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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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Lyman origins and families,
Part One: the first settlers and townsite

(Cooper House)
      This is the Henry Cooper house, which he built in 1883 on the bluff that rises above the northern shore of the Skagit River at the future townsite of Lyman after marrying Clara Bartlett. Their home was originally located on a slope that slid into the river during the massive floods of the mid-1890s and it faced the original townsite of Lyman, most of which is also now under water. Photo courtesy of Bud Meyers Jr. and dated circa 1888. Click on the photo for another view of the house, circa 1900, perhaps after it was turned to face north.

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore, ©2008
This story under construction and editing, more photos will be added later

      Recent discoveries of photos and documents have led us to correct some of our earlier notions about the origins of Lyman, located eight miles upriver from old Sedro on the northern shore of the Skagit River. We thank Bud Meyers Jr., a descendant of the pioneer Cooper and Meyers families, for helping us understand how much the ever-changing river channel convinced early settlers and businessmen to move farther and farther north over the first two decades.
      We have now developed a picture of the earliest days from the early 1870s until the late 1880s when the Birdsey Minkler era began. In this timeline story, we will briefly review the actions by pioneers who chose to settle upriver when it was still a wilderness, with occasional patches of clear land amidst a towering forest, and challenges that very few people would have braved. The chain of people who formed Lyman included: A.R. Williamson, Valentine Adam, Henry Cooper, Lorenzo Lyman and Otto Klement.
      As June Collins explained in her 1974 Book, Valley of the Spirits, upper-Skagit Indians had camped in the area for many generations. Three winter large winter houses called kakawacid were located from Minkler Lake to Ross Island, in the river south of the lake. Two other large winter houses faced each other across the river, at Lyman and Day Creek. The first apparent contact with Europeans occurred when fur and beaver trappers worked the upper section of the river from the Cascades to the Skagit Valley, and then when Catholic missionaries began visiting the river in the mid-19th century
      We found no reference to the Lyman area in either of the early river expeditions led by Major J.J. Van Bokkelen during the 1858 Fraser River gold rush, or the one led by A.J. Treadway when he was assigned in 1867 to find a possible northern Cascades railroad pass for the Northern Pacific Railroad. The first notation was by D.C. Linsley in May 1870 when he explored the Skagit and Sauk Rivers with Whatcom pioneer John Tennant, Frank Wilkeson (who later lived in the Skagit Valley and Whatcom County from 1889-1900) and Indian guides, as a follow-up for Northern Pacific after Treadway's exploration:

      May 29: about noon we passed a low depression in the hills to the North through which it is said an easy Indian trail passes to Bellingham Bay [via Jones Creek (Noo-wheh-yum) and the South Fork Nooksack River]. Opposite this point a small creek [Day Creek] comes in from the South. The hills on both sides are broken bold and rock and almost precipitous, with deep depressions running back at right angles with the river. This will make it very expensive carrying a railway along their slopes. A road can be constructed along the bottoms very cheaply. . . .
      The current of the river is now from 6 to 10 miles per hour and it has been impossible to do anything with oars or paddles. The canoes can be got forward only with poles and our progress has been slow and laborious. It has rained and hailed the great portion of the day and at four o'clock we camped on the North bank [near the mouth of Alder Creek] in the midst of a heavy shower.

(Hop pickers)
Drawing of Indian hop pickers from an 1889 promotional booklet published by the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern railroad to promote settlement in Washington Territory.

A.R. Williamson, first upriver-Skagit settler
and hop grower, 1872
      Two years later, A.R. Williamson became the first upper Skagit River settler, planting hop vines on the north shore of the river, about a mile from the south end of the present Robinson Road and a mile west of present Lyman. Williamson is one of the more difficult pioneers to research because his given name has been spelled in so many variations: A.R., A.H., Alvin H. and Anthony R., as he was recorded in the 1880 Federal Census. We use the latter spelling, with the initials.
      When we researched Williamson, we discovered that he was a Pennsylvania native, born in about 1835, who migrated to Washington Territory sometime before the 1860 census. His interest in and experience with growing hops apparently dates back to at least 1870, when he was enumerated in that census as living with Nancy (North) Burr Meeker, the widow and second wife of Jacob Redding Meeker. Jacob died the year before at age 65. His son, Ezra Meeker, became more famous, for founding Puyallup, his role in preserving the Oregon Trail and for his small fortune from growing hops, but Jacob was just as active as a grower in the 1860s. Ezra and his wife Eliza and his brother Oliver came west in a covered wagon in the great Oregon migration of 1852, after the young couple spent the bitterly cold winter of 1851-1852 on a rented farm near Eddyville, Iowa.
      In 1854, Jacob followed in another wagon train and experienced two disasters as his young son, Clark, drowned in the in the Sweetwater River in Wyoming Territory and his wife, Phoebe Shaw (Baker) Meeker, died of cholera along the Platte River. Within a year, Jacob married Nancy; she lost her husband to cholera on that same trip west. They, along with Ezra and his wife, Eliza Jane (Sumner), settled near Sumner, in Pierce County, which was named for Senator Charles S. Sumner. Sen. Sumner is historically famous for his abolitionist speeches and for the incident in 1856 when South Carolina Representative Preston Smith Brooks beat Sumner with his cane on the senate floor. Eliza's father was from Kentucky and the two Sumner families appear to be unrelated.
      In 1860, Jacob moved to the Puyallup Valley and he and his sons opened a general store in Steilacoom and achieved a modicum of success until they sent Oliver on a sailing trip to California, carrying the family's savings to buy goods for the store, but he perished in a shipwreck near Mendocino in January 1861. The family sank into debt and Ezra suffered through another poor harvest on his ranch that he called the Swamp Place. He moved his family to a place nearer his father in 1862 and a series of down years continued as he and his father supplemented their store business by a failed attempt to manufacture soap.
      In 1865, Charles Wood, who operated a small brewery in Olympia, imported from England a few hop roots, a wild perennial of the nettle family that provides catkins, or cones, that add flavor and aroma complexity to premium beer. He encouraged his friend Jacob Meeker to grow them, and after picking up the roots, Ezra's older brother John Meeker dropped some off for Ezra while returning home. Over the next few years, both Jacob and Ezra grew progressively more acres after Jacob received 85 cents per pound with their first crop, netting $185, an amazing sum for those times (Puyallup: A Pioneer Paradise by Lori Price, Ruth Anderson, 2002).
      We presume that Williamson worked with the hop vines while boarding with widow Meeker. Why did he move nearly a hundred miles north to the Skagit River? The answer may lie in the fact that hop-growing was a very labor-intensive crop to harvest. By 1870, hop growers in Pierce County attracted Indian pickers from all over Puget Sound and as far away as British Columbia. When Williamson planted his first vines west of present Lyman in 1872, his pickers came for the harvest via Skagit River and over the pass between Lyman Hill and Mount Josephine, northeast of his ranch. Soon known as Williamson Pass, the trail they followed was an important link to the South Fork of the Nooksack River, which lay just nine miles north of the Skagit River at that point. In 1883, Eldridge Morse of Snohomish County published in his short-lived Morse's Monthly magazine an account of the ranch and the pass where Morse visited in 1881 on one of his many tours of Skagit County:

      We had learned some two years before that at this place the South Fork of the Nooksack, was less than ten miles north of the Skagit river; while all existing maps made the distance between these rivers over twenty-five miles. Mr. Williamson said he had been through a mountain pass, over a dim Indian trail, so that, from where he stood, he could see the Nootsack [Nooksack, misspelled consistently] river flowing at the foot of a high bluff on which he was standing. He thought it as seven or eight miles from his place to where he reached the edge of the bluff. He lived over a mile north of the Skagit River, so that by his estimate it could not exceed nine miles from river to river.
      We could find no one who had ever been through to settlements or who could tell us how far it was down the Nooksack to where white people lived. None but Indians had ever been through, and as it was hop-picking time, they were unwilling to go either as guides or as companions. Taking over ten days food, a piece of cotton cloth 6 by 9 feet for a tent, a hunting knife and a small revolver, but no blankets, so as to go as light as possible, we started alone in the rain about noon on a Thursday, and that evening we not only reached the Nooksack, but traveled down it a mile or more before it became time to camp. After reaching the summit of the Williamson Pass, the rain ceased and when we were down by the Nooksack River. . . .

      Soon the "hop craze" excited Skagit farmers just as it spurred on the Puyallup farmers nearly a decade earlier. On the LaConner flats, James Power grew significant acreage of hops at the west end of Calhoun Road, while J.O. Rudene grew them north of Pleasant Ridge and Dennis and Charles Storrs employed dozens of Indian pickers at their farms near Harmony, north of the North Fork of the Skagit.
      As Ezra Meeker noted in his 1922 book, Ox-team Days on the Oregon Trail, regarding his first decade of hop-growing, "None of us knew anything about the hop business, and it was entirely by accident that we engaged in it." Meeker and others soon traveled to California for a larger supply of European roots. As his profits spiraled upwards, Ezra formed his own hop brokerage and traveled to England for several months a year, where he marketed the crops of farmers in Pierce, Snohomish and Whatcom (later Skagit) counties.
      After initially planting hops haphazardly around their houses or in or around huge tree stumps, the practice by Williamson's time was to erect poles, eight to 15 feet high, and about eight feet apart in rows. Twine or cord was strung up the poles and between them and the hops quickly grew up the strings, sometimes as much as a foot a day. The still-moist hop cones were taken to drying kilns, where they were dropped onto the drying floor and sulfur was often used to bleach the cones and stop fermentation. Wood fires under the floors produced fumes that permeated the valleys during harvest seasons. Williamson's ranch included 20 acres in hops, much smaller than those in the Meeker region down south. As settlers started arriving upriver in 1877-78, his ranch was a welcome source of work for area farmers who were felling trees and clearing their own acreage for their own crops.
      Even though the market boomed in the late 1870s and early 1880s, we have found only sparse records of other upriver hop farms at that time. We find very little record of Williamson's ranch after his initial years, except for notations by Dick Fallis in his story of the Rev. B.N.L. Davis of Riverside ( and notes by other historians that Davis leased Williamson's ranch starting in 1879 and earned $40,000 for the 1882 season's harvest there and at his own ranch near present Hoag Road. We do not know why Williamson leased his hop fields, but the 1906 Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish Counties (hereafter: the 1906 Illustrated History) noted only that he died on Nov. 6, 1883. We believe that Williamson never married. Davis earned $40,000 from his 1882 crop and then ripped out his hop vines after the 1883 season, supposedly because he belatedly discovered that his hops were bought for making beer instead of for their medicinal properties, a possibly apocryphal tale. Hop-raising in general took a nose dive in Washington in 1892 when a root louse decimated hopyards all over the state, and even after farmers revived the business somewhat to supply saloons and breweries in the early years of the 19th century, the business died in 1916 when Washington became a dry state.

Valentine Adam homesteads future Lyman site
      Valentine Adam was the next settler to leave a mark on future Lyman, arriving upriver sometime in 1877 after Birdsey Minkler preempted his claim farther east at Birdsview. An immigrant from Rhenish Bavaria and veteran of the Franco-Prussian War, he staked a claim to 159 acres on the north shore of the Skagit where the river forms a pronounced bend today next to Lyman stands and he also worked for Williamson during the hop harvest season. He married Margaret Bruns, who migrated west from New York City in 1885.
      Adam was a road supervisor in the 1880s and 1890s. When he first settled near the river, however, the only access was by sternwheeler or canoe because the dense forest was so full of huge trees, deadfalls and brambles that only a narrow path followed by Indians for generations exited on the northern and southern shores east of Mount Vernon. The first north-shore trail was not blazed until 1885, when Baker River pioneer Frank Hamilton and a Mr. Frome cut through the deadfalls when droving a bull upriver. Even that trail was very crude until a road entered Lyman from the west in 1889-90 just before the railroad arrived.

Lorenzo Lyman names the town and the Henry Cooper era begins
      The site of the future town of Lyman became a gathering point for many of the miners who came to upper Skagit River for what became known as the Ruby Creek Gold Rush. After placer gold was discovered in 1878 on gravel bars in the Ruby Creek area, east of present-day Newhalem, a major, though brief, gold rush ensued in the spring of 1880, attracting hundreds of argonauts who passed by future Lyman in various watercraft.
      Most of those miners left before the winter of 1880-81 but a dozen or two remained in the upriver area. One of them, Dr. Lorenzo Lyman, from Helena, Montana, practiced medicine while living on what was later named Cockreham Island, east and southeast of present Lyman. We profile him more fully in a separate story, but the doctor's importance to this story is that he established a post office in his own surname on Aug. 2, 1880. We can find no evidence that he lived on the homestead that Valentine Adam still farmed then at future-Lyman, so we wonder whether his post office was at the future Lyman site, or on Cockreham Island, naturally formed between Jim's Slough, to the north, and the river, which looped to the south and west on a different course than today.
      Meanwhile, back in 1877, Henry Cooper arrived at Cockreham Island and began clearing the dense forest. Cooper and his cousin, Henry Cooper Leggett, were members of an Irish family and were born at Herdman (Hinchinbrooke), Huntingdon County, Quebec, Canada, east of Ottawa and north of New York state and the St. Lawrence River. Sally Sloan Munck, a granddaughter of Henry Cooper's brother Tobias, discovered that both cousins were recorded as miners living in Alpine County, California, in 1872, and likely lived in Nevada for two years before that, according to family accounts. Jan Chapman, a descendant through the Nichols branch of the family, provided a copy of Henry Cooper Leggett's naturalization form from Alpine County, dated Oct. 13, 1973. Cooper described his early years on the Skagit in the April 8, 1884, issue of the Skagit News (Mount Vernon):

      I came from the fertile banks of the St. Laurence river in Dominion of Canada and clearing is harder here. One acre here yields two there in hay, grain or vegetables. I have 100 acres that will not cost me over $35 per acre to make ready for plow. I slash my timber for a good burn in June and cut it fine so it will burn well in August and September. Slashed two acres in June, cleared up, saved it to grain, $20 an acre cost.
      In June 1877 I slashed four acres in 14 days. In Fall of 1877 I cleared all with plow. Figuring my wages at $50 per month, the four acres cost me $31 per acre. In the summer of 1878 I raised 24 bushels of wheat, 14 bushels of oats, 380 bushels of potatoes, 800 pounds of onions, a half ton of hay, five tons of vegetables altogether including turnips, carrots, beets and parsnips. That is worth $388 today, good wages for five months.

      He and his cousin originally lived at the Washington Hotel in Mount Vernon during the winter months, as did other upriver pioneers such as David Batey and Joseph Hart, and the cousins helped LaConner-area farmers harvest their crops. Although both cousins were experienced miners, the 1880 Federal Census enumerated them as farmers. Leggett settled about two miles downriver from his cousin, east of what is now the Minkler Road below the lake of the same name and above Ross Island, which formed in the main channel of the river

(Clara Barlett Cooper)
Clara Barlett Cooper. Photo courtesy of Ened Roughton.

Henry Cooper takes a Mayflower bride
      By 1882, Henry was in search for a bride and he soon found one 3,000 miles away: Clara Augusta Bartlett, who shared with the Mortimer Cook family of Sedro a notable pedigree — she was a Mayflower descendant. Her brother, Phil Bartlett, moved here first in the early 1880s and was a friend of Birdsey Minkler. Minkler introduced Cooper to Bartlett and Henry asked his new friend if there were any marriageable women where he came from back east. Bartlett mentioned his sister, Clara, who was five years beyond the "old maid" stage of 25, and their correspondence commenced. Clara's parents were David and Mary (Dunham) Bartlett of Massachusetts. David was a direct descendant of 1619 Mayflower passenger Richard Warren, whose daughter married Robert Bartlett after they both soon followed on the ship Annie to Plymouth. Clara lived in both Maine and Massachusetts before moving west and may have worked in cotton mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Two of her brothers died in service during the Civil War and there was generally a dearth of marriageable men at that time because of the war.
      As Ened Roughton informed us, Clara's papers show that Henry was a bit of a romantic soul: "My Bride. My bride is a sweet maiden. And love is her all, her all. But better to love in a garrot. Than hate in a gilded hall. And fairer than all the jewels. That flash on a monarchs brow. And bright as the stars of heaven." Ened married Charles Roughton, a grandson of Elizabeth Cooper, Henry and Clara's first child. They have the autograph book that was commonly carried on journeys back in those days. From that, we know that Henry sent for Clara in 1882, but there is some confusion as to how she traveled. Various family accounts have her "sailing 'round the Horn," but that was highly unlikely in that decade. When a railroad was cut across the isthmus of Panama in the 1850s, that four-month, or more, trip to the West Coast was cut to a matter of weeks. And there was another alternative, the Union Pacific-Central Pacific Railroad route to the San Francisco Bay.
      The book shows that she arrived in San Francisco by ship, however, leaving in November 1882 and arrived on December 1. So we conclude that she took a ship from Boston to the eastern shore of Central America, portaged to the railroad that crossed the isthmus, and then left the railroad to board a ship to San Francisco. She then boarded another steamer for Seattle and arrived here by mid-month, whereupon the courtship began in person. Henry and Clara married on Jan. 29, 1883, in Seattle with her brother Philip and his wife, Andille, as witnesses. The last record we have of Philip and his family is the 1885 Territorial Census where he and his wife and their infant, Eva May, were enumerated next door to the Coopers. Bud Meyers Jr. recalls family stories that Philip went on to own hotels in Everett.
      Henry brought his bride to a log cabin that he had built on Cockreham Island. Such an abode for a woman from urban surroundings was hardly appropriate, however, and he immediately corrected that situation. According to his daughter Henrietta's 1951 application to the Territorial Daughters of Washington, in March 1883, Cooper and Valentine Adam traded homesteads, with Adam taking over the Cooper property on the island and Cooper taking the oddly shaped homestead upon which the southeast portion of the town now stands. Cooper's great grandson, Bud Meyers Jr., of Lyman, has found the deed for the transaction, dated March 8, 1883, which shows Cooper paid $400 in addition to the switch in land. In the 1970s, Ron Kaaland, a Sedro-Woolley boy, bought Adam's old Cockreham Island land, and part of the Cockreham property to the south, and built a mill there, besides farming the land. He has now moved to Montana and his friends feted him at a farewell party on the Island on June 21, 2008.
      Sometime before the end of that first year, he built the first house of future-Lyman on his new property, a two-story home built of milled lumber, likely from Utsalady on Camano Island. The Coopers' firstborn, a daughter named Elizabeth, was born in that house on July 29, 1884, the first non-native child born in the Lyman area. Family records show that Henry requested an Indian midwife to aid with the birth, Nellie Shoemaker, the wife of Jim Shoemaker, the namesake of Jim's Slough. The Coopers' only son, Frank, was born on May 12, 1886. The 1920 census enumerated Jim as age 90 and Nellie as age 80.

(Cooper children)
Henrietta, Elizabeth and Frank Cooper. Photo courtesy of Ened Roughton.

      A July 12, 1931, Bellingham Herald article noted that Henry's brother Tobias Cooper and sister Margaret "Maggie" Cooper joined him in Lyman in 1887. Maggie married Lyman farmer Joseph Cyr in LaConner on Jan. 9, 1889. They were joined sometime after 1889 by their brother, John McIntosh Cooper, who had married Fannie Adele Thornoton in California that year before they moved to Lyman.
      In 1888, Henry was felled by a heart lesion, which incapacitated him for several months. Clara was several months pregnant at the time. He was taken by horse and buggy over crude wagon trails to Mount Vernon for medical help. An unnamed doctor there, probably Dr. Hyacinth Montborne, advised him to consult a specialist in Seattle.
      Henry boarded a boat for the trip and was told in Seattle that he would not recover. He insisted that he wanted to die at home, but when he arrived in Mount Vernon, he was too ill to travel back upriver. He died on April 8, 1888, in the Ruby House Hotel, where he had boarded when during the winters when he and cousin originally arrived in the valley. His funeral was arranged by the Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F) lodge and he was the first person buried in their Mount Vernon cemetery, although his body was moved to the Lyman Cemetery about ten years later.
      Henrietta "Ettie" Cooper was born at home in Lyman on August 7, four months after Henry died. Henrietta Cooper Meyers died on Sept. 24, 1965, at age 77. Her brother, Frank, died of peritonitis on Nov. 10, 1908, while on the first day of his honeymoon with his bride, Laura Snider (Snyder). But that is not the end of the story. Dave Mallonee married Laura's cousin, Belle Brendle, the same day as the Cooper's wedding. Belle died in 1911 and Dave Mallonee then married Laura Snider Cooper.

Early business activity and land sales in Lyman in the Klement era
      Meanwhile, the town of Lyman was quietly born in 1880 by Dr. Lorenzo Lyman, although — as we noted above, possibly not on the site where it is today. Otto Klement took over the reins of the post office on Nov. 9, 1881, but we are not certain that he began his business on the present townsite, either. We feel confident in assuming that Klement erected his trading post very close to the river, since transportation in those days — just 3-4 years after the log jams at Mount Vernon were cleared away, was via sternwheeler or canoe. Unfortunately in his memoirs he does not mention his original location, so the store on the dogleg street between Main and Commercial in the 1889 photo could well be where he began. The first seven years of the town, 1881-87, could be called the Klement era.
      We have a large Journal section on Klement where you can read about his extraordinary arrival and early presence on the river. He arrived on Oct. 12, 1873, after paddling alone across the Puget Sound in an Indian's salt chuck canoe. According to brief references in his memoirs, we know that he lived briefly at the future-site of Avon, at the bend of the river north of Mount Vernon. He then lived briefly with prospector Lafayette Stevens in a crude log cabin at future-Sterling, where — he told pioneer Ethel Van Fleet Harris, he learned to read and write.
      We next found him at Mount Vernon in 1876-77, where he wrote that he urged Harrison Clothier and Ed English to start a town. We know he was soon involved in that town's business because Klement received the first license for a saloon in the Skagit portion of then-Whatcom County, on May 14, 1877, in the location noted only as the "precinct of Mount Vernon." Other names on the license were Ed. G. English and Harrison Clothier, so we assume that the saloon was in or near the store that the latter partners had recently erected near what is now called Main street, up the slope from the river landing. The bond was for $500. John Beible (also spelled Beibel in some records), who would be a companion with Klement over at least the next decade, obtained the next license, dated Jan. 14, 1879. At that time he was associated in the records ledger with hotel-keeper Jonathan Schott and E.G. English at Mount Vernon.
      We know from various references that, during the period of 1878-81, Klement was occupied by both gold-seeking excursions in the Cascades and by cruising timber land in conjunction with the Clothier and English logging camps. The first detailed account of life at Lyman came from Klement's memoirs, in the hilarious story of the "Hogtied! The good ole boys and the pig,". The story is centered on Klement's trading post, although we are still sure where the building was located. He clearly states that he opened the post sometime in 1881.

(Original Lyman downtown)
      This photo, circa 1889, shows the original downtown Lyman. It was located on a dogleg block between present Main Street and Commercial Avenue, which later slid into the river during the floods of the mid-1890s. At the far left is Henry Quinn's Lyman Hotel, next is Klement's trading post/store, which Birdsey Minkler bought in 1887. To the right is the Knights of Pythias Hall, built in 1889, and moved in an unknown year to the east side of Main Street, directly south of the present post office. In the background is the original Henry Cooper home, which then faced the business street. Behind the KP hall is Cooper's livery stable. Photo courtesy of Bud Meyers Jr. Click on the photo for an example of a tremendous restoration of this original photo, which was printed from a postcard. Bob Jepperson's restoration is amazing and we strongly urge you to consult his website. Although the restoration is a very large file, keep in mind that it is in .jpg format. The restoration in a .tiff file is even more dramatic.

The motley crew of good ole boys at Lyman, 1882
      Besides being a welcome relief from dry history, the Pig story lists for us the "motley" crew, as Klement described them, who hung out at the post in those early days. Sam the Chinaman presided over the culinary department. John Beible, "jack of all trades, volunteered to superintend the slaughter." Henry Cooper was a "nearby rancher." John Sutter farmed at old Sauk City, the Baker River and Rockport over the next two decades. Tom Porter farmed near Illabot Creek. Others included Billy Keho, Tom Costello, Tom McCaffery, John Browning [Brownrig], George Moran, John Egan, Henry Quinn, Tim Hopper, "a little Cockney sailor;" Bob Franney and a "dozen others."
      Later in his memoirs, Klement recounted a brief skirmish with Indians in the upriver area:

      In 1882 Colonel Chambers was again called to the valley to quell a threatened uprising. The difficulties centered around interests in the upper Sauk River country, but were speedily participated in by the Indians farther down the river. A conference between the Indians and Colonel Chambers was held at Lyman, and extended over a period of two or three days. Old Chief John Wauwitkin [usually spelled Wawetkin or Wawitkin] represented the Sauk River Indians, and "Poison" assumed the leadership of the Indians of the upper Skagit. The latter made a nuisance of himself, and the Colonel asked him where his grievance came in, and this, Poison could not clearly define. A few more questions brought out the fact that he was a Klickitat Indian, whereupon the Colonel peremptorily commanded him to keep his nose out of the affair and return to his own tribe east of the mountains. This reprimand seemed to please the Indians of the conference, and loud laughter ensued. Poison never afterward recovered his influence.
      Colonel Chambers, now taking up the grievance with Chief Wauwitkin, a very quiet sensible Indian, and finding his complaint to possess merit, he promised to take up the matter with Washington, and assured him that speedy adjustment would be made. He advised him to return quietly to his home with the promise that no further encroachments by the whites should meanwhile be made. The adjustment was subsequently made and from that time forward no further trouble has been had with the Skagit Indians.

(1887 plat)
This is the plat map that Otto Klement submitted in 1887. Photo courtesy of Bud Meyers Jr. Meyers has drawn in red the present dropoff below the bluff on the northern shore of the Skagit, showing how much land has slid into the river in the last century and the change in the river channel.

      Bud Meyers Jr. found the first document referring to the present site of Lyman, dated Dec. 28, 1882, when Val Adam sold eight acres of his original homestead claim to Harrison Clothier, Edward English, and Otto Klement. After Cooper and Adam traded their homesteads, on April 20, 1883, Henry and Clara Cooper sold a small sliver of land east and south of that acreage to Klement and retained a small sliver of land on the bluff above the river where they built the first house in Lyman. All that area is shown in the copy of the 1887 plat. On Aug. 2, 1883, Clothier, English and Otto Klement sold back to Henry Cooper 2 1/2 acres, which passed to the Cooper heirs when he died in 1888, and then to Meyers's grandmother. That land was just south and east of Meyers's home, until the river claimed most of it in 1937.
      The next recorded business in Lyman was the Lyman Hotel, which John Brownrig and Henry Quinn advertised in the new Skagit News (Mount Vernon) newspaper on April 1, 1884: "Liquor and cigars, ample accommodations for guests. 1st class table." Aside from a transfer of land, we have not found any other record for Mr. Brownrig, but on March 18, the same paper reported that, "four young bloods left for their claims from Mount Vernon Tuesday, and stayed overnight at this first-class hotel in Lyman. Mr. and Mrs. Gaines were there. Miss Gaines with her music accompaniment by Mrs. LeBallister. Fred Pape's "sweet Forget-me-not." Mr. Bailey's humorous sayings (no longer spread on the Mount Vernon Bulletin). Mr. Jeffries' musical powers were noted."
      The April 1, 1884, Skagit News also recorded that 16 men worked at the Clothier & English logging camp above Lyman in March, and that Henry Cooper established a stable in March that year for visitors who stopped over at Lyman.
      The 1906 Illustrated History reported that Klement announced to the Skagit News on Oct. 28, 1884, that George Savage had completed a survey of the town and had platted it. The first Lyman plat was not actually recorded, however, until three years later. Savage designed the lots to be 50 x 100 feet, with alleys 17 feet wide and the streets 60 and 82 feet. "Our County surveyor, George Savage, has done the platting . . . the site is one above all overflow, level and dry." Ten years later, after the first monster flood of three in four years, residents must have recalled those 1884 words wryly.
      After a cursory check of deeds, we did not find any record of other specific Lyman-area businesses for the next five years. We do know, however, from the Skagit News of April 8, 1884, that "The partnership of Otto Klement, Harrison Clothier and Edward English at Lyman dissolved Jan. 5, 1884. Klement assumes all liabilities." That may have marked the end of their active collaboration because Meyers found another deed showing that, on the same date, Clothier and English sold their 2/3 interest in 8 acres to Klement. More than one settler apparently worried about the influence of the saloon on the young upriver towns, as witnessed by an article in the Feb. 6, 1886, Puget Sound Mail (LaConner), which reported that 32 charter members opened a Good Templars lodge in Lyman.

Otto Klement plats Lyman 1887; Minkler era begins
      The year 1887 marked the beginning of the second era for Lyman, what could easily be called the "Birdsey Minkler era." As we explain in detail in our two-part profile of Minkler, he originally settled on the south shore of the Skagit in 1877, and there he built the first sawmill on the river in 1878 on Mill Creek, across the river from where the town of Birdsview rose in his honor in the mid-1880s. After selling his mill to George Savage for $3,000 in 1886, and losing part of his acreage on the north shore when the Federal government returned it to Indians, Minkler moved his young family to Lyman sometime in 1887. Public records indicate give some hints as to when they settled into their new town. Bud Meyers found this detail: "March 31, 1886, B.D. Minkler posts a bond for deed with Otto Klement toward the purchase of a lot, and store thereon, belonging to Otto Klement." And he also found: "February 28, 1887 the completion of the above transaction: "Purchase of Klement's store . . . described as lot seven (7) in block (A) of the town of Lyman according to the official plat of said town now on file in this office of the auditor of said county, together with the appurtenances. . . ." Minkler advertised his store for the first time in the April 23, 1888, Skagit News.
      On Aug. 2, 1887, Henry and Clara Cooper sold 88 additional acres to Otto Klement. Bud Meyers Jr. notes that this included the blocks north of Second Street, extending almost to the railroad tracks, bordered on the west by Dyer Street. That also included part of the original Trueman property. Otto sold 36 acres to Pete Trueman on Jan. 16, 1902. Old-timers may recall that as the property where Mike Crawford grew up; Mike's father, Walter, married Ruth Trueman. That acreage became a U.S. Army camp during World War I, then a CCC camp during the 1930s and then an army camp again during World War II. Meyers notes that the property there was also the site of an early baseball field around the turn of the 20th century. Cecil Hittson reminded us that the Lyman Loggers team played there with great success from 1948-50.
      We have searched for a long time for subsequent activity by John Beible, a Pennsylvania native who was born circa 1852, but Meyers discovered a tax document from 1917 addressed to an attorney for John Beible, of Palatka, Florida, which warned that Beible owed delinquent taxes of $2.62, so perhaps he moved away from the Skagit Valley in the 1880s or '90s.
      A brief note in the 1906 Illustrated History, reported that in 1888, Lyman "became active," with a sawmill and logging camp, one of 17 such camps on the Skagit River, with a total of 243 men employed. The Skagit News reported on April 15, 1889, the Lyman Sawmill Co. had been incorporated for the purpose of building a sawmill at Lyman. The incorporators were: Otto Klement, Henry Quinn, Birdsey Minkler, John M. Roach and John Ries. We found no John Ries, so the reporter could have meant Frank Ries. In the following issue, the News reported that "Otto Klement and J.M. Roach of Lyman returned on Friday's boat from a trip to Portland to purchase machinery for new sawmill to be built at Lyman. The 30-horsepower engine and planer and the bandsaw now at Roach's mill will be taken to Lyman for the new mill." We know very little about Roach or that earlier mill and we do not know its location, so we hope a reader will know.
      We wish we could share with you the development of Lyman from that point onwards, but we cannot because very little has been retained about the principals and their activities in Lyman over the next 15 years. We know that Klement left Lyman sometime after Hannah B. Minkler, Birdsey's first wife, succeeded him as postmaster on Nov. 26, 1887. In 1888 he became a partner with E.D. "Eli" Davis in a hardware store in Mount Vernon. The first record we found of it was in the Dec. 16, 1889, Skagit News, where they advertised together at a store on Second street. In the March 4, 1892, edition of the Mount Vernon Chronicle, they advertised a hardware store on First street. Davis bought out Klement's interest and Klement, a widower by then, moved back up to Lyman and built his house in 1908, which still stands on First Street on the bluff.
      Two articles in April 1888 editions of the Skagit News reported an influx of settlers to the Lyman area. An article on April 8 described that the Henry Bailey sternwheeler ascended upriver as far as Lyman with a load of passengers for newly surveyed townships in Lyman. In the next issue, the reporter described, "a rush for townships recently open for settlement back of Lyman is unparalleled. Some claims have five or six in line." The reporter predicted a circus at the land office on the 23rd when filings were to be first accepted. "The man who employs an attorney to slip in the back way will probably 'get there' while the honest settler is waiting for the door to open in front."
      The 1906 Illustrated History also noted that "Notwithstanding its splendid location in the heart of a fine agricultural section, with a fine belt of timber on one side and great deposits of coal and iron on the other, Lyman seems to have received relatively little attention from the town site boomer during the early nineties, nor has it had a specially rapid growth at any time." The 1906 list of businesses consisted of: the Lyman Hotel & Saloon (owner not noted); Duffy & Egan's saloon; Henry Hurshman's general merchandise store and hotel (Hurshman was an early Hamilton pioneer), the Hitchcock-Kelly Lumber Company, (Bert) Vanderford & Minkler shingle mill, a Knights of Pythias hall (built in 1889), a post office and a railway depot. Bud Meyers Jr. recently found a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Lyman that clearly shows the depot location between the railroad tracks and the old Highway, just north of what was once the Castrilli Cheese Factory branch building.
      We also wish we could tell you about Klement's business interests in Lyman after 1887, but there is no mention in his memoirs, and Bud Meyers Jr. suspects that many of those notes went to the dump in the 1940s along with several boxes of Klement material. That is especially disappointing because his might have been the only record of exactly when the business owners decided to move north to the vicinity of the railroad depot after the Skagit ate away chunks of the riverbank in the monster floods of 1894, 1996 and 1897. We are continuing research into public records and surviving newspapers to determine when that move took place. Meyers recalls his grandmother, Henrietta Meyers, telling him that at some point, both homes and businesses either turned or moved north after the Seattle & Northern railroad built tracks through town and up to Hamilton in 1890-91.
      The photo on this page, which we believe was taken at the original townsite business section in 1889, shows only four businesses buildings at that time. Henry Quinn's Lyman Hotel and saloon and Birdsey Minkler's general store and post office were on the north side of the street above the bluff and the new KP hall was on the south side. In the 1889 photo, you can see part of a building behind the KP Hall, which could have been Henry Cooper's livery stable. A Skagit News article on April 30, 1888, also noted that construction of the Lyman Schoolhouse was "about to begin." Note that in the 1906 Illustrated History, the Minkler store was not listed in the list of businesses. We know that about that time, however, Garfield Minkler opened a drug store just south of where the Lyman Tavern stands today. The only other business we know of, at this point, that moved north to the deport area, from the original business district by the river, was the hotel, which is housed in another building in our 1910 photo, about where Jake Koops' original market stood.


1. Cooper/Adam homestead
      Bud Meyers Jr. found this legal description for the traded homesteads:
      Henry and Clara Cooper to Valentine Adam, March 8, 1883: "the S.W. 1/4 of the S. W. corner of Sec.#10 and W. 1/2 of the N.W. 1/4 of the S.W. 1/4 of Sec. # 15 of Township # 35, N. of Range 6 E."
      Valentine Adam to Henry Cooper, March 8, 1883: "Lot 1 and the south 1/2 of the NE 1/4 and the NW 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of section 17 in Township 35 N, of Range 6 E., being 150 40/100 acres according to the U.S. Survey. Minus eight acres as noted below. [Return]

2. Otto Klement's town begins
      In the trade of homesteads between Valentine Adam and Henry and Clara Cooper, eight acres of Adam's homestead were noted as sold to Clement [Klement] & Co. (on Dec. 28, 1882). Legal description: "in the SW 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of section 17, north of Range 6 E" "beginning in the SW corner of the described tract, thence running east 21 rods thence north 61 rods, thence west 21 rods, thence south to place of beginning. See this website for an explanation of the Public Land Survey System and this website for a definition of "rods." Generally, a rod is a unit of length equivalent to 5.5 yards, 11 cubits, 5.0292 meters, 16.5 feet, or 1/320 of a statute mile. [Return]

Continue to Part Two: profiles of two dozen families who settled at Lyman, Cockreham Island and the Minkler Lake/eastern Utopia district before 1900.

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Story posted on June 28, 2008, last updated July 22, 2008
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