"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

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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 750, 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.

26 November 2013

❖ ❖ ❖ SAMISH ISLAND, Birthplace of the MAGGIE and the MARY ❖ ❖ ❖

From a 1954 Interview by historian Lucile McDonald.

Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.

"Samish Island is one of those places you drive past, or sail past, dozens of times and never do visit.
      Only a few of the oldest residents, like George Hopely, 80, and his wife were around when Samish was a heavily timbered hump of land entirely surrounded by water. At low tide, they say, a man in rubber boots could tramp across the oozy mud flats to higher ground on the mainland. It is stuck out in plain sight from Chuckanut Drive, Padilla, and Samish Bays, but to get there one has to leave Hwy 99 north of Burlington and drive west six or seven miles. 
      Samish Island recently acquired a public water system that did away with the necessity of hauling the vital liquid by the tankful to livestock and crops on some of the farms.
      It is the most important event in that morsel of Skagit County since Samish ceased to be an island. It is a peninsula now, with very little to show that it ever was insular except its general appearance from a distance.
      Until a few months ago water was obtainable on the island only from wells. Samish has no streams of its own and issues of the Coast Pilot in the 1880s warned skippers that it was no place for watering vessels. Now all of that is remedied. Day Creek on the mainland was dammed and its waters are being carried nearly 20-miles to Samish.
      The Hopelys, oldest residents of the community, settled there when Samish was one of the main ports of Skagit County with three docks, the same number of saloons, a hotel, and a cannery employing 25 Chinese. For a time it had a rival townsite platted by a Georgian named George Allen and named for the leading city of Atlanta, in his home state.
      Travelers bound inland to the logging camps made an overnight stop at Samish as a rule. Hopely recalls the sternwheel and side wheel steamers anchoring a distance off the mud flats and putting passengers ashore in rowboats. When a long dock was built at the island they unloaded freight there and it was ferried on flatboats with sails, up the slough to Edison.
      The first job George Hopely had was night-watching for the Samish Island salmon cannery, that had a Chinese crew directed by Mr. Lord, the superintendent, and his son-in-law, Mr. White, the bookkeeper.
      Hopely's duties included filling and cleaning lanterns and receiving and counting fish when boats arrived from the Nooksack after dark. That was in 1888, when the cannery was new, and was the only one in the area, none having been built as yet at Anacortes.
      Hopely had come to Seattle eight years earlier. His widowed mother, with six children to support, aimed to get a homestead. She kept a lodging house at first, then found 160 acres on the Samish River. One of her sons took a pre-emption claim of 40 acres next to it.
      'When we came here to go to the claims 33 whites, including children, lived on Samish Island. Dan Dingwall (we called him Dan Dingle) and William Dean were the first two to settle here. Watson Hodge, George Echenberger, and George Dean were other early homsteaders. Several were married to Indian women', Hopely said.
      'My mother bought a five-acre place here on Samish so we could run back and forth and wouldn't always have to stay on lonely Vendovi. One of my nephews was born out there. His father had to act as 'midwife' and bring him into the world. 
      We sold meat and wool from the flock, taking the mutton to Anacortes and Bellingham. The wool was worth 10 to 15 cents a pound. We packed it in big sacks and carried it to Seattle on our 32-ft schooner. We had 175 sheep on the island; that was about all it would carry.
      I was 15 when I went to Vendovi. I worked here in Samish the year before and the cannery paid me $50 a month, which we thought was wonderful. The cannery ran several years, then shut down for lack of fish after bigger canneries were built.'
      Seafoods were what attracted Indians to the area. 'The Indians liked the big horse clams best. We'd see them on the beach smoking both clams and fish strung up on sticks supported on forked pieces of wood. They camped in mat tepees or under pieces of canvas.
      The Indians once had a long house here on North Beach. It was maybe 100-ft long and smokey. Cowidgeon and Old Harry were the leading Indians in it. The longhouse seemed to have a number of families, who lived here the year around. There was an Indian cemetery at the inner end of the island.
      Samish Island has been logged three times', Hopely says. The first person to have a logging camp there was Dan Dingwall in 1867. A history book relates that two years later he and Thomas Hayes opened a store near the Indian camp.
      Hayes went away and William Dean became Dingwall's partner. Dingwall was postmaster of Samish in 1870 and Dean started a store of his own in 1873.
      All of this was before Hopely's time. He doesn't remember hearing Dean or Dingwall ever mention logging. Dean built a schooner, the MAGGIE, for freighting among the islands and to Anacortes and Bellingham. One other boat also was built at Samish in the early days, the MARY F. PERLEY, a sternwheel steamer.
      Mrs. Hopely, though a later arrival that her husband, recalls the bull-team logging days and the smell of dogfish oil being tried out in big kettles on the beach to make grease for the skid roads.
      'Why, when I came here there was so much timber on Samish Island you could get lost in your own forest. It was a true island when the tide was in. We went everywhere by boat', Mrs. Hopely says."
Above text by author, historian Lucile McDonald for The Seattle Times, January 1954.

19 November 2013


Old Canoe Master
George Leis, 1950,
University of WA.

Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"As the east wind blows in off Lake Washington, kicking up whitecaps on Union Bay, there are creaking noises in the time-worn joints of the ancient University of WA canoe house.
      You think it's just the grinding of wood on wood as the old building sways ever so gently in the breeze.
      But the Old Canoe Master will tell you differently. You must wait quietly until a strong puff of wind finds its way in again. Then, if you shut your eyes and listen, you will hear them––not a creaking, after all, but a sound of hollow pattering, as of many feet tripping in unison down a wooden ramp. Above the pattering, there is something else––a sing-song murmuring of happy boy-and-girl voices. They are voices of University generations long gone, of boys and girls who gayly trod the old planking in decades past.
      Just as these voices fade, when you return to reality, so will the old canoe house melt soon into memory. The canoes will be operating out of another location, the former Univ. shellhouse on Lk. Washington Canal a short distance east of Montlake Bridge.
      This weekend George Leis, in his 37th year as manager of the canoe house, and his wife, Cora, are scheduled to move from their apartment on the second floor of the old building to newly finished quarters in the former shellhouse.
      Al Ulbrickson, the crew coach; George Pocock, veteran shell builder, and the Husky rowing crews already have moved out of the shellhouse into their spanking new oarsmen's palace on Union Bay.
      It's sort of a trade about. The new Hiram Conibear Shellhouse has been constructed almost right on top of and is crowding out the old canoe house. That's one reason the silvery-thatched Leis is moving––another is that the old roof over the Leises and the 50-canoe fleet is not much more than just a roof.
      'As to what will happen to the old canoe house when we move out, nobody knows', Leis said.
      The lumber in the dilapidated building is so badly warped, Leis explained, that it is probably unfit for any further use, except perhaps as a 'good bunch of kiln-dried firewood.
      George Leis will miss the old hangout more than he cares to tell. This won't be the first time that the canoe-house location has changed––it will the fourth. But always before, Leis has had he old building accompany him when he moved.
      The original site of the canoe house he says, was near the present East 45th St viaduct, at about 25th Ave NE––before the canal was cut through, when the waters of Union Bay had greater depth and covered a larger area.
      Canoeists could paddle right across E 45th St to Ravenna Park in those days. But when the canal was opened the waters of Lk Washington were lowered c. nine feet.
      The second location was a little farther south––near where the University powerhouse now stands. And before  WWI, the canoe house made still another 'voyage'––with Leis at the helm––to the northshore of Portage Bay at the foot of 17th Ave NE––where the Oceanographic Lab and dock are situated now.
      Last move for the old canoehouse (except maybe as salvage, firewood or broken-up souvenir pieces) was in 1932, when it was shifted to the present location, just east of the Edmundson Athletic Pavilion.
      Leis estimates that since he took charge of the University's bulrush-surrounded Moonlight & Romance Research Dept in 1913, more than 300,000 persons have gone canoeing.
      Most of those persons, of course, were couples of the starry-eyed variety––except for occasional solitary individuals who just wanted some exercise with the UW Women's Physical Education classes.
      That adds up to c. 150,000 canoes (using the same ones over and over again, of course) that Leis has launched. In the absence of any other claimants, he is, most indisputably, the world's champion canoe launcher!
      Out of that large number of rentals, only one canoe has been lost since he took over and that was stolen. This is quite a tribute to the sportsmanlike character and honesty of the average canoeist."
Above text by Bob J. Burandt for The Seattle Times, New Years Day 1950

16 November 2013


when the Sockeye Start to Run.
Fall 1942.

"Gus Dalstead's card reads, G. N. Dalstead, Postmaster, Anacortes, WA. That's a good job and Gus is proud of it.
      But you'll never guess where I met him. In a salmon cannery, dressed in dungarees, with sweat streaming down his face, heaving cans of sockeye around!
      Four of Gus' postal employees were sweating alongside him. Elsewhere in the plant, the chief of police, the fire chief, and other civic dignitaries were toiling. Everyone in Anacortes works in the canneries while the salmon run is on.
      I was walking around, soaking up atmosphere, when a foreman yelled above the din, 'Hey, Bud, ya wanna go to work? A buck an hour.'
      I shouted back. 'Thanks, I am working, can't you tell?'
      'Well, if you see anybody uptown who does, send 'em down here a runnin'.'
      That's the little town of Anacortes while the salmon are running. There are tears, drama, and heartbreak––and plenty of hootin', hollerin', happiness, when the Silver Horde rips into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The salmon can make a man in a week––or break him.
      The canneries send 'buyer boats' out to where the fishing fleet is hauling them in. Individual boats pull alongside the buyer boats, unload their catch, get a receipt for it, then dash off to set nets for another haul. When buyer boats are loaded to the gunwales, they chug back to the canneries, unload, then tear out for more.
"Toilers of the sea as they shift a huge catch of salmon
from the 
fish boat to the buyer boat."

Original photo, dated 1942, from the archives of the S. P. H. S. ©
       I went out with a buyer boat early in the morning. We started out with one boat, three men, including myself. We came back to the cannery ten hours later, with two boats so heavily weighted down with fish they had to be tied together for sufficient power to make headway.
      Between the two boats we had 25,000 sockeye salmon. That's about 175,000 pounds of fish.
      Salmon fleet men spend all year getting ready for the run. They repair nets, paint boats, overhaul engines. The season opens when the salmon start coming in from the blue Pacific––down from Alaska. That's in late July or August. It ends around September––or sooner if the Fisheries Dept. decides it's necessary to conserve the fish pack.
      That was the case this year. Too many salmon had been caught. The remainder had to be allowed to get up the rivers to spawn.
      We took the morning catch from the WATERLAND, a nine-man boat, 4,500 salmon. The price then was $1.65 a fish. The eight-man crew collected $300 each for the mornings work! They told me they'd have a similar haul from their afternoon cast.
      But it's hard work. No place for sissies. Salt and wind and sun burn the men brown. They stay out fishing from 6 am Sunday until sundown Thursday. Friday the boats come into Anacortes to refuel and replenish provisions. Those are Fisheries Dept. rules. It gives the salmon two whole days to get past the fleet unmolested, en route to the spawning grounds.
      Normally the price of fish is set at so much per pound. This year, with such mammoth catches, the canneries hadn't time to weigh each haul. So an average price per fish was agreed upon. Boat skippers count the salmon with mechanical counters as they heaved from the fish boats to the buyer boats by hand with one-pronged fish forks. Canny Slav skippers never miss a count.
      Often a net is ruined. Then a boat must put into the nearest port, and have the net repaired. At least once this year, one boat had such a huge haul that the driving, thrashing, salmon surged through the net and got away.
Purse seine fishermen hauling in the net.
Original photo dated 1943 from the archives of the S. P. H. S.

      There are usually nine men to a boat. A crew of eight and the skipper, who charters the boat or owns it outright. Money from the catch is divided into shares, 13 to a nine-man boat––two for the boat, one and a half for the seine, and one and a half for the skipper himself, one each for the crew.
Nets Cost Money
Louis Zuvich mending net
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Seine nets are worth a lot of money. One skipper told me it cost $5 a day to keep his in shape during the season.  
      Sometimes the individual fishing boats have a full load and the buyer boats are full too. Nothing for it then but to head for the cannery and unload at the dock. We passed one boat, the WONDERLAND, churning cannery-bound. She was loaded so deep the crew members were wearing life-preservers, and keeping their fingers crossed. In her holds and on her decks were 10,000 sockeye.
      Two boats were sunk trying to get home with such loads. One went down in deep water and was lost. The other was nearer shore and sank with only the mast top and wheelhouse showing above water. It was salvaged the next day, overhauled, and back fishing again.
      Back at the canneries it's a different story. Cannery officials are crying. They can't get help. It's only seasonal work and most of the men have gone to shipyards or other war industries.
      I saw more than a hundred thousand salmon piled in bins. Canning lines were clanging at fever heat. Never since 1930 had there been such a catch. The fish must be cleaned, packed into cans within 24 hours after they're caught. Otherwise they'll spoil. Long lines of women toil eight-hour shifts, cleaning, slicing, packing.
      Anyone wanting to work can walk into the canneries, peel off his coat, and start right in. I saw two bandy-legged cowhands far from familiar range country, stroll in the cannery entrance, speak to the foreman, shuck off their Stetsons, slither through the fish muck in high-heeled boots and start to work.
      Maybe I should have taken that foreman's offer. Gus Dalstead told me later that one of his boys made $18 that day.
Above text by Grant MacDonald for The Seattle Times, September 1942.

09 November 2013

❖ CAPTAIN E. H. SMITH OF MATIA ISLAND ❖ San Juan Archipelago.

Home to Capt. Elvin Smith from 1892-1921
His home was at the head of the bay on the left;
 he called it 'Southeast Bay.'
 Nearby was his vegetable garden and orchard.

Photo by Erling Manley for the author.
Original from the archives of the S. P. H. S.© 
"Old newspapers and other sources dealing with pioneer days in the San Juan Islands contain only brief references to Capt. E. H. Smith of Matia Island. Rarely are there details about a man who preferred to live out his solitary life on one of the San Juans' most secluded islands.
      But with the help of some old diaries, and the recollections of a few old-timers who knew him, we can piece together the story of Smith, whom The San Juan Islander newspaper called 'the hermit of Matia Island.'
      Elvin Haworth Smith was a Civil War veteran who rose from a private in the ranks to become commanding officer of his infantry company in the Union Army. After the war, this strong, quiet, six-footer lived in Wisconsin for awhile, then came west and made his home at Fairhaven (Bellingham). He became a Master Mason and was the first secretary of Fairhaven Lodge.
      Smith settled on Matia in 1892. At the time, there were two squatters, Evans and Lovering, living on the island. Smith and a lawyer friend in Fairhaven bought them out, and Smith moved to the island.
      Although the government had not released Matia for settlement, since it was considering establishing a lighthouse there, Smith and his lawyer partner believed the island soon would be opened. It was their plan to file for a homestead, which later could be subdivided and sold for a profit.
      After two years, Smith had so fallen in love with Matia, he decided he didn't care about profits––all he wanted was the island for his permanent home. He paid the lawyer $1,150 for his share in the island, although the 'improvements' on Matia were worth far less than that.
      The government never did open Matia for homesteading. In 1937 the Lighthouse plans were abandoned, but the island then was redesignated as a refuge for migratory birds.
      Smith sometimes had visitors when he made Matia his home. He especially liked to see his old Civil War comrades. One of these was his best friend, Capt. George Carrier. Carrier used to joke with him that the two were going to live to be the oldest Civil War veterans.
      In February 1921, Smith––still a healthy, vigorous man at 86––went over to Orcas on his regular Saturday trip. Carrier was with him. The water was rough and the boat rose and fell with the huge, black swells. They made it to Point Thompson, where Smith looked up his old friend, R. H. Anthony.
      The storm lasted for ten days, during which Smith and Carrier stayed with Anthony and his wife.
      Smith admitted he might soon be getting too old for his solitary, pioneer life on Matia, and told of his plans to build a retirement cabin on Orcas.
      On the tenth day, the weather calmed. The two men said good-bye to the Anthonys and left. Before setting out for Matia, they stopped by another friend's house and played cards for a few hours, waiting for a favorable tide change. When they did start out in the small boat, the wind was rising again.
      Anthony heard their motor start up; he and a friend went to the beach and stood there, watching the small boat appear and disappear behind the growing swells. After awhile they lost sight of the boat. By putting an ear close to the ground, they could hear the motor for awhile longer, and then––silence.
      Anthony called the USCG of Friday Harbor but they had no boat in the area just then. The next morning Cap Harnden, from Sucia Island, went across to Matia and found the pair had not arrived home.
      The CG began searching, but no trace was found.
      The next spring Indians found pieces of Smith's broken boat near Blaine with the outboard motor still attached to the transom. The bodies never were found.
      So ended the career of Matia's pioneer 'hermit'. Today [1961] his cabins' ruins still are visible on the island, along with what is left of his orchard and the clearing where his sheep used to graze.
      Now, except for the campers who come and go in the summertime, only the birds populate the good captain's 'Matty". 
Above words by the late David Richardson for The Seattle Times, 1961.

06 November 2013

❖ POLE PASS LIGHT ❖ Orcas Island 1949

Kirk McLachlan at Pole Pass Light.
Orcas Island, summer of 1949.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"Back in 1907, when Stanley Steamers were replacing the horse and buggy on the streets of Seattle and just a year after the San Francisco earthquake disaster, Kirk McLachlan took charge of the Pole Pass light on Orcas Is., in the San Juan group. In the spring of 1949, 42 years later, he retired from his job when the USCG installed battery-operated lights which a tender will serve.
      For the past 12 years he also has kept another light going in Wasp Pass, which is about a quarter of a mile away and accessible only by water. His job of tending the lights which warn passing boats of the treacherous rocks in the passes has not been easy. Seafaring men know that tides in the San Juans can run extremely fast. Often, one person rowing can't buck them. Winter storms, which toss 50-ft logs high on the rocks, make rowing and tending a light difficult.
      'A few times the Wasp Pass light blew out on me when the wind was especially strong, and no matter how bad the weather, I'd have to go out and try and light 'er again. Those were about the worst times I had, 'cause I can't swim more than a few strokes. And there were a lot of times when I thought I might be swimmin'. I've rowed out in rough water, and had to return home because the waves were bouncing me around so that I couldn't secure my boat. Every time that would happen, I'd have to wait for low tide, where I could row in on the lee of the rocks.'
      Although the kerosene lights would stay lit eight days, McLachlan refilled them every five. To avoid refilling in foul weather, he always has kept a weather eye on the barometer hanging on the front porch of his house, which is about 30 yards from Pole Pass. 'I'd fill 'em up when the barometer dropped bad, and then just watch that they didn't blow out.'
      McLachlan now is retired as far as the Coast Guard is concerned (at two thirds pay), but he continues to work from 7 in the morning until it is too dark to see at night. As caretaker for a summer estate on Crane Is, just a stone's throw across Pole Pass, he pumps water for the livestock and keeps the place shipshape. He also repairs his own house, dock, four rowboats, a small launch and four cabins. McLachlan rents out the cabins to hunters and fishermen in the winter and vacationists in the summer. He built the cabins in the 20s out of boards sawed from logs he towed to the mill at West Sound.
      Life for Kirk isn't quite as bleak as it might be for a man in his position. He has friends. Occasionally he swaps yarns or island gossip with them at the Deer Harbor store. Once in a while he gets together with them at the Saturday night dances at Norton's dance hall. Everybody likes Kirk because no matter how much he has to do, he will make time for talk. Rolling a cigarette, he'll squint an eye, push back his cap and chat about almost anything.
Pole Pass Light
Undated Jacobsen postcards from the archives of the S. P. H. S. ©

      If you stopped at his place today [1949] he'd likely tell you about the fish that Old Man Jones caught or about the blackfish. 'It was a moonlight winter night, I think in 1945. I heard a thundering sound like bombs going off. I got up and looked out in the pass. There were blackfish––500 of 'em, averaging about 40-ft long. They were jumping clear out of the water, and when they came down they would whack their tails, and make a terrible racket. There were blackfish as far as I could see on both sides of the pass. I figure the school was about 3 miles long, easy.'
      Kirk isn't the first McLachlan to play an important role on Orcas. Both his father and grandfather were prominent on the island. His grandfather was one of Orcas' first settlers. He moved to this island in the wilds of Washington Territory in 1878, and had his family brought around Cape Horn to live with him. He started the light at Pole Pass in 1888. When he died three years later, Kirk's father took over. He kept it up until his death in 1907, when Kirk began his vigil at the age of 20.
      Kirk was born in 1887. He wasn't born on the island, however for the simple reason that there were no doctors around at that time. His mother was taken to Victoria, where Kirk was born. He went to a very small school at Deer Harbor, 2 miles from Pole Pass. At that time half the pupils were Indians. He was brought up with his brother, Bill, and sister, Jean.
      While the children were young, their mother died. The story of her funeral shows the hardships people in those days took in stride. The McLachlan family owned grave plots on San Juan Island near Friday Harbor, about 7 miles from home. Friends of Mrs. McLachlan took the day off. They formed a funeral procession of about 20 rowboats and rowed to Friday Harbor.
     In 1913, McLachlan was married, but didn't settle down completely. The next few years saw him captaining boats which ran through the islands. From then until 1937, he spent much of his time on boats and in canneries. In 1937, he let his skipper's license lapse.
     McLachlan is rightfully proud of the record his family has maintained in taking care of the Pole Pass light for 61 years. However, retiring from the job will change him little. He'll still set down his wheelbarrow when he sees you, roll a cigarette, push back his cap and squint one eye, and say, 'You know, back in 1903, when Indians were still roving these islands..."
Above words by Warren Kraft, Jr.
For The Seattle Times, 1949.

02 November 2013

❖ BATTLESHIP ISLAND ❖ San Juan Archipelago

Battleship Island, WA.
48°37'26" N
The entire island is a Washington State bird sanctuary.
Upper left corner; click to enlarge.

The emergence of this name on the charts is an example of a rare occurrence––the changing of names on San Juan Island from those that were settled on by the British and American surveyors before 1870.    
The original name of Morse Island was given by Wilkes, and it appeared on Admiralty and USC&GS charts for the following three-quarters of a century. About 1920, however, it was found by Professor  Meany and McLellan that, as the latter put it in a letter to Meany, 12 Feb. 1925; 
      'Morse Island...presents such a remarkable likeness to a modern battleship in its appearance, that it is locally known by no other name than Battleship Is...which appears in all the local advertising literature, and is so strikingly appropriate that it is very doubtful if any other name will ever come into common usage.' (Files of US Board on Geographic Names). These considerations, brought to the attention of the Board, resulted in the change of name on the charts about 1930.
      Meany relates that following his arrangements for erecting monuments at American and English Camps on San Juan Is. in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt had ordered the monitor, WYOMING, Cdr. V. L. Cottman, to attend the ceremony at English Camp. Edmond Meany had been led to expect that a British battleship from the naval base at Esquimalt would attend the ceremonies, and so informed Cdr. Cottman. Meany later wrote to the Board on Geographic Names, 17 Feb. 1925, that 'in passing from American Camp around to British Camp on a misty morning, Commander Cottman received a notice, 'battleship ahead, Sir.' He said:
      'I gave orders for the saluting crews to go to their stations and in another moment would have fired the salute for that British battleship which Meany was so sure would appear. Just in time, we discovered it was an island.' Commander Cottman in relating his experience to me made this statement: 'Meany, if I had given the order to fire that salute I would never live it down the rest of my days in the Navy, saluting an island for a battleship.' (Files of US Board on Geographic Names).
Battleship Island
Photographs by James A. McCormick

From the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

      It seems that what Richards in 1864 described as 'a small, flat, cliffy island' had nurtured trees that provided a superstructure for a rock whose outline as a whole, viewed from certain angles, looked like a battleship of the pre-WWI era. Shortly after the name was changed, however, Walter Arend reports that a fire destroyed the two trees that looked most like the lacy masts, and at the present time, the four remaining trees on the island provide no more than a fair suggestion of a bridge and deckhouse, when seen from a favorable easterly vantage point, such as on entering Spieden Channel from Roche Harbor. 
      It is interesting to note, however, that the principle on which the Board made its decision was that of the ultimate superiority of local usage over an explorer's designation. This principle seems to have become firmly established as paramount in the judgments made by the Board.
      Meany, in Origins of Washington Geographic Place Names (1923), lists Battleship both as a small islet north of San Juan Is., and Morse as north of Henry Is. He recognized they were the same only at a later date.
Above text from San Juan Island, Coastal Place Names and Cartographic Nomenclature. Wood, Bryce;  University Microfilms International for the Washington State Historical Society, 1980.

The Morse family made a formal request to the US Board of Geographic Names to change the name of 3-acre Battleship Island to Morse Island. The board ruled in favor of keeping the name of Battleship Island as the name used by the people of the county.

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