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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

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Early Whatcom Biographies and profiles
— Subject starting with A through L

      We have launched this new section to provide capsule biographies of very early pioneers of Whatcom, especially the very early settlers who came in the beginning — 1852-57; during the Fraser river gold rush of 1858; or the period after that until 1870, the tough years of the county when the little settlements along Bellingham Bay hung on, waiting for a boom time. Our impetus to launch this section was our posting of June Burn's 1931 columns in which she recalled the very early settlement and provided details of the short-lived gold rush. In these two sections you will also see references and sometimes links to the books that we found most valuable about this subject during our research. We will build this section over the years and we hope that descendants of the pioneers will share family memories or copies of documents and photos.

      This photo shows a remnant of the 1857 Military Road from Steilacoom to Whatcom county, surveyed by W.W. [Walter Washington] DeLacy, who is profiled below. When DeLacy reached Whatcom, he was hired by a committee of settlers to complete a trail from Bellingham Bay to the Fraser river in British Columbia, where discovery of placer gold inspired a brief gold rush in 1858. The photo is courtesy of the Paul Dorpat and the Seattle Times, which posted this article, including information about Karen Meador, historian of the Old Military Road.

      We have launched this new section to provide capsule biographies of very early pioneers of Whatcom, especially the very early settlers who came in the beginning — 1852-57; during the Fraser river gold rush of 1858; or the period after that until 1870, the tough years of the county when the little settlements along Bellingham Bay hung on, waiting for a boom time. Our impetus to launch this section was our posting of June Burn's 1931 columns in which she recalled the very early settlement and provided details of the short-lived gold rush. We will build this section over the years and we hope that descendants of the pioneers will share family memories or copies of documents and photos.

Anderson's map [See June 9, 1931, June Burn column]
      For a long time we were stumped as to who this Anderson was. In an article in the July 12, 1858, Northern Light, we found that a B.P. Anderson is mentioned as the county prosecuting attorney. In the Sept. 14, 1883, edition of the Whatcom Reveille, a B.H. Anderson is mentioned as an old settler of the 1850s. They could have been the same person. But we should have looked at Percival R. Jeffcott's definitive 1949 book, Nooksack Tales and Trails. In it we found that the map was apparently drawn by an A.C. Anderson, who blazed in 1846 what became known as the Brigade Trail from Fort Hope on the Fraser river north to the Thompson river, which branches east at the town of Lytton, the site of Mortimer Cook's first store in B.C. We hope that a reader can enlighten us with more information about Anderson's life and map. Meanwhile, Jeffcott's book is the best source we have found so far for meticulous detail about the various trails that June Burn recounts in her columns. [Return]

Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832-1918) [See June 13, 1931, June Burn column]
      Bancroft of San Francisco was the leading proponent of writing local histories in Western states. After traveling up and down the coast and into Mexico and Central America over several years, where he collected documents and conducted interview, he decided to write a comprehensive work. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature both praises and criticizes him. "He adopted the method of the business man who has a task too large for his own efforts. He employed assistants to prepare statements of the facts for large sections of the proposed history. . . . . We have his own word that the assistants were capable investigators and there is independent evidence to show that some of them deserved his confidence. But his failure to give credit leaves us in a state of doubt concerning the value of any particular part. Bancroft considered himself the author of the work. We must look upon him as the director of a useful enterprise, but it is not possible to consider him its author." In our own research, we have read accounts by Eldridge Morse of Snohomish county, who contributed material from thousands of pages of his own unpublished manuscript in the late 1870s, and by Amos Bowman, who actually accompanies Bancroft on tours in the late 1870s. Of his 39 volumes, these books are most relevant for our northwest Washington research: Native Races of the Pacific States (vols. 1-5, 1874), History of the North-West Coast (vols. 27-28, 1884), History of Oregon (vols. 29-30, 1886-88), History of Washington, Idaho, and Montana (vol. 31, 1890), History of British Columbia (vol. 32, 1887), History of Alaska (vol. 33, 1886). [Return]

William Bausman, Northern Light newspaper [See June 10, 1931, June Burn column]
      William Bausman was a writer on the San Francisco Call when argonauts down south first got word in 1858 about the placer gold discoveries on the Fraser river. As Lelah Jackson Edson recounts in The Fourth Corner, James W. Towne and Company quickly bought a newspaper plant and shipped it up in toto to Victoria on Vancouver Island and published the first issue of the Victoria Gazette on June 25. Although doing business in a crown colony, the Gazette fought British interests and criticized Governor Douglas himself. Bausman was close behind, buying an old hand press and a few fonts of type from another plant and shipping it all to Bellingham Bay where he published the first issue of his Northern Light newspaper on July 3, also firing salvos at Douglas. The mere presence of the newspaper on board the steamer Cortes convinced many miners who originally booked passage for Victoria to disembark at the tent city of Whatcom instead. He said afterwards that he had $3,000 in gold when he landed at Whatcom and had just $275 when he left that fall. In between time, Roeder generously gave him several lots to entice him to stay on the bay. The Northern Light consisted of two 12x17-inch sheets with four-column folio and Bausman exhibited professionalism during the entire brief run. The first newspaper on Bellingham Bay and the third in the territory, Bausman's weekly, published each Saturday, has become the most complete record of those gold rush days.
      The Bellingham Herald retained the only complete volume of the 13 issues printed during the boom and you can read copies of it at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies at the Northwest division of the regional state archives in Fairhaven. The volume was stolen from the Herald office in 1906, reappeared a few years later, then disappeared again during the Depression, and then Charles Sefrit, business manger of the Herald, and Patrick E. Healy of the Chamber of Commerce obtained the volume once again in 1939 for $25. The Northern Light office was set up in a building where William Utter's machine shop was formerly housed, on E street across from the T.G. Richards & Co. brick building, which had been erected earlier that year and still stands today as the only remnant from the 1850s. When lots that went for more than $1,000 at the beginning of the boom in the spring could not fetch any price by early September, Bausman saw the proverbial writing on the wall and he and his assistant, a Mr. Watson from San Francisco, published the final edition as an extra on September 18. By then, many of the temporary wooden structures had been dismantled and shipped over to Victoria, leaving only the brick building . Bausman and Watson steamed back to San Francisco, with Bausman's farewell: "Whatcom has gone in, and the Light has gone out." They resumed their careers there and the equipment apparently wound up with the Port Townsend Argus, which was launched in 1861. Besides Edson's in-depth review and the copies at the archives, we direct you to this site of the Whatcom Historical Society that is dedicated to preserving the historic newspapers of Whatcom county. [Return]

Charles Beale [See June 10, 1931, June Burn column]
      At first I was confused about June's reference, thinking she meant grocer C.N. Beal of Whatcom. But then I realized that she left the "E" off the end of the name. Charles Beale and his cousin Robert were very early squatters on Fidalgo island in Whatcom county's south half, which later became Skagit county. Fidalgo pioneer descendant Carrie White described Beale in her famous but unpublished manuscript, Fidalgo Island Before The Boom, which she delivered at the Anacortes Historical Club on Sept. 13, 1898: "Mr. Charles Beale state that he came first to Fidalgo in March 1859 on a hunting expedition in company with his cousin Robert K. Beale, Robert H. Davis, a nephew of Jefferson Davis, John Hughes, Charles Pearson and [no first name] Brown." She recounted that Beale volunteered that year to supplement Capt. Pickett's force on San Juan Island during the outbreak of the "Pig War." While he was gone, Robert became hard up and sold their squatters' rights for $75. Beale stayed on at Fidalgo and became an active farmer, famous for his "Beale's Peach" variety that grew here against all advice. The land near his original patch attracted other later permanent settlers, including John and Almina (Richards) Griffin, H.A. March and John Fravel, among others. We also want to note that the Davis story is not apocryphal. Candace Wellman, an author preparing a substantial book on Northwest Indians, has researched Davis's life: "Robert H. Davis was the nephew of Jefferson Davis. I have gone to the Davis family on that. He was the son of Jefferson's elder brother Samuel (hence the son's being named Sam)." He was the first Caucasian husband of the famous Indian who is often referred to as Princess Tol Stolla. Wellman plans to dispel many myths about both of them. [Return]

Dwight Mahlon Brosseau (1871-193?] [See June 7, 1931, June Burn column]
      Brosseau was a childhood friend of the mentioned daughter, Nina Cook Budlong, who married Standish Budlong of Rockford, Illinois, at her parents original house in old Sedro by the Skagit river in October 1895 and moved back to Illinois for the rest of her life. Brosseau was born in Michigan on Jan 9., 1871, where his father, George, was a railroad worker. The family moved to Tacoma in 1888 to work for the Northern Pacific Railroad and a year later they moved to Sterling, west of Sedro. Dwight's mother, Edna, was one of the women who sewed the first flag for a 4th of July celebration in 1890 in Sedro. Just before the turn of the 20th century, Dwight moved to Fairhaven where he was employed for the giant Pacific American Fisheries Co. and he became their long-time auditor. He died in Bellingham on June 18, 1939, at age 68, and his parents moved there to join him sometime after 1906. Brosseau will be the subject of a Journal feature in Issue 30 of the Subscribers Edition. [Return]

William Brown [See the listing for Sehome Mine]

Mortimer Cook (Sept. 1, 1826-Nov. 22, 1899) [See the listing for Sehome Mine]
      Mortimer Cook made an impact on the Pacific Northwest in two different eras. His most important contribution in relation to our website is his founding the village of Sedro in 1885, replacing his earlier village of Bug. But his first impact was in 1858 when he moved north from the gold diggings in Rabbit Creek, California, to join Henry Roeder in leading pack teams to the newest gold rush at Fraser river in British Columbia. After nearly three years, he showed up again at the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson rivers and soon started a general store and a gravity ferry at his namesake town, Cook's Ferry, now Spence's Bridge. After nearly 25 years in his native Ohio, Kansas and California — where he was mayor of Santa Barbara for two terms, Cook returned to the Northwest and settled the river area of what is now Sedro-Woolley. You can read an extensive section on Mortimer at this Journal website. [Return]

Captain Walter Washington deLacy and the military road
See the photo above
[See June 11, 1931, June Burn column]
      During the summer of 1856, Army Capt. W.W. deLacy surveyed what is now called the Old Military Road, the route between Steilacoom and Fort Bellingham, with the help of six Indians, three settlers, a pocket compass and an ax to blaze marks on trees. Actual clearing and primitive grading began in 1857. Jefferson Davis, who was Secretary of War in those pre-Civil War days, ordered the road construction in response to the Indian wars that flared up wherever U.S. settlers encroached upon ancient tribal lands, and further impetus was provided when the Pig War threatened the peace of American settlers alongside British subjects in the San Juan islands. DeLacy was instructed to locate the road inland wherever possible, about five miles beyond the range of the artillery range of Britain's naval warships. Karen Meador, the Old Military Road historian, found parts of the extant road near Federal Way in the early 2000s. When he reached Whatcom county, the first reports of placer gold discoveries were coming in from the Fraser River district of B.C. On January 5, 1857, the Whatcom county board of supervisors appointed three settlers, Russell A. Peabody, Charles Vail, and James Carr to "view" a road from Bellingham Bay to a crossing of the Nooksack river near what is now the Canadian border.
      After he connected the original Military Road with what since has been called Telegraph Road — named for the telegraph route instituted a decade later, deLacy was soon hired by an ad hoc committee of boosters from the village of Whatcom. Underfunded and undermanned, he laboriously blazed a trail from the original Whatcom-Fraser River trail past Chilliwack lake and then northeast up the Skagit river watershed north of the boundary to a point where the original Brigade Trail of the 1840s met the Tulameen river. DeLacy left surprisingly little as far as written records or accounts of his Washington activities and most of the information about his trail is derived from the Northern Light newspaper. One odd detail popped out at us as we looked at the 1983 book by James W. Scott and Daniel E. Turbeville III, Whatcom County in Maps, 1832-1937. This book is invaluable to the researcher and one of the maps included is the plat map for Sehome, which deLacy, noted as a civil engineer, drew for Fitzhugh, Vail and other landholders of the early town on May 8, 1858. Although his name on the legend is handwritten deLacy, there is a DeLacey street on the map. Was it named for him and why that way? Indeed, many records spell his name with that variation. Do we have another Olmsted/Olmstead conflict? Was he given lots during the boom for his efforts, partly in lieu for cash? We also know from Percival Jeffcott's notes that deLacy laid out the Guide Meridian road north from Whatcom.

Walter Washington deLacy, courtesy of John DeLacy

      To complicate matters further for the researcher, we find this detail at this website for Thurston County — "Lacey. This city, located three miles east of Olympia (Sec.21, T18N, R1W), was incorporated in 1966. It was originally named Woodland for Isaac and Catherine Wood, for their [Donation Land Claim" filed in 1853. But the name for the post office had to be changed as there was another Woodland in southern Washington, on the same railroad line. O.C. deLacey, an attorney and land developer wishing to develop the community, filed to have the name changed to 'Lacey'. The town was distinguished as the best horse racing site on the west coast. It is now the second largest city in the county." We have not found any other reference to this man after he signed the naming petition in 1891.
      We have learned much more about W.W. deLacy since this article was posted, and especially since one of his descendants contacted us: John DeLacy of Portland, Oregon, who traces his lineage back through his great-great grandfather, who was apparently W.W. deLacy's brother. He also supplied documents in which we discovered that deLacy was born in Petersburg, Va., on Feb. 22, 1819, and that he died in Helena, Mont., on May 13, 1892. (For a more complete biography of Mr. deLacy, see Issue 42 of the Subscribers Edition. [Return]

Governor James Douglas (1803-1877) [See June 4, 1931, June Burn column]
      Governor James Douglas became most famous historically because of the obstacles he presented to miners during the 1858 Fraser River gold rush and a year later when he interjected himself into the almost-Pig War on San Juan Island. Douglas was born in 1803 in British Guinea and as a teenager he sought his fortune with the old Northwest Company, which dissolved in July 1821 and was absorbed by the Hudson's Bay Company [HBC]. In 1830 he arrived at Fort Vancouver where he was a clerk and later the assistant to John McLoughlin, the chief factor for the British HBC. He replaced McLoughlin as chief factor there in 1846 and then became chief factor at Fort Victoria. By 1851, Douglas assumed the administration of all the company's affairs in Western Canada and he ultimately gained the informal title of the Father of British Columbia. He was governor of the Crown Colony of Victoria from 1851 and the first governor of the colony of British Columbia from 1858 until his retirement in 1864. During his time in office he was responsible for maintaining the British presence in the Pacific Northwest as the U.S. settlers stepped up their settlement from 1853 on. For more detailed information, we especially refer you to David Richardson's 1971 book, Pig War Islands, and The Pig War: Standoff at Griffin Bay, by Michael Vouri, along with this Wikipedia/Answer website on James Douglas. [Return]

Edward Eldridge (1828-?) [See June 9, 1931, June Burn column]
(Edward Eldridge)
Edward Eldridge

      Born at Saint Andrews — golfers' heaven, Scotland on Dec. 7, 1828, Edward Eldridge was orphaned in childhood and was raised, along with his siblings, by grandparents. At age 14 he ran away to sea, eventually with the British Navy, and in 1846 he emigrated to the U.S., soon sailing on the Great Lakes, where he met Henry Roeder. He returned to saltwater sailing three years later and arrived at San Francisco Bay in October 1849, at the time that the gold rush exploded on the American, Yuba and other rivers. His son Hugh Eldridge told the story that, after a year in the gold fields, Edward went back to sea as second mate on the San Francisco to Panama route, shuttling passengers who had crossed the Isthmus, and on one of the trips he met an Irish immigrant named Theresa Lapin [also spelled Teresa, 1832-1911] who was hired by a family in New York as a domestic and then they took her with them to the '49er gold diggings. Edward and Teresa were married in California in February, 1852 and they settled in the Yreka, California, area where daughter Isabelle was born on Dec. 21, 1852.
      While waiting in San Francisco for a vessel assignment in May 1853, Edward bumped into his old friend from the Great Lakes, Capt. Henry Roeder, who had sailed south to buy equipment for his new sawmill at Whatcom. Roeder enticed the young couple to move north and William Utter and H.C. Page came up with them. Theresa was the first white woman at the settlement, which at that time was a handful of log cabins, and Isabelle was the first white baby. They soon claimed 320 acres adjacent to Roeder's donation claim and Edward built their first log-cabin at the corner of Clinton and Division streets. Edward helped erect the sawmill and then helped dig out the coal mine, while Theresa set up a boarding house for the laborers at both businesses. She soon came to be regarded as the "mother" of the village. In the 1880s, Edward Eldridge became a leader in the movement for women's suffrage in the state but the right to vote ended after three years. You can read several biographies and obituaries of the couple and their four children, two of whom died young, at this Journal website. [Return]

Edmund C. Fitzhugh [See June 10, 1931, June Burn column]
      Edmund Clare Fitzhugh was best described by Lelah Jackson Edson in The Fourth Corner: " . . . as head of the [Sehome] coal mine and company store, was at that time the largest employer of labor in the Northwest, and at once the most important man in the settlement. He has been described as a fearless, high strung Virginia gentleman, generous, hospitable, impulsive, self indulgent, imperious and self-willed; a born fighter, and quick to take offense — something of a roisterer [a lovely old world meaning one who engages in boisterous merrymaking; revels noisily]." He was another '49er and while in California he formed a law firm. Moving to Bellingham Bay in 1854, he staked a claim at the site of the Bellingham Bay Coal Co., which later became known as the Sehome Mine, and he became the general manager and the biggest employer in Whatcom county. He soon took an Indian wife, the daughter of Klallam sub-chief Sehome. Col. Michael Simmons soon appointed Fitzhugh the federal Indian agent and he later became the county auditor.
      When the war clouds appeared in the late 1850s, Fitzhugh made his Confederate allegiance clear and his support for the South grew. Like Captain George Pickett, he decided to take action. Fitzhugh had been a military aide to Isaac I. Stevens, the first territorial governor and in 1860, he left Sehome for Washington, D.C., to help Stevens run Vice President John C. Breckinridge's unsuccessful presidential campaign against Republican challenger Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, Fitzhugh enlisted in the Confederate Army and soon became an adjutant to now-general Pickett in time for Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. See the Sehome Mine listing above for more information, Edson's book, and see this article from the 2003 Bellingham Herald town centennial series. [Return]

Henry Hewitt [See the listing for Sehome Mine]

Hudson's' Bay Company (Sept. 1, 1826-Nov. 22, 1899) [See June 16, 1931, June Burn column]
      King Charles II of England chartered HBC in 1670 to build trade with the region around the Hudson river in the colonies. When Canada was transferred from France to England after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, Scotsmen assumed a larger role in the fur trade, which was based in Montreal and the HBC declined in importance. The Montreal merchants set up the North West Company to compete with the older company.
      The Pacific Northwest, including both the original Oregon/Washington territory and British Columbia, was so remote and so covered by dense forest that the only visitors to the land populated by Indians were fur traders and occasional ships that took on masts from the stands of Douglas fir, limbless for the first 100 feet or more. At the turn of the 19th century, John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) established the first American presence near the mouth of the Columbia in present-day Oregon, at a town and fort on the south shore that he named Astoria. Astor's partners sold out to the British Northwest Company, however, during the War of 1812. In 1821, HBC absorbed its fur-trading rival and acquired all the latter's Pacific Northwest trading posts including Fort Spokane and Fort George, the old Astoria.
      By 1824, the Hudson's Bay Company decided to establish a new headquarters on the Columbia. Fort Spokane was abandoned because it was not on a navigable water route, and Fort George was moved for two reasons. First, the wet, cloudy weather at the mouth of the Columbia was not conducive to the farming necessary for adequate food supplies. Second, Fort George was on the south bank of the river, and the Company's British owners wanted to be on the north bank, since at the time it was thought that the Columbia River would become the border between British territory and the United States.
      In November 1824, George Simpson, governor of the Hudson's Bay Company's Northern Department, decided to establish a completely new headquarters on the north shore of the Columbia, mainly because they believed then that the river would mark the border between the U.S. and Canada. He ditched the Spokane Fort since it was not on a major waterway and he brought in Dr. John McLoughlin, whom he had selected as chief factor for the planned new post. McLoughlin was in turn succeeded by his assistant, James Douglas, who gradually shifted the locus of power for HBC to Victoria on Vancouver Island. [Return]

Vermilion, Ohio [See June 9, 1931, June Burn column]
      To understand the background of many of the small group of original settlers of Whatcom, you have to study Vermilion, Ohio. We began doing so a few years ago when we tried to connect N. Edward Goodell, the namesake of Goodell creek near Newhalem on the upper Skagit river, with Phoebe Goodell Judson [also spelled Phebe] and Henry Roeder. We will address this all in a special feature later in 2005, but here is a brief version. As you will read in the Roeder biography.], Roeder emigrated with his family from Germany to Vermilion as a child. After sailing on the Great Lakes, news of the gold strike at Sutter's Fort excited his imagination and he joined an overland wagon train at St. Joseph's, Missouri, which arrived at Sacramento, California, on Aug. 14, 1850. He settled at Ophir, named for the land around King Solomon's biblical gold mine.
      At the same time as Roeder and Peabody established their donation claims and erected their sawmill in the summer of 1853, Phoebe Goodell Judson and her husband, Holden, and baby traveled by steamboat from Ohio to Missouri and then by wagon train for seven months to join her parents, Jotham Weeks and Anna Glenning Goodell, at Grand Mound, near Olympia. They were frustrated in their search for good farmland and after living for a few years, they were enticed in 1871 to join the Roeders in Whatcom county when Col. William Patterson gave them his homestead. The Judsons platted much of that land in 1880 as the town of Lynden, northeast of Roeder's mill and along the Nooksack river. Goodell and Judson relatives who were also from Vermilion joined them. We have launched a multi-chapter series on the Goodells in Issue 30 of the Subscribers Edition. Read the introduction here.
      Roeder wrote back to Vermilion and urged his sweetheart, Elizabeth Austin, to join him in 1854. She also took the steamboat route to Missouri with her friend, Anna Maria Goodell, the wife of Phoebe's brother William Bird Goodell. They joined a wagon train west that became famous because it included Jacob and Winfield Ebey, the father and son of Col. Isaac N. Ebey, who had recently settled on Whidbey Island and would be beheaded by Indians there three years later. Mary Ebey, Isaac's sister, was also in the train and her future husband, Urban Bozarth joined them near the Platte river. Bozarth and Ebey married in 1858, but that is a whole 'nother story, which will be shared in Issue 31 of the Subscribers Edition. The Ebey wagon train arrived in Olympia that fall of 1854; the Ebey group went to Whidbey island and Miss Austin stayed in Olympia, where she married Roeder on Feb. 10, 1855. Meanwhile, over the next three decades the Vermilion settlers became revered pioneers of Whatcom county, as June noted. [Return]

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