Lake Ozette History
They followed a dream to Ozette

They followed a dream... a dream of rich fertile land, mild climate and an opportunity to own their own farm. Their dream took them from the "old" to the "new" land with plenty of opportunity for those willing to work and sometimes incredible hardships.

Anders Victor Nylund, who was born in Southern Finland, was a pottery maker by trade. As a young man, he traveled to Vasla Sweden seeking work. He had heard there was manufacturing and a need for brick layers there. It was there he met his future bride, Britta Johanna Erickson, a seamstress. The couple, with many others, immigrated to the "new" country. Anders came first and then sent Britta Johanna. She traveled the cheapest way, by portage in the hold of the ship. The trip took three weeks and one can only guess the hardships she suffered during the journey because she would never discuss it.

Their first home was in Seattle where Anders worked at common labor for 75cents a day. The babies arrived in rapid succession until there were three daughters, Hulda, born in 1881; Marie Ingaborg (called Inga) born in 1882; and Annie born in 1884. They had lost an older daughter, Helena.

While living in Seattle, they heard about homesteads available in the Lake Ozette area. Anders took a 160 acre homestead (although there is some question that it was a full 160 acres) which already had a three room cabin on it. He came first to Ozette in 1892 and moved his family to the homestead in 1895. Records show that Anders paid $1.50 when he filed the papers for the homestead. Johanna took a 40-acre timber claim also.

At that time, there were only three ways to reach the homestead. They could walk the 28 miles from Clallam Bay, hike up the ocean beach from LaPush or go around Cape Flattery by boat. The Nylunds chose to hire the Indians to transport them by boat from Neah Bay to Cape Alava as they had three small daughters and other household possessions.

The trip took from early dawn to noon on a fine day in May. It was difficult to keep the girls quiet and Johanna feared they would upset the boat. They arrived at the Indian village at Cape Alava and hiked the trail to the north end of the lake where they were greeted warmly by August and Annie Palmquist and taken to their home where they rested and were fed.

The family moved into the three room house near the Ozette River and the arduous task of clearing land began. As the girls grew older, they also helped. Anders fell the large trees the way the Indians and other early day settlers did. He drilled holes in the base of the tree with two holes meeting and dropped in live coals. A bellows kept the fire going and some lung power was also used. After the tree burned enough to fall, it was either cut up or burned and the big remaining stump was burned, dug and pried from the ground sometimes with the girls sitting on one end of the pole used for a lever. Anders had no jacks of blasting powder to clear his land. He eventually cleared approximately 15 acres. Millions of board feet of fine timber was burned by the homesteaders to clear the farm land.

To comply with homestead regulations, a large orchard was planted with apple, plum and pear trees. Blackberries, raspberries, currents, long oval shaped gooseberries and strawberries were planted, and of course, a large vegetable garden. Potatoes grew especially well in the fertile soil and were a mainstay crop.

After the land was cleared, livestock was added. Cows, a draft horse named Billy, sheep and pigs. Although the three room house was too small for the family, it was necessary to first build a barn to house the hay and animals. Anders built the first barn close to the river and the second barn later near the new house.

Anders cut the hay by hand with a scythe and the girls raked and hauled it by sled to the barn. Even after the girls grew up and left for the "outside", they tried to come home during haying time. The dairy herd was probably started by buying a calf from another homesteader or possibly from the Indians who had a large herd of cows. Eventually, the Nylund herd was built up to 15 cows. The cows were turned loose to follow along Lake Ozette eating the bullrushes and other water plants growing along its shores. The girls were the milkmaids and found it easier to go by land or boat to find the cows and milk them where they found them, rather than try to drive them home, sometimes miles away. In the winter, when the cows were fed hay from the barn, they stayed closer to home.

Although much food was raised on the land, it was necessary for Anders to work away from home during the early years in order to buy matches, Prince Albert tobacco for his pipe, grain for the chickens, sugar, flour, oatmeal, kerosene, coffee beans and clothing. Homesteaders were allowed to be away for six months out of a year.

The first years were difficult ones. A son was delivered stillborn and buried unnamed near the house. Another son, Alfred, was born in 1898, followed by a daughter, Ida, in 1900 and another daughter, Lena Sophia, in 1904, who died at the age of four months. She was the first person to be buried at Pioneer Cemetery south of Erickson Bay. A white cross carved by her father marked her grave.

At one time, there were approximately 130 homesteads around the lake. The methods of travel was by foot, horseback over the trails or around the lake in canoes or boats. Canoes were purchased from the Indians for $25. Anders was given one as a present from the Ozette Indian chief the first year he was there. Later they used rowboats. Alfred became an experienced boat builder and built three motor boats and a small fleet of rowboats during his lifetime.

Hulda Sullivan Nylund recalls that the Ozette Indians, who were always friendly to the white man, traveled by canoe up the Ozette River from their village to Eagle Point where they caught, dried and smoked salmon. They built big bonfires and held powwows far into the night, beating their drums and chanting.

The post offices were moved from house to house of whoever was willing to serve as postmaster. The Ozette Post Office was established in 1891 between the lake and the ocean. August Palmquist became the postmaster in 1892 and it was moved to his home. In 1894, the Swan Post Office was established on the southwest corner of the lake with Mrs. Pederson as postmistress. They also had the first store on the lake in a small 6' by 14' room in their cabin. Royal Post Office was established in 1894. Its original name of Fagerly was too hard for the Scandinavian settlers to pronounce so a conference was held to change its name. Ole Klavoe spotted a can of Royal baking powder on the shelf and suggested the name Royal. After Postmaster Allen of the Swan Post Office drowned, Anders Nylund carried the mail for nearly a year.

Hulda remembers her father being caught in a sudden storm on the lake and the relief the family felt when he arrived home safe. After that the post offices were discontinued and one was operated by Henry Belden, who lived inland from Umbrella Bay.

Hulda and Inga began their schooling by boarding with Mrs. Erickson on Erickson Bay for three months. A niece in the family was the teacher. For the next two years, they attended school six months of each year at the Borseth home at the north end of the lake. The next year, school was held in a house a mile and a half down the Ozette River and the children walked daily to school. Later a tiny cabin (19' by10') was built on the Nylund property and, after the new house was built, the parlor was used for school. The Ozette School was built in 1909 across the river. Ida was the sole pupil in 1916 and the school was closed. When Ida and her husband moved back in 1826, their children attended the one room school until a road was built to the north end of the lake in 1935 and then the children were bussed to Royal School. The children had many instructors as most teachers found the area too isolated and lonely. The teachers were paid $30 a month and some of them boarded with Johanna for $5 a month which included laundry. Anders built the first bridge that spanned the river to the school.

After ten years of clearing land, Anders was ready to build the six bedroom, two story house. All the lumber used to build the house was hand hewn from cedar, spruce and hemlock logs. He used wedges and hard spruce knots to split the boards for the siding. Only the window glass, two outside doors, cement for the chimney and some nails and spikes were purchased. The girls planed the boards with an ox plane. Six neighbors gathered for a surprise house raising bee and helped construct the second story and rafters. The family moved into the house before it was finished. Much of the furniture was handmade. When the Palmquist family moved away because of August's illness, the Nylunds purchased much of their furniture. Some of the furniture was heavy, hand carved, marble topped furniture and one wonders how it was originally transported to the area. Surveyors, timber cruisers, school teachers and some vacationers boarded at the house. Johanna's superlative cooking was known throughout the area. She set a bountiful table laden with meat from their farm, salmon from the river, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and fresh baked bread, pies and cakes. Anders was not a hunter like many of the pioneers and only meat raised on the farm was served.

Johanna kept a flock of sheep and spun wool on her spinning wheel, brought to her from Sweden. She knitted and crocheted the yarn into caps, sweaters, socks and undergarments ideal for the rainy climates as they kept the wearer warm even when wet. All the girls were taught to knit stockings. Johanna sewed all their clothes on a little hand machine. The children were barefoot in the summer and in the winter wore heavy shoes ordered from Sears and Roebuck.

A Lutheran Church was established at Preacher Point on the lake. The first pastor, Reverend Christian Forthun, walked in with his wife and nine-month-old baby girl. Another daughter was born later. Church was held in their house with the girls and women sitting on one side, and the men and boys sitting on the other side as was the custom in those days. A Ladies Aid was formed and potluck dinners were served after church.

Because of a lack of roads, it was difficult to get in supplies. Charles Willoughby and W.L. Ferguson had the first store in the entire area at the mouth of the Ozette River near the ocean. Pederson and Captain L.A. Lonsdale owned a sailing schooner and brought in supplies to Sandy Point, south of the Ozette Indian Village where they had a small warehouse. The supplies were packed first on a man's back (later by horseback) to the lake and transported to the Pederson Store on the southwest corner of the lake.. L.O. Erickson had a store at the north end of the lake which was operated by Frank Florence.

Ida remembers when she and Alfred would accompany their father on the two day trip to get supplies. The supplies were brought by boat to Sandy Point, hauled by sled to the lake, taken by canoe or boat to the landing at the source of the Ozette River and then taken by horse and sled to the house. Later they were brought back by pack horse from Cape Alava.

There was not much time for recreation but each Fourth of July the settlers converged on Tivoli Island where a community picnic was held. The Nylunds held New Years Eve parties in their big house with neighbors coming from as far away as Royal. Twenty to thirty guests danced to rollicking harmonica and "bones". Promptly at midnight a huge dinner was spread on the table. The men then bedded down in the barn and the women and children slept in the house. They were all up early the next morning to travel home in time to do the barnyard chores.

One by one, the girls left home to go "outside" to work and eventually marry. Hulda and Inga went to Puyallup and Annie to Tacoma. Ida married and lived on the lake, later moving to Royal.

Ander Nylund died after a short illness during the haying season of 1920 at the age of 66. He was buried in a graveyard surrounded by a white picket fence near the house. Johanna and Alfred continued living in the house.

In April, 1928, Alfred went by boat on Lake Ozette to search for cedar logs for his boat building. He never returned. His empty boat was found floating close to shore near Erickson Bay. An extensive search both on land and water was held, but no trace was found of him. In 1939, cruisers found his skeleton remains inland from where his boat was found. His skeleton was found sitting and one hand over his chest. Positive identification was made by the homemade watch case, engraved watch and two pocket knives found with him. It was determined his death was from natural causes. Although no one knows what happened, it is believed that his boat drifted away and he was trying to follow a survey blaze, hurrying to get home before dark. His remains were buried beside his father.

The pioneers settled in the Ozette, Royal and Hoko areas taking up homesteads to build farms with the hope of both a road and railroad taking their produce and timber to market. In 1887, under President Cleveland's administration, that part of the country was put in a forest reserve. It was rumored that it would not open again. The discouraged settlers knew then that there would be no road or railroad. They left their homesteads in droves. Three years later, it was reopened and a second influx of homesteaders arrived. Many settled on previous homesteads. But the second wave did not come to build houses and till the soil. They came to prove up on the land and then sold out to the timber companies. The railroad never came. The road to Swan Bay was completed in 1926 and to the north end in 1935.

The old Nylund homestead is now a part of the Olympic National Park. The buildings have all decayed and fallen down. The forest is reclaiming the land. Only two Nylund daughters survive, Ida Keller in Port Angeles and Hulda Sullivan in Tacoma.

It all started with a dream and ended with only memories. The lake is quiet now. All the early day homesteaders are gone, only a few still survive, living elsewhere. The waters of Lake Ozette lap against its shores that once held a bustling Scandinavian community. All that is left now are memories... memories of pioneers who labored, loved, laughed and sometimes wept as each pursued his dream.