Kitsap Peninsula and the water of Puget Sound which almost completely
surrounded it were explored by Captain George Vancouver in 1792
for the English, and in 1841 by Captain Charles Wilkes for the
United States of America. Most of our beautiful waterways and
landmarks were named by these two explorers, the list of which
is to lengthy to mention here. Early explorers traded with the
Native Americans, and returned to their home ports extolling
the virtues of the Northwest Hinterland, and all its abundance.
This attracted many Easterners and Europeans alike to travel
to the young and distant west.
Land Claim Law, which granted 640 acres to a married man,
and 320 acres to a single man brought a few sturdy pioneers
into the county as early at the 1850's. Documentation of
these early pioneers and their "Donation Land Claims" can
be seen in the archives of the Kitsap County Historical Society.
County was formed from a section of King County and a section
of Jefferson County by the Legislature of Washington Territory
on January 16, 1857. Originally named Slaughter County after
William Alloway Slaughter, who has been killed in an Indian
uprising "somewhere out from Seattle."
county name was changed by means of a general election on
July 13, 1857. There was a general dislike of the name "Slaughter" thus
it did not appear on the ballot. Some of the choices were;
Madison, Mill, and Kitsap. The name Kitsap was chosen, in
honor of an admirable Native American Chief who graciously
received Captain George Vancouver during his early exploration
of this area. "Kitsap" means brave or good, according to
its early days, Kitsap County had great wealth in it's standing
timber, and being nearly surrounded by water, the timber
could be easily harvested and rafted to mills with out need
for railroads or other major investments in transportation
.As such, it became the wealthiest county per capita in the
United States for a time. It is said, that citizens from
the small town of Seattle took "Mosquito Fleet" ferries to
the City of Port Madison on Bainbridge Island, in Kitsap
County, for shopping in its modern stores. Four major sawmill
communities in the county brought in many loggers and mill
hands who soon moved from company houses to small homesteads
or stump ranches to begin the agricultural growth of the
was mostly via the waterways. Little boats and vessels dotted
the waters of Puget Sound. This is where the term "Mosquito
Fleet' comes from. The Mosquito Fleet was utilized by citizens
to travel from town to town. Each vessel had a route and
schedule, making regular stops at towns, settlements, and
mills. A vestige of the Mosquito Fleet still exists as Horluck
Transportation. A passenger only ferry can be caught from
Bremerton to port Orchard and back, which run every half
hour - everyday. The ferries used are historic - the Carslile
II is a floating museum, complete with historic photographs.
incentive to future growth came with the establishment of
the Naval Station at Port Orchard (The original name given
to Sinclair Inlet by Capt. George Vancouver) in Bremerton.
The steady rise of importance of this great Naval Shipyard
has become the major reason for the population increase in
the county - which exploded the population of Bremerton alone
to over 100,000 during WWII. Companion Navy activities include
the former Naval Ammunition Depot on Ostrich Bay, where the
current Jackson Park Naval Housing is located, as well as
Sub Base Bangor, and the Naval installation at Keyport.
County has a area of 393 square miles and has a population
of approximately 90,000. The county has a decidedly rural
flavor, with 240 miles of waterfront. Logging is still conducted
in remote areas with second and third growth timber.
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