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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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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
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Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties,
Part Two of Chapter 1: Period of settlement
From Part II, Skagit County Section

(Bessie Rudene)
Bessie Rudene and her mother, Ruthinda Wallace, were examples of frontier women who overcame widowhood and long, arduous travel by covered wagon to provide homes for their family on the Washington frontier.

Transcribed from Illustrated History, 1906,
fully annotated with linked Journal endnotes

First white women settlers and families
      The first white women to settle on the Swinomish flats were: Mrs. J.O. Rudene, formerly Mrs. John Cornelius; Mrs. Edwin T. Dodge, Mrs. Denison, Mrs. Robert White, Mrs. John S. Conner and Mrs. Archibald Seigfried. The last named lady was the mother of the first child born on the flats, but unfortunately it did not live. In May 1871, Maggie, daughter of Mr. Mrs. Robert White, was born. It is thought that she was the first white native [girl born] in the flats to live, if not the first in the county. Mrs. Charles Hubbs, sister of Mrs. Rudene, is deserving of mention among the early pioneer women, though her borne was on the reservation opposite LaConner, where her husband was serving as telegraph operator.
      The year 1871 brought a number of settlers, among them Isaac Jennings and family. Those settlers Mr. Jennings was able to recall as living on the flats at that time in addition to the ones already mentioned, were the following: the Manchester family, south of LaConner; William Woodward, a bachelor north of LaConner; Edward Bellou, a bachelor in the same locality; a bachelor known as "Pink Man;" the Terrace family, Michael Hintz, James O'Laughlin [O'Loughlin], Charles Miller, C.A. D'Arcy, G.W.L. Allen, Isaac Chilberg, a minister named Thompson, who used to preach occasionally at the McCormick farm; Laurin L. Andrews, a young merchant on the reservation; and Thomas Calhoun. In addition to these there were Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Wallace on Beaver marsh, near Pleasant Ridge, Albert and Milton Leamer, brothers of Mrs. Wallace, and John Wallace. Mrs. David Leamer, mother of Albert and Milton and of Mrs. Wallace, settled near Pleasant Ridge in October 1871 and still resides there. Frederick Eyre was also in the country, though not a settler at that time. David Culver came to the flats about 1872; James Gilliland was in charge of the telegraph station at LaConner in 1872 and for many years afterward.
      The Swinomish settlement was not without some of the conveniences of civilized life in the late 1860s and early '70s. Already two of the sound steamers were contending for their trade, the fifty-ton sidewheeler, Mary Woodruff, John Cosgrove, captain; and the J. B. Libby, John A. Suffern, captain. They plied between Seattle and Whatcom, via the inside route as it was called — Swinomish slough — making the round trip every week At this time the freight was three dollars and a half a ton, hut there were instances when the fierce competition between the two forced it down to a dollar Or even less. The service, however, was not very satisfactory. E. A. Sisson says the Libby often got stuck on the flats at Hole in the Wall near LaConner or at the upper end of Swinomish slough and would lie there contentedly for two or three days, charging the passengers a good rate for their board. In the spring of l868, Mr. Calhoun finished a small, flat-bottom schooner, named the Shoo-Fly, suited to transferring logging camp outfits, lumber. etc., in shallow water.
      Another of the conveniences of this early period was a telegraph wire to the reservation. Mr. Calhoun says that after the trans-Atlantic cable had twice broken, people began to think it a failure, and a telegraph company commenced to run a line along the coast through Washington territory to British Columbia and Alaska to the Bering straits, expecting to cross to Asia and thence to Europe. The subsequent success of the Atlantic cable put an end to this scheme. But the Swinomish people nevertheless had telegraphic connection, which they would not otherwise have enjoyed for several years. About the middle 1860s, a post office was established on the reservation, making it no longer necessary for the pioneers to go to Utsalady for mail. Still later one was secured on the site of LaConner (it was named Swinomish post office) with Thomas Hayes as its first postmaster.

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      The value of the country as a grain-raising district began to be realized very soon after diking commenced in 1864. Mrs. Rudene then Mrs. John Cornelius, is quoted as saying that when she came from Whidbey island in 1868, Mr. Sullivan showed her a splendid field of oats, which he claimed were the first grown on the Swinomish Flats. In the fall of 1869, three men had considerable crops of grain to be threshed, Michael Sullivan, Samuel Calhoun and E. T. Dodge. There was no threshing machine on the mainland, so Mr. Calhoun went to Whidbey island and brought men, horses and machine. Sullivan's crop was threshed first, then Calhoun's, then Dodge's. Calhoun got twelve hundred bushels of barley from twenty-one acres, and both the other gentlemen realized much better returns than they had expected, so the scoffers at those establishing farms on the mud flats were [effectively] silenced. In 1876, Mr. Calhoun brought a steam thresher to the flats, the first that was ever imported into western Washington, and in 1877, Whitney, Sisson & Company imported the second machine.
      The north end of Swinomish flats was not much behind the La Conner country in settlement. The first settler in the vicinity of Padilla bay was James McClellan, a bachelor from California, who located about the year 1869 on the place now known as the Smith ranch, but which he named Virgin Cove. For months his only neighbors were a family of Indians, who regarded him as an intruder on their lands, for they claimed by right of inheritance all the country between Indian slough and the Samish river. Several times Mr. McClellan thought these Indians were plotting to kill him but he put on a bold front, showed no fear and was not molested. It is almost certain that no white family would have been so patient with one whom they regarded a trespasser.
      McClellan's first white neighbor was Jacob Highbarger, who came about 1870 with his Indian wife and family. Next year, McClellan's former partner in the stock business in California, M.D. Smith, rejoined him. The partnership was renewed. They diked a portion of their marsh land, but unfortunately in building the dike struck a layer of sand which permitted the salt water to leach through, so that good crops could not be raised until an outer dike was built. In the fall of 1870, William H. Trimble took a claim for himself and one for G.W.L. Allen adjoining the farm of Smith and McClellan. A year or so later, Allen built a fine house on an elevated site and brought his family to live in it. In 1872, Samuel McNutt and Albert Jennings took claims which were later purchased by John Ball, diked by him and made into a fine large farm. Jennings was a railway engineer, employed in Oregon, so the burden of holding residence upon this property fell upon his wife and little boy.

Whitney, Sisson and Tillinghast settle at Padilla
      Some time about 1870 or 1871, Michael Sullivan sold for one thousand six hundred dollars at the river bank the crop of barley raised on forty acres of diked land. The story went clear to Pennsylvania. R.E. Whitney, E.A. Sisson and others heard it and soon began planning to migrate to the sound basin. Whitney arrived at Padilla in August 1872, bought the right of a man named White, filed a preemption, and with Mrs. Whitney, began residence in a pioneer shack. Fore many years after he was one of the leading men in the great work of tide land reclamation, one whose faith never wavered, who knew no discouragement. In the December following his arrival, he was joined by two cousins, E.A. Sisson and A.G. Tillinghast, whom he took into partnership, forming the firm of Whitney, Sisson & Company. This partnership was finally dissolved in 1877, not, however, until it had expended much money, labor and effort in diking land.
      The work was discouraging enough at first. The company, together with Trimble, Highbarger and Allen, constructed three miles of dike and several expensive dams across sloughs, using seventy thousand feet of lumber and paying forty dollars a month and board for men. During the winter of 1873-74, four of these costly dams went out, the salt water was let in and cultivation was delayed another year. They were rebuilt in 1874, and in 1875 the first crop, twenty acres of oats, was produced. The destruction of the dikes was so discouraging to Messrs. Tillinghast and Sisson, that they offered to donate a year's work to be allowed to withdraw from the company neither owing nor owning a cent, but Whitney would not listen to any such proposition. He insisted that all go ahead, which they finally decided to do.
      In 1873, Whitney, Sisson & Company built the old "White House" on Bay View Ridge, and as showing some of the conditions of life in those days it may be related that the lumber was brought from Utsalady by the steamer Linnie, which dumped it out in the bay two miles from land. The captain did not know the bay nearer shore and would not go in, but he did not forget to charge two dollars and fifty cents a thousand for such service as he was willing to render. The men rafted the lumber and poled it to shore. On March 13, 1873, the house was raised, the entire neighborhood being present and taking part. It still stands, a landmark of the early days, reminder of many a pioneer gathering and festive occasion.
      The land around the head of Padilla bay contained more peat and hence was more difficult to bring into cultivation than that contiguous to LaConner. Some of it was so soft that, besides underdraining, it required years of time in which to settle so that it would bear up teams in the spring and threshing machines in the fall. As comparatively little of the flats was diked in the early 1870s, there was no communication, except by water, with LaConner. For the double purpose of avoiding danger in times of rough weather and of shortening the distance, a canal a half mile long was dug, connecting Indian and Telegraph sloughs.

(South Fork aerial)
      This terrific aerial photo is from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition website. The photographer was looking north from about the town of Fir and the photo shows the North Fork branching to the left and the South Fork flowing toward the viewer. The bend at Mount Vernon, where the upper log jam once was, is in the upper right background and the second Kimble farm and cabin were just south of the lower jam. Skagit City would have been in the foreground, just to the right of the fork in the present clump of trees. Skagit Island, where David E. Kimble built his first house, is to the north of the forks and the beach on the river side could well be the general area where the first trading post was in about 1868-69. Also see this Google Map for the region of South Fork. You can zoom in to see more topographic detail.

Settlement above the tide flats
      While the initial attempts at the development of the beautiful archipelago now constituting the western portion of Skagit county, together with that of the tide flats on the Swinomish, were in progress, enterprising adventurers and fortune hunts were beginning to realize the possibilities of the great Skagit valley above the region of the tide flats. Families soon followed. The first white women to reach the region lying back of the flats were: Mrs. William Gage and her two daughters, now Mrs. Keen and Mrs. Narl; Mrs. Brice, Mrs. Jasper Gates, Mrs. D.E. Kimble and Mrs. M.J. Kimble, soon followed by Mrs. Charles Washburn, Mrs. August Hartson and Mrs. Isaac Lanning. It is interesting to recall that these ladies were the first to come to that portion of what is now Skagit county, on a steamboat, the little steamer Linnie, on which they came, was the first to reach the big jam near Mount Vernon, arriving late in 1870.
      The first religious service ever held in that community was conducted by Charles Washburn and D.E. Kimble in a house now owned by Mr. Tinkham. The first baptism occurred near Peter Vander Kuyl's house in a little slough on the north fork of the Skagit, Rev. B.N.L. Davis performing the ceremony, and the recipients of it being Mrs. Mahala Washburn, who later became Mrs. C.C. Hansen, now deceased, and Mrs. Somers [actually Summers?], now Mrs. James Gaches.
      The first house to be built in the Skagit valley was erected in 1863 on the claim of W.H. Sartwell, now owned by Magnus Anderson, about five miles below Mount Vernon. Among the first settlers in that same general region were the following upon the —

South fork of the river:
      Joseph Lisk, William Kayton, George Wilson, John Wilbur, E. McAlpine [also spelled McAlpin], L. Sweet, A.G. Kelley, R.I. Kelley, J. Wilson and Joseph Wilson.

On the north fork:
      John Guinea, William Hayes, William Houghton, Joseph Maddox, William Brown, H.A. Wright, Peter Vander Kuyl, Franklyn Buck and Magnus Anderson. J.V. Abbott, now dead, located May 5, 1865, and soon after came David Anderson, who located on what afterward became known as the old McAlpine place, upon which Skagit City grew. It is said by some that Mr. Underwood was the first settler on the north fork, locating in or before 1865 on the place afterward taken up by Peter Vander Kuyl.

First white child on the Skagit debated
      We find also some conflicting statements as to who is entitled to the honor of being the first white child born on the Skagit. Some claim it for the child of Charles Washburn, while others claim that Oliver C. Tingley, son of [Samuel] S. Tingley, born June 6, 1870, is entitled to that distinction. The first man already a pater familias is said to have been Thomas R. Jones, whose claim was near that of Mr. Tingley on the north fork of the river.

1870s settlement on the lower river
      We have already seen that the first cabin in that neighborhood was built by W.H. Sartwell, who was assisted in the work by Orrin Kincaid and Mr. Todd. The three men soon formed a partnership and established in the cabin a trading post for the purpose of exchanging goods and merchandise with the Indians for furs. The difficulty of purchasing goods, however, by reason of the exorbitant charges of the wholesalers at Seattle and Olympia, who wished to monopolize the Indian trade themselves, rendered this first mercantile venture on the Skagit unprofitable, and soon after Mr. Kincaid went to California. In the meantime, Mr. Todd died and for some time Sartwell was alone on that immediate portion of the river.

Thomas Hastie's neighbors when he settled at Fir in 1872
      Thomas P. Hastie homesteaded his present place near Fir in June 1870, coming over from Whidby [Whidbey] island. He lived on the place on and off until he proved up in 1872. In 1870 he found the following settlers in his neighborhood:

North fork of the Skagit:
      Franklyn Buck, DeWitt Clinton Dennison, Bus Lill, Samuel S. Tingley, Magnus Anderson, William Brown, Joseph L. Maddox, Thomas R. Jones, Peter Vander Kuyl, Moses Kane, John Guinea, Quinby Clark, [unknown first] Fay, T.J. Rawlins and Charles Henry.

South fork:
      Orrin Kincaid, living on the present Wilson ranch; William Sartwell, who came with Kincaid, on an adjoining ranch; Joseph Wilson; William Johnson; William Smith; Alonzo Sweet, opposite the site of Skagit City; Joseph Lisk; William Kayton; George "Long" Wilson, William [McAlpine], at the site of Skagit City; and William Alexander, who later sold out to Robert and W.L. Kelly. William Brown had settled in 1865 at the mouth of the slough to which his name was applied, and Maddox about that year also settled on the north fork just above Brown's slough.

      The late Art Hupy was a LaConner photographer who collected photos from many of the pioneer families and was also one of the key leaders behind the movement for the Museum of Northwest Art. This is a photo he discovered that features a family who dressed up and posed on one of the huge stumps that resulted from logging on Fir island in the very early days. You can see the wedges in the stump where springboards were inserted so that men with axes could chop from a few feet above the ground.

Below the big log jams
      Beginning about 1870 there was a rapid influx of men with families into the regions of the lower Skagit. At that time, it was considered impracticable to locate above the big jam near the site of the present Mount Vernon, and most of the settlers took claims in the dense timber back of the lower river, rather than try the regions above which have since become so attractive. True to the genuine American idea, those early settlers soon began to establish schools, churches and other civilizing agencies. In a building erected for a barn on the ranch of D.E. Kimble, the first school in the Skagit valley was taught by Ida Lanning, a daughter of Isaac Lanning, who had located nearby in 1869. She was followed after by George E. Hartson, afterward and until the present time one of the leading citizens of Mount Vernon. Contemporary with Miss Lanning was Zena Tingley, now Mrs. J.D. Moores, who taught in what afterward was called Skagit district [south fork of the Skagit around Skagit City, the first town on the river before Mount Vernon], where she gathered her young charges in a cabin belonging to [Joseph] Wilson.
      There were many Methodists among those early settlers, and a Methodist organization was effected about 1870 by Rev. M.J. Luark, who was soon after succeeded by Rev. J.M. Denison. At that early day, Skagit City seems to have been the center of operations. At the Union hall in that place, all manner of public assemblages, religious meetings, political conventions, entertainment, Good Templars' meetings, balls and socials, festivals and fairs were accustomed to gather. The Skagit City of that time was about half a mile above its present location. It seems to have been the general rendezvous for canoes, scows, booms of logs and steamboats in so far as they appeared at all. The removal of the big jam from the vicinity of Mount Vernon a few years later destroyed the prestige of Skagit City.
      Practically the entire region then open to settlement was heavily timbered, and the work of clearing land, difficult at all times, was increased many fold by the lack of teams. To obviate this difficulty in so far as possible logging bees became the accepted social and industrial means of ridding the country of unnecessary timber. Some of the old settlers, however, record their conviction that the guests at the logging bees used more energy in disposing of the bountiful viands [food] which the host provided than in ridding his claim of the impeding logs. Nevertheless the pleasure and the social entertainment afforded by those old logging bees was a great compensation for the hard tread-mill of life at that time and place.
      The nearest post office during the first period of settlement on the lower Skagit was Utsalady (meaning "land of berries" in the Indian tongue), but as soon as possible La Conner became the center of mail service. Most of the settlers were obliged to go or to send to Coupeville to get supplies.
      A man named Campbell, in 1868, established a small store at the forks of the river, where he kept and disposed of the standard goods for cash, a rather large amount of the latter being necessary to effect a trade for such patrons as had run out of their regular store. This pioneer storekeeper of the Skagit had the untoward habit of spirituous imbibition to an unhealthy degree. On one occasion when he had reached a satiated condition, in his strenuous efforts to handle a barrel of sugar, which constituted his whole stock in trade, he managed to dump it in the river and to follow it immediately himself.
      Siwash, who was not quite so drunk, extricated him from the watery depths. After some tedious work the barrel of sugar was also landed. It had absorbed so much water as to be turned to molasses, in which condition he disposed of it at advantageous prices to the hungry Indians. Campbell soon disposed of his mercantile interests to J.J. Conner, and he in turn sold out to D. E. Gage, who is still engaged in merchandising at Skagit City.
      The first date at which the Skagit valley country took any part in an election was 1871, there being at that time but one precinct in the entire valley. There was a total vote of sixty-one in the election for delegate to congress, the candidates being that silver-tongued spellbinder, Selucius Garfield, and J.V. McFadden. In spite of his eloquence and the fascination which Garfield wielded over all with whom he came in contact, his lack of steadfast principle and his personal bad habits had by that time so affected his general reputation that his competitor was chosen.
      In those early days potatoes constituted the legal tender of the community. In the rich new lands and the soft, moist climate of the Skagit and its outlying islands these indispensable vegetables yielded most prolifically and were sold in large quantities to the trading sloops which visited that part of the sound. Money being very scarce it became a common thing to accept potatoes as legal tender.
      Practically the only way of getting out of or into the Skagit valley was by boat. Canoes and sailboats would frequently intercept the steamer Mary Woodruff, then running from Whatcom to Seattle and stopping at Utsalady. The fare at that time from Utsalady to Whatcom was five dollars, and it took three days to make the trip. There was no regular steamboat service upon the Skagit river itself until 1871, when the Fanny Lake, in command of Captain John S. Hill, began making regular monthly trips between Seattle and Skagit City. Her arrival at the latter place was the chief event of the month to the inhabitants, who always gathered almost to a man, woman and child to witness it.

(Log Jams map)
This map, courtesy of Larry Kunzler, with a view looking north, shows the location of the log jams in the Skagit River near future Mount Vernon, as drawn by surveyors sometime before 1877. Does anyone know the name of the creek entering the river from the northeast? The stream entering the river from the south on the map would later be named Britt's Slough. David Kimble's second home was just to the southwest of the bottom of the map.
Mount Vernon born in 1877 before the log jams were cleared
      The great log jams in the Skagit river in the vicinity of the site of Mount Vernon, one extending a mile above that point and the other about half a mile below, long prevented settlement in the upper part of the valley, but in 1877 Harrison Clothier and Edward English founded the town of Mount Vernon, Mr. Clothier purchasing ten acres of Jasper Gates, which he platted for the purpose. He became the postmaster at Mount Vernon in September of 1877, the mail being carried in a skiff from LaConner to Skagit City and thence by foot to Mount Vernon. In 1876 the great work of removing the jams on the river had been undertaken by settlers and loggers and two years later the steamer Wenat made a trip to Mount Vernon, Henry Bailey being captain.
      The logging business, which became so important a factor in the development of the Skagit valley, seems to have come into existence on the lower river as early as 1871. By the year 1875 there were hundreds of men engaged in logging at various points in the Skagit and Samish regions.
      For a new region the Skagit valley seems to have been somewhat singularly free from affrays and crimes. The only recorded murder of very early date occurred at Skagit City in the winter of 1869-70. A certain trader named John Barker had come to the valley during the previous year and had erected a shake shanty on the island near the junction of the forks. Among other merchandise in which Barker dealt was the ever-present and ever-destructive whiskey, with which he supplied whites and Indians alike. Immediately across the north fork a band of Indians had established themselves and made some small clearings upon which were erected rude huts. One morning Barker was found lying in his shanty, his throat cut and his store ransacked.
      Shortly afterward some goods supposed to have been a part of the stock were found in the possession of Quinby Clark, who lived near, but before any investigation had been undertaken, Clark left the region. It is said that some of the south forkers formed a mob in the meantime and hanged two Indians, supposing them to be the guilty parties. It appeared by subsequent investigation that Clark had shortly before wanted to get a squaw for whom thirty dollars was demanded, and that right after the murder he raised the necessary money. Also a subsequent investigation of the store showed plainly that the robbery and murder had been committed by a white man, for things which Indians would have taken were left and those which a white man would have taken were gone. Barker had been a Mason and the members of this fraternity spent three years in seeking the supposed murderer, but without avail.

David E. Kimble and family
      As typical of the history of the Skagit as well as of other pioneer communities we may well make a brief reference here to the experience of D.E. Kimble and family, the first home-builders in the region adjacent to what is now Mount Vernon. Their former home had been in Illinois, whence Mr. Kimble with his wife and five young children came in 1868 to Whidby island. In December of 1869 Mr. Kimble, having formed the impression that his fortune would be better made in a new region than in the comparatively well-settled Whidby island, came to the Skagit valley seeking a home.
      Earlier attempts, so Mr. Kimble relates, had been broken up by the belligerent Indians who made their headquarters there. When Mr. Kimble with his family located in the region he found sixteen squaw-men in the valley, the names of whom have already been given in the list of early settlers. In his quest for a location which should entirely satisfy his wishes Mr. Kimble pursued his explorations up the river to the lower end of the big jam and established himself upon the spot which has been his home ever since, adjoining the city of Mount Vernon. Settlers were obliged at that time to go clear to Olympia to file upon government land. With the Kimbles came the families of Jasper Gates and William Gage, the party chartering the steamer Linnie, as already narrated, for the purpose of carrying their families and possessions to their new homes, paying fifty dollars for the service.
      Mr. Kimble learned from the Indians that the big jam had been in existence from time immemorial. So solidly was this jam packed that it could be crossed at almost any point in its entire extent and upon it had grown a veritable forest, in some instances trees of even two or three feet in diameter growing upon what was merely a mass of rotten debris with no lodgment in the earth at all. Underneath the tangled mass of logs, moss, bushes and trees the impetuous torrent of the Skagit forced its way in some places in furious cataracts, in others in deep black pools filled with fish, which could, however, be reached at very few points by sportsmen. Upon their home carved out of the wilderness, Mr. Kimble and his family toiled for all those years clearing the fat, wet soil, setting out trees and converting the wild land into rich clover meadows and garden tracts, gradually accumulating a competency.

Settlement of the upper river lagged behind
      The settlement of the upper Skagit valley, while partaking of the same general conditions, which operated in the lower, was in the nature of the case later in time and in the main slower in progress than the portion of the valley contiguous to the sound. It was, however, discovered at quite an early day that the upper Skagit valley ws rich in the precious metals as well as in coal and iron and possessed also vast stores of the finest timer, while the land once cleared would yield, under the influence of the genial climate, the finest crops of all kinds. Hence the more adventurous class of pioneers and prospectors early turned their attention to securing the advantages so lavishly bestowed.
      A. R. Williamson, one of the first hop-growers in the Puyallup valley and later the pioneer hopgrower of the Skagit, is credited with having been the first settler on the upper Skagit above the jam, settling in 1871, or, some say, 1872. Mr. Williamson lived for a number of years near Lyman, where he died November 6, 1883. The next settler above the jam appears to have been Rev. B. N. L. Davis, a Baptist minister, who, soon after Williamson's advent, took up his abode on the south side of the river at the point where the Great Northern bridge spans the Skagit.
      In 1879, Davis rented Williamson's hop ranch and two or three years later made himself widely known on the coast by netting something like forty thousand dollars for his hops one season. Immediately afterward he entered the stock business on an extensive scale, at one time bringing seven carloads of registered Holstein cattle to his Skagit river ranch from the eastern states, thus introducing that stock in this county. He also brought out some very highly bred horses at this time.

The early coal discoveries led to a peg leg
      In 1873, Amasa Everett, a native of Maine and for some time a resident of Minnesota, came to Skagit county, late that fall joining Orlando Graham, another Minnesotan, who had taken a claim on Fidalgo island in the spring of that year. These men, together with Lafayette S. Stevens, a Nevada miner who came to the Skagit country about that time to prospect, are deserving of a special place in any history of the Skagit region, for they were the discoverers of the coal mines of the upper valley. During the summer of 1874, Graham and Everett, while working on the Swinomish flats, met Stevens and the trio went on an expedition in the latter part of September, 1874, to the vicinity of what later became the site of Hamilton. These men had seen samples of gold brought by the Indians to the lower river and hoped to strike a fortune in the precious metal, though Graham, not being a miner, said he would look for coal.
      Having reached the vicinity of Hamilton they learned from some Indians with whom they talked that there was some sort of a peculiar black metal in the mountains thereabouts. Investigations showed this to be coal and that great discovery was made.
      On this trip, while prospecting, Mr. Everett was struck by a rolling rock, which broke his leg. His partners, called to the place by the Indian companion of Mr. Everett, set the broken limb by the rude surgery of the frontier, but upon his return to civilization the doctors deemed it necessary to amputate it and Everett was accordingly taken to Seattle by Graham, where the operation was successfully performed. Stevens made regular trips in and out of the coal region throughout the succeeding winter. In the meantime, James O'Laughlin and James J. Conner were added to the company, which then filed upon one hundred and sixty acres of coal land.
      In 1875, finding reasons to believe that the mines were worthy of the investment of capital, the partners, together with a force of laborers, sunk a shaft a hundred feet in depth by which they took out twenty tons of coal, which they shipped to San Francisco. They made a number of improvements of permanent value in connection with this. However, they were obliged to transport their coal in canoes to the head of the big [downriver log] jam. There they cut a road through the forest two miles in extent around it, then loaded the coal upon the steamer Chehalis, which had come up for that purpose. This coal mine remained comparatively undeveloped through lack of capital for two years, and then Conner, having secured additional resources, pushed it successfully for a number of years, ultimately selling or bonding an interest to San Francisco parties under the name of the Skagit-Cumberland Coal Company.
      In October of 1875, Mr. Everett, in company with Stevens, Graham and John Rowley, a coal miner, went up the river nearly to the present location of Marblemount. They found only two settlers on the river above the jam, Rev. B. N. L. Davis, who had been for some months stopping on a place at the site of the present Great Northern bridge, and A. R. Williamson. The men named were the only settlers on the river above Mount Vernon prior to 1875, although Lafayette Stevens had staked out a claim at what is now Sterling, where he subsequently lived, while Otto Klement had also staked a claim near the present site of Avon, upon which, however, he made no permanent settlement.
      The claim established by Everett, in 1875, was at the confluence of Baker river (formerly called the Nahcullum) with the Skagit river, on the north side of the river while Rowley took a place directly across the Skagit. Both erected cabins, although both at the time were bachelors. The winter was spent by Everett and Rowley in prospecting for gold. which they found at many points but not in paving quantities. Contrary to the general reputation of the Skagit Indians, these caused the two solitary settlers no trouble, Everett having secured their acquiescence to his staking a claim by agreeing to start a store.
      At first the Indians would consent to his taking but a small piece of land but subsequently, for a consideration of twenty-five dollars, allowed him to take a whole strip of bottom land of ninety acres. Everett and Rowley went through the usual experience of early settlers in clearing of little patches of land and starting of gardens and in splitting out shakes for buildings. Both being good carpenters they found it profitable to split the beautiful straight cedar logs which abounded there into doors, which they would take down the river and sell to the incoming settlers for four dollars apiece. They also would make cedar oars, for which they could get from boatmen two dollars a pair. A few years later Rowley became noted also as the discoverer of the Ruby Creek mines.
      Worthy of special notice in connection with the early settlements as pioneers in special callings, are the following: John Cornelius, a government surveyor who came from W'hidby island to the Skagit country and surveyed Lummi island, the Swinomish flats, the Samish country and the first settled portion of the Skagit valley; James Gaches, a merchant of La Conner in 1873 ; Otto Klement, the pioneer merchant of Lyman; Dr. John S. Church, who located at La Conner in 1873, the first physician in the Skagit valley; and Dr. G. V. Calhoun, another of the earliest physicians on the flats.

Logging, forest fires and more 1870s settlers
      In respect to the earliest logging undertakings in the Skagit country, it may be stated that Dan Dingwall is believed to have started a logging camp on Samish island in 1867. Two years later Edward Barrington and James Follansbee established a camp on Kayton's slough opposite the present town of Fir. In 1872, Thomas Moore and Alfred Densmore located a camp on the south fork of the Skagit a mile above the junction. The camp of William Gage, a mile and a half below Mount Vernon, was established in 1874. These constituted the logging camps established prior to 1874.
      Mr. Kimble informs us that there were no destructive forest fires until after logging had been for some time in progress, the reason of this, according to his statement, being that the timber in the Skagit valley was so dense that vegetation never became dry enough for the fire to seize upon it, therefore, not until logging had exposed the woods to the sun and wind and created a mass of dead, dry limbs and refuse were forest fires prevalent.
      Several of the pioneers of 1873 who located at some of the smaller points in the valley may properly be named at this point. Among these was William Tracy, of Edison, who filed on a claim near Conway, although he subsequently abandoned it and engaged in mining for several years; Charles Villeneuve, [present] proprietor of the St. Charles hotel at Sedro-Woolley. also [earlier] located on the present site of Conway, and Thomas Jones located at a point near Villeneuve on the south. Mrs. Villeneuve was the first white woman in that neighborhood.
      In a short time Thomas Moore, John Moore, Robert Gage and Mr. McAlpine established themselves in the vicinity of Villeneuve, both Thomas and John Moore being accompanied by their wives. As illustrating the difficulty of carrying on improvements at that time we may note the fact that it took Mr. Villeneuve four days to bring a raft of sawed lumber from Utsalady to his place on the Skagit. The house which he then built was the first constructed of lumber in that region.
      It is stated by the old settlers that in the vicinity of what became known in a short time as Mann's Landing, now Fir, there was an old Indian burial place. After the usual custom of the Indians, the bodies were wrapped in blankets and placed in canoes which were sustained on platforms in the trees. The curious statement is made that some of these Indians had long, fiery red hair. Mr. Villeneuve conducted the first store and post office at Conway, while his wife devoted herself to establishing and maintaining a school for the place.
      As denoting something of the status of the Northern Pacific railroad and the selection of a western terminus, together with the drift of public sentiment about the land grant, it is quite interesting to observe in the Bellingham Bay Mail of August 2, 187 3, the following resolutions by citizens of the Skagit and Whatcom regions:

      "Whereas the Northern Pacific Railroad Company has located its western terminus at Commencement bay in Pierce county, W. T., and whereas the withdrawal of lands for the benefit of said railroad north of Pierce county, to-wit : in King, Kitsap, Snohomish, Island and Whatcom counties, which include vast coal fields and large tracts of timber and rich agricultural lands : and whereas said withdrawal is retarding the growth and development of said counties; Therefore be it Resolved, That the interests of said counties and justice to the inhabitants thereof demand an immediate vacation of said withdrawal. Resolved. That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded to the Hon. Willis Drummond. Commissioner of the general land office and Hon. C. Delna, Secretary of the Interior."
Moves towards forming Skagit County
and agricultural successes and failures

      We find as early as 1873 the first rumblings of the movement which, as will be hereafter related in full, eventuated in the division of Whatcom county and the establishment of Skagit. In the Bellingham Bay Mail of October 25, 1873, a correspondent at La Conner makes mention of the fact that a petition had been circulated which was entrusted to Hon. Walter Crockett, a member of the legislature for Island county, calling upon the legislature to pass a bill for the erection of a new county. The petition names William Dean of Samish. H. A. March, of Fidalgo, and J. F. D'Arcy, of Stillaguamish, as commissioners in case the county is established. To offset this movement a meeting was held in Sehome remonstrating against any such action on the part of the legislature.
      As early as 1873 the farmers upon the tide lands of the Swinomish were beginning to be rewarded for their exceedingly hard toil in diking and clearing those fertile swamp lands. Some of them reported yields of over one hundred bushels of oats to the acre and several secured for their first crop from three thousand to five thousand bushels, enough at the prices then prevailing to put them in comparatively comfortable circumstances. Among these early farmers of the Swinomish whose crop yields are noted in the Bellingham papers were Thomas Calhoun, John Cornelius, Michael Hintz and James Harrison. Very unfortunately disaster followed hard upon the successful crop season of that year; for on January 18, 1874, came the famous high tide, as a result of which several of the most important dikes and dams were destroyed and much destruction of property in the way of buildings, implements and stock resulted. Messrs. McClellan and Seigfried, together with the Whitney and Sisson company of Padilla, lost their dikes and their farms were covered with salt water, which meant the loss of at least a year's time.

(Samish Island book cover)
Samish Island, a History: From the Beginning to the 1970s by Susan and Fred Miller is a terrific new book and a loving story of the hook of land just west of Edison in Skagit County. Look for it at your favorite bookstore or online. There is no ISBN number, but the publishing information is: Mount Vernon, WA: Copy & Print Store, 2007. Books can also be ordered thru our e-mail ( and at Hopley's e-mail at (ghopley@wavecable,com).

Samish Island and River Valley
      We have now sketched the most important facts in the beginnings of the island region, of the Swinomish flats, of the Padilla country, of the lower Skagit and of the upper Skagit, and may trace for a few pages the interesting history of the Samish region, one of the most productive and attractive parts of this whole favored county. The Samish valley consists of a belt of tide lands skirting the river, slough, bay and island all bearing the same name.
      The chief town of the region and the oldest, is Edison, founded in the early seventies upon land originally located by Ben Samson and Edward McTaggart. The possibilities of the Samish country had early attracted the attention of explorers, one of the earliest of these being John H. Fravel. He passed through the country as early as 1858 and was engaged for some time in 1864: in erecting poles for the proposed great international telegraph line through Alaska, subsequently taking up his claim in the year 187 1. His settlement was antedated, however, by others.
      There seems, also, to be some authority for the statement that William Jarman established a residence upon the prairie, which later received his name, as early as 1866, while Wesley Whitener and John Gray began operating a logging camp in 1867 on what is now known as Blanchard slough, and James Hutchins was engaged in fishing on what afterward became the Whitehill place.
      Among the settlers of 1869 may be mentioned Ben Samson, William Wood, Daniel Dingwall, George Forbes, Nathaniel Morgan,. Watson Hodge, John Straighthoof, Joseph Hall, John Cornell, Captain John Warner, Joe Larry, Ben Welcher, William J. Brown and Thomas Hayes. The pioneers of 1870 were David Lewis, John Miller, William Hanson. Edward McTaggart, "Big" Brown, "Little" Brown (W. J.), William Dean and George Coffin. The years 1871 and 1872 were marked by the incoming of a great number of settlers.
      Daniel Dingwall seems to have been the pioneer merchant of the Samish country, having established a store in partnership with Thomas Hayes, in the fall of 1869 on Samish island adjoining the Siwash slough. This Siwash slough was so called from the location upon it of two thousand Siwashes engaged in fishing and hunting. They had a house twelve hundred feet long by seventy-five feet wide. Thomas Hayes remained in partnership with Dingwall but a short time and was succeeded in the partnership by William Dean, who also in a short time relinquished his share in the business to Dingwall and started a store of his own in 1873. Mr. Dingwall became postmaster of what became known as the Samish post office in 1870.
      Everything in the Samish country depended on the diking system and this vitally important undertaking was inaugurated by John Muller in 1871, by whom sixty acres were inclosed upon the place now occupied by Nathaniel McCullough near the Samish. Daniel Sullivan reclaimed a hundred and sixty acres during the same year at a cost of thirteen thousand dollars. Both Muller and Sullivan had land producing bountiful crops of oats in 1872 and 1873. Ben Welcher introduced soon after a diking machine, which was operated for five dollars per rod, and with this they diked for Messrs. Dingwall and McTaggart. It may be noted here that according to the recollection of William Wood the first diking done in the Samish region was by Messrs. Wood, Emery and Stevens.
      It did not take the settlers of the Samish long to inaugurate public schools. As nearly as can be ascertained the first school was held in 1873 in a house belonging to Mr. [Lyman] Cutler [actually Cutler] on his old claim east of the Wood place, afterward occupied by Mr. Samson. There were seven scholars in the first school, consisting of the children of the Stevens and Wood families. Mary Stevens, Mr. Stevens' oldest daughter, being the teacher. Two years later a regular district was established, district number eight, Messrs. Wood, Legg and Emery being the first directors and Mr. Stevens the first clerk.
      Among the notable early settlers of the Samish was Captain [John] M. Warner [EN43], who was also more than a decade later the earliest settler of the upper Samish, on what is now known as Warner's prairie, a region of great fertility but so difficult of approach by reason of the dense timber and swamps as not to be inviting to settlers. Record has been found of but one crime during that early period of the Samish country. This occurred in the summer of 1872. The slayer was William Hanson and the victim Patrick Mahoney.
      Hanson had been in Olympia to act as a witness for Daniel Sullivan in land business. Upon his return he found reason to suspect his Indian wife of questionable relations with Mahoney, and as a result promptly emptied his shotgun into the latter. The wound proving fatal, Hanson was tried, convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to two years in the penitentiary.
      This year may be regarded as closing the first era of settlement in the various centers of progress in that portion of Whatcom county which subsequently became Skagit county. As is unavoidable in all such cases where the earliest settlers have in many cases passed away and where written records have been destroyed and lost, statements are somewhat conflicting as to names and dates. We have, however, endeavored as far as possible to harmonize these conflicts and to present such a continuous narrative as will be essentially correct both in details of fact and in its reflection of the spirit of the period.


First settler child
      Oliver Tingley, son of Oliver C. Tingley, son of Samuel S. and Maria Tingley, was the first settler child born in what would become Skagit County, on June 6, 1870. [Return]

Leamer family
      The most famous Leamer was Albert's daughter, Ida, who taught at the Pleasant Ridge school at the Leamer home at age 15 and later became the first teacher in the LaConner school. She was only 15 when she awarded the first teaching certificate in the area that would become Skagit County, and she taught the next year at the James Harrison home. In 1876, she married Edgar A. Sisson, the farmer on the hill south of Bayview and overlooking Padilla Bay. He was originally a farming partner of his two cousins from Pennsylvania, Rienzi E. Whitney and Alvinza G. Tillinghast, the progenitor of the famous LaConner seed company. [Return]

      Three different telegraph lines sped up communication between Skagit County and the outside world, in 1865, 1886 and 1890. The first was strung along the Puget Sound coast after John H. Fravel was hired by the California State Telegraph Co. in 1864. After seven years of stops and starts, the CSTC and Western Union Telegraph Co. joined that year to string a line up the West Coast of the United States and the colony of British Columbia, which would we be connected with another line in Russia by a short 40-mile undersea cable across the Bering Straits. Secretary of State William Seward approved the project and appropriated the initial funds. Fravel soon assumed the roles of builder, superintendent and troubleshooter for the company as the line was strung north along the shoreline from Olympia through Seattle, then Mukilteo, LaConner and on to Bellingham Bay. Sheriff James Kavanaugh recorded in his diary on March 16, 1865, that the telegraph office opened at the Sehome Coal Mine store. Although we have not found actual confirmation, several sources state that the first telegraphic message on the Puget sound line was the news of Lincoln's assassination on April 14. You can read the full details of that earliest line at this Journal profile of Fravel.
      The second line was established by the Pacific Postal Telegraph Company, which built through Mount Vernon to Whatcom, and ultimately connected Seattle with New Westminster. The first operator on that line was Thomas Payne, and the first telegraph office at Mount Vernon was in Hartson's printing office. Then, when the Great Northern built through Mount Vernon in 1891 with its Seattle & Montana branch line, they erected telegraph lines along the tracks all the way from Seattle north to British Columbia. [Return]

(Atlanta Home Hotel)
      This is a photo of the Atlanta Home Hotel, taken a decade or more after its owner, George Washington Lafayette Allen, died in 1903. When he built the hotel in 1883, after platting the town of Atlanta on Samish Island, his motto for it was "a sanctuary of persecuted Confederates and other sympathizers of the lost cause." We have researched for several years to determine if Allen returned to his native Virginia to fight in the Civil War, but thus far we have not found any proof. He moved west in 1851 and spent most of the next two decades in Island County before he became a Padilla-area farmer, Whatcom County sheriff and town boomer. We hope that descendants of his family or researchers will help us fill in the gap of his timeline from 1860-70.

G.W.L. Allen
      George Washington Lafayette Allen was one of the most prominent of the early settlers and at times one of the most controversial. The first references we found in the local records were in Washington West of the Cascades, by Hunt & Kaylor, 1917, and Hubert Howe Bancroft, Vol. 31, History of Washington, 1890. Both sources noted that he was sheriff of Island County in 1853, soon after it was formed, but there is some confusion because he was selected for the office twice and did not serve either time. He may have actually served as assessor, however. When author Tom Robinson and I were comparing notes regarding Sheriff G.W.L. Allen, Tom referred me to this book: Robert A. Bennett, A Small World of Our Own: (Pioneer Press Books, Walla Walla, 1985). "On page 247, Crockett tells about his being left on the [Whidbey] island with 'George Allen' when Ebey went back to Olympia for the first replenishment of supplies, obviously, in 1852." The above sources also reported that he moved west in 1851.
      Island County was the scene of the first of his three marriages, to Esther Packwood in 1854, and a messy divorce from her in 1862. The donation claim they had taken on Whidby was contested. Other land deals lead one to conclude that he may have been a real estate speculator during those days. Except for the 1860 and 1870 Island County Federal Censuses, the next confirmed record is from 1870 when Allen either filed a claim or bought land in the Padilla Bay area, where the cousin/partnership of Whitney, had recently opened up that area around the new village. Soon afterwards, in an unknown year, he became the Whatcom County Sheriff, reflecting the fact that during the 1870s the population in the north and south halves of the country was similar and the growth was occurring in the part that would become Skagit County. According to his obituary, he was sheriff for ten years but we have only confirmed three two-year terms and we believe that he was actually the county accessor during part of that time.
      By 1883 he had moved to Samish Island, where he founded the town of Atlanta in 1883 and built a large three-story hotel there that he called the "Atlanta Home Hotel." The hotel, which stood in what is now called the Seacrest/G-Loop roads area, soon catered to steamboat passengers, up and down Puget Sound. Union veterans, however, led by neighbor George Dean were not happy with the motto of the hotel and town — "a sanctuary of persecuted Confederates and other sympathizers of the lost cause," so they immediately platted the town of Samish, which was just one street away from Atlanta. The towns competed for steamboat traffic for about two decades but eventually faded in importance after railroads began carrying freight as well as passengers in the region in the 1890s.
      Allen's genealogy has been a mystery for some time but we recently discovered that he was born in 1828, the 11th of 13 children to James Allen, the sheriff of Lee County, Virginia. Elsewhere in the 1906 Book is a note that he moved "his family" to his Swinomish claim in 1872, this being his second wife, from Mississippi, and the children by her. We do know that he married a third time, to Ms. L.S. Jones in the new Skagit County on March 26, 1885, but we have no other record of her. Unfortunately his 1903 obituary is so brief that it provides very little detail as to his survivors, and his early life, so we are researching back east to find more about him for an upcoming profile. [Return]

Settlers arrive via Whidbey Island
      See these Journal websites for first-hand information about the first settler movement to the Skagit mainland from Whidbey Island in the 1869-71: here and here: ] [Return]

Alexander Underwood
      As author Tom Robinson reminded us, Underwood was one of the neighbors of the Ebeys, Crocketts and G.W.L. Allen on Whidbey Island, arriving sometime in the late 1850s or early 1860s. He was born in Tennessee in 1828 and worked his way across the Plains, arriving in Olympia in 1854. He moved to the Swinomish Slough area in about 1864, but only stayed there intermittently. In 1891, the Puget Sound Mail newspaper called him the first white settler in the area, having built a structure on the east side of Sullivan Slough. He lost claims in both Island County and at Whatcom due to his wandering. You can read the Journal transcript of the Mail article. [Return]

      See these Journal website four our extensive research into Northwest and frontier Methodists. [Return]

Campbell, Barker, Skagit City and early trading post at the fork of the river
      You can read about the progression of trading posts at the fork of the Skagit River and at the town of Skagit City at this Journal website about "Where was Skagit City?". The original post was owned by the much-maligned John Campbell, an early trader who was unfortunately a vocal supporter of the Democratic Party cause at a time when Republicans were firmly in control of northwestern Washington Territory. In 1868, he built a small structure at what was then called The Forks or Skagit Island. That is a very large sand bar that is now largely covered by vegetation. When you row south on the Skagit River from Britt Slough below Mount Vernon, you reach the fork and the north fork continues west while the south fork continues south. The north fork is the southern boundary of Skagit Island and a slough forms the western and northern borders, east of the old district of Harmony.
      In 1869, another trader named John Barker erected a shake shanty elsewhere on the island and achieved some success until he was murdered at his post sometime in 1870. The murder was initially blamed on an Indian but neighbors soon determined that it was a white man who was never apprehended. Apparently, Barker's post was not revived. Meanwhile, Campbell eventually sold his business to James J. Conner, brother of the LaConner founder, who in turn sold it to Daniel E. Gage, who set up the business at the town of Skagit City on the south fork. [Return]

Selucius Garfield, or Garfielde, spelled both ways, several sources
      The above account in this chapter was incorrect in several ways. First, Garfield did not lose that election to McFadden in 1871. Second, his competitor in the 1872 election — and the winner, was Judge Obadiah B. McFadden, who had been named chief justice of Washington Territory soon after its formation in 1853 and who lived with his family in Vancouver, Washington. Garfield was born in Vermont in 1822, a cousin to the future assassinated U.S. President James Garfield. As a young man he reported for a newspaper in Kentucky and then emigrated to California in 1851, where he became a representative in the state assembly.
      After returning to Kentucky, he graduated from a law school in Louisville and briefly became a partner in private practice before he moved west again and settled in Washington Territory in 1857. He lost his first race as a Democratic candidate for territorial delegate to Congress in 1860 but then President James Buchanan appointed him surveyor general of the territory from 1866-1869. For the 1868 election, he switched parties and ran for Congress as a Republican, winning again in the 1870 election.
      After his defeat in the 1872 election, he formed a private law partnership based in Seattle, but he did not return to live in the territory, choosing instead to head up his firm's office in the District of Columbia. His wife, Sarah Electa Perry, divorced him in the late 1870s and remarried in 1880. We cannot confirm his "bad habits" but he certainly was a noted orator, in great command by the party during election campaigns. His base of power in the territory was Olympia Lodge No. 1 of the Freemasons, where he served one term as grand master. He died on April 13, 1883, in Washington City. [Return]

Fanny Lake
      The Fanny Lake became one of the most famous sternwheelers on the Puget Sound/Skagit Valley run, mostly because of its owner, Joshua Green, who became the king of steamboats, ferries and banks in Washington. Truly a survivor, the sternwheeler steamboat was built in 1874-75 at the T.W. Lake shipyard in Ballard for owner/captain John Hill. Lake was born in Norway in 1825 and he named the boat for his wife.
      On May 21, 1883, the boat exploded and burned on the Skagit River, either near Sterling or at Dead Man's Riffle, east of future Sedro. Six years later, young Green and his partners of the LaConner Trading & Transportation Co. bought the boat from an interim owner who had resuscitated it for service on the Duwamish River. It was designed with a draft shallow enough to float on a "heavy dew," resisting the groundings of other steamboats on Northwest rivers. With its locomotive boiler and two small single-cylinder steam engines, the economical steam winch and hoisting gear, and an attached scow that could be poled even further up shallow streams for light freight, the owners soon determined that it was perfect for the run to the Skagit River. The boat finally met its end on Sullivan Slough near LaConner in 1893 when a load of hay caught fire. [Return]

David E. Kimble and Jasper Gates
      Jasper Gates and David E. Kimble were the two most enduring and prominent of the 1870-era settlers who explored up the lower Skagit River as far as the log jams at future-Mount Vernon. They and their families were part of the large contingent on Whidbey Island who had moved west either by wagon train or by the new United Pacific/Central Pacific Railroad that terminated at San Francisco Bay. Part of the area below the lower log jam — the Britt Slough area today — became known as Missouri Town because so many of the Skagit settlers in the 1869-71 headed west from that state. Kimble built his original house on Skagit Island at the fork of the river and Jasper built his at an undetermined location around the south fork. Gates appears to be the first of the settlers to file a pre-emption claim at the site of Mount Vernon in the early 1870s, dividing what is now the downtown with Joseph F. Dwelley, who pulled up stakes in 1875 and moved to LaConner. We have two exclusive Journal profiles of Gates and Kimble, which will be extensively updated with the help of descendants and readers in 2009-10. [Return]

A.R. Williamson and Rev. B.N.L. Davis
      Williamson and Davis were the first farmer/settlers on the Skagit River above the log jams, in 1873, and both profited from the production of hops for export to both American cities and Europe and England. Williamson had learned the harvesting process while working for the family of Ezra Meeker, the founder of Puyallup. While Davis chose land where the river curves eastward at the old Riverside District, Williamson chose land about a mile west of future-Lyman. After Williamson became ill, Davis leased the fields from him and made even more astounding profits from hops in the early 1880s. Davis also imported cattle of high pedigree to Skagit County and established quite a farm above Riverside and what is now the railroad trestle between Mount Vernon and Burlington. He was an itinerant preacher from Tennessee and walked all over Skagit County tending to his flock of converts, in addition to being one of the county's most prominent farmers until his untimely death in 1891. For more about Williamson, read our exclusive Journal feature, The Origins of Lyman; and read this Journal review of a new book that features a fine profile of Davis. [Return]

Amasa Peg-Leg Everett and Lafayette S. Stevens
      These are both 1873 arrivals to LaConner who soon became key figures in the early search for gold and coal in the foothills of the North Cascades. They scoured the hills over the next decade. Stevens wound up investing in mines in the hills south of the Skagit River. Peg-Leg Everett homesteaded near the Baker River and discovered the limestone ledges nearby that convinced him to take ore all the way to New York City, where he excited the initial investors in the cement industry in future-Concrete. See these exclusive Journal profiles of Stevens and of Everett. [Return]

Samish Island and River Valley
      Samish Island is a very narrow crescent that used to be an actual island, with a small waterway separating it from the Skagit mainland and the delta of the Samish River. You can read this Journal review of Fred and Sue Miller's excellent book, Samish Island, A History. Or you can learn about the island at this terrific external website by Samish researchers. [Return]

John Fravel
      We were amazed when we first started researching John Fravel because we discovered that he had almost fallen through the cracks of history, much like Mortimer Cook of Sedro. Fortunately, once we worked with other researchers, we found much material that was only buried a few inches deep. A native of the Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia, his means of moving west was signing up for a cattle drive in 1850 from Cincinnati to the '49er gold fields of California. He moved north to the village of Portland in 1858, just in time to sail north to participate in the Fraser River Gold Rush, only to be shipwrecked.
      In 1861, he worked as a carpenter on the first public school built at Sehome on Bellingham Bay. But his historical importance resulted from his being hired in 1864 to be foreman of a crew that laid the first telegraph line along the coast north from California through Washington, Puget Sound and British Columbia. In 1871, he settled at McElroy Slough at the foot of Chuckanut Mountain and raised a family there. The growing village was named for him but is now named Blanchard. You can read our exclusive Journal profile of Fravel and his family. [Return]

William Jarman
      We have spent a lot of time on producing a series of web pages about this very important historical figure in northwestern Washington Territory who almost drowned in myth: William "Blanket Bill Jarman." Although some history authors dismissed his historic importance for various reasons, we discovered that Jarman was arguably the first white man to settle in future Whatcom County in the early 1850s, when Jarman and his Indian wife, Alice, first sank down roots at Samish Island and the Samish River Delta. Alice Bay there is named in her favor. We owe a great deal to Percival R. Jeffcott, who conducted extensive research both locally and in Jarman's home area in England for his book, Blanket Bill Jarman, Northwest Washington Mystery Man, published in 1958. And we are very pleased to announce that descendants of Jarman's English relatives are visiting the Northwest in the summer of 2009 and will attend a special Jarman seminar in Burlington, as explained at the introductory page linked above [Return]

Lyman Cutler
      Cutler was at the center of the very brief Pig War of San Juan Island in 1859 because he shot his neighbor's pig. His anger over the pig rooting up his garden became a symbol of the contentious relations between England and the United States as they sorted out border issues in the San Juan Archipelago. Cutler moved on to escape the heat and wound up as one of the earliest white settlers in the Samish Island/Blanchard area. You can read several points of view about Cutler at this Journal section about the Pig War, which includes both contemporary and more modern articles and observations. His name is also spelled Cutlar in many sources but Cutler appeared on most important government documents. We are also posting another Cutler column later this year.[Return]

Return to Part One of Chapter 1, Skagit Section
      Part one includes: Memories of early settlers; Earliest Fidalgo Island settlers; Ship Harbor attracts Governor Stevens and family; Anna Curtis Bowman buys future-Anacortes site; Guemes Island and copper discovery; early exploration of Skagit mainland, 1855; First permanent settlers on mainland of future Skagit county; The Swinomish Indians and reservation; Michael Sullivan and Sam Calhoun; winomish/LaConner settlement.

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Story posted on Feb. 10, 2009 (in a truncated form in Issue 21 on July 25, 2004)
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You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors
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(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 86 years.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20, day, week or month, perfect for hunting or fishing
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley

(bullet) Joy's Sedro-Woolley Bakery-Cafe at 823 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley.
(bullet) Check out Sedro-Woolley First section for links to all stories and reasons to shop here first
or make this your destination on your visit or vacation.
(bullet) Are you looking to buy or sell a historic property, business or residence?
We may be able to assist. Email us for details.
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