written by Jackie Longmire
The first settler in our area was Lambert Evans in 1872. He was a veteran of the Confederate Army from Florida and was 36 years of age when he settled on Stretch Island. He purchased 40 acres of the island for $2.50 per acre. Later he filed homestead papers on the northern 172 acres. He planted grapevines from cuttings he obtained during his long travel to the area. Fruit trees were also planted and he sold his crops by rowing to Olympia and Steilacoom. For 11 years he remained the only settler for miles and later in life became known as the "first citizen" of the community. Late in the 19th century more settlers came to Stretch Island, Reach Island and the mainland opposite the islands.
Members of early sailing expeditions of Puget Sound named much of our area. The first was Capt. George Vancouver and his Second Lieutenant Peter Puget who explored Puget Sound in May 1792. Almost 50 years later in May 1841 Admiral Wilkes expedition named Stretch Island for Samuel Stretch, a gunner's mate with the expedition. Using his wit he then named the smaller island to the north Reach Island. Reach Island had been known as Oak Island prior to this. Joseph Pickard was the first to homestead Reach Island in 1885. He left in 1890 and the island was not inhabited until 1905 when Alfred W. Zizz bought Reach Island for $1,000. Alfred and his wife Natella raised two children; Virginia and Zane. Alfred remained on the island until 1952 when it was sold to a development group and it was renamed Treasure Island.
On the mainland the Malaney brothers; Tom, Albert and John arrived in 1885. They claimed tracks of land and later with bankers Ladd and Tilton formed the Detroit Land Improvement Company and acquired even more tracts of land. Their vision of Detroit was a large city. Several acres opposite Reach Island were platted into lots. They were successful for about a year with a sawmill, two saloons and a new hotel. The dream faded when investors left along with John and Albert Malaney. Tom stayed on to become our first postmaster. Charles (Bill) Somers bought 10 acres of the original site in the 1950's. You can see the sign today on the Grapeview Loop Road "Detroit Townsite".
Others were settling around the Detroit Townsite. Charlie Anderson settled on the south end of Stretch Island in 1883. Charlie Gould came in 1886 purchasing 40 acres of the island's northwest section from Lambert Evans. He persuaded his friend, Adam Eckert, to also come in 1889. Adam Eckert also purchased 40 acres from Lambert Evans. His wife Sarah and five children under the age of 14 soon followed . The Eckert family was prominent in our community for the next 100 years. Their home became a center for community activities.
In 1891 the closest schools were in Allyn and Vaughn. Sarah Eckert's two older boys rowed across the bay to Vaughn for school. In 1893 our community organized School District #23. The first students were the Eckert and Malaney children. This created the first political entity of our community with Lambert Evans, Laura Malaney and Lou Rauschert on the School Board.
Walter Eckert, who was tired of his mail being sent to Detroit Michigan, convinced the community their beautiful rural community needed a better name. Grapeview was the choice. It was approved by the Postal Service in April 1922.
Note: Most of this history came from Grapeview the Detroit of the West by Mary Sagerson and Duane Robinson, Mason County Historical Society, 1992. This book is available for purchase from the museum in downtown Shelton at the corner of 5th Street and Railroad Avenue.
Kitsap Sun Article 7/1/2008 by By Rodika Tollefson
Twenty years ago, Grapeview resident Kris Powell decided local residents needed a meeting place and some social interaction. So on Jan. 5, 1988, she sent a letter to various people inviting them to get together and discuss the idea. From those humble beginnings, the Grapeview Community Association was born and has since become a full-fledged nonprofit organization that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve local quality of life.
"It's an incredible place to live," says GCA President Linda Fish. "We're a group of people that feel very lucky to live here. It's our goal to make it even better and that's what brought this community club together many years ago."
The initial goal of the association was to acquire land and build a community building. Several years ago, association members decided the idea was not feasible. Instead, they formed a public-private partnership with the Grapeview Fire District to renovate the fire hall and use that for events.
"We raised a great deal of money for renovations," says Nancy Montgomery, past president and longtime member of the association, which currently has more than 300 members.
GCA raised more than $245,000 from donations, grants and various fundraisers, including Grapeview Water Festival, the biggest fundraiser held every year at the end of July. The renovations to the fire hall, now called the Horton Community Center, included the addition of a kitchen with appliances and a small expansion. "It really turned out to be quite a nice place for us to meet," Montgomery says.
The most recent project was the installation of a brick patio, using brick donated by community members. The association's barbecue on July 11 will be the first official function on the patio.
The Grapeview Community Association meets on a monthly basis "as a social opportunity" that includes potluck. Fish said a committee is currently discussing long-term goals for the organization. She said the association hopes to implement new programs in the future, such as scholarships for high school students.