Early Mercer Island Was a Haunted, Dangerous Place

Think the snow makes things tough? Our predecessors had to deal with a sinking Island, bears and murder. Read on:


Mercer Island Named for Supernatural Pioneer, 1860

Our island was named Mercer’s Island for Thomas Mercer, an early Seattle pioneer who often visited the Island. The Native Americans believed the Island was haunted and sank into the lake every night. Once Mercer spent the night on the Island, causing the natives who rowed him to and from to believe that he had supernatural powers.

This story is from historylink.org, an online encyclopedia of Northwest history. I love this site. It lets me indulge my addiction to Northwest history, despite blog stats that show that readers routinely pass over history-related posts.

What else happened on Mercer Island in the 19th century?

Man Kills Bear on Mercer Island, June 1873


Please report any bear sightings to mercerislandblogger@yahoo.com. Be sure to tell the police, too.

Mr. G. Proctor sighted a bear near his premises and gave chase. Not only did he kill the bear, he pursued it out into the Lake and dragged it back on shore.

Now THAT’S killing a bear. Full story by Greg Lange.

James Colman is Murdered Near Mercer Island, February 1886

This story of murder includes such evocative details as:

  • ” Suspicion falls on George Miller, whom Colman had accused of illegal land dealings.”
  • “The boat was beached on the west side of the island, directly opposite the Mathieson home in Seattle. Blood stained the wooden seats.”
  • “At the trial in Port Townsend, 9-year-old Alla Olds took the stand, but when the prosecuting attorney made her cry, she told her story to the judge instead.”
  • “For years, many on Mercer Island referred to the island’s southern end as Murder Point. The place where the boat was found became Deadman’s Bay.”

Alan J. Stein did a beautiful writeup on the murder and also brought us the story of the naming of Mercer’s Island. Stay warm & stay away from Deadman’s Bay.

Photo credit: Roy Mac, flickr (bear) and Canadian Elligirl, flickr (rowboat).


3 responses to “Early Mercer Island Was a Haunted, Dangerous Place

  1. Pingback: Creepy Sounds at Night « Surrounded By Water: A Mercer Island Blog

  2. Thanks for suggesting historylink.org. I had no idea the site existed! Have you ever looked into obituaries from the early 1900s/late 1800s? People were much more blunt back then.

  3. mercerislandblogger

    No, would love to hear more though! Got any links to share?

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