Peste name returns to Sanderson land
March 2, 2023
The name of Peste, a storied family in the history of Shelton, will once again adorn the land where the family once homesteaded and farmed.
The Port of Shelton Commission on Feb. 21 voted to change the name of Business Park North at its business park on U.S. Highway 101 to Peste Business Park. The name change came at the request of family members, who also asked the commission to rename the road leading to the business park as Peste Way, and retain the Peste name on major roads to the business park if new development occurs.
Commissioners are considering those suggestions, said Wendy Smith, the Port of Shelton's executive director.
And the Pestes' connection to the land? They homesteaded and farmed the property until 1941, when the U.S. government exercised eminent domain and acquired the property for the Navy, which planned to build a naval air station on the property and adjoining land.
The Pestes stayed in the area, making their mark in Christmas trees and employment, education, health care, the arts and community service. Three members of the family gave a presentation Feb. 21 to the Port of Shelton Commission.
Laura Lee Roznowski - the great-granddaughter of Gottfried and Sophia Peste - said she was surprised by the port commission's quick vote and grateful for the acknowledgement.
"I'm just thrilled," she said.
Roznowski's sister, Terri Johnston, said she was "grateful" to hear the decision.
"It was kind of an amazing moment after all these years," said Johnston, who lives in Seattle.
"It's a very exciting thing," said their mother, 85-year-old Shelton resident Sharon Johnston.
Gottfried John Peste was born in the German state of Prussia and emigrated to the United States in 1888. He moved to Mason County in 1902 and married German immigrant Sophia Tatsal three years later. Daughter Dorothy was born in 1907 and son Fred in 1909.
On their prairie land west of Shelton, the family grew rye and sold meat. According to the family, Gottfried purchased the first Fordson tractor and thrasher in the county in 1921. They also say Sophia Peste was the first patient at Mason County Hospital in 1930.
When the federal government purchased the land through eminent domain in 1941, as the country prepared to enter World War II, the family moved to downtown Shelton.
In their request for the name changes at the port, the family wrote, "As an immigrant and proud American, Gottfried knew it was his duty to give up the family homestead to support the war effort. Though heartbroken, he knew extreme sacrifices had to be made in the wartime."
Sharon Johnston was 6 years old when she watched her grandparent's house and other structures being razed so it could be occupied by troops.
"We hated it," she recalled. "We were all very hurt to see it go. With grandfather and grandmother, that was their home."
The Port of Shelton was established in 1948. In 1957, the port was deeded more than 1,000 acres. The site was named Sanderson Field in 1966.
Fred Peste worked nights at ITT Rayonier while growing and harvesting Christmas trees during the day. According to the family, he pioneered new harvest methods with fertilizers and pruning. He owned the Douglas Fir Christmas Tree Co., and later became a partner in Noble Mountain, a large Christmas tree operation.
In 1955, one of his trees adorned President Dwight Eisenhower's house in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.