Holly History

Cover of Holly History.

Historical contents collected over the years from information furnished by various “Old Timers” in the community.

Third Edition – Sept. 1975

Compiled By:
Ruth Wyatt Stever
Florence Pfundt Clark 
Neva Beth Swift

Many folks have inquired about our little community of Holly; when and from where did the first homesteaders and settlers come, etc., therefore we decided to write a condensed version of the early history of Holly.  Most of the information has been gathered over the years from the “old timers”, many of whom have now passed on, moved to other areas; however some still remain.  So come along, reminisce a bit and enjoy a trip to one of the most beautiful spots located due west of Bremerton, Washington, nestled on the east shore of Hood Canal.

Groves of stately maple, fir, cedar, pine, vine maple, together with our own Washington State flower, the beautiful rhododendron, frame breath-taking views of the majestic bulk of the Olympic Peninsula.  You can hear the surf, taste the salt, smell the pungency of seaweed before reaching Holly.  The mighty Olympic peaks, namely Mts. “Ellinor”, “Washington”, “Pershing”, “Cruiser”, “Skokomish”, “Stone”, “Bremerton”, “Baldy” (formerly “Lena”), “Little Brother”, “The Brothers”, “Anderson”, “Jupiter”, “Warrier”, “Constance”, “Boulder Ridge”, “The Needles”, “Buckhorn”, “Iron”, “Tribal Ridge” (also called “Tubal Cain Ridge”), “Walker” and “Townsend”, poke into billows of clouds.

Many Indian tribes lived in villages along the Canal, traveling up and down the Canal in their old war canoes; the Clallams, the largest tribe on the Peninsula, were scattered along the Straight and south along Hood Canal as far as Seabeck.  The Twanas, later called Skokomish, after one of their villages were concentrated at the lower end of the Canal.  Interspersed with the Clallams, in the Port Townsend area, were a few Chimacum, often considered displaced Quileutes because of language similarities.  The Hoh Indians, with a reservation of their own, belonged to the Quileute tribe and had a joint chief with the LaPush.  The Queets, a part of the Quinault tribe, had a village on the Quinault Reservation.  Each tribe spoke a separate language but they ate essentially the same food, lived in the same type longhouses, even communed with the spirits in much the same way.

Robert Wyatt Sr., born in 1846 and wife Ellen, born in 1849, came from England to Iowa.  They brought with them some tiny seedlings of holly trees but they did not survive due to the extremely cold winters in Iowa.  In 1889 they moved to the east side of the Canal where they settled on the hill overlooking the little bay which was first known as Hammond Bay, later Wyatt Bay.  In the meantime he had sent back to England for more of the holly seedlings and when he received his deed from the Government in 1891 for approximately 145 acres, he planted the holly seedlings around the little house he built where the original holly tree still stands and bears an abundance of berries in season.

There were two whites and an Indian woman known as Indian Mary (Anderson), when the Wyatt family, with five sons and two daughters homesteaded in Holly.  Two more children were born later.  Gracie Wyatt was the first white child born in Holly.  A Captain Hanks enticed the Wyatt family over on the Hoh river where he thought there was a better opportunity for a general store and Post Office.  So holding onto their homestead in Holly, they built a raft of logs, loaded eight cows and a bull onboard and two of the sons, Fred and Ralph, with the help of others, towed it across the Canal with Captain Hanks’ sloop, which was far from seaworthy and very hard to handle.  They unloaded the cattle and the boys and the sloop returned to Holly with those onboard bailing water all the way.  In the meantime, the boys drove the cattle many miles to the Hoh; their feet were blistered so they walked barefoot part way.  It was their intention that, as the boys grew older, they would homestead on the Hoh while the rest of the family would live on the Holly property.  However, when the boys arrived at their destination they received word that their venture had been called off so they had to come back to Holly with the animals.

In 1893 as more folks settled in the little community, it was imperative that a Post Office was much needed and the department was petitioned and their request was granted.  The settlers didn’t know what to name it so Mr. Wyatt suggested it be called Holly after the holly trees he planted.  Mr. Wyatt was also appointed the first postmaster.

The little steamer Delta brought in the mail every day from Seattle; prior to that the residents had to go by boat twelve miles to Seabeck for mail as there were no roads then.  

Cyprian T. Wyatt worked on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, resenting his long trip he decided to work on the Delta as a deck-hand in order to evade the long trek.  He subsequently worked his way up from deck-hand to become a well known Captain with one of the longest service records on the Canal.

In the early days the steamer Delta made forty-two stops along the Canal.  There were only a few docks so the little steamer would stop for any row boat that put out from shore to meet her.  Some of the early steamers serving the Canal, besides the Delta, were the Georgia, State of Washington, Island Flyer, Lydia Thompson, Perdita and Josephine.

Robert Wyatt, Sr. continued to operate the store and post office, and just prior to his death in 1900, he deeded a plot of land to be used for a community cemetery.  Many are buried there – some unknown now and most of the graves are marked by mounds of dirt with heavy rocks serving as headstones; many of the graves had crude wooden markers, some with hand carved letters nailed thereon, however over the years the wooden markers rotted and fell apart thus losing identity.  Upon Mr. Wyatt’s death, Mr. John Youngblood started a general store on the point, just north near what was later to be known as Bourke’s Point.

In 1902 Fred Wyatt bought the store and operated it for ten years.  The same year Mr. Youngblood and Mr. Anderson started a can opener factory which was operated by power from a large water wheel.  However the factory was not profitable so they manufactured knives made from steel in discarded saws from the nearby logging camps.  It wasn’t long before they erected a shingle mill which was also powered by the water wheel and continued in operation until 1910 when the machinery was sold to Thomas J. Lewis residing in Crosby.

Fred Pfundt came to the United States from Germany when he was only seventeen years old and settled in St. Louis, Mo., later married, and in about the year 1886 he and his family moved west to Tacoma, Washington, residing there three years.  While in Tacoma he scouted around for a future site; later homesteading on land approximately seven miles south of Holly near Dewatto, this was in September of 1889.  There he built a little log cabin in the woods a short distance from the shoreline.  Having decided to move his family to their new home, he persuaded Henry Fletcher, wife and seven children, together with a Mrs. Morey to move with them.  They bravely boarded the steamer Josephine, a stern-wheeler in Seattle.  It was a long trip, in the winter and in the dark night, the steamer arrived at the Pfundt home where the Captain anchored the vessel until the following morning at which time the bow of the vessel was run up against the bank and the three families disembarked with all their belongings.  A heavy snow of almost four feet blanketed the ground and families, little ones and all, trudged through the deep snow to the log cabin.  They were heartsick when they discovered the weight of the snow had been too much and the roof had collapsed.  The men hastily made temporary repairs and they managed to move in where they lived in the little cabin for approximately two years.  Mighty crowded quarters for three families but they were true pioneers and made the best of it.

 In the meantime Mr. Fletcher and family had been lured to nearby Lilliwaup across the Canal by glowing reports of a big real estate boom.  He built a home and moved there however, the real estate boom “petered out” as one “old timer” put it so Mr. Fletcher offered the lumber to Mr. Pfundt if he would tear down the house.  This he did, moving the lumber across the Canal were he built a larger home for himself and family on the east shore.  

William B. Rust homesteaded in Holly on May 15, 1891, receiving his grant for approximately 160 acres from the Government.  This area took in approximately all of what is now known as Holly, just south of the Wyatt property.  He erected a house on his land which two years later became the first school house with Mr. Rust as its first teacher.  Soon a George Cady Johnson, a well known and popular Kitsap County teacher, purchased property in approximately 1896 and taught school in Holly in 1900.  The second school house was built in 1905 on the north shore of the bay on Wyatt land.

Albert Pfundt, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Pfundt, born January 31, 1876, purchased property in Holly in 1894 from Isaac Thomas and shortly thereafter married Nellie Wyatt on Dec. 25, 1897.  He fished for his livelihood, worked as a purse seiner and shrimped on the Canal.  He and his brother Louie bought the first automobiles, a Buick and Dodge respectively, bringing them to Holly on one of their boats.  This was quite a novelty and they could only drive a short distance down to the point and back, however it was indeed a thrill for all.  Albert and Nellie had one daughter, Florence who still lives in Holly.  His second wife Christine also has family here.

Harry Dean, an Englishman, started construction of a large home in about 1900 at the foot of Old Holly Hill, now known as Anderson Cove.  Mr. Dean never completed the twelve room house.  Information furnished by Gracie Wyatt Hole who well remembered building of the house, stated a man named Daniel Kelly next owned the property however it wasn’t finished until some time later when two loggers named McDonald and Edgecomb bought it.  She recalled visiting the place when the McDonalds resided there but she said she made more frequent visits when a Seattle banker, E. W. Andrews lived in it a spell.  Various ones lived in the big house including a Mr. Fields, a Civil War veteran.  The house was surrounded by a variety of fruit trees (some still standing), all types of berries and chestnut trees.  Rambling roses formed the framework of beauty.  One large room was made into a library with hundreds of books lining the shelves.  A huge brick fireplace stood out from the wall at one end of the room and directly above was the master bedroom with a second fireplace.  Glass doors provided a panoramic view of the Canal, mountains and the lovely forest and flowers which bloomed in profusion from early spring until heavy frost when the leaves turned various shades of yellow, orange, crimson and deep red.  Some time later the house was abandoned; the doors and windows boarded up and finally torn down.

In 1905 the Riverside Timber Company, owned by Edgecomb, Kelleher and McDonald, bought some 21,000 acres of timberland surrounding Holly.  They operated quite an extensive logging operation, comprised of one locomotive, six donkey engines and ten miles of railroad track which extended as far east as Hintzville.  The logs were taken by rail to Anderson Bay, dumped into the water where they were assembled into large booms and towed to the saw mills.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrews  moved not long after the Riverside Timber Company sold their holdings to Nettleton Lumber Company of Seattle, Washington.

In 1907 Mr. John Ames located in Holly and sold to Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Schlatter in 1908.  Their daughter, Hattie, now Madson, recalls going to school in the second school house when she had to walk the beach if the tide was low or her father would take her by row boat when the tide was too high for her to skirt the beach.  Hattie still resides in Holly just south a bit on the point where the large wind-whipped Madrona trees lean against the sea-washed bulkhead.

Ira Stever also bought land from John Ames in 1907; they had two sons and a daughter.  Their oldest son George married Ruth Wyatt, a granddaughter of Robert Wyatt Sr.  Ruth still resides in Holly.  Frank and George Stever had the first shrimp boats, one was named the Thistle, the other Osprey.

Other “old timers” who settled here near the turn of the century were Joseph Lorraine and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Bailey Marsh, the William Hole family with six children settled on Harrison Creek.  Allan King was an old time visitor; he was only seventeen when he first came to Holly, finally locating here where he lived many years.  Clause Aaro married Daisy Hole and raised ten children in Holly.  Gertrude Wyatt Seltzer, age 90, still lives with her daughter in Alaska and Jessie Wyatt Horton lives in Tahuya near her daughter and remain the only surviving members of the original Wyatt family.  Laura Sallee married Arthur Wyatt, the youngest son of Robert Wyatt Sr., spending many years in Holly, now resides in Nellita where she is still very active and maintains a large vegetable garden and her waterfront home.

Maudie Hole married Robert Wyatt and lived in Holly until their deaths in 1974.  Their flower garden was the show place of Holly.  Visitors always admired the flowers and the bark birdhouses that stood as sentinels over the brilliant and various flowers.  Ralph Wyatt married Ada Hole and Wilfred Hole was married to Gracie Wyatt.

Indian Mary Anderson, after whom Anderson Cove got its name, was an avid fisher-woman and was loved by all the children.  She knit warm mittens for them, baked cookies, and, according to Albert Pfundt, made the best apple pie he ever tasted and he added “and that’s a lot of pie”.  Albert donated land for the third school house, where our present Holly Community Club and Sunday School meetings are held.

Albert carried the lumber on his back from the barges and erected a large house on the hill (now the Johnson property).  This house had a huge veranda across the front on the second floor. The place was a boarding and rooming house where many of the loggers stayed.  Two of the three English walnut trees still stand.  He share the nuts with his friends and neighbors.

In the early days Myron Eell, a missionary minister went up and down the Canal holding Sunday services, however the Holly worships were held in the little school house.

Trappers came by canoe down the Canal to trade their furs for food and on dance nights some stayed to enjoy a bit of fun.  Many areas produced Indian relics and Albert dug up an Indian grave on his property where he also found many Indian artifacts; some were donated to the University of Washington museum.

In the early days there was a murder mystery which was never solved.  Seems two loggers got in a fight one night and the next morning one body was found on the beach, a knife wound in his neck.  Due to the expense, distance, etc., there was no effort made to identify the victim, other than locally and the other man involved never came forth with any information, the body was wrapped in burlap and buried on the “little knoll” as they called it at that time, now the Holly cemetery.  A head marker made of wood simply stated “Here Lies Body of Unknown Man”.  Indian Mary is also buried there.

In the winter of 1908 or 1909, the Canal, which is salt water froze solid.  Due to a heavy freeze, with a foot of fresh snow, which created a fresh water slush on top of the salt water, and without a breath of wind to stir it up, the slush froze.  Skaters went from one side to the other and the mail boat State of Washington was stuck in the ice for three or four days.  George Stever wrote a lengthy poem about the incident.  He said the temperature in the pilot house of his steamer read five degrees above at night.

The third school house was built in 1922 and when the school was closed and the children transferred to schools in Seabeck and Chico, the Holly Improvement Club took over the building in 1947.  The first president was Monte Huestis and Secretary Florence Bowman Clark.

The following teachers taught school in Holly, covering a period from 1892-1946:  William B.  Rust, H. Wells, Miss Inez Townsend, Miss Mabel Toles, Georgy Cady Johnson, Carrie Holman, Bertha Gibbs, Christine Bartelson, Miss Jeans, Alma Webser, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Whaley, Emma Gantke, Tillie Winton, Rhoda Hopkins and Mary Nordby.

The following interesting article was taken from the June 8, 1899 Post Intelligencer, recorded on microfilm at the Seattle Public Library:


“Peculiarities noted at different points:  The winds on the Canal are somewhat irregular at times:  Sometimes the wind will blow from the south at Union City and Hoodsport while at the same time it will blow from the north at Brinnon (25 miles south down the Canal).  Although it is very straight during the entire distance, the meeting place if often near the HamaHama but sometimes several miles from that place.  Boats too have been sailing one way on one side and the other direction on the other side of the Canal at the same time, although the Canal is only one or one and a half miles wide and sometimes the boats are only a hundred yards apart.  The concensus of this is probably the way in which the wind, especially a west one, comes through the Olympic mountains.  Other valleys as that of the HamaHama, Duckabush, Docewalips and Quilcene, run more directly east heading often a little to the south, hence the wind enters the Canal more to a northerly direction.  When the north and south winds meet, sometimes one conquers on one side of the Canal and the other on the other side and so one boat can sail northerly and other to the south, although not very far apart.”  (Note!  Many folks have observed this and have remarked about it.)

In 1922 Albert Pfundt built a store next to his home up from the beach; he also helped build the road around the Bay, furnishing some of the logs for the bulkhead.  He had fifteen cabins along the beach which he rented to loggers and their families for twenty-five years.  When times were hard and some of the families could not pay for their groceries, he couldn’t deny them food so he wound up with several thousand dollars on the books which he had to write off as bad debts.  As Albert said many times, “how can you deprive little children and their parents food?”  Mr. Pfundt sold the store and cabins in 1949.

Albert’s mother Katie Pfundt lived in the little red house on the hill not far from the store.  Her garden was beautiful with all kinds of spring flowers, lilacs, daffodils, peonies and shrubs.  She enjoyed coming down the hill sitting with her friends on the store benches where they chatted.  When the Seabeck-Holly road, then a winding little trail, was completed and the road into Holly opened, Grandma Pfundt cut the ribbon (July 1950).  Many dignitaries and folks came to celebrate the long awaited event for Holly.  She was a gallant little lady, never missed the Puyallup Fair, except for the last two years and was a welcome sight as she trudged down the hill (leaning on her walking stick as she grew more feeble).  She was loved and enjoyed by all who knew her and sadly missed when she passed away at the age of 99 years.  At the present time, the only surviving member of the original Pfundt family is a sister Katie Kramer who lived in Holly many years, kept a beautiful garden, went hunting every year and very seldom failed to bag a deer.  As years passed she was crippled by arthritis and couldn’t keep up her garden so she moved into Bremerton to be closer to her sons and doctor.

Albert Pfundt, a beloved pioneer who did so much for the community, passed away in June 1970 at the age of 94.  A memorial was erected in May 1974 on property behind his home.  One of the two huge iron anchors which was embedded in cement in front of his house on the beach, form part of the memorial which in season is laden with flowers and a flag, atop a towering pole, flutters in the breeze.  He is buried in the family plot in the Holly cemetery beside his wife Nellie.

The Canal, at times quiet as the morning mist, lure private fishing boats to slip from shore, fishing for salmon, cod, red snapper, sole and various edible fish; those not suitable for table use are used for bait in the shrimp and crab traps or for garden fertilizer.  Some of the early fishing boats were the Rambler, Buster, Vigilant, Venture, Osprey and Guide.  During the early days shrimp were caught in nets laid out in a circle and the purse or basket line at the bottom was tightened closing the net into a big purse; then the nets were slowly tightened by hand enabling the purse seiners to dump their catch into the holds of the boat.

During the winter when the winds whip up, the waves crash against the sea wall and, with tides that reach thirteen or more feet, water spills over the wall but recedes when the tide subsides.  In the spring, summer and early fall, beach combers look for treasures the tides have washed ashore.  The beaches at low tide enables one to find driftwood, star fish, sea anemones, various rocks and shells.  Many dig clams and pick oysters which are delicious food.

The life of an oyster starts with larvae (seeds) released by the adult oysters.  The seeds flow during the warmer months and attach themselves to most any solid surface.  They are able to remain alive alone up to twenty days.  When they find suitable resting places, they become attached and within two months have reached the size of a nickel.  After the larvae attach themselves they become known as spat.  If conditions remain good with plenty of plankton in the water, the spat will grow to the size of an egg within ten months.  From this point until they are harvested, generally at three years, they are edible.

Holes can be punched in empty shells, strung on long wires and taken to a suitable spot where the larvae is thickest; draped over log floats where the shells catch the free flowing seed.  When they reach a durable size they are transferred to a “fattening ground” where the shells, carrying the spat, are cut loose to flow to the bottom of one of the tidelands.

Brushed by the first frost, the vine maples flow orange, cerise to brilliant red among cool green native trees along the beach and roads.  The rugged Olympics are silent watchers over the boats anchored on the Canal and the residents who live there.  Soon the mountain range will be covered with snow and from the east shore of the Canal one can see the snow falling on the foot-hills.  Snow has been measured to be as deep as thirty or more inches in Holly.  The snow laden fir, cedar and pine trees create a truly winter wonder land.

The peace and tranquil atmosphere of Holly has kept many from wandering to other shores.  From marine views to majestic snow-clad mountains, Holly is truly a photographer’s paradise.  There are rivers and streams that ripple into the Canal and trickle down the mountain sides.  Huge trees tower toward the sky and the ever beautiful seagulls circle around begging for food and the folks don’t forget, they toss bread to them, however during low tides, they fare well feasting on clams, little shrimp and tiny crab they find on the beach.

Instinctively alert, the graceful deer know numerous escape routes, and during hunting season, they seem to sense it is high time to hide from the increasing danger of the hunters.

Softly the evening came, the sun from the Western horizon, like a magician extending his golden wand, disappears suddenly behind the towering mountains, lighting the sky in brilliant shades of pink, red, purple and then is gone in the darkness of night.

Ignited by high-intensity stars, trees sway on the Eastern horizon, half shadowing the rising moon.  The many beach fires along the shore glow as beacons and one has a growing sense of awe at the grandeur of the country surrounding our little community of Holly.

P.S.  We sincerely hope you have enjoyed our condensed brochure

         of the Early History of Holly.