The Lopez Island Historical Society & Museum

Lopez Island, San Juan County, Washington

James Davis home

This large farmhouse was built by James Ernest Davis and Maybell Troxell Davis in 1913. Family legend says it was paid for by a single successful season on a fish trap off the south end. The Davis kids recalled having to haul rocks home from every trip to the beach to build the stone fireplace.

J. Davis picnic

James Ernest was the son of James L. and Amelia Davis, the first white couple to settle on Lopez. The land was originally claimed under British patent by Samuel Clark Davis, James L.'s older brother, around 1854. It stretched from Richardson along Davis Bay almost to Shark Reef. James and Amelia took over the eastern part when they arrived on Lopez in 1869.

While most of James and Amelia's offspring went to sea, James Ernest stayed to farm the home place. He worked the fish traps during salmon runs, perhaps due to the influence of John Troxell, the most famous of the local “fish trap men.” (The traps appeared in the 1890s. They were easily the most successful method of taking salmon until they were banned by state initiative in 1934.)

Troxell, who had a large fish camp in Barlow Bay, was Ernest's brother-in-law twice over. He was married to James Ernest's sister, Eunice, while his own sister, Maybell, was James Ernest's bride.

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