On Feb. 29, 1928, a South Hill farmer visited the office of J.E. Tallant, Pierce County treasurer. He went to pay his annual tax bill. The farmer, Ole Gabrielson, had lived on South Hill since 1921.
Gabrielson and his family were typical of the second wave of immigrants who settled South Hill. The Gabrielsons owned a small farm, 40 acres, in Section 21 of Township 19. In today’s system, that holding would be on the south side of 152nd Street at about its intersection with 86th Avenue.
Section 21 was originally part of a federal land grant awarded to the Northern Pacific Railroad to build a railway into the Puget Sound area. It was subsequently sold to the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company.
After all the marketable timber had been removed, the land was transferred to the Weyerhaeuser Logged Off Land Company. It was from the latter organization that Gabrielson acquired the farm.
The tax bill for 1927 was $26.43. The land, 40 acres, was valued at $280, and the house at $125. He paid taxes on the total, $405.
The Pierce County tax levy for 1927 was divided into three parts: general state and county charges, special school tax and road districts tariff. The general state and county account included such things as the current expenses of running the state and county.
For the general part, expressed in levy terms, Gabrielson’s tax bill was 35.27 mills. The special school district charge, District 82, added an additional 22 mills, and the road district, District 3, 10 mills more, for a total of 67.42 mills. Thus, on the $405 value of his property, he was charged a tax of $27.24.
However, a 3 percent discount was authorized if it was paid before March 15, 1928, and that reduced the obligation by 81 cents, to $26.43.
In today’s money, the same tax bill would be $348.75. However, the value of the land and buildings in the current market would be in the millions of dollars.
The address of the farm in 1927 was Puyallup, WA, Route 2, Box 85. U.S. Post Office Route 2 served the residents of that part of South Hill. Farm animals such as cows and pigs were kept, primarily as food for the family. One cash crop was the growing of raspberries. Family records show the berries were sold in Puyallup. Some other crops were raised as well.
The Ole Gabrielson family moved to South Hill from Idaho. In so doing, they joined other kinfolk, including his brother, Gabriel Gabrielson (“Gabe”), who also owned a 40-acre farm on South Hill.
Ole and his wife, Emily, were British subjects at the time of their move, but they subsequently acquired U.S. citizenship. Both originally were natives of Sweden.
Ole and Emily were married in Cascade County, Mont., on Jan. 24, 1920. Ole Gabrielson died May 8, 1965, and he’s buried in Woodbine Cemetery. His wife, Emily, lived until 1997. Many of their children and grandchildren still live on South Hill.Carl Vest, Ph.D., is the research director for the South Hill Historical Society. He is a founding member and can be reached by email at email@example.com.