I have been researching the history of McMicken Island, a tiny, 12-acre island in south Puget Sound, now a marine state park, which was first settled in 1895. The island appears as Stui Island on Charles Wilkes's atlas, published following the 1838-1842 U.S. Exploring Expedition. In subsequent charts by the U.S. Coastal Survey the island appears nameless, until an 1889 chart when it first sports its present-day name of McMicken Island. According to the legend on the 1889 chart, the survey work for it was completed by 1887, so the name was in use by then. Several sources suggest, but without proof, that the island is named for William McMicken, Surveyor General in Washington Territory from 1873 until 1886 when he retired and went on to serve as the territory's Treasurer. He was appointed Surveyor General again in 1898, and died in office in 1899. The 1870s and 1880s were busy years in surveying the territory, and McMicken achieved a certain degree of renown because of his work.
My question: I am trying to establish when exactly the island was named and whether it was indeed named after Gen. McMicken. The date when the name first appears on a chart roughly matches that of McMicken's retirement in 1886 so I wondered if the Washington Territorial Assembly or the federal government named the island in his honor, and if so why. McMicken lived in Olympia, and the island is easily accessible by steamer from there, so perhaps he had some connection to it. There is nothing about this in papers of the era, in the McMicken family's records or in the records of the territorial assembly sessions, so my next stop was going to be the National Archives, hoping I could find something in the Congressional Record or Dept. of Interior archives. Where do I start? I imagine requests for research into physical records are not accepted at the moment? Any other potential sources? The Washington Board on Geographic Names was no help, btw, and I had no response from its U.S. counterpart. Thanks!