Gustafson Homestead History

Page 6 From THE KITSAP HISTORIAN
use your scroll bar to see all of the picture. Ber's comments are in parenthesis. Berry and Irina Ball
are the present owners of this homestead. Ber's update of what has happened to the place since
1943 is included below also.

(The house almost still looks the same as in this picture except what you see as front porch was
made into part of the living room during the second remodel in the 1980's as the porch faces south
and was too hot in the afternoons to be usable. The upstairs window is now a 4' x 4' added on as part of the master bedroom remodel where the two small bedrooms upstairs were made into one large one.
The small fruit trees you see in the pic are now very large and the fir trees in the background are now just humungous. The barn in the background doesn't exist today as it was replaced by a much larger barn a little more than 100' away from the house, probably in the 1890's. Maybe it burned down, I don't know, but the garage that is there today has the roof north to south, not east-west as in this picture. But it's just as old and has about seen it's better day and needs replacing. In the background where Mrs. Gustafson is sitting on the buggy can be seen the bunkhouse that is still there today where their daughter was raised.

Kitsap Pioneers: The Gustafson Family by Claudia Hunt
Photo: KCHS Archives, Gift of Norma Gustafson Card
Clais and Augusta Gustafson at their homestead in Silverdale, circa 1902 -1904.

Gustafson Road in Silverdale is named for the Swedish pioneer family that settled there in
the late 1800s. The following
history is compiled from information graciously provided to 
the Kitsap County
Historical Society by Norma Card, granddaughter of those pioneers.  
Kitsap County homesteader Clais
Wilhelm Gustafson was born in Sweden in 1864. At 
the age of 23, he emigrated to
St. Paul, Minnesota, but soon moved to Seattle to escape 
a typhoid epidemic. On
March 1, 1894, renouncing allegiance to all foreign sovereignties, 
and particularly
to the King of Sweden and Norway, he became a citizen of the US.

Meanwhile, Linda Johnson, born in Sweden the same year as Clais, crossed the Atlantic in 
1882 and landed in Sioux
City, Iowa, where she most likely worked as a seamstress. She 
found her way to
Seattle and met Clais at the Swedish Tabernacle, later known as the 
Swedish
Mission Covenant Church, where they were both charter members. They were  
married on August 29, 1895. (probably 1885??). The couple
crossed Puget Sound to 
Kitsap County
in November 1889 and homesteaded two and one-half miles north of Silverdale 
near
the Clear Creek valley, where a road in the area still bears the Gustafson family name.
(During the first remodel of the home, we found a poster  on the inside wall behind the wall 
paper, dated 1889. We still have that poster mounted on a board)

A parcel of the Trident Submarine Missile
Base is located on the former family homestead.  
Until he finished building their
home, Clais (“C.W.”) slept in trees on his homestead, fearing 
the many bears in the
valley. Their first home was made of logs, which Clais later finished 
with lumber
inside and out. (The main part of the house is still vertical logs like a fort, with 
siding on one side, insulation stuffed in the empty spaces and sheetrock now on the inside). 
He would row to Waterman
in Port Orchard to obtain bricks for the chimney, then row back, 
load the
bricks into a wheelbarrow, and tote them home. (The old bricks from the original 
chimney were cleaned and reused in the new fireplaces and chimney that was part of the 
1974 remodel where a full basement was put under the house instead of the house sitting 
on stumps and rocks).

Although there was an 18-foot well
on the property that never went dry (this was filled in 
many years ago) , the
Gustafsons added a 40-acre parcel to the original 160-acre homestead 
in order to
have access to a creek. When a neighbor sadly was unable to stand the loneliness  
and ended his life, Clais purchased his 40
acres for $165.
 
(More on the water situation)
The creek mentioned is one of the two forks of the west fork of Clear Creek. The other portion 
of the west fork comes out of Bangor Trident Submarine Base and crosses under Trigger avenue 
a few hundred feet from where Old Frontier road now ends. This creek runs under Old Frontier 
Road at the Trigger Avenue entrance. 
Clais built a small concrete dam on this small creek, about 
three feet deep is all, to supply a wooden pipe that fed a Ram pump which pumped water by 
mechanical means up a long hill and into a water tank in a tower located about 15' above ground 
near the barn. When I was 13 to 15 years old I used to play in this small pond and cleaned all the 
silt out of it and tried to raise trout in it but wasn't too successful as silt kept coming into the pond 
and filling it up. I found two 30" in diameter by 36" high concrete cylinders in a well near the dam. 
He dug another two cylinder well closer to the bottom of the long hill just before it started climbing. 
I used my tripod and engine hoist to remove one of the cylinders from the well near the pond
and installed it in the two cylinder well closer to the long hill. Digging out the bottom to sink the 
cylinders was very difficult as water percolated into the bottom sands very rapidly. For many 
years, from 1951 when dad purchased the place for $6000 up until 1968 when I took over, we 
used a pump from this 3 cylinder well (used to be two cylinders at that time) and pumped water 
up into the tower and wooden storage tank near the barn. But it started leaking and the timbers 
supporting the tank were rotting so I dug out a place for a 1000 gal concrete storage tank on the 
east side of the barn. You could buy dynamite back then and I used quarter sticks purchased 
from Mr. Howerton at the Howerton dump which is now a soccer field on Dickey Rd.  We pumped 
water from the three cylinder well into that storage tank using a float and switch setup which 
started and turned off the pump in the three cylinder well,  and then used another pump and 
pressure tank set up to pressurize water to the house. That 1000 gal concrete tank still exists 
inside the wellhouse next to the barn but is no longer used.
In the 70's when Bangor Trident Submarine Base was going in, they put in a storm run off facility 
this side of Trigger Avenue across the fence and close to  where our three cylinder well was. 
They put drainage pumps in and drained the water away. We no longer had water. After litigation 
and a couple years of hauling us water Bangor finally paid for a 90' drilled well which produces 
25+ gpm and I swear is the best tasting water in Kitsap County and it comes from the largest 
aquifer in the county which is the Bangor aquifer, which is where the creek and lower well came 
from also I believe.   The present well has two large pressure tanks inside the small wellhouse 
along with the 1000 gal cistern which is now not used, and a 1 1/2" line to the house to feed 
the fire sprinkler system in the house.  The house is now sprinklered.

Two Gustafson children died at birth, but two daughters grew to adulthood. Helen Elvera was 
born in 1897, and
Agnes Victoria in 1899. Clais had to row from Silverdale to Port Orchard to 
get
the doctor when the children were born.  Agnes’s birth was difficult. Clais could only locate 
a veterinarian to provide assistance,
and Agnes was developmentally disabled. Helen attended 
Clear Creek School
(now the Clear Creek Community Center) from 1904 to 1912. After her 
mother
died on December 29, 1904, she helped at home and took care of her sister, even taking 
her to school with her, until Agnes
died in 1924. For a time the family had a housekeeper named 
“Tillie,” who may
have set her eye on the widower Clais.  When Tillie returned to Sweden for  
medical care, she was requested not to
return.

In 1919 Clais married Augusta Anderson, another Swedish immigrant and friend from the 
Mission Covenant
Church in Seattle. Augusta had attended a Bible Institute in Minnesota in 
preparation
for the foreign missionary field until her study was interrupted when she was  
needed in Sweden to care for her aged
mother. As a stepmother to Clais’s girls, she was 
not as frightening as “Tillie,” but
she was harsh. Augusta loved beautiful clothes and was 
also deeply religious.
When she discovered moth damage in her treasured wardrobe she felt 
the Lord
had sent the moths to punish her for vanity.

Clais and Augusta farmed until 1943, when they sold their homestead  to a family named Burns, 
and
moved to Ebenezer Home in Poulsbo, now known as Martha and Mary. Clais died in 1946 
and Augusta a year later.
Helen was deeded a small piece of land, which she eventually sold. She 
was dismayed
to find out it became the home of Whispering Firs, a nudist camp, which was said 
to still be in existence in 1967-68. (I can confirm that as it was still in existence when I went to 
high school at Central Kitsap High School in the early sixties and even after I married my first 
wife which was in 1968. She used to sneak her family members visiting through the back woods 
to spy on the nudists).

Helen died in 1979. Her daughter, Norma, resides in Silverdale. I have spoken with Norma.
The original family homestead continues to be a residence on Gustafson Road.
All of the 
barn structure remains as well,
 evocative of the Swedish pioneers who cleared the land and 
made a life there.

Further history by Berry Ball, current owner. 
After Burns bought the place from Gustafson in 1943, they sold it to a family named Peoples 
(maybe Peebles?) in 1949.  Peebles sold it to my father William Berry Ball in 1951 for $6000. 
The property was 57 acres at that time. We raised chickens, ducks, geese, pheasants, beef and 
dairy cows on the place. Dad was a retired Navy chief and worked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 
as a shipkeeper on the old world war II ships.
William Ball passed away from colon cancer in 1962, the same year I graduated from high school, 
and Agnes Ball, his wife sold off 15 acres on the east side and 5 acres on the west side and bought a place in Bremerton at 114 South Wycoff Ave as the farm was pretty run down by then and needed lots of repairs, including scotch broom removal.  Just before she passed away in 1968 of emphysema from smoking all her life and the prednazone the doctors gave her, she quit claim deeded the property to her daugher Kristina Cullefer (Ball) and her son Berry Ball by splitting it down the middle with Kristina receiving the west 660' feet (16.4 acres) and Berry receiving the east 660' (18.9 acres) as the Bangor fence angles 
on the north end, with the house and buildings on it being on the east half. Each got a house as 
Kristina received the house in Bremerton as well as the land on the farm.

In 1968, Berry married a woman named Pauline Elaine Walker from Hartline in eastern WA and 
they had two sons, William Berry Ball and Benjamin Clayton Ball. In 1974 , when Bill was born, 
the first of three major remodels took place which included a full 1000 sq ft basement put under 
the house , two fireplaces and a third chimney for a woodstove in the upstairs bedroom, new 
cedar shake roof and new septic system.  A larger drainfield was added to the septic system 
about 20 years later. The basement includes two 10' x 14' bedrooms, a one end open woodburning masonry fireplace, a large rec room area with no posts, and a full small bathroom on the north end.  
Berry and Pauline divorced in 1979.

Somewhere in that time frame a 30' x 50' warehouse/shop  was constructed behind the barn and 
over the ensuing years three extensions to that were made so there is lots of covered storage 
space as well as overhangs to put equipment and vehicles under.
 
The second remodel occurred in the 80's and included adding the 7' of front porch into the living 
room to have a nice big living room, make the stairway to the upstairs open instead of behind a wall, 
and to remodel the upstairs so instead of two small bedrooms it become one large master bedroom complete with  two sliding  door mirror closets and a toilet and sink on the opposite end of where 
the bed is. The upstairs window on the south end was also enlarged to a 4' x 4' to be able to get 
furniture in and out of the bedroom. A large blower fan was installed in the peak to draw air from 
opening the window on the north end near the sink to cool the room on hot summer nights.

Berry started a heating business in 1977 and outgrew the small 10' x 24' cabin they kept 
Agnes Gustafson in which was his first retail store  and a 30' x 22' two story retail stove shop 
was constructed out of rough cut lumber. In the mid 80's a larger office space became necessary 
and the next remodel of the house included a 9' x 24' new office and a 9' x 24' luxurious bathroom complete with elevated jacuzzi tub and separate corner shower to appease wife #2, a lady named 
Louanne Hayward. Berry and Louanne divorced in about 1991. 

Then the new retail stoveshop became too small and  a 30' x 15' two story addition was added to 
it on the south end so there was a gas stove section downstairs complete with radiant heated 
floor and a rec room upstairs for the kids.  Bill and Ben, Ber's kids from the first marriage, then 
needed to go to college so the 10' x 24' cabin got a full remodel plus a 10' x 24' addition on the 
west side so the kids had their own apartment facility complete with stove, washer, dryer, eating 
counter, refrigerator, sink, shower and toilet and the new addition contained  the bedroom and 
study area. We called it the bunkhouse. Under the bunkhouse is a root cellar for storing canned 
goods and also contains two working  freezers for putting a beef into. Both Ben and Bill used 
the bunkhouse when they went to Olympic college in Bremerton as well as the kids Aleks and 
Jana  from Berry's third marriage in 1998 to a Russian beauty named Irina Nicolaevna Yandukina 
whom he met on the internet and had to fly to Russia twice to marry her there. They are still married as 
of 2017. 

In 2001 Berry and Irina closed down the heating business and moved to Mexico to retire. Ber 
got tired of threading pipe, doing chimney relines, and installing hydronic heating systems in the 
rain.  Retirement didn't really work out that way as they got involved in the helping others thing, 
constructing buildings for Indians and laying hands on the sick and watching Jesus heal them. 
In 2016 they moved to Davenport, WA and found a just right place on the edge of town bordering 
a 640 acre wheatfield for privacy that came with 6 lots so are developing their own mini farm there. 
The move was so they could be close to Ber's first son Bill, now 42,  who heads up the Davenport 
School district's transportation dept and help with the raising of his family.  
Berry can be reached at  berry@detailshere.com 

Ber
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