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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Free Home Page Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, founder (bullet) Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Reminiscence of 20 years ago
Eliza and Emmett Van Fleet move to
Skiyou from Pennsylvania, 1880

Eliza Van Fleet, Chapter 5, pp. 258-461 Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish Counties, published 1906
(Van Fleet Family 1895)
The Van Fleet family from 1895, courtesy of LaRayne Van Fleet Jeffries. Daughter Eva upper left and daughter Ethel and son Earl in front.

      On the third day of May, 1880, 1, with my husband and little three-year-old daughter, bade adieu to every familiar face and scene in our native home of Fleetville, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, and started West to make us a home in the forest somewhere in the Puget sound country. I shall never forget that sad morning. Several kind friends and neighbors had called to say goodbye, but I could not say one word.
      As my husband helped me to get my wraps on and half carried me out to the wagon more than one suppressed sob reached my ear. A brisk drive to the station and we had started West. The lovely morning and beautiful scenery soon drove away all feeling of homesickness. As neither of the three northern lines were then built we came via the Central Pacific to San Francisco. There we took passage on the ocean steamer Oregon for Portland. After stopping there a day or two we went back down the Columbia river to Kalama [Washington], then took the train for Tacoma, then on to Seattle by boat.

Arrived in Washington Territory
      As a 'bus drove us to the Occidental hotel (then a plain wooden structure) I remarked that it was strange that they would call so small a place a city, for it looked to us more like a country village, with the streets not all cleared of the stumps, and such big stumps with notches cut in them [for springboards], which excited our curiosity. As the last letter we had received from Mr. Van Fleet's brother Luther was written from Sterling, on Skagit river, we took passage on the steamer Chehalis for that place. I was a little abashed to find that I was the only woman on board the boat with at least forty men bound for the Ruby creek gold fields]. However, I soon found that they were kindly disposed, well bred and intelligent men. One of them gave me a paper to read which contained glowing accounts of the gold being discovered at Ruby creek.
      One day and night on the steamer and we were landed at Ball's logging camp [Jesse Beriah Ball], instead of a village as we had expected to find. A man clerking in the little log store at the camp, Mr. Smith by name, soon made himself known and invited me in to meet Mrs. Welch, a daughter of Mr. Ball. She was the only white woman in camp, in fact the only white woman anywhere in the vicinity. She was very kind, and as I was quite weary after our twenty days' travel, she soon prevailed upon Mr. Van Fleet to let me stay with her until the next steamer would go up the river. The next morning Mrs. Welch showed me the two large rafts her father had made. There had been four feet of snow on the level that winter and as they knew the snow was very deep on the mountains they were afraid of an overflow. She also pointed out to me the high water marks that were then plainly discernible on nearly all the trees about six feet up from the ground.

First home in Skiyou
Emmett Van Fleet on his buckboard. All these photos are from various scrapbooks and collections of the Van Fleet descendants and we are very grateful that the family retained them. We hope that descendants of other families that we mention will also share copies or scans of documents or photos. We never ask for your originals.

      We spent the first three months with brother Luther on the place now owned by Ira Brown, then preempted the claim we still own and moved in our shanty which was built from split cedar. Several families of Indians were our nearest neighbors. Jerry Benson and his father Stephen Benson were our nearest white neighbors; next came William Woods, William Dunlap, Joseph Hart and Mr. Batey [the four British bachelors who settled the area that became Sedro]. The place where Sedro-Woolley now stands was a vast unbroken forest, owned principally by [Winfield] Scott Jameson. The Woolley portion was still government land.
      There were no roads, no schools, no churches; in fact no white woman except Mrs. Welch in Sterling, and no white children. I lived here five years before I saw a horse. About the middle of December, 1880, a Chinook wind caused the river to rise very rapidly. As we had never lived near a river before, but had read of great overflows, we concluded it best to be on the safe side, so Mr. Van Fleet built a platform up about twelve feet in a large hollow cedar stub, and split cedar boards so we could go on up 60 feet if necessary. Some of the neighbors had rafts tied to trees close by; others had a canoe securely fastened to the house. When the water was at its highest point we had a heavy earthquake shock, which was a startling experience.
      People settled mainly along the banks of the river at first. The voting place for those who lived above the township line, which runs through Sedro-Woolley [Township Road, now Township Street], was at Lyman; below this line it was at Mount Vernon. Our only mode of travel was by canoe or steamer [sternwheeler]. The Chehalis, Josephine, Daisy and Nellie made regular trips up the river and as the river was high all through the summer of 1880, sometimes they went as far as Portage, above Sauk, with miners and supplies.
      A post office had just been established at Mr. Ball's camp, called Sterling, but there was no regular mail carrier. Any one that happened to be coming up from Mount Vernon brought the mail. Scott Jameson owned the logging camp farthest up the river, it being a mile above Sterling and in charge of Charles Harmon, foreman.

Daily life and experiences with Indians
      We felt fully prepared to work hard and fare poorly a few years and the reality did not fall short of our expectations, but we had not realized how lonely life would be before we had neighbors, schools, etc. Sundays especially were very dreary. When we grew tired of reading there was nothing to do but roam around in the forest and listen to the singing of the birds and the chatter of the squirrels. In August [1880], Mrs. David Batey came into our midst. Two other ladies also resided in Sterling the latter part of the summer and fall, namely, Mrs. Millan and Mrs. Scott, but as they did not stay long there were but four of us white women here for some time. We used to visit each other frequently and had pleasant times. As there were four children of school age in our respective families our principal topic of conversation was how to get the old bachelors married off or families enough in the neighborhood so we could have a school. I well remember how we worried and fretted when we learned that Mr. Batey had located two more bachelors in the neighborhood, namely Charles Wicker and Will Mitchell. But soon Mr. Wicker's friends began to come from the East, which soon convinced us that no mistake had been made in locating them here.
      We had not lived here very long when an old Indian, Pawquit-zy by name, called to have an understanding with us. As he could talk neither English nor Chinook he brought a young Indian along to interpret for him. After the old man had talked and gesticulated for some time, the young Indian told us that he had said we had no right here. That all the land from the head of Sky-you slough to the mouth of the Batey slough belonged to him, had belonged to his father and his grandfather for many years. Mr. Van Fleet quietly remarked, "Oh, tell him white man cut down trees and raise potatoes to trade to Indian for fish." This pleased the old man and he went away in better humor. We learned afterward that other Indians were afraid to hunt fish or trap on the old man's ground.
      The old Indian kept a fish trap in the creek near us and used frequently to bring us a nice mess of fish. In the spring of 1881, Mr. Van Fleet and two other white men went down on the flats to buy cattle, and, on account of having to open up the trail in many places, were gone several days longer than they had expected to be. I got out of wood and one of my Indian neighbors, finding it out, brought his wife and sister up to help me in the house while he cut up a nice lot of wood for me. This was but one of the many acts of kindness shown us by them.
      The cows lived on browse and did very well. We sold butter to the logging camps for a good price. In the fall we turned them upon the low ground to winter on rushes. They came out nice and fat in the spring. In June 1882, we had quite an overflow in which we lost our cow. Then in November 1883, came another big overflow in which we lost six head of cattle, so we concluded it best to keep them off the low ground as much as possible. By that time we had a large enough clearing so we could raise hay enough to winter them at home.
      Frequently when I was busy with my work I would hear the door open cautiously and in would walk several Indians, men, women and children. Our little daughter [Eva] would entertain them by showing them pictures in her books, and after watching me work a while they would leave as unceremoniously as they had entered. One day when there was quite a crowd of them there, five or six of their dogs began playing havoc with my flower beds. We asked them if they couldn't keep the dogs off of them, whereupon the men and women called the dogs to them, held and beat every dog to death, then threw them on a log heap. We tried to expostulate but it was no use. They said the dogs were no good anyway. Doubtless you can imagine I was a little nervous when they left.
      One day an Indian woman and her daughter were here, when, in looking at the pictures in a book, they came across the picture of the Savior on the cross. The woman knelt down and for some time seemed to be praying, then she told her daughter the story of the crucifixion. I could not understand a word she said, but by the moaning of the daughter and the look of consternation on her face I think the mother's description must have been very good. She showed how the nails were driven in the hands and feet, the crown of sharp thorns pressed upon the brow, the spear thrust in the side and the blood flowing away. I would like to have talked to her to ascertain if she really understood that the pardoning blood was shed for her, but could not. There were several tribes of Indians in the Puget sound country and each tribe seemed to be at enmity with all the rest. It was a common occurrence for one Indian to kill another Indian. The white people never molested them in this lawlessness among themselves. When an Indian had been killed one of his friends would kill one of the murderer's friends, never being particular to get the guilty one, thus keeping all the Indians in perpetual fear for their lives. We have frequently seen an Indian "poling" his canoe up the river, sounding the death cry which would seem to echo from hill to hill, and cause every Indian's face to blanch, for he knew when he heard that cry that at least one of his friends was dead.
      They lived principally on dried salmon, these Indians, which was also legal tender with them. They did not bury their dead in the ground, but built platforms upon poles and laid their dead up to decay, or else put them in old canoes and ran the boats off into the brush. One of their platform resting places was on Sky-you island, and a lot of their skeletons rested in old canoes at the mouth of the Batey slough. All of the old Indians had flat heads. They thought that they would not be bright if their heads were not pressed or bound to a board when they were infants. Usually a "potlatch" was held once a year. Sometimes there would be several hundred Indians in attendance and usually several would he killed before their jubilee broke up. At a "potlatch" the Indian who could give away the most presents would be chief the ensuing year.
      One July afternoon, when I was out picking strawberries in the garden an Indian that I supposed to be at the Potlatch gathering called and asked for milk for his babe. He was quite excited, told me his wife was dead, had been poisoned at the gathering; how, several years before, her parents sold her to a Siwash she did not love. She ran away from that man and came and was his wife. How she was lying on her back at daybreak in their tent at the Potlatch when her first man came and poured something down her throat. She was soon taken with convulsions and died. Then the Indian said, "Me kill him." I said, "Oh, no, I wouldn't do that." He showed me his dirk knife [dagger] which he carried in his belt, and said, "Me did kill him. Siwashes all stand around in big circle: in less than an hour me had him all cut up." I gave him the milk, but as the babe had never seen milk before he would not touch it.

Wildlife and fowl
(Eliza and bike)
Eliza and her bike in front of the house they built to replace their original cabin.

      Wild animals were quite plentiful; frequently the deer tracks along the trail would look like a flock of sheep had been there, and many were the venison dinners we used to have. One morning we found a fawn running with the calves in the yard. Pheasants were very numerous, often thirty or forty in a flock. When Mr. Brown used to take down the gun to kill them to fry for breakfast I would say, "Now don't kill more than five or six for you know they will waste." Bruin's tracks were all around in the cattle trails. We used to see them occasionally, but they would always run, and never did us any harm. Mr. Van Fleet killed several of them, but he can tell the bear stories better than I can.
      Wildcats and hawks were a constant menace to our chickens. After being bothered several months I concluded to try to shoot them myself, and have had the pleasure of seeing many a pheasant and hawk drop at the report of my shotgun, but can only boast of killing one wildcat. The cat would come every day and take a chicken or two until half our flock was gone. Mr. Van Fleet would leave his work and watch for the cat by the hour, when, off in another direction, a chicken would squall. Finally, one morning when his patience was exhausted, he asked me to watch while he went to Mount Vernon after strychnine to poison him with.
      All day long in the hot sun I sat and watched a log which spanned the creek. A large hawk came and lit on a stub over my head, which was too big a temptation. I fired, but missed him. Quite I indignant with myself I loaded the gun, thinking that I would be a great one to shoot at a wildcat. But about sundown, happening to look toward the house, I saw the wildcat sitting partially behind a stump watching me. I walked up to within two rods of the stump, then paused, when the cat came slowly creeping forth from the other side of the stump.
      I took a step so I could see more of him and said to myself, "Mr. Wildcat I own a few of those chickens," and fired. My little girl then came running down and cried, "Oh! mamma! you have killed the wildcat. Oh! don't he look frightful, though?" Yes our trouble was ended. I ran with my little girl to the nearest neighbors, a half a mile away, for-getting in my excitement to leave the gun at home, which quite frightened Mrs. Benson as we rushed in. "I have killed the cat," I cried. "Oh, good!" was her reply. They came back up with us and George Benson, then a lad of 12 years of age, hauled it to the house for us. The strychnine, however, came handy to use to poison the cougars that came for our hogs. But for fear I am writing for the waste basket I will change the subject.

The neighborhood and new settlers
      We still have an agreement paper which reads as follows:
      "Dec. 2, 1884
      "We, the undersigned, do agree to give two days' work on the road between Batey's homestead house [at the present bend of Rhodes Road, west of Sedro-Woolley] and the Van Fleet bridge in road district No. 29. Emmett Van Fleet, Charles Wicker, Will Mitchell, George Benson, [George] O. Wicker, William Woods, David Batey, W. A. Dunlap, A. Johnson, B.M. Barnes, J. Greenhagen. August Polte [namesake of Polte Road], G.W. Wiseman [family was namesake of Wiseman Creek in Utopia]."

      They did the first work on that section of the road after the surveying was done by Mr. [George] Savage. In 1883 a school district was established at Sterling, which included the new Sedro-Woolley and Wilson districts. Mr. Batey, Mr. D. [Steamboat Dan] Benson and Mr. Van Fleet were appointed directors, and Mr. Smithson, clerk. Miss Eva Wallace [from Fir Island] began the first school, which was finished by Miss Turner. In 1886 the district was divided and the Sedro district formed, which included the Wilson district. Mrs. Ira Brown went around with a subscription paper and received one hundred and fifty dollars in a day and a half to furnish material for the new school-house. The work on the building was also donated, and Miss Fairy [Fairie] Cook employed as teacher. Rev. McMillan delivered the first sermon in Sterling, Rev. Dobbs in Sedro.
      Mortimer Cook came among us in 1884, employed Mr. Batey to build a residence and store, and made arrangements to apply for a post office and christen the place "Bug." I did not like the name, so persuaded several of our neighbor women to go with me, and talk to Mr. Cook about it. We found him seated on a pile of lumber, whittling. We told him we had lived here several years in peace and quiet and had come to protest against his calling the new post office "Bug." After scratching his head a while he remarked, "Don't suppose you ladies will sign my petition for the post office then?" I replied, "Never. How our letters would look addressed to 'Bug!' " He said that he had just received a letter from his wife in Santa Barbara; that she didn't like the name and was afraid it would soon be changed to "Humbug;" further, that she didn't think she would come until the place had a better name.
      "Well," he said, "seeing Bug doesn't suit the ladies the name shall be changed." The next time I saw him he asked how the name Sedro would do, said it was the Spanish word for "cedar." We all thought it a very good name so our post office was named Sedro. I sometimes wonder if our town would now be called Bug-Woolley had the name not been changed. Mr. Cook also built and operated the first shingle mill in Skagit county. His wife and two daughters came in June 1885, and were the women to reside in Sedro proper. But the work done by Mr. Cook, like Mr. Ball's work in Sterling, is fast being obliterated.

And so methought 'twill quickly be
With every mark on earth of me;
A wave of dark oblivion's sea
Will sweep across the place
Where I have trod the sandy shore
Of time, and been to be no more —
Of me, my day, the name I bore.
And leave no track or trace.

      — Sedro-Woolley, Dec. 10, 1900.


1. Kalama, Washington
      After the Northern Pacific Railroad established their western terminus at Commencement Bay (Tacoma) in 1873, Kalama was the early key to their plan to connect Washington and Oregon to their transcontinental crossing. In the early days of the Washington Territory (established 1853), emigrants crossed the Columbia River from Oregon to Monticello, Washington, and obtained overland transportation in rugged wagons along the Columbia River. When NP came along, the county seat for Cowlitz County was moved from Monticello to Kalama. By the time the Van Fleets arrived in May 1880, a steamer operated from Portland the Willamette River to Kalama. Three years later, NP launched a railroad ferry across the Columbia from Goble, Oregon, to Kalama on the north shore. [Return]

2. 'Bus
      'Bus is an abbreviation for Omnibus. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) defines it as: a long four-wheeled carriage, having seats for many people; especially, one with seats running lengthwise, used in conveying passengers short distances. [Return]

3. Occidental Hotel, Seattle
(Occidental Hotel 1881)
You can find copies of this photo in many pioneer-family collections. It was taken by Asahel Curtis, who was standing near Yesler's sawmill on the waterfront of Seattle, looking east to the original woodframe Occidental Hotel, which appeared exactly as when Eliza described it, with the Trinity Church in the background. This gathering dates from early October 1881, when townspeople congregated for a memorial of assassinated U.S. President James Garfield.

      The Occidental, along with the Arlington House, is one of the most fascinating early hotels that housed both travelers and businessmen in Seattle. Seattle Historian Paul Dorpat has created a slideshow about the hotel at Originally erected at the point of the triangle a half-block east of 1st Avenue and Yesler Way, the woodframe Occidental Hotel opened in 1861 and was a gathering place for people in the city during a memorial after the assassination of President Garfield in 1881. Two years later, John Collins built a new stone Occidental Hotel, which housed the Puget Sound National Bank in its ground-floor room, and the structure burned to the ground in the middle of the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889. A brick hotel was built in its place and was a center of business activity until it faded after World War II and was replaced by the parking garage that people often call the "Sinking Ship." [Return]

4. Chehalis sternwheeler to the Ruby Creek gold fields
      The Chehalis (1867-82) was piloted by Steamboat Dan Benson, the Van Fleets' soon-to-be-neighbor in Skiyou. In a 1970s Courier-Times column called "The Black Prince" (about another early sternwheeler), Ray Jordan noted about the 1880 gold rush: "One sternwheeler, the Chehalis, is reported to have reached the Portage, a mile or more above the old talc mine, during the gold excitement. One old-timer, who has lived on the river since 1877, is inclined to believe this. He says that a river-wise boat captain conceivably could have made it over the riffles above the talc mine during real high water. He added, however, that most of the gold rush steamers got no farther than Durand Riffle, a mile or so below Marblemount." See the companion story in Issue 39 about Eliza Van Fleet's application to the DAR, which includes an endnote with a short profile of the Chehalis, which was beached and destroyed by very high winds in a sudden gale on Nov. 9, 1882, on the route to Seattle. [Return]

5. Ira Brown
(Ira and Melissa)
Ira and Melissa (Wicker) Brown. courtesy of Sheri Backos, a gr-gr granddaughter.

      Ira Brown moved out to the Skiyou area from Chillicothe, Iowa, less than a year after his Iowa neighbor, Charles J. Wicker, claimed a homestead here. They were neighbors of the Van Fleets, and Ira married Wicker's sister, Mary Melissa Wicker, in 1884. After the Plin V. McFadden family moved here in 1885 with many children, Mrs. Ira Brown and Mrs. McFadden circulated a petition among settlers and loggers for the new district and urged them to contribute material or labor for the school. Once they found the required 14 pupils between ages 5 and 21 in the summer of 1886, the district was divided, with the eastern half from Skiyou to Lyman becoming the Wilson district. The Sedro district became Number 27. Since a large majority of the children lived in old Sedro or north in Skiyou, a new school was built on the Van Fleet homestead near the bridge over Benson Creek (later renamed Hansen Creek), at the border with the Wilson district. In 1902, after Postmaster Ira J. Stiles left for the Klondike, Brown became postmaster for two years and he later bought Ad Davison's stage line to Burlington. [Return]

6. Winfield Scott Jameson
      Winfield Scott Jameson actually lived near Port Gamble and owned logging camps that ranged from Cowlitz County to the Olympic Peninsula, but he was one of the most important figures in early Sedro history. In the mid-1870s he bought timberland north of the Skagit River and east of Sterling that bordered the claims of the four British bachelors who homesteaded along the river itself in 1878. When Norman R. Kelley formed the Sedro Land and Improvement Company sometime in the 1888-89 to start the alternate town that we call new Sedro, he purchased more than a hundred acres of Jameson's land and they became partners in the new town, sometimes called Kelleyville. [Return]

7. Earthquake
      Newspapers throughout the territory reported a series of earthquakes from Dec. 7-19, 1880. One on Dec. 7 was strong enough "that numerous persons fled into the street" on Bainbridge Island. On Sunday Dec. 12, 1880, an earthquake was strongly felt in Seattle, where it caused near panic in the Presbyterian Church downtown. At least a half dozen tremors were felt during that time, followed by a much harder jolt on April 30, 1882. See these sources: here and here. [Return]





8. Steamboats on upper Skagit River
(Van Fleet house 1960s)
This color photo of the Van Fleet home was taken sometime in the 1960s and shows an exterior chimney that was not there earlier when Eliza was photographed there with her bicycle.

      The blizzards of the winter of 1879-80 were among the most severe ever recorded by pioneers. Miners in the Ruby Creek area felled trees on the slopes of the North Cascades and when the snow had melted, the resulting stumps were sometimes 30-40 feet off the ground. The resulting runoff from the snowmelt raised the level of the river so much higher than usual that the named sternwheelers ascended the river way above the usual termini at Sterling and Hamilton. Keep in mind that volunteers had chopped holes in the log jams at Mount Vernon just a year or so before and that allowed sternwheelers to advance beyond the horseshoe bend for the first time. See the first book in the Skagit County Historical Series, Sternwheelers and the Skagit River, by Helen Barrett, who still lives near Mount Vernon. [Return]

9. Logging camps at Sterling and above and Charles Harmon
      The aforementioned Winfield Scott Jameson hired logging crews in the Sterling district as early as the mid-1870s and they felled trees near the riverbank, using ox teams to drag the logs to the river where they were floated down to a log dump on the south side of the Skagit near the future village of Riverside. His son-in-law, Charles Harmon, was foreman of a camp that was near where the four British bachelors staked homesteads in 1878 that became the twin villages of Sedro. Harmon was later elected sheriff of the new Skagit County. We will be profiling both Jameson and Harmon later in the winter of 2007-08 and we encourage readers to share copies of photos and documents about both men and that period. [Return]

10. Mrs. Batey and wives of the period
(Van Fleet Barn)
This photo of the Van Fleet barn was taken in the early 1990s when members of the Historical Society and Sedro-Woolley Museum gathered at the homestead. It has deteriorated markedly in the ensuing decades.

      Georgianna Batey joined her husband, David, at his homestead on the bend of what is now called Rhodes Road, west of Sedro-Woolley. David Batey was the leader of the four British bachelors who homesteaded from that point east to about present Township Street in 1878. Mrs. Batey was the first university-trained doctor (from Iowa) in Whatcom County at that time and possibly the first such on Puget Sound. We do not know about the other women mentioned, but again we encourage readers to share copies of photos and documents about the pioneer women of that period. We hope to expand our Pioneer Women collection to paint a fuller picture of their experience while chopping out a clearing in what was a forest wilderness in the 1878-1889 period before the first railroads arrived at the Skagit River. [Return]

11. Wicker and Mitchell
      We have shared a humorous autobiographical magazine article by Charles J. Wicker that describes the first attempts at homesteading and cabin-building in the Skiyou area in the winter and spring of 1884 and subscribers can find another feature in Issue 38 of the online Subscribers Journal magazine. These are the only mentions of Will Mitchell, who seems to have soon disappeared. We hope that a reader will have information about him. [Return]

12. Pawquit-zy and Indian villages
      This is the only reference to an old Indian by that name, but we also realize that Anglicized spelling of names that were hard for settlers to pronounce was sometimes far off the mark. We do know from the 1974 book, Valley of the Spirits, that author June McCormick Collins described four Indian encampments near Sedro-Woolley. The one south of the river was naturally named for the Big Rock on the way to Big Lake that became a landmark for whites as well as Indians. She describes a "large winter house," kakawacid, as being near Sterling, and "three small winter houses," wawalah, east of future Sedro-Woolley at Skiyou Slough. She described other small Indian villages in the area that were inhabited by "people who climb the bank," or residents who move to avoid the periodic high waters at this place in the river. Those spots included one near Lyman, one on Ross Island in the Skagit River near what became known as Minkler Lake and the Utopia district where I grew up, and others at Hamilton and at the mouth of Day Creek on the south shore of the river. We especially encourage those who have researched history of Indians of the area to share their findings with our readers. We will soon be sharing observations from various white settlers and researchers and we want very much to share the perspective from the other way. One thing we know for sure. Emmett Van Fleet took seriously another very old Indian from the Baker River area gave to one of the British bachelors, Joseph Hart: "See mud mark on tree; build higher." Others like Mortimer Cook and the promoters of early Hamilton did not heed that advice and would soon regret it during the floods of 1894, 1896 and 1897 [Return]

13. Catholics
      This is the earliest upriver settler reference to the early Catholic missionaries who ascended the river, from their base on Whidbey Island and near Swinomish Slough, to minister to the Indians before upper river settlement that started in 1877-78. We are planning an extensive review of early Catholic activity and we hope that readers will contribute copies of photos and documents that will help us tell the story. [Return]

14. Batey Slough
      We infer from her description that by "mouth of Batey Slough," she meant the western end, where it emptied into the Skagit River a mile or so west of future Sedro. Named for David Batey, the slough is apparently a remnant of an ancient river channel that hugged the cliff that we see running east from the bend at Rhodes Rhode to the area near Township Street and Riverfront Park where Mortimer Cook established his town of Bug in 1885. [Return]

15. Siwash
      Siwash is the Chinook Jargon word that was derived from the French word for Indian, sauvage. Settlers often used it to describe any Indian and it soon became a derogatory term. [Return]

16. Batey Road
      This is the earliest recorded reference to attempts to carve out a wagon road on the north shore of upper Skagit River. It probably followed the line of the present Rhodes Road and extended east to what became Jameson Avenue on high ground in future new Sedro. George Savage settled with his family in western Skagit County in 1873-74, but was best known for taking over Birdsey Minkler's sawmill later that decade on the south shore of the Skagit River across from what became the town of Birdsview on the north shore. [Return]

17. Sterling School
      Read this Journal story of Sterling School and its early rural successors. [Return]

18. Joseph Wilson
      Joseph Wilson left his mark on two different stretches of the Skagit River. After investing in land which is now part of downtown Seattle and which became very valuable, Wilson first settled near the South Fork of the Skagit River. Then, after he was one of the principals who helped open up the log jams near future Mount Vernon, he moved his family upriver to what became known as the Skitopia district, between Skiyou and Utopia. The school district there was initially named Wilson for him in 1885. [Return]

19. Steamboat Dan Benson
      Dan Benson was the caption of the sternwheeler Chehalis, which was one of the first steamboats to establish a regular run on the Skagit River. His parents and siblings first lived in Seattle, where they were associates of sawmill owner Henry Yesler. They eventually moved up to Dan's homestead next to Van Fleets and the creek named for the family, which is now named Hansen Creek. See this Journal website about the family: ( ); it is from our old domain and many of the links from there will not work. [Return]

20. Fairie Cook
      She was the eldest daughter of Mortimer Cook, the founder of Bug/Sedro and came north from Santa Barbara, California, with his sister, Nina, and her mother to join Mortimer in the summer of 1885. You can read about all the Cooks and Bug and old Sedro by the river at this Cook-portal introduction site. [Return]

Links, background reading and sources
      See the Table of Contents of Issue 39 for the links to these stories in the Van Fleet family saga about their settlement in the Skiyou district east of Sedro in 1880 and their family back in Pennsylvania.

Story posted on May 30, 2007 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
Updated: September 2016

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(bullet) See this Journal Timeline website of local, state, national, international events for years of the pioneer period.
(bullet) Did you enjoy these stories and histories? The process continues as we compile and collaborate on research about Northwest history. Can you help? Remember; we welcome correction, criticism and additions to the record.
(bullet) Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. With more than 800 features, we depend on your report. Thank you.

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