Key Peninsula Historical Society & Museum

From Balch’s Cove to Glen Cove and Glencove

Balch’s Cove (misspelled as Belch’s Cove) was still used in reference to the bay for several years after Glencove had become the name of the village. Tacoma Daily Ledger, Jan. 28, 1900.

The earliest name for the bay was Balch’s (or Balch) Cove, attested for the first time in an 1884 notice in the Tacoma Daily Ledger and spelled Bolchis Cove. The origin of the name is unclear. It has been suggested that the bay was named for Capt. Lafayette Balch (1825-1862), lumber trader and founder of Steilacoom, but there is no evidence linking him to Balch’s Cove.

In 1891 a post office under the name Balch was established in Balch’s Cove. In 1896, during postmaster Emery J. Hermans’ tenure (1894-1905), that name was changed to Glencove, written as one word, which soon became the name of the community itself, surviving the closure of the Glencove post office in 1924. Hermans is said to have suggested the name change to prevent confusion with another similarly named post office. However, there is no record of such a post office in Washington or anywhere else in the nation at the time, so perhaps the name was changed for no other reason than the locals preferred it to Balch.

The bay itself was known as Balch’s Cove until at least the 1920s, by which time the name of the village had also come to refer to the body of water, written in that case as two words. Although individual usage varies to this day, maps and other official documents use Glencove for places on land, reserving Glen Cove for the bay.

A version of this article appeared in the Dec. 2022 edition of Key Peninsula News. © Joseph Pentheroudakis 2022.  Used with permission.
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