First Council meeting of newly incorporated Poulsbo is held on January 7, 1908.

  • By Jennifer Ott
  • Posted 11/05/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8362

On January 7, 1908, the first council meeting of the newly incorporated Poulsbo, located in Kitsap County, is convened. Poulsbo residents voted to incorporate (all but two in favor) on December 3, 1907. Founded in 1883, Poulsbo is a bustling little town, benefiting from its central location in north Kitsap County. The election votes in Andrew Moe (1866-1951) as the first mayor, L. S. Langeland (b. 1858) as the treasurer, and a council made up of Martin Bjermeland, George Teien, Paul Paulson, Adolph Hostmark, and Peter Iverson (1861-1946). A caucus the night before the election had nominated only these candidates for the offices. All of the first elected officials were either born in Norway or immigrated from there, which is fitting given that the town is 90 percent Norwegian. On December 19, the incorporation papers are filed. After the first council meeting of January 7 is held, a special council meeting convenes during the week of January 13, 1908.

Logging, Fishing, Farming

Most in the town speak Norwegian first and English when necessary. Nearly all of the regions of Norway were represented among the immigrants, except the more urban southern area around Oslo. This Norwegian identity persisted for several decades until World War II opened the door to increased growth and suburbanization.

In the early years the residents built a diversified economy based on the bountiful land in which they had settled. They made a living out of combinations of logging, fishing, farming, and a cluster of small businesses in town. Few roads crisscrossed the Kitsap Peninsula in the first half of the twentieth century, so water transportation served to carry people and produce around the area and across Puget Sound to Seattle. A number of steamer companies competed fiercely between 1893 and 1924.

Twice farmers formed co-operatives to bypass the private companies they felt charged too much. In the end, Kitsap County Transportation Company outlasted all the others and provided steamer service until they lost their customers to automobiles and newly built roads in the 1940s and 1950s. 

Changing Times

The changes in the economic landscape of Kitsap County during World War II transformed the community. The Sunset Park Housing Project brought hundreds of newcomers into the town. A large number of existing residents began to work outside of town at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport and at the Puget Sound Naval Station at Bremerton. Continued growth in the county's Department of Defense sites during the Cold War, including the opening of the Naval Submarine Base at Bangor in 1981, brought as many as 20,000 people into the county, many of whom lived in or near Poulsbo.  

As much or more influential than the growth tied to the defense industry was the growth of nearby urban areas. In 1940 the Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened, followed by the Agate Pass Bridge in 1950. These routes off the peninsula (via ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle) opened the area to development. When populations in Seattle and Tacoma boomed in the latter part of the twentieth century, so did Poulsbo's, jumping 572 percent between 1950 and 2000. As of 2000, the population was more than 6,800.

What was once a pocket of Norwegians on the peninsula is now a diverse community closely connected to other towns on the peninsula and to the region's cities. 


Sources: "Poulsbo Incorporated," Kitsap County Herald, December 6, 1907, p. 4; "Cities and Towns, State of Washington Dates of Incorporation, Disincorporation, and Changes of Classification" Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington website accessed January 9, 2008 (http://www.mrsc.org/library/inctable.aspx); "Of Local Interest," Kitsap County Herald, January 10, 1908, p. 4; "Council Proceedings," Kitsap County Herald, January 17, 1908, p. 4; Angelo Anastasio, "Port Haven (Poulsbo): A Sociological Study," in Kitsap County Historical Society, Vol. 2: North Kitsap of Kitsap County History (Seattle: Dinner & Klein, 1977), 18-20; Joan Carson, Tall Timber and the Tide (Poulsbo: Kitsap Weeklies, 1971), 52-59; HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Tacoma Narrows Bridge is dedicated on July 1, 1940" (by Priscilla Long), http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed October 22, 2007); Kitsap County Board of Commissioners, "1000 New Jobs Per Year: Overall Economic Development Program for Kitsap County, Washington (Port Orchard, WA: Kitsap County Board of Commissioners, 1970), 23-24, 29; Rangvald Kverlstad, "Fred Frederickson: Norwegian Immigrant," in Kitsap: A Centennial History ed. by Fredi Perry (Bremerton: Perry Publishing, 1989), 96; Rangvald Kvelstad, "The Saga of North Kitsap," in Kitsap County Historical Society, Vol. 2: North Kitsap of Kitsap County History (Seattle: Dinner & Klein, 1977), 3; Robert C. Leithead, "The Steamboat Wars," in Kitsap County Historical Society, Vol. 2: North Kitsap of Kitsap County History (Seattle: Dinner & Klein, 1977), 267; E. E. Riddell, "The History of Poulsbo," in Kitsap County Historical Society, Vol. 2: North Kitsap of Kitsap County History (Seattle: Dinner & Klein, 1977), 12-17; United States President's Economic Adjustment Committee, Kitsap County, Washington: Ten Years Later (Washington, D.C.: The Committee, Office of Economic Adjustment, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1987) 1-2; Walt Woodward, " Poulsbo -- a Little Bit of Norway," The Seattle Times, June 9, 1968, Magazine section, p. 10; "Andrew B. Moe, First Mayor of Poulsbo, Dies," The Seattle Times, November 20, 1951, p. 4; "Population of Cities, 1890 to 2000," State of Washington Office of Financial Management 2005 Data Book website accessed October 15, 2007 (http://www.ofm.wa.gov/databook/local/lt08ci.asp#p);  Poulsbo: Its First Hundred Years compiled and edited by Rangveld Kvelstad (Poulsbo: Poulsbo Centennial Book Committee, 1986).
Note: The date of the vote, filing of incorporation papers, first council meeting, and special council meeting were corrected on January 9, 2008.

Related Topics:   Cities & Towns

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You