Although the Bayview Cash Store was started by William Burk, it is more closely identified with Harold Johnston, who owned and operated it for almost half a century and was prominent in community activities.
Harold was a native son, having been born in 1901 to William and Maggie Stoddard Johnston, who had settled on a forty-acre farm in 1898 on top of Double Bluff on Lancaster Road. Maggie was from Coupeville, but William came from Canada with his brother Richard and their sister Eleanor, who was a milliner by profession.
William and Maggie became the parents of four children— Tezel, Harold, Lawrence, and Thelma. Unfortunately, Maggie died shortly after Thelma’s birth, leaving much of the care of the younger children to Tezel and Harold. They had strong family support from their uncle and aunt, Duncan and Eleanor Johnston McMasters, whose farm abutted theirs.
Duncan McMasters had arrived from Canada the same year that the Johnstons settled on Double Bluff. Almost immediately, Cupid aimed his arrows at Duncan and Eleanor, and a marriage resulted. The newlyweds settled on a 120-acre farm on top of the bluff between Lancaster Road and Useless Bay waterfront. Working together, the Johnstons and McMasters families logged the material for their houses and bams, cutting the lumber at a saw mill located at what was later to become the Warren Burner property.
After the death of Maggie Johnston, Eleanor McMasters (Aunt Nellie, as she was affectionately known by the family) greatly assisted her brother in raising his motherless brood, and the cousins grew up almost as one family. An amusing story is told by Harold Johnston’s daughter Judy, about her father and his cousin Peb McMasters. Seals abounded on the Useless Bay tide flats where the boys often played, and they managed to catch a baby seal, bringing it home and depositing it in the McMasters’ bath tub, to the consternation of the adult members of the family. The friendly little creature soon became a friendly big creature, much too large to use the family bath tub as a play pen. Reluctantly, the boys were required to take their playmate back to the bay, praying that it would not fall victim to the seal bounty hunters who frequented Useless Bay.
When Tezel Johnston was in her late teens, she married Frank Massey and they made their home on the island. In 1942, their son Frank Jr. had a spectacular experience. He was a seaman on the £755 California stationed in Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese invasion. The ship was bombed and Frank Jr. was thrown into the water. He survived, but was sent home to recover from his injuries. After he recuperated, he married Dorothy Eidel whose father, O. E. Eidel, was superintendent of Langley schools from 1936 to 1946.
Shortly after Tezel was married, her 16-year- old younger sister Thelma eloped with a young Seattle man, Earl Dalton. About a year after the birth of their daughter Erla, Thelma died and Erla was raised by her paternal grandmother in Seattle until she was 12.
After his two daughters had married, William Johnston took his sons Harold and Lawrence to Canada where he remarried and remained until his death. Lawrence remained in Canada, married, and had a son, Neal. Harold, however, felt a strong attachment to Whidbey Island and during his high school years, he lived with relatives of the McMasters, the Smith family and their thirteen children at Maylor Point in Oak Harbor. He married an Oak Harbor girl and they had two sons, Ronald and Ray.
Harold Johnston’s real interest in Whidbey Island remained on the south end where he had been bom and spent his childhood, so when William Burk was ready to sell the Bayview Store in 1930; Harold was ready to buy. He moved his family to Bayview, installing them in living quarters behind the store. Shortly after, Harold and his wife separated, and in 1939, he married Elizabeth Schmidt, daughter of a South Whidbey couple, George and Martha Schmidt. In 1942, two important events took place in the Johnston household. Erla, daughter of Harold’s deceased sister Thelma, came from Seattle to live with them and attend Langley High School at about the same time that Harold and Betty became parents of a daughter, Judy.
Judy recalls that she literally grew up in the store, riding her tricycle up and down the aisles when she was a youngster. She also recalls that there was never a dull moment in the Johnston household. It always seemed to be filled with an assortment of relatives, all of whom took turns helping out in the store. While attending Langley High School, Erla fell in love with a class mate, Darrell Green of the Maxwelton pioneer family. [Note: the Green family story is told in Part III of this volume.]
Their marriage was a big event in the Johnston household. Also, Neal Johnston, whose father Lawrence had died at the premature age of 42 in Canada, came to live with his uncle Harold. He worked in the store while finishing high school here, then attended the University of Washington. He is now an Everett dentist.
Ronald, Ray, and Judy all helped out in their parents’ store while attending Langley High School. After graduating, Ray moved to Seattle, married Marilyn Tilbury, and they had two children. Ray died in Seattle in 1979. Ronald remained in Bayview, married Betty Dahlman, daughter of a pioneer Freeland family, and for many years managed the Bayview store for his father. He and Betty purchased a thirteen-acre farm on the shore of Lone Lake just below the store from his parents, and they made their home there for several years before moving to Seattle. They have now sold the property to their daughter and son-in-law, Cheryl and Randy Thompson.
This farm has been consecutively owned by three generations of one family. Roland and Betty have two other daughters besides Cheryl. Gail lives with her husband, Dan Thompson, near Ken’s Komer. Diane, who is married to Rick Doty, lives in Stanwood.
Judy Johnston married Danny Thorsen, son of a pioneer Clinton family. [Note: the Thorsen story is told in Part I of this volume.] They had two daughters, Kimberly and Kristi, both of whom live on South Whidbey Island. Danny Thorsen was killed in an accident several years ago, and Judy is now married to Roland Clinton.
For many years, Harold and Betty Johnston owned a beach cottage and other waterfront land at Maxwelton where the family spent their summers. In the middle 1970’s, they built a beautiful waterfront home on a portion of the beach adjoining the cottage. Harold died in 1977. His widow has remarried and she and her present husband, Frank Nichols, a well known member of the Nichol’s Boat Works family, live in the home. Judy and Roland Clinton live in the beach cottage next to Judy’s mother’s home.
Duncan and Eleanor Johnston McMasters built a handsome two-story house on top of Double Bluff with a commanding marine and territorial view. It is still in use as a residence as this is written. They developed one of the outstanding farms in the area. Duncan also cut lumber for the surrounding neighborhood with his portable saw mill. Three children blessed their home— Mildred, born in 1901; Merrill (Peb), bom in 1903; and Eldon, born in 1905. They also had an adopted daughter, Isabel.
Eleanor McMasters was not one to let the religious education of her children be neglected even though no South Whidbey churches had been established in those early days. She corrected the situation by starting a Sunday school in the Austin schoolhouse with the McMasters and Johnston offspring in attendance each Sunday along with any other children who could be persuaded to attend.
Both Duncan and Eleanor McMasters lived to be well over 80 years old and are buried in the McMasters-Johnston family plots in Bayview Cemetery. Their daughter Mildred died in her early twenties and also is buried there. Eldon McMasters married Irene Johnson (no relation to the Johnstons) and they took over the family home and ranch. Eldon died in the late 1970’s and is buried in the family plot at Bayview. His wife and two children have moved from the island. Isabel married into the Hazen family of Freeland.
Merrill McMasters, or “Peb,” as he is generally known, went to work in a furniture factory on the main-land after he finished school. The factory was owned by Don McChesney and Peb lived with the McChesneys during World War I. After drifting about doing odd jobs for a few years, he returned to South Whidbey Island and purchased ten acres at the Lancaster-Double Bluff crossroads, near the original property of his parents. In May 1929, he and Lisha Marshall of Honeymoon Bay were married in the McMasters family home with Reverend McNamee (Brother Mac) of the Langley Methodist Church officiating. Four children were born to their union—Robert, Eleanor, Donald (who died at birth), and Jane.
Peb maintained his ten-acre farm and also commuted to Oak Harbor where he worked as a carpenter at the navy base. He recalls that there were bears in the Double Bluff area when he was a youngster. One time, they came into the barnyard and killed some of the pigs. Another time, he witnessed two bears fighting. Also, there was evidence from remains found on the McMasters farm that elk had once lived in the area. Elk horns and an elk skeleton were discovered and a four- point horn was unearthed under a giant hemlock tree which had partially grown over it. Seals abounded on the tide flats and Peb counted as many as 75 at one time. Peb is now retired. [Note: This material was obtained from Erla Green, Judy Clinton, Betty Nichols, and Peb McMasters.]