesthood and the maritime industry.  In the 1920s, Mato returned to Janjina, Croatia where he married the village beauty, Maria Anticevic, and brought her to the new world via a wedding trip and shopping spree in Paris. Their first son Francis (Frank) was born in December 1926. Second son Peter was born in November 1928. Rosemarie, their only daughter, was born in April 1941. Frank and Peter traveled by ferry to Tacoma for high school at Bellarmine. Rosemarie commuted to Tacoma’s Aquinas Academy over the newly constructed Narrows Bridge. Both sons obtained their BS degrees at Seattle University and Rosemarie pursued a degree at Long Beach University. Throughout their school years, Mato’s sons spent summers fishing with their father. Frank began seine fishing at age 13. At 14, he was paid a half-share as crew. After a brief tour of duty in the Army at the end of World War II (1945-46), Frank went back to Seattle University. Mato gave both of his sons fishing boats to skipper while they were still quite young. As an adult, Frank assumed Mato’s fishing business and also pursued a career in real estate and insurance. Mato’s son Peter chose medicine and now lives in Chicago. Although Frank sold his father’s fishing boats after Mato’s death, he purchased the Equator in 1971 and resumed his own fishing life in Alaskan and Puget Sound waters until his retirement in 1992. Christopher, (Frank’s son), Matthew, Peter A., Francis (Peter’s sons), and Vincent Sareault (Rosemarie’s son) all fished with Frank during their school summer holidays.  Before Mato built the family net shed, he kept his boats anchored in the harbor. Usually boats were anchored in the harbor because the sheds were too close to shore and subject to minus tides. Frank recalls that a vessel had to be moored at least 150-200 feet to access free waters. He also recalls that Spiro Babich’s docks were the only places where boats could be kept regardless of tide. He noted that people did not build shed docks further out into the harbor because they were frugal, and that most fishermen would either row out to anchored boats or moor their vessels at the Union Oil dock (no longer there) where one would often find at least ten boats rafted together.  Mato stayed with purse seine fishing for the rest of his life until retirement. Rosemarie Sareault inherited the family net shed from her mother, and later bequeathed it to her son, Vincent.  Frank recalls that the net shed and associated upland family home was a regular gathering place for local Croatian fishing families. The community would get together every Sunday to eat dinner and play cards at the homes of fishing families around town. Frank Ivanovich and his wife moved from Seattle to Treasure Island. Vincent, Rosemarie’s son, inherited the family netshed and sold it to the granddaughter of Peter Ancich (Kathy) and her husband Patrick Quigg in 2012.  They restored the shed as private entertainment space adjacent to the reconstructed Ivanovich home.







Soren C. Jensen immigrated from the Island of Jutland, Denmark. He worked his way across the United States, marrying Julia Christopherson in 1907. They arrived in Rosedale, Gig Harbor in 1908. Soren was a successful blacksmith and orchard farmer. Soren and Julia had four daughters, all of whom achieved a post-high school education and entered into professions. Inga taught high school, Olga was a law librarian and an Administrative Assistant to the Pierce County Superior Court, Edna was a nurse, and Mabel taught school in Elgin and Woodland.




One of three original founders of Gig Harbor, Samuel Jerisich established the harbor’s fishing industry. Born Simun “Sime” Jerisic, a Croat raised in Kotor, a Dalmatian city along the Adriatic coast of today’s Montenegro, Sam left his homeland for New York as a very young man. An adept sailor, he sailed from New York, around Cape Horn (Chile), to arrive in San Francisco by the age of 21. In San Francisco, the reputation of Dalmatian sailors proceeded him and he likely befriended this community during his four-year stay in the city. As the Gold Rush pushed northward, Sam set off for Canada on one of the many steamers carrying men seeking their fortune along the then-booming Pacific Northwest coast. He landed at Nanaimo, north of Victoria B.C., and entered the lucrative fishing business with his two partners, Peter Goldsmith (née Petar Zlatarich, a Croatian and fellow Dalmatian) and John Farragut (also recorded as “Farrago” and “Farrague”) from Portugal. The three men fished the length of Vancouver Island and throughout the Puget Sound. On Kuper Island, Sam met a Native American woman of the Penelakut First Nation, Anna Willet Henemat, who became his wife around 1866.
On one of their excursions deep into the Sound, Jerisich, Goldsmith and Farragut came across a fishing ground of great potential and, nestled nearby, a beautiful little harbor known to Native Americans as “Twa-wal-kut” – the same sheltered bay designated “Gig Harbor” by U.S. Expedition Commander Charles Wilkes in 1841.
After the birth of their first child, Sam, Anna and baby Caroline returned to Gig Harbor with Goldsmith & Farragut. They came to stay. In1867, there was a small community of Puyallup-Nisqually Indians who resided at the head of the bay. They spoke a Salish language related to Anna’s own native tongue, which helped ingratiate the settlers to their new neighbors. The Jerisichs’ first home was a one-room cabin on the east shore of the harbor. Later, they built a large house on a 160-acre homestead on the west side of the bay. Their home was surrounded by dense forest choked with underbrush. There were no trails, no roads.
Anna hunted bear and deer for food, split lumber, and picked berries. Sam felled trees to create space for a garden and there were plenty of fish in the harbor to eat. He built the harbor’s first dock, then a dogfish-oil rendering plant for fuel, and a smoke house to preserve the catch of fish for trade. If they needed provisions beyond what they could shoot, fish or grow, they rowed to Steilacoom, Olympia or the Hudson Bay Fort at Nisqually. They traded oil and smoked fish for candle tallow and knitting wool. Sam caught fish using nets that he and Anna made by hand.
The family grew and prospered. Anna and Sam had 8 children: John, Michael, Samuel Jr., Caroline, Melissa, Catherine, Julia and Mary. Not long after establishing their homestead, fellow Croatian fishermen John Novak and Joe Dorotich arrived. Joe married Jurisich’s daughter, Caroline. Together these men grew a commercial fishing industry that would give Gig Harbor its character. Sam passed away in 1905 and Annie in 1926, at the age of 82. (source: “First Croatian Fishermen on Vancouver Island,” by Dr. Zelimir Juricic [cousin of Samuel Jerisich]. Zagreb:Matica. 2001)




John Jerkovich, Sr. immigrated from Yugoslavia in the early 1900s. He was naturalized as a US Citizen in 1927 at the age of 29. He married Mary Castelan and they had four children: Tom, Nick, John M, and Mary Ellen. All three sons became commercial fisherman. John owned and skippered 5 boats:
Washington, New Washington, Corregidor, Pacific Raider 86, and Pacific Raider 68. John's second son,Nicholas John Jerkovich, was born in 1927 and was a commercial fisherman and lifelong resident of Gig Harbor, Washington. His family fished the Puget Sound since the early 1900s. Known to his friends as "Brud," Nick was an active member of the fishing community for over 60 years. He started fishing at the age of 14 and fished from Alaska to California for mackerel, herring, anchovies, squid, sardines and salmon, as well as dragged for bottom fish. He built three boats: the "Nicky Lynn" (a gillnetter), and two purse seiners: the "Pacific Knight," and “Pacific Raider.” He also owned the seiner "Favorite" and skippered the "Sierra Madre" and "Glacier Bay." He also partnered in the "Pacific Venture" with brother Tom. He and his wife Patricia had four children: Jane, Nick Jr., Nancy & Julia. Nick passed his love for fishing on to his son Nick Jr. and his grandsons. He enjoyed having his entire family working together to prepare the boats each year. As Nick always said, "My life is my family and fishing." He was a life long member of St. Nicholas Catholic Church, a charter member of St. Nicholas Knights of Columbus Council 9238, Eagles Aerie 2809 and past board member of the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association, member of the Seine Vessels' Reserve, past president of the Gig Harbor Fisherman's Civic Club and of the CFU Lodge 695. Nick, Sr. died in 2003. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary Jerkovich, his daughter Jane Wilma Jerkovich and his brother Thomas Jerkovich. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Patricia M. Jerkovich, his son Nick Jerkovich Jr. and wife Nancy; daughters Nancy L. Jerkovich and Julie Dahl and her husband Byron; grandchildren Jill, Nickolas III and Marc Jerkovich; Haldor, Anders, Gunnar and Kjersti Dahl; brother John Jerkovich and his wife Pat; sister Mary Ellen Gilmour and husband Mark; uncle and aunt, Nick and Olga Castelan of Walnut Creek, CA, sister-in-law Elvy Jerkovich of San Pedro, CA and numerous nieces and nephews. Nick passed his love of fishing on to his son, Nick, Jr., daughter, Nancy and his grandsons, Nickolas III and Marc. He enjoyed having his entire family working together to prepare the boats each year. Nick, Jr. and his sons are carrying on the family tradition of fishing from Alaska to California.
(source:, American biographies)







Martin was a commercial fisherman and owner of the Purse Seine Vessel Welcome. They had 5 children; Tony, Johnny, Mary (Katich), Lena (Karmalich) and Ann (Manley). His son Johnny, later owned and operated the boat. Tony owned and operated the Stanich Grocery Store at 3411 Harborview Drive. The store provided groceries and other supplies to the commercial fishing fleet and the residents of the Historic Millville area of Gig Harbor. The historic Stanich Netshed constructed and originally owned by the family is located at the end of Dorotich Street right-of-way adjacent to the family home. The home is currently owned by Mary Ann (Manley) Jackson. Mike and Mary Katich owned and resided at the single-family home located at! 3502 Harborview Drive until 1940 when they built their home at 3509 Ross Avenue. Mike was a commercial fisherman who owned and operated many purse seine vessels in Washington and Alaska. Mike and Mary had one son, Antone Peter Katich, a career commercial fisherman who also owned and operated commercial fishing vessels in Washington and Alaska, and who was married to Evelyn (Gagliardi) Katich for 55 years prior to his passing on April 11, 2009. Their son Athony Peter married Elizabeth and they have two adult children,  Peter and Elizabeth have lived in his parents home on Ross Avenue for 34 years. (Peter is the great grandson of Martin & Katie Stanich who's family home is at 8212 Dorotich Street.)

The Kazulin family’s reputation for designing and building exceptional watercraft dates back seven generations, to the Island of Brac, Dalmatia (Croatia). Sam Kazulin immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. He was hired by the Skansie Shipyard, where he built many of the early motor-driven wooden fishing boats and was foreman for 27 years. He was also the sponsor of Skansie’s first purse seiner. Sam’s son Mike immigrated to Tacoma and established his own boat-building business in the 1960s. Meanwhile, back in Croatia, Sam’s other son, Velko, continued the family tradition, building fine wooden excursion boats. He progressed into fiberglass in the late 1950s and built the very first fiberglass production boat in Eastern Europe. Decades later, thousands of these fiberglass boats can still be found throughout the Adriatic. In the late 1970s, Velko and his son Tony emigrated to Victoria, B.C., bringing Kazulin boatworks to Canada. Today, Kazulin yacht-tenders and runabouts fetch prices well into the six- and seven-figures.

(source:, American biographies K-R; also history.htm)




William Kimball fought in the Civil War with the 7th Michigan Calvary. His father, Isaac, served in the same unit. In 1889, William came to Gig Harbor with his wife, Anna Dow, and nine children: Mary, William Jr., Arminda, Dell, Charles, Frank, Edson, George Delmer, and Norman. They traveled from Kansas, over the Oregon Trail, with Anna’s brother, Edson Dow, and his family. Anna’s father, George Dow, joined them. Upon arriving to Gig Harbor, William and his family built their first sod house. A year later, Anna gave birth to their youngest child, Lewis. The couple’s son George died in a logging accident. Of their children who survived to adulthood, several stayed in Gig Harbor. Norman farmed and logged until he retired in 1920.

He then grew vegetables to sell in town. Edson and William Jr. were farmers too.     GHPHS




Roland Knapp met Shirley Gustofson at a dance at Horseshoe Lake Lodge while he was still in the military. He was a mortar gunner in WWII and was with the 1st Marines when they landed at the beaches of Guadalcanal. After leaving the Corps, he spent 16 years working for Shirley’s father. He then established his own auto repair business. He retired as shop foreman for the Peninsula School District. He was a volunteer firefighter for 25 years and was active in the VFW. (source: History of Pierce County, Paul Gustofson, & Shirley Knapp)                                             







Anna Stanton Johnson came to Rosedale in 1904 to keep house for her brother who was starting a shop there. On her first day in Rosedale she was invited to dinner by Eleanor Savage Lay. Eleanor had arrived in Rosedale in 1891, a widow with four children: Benjamin, Lynds, Seleucia and Lillian. She became a substantial landholder in the community. Anna married Eleanor’s son Benjamin in 1906. The couple’s first daughter, Eleanor, survived only a few days. Their two other children were Lawrence and Elizabeth. Anna was well known for her singing. At one time she learned the music to several Croatian songs from the Gig Harbor community. She and her husband helped found the Rosedale Union Church. She became a writer, published poetry, and wrote a book entitled The Bible and Human Freedom. She also wrote a radio play about Abraham Lincoln.






John Lovrovich left his native Croatia when he was 17 years old with hiscousin John Bujacich. They first traveled to New Orleans where they met up with John’s brother Dominic. From there, John traveled to Colorado, working as a miner and bartender. He visited Gig Harbor briefly and returned to Colorado, where he married Dumica Malich, whom he had known when he was growing up in Croatia. They had their first child, John Jr., before moving to Gig Harbor around 1910. John began fishing with the Ross family. He acquired his own boat in 1928 – the Brac (named after the Island of his birth, off the coast of Croatia). The couple had several more children in Gig Harbor: Dominick, Tony, Peter, Mary, Millie, Nick & George. Several of the boys followed their father into commercial fishing. At first, they worked on boats owned by others in the community. In 1948, Tony, Dominic, and Nick purchased the Wisconsin with their brother-in-law. George bought the Sea Gem. Several of his sons followed him into the business and purchased boats of their own, operating them in Southeast Alaska. In 1971, Tony purchased a gillnetter and worked it with his sons. (source: Lee Makovich)



During his lifetime, Tony worked in many shipyards as a shipwright in

the Gig Harbor-Tacoma area, including Skansie Shipyard and Tacoma Boat Shipbuilding. He was a partner in a purse seiner vessel, "Wisconsin," and fished in the San Juan Islands, Monterey and San Francisco areas. In later years, he owned "Miss April," a gillnetter, and fished in Puget Sound and the San Juans.                   








The Makoviches are one of founding families of Gig Harbor. Lee emigrated from Croatia in 1900. He was a fisherman aboard the purse seiner, the Advocate. He later became a businessman and philanthropic leader of the community. He was general manager of the Fisherman's Packing Corp. based out of Anacortes, Washington, and was a founding member of the Peninsula Light Co. He also served on the Gig Harbor School Board. Lee’s son, Lee Jr., would become the local historian and resident expert of Puget Sound’s maritime past, writing countless articles for newspapers and magazines about Gig Harbor’s fishermen, it’s fleet of wooden-hulled purse seiners, and the historic net sheds that line the harbor.



John Malich was the patriarch of one of the earliest fishing families to settle in Gig Harbor. He was born in Premuda, Croatia and owned and operated the the purse seiner Glory of the Sea. He was a founding member and stockholder in the Washington Fisherman’s Packing Corp.                                                                    



Dumica Malich met John Lovrovich as a child in Croatia. After she immigrated to the United States, the two crossed paths once again in Colorado, where John worked as a miner and a bartender. They married and had a son, John Jr. In 1910, they decided to move to Washington, where both John and Dumica had family active in the nascent commercial fishing industry of Gig Harbor. John begain fishing with the Ross family and the couple had several more children: Dominic, Tony, Peter, Mary, Millie, Nick & George. In 1928, John acquired his own boat, the Brac, named after the Island of his birth, off the coast of Croatia. All of John and Dumica’s sons followed in their father’s footsteps. At first, they worked on boats owned by others in the community. In 1948, Tony, Dominic, and Nick purchased the Wisconsin with their borhter-in-law. George bought the Sea Gem. Several of George’s sons also followed him into the business and purchased boats of their own, operating them out of Southeast Alaska. In 1971, Dumica’s son Tony purchased a gillnetter and worked it with his sons. (source: Lee Makovich)                    GHPHS




William and Annie Maloney move to Rosedale from Ontario, Canada and established a homestead near the lake that would bear their name. They farmed their land and helped build the Rosedale church. They adopted a son, Frank, and were joined in Rosedale by William’s mother, Mary Ann. William’s brother, Thomas, moved to Rosedale after retiring from an active public life. He served as mayor of Sumner, chief of police in Tacoma, and warden of McNeil Island Penitentiary. In 1923, Frank married Helen McLoughlin. Helen had been abandoned as a child and was later adopted by Lena and William McLoughlin. The McLoughlin family moved to Artondale around 1907, hoping to cure Helen of her tuberculosis.                                


Frank Maloney and Dave Svinth were founders of the Wollochet Bay Oyster Company in 1935. They planted their oysterbeds in the tidelands at the head of Wollochet Bay, where oysters were fattened by two freshwater creeks. They kept the planted oysters separated for optimum, single growth. Frank’s wife, Helen, who kept their books, recalled watching her husband walk out from their house with a lantern during the night-time low tides and carefully move the mollusks apart so that they wouldn’t attach to each other.  Bathed and nourished by the creeks’ outflow, the oysters developed into a top quality delicacy. They were enjoyed by everyone, and business quickly grew. Frank and Dave sold freshly-opened oysters for 20 cents a pint to anyone who stopped by their water-side sucking house.  They also had a wholesale business with the recently opened Gig Harbor Safeway and a direct-delivery route to homes in the North End of Tacoma. (HHM blog, 5/29/12)        





Harry Malony was a reliable source for small boats for half a century. Helived in a home he called Camp Sleepy Hollow, a hundred feet above his boat shop south of the sand spit at the harbor’s entrance. His boats were built of quality cedar and ranged from twelve to sixteen feet. The son of a man who built the sleek interiors of Pullman Cars, Malony began building boats about 1910. He estimated that he turned out aound 600 in the course of his long life. He also made wooden herring rakes and wooden spoons for attracting salmon, which became known as

Malony spoons.                                                                                                          





Nick Markovich is one of the elder statesmen of Gig Harbor’s fishing fleet. Markovich, who was born and raised in Gig Harbor, comes from a long line of fishermen. “I’m connected to two pioneer families,” the 82-year-old fisherman said, looking down at the harbor from his cozy dining room, his wife, Phyllis, at his side. “My great grandfather was a Novak. Lee Markovich, Sr. was my grandfather.” Markovich began purse-seining for salmon with his dad at the tender age of 14. That was back in 1942. “When I first started fishing there were more than 40 seiners (boats) in Gig Harbor. We had the most purse seiners of any port in the region — more than Seattle or Bellingham or Tacoma or anywhere,” he said with a grin. When they weren’t out fishing, the fishermen hung their nets and did repairs in net sheds all along the shore of the harbor. Back then, Markovich said, there were 23 docks with net sheds on the water, plus three more net sheds in people’s backyards. He listed them one-by-one starting at the mouth of the harbor: “First was Peter Skansie’s shed, then Babich, Tarabochia and then Andrew Skansie’s shed.” That shed, which Andrew Skansie built and shared with his brother Vince, is 100 years old this year. The city is planning a community celebration of the Skansie brothers’ net shed on May 1st. Next along the shoreline was the Vlahovich shed. “Then John Skansie’s, Dorotich’s, the Ross brothers’ shed, then my great grandfather John Novak’s shed.” The list went on and on with other familiar – mostly Croatian – names: Glilch, Stanich, Malich, Castelan/Jerkovich, Castelan/Markovich, Ancich, Ivanovich, Bujacich, Gilich, Marin/Obervich, Naderlin/Skarponi, Shulich/Skrivanich, and Perovich. Three more net sheds were on land, Markovich said – Janovich, Nick Babich and Gerald Crosby had their sheds in their backyards. Not everyone had his own shed. “Lots of us hung our nets in someone else’s shed,” he said. “We shared each others’ places. Our family’s shed was actually owned by Castelan.” In those days the nets were made of cotton, which rotted after three or four years of use. To preserve them and slow the deterioration, the nets were dipped in hot coal tar, then rung out and hung or spread to dry. Then they had to be cleaned every couple of weeks. “That was the worst part of fishing – tarring the nets,” Markovich said. Once the nets were in the water, the saltwater helped to loosen up the tar, so the nets got softer and easier to use as the season wore on. “But they had to be re-tarred every year before we left to fish.” Markovich fished with his father until 1958, when his father died. “Nick had lots of boats, but his first one was his dad’s boat, Saint Rocco,” Phyllis Markovich said. “When I started with my own boat in 1958, I bought new nets,” Nick Markovich said. “I went to Seattle Marine and ordered a complete set. It cost $6,000 back then. I told the fellow I’d pay him after the season was over. That was just fine with him.” “Nick paid him back the whole amount the very first year,” Phyllis Markovich added, with obvious pride. During all the years Markovich purse seined, he never had to look for a crew. “Most of the fellows in the family helped on our boats,” she recalled. “Nick’s uncle, his brother, his brother-in-law and a couple of sons. He had the best crew on the Puget Sound.” “Everyone could sew a net and everything,” Nick Markovich added with a smile. “I hardly had to do anything but give orders.” Markovich purse seined every year until 1973, when he sold his last seiner, “Wonderland,” and took up gill netting. For the next 20 years, he gill netted every year until he retired at age 65. “We mostly went up to Southeast Alaska,” Phyllis Markovich said. “I usually went with him, because you didn’t need a big crew with gill netting. It was just him.” When he retired from fishing in 1993, Markovich said, he didn’t miss it at all, what with all the regulations and changes in the industry. But all in all, it has been a wonderful life, he added. “I couldn’t have grown up in a better place,” he said, looking away to hide the tears in his eyes. (source: Kitsap Sun, 4/10/2010)




Albert J. Marzan came to the Arletta area from Germany in the mid-1800s. He married Constance Huselby, a German immigrant. Albert and Constance had a son, Albert H. and a second child who died in infancy. Albert served as director and clerk of the Arletta School District. He was a charter member of the local Warren Hall Men’s Improvement Club and a partner in the Hales Pass & Wollochet Navigation Company. After Constance died, Albert married a neighbor, Mrs. Bollen, a widow with several children, including Arthur, Mae & Harry. Mae moved to Hawaii in the late 20s where she taught school and married an army officer. When he died, she married a Russian army officer. They lived in Modesto, near Albert H.’s ranch. The Bollen boys left Gig Harbor. Arthur became an engineer for Boeing and Harry became a commercial fisherman out of Anacortes. (source Keith Marzan)    





Frederick was one of six children born to David and Hannah McIntyre. Two of his siblings succumbed to scarlet fever, while Frederick, Artemus, Frona and Louisa survived. Shortly after David returned home from the Civil War, he died in a tragic accident while helping a neighbor fell a tree, leaving Hannah and the children with little means of support. Hannah sent Frederick and Artemus to live with relatives while she, Frona and Louisa moved in with Hannah’s parents. After Hannah’s mother died, Hannah and the girls moved to Wisconsin to live with her older brother. Shortly thereafter, she called for Frederick and Artemus to join them. While in Wisconsin, Frederick married Gertrude Strebe and they had their first son, David. Frederick’s brother Artemus married Bertha. In 1901, a tornado destroyed the sawmill where Frederick worked. Hearing of opportunities out west, the family decided to sell some of their possessions and head for Washington. Frederick went first, joined by Gertrude and David, then Artemus, Bertha, Frona, Louisa and Hannah. Frederick purchased 13 acres in Rosedale and a home on Henderson Bay. He worked as a logger, 10-hours a day, six days a week. His first son died from severe burns after a tragic accident when he was just six years old. Frederick and Gertrude had 9 more children after David: Wesley, Chester, Violet, Hannah, Lester, George, Olive (Fuqua), Elma (Burnett) and Earl. Gertrude kept busy caring for the children. She carried water to the house by the bucketful, washed clothes on Mondays, ironed on Tuesdays, and scrubbed the floors every Saturday. Her only recreation was sewing, which she loved. After Frederick’s death, all of the boys helped support the family. Lester, the youngest, got a job on a chicken farm as soon as he graduated from the 8th grade. Earl became a father figure to the younger children. He was a hard working logger and loved to hunt and fish. Violet married Harold Roby in 1925. They had two children: Milton and Loretta. Violet died while giving birth to their third child. Frederick’s mother Hannah remarried George Kenny, who had a cabinet shop on North Harborview Drive. Her daughter Frona married Walter Sutherland, also of Gig Harbor. (source: Ellen Gauthier of Rosedale)





Captain Daniel McLean was a Civil War veteran. He and his first wife, Magadeline Alf, settled on 95 acres in Rosedale in 1884. Their eldest son was Donald. The McLean home was the unofficial community center among neighbors; hosting meetings, potluck dinners and dances, when a fiddler could be found. Magadeline was the area’s first postmistress (1883-1887) before the Rosedale Post Office was built in 1887. Daniel petitioned Washington Governor Newell for a schoolhouse to be built on land he donated to the community. The petition was granted and construction began in 1884. Megadeline died in 1887, along with an infant son. Daniel later married Sarah Cooper. They had a daughter, Mildred. After Daniel’s death, Sarah and the children moved to Tacoma, and later British Columbia. The land for the Rosedale Cemetery was donated by Sarah, according the wishes of

her late husband. (source: A History of Pierce County Washington )          





Rudolph Moller and his sister Marie arrived to the United States from Busum, Germany around 1894. Their immigration was financed by the inheritance from an uncle. They settled at Sunrise Beach, Gig Harbor, near their cousin, Herman Claussen. A year later, siblings Henry and Katherine arrived to find that Marie had eloped and Rudolf had gone to Alaska in search of gold. Their mother, Caroline Moller, joined her children in Gig Harbor in 1906. Upon his return from Alaska, Rudolph married Matilda Tollefsen. In 1900, they established a homestead on his property in the sloping wilderness above Sunrise Beach. They had five children: Margaret, Gerhard, Caroline, Norman and Rudolph Jr. (Rudy). Henry married Anna Kuhn, who was also born in Germany. They too settled at Sunrise Beach. Henry and Anna had four children: Madeline, Henry Jr., Hubert & Carl. Katherine and Marie lived with their husbands in west Seattle. In 1974, the Moller families donated 30 acres of their original homestead to Pierce County, creating Sunrise Beach Park.

(source: Jean Sather)                                                                                               





Elias Muri came from Norway. He lived in North Dakota where he ran a general store. His wife, Sarah Ellingson, was also Norwegian. Elias and Sarah had no children of their own. In 1908, the couple adopted their niece Amanda Strand. Amanda’s mother, Anna (Elias’ twin sister), died giving birth to her, the last of seven children. Amanda’s father was unable to care for her and so Elias and Sarah adopted the infant. They also adopted Amanda’s half-sister Clara. Elias moved his family to Washington state. He eventually settled in Cromwell, Gig Harbor and established a farm at Sunny Bay. With his neighbor, Frank Samuelson, he diverted water from a local creek into a storage tank. The water was used to irrigate Muri’s fruit trees, including a prized apricot orchard, and Samuelson’s berries. The water was also piped into their homes. The Muri girls enjoyed bonfires on the beaches, roasting potatoes and corn over the hot embers. They fished in Muri Creek at Sunny Bay using string and a pin. Amanda graduated from Gig Harbor High School, attended business college in Tacoma and pursued a career in court reporting. She met and married Henry (Hank) Ericson in 1936. Henry was born in Tacoma in 1903. He entered the navy when he was 17 and later worked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, until his retirement. They had four sons Donald, Allan, Mark, and Earl. The Sunny Bay homestead remained in the Muri family until it was sold in 1958.

(sources: Cromwell Memories, Gladys Para, Earl Erikson, Betty Hansch)           








Esther Nilsen was born in Oslo, Norway. She and her husband, Arvid, were long time residents of Wollochet, Gig Harbor. Esther was educated in Norway and held a position with Norwegian Radio Kontoret. In 1939, she came to the U.S. on what was intended to be a year's leave of absence but was stranded here when the Nazis invaded Norway. She eventually found employment with the Norwegian Consulate in Seattle. While there, she met and married Arvid who was a Norwegian seaman serving in the Norwegian Merchant Marine, making Seattle port calls as part of the Allied total war effort. Following the war, they lived for a time in California, then in Norway and, in 1970, determined Gig Harbor was home. Wherever they went they made a host of friends. Not blessed with any of their own, they loved others' children. Devout Christians, they were members of Tacoma Life Center Church.                                                                                                                       





John Novak was born in Sumartin on the island of Brac, Croatia. He came to Gig Harbor in the late 1870s – one of the earliest European immigrants to settle here. John was a commercial fisherman and local businessman. In 1877, John Novak, Sam Jerisich and Joseph Dorotich purchased a long stretch of waterfront property on the west side of the harbor. John and Joseph platted their portions into commercial and residential lots, and established the town of Millville (late 1880s), just down the road from the then Gig Harbor Lumber Co. sawmill. The Millville property was home to several of Gig Harbor’s more successful business ventures. For many years, John was proprietor of the Millville Hotel, and his net shed (built by John’s son Tony in 1910, today’s Red Rooster Café) offered storage to many local fishing boats. John’s wife, Josephine Cosgrove (born Zephina Cheroka Cosgrove), was the daughter of a Puyallup Indian mother and an Irish father. Together John and Josephine had 12 children: Mike (never married) 1904-1941, Nicholas "Nick" (married Clementia Skansie - no kids) 1903-1944, Angeline (married Tony Gilich father of Don Gilich) 1900-1978, John (never married) 1897-1915, Ted "Teddy" 1895-1895, Antonnette "Anenetta? or Nettie"(married Andrew Gilich had 3 children: John "Buster" married Ann Makovich and had 3 children: Andrea, Dennis and John - Nora, and Andrew Francis who died) 1895-1919, Antone "Tony" (married Agnes - one son Richard) 1892-1980's?, Frank (never married) 1890-1926, George (never married) 1888-1907, Mitchel (never married) 1886-1895, Caroline "Carrie" (married Lee Makovich had 2 kids Isabelle "Bella" and Katherine) 1883-1980's?, Winifred "Winnie" (married Mitchel Zulyevich) 1882-1944. 

and Michael. (sources: Gaely Jablonski, Lee Makovich, and Sharon Gilich)                    








George Patrick arrived in Gig Harbor with the Burnham family from Albert Lea, Minnesota. Along with Dr. Burnham and others, George was a partner in Gig Harbor’s first lumber mill, the Gig Harbor Lumber Co. sawmill, a short lived venture. George and his wife Harriette Payne had four children: Emma, Nellie, Edgar & Albert. Emma married Cash Fuller. Their children, Bess and George, both died quite young. Bess was only four and George just 14. Cash ran the local telephone office and was one of the original organizers of the Gig Harbor Cemetery. Nellie married Christian Barness. Christian worked for American Teredoproff Co. and the Kino-Benton Land and Water Co. The couple was active in the Gig Harbor Cemetery Association. In the early 1900s, when the Association was unable to make payments on its mortgage, the Barnesses and Cash Fuller assumed the debt and deeded the title back to the Association. Albert Patrick married Lillie Hunt, one of Miles and Maritta Hunt’s daughters. Edgar Patrick married Lennie Hord, who was related to Rachel Hord Burnham, the matriarch of the Burnham family. Edgar had a boat-building and repair business. Lennie was a founding member of the Ladies Fortnightly Club.

The couple had one daughter, Zelma. Zelma married Lillie Hunt’s brother, Arthur.





William Peacock was born in Maine. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War. His wife Anna was from Vermont. They moved to Gig Harbor in 1894 and builta a home on Peacock Hill. William was a millwright. For many years the family also delivered the Tacoma News Tribune. William and Anna had three children: Maud, Eva and Ernest. Ernest and his wife, Myrtie, had several children, including Proctor, who owned and operated Peacock Realty, and Gilbert. After Ernest’s death, Myrtie Married Ernest Magoon. Gilbert married Violet Shaw and had two children, Frank and Steve. In later years, Annie and William moved to a house on the water, just south of Finholm’s Market in north Gig Harbor. The original family home currently houses the Paradise Theater Company. (source: P. Alvestad)





Oliver Warren (“O.W.”) was born Olaf Pearson in Akaboda, Sweden. He herded geese when he was 5 years old. In 1871, at age 14, he immigrated to the U.S. with his father, two brothers, and a sister. They settled in New Sweden, Maine. From 1884-1892, O.W. edited a Swedish language religious newspaper. In 1887, he completed his training at the Chicago Theological Seminary, becoming a Seventh Day Baptist minister & missionary. While at school, he met Mary Nelson, who was working in a church office. From 1890-1929 he also published his own religious newspaper. Mary was born Maria Nilsdottar in Vanga, Sweden. Her father immigrated to Newaygo, Michigan in 1880. Mary, her mother, and 3 of her brothers joined him the following year. O.W. and Mary married in 1888 and settled in Chicago. O.W. became a U.S. citizen in 1890. The Pearsons moved to Warren, Gig Harbor (on Hales Pass) in 1905. O.W. farmed, raising tomatoes and cucumbers in greenhouses that stepped up the south-facing hill behind the house. He was known for having the earliest produce on the Pass and was a member of the Hales Pass and Wollochet Navigation Co. Mary was an excellent midwife, delivering many of the babies born in the Warren, Cromwell and Wollochet areas. She enjoyed quilting. O.W. and Mary had eight children: Clifford, Paul Peter (died at 3 months), Paul Pontus, Olive, Edna, Phillip, Ben & Pearl.                                                             



Anna Ahlberg was wooed by Clifford Pearson for two years. Clifford was the eldest child of O.W. and Mary Pearson. Anna was one of five born to Andrew and Maria Ahlberg. Anna loved to crochet, making all of the lace for her wedding garments and her trousseau. Anna and Clifford were married at Anna’s parents’ home in 1911. They purchased five acres in Warren, Gig Harbor, where their children Ralph, Carl, Doris and Eugene were born. Trained as a carpenter by his father, Clifford built 15 homes, the Roxy Theater, Rehn’s Garage and Mr. Rupert’s 10 cent store in Gig Harbor. During WWII, Clifford was foreman of hull construction at the Gig Harbor Shipyard, and later of Edson Boat Co. Clifford was a pacifist; still, his son Carl died during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. Clifford raised tomatos and sold eggs from over 1500 hens. Clifford’s daughter, Doris, achieved her teaching degree from Seattle Pacific College and taught at several schools on the Peninsula and at Mt. Vernon. Clifford served on various school boards over the years and on the board of the Peninsula Light Company. Anna belonged to the Happy Thoughts Club, the Hales Pass Orthopedic Guild and the Horsehead Bay Garden Club. (source: Barbara Pearson)





Phillip H. Peyran owned of Hollycroft Farms, a holly and Christmas tree farm on Soundview Drive. Establish 1914, with 35 holly trees. By 1929, Peyran had 600 producing trees and 15,000 smaller trees on 20 acres of land, delivering 2000boxes of holly. The Peyrans were a pioneering family at head of the bay.     




Paul Puratich immigrated to Gig Harbor from Croatia in the early 1900s.   Paul crewed on many fishing boats before he had the Emancipator built in1918. He married Spiro Babich's sister, Jeroma "Mumala" Babich and had two children, Marian and John. John married Katherine Jurich from Old Town Tacoma and had five children (Paul, John Jr. des'd, Joe, Bob, and Patty). Paul Sr. owned and operated many vessels over the years fishing from California to the Bering Sea. The original family home, in historic Millville, was located adjacently to the south of the current Puratich net shed site.  John inherited the property from his father, passing it on to his sons.  Sons Robert and Joseph began fishing with their father around the age of ten and have continued in the business ever since. Unlike many of the other fishing families still living in Gig Harbor, the Puratich family continues to participate in a variety of fisheries that includes seine fish: pollock, sardines, and salmon and trawling.  They pod for cod, and catch Dungeness crab and squid. As a result, the Puratich brothers are away from Gig Harbor for seven to nine months out of the year. With such a large operation, their current storage needs outstretch the two net sheds in Gig Harbor. They have storage in ports up and down the west coast. 
Originally built in the 1920s, Paul Puratich had the netshed rebuilt around 1950 after a fire in the 1930s or 1940s. A shipwright named Oscar was said to have helped rebuild the shed after the fire “took seines and seine skiff.” The new design had the netshed built further into the harbor. The tin siding and tin roof were replaced with wood siding and a shingled roof. A partial rebuild was done in the 1980’s and with the pier fully reconstructed in about 2013.  Paul’s sons (Robert and Joseph) have kept the netshed well maintained for active use as a commercial fishing structure and plan to continue to do so.
Paul Puratich had immigrated to Gig Harbor from Croatia in the early 1900's. Paul crewed on many fishing boats before he had the Emancipator built in 1918.  He married Spiro Babich’s sister, Jeroma “Mumala” Babich and had two children, Marian and John. John married Katherine Jurich from Old Town Tacoma and had five children (Paul, John Jr. dec’d, Joe, Bob, and Patty). Paul Sr. owned and operated many vessels over the years fishing from California to the Bering Sea. The original family home, in historic Millville, was located to the south of the current net shed site. John Puratich (Paul's son) had inherited the property from his father, passing it onto his sons Joe and Bob. The property includes a pier with the netshed, and upland a home and shop for the family fishing business.
          Sons Joe and Bob began fishing with their father around the age of ten and continued in the business ever since. Unlike many other fishing families still living in Gig Harbor, the Puratich brothers participate in a variety of fisheries that includes seining for salmon and sardines, and trawling for pollock, cod and shrimp. As a result, the they are away from Gig Harbor seven to nine months of the year.
Paul Puratich had immigrated to Gig Harbor from Croatia in the early 1900's. Paul crewed on many fishing boats before he had the Emancipator built in 1918.  He married Spiro Babich’s sister, Jeroma “Mumala” Babich and had two children, Marian and John. John married Katherine Jurich from Old Town Tacoma and had five children (Paul, John Jr. dec’d, Joe, Bob, and Patty). Paul Sr. owned and operated many vessels over the years fishing from California to the Bering Sea. The original family home, in historic Millville, was located to the south of the current net shed site. John Puratich (Paul's son) had inherited the property from his father, passing it onto his sons Joe and Bob. The property includes a pier with the netshed, and upland a home and shop for the family fishing business.
          Sons Joe and Bob began fishing with their father around the age of ten and continued in the business ever since. Unlike many other fishing families still living in Gig Harbor, the Puratich brothers participate in a variety of fisheries that includes seining for salmon and sardines, and trawling for pollock, cod and shrimp. As a result, the they are away from Gig Harbor seven to nine months of the year.
Paul Puratich had immigrated to Gig Harbor from Croatia in the early 1900's. Paul crewed on many fishing boats before he had the Emancipator built in 1918.  He married Spiro Babich’s sister, Jeroma “Mumala” Babich and had two children, Marian and John. John married Katherine Jurich from Old Town Tacoma and had five children (Paul, John Jr. dec’d, Joe, Bob, and Patty). Paul Sr. owned and operated many vessels over the years fishing from California to the Bering Sea. The original family home, in historic Millville, was located to the south of the current net shed site. John Puratich (Paul's son) had inherited the property from his father, passing it onto his sons Joe and Bob. The property includes a pier with the netshed, and upland a home and shop for the family fishing business.
          Sons Joe and Bob began fishing with their father around the age of ten and continued in the business ever since. Unlike many other fishing families still living in Gig Harbor, the Puratich brothers participate in a variety of fisheries that includes seining for salmon and sardines, and trawling for pollock, cod and shrimp. As a result, the they are away from Gig Harbor seven to nine months of the year.
Paul Puratich had immigrated to Gig Harbor from Croatia in the early 1900's. Paul crewed on many fishing boats before he had the Emancipator built in 1918.  He married Spiro Babich’s sister, Jeroma “Mumala” Babich and had two children, Marian and John. John married Katherine Jurich from Old Town Tacoma and had five children (Paul, John Jr. dec’d, Joe, Bob, and Patty). Paul Sr. owned and operated many vessels over the years fishing from California to the Bering Sea. The original family home, in historic Millville, was located to the south of the current net shed site. John Puratich (Paul's son) had inherited the property from his father, passing it onto his sons Joe and Bob. The property includes a pier with the netshed, and upland a home and shop for the family fishing business.
          Sons Joe and Bob began fishing with their father around the age of ten and continued in the business ever since. Unlike many other fishing families still living in Gig Harbor, the Puratich brothers participate in a variety of fisheries that includes seining for salmon and sardines, and trawling for pollock, cod and shrimp. As a result, the they are away from Gig Harbor seven to nine months of the year.
Paul Puratich had immigrated to Gig Harbor from Croatia in the early 1900's. Paul crewed on many fishing boats before he had the Emancipator built in 1918.  He married Spiro Babich’s sister, Jeroma “Mumala” Babich and had two children, Marian and John. John married Katherine Jurich from Old Town Tacoma and had five children (Paul, John Jr. dec’d, Joe, Bob, and Patty). Paul Sr. owned and operated many vessels over the years fishing from California to the Bering Sea. The original family home, in historic Millville, was located to the south of the current net shed site. John Puratich (Paul's son) had inherited the property from his father, passing it onto his sons Joe and Bob. The property includes a pier with the netshed, and upland a home and shop for the family fishing business.
          Sons Joe and Bob began fishing with their father around the age of ten and continued in the business ever since. Unlike many other fishing families still living in Gig Harbor, the Puratich brothers participate in a variety of fisheries that includes seining for salmon and sardines, and trawling for pollock, cod and shrimp. As a result, the they are away from Gig Harbor seven to nine months of the year.







John Ross Sr. was born “Jadrovich” in Premuda, Croatia. By 1909 he was brailing salmon of the Puget Sound aboard his 42-foot seiner, Bogdan. John had the boat built at H.W. Lake Shipyard in Seattle. The Bogdan was a sleek and beautiful little vessel for her day, and John operated her until 1914. He then had the 52-foot seiner Brooklyn built at the Strubstad yard in Tacoma. Along with his brother Luca, John also held an interest in the 1915 Babare-built seiner Juno. John's sons Emmet, Adam, and Johnnie became fully involved in the fishing business when, in 1924, they purchased the 62-foot Home II, built at Blind Slough, Oregon, in 1916. In 1928, the Ross brothers acquired the 63-foot seiner Westland, built at the Martinolich yard in Dockton, on Vashon Island, the year before. Now there were two boats but still three brothers. It is believed that the reason for not acquiring a third seiner was the fact that Johnnie wanted to have the option of pursuing his ferry boat career when he was not running a fishing boat. Johnnie, the eldest of the three brothers, was a ferry skipper for the Skansie Transportation Company for a number of years. It seems that Johnnie divided his time between ferry boats and the fishing business. It is known that he ran both the Providence and the Advocator for Lee Makovich, Sr. at different times and was the skipper of the Majestic for a number of years. It was also reported that early on Johnnie skippered the old Juno for one season for his uncle Luca Ross. Johnnie may best be remembered, however, at least by the younger generation, as being a familiar figure on the Salmon Banks, as skipper of Gerald Crosby's shiny, new Hansen-built seiner, Sea Comber. Adam ran the Home II exclusively until he became ill in 1966. Adam was a top skipper around the San Juan Islands and the old Home II proved to be a training ground of sorts for a number of future skippers. Several young men who fished with Adam later went on to own their own fishing boats. One of those young men is Adam's son, Adam Jr., who went on to own and operate the seiner Chinook. He later sold the Chinook and, in 1968, had the 58-foot seiner Adana R built at the Don Bishop yard in Richmond, California. He ran the Adana R in Southeast Alaska until his retirement in 1994. Emmett ran the Westland from the time the brothers purchased it until he became ill about 1967. However, Emmett's first year as the skipper of a seiner is believed to be 1923 when he ran the Providence for Lee Makovich, Sr. (source: "The Ross Brothers, at Home on the Salmon Banks," by Lee Makovich, "Fishermen's News," October, 1996)




Charles Rowley was born in New York. He met his wife, Caroline Weeks Roberson, in her hometown of St. Clair, Michigan, where they married and established a 330-acre homestead. They had seven children: Edward, Clarence, Charles, Harry, May, Emma & Anna. It was difficult to make a living in St. Clair and Charles wanted to move west. He found a man in Gig Harbor willing to trade 80 acres for his farm in Michigan. Charles came to Gig Harbor, liked the property, and sent instructions back home to his son Harry to sell the farm’s stock, tools and machinery. Harry then brought the rest of the family out to Gig Harbor. Charles’ son Clarence moved to Skagit County to work for some years before joining the family in Gig Harbor and marrying. He purchased land on the spit at the entrance of the harbor and built a home for his new bride. Eventually he left the home to his wife and moved on to Oregon, then later California. It’s rumored that when his wife passed away she was laid to rest on the spit. Harry helped his parents build their home and farm. For two years, he worked in Skagit with his brother, logging and building a stage route. He returned to Gig Harbor and became superintendent of a logging company. Harry met and married Eva Peacock. They settled on a farm in Crescent Valley and had two children. Together they ran a dairy farm. Harry was a charter member of the Commercial Club, a fire marshall, a census taker and active in the Kitsap County Dairymen’s Association. He and Eva sold the farm in 1956 and moved to Tacoma. (source: Paul Alvestad)





Hiram Herbert Rust was born in Huntington, Quebec and raised in New York state. In 1861, he enlisted in the Union Army and fought in the first battle of Bull Run. After the war, he studied medicine at the University of Vermont Medical College and graduated in 1875. Dr. Rust married Estella Dunham in 1872. Estella brought to the union three children from a previous marriage: Wilbur, Etta and Fred. She lost two others (Effie & Charles) in infancy. Estella grew up in Beekman, New York, where she became a school teacher. Her first husband, Lyman Sheldon, died in a horse-riding accident. Estella and Hiram had four more children: Endora, Benjamin, Lilian and Marion. Of their combined children, only two, Etta and Benjamin, survived to adulthood. Hiram, Estella, Etta, Benjamin and Estella’s father, Leander Dunham, left New York and came to Gig Harbor in 1890. Hiram was the first full-time practicing physician on the Peninsula. Daughter Etta “proved up” a 40-acre tract in Wauna and received ownership in 1892. In 1894, she married Arthur Johnston, a house painter and farmer who came to Gig Harbor in 1879. Tragedy struck when Bennie, Hiram and Estella’s only surviving son, left for the Yukon to mine for gold. He came down with Typhoid fever and died in 1899. Dr. Rust continued to practice medicine. As an entrepreneur, he purchased the local newspaper, The Courier, and the drugstore. He remained active in the community, serving on the school board and as president of the Chamber of Commerce, until his death in 1922. Etta and Arthur had one son, Herbert. Several of their children still live in the area.                                                                                   








In 1881, when he was 19 years old, Frank William Samuelson emigrated from Sweden to the Dakota Territory, where he worked for the railroad. There he met his wife, Marie Smeby, who was born in Norway. At the suggestion of Marie’s brother who praised the climate and scenery, Fank and Marie moved to Washington in 1898. They built a home in Cromwell and purchased 80 acres of land, which became the Sunny Hill Fruit Farm. Before the land could be cultivated, it had to be cleared. Trees, some as large as ten feet in diameter, were felled by hand. Some stumps were too difficult to remove, so crops were simply planted around them. Neighbors were few and far between. The house was lit by candles, and water was carried to the house in buckets. The Samuelsons had 14 children: Sigurd (Fred), Oscar, Mabel (died in infancy), Esther, Hedvig (Hedda), Frans Victor (Vic), Gustaf, Mabel, Walter, Martin, Anna Marie, Emma (Nora), Ethel (Violet), and Flora. The children helped tend to the farm. There were five acres of fruit trees, four acres of berries (particularly strawberries), and a huge vegetable garden. They also had five cows, 400 chickens, four big fat hogs, and a horse. The family raised almost all of their own food. The sale of fruit, produce and eggs provided them a good income. In order to better market their products, the farmers in the area purchased a steamboat, the Bay Island, and formed the Hales Pass and Wollochet Navigation Co. Frank was its first president. He also served as Pierce County Road Commissioner and helped build the Cromwell Grade School (est. 1902). Church and school were the centers of activity for the settlers. There were many socials for the young people. Skits and dialogues were favorite amusements. Music was a popular entertainment. The singing ability of the Samuelson family was widely recognized and always in demand.

(source: Paul McCormick)                                                                                       





Erik Sandin established a 160-acre homestead in Artondale, on a spot that reminded him of his native Sweden – big evergreen trees, rolling hills, with a stream flowing between them. It was more land than he had ever expected to own. In 1870, the property was thick with brush. Erik cleared a path, then a road, then a plot of land for a house. He built a one room cabin for his family, then added a kitchen, and a bedroom. His wife, Martha, was also from Sweden. They were married in Seattle and had two sons, Arthur and George Henry. Erik built a blacksmith shop to forge the square-top nails and other tools he needed for the farm, and built a bridge to cross the creek that ran through his property. Martha and Erik planted ten varieties of apple trees. Once, when a bear attempted to eat the apples, Martha shot it. She canned the bear meat to provide food for the family and rendered its fat into lard. She knew that the lard, sweeter than butter, would help make an excellent pie crust. The Sandins walked or rowed a boat to wherever they wished to go. Sometimes this involved considerable distances. Erik walked to Wilkeson to work in the mines. As founding members of the Swedish Baptist Church in Tacoma, the family walked to Point Fosdick on Sundays, then rowed across the Narrows to attend church. Erik also crossed the Narrows to sell products from their farm in Tacoma. He once slaughtered calf, loaded the meat into a wheelbarrow, pushed the wheelbarrow to Point Fosdick, put the wheelbarrow in a row boat, and rowed across the Narrows to sell the meat up and down the streets of Old Town Tacoma.

(source: Marthajean Sandin Packard) 





John M. Sather immigrated from Norway to the U.S. as a young man. He became a successful businessman in Gig Harbor and married Amanda Tollefsen. Together they had four children: Marion, Jean, Leona (“Lettie”) & John Jr. Shortly after the birth of their son, John Sather was murdered on his boat, where he conducted business. The quiet community of Gig Harbor was shocked. “Who killed John Sather?” The horrible crime remains a mystery to this day. (source: John Sather Jr.)                                                                                           




John Schindler was born in Wertenburg, Germany. He married his first wife, Nicoline K. Sellikin, in 1874. The couple had six children: Frederick, Nicoline Gertrude, Louise, George, Carl & Daukertina. The eldest was born in the Dakota Territory, the next four in Chicago and the youngest in Rosedale, Gig Harbor. Wife Nicoline and daughter Daukertina both died in1888. Daughter Nicoline died in 1891. All were buried on the family’s 160-acre homestead. John eventually remarried Alice Altenburg Milbrad. Alice was also widowed and had three children from her earlier marriage: DeVere, Alton & Claudia. Together, John and Alice had three more children: Dorothy, John George & Wesley. This brought the total number of children to twelve. The family farm produced milk, fruit and other products for market in Tacoma. According to Capt. Ed Lorenz, a local steamboat operator in the 1930s, John was the first person to suggest a bridge across the Narrows. “It was 1888 or 1889. We were going through the Narrows one day when Schindler, pointing to the high bluffs on each side, said ‘Captain, some day you will see a bridge over these Narrows.’ ”  






David and Lettie Secor came to Washington from Colorado with their two sons Eugene and Hubert in 1904. They lived in Elma and then Tacoma, where David served as a deputy sheriff. The family moved to Gig Harbor in 1907 to care for Lettie’s ailing father, Robert, who came to Gig Harbor with his wife Sarah in 1888. Lettie became a founding member of the Ladies’ Fortnightly Club. Eugene worked at the Peninsula Gateway. He was known as one of the better horseshoe pitchers in Gig Harbor. Hubert grew up and married Mary Frances. In the early 1920s, Hubert operated the telephone company in Gig Harbor. Later, he and his father David organized the first bus route between Ft. Lewis, Tacoma, Gig Harbor & Bremerton. He operated the bus system until 1935, when he devoted his full time to the Minter Creek Oyster Co., which he and his wife had started in1929. Hubert took a keen interest in his community’s development and served as mayor from 1964-1969. (sources: A History of Pierce County Washington, Paul Alvestad, & GH Cem. Assoc.)





Henry W.L.C. Sehmel was one of three brothers to leave Munden, Germany and settle in Gig Harbor in 1884. His brothers, Karl and Albert, lived nearby and over time the three acquired more than 520 acres of land. Henry met his future wife, Dora Sophia Gummert, by mail, introduced by Henry’s sister-in-law, Johanna Sehmel. The two met in person for the first time in Tacoma, at the end of Dora’s long journey from Germany. They married in 1887 and had four children: Carl Louis, Adolph, Ernest & Elsa. Henry was a blacksmith. He also farmed his homestead and worked in the logging industry. Henry became a road supervisor and oversaw the construction of roads that linked the communities of the Peninsula. For many years, Dora crossed the Narrows by ferryboat to sell eggs and produce from her farm in Tacoma markets. Both Henry and Dora were active in the community, supporting the Rosedale school and the constrction of community’s first church. Henry served on the school board and donated his labor and money to the church. Dora travelled many miles along trails through the forest collecting money to buy a large American flag for the school and a stained glass window for the church. Henry

was also a trustee and president of the Rosedale Cemetery Association.    





Paul Serka was an exceptional fisherman. Born in Sumartin, on the Island of Brac, Dalmatia, Paul left Croatia when he was 23. He arrived to Washington with two other would-be prominent Gig Harbor fishermen, Tony Ancich and Nikola Babich. Paul wanted to fish, but opportunities were few and far between. He worked in the sawmills of Tacoma and laid streetcar track along the Point Defiance line until Andrew Gilich gave him his first shot to substitute as crewman on a seiner. Within a year, Paul was fishing the West Passage for sockeye and humpies with Joe Martinac on the boat Traveler. When Paul moved from Tacoma to Gig Harbor in 1914, he found himself in the company of other great fishermen, many of whom were also from Sumartin: Lee Makovich, the Skansie brothers, John Skansie (there were two, unrelated Skansie families in Gig Harbor), Mike Katich, Pasco Dorotich, Spiro Babich, and Sam and John Borovich. By 1915, Paul became one-quarter owner of the boat St. Nicholas, along with Mike Katich, Andrew Gilich, and John Skansie. Competition at sea was fierce. There were at least 200 boats fishing the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the time. A plentiful catch was known as a “big scratch,” and “high boat” designated the boat that had caught the most fish. In those days, High Boat made about $2,000 a haul, but many boats failed to even make expenses. Fishermen who were consistently “high boat” were less vulnerable than most because their catch was guaranteed by the canneries. Paul became one of these fishermen. After he sold the St. Nicholas, he was part owner of several other vessels, amongst them: Confidence, the Emancipator, and a 60 ft. seiner he owned with Mike Katich. In 1920, Paul commissioned The Oceanic, which was designed by Joe Martinac and built at the Skansie Shipyard for $12,000. It was powered by one of the first diesel engines on the Sound. Among the crew members were Joe and Jerry Markota, John Jerkovich, and Tony Ancich. Serka skippered this boat for fourteen years. Paul married Maria Cvitanovic in 1924 and went on to fish successfully for another 43 years. As a regular High Boat, Serka knew the tides, how to spot a school of fish, and how to work them both to his advantage. Others boats followed wherever he went or set his nets. In 1958, Paul commissioned The Sea Monster, one of the fastest purse seiners on the Sound. It was built by Mike Kazulin (Son of Sam Kazulin of Skansie Shipyard). The master seiner was Serka’s last command. Paul retired in 1967. (source:, American biographies)




Andrew E. Severtsen was born in Egersund, Norway in 1886. He immigrated to Minnesota with his aunt and uncle. Eight years later, they came to Gig Harbor and settled in Cromwell. They purchased 20 acres overlooking Wollochet Bay and built a home, barn and chicken coops. Effie Isabelle Chapman was born in Michigan. She came to Cromwell to teach in the one-room schoolhouse when she was 24. She taught eight grades in the schoolhouse and helped local Norwegian immigrants learn English. One of the first people Effie met was Andrew. They were married in 1908, just a year after she arrived. When she became a mother, she stopped teaching and joined the school board, a position she held for more than 20 years. Effie and Andrew had five children: Lloyd, Carlton, Leonard, and twins Lyle and Laura. Leonard never married. The rest married and had children of their own. The Severtsen farm was enlarged to sixty acres and grew strawberries, loganberries and tomatoes. At one time, there were three thousand egg-producing chickens on the farm. The family gathered in the kitchen every evening, cleaning buckets of eggs by hand. Three of the boys later went to work on the ferries.                             



Three generations after immigrating from Norway, the Severtsen family gave rise to an American dream. Henry and Monvilla Severtsen’s daughter, Doris, was gifted with exceptional athletic ability. Long before Title IX guaranteed equal opportunity in sports, Doris was a girl who loved to run – and run she did, all the way to distinction as USA and World Cross Country champion. From 1967 to 1971, she became to only person to win both national and international titles five times in a row. With little support for girls’ atheletics at the time, the people of Gig Harbor rallied together to send Doris to her first Olympics. She went on to a distinguished career in coaching, training men’s and women’s track and cross country teams at the university level, as well as national teams in Finland, Canada, England, Japan, and Nepal. She also coached the USA track, USA Olympic, and USA World Championships teams. Doris is currently an assistant professor in the School of Physical Education and Athletics at Seattle Pacific University, where she heads the cross country teams for both men and women. She was recently honored as a Pioneer of Women's Track and Field. Her definition of a pioneer is “doing it before it was there to do.”  





Overlooking the harbor, Nils and Mary Shyleen owned a 20-acre berry farm and operated a struggling laundry business. Nils also worked as a carpenter, when there was construction work to be had. From 1903-1905, their daughter Mabel (born 1886) chronicled the highs, lows and everyday events of her life. Her diary survives to the present day, offering rare and valuable insight into the pioneering days of Gig Harbor. 





Peter Skansie left the fishing town of Sumartin on the Dalmatian Island of Brac (Croatia) on July 4, 1886. He arrived in New York and soon boarded a train bound for California, where tales of the Gold Rush promised fortune and a better life. He disembarked at San Jose, where he picked fruit for a dollar a day – not exactly the future he had in mind. Greater possibilities lay to the north, he heard. So he traveled to Washington where he earned $2.50 a day at the Wollochet brickyard. When the brickworks went under, he took a job at the Gig Harbor sawmill. When that business failed, he was happy to earn $1.50 a day at a sawmill in Tacoma. When wages fell to $1.25, Peter was ready to go fishing with the Jerisich boys, John and Mike. Their rowboats were almost exclusively purse seiners, a method of fishing introduced to the Puget Sound by Dalmatian fishermen in the mid-1880s. The catch was good and before long Peter established a homestead in Gig Harbor and convinced his brothers (Andrew, Mitchell & Joseph) and sister (Tomazina) to come to America. Peter married Melissa Jerisich, with whom he had a daughter, Julia. Mitchell arrived in 1899 and married Amanda Dorotich, the daughter of another prominent Gig Harbor fishing family. Brothers Joseph and Andrew arrived in 1900. Andrew was a stonemason in Crotia. In Gig Harbor, he built the family home (1908) and the Skansie net shed (1910). His wife Bertha join him in 1909. Peter had long envisioned enlarging the fishing boats, equipping them with an engine and adding a cabin. In 1902, under Mitchell’s expert direction, the Skansie brothers built their first motorized fishing boat (equipped with a 7-horsepower, standard gasoline engine). In 1910, they launched the Navigator, a motorized fishing boat with a cabin and a manually operated seine. Recognizing the potential of automation, in 1912, the Skansie brothers established the Skansie Shipbuilding Company and engaged Sam Kazulin – a fellow Dalmatian from the Island of Brac whose family’s reputation as master boat-builders preceeded him by generations – to manage the shipyard. During these early years, the Skansies fished during the spring and summer, and built boats in the winter. They improved upon the design of early motorized purse seiners, realizing that a pinched, teardrop-shaped bow would be more fuel-efficient than the flat-bed oval shape of other motorized boats. Their reputation grew as they shifted from repairing and modifying existing boats to building vessels from start to finnish. As the shipyard took hold, Peter and Andrew drifted back into fishing, while Mitchell, Joseph and Simon focused on boat-building. By the 1930s, the shipyard expanded to include the construction of autoferries. When Mitchell assumed management of the Washington Navigation Company (which succeeded the Pierce County ferry operation), he ran seven ferries along four routes throughout the Puget Sound. Together with other early Croatian fishing families of Gig Harbor, the Skansies’ boatworks helped create one of the most successful fishing fleets on the west coast. (source:, American biograpies; also   

BK/88-91, HHMA




The Spadoni name is well known in the Gig Harbor area. Folks who attended Peninsula High School (PHS) in the 1970s and ‘80s recall Paul Spadoni, the journalism teacher who led the school’s newspaper to win national awards for many years. Old-timers in the area remember going to Midway School with Spadoni kids in the 1930s and ‘40s. Others know about the Spadoni Brothers’ land clearing and road building business founded in 1946 by brothers Julius, Claude (better known as Mike), and Rudolph. Roy joined his brothers in the business in the 1950's and within 10 years became a partner.  Their family had come to America in 1904 from Monticatini, Italy. According to family historian Annette Spadoni Bannon, the patriarch, Michele (“Michael”) Spadoni and his wife Anita settled in Clay City, Washington, a brick-manufacturing town near present day Eatonville. A few years later, they bought land in the Shore Acres neighborhood of Gig Harbor and built a home there, near Reid Road. “My father Roy was born on that farm in 1914,” Bannon said. By 1932, other family members had also moved to Gig Harbor. Roland Spadoni recalls that he was 10 years old when his parents moved here, also from Clay City. “Our old home is still standing,” Roland said. “It’s the last one at the top of Soundview Drive, next to where the big real estate office is now.” Roland attended Midway school “… from fourth grade on. We all walked to school. Some of us had to walk two miles. I usually walked through the woods rather than on the roads. I always carried my gun with me to hunt along the way. When I got to school, I’d just put my gun behind the potbellied stove to store it. After awhile, though, the teacher made me put it outside.” Roland’s cousin, Al Spadoni, grew up in Kent before his folks moved to Gig Harbor. He spent his school vacations with his Gig Harbor cousins, he said, and, because their school breaks were different from his, he tagged along with them to Midway School. “I just went to Midway during my school vacations,” Al said. “But I have strong memories of it. I remember one time at the end of a lunch break the teacher, Mrs. Mabel Parks, came running back to the school crying. She said, ‘Everybody go home, there’s no school this afternoon. My cow fell in the well and I have to get it out.’” The whole Spadoni family was hard-working, inventive and enterprising. Roland remembered helping his father and uncle dig the family’s wells by hand. “We had to dig three different holes before we got water. One of them was 100-feet deep.” Before Bannon’s father and his brothers started the family business, they did mostly logging, she said. “They logged and cleared land for a lot of people for their homes and farms and for roads.” When the business was started, they also sold coal, oil and asphalt, Roland Spadoni recalled. “I drove the coal truck and hauled coal from Tacoma for them.” “That was before the city had its own paving crews,” Bannon said. “They paved streets in Canterwood and lots of other places.” They also re-turfed the PHS ball-field and paved the parking lot at the Catholic church, Al Spadoni said. “They did lots of things for free. They never wanted any credit for it. It was just the right thing to do.” The Spadonis are like that, Roland Spadoni said. “I remember one time when Don Gillich’s engine went out on his fishing boat. “It was a Friday night and Don was getting ready to leave to fish in Alaska. My dad went over and pulled the engine and took it to Tacoma and had it all fixed and back in by Sunday night, so Don could leave right on schedule. After that, Don always had three or four fish in the hold for us when he got back to Gig Harbor.” “That’s the way it was back then,” Al said. “There wasn’t ever any rivalry. Everybody helped everybody else and shared tools and labor. If one fellow had a cement mixer or a miter saw, everybody just shared it.” “It was a fabulous place to grow up,” Bannon said. “It’s why my husband and I moved back home after his military career.” (see: The Kitsap Sun, 9/13/2010; also




Dave Squalley and his wife, Anne, had nine children: David, Peter, Agnes, Andy, Mary, Ida, Agatha, Margaret & Emma. The Squalleys are perhaps the best known of the Native American families living in the Gig Harbor area at the time of European settlement and one of a few granted land ownership on Wollochet Bay. Dave was known by the settler community as "Chief Squalley." He was a fisherman and his wife was a skilled basket maker. They had nine children: David, Peter, Agnes, Andy, Mary, Ida, Agatha, Margaret and Emma. Upon David’s death, there was an outpouring of grief in the Native American community. He was interred with a traditional Native American ceremony. Annie eventually sold their property and moved to the Puyallup reservation. 




Both originally from Dubrovnik, Croatia, Martin and Katherine Stanich met and married in Astoria, Oregon. They moved to Gig Harbor in 1910 with their four children: Lena and Mary (twins), Tony (Antone) and John. Their last child, Ann, was born in their Gig Harbor home in 1915. Martin built the house and adjacent net shed on the waterfront at Dorotich Avenue. The dock was constructed for his first purse seiner, the Welcome, built in 1913 by Barbare shipyard in Tacoma. The boat was sold in 1920, after Welcome II was built at the Skansie Shipyard. Martin believed in diversification and purchased the Strout property adjacent to his home in 1924. Formerly St. Peter’s Bros. grocery (which burned down), it was replaced by the Stanich Grocery Store. As was customary among Croatian fishing families, Martin’s sons eventually acquired the family businesses. Tony, the eldest, managed the grocery store and son John took over the family fishing boat. Both sons inherited the dock and net shed, and the house was left to the Martin’s daughters. Tony married Adelaide Hubmann and built their home on the lot between the family home and grocery store. He ran the store until the late 1950s. The Stanich store served Gig Harbor’s commercial fleet, supplying groceries on credit at the beginning of each season, with fishing family members helping out in the store as needed. When competitors entered the Gig Harbor grocery business, operating a “credit store” was no longer feasible. Stanich Grocery was remodeled, with space designated for a liquor store and a smaller space made into a deli in the late 1950s. When the liquor distributor left, Tony retired in 1971. The liquor store was rented out to a realty company, and the smaller space remained a bakery/deli (today’s NY Nails and Suzanne’s Deli) . After Tony died in 1995, the building was sold to Debra and Alan Ross (1997). Their daughter, Irene, still lives in Gig Harbor, in the family home on Dorotich street, next to the old Stanich grocery store. Martin and Katherine’s son John, fishing since age 16, took over the Welcome II, upon his father retirement. He married Pauline Castelan and skippered the vessel for over 50 years. They lived a half block away from the original grocery store on Harborview Drive with their daughter. John passed suddenly in 1974 and the following year the Welcome II was sold. The home that Martin built was left to John and Tony’s sisters, Ann Manley and Lena Karmelich. Ann Manley’s daughter, Mary Ann Jackson now owns the home. John’s grandsons, John and Tom Dempsey maintained the Stanich dock until it was sold in 1983. Three years later, Mike Thornhill and Robert Ellsworth, proprietor of the Ship to Shore and Kayaks, purchased the site. Prior to Ellsworth’s complete remodel of the shed, the space was rented by a local commercial fisherman, who used it to store fishing nets and equipment. It is now a series of rooms for storage, office space and an art studio with an elevated dock extending in front, and low floats for moorage.  
Sweeney, a native of Ireland, came to the United States in 1893 to visit an uncle and see teh World's Fair in Chicago. She decided to stay and in 1894 married James Sweeney. In 1908, James, Theresa, and their sons James, Francis, John, and Leo settled on 40 acres of land they purchased near Rosedale. The family farmed and operated a dairy until 1915 when Theresa moved into the harbor after a fire on the farm. She built a home at the head of the bay, operating a store and real estate office out of the house. She was appointed postmistress that same year and added the post office to her house. She served as postmistress for seven years. In 1922, Theresa built the Sweeney Block across the street from her home. The building housed the new post office, a dental office, pharmacy, general mercantile, and a restaurant. Theresa's general store boasted an inventory valued at $15,000. The original building was destroyed by fire in the late 1920s. Another building replaced it but was demolished in the late 1940s. Nothing has been built at the location since. Theresa played an active role in the Gig Harbor community. She campaigned to build St. Nicholas Church, served as the first woman Justice of the Peace for four years, was the first Secretary of the Peninsula Federated Clubs, a director of the Peninsula Fair, a leader in transportation and mercantile businesses, and active in local politics. In 1926 she was the Democratic candidate for the legislature, but Pierce County was considered a Republican stronghold at the time and she lost

the election – although it is recorded that she “ran a good race.”                           








Few women have displayed such keen judgment in the growth and development of Gig Harbor as Rose Tarabochia. Rental houses, cheerful monuments to her business insight, line Tarabochia Avenue. These, and Neptune Court on the corner of Harborview and Pioneer, are just a few of her properties in Gig Harbor and elsewhere. After completing the sixth grade, Rose, one of Martin and Anna Ancich's seven children, went to work selling candy and ice cream to passengers waiting for ferries out of Gig Harbor. The dock was where the Tides Tavern is now. At 16 she married Nick Tarabochia, a commercial fisherman of Croatian ancestry like her. The couple began acquiring property and fishing boats. Following World War II, war-workers' housing in Bremerton went up for sale. Seizing the opportunity, Rose and Nick purchased a number of units. The houses were towed to Gig Harbor on a barge and unloaded when the tide was low. They were hauled to prepared sites on Tarabochia Avenue where they still stand today. Rose didn’t know what inspired her to buy the old Gig Harbor garage and turn it into shops, but she recognized its potential. That old garage in the heart of town is now Neptune's Court, a shopping mall refurbished to entice tourists and locals to stop and shop. Nick passed away in 1992. He is fondly remembered for his ability as a fisherman and as an innovative real estate developer.                                        




Ole J. Tollefsen was born in Norway in 1830. He immigrated to the U.S., living in Minnesota before settling in Gig Harbor. He and his wife Anna Marie, also from Norway, had 18 children, 13 of whom survived into adulthood: Ole G., Ingebrit, Eberg, Richard, Anna, Christian, Mary, Emma, Jennie, Matilda, Amanda, Hannah & Oletta (Lettie). Ole was already 60 years old when he brought his family to Gig Harbor. He secured a 10-acre homestead overlooking the north end of the harbor. In addition to farming, Ole was also a lay minister. Their daughter Amanda married John Sather, a Gig Harbor businessman, born in Norway in 1880, who immigrated to the U.S. as a young man. They had four children: Marion, Jean, Leona (“Lettie”) & John Jr. Shortly after the birth of their son, John Sather was murdered on his boat, where he conducted business. The quiet community of Gig Harbor was shocked. Amanda and John’s daughter Lettie married Peter Sund and had a family. Matilda married Rudolph Moller, who came to Gig Harbor in 1894. The Tollefsen boys went east and became ministers; one in South Dakota, another in Minnisota. Rev. Ingebrit Tollefsen eventually returned to the Puget Sound, living in Tacoma and then in Seattle. (source: John Sather Jr.) 





Charles Trombley moved to Gig Harbor with his wife Mary and three children: Mary, Sarah & Charles, in 1923. He purchased a local newspaper, the Bay Island News, which served the communities of Burley, Midway, Glencove, Wauna, Purdy, Shore Acres, Warren, Fox Island, and Longbranch. Trombley changed the name of the newspaper to The Peninsula Gateway and published it for 30 years until his death in October, 1953. During his lifetime, Trombley was very influential in the Gig Harbor community. He served in the Washington State Legislature in 1939 and was active in Peninsula Federated Clubs, the Gig Harbor Lions Club (founding member), Peninsula Grange, and the Gig Harbor Toastmasters. The Peninsula High School Quill and Scroll Society named their newly formed chapter after him, C.E. Trombley Chapter and named him an honorary member. He was a gifted cornetist and conducted the Peninsula Band, which entertained at local affairs. During the summer, on Saturday evenings, the band gave concerts on a little bandstand near the newspaper office (today’s Anthony’s parking lot on Harborview Drive). After his death, Charles’ wife Mary continued to publish The Gateway until 1955, when she sold the paper to Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Platt, Sr. The Trombley’s daughter Sarah married Reid O. Hunt, of the local Hunt steamboat and ferry family. (HHM blog, 4/24/12)








Axel Uddenberg was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1855. He went to sea in 1871 and gained his master’s papers to command a merchant ship by the time he was 21. He first saw the Puget Sound in 1888, when he hauled a cargo of lumber from Tacoma to Australia. He came back to Washington to farm in 1890, first at Spanaway, then at Roy. He moved to Gig Harbor in 1906 and built a home which featured a general store on the ground floor. The house was in north Gig Harbor, at the head of the bay. W.P. Kendall already had a general store nearby, but there seemed to be room for another. It was a busy stretch, home of the post office and Frank Secor’s livery stable, which catered to farmers who brought their horse-drawn wagons down from Crescent Valley and the back country. Axel and Angelina Uddenberg had six children: Hobart, Signo, Aida, Bertram, Herman & Alice. In 1910 or 1911, Axel purchased land beside the People’s Dock from Sam Jerisich’s wife, Anna. The two-building store housed a hay and feed shop facing the waterfront, and the West Side Grocery, catering to those whoe came by land or sea. Axel chose his son Bert to run the operation. As a man who had commanded a ship at 21, he saw nothing wrong with turning the management of a store over to a 16 year old. With the onset of WWI, two of Axel’s sons went into the service. Bert, recently married, set aside his storekeeper duties to serve in the medical corps. Another son, Herman, became Gig Harbor’s lone casualty, killed in action in France just weeks before the end of the war in 1918. Sadly, this was not the last tragedy for the Uddenberg family. In 1923, Axel and Angelina lost son Signo when his ship sank in a storm at sea.
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John Vernhardson was born and raised in Iceland. He immigrated to Canada in 1893. John met his wife, Jonina Sigurdson, in Alberta around 1901. Jonina had two children from a previous marriage, Sadie (“Susie”) and Sam. Soon, John and Jonina added a daughter, Lillian, to the family. In 1903, John, Jonina, Sadie and Lillian moved to Castle Rock, Washington. John worked on the railroad. When a terrible case of pneumonia threatened John’s life, the family was joined by John’s close friend, Jon Haflidason (John Hall), who helped them through the tough time and became part of the household. The family moved to Hoquiam, where John worked in a local sawmills. The family grew with the addition of daughter Sarah (Fritzi), and the arrival of Jonina’s son Sam and her father, Sigurd Sigurdson. The household moved to Gig Harbor in 1910. John and Jon each purchashed 20 acres. Trees were felled, stumps dug out and a barn was built. Unfortunately, the loganberries, marionberries, raspberries, alfalfa and cherries John planted did not always flourish. He continually experimented, trying new crops and techniques. He was a charter member of the local Masonic lodge and the Peninsula Light Company. He was president of the Peninsula Berry Growers Association and the Gig Harbor Guernsey Cattle Club. Sadie grew up to teach school near Gig Harbor. She married William Fletcher, a Gig Harbor farmer. They had two sons, William Jr. and Jerry. In 1936, Sadie had her own radio show on KMO in Tacoma, The Children’s Talent Radio Program. That year, she selflessly gave a blood transfusion to a little girl and died from resulting complications. Like her sister, Sarah became a schoolteacher. She married Richard Johnson and they had two children, Richard Jr. and Susan. Jonina’s son Sam was a Marine during WWII, he later worked in the Pierce County Roads Department and was a Mason and a Shriner. (source: Richard Johnson; see also








Julius Wasdahl was born in Norway and immigrated to the U.S. in 1892. He settled in Crescent Valley prior to 1915. The farm was located at the present site of the Crescent Valley Fire Station. Julius married Kristine Nordahl, also from Norway. She was a widow with four children from her first marriage. The couple had a dairy farm where they raised Guernsey cattle. Daily, they delivered milk products throughout the Gig Hrabor area. The slogan on their milk bottles was “You can whip our cream but you can’t beat our milk.” The Wasdahls owned additional property north and south of the farm, where they would graze the cows in the spring and summer. The cattle were herded up the road to the pasture after the morning milking and then back for the evening milking. Kristine’s daughter, Anna Nordahl, was a major donor to the Gig Harbor Cemetery. (source: Paul Alvestad)





Thaddeus Waters was born in Northville, New York. The year he was born his family moved to Ohio. As a young man, they moved again, settling just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. There, Thaddeus married Lura Weaver. The couple had five sons: Hiram, Albert, Alpha, Theron and Elmer. In 1862, Thaddeus enlisted in the Union Army and served in the 2nd Michgan Calvary. He was taken prisoner in the Battle of Chickamauga. He was held captive in several Confederate prisons, including the notorious Andersonville. He survived starvation, disease, and hardship of all kinds. He wrote a memoire of his imprisonment, The Terrors of Rebel Prisons, which was published in 1868. In the 1890s, Thaddeus lived for a time in Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma before returning to Michigan. After Laura died in 1901, Thaddeus married Hannah Halcomb. In 1903, he went to visit his friend and fellow veteran Miles Hunt in Gig Harbor; leaving his wife Hannah in Michigan. He established a homestead and spent the rest of his life here. In 1910, he was officially divorced from Hannah. His son Hiram arranged for Diana Sell to move to Gig Harbor to take care of his father. Thaddeus married Diana in 1911. He was active in the Gig Harbor Civil War Veterans organization, and the Grand Army of the Republic, which had 20 members.




Thomas Wilkinson was a preacher from England who travelled across the United States with his two children, William and Louisa, in the early 1880s. When they arrived in Minnesota, they were hosted by the Cruver family. The Cruvers’ son, Lewis, was instantly smitten with Louisa and the two were married when she turned 16. Lewis and Louisa moved west to the Dakota Territory, and then to Tacoma in 1888. They were joined by Louisa’s father Thomas and brother Wiiliam, as well several of Lewis’ brothers – Joe, Horace & Marvin. In Tacoma, William and Lewis established a dairy business. In 1898, the Cruvers and the Wilkinsons moved to Gig Harbor. Lewis Cruver turned to logging, worked on steamboats, and eventually opened his own gas station. The Wikinsons – William, his wife Maria (Castle) and their children (Dorothy, Helen, Wilma and son Vivian) – purchased property along today’s Rosedale Street and established the Pioneer Dairy Farm in 1909. In 1914, William built a barn to house his herd of dairy cows and began construction on a new family home – a dream he would never realize as he died tragically from a fall off the barn’s loft. In William’s absence, Maria valiantly carried on. She kept up the family garden, ran the dairy farm, and finished the family home. With the help of her children, she grew corn and hay for silage to feed enough milking cows to establish a dairy route in Gig Harbor. Maria planted vegetables every spring, until her death in 1953; a practice her daughters Helen, then Dorothy continued until 1974. Today, the Wilkinson farm is a 16-acre wildlife park open to the public, with wetlands, holly groves, meadows, hiking trails and a community garden. (HHM blog, 7/10/12)      




Willet Henemat

Sam Jerisich, one of the first Europeans immigrants to settle in Gig Harbor, met Anna Willet Henemat, his bride-to-be, while fishing off the coast of Vancouver, B.C. with his partners John Ferragut and Peter Goldsmith. Anna was a member of the Penelakut first-nation people of Kuper Island, Canada. Sam and Annie married and had a daughter, Caroline. In 1867, Sam, Annie, Caroline, John and Peter decided to relocate to Gig Harbor and start a new community. The Jerisichs’ first home was a one-room cabin on the east shore of the harbor. Later they built a larger house on a 160-acre homestead on the west side of the bay. The land was dense with forest and choked with underbrush. There were no trails, no roads. A small community of Puyallup-Nisqually Indians resided at the head of the bay. They spoke a Salish language closely related to Anna’s own Halkomelem native tongue, which helped ingratiate the settlers to their new neighbors. Anna hunted bear and deer for food, split lumber, and picked berries. Sam felled trees to create space for a garden and there were plenty of fish in the harbor to eat. He built the harbor’s first dock, then a dogfish-oil rendering plant for feul, and a smoke house to preserve the catch of fish for trade. If they needed provisions beyond what they could shoot, fish or grow, they rowed to Steilacoom, Olympia or the Hudson Bay Fort at Nisqually. They traded oil and smoked fish for candle tallow and knitting wool. Sam caught fish using nets that he and Anna made by hand. The family grew and prospered. Anna and Sam had 8 children: John, Michael, Samuel Jr., Caroline, Melissa, Catherine, Julia and Mary. Not long after establishing their homestead, fellow Croatian fishermen John Novak and Joe Dorotich arrived. Joe married Jerisich’s daughter, Caroline. Like Sam Jerisich, John Novak married a Native American woman, Josephine Cosgrove (born Zephina Cheroka Cosgrove), the daughter of a Puyallup Indian mother. (source: “First Croatian Fishermen on Vancouver Island,” by Dr. Zelimir Juricic [cousin of Samuel Jerisich]. 2001; also, American biographies; and 








Daniel Gordon Yates immigrated from England to Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1849. There, he met and married Jane Withington and together they had three sons: Albert, Lee and George. In the early 1880s, Daniel, Jane and their youngest son George headed west. In 1884, they arrived in Rosedale and established a 40-acre homestead. Son Albert came out from Philadelphia to join them. In 1895, Albert married Sarah L. Chapman. Sarah, her parents and her two brothers immigrated from Scotland. To Albert and Sarah were born the first twins on the Peninsula, Daniel and Christina (Chrissie). The family owned a horse-drawn carriage and a piano that came from London by ship. Daniel’s son George married Minnie Altenburg of Wisconsin. They met while Minnie was visiting her sister, Alice Schindler, who lived near the Yates in Rosedale. They had two children, Rex and Mollie Dee. Albert’s son Daniel was in the Army during WWI. During his service, he wrote letters to his twin sister Chrissie that were published in the community newspaper. Upon his return, Daniel opened a Shell gas station, and later went to work for Boeing. He married Alice Jones and had two children. After Albert’s death, his wife Sarah hired a young German named Peter Land to help around the homestead. Peter married the Yates’ daughter Chrissie and they had one daughter, Rosemary. Because he was of German birth, during WWII, Peter was sent to an internment camp in the Midwest for a year. Upon his return to Gig Harbor after the war, Peter started his own sewer-installation business in Bremerton. (source: Rosemary Ross, Rosedale)




Alfonso was Gig Harbor's first postmaster. He operated out of his home on the east side of the bay, which also served as a boarding house. He built the community's first steamboat landing – "Young's Landing" (also known as "Union Dock") – at the shore of his property, where the boat ramp is today.


Alfonso's son, Fennimore, followed his father from Minnesota to Gig Harbor in 1887 as an adult man with a family of his own. His wife, Ella Mae, bore him 12 children. The grandson of two Presbyterian preachers, Fennimore began preaching in his teens and served as Gig Harbor’s first minister. He led services aboard the steamer Isabel in the middle of the harbor. Sunday school was his strong suit. Records show that he had 57 students in Gig Harbor and 36 students in Rosedale, a significant percentage of a growing community of diverse Christian denominations. In 1891, he was selected to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church in Detroit – a unique honor and reflection of his success. Upon his return to Gig Harbor, however, he distanced himself from Presbyterianism and established a non-denominational Christian church. He took a public stand against the consumption of alcohol, began speaking in toungues and believed that he could cast out the devil. His popularity waned and eventually Fennimore and his family moved to California in search of a more receptive congregation.







Along with Sam Jerisich and John Farragut, Petar Zlatarich was one of three European settlers to establish the town of Gig Harbor. In the mid-1860s, the men met on a steamer bound for Victoria, British Columbia and, by the time the vessel docked at Nanaimo, they had decided to become business partners. Peter hailed from Dalmatia, Croatia and changed his from Petar Zlatarich to “Peter Goldsmith” upon his arrival to America. Peter, Sam and John fished the lenghth of Vancouver Island, and throughout the Puget Sound, in a boat they rowed by hand. On one of their excursions to the south Sound, they happened upon a sheltered little bay with ample fishing grounds nearby. They decided to settle there and start a community that would come to be known as “Gig Harbor.” They cleared land, built rudimentary homes and established a nascent fishing industry. Peter married Millie, a woman 30 years his junior, and together they had a son, Peter Jr. After 1880, when he was registered as a 51 year old Pierce County fisherman in the U.S. Census, little is known of what became of Peter and his family. But for a few documents recording the transfer of title to land, and as a witness to marriage, the trail of his wherebouts quickly grows cold. The Washington Death Index lists one “Millie Goldsmith” who died in 1900 at the age of 39. Fourteen years later, just miles away from Gig Harbor, there is a “Peter Goldsmith” interred at the Pauper’s Cemetery in Tacoma. His birth and death dates match our founding fisherman. Burried right next to him is 32 year old Peter Goldsmith Jr. Both men died the same year. (source: “First Croatian Fishermen on Vancouver Island,” by Dr. Zelimir Juricic [cousin of Samuel Jerisich]. Zagreb:Matica. 2001; also 

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