(SLSE Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition, where 450 of 700 stories originate
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, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Magazine archives for subscribers
Archives 1-32
Archives 33-43
Archives 44-52

Menu of Historical Delicacies, Issue 43, March-April 2008

Magazine articles that chronicled the time preceding the birth of Sedro-Woolley. All stories extensively annotated for the pleasure of our subscribers.

Articles about booming Sedro, circa 1890
(Board of Trade)
Sedro on the Skagit River, August 1890 Washington Magazine article that introduced readers to the booming town on the Skagit.
Sedro's Improvements, October 1890 Washington Magazine article that listed improvements already made to the two towns of Sedro.
    The "Improvements" story above includes a fascinating endnote discovery that ties Sedro with Seattle attorney Elbert F. Blaine and the 1994 suicide of Seattle musician Kurt Cobain.
    Sedro and the coal mines near the Skagit River, 1890-91 Fairhaven Illustratedmagazine article that explained why the Fairhaven & Southern Railroad was built between Fairhaven on Bellingham Bay and Sedro on the Skagit, with all its resources.
Articles about booming Woolley, circa 1890-91
(Woolley mill)
Woolley, the hub of Skagit Count, November 1890 Washington Magazine article that introduced readers to the booming town where 3 railroads would soon cross.
Woolley has a leg up, 1891 Graphic Magazine article from Chicago that provided many details and statistics about Woolley's sudden rise and resources of Skagit Valley.
More columns by Frank Wilkeson, New York Times columnist
while living in Hamilton and Fairhaven, circa 1890s

(Frank Wilkeson)
Wilkeson's 1884 Sun River (Montana) Sun column of Sept. 18, 1884, about a frontier trader and his dog.
Wilkeson's 1885 New York Sun story about Poker on the Wenatchee River and the scamp, Butch the Butcher.
Other new Issue 43 features
  • Updated transcription of an account of Otto Pressentin and his 10 years in outback BC, 1911-21, by Ray Jordan
  • E.R. Million, Mount Vernon attorney and capitalist from 1889 to 1906, associate of timberman Ed English and friend of the high and mighty.
  • The Courthouse Fight of 1909, when Burlington tried to wrest the courthouse from Mount Vernon.
  • George Hopp, editor of Sedro Press, first newspaper, mayor and postmaster, and one of three brothers who published newspapers all over Iowa, Dakota Territory and Washington. In which the reader will learn the history of several Dakota towns; the connection with writer Laura Ingalls Wilder; the history of Marysville, Bridgeport and Camas, Washington, and how a murder led to an important opportunity for George.

Menu of Historical Delicacies, Issue 42,
January-February 2008

Otto Klement, 1873 Skagit Settler, Father of Lyman
Klement Biography updated with genealogy
Hogtied! Good Ole Boys boil a pig, Lyman 1881
New: Otto's early years on the Skagit
New: Farming methods and earthquakes 1870s & '80s
New: winter weather and frozen Skagit River
New: early attempts at Cascade Pass Road
As with many of our features, we have extensively annotated the Cascade Pass story, including profiles of pioneers: Pass namesake James D. Hannegan; Superintendent of Schools Richard O. Welts; Governor Henry McBride; Senator Key Pitman; attorney/legislator William V. Wells; painter Julian E. Itter; and author Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Edward Eldridge, Whatcom Pioneer 1853 & his mysterious name change
Updated biography with new genealogy from descendants and more answers about the secret that almost did him in
Updated profile of his son, Hugh Eldridge, & capsule biographies of other early Whatcom children. (Link repaired June 20, 2008.)
Other new Issue 42 features
  • Walter Washington deLacy, father of the Old Military Road and the Whatcom Trail to Fraser River, and his fascinating life before and after his Whatcom years.
  • Otto Pressentin, his 10 years in outback BC, 1911-21, by Ray Jordan
  • Biography of the Northwest writer, June Burn and her book, Living High.
  • A 1977 letter and a 1943 postcard and June Burn and Birdsview pioneer Catherine Savage Pulsipher that reveals Pulsipher's identity as Mountain Katy in June Burn's book, Living High. For more background on these and other upriver families, see Dan Royal's Stump Ranch about upriver history and the Boyd, Savage and Royal families.
  • Journal research into the first schools in Whatcom County and the area that became Skagit County in 1883. (This feature will be updated completely in the summer of 2008 from new research.
Menu of Historical Delicacies, Issue 41,
November-December 2007

Click thumbnails for story:
(Eagle Shingle Co.)
Slipper family history

(Isabel and Christy.)
Isabel Hammer story
The Slipper family of Hamilton
R.I.P. Fred Slipper, 1917-2007, son of an early Hamilton businessman and he managed the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times for many years.
The Slipper Brothers and their Sprinkle-sister wives, who influenced the town of Hamilton from 1890 on, and the Slipper Hamilton home, which now serves as a museum.
Read John Slipper's hilarious 1942 letter to the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, with many anecdotes about Hamilton and the Skagit River in the same issue.
The story behind the Hammer Heritage Square family:
Isabel Hammer, Kansas and Skagit pioneer — the Blue Lady.
The Hammer Mansion, home to Emerson and Isabel Hammer
Allen and Roray, town finally explained:
Part One — we explain the mystery of the Allen and Roray dueling names for the town and the mill the two men opened there.
Part Two — Allen's favorite son, Joy Busha, and a 1959 history of the town from the 1880s on.
Ray Jordan: two vanished townships north of Woolley:
Town of Hoogdal and the Swedish families who settled there.
Capt. John Warner and his beautiful Warner's Prairie.
Two pioneer biographies:
Horace Condy, Woolley jeweler, optician, music dealer from 1900, father of the Condy clock.
George and Dwight Brosseau family, Sterling and Sedro pioneers, and Edna Brosseau who sewed Sedro's first 4th of July flag in 1890.
Upcoming Journal history shows:
Attention: Thanks to all the history lovers who attended our special history photo and document shows in Burlington and especially the last one in Concrete, the best one so far. We are working with sponsors now for an upcoming repeat show in Concrete sometime this fall and a show in Mount Vernon sometime this fall. Both will feature walkabouts to see historic locations, especially the one in Mount Vernon, which will trace the original downtown pre-fires of 1891 and 1900. Please email if you would like to attend or know more details and we will alert you.

Menu of Historical Delicacies, Issue 40,
August-October 2007

(Bill Jarman)

(Samish Island Cover)
William R. "Blanket Bill" Jarman, the first full study in 50 years about the first Whatcom/Skagit settler and all the myths
A profile of William R. Jarman and the legends of Blanket Bill, researched, discussed and debated, Part One
A profile of William R. Jarman and the legends of Blanket Bill, researched, discussed debated, Part Two.
Ray Jordan's story of Blanket Bill and Jarman Prairie, from his point of view as a young Belfast neighbor.
Percival R. Jeffcott's book of Blanket Bill Jarman and the mysteries and legends, some debunked, and a profile of Jeffcott.
Bessemer, Birdsview and the Elliott Hotel, owned by Bill's daughter, Alice, and her husband, James Elliott.
Kitsap County, Slaughter County and a Jarman myth debunked
Port Townsend, the birth of the town and Bill's first Washington home
The history of the S'Klallam and Chemakum tribes of the Olympic Peninsula. William R. Jarman lived with them and met his wife, Alice, and Chief Sehome there.
We review the fine new book, Samish Island, a History, by Sue and Fred Miller, which all Skagit history-lovers will want to read, along with those who want to learn about the geology of the Puget Sound area and the "pre-history" of the Indians of the archipelago before the white settlers arrived.
We were shocked and saddened just as we went to press, when we learned of the death of Robert Jeffcott, grandson of Percival R. Jeffcott. Our hearts go out to his family, who grieve his passing.
Thinking about gifts for gifts, reunions, birthdays or other occasions? Due to continued popular demand, in the interest of furthering our "open source" policy, we have assembled a collection of CDs that include MS Word files of our pioneer profiles and town profiles from years 1-5, so that the reader can print them individually at your convenience, even without access to the Internet. They will be organized by region: Sedro-Woolley & surrounding area; Upper Skagit River from Utopia to Cascades plus logging, hunting and fishing; Western Skagit County and other counties. CD #1 is now being shipped. See our site with details of what is offered and the prices and ordering information..

      Attention: We have totally updated the archives, updated links to the old domain and cleared the decks of the dead links that we found. This is part of our ongoing project to update and redesign the entire website and to aid the reader in navigating well more than 625 features.
      You can find links to all stories in Issues 1-39 in this website: Issues 33-39 or Issues 1-32, sorted by topic and region.

Subscribers Journal Online
Menu of Historical Delicacies, Issue 39, May-June 2007

(Van Fleet Family)

(Van Fleet Family)
The Van Fleet family, first pioneer family to settle in the Skiyou area east of Sedro-Woolley, 1880
Eliza Van Fleet summarized her family bona fides for her application to the DAR in 1928
Ethel Van Fleet Harris's 1968 memories of her family's early days in Skiyou from 1880 on.
The Van Fleet family floats down the Skagit for the their first Christmas here in 1880
Van Fleet family letter back to Pennsylvania, 1890s, from their Skiyou homestead
Eliza Van Fleet's family history from the 1906 Illustrated History. Extensive annotation.
More Van Fleet stories will follow. Can you help with copies or scans of articles, obituaries or photos?
Other Issue 39 features
Skagit City, the 1870s city at the forks of the Skagit River that marked the early days of lower-river settlement
(Skagit City)
The bell tolls for old Skagit City School, 1998. Update 2007: that was premature, join us for picnic on July 15
(Skagit City School)
Genealogy special: history of old Ireland, by Alice Stopford Green
(Ancient Ireland)
Remembering Herb Larsen, guiding light of the Concrete Heritage Museum, and keeper of the flame
(Herb Larsen)

Menu of Historical Delicacies, Issue 38, March-April 2007
Daniel Jefferson Harris, the very colorful founder of Fairhaven. We researched the legends about him, confirm some, debunk others, and we found the Dr. Shorb who relieved Dan of his fortune in Los Angeles just before Dan's death.
(Dan Harris) Jim Rich as Dan Harris
(bullet)Introduction to Dan and his timeline
(bullet)Dr. Andrew S. Shorb, Part 1: (bullet)18th-century immigration
    (bullet)Hohenzollerns (bullet)Pennsylvania Dutch
(bullet)Dr. Shorb, Part 2: (bullet)Homeopathy (bullet)Los Angeles History (bullet)Criminal record
    (bullet)J. DeBarth Shorb & San Gabriel Winery (bullet)Don Benito Wilson
    (bullet)George S. Patton.

Frank Teck's series about Harris in Fairhaven Herald, 1903:
April 4, 1903:
Dan's beginnings in Whatcom (bullet) Fairhaven founded 1883

April 11, 1903:
(bullet)Epochs in Dan history
(bullet)His Fairhaven Hotel
(bullet)Townsite sale to Bennett

April 25, 1903:
(bullet)Dan died 1890
(bullet)Estate sues Dr. Shorb
(bullet)1890s Depression in Fairhaven

Schedule for Dirty Dan Days in Fairhaven April 28-29, 2007
(James Wardner)
An updated Fairhaven Biography series: (bullet)Introduction to James Wardner . . . (bullet)Wardner's Consolidated Black Cat Co. Ltd . . . (bullet)1982 Idaho Miner magazine profile of Wardner . . . (bullet)Frank Wilkeson's 1887 New York Times column about the town of Wardner, Idaho.
The Two-Spot Lokey at the entrance to Woolley. Puget Sound & Baker River Railroad's logging legacy welcomes visitors
(Two-spot locomotive)
Bobby Burns, "Mayor of Fairhaven" and general cut-up, the "Bunnies Man," obituary from 1980.
(Bobby Burns)
Charles Woodworth, long-lost but now-found namesake for Sedro-Woolley's street. And a Tacoma promoter.
(Dream Theater)
Charles J. Wicker arrives in Sedro in 1884, on the way to becoming county's most powerful real estate agent.
Go West Young Man:
who wrote it? Horace Greeley or John B. Soule?

Menu of Historical Delicacies, Issue 37, November-December 2006
George F. Kyle's Anacortes Hotel, symbol of the magnificent boom of 1890 and also the bust that followed almost immediately.
(Anacortes Hotel)
Rebuilding downtown Woolley post-July 1911 devastating fire. The birth of our brick downtown.
(Swastika Building)
The Legend of Big Rock, updated from our original feature. Plus Calamity Jane's gun found at Baker Heights, and the modern Big Rock Grocery.
(Swastika Building)
Gertrude Sawyer, nurse and matron at the old Memorial Hospital in Sedro-Woolley.
(Gertrude Sawyer)
(William Lightfoot Visscher)
William Lightfoot Visscher: poet, troubadour, editor in Fairhaven and Tacoma; nationwide performer & author

to Visscher

Biography Part 1
Kentucky to Tacoma

Part 2 Fairhaven, Tacoma, Chicago
Lewis O. Saum profiles
Visscher, Part One

Lewis O. Saum:
Part Two

Humorous Visscher profiles by Bill Nye

Volume Six, Issue 36, October 2006

    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2010, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. Thank you.
  • Complete growing list of all the Mollie Dowdle stories in the Journal, and the 1966 introduction that the Skagit Valley Herald wrote about her.
  • Mollie Dowdle lived to the age of 97 and she had quite a gene pool. In this 1963 column, she told us about her father, his Tarheel values and how her family maintained the values and culture in Hamilton and the upper Skagit River.
  • In a 1966 column, Mollie reflected on her Tarheel ancestry and eternal laughter with her upper Skagit River family, including observance of "Decoration Day," not only in late May but on Sundays in times of good weather.
  • In a 1975 column, Mollie Dowdle wrote about springtime along the fence and behind the barn on the family's upper Skagit River farm, and the ubiquitous cottonwood trees.
  • In a 1963 column, Mollie wrote about her mother and the challenge she faced with her family, setting up a home clear across the country.
  • Mollie tells the story of how her beloved grandfather, Malcolm Woods, moved his family and four-year-old Mollie out to the Skagit Valley from North Carolina, where poverty, disease and death had taken several of them while very young.
  • We especially thank Pat Hegg Brown, Deanna Ammons, Bernie Leaf and Larry Spurling for the large collection of articles that they have shared with us, some of which includes these columns. We encourage readers to share similar columns with us. We also welcome copies of old newspapers, especially those before 1920 and copies of the annual Puget Sound Mail Pioneer Picnic special editions of any year. We never ask for your originals. Please either send us scans or for copies, you can find our mail address at the top or bottom of this story.
Other Issue 36 features
  • Story of a 1990 discovery of an Indian Loom that helps us understand the Indian culture of the Skagit River and the dogs of the area that gave their fur for clothing.
  • David M. Donnelly, Woolley pioneer and early butcher, postmaster and dairyman who was honored at 2006 Sedro-Woolley Founders Days.
Our continuing series on Whatcom, our mother county
  • Three-part biography of Whatcom pioneer Edward Eldridge Part one and his wife, Teresa Lapin Eldridge, the "mother" of Whatcom. Includes the heretofore unpublished story of Edward's real name and his leadership of the women suffrage movement in Washington Territory. Includes several biographies and obituaries of the parents and children and extensive annotations from Journal research. (Updated in Issue 42)
  • Whatcom pioneer Edward Eldridge, part two and his wife, Theresa Lapin Eldridge, biographies and obituary.
  • Whatcom pioneer Edward Eldridge, part three and his wife, Theresa Lapin Eldridge, and children, biographies and obituary.
  • Whatcom pioneer Hugh Eldridge, part four and his memories of very early Whatcom, including many names of original children of the village, plus a profile from 1951. (Updated in Issue 42)

Volume Six, Issue 35, August-September 2006

  • Samuel Simpson Tingley Part One, Washington Territory pioneer of 1859, who settled on the north fork of the Skagit in 1867 and then Day Creek in 1880. From Maine boyhood through Civil War and meeting his first wife, a Mercer Girl on the ship to Washington Territory.
  • Samuel Simpson Tingley Part Two, Washington Territory pioneer of 1859, who settled on the north fork of the Skagit in 1867 and then Day Creek in 1880. Settles at South Fork, raises family, blacksmith in Mount Vernon, loses first wife, marries again to doctoress, settles at Day Creek, builds boats and ferries for Skagit River.
  • Seneca G. Ketchum Biography Part 1. Feisty pioneer 1899 Sedro-Woolley newspaper editor in his years before arriving in Washington Territory in 1888. And his family, 17th-century English immigrants, pioneer settlers of Toronto, Ontario, and businessmen of New York State.
  • Seneca G. Ketchum Biography Part 2. Feisty pioneer 1899 Sedro-Woolley newspaper editor in his years after arriving in Fairhaven, Washington; his adventures in Nelson, B.C. and Spokane, and his publishing years in newly merged Sedro-Woolley.
  • Lucinda Davis, a divorcee from Denver, arrived at the Cascade River in 1890 with her children, Frank, Glee and Idessa, and they braved floods and fires to live at Goodell's Landing and to establish Cedar Bar, the most famous Skagit River roadhouse.
  • The Jacob and Will Lowman families of Anacortes. Businessmen, justice of the peace, mayor, inventor, school teacher and early seafodd industry pioneers. First of a series on the family, by Claudia A. Lowman.
  • Helen Mathews Burns, now 91, recalls her childhood home in the Utopia district — also the home of your humble editor, and her father, James Hood Mathews. Includes the story of their relatives, the pioneer George Brosseau and family of Sterling and old Sedro, and their friends, the Reische family of Utopia.
  • Dr. Jesse Kennedy has good news. Gilbert Landre's cabin, a longtime mining landmark near Cascade Pass since the 1890s, is being shored up and partially restored in 2006. Photos and summary of plans. And see the Journal introduction to Landre.
  • Tom Benton's 1965 history of Rockport and the role that his von Pressentin family played in its birth.

Volume Six, Issue 34, June-July 2006

Various new photo features in this issue
  • A profile of the William Henry Harrison Cressey family, 1890 pioneers in Burlington. Includes photographs and obituaries of Mrs. Rachel P. Cressey. Story being totally updated later in 2009.
  • Transcription of the April 2, 1903, edition of the Skagit County Times of Sedro-Woolley. Includes the first mention of the Dempsey Brothers upper-Skagit River logging operations, several stories about logging and mills, and copies of actual ads.
Charlie Easton's Used Books
History of Anacortes and Fidalgo Island area
  • See the Anacortes/Fidalgo Island/Deception Pass Portal Page with links to other stories about that region and its people, and the story of how the Seattle & Northern Railroad fueled the boom.
  • Introduction to Amos Bowman's writing: Before and After — the Anacortes founder publishes an 1879 letter predicting the boom and follows up with an 1890 article answering his own predictions. Includes brief profile and timeline for Amos and his wife, Annie (Curtis), namesake of the town.
  • Capsule profiles of Anacortes and Fidalgo Island pioneers, businesses and place names, Part 1: A-L
  • Capsule profiles of Anacortes and Fidalgo Island pioneers, businesses and place names, Part 2: M-R
  • Capsule profiles of Anacortes and Fidalgo Island pioneers, businesses and place names, Part 3: S-Z
(North side of State-1)
      Read the new story about the Opera House and Moose Lodge in Sedro-Woolley. This photo from Dale and Marilyn Thompson shows the north side of the 200 block of State Street in Sedro-Woolley during the Loggerodeo Grand Parade in 1950. Roger Peterson pegged the year because Miss Roetger, Loggerodeo Queen, is in a brand new Larry Stave Oldsmobile. She was named Miss Washington and competed in the Miss America pageant later that year.
    To get your bearings, imagine that the old J.C. Penney/present Bus Jungquist furniture building is to the left. The woodframe building with the tall, vertical panes of glass is the Pressentin Plumbing shop. Then there is a wooden doorway to the right, between the Pressentin building and the Opera House/Moose Hall, which has the brick front and a sign hanging out front, "Radio Repair." To the right, or east, would be the Huggins Auto Parts shop and then the Sedro-Woolley Laundry, which you may recall had a very tall smokestack. Can any of you remember the exact date that the laundry and buildings around it burned, circa 1965? We hope that by posting these photos, a reader will recall details about all these buildings and specifically the old Opera House, which was apparently razed in 1972. See three more photos below. Unfortunately, these are the only views of the Opera House building and we hope that a reader will scans with a better view of it.

Volume Six, Issue 33, April-May 2006

(Indian canoe)
This photo of an Indian canoe near Marblemount was taken by Darius Kinsey of Sedro-Woolley and appeared in Sebring's Illustrated magazine in 1902. See the story about Otto Pressentin and how he reacted to the 1897 Skagit River flood when he was a schoolteacher in Marblemount.

  • Articles profiling the history of the Goodyear-Nelson mill of Sedro-Woolley, and Journal research about this company, which became the town's first "modern" mill in 1928.
  • Sedro-Woolley's Opera House, the Bowery Square and the building that became the Moose Club, fully updated from our recent newspaper research.
  • In 1958, Otto Pressentin recalled the 1897 Skagit River flood that wiped out several downriver towns and how he helped save the books and bell from the Marblemount School where he was teaching. Part 4 of the Otto B.C. Series, 1911-21. Plus, we have now found the complete article that started the series, from April 24, 1958. See the restored text in Part Two.
  • Part 2: Obituaries and other articles about Ed V. Pressentin, Updated from Issue 31: and his father, A.V. Pressentin, Karl's younger brother. Includes a brief recap of the von Pressentins in Germany and in the U.S. This story has been re-posted with a newspaper story from 1907, but may be updated once we receive more information from von Pressentin descendants.
  • James Madison Shields, LaConner pioneer schoolteacher and Mount Vernon judge, and his in-laws, the Calhouns.
Newest transcription of rare old newspapers
  • Deanna Ammons shares the long-lost, rare inaugural issue of Bow's newspaper, the Northwest Skagit Advocate, Oct. 10, 1908. Part One: Publisher's plans, local news and a recap of early pioneers of the Fidalgo Island area.
  • Part Two, the Northwest Skagit Advocate, Oct. 10, 1908: early days of town of Bow and environs.
  • Part Three, the Northwest Skagit Advocate, Oct. 10, 1908: early days of town of Edison, at the delta of the Samish River.
  • Part Four, the Northwest Skagit Advocate, Oct. 10, 1908: advertisements of Samish Valley towns. Includes the newly discovered explanation of the names of the railroad stops and towns of Roray and Allen.
  • We have completely updated a profile of Euphronius Watkinson, who was one of the earliest pioneers of Edison along with his brother, Melbourne, and who was also a pioneer settler of the town of Allen. New photos from descendants and more genealogical information.

Story posted on June 22, 2009 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue xx of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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(bullet) Our newest sponsor: Cygnus Gallery, 109 Commercial St., half-block uphill from Main Street, LaConner. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 p.m., featuring new monthly shows with many artists, many local. Across the street from Maple Hall, 1886 Bank Building and Marcus Anderson's 1969 historic cabin. Their website will be up in early 2010.
(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 88 years.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20, day, week or month, perfect for hunting or fishing
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley
(bullet) Joy's Sedro-Woolley Bakery-Cafe at 823 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley.
(bullet) Check out Sedro-Woolley First section for links to all stories and reasons to shop here first
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