Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed 2.25 million page views on Feb. 10, 2008
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.

(S and N Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition
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)

Last days of Dan Harris in Gay Los Angeles

(Dan in his canoe)
Dan Harris alone in his canoe, with the old town of Bellingham/Unionville behind him on the flank of Sehome Hill in this Galen Biery photo. Most of the photos on this page can be seen in the Collector's Edition of Biery's book, Looking Back, or at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art; that website link will direct you to information about how you can see the entire collection by appointment and purchase copies.
Champagne sizzled, carriages were free as sidewalks, and the world
was a very merry place — sensational trial of Dr. and Mrs. Shorb
— Final defeat of Old Dan's heirs

By Frank C. Teck, The Evening Herald, Fairhaven, April 25, 1903
      There wasn't anything really funny about Dan Harris that wasn't regarded in dead earnest by Dan himself. One of his familiars tells me that Dan was one of those serio-comic characters who consider that everybody is against them and never recognize any proof to the contrary. Dan was not so thick-headed as he was thick-hided. My field of post-mortem examination is singularly free with evidence of the latter and demonstrative of the absence of the former.
      hen David B. Edwards came here from Amador County, California, in March 1884 and took charge of the new Bellingham Hotel [in the Eldridge-Bartlett old town of Bellingham], he took an interest in the eccentric Dan Harris and soon won the unique pioneer's good will. That was just before the collapse of the 1883 boom. Dan carried a big gold watch with a correspondingly ample gold chain, both wadded into his right-hand trouser's pocket. Asked the time of day, Dan would haul out an astonishing fistful of clinking gold and dangling links. He was clumsy with it, but proud of it. Edwards expressed admiration for the watch and Dan promised that the money received from the next sale of a lot would form a fund for the purchase of a similar watch for Edwards. But a good round number of listless years dragged themselves hence before Dan sold another lot and when he did he had forgotten about the watch.

Harris Road to Lake Whatcom
      Dan Harris was the original Lake Whatcom road builder. This distinction is not be sneezed at or treated lightly, because Dan actually built the first wagon road from Whatcom to Lake Whatcom all alone and did it all in the summer of 1877. He first slashed out the line of the road and then cleared and grubbed it. His camp was a rude contrivance arranged between two fallen trees,. Here he ate and slept, without the luxury of tent or table.
      Charles Donovan visited him in camp several times, each time at the risk of being segregated into convenient mouthfuls by several cubic acres of mosquitoes that didn't seem to worry Dan any more than so much empty atmosphere.
      Mr. Donovan says that he never before nor since saw mosquitoes so thirsty or so numerous as they were out a Harris's camp during that summer. Dan laughed at him, but admitted that they bothered him a little at night and when they did he merely made a blanket capsule of himself and remained completely sealed till morning.

(Park Drive)
This beautiful early photo of the street called Park Drive, which led into Fairhaven in a quieter, more peaceful time, was featured in the 1891 Fairhaven Illustrated magazine. Click on the photo above to see the full-sized beautiful photograph by an unnamed artist. Magazine from the Bourasaw collection.
The Music Machine
      When Dan sold his townsite to Bennett, Wilson, et al., for $70,000, the sale included everything but a few stray lots and his household goods. He complained and stormed because his townsite customers refused to give him $500 for the old piano, $100 for the sewing machine and several hundred more for his old spring wagon. The more he thought about the new company's inability to appreciate a good piano, the more exasperated he became. He seemed really to be making the matter into the form of a bitter feud against the company.
      Finally he loaded all the old relics of pioneer aristocracy into the wagon and the last appearance of it that I have been able to discern at this distance was when it was looming up like a prairie schooner on the rough old road to Whatcom. [This piano incident is celebrated annually with a Piano Race by various teams in Fairhaven; Apr. 28-29, 2007.].

Banks of the pioneers
      Harris was too shrewd to keep money within easy reach. True, he had a safe in his establishment, on Harris Street, during the eighties, and once in 1886, a very bunglesome job of safe-blowing was done there — so bunglesome, in fact, that the operation jiggered the combination so that the safe locked tighter than ever and Dan had to go up to Seattle to get expert locksmiths to pry it open.
      When Dan sold so much property in 1883, about $32,000 worth or more, he occasionally boarded a steamer and went to Seattle. When his neighbors saw him aboard, they nudged one another and remarked, "There goes Dirty Dan with another wad to bank" — or anything of the kind to the same effect. Sometimes they were wrong, because, after 1862, when the brick [Courthouse] was occupied by the county officers, the pioneers with hoarded lucre confided in the county treasurer, and Dan Harris was not a total abstainer in this respect, even in the affluent days of 1883.
      Each such customer of the county treasury would ram his ducats into a convenient bag labeled and stowed in the county safe by the treasurer. This practice was common even after L.G. Phelps of Boston, Dakota and P.E. Dickinson of Fargo, Dakota, and (now of Whatcom) established the pioneer Whatcom County bank, the First Bank of Whatcom, in November 1883.
      Dan Harris and plug hat, red shirt, frayed trousers tied up with bale rope or rawhide, often formed a picturesque vision in the county treasurer's office, and he generally came loaded with a respectable deposit.

Eccentricities, etc.
      Besides being a record-breaker as an eccentric character, whose big heart, however, seems nearly always to have been in the right place, Dan Harris was particularly proud of his prowess as a jig dancer and some of the ways of the good old days tell strenuous yarns of the keen rivalry alleged to have existed between Edward Connelly and Dan Harris over the disputed championship of the Bay country — but, aside, these wags admit that Connelly, who is still genial and hearty at the age of 86, outclassed good old Dan in the more intricate points of the jigging business, Dan Harris required a considerable amount of judicious nagging before he would consent to go through the motions, but when he did get started he danced all over like a house afire.
      A friend of Dan's writes me that Dan was very careful about inserting his middle initials, J., in his name. The letter represents Jefferson, but Hon. J.P. deMattos writes me that Dan never pronounced it that way — he always gave it a peculiar twist and pronounced it "Jeffierson." [Just as he wrote the pronoun "I" in his own peculiar way as "Ie."]

A pyrotechnis Finale
      Harris's last visit to Fairhaven was in the summer of 1889, when he receive this final payment on account of the sale of the townsite for $70,000, sold two or three lots, and early in the autumn returned to Angeles, where he had a fine home in which he cooked his own meals on an old box stove, as he used to do in the old log cabin near the mouth of Harris Creek. he had formed fascinating new acquaintances in gay Los Angeles and they led the old man a very merry life.
      His money was disbursed liberally for the phantom joys of the hour, swell carriage equipages conveys the three chums hither and thither about the jolly California burg and dry Pomery Sec [or champagne] and rich viands contributed the ancient elixir of feasting to the high old time.
      According to the records on file in this county, Daniel J. Harris died on August 19, 1890, but John De Tier's [sic, actually De Tiere] paper, the Bellingham Bay Express, records the death as occurring on Sunday, August 17, 1890.

(Fairhaven Birdseye)
Click on this birds-eye view map of Fairhaven that was drafted in 1889, the year that Washington became a state, as a promotional piece that was intended to show the beauty of Bellingham Bay and the land that was available for investment. From a copy from the Biery collection.
"Dirty Dan's Dollars"
      Under this startling caption the Bellingham Bay Express of October 27, 1891, tells a very interesting story about Dan Harris as developed Dr. and Mrs. A.S. Shorb [Andrew and Martha or Mattie, see the transcription of this story elsewhere in Issue 38], the death of the Fairhaven pioneer and the subsequent proceedings which interest us the more. De Tiere followed the fortunes of Dan Harris with the busy eye of a born romancer and his account of the finale, although spicily colored in the extravagant style of the doughty colonel, cannot well be left out of this review of the historic episode — so here is the torrid portion of it:
      Dan Harris, the original townsite owner of Fairhaven, who was well known here as Dirty Dan, after the sale of his property went to Los Angles, Cal., where he soon earned the title of Grease-pot Dan Some time ago Dan died and a great sensation occurred on account of a Dr. Shorb and his wife securing large sums of money from the old man, it is claimed dishonestly.
      "The heirs contested to make Dr. Shorb disgorge, claiming that Harris was insane. The affidavits of the following New Whatcom citizens were introduced to prove that the old man had a healthy think tank: Lillie Murray, Mary J. Derrick, John Y. Collins, James H. Taylor, John H. Stenger, Charles Donovan, Henry A. Fairchild and Henry Roeder.
      "Mrs. Shorb testified that Dirty Dan appreciated her kindness in picking up the stray Puget Sound bedbugs that hovered around him and for making his bed and gave her $27,000. It will be remembered that at the time of his death it was said that his last moments were spent hilariously. The Shorb family slaked his thirst with champagne water, the keys of the piano were turned over to him and he had a rip-snorting time. It is evident from the verdict that the Shorbs pulled the old man's leg."
      This incomplete and somewhat eccentric Express report has to be considered in connection with the charges preferred by the Harris heirs against Dr. and Mrs. Shorb. Also, it must be taken into consideration that two brothers and a nephew of Dan Harris were interested in the trail, and finally, that, at the time, it was estimated that Harris's estate represented some $70,000 besides the sums said to have been annexed by the Shorbs.

Charges against the Shorbs
      In the complaint against Dr. and Mrs. Shorb the facts alleged were in brief as follows: That on May 13, 1890 paid over to Mattie L. Shorb the sum of $500; on July 3, 1890, Harris placed on deposit in a Washington bank the sum of $25,000, to bear interest at 5 percent per annum; that this certificate of deposit fell into the hands of Dr. Andrew S. Shorb, one of the defendants, and through the Los Angeles County Bank to the credit of Shorb.
      The complaint further states that some time later $10,000 of this money was placed in the Los Angeles Savings bank, $10,000, in the Security Savings bank and $5,000 in the Main Street Savings and Trust Company's bank

This series about Daniel J. Harris and the legends that surround him follows our goal of looking underneath the written record about Pacific Northwest pioneers. Instead of just transcribing first-source documents, we annotate them extensively, both to profile the individuals and businesses mentioned and to correct the record when we find authoritative sources that dispute the legends. We especially want to thank Donna Sand and Ralph W. Thacker of Bellingham, who share our goal of illuminating history, especially the material that has sometimes fallen through the cracks. We also thank Taimi Gorman, John Servais and other members of the Fairhaven Association, which was formed to assemble and communicate the history of the village that Harris founded in 1883. We also urge readers to attend Dirty Dan Days on April 28-29, 2007, in Fairhaven, and to look for Thacker's publications, which will supplement this present series.
Harris nearly broke
      According to the charges preferred in the complaint, at the time of the death of Harris all the defendants turned over to the public administrator was $45 in money, some household furniture and a watch, the whole valued at about $335, the same being property of deceased.
      The public administrator in this case sought to recover the several sums previously mentioned, $500, $1,288.25 and $25,000. He alleged in his complaint that the Shorbs exercised undue influence over Harris during this last illness, that they prejudiced him against everyone but themselves and made him believe that efforts were being made by outsiders to injure him in his health and property.
      That while he was in a feeble mental condition they gave him large quantities of whisky, and thus added to his dependence upon them for care and attention. That during this mental prostration they induced him to part with the money and the certificate of deposit, and to make over to them other valuable property. This "other valuable property" it is understood included practically everything of value which Dan had acquired in Los Angeles, and none of it has since been turned over to the heirs of the estate.

Verdict of the Jury
      In its report on the Shorb trial the Los Angeles Times said:
      "Somewhat contrary to general speculation, the jury in the sensational case of Public Administrator Field against Dr. and Mrs. A.S. Shorb, after having been out forty-eight hours, returned into court at 10 o'clock yesterday morning with the announcement that they had agreed upon a verdict. This was in the form of twenty-three interrogatories, twelve of which were asked by the plaintiff and the rest by the defendants.
      "It will doubtless be observed that the jury let the defendants' interrogatories severely alone for the most part, and as the result of their decision the findings of fact are that Daniel J. Harris was not of sound mind, and therefore incapable of transacting business from July 1, 1890, until his death, and that the defendants were not entitled to any of the money received from him after that date. The certificate of deposit for $25,000 and check for $1,288.25 were given to them in trust only, but eh $500 check, being a gift to Mrs. Shorb before July 1st, is awarded to her.
      "At the request of the defense the jury was polled, when it was learned that the body stood 10 to 2, but even the dissentients admitted that they had agreed to part of the majority verdict. The jury fees, which amounted to $360, were paid by the plaintiff, by order of the court. The findings were then ordered entered and further proceedings reserved for argument until next Monday. The result of the jury's deliberations was discussed by citizens of every class and occupation and was the general topic of conversation about the courthouse during the day."
      But after all the Shorbs were never compelled to pungle [to make a payment or contribution of money], and the eastern Harrises got less out of the estate than they paid out in going after it.

(Fairhaven docks)
This detailed 1890 drawing of the Fairhaven docks by an artist named Braunhold shows many details that we do not get elsewhere. You can see the docks that supplemented Dan's small one; the spurs of the Fairhaven & Southern Railway; Dan's Northern Hotel in the center right, with Harris Street running alongside up the hill to the brand new Fairhaven Hotel; the railroad trestle across Harris Bay to the little town of old Bellingham, and the many homes on Sehome Hill that had been erected in the year or so before. From the 1891 Fairhaven Illustrated magazine; click on the photo to see a full-sized version.
Dan Harris's will
      As soon as Dan Harris admitted into his head the notion of ultimate wealth he sat down and concocted a will bequeathing all his property to his nephew Benjamin Franklin Harris, who after the old man's death spent several months in Whatcom as the guest of the administrator of the Harris estate, James H. Taylor. this will was filed for record as dated April 6, 1871.
      The property bequeathed included the original Harris donation lan claim, lots 3, 4, 5, 6, section 1, and lots and the northwest quarter of section 12, township 37 north, range 2 east, being in all 146.40 acres, and also lot 1, section 2, township 37, being the 43 acres bought from A.M. Poe in 1861. The will expressed as preference for his brother, George W. Harris], or his mother to administer the estate, but as neither was a resident of Whatcom County they could not qualify.

Remnants of a fortune
      After a considerable amount of wrangling, during which one of the brothers finally decided that he wanted one S.L. Butler for administrator after James H. Taylor had been appointed, Mr. Taylor was at last accepted all around.
      It is important for the delver here to make a note of dates, because this is an eloquent record of the boom and its aftermath. I am indebted to Mr. C.T. Canfield and the very thorough records of the Bellingham Bay Abstract & Title Insurance Company for much of this court information.
      What remained of Dan Harris's Fairhaven property in his name at the time of his death consisted of five lots. When the administrator got to work on taking stock these properties were listed and appraised as follows, July 2, 1892.

Lot 7, block 1, Fairhaven . . . $3,000
Lot 8, block 1, Fairhaven . . . $4,000
Lot 6, block 2, Fairhaven . . . $4,000
Lot 5, block 18, Fairhaven . . . $9,000
Lot 6, block 11, [Old Bellingham] . . . $3,500
Total valuation . . . $23,500

      Then the property went through the slow processes of the probate court. Meanwhile taxes accumulated against it, the amount against lot 5, block 18, for instance reaching $1,087; real estate prices were knocked under the table, the crash of 1893 fired a tidal wave of depression out here in 1894-5, and still the Harris estate lingered in incubation in our probate court.
      At last, October 25, 1895, Administrator Taylor, after due process of publication, publicly sold the property, and it is understood that the expenses of the three years or more of courting exceeded the proceeds by a good lot. The lots were purchased as follows at the administrator's sale:

      Lot 7, block 1, to E.S. McCord . . . $25
Lot 8, block 1, to J.A. Kerr . . . $25
Lot 6, block 2, to E.S. McCord . . . $40
Lot 5, block 18, to W.H. Harris . . . $600
Lot 6, block 11, to J.R. Lee . . . $210
Total valuation . . . $900

      In other words, this property went into probation in July 1892, worth $23,500 and came out in October 1895, worth $900. Mr. Taylor informs me that the heirs got nothing out of the remains of Dan Harris's fortune, either here or in Los Angeles. He says the oldest brother, Edwin Harris, was still living when last from at Patchogue, Long Island, and the other brother, George W. Harris, is also still a resident of Norwich, Connecticut, where he is a wheelwright.

Dirty Dan's Dollars

Dr. Shorb and wife do not get the old man's money
The jury renders a verdict for the blood heirs
The Shorbs will have to disgorge about $30,000

      Dan Harris, the original townsite owner of Fairhaven, who was well known here as "Dirty Dan," after the sale of his property, went to Los Angeles, Cal., where he soon earned the title of "Grease-pot Dan." Some time ago Dan died and a great sensation occurred on account of a Dr. [Andrew S.] Shorb and his wife securing large sums of money from the old man, it is claimed dishonestly. The heirs contested to make Dr. Shorb disgorge, claiming that Harris was insane. The affidavits of the following New Whatcom citizens were introduced to prove that the old man had a healthy think tank: Lillie Murray, Mary J. Derrick, John Y. Collins, James H. Taylor, John H. Stenger, Charles Donovan, Henry A. Fairchild and Henry Roeder.
      Mrs. Shorb testified that Dirty Dan appreciated her kindness in picking up the stray Puget Sound bedbugs that hovered around him and for making his bed and gave her $27,000. It will be remembered that at the time of his death it was said that his last moments were spent hilariously. The Shorb family slaked his thirst with champagne water, the keys of the piano were turned over to him and he had a rip-snorting time. It is evident from the verdict that the Shorbs pulled the old man's leg.
      The rest of this transcript is in another story in Issue 38, the transcription of The Evening Herald, Fairhaven, April 11, 1903, story headlined, "Last days of Dan Harris in Gay Los Angeles," by By Frank C. Teck.


1. Charles Donovan (1849-1936)
      For a capsule profile of Charles Donovan, see the footnotes for the companion article that is a transcript of Frank Teck's article in the April 4, 1903, Fairhaven Evening Herald, "Daniel J. Harris, original Fairhaven man." Donovan came to Bellingham Bay in 1873 and became the telegrapher for the Sehome Coal Mine before a long career in county and city politics. [Return]

2. 1858 Brick Courthouse
      This is the only remaining structural legacy from the first wave of temporary visitors to Whatcom, the argonauts who arrived here in the thousands in response to the 1858 gold rush at the Fraser River in British Columbia. Here is how Frank Teck profiled the building in the March 14, 1903, Fairhaven Times:
      The old brick courthouse building on E street, between Holly and 14th streets, Whatcom, was sold today by the county commissioners. It is the most interesting historical relic in Whatcom county, perhaps, and is the first brick building erected in Washington territory. It was built in the summer of 1858, when Whatcom, thanks to the Fraser river gold excitement, had a greater population than all the rest of the territory combined. It was built by San Francisco contractors in 1858 for Charles E. Richards and John G. Hyatt, who used it as a general store building until 1861 or 1862. On May 8, 1863, Charles E. Richards sold the brick store building and the two lots to Whatcom county for $2,000, being paid in county scrip worth only 25 per cent. Until 1884 the county court was held at LaConner, but the county offices occupied the second story of the brick building until February, 1891, when they were removed to the present courthouse. All the material used in the construction of the old brick building came from San Francisco, including the tin for the roof.
      Almost 150 years later, we observe a tremendous revival of interest and education about the building at 1319 E Street. Once located on pilings, with Bay water underneath, it is now located on fill that was brought down from the slope above. Volunteer efforts led by Matthew Aamot of the Whatcom County Historical Society, Janet Oakley of the Skagit County Historical Museum and Sehome history teacher Dave Hageman, with the aid of Washington State Northwest Regional archives research archivist James Copher and Toni Nagel of the Whatcom Museum of History and Art have provided an extensive profile of the building. Their efforts, along with volunteer work by Sehome High School student and the support of David Wilma of also led to obtaining a $10,000 "Save Our History" grant awarded last summer by The History Channel.
      You can learn more about their efforts and the plan to preserve the building by attending a meeting at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 15, 2007, at Village Books in Fairhaven. Meanwhile, you can read Aamot's tremendous document at this website: ( ) that includes drawings and a full history of the building, which early on housed the original Bellingham Bay Journal, and this essay at HistoryLink. The building has been hosting programs about its history since March 20, 2007. [Return]

3. Edward Connelly
      Edward Connelly was a pioneer of 1877 and claimed land in Happy Valley. You can read extensive footnotes about Connelly and his son-in-law, Michael Padden, in our transcriptions in companion articles of Issue 38: The Frank Teck article in the April 4, 1903, Fairhaven Evening Herald, "Daniel J. Harris, original Fairhaven man," and Frank Teck article in the April 11, 1903, Fairhaven Evening Herald, "Epochs in the history of Fairhaven and Dan Harris." [Return]

4. George W. Harris, Dan's brother
      Lucky for us, the Oct. 18, 1890, issue of The Daily Reveille of New Whatcom (new name for Sehome when reincorporated on May 8, 1890) profiled George when he traveled from New York to Bellingham Bay after Dan Harris died on August 19. It supplies many details about Dan and his family and seems to dispute one tale that the brothers were estranged.
The estate of Daniel Harris
      George W. Harris, brother to the late Dan Harris, is in the city. Mr. Harris is one of the five heirs of the late Fairhaven pioneer. There are two brothers, a sister, a nephew and a niece. He leaves about $100,000. Dan Harris was born in Southampton on Long Island. His father was a farmer. Dan left home when about 15 years old. He shipped with his uncle at that age on a whaling voyage to the arctic seas and on his return home staid a month and reshipped with a skipper named McKator Cooper, a Yankee skipper; went to Japanese seas whaling; found a Japanese junk with fourteen Jap sailors. This was the first European vessel that was permitted to land at Japan. Then they went to China after a load of Chinese coolies. This was in 1850. At Hong Kong, Dan, with a companion, deserted the ship, and reshipped to the Sandwich islands, thence Dan came to Bellingham Bay. Dan's companion, a man named Ira Briggs, returned to Southampton town. Dan was born in 1831 (or 1826 or 1832, depending on the source; we base our story on 1826). He occasionally wrote to the old folks, used to draw the long bow on them some times, said he had bought 160 of land from the government on which was coal which he shipped around the Sound on his vessel, the Bounding Ball; vessel got wrecked, etc. George W. Harris is a downeaster, 49 years of age and a carriage maker by trade. He lives at Norwich, Conn.
      The brother and relatives of the late Dan Harris expect to exhume the body and hold an autopsy, as there is suspicion of foul play. It seems that Harris was under the care of a physician who, upon his death, took possession of his effects and secured all his ready money in bank — some $25,000. Criminal proceedings have already been commenced against the doctor. He claims that Harris gave this money to his wife for her kindness to him. It is alleged that during his last illness the deceased was braced up on champagne, and danced and played on the piano, and said to a visitor that his attendants were killing him. Whether this alluded to high living or otherwise has not transpired. The relatives secured from the physician the watch and other personal effects of Mr. Harris, after considerable trouble, and succeeded in stopping payment on a check for $6,000. Action will be taken against the bank that turned over the $25,000 to the physician. Mr. Harris had property worth $53,000 in Los Angeles and about $45,000 worth of real estate here. [See the separate exclusive Journal profile of Dr. and Mrs. Andrew S. Shorb elsewhere in Issue 38]. [Return]

(Northern Hotel)
      This photo and the one below seem to be two parts of a panoramic image, but we have only seen them in these two parts. One is an excellent print; the other is from a Xeroxed copy. We think that both were taken by noted Fairhaven Eric A. Hegg, who was born in Sweden in 1867 and arrived on Bellingham Bay at age 21 in 1888, just in time for the Fairhaven boom. He photographed Bennett and Larrabee's boom years, hung in here during the Depression and then went to the Yukon for the Klondike gold rush in the late 1890s, where he stayed for two decades. He returned to Bellingham and kept a studio here until 1946, when he moved permanently to California.
      Update: at least we thought it was Hegg's photo, but then we saw a version with a blurred signature that was not Hegg's. Instead, the photographer was Bert W. Huntoon, whom we profiled extensively in connection with his engineering work on the original Cascade Pass wagon road in 1895. Huntoon was a principal of Pacific American Fisheries, which built on the north side of Dan's hotel, and he then became the "father of Mount Baker Lodge." See Dan Harris's Northern Hotel at the right — with the new sign on the front, advertising $1.25 per day; the edge of the stump behind, from which the famous flagpole protruded, the newly planked Harris Street and industry all around the Bay. In her book, Settlers, Structures & Ships of Bellingham Bay, Roamonde Van Miert explained that the building to the north (left) of the Northern Hotel was Alsop's General Store, with a sign advertising refrigerated meats and eggs. She also noted that 200 Chinese workers were housed in three hotels, the Northern and the nearby St. Louis and the Focal City. Photo copy from the Biery Collection.

Journal Epilogue
      This particular series of Frank Teck articles is remarkable both for the Dan Harris myths that Teck shared and sometimes debunked, but also for Teck oddly missing the end of the story, which was a plot switcheroo worthy of the mellerdramers, as they called theater melodrama in 1903. I admire Frank a lot and would love to have the opportunity to sit down and have a cool draft with him at the Elk Saloon at 10th and Harris in Fairhaven if I had a time machine. In future issues, we will soon share the story Frank wrote longhand from the notes he took while interviewing Blanket Bill Jarman, also in 1903. And we will soon share his historical review of all the Whatcom newspapers, as well as his 20th Anniversary review of the Reveille newspaper, both written a couple of decades after this series.
      For the legal case with Dan Harris's estate, however, Frank dropped the ball. There are oodles of twists and turns that transpired after 1891, but other than following the land records for Dan's rapidly devalued lots, Frank stopped looking at the newspaper after that year, two years before the nationwide Depression hit the Northwest economy like a sledgehammer. If he had ventured just a little further — two years, into the morgue files of Whatcom newspapers, he would have discovered that an appeals court in Los Angeles overturned the judgment against Dr. and Mrs. Shorb. Many people have asked over the years: why did the Shorbs fail to reimburse Dan's heirs? Well, that is where I hand the baton off to Ralph W. Thacker, who will soon publish two booklets in the spring of 2007 that will detail the roller-coaster ride that the heirs took. Ralph did the hard work of poring over rolls of microfilm of the Los Angeles Times, which followed the case to the bitter end. Ralph hopes to offer one for sale if you attend Dirty Dan Days in Fairhaven over the weekend of April 28-29, 2007.
      Meanwhile, in another exclusive two-part profile in Issue 38, we share with you our own in-depth research into the Shorbs, which is an amazing tale of a German family who sunk their roots into Pennsylvania and Maryland in the mid-18th century. That story will illuminate the life Dr. Shorb and help explain the character of the man was who apparently bilked poor old Dan, who only enjoyed his Fairhaven fortune for two years before he pushed up daisies in La-La-land. You will also learn the early history of old Los Angeles and the land grants. And you will meet the doctor's even more famous cousin, James DeBarth Shorb, who married into a family that at one time owned half of the land that Los Angeles covers today. James also built the largest winery, by volume, in the world in the San Gabriel Valley, where James and father launched the first water projects that turned dry land into orange groves and vineyards. Come along for the ride. We promise you a fun time.

(Harris Street east)
      This is the right side of the Huntoon photo, the best example of the streets and buildings from Harris Street south to where Padden Creek now crosses under 12th Street. Harris's Northern Hotel is at the left and you can see the planking of Harris Street. Like in many other Washington frontier towns, the timber was often in glut mode, so cutting planks for roads made more sense than spending much more for gravel or aggregate. And in dry weather, planks provided more traction for buggy wheels and transfer wagons. If you have lived through the November-February rainstorms here, however; you can imagine the cascading waterfalls of rain run-off on Harris Street.

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted March 31, 2007 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 38 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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.