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Skagit River Journal

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The Wainright and Gay families of Sauk, north and south

Mostly from information by their descendant, Diane Marie Wainright McMurdie
(Sam Wainright)
Sam Wainright, photos from Diane Marie Wainright McMurdie. Sam was the ferrytender at Sauk in 1899.

      Ed. note: Diane McMurdie, one of the long-time readers of our site and a subscriber to the magazine, provided some special information about one of the families mentioned in Ray Jordan's story above. The Wainrights were long remembered for their hotels, both at the original Sauk City on the south shore and the village of Sauk on the north shore of the Skagit. Diane spent dozens of hours researching her family and the area and we thank her for this contribution.

      From the Probate Records of Skagit County, we know that Samuel Wainright purchased the first 160 acres of his land by June 27 1890. This must be the "ranch" they owned after they first moved to the Skagit. The second one must be the hotel they owned in Sauk City. It was for lots 7 and 8 in Sauk City purchased April 4, 1891, by Sarah Wainright and was conveyed by "The Sauk City Land Company". The third one with the land description was purchased Oct. 9, 1905, by Samuel Wainright. The fourth one with the land description was purchased April 30, 1908 by Samuel and Harry Wainright in Sauk. The fifth one, with a land description is said to be located on the south side of the Great Northern Railroad [on the north shore of the Skagit] on June 23, 1909, was purchased by Samuel Wainright.
      I have just finished three weeks worth of research on the microfilms from the Concrete Herald. Mrs. Sarah Wainright, (notice the correct spelling — the books and newspapers always assume it had the middle "w" in it), was my great grandmother. She and her husband Samuel Henry Wainright apparently owned and operated the Sauk City Hotel [on the south side of the Skagit]. My dad, Roy Vernon Wainright, was born in the Sauk [sometimes called Sauk Depot or Sauk Station, later the site of the Sauk Store, for which the present road is named] on the north side of the river and when he was little they lived in the hotel owned by his grandmother. They lived in half and rented out the rest. In about 1927 my grandfather Harry Henry Wainright tore down the part of the hotel they were not living in and a nearby dance hall, hauled the lumber up to Rockport and on 5 acres given to him by his mother, Sarah Hunter Wainright; he built the family house and the family moved out of Sauk and into Rockport. I believe they originally homesteaded on the south side of the Skagit. I am working on verification of this.
      To keep this easy to under stand I will start with my dad and go back. He is Roy Vernon Wainright born in Sauk. The Aug. 28, 1920 Concrete Herald, in what I called the Sauk Society Column reads: "Mr. and Mrs. Wainwright are the proud parents of a fine baby boy born Thursday, Aug.26." His father was Harry Henry Wainright (Sr.) and his mother Hatted Bell Ellis Wainright. The obituaries of these two from the Concrete Herald are a good quick summary of their lives.

Rockport Resident Passes in Hospital
Concrete Herald, Apr. 28, 1938
      With all five of his children at his bedside, Harry Wainright, 59, passed away at the General Hospital in Mount Vernon at 8:00 o'clock Tuesday morning. He had been ill for about two months and had just returned home from the hospital a few days when a decided change for the worse caused his family to rush him back again. He failed to rally and gradually weakened until death ended his fight. Harry Wainright was born in Illinois in 1877 and came to the upper Skagit with his father, Sam Wainright, when nine years old. The family first settled at Sauk, the flourishing town o f the upper Skagit. He spent the remainder of his life in this district, marrying Hattie Bell Ells and raising a family of three daughters and two sons. He engaged in logging and also served for nine years as a county game warden. . . .

      Diane: He was really the deputy game warden for upper Skagit and many of the papers have short front page stories about his enforcing the game laws. Some were pretty funny. When he died he left my dad and his brother Harry Jr. (Bun as he was called) still at home, with my dad still in high school. A short reference a little while before this referred to Harry (Sr.) as being ill with an ulcer — a definite misdiagnosis. He died of liver and stomach cancer.

Henry and Emma Wainright Gay
      Diane: His sister was Emma Wainright Gay, married to Henry Gay owner of "Gay's Camp" often referred to in the Concrete Herald. I assume this was a logging camp, as he also owned a lumber mill. My sister has a picture of them in front of the mill. Not sure if the mill was here or closer to Mount Vernon. Harry often did surveying jobs with his brother-in-law and also went timber cruising with him. Their mother, Hattie Bell Ellis Wainright had died four years earlier.

Heart Attack Takes Mrs. Harry Wainright
Concrete Herald, Nov. 1, 1934
      Mrs. Harry Wainright, well known Rockport matron, died in her home in that community Monday morning. Her passing came as a shock to the entire upper valley as she had been in excellent health up to the time of her death. With the help of two of her daughters she had just finished the regular weeks' washing and had started to attend to other household duties when she was suddenly stricken with a heart attack and died immediately.
      Mrs. Wainright was born at Hattie Ellis in Bozeman, Montana on Oct. 23, 1882, so was just 52 years old. She was brought to the county by her parents in 1892 and since that time has made her residence in the Skagit Valley. She leaves her husband, Harry Wainright and five children, Mr. Geo Hunziker, Mrs. Geo. Morehouse, Marguerite, Roy and Harry Wainright, all of Rockport. Her parents were Edgar and Charlotte Victoria Marsh Ellis of the Mount Vernon area. Edgar had worked for the railroad and died under mysterious circumstances in Yakima, Washington. The Marsh family came from Ontario, Canada and had been Loyalists.

      Diane: Harry Sr.'s mom and my great grandmother was Sarah Hunter Wainright. She died in 1932.

Upper Valley Pioneer Dies in Sedro-Woolley
Concrete Herald, Nov. 27, 1932
(Sarah Wainright)
Sarah Wainright

      Mrs. Sarah Wainright, a pioneer resident of the upper valley, died in Memorial Hospital in Sedro-Woolley Sunday morning after a short illness. Mrs. Wainright had been staying at the home of Mrs. Hand Gidlund in this city for about a month. Thursday afternoon she suffered a stroke of paralysis, and after the slide on Friday morning it was decided to move to the Sedro-Woolley hospital. She failed to rally and death came soon after midnight Sunday Morning . . .
      Sarah Hunter was born in Birmingham, England on May 11, 1852, and was married in that city to Samuel Wainright in 1868. In 1970 Mr. Wainright emigrated to America and settled in Illinois, and his wife followed him a year later. They remained in Illinois for a few years, then moved to Kansas, where they lived for eight years, when they decided to move to the West. They came to Washington in 1888 (?) and located at Sauk, where they conducted a roadside hotel for many years and where the family was well know among the pioneer residents of the valley. Mr. Wainright died in March, 1918, and some years later Mrs. Wainright moved to Rockport, where she maintained her home until her final illness. . . .

      Diane: The obituary about her husband, my great grandfather, is quite lengthy so I will only quote part.

Samuel Wainwright Pioneer of Valley Passes Away at Sauk
Concrete Herald, Mar. 23, 1918
      Samuel Wainwright, onE of the pioneers of the Skagit valley, died suddenly at his home at Sauk last Sunday afternoon. Mr. Wainright suffered an attack of paralysis some months ago, and since then has been semi-invalid. . . .
      Samuel Wainwright was born in Birmingham, England in 1845, where he made his home until he was 25 years old, learning the brick mason's trade. In 1868 he married in Birmingham to Mis Sarah Hunter also of Birmingham. Two years later he emigrated to America, and for a number of years followed mining in Illinois and Kansas. In 1887 he came to Washington, locating at Sauk, and was followed by his family a year later, and since that time, for a period of 31 years, he has made his home there and developed a farm from the wilderness. . . ."

      Diane McMurdie: My dad says that the "farm" they write of was a homestead. My dad's cousin is currently checking property records and homesteading records to verify this. Dad also says that when his father, Harry Sr. was young, he used to ferry people across the Skagit in a canoe to make money.

(Sauk on north shore)
      This is a rare photo of north Sauk, the Sauk town on the north shore that grew after Sauk City on the south shore burned and floated away in a flood. North Sauk represents the change in transportation from sternwheelers to the railroad, in this case the Great Northern running to Rockport at the turn of the 20th century. Photo courtesy of Diane Marie Wainright McMurdie.

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Story posted on March 17, 2003, last updated on Jan. 21, 2005, transferred to this domain July 5, 2009
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