Leap of Faith

These guys certainly don’t look like a Christmas story but in a way they are part of one. The men are dry farmers from Eastern Montana standing on the landing at Tacoma’s municipal dock in 1924. They come from five families who are relocating to Vaughn where they bought land and the hopes of a better future after one of them visited Puget Sound the prior Christmas. Nearby there is a boxcar filledwith family possessions, farm tools and two milk cows. They are waiting to have it all loaded on the steam ferry Burrows for the last leg of their long, uncertain journey. There are 14 people in the party, most of which have never seen saltwater or traveled by ship. They are standing in the most unfamiliar of surroundings halfway over water and halfway to new ground on Case Inlet where they plan on being in new homes before the next Christmas. Hard not to see some worry in their faces but with it excitement and even an optimistic smile about the seasons to come. Hard too not to wish them well on their leap of faith. Pictured left to right are C. Blydorp, John W. Walniewicz, Johnny Vanlamen, Charles Vitol, Ed Vanlamen and Hank Vandervan.

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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