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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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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

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Story list about the von Pressentin family

(von Pressentin ranch)
      This photo of the original Karl von Pressentin ranch house was taken on May 15, 1921, a few years before it burned. Photo courtesy of Barbara Halliday, a descendant of the von Pressentin and Kemmerich families, who has provided volumes of information and photos for this section.

      We were privileged to attend the annual reunion of the von Pressentin family in 2001. As of the winter of 2011-12, the 16 stories linked below are part of a series on the German-immigrant family who moved here from Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, starting in 1877. The family dates back to at least 1270 in the town of Prestin near Berlin. The Karl von Pressentin family homesteaded on the south side of the Skagit across from Birdsview and Karl Americanized his name to Charles. Some family members have kept the baronial "von" in the surname, but most have not, especially in ensuing generations. We have always been fascinated by Skagit Bill Pressentin, who was a favorite of hunters and mountain men of the Skagit, and his wife Rona, who lived to be 100; and the A.V. Pressentin family of Sauk and Rockport. And Otto von Pressentin left quite a mark on the local area as one of the adherents of the outdoor life and how to survive in the wilderness.

      The von Pressentins are the most-featured family in the Journal, due to their dominance in many towns upriver. We are moving all our original "stumpranchonline.com" features, like many of these below, to our new domain. If the main link does not work, click on the alternate new address. If neither file connects, please email us and we will correct the link and send one to you that works. Thank you.
Interviews with Paul Pressentin, updated from our old website, about the von Pressentin family, their arrival and life on the Birdsview homestead.
Otto K. von Pressentin, mountain man
(Indian canoe)
This photo of an Indian canoe near Marblemount was taken by Darius Kinsey of Sedro-Woolley and appeared in Sebring's Illustrated magazine in 1902. See the story about Otto Pressentin and how he reacted to the 1897 Skagit River flood when he was a schoolteacher in Marblemount.

      Back in about 1932 I was hiking up to cross the Cascade Pass and I was standing here by the river about where we are now [near Rockport] and all of a sudden I heard a really loud splash in the water, but I couldn't see anything clear on that overcast day. I wondered if it was one of those really large sturgeons we saw now and then. But pretty soon I saw a man stand up in the water and stride towards the shore. It was Otto Pressentin. After congratulating him, I asked him why he did it? He explained that he wanted to go to Marblemount and he was working a ways east of their home and the Pressentin Ferry Landing, so he just decided to dive in and swim over here instead. And that was not the only time he did it. One of the strongest men I've ever seen. —Howard Miller, 1998 interview.
      Yup I knew Otto Von, he was one powerful guy and ran the ferry across the river (from their ranch to the north shore). We forestry critters would watch in amazement as Otto cranked that big old cable wheel with one hand. He really had a fit when the army tried to run a tank retriever onto his ferry and the ferry did a glub, glub and sank. —Dr. Quentin C. Belles correspondence, Sedro-Woolley High School alumnus.
  • Otto K. Pressentin, son of the pioneer Birdsview family and practitioner of the arts of survival from Washington to Alaska. A brief profile and his biography from 1906. We are moving all our original "stumpranchonline.com" features like this one to our new domain. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • 1958 article by Ray Jordan about Otto's early years in British Columbia as a fur trader, starting in 1911, and his initial trade with Indians who lived in the interior. The only man we know of who walked back and forth to Alaska. Twice, circa 1910. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • Otto K. Pressentin, Fur Trading, Part Two, another story by Ray Jordan that includes prices for goods and furs and details about Otto's later years in the province through 1921. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • In 1958, Otto Pressentin recalled the 1897 Skagit River flood that wiped out several downriver towns and how he helped save the books and bell from the Marblemount School where he was teaching.

    Stories about other members of the von Pressentin family
  • Skagit Bill and Rona Pressentin, pioneers of Rockport, often called "salt of the earth. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • Chuck Pressentin's 1961 memories of his grandfather's California flood experiences before moving to Washington territory, and his earliest days here on the Skagit river near Birdsview. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • Obituary of Minnie von Pressentin, 1945, wife of 1877 Birdsview pioneer Karl von Pressentin. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • Profiles of Ed V. Pressentin, Rockport pioneer and merchant. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • Part 2: Obituaries and other articles about Ed V. Pressentin, Updated from Issue 31: and his father, A.V. Pressentin, Karl's younger brother. Includes a brief recap of the von Pressentins in Germany and in the U.S. This story has been re-posted with a newspaper story from 1907. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • Tom Benton's 1965 history of Rockport and the role that his von Pressentin ancestors played in its birth.
  • Otto Pressentin's ten years in British Columbia, hiking on foot and hunting and fishing all over the province, and walking from Washington to Alaska
Other stories that include von Pressentin information
  • All stories in the Upriver Section of the Journal, in the region from Utopia near Minkler Lake, all the way east to the North Cascades mountain range, sorted by town.
  • The Rockport Hotel burns in 1952; includes a history of its owners and role in Rockport, including the builder, A.v. Pressentin, Hugo Bauman and Will D. Bob Jenkins. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • The story of Bessie Porter's memories of upper Skagit river history, including the von Pressentin family.
  • The story of Klement party crosses Cascade Pass in the 1870s with Karl von Pressentin and others. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • The story of old Sauk City on the south shore of the Skagit River and the first business of A.v. Pressention.
  • The story of the August Kemmerich family, 1870s pioneers of Birdsview and neighbors of the von Pressentins
  • See Barbara Halliday's fine website with genealogy and photos of her Kemmerich and von Pressentin ancestors and their homesteads in Birdsview, north and south of the Skagit River.
The Henry Martin family,
closely associated with the von Pressentins
  • A 1945 biography of the Henry A. Martin family by Susanna Kinney and excerpts of their genealogy
  • Obituaries of Henry A. Martin and his wife, Katherine O'Connor Martin
  • Two interviews with Fred Martin, son of Henry and a state senator and administrator, one from 1979 in the Concrete Herald and another from 1959 in the Puget Sound Mail, which featured his remarks at the annual Historical Society picnic.
  • How upriver Skagit Catholics organized their own services in private homes and then built their own mission church, led by Katharine and Henry Martin of Illabot creek. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
  • Even More von Pressentin stories will be added over the next few years.

Story posted Feb. 4, 2002, moved to this domain Sept. 29, 2009, last updated Nov. 6, 2011
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(bullet) Our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds andduvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.
(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 90 years continually in business.
(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 — for as little as $5 per night — by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley. Alpine is doubling in capacity for RVs and camping in 2011.
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