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Skagit River Journal

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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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(Osborne Home Place 1947)
      Osborne descendant Jeanie Bond says that this photo is of the Osborne home place as it appeared early in 1947, viewed from the east. Note that the Collins road through the photo is graveled, still not paved.F&S Grade Road would be at the photographer's back. Standing in the foreground is William "Bill" Osborne, son of William Sr., and his brother, Roby Frank Hardy Osborne. Frank is holding his grand niece Jeanie Doran. The photos with this biography are copies from the collection of Jeanie Doran Bond and the scrapbooks of the late Harry Osborne, which are maintained by his daughter, Betty Jean Osborne Hittson. We are indebted to the Dreyer and Osborne family descendants for sharing so many memories, documents and photos. Betty's husband, Cecil Hittson, found the Silves biography in Harry's collection.

Harry Osborne, a man from local forestry history

By Janell Silves, October 1980
      Butler Lumber Company, Bloedell-Donovan, Puget Sound Pulp and Timber Company, and the Washington Forest Fire Association. All names of companies that have either disappeared with the huge timber they were associated with or have been bought and had name changes.
      There is one man though that worked with all of the above mentioned companies, starting in 1925 through 1962, when he retired. His name is Harry Osborne, and this story is also a happy birthday wish to him as he turns 81 on Friday, Oct. 24 [1980].
      Harry's grandparents were homesteaders in Sedro-Woolley back in 1872 and the family name was [Dreyer]. Harry was born [on Oct. 24, 1899], right here in Sedro-Woolley, and has lived his whole life in this area. He quite high school at the age of 16 to move to a logging camp where he was a ground yarder for Butler Lumber Company, which logged about five miles west of Sedro-Woolley. Then his next move took him to Minkler Lake, ground yarding, being a whistle punk and chaining for the Butler company.
      Harry then heard of high-lead logging from several loggers and decided to give that a try. He was hired by Bloedell-Donovan and they logged the country around Sedro-Woolley. He stayed with Bloedell-Donovan all the way through World War 1. He worked his way up from third-loading to second-loading and so on. In 1919, Harry met his wife Mae and they were married. He was almost 30 and Mae was almost 18 and they just celebrated 61 years of marriage this past July.

(William and Harry Osborne haying)
Jeanie Bond found this photo in the Osborne family scrapbooks. "I'm not certain if this photo was taken on the property of Henry Dreyer or that of William I. Osborne. In any case the caption indicates that this is a harvest of oat hay. On the left is William I. Osborne and on the right is his son Harry Osborne."

      Harry was also involved in the Washington Forest Fire Association during the off seasons of logging. He took over the head of Skagit, Island and San Juan counties for the association and in 1940 he went to work for them steady for two years. But Harry couldn't get the logging system, so he went to work for a gyppo logging operation which was logging [Cultus] mountain. The company was Puget Sound Pump and Timber Company, which eventually became Georgia-Pacific.
      But Harry was faced with the problem of deciding which job to stick with, the fire association or the logging company, so he approached each and said there had to be some positive action made. He wanted to stay with the Forest Fire Association, but so far they hadn't offered year-round work and Harry knew there was a need for someone to clearly define the boundaries of state-owned land and also to watch out for people camping and starting fires. He also stipulated that his friend be hired because there was enough work for two men. The association went for it and Harry stayed with that until 1963, when he retired for good. His friend fell by the wayside after two years on the job. Harry became supervisor from the Canadian border to the Puyallup river, which took in Deming, Sedro-Woolley, Sultan, North Bend and Enumclaw.
      Retiring didn't slow Harry and Mae down though. In 1955 Harry and Mae had a small nursery of several plants and shrubs at their home. The nursery was started so that when Harry did retire he would still be busy around the home. Mae took care of the nursery until Harry retired and they had the nursery until 1973. But one thing that Harry and Mae really enjoy is traveling all over. The spend time in Arizona and have traveled all over Alaska.
      "We have been to the end of almost every road in Alaska," Harry proudly explained. "We drove all of them and logged 10,000 miles in 2 1/2 months.
      Two years later, the Osbornes took the ferry up to Alaska and stopped at practically every town on the way up. In 1973 they drove to Yellowknife, which is as far north as you can drive. They have also been all over Mexico.
      Harry is also an expert of lapidary work (working with stones), and has several jars filled with stones, that he has collected in his journeys. Woodworking is another favorite of Harry's, there are partially started clocks and there are tables by Harry that combine both hobbies. He also collects odd woods and antique logging equipment. His pride though is an old ox bow which his grandfather made in 1880.
      Harry also volunteers his time to senior citizen groups in teaching them lapidary work. Harry used to hunt and fish quite a lot, including using some strange looking fishing equipment to guide other fishermen out deep-sea fishing. But Harry says that now all his hunting and fishing partners are either gone or the ones left are no longer interested in getting out and catching any fish.
      Harry has always been a firm believer in state parks and providing places for folks to go where there would be no hazard of forest fires, so he was honored twice by the state of Washington, [once] by having a state park named after him in King county between Redmond and Fall City, and again by having a section of forest named after him that Harry had originally helped log for the English Lumber Company in 1930-33 and helped replant the area and since then it has been re-logged and replanted. This area is up above Hamilton and was the area called Camp 9.
      Harry was also one of the first park board members for Skagit county and for the last 20 years has been on the park board for Sedro-Woolley. He helped develop all the local parks and is still an active member on the board.

Harry Osborne biography notes

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal
(Mae Osborne at the Gazebo House)
This was Mae and Harry's first home after they married in 1919. It was originally the gazebo bandstand, located at the crook of Metcalf street and the Seattle & Northern railroad tracks in old Woolley. James Renfro and W.B. Pigg used the bottom story as a confectionery in the 1890s and early 1900s. The town orchestra played from the open-air second story and stowed their instruments and uniforms below. By the time that the Osbornes married, it had been moved to the lot that druggist Albert Holland owned on Murdock street south of the present Sedro-Woolley museum. Jeanie Bond interviewed Mae in 1984 and Mae told her about their honeymoon months in the gazebo and what fun it was for the young couple to shinny down the banister of the long open staircase. The late Judge Hugh Ridgway told us ten years ago that he bought the gazebo years ago after it had been moved around on a flat wagon and deposited on several different lots until no one wanted this piece of local history anymore. It is now in the backyard of a local residence, both stories closed in and used for a rec room and private office.

      Harry William Osborne had one foot in the 19th century and one in the 20th, born on Oct. 24, 1899, near the newly merged town of Sedro-Woolley, as the first child to William Osborne and Waneta "Neta" Terienta Dreyer. His workaholic nature that he exhibited for decades came honestly. His father was a hard-working farmer who moved to Skagit county from LaConner in 1889 and his mother was an engraver and daughter of a German immigrant who first settled here in 1882.
      Harry's childhood was spent in a house on seven acres at the southwest corner of what is now the junction of three roads: the F&S Grade road, the Collins road and the Kelleher road, a little more than a mile northwest of Sedro-Woolley. His mother grew up a mile south on the homestead of her parents, Henry Harms Dreyer and Alma Nash Dreyer, who settled on a quarter section between today's Cook road and Hwy. 20 sometime in 1883. Neta was born in 1879 when her parents lived in Santa Clara county, California. They married there in 1876.
      Henry Dreyer was born near Hanover, Germany, in 1848, and emigrated to England in 1865, where he joined the British Merchant Marine. While in San Francisco Bay in 1873, he apparently jumped ship to work in the nearby vineyards and may have lived under an assumed name when he married Alma Nash, who moved to San Jose in 1871 at age 16 to work as a governess. They moved north in 1881 in time for their third child, Maude, to be born that May while Henry was working in a logging camp "near Mount Vernon" in Washington territory. After a year in the woods, Henry moved his young family to Willamette valley, Oregon, but nine months later they returned to the Skagit. As Alma often explained with a chuckle, "Mosquitoes drove us from Skagit county and Willamette flies drove us back." Henry originally established a claim near future Cokedale, which he later sold, but in 1883 he quit the woods for good and focused on carving out a farm on his homestead. That was five years after the four British bachelors settled the lowlands on the north shore of the Skagit river, three miles away, a year before Sedro founder Mortimer Cook arrived from California, and six years before P.A. Woolley arrived from Elgin, Illinois.

(Harry on the porch of the gazebo house)
Harry on the porch of the gazebo house. Gazebo photos scanned from the Harry Osborne scrapbook.

      In 1889, the same year that Woolley arrived — also the year when Washington became a state and when the Fairhaven & Southern railroad connected with Sedro, William Osborne landed in LaConner as one of the earliest Tarheel transplants from North Carolina. He eventually wound up here in the Sedro area, where he became an active member of the IOOF, one of the earliest lodges in Woolley. It was probably there that he met Neta. They married in 1898 and established their farm on prime soil that had recently been logged near 40 more acres of stumpy grazing land.
      Their neighbors were earlier homesteaders, Jack Kelleher, Azro Willard and Alonzo Salathial Collins. All the prime quarter sections had been homesteaded before Osborne arrived. Another neighbor a mile to the west was mill and dairy owner Silas Butler, for whom Harry went to work as a teenager. Jeanie Bond discovered another fascinating historical tidbit about that neighborhood while working with other researchers at the Washington state regional archives in Bellingham. What is now the Collins road was originally only under that name from Sterling to the Cook road. The segment north from there to the F&S Grade, one of the Osborne farm borders, was originally named the James Murdock road. That was a mistake because someone misread the signature of Joseph Murdock, who signed his name, Jos. Murdock was the second husband of William Osborne's sister Jennie, who moved here in the late 1890s with her husband, Cicero Thomas.
      Janell Silves sums up most of Harry's adult life above. We can only add that nineteen-year-old Harry married seventeen-year-old Mae Dawson, daughter of Joseph and Edna Dawson of Edison, on July 3, 1919, right after the end of World War I. Their only child, Betty Jean, was born on Feb. 3, 1932, while they lived in Sedro-Woolley. Harry died in Sedro-Woolley on Feb. 6, 1986, followed by Mae on Feb. 27, 1990.

(Cecil Hittson)

      Right: Betty Jean Osborne Hittson fishing in 1944. Above: Her husband, Cecil Hittson, fishing on Grandy Creek while a teenager. This is one fun couple. Betty Jean learned how to fish as a girl on camping trips with her parents Harry and Mae Osborne. Cecil grew up in Lyman and learned how to fish not long after he learned to walk. Cecil nearly always has a twinkle in his eye when he talks, a trait that must have endeared him to Betty when he came courting. Betty Jean is still as beautiful as when she was a blushing bride and Cecil is still as mischievous.
(Betty Jean Osborne 1944)
      Cecil Hittson: "Reading your article on Watkinson and mention of Lillawaup Falls brought back memories of my love to fish mountain streams. I'm one of three people who has gone over those falls, and continued down stream to a dam built many years ago. The dam is about 40 ft high and the lake behind is not there. The area of the lake is now filled with sand to near the top of the dam.
      "Going over the falls was not caused by a fall into the river, it was my choice. A trip down stream from the swamp to the dam is piece of cake, compared to a trip [up here] from the second dam on Jones Creek to where it runs through Trueman's property. It would be hard for someone to name a mountain stream over here or in Skagit County that i haven't fished. Harold Trueman can verify fishing trips. The stream we liked most would have been Sister Creek, small, narrow and not very deep. The best way to fish this creek was to always fish down stream because the fish were so long they couldn't turn around."
See his fishing link below.

      The Sedro and Hamilton boomer, Col. Frank Wilkeson, wrote in the New York Times about fishing on hundreds of streams here from 1885-1900, along with his son Sam and his friends, Sam and Ike Morrell of Hamilton. Probably not since then has anyone fished more of those same streams than our faithful correspondent Cecil. The note below that Cecil recently sent us will give you an idea why he is our primary source on old Lyman and fishing:

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Story posted on May 5, 2003, last updated Jan. 19, 2005, moved to this domain Oct. 28, 2011
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