History – Bergeson Family

When school District # 13 was established, John E. Bergeson was one of three first Directors of the District named June 20, 1890.

John Enis Bergeson (also known as Borgeson) immigrates to the United States from Stockholm, Sweden. Finds employment in his trade as a shipwright. Homesteads 160 acres on Hood Canal in 1882 at Fish Harbor at the end of Toandos Peninsula, which becomes know as Coyle.

About a year after the Seattle big fire, some friends come to visit by boat and bring with them Mrs. Alice Gregory (who had been Alice Plumner previous to that), a widow from Kansas, who has traveled across the county in a wagon train with her four children. She had three daughters, Marge, Maud and Minnie. She also had a son, U. S. Gregory who was living in Coyle by 1970, and A. A. Gregory living in Seattle) Alice had been working as a nurse in Seattle before the fire.

She and Mr. Bergeson marry and she becomes well known in the region as a trained nurse and midwife. She delivers 20 children including her own baby son John E. Bergeson II. John Sr died in 1900 and within two years Alice married neighbor Bryan Cogger.

John E. Bergeson II: He was born at home on Fisherman’s Harbor. Becomes commercial fisherman and marries Lola Alice Eubank.

All of John and Lola’s children were born at Coyle. The family has a family burial site on their property. John was a ‘jack of all trades’ He enlarged the family homestead to 610 acres and the family owned almost the whole spit at one time. Builds dock and seine shed for fishing nets on Fish Harbor. Purchases old store for back taxes.

Continues as commercial fisherman in Alaska and during summer works the farm with large gardens, orchards, and farm animals. Also continues logging and hauls logs with oxen and horses down to the beach on ‘skid’ roads where the logs are contained in a log boom and pulled by tugboats to the Port Gamble Mill.

Getting provisions for the store was by going by boat to Seabeck to get the supplies and rowing back the 3-mile crossing. The Coyle store blew down in 1933. John and Lola have eight children. John Jr., Alex, Eric, Joan, Myra, Anne. Mike, Emil. They were one of the three largest families in Coyle.

Bergeson Sisters Remember: Anne, Joan and Myra recall growing up in the Coyle was full of hard work, growing potatoes and working in the garden for their winter food. They always ate very healthy and well even if they didn’t have a lot of other things. Apples from the orchards were packed in hay to preserve through the winter. Had to learn to kill, scald and pluck chickens. Fish, oysters, and clams were plentiful and Anne remembers as kids selling oysters for money.

Joan remembers when their crank washing machine broke and they had to fill a large barrel with water and she had to get in and jump up and down on the clothes to get them as clean as she could. Most of their underwear was made from flour sacks. The women were very skilled in sewing and Anne says they made the prettiest quilts she has ever seen.

The kids found several Indian arrowheads and several marked Indian graves scattered around the area. They were marked with arranged stacked rocks. The Indians did come and harvest oysters and clams.

The old school located at the corner of Coyle and Hazel Point Road had already been torn down and used again in building a garage. Their schooling was in Quilcene. They rode the school bus and the girls remember the road was a ‘real bad dirt road, hilly and curvy, took a long time and we use to get sick before they got to school’.

They remember the tales about the big fire on the peninsula in 1938 where a large part of the whole peninsula burned. Families evacuated to the beach and people frantically watered down their homes to keep them from burning. Large areas had been cleared for farming and helped in saving the homesteads. Huge towering trees went up in flames. There was no way to battle the fires. Most of the old growth trees were being harvested by the late 1850’s so they were 2nd growth forests.

Every one was real neighborly. If a roof leaked or any other trouble the people would get together help out. Years passed. Boys left for other professions. Girls left to work in Seattle and around the state. Most of property sold except some parcels left to the children. Myra still lives on fathers old place.