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Skagit River Journal

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How the town of Blanchard came about;
the rich history of the Blanchard family;
their business with Messrs. Alger and Hawley

(Construction Chuckanut Drive)
      This photo shows construction on the primitive road that evolved into today's Chuckanut Drive, north of Blanchard. This photo was taken sometime after 1911. The primitive initial road was graded with gravel and opened in 1914. Photo courtesy of Blanchard Community Club.

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal, ©2010
(4th of July 1913)
4th of July in the renamed town of Blanchard, 1913. We unfortunately have not found photos of the Blanchard family yet, so we are featuring various photos of the town and area just before and just after the turn of the 20th Century, courtesy of Jon Miller and the Blanchard Community Club. We hope a reader can help with more.

      When we first profiled the town of Blanchard (at one time Fravel) four years ago, we found many gaps and we were puzzled as to who the Blanchards were and from whence they came. With the help of Margaret Toth, a Blanchard family descendant, we have finally assembled many pieces of the puzzle in 2010. This is now a broader story with national ramifications, rather than regional, in that the Blanchard story illustrates how national corporate interests took logging in Skagit County to a new level at that time, and it is also the story of the men who came here to be proxies for the owners back East. Her first letter cleared up our confusion about which Blanchard family members were active locally. Thus the historical record is corrected: the Blanchard family loggers were father and son, not brothers.
      The crux of it is that Dudley Blanchard (father, 1821-1903) and George B. Blanchard (son, 1863-1930) were the namesakes of Blanchard, Washington, and they were there at the bidding of nationally prominent timbermen, Ravaud K. Hawley (1821-1898) and Russell A. Alger (1836-1907). Father and son Blanchard developed the largest logging business in 1880s Skagit County and a daughter married one of the most powerful businessmen in the country.
      Their relatives were also namesakes of Blanchard towns in both Michigan and Maine. In a whole series of updated articles in Issue 52 of the Subscribers Edition, we update our timeline and details of the formation of Blanchard town that we first assembled five years ago after extensive research and interviews with old-timers. In this present article, we will specifically explore the Blanchard family genealogy and their impact on Skagit County logging. First, here is a brief review of the village that eventually became Blanchard.

Early capsule history of Blanchard
      In 1864 John H. Fravel (1832-1905) was hired by the California State Telegraph Co. [CSTC] which was constructing a telegraph line north from San Francisco as a hedge against the telegraph cable that investors hoped to eventually lay across the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Fravel became a respected carpenter in the new town of Sehome to the north. In 1861 he built the first public school on Bellingham Bay, in the new town of Sehome.
      A decade later, Fravel preempted a 160-acre homestead near the mouth of what was then called McElroy slough (Blanchard Slough), at the foot of Chuckanut Mountain, which in 1883 marked the border of the split of Skagit County from Whatcom County. As early as 1867 Wesley Whitener and John Gray operated a logging camp on the slough. About the same time Fravel settled there, Lyman Cutlar (also occasionally spelled Cutler) established a farm nearby. Cutlar was already famous as the man who almost started a war with England, the Pig War on San Juan Island, in 1859. James H. McElroy arrived at the slough in an unknown year but by the early 1880s he constructed a horse-driven, tram railroad that moved logs from higher elevations to the slough along connected wooden poles. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.
      The village on the slough remained very small while most settlement and development in that time centered on Samish island and Edison to the southwest. The booklet that was published by the community club for the centennial in 1985 included names of other early settlers, including John Gray, who began logging in 1867; James Hutchins, who logged in 1869 on what later became known as the Whitehill place; Ben Samson, who was a key pioneer of nearby Edison; Watson Hodge, John Straighthoof, Joseph Hall, John Conwell, "Cat" John Wafner, Joe Larry [this could have been Joe Leary for whom the slough near Bayview is named); William J. Brown, who settled the nearby town of Bow; and Thomas Hayes, who was also a pioneer of Swinomish and Edison.
      When Fravel located here in 1871 he did not actually plat a town but he started a small village across Whitehill Creek from his neighbor, Capt. David D. Whitehill. It was said to extend to Colony Creek. On June 4, 1876, Fravel married Mary J. Richardson, daughter of George Hall Richardson, who was the first teacher at the Sehome School. Researcher Donna Sand discovered that Richardson coincidentally died in 1871 after accidentally shooting himself while on a hunting trip on Orcas Island, a fact never recorded in histories. John and Mary Fravel raised their young family near the slough and we know his residence was there even after the Blanchard family arrived in 1885. For instance, on Oct 15, 1886, the Whatcom Reveille reported: "Coal oil has been discovered on the J. H. Fravel's place, and no doubt in paying quantities." By that time, however, the Blanchards had arrived and they supplanted Fravel as village leaders as they soon established a postal station so that patrons did not have to drive their wagons across the mud to Edison and Samish Island. The family obtained a post office in their name and George B. Blanchard became postmaster when it opened on July 20, 1886.
      In his 1989: book, Logging Railroads in Skagit County, Dennis Blake Thompson described what must have been the most thrilling day in the village. In August 1888, a small, 2-6-0 locomotive from the Baldwin Locomotive Works (Philadelphia) arrived on a barge and the Baldridge laborers unloaded it on the new wharf. That preceded the first common-carrier railroad, the Fairhaven & Southern, by a year, so it was very big news. Ships had to anchor considerably offshore because of the very shallow water on the tidal flats. We will detail below the changes that the Blanchards brought to the slough — including an 1888 article that supplies extensive details, but first we will profile their distinguished family and what brought them here.

(From the Oyster Dome)
      Richard Blake stood on Oyster Dome and photographed Samish Island, towards the southwest, encompassing the whole area where the Blanchards logged. See Richard's website for more beautiful photos.

Emigrated from England in 1639
    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2010, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. And subscriptions to our optional Subscribers Online Magazine (launched 2001) by donation too. Thank you..
      The Piscatquis County, Maine, Historical Society wrote that the Blanchard family traced its lineage back to a unnamed Blanchard among the thousands of French Huguenots who fled the Catholic oppression in France and took haven in England in 1572, the year of St. Bartholomew's Massacre in Paris. Three generations later his descendant Thomas Blanchard emigrated to the U.S. with his second wife and their children in 1639. His wife and an infant child died en route and he married again after settling in Braintree, Massachusetts. For the next 150 years the Blanchards lived in and around Charlestown.
      His descendants remained in Massachusetts until the late 18th century when Ozias Blanchard, third son of Nathaniel and Hanuah (Shaw) Blanchard, moved his family to Maine before he served in the Revolutionary War. He married very well, in 1769, to Mercy Soule, a descendant on both sides of her family tree of the original Mayflower passengers, George Soule and John and Priscilla Alden and her parents. After service as both a sergeant and lieutenant in the Cumberland County regiment on several tours between 1775 and 1779, he settled back in North Yarmouth, Maine. His son John was born there in 1789 and John's son Dudley is the namesake of Blanchard, Washington. All three generations were born in Maine. Ozias died in 1826.
      We have not uncovered the exact relation but one of John Blanchard's cousins was Charles Blanchard, for whom a small Maine township was named sometime in January 1831. In that year he and a partner bought the whole township in Piscataquis County for $4,000 and plotted it to sell lots to settlers for one dollar an acre. In 1840 Dudley Blanchard and his brother-in-law invested in the Kineo Company, which soon built the original Mt. Kineo Lodge Resort on Moosehead Lake, 39 miles north of Blanchard.

The Blanchard, Washington generations
(Blanchard depot)
The photographer was looking north at the Blanchard depot of the Great Northern Railroad at about the time Blanchard was renamed in 1913. Photo courtesy of Blanchard Community Club.

      We learned from Toth's extensive research that Dudley Blanchard was born to John and Judith Blanchard in Cumberland, Maine, on Jan. 7, 1821. Eight days later his future business associate, Ravaud K. Hawley, was born in Glen Falls, N.Y. Dudley's brother, Philip Greely (named for a North Yarmouth, Maine, neighbor who was killed in an 1775 Indian attack), was also born in Maine in 1823; they would share several distinctions in their logging careers. We found no record, however, that the brothers invested in each other's businesses or that Philip ever ventured out to Washington. In 1833 John and Judith Blanchard moved their young family, including Dudley and Philip, to Blanchard, Maine. We cannot determine if they just bought lots as settlers or were associated with Charles in his business. Three years later, Russell A. Alger, the other major national investor in Skagit logging, was born on Feb. 27, 1836, in Lafayette Township in Ohio.
      By the 1850 Federal census, the enumerator showed Dudley, Philip, and their sister Margaret still living at home in Blanchard, Maine. In nearby houses are John's oldest living son Charles (not the cousin who founded the town) and a nephew Jacob and his family. Jacob's father died when he was three years old and John most likely helped raise or watch out for Jacob while raising his own children the same age. Dudley also appears in the 1850 Rush Township, Center County, PA census as a lumberman. So it appears he moved to Pennsylvania in 1850.
      What inspired the move? We do not know exactly, but we do know that sometime in the 1860s Dudley Blanchard crossed paths there with Ravaud K. Hawley, who expanded his lumber business by forming the R.K. Hawley and Co. water-powered sawmill on the Young Womans Creek, northwest of Lock Haven, where John Blanchard's family moved sometime in the 1850s. Dudley married Abbie Merrill (Barstow) in 1855 in Lock Haven. His brother Philip married a Maine native named Caroline Towns in Piscataquis County, Maine.
      According to a Lock Haven history, by 1860 Pennsylvania was the largest producer of lumber in the United States; in 1880 it was the third largest producer. According to the state Forestry Department Dudley set up a partnership and mainly virgin white pine and oak near Rattlesnake Run, Grugan township, in 1865 and logged there until 1873.

(Fravel Dock)
A postcard photo of the Fravel Dock, taken in an unknown year. Postcard courtesy of Mike Aiken.

      John Blanchard died in 1857 and his widow moved in with Philip, who had joined the family in Lock Haven. Dudley and a partner opened the Blanchard, Craig & Co. sawmill there in 1858. By the 1860 Federal Census Dudley was doing well enough in the business to retain a servant and laborer. The family grew quickly: Alice M. in 1857; a son who died in infancy in 1861, George B. in 1863, two daughters who were not involved in the Skagit business, and the last child, Dudley, in 1875. Dudley's middle name, Ravaud, is a key to the future: he was named so in favor of Ravaud K. Hawley, so we infer that Dudley met his future business associate by that year.
      By that time, Hawley owned very successful mills both in Pennsylvania and in Baltimore, where he started his empire in 1848 and expanded it quickly by selling lumber to the Union forces during the Civil War. He was also president of a bank in Baltimore. Russell A. Alger distinguished himself as an officer in the 5th Michigan Cavalry during the War and returned to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he formed the lumber company that eventually became the R.A. Alger & Co. An Ohio native, he moved to Michigan in 1860 and dropped his brief law career. His rise to a brevet rank of major general during the War, and after he was wounded in a Maryland battle, he was addressed as General the rest of his life.
      Dudley was enumerated in the 1870 Federal Census while living in Lock Haven and his real estate was valued at $10,000. Judith Blanchard, his mother, died there in 1864. In that same census Dudley's brother Philip was listed 70 miles west in Union Township, Clearfield County. In that same year Ravaud K. Hawley and a partner established the Hebard & Hawley Lumber Company at Cleveland, Ohio. The company built a saw mill at Cleveland and supplied it with logs towed from Lake Huron ports and Hawley bought out his partner in 1872 and the firm rose to the top of the lumber business there. They had also established a branch firm in Detroit, Michigan, in 1870; that may have been when Hawley encountered Alger.
      Philip G. Blanchard moved his family to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1873. We have not yet discovered a direct connection between him and Hawley and Alger, but we note that was the town where Alger began his business and Hawley could have been the key. We do know that Philip almost immediately established his business in southwestern Isabella County, on the Pine River in Michigan, east of Grand Rapids. He bought land, soon built a family home, and then erected a boarding house and feed barn. He bought a working mill and a small logging railroad and established the P.G. Blanchard & Sons Co. He installed his son as postmaster when he obtained a post office for the village. It opened on Sept. 13, 1878, and was named for Philip's son, Herbert, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1856. Thus we are introduced to the second U.S. town named for a member of the family. In 1879 the newly incorporated village was also named Blanchard. Although Philip's business was centered in Blanchard, Michigan, from the 1880 census onwards his family was enumerated at their home in Grand Rapids.
      Back in Pennsylvania Dudley had become a successful lumberman in Lock Haven by the time of the 1880 Federal Census and his son George, then 17, was away at a private school in Andover, Massachusetts, possibly the exclusive Phillips Academy, built in 1778. Abbie Merrill Barstow did not stay at home and knit while Dudley's business grew. Dudley's wife became a prime mover in the town's Women Christian Temperance Union in about 1883 and quickly rose to become president by 1885.
      That same year in Detroit, Ravaud K. Hawley joined the Alger, Smith & Co. of Detroit to purchase and sell timberlands and cut and manufacture the trees. That could have been when the Washington logging plan was set in place. Alger's namesake Alger County (not town) was formed in 1885 on the shore of Lake Huron, on the northern part of the Peninsula.

(Interurban ad)

The Blanchards move to Washington Territory
      Russell A. Alger was elected governor in Michigan in 1884 and began a two-year term office on Jan. 1, 1885. He declined renomination for the 1886 election and became a presidential elector on the Republican ticket in 1888. In 1888, he was elected as the first Commander of the Michigan Department of the Grand Army of the Republic and as the 18th Commander-in-Chief of the GAR in 1889. A later lawsuit in Washington stated that Alger and Hawley began buying timberland in Skagit County in 1885, but we have found no record that either man ever ventured west to their property.
      That was also the year that Abbie resigned her presidency and she and Dudley and two of the children moved west to the McElroy Slough and the village that was as yet officially unnamed. Dudley was 64 by that time. When the Washington Territorial census was recorded that summer of 1885, George, then 26, and his wife, Mary, were living at the slough, along with his father. Dudley Ravaud Blanchard, Dudley's son, was ten at the time thus our original inference in 2005 that he was one of the active logging brothers here at the time is now corrected. Alice M. Blanchard and her sisters Julia Judith and Augusta Hunt lived with the family briefly on the Puget Sound, but after Alice's marriage in 1888, they lived with or near her in the Oakland, California, area and attended colleges there.
      In the 1887 Territorial Census the Blanchards were recorded as living close to the Legg family, for whom the present road is named. today it runs north and south through the town. Margaret Toth infers from family records that George was the working manager of the family business by then. We in turn infer that the Blanchards moved to Washington specifically because they were hired as agents to oversee Hawley and Alger's timber holding that spread from the Chuckanut Mountain area over to the village of Lookout, which was later renamed Alger. Another possible scenario is that the Blanchard family purchased land first and then Hawley and Alger came in with major investments when they saw the prospects.
      Father Dudley apparently set up a residence for his family in Seattle in 1885 initially, where Abbie died at their home at 10th Avenue and Main on Oct. 31, 1887. Dudley moved the remaining family to Tacoma sometime soon after her death.
      As we noted above, by 1886 Dudley and George established their logging camp and tram railroad near the McElroy slough, a business that grew rapidly. On July 20, 1886, George obtained a post office for the village, thus forming a third Blanchard town named for the family in the United States. A forest fire that year set back James McElroy's logging interests in the area, as well as those of the Mount Vernon founders Harrison Clothier and Ed English (neither camp is mentioned in the extensive article below from 1888).
      On Feb. 2, 1887, the Blanchards completed a tram railroad five miles in length, with 40-pound steel rails for transporting logs down the steep hills. By 1888 they and town merchants built a floating wharf at the mouth of the slough. The Dec. 10, 1888, Skagit News newspaper, reported the Blanchards' "substantial logging railroad," and in Logging Railroads, Dennis Thompson described the day in August 1888 when a new, small, Baldwin 2-6-0 locomotive arrived on a barge and was unloaded on the new wharf next to the the village. Ninety men logged in the nearby woods that winter, drawing a payroll of $180 per day. Ships had to anchor considerably offshore because of the very shallow water on the tidal flats. Those flats were home to oysters, shellfish and fish, including smelt, and in that same year, Dennis Storrs of Mount Vernon began cultivating oysters nearby.

(Aerial of Chucknut Mountain)
      An aerial photo of the Blanchard area and Chuckanut Mountain.

Blanchard & Sons the largest timber company in northwest Washington
      Literally just before press time we obtained a copy of the actual article from the Dec. 10, 1888, Skagit News (Mount Vernon) and the excerpt below substantiates several facts: Dudley Blanchard, at 67, was still very active at Blanchard at the time; that the family business was the leader in the field in Skagit County; that they were addressed as agents of the investors; and it also supplies detailed facts about the methods and about neighboring logging camps that have not been elaborated before:
Skagit Logging Camps
      As the traveler pursues his way on the steamer from Seattle, he passes through Similk and Burrows bays as he rounds Fidalgo island and crosses the head of the Straits of Fuca, glide through Ship Harbor, touches at Samish island and eventually reaches a floating wharf on Samish Bay. It is at this time float that one of the most extensive logging camps in Washington Territory receives its supplies.
      This float is two miles from the end of the logging road known as the Blanchard railway, and the road is two miles from the village of Edison. The track is four miles long, a standard gauge, with steel rails and a full fledged steam locomotive and thirty logging cars. The superintendent of the logging camp is Dudley Blanchard, who is the agent of ex-Gov. Alger, of Michigan, and Mr. Hawley, of Cincinnati.
      The camp works an average of ninety men, who get 75,000 feet of logs per day, working about eight months in the year, making the annual output eighteen million feet, sold at $7 per thousand, or a total of $126,000 per annum. The pay roll of the camp is about $180 per day. For moving logs in the woods at such places as are too rough for cattle [oxen], two stationary donkey engines are used. This company is now having made for this place a "steam skidder," such as the firm uses in its camps in Michigan and in Humboldt county, California.
      None of these skidders are as yet in use in Puget Sound basin. The contrivance costs about ten thousand dollars. It consists of a twenty horse power engine set near a marsh or deep ravine, and from it is run a large cable stretched tightly from tree to tree. On this cable are three metal carriages, and from them drop tongs or grappling hooks which clutch the logs and hoist them clear of the ground and then they are run to the dumping place. . . .
      It is now getting to be quite the thing to use cattle to draw logs out of the thick woods to skid roads and then use horses on the skid roads. There are usually seven horses to a team and they are driven with a single jerk line. Such a team of horses will make three trips while a team of cattle would make, under the same conditions, but one trip. The cattle in the camps are generally worked six or seven yoke in a team. They are carded twice a day and stanceled [?] and kept so fat that they play like kittens when they are turned loose. They are grained and handled equal to the best care bestowed on a crack livery team. An ox team of seven yoke will haul from seven thousand to nine thousand feet of logs at one load.

      Other nearby camps mentioned in the story: Andrew Guthrie, 2 1/2 miles east of Edison, with a tramway a mile along slough to tidewater. Pat McCoy, with tramway two miles to Samish River. George Shumway, seven miles east of Edison, using a skid road. John Sanders and Fred Mossberger, 7 1/2 miles east of Edison, using a skid road and chute to the Samish River. Addington & Howard, sawmill 3 1/2 miles east of Edison, 15 men. At Bayview, 8 miles south, Mohler's sawmill, with 20 men. [No first name] Metcalf sawmill, 15 men, one mile east of Bayview. "Near Bayview," camp of Ezra Bros., who owned 500 acres of timberland; Moran & McPherson's camp, ten men. Many of the logs from this combined area were shipped by water to mills at Ports Gamble, Discovery, Hadlock and Tacoma.
      An article in the April 28, 1890, Puget Sound Mail newspaper of LaConner reported that Blanchard & Sons was by still by far the largest such company in the north Puget sound area. The company announced plans to log and mill 20 million board feet of timber, with the help of 100 men and 20 oxen on two miles of skid road, all of which was backed by Alger & Co. of Michigan. According to the centennial book, sometime in that period, Wendell T. Morrison amassed a 640-acre farm at the south end of what is now Blanchard, becoming one of the largest land owners in the area.

(SBLC Mill)
      This is a photo of the Samish Bay Logging Co. mill at Blanchard at the mouth of the slough. We are looking north and the photo was taken sometime after 1912. You can see another copy of this photo in Dennis Blake Thompson's book, Logging Railroads of Skagit County. He noted that his photo was from Ina Burkhart, whose husband, Lewis Clifford "Cliff" Burkhart, was the superintendent of the Lizard Lake logging camp and incline on Blanchard Mountain.

The Blanchard family era in Skagit was short — six years
      Probably the most stunning wedding of Dudley's family occurred down in Seattle in 1888 after Alice M. Blanchard — Dudley's eldest daughter, became the toast of society in San Francisco as a Mayflower descendent with a degree from Elmira College in New York. She soon landed one of the most eligible bachelors on the coast. On May 23, 1888, she married the vice president and soon-to-be-millionaire of the Wells Fargo Co., John J. Valentine, 48, a Kentucky native and a widower whose first wife died in 1885. In his book, Wells Fargo, Noel M. Loomis wrote that Valentine succeeded Charles F. Crocker as VP and eventually became president of the company in August 1892. He was one of the leading figures in the state and was credited with establishing Wells Fargo's business hegemony "from sea to sea." Alice's mother had died the year before and Alice appears to have evolved into the symbolic mother and center of the family from then on, as her sisters moved south to live near the couple in Oakland, and her parents were eventually buried in the family plot there.
      In the 1889 the Washington Territorial census listed George and Mary at Blanchard town, along with Dudley, but by then the father was also listed as a lumberman in Tacoma in the 1889-91 city directories, so we infer that Dudley may have headed up the marketing arm there. That same Puget Sound Mail article noted that by then the rolling stock and improvements value for the railroad neared $100,000. They also built two miles of corduroy skid road. By then the Blanchards and Hawley and Alger owned 1,400 acres of timberland with a potential of 500 [could have been a misprint] million board feet of logs and had a payroll of 227 men, 114 oxen and 30 horses working on 25 miles of tram and skid road, including holdings in Whatcom county.
      In her book, Boom Towns and Ghost Camps (1995), JoAnn Roe noted a key demarcation year when she wrote that George ran the post office until 1891 and then moved much of his attention south, specifically to conduct business in Tacoma and later a second career there. Dudley had apparently withdrawn a year before, when he married a younger woman named Anna from Puyallup. By the 1892 Washington State census, no Blanchards were enumerated in the town of Blanchard. Instead, Dudley, Anna and his son, Dudley Ravaud Blanchard, then 16, were all living in Tacoma. George B. and Mary Blanchard and their son, Scott, were also living there. Dudley R. was a clerk in the Tacoma Light & Water Co., which was being purchased from city father Charles B. Wright. We do not yet know when the Blanchards sold their logging, railroad and mill interests. They could have lost heavily in the nationwide depression years of 1892-96 because George and Dudley R. obviously moved to other professions during that period. We also have no sense of their political leaning, as the nation suffered from depression and fusionists and populists briefly ruled Washington elections.
      By the time of the Tacoma city directory of 1893, George was a railroad contractor in Tacoma, Dudley R. had been promoted to bookkeeper of the Light & Water Co. By the time of the 1895 Tacoma city directory, father Dudley was still listed as a Lumberman and George may have moved temporarily back to Pennsylvania, because his son Merrill was born there. Dudley R. had taken a year off from his work to attend school back East, possibly at the same school his father attended. In 1896, George was listed as the secretary of the Tacoma Traction Co. (Interurban, chartered 1894), and Dudley R's schooling had resulted in a promotion to auditor at the Light & Water Co. In 1896 father Dudley moved to Puyallup and lived there with Anna the rest of his life.
      In 1901, John H. Fravel moved his family back to Blanchard, following bleak years for the town during the Depression, and he reopened the post office as Fravel; the post office had been discontinued in 1891 when George B. Blanchard left. Fravel died on March 17, 1905, after building a new family home in 1903 at 2415 Utter Street in Bellingham. Starting in 1903, his old village had a strange situation where the post office was named Fravel but the Great Northern railroad depot was named Blanchard. Whatever the reason, the double names continued until 1913. Sometime in that year the residents of the town held a referendum and decided that both the depot and post office should be named Blanchard. The only detail we have found is that the U.S. Postal Service designated Blanchard as the post office name that year. To complicate matters even further, two sources time that referendum in 1915. Terry and Fannie Coble, the future town leaders, moved to Fravel in the early 1900s and the local-boy-made-good Edward R. Murrow moved to Blanchard with his family from Polecat Creek, North Carolina, to the new town in 1913. Florence Smith Lowe, editor and co-author of the book, Equality Colony, was born in Blanchard in 1912; she is 98 in 2010 and living in California.

(The Wrights and the horse)
      George Wright admired his wife astride their horse in Blanchard in an unknown year. Photo courtesy of Blanchard Community Club.

The investors on the national scene
      Two events led to changes for the Alger and Hawley families. On March 5, President William McKinley appointed Alger Secretary of War. By the time of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Alger had reaped heavy criticism for inefficient preparation for and operation of the war in the field. In May 1898 he was still respected when his namesake Camp Alger was opened near Falls Church, Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington, D.C.
      But the long knives came out in July for his appointment of William R. Shafter, one of his Michigan peers, as commander of the war theater. You may recall that Shafter was a medal of honor winner during the Civil War, but three decades later he was ridiculed for being oblivious that the battle of Santiago de Cuba had even begun, organized with his inadequate plan. He was on a cot, laid waste by the heat; he was 63, weighed nearly 300 pounds and suffered from the gout. Algerism became an epithet for incompetence, especially as the Army was in a weak state versus the rising Navy branch.
      Alger resigned on August 1, 1899. Ironically, years later, an 1898 movie was discovered, General Wheeler and Secretary of War Alger at Camp Wikoff, which documented an official visit to the New Jersey camp that greatly helped the McKinley administration to garner support from the New York newspapers. Unfortunately he had more enemies than friends.
      Meanwhile his fellow Northwest investor Ravaud K. Hawley died in Cleveland on June 14, 1898. By 1900 Alger turned his attention to the Northwest again and he and Hawley's estate sold the Skagit County holdings of at least 10,000 acres to the Bloedel-Donovan Lake Whatcom Logging Co., which had been launched by Julius Bloedel, John Donovan (also route engineer for the Fairhaven & Southern Railroad, http://www.skagitriverjournal.com/RR/Sk-What/F-S01-Birth.html) and Peter Larson in 1898. Also in 1900, the village of Lookout was renamed Alger, which must have seemed like a welcome tribute after two years of political hell.
      In 1902 he and his partner-successor to Hawley, Martin Sullivan, of New York, established the company town of Century, Florida. They built a large sawmill across the state border from a vast Alabama Pine Forest, where they had invested heavily. In that same year the Michigan governor appointed Alger to fill the seat of deceased James McMillan in September. The state legislature then elected him to the seat in January 1903. He served until he died in office on Jan. 24, 1907.

(Oxen logging team)
      This photo was supplied by Lawrence Harnden Jr., our friend and avid reader of the website. It was taken on July 12, 1892, by an unknown photographer and is the finest photo we have seen of a team of oxen dragging raw logs out of the woods to a log dump. The team is for Albert S. Howard and Silas Butler's logging camp. Silas may be the man in the front center with the moustache. We hope a reader can identify the others. Photos of that year are often identified as being taken by Darius Kinsey, but he was not yet photographing loggers at that time. He was just started as a photographer for the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern railroad line

Blanchard family descendants
      Even if the Blanchards did not lose assets during the Depression, by 1900, George and family were living on Tacoma Avenue and were doing well enough to have a servant in the house; he and Mary lived with their sons Scott and Merrill. Back in Grand Rapids, Philip was enumerated that year with his wife, he 77 and she 66. Philip died on Sept. 29 that year.
      John J. Valentine died in Oakland on Dec. 21, 1901, and left an estate of $872,000. He was lauded for being an early environmentalist in opposition to mining interests that tried to co-opt him, and praised for his curious nature as a reader. He funded several circulating libraries. The New York Times reported in his obituary that he and Alice had seven children, including four from his first marriage; Alice inherited the bulk of his estate.
      Father Dudley died on Dec. 24, 1903, in Puyallup. Dudley R. Blanchard moved to California in 1905 and married Grace Winter, of Berkeley, that year. By the 1910 Federal Census, he and Grace were enumerated in Berkeley, with two infant sons. In 1912 George B. Blanchard moved his family to Illinois. He and Mary were enumerated in Evansville, Illinois, for the 1920 census. He died in a sanitarium in Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1930.
      One of the sisters, Augusta Hunt Blanchard, became a teacher at the Sarah W. Horton Girls College in Oakland, which was established in 1884. According to her 1916 obituary, she died of meningitis while teaching school, falling dead in the hallway of the school. She was 40. Her widowed sister, Alice M. (Blanchard) Valentine, still lived nearby on a substantial estate and she apparently never remarried. Her family was rocked by scandal in 1922, when her son was convicted in San Jose in September 1922 of driving his automobile while intoxicated. Probation was denied and he was sentenced to a prison term.
      Two Blanchard descendants lost their lives during World War I. In 1918, the Cornell Alumni News reported that George B. Blanchard's son, 1st Lt. Merrill "Jeff" Blanchard was killed "while flying at the front on Oct. 20." Alice B. Valentine's son, Naval Ensign Dudley Blanchard Valentine, accidentally drowned in 1919 at Live Oak, California, while on medical leave from an injury.
      Dudley R. Blanchard registered for the draft in 1917 from Stockton, where they were also were listed in the 1920 census. He died in 1925 after working for the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co. in Oakland, rising to the position of District Traffic Superintendent.
      We thank again Margaret Toth — on behalf of Lynn Lennox and Jon Miller and our other friends in Blanchard, and the Community Club there — that she worked so hard to help us illuminate the gaps in one of our favorite towns. We wish we could have shared the news there at Murrow's 100th birthday celebration in 2008. She regretted discovering that the Blanchards did not produce many descendants, but she notes that they seem to have been well-educated and they rose high in their professions. Rarely did the females produce many offspring, but often are also working professionals or investors with their own assets.
      Journal ed. note: We are delighted to announce that in 2011 another Blanchard descendant wrote to us after reading the original story and we connected her with Ms. Toth, cousins who had never met each other. We have connected members of about three dozen families now. Our database includes profile information on nearly Northwest 200 families.


1. Howard mill
      Addison's partner was Albert S. Howard, who came to the Edison area in 1884 at age 23 from North Carolina via Portland after seeing an ad for a contract to cut shingle bolts. That was the same year that his future sawmill partner Silas Butler arrived, so they may have worked in the woods together for eight years before starting their own mill. In the 1906 Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties book, we found that the two men were rising businessmen who made an impact on both Bow and Edison with their sawmills and logging camps.
      In the only surviving copy of Edison's newspaper — the Puget Sound Phonograph, volume 2, number 52, Dec. 29, 1892, we found a large advertisement for the Howard & Butler mill. The partners specialized in rough and dressed lumber from clear cedar and spruce. They were proud of their "vertical grain finishing lumber" for flooring, shingles, pulley stiles, window sills, door jams and other uses. They noted that they logged their own timber. [Return]

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Story posted on July 9, 2010
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