One Hundred Years at Crystal Springs as told by James T. Munro

James Munro prepared a speech to present to a Munro family gathering in 1990, celebrating 100 years at Crystal Springs.  The following was transcribed from his notes:


We are met here this afternoon to commemorate one hundred years at Nibbeville. In the gloaming of life, memories in the silver glass highlight and hit the scenes of yesteryears. 

John H. Nibbe received a patent from the United States Government for 165 acres of land on June 20th, 1884. Nibbe was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award, for his valiant efforts on the Yazoo River during the Civil War. He built a home and established a post office. He put in charge of his home a woman by the name of Holm. 

Our father had come west after working in Wichita, Kansas, with Donald McRae. They formed a partnership of McRae and Munro and built the Bailey Building for the estate at Second and Cherry while Seattle was still smoking from the fire of 1889. It was occupied for many years by Henry Broderick, a real property entrepreneur. One should try to see the carvings on that building done by Robert Bruce, a real artist, who sculpted the gargoyles freehand. There is one of an Indian boy and one of a boy wearing a straw hat. 

Mother and father were married in Seattle on the 2nd day of October, 1890. Father was 28 years old and mother was 19. They purchased 7 ½ acres of land which had been part of the Nibbe homestead from Theodora Pedersen, who had purchased it from Fisher & Glud, who had bought it from Nibbe. The Gluds moved across the bay to Brownsville. 

Theodora Pedersen married Jack Payne who had the mail route. It is interesting to note that the notice of her death said she was born at Crystal Springs and died at Port Blakely. She was born in the first house on our place, the old Pedersen house, up on the fence line between the Hansens and Munros. 

John was born September 12, 1891, in that home located about on the line of the existing property line and the property to the south, which had been purchased by Robert Bruce. A later survey moved our property line about 40 feet north. 

The Bruce property was sold to the Hansens and is mostly occupied today by Reid Hansen and our nephew Bill Dunn and their families. 

I asked Bill Glud if they had ever lived on our property and he told me that their interest in the property arose from the fact that his father had married Mrs. Holm who was Nibbeville Post Mistress. Incidentally, Glud built a home at Brownsville and at Christmas time went to San Francisco to obtain furnishings for it. On the return trip on the Valencia, in a storm, she missed the Straits of Juan de Fuca and crashed on the rocks off Vancouver Island and all on board perished. 

While working in Seattle, Papa had a contractor from Port Orchard built the present home. All ten of us children were born here with the exception of George who was born at Latona when Papa was cutting stone on the buildings of Denny Hall at the University of Washington. John was the oldest and I am the youngest of the ten. 

My earliest memory is of being on the beach and watching the Indians from Northern Puget Sound going by on their way to Puyallup to pick hops. They put their dogs ashore at Agate Passage and the dogs ran on the beach until they picked them up at Point White and went on their way to the hop fields. 

There was a complete and total silence that one would have to experience to realize. Across the bay a mile away, Colonel Ingraham had a home. Later when Duncan had the store, Norman Ingraham would go down on the beach and call over to Duncan to get him to fix a pump on their property or come and get him so that he could walk to Pleasant Beach to catch a boat to Seattle. (Ingraham Glacier on Mount Rainier was named for him. He was a founder of the Boy Scouts of America.)  Gwendolyn Geary was a beautiful singer and they said her voice could be heard as far away as Enatai on this side of Manette Point. Today the air is filled with noises coming from transformers on power lines, furnaces in the homes, appliances in the garages, and all sorts of unidentified sources. 

Occasionally the silence was broken with bagpipe music. Papa and Peter McDonald could play together. Although they were a long distance apart, one would pick up the tune of the other. Today the pipers that Ralph will play with will be heard just a short distance. 

There were no docks or floats and one had to go out and meet the boats as they came along. While Papa worked in Seattle, Mama was here alone all week with the children. 

To the north of us where Mose Vining (Gerald and Anne Vining Dennon) now lives was a large Indian group living on the sand spit. One night an Indian came to the door and told Mama that they had a sick baby and asked her what they should do. She warmed milk and told him to keep it warm but not to let it boil, and to give the baby a spoonful at a time and let her know if the child did not get well. About a week later, he came again and said the baby was well and he gave her a large salmon. That was her only contact with that group. 

There were a few Indians living below the bank at Point White where Arnold Allen now lives. Captain Jack and William Billy were two of the leaders. They had a teenage daughter name of Kitty who did not wear any clothes. The older boys from the Crystal Springs School would ask the old squaw when Kitty would wear clothes and she said, “Kitty would wear clothes when Kitty got older.” It gave the boys at the school a lesson in physiology that did not appear in their schoolbooks! 

Closely intermingled with the lives of all of us was our mother’s brother, Lachlan Montgomery. When Papa and Mama came here to live, he made our home his home. He was a ship’s carpenter and also worked in the Port Blakely Mill. He worked well with our father. When Papa and Mama went to Victoria for the building of the Parliament Buildings and to New Westminster for the building of the government buildings there, Lachie (as we called him) came home to take care of the property. 

While living here, there came to live with the family a Scotch Border Collie that they named “Sweep.” (At this time in Scotland, the Champion Border Collie was named Sweep. Undoubtedly, this dog was named for the famous “Sweep” of Scotland.) One morning when they got up they found that Sweep had brought (herded) home a fine big pig. They inquired around but could not find the owners so we kept the pig. 

On another occasion when Lachie was here alone he heard Sweep on the front porch. He looked at him and saw that the white areas of his neck and breast were covered in blood. He took him in and washed him and dried him off and took him out and chained him to his kennel at the back of the home. A while later, Captain Syverson, who raised cattle and sheep, was at the front door saying that Sweep was attaching his sheep. Lachie said, “Not Sweep.” Syverson said it was Sweep and his daughter Annie had seen him. Lachie took Syverson to the back door and whistled for Sweep who came out of his kennel rattling his chain. Syverson said, “Well, I’ll be damned,” and turned on his heel and went home. Our friendship with the Syverson family lasted through the years and Mrs. Syverson was the midwife who delivered the most of us children. At the first births she couldn’t speak English. 

Uncle Lachie’s influence and generosity reached into many places of our lives. When Duncan wanted to start a grocery store, Lachie and Papa built a store for him. After World War I, when Duncan wanted to buy a farm, Lachie gave him $600 with which to buy 70 acres of the Old Johnson farm at Traceyton. With his hard-working wife and children, they acquired more of the old land and established a dairy farm. George also gave him $500 to get started. 

When our father was dying of a streptococcus throat infection, knowing John’s situation, he asked me who would take care of Mama. I promised him I would. This promise I could not have fulfilled without the help of Lachie who gave me money to finish law school and open a law office. 

As Dickens wrote in the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, “They were the best of times, they were the worst of times.” 

John, as was the custom of the times, went to work in an architect’s office and in a business office in Seattle. In each of those times, he lived with two different families, each of which had TB or consumption as they referred to it in those days. Later John came home and took over the mail route. While on the mail route, he came down with lung problems. At first they attributed these problems to the cold of the mail route. Later he hemorrhaged from the lungs and I remember so well that he was sitting in the kitchen spitting blood into a can, while father harnessed a horse to take him to Dr. John Withersoon’s office. Dr. Witherspoon hospitalized him and saved his life by lowering his heart down until the hemorrhaging stopped. 

As Dr. Witherspoon later told me, it was a matter of John either drowning in his own blood or possibly dying from the slowing down of his heart. He survived and was able to come home. A tent was built for him to sleep in out in the yard. 

Mary dropped out of school to care for those of us who were living in the house. A clothes boiler of water was kept boiling on the back of the big Ohio range and every dish that came back from the tent had to be boiled. Mama devoted her whole time to the care of John. Mary, a good cook and natural-born seamstress, made a lot of clothes for all us kids. 

As Dr. Witherspoon later told me, John had contracted the TB while living in Seattle and it did not break out until he was on the mail route. Fortunately, the TB went into a period of remission and John was able to do light work around the property and to drive the school wagon to the grade school and eventually to buy a truck to take the school kids to Winslow High School. Unfortunately, while TB could go into remission, it could never be cured. Later, on two occasions, I had to take him back to a hospital for the treatment. The new drugs speeded his recovering and after he took them the disease was no longer contagious. When he got sick the last time, one could not tell whether his lung was filled with pneumonia or TB had come back on him. I asked Dr. Wilt to refer him to the best lung specialist he knew and he referred him to a Dr. Perry who placed him in the Old Doctors’ Hospital but he didn’t want to take drugs as some people get addicted to them and later need a drug addiction rehab to help them. Dr. Perry assured me that he did not have TB but would have to go to a convalescent center and would not ever be allowed home again.

The Lindquist family arrived in 1883 and bought the original Nibbe house and built their own home behind the Nibbe house. Mr. Lindquist died in 1899 of whooping cough or pertussis, which can be fatal if it does not go away in its early stages as it often develops into a form of pneumonia. Charles was 13 or 14 at the time and Bert was 3 or 4. The burden of raising the children fell on Mrs. Lindquist, who worked hard, took in boarders and maintained her home and gravesites in perfect condition. I recall the wooden flume that brought the steady flow of fresh water from the creek to the home. She later married Mr. Wanstrand and lived for a time in one of the small houses on the back of that property next to the Hansen property. This made it possible to rent her home at times. Mrs. Lindquist gained the admiration and respect of all those who came in contact with her. 

Charles August Lindquist was buried on the hillside behind the Lindquist home. The picket fence around his grave stood for many years. Just south of this grave was the grave of Archie Nibbe, the half-breed son of John H. Nibbe. We visited these graves when we were children and were admonished by our mother to pay due and reverent respect for the graves. 

We are fortunate to have with us today Nancy Lindquist, the daughter of Charles Peterson and Shirley Lindquist Peterson, the daughter of Bert Lindquist, with her husband and her mother Horatio Jessica Lindquist. I would like them to stand while we give them an ovation of applause. 

One cannot cover in a talk of this kind all of the things that might be of interest to some members of the family. However, I must mention Ross Black, Mary’s husband. After the loss of his banks (the First National Bank of Bremerton) he went to work as an auditor with the WPA which gave him Group Health coverage. When he was stricken, he asked to be taken to their medical facilities in the Old St. Luke’s Hospital. They took out his appendix. One could not take in another doctor to see him or take the risk of taking him out. His life lingered there for eleven days before he expired. I asked for an autopsy that recorded that he died of a ruptured gall bladder. This left Mary to raise the three children, Janet, Amos Ross Black and Truman George Black. Mary, with her indomitable spirit, went back to work as a tailor for Sam Fitz’ men’s store in Bremerton, where she had worked when she first met Ross Black. 

I could not close these remarks without mentioning the loss of George’s wife, Elizabeth Troll Munro. Betty was a school teacher loved by all who knew her or came in contact with her. She died of a massive heart attack. Great credit must be given to George for carrying on and seeing that his three boys, David, Ronald and Ralph were given a good education. Carolyn and I were proud to be able to name our daughter Elizabeth for her. 

While the ventures of those gathered here or mentioned by me were many and varied, their faults were few. We were proud of our heritage, coming from a family that neither Roman, Norman or Saxon could conquer. Everyone should be proud of their nationality. It lends dignity and imagination to our lives. However we must not think that we are better than any other nationalities because we know we are not.