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Skagit River Journal

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First Triplets in Skagit county
The Jenne family of Swinomish flats

(3 photos of Jenne triplets)
Photos of the Jenne triplets at birth, as children and on their 50th birthday in 1941. We believe that from left to right they are Lecphe, Howard and Harriet.

      Back in the frontier days of Skagit county, a rare occurrence on a farm could draw people from many miles around for observation. Two-headed calves attracted folks like a magnet, but the big show that attracted the most folks occurred on Nov. 9, 1891. The unnamed wife of William Jenne on the Swinomish flats gave birth to the first triplets born to a settler family in the Skagit valley. We have transcribed the newspaper story of their 50th birthday party. You can read that first, then the profile of the George Jenne family and then we will give you some background on the extended Jenne family, many of whom emigrated from Germany in the mid-19th century. They celebrated their birthday in those last peaceful days; the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor four weeks later.

The Jenne triplets celebrate
their 50th birthday in 1941

Nov. 10, 1941, article, probably the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
      Fifty years ago yesterday, farmers driving wagons along the muddy Skagit county roads near LaConner pulled their teams to a halt at every neighbor's fence to call out the biggest news of the year:
      "Hear what happened over at Jennes? Triplets!"
      Mr. and Mrs. William Jenne, who had been expecting their second child, had been blessed with their second, third and fourth — a boy and two girls — and the first triplets anybody remembered in the county.
      The Jenne triplets kept on being news all up and down the Skagit valley for four years until the family moved away to another farm on Lulu island, at the mouth of the the Fraser river, in British Columbia — almost as big in that rural settlement as were the Dionne quintuplets in [eastern Canada] years later.
      People drove ten, fifteen and twenty miles in lumber wagons over roads which werent' much more than trails, to see them. Whenever a farmer wanted to give his wife a holiday, he hitched up the team and drove her down the valley to see the Jenne [family] and the babies, Harriet [Harriett], Howard and Leephe [spelled Lecphe in death record, 1981]. Yesterday Howard — and Leephe, who is now Mrs. H.A. Nelson — got together in Seattle with Harriet, now Mrs. Carl Solid, 2715 Fairview Ave. N. to celebrate their fiftieth birthday anniversaries.
      Much to their surprise they discovered they were still the famous Jenne triplets in the minds of the people whom they had not seen since they were four years old.
      The telephone rang all day. People who as children had gone to the Jenne farm to see the triplets, called them up and wished them good luck and a happy birthday. The postman brought letters and postcards from others who had made the journey in a farm wagon to the farm.
      The twins all are married and all have children. Mrs. Solid is the mother of three daughters and a son. Both Howard Jenne, now the manager of a creamery at Chewelah, Stevens county, and Mrs. Nelson, who lives at Mount Vernon, [has] a son.
      The triplets have made a hobby of clipping newspaper accounts concerning other triplets. They never have read or heard of any other triplets who all reached the age of fifty.

Profile of George F. Jenne family
Page 606, Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish counties, 1906
      George F. Jenne (deceased). Of the pioneers of Skagit county none has manifested a keener desire for the highest and best things in life than George F. Jenne, and perhaps none has better merited the esteem and respect of the community in which he lived. Born in Germany [May 19, 1854], he passed there the initial fourteen years of his life, enjoying the benefits of the public school system which has made his fatherland famous the world over. He received all the education in his native land that it is customary to give to German youths who are not to be prepared for professional life, but was not satisfied, and after coming to the United States took a course in the schools of Illinois. Being of a studious turn he continued his battle with books long after his school days were over and the battle of life was begun, and as a natural consequence he in time became an unusually well educated and well informed man.
      In 1868, he landed in Calhoun county, Illinois, and he resided there and in Green county until 1876, when he decided to heed Horace Greeley's advice and try his fortune in the West. His first home in Washington territory was on Whidby [Whidbey] island, where he farmed on land held by leasehold for eight years, at the end of which time he had accumulated sufficient means to justify purchasing a place of his own. Accordingly, in 1884, he came to the Swinomish flats and bought one hundred and eighty acres of land, situated six miles west and a little north of Mount Vernon, to the improvement and cultivation of which he devoted himself assiduously until his death, which occurred June 3, 1902. He was a very active man in his business, public spirited, broad minded, liberal, just and unselfish, hence one who was naturally respected and looked upon with favor by his fellow citizens.
      In 1873, in the state of Illinois, Mr. Jenne married Mary, daughter of Leonard and Catherine (Mowery) Halfrick, both natives of Ohio. The father was a tailor by trade, but in early life deserted his needle and goose [can a reader interpret that?] for farming, which occupation he followed for a number of years in Illinois. He was a pioneer of that state, and his widow, now seventy-seven years old, still lives there, and has since she was a child of four.
      Mrs. Jenne was born in Illinois, Sept. 14, 1854, and received her educational discipline there, then married at the age of nineteen. Her children are: Jane, at home; Lizzie, wife of Fred Kalso; John, at home; Mrs. Tillie Callahan, in Fredonia; Ida and Hazel, at home. Of these John, who, with his mother, manages the place, is a graduate not only of the public schools of La Conner, but also of Wilson's Modern Business college, of Seattle. He cultivates the entire one hundred and eighty acres in such a way as to make it yield an excellent profit, giving the major portion of his attention to cereal crops, though he keeps a few head of cattle and abundance of horses for all the purposes of the farm. The family are Presbyterians, and during his life time Mr. [George] Jenne was an Odd Fellow [IOOF].

Various notes about the extended Jenne family
      Although we found a number of references to people named Jenne in the Illustrated History and in historian John Conrad's obituary notes, we did not find how William and George Jenne were related. We tend to think William was a much younger brother of George, but he could have been a cousin. Maybe a reader can help. Meanwhile, here are some notes on various family members:

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Story posted on Jan. 17, 2003, last updated Feb. 19, 2009
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