Pieces of Olalla’s past sought by local author

Local author Gregg Olsen, who previously chronicled one of the more infamous residents of Olalla, is currently turning his attention to some of the tamer aspects in the life of the community he calls home.

Doug Sacrison, a recent Western Washington University graduate, said he is working with Olsen to create a “historical account of the area through collected photographs.”

He said the book is being completed in conjuction with a publisher of local history books and will mostly be a compilation of photographs of the area.

To complete the project, Sacrison said Olsen is requesting help from the community.

“We are looking for any pictures or paraphernalia that area residents might have that would help chronicle Olalla’s early history,” he said, explaining that anyone with such items can contact him via e-mail at, or by phone at (360) 990-1040.

He added that they needed any materials by March 15, and that “100 percent of the proceeds for this book will go to the Kitsap History Museum in Bremerton.”

Along with other true-crime books, Olsen wrote “Starvation Heights,” which describes the murderous exploits of perhaps South Kitsap’s most notorious resident — Dr. Linda Hazzard.

According to Olsen’s Web site, Hazzard ran the Wilderness Heights Sanitarium in Olalla in the early 1900s, claiming that strict fasting, not drugs or surgery, were the way to health.

However, the fact that Hazzard was actually starving her patients to death came to light when two wealthy sisters from England, Claire and Dora Williamson, visited her sanitarium in 1911 — and only one came out alive.

While Dora was eventually rescued, Olsen’s book describes how Claire died after wasting away to only 50 pounds, with Hazzard then producing what she claimed was a will in which Claire signed over her fortune to the doctor. Next, she tried to declare her sister incompetent, thereby gaining control of all the Williamson’s money, but Dora realized the danger she was in and managed to escape.

Hazzard was eventually put on trial in Kitsap County for Claire Williamson’s death, and sent to the state penitentiary in February 1912. However, in 1920 she was released and returned to Olalla, soon building an even larger sanitarium.

Although little of the building remains in Olalla, many believe the site is still haunted.

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