POINT NO POINT — John Snider Maggs had lived in a lot of places.
He was born in Pennsylvania, mined and ranched in California, served as light keeper at Cape Flattery, served in the territorial legislature in Olympia, practiced dentistry in Seattle, farmed near Lake Union, and founded Seattle Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company, forerunner of today’s Vigor Industrial.
But it was Point No Point that held his interest from the day he made his home here in 1879 until he died 15 years later.
Maggs was the first keeper at Point No Point Light, moving into the two-story keeper’s duplex with his wife, Caroline; daughter, Helen, 3, and son, George, 1.
The Treaty of Point No Point was signed here 24 years earlier, and a new community was emerging.
The Maggses’ immediate neighbors were Assistant Keeper W.S. Rogers and his wife, Julia, who lived in the quarters next door in the duplex — on the side closest to the lighthouse — with their four-year-old son Frank. The lighthouse grounds and the beach likely resounded with the sounds of children playing — much like the millennia before and much like today.
All told, some 27 people lived in Hansville/Point No Point. According to the 1880 U.S. Census, the neighborhood’s residents included boatmen from Canada, Denmark and Massachusetts; farmers from England, Minnesota and New York; shingle makers from Denmark and New York; a carpenter from New York; a logger from Maine; and a machinist from England. Other children in the neighborhood were Emma and Anna Dawson, 11 and 9; and Edwin Wixon, 16, and his sisters, Suzie, 9, Almedia, 5, and Birdie, 5 months. There was still a Coast Salish presence here, and S’Klallam and Suquamish people continued to fish here.
In addition to food they grew themselves, the families supplemented their tables with salmon and shellfish; other goods were obtained by a visit to the mill town of Port Gamble and its well-provisioned general store.
The community shared in each other’s joys. On July 21, 1880, Caroline Maggs gave birth to daughter Mollie in a neighbor’s home. And the community shared in each other’s sorrows; on May 1, 1882, the Maggses’ oldest child, Helen, died of scarlet fever. She was 6.
John Maggs served as lighthouse keeper until 1884, returning to Seattle to dabble in land development. But before his retirement, he acquired 25 acres adjacent to the lighthouse grounds and built a cabin. The Maggses regularly visited Point No Point, lured by the sea air and the seabirds’ call and sweeping views of Admiralty Inlet.
The experience can now be yours.
The old cabin is gone, but a newly restored adjacent cottage — believed to have been built by Caroline Maggs after her husband died in 1894 — is now a guest rental managed by the U.S. Lighthouse Society. The cottage and former Maggs land is owned by Kitsap County and is part of Point No Point County Park. For several years, the Maggs cottage was a long-term rental, but this summer the county turned over management of the cottage to the lighthouse society.
It’s not editorializing to say that this is a special place.
The Treaty of Point No Point was signed here on Jan. 26, 1855; leaders of the S’Klallam, Twana and Chimakum peoples made land available for newcomers, and reserved for themselves and their descendants the right to fish, gather and hunt in their usual and accustomed areas.
Before that, this place was known as hahdskus, a village led by Tslakum, a Suquamish leader who also led two villages on Whidbey Island and was often consulted by Hudson’s Bay Co. for help transporting goods or enlisting indigenous workers, Suquamish Tribe historic preservation officer Dennis Lewarch said in an earlier interview. S’Klallam people also fished and camped here.
In the time of the grandparents’ grandparents, you would have seen big, hand-carved cedar canoes traveling to and from the homelands of the various Coast Salish nations. You might have attended a potlatch at d’gwad’wk, on the east side of Cultus Bay; or at tseht-skluhks, at Sandy Point east of the present town of Langley. You would have heard many languages spoken here: Chemakum, S’Klallam, Twana … Lushootseed, Twulshootseed, Whulshootseed.
(Stay or visit here at the right time in July or August, and you’ll see Coast Salish canoes pass by here during the Canoe Journey, that great gathering of Northwest indigenous nations. And potlatches, that great system of gifting and wealth redistribution, still take place in longhouses in the region.)
Point No Point was identified by the U.S. as a potential lighthouse site in 1872; the U.S. acquired the land from settlers in 1879 and construction of the light station began that year. Over the ensuing decades, a succession of families called the light station home.
Maggs died on April 8, 1894. Caroline Maggs is believed to have built the 776-square-foot cottage adjacent to the lighthouse grounds after her husband’s death; the exact year is not clear.
Caroline Maggs died on March 4, 1911. Mollie Fisher and Marshall Maggs, John and Caroline’s children, reportedly owned the property until the early 1950s, when they sold it to Anthony and Jean Catania, owner of a tavern supply business in Seattle. They died in 1998 and their daughter, Terri, sold the cottage and land to Kitsap County in 2000.
The Catanias’ son, Anthony, who lives part time at Point No Point, said the Point is like “a vacuum. There is no noise, just the rushing of waves on the beach. The people who live here have longevity. I don’t know if it’s the salt air, but their lifespan is a lot longer.”
The cottage has uninterrupted views of Whidbey Island and Admiralty Inlet. On this day, it’s misty and quiet but for the music from the wetland behind the cottage: The call of an eagle, the squawk of a heron, song birds singing, and the mewing of gulls. The point and its surrounding uplands “are a spring migration funnel for landbirds, with more than 230 species recorded in the area,” the Kitsap Audubon Society reports.
Cassandra Rowland is member of the staff of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, manages the Maggs House and assisted in its restoration.
There are no Maggs-period furnishings, but the layout of the home is unchanged and the front door hardware — including the speakeasy door grill — is original. The home is tastefully appointed in furnishings from the 1940s and earlier; a coffee table features Mission-style design and inlays. The bathroom is tiled, and the adjacent bedroom is light and white and airy. You can lie in bed and watch the marsh life.
“I love the view. It’s a gorgeous view and you can see all the life that comes out here,” Rowland said. “It’s a very cute, nice cottage, very homey. I’m hoping that guests enjoy their stay and immerse themselves in this place and don’t spend their entire time in the house. They should explore the beach and the lighthouse and think about the families and the children that lived here.”
Jerry Rowland, Cassandra’s grandfather, is a U.S. Lighthouse Society volunteer, retired Navy senior chief petty officer, and recently retired manager of the Port of Brownsville. He has visited lighthouses around the world and loves Point No Point for the story it tells and its continued importance to marine navigation in Puget Sound. “I hope visitors sense the history of this place and the importance of lighthouses in the history of the U.S. and the world.”
Shelley Douglas, president of Friends of Point No Point, elaborated.
“What I hope they take with them is the importance of aids to navigation from 1879 to today, that they take away why aids to navigation were needed. They can get their heads out of the modern [day] and think back to the sailing ships, when the lighthouse people started coming into this area. We still need those aids to navigation. You can have your GPS, but if something happens, you best have a compass and a chart and the lighthouses will guide you in.”
That’s what you get with a stay at the Maggs House — beaches, birdsong, sea air, sweeping views, and a sense of history. Oh, and perhaps one more thing. Cassandra Rowland said, ”Guests have told me, ‘I had a wonderful night’s sleep.’”
Maggs House: 8997 NE Point No Point Road, Hansville. 415-362-7255. Email email@example.com. The U.S. Lighthouse Society is headquartered in the Point No Point Keepers Quarters duplex, and manages one half of the duplex as a guest rental. Info: www.uslhs.org/about/society-headquarters.
— Richard Walker is managing editor of Kitsap News Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.