William Bremer (born 1863)
William Bremer, born in Germany, moved to Seattle first.
But it was Bremerton, the city across Puget Sound, to which Bremer "gave his name and his fortune and all of this thought and energy," according to Leonard Garfield, director of Seattle's Museum of History and Industry.
Around 1890, Bremer learned that the U.S. government was scouting land on the west side of Puget Sound as a site for a Naval shipyard. Bremer was just one of a number of speculators who tried to cash in on the opportunity, "but he ended up by far being the most successful," Garfield said.
Bremer had a banking background and a brother-in-law who'd made money as a jeweler, so "he just went over there with a pretty hefty checkbook, figures out where the Naval station might be, and buys up everybody's property."
Bremer didn't just have a chunk of land, though.
He had a vision for a town. Bremer saw shipyard workers would need food, and shelter, and places to congregate. So he platted the land, named it Bremerton, and began dreaming of what it would be. "He thought that there would be a metropolis on the other side of the sound. And it would all revolve around this enormous federal investment," Garfield said.
The town did grow, but not necessarily how Bremer imagined. One thing Bremer didn't seem to anticipate, says Garfield, is that the Navy would bring not just renters and customers, but also drinkers and brawlers. "He was probably overly optimistic that it would be a normal apple pie American city," Garfield said.
Bremer himself never moved to Bremerton. He lived with his family in Seattle until his death in 1910 at the age of 47.
"A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of the City of
Seattle and County of King, Washington." New York and Chicago: Lewis Publishing
Co., 1903. p. 278.
So composite is the social fabric of our republic that we can as yet
scarcely be said to have developed a national type, and among the many elements
that have entered into the makeup of our populace there is none which has been
of more vital and valuable order than the German, from which America has had
much to gain and nothing to lose. From the great German empire have come many
of our most progressive citizens, men of sterling worth of character and endowed
with that pragmatic ability which has promoted advancement along all lines of
material industry and has ever stood for social stability. Among the
representative young men of German birth who have attained distinction in
connection with the industrial life of the state of Washington is Mr. Bremer,
who has maintained his home in the Puget Sound district for the past fourteen
years and who has attained marked precedence as an able and enterprising
business man, one who has contributed in no small degree to the work of
development and improvement through legitimate lines of endeavor. He is well
deserving of representation in this publication as one of that progressive type
of men who have made the Evergreen state what it is to-day. He is the owner of
the town site of Bremerton, was one of the founders of the village of Sidney and
through his real-estate operations and well directed enterprise has done much to
forward the material development of this section of the state, maintaining his
home and business headquarters in the city of Seattle, where he commands
unequivocal confidence and esteem.
William Bremer was born in the town of Seesen, duchy of Brunswick, Germany,
on the 12th of June, 1863, being a son of Edward and Matilda (Mader) Bremer,
representatives of stanch old families of the German fatherland. Edward Bremer
was a man of prominence in his locality, having been engaged in the banking
business and having attained considerable wealth and exercised notable influence
in local affairs. He passed his entire life in his native land. He and his
wife became the parents of eight children, of whom the subject of this review
was the fifth in order of birth. He received his educational discipline in his
native land, having completed a course in the Jacobson Institute, at Seesen,
the same being an institution of more than national reputation. In his youth
Mr. Bremer became identified with the banking business, which he learned in all
its details, this training having proved of inestimable value to him in his
subsequent business career. After serving what may be termed as apprenticeship
in a banking house in his native town he went to the city of Hamburg, where he
was identified with a similar line of enterprise for a period of two years.
When in his twentieth year Mr. Bremer bade adieu to home and native land and
came to America, whither his elder brother, Charles E., had preceded him, being
now a prominent capitalist and business man of Aberdeen, South Dakota. Our
subject passed about one year in Minnesota and the following three years were
spent in South Dakota. When but twenty-one years of age he was appointed state
agent for the Jon Gund Brewing Company, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and was
incumbent of this responsible position for a term of two years, and since that
time he has never worked on salary, having attained a position of independence
and conducted operations on his own responsibility, a fact that is significant,
as indicatory of his exceptional business and executive ability, and the more
notable by reason of the circumstance that when he came to the United States he
had but slight knowledge of the English language. He was for a year engaged in
agricultural operations in South Dakota, and at the expiration of that period,
in January, 1888, he came to Washington. Here, associated with three others, he
purchased the land upon which the town of Sidney, Kitsap county, is now located,
and they became the founders of the town, platting the same and placing the lots
upon the market. The village is now in a prosperous and thriving condition and
its further advancement is assured. It should be noted in this connection that
Mr. Bremer has bought and sold land in nearly every section of Kitsap county,
being one of the prime factors in its development and his straightforward and
honorable course is shown by the fact that he has never been compelled to enter
into litigation with any person to whom he thus sold property. Ever since his
arrival in Washington Mr. Bremer's principal field of business operations has
been in Kitsap county, which is one the western shore of the Sound, and he has
been conspicuously identified with the development of its resources, the
building up of its towns and the advancing of its material interests. It is a
recognized fact that in his real-estate transactions in that county he had done
more business than that representing the aggregate of all other operators in
this line, and he is well entitled to the distinction of being designated as one
of the founders and builders of that section of our great commonwealth, while
the statement made affords an idea of the great scope and importance of his
work. In 1891 Mr. Bremer platted the town of Bremerton, in the county
mentioned, and through his energy, discrimination and far-sighted policy the
development of this attractive village was brought about, while the town has as
assuredly bright future before it, since he continued to be actively identified
with its interests. At that point he sold to the federal government eighty-six
acres of land at a sacrifice to himself of fifty dollars an acre, in order to
insure the location of the naval station there, thus indicating his public
spirit and showing his confidence that the future would justify his course, for
a more eligible location for the navy yard on Puget Sound could not be found,
and while he lost forty-three hundred dollars on the immediate transaction he
firmly believed that his action was politic from a personal as well as general
standpoint, and time is proving the wisdom of his attitude. This station has
the only dry dock on the Pacific coast that will accommodate the largest type of
war vessels, and the significance of this statement can not fail of appreciation
even at a cursory glance. Mr. Bremer has not only thus brought about the
development of town property, but he has also been extensively engaged in the
handling of farming and timber lands in the county, usually buying the property
outright and then placing it upon the market, while in numerous instances he has
made valuable improvements before selling. He passes Wednesday and Saturday of
each week in Bremerton, but maintains his home in the city of Seattle and has
his office headquarters in the Bailey building, suite 404. In politics Mr.
Bremer gives a stanch support to the Republican party, but he has never had
personal ambition in a political way and has taken no active part in public
affairs of this nature. His success has been of pronounced type and he is known
as one of the representative young business men of the state, in whose future
and greater precedence he has the utmost confidence, while a more loyal and
enthusiastic citizen of the commonwealth cannot be found.
On the 25th of March, 1891, in the city of Seattle, was solemnized the
marriage of Mr. Bremer to Miss Sophia Hensel, who was born in Portage,
Wisconsin, a daughter of William Hensel, a well known business man of Seattle,
and of this union three children have been born, namely: Matilda, William and
BREMERTON CENTENNIAL 1901-2001: William Bremer's Lively Town
Sun | Local
Story by John Wallingford, Sun Staff — Mar 18th, 2001
West Sound hub's origins through 1913
William Bremer died in 1910 at the age of 47. He has been remembered as a benevolent town squire. The city bears his name.
Ambrose Barkely Wyckoff died 12 years later at the age of 74. He is credited by some as saving the Puget Sound Navy Yard. A street -- Wycoff Avenue -- is named for him.
How the western shores of Puget Sound became home to a Navy yard and rollicking young city
In autumn of 1864, a pessimistic Abraham Lincoln labored to keep a war-weary union on course while fighting off a presidential challenge from George McClellan, his onetime top general.
A callow lad named Ambrose Barkley Wyckoff left his family's Illinois farm for the U.S. Naval Academy.
When he arrived at Newport, R.I., he failed his entrance exam, then failed a second try. There was, however, a persistence in his bearing that led academy officers to grant him admission.
At 16, Wyckoff entered the academy as a rangy 6-footer with blue-gray eyes that seemed to smile perpetually. His down-home mannerisms, which inspired fellow midshipmen to dub him "Country," was trumped by an irrepressible will.
He remained an individual among the middie collective, his refusal to study on the Sabbath withstanding the mirthful jibes of his fellow plebes. Longing for the pastoral comforts of home, Wyckoff fought depression by dispatching a veritable library of letters to Jerseyville.
His determination enabled him to overcome ignorance, a severely broken ankle and a bout with pneumonia to graduate with his class.
On June 12, 1868 - William Bremer's fifth birthday - Wyckoff wrote his mother from Sandy Hook, N.Y, where he was aboard USS Savannah on a post-graduation practice cruise. His words foreshadowed a physical vulnerability that would hound him the rest of his days:
"I have been sick ever since leaving the Capes and consequently have had little enjoyment. All the way up I have been ruminating how I can leave the service I am evidently unfitted for in many ways. To stay in the service, I do not think I would live beyond a few years, at least not long enough to gratify my ambition by attaining a very exalted position. Now if I cannot make a mark in history, there is no use making my whole life miserable."
Wyckoff made an abortive step toward a more "congenial" profession, but was dissuaded from entering divinity school by Navy Secretary Gideon Welles. As he predicted, his health proved a continuous source of distress, but he soldiered on nonetheless.
In 1876, with Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden engaged in a tumultuous presidential election, Wyckoff was assigned to the U.S Coast Survey team in California. In 1877, the 29-year-old junior officer joined the survey team in Seattle, and 18 months hence was in charge of charting Puget Sound waters. It was during that work that Lt. Wyckoff was stricken with the bug that defined his career.
He soon earned the sobriquet - derisively used by his opponents in Congress - as "that Puget Sounder."
For he bent the ear of anyone who would listen, including Richard W. Thompson, then secretary of the Navy, on the unsurpassable advantages of Puget Sound vis-a-vis a future Naval base.
The Influence of Sea Power
In 1890, the year pitcher Cy Young earned the first of his 511 victories, Alfred Thayer Mahan published "The Influence of Sea Power upon History." Mahan argued that national prosperity resulted from naval power, and his book quickly became the standard work on the subject, spreading the author's fame across the Atlantic and into the war colleges of Europe.
For an America intent upon flexing its muscles, Mahan's book sounded an alarm to expand a ramshackle Navy. And toward that end, a major installation on the west coast was a practical inevitability.
A decade after Wyckoff started lobbying for a Pacific Coast base, the Navy dispatched a three-man commission, headed by Capt. Mahan, to the Northwest in late 1888. The commission explored the Northwest for five weeks, examining sites on the Pacific Coast, Alaska, the San Juan Islands, the straits of Juan de Fuca, Lake Washington and Puget Sound. The latter was deemed the best prospect, and Point Turner, the future site of PSNS, was selected as the top site in the Sound.
"It is the citadel of Puget Sound," Mahan wrote, adding that if the east side of the Sound was more advantageous in a business sense, the western shores were "greatly and decisively superior" from every other perspective. Its defensive attributes were unparalleled.
Despite bitter opposition from eastern legislators, Washington Senator John B. Allen, spurred by Wyckoff, won an appropriation of $10,000 to purchase Puget Sound land for a Navy dry dock in 1891.
William, or "Mr." Bremer, as most people who did business in his town addressed him, was born in the foothills in what was then the tiny Duchy of Brunswick.
He entered banking - his father's profession - before crossed the Atlantic and landing at Ellis Island in 1882.
The tradition says Bremer trekked across the country to join his brother, Charles, at Aberdeen, S.D., where he sold farm implements. Younger brothers Adolph and Otto joined them later, ultimately leaving for St. Paul, Minn.
The view of family patriarch Edward Bremer as a prosperous banker is bolstered by the acumen of his sons. Besides William's real estate triumphs, Otto built a banking empire in the upper Midwest. He created the Otto Bremer Foundation, a philanthropy that lives today. Adolph Bremer married into Jacob Schmidt's brewing empire, rising to vice president.
At 22, William met Sophia Hensel, the 12-year-old daughter of German immigrants. When the Hensels moved to Seattle, Bremer followed. Besides taking a shine to Sophia, William apparently hit it off with Hensel boys Louis, William and Henry, the latter a successful jeweler and the source of the capital that would underwrite the birth of Bremerton.
Bremer and the Hensels, historian Fredi Perry says, sailed the waters of Puget Sound, hiked the unspoiled Kitsap terrain and set up camp in the wild. A favorite spot was the beach the Bremerton Transportation Center now occupies.
By 1889, when it became apparent the Navy was coming, Bremer and Henry Hensel worked to tie up land around West Sound. They got options on land from Sidney to Silverdale to Charleston. When the Navy finally hit upon on a spot, Bremer was ready.
In the Kitsap County Pioneer of Feb. 13, 1890, readers saw the usual boasts of patent medicines such as DuJardin's Life Essence, which promised a "permanent cure for all derangements," right up to and including "Noises in the head and Ears." Readers also found Bremer's advertisement alerting buyers and sellers that he'd be in Sidney on "Saturday of each and every week to look after my business."
The deal goes down
A key figure in the evolution of Bremerton was the mysterious Andrew Williams, who in the 1870s had homesteaded 168 acres of untamed ground now framed by Sixth and High streets and stretching south and west to the shoreline. In February 1891, Henry Hensel made Williams a rich man, buying his whole stake for nearly $200 an acre and paving the way for downtown Bremerton.
Seven months hence, Wyckoff was in town with a mandate to buy 200 acres of land for a dry dock. Some spirited dickering sent him north for flirtation with landowners on Dogfish Bay, but Bremer galvanized a motley collection of owners around Point Turner, convincing them of the wisdom of selling their land for $50 an acre.
Bremer himself owned just 5 acres of the eventual 190 1/4-acre parcel; Hensel owned 81; Charleston pioneer Robert Jertson had 43; Bernth Olsen 21; and 40 belonged to William Sayward and Arthur Scrivener.
The speculative scramble was on as towns were platted and lots peddled. Tracyton, named for Navy Secretary Benjamin F. Tracy, was billed as "the New Navy Yard Town." Town site president Charles H. Kittinger promised the streets were graded and the sawmill was producing 35,000 feet of lumber daily.
Across Dyes Inlet, Benjamin Sparks and Ole Johnson of the Chico company were attempting to cash in on their land "one and a half miles from the land bonded by the Naval Commissioners." They touted pristine freshwater streams, a new post office and two Seattle-bound steamers each day.
The Grace departed Chico at 6:45 a.m. daily and made stops at Silverdale, Tracyton, Sackman, Sidney, Mitchell, Brickyard, Nibbeville, Sylvan Grove, Brooklyn and Colby before arriving in Seattle four hours and 15 minutes later. None of the amenities of Chico, Tracyton or Charleston (which was incorporated as Port Orchard in 1893) could compete with Bremer's embryonic site. He had a hammerlock on the new station, or dry dock, which was the official designation. He said as much in the Sidney Independent in 1892:
"Bremerton lies around the actual dry dock, etc., in such a way as to shut out every competitor. In other words, the farthest lot in Bremerton is nearer to the United States dry dock ... than the nearest lot in any other town or addition."
He advertised residential lots for $50 and business lots for $150, promising reasonable terms. Herbert W. "Josh" Linsley purchased the first plot and became Bremerton's first postmaster in 1892, followed by Civil War hero and downtown businessman John Nibbe in 1898.
Bremer married Sophia Hensel on March 25, 1891. Their first child, Matilda, was born in May 1892. Two boys followed, William John in 1893 and Edward in 1900.
The family summered at Waterman before 1908, when they bought 40 acres at Enetai Beach. They stayed there until 1920, eventually selling the house to Tacoma lumber magnate Ben Cheney.
The Early Years
By the time Wyckoff first saw Puget Sound, Bremerton had seen an intermittent infusion of Euro-American settlers. Charles Wilkes first surveyed the area in 1841, leaving behind names such as Sinclair Inlet, Dyes Inlet and Point Turner. In 1854, Capt. William Renton moved his Alki Point sawmill to the waterfront stretch then known as Port Orchard (today Enetai, on the Manette peninsula). A boiler exploded in 1857, costing Renton sight in one eye. He would sell out and move his business to Port Blakely, and the mill at Enetai eventually burned down.
Warren Smith, namesake of Warren Avenue, and brother Sheldon were prominent early settlers. The original Smith homestead is now occupied by Olympic College, and their land encompassed most of the waterfront between the bridges, including what's now Evergreen Park.
Of course, Native Americans had been present in the area for more than a millennium. The Suquamish tribe had an outpost near what's now the east end of the Manette Bridge, and in 1999, construction workers stumbled on human remains at Evergreen Park. An anthropological firm estimated that native use of the area dates 1,300 years.
Times of trouble
Bremerton and the Navy Yard suffered through the first decade together while Charleston, and even Manette, boomed by comparison. The dry dock, constructed by Byron Barlow & Co., was completed April 23, 1896, and USS Monterey was allowed to dock. The early highlight was the overhaul of the battleship Oregon before its dash around the Cape Horn en route to combat in the Spanish-American War.
Whatever glory was reaped was forgotten in 1899, when Adm. Mordecai Endicott, the Navy's chief of yards and docks, condemned the yard with faint praise, saying that it possessed none of the "desiderata" of a major base and that a better site should be found.
Wyckoff fought back, rallying the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. By 1901, Congress voted to appropriate more than $1.5 million to the Puget Sound Navy Yard.
With the yard suffering neglect and the country in the grip of a depression, Bremerton was anything but booming in the 1890s, when the site of the neighboring installation was commonly referred to as Port Orchard.
By September 1901, with William Turnbull Burwell in charge of the Yard, the streets of Bremerton were littered with lumber and other building materials as businesses sprouted feverishly.
Charleston established a post office in 1901, with Louis A. Bender as postmaster. Bender owned a saw mill on Point Herron in Manette, then known as Decatur, moving it across the Port Washington Narrows to Smith Cove in 1901. When a law was passed prohibiting the dumping of refuse in waters around Bremerton, Bender installed a generator to burn his trash, then sold the resultant electricity, the area's first power plant.
A Lively Town
In official terms, Bremerton became more than a stump-strewn wilderness Dec. 10, 1891, when its namesake founder platted the site. Less than a year later, the Sidney Independent lauded Bremer's peerless ability "to build a lively town."
Apparently, editor W.L. Wheeler knew of what he spoke. Because in another decade, Bremerton's vivacity would become a cause celebre and glower threateningly over the town's future.
Two months before Bremerton incorporated Oct. 1, 1901, a roving columnist from the weekly Seattle Herald & Mail sampled local offerings and returned the verdict that the Navy burg "furnishes all the facilities for a wide-open town."
On Aug. 3, the writer toured the town's nighttime haunts, including a new saloon at Evergreen Park that was illuminated by electricity. Bremerton, in the writer's view, was "full of frolic. People are doing business in shacks, and tents or anything just to get at the trade." Mostly what transfixed the author were Bremerton's colorful array of soon to be notorious saloons.
"They come to rally around its freedom loving stripes in early evening and stay by it till the dawn, when they are carried away to their ships by comrades whose battle-scarred stomachs will not hold enough liquor ... to make their heads dizzy. ... If this naval station ever becomes a success, it will be indebted to the army of intrepid bar tenders," he wrote.
Late in 1902, the 1-year-old city reeled when Charles H. Darling, acting secretary of the Navy, threatened to place the Navy Yard off limits to America's ships until Bremerton refined its morals. The Dec. 30 edition of the Seattle Times said Navy's plans to "adopt heroic measures to protect the enlisted men ... from the evil influences which exist at Bremerton. ... Gambling resorts and disorderly houses ... flourish just outside the yard. ... There are 'big-mitt' games running in Bremerton that hardly would have been allowed in Seattle's wildest days. Saloons are everywhere, bawdy houses of the lowest class thrive in large numbers."
On Jan. 3, 1903, the Bremerton News devoted its front page to a defense of the city and a scathing critique of the Times. Editors Charles and Edgar Gale articulated astonishment that their "quiet, orderly town" had fallen victim to an unjust portrayal from the "fertile brain of the local editor of the paper that would've put to blush the greatest writer of fiction the world has ever known."
Council, mayor battle
For the next six months, Bremerton's five city councilmen banged heads with youthful Mayor Alvyn Littler Croxton in search of a solution that would appease the Navy and, at least three of them hoped, keep the booze flowing out and the cash rolling in along Front Street.
City Ordinance No. 58 passed Feb. 2, 1903, outlawing saloons on Front (now Washington) Street on Nov. 1.
The Navy was first satisfied, then fit to be tied when the "whiskey" faction of the council conspired to repeal the ordinance. That faction included future county commissioner and pioneering auto dealer A.G. Benbennick, Thomas Driscoll, a former Buffalo, N.Y., policeman who rented Front Street property to saloon keepers, and Navy Saloon owner Charles Dietz.
Mayor Croxton pushed through an ordinance causing all liquor licenses to expire April 1, but the whiskey triumvirate got around that by automatically extending permits to April 1, 1904.
The game dragged on into the spring, and by May 2 even the Gale brothers had lost patience, and the News turned its disgust on the city fathers, accusing them of jeopardizing Bremerton's economic future.
The story provided continuous fodder for Seattle newspapers. On May 30, the Seattle Herald & Mail opined that "the sins of the little town of Bremerton have found it out," adding that the town was "drunk with saloons - 16 saloons for 1200 inhabitants."
Finally, on June 6, the whiskey coalition broke. The top story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on June 7 told the good news with a large headline trumpeting "BREMERTON IS PURGED OF OFFENDING SALOONS."
A 'model town'
The saloonkeepers saw their licenses expire June 8, 1903. Among the affected entrepreneurs was William Moffett, a native Canadian who ran the Log Cabin Saloon at Front and Pacific, an area now inside the shipyard gate. Moffett sold the usual array of liquors, wines, beers and cigars, making a specialty of whiskeys such as Jefferson Club and Mt. Vernon Rye.
Also out of luck, at least temporarily, was Dietz, who had opened the United States Dry Dock Hotel in Charleston in 1893. A German immigrant, Dietz had moved on to the bustling town to the east, building the Dietz Hotel and operating his saloon.
But the town's residents had spoken, and the P-I announced that the kingdom was at hand, promising that "Bremerton will be in a class by itself as a model town, from a moral standpoint, adjacent to a navy yard."
The threat had ended, but Bremerton would see its reputation as a hotbed of vice resurrected again and again. There is good indication the good times were rolling again in March 1906, when Jack Smith's Louvre Saloon burned to the ground - while hosting the volunteer fireman's ball.
A.D. Humble, a teenage firefighter who would become the town's first fire chief, shared his memories with The Sun in 1951.
"The saloon burned down," Humble said, "but we did manage to save most of the whiskey."
By 1910, according to the reminiscences of former Mayor Jack McGillivray, Bremerton was again "a real wide-open town." McGillivray, who ran a blacksmith shop on Second Street before being elected mayor, told The Sun that Bremerton circa 1910 "was as tough a place as you could find on the Pacific Coast."
McGillivray, elected mayor twice more in the 1930s after serving two terms as county commissioner, said most of the offenders were refugees from "Soapy Skagway's Gang."
The mayor went to town wielding a sledgehammer.
"The first place we hit was a gambling house run by a fellow named Bulldog Kelly. I knocked on the door and he opened a sliding panel and peaked out at us. When he saw who it was, he told us he was running according to the law. ... I patted the sledgehammer and told him as far as he was concerned, it was the law."
Alas, as with Croxton's attempts, McGillivray's sledgehammer reform lacked the power to stem downtown's good-time tide. The year 1913, local historian B.E. Schureman reported, was a "heyday for crime, graft and immoral enterprises."
By 1913, the year the Navy Yard's second dry dock was completed, William Bremer was dead, and Ambrose Wyckoff was living a painful existence in Ontario, Calif.
Bremer died at 47 Dec. 28, 1910. He languished in bed three weeks before dying of a mysterious illness.
He has been remembered as a benevolent town squire. He donated property, like that at Fourth and Front in 1893 for Bremerton's first church. He donated two lots for Our Lady Star of the Sea. And in 1892, he built a wharf at the foot of Second Street near his former camping grounds.
Wyckoff, who lived upon the rotten old sealer Yukon as first commandant of the Navy Yard, realized his dream Sept. 16, 1891.
His 43-year-old joints aching with the rheumatism, he watched his daughter, Selah, hoist the American flag up a denuded fir tree on the grounds of the future dry dock.
Wyckoff's infirmities soon made a career in the Navy untenable, and James C. Morong relieved him as commandant Jan. 10, 1893.
"So while I eventually saw my cherished project of a naval station on Puget Sound started, it proved the means of my own undoing and prevented my reaching the high rank which is every naval officer's ambition," Wyckoff wrote in a 1901 article in Washington Historian.
After being retired in July 1893, Wyckoff visited home and made his way to Chicago for the Columbian Exposition. A.L. Croxton, who would come to Bremerton in 1899 as the Navy Yard's chief electrician, headed Standard Electric Co.'s exhibit.
After finishing nearly a decade as head of the Navy's Branch Hydrographic office in Port Townsend, Wyckoff returned to Puget Sound from time to time to rally support for the Navy Yard. He eventually toured the site with U.S. House Speaker Joe Cannon, who paved the way for the building of the second dry dock. Some say Wyckoff, who wrote the amendment that gave rise to the Lake Washington Canal, actually saved the yard.
As he foresaw at the age of 20, he paid a dear price for his dream. A year after Bremer's death, on Dec. 30, 1911, Wyckoff wrote to his old pal Terrell:
"My health is such that the use of a pen is a painful effort. I feel very grateful to the people of Charleston for having named one of the principal streets after me ..." Alas, the street a block west of Callow that bears his name is spelled incorrectly as, "Wycoff."
His life stretched on much longer than he had anticipated. He remarried in 1902 and fathered two more children.
With America's involvement in World War I growing probable in the spring of 1915, Wyckoff angled for a role. He petitioned the Navy again and again, to no avail.
He died on Memorial Day in 1922, and the Ontario Daily Report offered this chronicle of the death of "That Puget Sounder":
"Just after the G.A.R. and the Legion Memorial Day parade had passed his home, and he heard the muffled drums' last beat, he said, 'There they go now' " ...
- Information for this story was compiled from records at the Kitsap County Historical Society. In addition, local historians Fredi Perry and Russell Warren graciously shared their knowledge.
Bremer's little city became Bremer's big city almost too easily. The shipyard created an automatic. long-lasting source of people and revenue. Later, during the boom years of World War ll, the shipyard workforce would balloon to 32,500, and the city population to 80,000.
Under those conditions, Bremerton was destined to prosper - with or without its founder's uncanny business sense.
His family proved it after Bremer's unexpected death In 1910.
William Bremer' passing remains largely unexplained. The story Is that be bad taken ill, and that his wife administered a prescription from pharmacist.
It ls said the prescription was mislabeled, and that the medicine poisoned the 47-year-old land baron. William's younger son, Ed, was only 10 years old at the time, but he would remember It until his own death.
Ed, In his final years of reminiscence, would tell bis nurses that Sophia Bremer had had the killer medicine bottle analyzed, finding that t contained a poison, such as cyanide. Mrs. Bremer had considered suing the pharmacist, Ed recalled. But sh decided not to.
Ed, If he knew, never said why
In the early 1900s (1900 - 1905, maybe later), Bremer was doing business out of The Bailey Building in Seattle
Address - 619 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104