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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Hugh Eldridge memories and profile

(Indian Canoes)
Settlement in those early days of the northern part of Washington territory was usually centered on the islands and around the mouths of streams and rivers. Both the hardy outdoorsmen and the tenderfoot quickly learned from the Indians that the best and least expensive mode of travel was by canoes crafted from cedar. This excellent illustration from the Outdoor Odysseys site is just one of the treats that the site offers people who want to learn those travel routes by water.

Part 4: Hugh Eldridge's memories
A child on Bellingham Bay, 1860s and '70s

Letter to the editor, Ferndale Record, July 20, 1934
      Each year as the time for the Pioneer Picnic comes around it is only natural that the days of long ago should pass like a panorama before the mind of the old timers. Today I am thinking of one happy evening in the summer of 1866. There was a glorious full moon that evening, the tide was high and the bay calm as a sheet of glass.
      My brother Eddie, five years older than me, three Indian boys and two older Indians and I in two canoes and a dugout were running races. We would paddle out two or three hundred yards and then race back, changing canoes to see which was the best crew. The water was full of phosphorous and the fish darting out of the way looked like streaks of fire. Many other Indians sat on the beach and shouted encouragement.
      Bessie, a big water dog belonging to Father, tried to keep up with us. She did alright going out but was left far behind as we raced back. Little did that happy group think that night what the future had in store for them. My brother Eddie was shot accidentally in a boat down in front of Whatcom two years later. Mutsie, a Nooksack Indian boy, died young. Tsat-um-cum or Tom, son of Jim Eldridge, a faithful Indian that worked many years for Father before white labor was obtainable, first was stabbed by a Skagit Indian called Charlie Seaam, recovering from that wound he was badly cut in the leg with an ax and died from infection while still quite young. The two older Indians died years ago; the third young Indian I saw in Vancouver, B.C., in 1918. He had served in France with the Canadian Army and was wounded at Pasadale [sp?]. He looked well when I saw him and may be alive still. That was sixty-eight years ago but oft on summer evenings when the tide is high and the full moon shines across the Bay from Point Williams [Samish Island]. I hear or seem to hear the happy laughter of all in the canoes, Bessie's excited barking and the Indians on shore shouting encouragement. As the shadows of life lengthen these scenes of Childhood appear more frequently.
      In those days the green brush and timber met or nearly met the water and at high tide the bay looked very beautiful. The. great timber fire of 1868 [when Hugh was eight] sadly changed the picture in several places, particularly on the [Lummi] Indian Reservation. There were few people here except at the [Sehome] Coal Mine, but there was always canoes passing back and forth from the Reservation to the store at the mine and home again, At times as many as three or four coal ships would be in the harbor.

First school in Whatcom County; first baseball game
(First Eldridge cabin)
The first Eldridge cabin that Edward Eldridge built for his wife Teresa and baby Isabel after arriving at the village of Whatcom in 1853.

      The first school in Whatcom County, which at that time comprised what is now Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties, stood near the west side of where Maple Street crosses Railroad Avenue. There was usually from thirty to forty pupils and one teacher drawing $40 per month, payable usually in greenbacks [which were discounted heavily by banks versus gold]. Later teachers were cut to $30. The pupils ranged from those in their A.B.C's to young men and women.
      [Journal Ed. note: Hugh puts family relationships or married name within parentheses and we add supplemental information within [ ] brackets.]
      I will not try to name all of those who were schoolmates then for "some have gone to lands far distant and with strangers made their home; some have gone from us forever; longer here they might not stay; they have reached a fairer region far away, far away." [Source of poem]
      A few of them were George and Maggie (Mrs. Rope), Annie (Mrs. Jones) Slover. Billy, Henry and John Slater. Annie (Mrs. Ray) and Charlie Tawes.
      Maria (Mrs. Oxford), Tommy and Barry Wynn. Fred Allen. Johnnie Hyatt. Charlie Finkbonner. William Henry Verrick of Orcas Island. Louis, Francis and Cecilia (Mrs Connell) Hofercamp.
      Lizzie Roberts Tuck Frank (in Tacoma). Fanny Hall.
      Eddie and Alice (Mrs. Gilligan) Eldridge. John Henry. Victor and Lottie (Mrs. Charles Roth) Roeder. Alice Jarman (Mrs. Elliott).
      Pea and Mike Padden (later of King County) [those were not children of Michael Padden, who arrived in Whatcom County in 1870 and was fatally shot in 1880 after naming and claiming Lake Padden]. Johnnie and Jennie Clark. Willie and Nellie Harrison. Tennie and Johnnie Williams, who later was the engineer that opened up the new Bellingham Coal Mines.
      William, Witty and Alfred Tarte. Maggie (Mrs. Chilberg of LaConner); Becka (Mrs. Smart of Whatcom); Susie (Mrs. Dickinson of Whatcom); Mary (Mrs. Kildall) and Lewis Jenkins.
      Clara (Mrs. Stenger), Rillie (Mrs. Perry), Clay Fouts, Hugh and Johnnie Ramsay, Lizzie and Teresa Ramsay. Cousins Maud (Mrs. Welbon) and Mattie (Mrs. Savage) Kellogg.
      Pete and Kitty Dennis. Mary, Hannah and Bengy Thomas. Both the Dennis and Thomas kids were all of Skagit County.
      Fred Padden kept the different teachers on edge. He used to drink ink and it did not seem to hurt him. He would sit and suck this thumb while he figured out some new devilment. He usually had a pet chipmunk, which stayed most of the time in his shirt pocket. When the school was quiet, it would run around the room exploring,, but if scared, would run up Fred's leg and into his shirt pocket.
      Victor Roeder was a daring kid in those days. I remember one day he climbed to the top of an alder, the limb he was on broke and he came down kerwhallop. A miner passing along the road let out a wild yell and ran to pick him up. Vic dragged himself up, biting his lips to keep back the tears and said, " you needn't holler, you damned old fool, you didn't make me do it and you couldn't neither." But Joe Lanktree was the boss when it came to mischief in school. Handsome and good natured, he was the pet of the girls and the terror of the teachers, but popular with everyone. Joe later was a prominent politician and business man of Oakland where he died last winter.

Early village memories
(First Eldridge mansion)
The first Eldridge mansion, built in 1891, a year before his death, and destroyed in a forest fire of 1894

      The post office located in the Coal Company's store was the only one for some time in what is now Whatcom County. Mail came once a week, usually on Tuesday. The mail boat left Seattle Monday morning and if the weather was decent and there was not many passengers she arrived Tuesday, but a lot of passengers generally seemed to cause the old boat to go aground in Swinomish Slough. She had lots of time and 50 cents a meal, which the unfortunate passengers had to pay, was profitable to the boat.
      If the mail got in near noon the school, the school kids liked to go up to the store to hear Tom Barrett distribute it and call it off. He, like his son, ex-auditor Sam Barrett, was very popular with the miners and ranchers and the people generally on account of his square dealings. People came in from all around as the County settled up and before other post offices were established. I used to hear mail called very often for old man Boblett and George Cain of Blaine, Victor and Ida Cherion [sp?] of Mountain View and other early settlers.
      Thomas Oleny, a pioneer of 1858, had a saloon where the Boulevard crosses the west side of the Bloedel-Donovan mill property. He left the county and the building was fitted up for a church. Here was held the first Christmas tree. Johnnie Williams, an Indian boy, bought a suit of clothes, a hat, scarf and pair of shoes which he had placed on the tree for himself. When they were called off he seemed surprised and repeated each time, "I wonder who give me. Ain't it nice present."
      The first May Day picnic in the county was held on the green below Prospect and between E and F streets. Maude Kellogg Welbon was May Queen and Maggie Jenkins Chilberg, a fine singer, presented the crown.
      One of the annual festivities ( and some were unkind enough to say semi-annual) was the celebration of Abe Green's birthday. Abe was a miner, liberally inclined, and he used to purchase the refreshments and the boys would have a regular field day. At one of them, Narcise Filardo cleared twenty-two feet in a running jump and Charlie Donovan forty-five feet in a hop, step and jump. Evan Lewis, as usual, won the foot race.
      The first baseball game played in the Northwest was between the Black Diamonds, composed of coal miners, and the Wide-a-wakes, of all working outside. Charlie Donovan, catcher for Wide-a-wakes, is the only man that played that day [who is] now living in the county. Will Thomas, pitcher of the Black Diamonds, still lives near Edison in Skagit County. James Power, editor of the Bellingham Bay Mail (afterward published in La Conner as the Puget Sound Mail) was umpire and he certainly had a day of it. Few of the players ever saw a ball game, let alone play in one, and every decision was disputed and there sure was some funny plays.

Sehome coal mine closes
(Second Eldridge mansion)
The second Eldridge mansion, still standing on the bluff above Squalicum. This home was designed in 1926 by F. Stanley Piper, the same architect who designed the Bellingham National Bank Building, which is also on the Historic Registry. Hugh Eldridge was then the Bellingham postmaster. He and his family lived in the home until 1939. During WWII the Eldridge home was occupied by the military for offices and living space. The present owners of the Eldridge House, Mike and Cis Kennard also own the Bellingham Beauty School. They bought it in 1994 and had a keen eye for the 2.2-acre remaining parcel from the original 320-acre Eldridge homestead of the 1850s. They are to commended for their loving restoration, a key home in the district named for Hugh's father. You can read about the The Eldridge Society for History and Preservation, which encourages pride in ownership and schedules occasional tours of the pioneer homes.

      In the language of the song, "All things change here, nothing in this world can last," the people in this section were to meet with a severe trial when, in the winter of 1877, the coal mine that opened in 1855 closed down and the machinery was taken to Black Diamond in King County. A few of the miners had taken up ranches and now moved on to them. Others went to other mines and in 1879 there was thirteen families on the Bay from Fort Bellingham clear around to Happy Valley. I remember one day that [our] father [Edward Eldridge] walked from home down to the old Bellingham Hotel on Bennett Avenue and 10th Street [in Fairhaven] and on his return he said, "I did not see a soul today."
      Ferndale became the metropolis of what is now Whatcom County, and on the bank of the Nooksack [River] near the north line of Pioneer Park many great questions were debated on Sunday afternoons. As the time for election came around, politics held the boards and many a political argument was literally fought out with George Slater, John Evans, Thomas Wynn like many of the other people who worked the Sehome Coal Mine from the 1850s to the closing in 1878, Wynn settled at Ferndale afterwards, having established a farm and home in the early 1870s that became known as the Wynn Schoolhouse.], Billy Clarke, Harry Post and Jack Hope on the Republican side, pitted against John Plaster, McKinley T. Tawes, Reuben Biser, Jim Lynch, Jack North and little Terry Grogan on the Democratic side.
      No quarter was asked or accepted and it sure looked like a mix-up at times but while those old timers might argue bitterly on politics, they were a unit on all questions affecting the good of the Country and any one of them would have cheerfully laid down his life in defense of his Country's flag or its Constitution, be he Native American or American by adoption.
      May those now in charge of Pioneer Park, and those to have charge in the years to come, ever have in mind the study patriotism of those early pioneers in the management of that sacred ground consecrated to their memory.
Respectfully, Hugh Eldridge

[Journal ed. note: you can see the links below for our extensive section about Edward Eldridge and family. We add a note here about Hugh because of the illness that he experienced near the turn of the 20th century, but that he overcame to live a long life, dying in Bellingham at age 79 on Dec. 11, 1939. These two brief stories attest to his earlier illness.
      In the Blaine Morning Journal of Aug. 8, 1890: "Hugh Eldridge has been informed by his physicians that he is suffering from brain and nervous troubles and accepting their advice will leave this evening for the Atlantic coast. He will remain until his condition is improved. He will visit Southern California before returning."
      In the obituary for his nephew, Edward J. Gilligan, appearing in the Bellingham Weekly Blade of Sept. 7, 1904: "When his sister Tessie died, in June, 1901, he came back and stopped with his grandmother and became chief mailing clerk in the postoffice, which position he held until his death. He took sick early in February of this year, but on account of the absence in California of his uncle, Postmaster Hugh Eldridge, who was ill, he tried heroically to stay at his post until Mr. Eldridge's return." We are still working with Eldridge descendants to determine details of Hugh's illnesses.

Charlie Seaam
      In some records, especially the Otto Klement memoirs, the family name is recorded as Seaam, and Charlie is profiled there. [Return]

"some have gone to lands far distant . . . "
      Hugh was quoting Louis Stone, an English novelist and playwright whose real name was William Lewis and who wrote that phrase in a book popular in Hugh's time, Jonah, published in 1911 as an autobiography about his memories of growing up at Waterloo. [Return]

(Annie Tawes Ray)
Tawes family
      McKinney and Mary Bird Tawes family came in 1856 to deliver machinery to the Sehome coal mine, but left after a dispute with Edmund C. Fitzhugh and sought a farm in what was then wilderness north of the town near the log jam that choked off the Nooksack River. They eventually established Cedar Grove farm in the early 1870s near Marietta and Ferndale, which was originally called "Jam." This photo of Annie Tawes Ray cutting her birthday cake was printed in the Bellingham Herald on Dec. 3, 1941, just days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was headed "County's No. 1 White Baby Cuts Cake. As we noted in the introductory story on Edward Eldridge, that claim was inaccurate and later became controversial. As Lelah Jackson Edson explained in her 1951 book, Fourth Corner, the first baby born to white settlers on Bellingham Bay was Lizette Roberts (or Lizetta), on Oct. 2, 1856. Also, twin boys were earlier born to a couple in the Chuckanut Drive area in 1853, but they soon left the area. Although Annie's birthday is not quoted in the 1941 story, we know that she was born in her parents' Sehome cabin in 1859. As she said in an interview: "Certainly I know how old I am. I was born the day before John Brown was hanged to the sour apple tree — that was in 1859." We know that he was hanged on Dec. 2, 1859. We are a bit puzzled why she made the "first" claim, but we suppose that it could have been aided and abetted by a newspaper reporter who had a poor grasp of history. The confusion could have also arisen from the fact that Annie was the oldest of the pioneer children still living in the county. She does seem, however, to have been the first non-native baby born in what became Bellingham proper in 1903. [Return]

Charlie Finkbonner
      His father, Christian C. Finkbonner, was the federal Indian agent for the Lummi Reservation and settled at Cherry Point. He was born in about 1824 and in 1854 he moved to San Francisco, where he was a broker until coming north during the 1858 Fraser Gold Rush. He set up a general store across the street from the famous Richards and Hyatt [Brick Courthouse] building that summer, possibly after trying prospecting, himself, and failing to get rich. Along with John Tennant and other pioneers, he accompanied Edmund T. Coleman on the first successful ascent of Mount baker in 1868. According to Percival R. Jeffcott,, Finkbonner aided Father Chirouse in setting up the Catholic church on the reservation, even though he was not a Catholic, himself. He lived with an Indian woman, Mary Wright, and married her legally in 1873; they had six children together. He died of heart failure in Sehome on Oct. 18, 1876, and Mary lived on until July 17, 1932. [Return]

Hofercamp chidren
      Their father, Henry, originally came to Bellingham Bay in the 1860s as a superintendent for the Bellingham Bay Coal Mine in Sehome. He was an early school director of the first school district in Whatcom in 1874, after the original school was located in Sehome. Their mother turned the first spade of dirt for the new Bellingham Bay and British Columbia Railroad on April 7, 1884. [Return]

Lizetta Tuck
      Lizetta's (Lizzie) parents were Charles and Maria Roberts, whose homestead was appropriated by Capt. Pickett for Fort Bellingham. Lizzie was born on Oct 2, 1856, the first non-native girl born at Whatcom. After Maria's husband disappeared in the Cariboo, B.C. area, a court at Steilacoom granted a divorce on May 19, 1865, for abandonment, so that she would not have to wait seven years to remarry. Maria then married David Tuck. Her daughter, usually called Lizzie but also Lizetta or Elizabeth, married Charles Frank on Dec. 28, 1882, in Seattle. The combined families established a grocery store at Skagway after the Klondike gold rush. [Return]

Fanny Hall
      Fanny (often spelled Fannie) Hall was a daughter of the mysterious George Hall Richardson, an English sailor who jumped ship in the Northwest and was the first teacher at the Sehome School when it opened in 1861. He dropped his last name, presumably to avoid detection by the British, and was known as George Hall, but his descendants later took the last name again. After a few years, he disappeared from the written records we have consulted and we hope that a reader will have more information about him. [Update 2008: Donna Sand discovered George's obituary in a brief item in the July 15, 1871, issue of the Olympia Transcript, which noted that he died from accidentally shooting himself while on a hunting trip on Orcas Island.] Fanny married a Mr. McDowell from Seattle and her sister Mary married John Fravel. After Mr. McDowell died young, Fannie married Thomas Barrett, whom Hugh described above in connection with the Sehome Coal Mine store, and one of their children was Sam Barrett, who was elected Whatcom County Auditor. See this Journal website for more information about the sisters and John Fravel, who strung the first telegraph wires in the territory and founded the small village of Fravel, which became Blanchard. [Return]

Alice Jarman Elliott
      Alice was the daughter of famed Blanket Bill Jarman and his Clallam Indian wife Alice. Alice II was born at the Samish camp in 1856. Percival R. Jeffcott explains in his book, Blanket Bill Jarman, that Alice II originally married a Sehome miner named Thomas Edge in an unknown year, "but due to his fondness for the cup that inebriates, she left him and married James Elliott, who was one of the first settlers at Birdsview on the upper Skagit river." Elliott owned the Bessemer Hotel in the town of Bessemer, which was platted on the north shore of the Skagit River in 1890 by Harrison Clothier, co-founder of Mount Vernon, but after Birdsview moved to the north shore and the predicted iron boom faded, Bessemer was eventually folded into Birdsview. Alice II led a sad life and after leaving Birdsview she lived with Indians at Swinomish and Samish and committed suicide by hanging at an unknown date in Anacortes. See the story of the Elliotts in this exclusive Journal section about Jarman and his family. [Return]

Pea and Michael Padden
      We initially assumed that these were the children of Michael Padden, who arrived in Whatcom County in 1870 and was fatally shot by a neighbor's boy in 1880 while he and his family lived in Happy Valley, near Fairhaven. But after checking census and other records, we thinks that these were not children of Michael. We are, however, rechecking as we work with Cathy Atkinson, a descendant of Michael Padden. She has supplied us a great deal of material from the trial following Michael's death and we plan to cover the family in depth later in 2008. Michael Padden was a Pennsylvania coal miner who moved west in the early 1860s to become the superintendent at the Talbot Coal Mine near the present city of Renton. He was later hired to head up the operation at the Bellingham Bay Coal Co. mine at Sehome. [Return]

Bellingham Coal Mines
      We infer that by "new," Hugh meant the coal mine that was planned in 1888, ten years after the Sehome Coal Mine folded. Lelah Jackson Edson explained in her 1951 book, Fourth Corner, that the Pierre Cornwall interests acquired 880 acres of land north of Squalicum Creek at $10 per acre. Prospecting with a diamond drill began in 1891 and in the tenth hole, sunk in 1892, the drillers found a coal seam 410 feet down. The nationwide Depression discouraged any further work until the turn of the 20th Century, but continued off and on throughout the first half of the century. In an interview in the 1982 book, Looking Back, Walter E. Johnson recalled his years working in the mine and noted that it closed in 1954 after the post-war market waned for coal. [Return]

Tarte children
      Their, father Capt. James W. Tarte, was the head teamster for the Sehome Coal Mine and later was mate and pilot on the Eliza Anderson sternwheeler. You can read more about the Tarte family in the Journal section about Bill Jarman. [Return]

Jenkins family
      Their father, J.R. Jenkins, came west with his family in 1868 and after three years in California they moved to Sehome where he worked at the Sehome Coal Mine. The father bought the old Whatcom Hotel on the beach, then bought a farm in Ferndale and also became the first settler on the shores of Lake Whatcom, according to his 1903 obituaries. [Return]

Kellogg family
      Hariette Kellogg was a daughter of George A. Kellogg, who came to Whatcom in 1871 and lived on the hillside above the Roeder mill on Whatcom Creek. When a fire destroyed the mill in 1873, his home was also threatened and he moved across the creek. He later became a local judge and was elected auditor for Whatcom County. Hariette married Thomas Leslie Savage of Northport, Washington, not of the Savage family of Skagit County. [Return]

Padden children
      We have searched everywhere for a record of both Fred Padden and the other Padden children whom Hugh mentioned, but we cannot find them or their parents anywhere. They were not the children of Michael Padden — see the listing above for details of that family. [Return]

Mountain View
      We finally tracked down both the place and the family name courtesy of Jeffcott and his 1949 book, Tales and Trails. The place, Mountain View, was a ridge near the north arm of Nooksack River, McCombs Slough, where Mount Baker is very visible. The name was Victor Charroin or Charroins or Charoin, which Jeffcott spelled all three ways. He described Victor as an axman who blazed trails in the area with a man named Hall. [Return]

Saloon near Bloedell-Donovan mill and Mr. Oleny/Olney
      As an aside, I fondly remember, from my old college-freshman days at Western, the old State Street Tavern, which stood on the north side of State Street, just before the curve of The Boulevard, about where Hugh located the saloon. I seem to recall that the building had been torn down by the time I later returned from the Army. All of us who lived on Forest and Garden streets loved it because we could take a gallon jug to the tavern and have it filled with cheap, swill draft-beer, for anywhere from $1 to $1.50. From what I understood at the time, only Washington and Wyoming remained as states where you were allowed to do that. We hope that a reader can recall details of the tavern, the owners at various times, and confirm that this was the same building as Hugh described. I just remember it being very old. We wonder if Hugh misspelled the name of Oleny. Could Thomas have been a relative of Oscar Olney, who was U.S. customs inspector during the Indian scare of 1855. After being scared to death, Olney handed his resignation to J.J. Van Bokkelen and lit out for Port Townsend on the first ship possible. We feel fairly safe in our hunch because Oscar Olney was back in Whatcom in time for the 1860 census in which he was listed as a bar keeper. There is also an Olney Pass in Snohomish. [Return]

Charles Donovan
      Donovan, better known in later years as "Silk Stocking Charlie" for his natty attire, came to Sehome on June 26, 1873, to become the telegrapher at the Sehome Coal Mine company store, and a year later he became postmaster at Sehome. In 1878 he married Sarah Crockett from the pioneer family of Whidbey Island. From then until 1913, he served at various times as mayor of Whatcom and many county offices. An ardent Democrat, he started the short-lived Whatcom County Democrat, the fifth newspaper on the Bay, on Sept. 7, 1887. It evolved into the Morning Gazette on Feb. 15, 1890, also very short-lived. His political skill is evident since Whatcom County was strongly Republican in those early days. [Return]

Tom Wynn
      Tom Wynn was another of the early-1850s Sehome coal miners who settled in the Ferndale area in the 1870s, while it was still called "Jam." [Return]

George Slater
      The children's father, George Slater, was the first Whatcom superintendent of schools. Slater came to Sehome in 1858 to supervise drilling operations for the Sehome Coal Mine for $25 per year. He resigned the same year and next briefly acted as the first school superintendent in 1860-61 when the Sehome School opened. He worked the Nanaimo coal mines on Vancouver Island from 1864-68 and then returned to the Sehome mine, working there until it closed. In 1872 he preempted 160 acres of land two miles south of Ferndale, adjacent to McKinley Tawes's Cedar Grove farm, and eventually doubled the acreage, which was split between his three sons [Return]

Native American
      This usage of the term was rather surprising because we have not seen the term used this early in place of Indian. [Return]

Hugh Eldridge
Lottie Roeder Roth, History of Whatcom County, 1926
(Hugh Eldridge)
Hugh Eldridge, as an older man on crutches in 1939, standing beside his childhood friend and fellow pioneer, Victor Roeder.

      Perhaps the most vivid impression gained by the visitor to this wonderful Sound region is that of the amazing "newness" of things. When one considers that all that has been effected here in the way of the great works of man has been accomplished within the period of the lives of men still vigorous and active in affairs, there is indeed cause for wonder.
      Visitors from the older settled sections of the east find it difficult to realize that this is so. The thought grows upon them and they presently begin dimly to realize that the apparently impossible has been accomplished — that practically within a single generation there has been built up here a community as complete and as stable as those in the coastal states on the other side of the country that have been two hundred years in the building, and it is while in contact or conversation with Hugh Eldridge that this impression is forced home with especial dis¬tinctness.
      Mr. Eldridge has observed and participated in this development practically from the beginning. His life and that of the community are synchronous. His mother was the first white woman on the scene in Bellingham bay. Into the family of his parents came one of the first if not the first white child (an elder brother, Edward, long deceased) born in the [Bellingham] Bay country. His father was a man of force and distinction in the formative days of the community and he grew up familiar with the latter's extensive operations, being an important personal factor in their extension, taking his part in civic affairs and in community building, so that ever since there has been a settled and orderly community here the name of Hugh Eldridge has been prominently identified therewith. Paraphrasing another, Mr. Eldridge properly may say: "All of this I saw and much of it I was," when reference is made to the development of Whatcom County.
      Hugh Eldridge, postmaster of the city of Bellingham, a former auditor of Whatcom county, realtor, promoter and town builder and for many years one of the leading men of affairs in this region, is a native of Bellingham, born here when the place was but a sawmill site and logging camp on the bay. He was horn December 14, 1860, and is a son of Edward and Teresa (Lappin) Eldridge, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work. Reared at Bellingham, Hugh Eldridge was educated in the local schools and when eighteen years of age became actively associated with his father's affairs, giving particular attention to agri¬cultural and general community development.
      In 1886, when twenty-five years of age, he was elected Auditor of Whatcom county, an expression of confidence on the part of the electorate in one of his years that he has never ceased to appreciate. By reelection he served in that important public office until January, 1891, and then became one of the organizers of the Fairhaven & New Whatcom Street Railway Company, being one of the most active and influential promoters of the affairs of that organization. He was elected president of this company and thus continued until it was taken over by the General Electric Company in 1895.
      He then gave his undivided attention to the affairs of the considerable estate which had come into his hands following the death of his father in 1892, and the development of these interests has been his chief material concern since then. On July 1, 1898, Mr. Eldridge was appointed by President McKinley to serve as postmaster at Bellingham, and he continued to serve in that capacity for eighteen years or until 1916. In November, 1921, Mr. Eldridge again was appointed postmaster at Bellingham and he is now thus serving. He is an ardent republican and has for many years been recognized as one of the leaders of that party in this district and he is a member of the local lodge of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.
      On February 23, 1893, in Bellingham, Mr. Eldridge was united in marriage to Miss Dellisca J. Bowers, who died in March, 1910, without issue. On the 24th of June, 1922, Mr. Eldridge was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Clara Burleigh, the widow of Walter A. Burleigh of Seattle, Washington. For over sixty-five years Mr. Eldridge has been a resident of Bellingham, the oldest native-born son of that city, witnessing its development and taking an active part in all movements that have appertained to the progress and advancement of the community, and, as has been written of him by another commentator, "his substantial traits and kindly qualities have gained for him the warm and enduring regard of all with whom he has been associated from his boyhood to the present."

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Story posted on Sept. 27, 2006, last updated March 11, 2008
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(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

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