What’s with the Goat?

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When the Odd Fellows took over the town of Snohomish to mark the 73rd Anniversary of its organization in America, it was front page news in the April 30, 1892, issue of The Eye.
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The procession began at the lodge hall on Second and Avenue C, led by a 16 member band and the “historical Goat, which on this occasion wore a Past Grand collar and attracted much attention.” The route took them down Avenue D to First Street, (referred to as “Front Street” in those days), turning left at Cedar, again at Second, then Maple and back down to First, coming to a stop facing the opera house, (Athenaeum or Cathcart Hall), where our local photographer, Frank Perry captured the impressive gathering pictured below.

snohomish storiesTHEN: 73rd Anniversary of Odd Fellows in America, photographed by F.Perry in Snohomish on April 26, 1892.

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NOW: First Street, between Avenues C and D. Only the Wilbur Drug Store building remains, home to the American Legion Post 96, who also owns the parking lot and the former gas station building leased by Andy’s Fish House.

Inside the opera house, every chair was taken facing the huge American flag covering the entire wall behind the stage. Following the musical opening, W. W. Hewitt’s three raps with the gavel brought the large audience to its feet, when Rev. Mr. Feese offered the prayer. With the audience seated, he followed with some lively remarks, including a “deserved tribute to the Goat who had borne himself so majestically through the parade.”

Following another song by the choir, Past Grand Representative Kelly of Minnesota spoke of the origin of the order going all the way back to the middle ages, but that it was a “modern organization.” To illustrate his point to the overflowing crowd, he told of more recent beginnings with English working men holding meetings for “social intercourse and hilarity,” but they always came to the aid of a fellow in distress. “From this nucleus Odd Fellowship spread, and was introduced in America 73 years ago by Thomas Wilde,” The Eye’s report continues.

Seventy-three years later, the American order has more than 700,000 members, and it expends $3,000,000 annually in charity. “Odd Fellowship, said the speaker, closes its doors to atheists, and no man can join unless he is white and believes in God.” However, Odd Fellows was the first national fraternity to accept women when it formed the Daughters of Rebekah in 1851.

“The ball in the evening was one of the finest ever given in this latitude,” reported The Eye, with its entertaining style: “When it came to dancing the first quadrille, twenty-five sets took the floor. The goat, however was not there.”

. . . .

Bids Wanted, circa 1885

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The call for bids appeared in the October 17, 1885, issue of The Eye on page three.

Wish we knew how many contractors answered the call. For all the good the Odd Fellows organization did and are doing, saving records is not one of them. In 2012, I tried to track down any records from the Snohomish Lodge and I came up empty handed except for meeting the wonderful couple of Frank and Betty Green.

From reading the accounts of circa 1885 Snohomish, I can remember coming across the names of only one contractor, A. H. Eddy; and one architect, P. Boyce — but J. S. White got the job.

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The Odd Fellows Hall, to the right of the Masonic Hall, was dedicated April 20, 1886. This scan of a newsprint photo by Gilbert Horton of the fraternal hall “face-off” across Avenue C was widely published. The Masonic Hall was built in 1879 and destroyed in 1958 by the members who sold the property as the parking lot it is today when the organization moved to it’s new building at 6th and Avenue B. Take note of the 100 foot plus flag pole, a very straight, long log, a little right of center — it has it’s own story.

. . . .

Christmas Greetings, 1901

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A newsprint copy of this rare historic photograph of a church service in progress was found in the Methodist church folder on file in the Snohomish Historical Society Archives, with the caption: “1901 was a good year to hold a Christmas pageant. This one at the First Methodist Church in Snohomish came complete with all the trimmings including ten angels on front stage. Photo, courtesy Everett Library Historical Collection.”

I contacted the always helpful David Dilgard, History Specialist with the Northwest Room at the Everett Public Library, and he sent along a digital scan of the 4×5 inch negative of an original contact print in the Snohomish County Museum collection, now the Everett History Museum. The only information listed with the negative was the same as indicated above.

As to the service captured, evidently by a hobbyist, a proud parent most likely, it’s an intriguing mystery. Something to do with Advent, I guessed, and found a service called “Hanging of the Greens” that’s celebrated on the first Sunday of the four week Advent observance. Reader’s are invited to contribute their thoughts in the comments below.

A draft of the first essay of the J. S. White: Our First Architect, The Methodist Church, 1885 is available online

. . . .

When the Methodists Moved to be Higher Than the Catholics

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Working on the first essay of the J.S. White Story this past month, it appears that John and his wife Delia, along with their three daughters, Linnie, Alice and Elise, moved to Snohomish specifically to build the newly formed Methodist Congregation its own church.

Two newspapers reported that the White arrived in February 1884. Two months later, the April 12th issue of The Eye reports: “The Methodists of this place have purchased the vacant lot on the corner of C and Third streets and will shortly erect a church thereon.” Then in November we read: “About all of the lumber for the new Methodist church, which is to be built on the corner of D. and Third streets, is on the ground, and carpenters will commence work in a few days. Its dimensions are 28×50 feet.”

Further digging revealed that joining the Whites as Trustees of the new church, were Mr. and Mrs. Mudgett; and, Isaac Mudgett was born in the same New Hampshire town as John White. The Mudgetts arrived in town in 1883 and within two years they had a home in the Clay Addition on Avenue H, just a few doors North from where the White’s would build their family home. Isaac was a bootmaker by trade, but once settled in the Snohomish Valley, he added his own saw mill to the cluster of small, family run operations around Snohomish.

Without the exchange of letters between Isaac and John, we are left with our imagination to make the connection. But it’s also a matter of common sense to think that White had a promise of work before moving his family and household goods to this remote river front town.

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THEN: The Methodist and Catholic churches along Third Street photographed by Index resident Lee Pickett in 1910, just before the Methodists moved their church higher on the hill to its current location. The Methodist’s built the second church in Snohomish in 1885; and the Catholic Church was the third, dedicated in 1889.

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NOW: (Above) Looking west down Third with the Methodist Church on the corner of Avenue B. Architectural photographer Otto Greule is capturing the structure for our book project: J. S. White: Our First Architect, in 2009.

Karen and I renovated the former St Michael Catholic Church between the years of 1994 and 2000, when we moved to Snohomish. Several times we were told the story that the Methodists’ moved their church from Avenue C, up the hill, to B because they wanted to be higher than the Catholics. We laughed and got back to work.

Can you imagine that being the reason given in the church’s history, published in 1983, celebrating 100 years?

Of course not. It was because more room was needed to add a Sunday School and three lots on the southeast corner of Avenue B and Third were purchased in 1908. Two years later, White’s gentle structure was indeed moved uphill and placed on top of a full, concrete basement, that eventually included a kitchen. Church membership numbered around 200 at the time.

It served well until the 1980s, when it was clear that the historic structure was too small and five acres were purchased northwest of Blackman Lake. The 1983 account ends with completion of architectural plans for the new church — their current home.

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Captured from the internet in a search for “moving structures with horses.” Note the dirt path that was 3rd Street in the historic photo above — it was labeled “not fit for teams” on the Sanborn Insurance maps — meaning that it would be a tough go for the Fire Department horses pulling the pump and hoses!

. . . .

White Family Arrives, 1884

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Above: Stern-wheeler Nellie at Ferguson’s Wharf, 1877.
The building behind Ferguson’s is Cathcart’s Exchange Hotel; and, the dirt path to the right is Avenue D — much improved by the the time the White family arrived seven years later.

. . . .

John S. White arrived in Snohomish aboard a slow steamer followed by a weak wake of records going back to his birth on July 13, 1845, in the small town of Tamworth, New Hampshire.

The 1870 Census recorded White living in Walnut, Butler County, Kansas, age 25, single, working as a house carpenter and living in a hotel kept by his future wife’s brother, Charles Lamb.

January 1871, John S. White married Delia R. Lamb, daughter of Galand Lamb and Lucy Weston, in Kansas. Delia was born about 1853 in Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana.

The 1880 Census listed John, his wife Delia and daughters Linnie and Alice living in Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, where he was a carpenter.

White’s young family, now including a third daughter, Elise, disembarks from the steamer by way of a precarious plank connecting the ship to the wharf. There, Delia huddles with her daughters, watching, as the picturesque tableau of people who were waiting for the steamer is now animated and it’s chaos. People shouting, dogs barking, horse-drawn buggies and carts jockeying for a position to load, and operators of a dozen Indian canoes jockey for a job hauling the Boston’s cargo. The stack of household trunks and packages that John has assembled behind his family is beyond our imagination. Still, they stand, watching, frozen — for an instant, they are a living monument to evidence that there is life outside Snohomish.

The White’s new home town is a self-sustaining settlement sited in the sunshine on the south-facing bank of the river that gave this place its name. Located some dozen miles upriver from its fast growing rival, the port city of Everett on Port Gardner Bay to the west; but in February, 1884, Snohomish is not only the county seat, but it’s also home to two roller skating rinks.

. . . .

Photographer Otto Greule

otto greule

Exhibition of Photographs: Ten Surviving Structures by
J. S. White from 19th-Century Snohomish by Otto Greule

Along with the following programs at the Snohomish Library
311 Maple Avenue

Thursday, 10/23 at 7p —
“Making the Photographs”
with Seattle Architectural Photographer Otto Greule
Free including refreshments
Checkout the story in the Herald!

snohomish stories Snohomish History Buffs Rewarded with Sunshine!
Thanks to all for showing up and helping me with the expenses of this month-long event.

Sunday, 10/26 at 2p —
Guided Walking Tour of J.S. White’s 19th Century Snohomish
with yours truly — suggested donation $10, space is limited —

Blackman Grocery Store, 1889

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In the late 1940s, an automobile dealership on the south side of First Street collapsed toward the Snohomish River, its foundation compromised by continued flooding. A block-long row of connected, one-story storefront buildings, built of local brick, was condemned and sat empty for nearly twenty years.

During this time, Snohomish’s main drag moved to Second Street, which was extended to reach the new U.S. Route 2, north of town — splitting the old cemetery in two. By the 1960s, however, the question on business leader’s minds was how to bring people back into our empty downtown? Urban renewal funds supported a study that recommended tearing down all of the old buildings on the river side of First Street, along with those condemned two decades before, then update the remaining buildings to give Snohomish the look of a Riverside Shopping Mall!

snohomish storiesArtist rendering of a First Street urban renewal proposal in 1965. Implementing this plan would have prevented Snohomish’s downtown from being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

An editorial on October 28, 1965, summed it up this way: “Snohomish hasn’t sunk that low, yet.”

Two buildings designed by J. S. White would have been lost with that scheme: the A. M. Blackman Grocery Store (913 First) and Wilbur’s Drugstore Building (1201 First). Gone, too, would have been at least two stories about the flourishing of frontier Snohomish. The Lot Wilbur story is told here. It’s Arthur M. Blackman’s turn this month.

snohomish storiesBorn in the State of Maine in 1865, Arthur’s family settled in Oakland, California when he was only 11 years old. At age 20, Arthur set out for Snohomish arriving on Christmas day, 1885.

Since the California Blackman’s had grocery store business experience in their background, we suspect that the Snohomish cousins requested Arthur’s help in opening Blackman’s first grocery store at the northeast corner of Avenue C and First.

Within in a couple of years, however, Arthur was ready to open his own store and commissioned the contractor J.S. White to build the handsome building that is currently home to the Oxford Saloon.

Arthur’s grocery store ​ ​failed in 1894, as did a lot of businesses, victims of the 1893 nationwide depression.

“Then it was a furniture store, a shoe store, and became the Oxford Pool Room during the Prohibition,” reported David Dilgard, History Specialist with the Everett Public Library on his 2006 walking tour, “and apparently began its career as a tavern during the Second World War.”

It was on David’s tour that I first heard the name “J. S. White.”

Arthur turned to logging work on the river until appointed Snohomish Postmaster in 1896, serving with distinction until his retirement in 1913. He died in 1929, but records are not clear if he is buried in Everett or in our local GAR Cemetery where a simple stone marker with his name is holding a spot alongside his wife Adeliza, who preferred to be called “Buddy.”

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, August 20, 2014

The Building That Stopped a Fire!

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Meticulously captured by photographer Otto Greule for our project documenting architect White’s surviving structures from 19th-century Snohomish, the Burns Block (1118 First Street) bears the historic name of its eccentric owner, Samuel John Burns.

“A Man Who Loves Money More than Comfort,” announced The Eye’s sub-head in a report of his paralysis in 1892. “John Burns, the long-haired old fellow, with unkempt beard and a small dog,” the report begins, “has lived in the low wooden shack that stands in the shadow of the brick block bearing his name.”

Knowing this, you have to wonder about Burns’ relationship with his architect/contractor J. S. White … a little gossip would help my story just about now. In any event, their collaboration resulted in Snohomish’s grandest building, and a hero, as well, if a building can play that role.

It was the great Snohomish fire of 1911, when in the middle of night, the wooden buildings on both sides of First Street, starting near Avenue B, were fully engaged in flames and smoke. On the south side of First, the fire burned the wooden buildings built on pilings until it ran out of fuel at the intersection of Avenue C.

Across the street, however, the fire’s raging westward movement was stopped by the three story tall Burns Block acting as a firewall.

This story was one of the favorites told on our tour with Emerson third graders this past May, judging by their thank you notes.

snohomish storiesThank You note from an Emerson third grader for leading a walking tour in May 2014.

The building is related to fire from another direction, as well. In 1889, the older, waterfront part of Seattle burned to the ground started by the infamous glue pot. The lesson taken from that disaster, which the Snohomish Fire Department helped fight, was that all commercial building would be built of brick. And the Burns Block is built of home made bricks.

Today, our grandest building wears its red bricks as many badges of courage, standing tall in the afternoon sun.

As for the miser Burns, who listed himself as a “capitalist” in the 1888 Polk Directory, he died at age 66. A single man, his body was returned to New Brunswick, Canada for burial in the family plot. His extensive real-estate holdings in Snohomish were divided among his six siblings.

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, July 16, 2014

J. S. White’s Building, 1893

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The graceful red brick building at 924 First Street was called the Princess Theater Building when I led my first walking tour of historic downtown Snohomish in 2005. Six years later I went digging for more news about the Princess Theater for a HistoryLink.org Cybertour, and came up surprisingly empty handed. Surprising because who ever heard of a theater that didn’t advertise?

snohomish storiesThe Princess Theater. This fuzzy image included on page 46 of the Snohomish Historical Society’s “River Reflections, Volume One,” published in 1975, evidently gave the building at 924 First Street its name over the years although no record has been found of the theater’s life in Snohomish; nor a better photograph.

Reaching a dead-end and a deadline, I wrote what I had about the building which you can read today on the HistoryLink.org website; but do it soon, because the entry will be changed to reflect its new name, “The White Building.”

The story begins with a four line report in The Weekly Eye, December 29, 1888:
“E. C. Ferguson this week sold a portion of the lot at the corner of First and A streets, with 25 feet frontage to J.S. White, the architect and builder; for $40 a front foot.”

But no follow up and no building appears on the Sanborn Insurance maps? Three years later, in the December 22, 1892 issue, a news item jumps out announcing that White’s corner lot is being graded for a shooting gallery! The plot thickens whenever guns are involved.

Fast forward to a mention in the April 27, 1893, issue:
“A scowload of stone for the foundation of J. S. White’s building at First street and Avenue A has arrived from the Chuckanut quarry.”

Picture a barge floating low, loaded down with stone coming upriver.

The following month, an issue over property lines was raised in the City Council Chambers by White’s attorney Hart who claimed that the Palace Saloon, next door, was four inches over its property line and asked the council to have it removed.
“The council were not convinced of their duty to do so and instructed Mr. Carothers to survey First street from D to A and fix the corners,” the report concluded. A subsequent meeting recorded the numbers without determination if the saloon was over the line.

White finished his two-story building and welcomed his first tenant, The City of Paris boutique occupying the first floor. The same issue, August 10, 1893, reported this tidbit about the odd layout of the second floor:
“People who have observed the arrangement of the rooms in the second floor of White’s new building have wondered what they were intended for. The plumbing is unusually elaborate, there are two bathrooms, a kitchen with a place for a range, a dining room, ample closets, and all necessary accommodations for housekeeping on a large scale. Yesterday Mr. White disclosed the fact that he put up the building and arranged the upper story as described at the instance of a city physician who desired to occupy it as a hospital. Mr. White added that the physician had changed his mind and that any responsible party who wants to rent a hospital is invited to call and inspect the premises.”

In a plot twist from the pages of a mystery, the new Bakeman Furniture Building, just down the street on the southeast corner of Avenue B, burns to the ground on September 15, 1893, following an unsuccessful incendiary incident in July.

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The Weekly Eye, September 21, 1893
No loss of life reported, but the city council lost its meeting place. The editor showed restraint with no mention of how fitting it was for our council members to be meeting in a hospital.

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, June 18, 2014

5. “Old Ferg” 1833-1911

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May is Preservation Month, celebrating the establishment of the National Register of Historic Places in 1973; just in time, to get the Snohomish Historic District on the register the following year.

Reason enough to remember the founder of Snohomish, Emory Canada Ferguson, who “passed away at his residence last Saturday evening about 9 o’clock after a brief illness of a few days,” began the Snohomish County Tribune’s report of his passing on October 7, 1911. He was 78 years old and often affectionately referred to as “Old Ferg” in the press.

snohomish storiesSnohomish County Tribune, October 13, 1911. Reports the death of E. C. Ferguson on October 7th in his home located on the site of the Snohomish Aquatic Center. Click to download a pdf copy or visit the Snohomish Library to view the actual paper.

The front page remembrance continues: “His health was always of the best up until nine years ago when he was laid up for over a year with a stroke of paralysis. Since then he has gained in health continually up to three or four months ago when a noticeable decline took place and he gradually became weaker until his peaceful death Saturday Evening.”

The second paragraph reads: “The funeral services were held at the family residence at 10 o’clock Tuesday morning. A large crowd of his many friends were there to bid farewell to the father of Snohomish, who has given his attention to the many needs of the city for so many years. Every business house in the city closed their doors from ten until eleven to do honor to one of our last pioneers. The school children were allowed the hour off to enable them to attend the funeral. The Masons took charge of the funeral after the departure from his residence.”

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Cemetery record courtesy Biff Reading

On Saturday, May 31st, I will be leading a guided tour of his family grave site, located in the Grand Army of Republic Cemetery (G.A.R.), along with visiting the burial plots of several of early Snohomish’s leading families.

Enter the cemetery at 8601 Riverview Road and follow signs to the tour’s starting point near the caretaker’s garage. Good shoes are advised, as the ground is uneven; and the tour goes rain or shine. A $10 contribution is suggested to benefit the Snohomish Historical Society. (Follow this link to read more about the GAR Cemetery.)

Hope you can join me, after all, memories require preservation as well.

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, May 21, 2014

4. Emory Cecil (1881-1964)

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Your guess at Emory Cecil Ferguson’s age, captured in this handsome childhood portrait by the short-lived Snohomish studio of Barnes & Evans, is as good as mine.

Commonly known as Cecil, he was born in 1881 as the youngest child of Lucetta and Emory, and the only one with descendants living today in Snohomish.

It was not until he was 28 years old that Cecil married Clara Schlieve from Minnesota, but wasting no time, the couple had a growing family of three children ten years later — Emory Albrecht, Burdette Alonzo, and Madeleine — all graduates from Snohomish High School in the 1930s and living on Maple Avenue. A fourth child, Alvin Gordon, died shortly after birth in 1911.

snohomish storiesCecil and sons Burdette and Emory, 1950s
Partners in the family caning business, Ferg’s Finer Foods, produced product that they sold by the railroad car in its heyday.
All images courtesy of the Ferguson Family | Snohomish Historical Society Archives

All three children joined Cecil in establishing the Ferguson Cannery, located in a building that still stands and recently renovated for the new home of the Eagles Aerie #195. Incorporated in the 1950s, the family business became known as “Ferg’s Finer Foods” – even producing a tongue-in-cheek can of Puget Sound Air for the 1960 World’s Fair in Seattle. (You may read more about the cannery here.)

Clara died the following year and Cecil three years later in 1964, and the family operation he founded in 1914 soon came to an end.

Burdette, married Ruth Christensen in 1940, a union that gave birth to three children, all who were saved from a future in the canning business — working summers through their high schools years was enough.

Eldest daughter, Sharon Lee, lives today with her husband in Bellevue.

Middle child, Gary Howard married Penny Lu Hazeltine, daughter of Robert who was the first mail carrier in Snohomish.

And Bruce Allen married Marie McGlinchy, who with their children all grown, live today in the North Snohomish Train Depot, a replica station they built in 2007.

Both Gary and Bruce remember exploring what remained of the original 32 acre Ferguson Farm as kids, especially the stream, then called Ferguson Creek, that bordered the property. It’s called Swifty Creek today, a “daylighted” stream held safely behind cyclone fencing.


Gary Ferguson at the Snohomish Aquatic Center.
Gary is the great-grandson of E.C. Ferguson, founder of Snohomish.

Please leave a comment below with your guess of Cecil’s age in the cover photo above.

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, April 16, 2014

3. Sylvia Lenfest (1869-1952)

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We continue our celebration of the Snohomish Aquatic Center, located on the site where the Ferguson family home and farm once stood, with this story of Sylvia Ferguson’s marriage into early Snohomish’s leading Democratic family at a time when politics mattered most.

Not only was Sylvia raised in a solid Republican home, but her father, E. C. Ferguson, had just been through the bruising incorporation battle of 1890, that ended with him losing the mayoral election in a stunning upset to Hycranus Blackman, Democrat, and her future husband’s uncle. However, Blackman’s duration in office lasted only until the regular election later that year, when Ferguson was returned to office.

The wedding notice was published in The Eye, on November 28, 1891, it read:
“There was a wedding Tuesday at the residence of Mayor Ferguson who gave his daughter Sylvia’s hand in marriage to Mr. Elmer Lenfest, our county surveyor.”

Elmer Lenfest, along with his parents, Mary and Eugene, arrived in Snohomish the year Washington gained statehood. Mary Ursula was the older sister of the famous lumbermen, the Blackman Brothers, who moved to Snohomish in 1872 from Maine and six short years later each brother had a home on Avenue B. Only Hycranus’s has survived to become the Blackman House Museum at 118 Avenue B.

With statehood, Snohomish’s existing articles of incorporation under territorial law became invalid, so while Sylvia and Elmer got to know each other, lines were being drawn to define a larger city. Ferguson’s contentment with Snohomish continuing on as Village was not shared by the majority of voters. The tally was 360 to 21 for incorporation as a city of the third class in the election of June 16, 1890 – the same election that interrupted Ferguson’s continuous run as mayor.

We imagine it was not an idyllic setting to carry on a romance, especially with the daughter of the man referred to as our “tax-dodging leader” in the press. Contemporaneous historian, William Whitfield wrote, “ For the first time in its history Snohomish enjoyed all the thrills of city politics.” And he didn’t even mention the Ferguson/Lenfest courtship.

Perhaps a residue of hard feelings explains why it was not a big wedding held the following year, only “parties immediately interested” were invited. It certainly was not because Sylvia was great with child – the arrival of their only offspring, Norman, was a respectful three years off.

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From the Ferguson Album, c.1905. Left to right: Norman Lenfest, his mother Sylvia, grandmother Lucetta, Aunt Ivy and Uncle Cecil Ferguson, and his father Norman, pictured in the Ferguson family home, the historic site of the Snohomish Aquatic Center.
All images courtesy of the Ferguson Family | Snohomish Historical Society Archives

Sylvia and Elmer became a leading couple of Snohomish, active in both civic and social affairs. Elmer died in 1938, at the age of 74, while Sylvia continued one to reach her 82nd year. It’s Sylvia we have to thank for saving and donating many papers of her father’s and of the city to the Special Collections of the University of Washington Library.

Perhaps you’ll remember this story while walking against the current of the Lazy River, a surprisingly vigorous feature of the Aquatic Center, and that Sylvia lived and loved on this very spot, not so many years ago.

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, March 18, 2014

2. The Ferguson Family

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ABOVE: Ferguson Family Portrait, c.1890.
From the left: Ivy Maude, born 1875, Lucetta, Sylvia M., born 1869, Emory Canda, with son Cecil, born 1881, on his lap. Taken around the time the family moved into their new home, a mansion, located on the site of Snohomish Aquatic Center.

All images courtesy Ferguson Family | Snohomish Historical Society Archives.

Our story about the founding family of Snohomish began last month with a photograph taken by Ivy Ferguson of her family home. It was under construction in 1889, and it’s possible that this month’s studio portrait of the Ferguson family was taken to celebrate the move into their grand new residence .

Let’s imagine we are going to call on the family to pay our respects and offer our congratulations on their new home.

20100104-fergusoncardFirst, we need to check Mrs. E. C. Ferguson’s calling card to confirm that “Wednesday” is in the lower left hand corner – this is the day the lady of the house receives visitors. Next, we will need to rent a horse and carriage, assuming we don’t own our own rig, since the home is too far out of town to walk with any dignity remaining once we arrived.

The oldest livery in town is Knapp and Hinkley’s on 2nd, but who among us knows how to a handle a horse and buggy? Chris Gee, president of the our historical society has the equestrian skills required, and with a little faith in time travel, we arrive at the Ferguson Mansion, north of town where the Snohomish Aquatic Center will be built in a 118 years.

Eldest daughter, Sylvia, greets us at the door. She is quite tall, with piercing eyes and a slow, knowing smile lights up her face as she scans our strange clothes. Sylvia thinks a lot about the future. The gossip around town is that her father is footing the bill for her journey to Hawaii, a destination made popular by Mark Twain’s book “Roughing It in the Sandwich Islands, Hawaii in the 1860’s.” Sylvia attended the Territorial University in Seattle, studying the Classics, and is comfortably self-possessed.

ferguson family

Her mother, Lucetta, is playing the piano, loudly, a tune we don’t recognize of course, but she stops immediately and stands to greet us, making us feel very welcome. Seated in the front room, we try to follow her plans for more furnishings, since the room seemed stuffed to our modern eyes, but we are fortunately interrupted by Ivy who has entered with a tray of tea cups, pot and a plate of really tiny cakes.

Lucetta was born in Iowa to Mary Jane (Trout) and Hiram D. Morgan. By the time Lucetta Gertrude Morgan turned 11, the family was living in Olympia Washington Territory. Eight years later, she met Emory Ferguson during his service as a legislator. What a lucky break for both seasoned pioneers. An eligible woman from hardy stock meets the founder of his own town who now wants to found a family. They were joined in marriage, July 11, 1868, at the home of her parents in Thurston County.

“And I was born 13 months later,” announces Sylvia, stopping the conversation cold.

To be continued….

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, February 19, 2014

1. Ferguson Family Home, 1900

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Above: The Ferguson Family Home, c.1900 A photograph from the family album credited to Ivy Ferguson.

One of the Ferguson family stories passed down to the living descendants is that Ivy Ferguson was an amateur photographer and family members credit her for this month’s deteriorated, but still a gem, taken of the family home, celebrating a recent snowfall.

Ivy (sometimes spelled “Ivie” even “Ivia”), was the middle child of E. C. and Lucetta Ferguson. Her father, Emory Canda, was often referred to as the “father of Snohomish,” in his lifetime, which means that Ivy, along with her older sister Sylvia and younger brother Cecil, could be referred to as “the first family of Snohomish.”

2014-02_nowNow: Apartments at 214 Maple Avenue.
The site of their family home is today the location of the Snohomish Aquatic Center.

North of the gracious home, its southern face appearing rather ghostly in Ivy’s photo, was the farm, labeled as “The Ranch” in the family album. (If any readers know when most of the Ferguson’s thirty-two acre farm passed on to the school district, please let me know.)

That’s Ferguson Creek flowing into the bottom frame of the historic photo. It’s called “Swifty Creek” today, and it flows into a culvert at the east end of the sports field, emerging for several blocks at Fifth Street, before going underground again all the way to the Snohomish River. This course of outflow from Blackman Lake created the infamous Snohomish Gulch that I have written about in the past.

ferguson familyRight: Ivy Ferguson, c.1890 (click to enlarge)

Ivy, a single woman in her late twenties, moved to Olympia for a position as a stenographer with the state insurance company. Returning to Snohomish for a visit, Ivy died “after an illness of a few days” on July 22, 1912, in the family home. She was only 37 years old.

At the time of her death, we imagine that the Ferguson family home looked pretty much the same as when Ivy captured it with her camera after a light snowfall.

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, January 15, 2014