Rishiri student visits resume

The following article, originally published in the Ferry County View, has been edited for length while attempting to retain its original sense.

For the first time since the covid pandemic halted much international travel, visits to the Pacific Northwest by residents of Japan’s Rishiri Island have resumed. Once again Ferry County is welcoming students and teachers from Rishiri High School who come to visit Ranald MacDonald’s grave. He is remembered as the first teacher of the English language in Japan.

This year’s scheduled tour participants were science teacher Mr. Nobuyuki Okamoto, senior Kanata Shima and junior Youta Yamamoto. Unfortunately Yamamoto was not able to make the trip on account of illness but everyone else appeared to be having a good time.

The visitors arrived at Portland Airport October 5th and visited the Japanese Counsel General. Following this visit they visited Astoria, MacDonald’s birthplace, returning to Portland where Friends of MacDonald members Jim and Cheryl Mockford drove them to Spokane with stops at Multnomah Falls and Pasco.

In Spokane they took in the Frank S. Matsura photographic exhibit at the Museum of Art and Culture, toured the Davenport Hotel, had dinner at the Steam Plant Restaurant with author and frequent Ferry County visitor Atsumi McCauley and met Gonzaga University’s bronze bulldog.

After stopping long enough for Mr. Okamoto to get a non-resident fishing license, the group headed for Ferry County and the Curlew home of Tom Amend where they unloaded gear and proceeded to Curlew Lake for some fishing. The day’s events finished at 18 North Kitchen and Bar in Republic with Introductions by Ferry County Historical Society President Madilane Perry and representatives of the Washington State Parks Department. Kanata Shima delivered an English language talk on Rishiri Island, illustrated with photographs. The public was invited for the talk and several people stayed to join the travelers for a no-host dinner.

The Japanese visitors stayed overnight in Curlew, going to MacDonald’s grave the next day accompanied by representatives of the Washington State Parks Department, which manages MacDonald’s grave as the state’s smallest state park, and the Ferry County Historical Society, which handles local arrangement for the visits.

The usual ceremony of placing rocks from Rishiri on the grave was observed. This was followed by multiple photographs and a general tour of the cemetery, the State Park Department’s interpretive signs and other improvements, The Park Department employees served a lunch prepared by Steve O’s Restaurant.

The tour concluded at the Ferry County Historical Society Museum in Republic with a brief tour of the museum, distribution of pamphlet and brochures and more photographs. The group dispersed at this point with the Japanese visitors spending another night with Tom Amend in Curlew prior to flying out of Seattle for Japan on the 15th.

New Sign

New Sign by the Ferry County Museum

A new sign welcomes visitors to the Ferry County Historical Society Museum on Kean Street in Republic.

Norm Spurgeon, owner of Northmen Builders, LLC, and his crew installed the new Museum sign at the Whitaker-Fletcher Building last month.

Ferry County Fair Booth

The historical society booth at this year’s fair featured a door which resembled the adit of one of our historic gold mines, with an ore car in front. When the door above the counter was closed after hours the public was still able to read the pamphlets on the outside.

In keeping with this year’s fair theme, “Discovering Gold,” our booth had a gold-mining theme and featured photographs and artifacts dating back to the early days of gold mining in the late 1890s and early 1900s. We received a red ribbon and a lot of attention.


Update from the Ferry County Historical Society

The following article, originally published in the Ferry County View, has been edited for length while attempting to retain its original sense.

Considering the recent article in the Ferry County View, the board wishes to update you on current activities regarding the LH Mason Building. We are currently negotiating with the City of Republic regarding a swap of properties. Our recent work on the L. H. Mason building has determined it will require
extensive work (estimated at $1,250,000) to bring the building up to standard for use. This is beyond the scope of our group, for both matching funds and
personnel to manage such a large project. This swap would ensure our continued use of the city-owned Whittaker-Fletcher building which currently houses our museum. The museum would eventually be moved to the present-day library after the new library is built. We intend to move The Kaufman Cabin to the Slagle House grounds. The City has been gracious about letting us store a lot of our collection on City property. The Historical Society will be able to remain at the present location until the current library becomes vacant. We currently act as a visitor information center, and part of the City’s proposal, is that the City will continue to subsidize the Historical Society with Tourism funds. This means that the Historical Society does not and will not pay rent or utilities on either of the buildings we occupy or plan to occupy. Another benefit to us is that the City has offered a 50-year lease on the current library building. If you would like to comment on what is currently happening with the FCHS, you may mail to FCHS, P. O. Box 287, Republic, WA 99166, email to ferrycountyhs@gmail.com If you would like to talk with a member of our Board, they are Ray Bilderback, Andy Brockett, Gabriela Hoffman, Jay Jurgensen, Jayne Jurgensen, Nancy Morris, Madilane Perry, Jim Rochelle, Travis Wellman and Bart Wert.

Museum Open for Winterfest

The FCHS Museum will be open to the public for Winterfest from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 13th. Join us for history with a heated rest room.

Annual Meeting

The FCHS Annual Membership Meeting is coming up in March, usually held on the fourth Thursday of the month. Members will be notified of the time and place. Details will also be covered in the Ferry County View. This is the opportunity for members to get involved in the management of the society, express their opinions, vote and run for board positions and volunteer to help operate and maintain the museum across from the park and the Slagle House Museum.

Newsletter delivery options

We have made a change in our distribution process for mailing the Nugget to our members. If you would like to change the way you receive future copies—whether paper copy or electronic— please let us know.

If you prefer electronic, please give us your correct email address. You can either drop us a line and mail to FCHS, PO Box 287, Republic WA 99166 or
email to fchsociety@outlook.com.

Thank you!

Our Visitors in 2023

The total of visitors who signed our guest register in 2023 is 436. This is an increase of 119 over the 2022 total. Both are probably lo counts because many people sign as “family” or a plural last name. This years’ new guest registers include a column for “number in party” which clarified the situation for visitors somewhat but there’s still some confusion. This is still well below our pre-covid high of over 1,000 so we are apparently still recovering slowly. This year’s visitors were unusual in their distribution. Recently, our visitors have fallen into three categories: visitors from Eastern Washington and Western Washington have usually comprised about 1/3 each of the total, with the rest of the world accounting for the final 1/3. This year’s visitors sorted out with just over ¼ from Eastern Washington, about 18% from Western Washington and the rest of the world making up the difference.

An unusual number of visitors (38) didn’t state where they came from. Idaho came next with 15, Oregon, 10, British Columbia 8, Alberta 6 and Nebraska 4, Colorado 3, 2 each for Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio and Wisconsin. Michigan and Nevada were represented by one visitor each. Visitors from outside North America came from the
Czech Republic, France and Japan.

The J.W. and Elizabeth Slagle House (kitchen shown above) hosted 44 visitors this year.

The J. W. and Elizabeth Slagle House was open two Saturdays a month this year, up from one per month last year. There were 44 visitors, many of them former residents.
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