Rev. J. A. Banfield, of Vashon Island kindly accepted an invitation to call at the Post-Intelligencer office yesterday and submit to an interview about his island home. Mr. Banfield is an old and experienced newspaperman who, for several years past has resided at New Tacoma, but finding his health becoming impaired about two years ago located 160 acres on Vashon Island and has since then devoted his spare time improving his place. A few months ago he removed to the island with his family and household goods, and is now a citizen of King County and desires to thoroughly identify himself with its fortunes; and knowing Mr. Banfield pretty well, we feel free to say that the more citizens like him which King County adds to her population, the better off she will be.

As stated above Banfield’s farm consists of 160 acres, the soil being clay and sandy loam, part of it being open fern brake. Eight acres of this Mr. Banfield has set apart as orchard, berry patch and kitchen garden purposes. Fifteen acres are devoted to pasturage, and was sown with timothy and red clover; the greater part of it about 18 months ago, the remainder only about 12 months since. Three sides of the pasture lot are unfenced. That portion aligning the orchard fence was moved this season to avoid danger from fire, and from about there fourths of an acre, about two tons of hay were cut. The orchard contains 36 cherry trees of assorted best varieties; 40 pear trees, including the following varieties: Bartlett, Clapp’s Favorite, Beurre d’ Anjon, Brandywine, Seckle, Winter Nellis, Dick’s Medlang, Louise Bonne de Jersey, Dearbon’s Seedling and a few others, all of which were planted two years ago last spring, and of which the Bartletts, Brandywine and Beurre d’ Anjon bore this year. Of plums and prunes there are 125 trees; of the former the Jefferson, Columbia, Washington, Peach, Victoria, Rhine Claude, Bradshaw, Green Gage, Smith’s Oregon, Ickworht’s Imperatrice, Yellow Egg, Cole’s Earliest and Golden Drop, are all planted, to which during the coming season, will be added the Gros and Petit d’ Angen varieties, including five varieties of crab apples. The Waxen and Newton pippins have borne and matured during the present year. All of these trees are thrifty. The green aphids have made an appearance on a few of the apple trees, but is being met with vigorous methods to exterminate it. In the berry patch are six varieties of raspberries, two of blackberries, one of strawberries, and two of gooseberries. The raspberries and strawberries have already demonstrated the fact that they are at home. But little attention has been paid to the vegetables garden. Potatoes thrive as well as could be desired. Such is an outline of a frontier island home, for his labors on which the owner deserves credit fro having set a good example, and an ample measure of success as a reward for his industry.


Vashon Island is about 13 miles long and averages 1 1/2 to 4 miles in width. The farm we describe is about the center of a settlement embracing 16 families within a radius of one and a half miles. The residence of the earliest corner in this community dates back to only 1879. All of these people are planting fruit trees and otherwise improving their places. They have built with their own labor a log schoolhouse, and maintain school six months in the year. They have 24 school children on the roll. The teacher is paid $45 per month. It is about one and a half miles to the sound, where steamers can land either at Phinney’s logging camp, Bradford Bay (Tramp Harbor), or Sherman’s place. The settlers have constructed, by their own labor, eight miles of good neighborhood roads, without assistance from the county, there being no road district laid out on the island. All the same, they have been assessed for road taxes, and have paid the same, which have been distributed elsewhere. This is an injustice which should be righted. Besides the 16 families in the Banfield settlement, there are, on the east shore of the island, six other settlers, and several-the exact number not known-on the west passage. In addition to these, there are two logging camps, in each of which from eight to ten men are employed. These people have no post office, and need to come to Seattle or Tacoma for their mail needs. Mr. Banfield assures us that, as it is two thirds of the people would prefer to deal directly with Seattle, and if proper facilities existed, the entire trade of the section would belong to this city. He states positively that there are for 50 more families on the island. It is his purpose, as soon as he can after his return, to build a large float and anchor tin Bradford Bay, erroneously called Trump Harbor on the map. Here vessels can land. The float will be under the lee of Point Heyer, a sand spit familiar to all in this section. Efforts have hitherto benn made tomato regular calls, but have failed so far. It seems that unless satisfactory  arrangements are made with one of the boats, someone of the small steamers and tugs in the trade could arrange for a weekly visit to Mr. Banfield’s float at a good advantage. Mr. Banfield claims pre-eminence as a fruit, berry and vegetable raising country for Vashon Island, asserting that the spring is three weeks earlier there ethan on  the mainland, while the fall season is prolonged fro a similar length of time. He calls attention to the fact that interspersed among the timber tracts are numerous 5 to 15 acre tracts of fern brake easily cleared and very productive. The favorable character of the seasons is accounted for by the fact that whatever may be the prevailing character of the winds, they pass in all directions over large bodies of water, materially modifying, as in all such cases, the cold winds, whether from Rainier or the Olympic range.

Vashon Island has many picturesque  features. The writer formed one of a party, among which were several sea captains, who mad an impromptu excursion to the southern end of the island a few months ago. The oarsman who rowed the part over were Chilean sailors, who upon entering Quartermaster’s Harbor, seemed lost in admiration as they viewed the wooded slopes and calm waters of the bay, and every now and then would drop their oars and exclaim beautiful. Many curious and beautiful shells and fossils are to be found here. We shouldn’t say how altogether lovely this location is and how well suited to become the Saratoga of Puget Sound, simply because we think of buying it for a summer residence.

We do say, however, to the Supervisors of KingCounty, and the businessman of Seattle, that Vashon Island in less than five years will have a population of from 500 to 1,000 souls, and that the trade of the place belongs of right here, and that everything which they can do ought to be done to assist the people who have gone there to build up homes in the wilderness.

The island from 1858 to 1862 or ’63 was the scene of a busy logging industry. The timber easily accessible was taken off and the ground burned over more than once. And this reminds us that the most attractive place we saw during our trip to Thurston County was a 200 or 300 acre farm-created on a tract which had been culled over by the axe of the lumberman. Many such farms can be created on Vashon Island.


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Blogging about Vashon Island past and present. I'm a 4th generation Vashon Islander, artist, dad and grandfather