History of Crystal Springs Neighborhood of Bainbridge Island, Washington

George A. Munro – Presentation to Bainbridge Island Historical Museum History of Crystal Springs Neighborhood of Bainbridge Island, Washington, February 12, 1983 

Transcribed July 28th, 2016 by Elizabeth Munro Berry of  Heartbeat Family History Project and ClanMunroBainbridge.com


Since this in Lincoln’s birthday, in order to pick up a little time, Eleanor said when she called me and asked me to speak, why, I said something about five minutes and she said twenty.  And I didn’t know how the heck I was going to speak for twenty minutes so I was going to bring a book along and read a little poem about Lincoln – – but I forgot the book.  But I do want to go back to Abraham Lincoln because, before I get talking about the Community I was raised in there, Abraham Lincoln was the one that passed the Homestead Act.  And previously, the Homestead Act, why President Buchanan was cancelling it all the time because he was pulling for the Land Grant Railroad Act and the Railroad, they were going to get every second Section across the country ya know, and they didn’t want any homesteaders on the land.  So that’s why I brought up Lincoln, and Lincoln having passed the Homestead Act.  In the area that I live there, which is known as the Crystal Springs area, now it’s the Crystal Springs Route NW, but for a long time it was RFD Number 1 out of Port Blakely and we were Box 75 out of Port Blakely.  That was the end of the road.  The road didn’t come any farther than where we live. 

But the name of Crystal Springs was ah, there was nothing between our house which was my father and mother and children’s place there, there was nothing between our house and the house that was north of us which was [Angus Spearing?]. There was not a thing there. There was just woods, no road, just the beach you could walk and the Springs were very beautiful.  They had about a dozen springs with artesian water bubbling out of the ground there.  We referred to this as going to the Springs. But now when you start with the Springs, which is about three-quarters of a mile north of where I live.  Then you go south and we went down to about ah, I always considered that from the Springs down to Point White was about a mile and a half, and that was the Crystal Springs area because near Point White was where our Crystal Springs School was. 

Now I want to start up at the Crystal Springs. That was the main point there because that was where the water was coming out.  Now at the top there, it was sand spit.  It was a big sand spit that came out, and in behind the sand spit, when the high tide was up, there was a kinda of a lagoon or a kind of I guess you could call it a slough if it wasn’t very big, but kinda like a lagoon.  And the thing that attracted me about it was, when I was a little boy we used to go up along the beach there and out on this sand spit, from the lagoon out to where the tide was, why there was a place there where the Indians had a fire.  For many many years they must have had a fire there because all around that fire place there was a kind of a big ring of clam shells, and muscles shells, and oyster shells, and every kind of shell off the beach.  And it was a nice place there where they could have brought their canoes into this lagoon behind there and had a nice comfortable place for overnight stops, because the Indians were mostly travelling maybe from the north end down towards the south.  They used to go down and go up the Puyallup River and pick hops.  There was a brewery in Puyallup and they had to pick hops for that. 

Well now, starting with that sand spit that was there and going into the land, a farmer had a farm in there and his name was [Inisha Irons?]. He had planted it all in apple trees.  He was quite a horticulturist, so he planted it all in apples trees, and plumb trees, and pear trees, and cherry trees, and there were lots of other local fruit around there.  It always started out in the spring with the salmon berries and the huckleberries and all these other berries, so there was really lots to eat, for Indians if they wanted to be there.  And in this lagoon there was long grass.  There was high grass about that high around the edges of the lagoon and it was a wide grass and I had seen them, later on in years, using them to make baskets. 

Now I’m going to get to this farmer, Mr. Iron(?) there. He had all these things, of course he had horses there, and he had cows, and chickens, and pigs and things and he had a barn, a low barn.  His house was down by the beach, maybe  about fifty feet from the beach. 

And then when you go back further, and then you go up a hill and come to a level land again and there was a homesteader up there by the name of George Severt. And he had a partner, I don’t know who the partner was, but the Baker Hill Road, although there was an old road from our place up to the Springs, but the Baker Hill Road come out of Lynwood down there and went right up to his home, and that was the Baker Hill Road.  It was called for a Mr. Baker who had the farm down at the foot of the hill there and had a logging road down there.  Well now, the first homesteader, Mr. Seeley, he cleared the whole thing.  He cleared the whole forty acres right down to the bare ground, and I don’t what the heck he did with the stumps because all around his forty acres there, there were great big stumps this big around, so they looked to be big trees on his place too.  But all through the woods  there, there were skid roads where they hauled the logs.  It was an easy proposition to haul the logs down.  That would be the first crop you know, if you homesteaded and if you hauled the logs down maybe a thousand feet, down to the waterfront.  And it was no trouble getting rid of the logs because after they boomed them up they just had to take them across the bay to the west and down the shore about a half a mile, and that’s where the Port Blakely Mill started down at Benetai, which is they call Enetai now.  And Enetai is a little, kindof a club there and they had tennis courts and a little golfing place.  But the whole point there is sawdust and stack wood, and out in the bay in front of Enetai are places where the ships that they hauled lumber on came in on big dowels(?).  They had to come back under dowels (?), cause these were sailing ships.  And out there in that bay when I go fishing around up there, now there’s, on top of these dowelis(?) piles, there’s kelp growing  there and it’s kinda pretty good fishing.  So that’s where they got rid of the logs, logs there and at the mill at Enetai.  

Mr. Arnold that had the farm there, he farmed real well. And I got some of this story too from my uncle who lived with us. I had an uncle, my mother’s brother,  that came from Scotland and lived with us. And he worked, sometimes, down at the shipyard down at the mill at Blakely.  But sometimes he would work, when Mr. Arnold had a harvest, he would go up and help Mr. Arnold with the harvest. 

About 1898 ya know we had the Klondike Gold Rush and Mr. Arnold, he butchered and preserved and all these kind of things, and he went away to the Klondike Gold Rush with all his supplies that he had and he didn’t come back until about 1902. Then Mr. Galvin, who had the Kitsap County Transportation Company was ah … I kinda think that his partner was Mr. Irons.  I think at one time I saw that it was Galvin and then it was Irons that had the Transportation Company.  So Mr. Galvin then bought the place from Mr. Arnold.  He didn’t stay very much in the Arnold house, a little bit.  But after about 1906 or so, there was a sale, a piece of the property there about 40 acres and that was a 99 year lease for that. 

And then probably the next owners of the property was a company from Seattle called the Interior Company. And they came and they  build greenhouses there.  They build about 12 green houses there and had bedding plants there too.  They were raising tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuce and carnations and Easter lilies. Well they brought in a, there was a Japanese and his wife came there, Mr. Motosako, and he also had with, a little later on, there was another Japanese horticulturist there by the name of Mr. Yomasaki, and they ran the green houses and shipped the produce to Seattle.  Well, they build an addition to these green houses that had to have heat in them so they built a boiler house with a power box in it and they utilized all of the wood that was in the back to heat the green houses.  And all that Cedar wood that was in the woods, they cut up into big shakes and big boxes to ship the lettuce and the cucumbers and the tomatoes and the Easter lilies into the city.  They were there for many years and doing that work, and then later on a Mr. Sullivan came and he bought the place from the Yougers(?).  Before that the Gazzims had been there quite awhile and they built a big new house there, when they lived there.  A big new house of rocks and wood up on the hill there.  And they build a wharf.  There was a wharf there.

Previous to the wharf, now I’m going to go back quite a little ways. Previous to the wharfs there was nothing but a float along the shore.  The boats were not very big that ran there first.  There was a float that we called the Arnold float and that was along the farm that was there.  And then south of where I was there was a float that we called the Lindquist float.  Then as you go down around the Point White and there was a float that we called the Stanley float, because Mr. Stanley kept it up there.  He was a Klondiker too. 

Now the first boats that came along there and landed at the float was a boat out of Poulsbo. I can’t really remember.  My brother John is ten years older than me and he told me the names of a couple of boats, but I can’t think of the name of the first boat that came down from the shore from Poulsbo.  But the second one that came was the Lottie(?) Ann and that came out of Poulsbo.  So the floats were the things that were landed at first. These were all steam boats, and they all had little steam engines in them and some of them were burning wood and some of them were burning coal.  And later on some of them went to oil.  But the first boat that I can remember coming along there myself was the Sentinel.  And then later on then came the Reliance and the Kitsap.  There were about five or six boats from the Kitsap Transportation Company that served the area.  After the wharf was built,  a couple extra piles were driven to hold the float at the wharf so that when the small boats came why they could land at the float if the tide was away out and we could get out of the boat onto the float. 

Well the boats kept getting bigger and there was getting to be more docks along the way. Eventually there was a dock almost in front of my house called the Gibson Landing.  And there was a dock at Illahee across the bay.  And there were docks all the way around the Island, down at South Beach and Fort Ward and all those places, and these little boats landed there.

Now when I went to high school, I went into high school from Gibson’s landing. The kids from our neighborhood went up to Queen Ann because Queen Ann was a new school and they didn’t have very many kids there.  And also the kids from Ballard, Freemont and Fort Lawton came into Queen Ann High School.  There were no high schools at Ballard, Freemont or Fort Lawton and the kids from up around the Silverdale area and up around in there, they came in on the Reeve, the boat called the Reeve.  It was Captain Reeve that brought a boat down through Silverdale and he took in Silverdale and Clearview and Manette and Enekai and Waterman, which was across one of the shores from Port Orchard.  Now we all met down in Pier 3 where Ivar’s is in the morning and the night because [there was] a big feed shop in there.  They shipped our oats.  Us kids became acquainted with kids from other places down there. 

Now down the shore, you see from Crystal Springs on north up to what they call Westwood now, there was not a thing there up until about 1907 or 08. It was just lots of woods and lots of raccoon and slugs and things like that.  But south of us was, the reason why I mentioned the Homestead was, you see the Homestead was quite a great thing.  The reason I mentioned Lincoln too was, because at that time we were pretty much into the Civil War when Lincoln was inaugurated in 1862 and the Homestead Act was a good thing because there were men getting out of the service and Lincoln wanted people to sit on the land, establish themselves on the land and the Homestead Act had some nice clauses in it.  You could, I read this out of an encyclopedia, it had some nice clauses because a man could get out of the service and if he had spent three or four years in the service he could apply out of his five years of proving up on his Homestead.  And furthermore, he could not be forced off the Homestead on account of any past debts that he had, if you had any old debts.  And a lot of people were disrupted from where they had been on account of the war and shipped around to other places and there were a lot of them that were not home and no doubt they left some debts somewhere else and if they took up a Homestead they were sitting pretty.  If there was timber on it, especially. 

South of us, where this Lindquist float was, there was another Homestead in there and that was Captain Nibbe’s Homestead. Captain Nibbe had a little sloop that he ran up to Bremerton with and into Seattle with, and he had oh just a little lean too shack there.  He called it a store.  He did have some stuff there around, kind of a trading post and store.  Then he went to live in Bremerton and he sold this place to Charles Lindquist who had two boys, Burt and Charles Lindquist. 

And then now you go further south down toward Point White and there was another homestead there. That name, I can’t just remember, but it seems to me it was Nizzing or Nissing or something like that.  And he had a homestead there, but he was a logging camp blacksmith.  He had come from Norway and settled there and then there’s Mr. Charles Syversen that came there.  And this old homesteader, Nizzing, I think his name was, he built a log cabin on his homestead too and he lived there for quite a few years and the Syversen family called him Uncle Peter. 

Now, I didn’t go to school with the Syversen women. There were seven of those women.  Five who came from Norway and two that were born at the farm there. But my older brothers and sisters went to school with them.  So that was Charles Syversen’s place. 

Now across the bay – it’s only a mile across the bay from where we live. Across the bay there was a Civil War veteran in there, a Mr. Peterson who had served with the North in the Civil War and his wife also was a nurse on the battle field.  So there was no doctor in the neighborhood there and she acted on that side of the bay.  She acted as a midwife for the women who were having children.  And on our side of the bay old Mrs. Syversen was the midwife.

The Petersons were still there and they had a little farm and a greenhouse. And Mrs. Peterson sold flowers in Bremerton.  He took his produce to Bremerton and sold it too. 

Now at Crystal Springs there was a post office. The first post office that served Crystal Springs, Mr. Iron had.  It was called the Crystal Springs post office.  But when he went to the Klondike, to make his fortune, which he didn’t make, the post office – the people over on the Illahee side, which was not Illahee at that time, it was called LinRo, because there was a lady over there by the name of Munro too and there was a man there by the name of Mr. Lindsey and eventually they got together and got married and they called the place LinRo, that was before it became Illahee.  It finally got to be Illahee after the mayor of Seattle bought the whole land in there and he cut it up in lots and sold it.

Now the post office was at Crystal Springs first. We didn’t always get our mail there but once in awhile we did, but eventually the route RDF Number 1 came out from Blakely and we were at the end of the route so we got our mail from Port Blakely.  There was still mail coming, since my father and mother had come from Scotland and started out with a Crystal Springs address, they would write to Crystal Springs and we would have to check up there every once in awhile to see if we had gotten any news from the old country as they called it.  As long as the post office was at Crystal Springs the people over on Illahee/LinRo whatever you want to call it, used to row across to get their mail at Crystal Springs.  So when the Arnolds went to the Klondike and there was no Gazzams arrived yet to stay there, the post office moved over to Illahee .  We never rowed over to get our mail because we could get most of it at Port Blakely.  Then when the Gazzams finally came and settled on their place at Crystal Springs and built their house there, they had an addition to their kitchen at the back door that had a little stage(?) door where they had the post office boxes for Crystal Springs.  I don’t just remember the year they gave it up, but I used to ride up on the boat after we got a wharf out in front of where we were, I used to ride up on the boat and Mrs. Gazzam would give me the mail that was coming down the road.

We all went to school down at the Crystal Springs School. It wasn’t a very big school.  At first it was just about square, about like that much, a little building that was only about 12 feet by 12 feet wide, and it had a stove in there and it was made out of, on the outside, it was made out of lumber that they got from Port Blakely Mill called drop siding and it was fancier stuff than ship lap, and the front part of the building was made out of drop siding and one part of it dropped over the other like ship lap.  But it was nice wood.  It was just a little square building and it had a roof on it like this, and then a porch out on the front.  And under the porch they always stored wood for the stove, they had a little stove in there. 

Then, about 1898 my father and mother and my three older brothers and my two older sisters moved up to British Columbia, to Victoria. Because my father was a stone cutter, a granite stone cutter, and most of the buildings in those days were either state buildings or federal buildings, anything that was government money was made of stone.  So there were lots of stone cutters in this area. My father went up there with his family, this was before I was born, my father went up there with his family to work on the Parliament Building and the Empress Hotel.  They were cutting stone for the Parliament building and the Empress Hotel. And he stayed there until they got that job finished.  You see, in order for them to make the Parliament Buildings  and Empress Hotel they had to build a whole lot of rock out in front of the harbor there, and they got the rock in quarry which is now known as Butchart Gardens.  And that was not a _____ rock, my dad called that wingstock.  It wasn’t cut in any particular direction.  It was just broken up, no grain to it or no seam or thing to it.  So that was where they got all the rock and now people go to see the Butchart Gardens and you can get there from two different directions.  We used to go up in the boat and go in backwards, because there wasn’t any charge going backwards.  They took you around and showed you the different kinds of trees and the shrubbery and all that stuff that was in there.  It was kindof interesting but I knew it had just been an old quarry.  Well they quarried out until they couldn’t quarry anymore because the water was coming in there.  It’s showed up in places since then, but the places that were on the water when they were quarrying, they made into kind of little lakes and ponds and stuff and fixed it up kind of nice.

Since my parents were Scotch, born in Scotland and raised in Scotland, my father was able to go to Canada to work, because he was of British descent. He also went up there to, you see the castle in Scotland that he served his apprenticeship on was, in those days all of the land in Scotland belonged to the royal family as it still does today and nobody could own much land there, no common person could own very much land there.  But the Lord of the Shire that he lived in, it would be like a State here, the Lord of the Shire that he lived in was Inverness Shire or Ross Shire, I don’t  remember which but I think it was Inverness Shire, they would build something to give the people work and they were building a castle that he served his time out.  His seven years of learning to be a stonemason.  And that was the castle of, the Lord of the area at that time was Lord Lovat and if you had seen any of the pictures  from the pages of Europe in the 2nd World War, he was leading troops there.  Now there was a man that came to Canada there named Grensville.  He was an industrialist.  And he wanted to make a castle for his wife.  He got to be quite rich in Canada and he went down to California and later on became Dunsmuir down there.  He wanted to build a castle for his wife.  He promised his wife, I guess when he married her, that he was going to build her a castle like the rest of us do you know.  So he went to Scotland and he looked over all the castles and he liked the Lord Lovat Castle that my father had served his apprenticeship on.  And so Lord Lovat got in touch with all of the stonecutters that were on the Pacific Coast here and had worked on Lord Lovat’s castle, so he called them all together and they went to Canada and built a little castle there called Dunsmuir’s castle.  Dunsmuir’s not exactly the right name for it, but now it’s a historical museum in Victoria there.

They came back to the United States, we had our place on the Island here before they went to Canada, and when they came back why my uncle was still living there. He would go to Sea and then come back and live in the place.  And while we were gone this Mr. Arnold that had the farm at Crystal Springs, he planted the whole place in potatoes.  I don’t know whether he took some of them to the Klondike with him or not, but anyhow there was always a market for potatoes because there was always – there was a tremendous amount of food that went out of Seattle because of the Klondike gold rush.  Any kind of a ship that was available would go out … 

My mother and father had a reason to come back, because I was about to be born. I was born in Seattle.  All the rest of the kids eight, nine, ten kids were born at Crystal Springs.  But I was born in Seattle because when they came back from Victoria, why they rented a little house in Seattle waiting for the spring to come so they could go back to the place on the Island. 

Burt Lindquist who lived on the shore where the Lindquist float was, he told me “I remember when you come, George. I was about five years old.” And I said “And how do you remember that?” Well he said that his father had a little boat, and had run out to bring my folks to shore.  It was my mother and father.  I had three older brothers and two older sisters.  Well I said “And what was so exciting about that?” “Well, you were in a little blanket.” And I said, “that wasn’t unusual”.  “No”, he said, “I was just awful glad to see some other kids coming because there were no kids in the neighborhood to play with.” Well I said, “was that the thing that impressed you most?” “No” he said, “the thing that impressed me most was they shoved a cow overboard.” You see these little boats had a freight deck and the freight deck wasn’t any higher than this table off the water.  I was born in a little town in Seattle on Green Lake called Latona and there’s still a street there called Latona Street.  We came ashore at Lindquist’s float and the cow walked to the place, because everybody had to have a cow. 


Biography – George Alexander Munro  

George Alexander Munro was born February 4th, 1900.  He was the sixth child of Alexander and Janet Munro, and from an early age he was extremely intelligent, curious and overflowing with fun.  He possessed a heightened understanding of “quality of life” and he lived his life in a way that allowed him to enjoy every day to the fullest.

George grew up on the family farm at Crystal Springs (Bainbridge Island, Washington) and on the waters of Port Orchard Bay.  He attended Crystal Springs School, walking the mile or so to school with brothers, sisters and neighborhood kids.  Later he attended Queen Ann High School in Seattle.

As teen years turned to 20′s George went to work in the Puget Sound Navy Shipyard in Bremerton where he apprenticed to become an electrician.  He and some buddies got tired of commuting by rowboat, so they lived in a tent in Manette.  They hiked on Mount Rainier, joined the Masonic Lodge, organized an Apprentice Football team and chased girls.  Some of the ladies “chased back” as well.  Referring to George’s red hair, one girl wrote “Dear Carrot-top, it must be so cold in that old tent.  Why don’t you come to my house where it is nice and warm!”

George earned college money by putting electrical wiring into many Bainbridge Island homes – their first electric lights.  He used the money to attend Washington State College in Pullman and was a “Cougar” for the rest of his life.

Betty Troll came to the Island to teach school in the early 1930′s.  She married George Munro and they raised three children together, David, Ronald and Ralph.

In his later years, George was a curious enigma to some.  He lived a very self-sufficient life in his little house on the beachfront.  When a log washed up on the beach he would quietly tie or chain it in place.  He would pull any nails and salvage them to use later.  Then he would saw up the log to burn in his wood cook stove.  He would go fishing in his rowboat nearly every day the weather allowed, with fishing line wrapped onto a piece of salvaged board that he held in his teeth while he rowed.  Dinner was usually fish.  Often it was clams from the beach. 

None of us realized at the time, but George was primarily responsible for the great clamming on the Munro beach – quietly ridding the beach of the Moon Sails that decimate clam populations.  At the same time, he would clean the beach of trash and he was always scouting for driftwood or other treasures to be stored here or there for later use.  Some of the newer neighbors would worry about him if the power went out in the dead of winter. But when they stopped by, they would find him reading in a warm living room heated with gravity fed water and a gravity fed oil stove – far more comfortable than his neighbors.

George passed away on February 14th, 1999 at the age of Ninety-Nine.