Zakarius Martin Taftezen Collection, 1939-2003  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Grace Ryan Cornwell, Ada N. (Frostad) Olson, and the Island County Commissioners
Zakarius Martin Taftezen Collection
1939-2003 (inclusive)
1 File (1 folder)
Collection Number
This collection contains the original and copy of two overviews of the life of Norwegian immigrant, Zakarias Martin Taftezen, including information about the dedication of the Taftezen Memorial; a handwritten letter by Grace Ryan Cornwell; and a brief summary of Zakarias' brother, Christian.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
Access Restrictions

The collection is available for research.

English, Norwegian

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Zakarias Martin Taftezen (Toftezen), or Martin, was born in either Hammerfest or Levanger, Norway on 17 September 1821. He took up sailing and landed in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1847. Intrigued by news of the California gold rush, he and two others, Sumner and Ulrich Freund, headed west in 1849 and ended up in Oregon. They continued on until they arrived at Whidbey Island where they each claimed a plot of land and built their homes. Taftezen was the first Norwegian to land and settle in Washington Territory.

Martin married a native woman and they had two boys. Both boys and their mother died of a measles epidemic by 1863, so Martin sold his property and moved to San Francisco. Before leaving, he got his citizenship at Port Townsend on 25 April 1863. His mother and sister joined him in California, and they all soon returned to the Northwest in 1865. Martin traveled to Black River in 1873 and built a homestead only to discover that the land was not government owned, but property of the University of Washington. He had to leave the homestead and wandered to California and then Colorado before returning to Whidbey Island in 1889. He died there at the age of 80 in 1901. He was buried at Oak Harbor, but later was moved to the new Our Savior’s Cemetery east of Stanwood.

The Crown Prince Olaf (later King Olav V) and his wife Martha attended his funeral, and 11 September 2000 was proclaimed "Martin Taftezon Day" in Island County, Washington

Christian Taftezen was the brother of Martin. He lived at one time at the thriving port of Utsaladdy, Camano Island. He was an agent for the trans-Atlantic mail and carrier lines.

Martin’s mother Emmerence, daughter Bernhardine, brother Ole Christianson and his wife Sophia, and stepdaughter Marie also immigrated to the United States. Emmerence and Bernhardine joined Martin at Oak Harbor in 1865 while Ole Christianson and his family stayed in New York until 1874 when they settled at Coupeville, Washington, and later at Utsaladdy. Bernhardine married Eilert Graham in 1866. Eilert Graham, of Lindesnes, Norway, settled at Oak Harbor in 1858. After they married, they moved to Utsallady, Washington, and then to Hatt Slough with Emmerence. Emmerence, who was born in 1792, died at Hatt Slough on 22 October 1871. She is the only known white person who lived in this district who was born in the 18th century. Bernhardine and Eilert moved to Camano Island. She died in 1906, he in 1884.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of a biographical account of Zacharius Martin Taftezon related to the 11 September 2000 proclamation of "Zacharius Martin Toftezon Day" in Island County, Washington. Also included is the proclamation itself, minutes from the Island County meeting resolving to establish Zacharius Martin Taftezon Day, a trasnscipt of the ceremony in Norwegian and English, a cover letter written by C.J. Gunderson to Pacific Lutheran College dated 6 June 1939, complete program notes for the dedication program of the Taftezen Memorial and the following luncheon on 27 May 1939, a biographical document entitled Facts about the Taftezen Pioneer Family, and other miscellaneous documents regarding the family.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with Archives and Special Collections. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the University Archivist. The reader must also obtain permission from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

The Zakarius Martin Taftezen Collection, SIEmss_66, Archives and Special Collections, Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Avenue South, Tacoma, WA 98447

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • California--Gold discoveries
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Gold mines and mining
  • Personal Names :
  • Ada N. (Frostad) Olson
  • Bernhardine Taftezen Graham
  • Christian Taftezen
  • Eilert Graham
  • Emmerentze Taftezen
  • Grace Ryan Cornwell
  • J.T. Adams
  • Sumner Freund
  • Ulrich Freund
  • Zakarias Martin Taftezen
  • Zakarias Martin Toftezen
  • Corporate Names :
  • Island County Commissioners
  • Family Names :
  • Graham family
  • Taftezen family
  • Toftezen family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Hammerfest (Norway)
  • Levanger (Norway)
  • Oak Harbor (Wash.)
  • Olympia (Wash.)
  • Port Townsend (Wash.)
  • San Francisco (Calif.)
  • Stanwood (Wash.)
  • Utsaladdy (Wash.)
  • Whidbey Island (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Biographies
  • Minutes (Records)
  • Occupations :
  • Gold miners
  • Pioneers
  • Sailors
  • Titles within the Collection :
  • The First Norwegians to Settle in Washington
  • Zakarias Martin Taftezen