Community

Colby group looking to clean up cemetery

JoAnn Grant Lorden and Shirlee Toman, both great-grandchildren of Colby “founder” Joseph S. Grant Sr, stand in front of the bell that hung on Grant’s store for nearly 80 years. - Courtesy Photo
JoAnn Grant Lorden and Shirlee Toman, both great-grandchildren of Colby “founder” Joseph S. Grant Sr, stand in front of the bell that hung on Grant’s store for nearly 80 years.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Organizers said about 75 people celebrated the Fourth of July and the “former” town of Colby earlier this month at a picnic along Yukon Harbor.

Nearby resident and local history buff Russell Neyman said some of the details have yet to be hammered out, but the group — officially known as the Yukon Harbor Historical Society — has decided on some of the ways it will honor the past of their neighborhood.

The area where Neyman lives now is no longer called Colby and contains little evidence of the bustling logging town, but the former California resident and his neighbors are trying to change that by displaying a bell that used to hang on the store at the heart of the settlement.

According to Neyman, in 1885 Joseph Squire Grant Sr. moved to the town and became postmaster for a year before opening a general store. First called Grant & Son, the store later became Grant & Sons after Grant fathered two sons and a daughter.

As a way of communicating with the town full of loggers and farmers, Grant hung a 75-pound iron bell on the roof of his store and Neyman said the bell remained on top of the store long after the Mosquito Fleet stopped serving Colby in 1925 and the town began to wither while the nearby communities of South Colby and Harper grew.

In 1967, the building that housed Grant’s store was torn down, but just before Neyman said one of Grant’s great-grandsons retrieved its bell and took it home to Kansas.

Forty years later, JoAnn Grant Lorden, another great-grandchild of Grant Sr. and a cousin of the man who had the bell, contacted Neyman and helped pay to bring it back to South Kitsap.

Now that it has returned to what is left of Colby, the “Colby Bell” has a place of honor in Neyman’s front yard, but Lorden and others who attended the picnic July 4th are still working to give it a more permanent and perhaps grander home.

Neyman said the historical society, which he chairs, has decided what the monument will look like, but still has to work on where to put it.

In the meantime, the group has also decided to clean and spruce up the Colby Cemetery, which Neyman said will involve “locating and charting the unidentified grave sites, and generally honor the pioneers who rest there.

“We had about half a dozen descendants of Joseph Squire Grant Sr, in attendance (at the picnic), and a few tears were shed when they toured the old family houses and cemetery,” Neyman said.

However, he said the group doesn’t know who owns the property, and a search online did not reveal much. Neyman asked that anyone with information about the cemetery contact him at Russell.Neyman@yahoo.com.

For more information about the group, visit: http://yukonharbor.wordpress.com.

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