Part Two: “Paradise in… a girl from Lopez”

  • Tue May 3rd, 2011 3:58pm
  • Life

Editor’s note: This is part two of a two part series about one of the pioneer families on Lopez Island.


By Linda Graham-Rose

I found little information on my ancestors, the Kjargaards, but one day their name appeared in an ominous front page story in the San Juan Journal.

‘Lopez Island boy accidentally killed playing with dynamite.’

Warren, 14 year-old-son of Mrs. Ada DeLain of Lopez Island, was accidentally killed Sunday afternoon, near Sherer’s point, Lopez Island, by being struck on the forehead by a small stone thrown by an explosion of dynamite. The accident occurred while playing with Carl and Juhl Kjargaard, age 10 and 14, respectively.

Initially, authorities concluded the boy was shot with a small caliber rifle because of a small wound in the forehead. An autopsy revealed a pea-sized pebble lodged in the back of the boy’s skull. This led investigators to Carl and Juhl, who finally admitted that while playing with the boy, they had set off a charge of dynamite on the beach. An examination of the sand showed signs of an explosion, proving how the boy had met his death. The case was taken to court and jurors agreed it was an accident.

On the Neilsen side I discovered my grandfather built a large home in 1922, and it is still located on Davis Bay Road. “One of the most enjoyable affairs of the season was the house-warming given at the new home of Mr. and Mrs. Niels Nielsen on Saturday night,” reported the San Juan Journal.

In 1923, my grandfather and grandmother had a fourth daughter, Johanna and when Peter came into the picture in 1926, the Journal announced ‘Niels got his boy.’

Nielsen was also a fisherman. When fish traps were outlawed in 1934, he went to Alaska. While others made or lost a fortune, Nielsen made a sensible, living wage.

My grandmother ran the garden, home and children. She sewed all the clothes using flour sacks and earned extra money by starting the fires at the schools to warm rooms when students arrived.

After the 10th grade, my mother, Hazel moved to Seattle to work as a nanny.

My mother and her sisters went to dances at the Swedish Club.

At one dance Hazel met Clifford Graham and after two years of dating they were married in August of 1938.  Clifford was from Lopez Island, but left in 1926, when Hazel was just a toddler. My mother didn’t know he was from the island for quite some time, but Cliff knew right away he had found paradise in “a Nielsen girl from Lopez.”