Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed 2.75 million page views in October 2008
The home pages remain free of any charge. We need donations or subscriptions to continue.
Please pass on this website link to your family, relatives, friends and clients.

(S and N Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

(Click to send email)

Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties,
Chapter 2: Skagit county 1874-82
From Part II, Skagit County Section

(Henry Bailey sternwheeler)
Until railroads arrived in Skagit county in 1889, sternwheeler steamboats like the Henry Bailey, pictured here, were the lifeline for both transportation and freight, in addition to shipping mineral ore. This boat was owned at one time by centenarian banker Joshua Green, who said that it could "float on a puddle of dew" because of its shallow draft of less than two feet. That allowed these sternwheelers to navigate the shallow sloughs of the Skagit delta, land their bow on the slope of a farm, load up and shove off backwards. Photo courtesy of the fine book, Chechacos All, which is reprinted and available for sale at the Skagit County Historical Society Museum in LaConner.

      We who research the history of Skagit county and the Pacific Northwest are most fortunate to have the 1906 Illustrated History book, as a source book. It was published by the Interstate Company of Chicago, which produced similar books for counties all over the country. The back half included biographies which were paid for by pioneer families, which underwrote the costs of production. The front half, however, was written by journalists who were familiar with the area and went into the field to interview living pioneers and research the surviving copies of frontier newspapers. In this case, one of the writers was the young Harry Averill, who wrote for local papers and, after a stint in California, came home to edit the Mount Vernon Herald. We have surveyed subscribers to determine what they most want to read and many requested transcripts from this book, which is very rare and difficult to access outside of libraries and collections.

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

      We are grateful to the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society, a fine organization that incurred great expense to reproduce this book in a limited edition, a copy of which is available for reading in almost every library in the county. This is the first of several chapters that we have transcribed by hand and share first with our subscribers in gratitude for your support.
      Part one includes: Skagit Valley in the grip of the 1873 Depression; First major flood, 1875; Coal mines; Prices in 1876; Pioneers clear the log jams at Mount Vernon by hand; Sincere thanks but little compensation for the jam heroes; Early farmers on the flats produce record yields; Upriver coal mines; Gold excitement 1877-80; Logging and the Nookachamps.
      Part two includes: Birdsview: von Pressentin, Minkler and Kemmerich, and early upriver settlers; Future Sedro and other early upriver settlers; Courts of Whatcom county (pre-Skagit county); Northern Pacific relinquishes government land; Sternwheelers and early landings; Homemade entertainment and culture; Mining continues upriver and transportation; The Indians rebel; Early mail routes; Memorial to Congress to establish mail route from Mukilteo, Snohomish county, to Lyman, Whatcom county, via Port Susan; Abundant crops on the Padilla flats; Logging camps and mills

Skagit valley in the grip of the 1873 Depression
      In the year 1874 the effects of the financial crisis of the preceding year in the East were felt in an especial degree by reason of the fact that as a result of it the Northern Pacific Railroad Company was compelled to suspend building operations and with this suspension immigration ceased in great measure. Therefore the large speculating and investing class which had been coming to the Puget Sound region in previous years and had been distributing money freely by purchases of many kinds were for a period after the financial panic conspicuous for their absence. The Bellingham Bay Mail of August 29, 1874, notes the fact that not only is the local market on Puget sound greatly depressed by those conditions but that even their ordinary normal market in San Francisco is weakened by the competition of San Francisco firms and companies who most of the vessels used in the carrying trade between the sound and California. The Mail expresses the conviction that that unfortunate condition of affairs will continue until the building operations of the Northern Pacific are revived, and this revival it deems dependent upon some favorable action by congress on behalf of the railroad; it therefore urges united action by the people (if the territory in favor both of the railroad directly and of government aid for it.
      The first of the series of efforts on the part of the people of the Skagit to secure the removal of drift and jams from the Skagit river seems to have been instituted in the year 1874. A formal petition was presented to congress at that time asking for an appropriation of twenty-five thousand dollars for the purpose of improving the river.
      The January of 1875 was notable for a degree of cold very unusual in the Puget sound country. The cold spell lasting from the ninth to February 4th. A weather record kept by E.A. Sisson] gives three degrees above zero as the coldest of the period, but during the entire time the thermometer was below the freezing point and at one time there was a fall of several feet of snow. This is remembered as the severest spell of weather to last so long in the history of Skagit county. It was followed by a late, cold spring, with an accumulation of snow in the mountains so great that when it was increased by the autumnal snowfall the conditions were all provided for a flood in the river in case of sudden warm winds. The warm winds came on the 25th of December, and the Skagit river had the highest water known in its history, completely flooding the flats for the first time since their settlement.
      The Bellingham Bay Mail of April 10, 1875, presents a bird.s eye view-of Whatcom county including, of course, a valuable picture of the general state of affairs in the Skagit region at that date. The writer notes the reclamation and cultivation of a considerable part of the tide flats on the north side of the Skagit river and mentions the fact that LaConner, then the base of supplies for the entire region, had three general merchandise stores besides warehouses and wharves. Special mention is made of the following men as active in the developments of that period; namely Messrs. Conner, Dodge, Whitney, Calhoun, Sullivan, Smith, White, Stacy, Polson, [John] Cornelius, McAlpine, Sartwell, Maddow, Wallace, [John] Ball and [G.W.L.] Allen.
      The writer also visited Fidalgo island, noticing the Swinomish Indian reservation in the southern part and the white settlements in the northern [soon the early town of Fidalgo and March.s Point area] classing the land held by the latter as the garden spot of Whatcom county. He made mention of the fine farms of Messrs. H. C. Barkhousen, H. A. March, S.B. Best, William Munks, William Crandall, H.J. White, J. A. Compton, Robert Becker, Shadrach Wooten, H. Sibley and others. He also crossed to Guemes island and visited the places belonging to Messrs. Edens and O'Bryant; likewise called at Cypress island on his round and viewed the well-improved farms of Mr. Kittles and Mr. Tilton. He found also, interesting improvements in progress in the Samish country, observing what he regarded as some of the finest timber in the territory, and noting approvingly the ranches recently reclaimed and in process of cultivation belonging to Messrs. Muller, McTaggart, Stevens, Larry, Dean, Dingwall, Whitehill and Legg.

(Hamilton downtown)
      We are still mystified by this photo and the exact location of these buildings and when it was taken. If it was taken in the 1890s, this could be Water street running east to west, horizontally across the center, but that is highly unlikely when you look at the cross-streets. In the background, that is Coal Mountain across the Skagit river to the south. If it was taken after the turn of the 20th century, the street could have been Maple street. The only clue we have about the photo is from the 1991 Hamilton Centennial book, which notes that the three-story white structure was the Jens Rasmussen hotel. We hope that a reader with more orienteering skills can supply more details.

Coal mines
      He referred to the Bellingham Bay stone quarry at the foot of the Chuckanut range, and visited and described the coal, the stone and the timber lands extending northward to the limits of what is now Skagit county. The progress of development of the coal mines is indicated by the fact that on April 22, 1875, the company shipped its first coal by the schooner Sabina. The cost of delivering that first shipment below the jam was about ten dollars per ton, which was so great as to leave no profits, but in a short time the construction of the new road so diminished the expense as to leave a goodly margin to the company After the completion they were able to transport from one hundred to two hundred tons per month to a shipping point.
      A valuable reminiscence by James H. Moores preserves a statement of the scale of prices in 1876, which may be found interesting in comparison with present prices. Sugar, he says, was 8 pounds for $1; flour, $7 a barrel; tea, 50 to 60 cents per pound; nails, 7 cents a pound; butter, 75 cents a pound; hay, $14 per ton; oats, ranging all the way from $17 to $30 per ton; potatoes, $18 to $20 per ton; carrots, $15 per ton; salt, 1 cent per pound; beef, hardly obtainable at any price. Wages for ordinary labor ranged from $40 to $75 per month.

Pioneers clear the log jams at Mount Vernon by hand
      Reference has been made in earlier pages to the initial attempts toward securing government aid for the great work of opening the Skagit river. The government agent estimated the probable expense of the work at a hundred thousand dollars. Great credit is due to certain citizens of the county for the initiation and final completion of this task. A company for the purpose was organized, consisting of James Cochrane, Donald McDonald, Marvin Minnick, Joe Wilson, John Quirk, Daniel Hines, Fritz Dibbern and Dennis Storrs, Wilson and McDonald being the original promoters. To raise money for starting their undertaking, Wilson and McDonald mortgaged two lots in Seattle belonging to Mr. Wilson. The others joined at various times in the enterprise. Their first theory was to reimburse themselves by the sale of the logs which would be loosened from the jam, but the logs proved to be so badly strained by the pressure that they did not yield much merchantable timber.
      Another proposed improvement allied to the removal of the big jam was the building of a levee along the north side of the Skagit river from the Sound waters to the head of the jam. This improvement would be practicable if the jam were removed. It was estimated at that time that the total cost of the proposed levee would not exceed ten thousand dollars, but this proved to be a gross underestimate, as the work is not yet completed and the ten thousand dollars has proved but a drop in the bucket.
      The great jam consisted of two divisions, the lower beginning at the old Kimble homestead below Mount Vernon and extending up the river to a point about opposite the present Kimble residence, a distance of perhaps half a mile. The upper part of the jam was considerably larger, beginning about half a mile above the upper end of the lower jam and extending over a mile. The upper part of the jam was believed to be at least a century old and was probably much older, while the upper one was to all appearance of comparatively recent formation. It was increasing in size very rapidly. Dennis Storrs to whom we are indebted for much valuable in formation respecting this matter, states that within three years after his arrival a quarter of a mile of debris had accumulated at its upper end. Beneath and between the tangled mass of debris the river was obliged to force its passage and in places beneath the lower jam there were twenty-four feet of water at the lowest stage. The material of the jam was mainly green timber, but in many places sediment had accumulated to such an extent as to permit the growth upon it of a perfect jungle of brush and even of large trees. At many points, often concealed from the view of the explorer by brush, there were open shoots into the sullen, treacherous depths below. David E. Kimble relates that on one occasion while he was at work on the jam with others, one of the party suddenly disappeared into one of those holes. The other men rushed a rapidly as possible to a larger expanse of water some distance below, but Mr. Kimble, remembering a small opening between the trees nearer by, hastened to it. Just as he reached it he saw an agitation of the debris at the place and thrusting his arm into the water he grasped the struggling man and succeeded in rescuing him from death.
      Not only was the big jam a great impediment to navigation, but it was also a continual menace to the fields and stock and buildings of the settlers on the lowlands on either side of the river. On account also of the great difficulty of making roads through the forest this impediment to river communication almost prevented settlement at points on the river above; furthermore, the removal of the jam was the sine qua non of the lumber industry above it. The scanty resources of the early settlers seemed to forbid their carrying the task to completion, but they made most energetic, even heroic and finally successful efforts to meet the emergency. The territorial legislature had sent memorials to congress urging an appropriation for the opening of the river and Orange Jacobs], the congressional delegate in 1875, secured the sending of General Mickler [sp?] to investigate conditions, but nothing resulted from his visit, and it became apparent that the settlers must, after all, depend mainly upon themselves for accomplishing the heavy task. The people of Mount Vernon generously supported the efforts of the company, whose initiatory work has already been described, and in the summer of 1876 subscriptions were started for its assistance.
      The Northern Star of December 16th notes the fact that the men had at that time been working nearly a year, had removed nearly a half mile of the jam and had reduced the portage distance one and one half miles. The paper describes the magnitude of the task by stating that the men were compelled to cut through from five to eight tiers of logs, which generally ranged from three to eight feet in diameter, representing a total cutting out of a space thirty feet deep. The following paragraph from the Star, well expresses the nature of the work in progress:

      To say that the jam loggers are doing their work thoroughly and well conveys no adequate idea of the magnitude and thoroughness of the work done. What they have received from sale of logs taken from the jam and contributions from citizens will only partially pay actual expenses, yet these men should have more than this as a suitable recognition of their great work. We think the general government, even if it declines to grant them a money recompense for their services, could well afford to grant each of them a whole section of timber land to be located above the jam on its removal and upon proof of the fact at the general land office.
      In the progress of the work the jam loggers met with many narrow escapes from death by crushing or drowning and were subjected to constant losses of tools. Sometimes Nature assisted and sometimes hindered their work. Floods sometimes wedged the loosened logs still tighter and undid the work of many days, while on the other hand a flood in 1877 suddenly dislodged a section of the jam which they estimated at not less than five acres and carried it out to sea. Sometimes trees four feet in diameter were snapped off like so many pipe sterns.
      Six months were required of these faithful and enterprising loggers to cut a two hundred and fifty foot channel through the lower jam and over two years more were consumed in cutting a channel a hundred and twenty feet wide through the upper jam. On account of the narrowness of this it was two or three times closed up again by the moving drifts, but with the aid of the loggers above, a passage way was maintained and gradually widened. By the summer of 1879 the drift was sufficiently open to allow any ordinary navigation, although not for ten years was the vast accumulation of debris essentially removed from the river.

Sincere thanks but little compensation for the jam heroes
      It should be remembered as an added reason for paying an unstinted tribute to the men who performed this great task that at that early day they were destitute of the modern agents which would now be employed for such a task, such as dynamite, swinging frames, crushers, etc. Brain and brawn, patience and judgment, with scanty resources of money and little financial gain then or since, were the distinguishing features of this, the greatest undertaking of the kind in the history of the county. It is rather a melancholy reflection that the stalwart partners who had undertaken and successfully executed their work found themselves at the expiration of their three years of anxious and harassing toil for the public benefit rather than for their own, each a thousand dollars in debt. About the only return which they received was between eight and nine hundred thousand feet of timber, which was salable at from four to five dollars a thousand, and subscriptions of eight hundred dollars from Seattle merchants and another of several hundred dollars from settlers in the flats. The vastly greater proportion of logs dislodged were worthless for commercial purposes. Although great interest was taken by the general public in the work, and profuse expressions of praise and gratitude were lavished upon the heroes of the big jam, the actual contributions received amounted to comparatively little. Congress has been petitioned from time to time to make some recompense, but without avail and not even has opportunity been given those men to acquire public lands on any special terms. The old saying that republics are ungrateful is unfortunately illustrated in this, as in some more noted cases. Of the seven men who at one time or another expended their time and strength in the great task of removing the Skagit jam, three are still living, Joseph S. Wilson, Dennis Storrs and James Cochrane. Fritz Dibbern, Daniel Hines, Marvin Minnick, John Quirk and Donald McDonald have passed away.

(Diking crew)
      Diking your land was a very dirty job and the early settlers nearly broke their backs, trying to keep ahead of salt-water surges from the sound and freshets and floods of the Skagit and Samish rivers. This photo of diking crews was probably from the Fir Island area and is courtesy of the book, Skagit Settlers, which has been reprinted and is for sale at the Skagit County Historical Society Museum in LaConner.

1876: Early farmers on the flats produce record yields; details of early dikes
      The year 1876, which was a great crop year in general throughout the Pacific Northwest, witnessed the heaviest shipments of grain from the Skagit country known up to that time. The Gaches Brothers, merchants at La Conner, at one time shipped fifteen hundred and fifteen sacks of oats on the steamer Panama to San Francisco and by the steamer Dakota three thousand, eight hundred and forty, and they continued to make similar shipments every two weeks throughout the fall; also shipped about fifty bales of hops raised on the Skagit river.
      The steamer Libby was, during the same season, making a weekly trip from La Conner to Seattle transporting grain, while several schooners were constantly engaged in carrying away the bountiful products of the season. At that date there were in the near vicinity of La Conner the following farms well diked and cultivated, with the following owners and the amounts belonging to each: Michael Sullivan, 100 acres; John S. Conner, 400; E. T. Dodge, 300; Samuel Calhoun, 270; Dr. C. V. Calhoun, 160; Walker & Gill, 160; Leando Pierson, 160; James Harrison, 150; James Gaches, 120; John Cornelius, 100; Thomas Lindsey, 100; Culver estate, 100; Aden place, 100; Whitney, Sisson & Company, 130; John Ball, 40.
      About two thousand acres additional within less than four miles of LaConner were in process of preparation for diking during the next year. It was found at that time that the average cost of building a substantial dike four feet high, with a base of eight feet in breadth and two and a half feet wide at the top, was two dollars per rod and until the dikes were solidly settled some additional cost, perhaps twenty-five cents a rod would be necessary for repairs each year. It had been discovered even prior to 1876 that those dike lands would yield astonishing crops of oats, barley and vegetables, although at the present time the yield is much larger than at first. In 1876 the average for oats and barley was sixty bushels per acre, while the same lands at the present time often produce upwards of a hundred bushels on the average. In 1876 Calhoun Brothers alone sold four hundred tons of oats and barley, besides retaining a considerable quantity for seed and home consumption and losing about forty tons through the wreck of a vessel, all of this being the product of three hundred and twenty acres. E. T. Dodge raised two hundred tons of hay and a hundred and fifty tons of barley and oats on his place (during the same year, at the same time making large quantities of butter, two hundred and twenty-eight pounds per cow a year, which sold at forty cents per pound.
      So remarkable was the yield of those Swinomish tide flats that the enterprising owners deemed it worth while to publish sworn statements of the yield upon certain places, some of which statements were published in the Star of December 16, 1876. Robert Kennady, foreman of Samuel Calhoun.s ranch, made affidavit that one hundred and sixty acres of land yielded over fourteen thousand bushels of oats, and another field of twenty-three acres yielded over twenty-three hundred bushels. [John] S. Conner made affidavit that sixty bushels of barley and from seventy to seventy-five bushels of oats per acre were the average yields and he estimated that there were upwards of a hundred and fifty thousand acres in the Skagit valley and delta, which could be made equally productive by the same cultivation.
      The correspondent of the Star of September 30, 1876, gives a very picturesque account of a journey afoot from Skagit City to La Conner, and particularly of the region about Pleasant ridge. The farm of John Cornelius, bordering upon and including a portion of that ridge, afforded the traveling correspondent a view so picturesque and attractive and one giving such suggestions of wealth and productiveness that he waxes enthusiastic in his encomiums upon it. Immediately about Pleasant ridge there were at that time the following producing places: C. J. Chilberg, 160 acres; Nelson Chilberg, 80; Robert Kennady, 160; C.H. Chamberlain, 160; Isaac Chilberg, 160; Albert Learner, 160; Samuel Calhoun, 160; John Cornelius, 120.
      Extending towards the Swinomish and Sullivan sloughs were lands ready for cultivation of the following amounts: [John]. S. Conner, 140 acres; Jerry Sullivan, 172; M. J. Sullivan, 40; George Allen, 60; the Culver estate, 60; Dodge & Lindsay, 200; D. B. Jackson, 300; Isaac Jennings, 160; Edward Ballou, 160; Charles Muller, 160; Robert White, 80; J. F. Terrace, 80; James H. McDonald, 160. This made a total in the vicinity of Pleasant ridge and thence onward toward the sloughs of two thousand seven hundred and fifty-two acres.

Upriver coal mines
      From the interesting and rapidly unfolding agricultural developments of that year we turn our attention to the mineral developments of the upper valley. The Star of December 16, 1876, gives an interesting account of the original discovery of the coal mines by Messrs. [Amasa "Pegleg"] Everett, [Lafayette] Stevens and [Orlando] Graham, already described, and goes on to prophesy that when a prosperous town is built up in that vicinity with iron furnaces, machine shops, etc., a railroad may join the belts of land between the Skagit, Stillaguamish and Snohomish. At that time there had been three claims located in the coal regions, the Skagit, the Cascade and the New Cumberland. The coal had been thoroughly tested and was found to be of the finest quality, but pending the removal of the big jam it was not profitable to work the veins.
      The Skagit mine was situated on the east face of the mountain directly above the Hatshadadish creek and within a mile of the landing. The coal vein dipped at an angle of sixty degrees. Three shafts had at that time been stink, seventy, twenty-five and twenty feet deep, respectively, with an entrance a hundred and twenty feet above the bed of the creek. Seven strata of coal had been uncovered, each running from two to eight feet in thickness. The Cascade lay from one-fourth to one-half mile from the tunnels of the Skagit claim and the entrance to it was three hundred and fifty feet above the level of the river. Four veins had there been uncovered, dipping at an angle of twelve degrees. Two tunnels had at that time been driven, one seventy and one seventy-six feet in length. The principal vein here was six feet thick and pure, solid coal. The New Cumberland claim, divided from the others by Lorette [now Loretta] creek, was opened by a tunnel a hundred and fifty feet long, and the coal was found to be of a quality equal to the best for coking, forging and mechanical work.

Gold excitement and Ruby Creek 1877-80
      Turning from the encouraging coal developments to those of the precious metals we find an interesting history of gold discovery. In 1877 a party consisting of Otto Klement, Charles [Karl] von Pressentin. John Duncan John Rowley and Frank Scott set forth from Mount Vernon in canoes manned by Indians to explore the upper Skagit. At the mouth of what the Indians called the Nahcullum river, which Klement renamed Baker river, the party debarked and followed the Indian trail to the head of the Skagit, whence they crossed the main ridge of the Cascade mountains, thence descending the canyon of the Stehekin to Lake Chelan. After some time spent about Lake Chelan and the valley of the Methow they returned to the Skagit river. In the vicinity of the portage their boats upset and they lost all their provisions, hut they found that "Cascade Charlie," an Indian with whom they had left a supply of provisions on the Baker river, had been faithful to his trust and after two days of starvation they were abundantly supplied from these stores. Cascade Charlie then transported them in canoes to what is now known as Goodall's landing [actually Goodell's] at the head of canoe navigation on the river, where they built a log hut and made a set of sluice boxes of lumber cut out by a whip-saw, with which to prospect for gold. They found no gold in that vicinity to amount to anything. At the mouth of Ruby creek, however, they discovered fine specimens of the precious metal, but in the meantime winter had descended upon the mountains and the ground was covered with snow, so the party returned to Mount Vernon.
      February 1, 1878, the gold hunters resumed explorations, the party this time consisting of Otto Klement, John Duncan, John Rowley, George Sanger and Robert Sharp. They betook themselves to a point fifteen miles from [Goodell.s] landing and there discovered a curious natural feature, the remains of a natural bridge, indicated by the overhanging rocks of the canyon. Building at that point a cabin, which became known as the Tunnel House, as a place of storage for their surplus provisions, they repaired to Ruby creek, with the exception of Klement, who returned to Mount Vernon. This expedition was not productive of any great discoveries of gold, but indications were encouraging enough to lead them and others to return during the season of 1879. In that year Albert Bacon and others put in a wing clam and washed out gold (lust to the value of fifteen hundred dollars, from a claim to which they gave the name of Nip and Tuck.
      In the meantime Rowley, Duncan and Sawyer [possibly George Sanger?] had opened a claim on Canyon creek ten mile above Nip and Tuck from which they took thousand dollars in gold dust. John Sutter and Willard Cobb also took a prominent part in the developments of that year. When the fortunate miners returned to Mount Vernon with their precious dust the excitement which inevitably follows gold discoveries broke out and raged at fever heat in all the land of the Skagit.
      During the close of 1879 and the beginning of 1880, throngs which some have estimated as high as five thousand, disregarding the rains and the snows of winter, sought the new Eldorado in canoes, skiffs, scows and on foot. Much suffering and many accidents, as might he expected, ensued. David Ball and eleven others undertook to run the portage in a canoe and were upset into the rushing torrent. Six of the men, who could swim, essayed to reach the shore individually, but were all drowned, while the other six, who could not swim, clung to the canoe and were washed ashore and saved. The bodies of the lost were afterwards recovered far down the rapid river and were buried on the bluffs above Mount Vernon.
      Albert L. Graham, of Anacortes, who joined the rush to these mines, says that fully four thousand men visited the region, the majority of the claims being on Canyon and Ruby creeks, where also most of the work was done. Few of the argonauts realized their hopes in gold discoveries, and later in the season the army broke up, some of them proceeding over the Cascade mountains until they reached Fort Hope, B.C., where they renewed their mining operations, the remainder descending the Skagit to their former places. It is recorded by some who took part in that short-lived quest for gold that in the spring of 1880 the snow in that part of the Cascade mountains was from twelve to thirty feet deep and it is asserted that stumps can be found there at the present time of trees cut by men standing on the snow, which are from fifteen to thirty-five feet in height. It will be remembered that the floods of 1880 were the greatest in the history of the Columbia valley and other regions fed from the Cascade mountains, with the exception of the great flood of 1894.
      Although the Ruby creek mines did not realize fully the hopes of the prospectors there was in the aggregate a very considerable quantity of gold dust taken out. Clothier & English], for example, received twenty-five hundred dollars in gold dust in exchange for goods which they sold at their branch store at [Goodell.s] landing. Several steamboats succeeded in stemming the strong current of the Skagit as far as the portage, thus demonstrating the remarkable navigability of the Skagit river, for portage is more than a hundred miles from the mouth. An indirect result of the Ruby creek gold excitement was the demonstration of the great extent and vast resources in timber and in agriculture of the noble Skagit valley.
      The years 1877 and 1878 were somewhat clouded by the general hard times which prevailed over the entire country; nevertheless there was steady progress in all manner of improvements. Among various miscellany of those years we gather from the newspapers valuable sketches of the progress of enterprises here and there in all the standard lines of business. A correspondent of the Star gives a glowing picture of the inherent beauty as well as great improvements in the Bayview settlement. He finds a steam thresher at work on the ranch of Whitney & Sisson, who had at that time upwards of 300 acres under dike. In the same vicinity W. H. Trimble had 50 acres; J. Highbarger, 75; G.W.L. Allen, 65; and Ball & Smith. 100. The general yield in the vicinity of Bayview was eighty bushels to the acre of oats and barley, except, rather curiously, in case of fall oats, which crows had attacked in countless numbers, pulling up at least one-half of it, and seriously diminishing the yield.

(Timothy Hay crop)
      This photo of a Timothy hay harvest before 1900 at the Charles Elde farm on the LaConner flats illustrates the prodigious yields of crops produced on the Skagit river delta after back-breaking dike work by the early pioneers. Photo courtesy of the fine book, Skagit Settlers, which is available at the LaConner Historical Museum.

Logging and the Nookachamps
      The peripatetic Star man [Eldridge Morse] has preserved an interesting picture of the appearance of the work in progress at that time upon the Skagit jam. He found two flourishing logging camps, one belonging to Mr. Hanscomb and another to William Gage. Both these men had been enabled by the work done even at that time on the jam to get out timber of magnificent quality previously unavailable. The correspondent noticed one tree without crook or knot from which were cut four twenty-four foot cuts, scaling upwards of six thousand feet of clear lumber each. Both Mr. Hanscomb and Mr. Gage paid the highest tribute to the invaluable work of the jam loggers. The correspondent also visited the store just opened by Messrs. Clothier & English and the hotel just built by Mr. Shott], which together constituted the beginnings of the city of Mount Vernon. The correspondent also becomes acquainted with [David] E. Kimble and G.E. Hartson, pioneer settlers of that district, and meets Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Gage and Mrs. Isaac Lanning and Ida, the daughter of the last named, who were among the first white women to reach the Skagit river valley above the delta, their entrance to the region being in or prior to 1870. The correspondent notes the fact that although he had been all over that region hut a few months previous, he found most remarkable changes accomplished. He says that but six months before the region of the Nookachamps was just beginning to be spoken of, but at the time of this second visit there were twenty or more claims taken on that stream Seven years earlier, he says, there was scarcely a score of claims in the whole Skagit valley, but in 1877 there were about seven hundred settlers in the valley, of whom probably nearly two hundred were white women.


Bellingham Bay Mail
      The Mail was published by James A. Power, starting in Bellingham on July 5, 1873. Power moved the Mail to LaConner in September 1879 and published for a while from the deck of a sternwheeler, renaming the paper to the Puget Sound Mail. He sold the Mail on Oct. 1, 1885, to attorney Henry McBride from Mount Vernon, who would soon be lieutenant governor and then governor of Washington state, after the death of Governor John Rogers. [Return]

Edgar A. Sisson
      A devoted diarist, this keeper of records came west from Pennsylvania in December 1872 and began reclaiming the saltwater-soaked marshes of Padilla along with A.G. Tillinghast and Rienzi E. Whitney. Having some experience of college education, he married Ida Leamer, who began teaching at her native Pleasant Ridge at age 15 and then became the first female teacher in LaConner schools. [Return]

Edison pioneers
      For stories about several of these Samish-area pioneers see this Journal website, and this additional website with links to four stories on the early Edison area and its pioneers. [Return]

Early coal shipment
      See the Journal profile of Amasa Peg-Leg Everett, who discovered coals with companions in 1874, shortly before a boulder rolled over him and crushed his leg. He later homesteaded on the eastern shore of Baker River and discovered the limestone ledges that led to the cement industry of the town of Concrete. [Return]

James H. Moores
      A native of Quebec, Moores came to the Skagit River in 1876 to log at the camp of his uncle, Thomas Moores. He stayed and settled near Avon where he became the first commercial fisherman on the river, catching and preserving 15 barrels of King Salmon in 1879. [Return]

Log jams at Mount Vernon
      Read this Journal portal to many of our stories about the log jams, and these Journal transcripts of Snohomish editor Eldridge Morse's tours of the jams [Return]

Log jam details
      For another personal description of the log jams, read this Journal transcript from the memoirs of Otto Klement, who arrived in the Skagit Valley in 1873 as a 21-year-old from Wisconsin and eventually became the father of the town of Lyman.
      Still another personal description of the jams is included in this Journal profile of Hamilton and LaConner pioneer James Cochrane. As he noted from his time working at jam removal, the lower jam appeared to be the much older one, with the upper one younger, still growing during the first three years he lived in the area: "The material of the jam was mainly green timber, but in many places sediment had accumulated to such an extent as to permit the growth upon it of a perfect jungle of brush and even of large trees." And at this Journal website, you can read our research about the volcanic 1792 eruption on Mount Baker that caused such a landslide into the Baker River that mud pushed logs all the way down down the Skagit and may have formed the foundation of the later jams or at least locked them in solid as an impediment to navigation nearly a century later. [Return]

Orange Jacobs (1827-1914)
      Jacobs was a New York native whose parents moved to Michigan Territory in 1831. As a young man, he attended Albion College there and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he studied law. A year after he was admitted to the Michigan bar, he moved west to Jacksonville, Oregon, in Jackson County and practiced law as gold prospectors combed the area. He also published the Jacksonville Sentinel until 1859, writing strongly against slavery and joining the new Republican party. In that latter year he moved to Washington Territory and practiced law in Seattle until becoming an associate justice of the supreme court in 1869 and then Chief justice from 1871-75.
      He was elected as the Republican Washington Territorial delegate to Congress during two terms from 1875-79. In 1877, Jacobs became a key figure in eventual statehood by requesting an enabling act which would allow Washington to become a state as soon as a state constitution was drafted and ratified by the voters, and an act to convene such a convention was soon passed by the Washington Territorial Legislative Assembly. Fifteen delegates met in Walla Walla in the summer of 1878, including Edward Eldridge of Whatcom, and drafted a constitution, which voters approved in November 1878 by a two-to-one margin, but then the statehood movement stalled until 1889. Except for two terms in the late 1880s when Democrat Charles S. Voorhees held the office after the uproar concerning Northern Pacific's land grants, the delegate's office as well as most other territorial offices were largely held by Republicans from the Civil War until statehood.
      Jacobs but did not stand for a third term. Instead, he resumed his law practice, was elected as mayor of Seattle in 1879, serving until 1882, and in 1881 he delivered the Seattle eulogy for his friend, President James A. Garfield, who died 80 days after being shot by an assassin. Jacobs served in the territorial council (senate) from 1885-1887 and eventually became a judge of the superior court of King County. He also compiled a noted 1884 report of the fauna of Washington Territory, was granted the first honorary doctorate by the University of Washington, in 1885, and was a principal in the anti-Chinese movement that year. On New Years Day, 1858, Jacobs married Lucinda Davenport, whose family crossed the plains by covered wagon from Ohio to Oregon in 1851, and they had ten children together. [Return]

Northern Star newspaper and Eldridge Morse of Snohomish City
      The Northern Star newspaper, which will be referred to often in this chapter, began in Snohomish City, the kernel of the present town of the same name, in January 1876. The publisher was Eldridge Morse and his editor was A.C. Folsom. Produced just a few yards away from a dense forest, the Star filled eight pages every week with reports of villages throughout the Northwest as well as Snohomish county, focused on the Nooksack, Skagit and Stillaguamish river valleys. Morse was from Connecticut, a descendant of the Moss family. Morse moved here from Iowa Oct. 26, 1872, with his wife, Martha A. Turner, and his infant son, Edward, hanging out a shingle as an attorney. Well educated, he helped form the Snohomish Atheneum, the first literary and scientific society outside of Seattle, in 1873, and then helped organize the Snohomish County Agricultural Society two years later. Both institutions failed during the Depression of the mid-1870. Morse suspended publication of the Star in May 1879 and returned to his profession as a lawyer, but he continued writing, providing 3,500 pages of manuscript to H.H. Bancroft in 1881 for the latter.s comprehensive series of books about the pioneer days of the West Coast. He was still alive when the Illustrated History was published in 1906, and had five small children. His third wife had died and supported the children from the proceeds of his vegetable garden and rentals from his real estate. After the Star suspended publication, Snohomish was without a newspaper until the Eye was launched in January 1882. Read the Journal profile of Morse and a series of stories about his tours of the Northwest and the jams area of the Skagit River. [Return]

Log jams cleared
      In this June 12, 1878 Northern Star article, Eldridge Morse wrote that the pioneers had cleared "a channel about 100 feet wide, and three quarters of a mile long through the upper jam." At about that time, the British bachelor settlers of future Sedro, David Batey and Joseph Hart, rode upriver on the sternwheeler Libby after buying staples. Their first time upriver, in May that year, required a land portage around the jams because the channel that had been cut through that spring was so narrow and the water so focused at that point that the current prohibited any boats going through. At that same Star website, you can read how the Washington Standard reported on Sept. 26, 1879, that the "Jams now completely open to steamers." [Return]

1906 surviving jam-removers
      Joseph S. Wilson soon moved to the area three miles east of future-Sedro that became known as Skiyou. He became a very respected early settler there, to the point that the first school district was named for him. Oddly, however, the descendants of the Harrison family who followed him to that district were not aware of him, so we suspect that he may have moved on to Seattle, where he originally invested in land. We hope that a descendant of his family will contact us if they can share copies of documents or photos or articles about this most interesting man.
      Dennis Storrs arrived on Whidbey Island in 1874 from Mount Vernon, Iowa, and then moved to the Skagit Valley a year later. Within a year he filed a preemption claim near Avon on the west bank of the Skagit River, where his neighbors included William Gage, Rudolph Pulver, Frank Buck and the Hartson family. In 1876, Storrs volunteered to head the committee of log jam volunteers and provided a substantial record of the process for this 1906 book. Born in England and trained as a railroad-car maker there, he also took an additional timber claim when he moved here, 15 years before the advent of the railroads. While researching the life of Sedro-Woolley pioneer Samuel Shea, we learned that in the mid-1880s he was employed by Storrs & Co. at Edison. Dennis apparently formed the business there and in 1888 he cultivated oysters, the earliest such sea-farmer we have discovered. He married Mary Dobson back in England and they had seven children, including their son Charles, who was born in Iowa, logged with his father as a young man and then established a farm just south of Mount Vernon.
      James Cochrane was a native of Scotland who apprenticed in the Merchant Marine at age 12, sailing to South Africa where his father was one of the early workers in diamond fields. His mother emigrated to the U.S., but James came via another route, through Abyssinia and San Francisco, arriving in Seattle in 1869 when it was still a village.
      He engaged in logging with LaConner pioneer Joseph F. Dwelley, then set up a camp of his own and harvested the logs from the jams, but soon settled on a claim upriver near Hamilton. He married into the pioneer Cary clan and acquired timberland upriver and in Snohomish County, but then succumbed to the gold excitement of the Ruby Creek strike, circa 1880, later moving on north to prospect at the Fraser River gold fields, which had been the scene of a Rush in 1858. We learned even more about James when his granddaughter, Marilyn Studley, wrote and informed us that when he was an older man, he bought a LaConner pool room during Prohibition days. [Return]

Discovery of coal
      In addition to the coal story above, see this Journal website about the early history of Hamilton, Coal Mountain and the discovery of coal ore by Peg-Leg Everett, Lafayette Stevens and Orlando Graham. [Return]

Discovery of gold in the North Cascades, 1877
      Read the excerpt from upriver pioneer Otto Klement.s memoirs about the discovery of gold in the North Cascades in 1877 that resulted in the 1880 Ruby Creek gold rush. Includes details of the prospecting trips over the Cascade Pass and down Lake Chelan, plus how Klement named the Cascade River. And this 1891 New York Times column about the richness of Skagit coal by Frank Wilkeson, who lived in Fairhaven, Bridge Creek/Stehekin and Hamilton in the 1880s and .90s.] [Return]

Goodell's Landing
      Goodall's is a misspelling. The landing for canoes that marked the head of navigation in the far-upriver region of the Skagit was named for Oregon merchant Nathan Edwards Goodell, who took a gamble and moved up to the North Cascades gold fields. Read the exclusive Journal biography of Goodell that explains why he and his store were such vital elements to the 1880 gold rush and how he was the brother of the "Mother of Lynden," Phoebe Goodell Judson. [Return]

David Ball drowning
      See this exclusive Journal profile of David's father, Jesse Beriah Ball, founder of Sterling and one of the earliest logging-camp owners on the upper stretch of the Skagit River. The story provides details about the whole family; Ball's Landing — the sternwheeler stop and camp location just west of future Sedro; and David's unfortunate demise; as well as Jesse's important role in logging in both southern Puget Sound and the Skagit Valley. After his first wife died, he took an Indian wife, who survived him. [Return]

Clothier & English trading post/store
      Harrison Clothier was a schoolteacher from Wisconsin and Edward English was his former student. They met again in the Skagit Valley when they arrived here independently in the mid-1870s. They became partners in a trading post at the log jams and created the town of Mount Vernon in 1877 in honor of George Washington. See this Journal profile of Clothier and see the table of contents for Issue 46 for the new Subscribers Edition profile of English, who became one of the most famous timbermen in Washington Territory and State. According to the 1906 Book, the principal trade of the store in the early days was in fures and hides . . . "those were primitive days in a business way." And although very little currency of gold or silver, or especially paper notes, was in circulation, sometimes as $35-40 in beaver hides would be traded in a single day. [Return]

Joseph Hanscomb and William Gage
      Hanscomb and Gage owned logging camps that were on the claim of William Brice, who built the first permanent structure on the Mount Vernon townsite, north of where Division Street is today. Brice was the father-in-law of Jasper Gates, who homesteaded in 1870 the area on the eastern shore of the river next to the upper log jam and sold the initial ten-acre townsite to Harrison Clothier and Ed English. A native of the Montreal, Quebec, region, Gage moved to British Columbia at age 17 in 1859 at the tail end of the Fraser River Gold Rush and then moved on to mine in California in 1863. After returning to mine in the Cariboo District of B.C., he settled on Whidbey Island in 1867 and then took a claim near one of his logging camps in 1870. His brother, Daniel E. Gage joined him and when sternwheeler traffic started plying the South Fork of the Skagit, the brothers were granted the mail route from Skagit City to future-Mount Vernon until the log jams were cleared. Daniel built a substantial store at Skagit City (his was the last surviving store there) while William established logging camps from the South Fork to the Brice claim north of Mount Vernon and finally to Gage's Slough, which today crosses Old Hwy 99 just south of the Cascade Mall. Gage was the first logger in the area to use a crude railroad to bring logs down from the hills, using maple rails strung end to end.
      Brice was the second husband of Nancy Snodgrass Kimble, the mother of Jasper Gates's wife, Clarinda, and David E. Kimble, the homesteader at Britt Slough and the lower log jam. After her first husband, Aaron Kimble, died, she married Brice back in Missouri in 1855. According to her 1886 obituary, the Brices came to the Skagit Valley with a group of Whidbey Island settlers on Feb. 23, 1870. They filed a preemption claim directly north of Jasper Gates and in 1884, six years after William's death, the acreage became known as the Ball & Ledger Addition to Mount Vernon. Brice was a country doctor, with or without license, and Nancy midwifed for area mothers. [Return]

Jonathan Shott
      In an April 9, 1877, issue of Northern Star, Publisher Eldridge Morse observed about his visit to the new town of Mount Vernon: "It is only about one year, or little more since our first visit to the jam. Then there was nothing above the lower jam, near these jams, besides the loggers camp that a person would notice in the shape of business. Now just adjoining Mr. Gage's logging works we found a town starting into life with all the various institutions incident to a business centre. Messrs. Clothier & English had just erected a two-story building, the lower story for a general merchandise store, while above was a public hall. Only a short distance from this store was Mr. Jonathan's Shott's new hotel, also two stories in height and well fitted to accommodate those likely to visit it there." Elsewhere in the 1906 Book, we learned that Shott and his wife were running a hotel from the earliest day of the young town, located "on the east side of Front street near the store."
      Front Street long ago disappeared under the revetment and the water as the river ate away the eastern shore of the riverfront. The writer of the Mount Vernon profile in the 1906 Book recalled that the building was not palatial and cost just $150 to construct, and then goes on to cluck in derision that the building that Martin Coltenbaugh attached to the hotel as a restaurant . . . "sad to relate, but inevitable, this same building was opened at the beginning of the next year by John A. Bievel as a saloon." In another section, testimonials were presented about the quality of Mrs. Shott's cooking. The Shott couple divorced in 1880 and Robinson discovered in the court transcript that the Kimbles and Gateses knew her for over a decade, so the Schotts may have also come here from Missouri.
      Although author Tom Robinson and the Journal editor have tried for years to learn the name of the hotel, but we have thus far been unsuccessful, although an older hotel simply called the Mount Vernon Hotel burned to the ground in the major downtown fire of Sept. 28, 1900. That could have been a later hotel, however, built by the partnership of Clothier, English and Otto Klement in 1880, when they had a nest-egg built from the Ruby Creek gold profits. We agree, however, that the Clothier & English store was at the location of the present vacant Eddy's Furniture on Main Street. As the town grew quickly, the Shotts' hotel had to compete with Ford & Murdock's Washington Hotel, about where Division Street cuts through to the bridge today; Michael McNamara's Ruby House built next door to the store in 1879; and the Lorenzy family's Brooklyn Hotel. At least they all competed until the massive fire of July 13, 1891, when a fire in the north wing of the Washington led to 15 buildings burning to the ground "in the oldest business section." We do not know if the Ruby House burned in that fire, but it did burn to the ground in the 1900 fire along with the last vestiges of the Clothier & English store. For early photos and descriptions of the young town, see our Journal profile of town founder Harrison Clothier. [Return]

The 1870 settlers from Whidbey Island
      This Journal website provides links to the stories, articles, diaries and documents of the settlers, mainly from Missouri, who scouted the Skagit Valley in February 1870 and then arrived in the valley in 1870 with their belongings after paying $50 per family for passage on the sternwheeler Linnie. Once here, they staked preemption claims for their families on Fir Island, the South Fork of the Skagit and in the area that would become Mount Vernon. [Return]

Karl and Minnie von Pressentin
      By 1906, Karl had Americanized his name from the original Germanic spelling to Charles. After immigrating from eastern Germany, the couple and their young children completed the journey west from Manistee, Michigan, in 1877-78, with Karl and his brother scouting out the area first. They chose to settle and build their first home on a claim on the south shore of the Skagit River, almost exactly across the narrow part of the river from the town that would become Birdsview a decade later. See this von Pressentin Portal section with links to the 20-plus stories about them, the most widely profiled family on our site. The couple eventually had five boys and Karl's German educational standards, his clerical experience and his natural affinity towards management led to his being a leader of his neighborhood and a probate judge. Like his next-door neighbor, German Birdsey Minkler, he was rumored to have been groomed for high state office although we have not authenticated the claim. [Return]

Birdsey D. Minkler
      Minkler was born in 1849 to a proud German family who settled in Omro, Wisconsin. His parents traveled west by wagon train in 1852 when he was barely a toddler and his father died of cholera along the way on the route of the Platte River. His mother continued west and married a second time in 1853, settling with her new husband in Nevada City, Nevada, a decision that radically changed the lives of Birdsey and his baby brother. They stayed in Wisconsin and were raised by their traditional grandfather for 19 years.
      As young men, the brothers joined their mother in California when she summoned them in 1871. Birdsey settled near her in the town of Janeville where he married in 1873, while his brother settled 20 miles away in Susanville, where he lived for the rest of his life. Birdsey and his new wife soon moved north to Washington Territory. After logging on the Olympic Peninsula, Birdsey heard about the logging riches of the upper Skagit River and moved there in 1877 while the log jams still blocked the Skagit River. His logging associates, August Kemmerich and John Grandy, soon followed him and in 1878 Minkler built the first mill on the Skagit River on the south shore along Mill Creek. Over the years, Minkler became a central figure in both the towns of Birdsview and later in Lyman in the 1880s. The house that he built for his family in Lyman in 1891 eventually became known as the Minkler Mansion and is in the process of being converted into the municipal headquarters. You can read the exclusive two-part Journal biography of Minkler and his family and their mills and businesses in Lyman and the town of Minkler on the lake west of town. You can also read there the details of how the Upper Skagit Indians ultimately won their suit against Minkler over the land on the north shore near the town of Birdsview. [Return]

August Kemmerich
      After joining Minkler at the future site of Birdsview in 1878, August Kemmerich chose to stake a preemption claim on the flats of the north shore of the Skagit River, just east of the present Rasar Park. He was also a German immigrant who arrived in the Skagit Valley via Iowa. Kemmerich actually named the town for Minkler and Birdsey became the first postmaster on Oct. 6, 1881. Even though Kemmerich was a coal miner back home in Germany, neither he nor Minkler showed much interest in the boom cycles for various minerals. In 1882, Kemmerich traveled back to Chicago and married German immigrant Barbara Hommerding in Chicago. Joe Kemmerich, their son, managed for years the fish hatchery on the north shore that was located on Minkler's original land where the Indians disputed ownership. Read the Journal profile of Kemmerich. [Return]

David Batey, Georgiana Batey, Joseph Hart
      Read about the 1878 British bachelors at this Journal website. Batey's wife was the first licensed doctor in northwestern Washington, having received her medical training in Iowa. [Return]

Emmett and Eliza Van Fleet
      See this Journal portal website for an introduction to the Van Fleet family and links to all stories about them. They moved west from Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, to the Skagit River in 1880 and settled on a preemption claim north of the Skagit in the area that became known as Skiyou. [Return]

Samuel S. Tingley
      Tingley came to the Puget Sound in the late 1850s on a revenue cutter, all the way around Cape Horn from the Aroostook River region of Maine, the same home country as Amasa "Pegleg" Everett. He returned to Maine to volunteer for service in the Civil War and after he mustered out, he traveled to Washington again in style on a steamboat that Asa Mercer of Seattle chartered for the "Mercer Girls" who came west from Massachusetts to find jobs and husbands. They married and lived near the North Fork of the Skagit on Fir Island, where Maria gave birth to the first white settler child in the Skagit Valley. After he worked as a timber cruiser and boatbuilder and they lived in Mount Vernon and then moved to what is now Day Creek, Tingley became one of the most important pioneers on the south shore of the Skagit. Read our exclusive Journal profile of Samuel and his family. [Return]

G. Morris Haller
      Haller was an early lawyer in northwestern Washington Terriotry and was the son of Col. Granville O. Haller, one of the most famous military men of the region. The son was an early law partner with Judge Thomas Burke, the organizer behind the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad. He had a very bright future but accidentally drowned along with one of Seattle's most popular mayors, Dr. Thomas T. Minor, and Haller's brother-in-law Lewis Cox, while they were hunting in canoes on Saratoga Passage near Whidbey Island on Dec. 2, 1889. [Return]

Jesse B. Ball
      Ball was one of the most successful early logging-camp owners on the Skagit River, moving here in about 1878 after logging in the Steilacoom region at the southern end of Puget Sound. He set up a sternwheeler landing on the Skagit, about two miles west of future-Sedro and then added a trading post and bunkhouses for a growing number of loggers. After an education at a girl's school, his daughter Emma joined him and soon married a logger named Albion Welch. Sometime after 1880, Ball changed the small community's name to Sterling. A widow, Ball married a second time to Caroline Lisk, an Indian woman from the South Fork area of the river. After selling his camp, they moved to Mount Vernon, where he invested in a general store called Ball & Ledger along with the Ball & Ledger Addition to Mount Vernon, north of what is now Division Street. Read our Journal feature about Ball and the birth of Sterling. [Return]

A.R. Williamson
      Williamson was a Pennsylvania native who moved west in the 1850s and hired out to Ezra Meeker's family to farm near Puyallup and pick hops, a crop that was becoming an economic staple in the new territory. In 1872, Williamson struck out on his own and discovered a patch of land on the north shore of the Skagit River that was ideal for hop cultivation, just a mile west of future-Lyman. A pass through the hills north of his new farm allowed migrant Indian laborers to travel down from British Columbia and the Nooksack River channels. He farmed there until the late 1870s when he became ill and then leased out his hop yards to others in the county who recognized their profitability. For more information, read the Journal feature on the "Origins of Lyman". [Return]

Rienzi E. Whitney
      Whitney came west in August 1872 from Pennsylvania and was soon joined by cousins A.G. Tillinghast and Edgar A. Sisson on Padilla Bay that December. They soon began reclaiming the saltwater-soaked marshes of Padilla and eventually constructed dikes around more than 250 acres along Indian Slough. In 1874 he was elected to the territorial legislature and in 1876 he moved his wife and children to Colton, California, because of respiratory illnesses and his wife and youngest child died there. He very soon returned to Puget Sound and bought out his cousins, whereupon he diked two hundred and fifty acres in addition to the original holding of the partnership on Indian slough and connecting the two properties by private roadway and drawbridge three hundred feet in length. In 1882, he founded the town of Padilla, in favor of the bay that was named in 1791 for a Mexican viceroy when Spanish were exploring the area. In 1888 he purchased 700 acres of land on the bay that he soon named Whitney island. In 1880 he married Kate Bradley and later in the decade they moved to the area just south of the new town of Anacortes where Rienzi boomed real estate. The Seattle & Northern railroad came through the old ranch in 1890 and the depot just east of there was named for Whitney. In August 1891.he was driving in his buggy when the horses reared and he was thrown from the vehicle, receiving fatal wounds. He was 51 and left his widow with seven children. [Return]

Thomas P. Hastie
      Born in England in 1835, Hastie had one of the most exciting childhoods of any Skagit pioneer. After the family emigrated to the U.S., they farmed in Illinois until 1850, when they bought a covered wagon and started west from Council Bluffs, Iowa. On the way to Oregon Territory, he ran footraces with Indians to escape and the family averted disaster when Indians stole their oxen. After a short time at the Willamette River, the family wound up at Penn Cove on Whidbey Island in 1853, the year that Washington became a territory and cut spar trees for sailing ships while also working at the mill on nearby Utsalady, Camano Island. Hastie proved up on a claim on Fir Island in 1872 and became one of the most respected farmers in the area. Read more about the family and their adventures at this Journal website. [Return]

Capt. M.A. McCall
      McCall, pioneer from 1878, later built the first brick business building in old Mount Vernon in the summer of 1889. [Return]

Continue to Part Two of Chapter 2, Skagit Section

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on Jan. 31, 2009 (in a truncated form in Issue 11 on Nov. 23, 2002)
Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 46 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

Return to the new-domain home page
Links for portals to subjects and towns
Newest photo features
Search entire site
(bullet) See this Journal website for a timeline of local, state, national, international events for years of the pioneer period.
(bullet) Did you enjoy this story? Remember, as with all our features, this story is a draft and will evolve as we discover more information and photos. This process continues until we eventually compile a book about Northwest history. Can you help?
(bullet) Remember; we welcome correction & criticism.
(bullet) Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. With more than 550 features, we depend on your report. Thank you.
(bullet) Read about how you can order CDs that include our photo features from the first five years of our Subscribers Edition. Perfect for gifts.

You can click the donation button to contribute to the rising costs of this site. You can also subscribe to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online, which has entered its seventh year with exclusive stories, in-depth research and photos that are shared with our subscribers first. You can go here to read the preview edition to see examples of our in-depth research or read how and why to subscribe.

You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors
Would you like information about how to join them?

(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.
Looking for something special on our site? Enter name, town or subject, then press "Find" Search this site powered by FreeFind
    Did you find what you were seeking? We have helped many people find individual names or places, so email if you have any difficulty.
    Tip: Put quotation marks around a specific name or item of two words or more, and then experiment with different combinations of the words without quote marks. We are currently researching some of the names most recently searched for — check the list here. Maybe you have searched for one of them?
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.

View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook
Email us at:
(Click to send email)
Mail copies/documents to Street address: Skagit River Journal, 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284.