GIHS minutes - November 11, 2019


November 11, 2019



Present: Tom Deach (pres), Janice Veal (treas), Sue O’Donnell (sec), Martin Taylor, Bob Anderson, Jacquie Prescott, Brandi Fuller, Stephanie Kavanaugh, Bill Van Vlack, Barb & Mark Ohms, Kathy Whitman, Ian Woofenden, Jackie O’Neil, Sandy Boeskov, Kari Boeskov, Grant Brockmeyer, Morna McEachern, Ralph Mendershausen, Jenny Stapp


Show & Tell:

I. SueO brought the BIGGEST big leaf maple LEAF in the world, found along a Guemes road – a prize winner for sure!!!  15” by 19” with a 12” stem.

II. Nancy White has given a collection of t-shirts to the Historical Society.  These were printed and sold to fund the Guemes Gold Scholarship by the Guemes Women’s Club, starting in 1992.  They were designed by various Guemes artists - including Nancy - and are so bright and clever.  Nancy Bush made a plea in 2006 for folks to donate examples to the society.  Since then many family groups, organizations, businesses, even the Guemes library have arranged to broadcast this way.  We hope more shirts (or photos of the shirts) will be donated to complete the collection.


Program: “DOWN THE HATCH!”  Martin Taylor’s story went back to the time of his Great-Grandfather, Eugene Taylor (-) who was a gold prospector in the Klondike where he lost everything the first year, but the second year found $70,000 worth!  He then became a logger and worked with both oxen and horses to get his logs to float down the river.

Martin came with photos and documents to highlight the lives of his Grandfather – Frank (no middle name) Taylor (1892-19??), married to Margery Rogers (1898-1954) and Father – Donald Taylor (1925-2010), married to Helene Berenson (1926-2010).

All but Margery were Anacortes natives.  Margery’s father was a shoe-maker in Montana before bringing his family west to Anacortes when their house in Montana burned down.  He continued in the shoe business.  Martin tells a cute story about his grandfather courting Margery and staying too long on a row to Square Bay in the moonlight . . . Margery was grounded for a month!



Frank Taylor, partnering up with Harry Rickaby to build wooden boats, was a Marine Engineer having attended Columbia University.  Frank had 2 nick-names – “Launchman” and “Poach” (for shooting ducks to feed the family).  The partners were involved in the ferrying of passengers between Anacortes and Guemes Island in their “launch ferry” Elk. The boat would dock at the Mangan’s Landing wharf.  Early in 1915, the ferry Elk was “was battered to pieces” after being wrecked on the Guemes beach.  By March a new ferry (built by C.C. Keisling), the Elk II, was launched.

During the WW I years that Frank managed “Ulcer Gulch” (Frank’s name for the difficult-to-manage Sloan Shipyard on Guemes), summers saw his family – Margery, her sisters and the children – camped on the North Beach of Guemes Island.  On the weekends, Frank would row around the end of Guemes and join the family at camp.  They constructed platforms on the land above high tide and lived in tents. 

For years, 3 families (the Frank & Margery Rogers Taylors, the Ralph & Katie Rogers Davises, the Otto & Mable Rogers Sutters) did not own the land on which they camped, but loved it so much, in 1938 they bought the land from owner Jack Kidd - $750 for 200 ft. of water front and 10 acres!  Approach to the property was downhill from Guemes Island Road on a trail eventually called “Agate Lane”.  The old name - “Down the Hatch Lane” – was not considered proper (even though, today Google Maps has it named “Down the Hatch Lane”).  A small log cabin built by Frank remains on the property, although having been moved closer to the shore to preserve the view when the Otto Sutter family raised up a pre-fab.

After WWI, Frank went to work for Gilkey Bros. Towing Company. They assembled a fleet of tugboats which then became Pacific Towboat Company.  During those early years, the fishing boats were sailing ships.  They fished for cod and halibut and the meat was preserved by salting.  When full, the ships would have to be towed back to civilization by towing tugs.  Martin’s Dad, Donald, as a teenager went along with his father on the “Beatrice Bear”, sister ship to the “Azalea”.  By 1950, Grandfather Frank was Chief Engineer of the company.

Martin’s Dad, Donald Taylor was born in 1925.  He dated Helene Berensen after WW II and became a Lutheran minister on the influence of his Christian wife.  When Martin was in 8th grade, the Lutherans bought a boat – The Christian - a floating Bible camp that needed a minister and captain.  Don captained The Christian from 1973-1977, then again 1984- ?  During Martin’s high school years, every summer saw him on the boat with youth groups.  Martin got his own captain’s license at age 19. 

After many years of church cruises, The Christian became a way for medical/dental teams to get to small communities in SE Alaska.  It again changed hands about 4 years ago and was remodeled into a helipad with hot tub!!!

In 1974, Martin moved to Guemes for good. Martin was a Lutheran minister for 12 years.  Now he manages and captains yachts in the area. In 1990 he bought property that adjoins his family land and has had a great time, clearing, caring for and building a pond.  Martin tells us he has 3 sisters and 3 daughters!

Old Business: 

Treasurer’s Report: Monthly Total: $25,055.55

$450 from bazaar vendors has been collected to reserve “booths” for the Holiday Bazaar, which will be held November 30 at the Community Center and the Guemes church.

Future Field Trip: Sue will contact Burke Museum on campus of University of Washington about having a group tour in the spring.  The museum has recently been expanded and remodeled.  We are interested in any artifacts having to do with the history of native peoples who populated Guemes (the Samish).  It is said the special “woolley dogs” from which were harvested hair suitable for clothing & blankets may have lived on Guemes.

Bob is thinking we could park at the University Congregational Church (4515-16th Ave NE) and perhaps have a meal there, before or after touring the museum. 

Tom has begun to keep a list of historic properties on Guemes.  We would like to document the families who farmed the island in the past century.  For instance, “The Good Earth Farm” on the Stromberg property (more to come on this project).  Some folks remember picking strawberries at Hattie Adam’s farm on South Shore Road.  Strawberries were also grown off Edens Road at the Strom and Shoultz farms.  Al bush has knowledge of farming practices . . . such as pole beans needing to be planted in a different field each year. 

We need to start a list of those families who settled on different shores of Guemes.  “The Hollow” is populated by some historic families – the Spaeths, Cadys, Tuttle, Rooks.  Susan Rombeek has recently given us an idea of the settlement called “Ocean Acres”.  And Carol Harma did an excellent presentation of her research on the building of “Holiday Hideaway”.  “North Beach” has recently been highlighted with a historic beach walk along the Alverson Camping Tracts of the early 1920s.  Certainly, the stories of the settlement of “South Shore Drive” over the years will give insight into the Demopoulus Marsh, where the Sloan Shipyard, employing hundreds of men, was developed to build ships for the war effort of WWI.   Now that entire area plus “Yellow Bluff” (Kelly’s Point) is protected from development by the land trust.


New Business:

Janice has had some very colorful posters (designed by Joseph Miller) to advertise the Guemes Holiday Bazaar.  They will be placed in Anacortes businesses as well as on the Island.  The Bazaar will be Saturday, November 30. 

Tom advertised for bake sale items.  Sue & Shirley will be lunch cashiers.

Set up for bazaar, 3pm Friday.

Bob has plans to ask a lawyer he knows about how to document the intellectual properties of the local artists, writers, sculptors, poets, etc.

Win Anderson has given Tom a picture of a working “drag saw”.  It may be available for our collection of old farming and logging equipment.

Mark Mitchell (brother of Bill Mitchell) has donated 4 more “pieces” of the Katie Thomas, Smuggler Kelly’s boat.  Tom has an idea to use one of the pieces to make a sign for Kelly’s point.

Coming Events:  Holiday Bazaar, sponsored by Historical Society, November 30. 

December 14 Holiday Dinner at Community Center


Recent Guemes Losses:


Sr. Constance Anne Krieger (1927-2019)


Respectfully submitted,

Sue O’Donnell (secretary) 11/11/2019


ANACORTES AMERICAN: December 24, 1914



Through the enterprise of Harry Rickaby and Frank Taylor, proprietors of the Guemes Island Ferry, residents of Guemes Island are promised one of the most up-to-date ferry services in the Northwest as one of the good things of the New Year. The launchmen this week awarded a contract to the Keesling Ship Yards for the construction of a 48-foot ferry boat, modern in every respect and complete in all its appointments and conveniences to take the place of the launch, Elk.

The new ferry will also be used on club or party excursions. The vessel will be 48 feet in length, I2 foot beam and five feet in depth. She will be equipped with a 20-horsepower engine and later will have 40-horsepower equipment. The 20-horsepower engine will develop a speed of nine or ten miles an hour.  The boat will have a 19 foot cabin, pilot house and cockpit 14 feet long.  She will have a seating capacity of 40 passengers and an extra row of seats in the center will give a seating capacity of 50.  The new ship will be exquisitely furnished throughout.  The top of the house will be used for carrying packages and freight.  The vessel is to be completed by March 15.


ANACORTES AMERICAN: January 14, 1915






The launch Valentine, the staunch and roomy craft owned by I. H. Barbee of this city, has been chartered by Harry Rickaby and Frank Taylor to take the place of their launch Elk which was wrecked on the Guemes beach last Thursday [January 1915]. The Valentine will operate the regular Guemes ferry schedule until the owners of the Elk are able to put a boat of their own on the run.

An effort may be made to rebuild the Elk.  Her engines were taken out of the battered hull the latter part of the week and were found to be not seriously damaged. The hull of the vessel was battered to pieces. What was left of it was towed to Anacortes this week and as the frame is still in good condition, the owners may rebuild her. In that case she will be ready again in about three weeks' time.

Work was started this week at the Keesling Ship Yards on the construction of a new forty-eight foot ferry for Rickaby and Taylor to take the place of the Elk. The new vessel will be completed in about two months' time. 





The new Guemes ferry, given the name of Elk II by her owners Rickaby and Taylor, was launched from the Keesling Ship Yards Sunday and is to go on the Anacortes-Guemes run the latter part of the week. The new vessel will be one of the finest of the local gasoline ?eet and will give the residents of the island suburb one of the most spacious and comfortable ferries of its kind on the Sound.

The new ferry will have a seating capacity of sixty, has a wide, roomy cabin and spacious cock pit.  She is forty-eight feet in length, twelve-foot beam and draws five feet. She is equipped with twenty horse power Corliss engines and a complete electric lighting plant.  


As soon as she is ready for service, she will replace the Elk I on the Guemes run and the last vessel will be used for charter.