GIHS minutes - October 2019


Guemes Island Historical Society

October 14, 2019


Present: Tom Deach (chair), Janice Veal (treas), Kathy Whitman, Al & Nancy Bush, Bob Anderson, Sally Stapp, Stephanie Kavanaugh, Bill Van Vlack, Barb Ohms, Dave Margeson, Ann & Ralph Mendershausen, Gary Rainwater, Sue O’Donnell (sec)

Show & Tell:  Artifacts from the 1988 campaign to stop the American Sea Vegetable Nori Farm on North Beach of Guemes Island.  “Wrap Your Sushi in Cabbage!”  “Say NO to Nori” “NORI is a NoNo!” 

Sally read from a letter written by Jim Bertolino & Kit Marcinko in back 1988 when Islanders were forced to consider the possibility of a “707 acre floating seaweed farm threatening the waters between North Beach of Guemes Island, Samish Island and Jack Island.”  A letter writing campaign stopped the project.

Tom brought a photo of some rusty wheels.  These were found in the woods around Shoultz farm.  It is surmised these could be wheels from one of the very first
Anacortes fire wagons!

Tom also brought his new copy of the book Between Eden & Oz: Life on Guemes Island, 1990-2010.  It is available on  The book includes a spoof having to do with the Nori fiasco.


A showing of the video Tom made during the September 14 walk on North Beach.


Old Business:  

Treasurer’s Report – The Society has had another $250 in donations.  $1109 was raised by the chartered trip to Vendovi Island, Saturday September 7.  The report details recent expenses. 

Janice will keep an eye on the rates for CDs and advise the Society. Treasurer’s report attached.

We have 3 copies of the book written by Bill Burlingame for sale - $35 each.

Guemes 2nd Century Visioning Committee (Carol Pellett, Tom Deach, Gary Curtis, Barb Ohms, Rob Schroeder) which is looking at shared properties managed by the Community Center, is still in discussions.


New Business: Holiday Bazaar (Nov. 30); Nancy is in planning stage for food; Janice is coordinating with G.I.C.C. to use the Community Hall as well as Guemes Church for the vendors (all of whom are signing up for their favorite spots). It could be we will expand to outdoor booths.  Sally has volunteered a canopy.


Intellectual Property – Bob Anderson has some ideas about how we can legally secure donations of artifacts, photos, art work, writings, etc.  Local artists and writers have been discussing what will happen to their work once they pass on.  There can be claims from families, lawsuits, etc.

We will seek advice from other organizations (Anacortes Museum, etc); GIHS has a donation form that should be looked at and used; we need to further explore archiving of the items we now have and may have in the future.

Bob sees an urgency here – as we all do – to tell the stories of the people and properties before memories are lost.  This also, of course, includes the earliest, native occupants of the land. 


Early sites & structures – the recent “North Beach Alverson’s Camping Tracts” program (September 2019) has shown how changes happen over a period of time without much documentation.  Of the 21 properties (~ 50’ wide lots along Guemes Island Road) considered in the program by Sally Stapp, only one house from the early century is original with no changes in nearly 100 years, 2 structures are original to the lots but built more recently (1971 and 1957), 2 of the original structures have been moved off the lots, some homes remodeled and updated, some demolished to be replaced by larger and more modern structures and 2 are vacant lots.  It took lots of cooperation and research of old pictures, letters and interviews with past owners to start a file of information – in less than a half mile of land along Guemes Island Road!

Bob is interested in making a relief map of the island and will make a list of what to research.

How far back in time can we find documents, photos, records, etc. to tell the stories?  As one example, Tom said the father of his father-in-law, Marv Shoultz, bought Guemes property in 1911.  Tom has an urgent interest in documenting the old farmsteads.  Out of this research, he may be able to lead a tour of the original properties.

It would be great to have a team of artists, writers, and a photographer to document a property brought to our attention for historical purposes.

Al Bush has reservations about the “certainty of knowledge” concerning some Guemes sites.  He came to Guemes with parents, Charles & Vivian back in the mid-fifties when they bought the Strom family home. Al has memories of development that differ from some of the current ideas.

Janice has researched the property on West Beach where there was a native “longhouse”, now gone and the property divided into lots. She says the Burke Museum in Seattle is in possession of the longhouse corner posts.  As well as a “woolly dog” blanket – interesting to Guemes folks since Guemes Island is sometimes referred to as “Dog Island”.


The Burke! – Sue will contact the newly remodeled and opened Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus.  Tom has arranged for the Historical Society to take “field trips” to the museum on Shaw Island (2016) as well the museums in Sedro-Woolley (spring, 2018) and in Arlington, “Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum” (October, 2018). 

The subject of “woolly dogs” is interesting to Guemes and it would be fun to go as a group to view the new space and inquire about artifacts from the islands and bays around Guemes.

Anacortes Museum request – Dave tells us the Museum is researching a music arranger named Harry Smith, winner of a “Grammy”.  It has been suggested he has ties to Guemes Island.  We will ask around.

Skagit County Doings - Barb Ohms attended the recent Public Works and Ferry Committee meeting at Anacortes Library.  Skagit County Commissioner Ron Wesen has knowledge of some surplused 15-seat passenger vans that could possibly be put into service on Guemes. 

Barb reports there will be a meeting on the island, October 24.  This will be right after the Gathering Lunch and is a seminar on how to ride the Skagit County bus system.  Rt. 409 will no longer make a regular stop at the Guemes ferry due to low ridership. 


Recent Guemes Losses:

James A. Kager (1957-2019)

Wallace M. Martin (1923-2019)

Sherman Stanard (1950-2019)


Respectfully submitted,

Sue O’Donnell (secretary) 10/14/2019