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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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Town of Allen, finally explained
Part Two: the Joy Busha story & a 1959 history

Joy Busha, Allen's favorite son
      The remains of the town of Allen, 1955. Looking west across the highway that proceeds north to Chuckanut Drive. We hope that readers will have more photos of Allen and environs in their family collections, as well as photos of Joy Busha and other Allen-area pioneers.

      All that remains today from those early days of the town of Allen that we described in part one is the Avon-Allen market road, which becomes the Ershig Road when it crosses the Chuckanut Highway and continues north. A fire hall stands west of Chuckanut Drive, just south of the fork of the Samish River that provided water power for the Roray mill. Very few old timers remain who remember when a town stood there, but quite a few folks remember Joy Busha's service station, where his motto was "Gas with Joy." Ray Jordan interviewed long-time Allen residents Euphronious "Frone" Watkinson and his wife, Lena (Lonsdale), in 1962 and they supplied more details about the town of Allen and Joy Busha, who married their daughter, Georgia Watkinson, (1902-88):
      Among the family names of early settlers are: Berger, Malsberger, Ekstran, McRae and many others still evident in the community.
      Today dairying is a big business around Allen and farms turn out prime crops of peas and berries. The town never has had a jail or police force; in fact never has had a need for either.
      "This is a good town," Mrs. Watkinson, "and the people are friendly and good. True, it's a small town, but everyone knows everyone and we all get along fine."
      The Allen Methodist church, still active, was organized about a half-century ago. The church's youth program, according to Joy Busha — who has operated a general store in Allen for 34 years, includes an active list of more than 90 from Allen and surrounding area. The Allen Grange was first started in 1913, but lost activity until it was reorganized in 1925. It has about 90 active members today [1962].
      About six years ago, Busha (pronounced Boo-shay) spearheaded a move to obtain PUD water for Allen. Signing up more than 100 homes, the community got the water supply. As a result, Samish island was able to tag onto the end of the line and improve the water situation.
      Figuring property loss through fire at close to $100,000 in 15 years, the Allen Volunteer Fire Department was organized about four years ago. Since then, fire loss has been negligible. With 18 volunteers in Allen, the department is part of the three-department District Five, including Edison and Samish island. Busha, Leonard White and Don Coble of Blanchard are directors.
      Busha explained that the district soon will purchase a tank truck and a fire truck for Samish island, and will then have three completely equipped departments. All present equipment is modern and in first rate condition.
      Part of the existing industry are three grass driers, one located just south of Allen and two located just to the west. The plants dry grass for feeds, rabbit pellets, mash and other uses. During grass season, it takes more than 450 acres to supply one plant. [Journal ed. note: old-timers often recall the smells of the alfafa plant in the area.]
      iguring present population of the unincorporated town at 45 in the immediate area, Allen is looking ahead to a bright future.

      Busha (1899-1963) was born in Cedardale, south of Mount Vernon, the son of Fred Busha and his wife, Charolette Victoria (Marsh). He served in the U.S. Navy in Seattle at the end of World War I and married Georgia Watkinson sometime before they moved to Allen in 1923. Joy may have moved to the area at that time because the Chuckanut Highway was being laid out to replace the old wagon road and it was being extended northwesterly from Allen through Blanchard to meet up with Chuckanut Drive. The new paved highway opened in the 1925-26 period and his service station and the W.K. Henry station in Blanchard were the first ones to open on the new route.
      As John Conrad noted in his eulogy for Busha at the 1963 Pioneer Picnic in LaConner, "In 1956 he was elected as Second District [Skagit] County Commissioner and had served six years by his untimely death in February."

1959 history of Allen
Northwest Skagit Advocate memorial edition, edited by Bow postmaster Luella Henry
(Mr. and Mrs. Watkinson, 1955)
Mr. and Mrs. Watkinson, 1955. From the Nov. 11, 1955 Bellingham Herald

      The history of Allen Community is an interesting one. There are a lot of old timers who still remember the days when Allen was just a huge virgin forest that was so thick the sun could barely peek through the trees.
      The Samish Logging Company started in the 1880's just east of what was soon to be Allen, on the Samish River. Later a big shingle mill was built where the Ed Allen home now stands. The mill was owned and operated by Mr. Allen and his son-in-law, Mr. Roray, and later the people began calling the settlement, "Allen", after the owner of the mill as he was better liked than Roray. Mr. Allen and Roray had a store where Mr. Cheadle's Garage is presently located. Later, Fred Watkinson built a store across the road from the Allen-Roray Store.
      The first Allen School was only one room until 1906 when a new two room school was built for all grades Both Sunday School and Church Services were held in the old school building during 1904-1905. Later a Church was built and dedicated in 1915. With the growth of the community, the church has become too small now, so that it has become necessary to erect a new sanctuary which will be an addition to the original structure. The building should be completed in 1959 or early 1960.

(Frone's family)
Georgia Watkinson Busha is second from the left in this photo. Photo courtesy of Judy Watkinson Smith.

      Bill Watkinson built the dance hall and roller rink in 1907, which had to be moved across the road when the Interurban railway and depot was put in about 1912. The dance hail was a community recreation center in those days, and used as a Grange Hall too until the new one was constructed in 1936. The old dance hail was recently torn down and replaced by Streeters' new Crossroads Coffee Shop.
      I H. Berger and Sons bought the store owned by Fred Watkinson and moved it to the southwest corner of the crossroads, In 1909 they built a new store and used the old one as a warehouse. The new highway, Chuckanut Drive, was built through Allen in 1925 and in 1926 the store was moved to the northwest corner of the crossroads across the highway
      In the 1930s Mr. [??] Pressentin bought the store and ran it for a few years before selling property and store building to Maurice Richards and Ira Loree. Richard and Loree built a service station and later a big garage shortly before Mr. Loree sold his share of the partnership. Mr. Richards became sole owner, later renting the garage-service station for several years, but both are closed now. The old store building on the Richards property was sold to Don Miller who moved it back to its place of beginning. Miller converted it into "Don's" Electrical and Plumbing Shop, which he now operates with his son Glenn.
      The Joy Bushas moved to Allen in 1923, soon erecting a service station and carrying a small line of groceries. They later enlarged the station to a general store with locker space. In 1958, "Joy's" was purchased by Ray Brunner of Burlington.
      Joy constructed a barber shop which was operated by Kenneth McMiilan for several years. The McMillans were living in the old Interurban Depot which had been moved when the Interurban was discontinued, and the depot was converted into a comfortable home. However, one day the McMillan home caught fire from a bucket of ashes on the porch and burned to the ground. Kenneth and his family built a new house with Kenneth's own barber shop beside it. Louise Allen (the late Mrs. Buttke) opened Joy's Barber Shop as a Beauty Salon for a time and later Iva Boettcher operated this shop before moving to Burlington.
      The first restaurant in Allen was Smitty's owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Smitty's burned down and the property was bought by Les-perance [??] who built a new modern cafe and operated it for a short time. He sold out to the Jake Ploegs who changed the name to the Dutch Pantry in 1950.
      Another eating establishment in the late 1920s was the one operated by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Shillings and located on the site where Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hayes now reside. The Shillings sold the business and moved the building to Burlington. Walter Hayes bought the property and constructed the present building where he and his wife Louise operated a Grocery Store until their retirement.
      The Allen Fire District was organized in 1948. The firemen met at the Grange Hall until the Fire Hall was erected in 1950. A big warehouse belonging to John Gould stood between the Interurban tracks and the Allen-Avon road. Mr. Delahunt bought it and made a blacksmith shop out of it. Delahunt also did custom feed milling. The building was later torn down, and Pink and Reba Streeter bought the property in the early 1940s and built a restaurant, It was sold to Woody Watkinson who in turn sold to Frank and Marj Kerr. The Kerrs operated it for a few years before it was changed into their present grocery and service station.
      Allen again has a barber shop; the present one is situated near the Kerrs, and operated by Al Roos. The old school was sold to Gus Swanson after Allen consolidated with Burlington in the late 1930s. Mr. Swanson tore down the building and built the house now owned by Ernest Dahl. Harold Pierson built a Hydration Plant on the highway just south of Allen several years ago. Later the Knutzens built one on the Allen-West road Allen is still growing and becoming more prosperous with each passing year.
      [Journal ed. note: we hope that a reader can clear up the confusion by confirming for us whether the present grocery store at the crossroads is an outgrowth of the earlier Busha service station and grocery/lockers or whether it evolved from one of the other grocery stores mentioned above.]

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Story posted on Dec. 15, 2007 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue xx of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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