John Josephson was bom in Smaland, Sweden, and came to the United States as a young man. He went north to Nome, Alaska, during the gold rush, but after a short time there he came south and settled in Everett. He worked in a saw mill remaining there until 1914 when the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) went on strike. There was a great deal of violence and some people were killed. It became known as the “Everett Massacre.”
In Everett, John became acquainted with the Johnson family who had come west from Cambridge, Minnesota and whose daughter Olga married John Josephson in 1915. Her brothers and John walked the length of the island because John was looking for property to buy. They decided on a nice piece of land on the northwest side of Useless Bay. John bought ten acres at two hundred dollars an acre in 1917.
At first John built a small cabin and used an old Indian longhouse on the property as a barn. Four years later, he built a house which is still standing today. John and Olga had a good garden and acquired cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. They also had a large strawberry patch. On the morning of June 14, 1919, Olga was out picking strawberries. Later that day, she gave birth to their first-born son Harry. There were two more sons— Alvar, who lives in Everett and has two children, and Leon, who now lives in Marysville.
Harry remembers Freeland as a shopping center when he was a boy. There was a co-op store and a post office, but the roads were really only trails that could be traveled by foot or with a horse and buggy. Harry has the buggy his father and mother used.
At this time, Harry’s father had quite a large strawberry farm and hired children to pick the berries. Then a truck would come and pick up the berries to take them to the market in Everett. Children also worked at the Kohlwes ranch picking cherries and filberts. Harry remembers his father taking two gunny sacks of peas and a wheelbarrow full of veal to Langley and then to market at Everett. The boat was either the Calista or the Atlanta. Harry says the boat whistle blew all the way to Everett.
Harry received his schooling at the Bayview grade school and Langley High School. He was president of his class in high school. After high school, Harry took over part of the farm and worked at home.
In 1928, a group of neighbors got together and decided to build a recreational hall. They sold bonds at $50 each to finance the building, to pay for the lumber and other materials needed. In 1928, the neighbors who joined in on the project were Harry’s father, Charles Farrell, Clifford Thompson, the Kohlwes brothers, Harold Johnston, Frank Melendy, Felix Gabelein, the Jewetts, the Petersons, and Frank Olson—who was in charge of the project. This building is known as Bayview Hall. When it was finished, dances were held twice a week.
During the Depression years, John Josephson, who was a builder, also worked in the logging camps for about six years. Harry, his mother and his brothers, worked the farm while John was away at the logging camps. They supplemented their food supply with clams, rabbits, venison, and fish. By 1934, they had saved enough money to buy a new Dodge. It was, no doubt, a memorable occasion for the Josephson family.
A Mexican freighter started coming up the coast during the Depression years. The people on the boat were looking for sturdy poles to be used as supports in several Mexican mines. Roy Neill was able to supply the Mexicans with what they wanted and they came back every summer for several years.
In 1941, Harry Josephson married Nora Bjorn- dahl from Sacred Heart, Minnesota. She had come to the island to visit friends—August and Marie Bardahi who lived in Clinton. Marie became ill and Nora stayed on to help her. Later, Nora got a job working in the lunch room on one of the ferries, and met Harry. Not long after, they were married. They lived on Mutiny Bay in a small cabin for two years.
In about 1943, they bought 70 acres from Charles Woodard at Shore Meadows. (Woodard bought one of the first saw mills in Freeland from Harry Gibson and later sold it to Everett Hays.) The land had originally been settled by the Larson brothers who bought it after they retired from working on the railroad. They cleared the land by hand and put in an orchard of about 100 trees— mostly apples. To keep the deer out of the orchard, the Larsons built a picket fence around it, made of vertical grain fir poles. In about 1912, the Larsons built the house now owned by Amy and Marvin Carlisle. There was a rumor that the Larsons ate only salt pork, fish, and potatoes. This was a daily standard fare for many Scandinavians at the turn of the century. The Larson brothers were about sixty years old when they came to the island, and lived to be over ninety when they died. They had no living relatives, so the Swedish Consul in Seattle, Ivar Lundequist, had to settle their estate. It was through Consul Lundequist that Charles Woodard bought the land.
For many years, Harry and Nora Josephson had a chicken farm at Shore Meadows. They had about 2,000 laying hens and sold eggs locally. On a Saturday, they would dress out about 200 fryers for the markets. In about 1952, the Western Washington Co-op became interested in the chicken farm and used it as a model for raising chickens. They brought a crew to the island and made a movie showing how everything was done on the farm. Harry has the film and the sound track. It was shown at many programs sponsored by the Co-op.
Harry and Nora Josephson have five children; Norman, who is a school principal in Olympia, Washington; Noreen, who lives in Brier; Dale, who is involved in real estate in Boise, Idaho; Roxanne, a nurse; and Joan, who lives in Bellingham.
Harry has worked as a builder for many years and has a reputation for honesty and integrity. He has also been interested in the South Whidbey community and serves at the present time as a member of the board of the South Whidbey Historical Society.