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Davis Blockhouse, Sunnyside Cemetery, Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve, Central Whidbey Island Historic District, Cemetery Rd , Coupeville, Whidbey Island, WA, built 1855-1856

Davis Blockhouse, Whidbey Island, 1855-1856. The Davis blockhouse was built on the James Davis land and originally took his name. Later it became the Cook Blockhouse for later owners. It was restored in the 1930s and is located adjacent to Sunnyside Cemetery, Sherman Road, Coupeville. Sunnyside Cemetery, a pioneer burying ground, is located on central Whidbey Island, near Coupeville, Washington. Its establishment began with the first burial, Winfield Ebey in 1865. In 1869, his sister, Mary Ebey Bozarth sold the one and a quarter acre where he was buried to the county for $1.00. While there are older grave markers there, such as Rebecca Ebey, 1853, they were actually exhumed and transferred to Sunnyside. Since that time, there have been six parcels of acreage added to Sunnyside, keeping pace with Whidbey Island's expanding population.

Sunnyside cemetery is one of the most beautiful areas in the Pacific Northwest. The pioneer Alanson Warner Arnold, the great-grandfather of past Cemetery Commissioner Valerie Arnold said:

"It was in the early 1860s I chanced to stand on the elevated prairie, near where the graveyard on Ebey's Prairie is now, that my idol was broken. It was the first time in all my travels that I had seen so complete a picture as was here presented. Looking south was a valley of some two thousand acres with now and then a farmhouse near the willow groves that dotted the prairie, and all bordered with evergreen forests. On the east was the water of Saratoga Passage backed by the Cascade Mountains. On the west the straits of Admiralty and the Olympics, while to the south, towering above them all, stood giant Rainier looking down on this garden spot of Puget Sound."

Many people visit the cemetery to mourn or simply feel closer to their loved ones, but others come for the peaceful solitude, beauty and history. The Davis block house, built in 1855, reminds people of the Indian wars and the monuments, with all of their symbolism, tell their own stories. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars place flags and have a Memorial Day ceremony, and the Island County Historical Society sponsors a number of walking tours during the summer.
Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve is a unit of the National Park Service near Coupeville, Washington.

The Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, a rural historic district, preserves and protects an unbroken historical record of Puget Sound exploration and settlement from the 19th century to the present. Historic farms, still under cultivation in the prairies of Whidbey Island, reveal land use patterns unchanged since settlers claimed the land in the 1850s under the Donation Land Claim Act. The Victorian seaport community of Coupeville, one of the oldest towns in Washington is in the reserve. Also included are two state parks: Fort Casey and Fort Ebey. The Central Whidbey Island Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places and with the Sergeant Clark House, is also part of the reserve.
Ebey's Landing provides a vivid historical record of Pacific Northwest history, including the first exploration of Puget Sound by Captain George Vancouver in 1792; early settlement by Colonel Isaac Ebey, an important figure in Washington Territory; growth and settlement resulting from the Oregon Trail and the Westward migration; the Donation Land Laws (1850–1855); and the continued growth and settlement of the town of Coupeville.

Jurisdictions Unlike many National Park Service units, the Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve encompasses a mixture of federal, state, county and private property, all managed in a way that preserves its historic essence.[2] Authorized November 10, 1978. The reserve is a partnership managed by a local Trust Board. Limited federal facilities are available. Only 209.06 acres (0.846 km²) of the reserve is federally owned.

Saved Blockhouse In 1921 a local civic group, the Ladies of the Round Table (LORT) began a ten year effort to restore the decaying Davis Blockhouse. Local carpenter Fred Krueger handled the project carefully replacing rotting beams while preserving the “fireplace built of clay and sticks”. The group persuaded the Island County Commissioners to assume ownership and long-term care of the structure. The Commissioners then expanded Sunnyside Cemetery with a new “Blockhouse” plat.

Local Tragedy From 1855-1857, Indian unrest in the Puget Sound Region spurred early Whidbey settlers to build the first four blockhouses, followed by three more after the tragic murder of Isaac Ebey by the southeast Alaskan Kake Indians in 1857. The Indians shot and beheaded prominent civic leader Ebey as retribution for the loss of twenty-seven Kake tribal members during relocation talks on the US Navy steamer Massachusetts the previous year. Ebey’s scalp was eventually recovered but questions remain as to its final location.

The 1855 Alexander Blockhouse, moved from John Alexander’s farm to its current location next to the Island County Historical Museum in Coupeville, provided protection for the first three families on the Island.

The 1855 Crockett Blockhouse, one of two stockaded blockhouses remains today, moved just south west of its original site. The other blockhouse went to the 1909 Yukon-Alaska Pacific Exposition.

The 1857 Ebey Blockhouse was one of four standing at the corners of a stockade enclosing the Jacob Ebey house, currently under restoration by the National Park Service southwest of the Cemetery. Jacob Ebey’s son, Winfield, used the blockhouse as his office, the first law office on Whidbey Island.

The 1857 Davis Blockhouse, next to this Interpretive Panel, stands on its original site, but was built by John Davis initially as a cabin and modified into a blockhouse after the death of his brother-in-law Isaac Ebey. The chimney’s fireplace was originally of stick and mud.

Ongoing Restoration By 2007 the Davis Blockhouse was in desperate need of restoration. This project was accomplished by Island County Cemetery District No. 2 with local assistance from the Coupeville Lions Club. The entire building was thoroughly cleaned. Rotting logs were replaced using period building methods. A former restoration problem was repaired which included a foundation of gravel and field stones to hide cement footings. An innovative steel brace was embedded in supporting beams to provide additional roof strength.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 13, 2008
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Alex Tucker
    • Taken on 2008/10/19 10:21:33
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/350)
    • Focal Length: 6.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/2.700
    • ISO Speed: ISO80
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash