Barnwrights & Builders

Barn Label

Wilcox title block

Although the construction of simple barns probably was within the abilities of most farmers, larger, more complicated structures were no doubt the work of specially-trained barnwrights or builders.  The earliest known were Joseph[?] Robillard, George Berishe[?], and Leroux Montigny, who were probably metis employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company to construct buildings at their new trading posts.  During the 1850s, they built several buildings at Belle View Sheep Farm on San Juan Island, including the granary and possibly the barn and root cellars.

Builders arrived in the San Juan Islands as early as the 1860s, and each United States Census lists “Carpenters”, starting on San Juan Island and then expanding to Lopez and Orcas islands, and even Shaw Island.  In addition, there were several who probably also worked as “Boat Builders” and possibly “Engineers”.  Here is a list of known barnwrights and carpenters and the barns they built.  (All references are to the San Juan Islander unless cited otherwise.)

James Blake, Jr. (1859-1927).   James Blake, Jr. was born on February 21, 1859, in Ontario, Canada to James and Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Blake.  He married Susana (1861-?) in 1882, and they emigrated from Canada to Lopez Island in 1898.  In the 1900 US Census he is listed as a carpenter, with three children: Cara May (1883-?); Norman Thomas (1885-?), and Nellie Margaret (1891-?).  James Blake Jr. petitioned for naturalization on March 2, 1920, and then filed a declaration of intent on April 2, 1927, shortly before his death on Lopez Island on May 4, 1927.  He built a barn for Mrs. Irene Weeks, Lopez Island (4/7/1906).

John Burt (1858-1933).  John Hutchison Burt was born on October 26, 1858 in Pennsylvania to Joseph and Helen Hutchison Burt, who had emigrated from Scotland in 1854.  In 1886 he married Sarah J., and they had seven children: Ruth (1888-?), Hazel (1890), Esther M. (1894-?), Ray (1895-?), Dorothy (1898-?), Henry Martin (1900-?), and Lillian F (1902-?).  The Burt family lived in Armstrong Grove, Iowa, until they moved to Lopez Island in 1906.  John died at Richardson, Lopez Island on November 15, 1933.  John Burt built the Center School No. 17 (1902, now Lopez Grange) and the Mud Bay School, as well as several houses including the Robert Jones house (1906) and the “House of the Seven Gables” (1908) for his brother Joseph Burt, all on Lopez Island.  He built at least three barns, one of which was for Thomas Graham at Richardson, Lopez Island (1906).

Joseph Burt (1852-1941).  Joseph “Joe” Burt was born on February 21, 1852 in near Dumfermline, Scotland, to Joseph and Helen Hutchison Burt.  The Burts emigrated with him Pennsylvania in 1854, where his father worked as a mining engineer in the coal fields.  They later moved to Ohio and then Iowa, where his father worked as a blacksmith.  Joseph married Adella (Della) (September 16, 1865-March 28, 1944) in 1889 at Armstrong Grove, Iowa; they had three children—Gladys (1891-?), William (Willie) L. (1893-?), and Wallace R (1897-?).  After farming in Esterville, IA, in 1902 Joseph Burt moved to Lopez Island, where his sister Ellen had previously settled with her husband John Cousins.  He died on June 2, 1941.  Joe Burt was a finish carpenter, and he worked on several projects on Lopez Island with his brother John Burt (see above).

Joe Groll (1868-1925).  Joseph “Joe” Seaten [or Solomon?] Groll was born January 20, 1868 in Grosse Point, Mich.  He married Alice Kromer in 1897[1894?].  He died in 1925 in British Columbia.  Joe Groll became a builder and contractor in Detroit, Michigan, and then moved west in the 1890s.  He established a saw and planing mill on Lopez Island in 1896; it burned down in 1910.  He was elected County Commissioner in 1900, and in 1904 moved to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, where he established another sawmill with the Jensen brothers.  Joe Groll was the contractor for several barns and agricultural buildings: A.D. Conway livery barn, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island (12/26/1908); Peter Gorman barn, San Juan Valley, San Juan Island (6/10/1910); James A. King barn, San Juan Island (8/5/1910); and a Cow barn for Mrs. H.C. Smith near Kanaka Bay, San Juan Island (1912)

Pete Hansen (1886-1970).  Peter “Pete” Hansen was born in Esbjerg, Ribe, Denmark, on April 12, 1886.  He emigrated to the United States in 1905, and came to San Juan Island ca. 1910.  He married Honora (Nora) Irene Buchanan on September 18, 1919; the couple had two children, Nadrew (1921-?) and John M. (1923-?).  Peter Hansen died on November 10, 1970, in Seattle.  He built the Oscar Peterson Barn, San Juan Island.

Del Hoffman (1903-1992).  Delbert David Hoffman, Jr. was born on Shaw Island on February 26, 1903 to Delbert Eugene Hoffman (1870-1915) and Kate Irene Gordon (1872-1949).  He married Helen Louise Coleman (1897-1975) on November 15, 1924.  They had several children.  Although he is listed as a mechanic working at an automobile factory in Seattle in the 1930 census, he is subsequently listed as a carpenter on Shaw Island.  After the death of his first wife in 1975, he married Margaret Peggy Anderson (1903-1987).  Delbert Hoffman, Jr. died on November 10, 1992.  Del Hoffman built several structures on Shaw Island, including the barn on their farm as well as the Guest House/Garage/Workshop (1938) for the Ellis family.

Joseph Iotte.  Joseph Iotte built the Mr. Woodward barn, Dolphin Bay, Orcas Island (8/10/1907).

Fred Klein (1873-?).  Fred W. Klein is listed in the 1920 US Census as age 47, born in Michigan, and residing with his wife Jennie M. (1885) and son Roy W. (1918) in Friday Harbor, San Juan island.  Fred Klein built the Poultry house for N.E. Churchill, San Juan Island, with George C. Randles (9/19/1908).

Carl Leick (1854-1939).  Carl Leick was born in Germany and had a professional education and training there.  He moved to Astoria, OR in the 1880s, and after working in private practice joined the US Engineers Office in Portland OR, working for the United States Lighthouse Board.  He designed structures for 25 sites on the West Coast, including the Turn Point (1893), Patos (1908), and Lime Kiln (1914) light houses.  Included in his designs for Turn Point was the “Mule Barn”.

Willis Maxfield (1862-?).  Willis Maxfield was born in New York state ca. 1862.  He was a hermit on Stuart Island who helped build the E. Erickson Barn there in 1908 as well as the Stuart Island School House (1904).

Novotny.  A man named “Novotny” built the Edson Weeks barn as well as Blake and ?? barns, all ca. 1890, on Lopez Island.

J.P. Paine (1846-1927). John Patton Paine was born on December 30, 1846 at Brownington, VT.  On November 23, 1877 he married Emma Prescott (1861-1920) at West Charleston, VT, where he worked as a cabinetmaker and builder.  They moved to southern California, and then to Port Townsend and eventually Lopez Island ca. 1893.  In 1896 they moved to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, where Paine served a term as County Treasurer.  He died January 21, 1927 in Friday Harbor (obit Journal 1/27/1927).  J.P. Paine is listed in the 1900 US Census as a carpenter, and advertised his services as a contractor and builder in the San Juan Islander 2/2/1907 through 8/28/1908 (page 8).  He built many of the significant houses in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, and on other islands.  He built at least two barns: J.P. Paine barn, San Juan Island? (2/27/1902) and C.T. Butler barn, Lopez Island (4/9/1904).

Ray Pinneo (1894-1980).  Raymond Marvin Pinneo was born April 20, 1894, in Washington State to Fred L. Pinneo (1849-1917) and Alvenia “Allie” or “Alice” Underwood (1859-1944).   On December 2, 1919 he married Tillie Brock (1902-1966) in Friday Harbor; the couple had 7 children.  The San Juan Islander (June 30, 1911 p.4) noted a serious accident in his youth: while working with a circular saw at the West Sound Lumber Mill, he lost his thumb and 3rd and 4th fingers of his left hand.  Although he is designated as a “farmer” working with his parents on his World War I Registration Card, Pinneo is subsequently listed as a Gas Boat Engineer in the 1920 census and as a Carpenter and Contractor in the 1930 and 1940 censuses, all in West Sound, Orcas Island.  He is credited with the construction of the Mathesius Barn in Crow Valley (1933) and the Lehman Barn (Deep Meadow Farm) near Deer Harbor (1946).  He died in Sedro Wooley, Skagit County on February 1, 1980, but is buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery, Orcas Island

George C. Randles (1854-1915).  George Cuthbert Randles was born in September 1854 in Bethlehem, Ohio, to Enoch Randles and Louisa [Danisa?] Millyan.   He married Sarah E. (1860-?) in 1876; they had at least four children: Almeda (1877-?); William (1879-?); J. Lawrence (1887-?); Clarence L. A. (1883-?); Alexander S.H. (1884-?); Milton Foster (1897-?), and George E. (1902-?).  Randles died on July 6, 1915, in Granite Falls, Snohomish County, WA, and is buried in the Arlington Cemetery.  The 1900 US Census lists him as a “Carpenter” on San Juan Island.  Randles built several barns and agricultural buildings: G.R. Emmerling barn, San Juan Valley, San Juan Island (11/13/1902); Alfred Douglas barn, San Juan Valley, San Juan Island (8/8/1908); Poultry House for N.E. Churchill, San Juan Island with Fred Klein (9/19/1908); and a Barn for Robert Caines [?], San Juan island.

Will E. Randles.  Will Randles built a Farm residence for Elliot(?) Ackley, San Juan Island  (Friday Harbor Journal 11/14/1907).

Martin J. Reddig (1854-1935). Martin John Reddig was born in 1854 in Ohio to William Reddig; both his father and mother were originally German. In the 1880 US Census he is listed as a “farmer” in Jackson, Missouri, married to Sarah (1858-?), with two children, Ettie (1877-?) and William (1880-?).  By the time of the 1885 Washington Territorial Census, Reddig was in Tacoma.  Around 1891 he moved to Orcas Island.  In 1898 the newspaper reported his trip to Puyallup “for the purpose of purchasing some patent heaters to be used in the new prune dryers now building near Orcas and West Sound” (8/4/1898).  The 1900 US Census lists him as married to Eva Z. (1863-?), with a son, Martin R. (1895-?).  The 1901 Supplement to the San Juan Islander said that Reddig, a native of Ohio, had learned his trade in Illinois and came to the San Juans ca. 1891.  “He is a carpenter and builder by trade and has been especially engaged in constructing fruit evaporators, hay presses, etc.”  He was credited with the construction of George F. Myers fruit house, Orcas island, as well as “many residences and barns on this [Orcas] and other islands surrounding.”  The 1930 US Census lists a “Martin Reddig” as a widower residing in Anacortes.  Reddig died at the age of 81 on January 12, 1935 in Mt. Vernon, WA.  Martin J. Reddig built several barns and agricultural structures: fruit dryers or evaporators for W.O. Clark (1897), Geo. Atkinson (1898); George Bergman (1898), himself (1899), and C.B. Buxton (1901), all on Orcas Island; the George F. Meyer Apple House on Orcas Island (1901); and barns for Estyn Chalmers, Orcas Island (1899) and Mr. Smidle, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island (1912).

J.F. Sanders (1852-1935). John Fisher Sanders was born May 29, 1852 in Pattonsburg, Missouri to Nem Sanders and Martha Fisher. He married Mary Walker (1861-1949); together they had at least six children: Cecil Sanders Shumaker (1887-1971); Wiley Carlton Sanders (1888-1945); John Fisher Sanders (1895-1951); Leola Martha Sanders (1898-19890); Milford Jerald Sanders (1901-1964), and Stuart (1904-?).  He lived on at several places on Orcas Island from about 1905 to 1912, including the Reddig place near Eastsound, the C.W. Hammond place near Orcas, and Mr. Kirby’s Farm near Deer Harbor.  In 1920, the Sanders are listed as living in Bellingham (where they may have moved as early as 1913) with two sons, Milford and Stuart.  Working mainly as a carpenter and contractor, J.F. Sanders was employed for several years in the early 1900s with the Moran brothers at Newhall, Orcas Island.  Sanders built several barns and agricultural structures: Coughlan barn, San Juan Island (7/14/1906); Cement Reservoir for W.E. Sutherland, Orcas (on Van Moorhem Hill), Orcas Island (8/27/1909); Cement Water Tank for W.E. Sutherland, Orcas, Orcas Island (4/1/1910); and Mr. Graves barn, Orcas, Orcas Island (8/26/1910)

Edward A. Scribner (1865-1951).  Edward Almon Scriber was born on June 22, 1865 to James A. (1840-1923) and Carolyn O. Millett (1843-1923) Scribner in Otisfield, Maine.  Edward married Alice Yahbell Malcolm in (1868-1938) on February 22, 1886 in Saint Sault Marie, Michigan.  They had three children in Michigan: Cora Y. (1886-19??); Arthur A. (1889-1971); and Lewis Carlton (1890-1946).  The family moved to San Juan Island around 1891.  Six more children were born at Mitchell Bay: Medea Irene 1892-1965); James Alton (1894-1979); Edward Warren (1896-1940); George Franklin (1899-19??); Raymond Wesley (1900-19??); and Walter Orin (1902-19??).  The family moved to Friday Harbor around 1903, and three more children were born there: Leslie Albert (1904-1982); Vida Louise (1908-1910); and Alice Clara (1911-19??).  Ed Scribner was listed in the 1900 US Census as a “Carpenter,” and was known as a shipwright, in addition to working on several buildings.  He built several launches, including ones for Peter Kirk, S.M. Brugge, and Glen Tulloch.  He and his son Arthur built the barn at Mitchell Bay, San Juan Island, for the Kirk brothers (1/12/1912, p.8).

Van Bogaert (1864-1948). Edmond Van Bogaert [sometimes listed as “Bagart”] was born on January 22, 1864 in Heysdan, East Flanders, Belgium, to Joseph and Adele Van Bogaert.  He married Anne Eliza Hewitt (1851-1935) on July 13, 1888 in Montreal, Quebec, and emigrated to the United States in 1888 or 1890.  The couple had one child, Ruth (1894-?).  In the 1900 US Census van Bogaert is listed as a “Carpenter” residing on Orcas Island.  He was naturalized on October 9, 1909, in San Juan County, and was still on Orcas Island in 1910.  The 1920 and 1930 US Censuses, however, list his residence as Lopez Island, where he was a “stockkeeper” at a general store.  He died on August 31, 1948, in Bellingham, but is buried in the Union Cemetery on Lopez Island.  E. van Bogaert built the Capt. Backman barn, Shaw Island (12/10/1904) and Edmond Van Bogaert barn, Orcas Island? (12/17/1904).

W.R.B. Willcox (1869-1947).  Walter Ross Baumes Willcox was born in Vermont in 1869 and educated in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, and Drexel Institute.  He went into practice with William J. Sayward (1875-1945), and they moved to Seattle in 1907.  Sayward returned to the East Coast in 1912, and Willcox continued to practice in Washington State until he moved to Eugene, Oregon in 1922; he remained there until his death in 1947.  W.R.B. Willcox designed a barn in 1918 on Orcas Island for Jesse Waldrip, who, judging from the extensive 1916-1918 correspondence on the project, must have been a family relation or shared close friends.

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