Orcas Island Historical Museum and Woodlawn Cemetery, Eastsound, Washington

For our fifth wedding anniversary, we went to a B&B on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. We practically had the islands to ourselves, since it was the Thanksgiving weekend – and pouring! The inn where we stayed was also a working farm with a lovely view of Turtleback Mountain, and was located along the historic Crow Valley. As we drove to the inn, we passed a tiny old schoolhouse called the Crow Valley School with a sign for the Orcas Island Historical Museum. My wonderful husband, who had a list of some must-dos for the trip such as ocean kayaking (which torrential rainstorms the entire weekend prevented), hiking on Mt. Constitution, walking along the beaches, exploring Massacre Bay with Victim Island and Skull Island (all of which we did!) – he looked up as we drove by and said “looks like we are adding the historical museum to the list!”. He knows me well!

After various adventuring, we walked around downtown Eastsound and visited the main branch of the Orcas Island Historical Museum, an old log cabin with an addition built on. There we met a very helpful volunteer who told us about some of the exhibits and history of the Island. I had done a little research on the Native American history of the island and had a number of questions. She recommended reading Native American Wives of San Juan Settlers, a book researched by a local genealogist, which documented some of the complicated history of the islands, which were granted for white settlement in the latter half of the 19th century, after the local Native American Lummi tribe who lived or summered on the islands were placed onto a reservation after the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott (In 1858, a group of Haida raided a small group of Lummi who had left the reservation and were fishing off Orcas Island. The bodies of the murdered Lummi were left behind, and upon their later discovery by white settlers of the island gained the names “Massacre Bay”, “Skull Island” and “Victim Island”). When we mentioned that our inn was next to the Crow Valley School, she mentioned that the Historical Society had recently acquired it and she would be happy to drive out there the next day to open it up for us and give us a personal tour. Unfortunately, we had a ferry to catch back to the mainland the next day, so we missed the chance. But we learned a few interesting facts, such as the Pleasant Valley School (later called Crow Valley School) was built on an acre of land donated by settler Peter Frechette.The one-room school had as many as 47 students enrolled, 27 average in attendance. The school closed in 1918 and later became a community building.

Driving around the island, we came across Woodlawn Cemetery and stopped to take some photographs. Woodlawn Cemetery was established in 1891 and was first called the Methodist Episcopal Cemetery. In 1908 it was renamed Woodlawn Cemetery.

The cemetery is across the road from a dairy farm, and we explored the cemetery with quite a few bovine friends looking on.

Cows across the road from Woodlawn Cemetery, Orcas Island, Washington, with Turtleback Mountain in the background.
Interested bovine across from Woodlawn Cemetery, Orcas Island

W.R. Weddle (d. 1906) had a monument with a good solid handshake:

W. R. Weddle Gravestone (1906) Woodlawn Cemetery, Orcas Island

And Barbara Hambly (d. 1900) lies in pastoral peace:

Barbara Hambly Gravestone (1900), Woodlawn Cemetery, Orcas Island

Transcriptions of the all the epitaphs at Woodlawn Cemetery are available through the Washington State Digital Archives and USGenWeb.

One thought on “Orcas Island Historical Museum and Woodlawn Cemetery, Eastsound, Washington

  1. Hi there,
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