Local author Steve Lundin to present from his book, “The Friendly People,” a history of the Steamboat Peninsula and Griffin area, on November 15th

Cover of the book, "The Friendly People" by Steve LundinOver the years, we’ve been lucky to be able to publish numerous articles written by Steve Lundin. Ten or more years ago, Lundin wrote the book Griffin Area Schools, a history of the many schools that existed on our peninsula. Lundin donated much of the proceeds for the sale of that book to the Griffin Neighborhood Association. After 44 years on the Peninsula, Lundin and his wife Linda Bondurant moved away from our neighborhood, but with his latest book, The Friendly People, we can see he has not actually left this part of the world. Not really. In The Friendly People, Lundin writes a history “of the Griffin/Steamboat area, from early native peoples to modern times.”

On Wednesday, November 15, Steve Lundin will present from his book. This event will be held at the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters beginning at 6 PM. Copies of his book will be available for purchase at that time.

The Sawamish/T’Peeksin lived on Totten Inlet. The Squi’Aitl lived on Eld Inlet, which Peter Puget called “the Friendly Inlet.” This region saw the Hudson’s Bay Company and Puget Sound Agricultural Company. The book describes the Lushootseed Peoples, their culture, and traditions. In the book, you will also read about John Slocum and the Indian Shaker Movement. Recently, the Squaxin Island Tribe has flourished with a cultural Renaissance and economic rejuvenation.

Photo of Steve Lundin

Author Steve Lundin

The Griffin/Steamboat community has grown from a rural area to a vibrant suburban community. Read about the Mud Bay Logging Company, country inns, a local moonshine still, Effie LeRoy’s infamous establishment, and local dance halls. Griffin School has grown into one of the premier schools in the county. Prosperity Grange remains an important institution.

William McLane, William Puffer, Benjamin Franklin Cross, Kettle Labatum, Mud Bay Louie Yowaluck, James Tobin, Konrad Schneider, and Swan Solbeck are just a few of the individuals who contributed to the history of this area and whose stories are recounted here.

Copies of this book can be purchased from Browsers Bookshop, Orca Books, and at the Panorama Gift Shop, for $20. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be given to the Olympia Tumwater Foundation.

Griffin Area Schools

Griffin School wideEducation is now provided in the Griffin area by the Griffin School District, the Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool, and home education.

Historically, a number of different public school districts have educated children in the Griffin area. These school districts were created by Thurston County in the early years of Washington Territory and statehood.

Initially, the Griffin community was included the Olympia School District which was created by the first Board of County Commissioners for all of Thurston County. Although this school district was countywide, its schoolhouse was constructed in Olympia and probably only the few white school children living in that town attended the school.

Thurston County soon created additional school districts throughout the county as settlers moved throughout Thurston County. More and more school districts were created as settlers moved to more remote areas. Mud Bay School District was formed around 1870 and served all of the northwestern portion of the county, including the Griffin community. The primary schoolhouse was located on John McLane’s claim off of what now is known as Delphi Road. However, it appears that the school district operated a school in the late 1870’s at the log cabin of John and Ella Olson, which was located in what is now called the Holiday Valley Estates. Schneider’s Prairie School District was created in 1881, occupying all of what was then known as the Griffin peninsula. The Summit Lake School was also created in 1881, occupying the area around Summit Lake.Read More

What’s In A Name? A Lot of History, For One Thing


It’s thought Young Cove is named after Volney C.F. Young. Young was born on June 9, 1881, and died December 13, 1967 in Olympia at age 86.

A goldmine of information on historic place names can be found in Thurston County Place Names: A Heritage Guide, published by the Thurston County Historic Commission, and edited by Gayle Palmer and Shanna Stevenson.

You may remember Shanna Stevenson, the Thurston County Historian, who regaled many of us with stories and historical information at a meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association in October of 1996. Many Griffin area names appear in this publication, including:

  • Burns Cove and Burns Lake, which are named after Jolson and Henry Burns who arrived on the Cove in 1870.
  • Butler Cove, which is named after John L. Butler who obtained a 640-acre donation land claim in 1861 above the Cove. Some years before, a young Haida Indian chief, Tsus-sy-uch, from the Queen Charloue Islands was killed at the Cove by white settlers. It is believed that the Haida retaliated several years later and killed Isaac N. Ebey on Whidbey Island.
  • Carlyon Beach is named after Fred and Carlie Carlyon. It was developed as a farm and resort with cabins, a store, and boat rentals, operating from 1927 until 1959.
  • Gallagher Cove is named after John H. Galliher, an early resident of the area. Shanna Stevenson notes that most maps have incorrectly used the more common spelling of Gallagher.
  • Hunter Point is named after Alfred Allan Hunter and his wife Sarah Emma Daniels Hunter. They purchased the point, which was known as Cushman Point, from Elizabeth Cushman in 1887. The Hunters operated a resort, had a fruit orchard, and supplied firewood to steamships.
  • Schneider’s Prairie is named for Konrad and Albertine Schneider. They arrived in Thurston County in 1852 and filed a land claim on April 15, 1853. He was born in what now is Germany and became a naturalized citizen in Iowa in 1849. Don Lee Frazier, who spoke at the Griffin Neighborhood Association annual meeting in January of 1997, indicates that the original homesteader on the Prairie was not Schneider, but was a man named Puffin. Puffin disappeared and in short order the names Case and Cross show up in county land records. Finally, Schneider bought the Prairie.
  • Summit Lake was known as Pray’s Lake in 1860, named after James B. Pray, who was an early settler on the lake. The lake was called Crooked Lake in an 1875 survey map. Apparently, Summit Lake came into use around 1900 when the Henry McCleary Timber Company began logging in the area At one time there was a logging camp called the Summit Lake Auto Camp on the lake. A resort was also operated on the lake for years.
  • Young Cove was named after Volney Young who was an early steamboat captain (click here for information about the mail boat Mizpah). However, during their youth both Bill Durwood and Mike LeMay recall E.T. Young as the owner of land in the area. As noted in an earlier article, Mike LeMay remembers a story that E. T. Young had at one time attempted to buy land running from Oyster Bay to Young Cove and run cattle in the area. Perhaps, E.T. was the son of Volney.

Later articles will provide more information on local historic place names.

– Original text by Steve Lundin. Reprinted from the January 1998 issue of “Neighbors”, the newsletter of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. This is part of a series of articles reprinted from earlier publications in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State. The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling. It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at http://dgss.wsu.edu/ or from WSU Extension at www.pubs.wsu.edu.

Griffin’s Roots Include a Colorful Farming History

Oyster Bay Farm

The Oyster Bay Farm

In addition to harvesting Olympia oysters and other forms of sea life, agriculture on the Griffin peninsula has consisted of growing fruit, raising cattle and sheep, dairy farming, and raising poultry. Many early farms were not large commercial operations, producing food for the settlers and some cash crops to supplement incomes.

The first significant commercial agricultural operation may have been a short-lived commercial apple orchard at Hunter’s Point. Other early commercial operations included raising strawberries on what is now called Gravelly Beach Loop and raising blueberries at the Eberhardt blueberry farm off what is now called Steamboat Island Road.

Hunter Apple Orchard

Alfred Allan Hunter and Sarah Emma Daniels Hunter moved from Ukiah, California, and settled on Bush Prairie with their old friend George Bush. In 1887 they purchased a tract of land on the tip of what is now known as Hunter’s Point. The land was purchased for its timber. They built a home, a wharf and sold firewood and fresh water to the steamer ships, ferries, and barges plying the waters between Olympia and Shelton. The boats made a number of stops up and down Eld Inlet, including the Mud Bay Logging Company facilities at the foot of Mud Bay and the infamous Ellis tavern and general pleasure house on what is now Madrona Beach Road.


Promotional flyer from the Old Homestead Inn (click the image for a larger view)

The Hunters planted some 1200 fruit trees and hoped to make money in the fruit business. Their business prospered for several years but the market dried up with the advent of the Yakima Valley fruit industry. The orchard was reduced in size for home use. Descendants recall an old family story where the Hunters traded a bucket of apples with a Native American for a bucket of oysters.

Their daughter, Georgia, married Frederick A. (Fritz) Schmidt. They built cottages on the beach at Hunter’s Point and rented the cottages during the summer. The resort was known as both the Hunter’s Point Pleasure Resort and the Old Homestead Inn. They catered to visitors and locals alike. An old advertisement described the resort as a place “where the simplicity of the farmhouse extends its restful welcome.” The daily camping fee was 50¢, the weekly vacation rate for a stay in a cabin was $15, and a chicken dinner cost $1.25.

Lea McGaughy and her husband Harry McGaughy, aunt and uncle of long-time Griffin peninsula resident Mike Le May, ran the Hunter farm in the 1920’s.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Jim Tobin, a Native American, had a farm in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s north of Young Cove on what now is called Gravelly Beach Loop. Mr. Tobin grew strawberries and had a mixed orchard of apple and Italian prune plum trees. Tobin’s primary income came from harvesting oysters on oysterlands he owned that extended from the mouth of Young Cove, around Flapjack Point, to north of the present day Frye Cove county park.

Tobin had trouble making mortgage and tax payments and his oyster operations became less productive. He began selling parts of his farm to make his mortgage payments. William Joseph Le May and Dora Drake Le May purchased 20 acres from Tobin in 1923. Their boys, aged 11 and 14, ran the farm. Mike Le May was then 11 years old.

J.A. Melliour also purchased 20 acres from Tobin in 1923. The farm was immediately west of the Le May property. Melliour soon died and his brother Osias Melliour inherited the land and ran a strawberry farm there. Mike Le May recalls that years later when times were hard during the Depression, the “money lender” took over the Melliour farm, subdivided the acreage, and sold lots.

Many of the Griffin area’s older residents picked strawberries as children at the Le May and Melliour farms.

The Almost Cattle Baron

Mike Le May recalls hearing a story that in the late 1800’s E.T. Young attempted to buy considerable acreage in the lower portion of Griffin peninsula and create a large cattle ranch. Although Mr. Young purchased considerable acreage, the ranch never really materialized.

Apparently, Mr. Young had hoped to purchase a large block of land stretching from the foot of Oyster Bay to Young Cove and northward for a considerable distance. He had planned to run a fence from Oyster Bay to Young Cove and let the cattle forage north of the fence.

Bill Durward recalls that E.T. Young owned the end of what is now Keating Road. This probably was the last remnants of the want-a-be cattle baron’s holdings. Mike Le May indicates that in the 1920’s old man Young lived in a float house tied up north of Fourth Street in the vicinity of Jack J. Brenner and Charles Brenner’s Oyster Company. This is the present location of the Olympia Oyster House.

Young Road and Young Cove are named after E.T. Young.

Eberhardt Blueberries sales flyerThe Blueberry Bash

In 1921, Joseph Eberhardt planted 50 acres of blueberries east of the current Steamboat Island Road. He experimented with various different species of berries, finally developing a large berry bearing his name, the Eberhardt Blueberry. The Eberhardt farm was the most successful berry farm in the area.

[Editor’s note added July 2019: Steve Lundin points us to this article in the Thurston County Historical Journal, for more information about the Eberhardt’s and their blueberries.]

Mr. Eberhardt sold his farm to Floyd and Laniera Savage and moved to Santa Cruz, California, where the climate was better suited for his namesake blueberry. The Savages ran the farm for years. The farm produces the delectable blueberries that are consumed with glee at the annual Saint Christopher’s Church Blueberry Bash.

– from original text by Steve Lundin, reprinted from the October 1997 issue of “Neighbors”, the newsletter of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. This is part of a series of articles reprinted from earlier publications in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State. The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling. It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at http://dgss.wsu.edu/ or from WSU Extension at www.pubs.wsu.edu.

On Becoming a Steamboat Island Road Scholar


This is not a historic photo from Steamboat Peninsula.

Several speakers at the Griffin Association’s annual meeting on January 31, 1997, recalled early days when poor road conditions existed in the Griffin area. Our roads were narrow, winding, pot holed, and dusty. Travel was hard. Families made infrequent trips into Olympia for supplies.

Steamboat Island Road was once known as Hunter Point Road. Bill Durward recalled that in 1926 or 1927, a major revision of Hunter Point Road relocated the road to the approximate location of the current Steamboat Island Road. Our primary thoroughfare has been straightened, widened, and leveled since then.

Anyone wanting to experience the old winding route can walk or drive several hundred yards up Steamboat Loop Road, once part of the old Hunter Point Road and early route of Steamboat Island Road. Steamboat Loop Road runs northward immediately west of the current route of Steamboat Island Road, starting just north of the main fire station and ending just south of the 41st Avenue and Steamboat Island Road intersection.

Bill Durward described the old route of Hunter Point Road prior to its major relocation 1926 or 1927, that zigged and zagged from the base of the peninsula out to Hunter Point. You can still drive most of the old route.

The southern portion of Old Hunter Point Road basically followed the current route of Old Steamboat Island Road past the present site of Griffin School, prior to its revision for the Highway 101 overpass, northward along Steamboat Loop Road past the fire hall, and continued out to Gravelly Beach Road. Then old Hunter Point Road followed Gravelly Beach Road for several miles, down the steep hill that was called Frederick’s Hill or Whitaker Hill, turned sharply to the left at the bottom of the hill and continued northward for several hundred yards, past the first turn off to Gravelly Beach Loop, and up a shorter hill to the point where Gravelly Beach Road bends eastward and meets Gravelly Beach Loop again.

At that point, old Hunter Point Road left the existing roadway and ran northward. The now long abandoned second school site of the Frye Cove School District is located several hundred feet north of the point where old Hunter Point Road left the existing Gravelly Beach Road. After proceeding northward from the existing Gravelly Beach Road, the old Hunter Point Road met 69th Avenue and followed 69th Avenue eastward to Olympic Road. Then old Hunter Point Road followed Olympic Road northeasterly joining the current Steamboat Island Road and followed Steamboat Island Road to 79th Avenue. From this point old Hunter Point Road ran due northward out Howe Street to 81st Avenue. Then old Hunter Point Road turned eastward and traveled down 81st Avenue, passed the fire station to Uruquart Road. Old Hunter Point Road continued northward out Uruquart Road to its junction with Steamboat Island Road and followed Steamboat Island Road to the existing Hunter Point Road. Finally, old Hunter Point Road followed the existing Hunter Point road to its end.

Bill Durward recalls a low point on a portion of old Hunter Point Road, on Steamboat Island Road between the Grange Hall and Steamboat Annies’ drive in, was a mud hole every Spring when the frost left and rains came. Cars with 36 inch wheels would get stuck there. This is the approximate location of a fault line that could prove problematic if an earthquake were to occur in our area.

– from original text by Steve Lundin, published in the May 1997 issue of the Griffin Neighborhood Association’s “Neighbors” newsletter. This is part of a series of articles reprinted from earlier publications in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State. The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling. It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at http://dgss.wsu.edu/ or from WSU Extension at www.pubs.wsu.edu .


A Look Back on 25 Years of the Griffin Neighborhood Association

25tg_anniversary2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Griffin Neighborhood Association (GNA) and its predecessor organization, the Oyster Bay Neighborhood Association. Like most neighborhood associations, both entities began over concerns about land use and development.

The Oyster Bay Neighborhood Association was created in 1990, primarily in response to a rural country inn that was proposed to be located on Oyster Bay Road. That organization ceased functioning towards the mid 1990’s.

The Griffin Neighborhood Association was formed in December of 1995 with a primary focus on land use issues, but not in opposition to any proposal, and to act as an honest broker of information. In the years since, the activities of the GNA have varied in response to the energy levels and interests of community members.

From 1996 through 2000, the newly formed GNA was quite active. Among other activities, the GNA focused on a proposal to expand the commercial zone adjacent to US Highway 101, prepared and distributed a printed business directory, produced a newsletter, and raised money to help residents who suffered from a massive landslide in the Carlyon Beach/Hunter Point area and on Sunrise Beach in February of 1999.

After 2000, the activity level of the GNA diminished. However, beginning in 2003, the GNA began to meet again and now is the most active neighborhood association in unincorporated Thurston County. Its activities have included: (1) creating the Steamboat Conservation Partnership with the Capitol Land Trust to raise money for its activities in our area; (2) providing a presence online and in social media; (3) pursuing a number of projects to increase a sense of community in the Griffin area; and (4) opposing a conference center that was proposed to be located on Steamboat Island Road. The decision to come out against the conference center was made only after holding public meetings on the proposed project and in direct response to the overwhelming level of opposition to the facility by local residents.

The Griffin community could have been the place Norman Rockwell might have chosen to paint his famous pictures of a wholesome American community! The GNA has helped to keep it that way.

– a recent comment, posted on Nextdoor


In 1990, Local residents rallied against a plan to convert a residence on Oyster Bay Road into a country inn. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Oyster Bay Neighborhood Association

The origins of the GNA begin with the Oyster Bay Neighborhood Association. The OBNA was founded in July 1990. Initial board members were Chris Wickham, Rick Bird, Bill Brown, Jovanna Brown, Sharon Fox, George Volker, Donna Altman, Catharine Walcker, Esther Steilberg, David Henry, Penny Hoffman, Ron Hoffman, Jerry Rheault, Gilbert Litchfield, and Douglas Mykol. Sharon Fox was the first president of the OBNA.

This new neighborhood association was created primarily over residents’ concerns about growth and land use issues in the area. Of significant interest was the siting of LaRae’s, a “rural country inn” on Oyster Bay Road. A home located far from any other businesses would be converted into the inn. The inn would accommodate 100 people, have 60 parking stalls, and one quarter of the square footage would be devoted to a lounge. Located on the 4300 block of Oyster Bay Road, this country inn would be surrounded by residential property.

Months before applications for a special use permit and liquor permit for LaRae’s were filed, a local land use attorney requested the county amend its zoning ordinance to allow a new special use permit for what was called “rural country inns.” The attorney refused to identify his client and the location of his client’s property where the facility would be located. Although widespread opposition to this amendment arose throughout the county, the Board of County Commissioners amended its zoning ordinance allowing rural country inns to be located by a special use permit anywhere in the unincorporated area of the county other than on Cooper Point.


An early project was to provide information about the planned overpass at Steamboat Island Rd. and US-101.

A rural country inn could have restaurant/bar facilities and overnight accommodations for an unlimited number of guests. Such a facility had to be located on a lot that was at least 5 acres in size, the maximum height of any building was 35 feet, and no more than 80% of the lot could be covered with impervious surfaces, i.e., buildings and blacktop. The change in county zoning would have allowed such a facility to be built in a residential neighborhood.

Once it became obvious that the purpose of amending the county zoning code to allow rural county inns was to locate such a facility on Oyster Bay Road, the Oyster Bay Neighborhood Association was formed and actively opposed the granting of a special use permit. After protracted citizen input and hearings, the county refused to issue the special use permit.

When the Department of Transportation unveiled plans for a new overpass at Steamboat Island Road and US-101, the OBNA held an informational meeting.

Soon after that, the activity level of the Oyster Bay Neighborhood Association declined and the Association became inactive.

Creation of the Griffin Neighborhood Association

The GNA was organized in December of 1995. In February of 1996, the first annual meeting of the new association was held. Shelly Earing, Kevin Lett, Shirley Rheault, Steve Thomas, Sam Wentz, Chris Wickham, Bob Bower, Melody Byrd, Patty Chorbra, Ed Makoviney, Mick Phillips and Jerry Rhealt were elected as board members.


“Your Griffin Neighborhood Association promises to be a mixture of social and business in a good old-fashioned neighborly way.”

The GNA was initially formed in response to two major issues facing the Griffin community.

One issue concerned the expansion of the Griffin School District to provide a high school rather than contracting with Olympia School District to provide high school education for Griffin School District students. Many community members were concerned that creating a high school in a school district like the Griffin School District, with a small number of students, would limit opportunities for students by not providing the same breadth of classes as Capital High School. Proponents of adding a high school argued that Griffin residents were not eligible to vote at Olympia School District elections when school board members were elected and bond issues for the high school were considered. A strong community response developed against a plan to create a new high school within the Griffin School District. The proposal died.

The second issue was a request by several property owners to expand the existing 11-acre commercial zone on US-101 by an additional 48.5 acres of land. These additional parcels were included in the Rural Residential Resource zone, one unit per five acres. Focusing on its goal of being an honest broker of information on issues facing the community, the GNA held several well-attended forums on this controversial issue, but took no position. The information generated by the GNA’s efforts inspired a number of local residents to oppose the rezone. In response, the Board of County Commissioners rejected the proposed zoning expansion. The County took the added step of reclassifying the existing commercial zone to a new and more restrictive Rural Commercial Center zone. In this kind of zone, commercial uses were limited to those oriented to serve the everyday needs of an identified rural community. Businesses within this zone, roughly along Sexton, are meant primarily to serve residents living here, not just motorists travelling on US-101.

In creating the GNA, its founders were looking beyond these two immediate issues with the prime objective of promoting a sense of neighborhood in the Griffin/Steamboat Island area. They also desired to retain the sense of wilderness and beauty and preserve a rural lifestyle. A wide range of membership was attained by allowing any resident or property owner within the boundaries of the Griffin School District, or the operator of any business in the area, to become members of the Association.

The mission of the GNA is to undertake and support projects benefiting our community, to help build a sense of community, and to educate the community on topics of interest. To those ends, the GNA will help to build consensus on major issues confronting the area. These issues include growth, land use issues, habitat, water quality, transportation and school planning. When appropriate, the GNA researches issues as honest broker of information, provides forums for debate, attempts to arrive at a community consensus, and presents this consensus to appropriate decision makers.

Other Early GNA Activities, 1995 – 2003

1997 Spring newsletter_Page_1

By the Spring of 1997, the GNA’s printed newsletter was simply called “Neighbors.” Click the image to read the entire newsletter.

Over the next few years, the GNA was quite active. The GNA sponsored a full day of presentations, displays, and booths to facilitate a community discussion about land use in the area. Preservation of habitat was a concern expressed by the community at that meeting, which led to the formation of a habitat committee of the GNA in 1997. The GNA initiated and presented training on “nature-mapping” to encourage residents to inventory wildlife within the GNA boundaries and conducted several education workshops and led field trips to local natural areas. When the overpass at Steamboat Island Road was constructed, the GNA organized planting parties to restore native plants along US-101.

During this period there were many discussions about the role of the GNA but a consensus was maintained that the GNA should not advocate for or against particular development proposals in the area, but should supply information on these development proposals. It was felt that by educating the community, the best results would be achieved. By being an honest broker, the community would come to rely on the GNA to provide background on issues of importance to the residents.

Beginning in 1996, the GNA wrote and distributed a newsletter that included articles on current events in the neighborhood as well as local history. The GNA also began holding local history forums at its annual membership meetings.

Annual potluck picnics were held in the summer at the Prosperity Grange and at the Oyster Bay Farm. At Oyster Bay Farm, folks would bring tables and chairs to sit out under the trees.

Forums were held in 1997 on the expansion of mussel growing rafts in Totten Inlet and opposition to this by a group called the Association for the Protection of Hammersley, Eld and Totten Inlets (APHETI).

A local Griffin area business fair was hosted at the Griffin School, which gave the community an opportunity to learn about local businesses and entrepreneurs. Shirley Rheault and others created and distributed a fine printed local business directory in 1998.


In February 1999, Forty-one homes were damaged, of which thirty-one were “red tagged” for removal.

Perhaps the most significant action by the GNA during this period was responding to a massive landslide in the Carlyon Beach/Hunter Point area and on Sunrise Beach in February of 1999. Forty one homes were damaged, of which thirty one were “red tagged” for removal. These losses were not covered by typical homeowners’ insurance policies. The GNA responded immediately. A major work party was organized where several local residents with major construction equipment, including Dan English, donated their time and equipment to knock down a number of the irreparably damaged houses. A major fund raiser was held at the Prosperity Grange. The GNA raised and distributed $5,300 to help the owners of eleven of the homes that had been destroyed.


A flyer from one of several fundraisers organized by the GNA in the wake of the slide.

Chris Wickham, Shelly Earing and Neil Falkenberg served as presidents of the GNA during this phase.

Then, between about 2000 and 2003, the GNA entered a period of diminished activity.

Renewed Activity, 2003 – 2015

A meeting was held at Dave and Joanne Schuett-Hames’ home in the summer of 2003 where it was decided to reenergize the GNA. Some of those at the meeting were members of the Habitat Committee from the original GNA. The Habitat Committee had continued to function while the GNA itself was inactive.

The tradition of holding annual membership meetings was reestablished in February of 2004. Initial members of the newly reconstituted Board of Directors elected at this meeting were Kathleen O’Shaunessy, Jerry Handfield, Dave Schuett-Hames, Paul Meury, Mark Messinger, Neil Falkenberg, Chris Wickham, Shelly Earing, and Steve Lundin.

Articles of Incorporation were refiled in November of 2004 and the GNA has remained active since then.

Kathleen O’Shaunessy, Jerry Handfield, Dave Schuett-Hames, Gary Goodwin, and most recently Diane Jacob have served as presidents during this period of significant activity. The GNA has become the most active neighborhood association in unincorporated Thurston County and has engaged in a wide variety of activities promoting a sense of community and service to area residents.

A picnic visitor is nuzzled by an alpaca

Alpacas from the Lighthouse Alpaca Ranch have been a welcome feature at recent picnics.

Summer picnics

The tradition of holding an annual summer picnic was re-instituted, with several picnics being held at the Oyster Bay Farm. Picnics moved to the Prosperity Grange Hall and then to Frye Cove County Park. In 2013 and 2014, the annual GNA picnics have moved back to the Prosperity Grange, Griffin Fire Protection District Headquarters Station 1, and the Steamboat Golf Driving Range. The picnic was combined with a local business and farm fair where many local businesses, farms, and organizations hosted informational booths. Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House, Taylor Shellfish Farms, and the Steamboat Trading Post provided food and refreshments. Local residents came with potluck items and the GNA provided hamburgers, condiments, and the organizational wherewithal to pull off the event. These summer picnics have become very well attended family-friendly events.

First Annual Potluck Picnic poster

The first potluck picnic included a litter patrol contest and tree and shrub planting.

Annual membership meetings

The tradition has continued for GNA to hold its annual membership meetings in January or February of each year. Association business is transacted at these meetings, including the election of board members. A community event is also held at each annual meeting. Annual meetings have local history forums and presentations by local elected officials including the sheriff, prosecuting attorney, our local county commissioner, our local legislator, the Griffin School superintendent and chief of the Griffin Fire Protection District. Forums on current issues, a whale researcher and, this last year, a features writer from The Olympian were part of these annual meetings.

Peninsula People Business Directory cover photo

Cover from the 2006 – 2007 business directory

The Association Goes Online

In 2003, the GNA opened a web site at www.GriffinNeighbors.org. 10 years later, there was an update made possible by a generous donation from local business South Sound IT. The GNA acquired an additional URL at www.SteamboatIsland.org. Either address sends the browser to the same content. This site contains information about activities of the GNA and the neighborhood at large. The site grew to include brief historical sketches about the neighborhood, a summary of new development applications, a focus on local businesses as well as access to an online business directory, information about the Steamboat Conservation Partnership, and “news and opinion” articles.

In 2006 and 2007, GNA Board member Velma Rogers created a printed “Peninsula People Business Directory” (click here for a copy of the Summer 2007 issue). This was distributed off the countertops of local businesses and in the welcome baskets Velma created. A couple years later, an effort was undertaken to renew that printed directory. Before the edition was printed, though, it was decided an online version would be both more accessible and easier to keep up-to-date. The online business directory includes about 40 local businesses. Businesses located in or nearby the GNA area may be listed, along with businesses located elsewhere if owned or managed by a resident of the GNA area. A listing with location and contact information may listed at no cost. For $10 an additional display advertisement may be included.

Also in 2003, a Yahoo! Group online discussion group was created. Local residents subscribed and exchanged email messages. Typically, some 130 residents were in the group. However, the purpose of that group was largely replaced in June 2014 by a network operated on a platform developed by a San Francisco startup called Nextdoor.com. The Yahoo! discussion group was formally closed in May 2015. The creation of our Nextdoor network was not a specific project of the GNA, but has grown to include more than 650 members representing more than 15% of all households in the area. Residents with addresses in the area may sign up for this “private social network for you, your neighbors and your community,” at www.Nextdoor.com. A link to Nextdoor is also on the GNA website.

In 2006, a blog was added. Articles about local history and “Nature Notes” are among the popular series published online.

In 2009, the GNA joined Twitter. And in 2010 the GNA opened a Facebook Page.

12 years after going online. a streamlined version of the web site of the GNA has been moved to WordPress. This will provide a flexible yet easy to maintain platform for the volunteer-run Association.

SCP logo.pubSteamboat Conservation Partnership

Perhaps the single effort with the most extensive lasting impact has been the Association’s creation and participation in the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Chris Wickham and a few other members of the GNA board were instrumental in creating this innovative partnership.

In 2009, the GNA and Capitol Land Trust entered into an agreement, called the Steamboat Conservation Partnership, under which the GNA would attempt to obtain at least $15,000 in contributions for Capitol Land Trust each year for a five year period. Contributions are placed into a segregated account by the Capital Land Trust and used to finance a portion of its operating activities in the Steamboat Peninsula region served by this agreement – the Eld Inlet and Totten Inlet watersheds. The non-capital activities funded by these donations include developing relationships and negotiating agreements with property owners, and managing properties or easements within the region. The Capitol Land Trust consults with the GNA on strategies and priorities, informs the Association about its progress, obtains assistance from the Association, and notifies local residents about volunteer opportunities.

hummell_showIn 2014 the agreement was renewed for another five years. Board members Peter Reid and Steve Lundin have served as chairs of the Partnership since its inception.

As of this date more than $90,000 has been collected for the Partnership, assisting Capitol Land Trust to purchase outright or obtain conservation easements on several major parcels in this region. This includes purchasing 35 acres and a pocket estuary called the Adams Cove/Totten Preserve, located in the northwest part of the Steamboat peninsula. Selection of this parcel was championed by GNA Board Member Gayle Broadbent-Ferris before her accidental death in 2009. “Gayle, more than anyone, would have been thrilled to know the property is now under conservancy,” said Laurence Reeves, conservation projects manager for the Capitol Land Trust.

More recently, Partnership contributors helped to assist in the purchase of conservation easements on about 200 acres, adding to the already 355 acres, in Wynne Valley and the headwaters of Schneider Creek, located on Whittaker Road, south of US-101.

The GNA held two concerts at Prosperity Grange as part of these fund raising efforts. Several tours of conserved properties have been held for contributors. In the summer of 2014, a large gathering was hosted on the Wynne property, thanking and honoring the Wynnes and celebrating the first five years of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

Members of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership acts as table captains for local residents to attend annual Capitol Land Trust breakfasts. Typically, more than 35 area residents attend these events.

Beautification and habitat restoration efforts

The GNA has engaged in a number of beautification projects. Native oak trees were planted near the southwest corner of Steamboat Island Road and Sexton Drive. For a number of years, Paul Meury and Mary Skelton trucked in water and organized volunteers to help water these young trees.

librarygriffin-168x300Volunteers from the GNA monitored and cleaned up litter around the recycle bins that used to be located near the Island Market. A “weed wrench” was purchased, and scotch broom was removed from the southwest corner of Steamboat Island Road and Sexton Drive near the US-101 overpass. The weed wrench is available for use by members of the GNA to remove weeds.

Little Free Library

Board member Missy Watts worked with local donors and the Friends of the Olympia Library to purchase and install a Little Free Library book box now located outside of the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters. A book sale was also held to help in the financing. Residents may take a free book and leave books at the Little Free Library.

fire_station_signDisaster Preparedness

With the assistance of Board members Norm Johnson and Beau Altman, the GNA has held several public meeting on disaster preparedness and has modeled a neighborhood system of preparedness called “Map Your Neighborhood.” Norm Johnson spent many hours and some of his own funds in organizing residents along Sunrise Beach Road for disaster preparedness.

The Association maintains a web page dedicated to helping families and groups of neighbors to prepare for disasters.

Land use and developments

The GNA has been involved in testifying before the county planning commission on a number of issues. Several Board members provided written and verbal testimony on the county’s proposed changes to its critical areas ordinance. Association members have volunteered to serve on County committees and the Association has worked to help keep residents appraised as to what’s happening in Thurston County government.

A number of meetings were held regarding an application to build a two large buildings to house a tennis club proposed to be located near the US-101 interchange. The GNA took no position on this development in 2004. The project was approved by the county and is being constructed in 2014 and 2015.

noconferencecenterIn 2005, after holding several public meetings on the issue of a proposed conference center to be located immediately north of Steamboat Annie’s restaurant, and after receiving strong public input from several hundred residents who were opposed to this development, the GNA board took a formal position in against this facility, supplying many comments to the County. The GNA took the extraordinary step of hiring a land use attorney and provided both written and verbal testimony on the project. Residents contributed about $9,500 to finance this opposition. These efforts were successful, as the project was ultimately not approved by the county.

Local History

The GNA continued its efforts on uncovering and publicizing local history by hosting a number of presentations at our annual general meetings. Steve Lundin wrote the book Griffin Area Schools, a history of schools in the Griffin/Steamboat peninsula area. Mr. Lundin donated the book to the GNA, which printed copies and sold them for $10 a copy. Steve has also authored a series of articles on local history that are published on the GNA’s blog.

Welcome baskets

For a few years, Board member Velma Rogers prepared and distributed welcome baskets to new residents of our area. Information about the area, and coupons and product samples from local businesses were included in the baskets.


This brochure promoted local Eberhardt Blueberries.

The Eberhardt Blueberry farm

Many residents encouraged the GNA to join with South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust to acquire and conserve the Eberhardt Blueberry Farm, located on Steamboat Island Road. This farm was the home to at least one unique variety of blueberry. It was hoped that the blueberry bushes could be tended and a portable bathroom facility provided during the picking season. After studying the farm in detail, it was determined that because of inadequate drainage, the bushes were dying from being flooded with storm water. The land was found to be sinking and was about one foot below the bottom of a small drainage culvert running under Steamboat Island Road. Because of these problems, it was decided not to purchase the property.

food-bank-drive-logoFood drives

For many years, the GNA has made cash contributions to Saint Christopher’s food bank. At least twice, the GNA conducted its own collections for the Thurston County Food Bank.

Led by Board members Diane Jacob, Dave Schuett-Hames, and Pastor Andy Willis, a community garden was established at Saint Christopher’s Church. In recent years this garden has provided many bushels of food for the Thurston County Food Bank.

Other donations

The GNA has made a number of donations over the years. The Association makes frequent donations to Saint Christopher’s, which in turn provides assistance to local residents. The Association also contributed money to Saint Christopher’s capital campaign. A couple of donations to the South Sound Estuary Association funded scholarships that allowed local area residents to be trained as beach naturalists. The Association also made a donation to the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail, which provides viewing of chum salmon spawning.

steamboat_logo_1950x1050Steamboat Neighborhood Decals

Led by board member Missy Watts, the GNA has purchased and distributed thousands of decals with this unique logo art. The stickers have been seen on cars, trucks, boats, barges, laptops, and in building windows. The artwork was created by local graphical artist Bryan Douglas, who licensed his artwork under Creative Commons. The Steamboat Neighborhood logo was not created as a service mark of the GNA; it was created for use by the entire community. Individuals and businesses can use the artwork, provided they don’t alter it. More details about the arrangement are available on the GNA’s web site.

Solarize ThurstonSolarizeInterestFlyer

The GNA was a local partner of a program sponsored by Thurston Energy that provided special reduced pricing for residents to install solar panels using a local contractor. Board members Mark Messinger and Dave Schuett-Hames helped review proposals from solar installers. South Sound Solar was selected for the program.

Candidate forums

In 2012, the GNA partnered with the Cooper Point Association to sponsor two candidate forums for federal, state and local races on that year’s ballot.

A History Built on Local Service

The Griffin Neighborhood Association operates entirely by local residents who give their time in service to our community. The Griffin/Steamboat Peninsula community has been generous in its financial support, particularly to the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Ultimately, the success of the Association in meeting its mission relies upon those who are willing to work on and with the Association’s Board. The 25th anniversary represents an opportunity not only to reflect on a fine history, but for local residents and businesses to renew their participation in the Association by joining the GNA and by looking for opportunities to participate. Click here to join the GNA or renew your financial support. Watch for event notices on our Facebook Page and on Nextdoor.

– Original text by Steve Lundin.

This is part of a series of articles highlighting the first 25 years of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Click here to read the entire series.

The Tramp

Few residents are aware that our community is named after a tramp. This is not Charlie Chaplin, the famous Little Tramp, but our own Tramp, Judge Arthur Eugene Griffin.

Judge Griffin, namesake of our school district, fire district, and community, was a colorful figure who was called “The Tramp” by many of his family members. The nickname referred to his wanderlust ways, rebellious streak, and varied careers, including cook, merchant, post master, inventor, lawyer, judge, gold prospector, rancher, and investor.

Judge Arthur Eugene Griffin

Judge Arthur Eugene Griffin

Griffin’s tenuous connection with Charlie Chaplin extended beyond their similar nicknames. Perhaps Chaplin’s most famous movie was the 1925 hit, “The Gold Rush”, depicting the Little Tramp’s adventures at the Klondike or Yukon Gold Rush. Our namesake was bitten by the gold bug in 1897 and was one of tens of thousands who sought their fortunes in the Yukon. The Little Tramp climbed the famous Golden Stairs of Chilkoot Pass to reach the fabled gold fields. Our Tramp rode a horse over the nearby White Pass on his journey to the goldfields.

Arthur Griffin was born during the Civil War in 1862 at New Haven Township, Olmstead County, Minnesota. His parents were farmers. Griffin graduated from the Chicago Business College and immediately left the Midwest to seek his fortune without returning home as a prodigal son. His first job was as a cook for a Canadian Pacific Railroad survey crew. The Tramp had started his wanderlust ways.

Several years later, while passing through Enumclaw on a railroad car, Griffin took note of a good location for a store next to a saloon and boarding house. He and a partner later built Griffin and Blake Store at that site. Griffin soon was smitten by and married Gabrielle Paumell, a young French woman who was the first teacher in the community. When residents wanted to incorporate the settlement into a town, they asked Griffin to “draw up” the necessary documents. Griffin borrowed some books from a Seattle lawyer and drafted the necessary papers. After this initial success in the legal field, Griffin studied for and passed what constituted the Bar Exam in those days. He eventually became an expert in Indian law and wrote a number of short Indian stories and legends. The Griffin School Library has a compilation of these stories entitled Washington Indian Fables.

The Griffins eventually moved to Seattle. After the steamer S.S. Portland docked at Seattle’s Coleman dock with over a ton of gold from the Klondike in July of 1897, the alluring gold bug bit Griffin. He joined the stampede to find gold. Many of the thousands seeking Yukon gold traveled through Seattle and purchased their supplies there. This surge of economic activity not only put Seattle on the road to prosperity but was the catalyst to pull the nation out of its worst economic depression. Griffin opened a law firm with two other attorneys in a log cabin in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. He both prospected and practiced law.

After returning to Seattle from the Gold Rush, Griffin practiced law, became a superior court judge in King County, and made a number of investments. Of particular importance to us was his ill-fated attempt at ranching on Schneider’s Prairie. Griffin purchased much of Schneider’s Prairie in 1917. He expected to make a fortune during World War I when the price of wool skyrocketed. However, his purebred Ramboulet sheep soon died of lung worms. Griffin then tried raising registered Holsteins, but the prairie’s thin grass and wild flowers were too meager to support the cattle. Finally oyster beds where diked and he grew Pacific Oysters. This venture apparently was not successful when the market for oysters fell. Griffin then subdivided the land in a final attempt to make money on Schneider’s Prairie.

The Schneider’s Prairie District No. 33 school house burned to the ground in August of 1926. As a temporary measure, grades one through four were moved to the then abandoned schoolhouse of the prior Frye Cove School District No. 52 off what now is Gravelly Beach Loop NW.  Grades 5 through 8 were held at the second story of the old Grange Hall. The Grange had organized in 1909 and had a two-story building with an outside stairway to the second floor. Griffin donated five acres to the Schneider’s Prairie School District for a schoolhouse and grounds as part of his subdivision. Residents must have seen the deeding of the land as a grand gesture because they renamed the school district Griffin School District. The new school opened in March of 1927 with three rooms.

A new schoolhouse was constructed in 1969 and 1970, eventually becoming a 12 room building.  The new school building was constructed in phases with different grades moving into the new building as space became available. First, in early 1970, grades 6-8 moved out of portable buildings into the partially constructed new schoolhouse and grades 2-5 moved from the old schoolhouse into the portable buildings. The principal, kindergarten and grade 1 remained in the old building for the remainder of the school year. During the summer of 1970, the old building was torn down and rooms were added to the new building on the site of the old schoolhouse, allowing all grades and administration to be located in the new building by the 1970-71 school year. In 1977, a new junior module was added and grades 6-8 moved out of the 1970 structure into the addition. In 1989, six more classrooms, a gym, music room, kitchen and cafeteria were added. In 1991, two portable buildings were added supplying an additional four classrooms. In 2004 a new addition and other remodeling was completed.

The wanderlust Tramp, Arthur Eugene Griffin, died in an auto accident at the age of 86 in 1947. A large portrait of our benefactor is in the Griffin School library.

By Steve Lundin

Copyright 2014 by Steve Lundin

Reprinted from the January 1999 issue of “Neighbors“, the newsletter of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Revised 2014.

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years. He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State.  The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling.  It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at http://dgss.wsu.edu/ or from WSU Extension at www.pubs.wsu.edu

Interested in reading more about our local history? Click here for the whole series.

Our Potlatch Culture

Countless Potlatch gatherings were held for millennia by the Native Peoples of the coastal Northwest. The Paddle to Squaxin 2012 was the most recent Potlatch held on south Puget Sound.

Historical Potlatches

A Potlatch is an important gathering or festival of Native Peoples celebrating a major event of the host. Guests from far and near attended a Potlatch. Feasts were held, music performed, dances were performed, stories were told, and spiritual ceremonies were conducted, but most importantly, the hosts gave away most of their wealth to the honored guests.

The term “Potlatch” is a Coastal Salish Lushootseed word meaning “throw through the air” or “throw at”, relating to the practice of hosts giving gifts away at the Potlatch to visitors. This term is also part of the Chinook trade jargon, a language used by Native Peoples from Oregon to Alaska. Much of this jargon came from the language of the Chinook Tribe that lived at the mouth of the Columbia River. Other words came from languages of other Native Peoples, English and French.

Normally, a high-status person hosted a Potlatch. However, Potlatches were also held celebrating major events of the host family, such as the marriage of children, the erection of a house, a funeral, or the birth of a child. The entire village assisted in preparations for a Potlatch. Traditionally, the most important Potlatches were held during the winter, after food had been harvested and preserved.

A Potlatch could be held in a Potlatch House, erected in most larger villages, or in the host family’s long house. Both types of houses were constructed of cedar planks and were often quite large. The largest Potlatch House built by the Snohomish Tribe at Tulalip was 150 feet long and 43 feet wide. Most other Potlatch Houses were smaller. At least one traditional Potlatch house was located on Eld Inlet, and presumably all other inlets of Puget Sound.

The essential Potlatch practice of hosts giving away most of their wealth offended white settlers. Accordingly, white authorities attempted to ban Potlatches as part of their efforts to drive traditional practices from Native Peoples and “civilize” them into the ways of the white man. However, the Potlatch tradition continued.

Southern Puget Sound Native Peoples

In south Puget Sound, separate bands of closely related Native Peoples lived along the shores of each major inlet. The Clam Legend of the Puget Sound Native Peoples teaches that very long ago, the Raven stuck people into clamshells and dropped them all around Puget Sound. This started the various small bands of Native Peoples up and down Puget Sound.

A winter village was constructed at the closed or protected end of the inlet. Each winter village contained from one to three long houses of roughly 100 feet in length. The winter village of the T’Peeksin peoples of Totten Inlet was located at the southern end of the Inlet on Oyster Bay where Schneider Creek enters the bay. The winter village of the Squi-Aitl band of Eld Inlet was located at the southern end of the Inlet on Mud Bay, south of today’s Highway 101. This winter village had three long houses, each housing about 100 people.

Members of the band congregated in their winter villages during the cold months. This is where children learned much of their traditional stories and culture. During warmer months, members of the village moved out along both sides of the inlet, living in family units in temporary housing, and harvested food.

The Squaxin Island Tribe was created by administrative fiat of Isaac I. Stevens, the first Governor of Washington Territory, as part of the Medicine Creek Treaty in 1854. Seven bands of southern Puget Sound, including the T’Peeksin and Squi-Aitl, were combined into the Tribe.

Squaxin peoples continued holding Potlatches after contact with whites. This includes Potlatches held along both shores of Steamboat Island peninsula.

Tobin Potlatches

At least two major Potlatches were hosted by the James Tobin family along the north shore of Young Cove, off of Eld Inlet, on the Steamboat Island peninsula. James and Louisa Tobin were very prominent residents of this area who owned most of the land north Young Cove, as well as oyster lands stretching from the mouth of Young Cove, around Flapjack Point, and past Frye Cove county park. Mrs. Tobin was the only surviving child of Sitkum Kettle or Kettle Labatim, one of the last chiefs of the Squaxin Island Tribe.

The Tobins hosted a Potlatch in 1900 celebrating the marriage of their daughter Katie Tobin to Edward J. Smith. Smith was the son of the last chief of the Chahalis Tribe. The Potlatch celebration of the wedding lasted three days. It is estimated that as many as 300 Indians attended the affair. The Morning Olympian reported that attendees included “many Indians of Puget Sound, some of them famous chiefs in pioneer days, whose names and deeds were in those time [sic.], household words. There were representatives from the Squaxin, Nisqually, Chahalis, Neah Bay, Puyallup, Skokomish, Oyster Bay and Mud Bay. Many whites also attended the multi-day affair.” The bride’s grandfather Chief Kettle was in attendance, but would not allow his photo to be taken. Most guests arrived by canoe.

The Tobins fed all of the guests. Food was served in a 35 foot long shed behind the Tobin house and under nearby fruit trees. The Tobin house was located just north or across the street from the modern-day boat launch on Gravelly Beach Loop. The fare included beef, bread, potatoes, oysters, clams, and side dishes. A dancing pavilion was erected near the house. The guests camped along the shoreline, which was the north side of Young Cove. The Potlatch continued for three days. The Morning Olympian reported that “it is most unusual now days to see so many Indian celebrities gathering at one place, and the wedding will have a resting place in the minds of the Olympia visitors who attended.” It referred to wedding as “great doings of a society nature”.

The Tobins hosted another Potlatch on their property in 1910, celebrating the double wedding of two sets of brothers and sisters – Angeline Tobin married Steve Frederick and Benjamin Franklin Tobin married Jessie Frederick. The Frederick brother and sister were the children of Joe and Mamie Frederick, prominent members of the Puyallup Tribe. Joe Frederick was know as one of the most prosperous Native Americans on Puget Sound. Again, more than 300 Native American guests attended the wedding which lasted for several days. Dinners were eaten on tables set out in the Tobin orchard. Again, most guests arrived by canoe.

Paddle to Squaxin 2012

The most recent Potlatch on south Puget Sound was the Paddle to Squaxin 2012, held this summer. Native Americans paddled almost 100 canoes into Olympia, arriving on the afternoon of Sunday, July 29, 2012. Canoes held members of many different Pacific coast and inland water tribes celebrating this year’s Native Canoe Journey for 2012. The Squaxin Island Tribe hosted this year’s event. Some paddlers paddled for weeks traveling many hundreds of miles from as far as the Queen Charlotte Islands and Bella Bella.

Elaborate landing ceremonies for the canoes were held at North Point, the northern end of the Port of Olympia’s facilities. Prior to landing, the crew of on each canoe, or group of canoes, raised their paddles into the air as a sign of friendship and requested permission to land. Members of the Squaxin Island responded and invited the paddlers ashore. Thousands of Native Peoples, and other people, viewed the landing, including Governor Chris Gregoire and Olympia Mayor Steve Buxbaum.

Canoes landed continuously from 1 PM until 6 PM. Crews of from 7 to 15 paddlers were aboard each canoe. Most canoes were cedar, dug out canoes. Many were 40 feet long. Canoes traveling the furthest landed first. Canoes from the Quinault Tribe, that will host the annual event in 2013, landed second to the last. Canoes from the Squaxin Island Tribe, representing this year’s host tribe, landed last.

The festivities continued through the week on Squaxin properties at Kamilche. Members of each participating tribe danced and sang their songs. The order was similar to the order of canoes landing – tribes from the furthest away performed first, with Quinaults, next year’s host performing second to the last, and the host Squaxin Tribe performing last. Great emphasis was made to instill pride, mixed with being humble, and emphasizing native languages and staying sober. Tribal youth were a real focus of the event. Elders were celebrated, including William Peters, a World War II veteran and one of the most venerated Squaxin Elders.

Guests at Kamilche were greeted by two huge tents, both about 100 yards long. The intricate ceremonies were performed in one tent, with bleachers along the sides. Food and beverages were severed at no charge in the second tent for all attendees, Native American or otherwise. It was a real treat to observe these ceremonies and partake in the friendship at Kamilche. A strong spirit of friendship and hospitality was evident.

Native Canoe Journeys are modern Potlatches where Native Peoples tell stories, dance, sing, and celebrate. The Squaxin Island Tribe presented gifts to the paddlers, reminiscent of Potlatches from many years ago.

Copyright 2012 by Steve Lundin

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Click here to read more of Steve’s articles on the local history of the Griffin area.

Hips Aweigh

“Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!” — Read a 1968 proclamation announcing the formal organization of the Sisters of Hips Aweigh (H.A.W.). H.A.W. was more informally known as the Fat Ladies Group.

This sisterhood of some of the Griffin area’s finest was organized to address a weighty problem. Boldly declaring that misery loves company and problems shared are lighter in weight, these women attacked their problem with mirth and weekly meetings. A sister could call on any other sister for any help she may need.

H.A.W. assembled for weekly meetings every Friday morning at 10 A.M. The weekly meeting site moved from home to home. Each member parked her feelings at home when the group assembled. Snide remarks and irreverent humor were in order. Humorous readings were given. No kids or men were allowed.

It was said that the husbands liked the Sisterhood because the women were better natured when they came home after the weekly meetings.

The original charter limited the sisterhood to twenty, but this restriction was lowered to sixteen in 1988. Charter members included Toddy Schmidt, Clara Keyes, Ada LeMay, Claire Peterson, and Kathy Keyes (Cowan). Rose Eason was the first new initiate. By 1969, Mary Juhl, Dorothy Reed, Ella Reigel, Eula Biggerly, and Velma Anderson had joined. Other sisters included, Ruth Baker, Lois Camus, Rheba Christopher, Pat Dunkelberger, Thora Flock, Irene Froboes, Yvonne Heffner, Imogen Leonard, Edith Leo, Alice Mack, Eleanor Perrire, Leona Peterson, and Eva Tobin.

Minutes were kept for each meeting. Officers were elected, including the President, Secretary, Under Secretary, and Flip Flap Officer, who was also known as she who guards the treasury. Other officers included the Record Keeper, Crowner of the Queen, Security Officer, Entertainment Committee Officer, Horn Blower, and Slip Writer. Each officer served until such time as the group felt like holding another election – “like in England.”

The sisters weighed and had their weights recorded at each meeting. Then they ate and enjoyed a program. Summaries of any weight changes were calculated at the annual Pounders’ Day meeting. Each member received one of three awards at this meeting, based upon these calculations. The Hippo award was presented to each member with a net weight gain for the year. The Turtle award was presented to each member with no weight gain. The Queen for a Day crown was awarded to each member who lost weight.

A big party was held whenever a member turned 75. Each sister turning 75 received a special telephone call from Ella Reigel who read a Western Union telegram announcing her Birthday and tickled her piano’s ivory keys with a classical rendition. Other special events included Christmas parties and Halloween parties.

Formal meetings ended after 25 years of frivolity, but Hips Aweigh still lives in many memories.

Copyright 2011 by Steve Lundin

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Click here to read more of Steve’s articles on the local history of the Griffin area.

Local Native American Heritage

SquaxinIslandLogoIndigenous peoples have inhabited the southern Puget Sound area for many centuries.

Prior to the arrival of Euro-Americans, indigenous peoples inhabiting Puget Sound had a vibrant culture and relatively dense populations. They were maritime peoples who called themselves “People of the Water”. Puget Sound was sacred. It also served as their basic means of transportation and a source of food.

Prior to the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1855, native peoples living in southern Puget Sound were known by the inlet on which they lived. A separate band of native peoples occupied each inlet. They were known by the name of their inlet. People living along both shores of what is now called Eld Inlet were known as the Squi-Ailt. People living along both shores of what is now called Totten Inlet were known as the T’Peeksin. The Squaxin Tribe was formed after the Medicine Creek Treaty from seven separate, but closely related, bands of native peoples living on seven separate inlets in southern Puget Sound.

During the cold weather season, members of each band lived in a large cedar long house in a more or less permanent village located at the sheltered end of their inlet. These were the times when members of the band lived communally, repeated their legions and stories, and instructed their children in tribal ways. During the warm weather season, families units from each band fanned out along both sides of their inlet and lived in less permanent dwellings. They harvested the bounty of the inlet and prepared for the next cold weather season. Proximity to fresh water was a prerequisite for locating a permanent cold weather village and the more numerous, transitory warm weather sites.

One of these winter village sites for the Squi-Ailt was at the archeological dig on former Secretary of State Ralph Munro’s property located on the eastern shore of Mud Bay near the southern end of Eld Inlet.

T. T. Waterman was a noted anthropologist at the University of Washington during the early years of the 20th century. He met with tribal elders in southern Puget Sound in 1910 and recorded important sites. More than 33 of these sites were noted on the Steamboat peninsula or Griffin area.

Waterman noted the abandoned site of a “large and thriving” village at the southern end of Mud Bay, a little north of the modern-day intersection of Delphi Road and MacKenzie Road. He failed to note the site of the archeological dig at Ralph Munro’s as being the site of a village, although he mentioned the three creeks on Ralph Munro’s property. Apparently, the village site mentioned by Waterman had succeeded the earlier village site at Munro’s property, although both sites were abandoned by 1910.

Perry Creek was known as “Balablts” or on the side toward the spring. It is noted as being a “large creek flowing into a cover”.

Rocky Point is also called Maple Point and was called “TsEbtsEdid” which suggests dancing place or “elderberry place”.

Young Cove was called “q!abt!o” or “abounding in food”.

Flapjack Point was noted as being prominent and was known as “qwet qs” or down-stream promontory.

Fry Cove was noted as being a very narrow cove that was known as “Tu caix” signifying an edible root that was dug by Native peoples. This may have been Camus.

Sanderson Cove was described as being a very narrow cove known as “Tu qwa’lot sid” or “fish trap at its mouth”. A weir was built across the mouth of the inlet that would trap fish when the tide receded.

Hunter Point was known as “Djie’ kclL” which means “foot”. Presumably this meant wet foot describing waves that rush up to the foot of the cliff, fall back, and then rush up again.

Sandy Point, near where the bridge to Steamboat Island is located, was known as “CxwE’ tsugEL” which suggested sharp breath.

Steamboat Island was known as “SxetElp” or “pushing off from shore”, presumably referring to the appearance of the island as though a canoe was leaving the mainland. It is fitting that one of the modern rationales for naming the island Steamboat Island is that the island resembles a steamboat.

Gallagher Cove was known as “Bicola’lala” or “a place with many cattail rushes”. Cattails were very important for weaving baskets.

The promontory at northern point at the northwest end of Gallagher Cove was known as “hwEts – toi’q – stEb” which means “sharp prodding”. This relates to the belief that a storm will be caused if anyone pokes the bottom of the inlet there with a pole or paddle.

Burns Point was known as “T!EbE’ x” which means “gooseberries”.

Copyright 2011 by Steve Lundin

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County.  He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and is now retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10. 

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State.  The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling.  It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at http://dgss.wsu.edu/ or from WSU Extension at www.pubs.wsu.edu

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