Nearly 110 years after her wedding day and the lovers’ retreat that gave Honeymoon Bay its name, Minnie Spencer-Plumb has returned to her slice of Holmes Harbor.
Spencer-Plumb has been dead for 85 years, but her original headstone was relocated this week from its longtime home on Cameron Road to a new resting place in front of the Honeymoon Lake Community Club’s clubhouse. Her bones remain buried in Langley, but the headstone is home.
“It belongs here,” said Betty Discher, Spencer-Plumb’s granddaughter. “It’s the proper place for it.”
Spencer-Plumb was an early settler of Freeland, though she was not one of the socialists who are often credited with the area’s official founding in 1900. Rather her parents, Hudson and Sarah Spencer, were capitalists, according to “South Whidbey and its People, Volume II,” a book by Lorna Cherry published in 1985 with the South Whidbey Historical Society.
They moved from Everett with their grown children — Percy, Minnie and Arthur — in 1904. The community was named Freeland, or Free Land, due to its socialist forefathers; an off-shoot of the Equality colony in Skagit County, families that belonged to the Free Land Association were offered five-acre plots for an initial $10 down payment, with the rest being made up from the profits of cooperative enterprises.
The Spencers weren’t part of the club. They bought land, built homes and opened businesses: the Harbor Cash Store, a machine shop, saw mill and log peeling factory to name a few.
Spencer-Plumb soon met a young Freeland man, Freeman Plumb, and the two were married in 1909. They honeymooned in a tent a few miles away on the shore of what was known then as Dogfish Bay.
“Thereafter, in their honor, the lovely little harbor became known as Honeymoon Bay and the name Dogfish Bay gradually disappeared,” Cherry wrote.
After the birth of their son, Robert, a few years later, the couple packed a covered wagon and left to homestead in Montana. Later details of her life up until her death in 1932 are uncertain and may be lost to history, Discher said, who is also a member of the South Whidbey Historical Society. But, what is clear is that Spencer-Plumb’s parents didn’t think much of their daughter’s husband. When she died, her body was brought back to Whidbey and buried in Langley.
Her headstone read only, “Minnie, 1887-1932.”
Years later, her son Robert addressed the slight and had a “proper” headstone made for his mother, which reads “Minnie Spencer Plumb” and is still in Langley to this day. The old headstone was given to Spencer-Plumb’s daughter and Discher’s mother, Bonnie Cameron, in the 1980s and brought to her longtime Freeland home on Cameron Road — the road’s namesake, of course, derives from the same family.
“So, it’s sat under the old sequoia for 30 years,” Discher said.
Closing the century-long circle, Discher is selling her old family home and it just didn’t seem right to leave the headstone there, she said. The Honeymoon Lake Community Club’s clubhouse seemed like a good fit, and sure enough organization leaders were happy to become its new stewards.
“Honeymoon Bay, Honeymoon Lake, Honeymoon Lake Community Club, Honeymoon Bay Road: We’re all Honeymoon here and it’s because of Minnie,” said Will Collins, president of the club’s board.
As for Discher, she said she couldn’t be more pleased with the headstone’s new home overlooking Honeymoon Bay.
“It belongs here, as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “She is the Honeymoon Bay story.”