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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 650, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

13 February 2018

❖ TWO MAP MAKERS ❖ 1946 with author/historian June Burn

Day 78
Shaw Island
San Juan Archipelago, WA.

Mapmaker Helene Graham (1881-1970)
A Wellesley College graduate who moved to Squaw Bay,
Shaw Island, the year of this photo in 1941.

Many years later, after at least one major renovation,
 the pioneer home was moved along the narrow road &
 across the cow pasture to Our Lady of the Rock Monastery.
Helene's first map was a sculpted version
of San Juan Archipelago,
as seen here photographed by
June Burn for her article, Day 78
of One Hundred Days in the San Juans
for the Seattle-P-I, published 1946.
Mildred Winter and I drive down a good graveled road back to the south shore of Shaw Island to visit the Grahams, to see her map. It is like the deep faraway countryside in here, no water visible anywhere, the little schoolhouse, where only two children go to school this year, standing all by itself in the woods.
       Some of the farms are enclosed by extra high fences against deer––a pest on this island, too.
      In no time at all, we swing down to Squaw Bay and stop in front of a yard so trim and tidy you would know it belonged to a civil engineer. Mr. Erret Graham is a retired railroad engineer from Indiana.
      You can tell how he loves this place, every stick of driftwood, every blade of grass. His woodshed is stacked with beach-combed sticks and more of them make a precise pile on the front porch. His workroom is filled with maps of the islands, detailed property maps a-making under his hand now, for he still surveys land [for San Juan County.] 
      From Mr. Graham's notes copied from the government survey of 1874, I learn that there were twelve families on Shaw at the time ( who were home at the time.) Oliver O' Hara was one of them. This Squaw Bay used to be called O' Hara Cove.
      Julien Laurence is mentioned as living on Blind Bay near where the Griswolds now live, Mr. Priceman near the present store on Blind Bay, Capt. C. C. Reed near where Dan Huff lives now. Who were the other settlers?
      Mrs. Helene Graham's map is here. This is what I came to see. Built up with contour sections of paper, thickened with a kind of rubbery plaster, the islands lie there as fat and sassy as if the tides washed there twice a day, too.
      Elevations are magnified four times to give them the look they have in life.
      Such gifted people on this small island. Busy creating beautiful things, their own orchardy place one of them. Old man O' Hara, your place has fallen into good hands.
      Mildred and I set out again, drive around another road back to the Biendls [John and Ruth.] Trees almost meet overhead.
      Thus in two days and two nights we have been clean around Shaw Island's 7.7 sq. miles.
      The 1874 government survey notes say that "the island contains sufficient good land for small farms but the larger portion is only good for sheep pastures." But McLellan, who gave it more study says it is the most heavily wooded of all the San Juan Islands.
      Shaw was named by the Wilkes Expedition in 1841 for a naval captain, John D. Shaw. Thirty families live here now--about 75 people in all. "People are going and coming so fast, it is hard to keep up with them," according to Mabel Crawford.
      The first Euro-American child was Emily Shaw Hudson (1886-1965) but she isn't an old woman by any means.
      The third and fourth and sometimes fifth generations of families which settled and left property and progeny are here now, recorded pioneers for researchers a hundred years hence!
      Goodbye, kind Mildred, Mrs. Ruth Biendl, and your beautiful farm. Goodbye, Shaw Island and all your friendly community. I climb and slide and almost don't get down this high bluff in a new place to find Farrar and the boat at the foot. It is lunchtime, but there's a breeze going our way. We'll sail and nibble as we sail--we're always eating!
      As we edge out from shore we look back down Blind Bay at the settlement built around that curve.
      "Now, we're leaving Shaw Island." I say and of course, Farrar says, "Oh, pshaw." (He can't help it.)
      See you tomorrow. June
Above words from Day 78 of 100 Days in the San Juans written by June Burn, for a series on contract with the Seattle P-I newspaper, 1946.

1946, May: Helene's well-known husband, Mr. Erret Graham, into his second career as an engineer, first began stamping his SJC survey papers this year with his new official seal, Prof. Eng #2081. For more local knowledge on the highly regarded, Old Town-canoeing-surveyor of San Juan County please see another Saltwater People post HERE

Shaw Island map (c. 18" x 24") drawn & 
hand-colored by the designer,
 Helene Graham, as a welcome gift for new residents.

The inscribed names are gone from the scene but at least
nine families have descendants still part of Shaw life,
one-half century later.
Click image to enlarge.
Map from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Circa one decade after the publication of this article by June Burn, Mrs. Graham centered her artistic talents on paper maps to document the property owners living on Shaw Island, as seen above. In 1959, Erret wrote in his diary that Helene had an original hand-drawn copy, done to a scale of 1' = 1200', prepared to mail to the Royal Blue Print Co in Seattle. The first print run was only ten copies but over the next several years she updated the landowners and hand-colored scores of maps to share as welcome gifts to new islanders and many friends throughout the county. There are still versions gracing the walls of island homes. 
      Helena taught mapmaking to the local Camp Fire Girls under the leadership of Gwen Yansen. She also lent a hand to Claire Tift and Earl Hoffman, sons of pioneers, when they were compiling the descriptive "Shaw Island of 1900 Map" sometimes on view in the Shaw Island Historical Museum.
      The fine contour map sculpted by Helene Graham (1881-1970) was donated to the Shaw Island Historical Museum in the 1990s by her scientist son, Ernest. Graham, also of Shaw Island. One of the property owners hand-colored maps has also been archived.

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