On the last day of April 1865, Mary Low Sinclair and her one-month-old son, Alvin, board the small, unfinished steamer Mary Woodruff in Port Madison, Kitsap County, for a journey across Puget Sound and up the Snohomish River to a place called Cadyville, where her husband, Woodbury Sinclair (1825-1872), has purchased the Edson T. Cady claim that previous December. Mary remembers the day of her arrival in an article published 46 years later in the November 24, 1911, issue of the Snohomish County Tribune. She does not mention the fact that she was the first Caucasian woman to take up permanent residence in the place that was to become Snohomish City. She also fails to note that even by 1911, she is considered to be the founder of education in Snohomish by opening her home as the first classroom. Plus, she skips over the intriguing fact that by learning the native languages of the area, she served as a translator for visiting officials and journalists. The last recorded event was two years before her death, at 79 years of age, when she helps a reporter from Seattle’s Post-Intelligencer interview Snohomish’s famous Pilchuck Julia.
A Clearing in the Woods
Born to John N. Low and Lydia (Colburn) Low in Bloomington, Illinois, on December 11, 1842, Mary and her family were members of the Denny Party that arrived at Alki Point in 1851. Many of the Denny Party became the first settlers of Seattle. The Lows, however, settled in Port Madison, Kitsap County, where Mary worked as a teacher, and ended up marrying her boss, the school district clerk, and lumberman Woodbury Sinclair, on March 4, 1862. Two years later, Woodbury found himself in Cadyville where he purchased the namesake’s claim on the north bank of the Snohomish River. The purchase included a small shack that Woodbury and a partner named William Clendenning planned to open as a store catering to the local loggers.
Mary, their infant son and the household goods arrived on May 1, 1865, which she described in her 1911 remembrance:”As the steamer landed at the gravel bank near the foot of Maple Street, a small clearing appeared in the otherwise unbroken timber. The town consisted of a rough log house on the bank in which supplies were stored. The store farther back, was a twelve by sixteen-foot shack. The old building still standing (1911) at the corner of Maple and Commercial Streets, without windows, doors, or floor, in time was used for the store, with living rooms in the back.”
The infant Alvin died 20 days after Mary’s arrival.
“There was no time to be lonesome …”
Mary’s remembrance continues: “There was much to do, but the pioneers were hustlers and could turn their hands to anything — no specialists in those days. The women, young and hopeful, fearing neither danger or privation, soon began to make things look homelike. A large fireplace assisted considerably in clearing the dooryard, in which later bloomed old-fashioned flowers — Sweet Williams, Marigolds and Hollyhocks. There was no time to be lonesome; frogs sang cheerily in the nearby marshes; mosquitoes kept the people busy building smudges. Wild game was plentiful. The Indians brought venison, wild ducks, fish and clams. Also the ranchers from Snoqualmie Prairie brought delicious hams and bacons of their own curing.”
A second son was born on November 14, 1866, who they named Clarence Wood Sinclair, and he lived to become a popular captain of the favorite steamship Nellie in the 1870s. Mary notes in her 1911 article: “For two years there was no regular steamer outside, and the only fruit available was wild berries. But living was cheap and good, and not a butcher shop in forty miles. The Indian wives of the ranchers made sociable calls on their white neighbors, conversing in mingled Boston, Chinook, and Siwash Wa Wa (talk).”
Mabel “May” H. Sinclair was born on April 28, 1869, and lived until 1935.
The First Cemetery
In 1872, Mary, age 29, with two children, lost her husband Woodbury to death from unknown causes. He was 46 years of age. Just two months earlier they had filed a plat of their claim on the east side of a growing town — now officially named Snohomish City. First, Second and Commercial Streets were parallel to the river, with cross streets named, Cedar, Maple, State, Willow, and Alder. They also sold the original store building, which they had turned into the Riverside Hotel. The hotel featured rooms surrounding a large hall on the second floor that was used by the community for meetings, dances, church services, weddings, court proceedings, and even funerals.
At Woodbury’s death, the Sinclairs were in the process of donating three acres on the eastern edge of their plat, alongside the Pilchuck River, to establish the county’s first graveyard. As the story goes, there was an accidental death of a young Caucasian woman the previous year, which left the frontier community helplessly aware that they had no burial ground — no proper place for a proper lady to rest in peace.
So negotiations with the Sinclairs were in progress when Woodbury passed away on June 5, 1872, leaving his widow — acting as guardian of her children’s estate — to successfully complete negotiations with the newly formed Snohomish Cemetery Association in 1876. (This was done just in time to bury 17 children claimed by an epidemic called “black diphtheria” the following year.)
Mary ordered a headstone of white marble, standing some three feet tall, to create a memorial for Woodbury in the new cemetery, where she also moved the remains of her infant son Alvin and added those of her second son Clarence in 1905, who died from a sudden illness. Mary died on a Sunday, June 11, 1922. She was 79 years old, still living in her home on Pearl Street and still active. She was cremated in Seattle, and, according to sketchy records dating from the 1940s, her remains were included in the family plot in Snohomish’s first cemetery.
The Missing Memorial
The Catholic Church founded the second cemetery in 1895; but the largest cemetery today was established in 1898 by the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Veteran’s group, simply referred to as the GAR — both were located outside of town. Over the years, the picturesque cemetery alongside the river, framed by a white picket fence, was no longer needed for the newly dead, and so became neglected and eventually referred to as the “Indian Cemetery.” Consequently, not enough attention was paid in the 1940s when the Washington State Department of Transportation claimed that all of the pioneer graves had been moved to other cemeteries, when they extended 2nd Street north, cutting the historic cemetery site in two. There is no record of the Sinclair remains being moved to the GAR, nor those of Mary’s parents, the Lows, who had moved to Snohomish shortly after Woodbury’s death. Only his faded white headstone, the centerpiece of the Sinclair memorial, was found in the abandoned cemetery and it was rescued by the Snohomish Historical Society, where it has held a predominant position in their display of a pioneer graveyard since the late 1980s.
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More articles commissioned by HistoryLink.org:
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John T. Hardwick
“The open caucus held by the people at Odd Fellows’ Hall nominated the successful ticket, and not the convention ‘held last week’– in the saloons.”
The Eye, June 28, 1890
“The city manager is out, and Snohomish’s ‘strong’ mayor is in.”
Daily Herald, November 29, 2017
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“He was a stranger!” began Preacher Hardwick in a full, rich voice which suddenly caught in his throat. He was facing a standing-room-only crowd of the Temperance Union meeting on the first floor of the Odd Fellows Hall on 2nd Street. All of the long, narrow casement windows were open, top and bottom, but no air was moving that night; it was stuck like Hardwick’s voice in the emotion of the moment.
“A stranger named Levi Bowker,” he finally continued, holding up a page from The Eye. “Did you read this?” he shouted for dramatic effect. It wasn’t necessary. The news of Levi Bowker’s suicide was the talk of the town. Hardwick made eye contact with Pherlissa Getchell sitting in the center seat of the front row. As president of the Temperance Union, it was her suggestion that he give this address — to perhaps give words to the mystery of this stranger’s death in their midst — and it sparked his political ambitions.
John T. Hardwick rarely missed an opportunity to tell people that he was born right here in Snohomish Valley, sometimes bending over and tapping the ground with the tip of his index finger. As was his father. It was his grandfather who found his way here as a circuit preacher, looking to convert Indian savages, but he met a woman and he built her a log house with his bare hands — and with hired Indian help — his wife’s brother.
Hardwick’s union produced 12 sons, who lived beyond childhood, and all were named after Christ’s Apostles. It’s not clear how many daughters lived, as they were not baptized so no records of their births exist. The dark secret of the family was that John’s father, also named John, after one of the Zebedee sons, married one of his sisters to produce a family of four sons.
Since the Hardwick homestead was remote, the arrival of a white woman into the region would have been news woven into the oral history of the family. Instead, no one talked about the dark cloud hovering over the family until it broke open with a crack of lightning, sending forth a deluge of whiskey. The memory of his father’s death haunts him; look for it in his eyes if the subject should ever come up.
John was named after John the Baptist and given the letter ‘T’ for a middle name as it was a sign of the cross. Young John was called JT while his father was alive, and it stuck. He was the youngest of the four boys and showed no interest in joining the Hardwick Bros in the growing business of installing window glass. The Seattle company was on the cutting edge of the new plate-glass window market.
JT remained on the homestead. He was close to his grandfather even though he never learned his name. He was always a formal “Grandfather” to him, something he didn’t realize until preparing words to say at the burial. Grandfather Hardwick was buried under the scrub oak tree grown from an acorn he brought from the Midwest. It grew like a weed, along with young JT, who in his sermons often embellished the story of his childhood passion for climbing that tree to see the future.
Drawn into Snohomish’s temperance movement as a young man, John T. Hardwick was handsome and easy going. His square jaw was balanced with a carefully trimmed mustache and topped by lively, dark eyes. He was quick to smile, which men were quick to mock, but the members of the temperance movement loved him. They would often meet at Joe Getchell’s two-story home on 2nd Street, next door to the Knapp and Hinkley Livery. JT was one of the few men invited to join them.
Pherlissa Getchell was a natural leader. Childless since her marriage to Joe in 1874, the daughter of a Maine farming family, and only one of a dozen white women living in the Valley at the time, Pherlissa made civilizing the frontier town where she landed her life mission. Levi Bowker’s suicide hit her hard.
It seems Bowker had a summer job on a hops ranch east of town and had been in Snohomish for about a week – two weeks before the special election of incorporation. He retired to his room in the Exchange Hotel between 9 and 10 Tuesday evening,“considerably under the influence of free campaign whiskey,” said JT, reading from The Eye.
“The hotel clerk found him the next morning, lying in a natural and easy position on the bed with his clothes on. A nearly empty morphine bottle and three brief, poorly written notes were found on the bedside table.” JT let the newspaper float to the floor while he paused to loudly blow his nose.
“One of the notes was addressed to an E. N. Porter, Port Ludlow,” he began again, “with the instructions: ‘Give my shotgun to my boy Harry if he ever comes to the Sound.’”
He held up a small piece of paper between the tips of his thumb and index finger, as if it were contagious. “Written on the back of this poll tax receipt,” Hardwick explained, then turned the hand holding the note to show the backside to his audience who, of course, were leaning in to read the message.
“For your kindness to me, keep my things. I will soon know the great mystery.” The Preacher returned the note to the lectern, looking down and repeating softly, “I will soon know the great mystery.”
Slowly looking up to speak, he added, “The third note was impossible to read, something to the effect that he was tired of life … but we know, don’t we? Yes! It was the influence of the free whiskey that made Jesus a stranger to young Levi — he chose a false savior!”
All sorts of “Amens!” filled the Odd Fellows Hall that night, overflowing through the wide-open windows.
“Only 38 years old, and a native of Springfield, Maine,” said the newspaper. “Let us pray for this stranger’s soul who will never see Jesus, but will wander for eternity.”
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“Amen!” said Missus Nightingale, holding Hardwick’s hands. He had been placed in the excavation basket used for hauling dirt out of the pit. It was a scene of eerie silence. Missus Nightingale had removed his wet, muddy clothes and boots and had set his broken leg with improvised splints. She was trying to keep his naked torso covered with his blousy white shirt.
She had washed his face, cleaned the dried blood caked in his overgrown mustache from a bloody nose, and slicked back his long black hair with her hands. The men quietly watching from above, like birds on a wire, were trying to hear what she was saying to him, but could only hear her “Amens!”
Modern ears accustomed to internal combustion engines don’t know the silence of 19th-century Snohomish. Coming from the east end of town was the rhythmic sound of horse hooves … no, a mule pulling a buckboard on the wooden planks of First Street. Its squeaking wheels announced: Billy Bottom was in town.
To be continued
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Cast of Imaginary Characters:(so far)
John T. Hardwick
“The open caucus held by the people at Odd Fellows’ Hall nominated the successful ticket, and not the convention ‘held last week’– in the saloons.”
The Eye, June 28, 1890
“The city manager is out, and Snohomish’s ‘strong’ mayor is in.”
Daily Herald, November 29, 2017
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It had rained hard that night. All night long, for those with nowhere to sleep. When Rev. Hardwick’s body was discovered in first light, only his nose and toes were above water. The new mayor was lying in a substantial puddle of cocoa-colored water in the deep excavation pit for J. S. White’s new building at the corner of A and Front.
Vagrants or loggers without a dime for a room were the first on the scene. An assortment of men in dark, wet wool jackets, showing no signs of urgency, were gathering behind the flimsy construction site barrier of stripped fir saplings. The excavation pit was an impressive site, a draw of attention on its own. It spanned 40 feet in width and nearly twice that in length. Starting at 10-12 feet below the wooden sidewalk, it pushed even deeper as it cut into the gentle slope of Avenue A.
“Morning Mayor!” sang out a big man wearing a top-hat and a colorful blanket of dyed goat fur over his shoulders. Unbuttoning his fly, he let go a proud stream into the pit.
Snohomish was founded on a sunny day. The picturesque town is sited on the gentle slope of the north bank of the river it was named after, which in turn was named after an Indian tribe. It’s Sunday morning; otherwise many of these boys would be in the Palace Saloon playing cards with the last of their greenbacks before heading back to their respective logging camps up the Pilchuck and French creeks.
“Nah, he ain’t dead … He was preaching again at the Palace … Jabbering on-and-on until someone hits him in the face … The only way to shut em up,” claimed the man with the large belly, struggling to button his fly.
The precarious foundation of the Palace Saloon was exposed on the east side of White’s excavation. It is a two-story wooden building that was quickly built three years ago to cash in on the town’s railroad boom. Before the excavation began, White’s attorney, Mr. Hart, presented White’s claim that it encroached four inches on White’s lot to the city council. The “city dads,” as The Eye referred to the elected members — and of which J. S. White was a new member — passed the entire awkward situation on to the city engineer, Mr. Carothers, who was charged with the task: “To survey First Street from Avenues D to A and fix the corners.” Mr. Carothers’ numbers have stuck to this day.
During the excavation, large baskets loaded with dirt, dug by hand, were pulled to street level using a wooden block and tackle rig set in a tower, pulled up by horses, then dumped into Avenue A, eventually to be graded. Alerted to the commotion, business owners timidly climbed into the pit on a steep, rickety ladder to get a closer look at the new mayor — but they seemed more concerned about the Sunday shine on their boots. Shifting from foot to foot, they mumbled, mixing the sandy glacier till with water into a creamy, chocolate mud.
“Yup, it’s Hardwick again, son-of-a-bitch … thought he’d cut out the preaching now that he’d done won.”
“Heard this is going to be a shooting gallery,” claimed a short fellow looking around and then back to the passed-out Hardwick as if he could confirm his claim.
“Has anybody seen Ferg this morning?” Asked another looking down at his mud-covered boots.
“An indoor shooting range,” replied the man with the news, “read it in the paper.”
“The world’s upside down … amazing the river don’t just rain down and wash us all away!” The man had untrimmed mutton chops that made him look like a puppet talking.
“We done got a good cleaning last night,” said the small man who was wondering about Ferguson.
“In the basement? How does that work? Bullets bouncing off the walls all over the place,” asked another, waving his arms around, happy to have the topic as a diversion.
“Here comes the sun!” quietly exclaimed another with his back to the group; he had removed his bowler as if paying respect to the mysterious orb as it rose above the Palace Saloon.
“They got ’em on the east coast, small bore rifles that use no gunpowder, I mean, I don’t know how it works … just overheard talk in the store is all,” explained the short fellow who works in Blackman’s grocery.
“Seems out of reach for this neck of the woods,” murmured another member of the elite group, looking for something to contribute.
“I can’t believe the dumb-shit won … what does he know about running a city? He can’t even control a horse and buggy. Saw ’em last week with a rig from Elwells, Heaven help us!” It was the puppet talking to no one in particular.
“He can learn on the job – at least he ain’t no tax-dodging moss-back like Ferg!”
The short, well-dressed fellow is referring to E. C. Ferguson, who had been mayor since he founded the town, and his loss in the election for incorporation was a dramatic upset, no doubt about it. Even the Sun, Ferguson’s paper, admitted as much under its two-word headline: “Snohomish’s Democratic.” The election divided the people between those who wanted to create a larger town and those, like Ferguson, who wanted no change. He had undeveloped lots west of Avenue D that wouldn’t be taxed if the town remained a village of the fourth-class.
In the election held on June 26, 1890, incorporation as a third-class city passed, 360 to 21 votes in a town of 2,012 souls living within the contested boundaries of the larger Snohomish City.
“Someone get word to Billy,” shouted Missus Nightingale from the top of the ladder. She started down, one-handed, as the other was holding up her extra-large skirt.
The men in the pit, all wearing dark clothes with white shirts, were standing in a loose semicircle around Hardwick so that the crowd, which had grown to wrap around the corner and up Avenue A, could look down from the behind the barrier and see the passed-out preacher. Yet, their view from above was obscured by the shadows falling across the body. As the men fidgeted about, flickers of sunlight illuminated Hardwick’s face and sparkled off the undulating puddle of muddy water, as if a message from Above; but now the group stepped back as Missus made her way to the unconscious Hardwick. She checked his pulse. She tapped his submerged shoulder — muddy water splashed across his face — as she called out his name: “John!” (She was way ahead of her time with CPR training.)
He stirs, begins to move, his belly rising as Missus reverently wipes the mud covering his huge belt buckle exposing the raised letters J-E-S-U-S. A sharp sliver of sunshine strikes the golden belt buckle. The men watching from above, who had grown into a noisy, jeering crowd, fall silent. Only faint, confused murmurs of “Jesus?” ripple through the men, like a soft, natural reverb. No one, to a man (only one woman was present), had seen such a thing in this riverside town. The fellow defending Hardwick earlier leans in for a closer look, then turns, looking at Missus Nightingale, “Where are his suspenders, Missus?”
Just like in a movie, the sharp, sudden sound of the whistle announcing the morning train to Seattle dominates this dramatic scene as Mayor J. T. Hardwick opens his eyes, in a close-up shot.
To Be Continued.
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White’s corner lot next to the palace saloon is being graded for a shooting gallery. The Eye, December 22,1892.
Time has become years since I first saw the White Building basement — it was within days of reading the news of a “shooting gallery” in Snohomish’s 19th-century newspaper of record.
The long basement room was dark and empty except for a grease collection container. I didn’t bring a camera or a flashlight, always meant to return better prepared. So you can imagine my surprise when I finally returned and my host, the prep cook, Mitch, hit the light switch at the bottom of the stairs filling the basement with light.
The once level floor had mounds of dirt from adding footings for the posts with beams supporting the thick joists resting on the original granite foundation. Now the basement was a handy place to store a variety of restaurant supplies. There was a short row of sparkling water glasses on a plank sticking out of a scrap pile. Evidence of an interrupted story.
Speaking of which, there is no sign that the room was once a shooting gallery, even though it was certainly excavated for one as the paper reported. Plus, there is no mention of a shooting gallery in the papers, not even an advertisement.
Next month will feature the large room on the second floor intended to be a hospital! Would have been close by for shooting gallery accidents, but alas, neither came to be.
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So excited to report: July 13, 2017, is the release date for our book J. S. White Our First Architect, and the date of our Gala Garden Release Party for Angels and Publishers of the fine art book. July 13 is the 172nd anniversary of White’s birth in Tamworth, New Hampshire. White lived for 75 years, 36 of them in Snohomish.
If you would like to attend our release party but have yet to make a tax-deductible donation, this offer is for you: Contribute $75, come to the party and pick up your gift of the book personalized for you or yours! We need raise only $5,000 more to pay off the $21,000 cost of producing the book — your generous contribution will help.
Contribute online or by check, details are here.
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Every town wishing to become a city requires a Great Fire Story in its early history and the one of 1911 is ours. Fortunately, it was documented by photographer William Douglas who was asleep in a downtown hotel room when the fire alarm sounded in the predawn hours. Backed up by his striking black-and-white photographs, it’s fun to tell the story about the fire which I have often: first here, then here. But the most rewarding telling was without the images when I led a group of Emerson third graders on a walking tour of our historic downtown and received the illustrated thank-you note pictured above.
Please enjoy this two-minute montage of Douglas’s photographs along with the story as reported in the Snohomish County Tribune on June 2, 1911.
This story is included in our book about J.S. White but as a side-bar, of which there are four that use the newspaper accounts verbatim, and two of them are about fires! And speaking of our book, be sure to check out our Fun(d)raising Progress — we need your pre-order to raise the funds due when the books arrive in July.
For encouragement, I will be at the Snohomish Farmers Market on Cedar Street, every Thursday, from 3 to 7p., beginning May 4th. Every pre-order entitles you to join me for a guided Walking Tour of White’s 19th-Century Snohomish, Saturday mornings at 10a.
“The river has been bank full again this week,” was noted in The Eye on December 10, 1887, and it’s one of my favorite finds in the 19th-century newspaper of record for Snohomish. Consequently, the Snohomish River is the visual theme of this month’s video.
In October 2013, I wrote an article on the Elwell House with the title: “Built 1888; Divided 1913; Renovated 2013.” It’s written as a movie pitch with the hook that a new architect comes to town, Pete Hansen, who purchases the lot that contains the southern half of White’s Elwell House which requires him to separate it. Pete does and moves his half some 100 feet away, then forward toward the street, and remodels it for his family home.
This drama is mentioned in Essay #4 of J. S White Our First Architect, but the focus is on the extended Elwell family, all of whom migrated to the Snohomish valley from Maine just in time to celebrate the nation’s centennial in 1876. John and Eliza had nine children with Edgar being the seventh, born in 1854.
The video excerpt is the beginning of the essay, Edgar has been in the logging business for ten years and he recently married his second wife, Emma.
I appreciate hearing from you and for your support.
On January 13 of the new year, Otto and I met with Leah Finger, Production Manager with Lucia Marquand, to go over the first round of color proofs produced by Seattle’s iocolor. Leah made precise notes on the proofs like, “make better.” I learned that iocolor was established in 2001 as a sister company with Marquand Books, and Leah has a five-year relationship working with the technician/artists at the company. Otto and I were so impressed by process that I took another picture.
Otto with Leah Finger, Production Manager, at Lucia Marquand.
We met for two more follow-up color proof sessions, each time with a smaller pile of images as they were fixed and approved.
Follow this link to visit the iocolor website, warning: the site contains beautiful books!
No one today calls the Oxford Tavern, the “A. M. Blackman Store,” its original name. It would mean ignoring an oral history involving ladies-of-the-night, bar fights, and ghosts. Even the third graders from Emerson on my annual walking tour wanted to know about the ghosts. The Oxford Tavern is Snohomish’s most famous place.
Arthur M. Blackman was a young man when he built his two-story grocery store on 1st Street, considered at the time to be the largest in the county. Engaged in both wholesale and retail sales, Arthur’s operation became a victim of the national depression of 1893 and the business folded the following year.
You will learn more watching the short illustrated excerpts from Essay #6: J. S. White Our First Architect. I appreciate hearing from you and for your support.
Let’s welcome the first month of the New Year with a short video clip of excerpts from our art book J. S. White, Our First Architect, featuring the second building White built in Snohomish, the Odd Fellows Hall, dedicated in 1886.
The book is in production with the Seattle company Lucia Marquand, and I had to put off writing this post until the first round of edits were complete and returned to the Editorial Director, Melissa Duffes. It’s an exciting time learning the process of Making an Art Book that you are invited to follow on the website.
Meanwhile, check out the visual tease from the essay, about the owner’s discovery of the large plaster chandelier medallion, still attached to the original ceiling above the drop-ceiling of acoustical tiles installed in the 1950s.
Please follow this link to pre-order your copy of J. S. White Our First Architect.
Working with our designer, Meghann, along with Otto and Susan, a layout for the book was set mid-December. Now, the process of making an art book passes to the editorial lead, Melissa Duffes, who in short order sent text proofs for editing. I’m working with a pdf copy, while editor Susan prefers a hard copy of the text. Plus, our contract with Lucia Marquand includes the services of a copy editor.
The “first text proofs” are due back to Melissa by January 12, next year!
We are celebrating Christmas this year in the original Methodist Church, taking us back to 1901. This is the first building J. S. White built in Snohomish, beginning in 1884, the same year he arrived with his wife and three daughters under the age of nine.
One or all of his girls could be turned toward the camera on the left, and the mustachio man on the right could be Mr. White himself? As for what’s going on on the altar, please check out this post from 2014.
This month begins a monthly video post reading from the manuscript for the J. S. White book, with cut-aways to historic images and footage of how the subject structure looks today. Perhaps we can get invited inside as we were in this case by Sharon St. Marie, owner of the Belle Chapel, its new name.
Please enjoy our first video post, your questions are welcomed in the comments below.
Please follow this link to pre-order a copy of J. S. White Our First Architect.
Karen set a beautiful table for the “Let’s Publish a Book Party” on Sunday, September 25, 2016. Helping her was Publisher Chad Alice Hagen, and it all looked good enough to eat — and it was!
Warner read two excerpts from the manuscript and his brother Pete, sister Sara, and nephew Robert began the gathering with live music.
Publisher’s contributions combined with those of the Angels pushed our total beyond the $10,000 mark, meaning that we have the down payment in hand to begin production of the art book, J. S. White: Our First Architect.
Eunice Blackman is pictured above in her costume for the Illuminated Bicycle Parade, the featured event of a day-long celebration. Eunice grew up in the house that is now the Blackman House Museum with her brother, Clifford, and parents, Ella and Hyrcanus.
Snohomish no longer celebrates the Fourth with a community gathering. Over 100 years ago the city moved its community celebration to the middle of July, and it has been called KlaHaYa Days since the 1930s.
Note in the schedule below, that First Place for the “Best Decorated Wheels” in the Illuminated Bicycle Parade is awarded $10!* Wonder how many people were looking at the wheels when Eunice peddled by?
*In 2015, the relative value of $10.00 from 1899 ranges from $248.00 to $9,110.00.(MeasuringWorth.com)
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Mayor Karen hosted an event called, “Coffee With the Mayor” on her birthday, May 21, just last month. The gathering was held at the local library and I brought along my new Nikon D5200. A question about water rates and its complicated answer gave me the idea to do this short history about Snohomish’s water system. I learned a lot — the central reason for doing these stories every month — and knowing the background helps to understand the Mayor’s answer. Here’s a toast to clarity!
Awonderful story from The Eye, the local newspaper in 1892, about the Snohomish Water Company competing with the new city system had to be cut from the clip. Here is the voice-over script instead:
“The story in the paper goes that the owner Mr. Allen, paddled a dugout canoe with the editor of The Eye on board out to the center of lake to show him that the water is as clear as crystal and as cold as ordinary well-water — much better than the Pilchuck water when humpy salmon go up the stream looking for a quiet spot to end their days, Mr. Allen added. The company just needed financing to extend their pipe to the center of lake. The pitch failed to sway the writer who wrote that it would be a better deal for taxpayers to purchase the company’s pipes and either collect rent or plug them up.”
Your comments are encouraged and always acknowledged.
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NOTES: Thanks to Fred Cruger with the Granite Falls Historical Society for help locating the dams.
CORRECTION: The term “water rates” was first used in 1887, not 1878 as stated in the video. Please make a note of it.
A Sketch of Early Snohomish Life
On the first day of May, 1865, a small, unfinished steamer, The Mary Woodruff, slowly made her way against the strong current of the river, having left Port Madison, Kitsap county, the day before, with the families and household goods of W. B Sinclair and I.C. Elles, who were removing to Cadyville, as it was then called. Mr. Sinclair had bought out Cady the December previous and started a small trading post. Ellis also began logging for the Puget Mill Co. at the same time, building his camp in the dense forest near where the E.C. Ferguson home now stands. As the steamer landed at the gravel bank near the foot of Maple street, a small clearing appeared in the other wise unbroken timber. The town consisted of a rough log house on the bank, in which supplies were stored. The store farther back was a 12×16 shack. The old building still standing at the corner of Maple and Commercial streets, without windows, doors or floor, in time was used for the store, with living rooms in the back. During forty-seven years the Sinclair house has stood, the roof never having been renewed.
The original home of E.C. Ferguson is still standing, having been remodeled and now belongs to M.J. McGuinness.
There was much to do, but the pioneers were hustlers and could turn their hands to anything–no specialists in those days. The women, young and hopeful, fearing neither danger no privation, soon began to make things look homelike. A large fire place assisted materially in clearing the door yard, in which later bloomed old-fashioned flowers–Sweet Williams, Marigolds and Hollyhocks. There was no time to be lonesome; the frogs sang cheerily in the near-by marshes; mosquitoes kept the people busy building smudges. Wild game was plentiful. The Indians brought venison, wild ducks, fish and clams. Also the ranchers from Snoqualmie prairie brought delicious hams and bacon of their own curing. For two years there was no regular steamer outside, and the only fruit obtainable was wild berries. But living was cheap and good, and not a butcher shop within forty miles. the Indian wives of the ranchers made sociable calls on their white neighbors, conversing in mingled Boston, Chinook and Siwash wawa (talk). One of the aristocracy, Mrs. Jenny, dressed in red cotton velvet, surprised the hostess by asking for patterns of the latest fashions in clothes. Julia also came, young and buxom, the third wife of Jack Pillchuck, with her first born, Haqueos, sitting on a basket of blackberries carried on her back. Occasionally wild Indians, Klikitats, insisted on coming in to see the white women and babies.
The storekeeper, while blazing a trail up Pillchuck to get the cattle into their winter forage of rushes, cut his foot severely, limped home and with second aid dressed and sewed up the wound. One morning a hurry call came. A man had taken poison by mistake, but a pot of strong coffee and a basket of eggs saved his life. The first burial was that of a drowned stranger, who was laid to rest under a large cedar tree. Mr. Ferguson read the English burial service, and on the home-made coffin rested a simple bunch of daisies among the evergreens. Could the elaborated floral offerings of today express more?
Some one said: “Write something funny.” Life was too serious, amid such surroundings to be comical. The spirit of the Indians, perhaps, who paddled their canoes silently in the dusky shadows, and spoke in low tones, lest the Stick Siwashes (ghosts) came down and caught them. One Sunday two farmers with their native helpmates came to trade, bought $50 worth, and said it was time to go home, but those stubborn creatures sat on a log outside and would not move until an additional $10 shawl was given each. About dark Frenchy and Jake surrendered. It was dangerous to have words with the cook in those days, for after doing so a man came home to dinner and found his hanging to the limb of a crabapple tree. As the country began to settle up the town began to take on airs. The front of one house was painted. A man in a white shirt astonished the natives, as did the first horseman passing through. Finally an ox cart, with great wooden wheels was heard, as well as seen on the street. Clark Ferguson was the fortunate owner.
E.C. Ferguson found a bride in Olympia. Samuel Howe met his promised wife in Victoria. She left her English home and braved a five thousand mile sea voyage via Cape Horn to join the lover of her youth in making a new home in the wilderness. E.D. Smith, of Lowell, married Miss Margaret Getchell in San Francisco. She came out from Maine across the isthmus. W.M. Ward and wife, the Blackmans, J.N. Low and many other important families arrived. Our pleasures were few and simple, but none the less enjoyed
On Sunday afternoons, gathered in the first school house, we would repeat the Lord’s Prayer. Mr. Ward led the singing, which was followed by an original address by some one in the audience on moral, religious or philosophic topics. Varied social diversions at the homes promoted good will and friendship.
The early settlers will all soon have crossed the river, and have been forgotten, but while life lasts the associations and friendships of those early times will never be forgotten.
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NOTES: Photograph of Mary Low Sinclair was taken by the LaRoche Studio in Seattle, dated 1905, courtesy University Libraries Special Collection #26773.
Read more about Mary Low Sinclair on HistoryLink.org.
Bob Davis is standing in front of his grandfather’s former gas station and holding a photograph of him wearing a bow tie and white jacket as the owner of the first gas station in Snohomish on the corner of 1st and Cedar.
Yes the charming little red brick building that many have asked what was it built for? And now we know. With the first autos, gas was available only in cans at the hardware store. Knowing that, it’s easy to imagine how driving up and asking, “Fill it up,” plays a developmental role in our love affair with the automobile.
Within five years, Ralph is promoting the addition of a hydraulic lift with this dramatic ad published in the Snohomish County Tribune on March 3, 1929. It invites readers to: “Bring Your Car in and See How “She” Looks Underneath” — sounds like an invitation to first base of the affair to me!
The lift looks to be outside, but it was before Bob’s time so he doesn’t know its location. The building is best known as the office of the Thurston Insurance Agency, but now serves as the office for the Feather Ballroom in the former Eagles Hall across the street.
In the 1940s, Ralph opened a larger station on 2nd Street at Maple, where the SnoTown Brewery and Ixtapa Restaurant are located today. In addition to playing baseball with the Snohomish Indians for many years, Ralph served as president of the local association that sponsored the team and built the ball park featured in last month’s story.
Opening the new gas station with his son Neil prevented Ralph from continuing on as an elected council member and after ten and half years of service he resigned. For several years Ralph was the Mayor pro-tem, sitting in for the elected Mayor when needed.
His daughter Lorraine married Hugh Davis and Bob was born in 1947. In 1951, Bob’s family moved to Yakima, where his father got in on the ground floor of the local television business. Four years later his mother was stricken with a severe case of polio, just a few months before the Salk vaccine became available. Immediately the grandparents sold everything, including the Union Station on 2nd Street, and moved to Yakima to care for Bob, his brother Jim, and their baby sister, who was only three years old at the time.
In 1976, when Bob, Joan and their two daughters were living in Seattle, Ralph came for a visit, and Bob drove his grandfather to look up one of his old team mates, Eddie Blau, from the Kirkland team, circa 1904/10, “and the two 80 year olds had a grand time reminiscing – and remembering all the details — of their great plays,” Bob tells me with wet eyes.
Ralph died two years later on March 7, 1978, in Yakima, he was 86 years old. I couldn’t find an obituary for him in our local paper.
Ralph is pictured above with his two grandsons, Bob, age 5 on the left, and Jim, age 4 — all suited up for the Snohomish Indians’ Old Timers Game of 1952.
“This is my favorite picture,” Bob said, showing it to me last of seven photographs. We were meeting at the Snohomish Bakery to accept a gift of the photographs and Ralph’s baseball uniform for the Snohomish Historical Society. “I’m keeping the jock strap,” confessed Bob, confidentially.
Ralph began playing baseball in the 20s when Snohomish had a real baseball stadium right here in town, where the Boys and Girls Club, the skate park, playground and the closed Hal Moe Pool are located.
The Snohomish Ball Park, on 2nd Street, between Maple Street and the Centennial Trail.
The Snohomish Ball Park hosted the annual, “Averill Day game celebrating the return home of the local player, who is now starring with Cleveland Indians of the American League,” reported the Tribune on October 13, 1932. “The stands and field were jammed with fans from all over the Northwest here to see the game,” the account continued. Ralph’s brother, Ing, played first base while Ralph went in to catch.
Best guess is that I’m standing about where center field might have been in the old stadium, close to where the photographer of the historic photo from 1932 stood. The Boys and Girls Club’s building is to my back. The bleachers were removed to build the pool in 1973, and the baseball diamond was reduced for Little League play. Use of Averill Field for the skate park and the youth center was approved by city council in 2000.
What to do with the long closed Hal Mo Pool is currently under consideration by the Hal Mo Pool Advisory Committee, which meets monthly at the Senior Center through June 2016. Follow this link to learn more.
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Jennie and Lot Wilbur celebrated their wedding anniversary on April 8th; she was 24 years old and he was two years younger when they got married in 1868. The Michigan State marriage register for Calhoun County, with penmanship fit for a wedding invitation, lists Charles Proot and his wife as witnesses to the Wilbur’s union.
The union produced no children, but together they established the first drug store of Snohomish County at the corner of First Street and Avenue C, where their two-story brick building still stands.
Not so lucky for their three-story home on the corner of Second and Avenue B. It was on a hill, overlooking the town sprouting up on the north bank of the river, but was moved in three pieces and the hill lowered to street level for an automobile dealership.
Fortunately, it was long after they had stopped celebrating their wedding anniversaries — Jennie was gone in 1919, and Lot died in 1930.
PHOTOGRAPH BY G.D. HORTON | SNOHOMISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY ARCHIVES
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Pictured around the time of her marriage to Charles Sprau in the 1920s, this is the only known photograph of any member of the J.S. White family, that settled in Snohomish when Linnie was only eight years old. She was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Delia and John White as their first of three daughters.
Alice White was born around 1879 and Elsie in 1882, both in Topeka, Kansas, as well.
The family arrived in Snohomish in February, 1884, where it seems, John, as an architect and contractor, had a commission to build a church for a newly formed Methodist congregation where John and Delia served as trustees and remained members until their deaths.
Linnie was one of four graduates of Snohomish High School in 1889, a year after moving into the family’s new home at 310 Avenue H. She worked as a bookkeeper for the popular grocery store Bruhn & Henry. In 1906, Linnie married Charles Sprau and the 1920 Census recorded the couple living on a fruit farm in Chelan County, Washington. They did not have children.
Ten years later, the census showed Linnie living with her mother in the family home on Avenue H, while her husband was lodging across town. Apparently she was ill and her mother was caring for her. Linnie died in 1930, ten years after her father, who also died at home. Linnie was buried on the 13th of May at Woodlawn Cemetery alongside her sisters Alice, who died in 1898, and Elise, 1928.
On March 6, 1933, Delia White passed and was laid to rest with her daughters in a spot high on the hill overlooking the Snohomish River. John was cremated in Seattle and the location of his remains are not known but our imagination has the family members together again.
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Thanks to our favorite genealogist, Ann Tuohy, for her workup of the White Family; and to Dave Sprau for the photograph that included Linnie in a multi-family pose.
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Mr. Ferguson moved into his residence on the first day of March 1860 at which time he located his homestead upon which most of the present site of Snohomish now stands. He occupied this dwelling up until 1880 when his new residence was completed in the northern portion of the city.
The old house of Mr. Ferguson is still standing and habitable. It is located on the bank of the Snohomish river between A and Union avenues. The photograph shows Mr. Ferguson in the chair, M. J. McGuinness, the present owner, standing, and James Burton sitting on the porch.”
This story above was published in the obituary edition of the Snohomish County Tribune, October 13, 1911, under the head: “Hon. E.C. Fergusons first residence.”
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June Gregory is certain she has found all of the members of Snohomish High graduating class of 1942, that are still among the living. “Our group is getting smaller every year,” she tells me, when I finally accept her invitation to join the 73rd Annual Reunion at Hill Park Picnic Shelter around noon on September 9th.
Of course, the class of 1942 has held reunions on the conventional schedule through the years, but 11 years ago, June, proposed to the dwindling numbers that they meet every year for a picnic lunch. “At first some still wanted go to a restaurant,” claims June, “but all seem to agree now that this is much less fuss.”
Five women and eight men of the class showed up this year, and just like high school, most of the men gathered at one end of the table and the women at the other. The group was joined by spouses, family members, even some who graduated in different years.
All were welcomed, including me with my movie camera.
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Pictured above is the “White House,” as it’s referred to by Donna Harvey, who wrote of her memories growing up in the home.
The image dates from around 1910, shortly after it was built by Nobel Harvey to use as a barn, even though it looked like the home it would become one day. The young person in the center is Eldon Harvey, who eventually raised his family in the structure. Behind him stands his mother, Edith White Harvey and next to her is Nobel, son of John who homesteaded the claim in 1859. Standing on the left is Maude Wheeler, a cousin, and alongside her is Bunny Bunstead, a family friend.
This significant piece of the Harvey Family heritage, empty of life for over 50 years, and listing badly to the south, was quickly demolished and disappeared into several large dumpsters during the last week of August 2015.
Doing all we can to preserve our historic structures is vital because of the stories our old buildings tell us. You may download the pdf of Donna Harvey’s Memories of the White House.
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While the 2014 Oso mudside got all the attention, a smaller slide destroyed one, maybe two, historic beachfront cabins on Brighton Beach, Whidbey Island, which shares historic roots with the city of Snohomish reaching back to the 1890s. The photo above is from the Ferguson family album documenting their summer days at the beach. Let’s revisit a story I wrote in August 2009, about going down-to-camp.
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Just as the leading families of Early Snohomish would do, we are going “down-to-camp” for the month of August.
Perhaps beginning as early as 1890, all three Blackman families would board a steamer at Snohomish and head down river loaded with tents, cots, and 30 days worth of supplies. The boat would head out into Possession Sound, past Hat Island, and aim for the sunniest beach on Whidbey Island. The overdressed passengers joyfully set up a row of tents along a narrow beach hemmed in by an unscaleable bluff of thick green woods.
The name “Camper’s Row” remains to this day. Even though a very steep road now allows the contemporary camper to park closer to the beach, it’s still necessary to walk-in, past several cabins to reach your destination.
I am looking for the cabin called “Drift-Inn” where I am to meet co-owner and author Frances Wood. We became acquainted several years ago when she visited the Blackman House Museum and introduced me to her book, “Down to Camp: A History of Summer Folk on Whidbey Island.” The story begins when Nina Blackman arrives in Snohomish to begin teaching school and she stays with her cousin Hyrcanus Blackman’s family in the home that is now our museum. But her stay was short, for within the year, she married Charles Bakeman, an early Snohomish furniture maker who responded to the demand for coffins by becoming an undertaker. Saving that story for another time, the union gave birth to Inez who is Frances’s grandmother.
Frances’s story reveals another wonderful fact about our famous Blackman brothers: they had an older sister, Mary Ursula. With her husband Eugene and their son Elmer, the family arrived in Snohomish around the same time as Nina. Trained as a civil engineer, Elmer landed a job immediately as the city and county surveyor. Next, Elmer met and married Sylvia Ferguson, Emory and Lucetta’s eldest. With the birth of their only child, Norman, the Lenfest family eventually out grew tent camping and built a cabin on the beach around the time their son turned eight.
Online: “Clinton landside claims another Brighton Beach cabin.” Includes close-up image of the Wood family cabin.
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