St. Michael Catholic Church (1888-1986);
AngelArmsWorks Studio Est. 1993

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Excerpts from the Journal of Father Tryphon F. Van DeWalle;
(b.1896 Belgium –
d.1948 Snohomish);
Served as pastor from
1906 to 1947.

 
 
In August 1883 a movement was organized for the construction of Catholic church in Snohomish. A Protestant gentleman, Mr. E. C. Ferguson, first County Commissioner, first Justice of the Peace, and first Postmaster, all three at the same time, was the donor of the parcel of land on which the church was to be erected. Wrangling, however, among the members of the Catholic community halted the impetus given.

In 1886, Rev. Father M. McCauley was appointed and came to Snohomish as the first resident parish priest. He was possessed of unusually great zeal and determination; and having a certain amount of financial means of his own, he went ahead brushing all opposition aside and began at once to execute the plans Father Kuster had delineated before him. An old skating rink was acquired and dismantled, and the lumber there from was used in the construction of the new church, which measured 28 feet in width, 55 feet in length, and had a spire that towered 80 feet up in the air. One of the two Boyce brothers was the architect and H. A. Eddy the builder. The structure was dedicated in 1889 to the Bl. Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. How and when the title of the church came to be changed to that of St. Michael, is unknown to me.

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The present pastor is the 6th at St. Michael’s. He took office on Sunday, the second day of February 1906, the feast of the Purification of the Bl. Virgin Mary. The parishioners impressed him very favorably and showed him unmistakable signs of kindness, respect, and goodwill. The rectory in which he was to reside was in a dilapidated condition and it needed immediate repairs. The pastor, therefore, called his trustees in consultation and spoke of an effort to be made to raise some 5 or 6 hundred dollars to provide for the most pressing needs. $600 sounded like an exceedingly big sum of money to them, and they shook their heads. The following Sunday the congregation was told that no trustees were further needed, that the pastor would henceforth look after the necessary work himself and try with their kind and sustained cooperation to defray the cost of it. In three months, new rooms were built onto the house, and from the top to bottom it was an almost new construction.

snohomish stories imagesA 19th-century lawn party from the DeLoy Album.

In 1920, the pastor suggested that the old church should be torn down in part, remodeled, and rebuilt; that a concrete basement should be built under it and another one under the rectory, too; that separate heating plants should be installed; and that every member do his bit to shoulder, and in the little time as reasonable, to liquidate the huge debt to be contracted. Everyone responded, and the pastor and flock have repaid the debt incurred; not only have they paid that debt, but to further obtain God’s blessing upon them, they have liquidated the debt that had long ago been outlawed, some of them dating back to the time the first church was built in 1888.

snohomishstories imagesAngelArmsWorks Studio winter 2010.

Today, St. Michaels’s with hardly 35 families left, some of them destitute, all of the poor, without industry of commerce to help them, many forced to commute, find help in neighboring towns or in logging camps, when in operation, unaided by agriculture or dairying, which is in the hands mostly of Scandinavians and Germans of the Lutheran faith, — St. Michael’s, I’d say, is still the sweet, peaceful, church it has ever been – ever since that eventful day, 20 years ago.

Truly the little parish in the valley where the Snohomish River flows is a little Paradise on earth; and the pastor may well exclaim with the sainted abbot de Clairvaux: “O beata solitudo, sola beatitudo.” (Oh blessed solitude, my happiness.”)

T. F. Van de Walle (circa 1925)

. . . .

FEATURED IMAGES ABOVE: Father A. T. Bourke with the First Communion Celebration, 1905, photographed by the Rigby Sisters Photo Studio, (courtesy Northwest Room, EPL); and Jami Sieber Concert in the studio, 2018.

Karen and I renovated the rectory building in 1993 and rented it until we could renovate, then move into the church building in 2000. We are very grateful for Maurie DeLoy sharing the album his mother put together of her days working as a housekeeper under the direction of her sister who had moved with Father Van from New York State in 1906 when he was assigned to the first Catholic Church of Snohomish County.

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We plan on installing this 18×24″ interpretive sign in the approximate location of the lawn party pictured above before the New Year 2019! Both structures are indentified and located in the Historic District of Snohomish.

. . . .

“Becoming Beatrice” A Novel

Frances Wood

Author Frances Wood listens to you with her eyes. Once you learn that Frances was a co-founder and writer of the popular NPR feature “Bird Note” — you understand — she must have listened to a lot of bird songs while looking for the singer.

In 2008, Frances showed up at the Blackman House Museum while I was on docent duty inquiring if the museum might carry her book Down to Camp: A History of Summer Folk on Whidbey Island in our small store.

As we got to talking, I learned that her great-grandmother stayed in the museum when it was the home of its first owners and builders, Ella and Hyrcanus Blackman. Her name, Nina Blackman, was the daughter of George Blackman, Hyrcanus’s cousin living in Oakland, California. Hyrcanus, active on the school board offered Nina a position of primary teacher in Snohomish’s one school.

The year was 1887 and her brother, Arthur, had been managing the Blackman Grocery Store for the past year. Within three years, Arthur Blackman built and opened his own store at 913 1st Street, currently the Oxford Saloon, which was designed by J. S. White — a story told in Essay #6, J. S. White Our First Architect.

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Nina Blackman around the time she arrived in Snohomish.

In her book Down to Camp, Frances tells the story of Nina’s arrival in Snohomish:

Nina arrived on the steamer and, as church bells summon the faithful to prayer, the blast of the whistle gathered the town to the wharf. Among the faithful was Charles and, as he watched Nina disembark, he uttered the most quoted words in our whole family history, “I’m going to marry her and buy her a sky-blue dress to match her eyes.”

Nina and Charles were married on June 20, 1887, in the front parlor of her cousin Alanson Blackman’s home on Avenue B, just across the street from Hycranus and Ella’s where she had stayed in the second-floor front bedroom for a short five months.

Frances’s novel, Becoming Beatrice, tells the story of Nina and Charles using fictional names which allows her some room to embellish the story in ways not permitted with historical accounts. My favorite is the addition of a Native American girl, Twasla, who takes care of the home and befriends Beatrice — once she learns there is nothing to fear of this friendship.

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Nina Bakeman, 1925.

You are invited to join Frances Wood reading from her novel at the Blackman House Museum on Sunday, October 21, from 1 to 3p. The museum is located at 118 Avenue B, the reading is free, but hope you will pick-up a signed copy of her novel for $16.95, or Down to Camp for $13.95.

. . . .

Learn about Ms. Woods first reading at the museum in 2009.

Follow this link to my first story about the book Down to Camp.

Nina Blackman Bakeman: Snohomish Teacher and Civic Leader (1862-1941)

Finally, follow this link to a review of Becoming Beatrice.

. . . .

Featured Image: Frances Wood pictured in front of the family beach house “Drift Inn” taken on my first visit to Campers Row on Whidbey Island in 2009. Sadly, the cabin, designed by J. S. White around 1910 was severely damaged by a 2015 landslide.

Locating Home Plate

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“In the game of baseball, Home is rugged, fixed into the earth, trod upon, but precious. Home is an altar. It is protected. It is defended. It is cleaned. Home plate represents the sacred amidst the profane.” Abe Stein, “How Home Plate Lives Up to Its Name,” The Atlantic, March 31, 2014

“We should all put our shoulder to the wheel and see to it that our city has a park, where children may go to recreate.” The editor of the Snohomish County Tribune, April 1, 1921, was inspired by the volunteer action of residents Herb Halterman, R. E. Main and F. V. Bowen who improvised a baseball diamond out of a vacant lot alongside the tracks of the Northern Pacific Railroad on the east side of town in the spring of 1921.

Leading up to the metaphor of manual labor the editor had a specific list: “This park should be fitted up with swings, rings, teaters and everything that goes to make a playground for the children.” Immediately, the three men formed the Snohomish Play Ground Association with the “aim to equip the property in the vicinity of the N.P. tracks with all kinds of apparatus for the amusement of the children” — but it depended on the sale of season tickets for the Snohomish Baseball Association which had been taken over by the Play Ground Association. (Tribune, April 29, 1921)

As the world turns, there would no playground apparatus until the early 1990s when members of the Tillicum and Snohomish Kiwanis put their collective shoulders to the wheel and built the playground we see today. (“Kiwanis urge city move on Averill,” Tribune, June 19, 1990.)

It’s not clear when the field was officially given the name “Averill” — perhaps it was simply adopted when Earl Averill left the hometown team to play with the Cleveland Indians in 1929 — where he “became the first rookie in major league history to score a home run his first-time at-bat.” (Tribune, April 7, 1999.)

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“Podunk” Averill would return home to play with the Old Timers in the annual fundraising game against the Garden City Boys, Snohomish’s current team. The Old Timers were kept in line by Herb Ness, the manager who discovered Averill back in the day. Courtesy Snohomish Historical Society

“Know How to Build a Pool?” the Tribune asked in its October 9, 1947 issue — but it was not until July 7, 1970, that its front page boasted: “Ground Broken for Moe Memorial Pool.” The headline stretching the width of the paper was accompanied with a large photo of Lila Moe holding a shovel, her right foot in place ready to push it into the ground. Her late husband, Hal Moe (1916-1968), was the beloved principal then superintendent of Snohomish Schools who died around the time the city was tearing down the grandstand (pictured above) to make room for the pool. The baseball diamond was eventually reestablished at the southwest end of Averill Field, but a smaller layout intended for Little League play, while plans developed to install a full-size diamond in new parkland alongside the Pilchuck River.

When two bond issues put before city voters to cover the outdoor pool failed, the Hal Moe Pool Working Group recommended that the school district take over the ownership and operation of the pool from the city. Bringing in voters from the school district, a $1.4 million bond issue passed in a September 20, 1988, primary election — a successful outcome following months of discussion between citizens, school and city representatives. Under terms of the agreement, the city transferred ownership of the pool and 20 feet of the north end of Averill Field to the district with “a guarantee that the public will have access to the pool no less than 65 percent of the time that it is open.” (Tribune, August 8, 1988.)

Plans were to open the covered pool with new locker rooms in the fall of 1989; meanwhile, a March 3, 1989 editorial in the Tribune read: “Time to consider Averill Field sale.” Seems it was in response to a city planning commision decision “to not consider a city staff request to designate the southern half of Averill Field for commercial use.” City Manager Kelly Robinson felt the remaining property was undersized and underused and selling it for commercial use “the city would have money to buy enough land in the valley to replace the field many times over, and put the balance into a trust fund for city parks.” The editorial points out that “some doubt Averill Field can be sold because of a clause attached to the deed which specifies the land can only be used for recreation purposes”– the first mention of the deed that 25 years later became the emotional protest tag: “Restore the Deed!”

“City leaders agree to keep Averill Field.” Councilwoman Ann Averill, daughter-in-law of the field’s namesake was quoted in the Tribune’s April 11, 1990 issue: “I think the city needs to preserve a green space for the people who live here now and the people who come after.” The field, including the pool in the process of being covered, is sandwiched between the now Burington Northern railroad tracks and Pine Avenue, west to east, and between 3rd Street and 2nd, north to south.

The property was deeded to the city in 1922-24 by the three men whose volunteer muscle started the wheel turning with the restriction that it be used for “playground purposes only” — the irony is that the Play Ground Association never did install a playground as baseball dominated the use of the field, to the timid chagrin of some citizens. Even Councilwoman Averill suggested the council arrange for experts to evaluate if the field is still practical for playing baseball. At the time, the two-acre site was being used for a variety of sports activities and the annual Kla Ha Ya Days carnival.

The grand opening of the Snohomish School District’s newly covered facility was greeted, on one hand, by neighboring merchants “predicting parking problems” reported the Tribune, June 20, 1990, which has a solid history of stirring the pot on parking issues in Snohomish. In 1991, the city council accepted the Park Board’s recommendations for Averill Field, explained by the late Bill Blake in the Tribune’s December 11, 1991 issue:”Planned improvements include a playground area for small children, picnic tables for families, an exercise area geared toward seniors and a new field for baseball and football.”

“Council approves youth center at Averill Field,” announced the Tribune’s September 27, 2000 issue. “The Snohomish City Council voted 5-1 last week to locate a youth center and skate park at Averill Field.” Howard Averill, son of Earl Averill, said he opposes the change because “it would do away with his father’s memory.” Part of the council’s action is to designate the baseball field at Pilchuck Park as Averill Field, “and directed staff to contact the Baseball Hall of Fame and inform the agency of the change and indicate that Averill Field is now a standard-size baseball field.”

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Pictured from/at Home Plate!

The Snohomish School District’s boarded up Hal Moe Facility was sold back to the city in 2013, destroyed on May 14, 2018, and the site is now a field of new grass. This post is research for a proposed exterior interpretative sign located near the parking lot. The sign will feature a large photograph of the 1932 Old Timers Game pictured above, a brief timeline of the Hal Moe Memorial Pool and the interactive activity of locating home plate hidden in the new grass close to its original position!

. . . .

#5. The Election: Going Down to Camp

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snohomish stories imageCast of Imaginary Characters:
John T. Hardwick
Missus Nightingale
Billy Bottom
Ivy Williams-Bottom

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

. . . .

The steamer Nellie carried a party of excursionists, numbering in all twenty-five persons to a point on Whidby island a short distance south of Holmes’ Harbor, where they have been enjoying themselves camping out, hunting, fishing, etc. The Eye, August 30, 1884.

The talk of Mayor Hardwick’s rescue, or ascension as it’s mockingly called, began while waiting for the tide to recede and take the giddy passengers downriver to camp. Steamship Nellie was filling up with the usual characters and their bulky camping gear. Their destination was a strip of beach a short distance across Possession Sound at the base of a steep bluff.

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Edith Blackman, arrived in Puget Sound country with the Blackman families’ migration from Maine in 1872, as a babe in arms. (Snohomish Historical Society)
 
 
 
 

Young Edith Blackman held the rapt attention of a cluster of young women leaning in to hear her undercover eye-witness account of the action. From time to time, Edith would wear pants, which gave her access to public events without drawing attention to her gender. Following every word was Sylvia Ferguson, the first child of E. C. and Lucita; it was her father who lost the election to Reverend Hardwick. Her bright eyes seemed stuck open as she listened to Edith’s vivid telling of the newly elected, nearly naked mayor rising up in the excavation basket.

“What happened to his clothes?” she asked.

“This woman they call Missus Something-or-other removed his trousers and they were coated with mud and his leg was broken or something and she tore his shirt to make a splint – he was pushed from the sidewalk, you know,” explained Edith, pantomiming a pushing gesture and looking down. “My father told me that,” she said, looking up to see her father, Elhanon.

“Yes, our boy mayor got thrown out of the Palace Saloon for ranting in people’s faces, again! Yelling how they were all sinners and the whole lot of ‘em were going to hell!” Elhanon Blackman paused, staring into the eyes of each listener, playing the part a bit. “Finally this big guy says: How about you go to hell right now, and hits Hardwick square in the jaw, down he goes, one punch, while others drag him out onto the sidewalk.”

Mr. Blackman was on a roll: “A well juiced-up group followed the hapless Hardwick being dragged outside with their eyes on the deep, dark excavation pit for White’s foundation that was right next door to the Palace and,” pausing for maximum effect, “over the edge he went with barely a second thought or squeak from anyone. That’s when it started raining.”

Rousing cheers rose from the passengers sparked by the three sharp blasts of Nellie’s horn and she was set free. It was a bright, sunny day on the Snohomish River. It was full, bank to bank, yet very still, reflecting the blue sky and turning the tall cedars upside down in the slow current disturbed only by Nellie’s shallow wake.

Elhanon Blackman had taken over telling the story begun by his daughter. His wife, Frances, joined the group gathered at the bow of Nellie. She was tired of the story, as her daughter, Edith, told it to her over and over again, but she wanted to take in the mirror-like reflections of the water before “Nellie ran over them,” as she would say.

Elhanon and his brothers were lumbermen from Maine who quickly established a logging camp and mill in Snohomish and were rightly revered as the economic power of the community.

“This so-called Reverend Hardwick, with his crazy talk of some Jesus character sent here to save us, wouldn’t have gotten to first base without this Billy Bottom lowlife getting in everybody’s face,” Elhanon said. (Snohomish was a baseball town and its team, the Pacifics, was doing quite well.)

Young Jenny Durham jumped in. “He would make up a list of young women’s names in town that he accused of being witches, pagans, then post it at the Sisters of Mercy church … I, ah … I was horrified to find my name on that list,” she confessed to the group. Tears touched with rage filled her eyes.

“Me too!” claimed Frannie Churchill, suddenly, and all turned toward her as if rehearsed.

“And me!” confessed Sylvia, Frannie’s best friend. They were about to begin their first year at the University of Washington together. “A group of us would mock his rantings on the street corner; men did too, but only women’s names are on his list.” Sylvia continued, “It’s truly troubling how many people were intimidated by his crazy thinking.”

“What happened to Hardwick and his position as mayor?” Jenny asked.

“It was fascinating!” said Blackman with a loud sigh. “Our rabid mayor returned to council meetings a changed being – he would stare into space with a faraway look and spooky smile on his face. He couldn’t or wouldn’t talk, instead kept trying to say Je-sus!”

The conversation fell silent as Nellie passed Lowell on the port side. A group on the dock watched, then waved as the sternwheeler chugged slowly on, not stopping to pick up campers this year.

“And that Billy Bottom character, I tell you, he pestered White and the council members to the point of exhaustion until they finally passed an ordinance that prohibited shooting galleries in Snohomish just to shut him up. But White had already given up his original plan for one in the basement — that’s why the foundation pit was so deep – for headroom,” explained Blackman. “I could have told White that it was going to be tough to keep it dry because of the high water table.”

“But Bottom told anyone who would listen,” interrupted Edith, “that there will always be a puddle of water in that basement to mark the spot where his brother-in-arms, John Hardwick, fell to earth on that bright, Sunday, June morning!”

“Does anyone know what happened to this Bottom fellow?” asked Mary Low Sinclair, who was standing next to Charles Missimer, the founder of Lake Stevens. “We’ve been spared his ugliness around town for months, it seems.”

“Don’t know for sure, but heard that he and his wife moved to the brand new state of Montana … if so, good riddance!” said Blackman in a manner that brought the conversation to an end.

Shortly afterward, Nellie reached the mouth of the Snohomish River to a great cheer as she bravely entered the choppy expanse of Possession Sound, headed for Hat Island where they would stop for lunch. The wind picked up, but it was to their back, so all remained watching the horizon to the west – who would be the first to spot a tell-tale sign of their beach?

Come November there would be the regular election with the expectation that the civic life of Snohomish would return to its normal ups and downs; for now, thoughts were of sunshine, swimming, and clams — they were going down to camp.

. . . .

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This story is inspired by the wonderful book Down to Camp: A History of Summer Folk on Whidbey Island by Frances L. Wood and available from Blue Heron Press. The featured image is from the Ferguson Album held by the Snohomish Historical Society. Postscript: To this day the basement of the White Building, 924 1st Street, is not open to the public.

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The 173rd Anniversary of J. S. White’s Birth

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John S. White was born in Tamworth, New Hampshire on July 13, 1845; and one year ago, we launched our book J. S. White Our First Architect with a Garden Release Party on the anniversary of his birth. This month, let’s learn more about Tamworth, New Hampshire.

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The Town of Tamworth was founded before we celebrated the Fourth of July (by terrorizing pets and poets) with the granting of a charter from George the Third of England to the town in 1766. Parson Samuel Hidden was ordained in 1792 and led the town in its early years of raising sheep growing corn, wheat, and rye. The Parson is credited with nurturing the cultural roots of Tamworth which today boasts of two public libraries, an arts council, historical society, a grant-making foundation, and churches, of course, all in a town of fewer than 3000 people.

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Cook Memorial Library, 1895.

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A Tamworth House.

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Remick Country Doctor Museum.

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Remick Country Doctor Farm.

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Summer stock theater going strong since the 1930s.

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Tamworth Distilling.

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Outdoor concert.

Thanks to this blog post “Destination Tamworth” where there are more photos and words.

Read more about the Town of Tamworth and its history.

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#4. The Election: Billy Bottom, Part Two

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snohomish stories imageCast of Imaginary Characters:
John T. Hardwick
Missus Nightingale
Billy Bottom
Ivy Williams-Bottom

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

. . . .

Leaning in close, his lips nearly touching the helix of Hardwick’s right ear, Bottom whispered, “John … It’s me, your Brother Billy!” Straining to see, Hardwick’s eyeballs jammed up against the corner of his eyes. Missus Nightingale was still holding his head with both hands. Hardwick’s mysteriously dilated eyeballs floated back to a lost stare, straight up into the dome of deep, bright blue.

“Talk to me John … Fuck man, please say something,” begged Billy.

His gaze was fixed through wireframe glasses which made his black pupils nearly double in size. Bottom’s pockmarked face was tough to look at and he knew it. Rather than shy and retiring, Bottom challenged people to look him in his magnified eyes while he kept talking, or ranting, depending on who was listening.

“Goddamnit! What’s the matter with him?” Bottom asked Missus Nightingale, who since dawn had been on the scene of newly elected Mayor Hardwick passed out in a mud puddle deep in the excavation pit for White’s new building.

“Cat ’s got his tongue… or something worse!” the Missus mumbled, not looking up, continuing to hold the manic man’s head.

Bottom leaned over him, came in nose to nose: “Goddamnit, John, we’ve come so far … You can’t let me down now. Shit! How stupid!” A small shot of spit landed on John’s lips.

“You’ve given voice to my life, Brother … Goddamnit say something,” whispered Bottom.

“You’re too close, Billy,” said the Missus. “Let’s get him out of this mud hole. He is in shock. He needs to be cleaned up and sleeping … with a dose of Jesus’s mercy!”

“Jeeeees….” Hardwick broke free from the Missus’s hold! He shot straight up. What was left of his white shirt fell to his lap, blending in with his white shorts. His naked torso, sitting on white cotton and surrounded by dirt walls and floor, radiated the morning sun as if the light were coming from him. Preacher Hardwick was all-a-glow, and it was terrifying.

Bottom rocked on to his back. Hardwick’s distant stare was unnerving. He held out his open palms to Bottom. “Suuuuus….” Hardwick said in his soft, deep preacher voice, slowly looking up to the sky.

Billy Bottom quickly stood. All eyes of the crowd were on him. So many faces, he thought, standing behind the barriers on First and around the corner up Avenue A. How can there be so many different faces? Crazy that such variety could come from one mind … from the one Mind-of-God!

Fuck God! He didn’t make my face.

“There Are Many Minds-of-God!” Bottom heard himself shouting, the anger surprised him. “This is One of Them at Work … Right Here in Our Town! We are witnessing Our Brother John Being Born Again! Don’t believe in Hearsay, Believe with Your Eyes, with What You are Seeing Right Here, Right Now!”

Taking a breath, Bottom continued, “And You Must Tell Others: Our Brother John, Our New Mayor, Fell to Earth On This Day!”

Billy Bottom looked down, took hold of John Hardwick’s hands, then lifted his eyes to the crowd. “Remember this Day. Remember this Place. Jesus loves Our Town enough to send us John to Lead Us Out of this Pit of Despair into the Light of Our Salvation,” he said like the experienced street corner speaker he was.

“Let’s bow our heads in awe and joy,” said Bottom. “All of Us Together!”

Bottom removed his ubiquitous handmade knit cap and bowed his head. Those in the crowd watching him instead of bowing and closing their eyes witnessed a bright white spot at the crown of his head surrounded by hair, most likely an early onset of male-pattern hair loss (MPHL), which meant either a blessing or a curse — known only by the life you lived.

He quickly replaced his cap, pulled it down close to his ears, and took Hardwick’s hands again, shouting: “We Will Rise You Up, Brother John!” with a voice of joy, perhaps for the first time in a troubled life.

A loud cheer rose from the crowd as Billy Bottom scampered up the ladder out of the excavation pit.

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Up on the street, Ivy Williams-Bottom had disconnected the wagon shafts from Sadie’s bellyband and had moved the donkey to under the excavation pit rigging for pulling up the basket. Four thick ropes were attached to the basket and threaded through a maze of pulleys and ropes hanging from a wooden tower. Only two lines were attached to the tug loops on either side of Sadie’s pathetic-looking harness. Contractor White used a team of two horses, big horses, but neither White nor the team worked on Sunday. It was up to Sadie. Preacher Hardwick was not nearly as heavy a load of dirt, often wet dirt; yet, he was quite a pull for old Sadie.

Billy Bottom was standing in his buckboard now, rallying the men in the pit below to claim a spot around the basket: “Old Sadie here is going to need your help, Gentlemen.” Bottom continued to cajole the men below, some who had been on the scene since early morning. Still dressed in their Sunday best. Their pacing around the basket holding their new mayor had turned the mud puddle into chocolate pudding. One by one, the overdressed men claimed a place around the basket and bent over to find a handhold in the woven cedar bark.

“If you are ready, Gentlemen…?”

Hardwick’s eyes darted from man to man, looking for eye contact from someone. Bent over from the waist, the men were looking down at their hands. “On the count of the three, Gentlemen!” Bottom barked.

“One … Two … “Three!”

It was amazing! The large basket rose and was soon out of reach for the men in the pit. All stepped back to take in the bottom view of the swaying industrial basket, holding the nearly naked Mayor of Snohomish, as it continued to rise toward the spectators watching in stunned silence.

With only inches to go, the upward motion slowed, then stopped; the basket twisted, and the crowd gasped in unison. A sudden rush of liquid from the basket fell on the men. John Hardwick appeared to be soiling himself. The men scampered up the ladder, barely keeping it single file, followed by Missus Nightingale.

“Pull, Sadie, you Bitch, Pull!” shouted Bottom as he cracked the whip even harder. Several bystanders had joined Lily Williams-Bottom, pulling on leads attached to the tug loops. John Hardwick was lying on his back now with an empty look in his eyes, as the large cedar basket swayed and twisted in the noonday sun, its shadow swaying on-then-off terra firma.

“Pull, you useless c…” Sadie took a step before he could finish, then another, and another. The crowd roared with each step.

To Be Continued

. . . .

Mary Low Sinclair Arrives in Cadyville (future Snohomish City) on May 1, 1865.

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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.

snohomish stories imageCadyville, 1865, the first photograph of the settlement that was renamed Snohomish by the Fergusons and Sinclairs in 1871. Ferguson’s Blue Eage saloon is pictured on the left, while the Sinclair store (and first classroom) is on the right. The structure is the center was an unnamed wharf building. Some accounts indentify the man in the foreground as Woodbury Sinclair.

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.

snohomish stories image

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.

. . . .

More articles commissioned by HistoryLink.org:

Snohomish — Thumbnail History

Snohomish: Historic Downtown Cybertour

Snohomish incorporates as a city of the third class on June 26, 1890.

The Eye reports Gilbert Horton’s floating photography gallery to be in Snohomish on May 29, 1886.

Eldridge Morse dedicates the Snohomish Atheneum on June 5, 1876.

Snohomish County Tribune supports demolition of the old county courthouse portion of Snohomish High School in an editorial on June 16, 1938.

. . . .

#3. The Election: Billy Bottom, Part One

Wilbur Drug Store

snohomish stories imageCast of Imaginary Characters:
John T. Hardwick
Missus Nightingale
Billy Bottom
Ivy Williams-Bottom

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

. . . .

With Rev. Hardwick loaded into the excavation pit’s basket, the crowd watching in silence from above could see the whites of his eyes. The new mayor was wide awake, practically naked, and manic. He was turning and twisting to take in the scene until his head was held still by hands meeting behind his neck. Missus Nightingale was in charge.

Wilbur Drug StoreMissus Nightingale was her sobriquet. Rumor had it she attended Hopkins Medical School back east, one of the first women to receive medical training, but who knows? Lot Wilbur hired her to help out with his new Drug Store, a handsome two-story brick building at First and C built by J. S. White, the same contractor responsible for the excavation pit where the new mayor now found himself on his back in a large, mud-coated basket of woven cedar, under a bright Sunday morning, tenderly tended to by Missus Nightingale.

“Whoa, Sadie!” Billy Bottom’s command to his mule broke the silence, to be followed by low-level murmuring and laughter among the crowd of men watching, some since dawn. Bottom had backed up his shabby buckboard to just under the pit’s excavation rigging as if he were picking up a load of dirt.

“That’s a good girl!” he added, handing the slacked reins to his wife, and jumping to the ground. It wasn’t clear to whom he was speaking. Bottom practically slid down the pit’s steep ladder to check-up on his brother-in-arms, John, the nearly naked Mayor of Snohomish.

Billy Bottom and Ivie Williams were recently married in a secret ceremony held in the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery west of town on Riverview Road. She was new to the town; whereas, Mister Billy and his mule Sadie were ubiquitous. He would anchor his mule to a hitching post, then stand in the buckboard and Rant. He claimed there was a spot in London that was famous for people Ranting and that Snohomish needed such a spot. However, none of Bottom’s Rants were original, written by him. He simply repeated quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers of America. But his speaking style oozed such a mysterious certainly, like fertilizer, that a fervent following grew. A devoted few believed it was God speaking through him. Over time, as the number of his followers increased, it seems many were misinformed malcontents; then again, complaining without knowledge is a God-given right in America. Non-followers, most people, believed Billy Bottom was unhinged.

He lived just outside of town up the Pilchuck River in a tent; Billy never did get the hang of building a shelter of woven cedar mats, and now that he was married to a proper Boston lady, there will be no Siwash hut for his white wife. Not much was known of Bottom’s life before Snohomish other than he was raised in Seattle. He is clearly of mixed blood and the story is that his mother didn’t tell him that his father was Indian until he was over 12 years old. He thought his father was white. Who knows where these stories come from.

Several years ago, as part of his Rants, Bottom started a petition to change the city’s charter to add the phrase: In God We Trust. His followers, the complainers, loved it. Especially members of the Temperance Union, which in turn urged Rev. Hardwick to run for mayor since he lived in town. Soon, the Reverend and Billy were inseparable. They went door-to-door talking up God and talking down Mayor Ferguson who once spoke up for (and yes, hired) Chinese workers back in 1885.

It was a brutal town meeting in the Masonic Hall on 2nd Street as reported in The Eye, October 24, 1885. In the past, the newspaper has labeled Chinese people as rat-eaters, and the headline for this meeting read: The Chinese Curse.

Mayor Ferguson was leading the meeting that began with this diatribe from the floor shortly after his introduction: “Let’s have a little sense. How are we going to get rid of the Chinese? We’ve no legal right to kill ‘em. I’d like to kill one; wouldn’t you, Ferg?”

There was “tumultuous applause from a portion of the audience” supporting a proposal to send ‘em all back to China and pay their expenses from a “fiery pioneer who had been indulging in ‘whiskey-row’ jim-jam syrup, and did not wait for an invitation to express his sentiments,” reported The Eye in 1885.

Only Ferg, as he was often called, spoke of the benefit provided to the county and the town by the Chinese. He reminded the gathering that the Chinese were already here, and there was work that would not get done without the immigrants.

The town’s population has nearly doubled since then. Many in town don’t know the history, while others have forgotten that Ferguson hired Chinese workers back-in-the-day; but Billy Bottom considered himself to be an amateur historian: “Billy remembers everything!”

To Be Continued.

#2. The Election: John T. Hardwick

snohomish stories imageCast of Imaginary Characters:
John T. Hardwick
Missus Nightingale
Billy Bottom
Ivy Williams-Bottom

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

. . . .

“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.

Getchell House, 2nd and Avenue C, undated photograph from a glass plate negative, partial view of the livery on the right; courtesy Snohomish Historical Society.

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.”

. . . .

“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

. . . .

#1. The Election: June 1890, Snohomish

snohomish stories image

Cast of Imaginary Characters:
John T. Hardwick
Missus Nightingale
Billy Bottom
Ivy Williams-Bottom

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

. . . .

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.

“He dead?”

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.

snohomish storiesThe 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.

“A what?”

“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.

. . . .

About the title image above: The Odd Fellows Hall to the right was the place for a variety of public gatherings including debating the boundaries of incorporated Snohomish in 1890. The building to the left is the Masonic Lodge which served as the county courthouse until 1897; it was destroyed in the 1980s for scrap. Photo is by Gilbert Horton taken around the time the Odd Fellows Hall was built in 1886, and published in several publications of the time.

Seasons Greetings with Gratitude

snohomish stories image

Twenty-Seventeen — what a year!

Our book, J.S. White Our First Architect was released with a Gala Garden Release Party on July 13th, the 172nd Anniversary of White’s birth in Tamworth, NH.

Karen’s run to save our local government from a coup by social media fell short of votes but long on misogyny.

Following the election, a commission to write a thumbnail history of Lake Stevens for HistoryLink.org, Washington state’s free online encyclopedia, was a happy distraction. I enjoyed getting to know Lake Stevens, both its beginnings and its plans.

The first person to purchase lots on the lake was Charles A. Missimer, a renaissance-man who lived and worked in Snohomish. “The varied occupations of Charles A. Missimer (1857-1938) were reported in both the first and second newspapers of Snohomish, the Northern Star and The Eye, as a photographer, scenery painter, trombone player with the local Snohomish band at the Atheneum Masked Ball, deputy county surveyor, Circuit Court clerk, even co-publisher of The Eye for a short time,” as I wrote in the essay.

Combing through the 19th-century newspapers researching our book, I came across this mention that I wanted to use as an epigraph for the essay, but the editor cut-it so here it is instead.

Should the railroad touch the shores of Lake Stevens, a town will be built that will become a dangerous rival to Snohomish. Being situated near the geographical center of the county, could but with little difficulty secure the county seat.
June 13, 1888, The Eye.

Very curious because Missimer didn’t purchase his land until the following year. In 1888 when the railroad arrived in Snohomish there was no there-there in Lake Stevens–just the beautiful and very deep lake.

Best Wishes for the New Year Dear Readers, your comments are always welcomed.

. . . .

Our featured image is a video still from an excerpt from our book’s first essay “Methodist Church, 1885” posted one year ago to promote the book. The printed copy seen in the clip is the final version which had just been sent to the printer in China!

As I said: “what a year!”

. . . .

“Compositing the Digital Image”

Join photographer Otto Greule and yours truly at the Stimson-Green Mansion on November 8 for a book signing of J. S. White, Our First Architect: White’s Surviving Structures from 19th Century Snohomish.

The event will feature a short, behind-scenes-slideshow of how Otto created the architectural portraits for our book, titled “Compositing the Digital Image.”

Beer, wine and light appetizers provided; although this event is free, RSVP is required; and where you can read the wonderful review published in the Trust’s November Newsletter

Held at the beautiful Stimson-Green Mansion, 1204 Minor Avenue on Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood.

Learn more about the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation HERE!

. . . .

Discovering the White Building Hiding in Plain Sight

snohomish stories image

We are marking the anniversary month of J. S. White’s death on October 22, 1920, with a slideshow telling the story of his masterpiece structure located at 924 First Street that was misidentified for over 40 years.

This event will be held at Snohomish’s historic Bauer Funeral Chapel, located at 701 First Street, on Saturday, October 21st from 4:30 to 5:30p.  It’s Free, thanks to the generosity of the chapel manager Brian Halbeisen.

This presentation was presented first at the 66th Pacific Northwest History Conference: “Hidden Histories, Diverse Publics” to be held in Spokane, October 12-14th.

Of course, this story of the White Building is told in our fine art book J. S. White: Our First Architect, available here online and at the Uppercase Bookshop on 2nd Street and Avenue B. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing at the Bauer Chapel event.

. . . .

SHS Class 1942 Annual Reunion Revisited

shs 1942 75th

Karen and I attended the 75th Reunion of the Snohomish High School class of 1942 held as it is every year at Hill Park on the shores of Blackman Lake and I took a few snaps with my handy iPhone.

shs 1942Karen and George Gilbertson who once was our neighbor but is now living in a fancy place in Kirkland. George inherited the Snohomish Drug Store at xxxx 1st Street from his father and I love his story that the soda fountain was so popular with high school kids in the 1930s and 40s that they wore it out and George removed it. At the reunion, he told of ordering a milk shake the other day and he paid $5 — the same size shake he sold for 15 cents!

shs 1942
Glen Fields was drafted into WW II; then returned to take up his father’s drilling business.

shs 1942
Glen and Karen with their best smiles.

shs 1942
June Gregory cutting the cake.

shs 1942
Karen helping pass around the cake.

shs 1942
Karen pictured with Jackie and Hugh Minor who knew Karen’s former husband as both were opthamologists practicing in Seattle.

June Gregory
My first visit with the Class 1942 Annual Reunion was in 2015, click on the image of June Gregory, the reunion organizer, to view a then-and-now movie I put together using portraits from the class yearbook.

Karen, Warner & Otto “On-the-Air”

karenguzakontheair

A wonderful time was had by all at our book signing Sunday, July 30, at Uppercase Bookshop — and we sold seven books — thanks in large part to our Sound Living interview on KSER!

Barb and Bob were on their way out of town listening to a repeat of the show on Sunday morning when they turned around to stop by and pick up a copy. The KSER show motivated Dan and his wife to purchase a copy that will be added to Dan’s extensive collection of Pacific Northwest history. Matt from Bothell, learned about the signing on FB, stopped by to get a copy explaining that he travels a lot to visit architectural sites and wishes every community had a book like ours to describe the local treasures. Clay from Granite Falls was with us from the beginning asking twice for the ‘dark stories’ we couldn’t include in the book. Carlos showed up riding his bike in from just outside town, he quizzed Otto about his work in the book quite a while before purchasing a copy. Friend Kay and her son Ike purchased a copy and finally so did Otto’s photographer friend Dean who along with Kyra and their new puppy, who were the first to arrive.

A BIG THANKS to Ed Bremer and KSER for helping us spread the word. You can listen to the entire hour-long program below.

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Book Signing Party

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With our fine art book officially released at our Gala Garden Release Party on July 13th, the 172nd Anniversary of J. S. White’s birth in Tamworth, NH, we now move forward with Book Signings and Promotional Events.

We have two to announce: First, tune in on Friday, July 28th to KSER (90.7) for the Sound Living Call-in Show. Hosted by veteran independent radio broadcaster Ed Bremer, Karen and Warner will be his guests talking about the creation of our fine art book, while photographer Otto will be standing by in Seattle to join us by calling-in — and you can too: 425.303.9070.

Second: You are invited to talk Snohomish history and photography while we sign some books on the outdoor deck of the Uppercase Bookshop on Sunday, July 30, 2-4p. Both Otto and yours truly will be on hand and it’s a grand time to purchase our fine art book and help support an independent bookstore as well as our publication. Those who have a pre-order copy are welcomed to join us for the signing.

(Thanks to Otto for setting up the group shot of the Angels & Publishers and to Karen for working the remote!)

suzan delbene

Finally, at a fundraiser for Congresswoman Suzan DelBene hosted in our studio, Karen presented Suzan with a signed: “as a friend of Snohomish,” copy of our fine art book, which she promises to keep on the coffee table in her DC office.

suzan delbene

We like that.

 

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Video: First Look!

Five Advanced Copies Arrived 5.4.17!

Carefully running my letter cutter up the space between the shrink-wrap and pages, I removed the clinging plastic and opened our book. Amazing! It looked so familiar, just as it looked in the digital files, edit round upon edit round … but the paper was so thick I had to check if two had stuck together. The clarity of the photographs was stunning, not just Otto’s but the historic images as well. These are images I know very well and they have taken on a new life in this book, on this paper and through the process of production by iocolor.  Thanks to the staff at Lucia Marquand and to all our Angels and Publishers.

My humble Thanks ~w.

Video: A Shooting Gallery?

Otto Greule

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.

. . . .

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.

. . . .

A Promenade for the Carnegie

Carnegie promenade

prom·e·nade (prŏm′ə-nād′, -näd′)
n. 1.
a. A leisurely walk, especially one taken in a public place as a social activity.
b. A public place for such walking.

Snohomish’s 1910 Carnegie building with its attached 1968 addition was closed this month because the addition’s flat roof is water logged and unsafe. (“Snohomish group hopes to restore historic Carnegie building”) Mother nature intervened in the nick of time as the collective imagination around our historic property was moving in reverse.

In 2005, I served on the seven-member Carnegie Preservation Commission with the mission to oversee a feasibility study of returning our historic library building to its 1910 stand-alone stateliness. While many of the commission members went on to form the Snohomish Education Center at the Carnegie, I went on to write an Op-Ed.

“A gathering place for Snohomish,” published in the Snohomish County Tribune, October 25, 2006, was a plea to consider the practicality of the addition that increased the functionality of the small historic library (its restrooms are in the basement and no interior stairs) with the common sense solution of a lobby between the old and the new structures that included restrooms!

Over ten years later and still without funding to demolish the addition and restore the former library, city hall talk turned to modifying the lobby in order to use the main floor of the Carnegie for council meetings. The talk included the necessity of installing a chairlift-for-stairs in order to meet the requirements of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to the rumored tune of $70,000. No cost mentioned for adding a second egress or fire escape.

Then, Mother Nature stepped in and put the brakes on this backward thinking.

Since doing my thought experiment sketch some 10 years ago, fitting a 200 seat theater into the footprint of the addition, I’m wondering if ramps might solve the sticky social issue of dividing the abled from the disabled access from the ground to the grand room of the historic structure. Confirming my calculations with two architects, I prepared the sketch pictured above.

It calls for the removal of the addition, completely, especially across the front of the historic structure. Then, installing three runs of ramps with landings and modify the existing penetration of the south wall with exterior doors and portico over the top landing. It might be called the Snohomish Education Center Promenade — children would love it. At the same time, the historic stairs to the front door would be restored providing a second egress.

To close with a thought from 2006: the gift of a Carnegie Library is not from the man whose name it carries, but from those who lived here before us and pursued a dream. Members of the Women’s Club who went door to door gathering donations for the new library. Members of the city council who four times a year had to pony up the contractual $250 for library operations from a tight budget. This is why we collectively treasure the small, problematic structure – for the stretch, the previous residents reached to celebrate life in Snohomish. How far are we willing to reach?

. . . .

Thanks to Dale Preboski for editorial advice.

. . . .

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Thought Experiment October 26, 2007 (Click to enlarge)

Video: “Disastrous Fire”

snohomish stories

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.


“Disatrous Fire”

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.

Questions? 206.914.4075   |   Hello@SnohomishStories.org   |   Subscribed?

3.22.17: Off to the Printer!

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Melissa Duffes’s desk shows evidence of her role as the hub of art book production at Lucia Marquand; for certain, it’s the last stop before the project is sent to the printer in China, Artron Art Group, and March 22nd was the date of departure for J. S. White Our First Architect. By the end of the month, we should have what is called a “plotter” from the printer.

Stand-by.

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APRIL 1, 2017: Angels’ Fools Party:  celebrating the passing of the J. S. White book into the hands of the printers in China. (Note empty take-out containers!) Seated is photographer Otto holding, the printer’s plotter, and behind him, from the left, is Karen, Denise with Jimmy, Terry, Janet and Mary Pat.

Up next: Five advance copies due May 17, 2017!