Sand Island Farms & Timber
Sand Island Farm Life
By Robert J. Nelson
The practice to farm, lumber, along with operating an established fish camp on Sand Island started in the mid-1880’s with Frank Shaw at Shaw Point. Here he and wife Josephine Dutcher-Shaw located on the southeast sandpoint, about one mile from the mainland’s Little Sand Bay, and raised a large family year around on the island. Commercial fishing via pound nets was Shaw’s principle income source. For the root cellar and as a cash crop the family started a small orchard and raised a large garden with surplus strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, any vegetable not used fresh or in the canning process was sent to Bayfield and mainland markets on their private vessels. Frank Shaw’s son-in-law Solomon (Solly) Boutin’s Herring King tug or A. Booth & Sons fishery pick-up boats like the S.B. Barker, T.H. Camp, Helen and C.W. Turner also freighted additional produce.
Peter and Dorthea Hansen, an elder Fred and Agnetta Johnson-Hansen along with the Bert and Birgit Noreng family, the Herman and Hattie Hoagland-Johnson Sr. and Louis and Nana Moe families located their homestead’s gardens, and fish docks north of Shaw Point at East Bay, south of Justice Bay and 1.5 miles from the Sand Island Lighthouse. At this East Bay homestead site many a Sand Islander family planted their gardens and fields, raised their children, sent the offspring to the Sand Island School, mended their nets and fished gill nets through the ice from January through April. Playing cards with neighbors on the cold and windswept winter nights, dances, or reading the weekly news of America’s Doughboy soldiers fighting WWI & II antagonists in France served as activity fillers.
Sorry to report, this pure and wholesome lifestyle ended when the very last year-around residents departed the island forever in the fall of 1944.
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This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.