Daily Archives: January 4, 2012

Reviving “A History of Bainbridge Island”

Eagle Harbor Book Co. is reviving one of the most wide-ranging books about Bainbridge Island history.

Written by Katy Warner in 1968, “A History of Bainbridge Island” was printed about a half-dozen times before its last printing in 1992. While several books about Bainbridge history have focused on a specific topic or community, such as Croatian immigrant fishermen (“Let It Go, Louie”), the early development of Port Blakely (“Port Blakely: The Community Captain Renton Built”) or Filipino farmers (“Island Grown”), Warner’s book aims to tell a broader island story.

“We felt strongly there needs to be better access to this book,” longtime Eagle Harbor Book Co. employee Mary Gleysteen told me last week for a story I did on her retirement.

Gleysteen’s Eagle Harbor colleagues credit her for pushing the bookstore to republish the 68-page book. It has a new cover, a few footnoted updates and explanations about language usage (“squaw,” for example, is now considered derogatory and is no longer in common usage).

Warner’s outlook on historic events, writing style, and the fact that she would even call Native American woman “squaws” makes the book itself an interesting artifact, Gleysteen said.

“It’s a historic document on its own,” she said. “It’s really dated, and it’s sort of quaint in its writing and attitudes.”

“A History of Bainbridge Island” ranges over various Bainbridge communities, including the Port Madison and Port Blakely mill towns, Creosote and Fort Ward. It also has chapters on the Mosquito Fleet, an Indian princess who married a Slovak sailor and the time when outlaw Harry Tracy took an island family hostage.

Warner wrote the book after several third grade teachers suggested she put together a simple island history that school kids could read on their own.

The Bainbridge Island School District produced the first edition for its social studies classes.

Bainbridge Friends of the Library owns the rights to the book and have produced several of the subsequent editions.

In 2009, the Bainbridge Historical Museum put the book online (Google it and then get ready for several PDF downloads).

Eagle Harbor Book Co.’s edition is available for $20 at the Winslow Way store or on its website.