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Bremer had the plan and Hensel, a Seattle jeweler and Bremer's soon-to-be brother-in-law, had the money. Chief Seattle also had proved himself in battle against Native enemies, but was considered a true friend of the white settlers. A weekly newspaper, The Bremerton Newsstarted publication on June 8,and its first issue claimed that 24 new businesses and 70 homes had been built in the three months. It was Wilkes who named Point Turner, the peninsula where much of Bremerton and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard are now situated, and he was struck by the suitability of the area for naval use:.
The main part of the city is on the Kitsap Peninsula's Point Turner, approximately 15 miles west of Seattle. This decision was not met with universal approval, even among members of the city council, nor was the navy overly impressed.
Nor did his widow, or his children. By late Bremerton had a population of about 1, and there were 16 saloons, all within a short walk of the navy's front gate.
The workforce at the navy yard supported a half-dozen general stores, at least 15 saloons, and a post office. The navy's overbearing attitude and charges of rampant immorality really bothered William Bremer, who had put his money and his good name into the town, and by early fall of he'd had enough.
Bremerton made it through the ups and downs of a military-dominated economy for most of the twentieth century, but barely survived the s when almost every major business enterprise moved to Silverdale, and ificant military spending was diverted to the new Trident submarine base at Bangor. Soon the town was sprouting businesses of all kinds. It was inevitable that Bremerton would attract businesses that catered to the less-savory inclinations of young sailors and transient workers. The property was logged-off waterfront bordering Sinclair Inlet, right at the heart of the proposed navy base.
The Suquamish had two great nineteenth-century leaders whose names live on today. The first was Kitsap ? The battle over vice pitted the U. Navy against Bremerton's gambling houses and saloons, with the mayor and council in the middle and fighting among themselves. Kitsap County and the Kitsap Peninsula honor his memory. The rumors came true, but the hope of a windfall generally did not. Sackman, the latter of whom fathered four children by a Suquamish woman. In July a private company brought in Bremerton's first piped water through wooden mains.
Just a month later, in Julya group of the town's citizens petitioned the Kitsap County Commissioners for incorporation. During the summer months they would decamp from their permanent settlements and travel by canoe to seasonal grounds to fish the rivers, hunt, and gather berries and other edible plants.
William Bremer's plans seemed to be proceeding smoothly, but some serious trouble was brewing on the town's rowdy Front Street. But a pro-saloon faction on the council managed to rescind the Front Street ban within weeks, and a short game of tit-for-tat was on.
Mayor Croxton next pushed through an ordinance that would cause all liquor s to expire on April 1, ; the council responded by automatically extending all s for an additional year. In the years following Wilkes's survey, white settlers started appearing in Puget Sound in increasing s. It was a wide-open town, and less than a year after Mayor Croxton was elected the navy threatened to shut it down, warning that it would boycott its own shipyard in order to save its sailors from Bremerton's "gross immorality.
The chasm between what the settlers thought their property was worth and what the government was willing to pay created opportunities for men who had a longer view of things. The city managed to hold on through the s and s, and in more recent years took steps to reinvent itself and revitalize its economy.
Gambling resorts and disorderly houses, the report says, flourish just outside the yard, especially when one of the war vessels is in port There are no card sharks, bunco men, or bawdy houses in the town" Morning OlympianJanuary 1, With no apparent sense of irony, Croxton two days later announced that he would close all public gambling in Bremerton.
The history of Bremerton and that of the navy base have always been inextricably entwined, with the fortunes of the former highly dependent on the activities of the latter. At the urging of early settler David "Doc" Maynardthe hardscrabble little village of Duwamps on Elliott Bay was renamed after Chief Seattle in Today there are approximately registered members of the Suquamish Tribe, and about half of them live on the Port Madison Reservation.
This had the desired effect; federal funding was greatly increased in andand the workforce at the base quickly grew from fewer than to more than As the base prospered, so did Bremerton. On October 2,the voters approved the incorporation of Bremerton as a city of the fourth class. Although they still exercise their treaty rights to fish and gather shellfish at their traditional grounds, the tribe also operates the luxurious Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort on the Kitsap Peninsula near Agate Passage.
In August the first official volunteer fire department was formed, and the following December phone lines came in. The lengthy list of voting-age residents who ed the petition did not include William Bremer, who continued to reside in Seattle. It continued to issue threats and broides, and expanded the circle of blame to Seattle, describing it as.
Another early arrival was Captain William Rentonwho built a sawmill on Alki Point in but relocated it to the Manette Peninsula the following year. In September the navy raised the American flag over its land, and three months later, on December 10, Bremer filed a acre plat for a new town named, somewhat immodestly, "Bremerton. One year later, in Decemberwork began on the station's first dry dock, a foot-long "graving" dock capable of handling the navy's largest ships.
The Suquamish, or "people of the clear salt water" in the Lushootseed tongue of the Coast Salish linguistic group, established permanent winter camps on the islands and peninsulas of the central Puget Sound as long ago as 5, years.
Health problems forced Ambrose Wyckoff's early retirement in Julybut he returned to the area in as a civilian, disturbed by reports of plans to close and relocate the naval base. Dry Dock No. Federal funding dried up, and both the base and the town staggered through the remaining years of the nineteenth century. Prostitution, gambling, drunkenness, opium, muggings -- the panoply of human temptation and weakness -- were present from the beginning.
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InAmbrose Barkley Wyckoffa sickly young lieutenant with the U. Wyckoff, like Wilkes, recognized the region's military potential. His was the first industry of note in the area and the first sawmill, but many more were to follow, drawn by the seemingly endless expanse of virgin timber. While that was going on Bremer nurtured his new town by donating or selling at discount prices land for schools and churches.
The town's first mayor was Alvyn Croxton An election in January returned Croxton as mayor and seated A. Stires, Thomas DriscollJ. Kost, F. Coder, and C. Hanson as the town's first full five-member council. Homesteading loggers who had struggled for years to eke out a living now hoped that their property was worth many times what it would have brought just months earlier. The other was Seattle ? Resolution seemed possible on February 2,when the council, at the persistent urging of Mayor Croxton, doubled the licensing fee for saloons and rescinded the s of the five or six drinking and gambling houses located nearest the base on Front Street which was south of today's 1st Street.
William Bremer and Henry Paul Henselboth of Seattle, reasoned that once the navy base was established -- indeed, even while it was being established -- it would need a town to support it, and that was where the real money would be made. He also built Bremerton's first wharf at his own expense and helped numerous businesses get off the ground. While Wyckoff was busying himself buying up land for the naval base, Bremer, having obtained Hensel's interests, set about building a town next door.
There were rooming houses, a barber shop, a hotel, a laundry, two cigar stores, even a "shooting gallery. The first official American survey of the waters around present-day Bremerton was conducted in by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition. His reasoning was simple: If the U. Later that month he traveled to Washington, D. But the navy thought the price was still exorbitant; Bremer came home disappointed, and never tried again.
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Upon returning to the East Coast in May he started what would become a long campaign to establish a naval base in the sheltered but roomy inland waters of Sinclair Inlet at the southern end of Port Orchard Bay. Studies by two presidential commissions, one of which included Ambrose Wyckoff, concluded that the southern shore of Point Turner had everything necessary for a naval base: sheltered but deep water close to shore; abundant supplies of timber; unlimited fresh water from the region's many rivers; and huge fields of bituminous coal within just few miles of Seattle, itself easily accessible by water.
This time the threat worked -- the pro-saloon coalition collapsed, and the council went the navy one better by revoking every liquor in town, effective June 8, The ban of course did little to stop either drinking or gambling, but it did make it a little less obvious and a little more distant.
Their primary settlement was Old Man House at present-day Suquamish, about 12 miles north and a little east of Bremerton. Wyckoff enlisted the help of the Seattle business community, and the city's Chamber of Commerce prepared and submitted to Congress a persuasive report stressing the yard's importance to the regional economy. Within just a year or two of Wyckoff's visit, rumors were circulating that there would be major federal land purchases made in the area for a naval base. But the financial Panic of slowed progress on the naval base, and this in turn slowed Bremerton's development.