The South Whidbey Historical Society is staffing the parking lot opposite the Fairgrounds for the Whidbey Island Area Fair running this Thursday, July 19 through Sunday, July 22. When you park in the SWHS lot, you help to support the efforts of your local Historical Society. Only $5 for all-day parking.

The McLeod and Brooks Hill cabins will be open, as well as the Ray Gabelein, Sr. Antique Farming Equipment Barn which SWHS also staffs. If you are not already a member of SWHS, membership forms will be available at the McLeod cabin and the Ray Gabelein, Sr. Antique Farm Equipment building.

See you at the Fair!

Our summer schedule begin this Friday at the South Whidbey Historical Museum. Stop by and see us between 1 and 4 p.m. The Museum will now be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 1 and 4 p.m. until Labor Day weekend.



In 1939 Clinton resident Bill Hunziker brought his 8 mm camera and met up with his Everett High School classmates for the Memorial Day parade in Everett.

Three months later Nazi Germany would invade Poland and conquer most of Europe. Two and a half years later the United States would enter World War II when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.


If you want to know what life was like on South Whidbey in the 1920s and ’30s, then watch this excerpt of an interview that Bill Steiner did in 1981 of his neighbors, Leon and Marie Burley, of Maxwelton.

Leon’s parents moved from Nebraska to the Ravenna neighborhood in north Seattle via a buckboard wagon in 1902. Leon and Marie met in 1915 while playing together in her father’s orchestra (music was a shared passion) and married in 1916.

The Burley family had spent many summers on South Whidbey with their friends, the Mackies, who moved here in 1905. The Burleys moved to Maxwelton in 1921. In addition to farming, Leon drove the school bus to Langley and Marie taught piano lessons for 50 years.

Leon was 90 when this interview was done, and Marie was 86. He died in 1996 at the age of 104, three years after Marie had passed away at age 97.

The Burleys’ recounting of South Whidbey farm life, family, work, values and community is priceless.

The late Bill Hunziker (1922-2016), son of ferry boat Captain Stanley Hunziker who did the Clinton-Mukilteo run, was given a movie camera by his parents when he was a boy in the 1930s.

He shot many home movies on South Whidbey, and even took the movie camera to his grade school in Mukilteo, where he attended Rosehill School. (Bill’s mother wanted him to attend a larger school than the one in Langley, and it was an easy ferry commute from his nearby home on Columbia Beach.)

These two movies, one black and white one — presumably shot when he was in 7th grade, and a slightly later one shot in Kodacolor in 1937 capture what school was like in the late 1930s.

It was a time when male teachers wore three-piece suits and ties, girl students wore dresses and bobby socks, and there was only one microscope for the whole science class.

When Capt. George Vancouver landed on the shores of Point Elliott in 1792, he noted the expanse of wild roses growing near the shoreline.The name given to the place where Rosehill School was located, Rose Point, was coined by Gen. William Broughton, a member of Vancouver’s expedition.

In the 1890s, when a prominent Everett architect designed a Victorian-style school just up the hill from the beach, it was named Rose Hill School, later shortened to Rosehill School. The first school, a wooden structure with an onion-shaped dome, burned in 1928. A second, larger one was built in 1929.

The stone monument in the video was placed in 1929 by the Marcus Whitman Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to commemorate the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty made between 82 native American leaders and the U.S. Government.

In the 1970s Rosehill School was converted to Rosehill Community Center and later torn down in 2010 for the current, more modern Rosehill Community Center.

The opening credit of the video was fashioned to reflect Bill Hunziker’s hope of one day emulating the great Hollywood directors.

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Warren Farmer, one of South Whidbey’s oldest native sons.…/warren-farmer-april-25…/

Here are some excerpts from a recent article on Warren as he was honored as a tribal elder by the S’Kallam tribe :

His family roots go back to the earliest written history of Whidbey Island.

His great-grandmother, Emily Lowe Madsen, was a full S’Klallam tribal member from Sequim. She was married to Christian Madsen, a Danish sea captain who was making his fortune cutting and shipping timber to California around 1860.

Madsen won property called Willow Point on Whidbey Island in a poker game. It was so named because of its dense growth of willow trees and was one of three permanent villages of the Snohomish Indians.

A large potlatch house, three longhouses and few private dwellings were located there. Willow Point is known today as Bush Point.

In 1880 Madsen decided to build a warehouse at Bush Point and persuaded business partner John Curtis Farmer and his twenty-year-old son John Carlton Farmer to move from San Francisco to Whidbey Island.

A romance developed between the younger Farmer and Minnie Lowe, Madsen’s stepdaughter. They were married in 1883.

Minnie Lowe descended from the fifth brother, Que-ni-a’som, (called Quathim-son “the Wanderer,” also called Valparaiso Joe), who married the daughter of a Clallam Bay sea captain. Their son Thiedmalth was the father of Minnie Lowe.

Warren’s grandmother, Minnie Lowe Farmer was determined to buy land at Bush Point.

In 1884, she paid one hundred dollars in gold coin to purchase sixty-six acres of land at Bush Point. Two years later, the couple purchased an additional 55 acres at Bush Point from Christian Madsen for $300. Together Minnie and John developed the land into a prosperous farm.

As the farm thrived it became headquarters for many activities on the west side of the island. They built a large barn, brought in Holstein cows, created an orchard, vegetable garden, and raised chickens. As time went on they built a store and a sailboat which was christened the Egg Box. It was used to shuttle eggs, milk, butter, fruits, vegetables, and meats to the passenger and freight boats that anchored offshore.

Warren’s father, Charles, was born in 1884. In 1885 his sister Josephine was born, followed by John in 1887, and Emily in 1892. Minnie Farmer died in 1897, leaving her two sons to assist their father in running the farm. The Farmer family continued to live at Bush Point.

A lighthouse fueled by an oil lamp was built, and it was Emily’s job to light the lamp each night and extinguish it in the morning.

Fish traps were an important part of the economy. One trap could catch up to 100,000 salmon in a day.

Warren was born at Bush Point in 1934 to parents Charles Carlton Farmer and Cordelia Lee “Mae” Arnold Farmer. About this time, fish traps were abolished because there was fear that they were destroying the salmon runs.

Whidbey had car ferry service and roads were being built. This started the resort industry. Salmon were plentiful and a family could spend a weekend on the island renting a cabin for the less than five dollars a night and go home with fresh caught salmon.

Bush Point resort was of the first fishing resorts on the island. Salmon derbies were held with big prizes which attracted more and more visitors to Whidbey.

At one time, there were some 30 resorts on the south end of Island. They are all gone now as families bought the land for summer and permanent homes.

Warren lived at Bush Point and graduated from Langley High School in 1952. He worked many years at the resort. In 1958, he married Darla Ulskey. The couple moved to Everett and established Farmer Realty developing acreage in Snohomish and Island Counties.

Their children Robert, David, and Kathy grew up in Everett but spent summers at Bush Point. Warren and Darla returned to Bush Point 42 years ago and built their home next to the boathouse of Hap’s Resort.


Before it was called Sandy Point…

Before it was called Sandy Point, it was called Brown’s Point, but before that, it was a permament Snohomish village called TSEHT-skluhks (‘ragged nose’).

The village had a potlatch house and clam beds which drew visitors from as far away as the Samish. Captain George Vancouver noted in his journals that Master Joseph Whidbey on their visit in 1792 saw two hundred people at this location.

in 1859 a 19-year-old Portugese-born sailor named Joseph Brown jumped ship and settled among the tribe in the village. Six years later he married 14-year-old Mary Shelton (likely a relative of Chief William Shelton who was born there in 1869).

Joseph built an impressive house up on the bluff, and he and Mary became the parents of 14 children.

He hung a lantern out at night for passing ships, and the point became known as “Brown’s Point.”

At first, school was held in their home in 1889, but the next year a school was built at Brown’s Point, and another school 10 years later on Decker Street which then was a skid road in the woods. This was followed by another structure in 1901 on land donated by the Browns.

Mabel Anthes, daughter of Langley founder Jacob Anthes recalled attending school with five of the Brown children. School was in session three months of the year.

In 1915 the Browns sold much of their acreage at Brown’s Point to 16 developers from Everett who formed the Sandy Point Recreation Company in 1916. Joseph died in 1920 and Mary died in 1928.

We welcome any additional information or photos from descendants.

Indigenous Peoples on South Whidbey Field Trip

The South Whidbey Schools Foundation provided a $3,500 grant this year for all the 4th grade classes (Rachel Kizer’s, Sue Raley’s, and Kathy Stanley’s classes) at SW Elementary School to learn about the history, way of life, and values of local indigenous peoples.

Students study Washington state history, trace their own family journeys to Washington, and learn about the early years of Washington and the indigenous people who lived here.

As part of the project, students will take several field trips including this week’s trip to the Hibulb Cultural Center to learn about the Snohomish Tribe.

Students will next go to the Island County Historical Museum in Coupeville to take advantage of their “Every Kid in a Park” to learn about early Native American life at Ebey’s Landing.

Then students will tour the South Whidbey Historical Museum with an emphasis on the indigenous history of the south end of Whidbey Island, plus the settlers who founded our local towns.

In addition, the grant will fund a guest speaker to help students learn in greater depth about the local Snohomish presence on South Whidbey, including the last hereditary chief of the Snohomish, William Shelton, (1868-1938), who was born and raised on South Whidbey.

We would like to see this classroom project funded every year and invite a community group, local business, or an individual or family to adopt this grant. If you are interested in becoming a patron of this project, please contact Bob Wiley at at

Baker’s Corner Store

As South Whidbey developed, small stores and mercantiles dotted the coastline at Langley, Bush Point, old Clinton, Possession Point, Glendale, Maxwelton, Holmes Harbor and Austin (off Mutiny Bay). Later, as roads were developed, additional stores opened.

Did you know that there once had been a store at the corner of Bush Point and Mutiny Bay roads? From 1920 until it burned down in 1934, Ma Baker — Helen Gurine Baker, a Norwegian immigrant who was widowed with four children — operated Baker’s Corner Grocery.

It was not only a small grocery with bulk dry goods, but also had a small restaurant, served baked goods, carried hay and later gasoline, and sold shoes, overalls, women’s dresses, children’s clothes and hardware items.

There will be more about Baker’s Corner Grocery in the next South Whidbey Historical Society newsletter. Do you have a memory of an early store on South Whidbey to share?