This was originally posted to: Guemes Island Historical Society

GIHS minutes - December 9, 2019

Guemes Island Historical Society

December 9, 2019



Present: Tom Deach (chair), Janice Veal (treas), Bob Anderson, Sally Stapp, Win Anderson, Emma & Rob Schroder, Don Passerelli, Lou Chernak, Kathy Whitman, Barb Ohms, Susan Rombeek, Sue O’Donnell (sec)


Set-up: Special holiday treats and cocoa!


Show & Tell: Win Anderson’s brother-in-law has a collection of historical objects.  He invited Win to choose an artifact to share with Guemes Island Historical Society.  Win brought an ancient “seed spreader” with leather thongs to tie to the sower and a crank to swirl the seeds in the hopper and out onto the ground as the farmer walked along.


Program: Tom filmed Win as he read what has become an annual event at our final meeting of the year.  Several years ago Win was given a story from Christmas 1888 about the newly-arrived March family and their neighbors living on Guemes at that time, as recalled by Clara March.  A Christmas to remember for sure!!!


We then had a lovely time visiting and viewing the ever-growing collection of Guemes-wear Tom has discovered and borrowed from folks’ closets.  The latest batch was from Carol Pellet who was in charge of the “Dog Island Run”, a 5-K race that benefitted the Guemes Library for many years.  Tom has photographed each item for our archives.


We will contact Edith Walden about shirts made/designed by Betty Crooks (1915-2009). Win reposts that he has one of the long-sleeved shirts.



Treasurer’s Report: Janice is still compiling the results of the November 30th Holiday Bazaar.  Proceeds are from “vendor booth” rental, bake sale, soup & bread lunch, map books and ornaments (thanks to Mitercraft) plus donations.






New Business:     


Collection: Bob has been in conversation with the Anacortes museum about the process of annotating artifacts and intellectual properties.  He has started a list of current artists, writers, poets, photographers, etc.

Do we need an Acquisitions Committee?


Win told of a CD he has, filmed by Wally Funk as the old Guemes School House was being demolished in 19??


Karen Rydberg Bain has donated a small book to the Guemes Historical Society.  It was owned by the mother [Nora Hastie (-)] of Karen’s mother Grace Rydberg (1914-2013); titled The Swinomish Totem Pole –

Tribal Legends as told by Martin J. Sampson to Rosalie M. Whitney and published in 1938.



Computer: At some point since GIHS was formed (2002), a computer was purchased.  It is a Windows-8 and we need to have it upgraded to Windows-10.  Bob moved to use up to $200 to hire a Microsoft person to assess the usefulness of the system we have and determine if it can be upgraded to be of use to the Society.  Passed


Touring the New Burke Museum – Following the November 2019 business meeting, Sue wrote to the museum soon after it opened to the public since a massive remodel.  We heard back from Laura Phillips, Archaeology Collections Manager and Rebecca Andrews, Contemporary Collections.  The Burke has a “bag of dirt(!)” from Guemes, 7 objects which are Samish and a Woolley Dog blanket.  We were offered the chance for a “behind-the-scenes Cultural tour” before we continue on to view the public areas.  The Burke is still in the process of unpacking artifacts since the remodel.  Sue will write back to get some possible dates for a visit, hopefully in late April.


Musings: During the discussion, we revisited a question Dave Margeson had at a past meeting about a man named Harry Smith.  In the 2009 book, Images of America – Anacortes by Bret Lunsford, Harry Smith is identified as being an artist, filmmaker and ethnographer; having attended Anacortes High School in the early 1940s, he went on to win a “Grammy” for work done in the 1960s about the “folk revival”.  It turns out “a” Harry Smith - eons ago - loaned “2 house posts” to the Burke Museum. As Rebecca Andrews (Burke Museum Contemporary Collections) explains it, “one was lost and the other was returned to the tribe by the executors of the Harry Smith Estate”.  We need to do further research to find out if the “house posts” could possibly have been connected to the Samish longhouse on the west shore of Guemes Island.  AND, figure out if Harry Smith has a Guemes connection. 

Tom has found some property maps of Guemes.  One map dated 1941 has a F.V. Smith (5 acres?) on Guemes Island Rd at the NW corner where it meets Edens Rd; a map dated 1972 has a Mrs. K.R. Smith (35.35 acres) at north end of West Beach.  More research needs to be done.


In discussing the “house posts”, Win remembers seeing some artifacts at the Samish Indian Nation cultural center and waterfront resort on Weaverling Spit (the 47acre projection into the middle of Fidalgo Bay) in

Anacortes.  Tom has contacted the Samish Nation about the whereabouts of the house post.


Inquiring about the Burke Museum’s “bag of Guemes dirt”, Tom got this response:


Hi Tom,                                                                              Mon, Dec 9

So sorry – been in meetings all day!  The bag of dirt was collected in 2008 from a shell midden as part of a larger islands landscape project to look at sites in the San Juans over time. 




It would be so interesting to know where this “shell midden” is located.  Over the years, these shell middens have been discovered at various locations on Guemes.  Win Anderson has heard of one that is gradually being washed away by erosion and he has found various artifacts there.  Win surmises that early non-native settlers on Guemes, late 1800s, settled in the flat interior of the island where they could grow food crops and graze farm animals after clearing the land of forest, brush, stumps and boulders. There is plenty of evidence on different Guemes beaches of boulders and stumps being dumped over the banks.  Many of the fields have rows of rock down the middle or at the fence lines.


Win tells of much of the rocky wall above Cook’s cove being dynamite-ed by Hubert Adams in order to make the road more passable in 1978.


In her research for a presentation to the Historical Society on Holiday Hideaway (August 2017), Carol Harma found this end of Guemes to have been owned by Erving Cook in 1917.  (“Cook’s Cove” named by him?)  A shell midden was found early on in Cook’s Cove by Judy Rainwater who found a pestle there.


Old Business:


Minutes: Since 2016, Sue has been taking minutes of our meetings.  The Historical Society was formed in 2002.  We need to find all of the past minutes so they can be compiled – AS HISTORY!!!!!


Documenting Historical Places: Bob has made a chart of the areas of Guemes.  He is identifying folks who might be able to add to the history we now have.  The North Beach “Alverson Camping Tracts” have recently been researched in readiness for the 2019 September “beach walk” led by Sally Stapp.


Some of the places we would like to know more about are the locations of the settlements of the Samish Tribe: South Shore, to the west of Mangan’s Landing and then the West beaches of Guemes Island.  In the late ’40s-early ‘50s, it is said that Pete Bohn (1915-2000) burned down the remnants of the Samish settlement to have room to build his house at 5036 Potlatch Lane on West Beach. 

While in college at Western Washington University, Dawn Ashbach and Janice Veal produced a scholarly work titled:

The Samish Indians of Guemes Island, 1792-1986  Find this interesting read in the archives of


Recent Guemes Losses:


John Timothy Savage (1951-2019)


Respectfully submitted,

Sue O’Donnell (secretary) 12/9/2019