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South Whidbey Historical Society

"Weaving together the diverse historical experience"

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“A Tangled Web of History”


For over 100 years a collection of unknown artifacts, once kept in the home of a South Whidbey pioneer family, has been revealed. These artifacts, found in an attic by a descendant, presents a remarkable outline of an unknown chapter of Washington State history reaching far beyond the Pacific Northwest.


The South Whidbey Historical Society is seeking community involvement and funding to support a two-year research project based on the Miller-Brown collection. Current research efforts have already collected remarkable stories and findings.


Documents speak to the conservative undertow of morality, the emerging rights of women and challenges faced by racially blended households in a multi-generational environment. Set against the Progressive Era from the 1880’s to World War I, the parallels to the social condition of today are remarkable.


The artifacts tell the story of a wayward Portuguese Whaler who married a “royal” member of the Coast Salish Snohomish Tribe. Their story traces how a major tribal village on south Whidbey Island at Sandy Point, became an epicenter of maritime trade in the Puget Sound, a destination of Euro-American settlers and Summer homes of notable families.


Artifacts document in astonishing detail, the underbelly of political corruption and prostitution in Seattle and Puget Sound. They also follow regional and national investigations of “white slavery” in the trafficking of women as sex slaves.


The collection also documents the story of a partnership between a federal agent and a local civilian “Indian policeman” who conducted undercover investigations to suppress the illegal sale of liquor and opium on reservations throughout the Pacific Northwest.


Phase 1 funding will support research to leverage local, state, and federal archival resources. Descendant and community stories will supplement the record. Representatives from academia, historic and government agencies will guide the research. Field surveys will utilize the collection to document and map the cultural landscape of Snohomish and Euro-American sites on South Whidbey.


Join us on a journey of remarkable courage, heartbreaking loss and longing for healing of the moral condition.