Langley’s All-Woman City Council

One hundred years ago this month, a special election was held in Langley which resulted in an all-woman administration who took office in January 1920.

This is but one part of Washington State’s interesting road to women’s suffrage as local historian Bob Waterman explains in this video.

If you support the sharing of local history, please consider making a meaningful donation to the South Whidbey Historical Society by mailing a check to the Society at PO Box 612, Langley, WA 98260 or online at

We were fortunate that the rain held off for Sunday’s Era of South Whidbey Fishing Resorts. Here’s a brief recap of our second annual bus tour. We are trying to do a different topic every year. Enjoy.

Good times shared with good people. We were fortunate that the rain held off for Sunday's Era of South Whidbey Fishing Resorts. Here's a brief recap of our second annual bus tour. We are trying to do a different topic every year. Enjoy.

Posted by South Whidbey Historical Museum on Monday, August 12, 2019

Buy your tickets now for the Era of Fishing Resorts on South Whidbey Fundraiser Bus Tour

At one time South Whidbey had more than 35 family-run fishing resorts.

Learn about this bygone era and what it was like for both resort owners and guests on this year’s historical bus tour fundraiser: The Era of South Whidbey Fishing Resorts.

Join Bill Haroldson, President of the South Whidbey Historical Society and author of “Resorts of South Whidbey Island” on a guided Whidbey Sea-Tac Shuttle Bus tour to learn about the heyday of South Whidbey Fishing Resorts (1920s to the early 1960s).

Hear first-hand accounts of the resorts from people who built them, worked at them, or enjoyed them as a child:
Jim Cooper (he built Jim and John’s Resort along with his brother), later resort owner Barbara Chase
Darla Famer (her husband’s family built Bush Point Resort, Hap’s Resort, plus the mercantile, and she and her late husband, Warren, ran Hap’s Resort)
Don Allen (his father ran Don’s Cottage Grove Resort)
Craig “Windmill” Holman (memories of a childhood spent at Shore Meadows Resort)
plus several others!

Tickets for the fundraiser are $125 and limited to 20 people. They must be purchased in advance at:
or via a link at

We’ll meet at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland at 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 11 for a 15-minute presentation while enjoying smoked salmon and other appetizers.

Then it’s all-aboard the comfortable shuttle bus as we make stops at Robinson Beach, Shore Meadows, Bush Point, Greenbank for a vantage point of several eastside resorts, and then down to Jim and John’s Resort site in Clinton.

After refreshments at the Haroldson’s home on Brighton Beach we’ll head back to Freeland.

Attendees will receive a copy of Resorts of South Whidbey Island plus a Gabby’s Guide Fishing Resort Map (a $17 value).

Thank you for supporting the South Whidbey Historical Society! We operate on a shoe-string, and your support of events such as this enables us to keep sharing the history of our south end communities.

Langley History Walking Tours

This season’s Langley Walking Tours with local historian Bob Waterman got off to a good, albeit slightly rainy, start.

The hour and a half tour began with an explanation of Langley’s origins at the Museum, followed by a walking tour.

Tickets are available for final walking tour on July 13 here:


Langley History Walking Tours

This season's Langley Walking Tours with local historian Bob Waterman got off to a good, albeit slightly rainy, start. The hour and a half tour began with an explanation of Langley's origins at the Museum, followed by a walking tour. Tickets are available for the April 27, May 18, June 1, 15 and 22 tours here:

Posted by South Whidbey Historical Museum on Saturday, April 13, 2019

Langley Historic Walking Tours in July

Think you know Langley? Take one of these walking tours led by local historian Bob Waterman and find out just how much more there is to the story.

In this two-hour small group tour, you’ll learn about the early days and subsequent changes to our historical waterfront ‘village by the sea.’

Learn about the struggles and triumphs of early residents.

Get an understanding what Langley life was like in the 1890s through the hippie-culture 1960s.

Tickets are $10 (plus an online processing fee) and benefit our local Historical Society. The tours begin at 10 a.m. at the Museum at 312 Second Street on the following Saturdays: July 6, 13 and 20.

Sign up online for the Saturday that works with your schedule at or stop by the SW Historical Museum on the weekend between 1 and 4 p.m. and purchase a ticket there (and save the $1.34 processing fee). Tours are limited to 10 people, so buy your tickets soon.

New Children’s Pastimes Display at the Museum

Ever wonder what the youth of yesteryear played with before smartphones… well, quite a few decades before smartphones?

Stop by the South Whidbey Historical Museum this weekend and check out a new exhibit which docents Joan Handy and Betty Discher put together: “Children’s Toys, Games and Pastimes of the Early 1900s”.

Take a look at what your grandparents or great-grandparents were playing with.

The Museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on weekends.

Check out this great new website on Langley History

Kudos to the Langley Preservation Committee for putting together a wonderful website on Langley History.

Peruse the buildings of Langley through the decades, including amazing “Then and Now” composites done by Langley resident historian Bob Waterman. Special recognition to:

Langley Historic Preservation Commission current members: 
Robert Waterman, chair
Bruce Allen
Richard Frishman
Deborah Maietta
Bernita Sanstad
Jim Sundberg
Debra Waterman
Joe Wierzbowski

Original web site developers:
Avrey Scharwat
Dustin Scharwat
Paula Scharwat
Robert Elphick
Isaac Cash

Continuing web site maintenance:
Avrey Scharwat
Jim Sundberg

October 20 “Then and Now” Presentation Explores “A Tangled Web of History at Brown’s Point”

On Saturday evening, October 20 we will host a “Then and Now” presentation at 7 p.m. at Langley United Methodist Church in the Fellowship Hall entitled, “A Tangled Web of History at Brown’s Point” by Kyle Walker. (Suggested donation: $5.)

This is a fascinating story involving John Brown, who was born at Brown’s Point (now Sandy Point) who became a special agent with the Indian Service.  He and his partner patrolled the Pacific Northwest towns trying to break up prostitution rings and illegal liquor sales in the early 1900s.

Oct. 14 Historical Bus Tour and Wine Tasting Fundraiser

JOIN US for a fun FUNDRAISER that’s sure to raise your local history IQ — our South Whidbey history bus tour and wine tasting event on Sunday, October 14 from 1 to 5 p.m..

We’ll meet at the South Whidbey Community Center in Langley (the former Langley Middle School) and have a brief orientation of the tour.

Then we’ll board a comfortable Whidbey-SeaTac Shuttle bus and begin our local tour of Sandy Point (Brown’s Point) / Langley / Freeland / Mutiny Bay / Austin/ Maxwelton / Bailey’s Corner / Glendale / and Clinton.

You’ll enjoy and learn about local wines from Rita Comfort of Comforts on Whidbey Winery and have an opportunity to purchase your favorite wines at the end of the tour. Appetizers and desserts will complement the wines.

South Whidbey Historical Society Board Members and Museum Docents Bob Waterman, Betty Discher, Joan Handy and Bill Haroldson will provide interesting facts about indigenous people and pioneer settlers.

You’ll also receive a booklet of photos of how the towns and area looked more than 100 years ago.

There will be a 20-minute walking tour of Langley where Bob Waterman will explain its development and colorful events and characters.

The tour will take place rain or shine, so bring comfortable walking shoes and an umbrella and/or rain-jacket.

Several restroom stops are available on the tour.

Varieties of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider will be provided for those participants not wanting to partake in the wine-tasting.

Refunds up until the Sunday prior to the event, then only in the form of a half-price discount towards a future ticket for a future bus historical tour.

Tickets are limited to 20 participants. Must be 21 or older.

Come and support your local history museum in a way that’s fun, entertaining and informative.

Tickets online at:




As South Whidbey became more and more settled by immigrants from Europe and Americans pushing west for the dream of a better life, schools were established in the small communities dotting the Island.

Some of these early schools took place in homes or logging camps. Eventually, school districts were formed and resources and labor donated to build wooden structures.

The first school at Mutiny Bay was a small log structure built in 1885 near what would become Cookson’s Corner (so named for the store which was located at the end of the long wooden dock just a little up the hill near what is now Lancaster and Mutiny Bay Road) in Austin (now the Robinson’s Beach area).

Louisa Johnson was the eldest daughter of early settler William Johnson and his wife Gah-toh-Litsa (also known as Zah-toh-Litsa, aka Jane Johnson Oliver). Gah-toh-Litsa was a woman of high birth status in the Snohomish Tribe. Louisa grew up with her parents and 7 siblings at Double Bluff. It is likely that she attended the log school in Austin for at least a few years.

In 1889, when she was 16, Louisa married 49-year-old Mutiny Bay neighbor Nathaniel Porter, who was a widower with two children.

The Porters had a growing family of eventually 8 children and believed in the importance of an education. In 1897 they deeded a small piece of land (210 feet by 105 feet) for a schoolhouse which operated until a newer schoolhouse was built.

In 1911, the Porters sold four acres for the third and last school built at Mutiny Bay.

A photo shows some of the men from the Free Land Colony (a utopian Socialist Colony) helping with the construction in 1911. The new school, a beautifully built two-story structure, opened September 9, 1912.

Local resident Gert Driscoll Tasche, granddaughter of Louisa and Nathaniel Porter, remembers attending Mutiny Bay School until seventh grade when the school was closed and students began attending the new brick elementary school in Langley in 1943. She also remembers attending Sunday School classes that were taught in the basement of Mutiny Bay School.

It is this Mutiny Bay School of which the late John H. Baker wrote about in his memoirs: Baker’s Store – Early Days on Whidbey Island. He began attending first grade at the school 1921.

He wrote:

“I suppose anyone who attended an old time one or two room school feels their school and the teacher who taught there were something special. And rightly so, for not only were those teachers something special… but also most of the school directors had a knack of locating schools where there were many other attractions besides the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic.

So it was when the Directors looked for a place to build a school that would serve the Bush Point, Baker’s Corner, Austin and Freeland areas. The land obtained from the Porter family on the shores of Mutiny Bay, after which the school was named, was a student’s dream.

During class they could look out of the windows and see ocean-going ships traveling the world ports, and the Puget Sound mosquito fleet making all the ports in the area. Its location also prompted almost daily trips along the shore along the shore looking for drift or following the channel of slough in search of crabs or watching an old skate or octopus burying itself in the mud or building a home.

The schools of small fish that inhabited the slough were always fun to try and catch and the bullheads were frequently caught with a piece of string and a bent pin. Then they were returned to the water as they were of little use.

In the Fall when school was new and minds were open we became Magellan, Cook, Vancouver, or Drake and our teacher was the great Queen Victoria, who financed our voyages to the far corners of the earth and rewarded us with gold and silver on our return.

In the Spring, when school was old and our minds restless, the teacher became the mad Queen Isabel who offered a pot of gold for our heads…

Down towards Austin was the leaning fir tree where the mutinous crew after which the bay was named, strung up the officers of their ship. Whether you were a member of the crew or a condemned officer, it was great fun reenacting the mutiny.

In the Spring and Fall fish traps were examined and it was the thrill of the year to have the trap crew load us into dories and row us out to see the crew brail fish from the spiller. When a derelict of the rum running fleet drifted ashore it became almost a second home for us boys. Ah, for those days of our youth when imaginations ran wild and days were without end!.

Behind the school was a fresh water swamp that would freeze over for skating in the winter time. In the Spring it was great for wading and feeling the muddy bottom squeeze between your toes.

It was in these woods and along the shore of Mutiny Bay that Miss Alma Anderson (later Alma Anderson Porter Grist) developed the memorable treasure hunts that took place several times a year. In the morning after the flag salute, Miss Anderson would announce that today, classes would be held while on a hunt for buried treasure.

Maps, difficult to follow to the location of the clues, were passed out and the hunt was on. Anyone finding a clue would announce the find and when all were gathered at the site Miss Anderson would conduct a reading, spelling, or arithmetic class. Then, upon finding another clue it might be exercise, nature study or singing. Finally, ending back near the school, we were rewarded with a jawbreaker (candy) or other small items. The rewards of memories and experiences were for a lifetime.”
———-Excerpted from “Baker’s Store – Early Days on Whidbey Island” by John H. Baker.

School Districts on South Whidbey consolidated into one big district by the late 1930s and rural schools were closing down, with students bussed to Langley. However, Mutiny Bay and Bay View Schools stayed open until after the new brick school was built in Langley and opened in 1942.

Even then, it wasn’t until a full year later in September of 1943 that Mutiny Bay School students started attending the brick Langley Elementary School.

The June 3, 1943 Whidbey Record newspaper reported a school picnic of 80 people to bid farewell to the two-story wooden structure. The article stated, “It was with understandable regret that many viewed the finality of the occasion since the rural school has been the community and cultural center of the neighborhood since the first settling of the district.”

Mutiny Bay School was purchased by Otto Anderson (brother of Alma Anderson Porter Grist), who tore it down and used the lumber, especially the mahogany wood, in a new building being built in Langley – the Masonic Temple — now Langley City Hall.
If you have any family stories, recollections or photos, of Mutiny Bay School, please contact the South Whidbey Historical Society at We would love to hear them.

Special thanks to information and sources shared by Gaylord Porter, Dean Campbell, Gloria Porter Campbell, Gert Tasche, and Betty Discher.

Finally, if you love learning about local history as much as we love sharing it, would you please consider making a donation or legacy bequest to the South Whidbey Historical Society? Our non-profit EIN # is 91-1180809.

Our mailing address is: South Whidbey Historical Society / PO Box 612 / Langley, WA 98260.