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Charles Xavier Larrabee, Part 2 of 2

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore, ©2008, substantially updated in 2013

(Charles X. Larrabee)
Charles X. Larrabee in Fairhaven

Part Two: Washington
Larrabee sizes up Northwest Washington in 1888
      While researching the earliest records of C.X. Larrabee's investment in Whatcom County, we discovered a connection that shows how the brothers invested in Washington Territory real estate long before Charles moved to Fairhaven. Thanks to Susan Nahas and her excellent GenWeb Newspaper Extraction Index, we found this item from the June 21, 1888, Blaine Journal about the Mountain View district near Ferndale: "The Larrabee brothers, who recently purchased much valuable property in Portland and an interest in the Skagit coal mine, are cousins of Mrs. Hoskins, and made her a short visit last week. Mr. Larrabee has also purchased the Duncan claim in this neighborhood."
      At the same time, Larrabee was sizing up the coal mines near Sedro, which were later named Cokedale. The genesis for the boomtown of Sedro was due to the discovery by pioneer Lafayette Stevens in the late 1870s of coal veins that extended southeast from similar deposits around the Washington-British Columbia border. The most pronounced vein that was easiest to mine lay about five miles northeast of the mill and general store that Mortimer Cook built on the river in 1885. V.A. Marshall invested in what Stevens called the Crystal Mines and when they ran out of capital to dig deeper into Lyman Hill, Larrabee came along to their benefit.
      Late in the process of writing this profile, we were contacted by Neelie Nelson of Whatcom County who led us to the connection between the Larrabee and Hoskins families. We discovered that Thomas Hoskins was one of the first settlers at Mountain View. In A Short History of Mountain View, we learned that Hoskins and his unnamed wife moved to the area in the summer of 1873 from Wisconsin with his in-laws, the Victor Charroin family. Both those families lived near Omro when the Larrabee boys were growing up and the Charroins were related to the Bryans, the family of Mary (Bryan) Johnson, the wife of Charley's grandfather, Hiram, back in Omro. We also discovered in Lottie Roeder Roth's History of Whatcom County that Eva Charroin married William L. Lambert, who came to Washington Territory in the 1880s and discovered in the early 1890s the native oyster beds of Boundary Bay (between the modern Peace Arch and Point Roberts). He went on to manage the Crescent Oyster Co. while living in Bellingham. Since we know that one of Larrabee's abiding legacies was his investment in Chuckanut Bay oyster beds, did he learn about the business from his distant cousin Lambert?

Larrabee sinks his roots in Fairhaven, the roller coaster
    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2013, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. Because of our recent illness, our research fund is completely bare. See many examples of how you can aid our project and help us continue for another ten years. And subscriptions to our optional Subscribers Online Magazine (launched 2000) by donation too. Thank you.
      Larrabee's role in the Fairhaven Land Co. (FLC), the Skagit Coal Mines and the (between the modern Peach Arch and Point Roberts) Fairhaven & Southern Railway (hereafter F&S] are extensively covered in the companion story in this issue about the railroad, so instead of repeating that information, here we will focus more on his stamp on the community until his death. The F&S was certainly one of the keys to his commitment to Fairhaven — the train transported coal from the Sedro mines 25 miles on a diagonal to Fairhaven where it was stored in special bins on Fairhaven Bay, beginning in 1889.
      When Larrabee first visited Fairhaven that year, as Bennett set up the FLC, it was still much the same layout as it was in Dan Harris's era, from 1883 onwards: a few shacks on the hill and Harris's hotel down on the waterfront. John J. Donovan was the chief engineer for all the entities and he brought his new bride to Fairhaven in December 1888. According to William F. Prosser, in his 1903 book, A History of the Puget Sound Country,

. . . he brought his wife to the incipient village of Fairhaven and built a house in what was then almost a wilderness. There was no store of any description or a graded street, and for the commonest necessity they had to take a rowboat for Whatcom, the connecting road through the forest, where Front street now runs [10th Street in 2008], being almost impassable."
      When Larrabee began staying here for longer periods of time in the spring of 1890, he booked rooms at the Hotel Vendome on the east side of 12th Street between McKenzie Avenue and Larrabee Street. The population had grown rapidly in two years to 4,057, and would eventually reach nearly 8,000 before Fairhaven was consolidated in 1903 with the other Bay cities to become Bellingham. The 1890 Polk Directory described the progress in the time that Bennett, Larrabee and their partners helped boom the town:
      Settled in 1883, on Bellingham Bay and on the Fairhaven and Southern R. R., in Whatcom County. It contains three banks, four churches, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian; two newspapers, Fairhaven Herald (daily and weekly), Fairhaven Plaindealer (weekly); coal mines in the vicinity, one furniture factory, street railways, electric light company. It is bounded by the mainland on the east, and by islands on the north, and west lies the great bay of Bellingham, landlocked and protected from all gales that sweep along the coast. The depth of the water varies from three fathoms close to shore to twenty fathoms in the outer Bay. Vessels, sailing vessels, sail from the ocean into Bellingham Bay. Loaded at Fairhaven they spread their sails and sail down the broad bay into the straits of Juan de Fuca and out to the ocean.
      Four other hotels stood nearby: the Bayview and the Bellingham on Front Street (now 10th street) in the old townsite of Unionville/Bellingham, which the FLC would soon buy; the Hotel Montezuma, two blocks up the hill from the Vendome, and Harris's old Fairhaven Hotel at the corner of 4th and Harris streets. That latter name would soon change to "The Northern Hotel," however, because Harris had sold it, married and moved to Los Angeles. The FLC was erecting its showpiece, the five-story Fairhaven Hotel, at the northeast corner of Harris and 12th. In addition, eleven substantial boarding houses dotted the Fairhaven streets along with another dozen homes that doubled as boarding houses.
      By March 1890, James J. Hill amalgamated all his rail lines into the new Great Northern company and he capitalized the Seattle & Montana Railroad to build a north-south rail line that would connect the new city of Vancouver, B.C. with Seattle, and then continue on south to California. Although the original plans were not immediately disclosed, March 1890 also signaled the end of Fairhaven's chance to become the western terminus of the Great Northern transcontinental railroad, which was then building west to Spokane Falls. As financial hard times swamped many of Fairhaven's dreams in the '90s, Larrabee became one of the scapegoats for the Hill dog-and-pony-show. We do not know if Larrabee was kept "in the loop" regarding all the GN machinations behind the scenes, but he certainly bore the criticism well. We continue to research newspapers and magazines of the time to find any insight into how Messrs. Gates and Larrabee weathered the storm.
      We have not yet been able to determine when and where Larrabee initially hired Cyrus L. Gates except that it was sometime in 1890. Perhaps he initially signed on in Portland. We do know that Gates soon became his right-hand man in every business and that he was handsomely rewarded. Down south in Roslyn, Archibald S. Patrick and William MacKay discovered coal seams that showed the potential to produce the fuel that the Northern Pacific needed for its Cascade Division. Gates researched the project for Larrabee and determined that it could well dwarf the Cokedale Mines in profits. Larrabee backed the project and it soon proved to be a producer even beyond expectations. According to Robert Thomas, in Chuckanut Chronicles (1977), Larrabee then gave Gates stock equaling half of his own share.

Fairhaven when Larrabee settled in, 1890
      By 1890 sawdust was in the air all over Dan Harris's settlement as it grew in size and wealth. The Fairhaven Land Co. planned the new Fairhaven Hotel at the northeast corner of 12th and Harris streets as a symbol of the booming growth of the young town. When construction proceeded in earnest during the spring of 1890, residents and visitors arrived from all around for weekly progress checks. The Fairhaven Herald of March 11, 1890, reviewed the new construction all over the city that must have created a daily cacophony. The reporter described the Fairhaven Hotel as a "million-dollar edifice." Other estimates of the construction cost were in the range of $200,000 for the building itself and $100,000 for the interior furnishings.
      The Bennett-backed Herald newspaper building rose at the corner of 14th and Larrabee streets at a cost of $4,300. Presbyterian church at 13th and Columbia, $6,500. Gooch & Foster building, three stories, corner of 12th and Mill, $3,000. W.G. Gooch was an old-timer of Fairhaven, having arrived in 1883 when Dan Harris's new plat was largely wilderness. A.B. Seymour (of Chicago) building on 12th Street south of Harris, $6,000. C.W. Waldron, who came from the St. Claire Lake region near Detroit, was erecting a frame building at 11th and Mill, and would soon build his three-story bank and retail edifice at 12th and McKenzie, which would five decades later house the Kulshan Tavern. Singer & Nestelle, two-story brick building, McKenzie Avenue, $1,500. Next door rose the S.J. Egbert poultry market. The original Fairhaven Graded School was expanding at the corner of 14th and Columbia streets.
      Visitors marveled at the new Fairhaven Electric Light and Motor Co., which was capitalized in January that year for $100,000 and provided the first lighting for streets and office buildings the Sunday before. The building stood alongside the F&S track, on Cowgill between 12th and 14 streets, cost $2,000. The boiler boasted a capacity of 100 horsepower and the dynamo had an initial capacity to light 500 incandescent lamps of 16 candlepower apiece, while the arc machine furnished enough current for 55 arc lamps. Eight miles of line were strung on a two-wire system, about to be replaced with a three-wire. Dan Harris's original 1883 plat had been amended to extend the business district down past Cowgill to Padden Creek and the city limits stretched as far south as Yakima Street in "South Fairhaven," and as far east as the western third of Lake Padden. That was Parker's Addition to Fairhaven, which consisted of 24 lots with 1,400 feet of lake frontage, and Parker made sure that the lake was "filled with mountain trout."
      The investor kings and newly rich were building homes all over town. Frank Reese, corner of 11th and Mill, $4,300. James F. Wardner, the silver king with namesake towns in both eastern Washington and British Columbia, showed off the most with his mansion at the corner of 15th and Knox. Designed in a combination of Queen Anne and Eastlake styles, the home boasted electric bells and lights, a central steam-heating system, windows of French plate-glass and an interior of polished redwood. Cost: $15,000. Other houses rising included Alfred Riedel's home on 15th Street near Douglas for $3,000 and Frank Affleck's Queen Anne cottages on 16th Street for $3,000.
      A very few boomers would remain on the Bay, like Larrabee, for the rest of their lives. Those included Roland G. Gamwell, of Rhode Island, who came west in May 1889 and oversaw the construction of the streetcar line that connected the city of Tacoma, with far-flung sections out into the woods. Bennett saw the young man's potential and attracted him to Fairhaven, where he formed the Pacific Coast Trading Co., an investment banking and building material business, and represented the Prudential Life Insurance business with his partner, Charles F. Warner. Their office was in the Mason Block, now renamed Sycamore Square, at the far south on the ground floor.
      Larrabee also soon invested in the Citizens Bank, at what the 1890 Fairhaven Illustrated magazine called the "most valuable location in the city," the corner of 11th and Harris streets. The bank started much more humbly in December, 1889, however, according to the memories of Gamwell and of Northwest author Dolly Connelly, who described the business in a 1960s manuscript, Fairhaven, Ghost Town Stirs Again.
      P.W. Strader and H.W. Kinney were the founders and when they started just before Christmas they opened for business with only a safe, ledger and stationery at hand. They obtained lumber from the mill on the waterfront for a one-story bank, with three rooms in the rear for their families and the front room for the business. The partners

. . . obtained empty whiskey barrels from an 11th Street saloon, put one barrel on either side of the room and laid planks between them as a business counter. The bank was opened with a champagne party and soon settled into a profitable business, later reorganized as the Citizens Bank with a proper three-story brick and stone building at 11th and Harris streets.
      Larrabee, a self-made businessman himself, likely saw some of his own spirit in the partners and was especially impressed that Strader bought that corner property. The Citizens Bank was the only financial institution in Fairhaven that survived unscathed the coming bust and nationwide Depression.

The Fairhaven Hotel rises as symbol for town and Larrabee
      We suspect that Larrabee also saw the Fairhaven Hotel as a symbol of his plan to stay in Fairhaven for the long haul. The Fairhaven Illustrated described the building as "opened at a cost of $150,000, is a peer of any hotel at either Tacoma or Seattle." A striking cupola topped the corner at four a half stories. Frank Longstaff and H.N. Black, Boston natives, oversaw the construction. Longstaff was one of the first financiers to leave town when he saw that Hill was conning Fairhaven, but Black stayed on with Larrabee.
      Above the retail and bank rooms and the lobby and restaurant on the ground floor were 80 rooms, which were lit naturally through a large shaft in the center and both electric arc and incandescent lights. The rooms were connected so that they could be formed into suites with parlor, bedroom and bath. Interior fittings were in red oak and California redwood and the interior was of brick and grey sandstone from the Chuckanut and Fairhaven quarries. All appointments were designed for the first-class traveler, with reading rooms, parlors, billiard tables and tonsorial parlors. By early December, the building boasted the first elevator in the region, but its installation was marred that month when a repairman died after his head was crushed while he tried to determine why the elevator was not in working order.
      The "action" on Bellingham Bay that summer of 1890 was in Fairhaven and the construction of the hotel there stood in stark contrast to the Grand Central Hotel that sat unopened and forlorn on the present site of the Community Food Coop at the southeast corner of Forest and East Holly streets. [4] Local papers announced that the foundation had been laid in December 1889. John Padden, whose father, Michael Padden, had been slain by a neighbor boy in 1880, recalled to authors Galen Biery and Dorothy Koert in their 1956 book, Looking Back, Vol. 2:

      . . . as a kid I watched the mule pull the elevator up with material when Larrabee built the hotel. I was at the opening in 1890. Mother went to Seattle to get a gown for the Opening Ball. The hotel operated for five years, then it was leased. It died with the boom. The Larrabees were the only occupants. They had offices there. Later it was the Victoria Hotel. The Washington Club met there. Later it became a sanitarium. [5]
      Bennett, Larrabee and the FLC pulled out all the stops to publicize the new hotel by staging a private grand opening for the Washington Press Association on September 3. The official grand opening for the public was on the 15th, although rooms had been rented to the press and the VIPs since the third.
      Larrabee showed his muscle, however, just two weeks later, as witnessed by what the Fairhaven Weekly World reported on October 4: "The Hotel Fairhaven has experienced a radical change this past week. Its bar has been discontinued and Mr. Presbrey, its manager, has resigned. Mr. Presbrey's short stay won him many friends. He is a courteous and genial gentleman and his sudden departure is universally regretted." Presbrey had been mentioned in some early stories as the hotel manager, but now he was replaced by Charles E. Taylor and his associate, Mr. Hatch, as managers from thereon. That the closure was Larrabee's decision became obvious when a reporter discovered that Taylor and Presbrey were playing musical chairs. Presbrey took Taylor's old position at Nelson Bennett's big hotel in Tacoma, from whence Presbrey originally came and where there was certainly a profitable bar.
      The lack of intoxicating spirits did not immediately dampen the mood for the hotel guests, although it loomed large in downfall of the hotel a decade later. Although a letter to the editor that month complained of the daily whistles of arriving steamboats — "that cross between the rustiest and worse 'flatted' steam calliope and the highest pitched, most vigorous and best tuned Rocky Mountain tiger or Sierra maneater — the nearby merchants and investors found the sound most welcome." In fact, FLC officer Edgar A. Cowgill was so thrilled with the hustle and bustle that he challenged the citizens to offer a bonus of $20,000 so that an opera house could be built nearby.
      The hotel was so full at times that the management welcomed the opening of the new Paragon Hotel at Gambier Street, between 13th and 14th, to accommodate the overflow. The spirits continued high through the first half of 1891 as C.W. Waldron erected his new bank building, the Pavilion on Donovan Street rose in just a matter of four days and work on the Opera House began in April.
      Those with their ears to the ground heard the rumbling, however, in the reports from Seattle that James J. Hill of the Great Northern definitely planned to make Seattle his western terminus. Some investors were assuaged by the completion later that year of the Seattle & Montana line from Seattle to British Columbia, via Fairhaven and the former F&S tracks, but that was a pale imitation of what had been predicted as Fairhaven's destinyas terminus just months earlier.
      On Oct. 16, 1891, the Fairhaven Independent reported that "Jim Hill told the public of Fairhaven to 'get in and rustle.'" Three days later, the same paper quoted Bennett, who saw better times for Fairhaven "when the clouds shall have rolled away." Within weeks, Bennett quietly folded his own tent and departed for Tacoma, never again to be as actively involved in the hotel, the railroad or the coal mines. On August 12, Larrabee had bought Bennett's Fairhaven interests for $495,954.50, although Bennett did retain interest in the Gas Company on the site of old Unionville/Bellingham, where coal gas was manufactured from the Sedro-area coal. Bennett also retained his stock in the First National Bank in the Fairhaven Hotel, which was renamed the Bennett National Bank.
      Although the Financial Depression did not officially begin until the fall of banking and financial houses and railroads in 1893, the boom towns such as Sedro and Fairhaven felt it in 1892 as investment capital started drying up and the smart money looked for other places to find advantage in the coming hard times. One of the hotel's long-term guests, Civil War author and boomer Frank Wilkeson, left in 1892 and built a mining store at Bridge Creek above Lake Chelan, following the promising mineral discoveries by crews reporting to James Waldron and others. The guest list at the hotel was soon a fraction of the early days.

(Fannie Frazier Payne Larrabee)
Frances "Fannie" Frazier Payne Larrabee in Fairhaven

Larrabee takes a bride half his age
      Local papers breathlessly reported in mid-August that the town's most eligible bachelor had arrived back from his extended vacation with a new bride in tow. He was 49, she was 25 and everyone from the hotel manager Taylor to Larrabee's peers expressed surprise. Although he was the owner of the hotel, he signed in at the desk as "C.X. Larrabee and wife," whereupon the Herald reported the next day, "Clerk Miller was dumbfounded and Manager Taylor admits that he was 'paralyzed.'" Apparently only a few of his associates knew. Did his other friends here know? From everything we read, he was a man who liked to keep his cards close to his vest. He certainly provided little ink for reporters, unlike his friend, James Wardner, and Larrabee's grandson insisted that he cared not a whit what was written about him.
      Frances "Fannie" Frazier Payne came from Charley's third world. She wasn't from hardscrabble Omro or uncouth Butte. And she was from another world than most young ladies in Fairhaven or even Portland for that matter. For one thing, some of her Payne ancestors dined with George Washington and two even bested him in early Virginia local elections. As a member of the Virginia Society of Dames of America and a descendant of one of Virginia's First Families, her pedigree stretched back on her father's side to Sir John Payne (1600-90), who emigrated from England as an official of the crown in 1650 and became a ship owner and Rappahannock County planter. Her ancestors served under George Washington on the Fairfax County Committee of Safety in 1774 and one of them was an honorary pallbearer for the first U.S. President's funeral. Her paternal great-grandfather, Edward Conyers Payne, later moved to Fayette County, Kentucky, so her ancestors loved horses as much as Charley and Ed did.
      Her grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Payne, moved from Kentucky to Missouri in 1840 and acquired river-bottom land in St. Charles County and in Illinois and in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis. Her father, Benjamin Howard Payne, graduated from Transylvania University, a private college in Lexington. The Payne, Howard and Preston families were the "founding families" and funders for the institution. Ben then followed his father to Missouri. He married Ann Mariah Luckett and after they had two sons and two daughters, she died in 1861. He remarried to Adelia R. Gray, of a Maryland family, and they soon had two children together, a son named Jefferson and the second was Fannie, who was born Jan. 15, 1867. When Fannie was six months old, a cholera epidemic struck the St. Louis area. Grandfather Payne succumbed first and then Ben, after visiting his ill father, contracted the disease and died four days later, at age 39.
      Adelia managed her money well and she made sure that Fannie followed her father's lead in education. She graduated from the Mary Institute for young women in St. Louis in 1883 and while there she was discovered to be a child prodigy on the piano. Her musical aptitude proved so strong that she was admitted to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she studied piano for four years. After graduation, she studied piano for a year in Berlin under the tutelage of Prof. Oscar Reif.
      After she returned from Berlin in 1889, Adelia and Fannie's world was turned upside down by a family financial scandal. To understand the life-altering event, we consulted Clifford J. Ocheltree III, an attorney who now lives in Louisiana and who descends from Fannie's older half-brother, Alfred Hurst Payne, born in 1854. When Fannie was about six, Adelia moved to St. Louis with Jefferson and Fannie and her stepson, Robert H. Payne, born in 1859 and a teenage at the time of the move. Robert went on to become an attorney and he was the apple of both Adelia and Fannie's eyes, so much so that Adelia trusted his counsel for investing her savings. Several other family members trusted Robert the same way.
      Therefore, they were shocked and saddened to learn on Oct. 11, 1889, that Robert committed suicide in a hotel in Bergen, New Jersey. When the grief was wearing off a month later, a second bombshell landed when the Payne family members attempted to determine the status of their investments. Ocheltree shared with me an article from the Nov. 22, 1889, St. Louis Republic, which covered much of the page and was topped by a foreboding headline in six decks: "Out at last; real causes of the suicide of Robert H. Payne; charged with fraudulently converting the Payne property to his own use; startling disclosures through a suit filed at Clayton; details of how a great estate was wrecked; story of an alleged conspiracy:"

      When R.H. Payne, the well known young attorney, committed suicide at South Bergen, N.J. last month, it was at once remembered that he was the curator for a number of heirs of the Payne estate and that he really had control of all the property. It was surmised that he might have squandered the estates and, finding himself at the end of his tether, had preferred death to infamy. This was promptly denied by his business associates and friends, who continued to assert that although he was financially involved, he had lost his own money and had not touched the property entrusted to his hand. . . .
      More than that, he was the head and front of a well conceived and boldly executed conspiracy to defraud the heirs and to rob them of their inheritance. . . . It may fairly be said that a more sensational paper has not been filed in St. Louis in years.

(Payne Home)
Benjamin and Adelia Payne's home in Machens, St Charles County, north of St. Louis on the Missouri River. Photo courtesy of Cliff Ocheltree.

      The petitioners, mainly Payne heirs, had entrusted Robert with the valuable Payne real estate, which could not be easily divided. They completely trusted him to "take care" of their investments. Robert formed two real estate firms and issued stock to the heirs. The house of cards began when he obtained interest in Thomas Jefferson Payne Sr.'s estate without actually paying for it, giving IOUs instead. That questionable process mushroomed with other properties and a court contributed to the coming disaster by failing to require Robert to post a bond. A newspaper story asserted that his personal estate at death totaled about a half million dollars, which eventually paid back some of the heirs who lined up as petitioners in the St. Louis court. But for people like Adelia and her son Jefferson and several other family members who invested their savings, they had little financial relief. His questionable investment practices seemed to stem from the fact that he himself had been sucked into a fraudulent attempt to obtain a patent for the American Opera Glass Company.
      So, by 1890, Adelia's assets were considerably scaled back and Fannie was forced to help support the family by giving piano lessons in St. Louis. Fannie was due to return to Berlin to study for a few more months and somehow, they scraped together enough money for the trip. Thus, Adelia accompanied Fannie in the spring or summer of 1890 to Boston, where Fannie met an older man, probably at a musical event, and he was not only rich and successful but had a keen aesthetic sense and a love for music. That, of course, was Charles X. Larrabee.
      Boston was the center of Charley's third world, the world of tuxedos and gowns and galleries, conservatories, music halls and the theater. He was back there overseeing his stock investments that resulted from his mine sale and when he met Fannie, he was smitten. When Fannie returned to the U.S. from Berlin, Charley was there to greet her and when she headed back to St. Louis, they apparently became engaged before Charley headed back for Fairhaven. They initially planned to marry in 1891 but Adelia died suddenly on March 27 that year and the custom of that time was that the child should have a decent interval of a year for mourning before marrying.
      They married in St. Louis on Aug. 3, 1892, and then started for the West; Fannie had never been west of Kansas. They stopped off to see James J. Hill in St. Paul, Minnesota, then they honeymooned for a few days in Chicago, and stopped to see Ed and his family in Montana for two days. They arrived at the Fairhaven F&S depot on Aug. 13, 1892. After a honeymoon period, Fannie ultimately found herself to be at least the informal manager of the hotel, which, during the 1890s Depression, became as much their family home as a hotel for guests. According to a biography of Fannie written by the late Tom Petruzzi, within two months of arrival she was instrumental in the founding of the Bellingham Bay Home for Children, which was a safe haven for homeless children in the northwestern region of Washington State [6].
      Soon you can read more about Fannie and her children and her life in an edited version of Petruzzi's profile as well as other links, but the importance for this story is that Larrabee wanted a stable home for his wife and children, even if it was a hotel, and that meant not a drop of liquor would be dispensed there, just like a covenant in the deeds of planned temperance towns.

(Fairhaven Hotel)
Photo of the Fairhaven Hotel, as we look northeast, taken about the time that Charles brought his bride home in 1892.

The hotel, liquor and Mark Twain
      The Whatcom Reveille reported on Oct. 23, 1892, the detailed list of spirits and wines originally on stock at the Fairhaven, which were under the care of W.L. Miller and went on sale that week, including the finest French champagne, such as Pommery Sec, Piper Heidsieck and Louis Roderer. The report was appended:
      The bar was removed from the hotel on Oct. 4, 1890, when Mr. Larrabee took control of the establishment. It is his inviolable policy that no alcohol be served in his hotel, a policy derived from observation, first hand, of the effects of alcohol in the mining camps of Montana. Mr. Larrabee is the last person in the world to question how others live but he doesn't approve of liquor and as he owns the hotel, he is ready to put his money where his mouth is and so forbids alcohol at The Fairhaven. It is presumed that the Bar is now located in Tacoma.
      The recriminations about the economic decline had already started in town and the voices would grow louder. With Bennett in Tacoma, Larrabee was the easiest target. Some suggested that if Charles X. Larrabee had made one bad financial decision, it was closing the bar in his hotel. We can only conjecture if it was old Hiram Johnson's stern moral structure that led him to be so committed. From Rosamonde Van Miert's book, The Fairhaven Hotel Journal, we know that he hosted several temperance lectures there.
      The most famous recorded instance of the alcohol ban occurred when author Samuel Clemens lectured in the Lighthouse Theater, at the southeast corner of what is now Holly and Cornwall, in New Whatcom on Aug. 14, 1895, and was booked into the Fairhaven Hotel, on the last U.S. appearance of the Mark Twain worldwide tour that began that July. Roland Gamwell and other gentlemen of Fairhaven discovered that no plans had been made for refreshments. Clemens's throat was inflamed and raw, both from the nearby forest fires and from his 300-cigar-per-month smoking habit.
      Possibly embarrassed by the liquor ban at the hotel, Gamwell arranged for a post-lecture party at the private Cascade Club on the third floor of the Mason Block across the street from the Fairhaven Hotel. Runners had to be dispatched to fetch hot water for the hot toddies, with a generous dollop of whiskey, which Twain enjoyed. We will profile the Clemens visit and his 1895 World Tour in a future issue.
      In the stories we have read about that visit we have found no mention of the Larrabees attending the lecture but that is not surprising. The newspapers of the area reported that on August 13, the Larrabees' first child, Charles Francis, was born in the hotel (he died in 1950). He was followed by Edward Payne (1897-1944), Mary Adele (1902-1988), and Benjamin Howard (1906-1944), all also born at the hotel. Over the years, as the guest list shrank to nearly none, visitors were not surprised at all to see the lobby full of children's toys and the Larrabee children using the expensive floors as a skating rink, or to see the family enjoying dinner at the end of the large formal table nearest to the kitchen. From 1895 onwards, the Fairhaven began serving as the Larrabee home more than a hotel.
      The late August Radke — one of the author's favorite professors at Western Washington State College and the author of Pacific American Fisheries, shared a fact that we had not read before. In 1906, Larrabee, Gates and other investors formed the Northwestern Bank in the hotel. That bank soon quietly bought the hotel, although Larrabee still called the shots. In a 1907 newspaper article titled "Liquor prevents sale of big South Side hostelry," the reporter noted that C.X. Larrabee had once again called off negotiations with a possible buyer, this time a Mrs. White of Vancouver, when she planned to manage a bar as well as rent apartments. "It is said today that this one feature has always stood in the way of the sale of the building or of the letting of the lease." Thus, the yearly rumors continued of this or that serious buyer, but each time the liquor ban scuttled the deal and the hotel remained the Larrabee home.
      Larrabee had moved on in business. The FLC was now the Pacific Realty company and Charley had diversified his investments, as wise financial managers always dictate. After the Herald moved to a Sehome location on Elk (now State) Street in the 1903 era of consolidation of the towns, he became a part owner, apparently deciding that it was the most likely of all the competing newspapers to survive. As Radke explained in his Pacific Fisheries book, Larrabee also invested in the growing Bellingham Bay fishing industry in incremental steps.
      His friend Roland Gamwell had shipped the first salmon from the Bay to other cities in the country in the early 1890s. In 1898, Count Roland Onffroy, a French immigrant, organized the Franco-American North Pacific Packing Company, a large salmon cannery at Bennett and 4th streets along the harbor for $25,000 and the Reveille reported that "the site will be a very favorable one given by Mr. Larrabee on the waterfront in close proximity to deep water." Besides providing an ideal site, Larrabee gave Onffroy $2,500.
      After Onffroy moved on, the reorganized Pacific American Fisheries Company (PAF) took over the entire nearby Eliza Island as the site of their fishing program and for the repair and overhaul of equipment, along with pens for chickens and cattle for their large mess hall. The company's cannery and can-and-box factory and shipyard stood on Harris Bay next to Dan Harris's derelict hotel. When Larrabee and his associates established the Northwestern Bank in 1906, Larrabee invested again in the new company through the bank. By 1906, various reports estimated Larrabee's fortune at $8 million ($200 million in 2012), so despite the failure of the hotel, his perseverance and business instincts made him one of the few boomers to have ridden out the storm of the 1890s.
      In the next decade, Larrabee became ever more focused on his investment in commercial oyster beds on Samish Bay at the south end of Chuckanut Drive, possibly following the suggestion of his relative by marriage, William L. Lambert, who proved successful at growing oysters on Boundary Bay. By that time, Larrabee had become an amateur horticulturist, and he promoted the flower bulb industry in Whatcom County, which would grow in importance after his death. Fannie enjoyed taking the children for extended vacations in Portland and in California, where Charley joined Ed for horse shows. Summers were often spent in Montana at the old Brook Nook Ranch, which became six decades later Ted Turner's and Jane Fonda's Snowcrest Ranch. Fannie eventually sold the ranch in 1927 after determining that none of the children wanted to live there and manage it.
      As in Butte, Larrabee also pushed for a fine library and he succeeded in providing the seed land here for a Carnegie Library in 1903, which still stands just north of Fairhaven proper. You can read more details in Part Three: Documents about his initial frustration in 1891 and his follow-through a dozen years later.
      In 1914, Larrabee began overseeing the construction of the family's first private home, on what became Hawthorn Road (now Fieldston Road) in what would become the exclusive residential district of Edgemoor. On September 16 that year, he set off in the morning to visit the Federal Government's experimental bulb farm in north Bellingham, which he had encouraged, and then visited the oyster beds under the steep cliff near the Interurban stop at Seawood, about nine miles south of Fairhaven. [7] In the afternoon, Larrabee returned to the hotel with Cyrus L. Gates, who recalled later:

. . . in the best of health and spirits and we walked two blocks to our office in the Fairhaven. At the door he seemed to hesitate and stop for a moment, then sank down almost on the very door sill. We carried him into the office and laid him down . . . I think he died within a minute or two. [Family manuscript]
      Charley was 71, Fannie was 47 and his town was 25, but he never had the chance to move into his family home. Ed Larabie died just five months earlier back in Deer Lodge, Montana. In the eulogies and obituaries that we researched from the Deer Lodge Silver State newspaper in April 1914, readers could easily see that Ed left just as large a mark on his town as Charley did on his. Both lived large and helped define their respective place.

(Larrabee bust)
      Our original scope for this article was to focus only on the genealogy of Charles and his family and their activities in Fairhaven through 1900. For the period especially after the turn of the century, we will soon provide in Part Three excerpts from two profiles of Larrabee and his wife, which will fill in more details about his last decade and a half and especially about the legendary philanthropy that Larrabee himself began and was expanded considerably both by Fannie and by Cyrus L. Gates, who proved to be a most worthy steward of the family businesses while becoming a wealthy man himself.
      We will provide a vignette about the days during the next depression, of the 1930s, when his oldest son, Charles, proved to be a very kind and generous friend of Fairhaven businessmen who experienced very hard economic times through no fault of their own. As with all our in-depth features, we hope that descendants of any of the families mentioned or researchers who have studied the place and period will correct any errors on our part or on the part of the reporters cited, and we hope they will feel free to suggest material, especially facts not heretofore reported in Larrabee or Fairhaven profiles.
      In Fannie's honor, we share here just a few examples from the memorable list that made up her legacy when she died in 1941. After her husband's death in 1914, she completed their substantial donation to help fund the pillared YWCA building Forest Street. With the aid of Cyrus L. Gates, she completed the donation for Fairhaven Park, incorporating some of the Olmsted Brothers' 1910 plan, and for the separate rose garden. She continued her lifelong love of music and even filled in at times on piano when a local orchestra had someone report in ill. She hosted Polish pianist Jan Paderewski and my favorite story of her grandson's is about when the young African-American opera singer Marian Anderson performed locally but could not find accommodations. Fannie invited her as an honored guest to 1 Hawthorn Road.
      On Oct. 18, 2008, Brian Griffin, Fairhaven history author, along with Larrabee descendants, oversaw the unveiling of a bronze statue of C.X. on 11th street at the entrance to McKenzie Alley. Bob McDermott, the same sculptor who created the Dirty Dan Harris statue on the Village Green, has created a bronze bust of Fairhaven builder C.X. Larrabee.

4.. Grand Central Hotel
      Courtesy of Jeff Jewell, "The story of the cursed Grand Central," Bellingham Business Journal, February 2007. [Return]

5. John Padden
      Courtesy of Looking Back, Vol. 2, by Galen Biery & Dorothy Koert, who interviewed John Padden on February 6, 1956. [Return]

6. Tom Petruzzi
      Thomas Joseph Petruzzi of Camano Island passed away on April 29, 2013. He ended his 40-year career in finance as a senior vice-president for Washington Mutual, and in his retirement, he completed a Bachelor's degree at Western Washington University in 2006. He was a volunteer at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies and in that same year he assembled the profile, "The Legacy of Frances Payne Larrabee, Community Builder, Consummate Clubwoman—and Much More." As soon as he shared it with us we realized that Fannie Larrabee truly did the "heavy lifting" after her husband's death, to establish his and their legacy to the area. Tom detailed how she had been a very active member of the community from the very time she arrived in August 1892. Tom was uniquely able to gauge her activities because he was quite a volunteer himself, especially with Catholic charities. His work is important to anyone studying Whatcom, Bellingham or especially Fairhaven history. We plan to soon post an abridged version of his thesis. In the meantime, if you are a current subscriber, we will respond by email to your request with an MS Word version. See his obituary here; and this detailed Petruzzi profile of Fannie at HistoryLink. [Return]

7. Seawood
      You can see photos of the Seawood stop at this Journal site, soon to be transferred to this domain at this site; and see the whole schedule at this Journal site. [Return]

Return to Part One of the Larrabee story including: childhood in New York state and Omro, Wisconsin; maternal Johnson family and paternal Larrabee family in Omro; Charley's brother, Ed Larabie, changes his surname and builds a fortune in Montana; Charley joins Ed and builds a copper fortune in Butte, Montana; Charley moves west to Portland.

Links, background reading and sources to be added
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Story posted on July 13, 2008, updated substantially Aug. 9, 2013 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 44 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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