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Belfair Bylines published in the PSGS periodical

Allyn and Victor History to be written
The Headstone Mystery - Who is Aunt Emma Cress? by Jan Stevenson
The Art of Composing Effective Queries by Linnie Griffin
Belfair History by Jan Stevenson
The Photograph Album by Jackie Perkins-Horton
Seafaring Granddads by Madi Cataldo
My Inspiration to become a Genealogist by Nadine Tiegi
Oscar Olafsson Foster, Belfair Pioneer by Estelle Foster

Allyn and Victor History to be written

Pam Merrill of Outlook Writing & Design of Belfair plans to fulfill the late Irene Davis’ incomplete project to write the definitive history of the communities on North Bay including the towns of Allyn and Victor. In order to accomplish this objective, Ms. Merrill will be using the enormous amount of research material accumulated by Mrs. Davis.

Ms. Merrill requests your help in her search for historical material. She would like to hear from those who may have information on North Bay pioneer families, landmarks, events, business enterprises and anything that would be apropos to this history. She is also appealing for copies of antique photos of North Bay pioneers, places and events.

You may contact her at:
Pam Merrill
Outlook Writing & Design
(360) 275-0561
FAX (360) 275-1978
P O Box 142
Belfair, WA 98528


The Headstone Mystery! Who is Aunt Emma Cress?

by Jan Stevenson

In May of 1988 the tombstone for Aunt Emma Cress (1890—1948) was found in the Twin Firs Cemetery near Belfair, Washington. It is not from this cemetery and no one seems to know where it came from. It is a flat stone that lays level on the ground. The Twin Firs Cemetery commissioners would be very interested to find its correct home. Anyone who knows about this stone or Emma Cress can call Jan Stevens at 360-275-2034. She will pass this information on to the Twin First Cemetery commissioners.

Jan has searched the Washington State death records index, but could not find a reference for Emma Cress. Is she from another state? Please help us find the correct home for this headstone.


The Art of Composing Effective Queries

by Linnie Griffin

The purpose of a genealogical query is to obtain certain family history information through the means of an aptly written message of inquiry. It is often overlooked, but it is one of the simplest and easiest methods available to us in our quest for specific family history knowledge.

Our own newsletter, the Backtracker, and those of a multitude of other family history societies will gladly accept your query for publication. Most genealogical newsletters as well as our own enjoy a wide circulation through their membership, exchange programs with other genealogical societies and distribution to various libraries. Your query is assured of a wide distribution and a longer shelf life than you would imagine. The chance of a positive response for a properly targeted and written query is very good.

The first and last rule of genealogical writing is to keep it simple and short. Your question should include these details and not much more:

What information you desire,
Locality where event happened.
Your name and address.

For example:

Rachel McGee McDowell Long married James McDowell 1837, Cooper County Missouri, Seeking her parents?

If you have one, include your e-mail address with your mailing address.

Some genealogical society newsletters only accept member queries. In that case I encourage you to join. At the same time submit your query. It is always wise to join genealogical societies located in areas in which you are doing extensive research.

Here are some common abbreviations used in queries:
B - Born; FA - Father; SIB - Sibling; CA - Circa; HUS - Husband; WI - Wife
CH - Children; M - Married; WID - Widow; D - Died; MO - Mother; Y - Years
DAU - Daughter; RES - Resided; DIV - Divorce; S - Son

I urge you not to underestimate the power of the clearly written query. Make it a point to take a mental survey of those areas in which you are conducting family history research. These are the localities that will most benefit from this strategy. Don’t procrastinate writing that query. Do it now!


Belfair's History

by Jan Stevenson

Belfair has a history rich with a community of people who populated both the north and south shore of Hood Canal and along the Old Belfair Highway. There is very little documentation of the known “firsts” for the Belfair region. Clifton was the name given to the settled area now known as Belfair, but no date has ever been identified when Clifton was first settled. Early information on the region notes the first post office was established in 1880. Alfred Jones was the first postmaster. The Clifton post office existed between 1880-1913, but was closed down due to lack of business and an absence of individuals interested in applying for the position of postmaster. In 1915 the Clifton area residents requested a new post office from the State of Washington. Unfortunately, another town of Clifton had been established in the State of Washington. The first postmaster of Belfair, Elizabeth Murray, proposed the name Belfair, which was an inspired from the poem St. Elmo (See Editor’s Note). The Wilkes Expedition was the first European people in the area. Lieutenant Augustus Case led a mapping and survey team in 1841, which provided the first mapping of the eastern arm of Hood Canal. Prior mapping by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 did not include that portion of Hood Canal or the Belfair area.

The first European settlers to the Belfair area are not documented, however an early settler on record was Franklin Purdy who lived on the canal in 1854. Franklin married Emily Kirkland, daughter of Moses and Nancy Kirkland of Louisiana; the couple raised eleven children. The Kirkland family relocated to California in 1856 then returned to the Puget Sound area in 1859. Nancy Kirkland died in 1863 while the family resided on the south shore of Hood Canal. Her burial wishes were to be buried on the other side of the canal, which was later named Tombstone Territory after Nancy’s burial site. Boating across the water, rather than driving or use of wagons was the mode of transportation to the funerals at the time.

The biggest draw for people to settle the Belfair area was for inexpensive land and plentiful timber on most land in the area. Logging was extremely profitable at the time, which helped the landowners clear land for farming.

One of the more interesting of these farms was the 160-acre Company Farm owned and operated by John McReavy in 1868 at the mouth of the Union River. It was built and homesteaded with two large barns, a variety of fruit trees numbering 150 and an additional forty acres of cleared and fenced land. McReavy also installed 500 rods of drainage ditches. McReavy founded the Union River Logging Railroad Company which was incorporated 1883 with his brother Ed McReavy and brother-in-law, John Latham. Due to financial problems, John McReavy sold most of his Clifton land to the Puget Mill Company, which later became the 300-acre Company Farm. John also had land in Union City, which is now known as Union, Washington. This farm on the Union River was leased over time to several tenants who raised cattle, hogs and crops. Crops included oats, wheat, barley, potatoes, onions, turnips, carrots and peas. One of the most interesting crops was peppermint, raised between 1920-1923. The local townspeople could smell it from all around. Lack of sales and problems with the distilling process caused the farm to abandon its cultivation.

Many of the early area settlers are documented in Irene Davis’ History of Belfair and the Tahuya Peninsula 1881-1940. Mrs. Davis found descendants of early Belfair residents and used their old photographs to her book. Some of these descendants still have a Belfair connection.

My husband and I came to Belfair in 1959 for construction work. We decided to stay and raise our family here because it was such a quiet small town of closely-knit families. We quickly adjusted from urban life to a sleepy little town where the streets rolled up at 6:00 p.m., deer frequented our front yard and you could live quite inexpensively in cabins along the canal and enjoy rich seafood all year long. In the summer Belfair’s population always swells with vacationers passing through to the Twanoh and Belfair state parks or people renting cabins along the canal.

Belfair has many wonderful offerings such as the Midsummer’s Festival every July and the Theler Wetlands, a two and half mile nature walk along the dikes at the point where Hood Canal ends. Also extraordinary views of the Olympics and Cascade mountains and vast array of community sports and school functions are available.

My memories of the grocery and general store in Belfair begins with one operated by George and Alice Pope. It operated between 1935 and 1943 then was leased out to others. The store had a butcher, an old-fashioned glass meat display, general merchandise, hardware and offered credit to customers who were struggling between paydays. Editor’s Note: The work St. Elmo has been attributed to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It cannot be verified that she wrote anything with the title St. Elmo, but it is known that in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh, Third Book, that there are two references to the name Belfair. They are (out of context): “My critic Belfair wants another book” and “That's hard, my critic, Belfair! So-what next?” Could this have been the inspiration for the naming of Belfair? Additional Editor’s Note: With regard to the Kirkland, McReavy and Purdy families, see pages 68-69 of the September 2001, Backtracker, Long, Long Ago in the Skykomish Valley.

Aurora Leigh
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My critic Hammond flatters prettily,
And wants another volume like the last.
My critic Belfair wants another book
Entirely different, which will sell, (and live?)

That's fingered by said public, fifty years,
Since first taught spelling by its grandmother,
And yet a revelation in some sort:
That's hard, my critic, Belfair! So-what next?
My critic Stokes objects to abstract thoughts;


The Photograph Album

by Jackie Perkins-Horton

When I started researching in 1973, my grandmother, Viola Violet [Bates] Valiquet was still alive and according to her, the courthouse in Dakota County, Minnesota, where she was born, had burned and all records had been destroyed.

On a hunch I sent for her birth certificate and shortly thereafter received a copy in the mail. Her parents were listed as William Almon Bates and Susan Morrison. I was not able to talk to Grams again as she died on my birthday the following year. Continuing my research, I found that her father had died in Silverton, Marion County, Oregon in 1919 and was buried in Green Mountain Cemetery. As soon as time permitted, I headed south to look for his grave.

I found a large cemetery in Silverton and proceeded to look for the grave of William Bates – (it was a Sunday and the cemetery office was closed). After searching the cemetery and not finding his grave, I headed for my car wondering what to do next. I observed a woman putting flowers on a new grave, so I asked her if she knew of any old cemeteries near Silverton with graves dating back to 1919. She hesitated and asked who I was looking for. I told her Bates and Leikem (the married name of William’s sister). She said yes there was a very old cemetery about ten miles away on a mountain road. She suggested I call the Leikem’s who still lived in the area. She led me to a shopping area where I placed the phone call to the Leikem’s who invited me to their home.

I was overwhelmed by this woman’s kindness, and she insisted I follow her to the cemetery. In the cemetery I found the graves of William Bates, his brother LeRoy and his sister Charlotte Leikem. When this woman and I exchanged names, I was absolutely stunned. She stated that her name was Ann Robinson. William, LeRoy, and Charlotte Bates’ mother’s name was Sarah Ann Robinson!

I took photographs of the tombstones, spruced up the area, and headed down the road to visit the Leikem’s. They knew very little about the Bates family, but did give me a phone number of Charlotte’s stepdaughter who lived in Vaughn, Washington (which is outside of Purdy – about 25 miles from my home in Silverdale, Washington). I called and she invited me to her home. When I arrived, she said she did not know anything concerning the Bates family since it was her stepmother’s family, but she did have the family photo album that belonged to Charlotte. She handed the album to me and said, “These are your Bates family so you should keep it.” You can imagine how astounded I was. The album, on a permanently mounted stand, opens outward and is bluish green velvet with a pretty ecru raised scroll and flowers. The date inside says 1881.

I took the album home but could not identify any of the pictures. The first picture in the album is a wedding picture. When I went to Minnesota in 1979, I took the album with me hoping my uncle or aunt could identify some of the pictures. As soon as my uncle saw the wedding picture he exclaimed, “That is mom and dad!” Yes, this was my grandmother who I had started researching! I think fate had a lot to do with my finding this album. Most of the photos in this beautiful old album have now been identified.


Seafaring Granddadds

by Madi Cataldo

I had two granddads---guess everyone does! But I think mine led very interesting lives. My father’s (George Abbott Smith, November 1898 – December 1974) father was known to me as Thomas Smith (January 1860 – November 1947). He lived in Brighton, Massachusetts, but he had a thick English accent. He had worked at the Boston Shipyards and retired from the Boston and Albany Railroad. As a child I remember him saying he had come to the United States from Cardiff, Wales on a ship. For some reason I thought he had been a stowaway.

When I became interested in genealogy I looked for Thomas Smith in the Cardiff, Wales census. For twenty years I persevered in my chase for a record of his origin. I spoke with Arthur Fiske, a professional, and he said, “perhaps Smith was a chosen name as many Welsh did not have definite surnames.”

I only knew he had a sister Mary Jane. Of course, as so many of us do, I waited to ask questions when all but one younger aunt was alive. When questioned she said we had no relatives in Wales, but she had one cousin in Devon England. In May of 1982 I quickly wrote to my cousin Frederick Elliott. Late June when the reply arrived I was stunned. “My brother died in January, he knew all about the family, I am Fanny May, the youngest sister (in my 80’s) and I know very little.” But she did tell me that my grandfather joined the British Navy to escape working the coalmines in Wales. He went AWOL, changed his name to Thomas Smith from Frederick Elliott. She liked the name Elliott much better. I received two letters from her prior to her death. She told me about her mother and my granddad’s brother was her father. It took me a long time to realize that this family did not start out in Wales, but in Ottery St. Mary, Devon, England. When I checked those census returns, there they were. My granddad Thomas or Frederick was the youngest. His mother died of cancer when he was eleven years old. His older Sister Mary Jane married a gentleman that had a job with the government in Cardiff, Wales and he must have moved there with her. From the Mormon Church I was able to buy birth, marriage and death certificates. It was such a thrill to find this family.

My maternal grandfather was Brooks W. Grindle (August 1856 – June 1943) of Maine. He was a schoolteacher and superintendent of schools. When I knew him he was retired and a farmer. As a young man he signed as a deck hand on the three masted schooner Hattie Tapley. They sailed from Maine to New York, around the horn and north to Japan. He was quite the storyteller and crossword puzzler. I remember listening to him as he told of his sailing adventures. He said when approaching Pacific islands they could smell the flowers before they could see the land. On the way home pirates chased them. The captain had them boil water, scatter tacks about the deck, and grab weapons in case they were boarded. Luckily they escaped.

I feel very fortunate to have known both of these adventurous men. It was a mystery for years why my mother Ruth Estelle Grindle, (October 1905 – December 1975) had a shawl in her hope chest made in India. I am sure Thomas traveled far and wide.

I’ll treasure a canvas bag made by Brooks while he was at sea. He also wrote a diary, brought home dishes, a ladies purse, and an ivory mirror from Japan. But his stories are the real treasurers.

What wonders are revealed when we research our past. It is fascinating!


My Inspiration to become a Genealogist

by Nadine Tiege

Why did genealogy interest me? Well! You can blame my sister. She spent her book fund for clothes in Seattle after waiting over three years for the Starr book. Then she found out it was on special order. When it became available, she sent me notice the book was waiting and would I like to buy it for a mere $89.00.

The Starr book was written by Buris Pratt Starr in 1879 was the result of an immense amount of research. It has been invaluable to many other Starr descendants and me. My line is from Thomas Starr’s son Dr. Comfort Starr. Comfort and his wife Elizabeth are buried in Kings Chapel in Boston.

The book had my fourth great-grandmother’s (Mercy [Starr] Rogers) history, with the story of her move from Connecticut to Ohio after her father Captain Tim Starr, (the Revolutionary War hero) died in1809. What wonderful stories I found in the pages of that book. It confirmed what my mother had told me about the unusual names we had in our family.

Since I have had the Starr book, I have made a trips to England and Connecticut where I found local histories on other members of my family, went to their churches and visited a few of their homes that are still in existence. When I departed the cemetery where my Starr, Parson, Miller and Roger families are buried, I could feel my ancestors asking me not to forget them and to come back sometime.

What a great group of members we have in our genealogy community. It has been a great thrill to find other PSGS members who are researching the same surnames as I am.

Now my great passion is to find the birthplace of my ancestor, Slippery George Bowzer.


Oscar Olafsson Foster, Belfair Pioneer

by Estelle Foster

In 1881, at the age of sixteen, Oskar received a permit to work away from home, probably on the barges of nearby waterways. We find he had a photograph made in Trollhattan during 1886, the year of his twenty-first birthday. The clerical survey record for the Forshalla parish shows him leaving that same year for the town of Orgyte, a suburb of the city of Goteborg. The clerical record for that area shows him living with relatives and working as a laborer in a barrel factory.

On August 27, 1886, he signed into the police register as leaving for Boston on the ship Romeo, going to Hull, England. Precise records of his activities at Hull have not been located at this time, but family legend has it that he served in the English Merchant Marine aboard sailing vessels. During this time, one of the Captains for whom he served and whom he respected was surnamed Foster. This name he assumed upon coming to the United States.

Oskar next appears in Chicago, as Oscar Foster, living with a Charley Wallins at 189 Neyberri Avenue, and applying for United States Citizenship on April 19,1890. While still living at the Neyberri Avenue address, he took his final oath of allegiance and received naturalization papers on November 26, 1897.

On September 23,1898 he enlisted in the United States Navy and served aboard thirteen different vessels between 1898 and his discharge on May 4, 1912. He began service as a Seaman and became Petty Officer with the duties of Coxswain on December 2, 1910. On October 4, 1905 he was initiated into the Masonic Grand Lodge of Virginia, Seaboard #56. He was hospitalized three times while in the service: Norfolk Virginia January 18,1903, again in Yokohama Japan October 11,1908, and again in Bremerton May 4,1912, due to varicocele.

While attached to the USS South Dakota and stationed in Bremerton, Oscar found property along the Union River, in Mason County, which reminded him of his homeland in Sweden. On March 22, 1910 he purchased land from the Mikelsons, described as being in Section 29, Township 23N, Range 1WM, SW 1/4. He then went on to serve two more years in the Navy until May 4,1912. After his discharge he came to Clifton, later named renamed Belfair, in Mason County.

In Seattle on May 6,1912 he married Anna Becker. They came to his property in Clifton and settled down to an early day life of farming. On August 28, 1914 Anna died and was buried in the "family" plot. This cemetery was comprised of adjoining corners of Ocar Foster’s and Henry Larson’s individual farms. This "family plot" is now the lower comer of Twin Firs Cemetery.

Oscar continued on alone for a short time, but felt the need of a helpmeet, so on December 24 1914 he married Lucy M. Trigg in Port Orchard. Again a home was started near the Union River and farming and occasional outside labor for cash money was the usual routine. Oscar had no family of his own at this time, but Lucy had a small grandson named Benny Trigg who had been orphaned at an early age. This child Oscar subsequently adopted and raised as his own for several years. Unfortunately, in the years 1918 and 1919 an influenza epidemic was rampant throughout the country, and poor Lucy succumbed on 22 April 1919. She too, was buried in the small cemetery plot next to Anna.

Oscar kept on for nearly a year, caring for Benny, farming and working out usually as a laborer on the county roads. During the early spring of 1920 he met Lucy May Brown through mutual friends. A romance blossomed and May 17, 1920 they were married, also in Port Orchard, and then traveled to Clifton and the farm near the river.

Oscar and Lucy had five children together; Oscar James, born April 4, 1921, Roy Ferdinand on 2,1922, Jesse Cornelius on July 28, 1924, Lucy Katherine on February 2, 1926, and Homer Paul on October 3,1931. All were born at home in Clifton (Belfair). Lucy already had three small children. Farming, hunting and fishing kept the family fed and Oscar’s outside work kept enough money coming in to buy the necessities that could not be produced at home. The receipt of a big box of merchandise ordered from Sears Roebuck once or twice a year was a special occasion.

The family had their share of sadness. On September 7,1923, little Oscar James died of pneumonia. He was followed ten years later by Roy Ferdinand who passed away at age eleven because of peritonitis.

In the early 30’s, Oscar was fortunate enough to have daily work on the State road crews. This was welcome wages and he continued to farm as he had added to his holdings by purchasing more property directly across the river. This was bought from Robert Irving on July 7,1927. He worked at clearing and fencing by hand and before long built a new house and moved his family across the river.

All this work and struggle did nothing to improve Oscar’s health, which had not been good since its first occurrence while in the Navy, stationed in Virginia during 1903. He was in and out of the Veteran’s Hospital for treatments that did nothing to relieve his illness.

On June 12, 1936 he was admitted to the hospital at the Washington Veteran’s Home in Retsil, Washington. He was diagnosed as having chronic rheumatism, general anemia and stomach cancer. On June 23rd he was taken to the Marine Hospital in Seattle where be died on November 1, 1936.

Oscar was buried in the little cemetery he helped form in Belfair. Oscar’s life was not an easy one. As a child the family was poor and it was a struggle to keep going. As soon as he was old enough he set out and made his own way, eventually becoming one of Belfair’s early settlers. Some of his descendants are still making their homes in this community, and probably will be for some generations to come.