West Seattle Memories Part 2: Alki Point

  • By Alyssa Burrows
  • Posted 8/16/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3493
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This file contains contains H. Martin Smith's memories of West Seattle's Alki Point -- the lantern that stood in for a lighthouse before one was built -- and how as a child he played in the remains of Arthur Denny's cabin. It is an exerpt of an oral history interview conducted in 1999 by Sharon Boswell for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

Alki Point by H. Martin Smith Jr.

"Alki Point sticks out quite a ways in the water. When there was a dark night or a foggy day, the Hansens started taking a coal oil lantern out to the Point and hanging on something, a tree or whatever, so that the ships and people in the night going by would at least know that it was there. All the people got used to that, so everyday somebody from the family would go out and service the lantern, trim the wick, fill it with coal oil, or whatever. Eventually, the Coast Guard purchased the Point where the Lighthouse now stands, and paid my dad's uncle Ed Hansen, who was the only boy in the family, to keep it lit. The story goes that he conned my aunt into doing it for him most of the time.

"There were Indians that worked for my grandfather and my dad remembers some of them. My dad had a toolbox that was filled with old tools, carpentry tools which I have given to my oldest son. That toolbox came to him from an Indian lady with the Duwamish Indians. She had married an English ship-carpenter who had apparently jumped ship for some reason. My dad told me that there was a knock at the door one night and this Indian lady was standing there very much grief stricken. She had paddled herself up from ... somewhere down near Spokane Street to their house because the family were kind of friendly with her. She said, "he die, he die" ... and then she gave the tool box to my dad's family and he ended up owning it.

"When I was a little tiny kid, my dad would take me over to visit with my Aunt Linda who I told you about. The remains of a cabin were still there when I was little. I played in it. When I played in it, you couldn't tell where it was but the logs were still there rotting in the ground. Then my Aunt Linda would say 'You know you are in the Denny's cabin.' I didn't know who the Denny's were and they explained it to me that in its remaining latter years, it (what was left of the cabin) was a pig sty. I just know I can get within 50 feet of where it was."

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Sharon Boswell Interview of H. Martin Smith Jr., 1999. Oral History project conducted by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Transcript excerpts of these interviews were used in two Memory Book projects: West Seattle Memories: Alki (Seattle: Southwest Seattle Historical Society, 1999) and Memories of Southwest Seattle Businesses (Seattle: Southwest Seattle Historical Society, 1999); Excerpts are also available on a video produced by Valerie Vazza, BJ Bullert, and Sadis and Vaughn. All can be seen at the Log House Museum, 3003 61st Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98116. See Log House Museum in HistoryLink Museum Library, (www.historylink.org).

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