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James Bard Metcalfe —
Washington Territory Attorney General and
P.A. Woolley's advance man

By Noel V. Bourasaw, exclusive for Skagit River Journal ©2003
(James Bard Metcalf)
James Bard Metcalfe, during the Civil War, photo courtesy of Margaret Hassin

      James Bard Metcalfe was the namesake of Metcalf Street in Sedro-Woolley. He was the right man in the right place with the right "juice" or "pull" in the territorial government when P.A. Woolley began scouting locations in 1889 for a sawmill he wanted to build. Just as he had back in Illinois and Michigan, Woolley wanted to supply railroad ties and he wanted to relocate to where the most action was. As the Washington Territory Attorney General, Metcalfe knew where railroads were building, and even more important, he knew which ones were real and which ones were just "paper roads," built on hot air and often designed to bilk investors.
      But up until 2002, we knew precious little about either the man or his relationship to the Woolley family. Back in 1967, a man named James Vernon Metcalfe mailed a package to the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times that contained very early photos of the P.A. Woolley family and a brief explanation for why Metcalf Street was named. Fred Slipper wrote about the Metcalfe family and James Vernon's package in the 1980s in his Courier-Times columns.
      Very little was added to the story over the next 35 years. We at the Skagit River Journal had a tantalizing moment when Dyrk Meyers told us that a Stanley Metcalfe, who said he was a descendant, occasionally shopped at the Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop. [Ed. note: Stanley lived in Birdsview. He passed away in 2011.] With the help of the internet, however, we found a pretty complete profile of James Bard Metcalfe, Woolley's very good friend. And then, literally out of the ether, came an email this summer from Margaret Hassin in Yazoo City, Mississippi, who is Metcalfe's great-granddaughter. That has been followed by a flood of information that has helped flesh out this story and we are very grateful to Ms. Hassin and her cousin, Howard Hurtig Metcalfe, and Gary Zimmerman, historian for the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington, for the time they have spent bringing us up to speed and for their documents and photos.
      If you have read about P.A. Woolley , you know that he moved his family to Sedro in the fall of 1889 and started his company town in 1890. He was a railroad developer and supplier who moved here from Elgin, Illinois. We only have a snippet of his wife's diary that she wrote when the family was traveling to Sedro and when they arrived. From the way they were phrased and their brevity, the entries posed two big questions: 1) Was this Woolley's first trip to the territory? and 2) If it was, how did he know where the three railroads would cross and form a natural townsite?

Metcalfe profile emerges from research
(Mississippi mansion)
In 1857 Oren and Zuleika Metcalfe purchased the Ravenna manor house in Natchez, Mississippi, where they lived when the damned Yankees rode up the trail to harass them. Margaret Hassin visited and took this photograph of Ravennaside.

      Those questions have vexed us for years. We have now learned that James Bard Metcalfe [hereafter referred to as James Bard] was a civil war veteran who established a law practice in San Francisco in 1877 and then moved his family to Seattle in 1883. His son, James Vernon, was born on July 31, 1887, when they lived at 823 Main St. Soon after he arrived, James Bard joined a prestigious law firm in Seattle, which became Metcalfe, Turner & Burleigh. He was attorney general of Washington Territory, the only one ever appointed. The most recent documents include a notation that he was appointed attorney general in 1888 by territorial governor Eugene Semple to prepare official data for entrance of the Territory as a state and to help compose the constitution. James Vernon Metcalfe's 1967 letter reads as follows:
      Enclosed herewith are some photographs of Mr. P.A. Woolley, his daughter and her son, which were part of a very old scrapbook kept by my father. They may be of historic interest to your readers, as your city was named for Mr. Woolley and Metcalf Street was named for my father, Gen. James B. Metcalfe.
      Father was the only attorney general appointed for the Territory of Washington and had the interesting duty of advising on the legal aspects of the preparation by the territory for admission to the United States on November 11, 1889. He acted also as attorney for Mr. Woolley and our families exchanged many happy visits.

Metcalfe family tree: English nobility and southern aristocrats
      The Metcalfe family has a proud heritage, which Howard Hurtig Metcalfe has crafted over the years in preparation for a book he is writing about the genealogical line. Howard has lived in Hollywood for several years ["under the Hollywood sign"] and he notes that Nopal translates to "prickly pear cactus," which was the original name for Hollywood before the Anglo invasion more than a century ago. His earlier book, Metcalfe Lineages (Second Edition), traced the family back to England. A reviewer noted: "This is a splendid account of the known ancestry of a notable English family, made more interesting and readable by a generous helping of myths, legends and history."
      From another family book and various records, Howard traced the family back to William Medecalf de Dent (1120-1200), a large landholder in Northumbria, near the border of Scotland, who had inherited his property from a great-grandfather, Earl Gospatric FitzMaldred, who had in turn struggled with William the Conqueror to get and keep it. Descendants consorted with or fought along with William the Lion and Henry V. Further down the line there was a distinct fork in the family with Richard, born in 1450, and Leonard, born 10 years later. Each of the brothers became the progenitor of a long line of Metcalfe's, all cousins, of course, and they came together by a remarkable coincidence in the state of Mississippi at the time of the Civil War. Leonard's line, designated as the "selected" lineage, came to this country when a Michael Metcalfe, a Puritan and an owner of a cloth factory in Norwich, England, emigrated in 1637 and settled in Dedham, Massachusetts. Richard's line, designated "related," first appeared on this continent when a John Metcalfe, said to have graduated from Cambridge, received a grant of land in 1716 in the colony of Virginia. Howard shows these two parallel lineages in his chart on page 15 of the book, which also indicates which of the entries are "proven" and which are "unproven."
      A very early ancestor of James in the U.S. was Sgt. Samuel Metcalfe, a Minuteman who marched on the Lexington Alarm of April 19, 1775. His son was Thomas Metcalfe, who married a woman named Sybil Chapin. Their twelfth and last child, Oren Metcalfe, was born on Jan. 28, 1810 in Enfield, Hartford county, Connecticut. Oren's parents moved to Chardon, Ohio, in 1819 and he attended school there. In 1833, Oren and his brother Asa moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where Oren married Zuleika Rosalie Lyons (1822-1870) on April 12, 1838. In 1857 Oren and Zuleika purchased Ravenna manor house in Natchez where they lived the rest of their lives.
      Three of their sons fought in the Civil War, including James Bard Metcalfe, who enlisted as a private at 16 and was later commissioned as a lieutenant in the 10th Mississippi Cavalry, General Breckinridge's brigade. James was born on Jan. 15, 1846, in Natchez, the fourth child in the family. He volunteered for service in the Confederate Army in May 1862 and was joined Breckinridge's escort in April 1863, continuing in that post until September 1864. At some point he was captured and made a daring escape at the Battle of Franklin, swimming the Duck River and rejoining the Confederate forces in Murphreesboro. He was again captured at the Battle of Fort Tyler on April 17, 1865, at the end of the war. He was released and went home, having attained the rank of lieutenant by the age of nineteen, not long before the end of hostilities. Hassin recently visited the family estate that Oren established and named Ravenna for the ravine behind it. A family tale recounts that his wife Zuleika was caught hiding food under her skirts and climbing down into the ravine to feed Confederate soldiers who hid there. From then on, she had to report daily to Union authorities. The adjoining estate that the Metcalfe's built for their daughter's family — Ravennaside, has been featured on the Natchez Pilgrimage tour. Hassin reports from visits there that both estates are in disrepair.

The confederate veteran moves west to San Francisco
      In 1870, James Bard was a clerk in a bank in Natchez, while his brother Julius, three years older, practiced law. Their mother died earlier that year. James Bard studied law at an unknown university and by 1873 he moved to San Francisco, where he married Louise Boarman on June 25, 1877. After initially working in a bank, he soon studied law again while clerking for the Bard and Pratt law firm. After passing the California bar, he became a partner with the firm. Louise's father, Thomas Boarman, came to California across the mid-West deserts as a member of a wagon train sometime before 1855 when Louise was born in Red Bluff. He settled in Red Bluff for years and later moved to San Francisco. James Vernon notes that Louise Metcalfe was the first college graduate from the Holy Names Academy in San Francisco, but we have not been able to confirm that. Her family also traced their lineage back to English nobility. Their first child, son Thomas Oren Metcalfe, was born on Nov. 3, 1880, in San Francisco, and son James Vernon Metcalfe was born in Seattle as noted above. The couple was living with Louise's mother, the widowed Mrs. Mary Boarman.
      A San Francisco writer named William Heath Davis, a member of Metcalfe's Mississippi regiment, provided a more personal picture of James Bard during the early 1880s in his 1929 book, Seventy-five Years in San Francisco. He quotes the son of regimental commander, Col., J. D. Stevenson, who had also moved to California:

      In the winter of 1881-82, I was at the capital of the nation. On the morning before Christmas, Mr. James B. Metcalfe and myself made a trip to the tomb of the Father of his country (Mount Vernon) to view the interesting relics that were preserved for our citizens and those of other nations to look at as memorials of General Washington. In nearing the wharf that Washington used, or the site on which the old one stood in his days, I observed a tall, stout, well-dressed gentleman looking at me while at the same time he approached and said,
      "Are you a Western man from California?" I replied, "Yes." He then asked my name, which I told him.
      "Oh!" he said, "I was in your store in San Francisco many times in 1847; I was then a lieutenant in Stevenson's regiment and my name is Hollingsworth. I will take pleasure in showing you and your friend the sights of Mount Vernon." Colonel Hollingsworth was the superintendent of Mount Vernon at that time. He went with us to the general's chamber and showed us the bedstead on which Washington died; then to the room which General Lafayette had occupied, where everything remained just as this noble friend of liberty and comrade of Washington had left it. The apartment in which Mrs. Martha Washington died was next opened for our inspection, and the original furniture stood as she had used it. From the house we went to the tomb of both the husband and wife. All of these objects interested us very much. Colonel Hollingsworth presented us with several relics from trees that were planted by General Washington's own hands, for which we were very grateful and expressed our thanks, as well as for the courteous attentions he had bestowed upon us because I was an old Californian from the country that he liked and that, as he remarked to me, he hoped to see again.

(Metcalf Street 1907)
      James Bard Metcalfe was the namesake of Metcalf Street in Sedro-Woolley. This photo is a view south on Metcalf in 1907. Photo courtesy of Mike Aiken, a descendant of the Birdsey Minkler family of Lyman.

James Bard Metcalfe moves to Washington
      James Vernon Metcalfe quoted an undated San Francisco paper from 1883:
      J. B. Metcalfe, a lawyer of good repute, and a genial gentleman, leaves this city, with his family, on the morrow, on the, State of California, for Seattle, W.T. [Washington Territory] where he intends to cast his lot and grow up with a growing country. The General is well and favorably known in this city and State and we bespeak for him the kindest consideration on the part of those of our readers In the Northwest, who know that we rarely praise, since mankind is very chary in furnishing praiseworthy subjects.

(Metcalfe Seattle home)
Jame Bard Metcalfe's mansion at 823 Main Street, Seattle, on Capitol Hill. He did well.

      Following are some tidbits about his father that James Vernon Metcalfe wrote in the 1967 biography about his father's early days in Seattle. After his arrival in Seattle, James's legal associates were Junius Rochester, C. W. Linn, Andrew F. Burleigh and Judge John S. Jurey. One of his first steps into establishment circles was volunteerism. In 1884 the City Council established the Park Department and the municipal government acquired the area of Denny Park, with David T. Denny, James B. Metcalfe and R. J. Graham composing the initial Park Board. In politics he was not always successful although he was very active in speaking in many of the cities of Washington. "It was probably due to his being a Southern Democrat that the people still remembered the troubles of the War Between the States and it was only around the beginning of the century that these memories softened as campaign issues. One odd issue did rise in 1884 when he was running for City Attorney. He had offered the use of his law office for a meeting place of Englishmen planning a celebration of the birthday of Queen Victoria." The following charge against him was distributed:
      Will the Freemen of Seattle support an office seeker who is such a lover of Monarchy as to wish to celebrate the birthday of a Queen? — Irish Americans
      On Sept. 3, 1888, the State Democratic party staged its convention in Spokane Falls to name a candidate to the United States Congress as a delegate. Metcalfe was conceded to be the very enthusiastic choice of the Democrats. But a press report from that week noted that Attorney General Metcalfe, Chairman of the delegation from King County, rose and offered the name of Hon. C. S. [Voorhees, misspelled as Voories] for the position of delegate. The motivating reason for his surprise action may have been a telegram from his family in Seattle: "Please father do not accept nomination for delegate to Congress. Signed by his son just born, his [8] year old son, their grandmother and his wife."
(Seattle fire June 6, 1889)
This view of the aftermath of the June 6, 1889, Seattle fire shows the ruins of Puget Sound National Bank in the Occidental Hotel Building at the corner of James Street and Yesler Way. Photo by Asahel Curtis, courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg. 36934). Read more at this website

      Also according to James Vernon, in 1887 his father was a director in the Seattle Construction Co., which built the Yesler Way cable car line from downtown to Leschi Park on Lake Washington. The line opened on Sept. 29, 1888, and T. T. Minor was president, just a year before Minor drowned on the way to a hunting trip to Stanwood. An editorial in the Seattle Star attributed the success of the founding of the cable line to Metcalfe and ex-mayor John Leary.
      James Bard was at the scene of the great June 6, 1889, Seattle fire and James Vernon notes that a newspaper reported:

      Gen. J. B. Metcalfe led a party to the roof of the [the San Francisco building] and a line of hose was soon raised by means of a rope. Again the terrible insufficiency of water balked the [Herculean] efforts of the workers. The water barely came from the nozzle of the hose and the firefighters found themselves weaponless in the face of a terrible enemy.

Metcalfe meets P.A. Woolley
      James Vernon left a two part bombshell in the biography: "Mr. Joshua Green for about a year studied law (with these associates — Metcalfe's partners) in this office before joining the steamboat personnel and later entering banking." We checked the most prominent Green authority, Gordon Newell's book, The Green Years, and there is nothing to indicate such an interlude. We hope that a reader might know more about this. Clarence B. Bagley is totally silent about Metcalfe in his three-volume History of King County. But if we accept James Vernon's statement, this is a hint as to how and why Metcalfe learned about the railroad plans for Skagit county. Young Joshua Green had been a chainman for the Earle company, which contracted to build the roadbed for the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern railroad that would bisect Sedro and Woolley, starting in late 1889. In addition, although the coincidence doesn't prove the connection, we note that P.A. and Catherine Woolley arrived here on Green's Henry Bailey sternwheeler.
      The second bombshell from the biography was the only direct evidence we have of the meeting of Woolley and Metcalfe.

      At the celebration of the Centennial in Port Townsend, Gen. Metcalfe met Mr. P. A. Woolley and they discussed the advantages of establishing a townsite, which Mr. Woolley then accomplished and named the area for himself and its main plotted street for Gen. Metcalfe. Later the site was combined with an adjoining area and is now Sedro-Woolley.
(James Vernon Metcalfe)
Joshua Green, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson and James Vernon Metcalfe, Seattle, circa 1960s.

      Both Hassin and I have investigated that meeting. The folks at the Jefferson County Historical Society did not find any record of a centennial celebration in 1889, but the records are very sketchy. We considered Jan. 7, 1789, the date of the first nationwide election, but the only likely centennial to be celebrated in Washington state in 1889 was the anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as president on April 30, 1789. So far, we have not been able to confirm the meeting, but the idea makes sense. Woolley would have likely attended an event with the government and business movers and shakers who could facilitate his proposed sawmill and point him in the right direction, and a social occasion with spirits flowing would be the best forum.
      We wish we could provide you with a newspaper article about Metcalfe's association with P.A. Woolley. I have searched all the available newspapers of that time period and none of them refer to their meeting. The first newspaper in Sedro was published in April 1890 and none of those issues survive. In fact, only a few dozen of the newspapers from Sedro-Woolley at the turn of the century have survived the many fires of the era, none of them before 1899. Only a few copies from the 1890s have turned up in private hands. We pray that someone out there who has such a newspaper in his or her family collection will share it with us. We do know that James Bard earned every penny that Woolley paid him because he successfully predicted where three real railroads would cross here in 1889-90.
      With the Davis story above in mind — about Metcalfe's visit to Washington's Mount Vernon estate, we assume that James Bard had quite a story to tell at the Washington Hotel in Mount Vernon, when he was scouting locations for P.A. Woolley. We remind you that Wild Bill Murdock was the co-owner and bartender at the Washington saloon. Somehow Murdock discovered Woolley's plans for his townsite and Murdock bought the adjacent acreage to the east in 1889-90. Maybe he overheard Metcalfe on one of the scouting trips.
      Wild Bill did not see great profits in his hotel and cattle operations after immigrating from Canada in about 1880, but he sold that acreage for $80,000 in 1891, the same year he was elected the first mayor of the new town of Woolley. We have dreams of someone finding copies of the Sedro Press newspaper from those days with stories of the land transactions from those boom years. We can imagine that the visionaries who traveled through must have delighted in handicapping the horses jostling in that frontier land race.
      The upshot of all the meetings between P.A. Woolley and James Bard Metcalfe is that P.A. and his wife arrived in Sedro by stage on Nov. 27, 1889. By the next April, Woolley had constructed the sawmill, was producing rail ties from the fir trees north of Northern Avenue and had started his company town.

Metcalfe makes his mark for the next 35 years
      James Vernon was not exaggerating his father's skills at oratory. James Bard may well have been one of the key speakers at the centennial meeting. From the 1967 biography:
      [Metcalfe] was widely sought for by cities in Washington as an orator especially for celebrations of the Fourth of July and his speeches were printed in full by the local newspapers. His use of words was very elegant and charming to this audience. One subject in particular was an historical account of the discovery of Puget Sound by Vancouver and his naming of the various bays and mountains. The subject matter must have been very deeply studied by him for it made a lasting impression on his audiences one of which in Port Townsend was delivered on the centennial of its discovery and naming by George Vancouver on May 7, 1792. The oration was so well remembered by the old pioneers that six years later they petitioned him earnestly in writing to have it republished:
      This interesting historical address is invaluable to the pioneers [Pioneer Association of the State of Washington] and first settlers, now living, as a work of reference, and every family in this state should have a copy, to be read and studied by the children as an important part of our early history.
      Signed: James G. Swan, Robert C. Hill, J. S. Kuhn, Charles Eisenbeis, F. W. Hastings [unknown year]. [Journal Ed. note: Swan was famous as one of the first historians of future Washington state. He wrote the book, The Northwest Coast (1857) about living on Shoalwater Bay in the 1840s. Hastings was one of the founders of Port Townsend. Eisenbeis is famous today for the Manresa Castle that he built outside of town, an historic destination for many travelers.]

      Two years before he met Woolley, James Bard had proven how adept he was at criminal defense. In one of the most famous 19th-century court cases in Seattle, one George Miller was accused of murdering James M. Colman, a former King county commissioner, and Wilbur Patten while they rowed on Lake Washington near Kennydale — close to Renton on Feb. 8, 1886. Colman accused Miller, who lived in the village of Beaux Arts, of having perpetrated illegal land dealings. On that day, Colman and Miller were supposed to appear in court before a grand jury to settle the matter. When the bodies were found a month later, Miller was immediately charged with the crime and a pile of circumstantial evidence was presented against him. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, as did the second trial. In the summer of 1887, a new trial was conducted in Kitsap county, but this jury found him guilty. Because of irregularities, Miller was freed on a stay of execution later that year. James Bard Metcalfe was his attorney by that time. A fourth trial was convened in April 1888, but Metcalfe convinced a judge to throw the case out of court for lack of sufficient evidence. We want to point out a common misconception. Historians from Clarence Bagley in 1929 up until today have not explained the difference between this James M. Colman and the Scotsman, James M. Colman, who managed the Yesler mill and built the Colman Dock. The latter, James Murray Colman, died in 1906. The accused was James Manning Coleman; in fact, Bagley even misspelled his middle name as Madison.
      James Bard also made his mark in civil cases, most prominently as proctor and advocate in admiralty law in the late-1880s case of the Sitka Trading Co. vs. the Pacific Coast Steamship Co. His experience in Alaska led to his involvement in the Alaska boundary dispute between the United States and Canada. The case required many trips back to Washington, D.C., where he became acquainted with Theodore Roosevelt. In 1907, he was appointed a special representative of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition and he traveled back East to convince six Eastern States and Mississippi to participate.
      One of James Bard's most brilliant and lucrative moves occurred in 1896-97 when be became the private attorney for John Carmack [also referred to as George] and his Indian bride, Kate. The Carmacks were roughing it on Rabbit creek [later renamed Bonanza] and panning for gold with Tagish Indians Dawson Charlie and Skookum Jim. On August 16, 1896, Kate washed her face in the cold creek water and saw pretty yellow rocks at the bottom of the pool. The Klondike gold rush was about to happen. When the newly rich argonauts arrived in Seattle with their riches in 1897, James Bard was waiting for them. But before they arrived, James Bard certainly proved that he was not letting any moss grow on his northern side. There was a major problem for those who arrived with nuggets and gold dust, as Bill Speidel explained in his riotous book, Sons of the Profits:

      The Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which was betting that Carmack & Co. had hit on something big, realized before any other Chamber in the country that if we were to get the miners coming as well as going, we jolly well better have a Federal Government Assay office in Seattle. And on April 21, 1897, at 3:30 in the afternoon, the Board of Trustees of the Chamber, which was chaired by one of our prominent attorneys, General J. B. Metcalfe, made the first move to get a Government Assay Office.

      About 25 years after Metcalfe paid P.A. Woolley a favor, the retired attorney moved his family from Capitol Hill in Seattle to the estate he bought in Kitsap County on the waterfront and named Fernhurst. In 1920, he volunteered to worked with the local Suquamish tribe to establish Chief Seattle Day. After hosting Indians to a campout on the beach the night before, Metcalfe met dignitaries at the nearby dock and took them to a special ceremony at Chief Sealth's grave. A Jewish Seattle City Councilman officially summarized the affair in his address: "when a Jew and a Catholic Priest join in honoring a dead Indian, the millennium has arrived."

      In 1905, when he was about to turn 60, James Bard decided to built a summer home at the waterfront on the northern boundary of the Suquamish Indian Reservation in Kitsap county, about 20 miles north of Bremerton. That was near where Chief Sealth camped out while dickering with Doc Maynard five decades earlier about the disposition of the land that would become Seattle. James Bard built a comfortable home and over the following decade he became well acquainted with the Indians who passed across his land on one of their ancient trails. He learned that the U. S. Government had allocated homesites in the area to various Indian families but they were not permitted to sell their lands even though some of the old families were seriously in need of food. He corresponded with the U.S. government several years before the great white father consented to permit the sale of homesteads. The first to be sold was purchased and developed by Hon. Ole Hanson, who served as Mayor of Seattle, and was the area now occupied by the town of Suquamish. Meanwhile, in 1908, James Bard mounted a spirited campaign for the mayor's seat himself, but was defeated.
      In the teen years the family lived in a mansion on Capitol Hill but they slowly moved over to their Kitsap estate, which James Bard had named Fernhurst. By that time, James Bard was 70 and semi-retired but he still traveled to his law office. In 1920, he volunteered once again, this time working with the local Suquamish tribe, specifically Chief William Rogers and his klootchman, Queen Annie, and Seattle officials to establish Chief Seattle Day. On the eve the Indians camped out on the beach and practiced their tribal dances, and the on the next morning a special steamer came over from Seattle with dignitaries for a special ceremony at Chief Sealth's grave. A Jewish Seattle City Councilman officially summarized the affair in his address: "when a Jew and a Catholic Priest join in honoring a dead Indian, the millennium has arrived."
      James Bard died on July 9, 1924, at Fernhurst. His son Tom was a bit of a wanderer and finally managed sawmills in Louisiana. By 1967, his son and three grandchildren, including Margaret Hassin, had settled in Canton, Mississippi. Vernon remained in Seattle and served as an attorney in his father's firm, joining him in 1916 and specializing in admiralty law. He served in two World Wars, in early Naval Aviation during World War I, and in World War II, he was in charge of loading ammunition going to South Pacific. He branched out to practice foreign trade law and was later a professor in law and commerce at Seattle University.
      Louise Boarman Metcalfe was injured in an auto accident and was an invalid for several years at Fernhurst. She died on Feb. 7, 1935. Back when James Bard died, the Suquamish tribe honored their friend with a burial plot near that of Chief Sealth. Louise was buried beside him. The cemetery is part of the St. Peter Catholic Mission, established in 1840 and now the third oldest continuously operating cemetery in the state. The 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott authorized the Port Madison Indian Reservation, centered on Suquamish, for the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes. Sealth's parents were from the two tribes; he converted to Catholicism and was a faithful parishioner at St. Peter's until his death in 1867.

James Bard Metcalfe's Legacy
      The most important legacy for us is Metcalf Street in Sedro-Woolley. We have found in one of the surviving papers some evidence of when the "E" was dropped from the street name. In a February 1901 edition of the Skagit County Times, published in Sedro-Woolley, attorney W.H. Perry advertised his office on Metcalf Street. Researcher Gary Zimmerman notes that the family's name was also often listed in 20th century records and census materials as Metcalf.
      There is also a legacy in Seattle as son James Vernon Metcalfe noted in the 1967 biography of his father:

      While still living in San Francisco he made a trip to Washington, D. C. and visited the grave of George Washington at Mt. Vernon, Md. He obtained permission from the guard to take a generous slip from the weeping willow trees surrounding the grave of Washington. The parents of these trees had been presented to the officers of the U. S. S. Saranac as an international compliment to the United States from the French Government in 1830. Those slips were from the weeping willow trees surrounding the grave of Napoleon on the Isle of St. Helena off the coast of South Africa. Napoleon had been buried there in 1820 where he remained for 17 years before his removal to the monument of des Invalides in Paris.
      Gen. Metcalfe brought the maturing slip to Seattle in 1883 and planted it at his home at Ninth and Main Streets [now under the I-5 freeway] where it grew to a very stately tree. In 1907 it was offered to the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition but it was considered too large to move. The tree was destroyed by the Jackson Street Regrade but slips had been planted at the same spot behind the former Hotel Tacoma where they flourish to this day in 1967. One tree drapes close to the Freeway between Jackson and Main Streets. The Seattle Housing Authority has acquired the land where the trees are growing and expects to preserve them in a park in 1968.

      James Vernon was the historian for the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington from 1951-69 and served as the president from 1969-72. He was also instrumental in having Pioneer Hall in Seattle designated as a National Historic Place. We are thankful for the copy of the 1967 Courier-Times article about the James Vernon letter, which we received from the late Wyman Hammer. You can see another original of the article and several Woolley photos at the Sedro-Woolley Museum, fittingly located on Murdock Street.

      We met Gary Zimmerman at the literal last moment in this process. He is a very valuable resource for all those researching Washington history and genealogy. He is the historian for the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington, the oldest historical group in the state. The Association is open to descendants of people who resided in Washington when it was still a territory. He is also president of the Fiske Genealogical Society and Library in Seattle. He welcomes serious inquiries and will direct you to the proper resource. We thank him for the time and resources and research that he lent. You can reach him at: gzim@aus.edu

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Story posted Nov. 30, 2003, updated Sept. 1, 2007, moved to this domain October 3, 2011
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Donations make a difference. We are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation. Your monetary gifts are tax deductible, actively solicited, and most welcome. Unless instructed otherwise, your contribution will be kept confidential. If you would like to make a donation to contribute to any of the works of Skagit County Historical Society and Museum. From your PayPal account, consider specifying if you would like your donation restricted to a specific area of interest: General Funds, Skagit River Journal, Skagit City School, Facilities, Publication Committee, Special Events,  any upcoming Exhibit. Just add those instructions in the box provided by PayPal. If not a donation, how about a Membership? Find information at this link. Thank-you! from the Director, staff and Board of Trustees.

Please sign our guestbook so our readers will know where you found out about us, or share something you know about the Skagit River or your memories or those of your family. Share your reactions or suggestions or comment on our Journal. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit our site.

Currently looking for a new guestbook!

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Email us at: skagitriverjournal@gmail.com
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Mail copies/documents to Street address: Skagit River Journal c/o Skagit County Historical Society, PO Box 818, 501 S.4th St., La Conner, WA. 98257