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Skagit River Journal

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Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
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Frank Hoehn, Sedro's
original cowboy — performed with Buffalo Bill
Part Two of Two

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal ©2011

The bachelor marries — was it a second time?
Continued from Hoehn, Part One
(Frank Hoehn)
Frank J. Hoehn, 1935.

      Then what is still a mystery unfolded. You may recall that Hoehn established his ranch near the Plin McFadden family, one of the group who migrated here from Iowa in the mid-1880s. According to the 1906 History, Plin bought his farm from Mortimer Cook, land that was early on logged for Cook's mill and that now is the eastern portion of the Union Cemetery. Anna Belle was his second daughter of Plin and Oliver (Wicker) McFadden, and she was born in 1879, so she was ten when Frank Hoehn rode up to their farm after his arrival and 13 when her father built a seven-room farmhouse in Skiyou for his growing family. Five years later she began nursing at the St. Elizabeth's Hospital on Township Road at Fidalgo Street.
      When did he begin to fancy her? The record is bare on that matter, but they married 32 years after meeting, on Aug. 29, 1921. Oddly enough, they did not marry here. For the recent few years, he had lived with his niece, Hallie A. Lough, and her husband, Lester, on Reed Street. In the 1920 census he was listed at their home and he was a "union contractor, cement work." We know from land records that he still owned his Skiyou ranch so why did he live in town, two blocks from his livery? That is just a minor part of this mystery, however, as you will see. Frank had just turned 57 two weeks earlier. Anna was 41 that summer and as far as we know, she had never married.
      You can imagine our puzzlement over odd details in Frank's records. First, the line in the 1906 History subscription profile for which Frank paid: "Mr. Hoehn never was married." And second, he never mentioned a prior spouse to McClintock in 1935. So, it is reasonable to ask: how was Frank living with his niece in 1920? Thus Family Mystery #1. You may also recall that Frank told McClintock in 1935: ". . . as a result made his debut in Washington in 1889, coming here in a covered wagon, along with his brother-in-law, Saul Hendrickson and family . . ." Why didn't she follow up that fact by asking him about his first wife? Or did she and he did not want to answer? And why did your humble editor forget this fact for the first few years he researched Hoehn?
      Those facts and questions led us finally to a few answers in just the recent weeks. With the help of, we discovered that Saul was born in October 1854 in Illinois, the son of John L. and Lucinda (Moore) Hendrickson. He had several siblings. As we noted above, he moved to Colorado at age 36 to be a miner and sometime in 1888-89, he linked up with Frank Hoehn somewhere between Laramie, Wyoming and Boise. So, who was the sister and why is she all but ignored? There the firm answers end. We finally found Hendrickson descendants but hit another dead end. They were as puzzled as we were. All the other sisters were ruled out except one; the only possibility seems to be Saul's sister Rebecca, who was born "about 1860," all we know about her. Other questions obviously crop up: did his spouse die or did they divorce, did they have any children? But as you will soon read, this is just Mystery 1; several more follow and we need your help to connect the dots.

Frank's final years and his elusive family
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      Frank's final years and his elusive familyWe know very little about Frank's or Anna's lives from the time of their marriage until Frank's death 20 years later, the most conspicuous gap in the profile. His 1941 obituary noted that "ill health forced retirement few years ago." We do know that within days of his wedding, his dear friend Homer H. Shrewsbury died of a severe heart attack on September 8 at age 51. He was Frank's pioneer contemporary along with being one of the most beloved retailers in town, monkey and exotic animals et al at his hardware store. That is the last newspaper record of Frank that we have.
      From various records, we know some details that help us understand the man. Fraternally, we know that Frank was a Knight of Pythias and an Odd Fellow (I.O.O.F); he attained encampment level in the latter and Anna was a Rebekah. According to Lodge #93 history, he was accepted by the Sedro-Woolley Masonic Lodge in 1905, along with Thomas Trueman and John Hightower, all recorded as living in Lyman at the time. His obituary as well as McClintock's profile state that he served on the city council "3-4 years" but we do not know when. His obituary after his death on May 7, 1941, was not extensive. The details mainly had been covered in prior documents, but one point, which we again did not adequately research, was made. He was survived by his wife and "nephew Frank Hoehn." That presented Family Mystery #2, which was just this week partly solved.
      For many years we again favored one document over another for study and we made a key mistaken inference. When we obtained Frank's 1941 burial card from Lemley Chapel, we discovered that it was filled out by Frank J. Hoehn and the costs were paid for by him. Our error is very embarrassing and we did not realize it until this last year. The handwriting of the "charge to" line appears to indicate Frank Jr. But upon much closer inspection, the name is simply Frank J. Hoehn. Thus, all along we have been trying to find information about Frank's son. The obituary should have warned us away from any such inference. As a point of reference, the "complete funeral package" then cost $195, plus $2.95 tax.
      We unlocked this Hoehn's puzzle courtesy of and longtime reader Sharon Calabreze. Here we digress to offer a word of advice. Our first attempts to research Hoehns in census and other files there were unsuccessful. But we urge you to go back again. You will find that new software is now automatically searching for alternative spelling of names. That was the key. We found nephew Frank listed as Frank G. Hahn in the 1900 federal census of Lynn, Posey County, Indiana. That directed the arrow and we followed it from there. Frank J. Hoehn was born in Mount Vernon, Indiana (farthest southwestern corner of the state), on April 4, 1891, to Theodore and Mary (Siler) Hoehn. Mount Vernon is the county seat of Posey County. The town is named for George Washington's estate because the county is named for Gen. Posey, governor of the Indiana Territory, who had the distinction of growing up next door to George Washington at the original Mt. Vernon. He was also widely rumored to be Washington's illegitimate son, a claim dismissed by Posey's biographer.
      Nephew Frank was listed in 1900 as living with both his parents and his four siblings in Lynn, clear across the state from Mount Vernon. We have no indication of when he came to Sedro-Woolley or why, even if Theodore Hoehn was Frank the elder's brother. We also found no indication, however, that Theodore ever lived here. With that mystery solved we continued on to Family Mysteries #3 and 4 below, which has vexed us for so long.

(Ratchford Blacksmith)
George Ratchford at his blacksmith shop, which was located just east of Hoehn's lots and also burned to the ground in the Great Woolley Fire of 1911.

John G. Hoehn
      We originally surmised that Frank's brother who was father of the younger Frank was John G. Hoehn, who lived in Woolley in the early 1890s. Just as we went to press, we discovered we were wrong. He may have been Frank's brother but here is all that we discovered about him on the record.
      Politics. The Skagit County Times reported on Dec. 5, 1891, the Union Party ticket, the party formed around Woolley mayor and town founder Philip A. Woolley: "Yesterday a petition was signed by the required number of voters, was filed with the clerk placing the name of P.A. Woolley in nomination for mayor, as the Union candidate." Among the signatories: John G. Hoehn.
      Saloons. Partners Means & Lyles opened the first saloon in old Woolley, just northeast of the F&S/Great Northern railway right of way and depot on Oct. 1, 1890; that was a license for the St. Clair Hotel, owned by C.W. Waldron, which became the Osterman House in the mid-1890s. A week later, John G. Hoehn bought out Schutt and Co. on Murdock Street and established a saloon there. In the same week, R.L. Holmes and Edward Ball opened a saloon in block 2 of Woolley, on the south side of Northern Avenue. We found evidence that two years later, John had a saloon in Hamilton. We found John's saloon located just north of where Skagit State Bank stands in 2011. According to license approvals, three saloons stood cheek to jowl on the east side of Murdock street, north of Ferry — Hoehn, J.P. Millett and Munroe & Co. And that was the last mention of John G. Hoehn.

Maggie the bootlegger
      Because of our assumption about John, we proceeded down the wrong fork in the road for a long time, thinking that John may have been the bootlegger Hoehn we discovered. In a 1998 interview, the late Wyman Hammer shared an experience from his boyhood in the late Prohibition era. He was named for mayor and mill man Wyman Kirby, who effectively became his second father. When Kirby's wife, Carrie Kirby (inspiration for Camp Kirby for girls), died in 1930, he was inconsolable and George Hammer approved of his son Wyman sleeping at the Kirby house across Talcott Street and keeping Kirby company. When Kirby went on his daily drive to the mill in Lyman and his downtown circuit here, Wyman Hammer rode shotgun.
      I remember when we stopped in back of the old Livermore Ford Agency, in the alley east of Metcalf Street. Livermore sold and repaired cars. Andy Hansen pumped gas. Ellen [no last name] was the bookkeeper. Maggie Hoehn sold moonshine out of the company safe.
      We failed to get a full explanation of that memory. Three possible people could have fit the bill. John G. Hoehn would have been about 60 by then but there was no mention of him locally after 1892. Frank J. Hoehn, the nephew, would have been about 40 then, but we originally had zero evidence about him except for the burial card.
      Then ace researcher Roger Peterson suggested that "Maggie" could have been nephew Frank's wife. The only possible record of her was included in an undated March (?)1939 Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times story about Gus Gilbertson buying the old Wixson hotel that he soon established as the Gateway. A brief mention in the story notes that "Mrs. White has two cooks, Mrs. Frank Hoehn, as breakfast and lunch cook and Art Buckley, dinner and short order cook." Was that Anna or nephew Frank's wife? Anna would have been 60. The only other hint we had about "Maggie" was from an interview about the same time with the late Howard Miller, who mentioned matter of factly that "Maggie Hoehn was a famous bootlegger connection" in town.
      The answer to this Family Mystery #4 came just as we were going to press. It was in nephew Frank J. Hoehn's 1942 draft registration card for World War II. Frank was then 51, a year after Uncle Frank's death, his wife was Juanita A. Hoehn and they lived on Route 2, Sedro-Woolley. He was listed as a taxicab owner. Similar information on his World War I registration card of 1918 indicated that he was a brick layer, either for his uncle and the LaPlant brothers, or for the state, which was then expanding Northern State Hospital.
      That 1942 draft detail was the key to the puzzle, however, because it dovetailed with a memory of researcher Roger Peterson. He reminded us that Frank J. Hoehn was featured in the news report of possibly the most famous murder in Sedro-Woolley, that of Anna Ingersoll. She was found murdered in her house at the southwest corner of Bennett and 8th Avenue in the early morning of March 23, 1949, and a record repeated on automatic replay on her player. Thus the incident became known as Red Roses for a Blue Lady. Most important for us is that the taxi driver who brought her home that night with her suspected lover was Frank J. Hoehn. That became a Eureka moment for solving this Family Mystery #4 because Roger Peterson recalled last week that nephew Frank, the cab driver, was a key bootlegger go-to guy for liquor when he picked people up at the taverns downtown. Thus, with that draft card, we sealed the case for whom Maggie Hoehn the Bootlegger actually was.

Frank's sense of place and contemporaries

(1911 Fire)
We are looking southeast from Ferry Street, the day following the downtown Woolley fire of July 24, 1911. In front are the empty lots where Hoehn's Livery and Ratchford's Blacksmith shop once stood. Those lots have remained vacant for a century since then.

      The final important details of Frank J. Hoehn's (elder) life hinges on the companionship with fellow 1890s pioneers and their affection for him. As Frank recalled for McClintock six years before his death, his longest sustained friendship was with Harry L. Devin (see, who arrived in old Sedro at almost the same time as Frank did and was Frank's nearest competition for the rugged cowboy image. Devin grew up in the Midwest and, like Frank, he was riding horses and learning the secrets of the wilderness soon after he learned to walk. Frank told her that for 34 years he hunted with his old friend Harry Devin in the Cascades, ten years for nothing but bear. Harry was camp cook and provided tasty barbecue even when the wind was howling outside their tent. During their years together, Devin became the most important real estate developer in the county, for his Skagit Realty Co., which he founded with partner Charles J. Wicker in 1902 (closed in 1998).

Epilogue and the biggest family mystery

(1911 Fire)
We are looking southwest from the top of the Wixson Hotel (now the Gateway) just a few days after the Woolley Fire of July 24, 1911. The stores on the west and east sides were all burned out at this block and only brick fire walls remained. The empty spot in the middle is now the location of the Castle Tavern. The oven still standing in the back belonged to the Vienna Bakery, which occupied that spot at the time.

      We saved this for last because it is the most perplexing gap in the Hoehn family saga. Somehow, some Hoehn patriarch established another branch of the tree in the Chuckanut Drive area of the county. Even after exhaustive research we had not determined who the patriarch of that branch was until this year. The first clue came, once again, from Ray Jordan's fine book, Yarns, in which he wrote these intriguing lines about the Equality Colony, on the hill above Bow:
      One or two of the original buildings still stand, and there is a pathetic little cemetery on the hillside enclosed by a wire fence. No markers remaining are legible enough to prove who is buried there. We were told by a former colony member now deceased, that a Halladay and a Hoehn rest in this plot. [Those] were all she could remember. . . . 1900 Industrial Freedom newspaper: Colony school pupils listed as having been perfect in attendance during the school month ending October 26 are: Julia Boyd, Clinton Halladay, Minnie Smith, Ora Smith, Charlie Marquart, Lola Gifford, Arthur Hoehn, Chas. Hoehn, Earl Hoffstrom, and Grace Brady. . . .
      That passage then reminded us that we had not returned to one of the best possible sources. One of our favorite correspondents is Florence Smith Lowe, a contemporary of Egbert Murrow in Blanchard and she edited the book, Equality Colony (1988), for her brother and co-author, Frederick E. Smith. She is now in her 90s and lives in California. We were grateful to her because we did discover a connection but like with many cues, this one came with a mixed message. We found Charlie Hoehn, but unfortunately no reference to his parents yet, and then we found "Frank Hoehn."
      That school-age range was nearly perfect for Frank J. Hoehn, the nephew, but alas that was too easy. Please pardon us dear readers but the student at Equality was a third Frank Hoehn. Specifically he was Franklin L. Hoehn, born 1882 in Cleveland, Ohio, of Leonard and Anna (Richstieger) Hoehn. He was also a naughty boy at the Colony, as the book humorously describes:

      A.K. Hanson with his flourishing signature and H.W. Halladay with his name deliberately and unpretentiously spelled out made the colony script official tender. Passing the printery door, Charlie Hoehn and Donald Boyd noticed a stack of freshly minted script blanks. On quick impulse, a big handful of blanks was whisked to a secret place to await a study of chirography. The Halladay scrawl was not difficult to trace. Hanson's signature was a marvel of mechanical swirls. Only one boy in the colony could even attempt it. Frank Hoehn, with the needed flair for elegance, was persuaded, after cautious negotiations, to apply the signature. Frank's greatest need was to get on the good side of the colony boys. Boys began buying bananas and candy in suspicious quantities. Storekeeper Boyd nabbed Charlie with some of the art work in hand. . . . Frank was a boy with some city polish and was considered a good model for the younger boys. When he signed his name, the court was speechless. All the boys were assembled for a scorching scolding. Then the case was dropped. . . . The lenient court sentence drew attention to Frank's city ways. The farm boys said he ate his beans one at a time, salting and peppering each one to taste.
      The recollection about Frank as the "city" kid was based on his home town of Cleveland, Ohio, a metropolis. That alone would have made him stand out as being different, but when you throw in the "new kid in town" scourge and that he came from a town 2,000 miles away and the characterization falls into place.
      Ace researcher Donna Sands of Bellingham supplied the final pieces of the Equality puzzle. The major piece was her discovery that Equality's Franklin L. Hoehn was an orphan, as were the three other Hoehn students there. That is shown in the 1901 school census report for District #68, Skagit County, at Equality Colony. Franklin was 17, Charles 15, Lucille 12 and Arthur was seven. She soon found their parents when she discovered Franklin's marriage certificate from Sept. 15, 1903. He married Lillian B. Hoffstrom, a teacher living in Alger. The document showed that he was living in Blanchard by then, that his birthplace was Cleveland and that he was the son of Leonard Hoehn, a logger. From there we went on to Charles Pierce LeWarne's excellent 1975 resource, Utopias on Puget Sound 1885-1915. The children were orphaned because Leonard Hoehn was thrown from his wagon while driving a team home from Edison in an unknown year (1898-1900) and his orphaned children were cared for by the colony. From that same source we know that clever Franklin and fellow student Harry Ault visited all the existing Puget Sound colonies by boat.
      We have no further record of Arthur, but we do have a bit of information on Charles. According to the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society burial and cemetery books, Charles Lewis Hoehn was born in Ohio in 1886, died in Bow in 1944 and is buried in the cemetery there. When we interviewed Leonard "Buddy" Hoehn at press time he told us that Charles was his paternal grandfather. Charles Hoehn married Kate and after he died, she remarried to Everett Kallstrom. They all three are buried in Bow. After Buddy's mother, Dorothy Loop, died, Kate Hoehn Kallstrom cared for Buddy; he now lives south of Edison.
      Buddy Hoehn descends from Leonard (great-grandfather), Charles (grandfather) and Leonard Charles "Bud" Hoehn, a descendant of Charles, who was born in Washington in 1914, died Jan 11, 1986, and is also buried at Bow. You may be asking: how was Leonard related to Sedro Frank? Simple answer: we do not know
      Regardless whether the file is complete or not, Frank J. Hoehn left quite a stamp on his home town from 1889 onwards. Although the Hoehn Road is his only visible legacy, his spirit still influences the Skiyou and Utopia districts that surround his old ranch, which an unknown man named Dinkins bought by the time of the 1935 interview.
      Stay tuned. We are sure there is more to come about this pioneer family and answers will eventually be found.

Return to Part One of the Hoehn biography

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Story posted on March 7, 2011
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