Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed 2.5 million page views on June 13, 2008
These 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
Free Home Page Stories & Photos
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)

William Heffron and his namesake
village south of Skagit River

(Heffron Village)
      This photo of the town of Heffron that Diana Schafer Ford shared is a breathtaking example of what we seek from all readers: photos in scrapbooks or shoeboxes, which have never before been published. We think that this view is looking south, with the townsite being on the south shore of the river in Section 28 near what was called the Lyman Ferry Road. Because we are not familiar with view, we have sought the advice of Cecil Hittson and other Lyman residents. Maybe a reader can help?

(Jennie Heffron)
Jennie Heffron, courtesy of Diana Ford. The logo on the photo clearly shows that it was taken by Darius Kinsey, when he stamped "Woolley" on his photos. So that means the photo was taken sometime after he established his studio in 1896 and before about 1900, when he changed his logo to note the merger of the towns.

      Deanna Ammons, the Clearlake historian, has discovered the details of a little known and very short-lived town of Heffron, near Lyman on the Skagit River. Like the village of Bessemer, which Harrison Clothier spawned during the Hamilton iron boom and shortly later melded into the village of Birdsview, Heffron was born during that same boom. She discovered in the fine reference book, Postmarked Washington, 1850-1960 by Guy Reed Ramsey, that William Heffron opened a post office there in his name on May 7, 1891, and was discontinued on September 12, 1891. "In fact," Ammons notes, "the record has a notation 'Never in operation.'" But that is apparently an error in the record because we know that it did function for at least a couple of years.
      Ammons found records at the Skagit County Courthouse that Heffron purchased a site on March 26, 1889, that was about three and a half miles southeast of Lyman: parts of Section 28 and Section 17, Township 35 North, Range 6 East. She also found a 1950 Courier-Times article headlined: "River Frozen Over Several Times in 1880's. 90's, Oldtimers Here Report," that quoted Mrs. Alice Robinson, at Hamilton (daughter of town founder William Hamilton), saying that in 1890, "Billie Heffron [William?] tied rails on his feet like skis and crossed (the river) near the Cockreham place." Heffron was connected to Lyman on the northern shore by a simple ferry. As you can see from our photo, the river was very narrow at that point.
      When we updated our story the last time, we added Heffron genealogy that we found on the Internet that delineated his English family. At that site, Diana Ford, who is descended from the Skagit Heffrons, noted that William's father, Thomas Heffron, moved from Ireland to England as a young boy and he eventually married Margaret O'Connor, who also moved to England from Ireland, probably during the potato famine. Their son William was born January 29, 1853, in Leeds, England.
      In February 2007 we met Diana while researching genealogy of Hamilton families. She has a gold mine of documents, letters and photos, which we will share after we study her collection. Diana Schafer Ford did not grow up here but she has the distinction of being a descendant of three pioneer families. Besides the Heffrons, she descends from Charles McDowell, who migrated to Hamilton from Tarheel in 1886, one of the first from North Carolina to settle near the Skagit. Charles B. McDowell married Jennie May Heffron, Diana's great-grandmother, on Jan. 5, 1890. Jennie was William's sister, one of 11 children in that family. Diana also descends from Augustus W. Schafer, an early banker in Hamilton, who later lived in Anacortes.
      Diana found Thomas's will, which confirmed for us the connection to our William. "Grandma told me of her grandmother Margaret delivering a baby out by a wood pile and just picking it up and walking home to clean the baby. She supposedly had 11 children according to my grandmother, the census, and her obituary. Thomas Heffron died during an epidemic in Danville, Illinois and Margaret remarried in 1880 to Henry Johnson, a Swede from Danville who had been a sea captain. The Johnson's moved to Hamilton, WA in 1885," Diana wrote, and "William Heffron came to America with his parent's right after he was born. The census reports of two other of [Thomas and Margaret's] children state that they were born in Pennsylvania. After Mathew was born, the family moved to Kingston Mines, IL. and purchased land from the Kingston Coal Co. in 1865, of which I have the document. They later moved to Danville, IL. Thomas was a farmer in Illinois."
      Diana also cited family stories that include a run-in with Missouri's most famous outlaw: "It is said that Margaret had a run in with Jesse James when he stole all her cows and bedding and that she chased him with a broom. This must have been when she was living in IL. Thomas and Margaret's son William was the first to move to Washington and their son Matthew later settled in Colorado and then California. William had gold fever and joined the Alaska Gold Rush. He was in Alaska long enough to make a fairly good living and make for a good start with a career in Hamilton and later Seattle. Margaret had 2 brothers, James, who had a seat in Parliament, and Michael, who was a clog dancer and banjo player."
      One thing we know for sure, from Diana's records, is that William Heffron moved his family across the Skagit River sometime after the Heffron town dream fizzled, apparently after 1900. Deanna Ammons also confirmed that move when she found William Heffron in the 1900 federal census, listed along with the Tingleys, J.J. Conner, and other families living in Happy Valley — the area later known as Day Creek, named for the Day Brothers logging company. He was 46, married 11 years, and was listed as a gold miner, so he may have been freshly back from the Klondike. His wife's name was listed as Sarah, 43, born Illinois and they had three daughters, Catherine, 10; Margarite 8; and Anna Helen 3. All the girls were born in Skagit County. He was earlier listed in the Wm. Heffron is listed in the 1885 Washington Territorial Census, age 31, farmer, single, born England. He was again listed in the 1887 Territorial Census as age 34. In 1889 he was 35 and married. In the 1892 Skagit County Census he was 39, married, farmer.
      Diana's records noted that "One of Margaret's daughters, Margaret Ellen, had mental problems and died at the early age of 16 and is buried on homestead in Day Creek across the Skagit River from Hamilton, Washington." We found this small item in the April 29, 1903, issue of the The Weekly Blade, Whatcom, Washington: "Elizabeth Heffron, aged 15 years, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Heffron, Donovan avenue and Tenth street, Fairhaven, died from pulmonary hemorrhage on Saturday. Funeral services were conducted at the Catholic church yesterday, Rev. Father Boulet officiating." That indicates that the family was living in Whatcom County at the time. Another equally small article that month, in the April 4, 1903, issue of the Fairhaven Times, reported that "Miss Ethelyn Luce spent this week in Seattle, the guest of Mrs. Heffron, formerly of this city." We do not know which Heffront that refers to. By the way, Father Boulet was the visiting priest to the early Catholic church in Sedro-Woolley and other valley towns.
      In the 1930 Federal Census, William was living with his two daughters in Seattle. He was then a janitor at a public school and both daughters, Margarite and Anna Helen, were single. We hope that a reader will know more about the village of Heffron. We will update this story after we have a chance to review Diana's records.

(Heffron Post Office)
      This close-up photo shows the U.S. Flag flying above the building that is presumably Heffron's post office and it also shows two Indian canoes at the river's edge, along with what appears to be the original homestead cottage.

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on Feb. 22, 2007, last updated July 25, 2008
Please report any broken links so we can update them

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) Jones and Solveig Atterberry, NorthWest Properties Aiken & Associates: . . . See our website
Please let us show you residential and commercial property in Sedro-Woolley and Skagit County 2204 Riverside Drive, Mount Vernon, Washington . . . 360 708-8935 . . . 360 708-1729
(bullet) Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 86 years.
(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.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley

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.