Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed 4.5 million page views on Nov. 29, 2010
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.

(SLSE Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition, where 450 of 700 stories originate
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)

Skagit County Times, issues from 1902
Part Three: various issues, July

We continue our transcription of early Skagit County newspapers.
Masthead information with publishing information

      Masthead information (only available from June 26, 1902 issue): The Times Printing Company. Entered at the post office at Sedro-Woolley, Washington. Office at corner of State and Third streets. Subscription rates: One year, in advance, $1.50. Advertising rates $1.50 per inch per month, subject to reduction for time and space. Official paper of Sedro-Woolley.
      [Journal ed. note: no publisher or editor noted. Very frustrating.]

Find below and at links
Profile of the Times . . . Early 1902 issues
almost-full June 26, 1902 issue . . . later 1902 issues

Profile of the Times
      We apologize for our many contradictory notes about the Times in several Journal articles over the past ten years. The reason for the confusion is that so many records provide so much contradictory information and claims that were difficult to correct without additional research. The main problem is that almost all issues of the Times published before the Teen years burned in various fires. Some annual volumes are missing altogether; others have only one or a few issues. So we have had to assemble the jig-saw puzzle with only a few of the pieces, and few of those connect. We try again, after more hours of research because the Skagit County Times is the second most-important source of facts for our early history; only the Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish Counties, of 1906 (hereafter 1906 History), is more important.
    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2010-11, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. Because of our recent illness, our research fund is completely bare. See many examples of how you can aid our project and help us continue for another ten years. And subscriptions to our optional Subscribers Online Magazine (launched 2000) by donation too. Thank you.
      To review, the Times launched on Saturday, Jan. 24, 1891. That issue is long gone. The first issue we have is from May 2, 1896, which is numbered Volume 6, number 15. We had to laboriously count back to discover that original date. Even the 1906 History was wrong on that matter, and it was also wrong about the first publisher. We discovered a hint of the actual publisher in the Dec. 5, 1891, and then triangulated, with the help of a family descendant to discover that Ambrose B. Ernst, a Kansas native, was at the helm. He went on to be lauded as the "father of Seattle playgrounds." By November, Fred L. Henshaw, a fellow Kansan, was publisher and Henshaw soon took on another Kansan partner, Jake E. Kulp.
      The Times was actually the second newspaper in town, following the Sedro Press, which was launched by Publisher George W. Hopp on April 18, 1890. We know very little about the Press, except a pioneer memory of it in that summer and that it continued through the "early '90s" under Editor Ed Palmer. It may have discontinued publication after being consumed in one of those early fires. In fact, we have never seen a copy of it. The only way anyone knew about it in modern decades is because pioneer Ethel Van Fleet Harris showed the only surviving copy of it to Courier-Times publisher Frank Evans in 1953.
      We do not know how long Henshaw remained in charge; we have no solid information until 1896. All we do know is that the paper was apparently on rocky financial footing and that in 1892 it was taken over by Junius B. Alexander, who apparently moved it down to new Sedro, near the present high school location. Alexander was the young capitalist from Staten Island, New York, who would be the leader of the Twin Cities Business League, which worked throughout the 1890s to effect a merger of the two towns. He would later be the conduit for philanthropist Andrew Carnegie's personal investment in the town library, which opened in October 1915. Unfortunately we do not know whom Alexander set up as publisher in those early days.
      Our next firm information is from the issue of May 2, 1896, and that masthead lists the Gillis brothers as editors and publishers. Alexander recruited Walter and Albert Gillis, who were also connected with Snohomish County, to run the day-to-day operations of the Times and they eventually bought into the company. We do not know how long they were in charge before that issue date. The Gillis brothers were also known for their thespian roles in county plays, including productions at the Bowery Square or Opera House, which stood just across the alley from behind the present Jungquist Furniture. The brothers were also partners with some of their other brothers in a local construction firm.
      The Times was moved from an undisclosed location to the present location of the Mission Market building, at the southeast corner of State and Third streets, sometime in 1899. By then our most fully documented pioneer publisher — and a classic Western editor character — Seneca G. Ketchum, had taken over. What a wild ride he had at the helm. The descendant of a family of religious clerics and businessmen in New York and Ontario, He had spent the late 1880s and most of the 1890s as a "tramp editor," mainly in British Columbia and for awhile in Spokane. That meant he hit the bottle pretty hard and when he was no longer welcome at one newspaper or town, he flopped onto a freight car and moved along to where another town needed a printer or editor so badly that they didn't worry about his resume.
      Ketchum came to Sedro-Woolley in the summer of 1898, not so much the tramp at that point in time, because he brought his new wife with him and she gave birth to Seneca Jr. here that August. For once Ketchum's timing was dead-on perfect. Alexander, still the financial angel for the paper, was assembling the final pieces for the towns' merger and he wanted someone forceful to sing that tune to the choir, not only here on the upper Skagit, but at the county courthouse and the state legislature, where the legalities needed to be settled. Our only disappointment is that not a single issue from those wild pre-merger days of 1898 exists (unless, of course, a reader has a copy in a family scrapbook — be still, our foolish heart). We also cannot peg who really owned the newspaper in those days. One source says that Alexander still owned the whole operation and just leased it to both the Gillis brothers and to Ketchum. But both of those publishers insisted they were the owners. Maybe the sale was never completed to either one.
      From the start, other editors all over the Northwest remarked what a boon Ketchum was for Woolley, most agreeing with the assessment of the editor who insisted he was both a "wit and a poet," the latter mostly in honor of his reworking of a favorite poem of the day. He earned hundreds of rounds of whiskey for his brilliant rendition of "Wandering Willie Waterhouse from Walla Walla Wash," when he had actually stolen the kernel of it from the original author before applying his Ketchum full-court press. Frontier headline-news, including town-booming and mergers and such, sold a lot of papers so people all over the state followed the merger with great interest, and if there was any doubt as to the outcome of the fevered betting on the planned vote, Alexander figured he had his glorious ace in the hole. His timing was excellent also because he arrived at nearly the moment in time when Sedro-Woolley climbed out of the crushing nationwide Depression, which had drug on for nearly five years, and became a fat, rich marketplace. Besides the gold dust that came back in the pockets of local boys, local farmers, especially, brought in much-needed cash from the produce, meat, butter and other products that the Klondike miners craved and demanded. For the next roughly 14 years, Sedro-Woolley was the place to make money — and soon Skagit County in general — and Seneca was finally garnering all that applause — even from the bourgeois capitalists, and a decent salary, both of which had escaped him in the past.
      By 1902, the year of these transcripts, the actual editor or publisher is not apparent because the masthead does not list the name of either, an odd lapse. One source claimed Ketchum was out of the picture by 1901. But we knew that was wrong when we found the April 2, 1903, Times issue, with Ketchum obviously the publisher. After seeing his mercurial relationships with owners of other newspapers where he edited, however, we concede it is possible that Ketchum was fired or suspended, maybe by the real owner Alexander, maybe more than once. What we know for sure is that he died Aug. 20, 1903, age 39, of a severe case of bottles of John Barleycorn to the mid-section. He may have cleaned up his act by Woolley time, but the damage of two decades imbibing a lake full of booze was too much, even for his constitution.
      His successors as Times publishers are just as confusing, time-wise, because of contradictory records. These are the candidates. The 1906 History claims that to A. C. Edwards bought the paper in 1901 and in turn sold it in December 1902 to "W.H. Pilcher, a Kansan, who is the present publisher and editor." The Feb. 7, 1901 Times masthead lists Seneca G. Ketchum & Gus B. Leach as co-publishers, the same masthead as Feb. 22, 1900, yet we find no other record of Leach in the area. We bet our money safely on Pilcher as the immediate successor because the 1905-06 Polk Directory recorded Wallace H. Pilcher, editor and publisher, with George Ragsdale, partner. Pilcher faded away from mention very quickly, but we do not know why and we wonder why his wife, Annie, continued here as a photographer for nearly another decade. Wallace died in Chicago in 1916. In the March 22, 1906, Times issue we found George B. Ragsdale as the publisher — "recently secured control of the Times," with J.B. Stowers as editor. Although Ragsdale stayed here for at least another decade, a 1949 Courier-Times commemorative issue noted that John B. Stowers died here in 1920 after editing the Times for 13 years, from 1907 onwards. Frank Evans bought the Times on Jan. 31, 1918, (his family then owned it for six more decades) and then merged it with the Skagit County Courier on May 20, 1920, to launch the Courier-Times brand, which still exists in name only in 2011.
      That leads to the last important note. Yes, there was a competing newspaper in town. Nearly every Western, market town of 1,000 population or more had competing newspapers as a rule back then, one Republican, one Democrat. Back in 1901, the rising local Republican kingmaker, David Donnelly, backed the Courier secretly, so well masked that even old-timers were shocked when they read Catherine McClintock's 1935 Courier-Times profile of Donnelly and discovered the details of the arrangement. For the rest of their existence, both papers were located in Woolley, just three blocks apart. New Sedro had disappeared by then, due to fire or the business owners packing up and moving to Woolley. Even though Junius B. Alexander was very much of the moneyed class, he was a loyal Democrat — and the Times stood that way, because his family originally hailed from Virginia, back many generations, and they were enmeshed with the Democratic regime. The Courier seems to have been less prominent and profitable than the Times, but again we are not sure because not a single volume of Couriers survives. Indeed, we do not know if Evans even received them.

July 3, 1902
Headline stories
Hotel Royal becomes the Vendome
      Frank Bergeron & Co. held their grand opening Saturday evening. The affair was largely attended by the people of this city and visitors who were present at the time. [Journal ed. note: Bergeron had just purchased Charles J. Villeneuve's original Woolley hotel, the Hotel Royal. Although a later article in the Sept. 17, 1903, issue of the Skagit County Times stated Frank Bergeron of Clear Lake bought the hotel on Sept. 15, 1903, he obviously took possession more than a year earlier. Bergeron renamed his business the Vendome Hotel and restaurant; his building burned on an unknown date in 1927 and was replaced by a Gilmore Oil service station, which was opened by partners Oscar Greenstreet and a man named Gribble in May 1939. That station at the southeast corner of Eastern and Ferry is now vacant.]

Coal production in 1901
      According to returns to the U.S. Geological survey from producers representing fully 97 per cent of the entire coal output of the United States, the production in 1901 amounted to 292,240,738 short tons valued at $348,813,871. [Journal ed. note: that figure alone illustrates not only the huge market and amount of coal produced, but also just how coal monopolized the heating and steam-engine industries and suppliers, just as oil, another fossil-fuel, completely dominates markets and industries today.]
      As compared with 1900, when the output amounted to 269,881,827 short tons, worth $306,891,364, this represents an increase of 22,358,931 short tons, or 8 per cent in quantity, and of $42,922,467 or 13.6 per cent in value.
      The production of Pennsylvania anthracite showed a phenomenal increase from 51,221,253 long tons (equivalent to 57 million short tons) in 1900 to 60 million long tons, or 67 million short terms 1901. this represented a gain made by the anthracite trade in 20 years. Part of this increase in 1901 was due to a decreased output of anthracite in 1900 as compared with 1899, as owing to the historic strike of 1900 the outpost that year was reduced by over 2.5 million long tons. The production last year shows an increase over 1899 of 6.3 million long tons, and except for the strike of 1900 would have shown an increase over that year of 4.5 million long tons, or about half the actual increase made.
      The increase in the value of the anthracite product is still more striking, the amount received at the mines last year showing a gain of $27 million, or more than 31 per cent over that of 1900. This was entirely due to the unprecedented period of prosperity which enabled consumers generally to pay higher prices for their fuel. The average price for the marketed anthracite coal — that is, the product shipped to market or sold to local trade, and exclusive of the coilery (?) consumption which amounted to about 10 per cent of the total — was $2.05, the highest figure obtained since 1888.
      The production of bituminous coal, lignite, cannel coal, etc., including a small amount of anthracite from Colorado and New Mexico increased from 212 million short tons in 190 to 2245 million short tons in 1901, indicating a gain of 12 million tons or about 6 per cent. The value of this product amounted to $363 million . . .

Red Cedar shingles
      There is practically nothing new to report in the conditions governing the red cedar shingle market, the volume of business transacted remaining about the same as last week, while prices have shown no change.
      A large number of inquiries is being received by jobbers and if this can serve as an index to the number of dealers who are out of shingle there should be a heavy demand before long. Extra *A*'s are selling at $2.50 and $2.55 on this market, while clears are bring $2.90 and $2.95.
      One feature that should greatly assist in maining the present strength of the market is the fact that there is no great number of cars in transit. Jobbers generally have enough orders to take care of most of these. A number of West Coast mills have been suffering from strikes, their employes having formed unions during the two weeks shut down and demanded higher wages. Some of the mills have settled the question by granting the demands but there are others that are still down. For a week or ten days after the Fourth of July it is highly probably that a majority of the plants will be closed. This has happened for years and there is nothing to indicate it will not occur this year. The result will be a great decrease in the production and local people are of the opinion that this, with the demand incident at that time, will serve to increase the price of shingles.

More undesirable immigrants
      Last month 85,000 immigrants landed in New York from foreign countries. Doubtless a large proportion of these are undesirable additions to the citizenship of the United States, who have come in, in spite of our immigration laws. For years people have been agitating the question of having more stringent laws upon this subject passed. There is no doubt whatever that the United States has already accumulated far too many of the ignorant and vicious from other countries.
      When they get to coming in at the rate of three thousand a day it is certainly time to realize that American instituti8ons are in danger. Many of the objectionable immigrants congregate in our large cities, where in time they hold the balance of power. It is a travesty on humanity to resume that any considerable proportion of them are attached to the institutions o the country, or that they care a rap for the good order and happiness of her people. They make up mostly the hordes who are reckless and who constitute the dangerous element in every strike or public disorder. They are in part made up those to whom oppression under monarchical governments renders fit for any sort of rebellion against the government of this nation. They should be shut out at all hazards. — Olympia Record

Mortimer Cook's store
      The "Jolly A" club is a new social organization which has been formed with the object of holding regular fortnightly dances in the Cook store building.
      [Journal ed. note: this was truly a surprise because all discovered records to this point have indicated that Mortimer Cook's store — both the main one in old Sedro and his second store at Sterling, two miles to the west were nearly destroyed by back-to-back extraordinary floods in 1896 and 1897. In fact the Times described in coverage of the November 1896 flood how his Sedro building was actually lifted up and moved by the surging Skagit water. By this point in 1902, Mortimer died in the Philippines in 1899 and his family had moved to Illinois, never to be residents here again.]

Nora Fuller murder
      This 16-year-old girl's body was discovered in San Francisco but a strange turn of affairs led to a police chase 900 miles north to Sedro-Woolley. Read the full story in the next edition of the Journal.

City and county News
(bullet) James Hamilton has accepted a position in the bank of C.E. Bingham & Co. and will learn banking. James has many friends in this city who wish him rapid progress in his chosen field of labor. [Journal ed. note: see this profile of James (, son of the original pioneers of the upriver town of Baker (now Concrete).]
(bullet) Mr. Irwin De Young of Seattle and Miss Venette York of Clear Lake, this county, were married by Rev. John F. Damon in Seattle, on Sunday afternoon, June 22. Mr. P.C. Ha
(bullet) Dunham's nine met and tackled the Greyhounds of Mount Vernon Saturday afternoon on the local ball grounds. The score resulted in favor of the Greyhounds to the tune of 8 to 4. The Clear Lake ball team went to Hamilton Sunday to cross bats with the boys of that place and received a drubbing at the hands of the Hamiltonites to the tune of 26 to 2.
(bullet) Joseph E. Houghton, an employe of L. Houghton Lumber Co. at McMurray, was brought to this city Sunday for treatment at the hospital, having been run over by a freight train and both feet being meshed off. A.E. Godfrey, an employe of Parker Bros. & Hiatt Co. mill at Pilchuck, was brought to this city Friday for medical treatment, having been struck in the back by a broken bolt.
(bullet) The Empire Steam Laundry received a new laundry wagon on Sunday this by far the neatest wagon n the city used for delivery purposes. Mr. Watson, the proprietor, is energetic and progressive and prepares to have an up-to-date laundry in every respect.
(bullet) The Northwest Telephone and Telegraph Co., through its local agent, Seneca G. Ketchum, is asking for bides from 3,000 telephone poles 60 feet long. The difficulties which have impeded progress during the past few months have now been overcome and the company is now in an excellent financial condition to push its work through the northwest.
(bullet) Mr. and Mrs. John Megrath and daughter, Miss Winifred, passed through this city Tuesday noon en route to Europe for an extended visit. They expect to be absent several months. Misses Ella, Frances, Violet, pearl and Lillie Megrath, of Seattle, are visiting with Mrs. C.E. Bingham
(bullet) The mills and lumber camps closed down last evening for the Fourth. In all probability the shut down will last about a week.
(bullet) Miss Florence Cross is visiting with Mrs. Wyman M. Kirby.

Mount Vernon News
(bullet) Judge Lee, of Anacortes, was a business caller in Mount Vernon Wednesday.
(bullet) Gus Hensler and Douglass Allmond (editor), of Anacortes, were in Mount Vernon a few hours Friday.
(bullet) J. Guy Lowman, our future school superintendent, and a pleasant caller in Mount Vernon Saturday.
(bullet) D.P. Simone, the Sound Timber Co.'s representative, was looking after his timber interest last week.
(bullet) Thomas W. Soules is adding to and otherwise improving his recently acquired property on Kincaid Street. [Journal ed. note: we do not think Soules was related to Anacortes pioneer grocer H.H. Soule. A native of the Burlington, Vermont region, he came out here as a representative for eastern investors and wound up platting the town of Burlington, starting in 1891.]
(bullet) Susan Lord Currier, county superintendent of schools, left Saturday morning to attend the national Education Association at St. Paul Minn. She expects to be gone about two weeks.
(bullet) Mrs. and Mrs. Washburn, Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Boren, Mrs. Houser and Mrs. Bundy were among the Mount Vernon delegation that attended the G.A.R. [Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Fraternal Group] encampment at Everett last week.
(bullet) A quiet little wedding took place early Monday morning in the commissioners parlor at the court house between W.J. Campbell, of Ehrlich, and Mrs. Lenore Shafer, of Acme. Squire Anable performed the ceremony.
(bullet) The lady minstrel show given by home talent last Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at the opera house as a decided success in every way and reflects credit both upon those who participated and their manager, Mrs. Rumsey.

July 10, 1902
Red Cedar Shingles
      The price of red cedar shingles show but little change in the last few days, but the market is now much stronger and buyers have more confidence in the shingle situation. the demand for the present is considerably on the increase with prospects of a slight raise in price and the large part of orders now being given are for quick shipment. Prices range from $2.45 to $2.50 on Extras f.o.b. Minneapolis, and from $2.90 to $2.95 on Clears. Conservative jobbers here predict a higher price, basing it upon the action of the west coast mills in closing for the fourth and upon the demand which they figure will be most satisfactory. It should result in stronger values. One good feature o the situation favoring an advance is the small number of cars in transit.
(bullet) The county commissioners of [Skagit] have offered a reward for any information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of any person guilty of starting forest fires. this move is certainly a step in the right direction even if late, and it is to be hoped that the offer of reward will prompt those in possession of incriminating information to give it to the proper officials, as well as to determine many others from violating the provisions of the law relating to forest fires.
(bullet) The 58th congress will have 386 members in the House. The additional 29 members will be elected, three each from Illinois, New York and Texas, two each from Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and one each from the 14 states of Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Washington and West Virginia. The present congress consists of 357 members.
(bullet) The Sedro-Woolley Iron Works [president John Anderson, located on Puget Street] is now ready for business.

See the links above for other 1902 Times transcriptions

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on March 3, 2011
Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 53 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

Getting lost trying to navigate or find stories on our site?
Read how to sort through our 700-plus stories.
Return to the new-domain home page
Links for portals to subjects and towns
Newest photo features
Search entire site
Our new weekly column, Puget Sound Mail (but don't call it a blog)
debuted on Aug. 9, 2009. Check it out.
(bullet) See this Journal Timeline website 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 700 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. See many examples of how you can aid our project and help us continue for another ten years. You can also subscribe to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in September 2010, 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 in advertising?

(bullet) Our newest sponsor: Gallery Cygnus, 109 Commercial St., half-block uphill from Main Street, LaConner. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 p.m., featuring new monthly shows with many artists, many local. Across the street from Maple Hall, 1886 Bank Building and Marcus Anderson's 1969 historic cabin. Their new website.
(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 89 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.