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(S and N Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition
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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F.A. Hegg family, Part Two
Fred became a business leader with the
Union Mercantile and the First National Bank

(Frances Hegg Moody)
Frances Hegg Moody, Sedro-Woolley High School Kumtux 1925

      As the new century dawned, Fred became a very active partner with George Green's son-in-law Emerson Hammer. Emerson came here from Kansas as a newlywed in February 1889 and started as a clerk for Mortimer Cook at the general store in Sterling, two miles to the west on the north shore of the Skagit. Fred and Emerson would become two of the strongest leaders of the new town of Sedro-Woolley after the two earlier towns merged in December 1898. Five years later their two stores united to form the Union Mercantile Company, affectionately known as the Merc, the first actual department store in town.
      They and partners W.W. Caskey, A.W. Davison incorporated the company on Jan. 10, 1903, and capitalized it for $50,000. The four principals held 24 shares each and four shares were held by Max C. Zuncsa, about whom we have no record. The goals of the company included everything but the kitchen sink: to buy and sell groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes, general mercantile, establish branch stores; buy, lease, sell, mortgage and convey real and personal estates; issue notes, debentures, mortgages, borrow money, loan money on notes etc.; mining and prospecting for materials, ores and oil lands, purchase and deal in mining claims and stocks. George Green attended early meetings but did not have any official role in the company; at age 63 he had effectively retired.
      Some family members note that Fred did very well in the Klondike and afterwards with the Merc. Along the way he built up enough clout to compete with another pioneer businessman, C.E. Bingham, who established the first successful bank in the community back on July 30, 1890, when he and H.L. Holbrook set up offices in old Sedro by the river. For the next 15 years Bingham overcame his competition and became a real power in the twin cities. Then in 1905, John C. Wixson, president of the Big Lake Lumber Co. approached Dr. C.C. Harbaugh and retailer August Peterson about setting up a second bank in the merged town. Harbaugh had clout of his own as the first university-trained surgeon in town and as the son-in-law to P.A. Woolley. He also hired Fred Bentley, an experienced bank cashier, and he invited F.A. Hegg to become a major shareholder in the new venture.
      In 1905, Arthur C. Seidell, a Civil War veteran who moved to Woolley as a granary operator in the mid-1890s, erected a building at the northwest corner of Ferry and Metcalf — the location of the new Hammer Heritage Square, and the new bank was to be its anchor tenant on the main floor with the entrance at the corner. Articles of Incorporation for the First National Bank were drawn up in May 1905 and Wixson's connection with the logging business immediately brought in substantial depositors. In 1907 the partners hired as assistant cashier Fred Fellows, a young man who moved from Dixon, Illinois, to Burlington in 1905 to be telegrapher and cashier for the Great Northern Railroad. Within a couple of years, Bentley was discharged due to shortages discovered at the bank and the partners recruited John Guddall, a cashier from Gillett Grove, Iowa, to be the new cashier. The First National continued until 1932 as a major competitor to Bingham's bank, even after the famous bank robbery of Oct. 27, 1914, when Guddall, townspeople and the police fought back with a running gunfight with masked robbers.

The second Hegg family grew with Fannie
      Meanwhile, Hegg's second family grew with his new wife. Florence Hegg was born on June 3, 1901, followed by Ralph Elwood Hegg, nicknamed "Pete," on Jan. 29, 1903, right after The Merc was formed. Two more girls soon came along: Evalene Hegg, called "Evie," born on March 10, 1906, and Frances Jean Hegg, born in the Hegg home on Aug. 26, 1907. What a gaggle that must have been. Bill may have moved out of the house by that time, but seven children were left at the house and the two eldest children were teenage girls who were the toast of Sedro-Woolley society, attracting many young swains. Again we share Frances Hegg Moody's memories (courtesy of her niece, the late Patricia Hegg Brown):
      Pappa had promised his mother never to lose his membership in the Lutheran Church. Since there wasn't one nearby, Pappa brought us up in the Presbyterian church [one block south, across Talcott Street from Minnie Batey]. He thought God was in charge of all churches. Sunday was always an important day. Mama had baked and prepared food on Saturday. And before the days of running water, the kitchen was turned into a bathroom on Saturday nights. Water from the back porch pump was brought in, heated in big kettles on top of the old wood and coal range. Because of time consumed, two wash tubs were brought in so two baths could be taken at one time. With three boys and five girls, one of each had the privilege of privacy.
      Sunday morning was a busy time. Pappa gave the usual orders. The little kids must be ready for Sunday School at 8:45, the older ones ready to attend church with Mama and Pappa at 10:45. The boys hustled upstairs to change into their Sunday suits, best shirts and ties. Shoes must be polished with a high shine. May and I had light blond straight hair and had to report to Mama in the downstairs guest bedroom. The old oil lamp was lit, the curling iron plunged into the sooty glass shade to heat. We both squealed if the iron touched or got too near our ears. We were pleased with the results. Then the girls filed out to the rear of the house where a bush of beautiful yellow roses stood. Each clipped and pinned a rose on our freshly laundered white dress. In wintertime a holly sprig on our coats replaced the roses.
      After church service, Pappa and Mama visited outside with their farmer friends. Always inviting a family home for dinner, Mama never got a refusal, being an excellent cook and a warm, friendly hostess. It was always a pleasant day. The guests would leave before sunset and then it was family time in the parlor. Music instruments were brought out. Bill played the clarinet, Pete the coronet, Earl the drums, Mildred the violin. Florence and May took turns on the piano and Evalene and I joined the audience. Everyone felt a part of the whole in the family circle. After the music session we had a supper of Pappa's favorite food. Mama always had a crock of pickled herring made under his directions. He called it something like "sill." The other kids didn't like it but I was known as "Pappa's little Dumpling" and to please him I ate it and eventually learned to relish it. Then he would clap his hands and sing "Pie, Pie, Apple Pie," which was his favorite dessert with a big helping of cheese. We ate the sill with cold boiled potatoes. Other than sill and cold boiled potatoes, anything and everything was the favorite of the other kids.

      The author can attest to Fannie's cooking ability because his mother's best friend was Susie Alverson and we were invited to dinners and afternoon tea at the Hegg House in the 1950s. Fred built their home in two sections. The nucleus was at the eastern end of the lot and he doubled it in size for his new children with Fannie. Hegg descendant Diane Marinig, who was born in the house, recalls her joy when visiting there while attending grade school in Sedro-Woolley and especially recalls the exquisite dining room furniture. Descendant Jill Megow also spent a lot of her childhood there as she also attended grade school in town.

(Gold panning)
F.A. pans for gold on Ruby creek, circa 1918. Photo from Diane Marinig

Hegg & Son grocery was born
      According to an article in the March 28, 1907, Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, the Sauk Shingle Co. was capitalized that week for $35,000 with partners George Green, Emerson Hammer, F.A. Hegg, Ad W. Davison and W.W. Caskey, as an outgrowth of the Union Mercantile Co. The original mill had thrived after the Seattle & Northern Railroad built through to Rockport in 1900. The Sauk Mill became the central industry of the little village along the north shore of the Skagit and Garnet Thompson ran the mill store, which later served as the main trading center in the Sauk area (as the Sauk store) and is now a private home.
      Three years later, Fred Hegg decided to start a business that he could eventually turn over to his sons. At that point, in early 1910, Fred seems to have shifted his energy away from the Merc, both to his mill and a separate Hegg business designed for his sons. His oldest son, William "Bill" Hegg, was 21. Earl Boynton's Leader Grocery was up for sale in a woodframe building about where Paul Kelly's Cascade Fabrics is located in 2008 in the old Knights of Pythias building on the west side of the 800 block of Metcalf Street. Boynton planned to move to Concrete and an Oct. 20, 1910, the Courier-Times reported that F.A. and William Hegg were "moving their immense stock of goods to new quarters at Hegg & Son grocery" a block south from Fred's original store. Possibly the Merc needed the former Hegg space next door for expansion, but that would have soon been a moot point because in July 1911 a great fire leveled the old Merc buildings on Metcalf, along with half of the wooden structures in the downtown, and the partners soon rebuilt with a stone-front building to satisfy their insurance company.
      The pages of the Merc corporate book for those years are missing so we do not know Hegg's role in the company at that time, but researcher Roger Peterson found records that indicated that Emerson Hammer's son, George, replaced Hegg in management at the Merc in 1914 when George was 25 and Hegg was 54. In that same year, the Heggs replaced the old Leader Grocery building with their own new brick building next door at 818 Metcalf where the Hometown Cafe stands in 2008 in the same structure.
      Fred's grandson, the late Peter Hegg, recalled a story that Fred had the alley behind the store paved and a ramp built so that delivery wagons could pull up to the warehouse across the street (where the back side of the old Marketplace Grocery is located) to pick up grain and feed for farm animals. When Fred saw that the automobile was proving to be successful, he replaced his wagons with Ford trucks and he installed a gas pump back in the alley. Free delivery of groceries was an important service back in the days before roads were paved.
      Bill, the oldest of the Hegg children, worked hard and put off marriage until he got to know Cora Benson, the daughter of Sam and Nettie (Redmeyer) Benson, who had a filbert farm near the Crescent slough in the Skiyou area east of Sedro-Woolley. They married on Sept. 14, 1915, in Sedro-Woolley. Her brother Al was hired as a delivery driver for the Hegg grocery and later started a store of his own on Jameson Street. Cora was born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1891 and her parents moved out to Skagit County when she was a little girl. Earl Hegg, age 19 when his older brother married, also worked at the store. He was in the same class in high school as Cora's younger sister Pearl and they got to know each other better at family gatherings. Two years later, Earl married Pearl in Olympia on June 20, 1917. The alliteration of their names must have been a good omen; they were happily married for 60 years.

(Hegg house)
      Hegg house, 2006. Photo by Brett.

Midge Hegg marries future-mayor Puss Stendal
      That was a big year for weddings in the Hegg family. May Hegg, the second oldest Hegg child, married John Joseph Fife of Sedro-Woolley and her younger sister Mildred, nicknamed Midge, married Percival Ansel "Puss" Stendal on Aug. 8 in Mount Vernon. All four of Fred Hegg's children by Mollie Douglas were now married. Puss Stendal was a year younger than Midge, born Sept. 12, 1894, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. His parents, John and Mary Stendal, moved out to Ballard in 1903 so that John could cook at one of the mills there. Ballard was still separate from Seattle and was dotted with more than a dozen shingle and lumber mills. It was known as the largest shingle-producer in the world. John moved on to cook at Van Horn in 1905. Puss stayed behind in Ballard with his mother and siblings for three or four years so that all the children could attend school there. He finished grade school in Ballard and then he and his mother moved up to Van Horn to join John when Puss finished his freshman year of high school. Apparently he took time off to work in the woods because he graduated from Sedro-Woolley High School in 1915 at age 20. After graduation, Puss pursued a teacher's preparation course at Thomas Normal College in Detroit and then returned to Blaine where he coached all high school athletics in the district there.
      The Hammer-Green-Mill mill was located just a few miles east of Van Horn and Earl worked there as much as he worked at the Hegg grocery. As you will read in our separate profile of Earl, his passion in life besides his family was fishing. Puss Stendal and Howard Miller, who have both passed away and who also loved fishing, told a nearly identical story of how Earl played hookey from the mill whenever the spirit moved him. A long conveyor belt carried trimmed logs up to the mill from ground level and Earl learned how to jam it now and then, meaning that the operation had to stop until the machine could be prepared. Those occasions were noted by observers as the nearest Fred Hegg ever came to swearing like one of his lumberjacks. He muttered under his breath and threw shingle bolts about as he watched his youngest son walk away grinning towards a sand bar on the Skagit, hoisting his fishing pole against his shoulder as a soldier would his rifle. In those mid-teen years, no one realized how soon a real rifle would replace the pole.
      Just a year after his marriage to Midge, Puss enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 21, 1918, and was assigned to Camp Lewis. Six months before that, 22-year-old Earl Hegg joined the U.S. Aviation Corps on Nov. 25, 1917, and was assigned to Fort Lawton. He mustered out at Kelly Field, Vancouver, Washington, Barracks on Dec. 19, 1918. Puss mustered out the next day. Neither of them was sent overseas. May's husband, John Fife, also volunteered for World War I, so the four of them always had war stories and tall tales to share.
      When Earl returned from the service, he rejoined his two brothers at the store but the business name remained as Hegg & Son until 1927. The grocery was doing very well by 1918 and Fred decided to take part of his profits, which he usually plowed back into the business, to completely rebuild and remodel the family home on Warner on its old foundation. In 1920, Puss was offered a job teaching back in Wisconsin, but Midge objected and Fred offered him a job at the grocery instead. Two years later he went to work for the Merc and stayed with the company until it closed 13 years later. As Bill Stendal, Puss's surviving son, recalls, his father "always talked about selling lace up shoes for ladies." In 1921, Earl signed up as a charter member of the volunteer fire department in town, soon to be joined by Puss. They both ran to fight fires for more than 30 years and Fuzz was the last of the charter members to serve.

Earl becomes Fuzzy Wuzzy
      We found in the 1923 Skagit County Polk Directory that F.A. Hegg was once again at the helm of the Union Mercantile, holding the office of president. Back in 1921, George Hammer left the firm to form a partnership with tailor Joe Oliver in the Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop, a block south on Metcalf Street. In a Merc corporate meeting on March 20, 1922, 20 shares belonging to W.W. Caskey were transferred to him. Caskey was in ill health and died in 1925. In the corporate meeting of March 1923, Hegg was elected president and he transferred those 20 shares to Fannie Hegg, the first time we found evidence of her involvement in the business. In a corporate meeting three months later, Hammer resigned from the corporation and ten of his shares along with two of his wife, Isabel, were transferred to F.A. Hegg. We have not found any written record to show why Fred returned to active membership of the Merc, but Roger Peterson suggests that it was a natural progression because Bill took over management of the Hegg & Son grocery in about 1920. Researcher Roger Peterson also discovered that Hegg may have stepped back in because in 1921, Skagit County Auditor Edith Swanberg died suddenly and Republican leaders asked Emerson to keep the seat warm since he had no ambition to run again.
      Frances Hegg Moody noted that when Fred went back to the Merc, he expanded the store's product line with first-class items from Marshall Field in Chicago to please his clientele who were enjoying a post-World War I boom in the local economy. Those who moved here in the last 15 years, when retail stores in Sedro-Woolley became outnumbered by banks and service businesses, might be surprised to learn that in the 1920s shoppers could buy everything they needed in stores along the eight blocks of downtown. Back in those days — decades before malls, some retailers actually discouraged road improvements because they wanted shoppers to literally shop at home. The late Fred Slipper recalled how his father shook his head when he saw his customers drive downriver in the 1920s over miserable graveled roads from Hamilton to shop in Sedro-Woolley and sometimes had to fix a flat both coming and going. During that period, Fred also diversified his portfolio, investing in several different industries, including the Valley Cannery down on Jameson; the New Era Pig Iron company down on Third Street, the hardwood mill that preceded Goodyear-Nelson, Darigold and other firms. Mrs. Moody's husband found a Dunn and Bradstreet listing from back in 1925 that indicated Fred's various companies were worth $750,000.
      On Dec. 20, 1923, Earl Hegg left the Hegg & Son Grocery and opened his own store. He called it the Fuzzy-Wuzzy in opposition to the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain that set up a store to compete with the Hegg family grocery. To rub salt into the Hegg wounds, the chain store opened on the same block of Metcalf. Earl's store was in the brick building located next to the Swastika Cafe, which later became the Liberty in 1928. That location on the alley on the east side of the 700 block of Metcalf was formerly Homer Shrewsbury's hardware store. After Shrewsbury died unexpectedly in 1921, Reggie Simmonds opened his paint store there but Peterson discovered that Fred Hegg bought the building from Shrewsbury's widow and gave Simmonds a 30-day notice in November 1923, so Simmonds moved his store across Metcalf to the Baldridge building.
      Earl's nickname of Fuzz invites one of those "chicken and the egg" questions: did he get his nickname before the store or because of the store? One of the bigger questions in the Hegg family is why Fred let Earl start a brand new store by himself, when he was seven years younger than Bill. Some old-timers have answered that question by observing that Bill might not have wanted to be in the grocery business in the first place. That may be true because, as we will see later, he eventually left the store. Others have suggested that Earl displayed strong management skills and could have easily moved away and succeeded anywhere that he started a store. Fred realized that his daughters might have to move away to follow their husband's careers, but he went to great lengths to keep his boys in their home base. Regardless, in 1927, Fuzz closed his store and consolidated his goods with brother Bill at the 818 Metcalf location and the family changed the business name to Hegg & Sons Grocery.

(Fuzz Hegg as volunteer fireman)
Fuzz Hegg as volunteer fireman

Hegg family life
      By the mid-1920s, Fred Hegg had more time to spend with his family as his sons took over management. He had been a workaholic when the children by his first wife were in their teens and maybe he wanted to make up for that with the children by Fannie. His work with the Good Roads groups exposed him to even more beautiful areas of the Northwest and once the family could travel by car, he took the kids for tours of the Cascades foothills, the many lakes in the area, Puget Sound beaches and one of his favorite places, the LaConner Flats. During the months of good weather — generally from May to October, when the roads were passable and not rutted or seas of mud, he took the kids camping. They especially loved Fidalgo island and Deception pass. He bought a summer home in a resort area on the shores of Big Lake and he took the children and grandchildren there to teach them how to swim and to hike and observe nature up close. The Big Lake property led to one of the cases that illustrated his anonymous acts of philanthropy. Frances Hegg Moody wrote:
      One winter a young man came to see Pappa about renting [the Big Lake property]. He had been out of work for months but had been given a job at a mill near the lake. He had a wife and three small children. Pappa thought the young man sincere and worthy of his trust. He rented it to him for a small fee. Two months passed and the mill shut down. The young man was out of work. His family was cold and hungry. He forged a check. The bank wanted to arrest him but Pappa took care of the check and asked not to file charges. He made sure the family had food and fuel and then helped the young man to find another job. The man paid my father back, went on to be successful and with a grateful heart never forgot the compassionate good Samaritan.
      Twenty years after Frances wrote that tribute to her father, Fuzz's daughter, Patricia Hegg Brown, sent us a clipping she found in her memorabilia box, headed: "Local merchant is a good Samaritan." Sure enough, the facts checked out and the article, which made the benefactor anonymous, ended with this:
      When the facts in the case were discovered and the young man seemed to be trying to make good, the Sedro-Woolley merchant paid the Clear Lake store for the money it was out, let his own claim for $45 go indefinitely and personally paid the expense of the marshal to Seattle to save the man from the penitentiary, to give him another chance.
      Fred was very civic-minded in the best sense. He had no desire to enter politics but he was an active member of the Rotary, the Commercial Club and the Chamber of Commerce, which evolved from the CCs in the 1920s. He also served two decades on the Presbyterian church board. He never actually joined that church per se — perhaps in deference to his mother's wishes that he remain a Lutheran, but he was one of the main benefactors of the Presbyterians and acted as treasurer for the church. Frances Hegg Moody took over bookkeeping for the store once when her sister May, the regular bookkeeper, took a vacation. She discovered that her father made substantial contributions to the church that he did not tell the family or anyone else about. Then the full extent of his contributions came clear when the minister came into the store for his paycheck. She attributed her father's secrecy to his old adage, "never let the left hand know what the right hand doeth."
      Wedding bells rang again in 1926 when Ralph "Pete" Hegg married Muriel Shaw in Seattle. Pete was 23 and his bride was 20. She had attended Bellingham Normal School (now Western Washington University) and then taught in LaConner and Sedro-Woolley. Like her husband, she was also proud of her deep local roots. Her father, Frank Shaw, owned the Third Street Garage at the corner of Warner, a short walk from the Hegg house. Shaw was originally a mechanic for Dad Abbott's garage downtown but by 1920 he was successful selling Cleveland, Maxwell and Chandler autos. Her mother was Maude Chase, whose family owned property on the Minkler highway; a road that branches off near Hansen Creek is named for them.
      By that time, Pete worked full time at the Hegg & Son store with his brother Bill. Evalene "Evie" Hegg married T.E. Greathouse a year later in Sedro-Woolley. In order to encourage his older sons to stay in the city, Fred helped them buy their own homes and often paid for the furniture. His granddaughter Diane Marinig recalls her mother's story of how Fred was an absolute teetotaler even after repeal of Prohibition. He was so committed to abstinence that he would not even allow root beer in the house because it had beer in the name." My mother and her sisters were bound and determined to be modern, and as soon as they were far away from the house, they would rouge their cheeks and pull out the cigarettes."

The Depression changed the house of Hegg
(Wash Day)
Wash day at the Warner house with Fannie

      The year 1929 started on a sour note and went downhill from there. Al Benson was making a delivery across the river from Lyman in a Hegg truck and drove into the river when the ferryman left the landing while Benson's truck was only halfway on. Luckily he was able to overcome the current and swim ashore. Then in October the stock market crashed and capital in Sedro-Woolley dried up as it did across the country. After the new Memorial Hospital on State Street opened in 1929 and the new city hall on Woodworth opened a year later, construction slowed to a crawl. That not only led to layoffs and reduction in payroll for the Hegg customers, but it also killed the market for dynamite, an important product that the Hegg brothers still sold.
      The Union Mercantile also experienced considerable change that year as the partners decided to merge with Western Stores and investment banker E.S. Saul of Seattle. The Merc had debts of $18,000, with nearly $6,000 due immediately and the merger seemed like a favorable quick fix. As the major stockholder, Fred Hegg accepted 520 shares of preferred stock and 2,600 shares of common stock in the new company, about one-third of the total. About the same time of the Crash, the Western Stores deal folded and in June 1930 the corporation officers elected to change the company name to the Union Holding Co. [UHC], which would administer their properties. Fred and Fannie owned 58 of the 100 shares between them, so their fortunes would rise or fall depending on the success of the new company. The grocery just barely hung on. Even though people still had to eat, the credit accounts climbed in receivables but there was little assurance that the customers would be able to pay. At age 69, Fred had hoped he could retire comfortably, but instead he had to work harder. In keeping with his benevolent nature, he refused to cut off customers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
      The year 1931 brought happy times again with Florence Hegg's wedding to Donald Harden in Blaine and a cross-country trip for Fred and some of the children back to visit his relatives in Iowa. She and Frances had attended Bellingham Normal and Flo taught for a few years in Montana, where she had to ride a horse to the school house, and then in Seattle before she married. The family was stunned later that year, however, when Fred suffered a stroke which rendered him lame on his left side.
      The Hegg sons ran the grocery as a partnership and the UHC began recruiting a new company to take over the Merc store. That fall the rent was reduced to $100 per month and in 1932 it was reduced to $30 as the taxes along were difficult to pay. As if the Depression was not bad enough, the First National Bank failed in February 1932. A state bank examiner arrived at the bank on February 3 and the bank closed the next day. Cashier John Guddall issued a story to the Courier-Times that blamed the closure on a run by depositors who withdrew $70,000 in the last 30 days. But the town was soon shocked to learn that the bank held as assets more than $133,000 worth of South American bonds that could not be liquidated. Five years would pass before depositors were reimbursed for 87 percent of their original deposits. In keeping with his generosity, Fred provided his own cash to the depositors in the most dire straits, even as his own fortune depleted.
      Pressure was lessened on the UHC later that year when part of the Merc building was leased to C.C. Cotterill, which sold dry goods and ladies ready to wear. In December 1933 that store became Brigham & Cotterill. The year ended with a deficit of $945.85 and necessary repairs cost nearly $900. Frances Jean Hegg, the last child still single, married Dwight Richard Moody on Oct. 1, 1933, in Sedro-Woolley. The Moodys started a long series of moves as Dwight worked for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Click on these thumbnail photos to see the full-sized photos
(Camping out 1)
(Camping out 2)
Far left. Camping out and roughing it brought Fred Hegg great pleasure. This was taken at Ruby creek, circa 1918, when Fred showed his family how to pan for gold. From l. to r.: John Fife (May's husband); Fannie Hegg and Fred Hegg.
Center: Fannie Hegg, May Hegg Fife and Fred Hegg. Photos courtesy of Diane Moody Marinig, daughter of Frances Hegg Moody and granddaughter of Fred and Fannie Hegg.

F.A. Hegg dies in 1935
      After his heart attack, Fred spent his last few years puttering around his garden and he would occasionally get a friend to drive him upriver where he would pan for gold at Ruby Creek, recalling his prospecting days as a young man in Oregon and Alaska. He was looking forward to his 75th birthday in December 1935 and their 50th wedding anniversary in November 1937. But in 1935 more bad news put him into a funk. After struggling for three years, the Union Mercantile finally closed for good and Brigham & Cotterill was left as the only tenant of the building. His son-in-law, Puss Stendal, worked there through the declining years of the business and then he worked at Del Hayes's Red Lion Gas Station at the northeast corner of Murdock and Ferry where Chuck Rings later had his Union Oil station.
      Although Sedro-Woolley was showing signs of recovering from the Depression, the combination of business reverses broke Fred's spirit and he lost much of his considerable wealth. On the morning of March 20, 1935, he finally died of uremic poisoning. He rallied a few months before that and seemed to be more physically active than he had been for years, but he fell ill in February and never came out of it. He was nine months shy of his 75th birthday.
      His Courier-Times obituary noted that business houses were closed from 2-3 p.m. on March 22 so that owners and employees could attend the funeral, which was a regular form of respect after the death of a key pioneer. The article noted that he was treasurer of the Presbyterian church and announced for the first time that Fred had advanced hundreds of dollars for support of the church. Five children were listed as living in the city at the time: brothers Bill, Earl and Ralph Hegg, and sisters May Fife, Midge Stendal. Flo Harden lived Seattle as dids Frances Moody. Evie Greathouse lived in Blaine. The pall bearers were his close friends and fellow old-timers: Harvey Curry, who owned the furniture store next door to the grocery; Harry L. Devin, fellow pioneer from Iowa and premier realtor in town; Benjamin D. Vandeveer, his neighbor and fellow Klondike prospector; John Guddall from the bank; George Ratchford, pioneer blacksmith; and William Thomsen, bookkeeper and fellow officer at the Merc.
      Fannie decided to continue living at the house alone, as she would for another three decades. Her close circle of fellow pioneer women helped to keep her active. Francis Hegg Moody noted that Fannie loved to do her own yard work and spent hours on her rose garden. Pete would occasionally send a boy over to mow her yard but she would run them off the property. The writer of this biography can still remember when he was in grade school and visited his mother's best friend, Susie Alverson, who was Fannie's next door neighbor. If we visited after school, Fannie would invite us over for "tea" and serve the cookies and pastry that she had been famous for since the days when she was a cook in Mount Vernon. If you visited around dinner time and she liked the cut of your jib, she was likely to insist that you sit down for a hearty, home-cooked dinner with pie for dessert. She grinned broadly one time when the writer brought some fresh rhubarb from our garden at our Utopia home, and demanded that we stay as she whipped up a rhubarb pie that a professional baker would have died for.
      Three years after Fred died, Bill finally tired of the grocery business for good and joined the management of Skagit Steel & Iron Works, working there from 1939 until he retired. Fuzz and Pete ran the grocery together until 1939 when Earl left the partnership and bought a house at 801 State while mulling his future. Pete changed the name of Hegg & Sons grocery for the first time in 12 years, calling it Pete's Cash Grocery, planning to cut off the credit that killed their business during the Depression. That became the joke of the family over the next decades, a joke that was shared about town. The late A. Bingham told us that the joke was often told that "Cash in the name was a bit of a misnomer in that Pete rarely saw any cash."
      Both Bingham and the late Howard Miller shared another story that illustrates Pete Hegg's easy going nature. Years after most of the retailers in town bought fancy new cash registers, Pete apparently resisted the idea. He insisted that he preferred to run the store on the "honor system," which meant that he left a cigar box on the counter when he was busy and let customers make their own change. Bingham and Miller both said that everyone knew that Pete actually just wanted to sit around his pot-bellied stove with his cronies and fisherman, play cards and shoot the breeze while customers milled about the stove. It took many rip-offs until Pete finally succumbed and bought a used cash register with all the bells and whistles.
      Meanwhile Fuzz began building an addition onto the front of his home at the corner of State and Eighth streets and in 1940 he opened the Earl Hegg Grocery. He included ice cream and a confectionery to entice housewives and kids from the nearby residential district, and he advertised that he would be open in the evenings and on Sunday. Fuzz's store was probably the most successful of the two. Pete retired in 1957 and when his son Peter decided to pursue law enforcement rather than take over the store, he finally closed it for good in about 1961. Fuzz sold out at about the same time and the store has gone through a few owners and considerable remodeling. It still stands on the corner and is now the Liberty Bell market.
      Frances Hegg Moody wrote that one day in 1961, Fannie let Pete help her burn some leaves and she ran for the phone when she heard it ring. On the way she stumbled and fell onto the concrete sidewalk behind her house. She fractured her thigh and broke her hip, often a terminal combination for a 90-year-old. She shunted back and forth between the homes of daughters Flo and Frances and convalescent centers. She was crushed to learn of the first death of one of the Hegg children. Midge Hegg Stendal, the third of Mollie's children, died in Sedro-Woolley on April 29, 1962. And three years later, May Hegg Fife, Mollie's second child, died on Pearl Harbor Day, 1965, in Seattle.
      Fannie was finally confined to the Columbia Lutheran Home in Seattle, where she was doted on by staff and relatives and kept insisting that visitors come over for dinner as soon as she returned home. The last of the eight Hegg children to die was Evie Hegg Greathouse, who passed away on June 22, 2001. Grandson Fred Hegg, Fuzz's son, set a record of sorts by operating Hegg and Hegg Smoked Salmon in Port Angeles for 50 years, with relatives as partners; he finally sold the business to the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and retired in late 2002; he died on Nov. 28, 2007. Peter Hegg, Pete's son, died of cancer in Sedro-Woolley in 2002 after returning here to retire and he was a frequent contributor to the Journal site.

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Story posted on Dec. 1, 2001, last updated Feb. 16, 2009
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