A “crows nest” of stumps. An unidentified photographic postcard image in our collect that seemed typical of the stumps of the island described in early histories that had to be cleared for farm fields.
When I first started learning about local history here some of the elders of our group often mentioned how Camano Island used to be called “Crow Island.” It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them, we certainly had our share of treetop raucousness in our woods on the South end of Camano Island. But I recently found an news article from a June 4, 1920 Stanwood Tidings that mentioned “Crow Island”. The author was Mr. Gilbert Quale, a Norwegian immigrant whose name is also often spelled Qvale. His farm was at the intersection of SR 532 and Juniper Beach Road where his historic house still stands
This map (on display at the Eldridge Center Museum – SAHS) shows the property owners of Island County including Mr Quale’s large farm. On the right is Leque Island and the mouth of the Stillaguamish River (West Pass and South Pass).
In the article he described the land clearing efforts of the local farmers: G. W. Hills, Mr. Danielson, Mr Borrison, Jorgen Anderson, Ivar Opdall, Ivan Larson , Peter Wold, Eli Myron.
They blasted the stumps, hauled them to into piles with steam donkeys and plowed the roots out of the ground to clear land for their farms.
After all of his hard work I think he was feeling a bit righteous about his land in the face of some condescension on the part of other farmers on the mainland. His quote from the article: “Now some of you town people that make fun of “Crow Island,” as you call it, and some of you that are asleep and imagine you are dreaming about stills and moonshine when perhaps pulling crow teeth and blasting stumps, show not be so quick to throw slurs at a neighborhood just because there are a few crows on the Island?
Mr Qvale built this house in about 1923 according to County records. It is one of best preserved historic house and is eligible for the National Historic Register according to a 2006 survey of historic places on the island. It resembles a design of a Sears, Roebuck and Company house.
Gilbert was a community minded soul, he worked to actively promote their of their farm products as one of the original trustees of the Snohomish County Dairyman’s Association in 1917. He was listed as a grocer when he married his wife Amelia Land in 1900 Census and a director of the local Farmer’s Mutual Insurance Co. He was listed as a dairy farmer at his death in 1943.
Quale Barn on Camano Island (no longer standing)
Photograph by Gerald Magelssen