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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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Edward G. English obit
and the story of his 1908 kidnapping

(English obit photo)

Masonic Rites Mark Burial of Pioneer
Funeral held Wednesday in Seattle; Camps and Mills shut down;
Great throng attends services; Floral tributes many and beautiful

Skagit News Herald, Feb. 27, 1930
      Edward G. English, who died in Seattle Sunday morning (Feb. 23), was borne to his last resting place in Washelli cemetery yesterday afternoon. Episcopal services were held at the Bonney-Watson chapel. Dr. McLaughlin, rector of the church which the late pioneer attended, preached the funeral sermon.
      Burial rites were conducted by the Mount Baker Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Mount Vrnon, with N.B. Hannay officiating. Mr. English was a charter member and of the founders of this lodge.
      The active pallbearers were James O'Hearne of Mount Vernon; Will Morrison, Anacortes; Guy Buck, Hamilton; Harley LaPlant, Lyman; H.E. Hanson, Seattle; Charles Westrom, Everett.
      Among the honorary pallbearers were A.F. McEwan, business associate of Mr. English; E.C. Million, former Mount Vernon lawyer, both of Seattle; H.W. Sessions of Arlington, one time resident of Mount Vernon, and formerly employed at the English headquarters camp.
      Oldtime friends, business associates and employees joined the bereaved family yesterday in Seattle to bid farewell to Edward G. English. The Bonney-Watson chapel was a vast bower of floral tributes. Hundreds of beautiful floral pieces were massed against the rear and side walls, tributes from hundreds. Here was the bier of one of the Northwest's most widely know old settlers, one of the state's empire builders. The funeral procession to Washelli was more than a mile in length.
      Camps and mills with which Mr. English was associated were closed for the day. Besides the Masons, who attended in a body, scores of friends from Skagit County went to Seattle yesterday to be present at the funeral services.
      Mr. English was a native of Maine, born in 1850. As a small boy he moved to Wisconsin with his parents, settling at Arcadia. When twenty years of age he came west, inspired by the words of Horace Greeley, "Go west, young man, go west." Some time was spent in California and Oregon, but before the end of that year [1870 incorrect, more likely 1873] he made his way to Skagit County.
      Mr. English was married soon after coming here, to Miss Alice Kessinger, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Kessinger. Mr. Kessinger was at that time engaged in civil engineering work here. Plunging at once into merchandising and logging, Mr. English soon became heavily interested in Skagit County. In company with Harrison Clothier he ran a pioneer store and bought timber in his neighborhood. A ten-acre tract of land was purchased from Jasper Gages and a store was erected. A petition for a post office was granted and Clothier was appointed the first postmaster. That was in 1877.
      The small tract of land purchased by the pioneer firm became the first platted part of Mount Vernon. In 1890 the town was incorporated and a municipal government was organized. The following year Mr. English bought out the interests of his partner.
      For some time Mr. English engaged in the logging business at English Spur, now known as English, on the Great Northern line near Marysville. After that he formed a number of partnerships, finally becoming associated with A.F. McEwan of Seattle. At the time of his death Mr. English's interests included stock in the English Lumber Company, the Lyman Timber Company, the Skagit Mill Company, the Fidalgo Lumber and Box Company at Anacortes, and Wood & English, Limited [E.K. Wood], at Vancouver, B.C.
      The old family home was sold in 1913 to Alfred Polson when the English residence was transferred to Seattle.
      Surviving are Mrs. English and a son, Hugh, residing in Seattle, and a daughter, Mrs. Thomas Wirt Doan of Duluth, Minnesota. Waldo, another son, who died at the age of five, is buried in the local cemetery.

(English Donkey crew)
      English Camp 5 Donkey crew near Little Mountain and Mount Vernon, Circa 1917. Clark Kinsey photo.

English is kidnapped
Lone highwayman stops him while on his way home this evening
$5,000 is demanded, Details are arranged beforehand
by party who evidently kept informed of his movements

Skagit News Herald, Oct. 26, 1908
      This evening word was telephoned from Cedardale of the narrow escape of E.G. English from a lone kidnapper. This Monday evening as he was from the logging camp at Conway, Mr. English was accosted below the Cedardale Road and made to diver to a lonesome place near Little Mountain and write a note to his wife for a ransom for his release.
      When the destination had been reached, the stranger produced pen, ink and paper, and after Mr. English did as he was told, he was secured by a chain, which was fastened to a tree, and the man left for town to deliver the message.
      Mr. English succeeded in loosening himself from the bond by a fortunate kink in the chain, and crawled a long way until he was above the settlement at Gay's mill, when he broke into a rundown hill and informed Mr. Gay of the occurrence, and the telephone wires were put to work.
      A rather slender man, pretending to carry his arm in a sling, stopped Ernest Hueston near the bridge and gave the following note to him, requesting him to deliver it immediately to Mrs. English, as Mr. English was injured by a fall from the buggy:

Mrs. W.G. English:
      Dear wife, I am kidnapped for $5,000 (Five Thousand Dollars). Don't attempt to resist, as I am threatened with having my ears cut off if it is not forthcoming by tomorrow noon. For God's sake, make all haste. Show this to Mr. Hannay and solicit his aid. — E.G. English
      Walk toward Burlington on track with five thousand dollars in gold, and it must be the yellow metal gold $500. Come in haste to the place as described: first small tressle north of Skagit River. You must walk alone. Under the first water barrel on the south end of this tressel remove stone and find further orders in bottle. Burn these after reading them. Try to realize you are watched incessantly. Adhere strictly to instructions and avoid the strange sensation of mutilation for all we ask is direct obedience.
      And now by the blackest curse that human anatomy can endure, we faithfully promise to 'express' our captive's ears to his nearest relatives if the ransom is not forthcoming by tomorrow noon, 12:00 at first tressle. XXXO

      Mr. English describes the man medium height and heavy set, but the man with the note was slender and tall. The note at the trestle above town was found as directed but the culprit is till at large.

(English ties-cutting crew)
      English Camp 5 field crew cutting and laying rail ties near Little Mountain and Mount Vernon, Circa 1917. Clark Kinsey photo.

Alleged kidnaper finally captured
Skagit News Herald, Feb. 8, 1909
      Leo Bezeman, the bold kidnapper, was captured the first of the week in one of the small suburbs of Seattle, while asleep. He was brought to Mount Vernon under a heavy guard and logged in jail. He was brought in on the Tuesday evening flyer and nearly all the population was at the train to get a glimpse. Duncan Boyd is also under arrest under suspicion of being an accomplice and the officers are busy making connecting links in the evidence. His trial will take place at the next jury term.

Bezmer Trial
is now the leading event of the court term
Guilty but insane is his plea to the court and lawyer Abrams will defend
him while Mr. Hurd will assist Mr. Brawley in the Prosecution

Skagit News Herald, Feb. 8, 1909
      The spring term of Court began this morning with the case against Leo Bezmer the main attraction. As we go to press this evening the most of the jury had been secured and it is expected that the examination of witnesses would begin by noon on Tuesday. It will be remembered that Mr. Bezmer kidnapped E.G. English on the evening of October 26 and tied him up in a hollow stump at the foot of Little Mountain. English escaped and notified the authorities.
      The chase of the posse after Bezmer all over Snohomish County and his rather tame capture near Seattle are all a matter of history. There has been over a hundred witnesses summoned and the case will probably last through the week.

County Attorney wins hard case
Skagit News Herald, Feb. 22, 1909
      The case against Leo Bezmer occupied nearly all of last week and all of the week before. A special venire was called after the regular panel had been exhausted and on Tuesday noon, February 9, the jury was completed and the taking of testimony started. The details of the abduction of Mr. English by Bezmer are well enough known that repetition at this time is unnecessary.
      The hopes of the defense was to prove insanity and to that end they introduced the evidence of Dr. Powell and the state was as emphatic in its stand against the plea that it sent to Seattle for experts in insanity cases to combat the defense. Messrs. Abrams and Samuel of Bellingham were the attorneys for the defendant and handled the case with masterly care, while Maynard P. Hard assisted Mr. Brawley in the prosecution.
      The most damaging of all the testimony introduced by the state were the letters written by Bezmer while in the jail at this place and betrayed to the authorities by a trusty who had become familiar with Bezmer. The letters revealed a plot for a wholesale jail break and which was very promptly frustrated. Following is the list of witnesses:
      Theo D. MacNeil, Josh Mason, Harry Hannaford, Herb Hannaford, Mr. and Mrs. Kinsely, Mr. and Mrs. Stark, A. Lundine, Carl Lundine, Gus Davis, James Leatherwood, George Kean, Mrs. Phippe, William Leaks, D. Hubbard, Leona Sundford [actually Sundquist, see below], Mr. Cuyler, E.G. English and wife and Alice K. English, Mr. and Mrs. Henson, Allan Hamburg.
      Claude Colpitte, Charles Stevenson, W.S. Anable, Charles Harmon (one-time sheriff), Ed Holm, Earl Cook, J.Z. Nelson, Earl Shidler, Clint (sp?) Peak, Chris Vike, Ole Blacken, Dell Roark, Fred Brandstadt, Frank Gregory, G.F. Foubert, Charles Weaver, H.E. and Verna Lawrence, Leonard Larson, W.J. Johnson, D.N. Foy, ____ Meek, Mrs. Foy, H.E. Snapps, J.P. Hauser, F.H. Young, Fred Wheeler, Ed Wells (one-time sheriff).
      E.E. Spear, F.H. Young, E. Wells, William Bardsley, Henry Gay, Mr. and Mrs. Hoover, James Earl, Alf Daniels, George Botts, Albert Lundine, I.J. Howe, Dave Bartruff, Mrs. K. Bezemer, Mr. K. Bezemer, L.W. Powell (MD), W.E. Giles, ____ Ault, James Kean, N.J. Moldstad, Ike Phillipe, J.B. Loughlin, Eugene Taylor, Dr. Reed, Dr. West, Dr. Lowry.

Journal Ed. note: that's right; the reporter forgot to mention the verdict or sentence. Meanwhile, right below the story is an amusing short description of downtown Mount Vernon streets: "Attorney J.C. Waugh says he is thinking very seriously of starting a duck pond at his lake on the corner of Gates and Second. Here the street has been hollowed out by the original coat of gravel having been put on without rounding up; and the removal of the mud revealed the possibilities of his portions of the street."

Eyewitness account of kidnapping
Excerpt from The life and times of the family of John Leonard and Ida Marie Vikstrom Sundquist
(As recalled by their eldest daughter Leona Marie Sundquist,
and submitted by Arlene Sundquist Empie, August 2008)

      One evening, as I was coming home with the cows on Highway 99 [actually the earlier version, the Sunset Highway], the cows flushed a strange man out of the ditch. He covered his face with his arm and walked hastily away. I was frightened, and took refuge behind my cows until he had gotten some distance away. Then I had to get some order with my cows. After that episode I never went alone with the cows.
      To follow up this incident, some days later an officer of the law came to school to question me regarding this occurrence. It seems that later that evening, as was his custom, Mr. English, of the English Logging Company, was coming home in his horse-and-rig from his camp, which was located in the hills south and east of Conway.
      He became the victim of a hold-up along this lonely stretch of road where I had been with my cows. I was the only person to vouch for the presence of a man at about that time of the evening in this particular part of the road. So I became a witness in this hold-up case.
      This became an interesting first-hand experience with the law, the court, the judge, the jury, the trial, the lawyers, cross-examination, etc. The trial took a number of days, for which I got paid. What to do with all this money? Money took charge of the matter. The bulk of it went for goods for a dress and shoes. The rest I could spend however I wished, provided it was wisely spent.

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Story posted on Feb. 26, 2009 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 47 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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