Have you ever visited a city and found yourself on a Heritage Trail? Without a brochure or even intention, you were following informative, eye-catching interpretative signs that took you back to the origin of the place where you were walking and so you continued to walk from sign to sign?
This happened to me in my hometown of Minneapolis when we returned for a family reunion and our mother wanted to visit the church of her childhood located where Minneapolis/St. Paul began — the St. Anthony Falls Historic District.
“Minneapolis’ once thriving lumber and flour milling industries began at the St. Anthony Falls — the only major falls along the Mississippi River. This industrial history is on display along the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, a 1.8-mile loop around the city’s riverfront within the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Zone.” (p.68 “Hitting the Trail, Twelve Urban Historic Trails Where You Can Explore a City’s Past and Present,” Preservation Winter 2019.)
Upon my return to Snohomish, I began talking up the establishment of a heritage trail to anyone who would listen. Before that, while still a weekend resident, I led my first walking tour of the First Street/Riverfront Trail loop that shows-and-tells the story of early Snohomish.
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The renovation of the former St. Michael Catholic Church into our home and studio would begin on Fridays when we drove up from Seattle to touch base with, Roland, our carpenter/confessor, before he headed back to Seattle until Monday morning.
The place was ours for the weekend.
We walked around inspecting/admiring the new framing … then began loading our white Astro cargo van with Roland’s outtakes, many times a pile waist high. We had to make the dump-run before it closes, and we were looking forward to our reward of an Indian dinner out. It was a hole-in-the-wall place on lower Hewitt that we loved as an instant tradition begun on our first date. Always ordered the large bottle of Kingfisher Premium and together we’d wait for our food to arrive.
We were weekend residents until the turn of the millennium, living in a 300 square foot addition built over a carport on the south end of the church structure, vintage 1960s. No oven, but everything else and best of all, it had a private entrance. Karen worked on her garden and her thoughts of running for a city council seat; I joined the historical society.
“Snohomish is old enough for its own heritage trail,” I remember writing somewhere. My pitch for a trail was always enthusiastically received but never funded. In 2011, inspired by the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Snohomish led to the proposal for lamp post banners marking the event which was funded by the Historic Downtown Snohomish organization. Banners with the faces of the city’s founders hung from every lamppost up and down First Street for five years or so.
Working with Wendy, the city’s economic director, we have submitted a grant to the 2019 Historical Preservation Grant Program administered by the Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission to establish the first trail for the City of Snohomish.
Its proposed name is Snohomish Heritage Trail #1. Birthplace of the County in Three-Acts.
The intention is to create interpretative signs that will lead visitors on a Heritage Trail loop of Snohomish’s downtown business district, including the River Front Trail, that shows and tells the highlights of the city’s 19th-century heritage, with emphasis on the people.
The plan is to repurpose the three, three-pole Wayfinder clusters installed on the south side of 1st Street at the former Visitor Center, Avenue D; Avenue B street end, near the public restroom facility and stairs to the River Front Trail; where Union Avenue also ends – and where our story begins.
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“Walking around Snohomish is enjoyable and educational. Because so much of its historical fabric remains, it is a place where one can experience (at least in moments of reverie) what our region’s towns were like more than a century ago. Although there are other places that offer similar experiences, Snohomish is conveniently close to Seattle.”
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Today, January 14, marks the creation of Snohomish County in 1861, following deliberations by the Washington Territorial Legislature meeting in Olympia while — “the white flakes drifted down upon our wintery scene,” reported the local press and recounted in Margaret Riddle’s excellent essay posted online at Historylink.org.
Margaret tells the story of the county’s birth in the lively, yet detailed precision of a gifted historian, bending adjectives over backward to tell how the Native Americans would not move quietly (and quickly) to the Tulalip reservation and leave the white settlers alone. There was the talk of the United States Army moving in which inspired a group of men in Steilacoom, a settlement south of Seattle, home to a military fort since 1847, to fantasize about a ferry service across the Snohomish River, a vital link of a military road heading north.
However, funding for the road was redirected for the Civil War and the Steilacoom group abandoned the ferry fantasy except for one man: E. C. Ferguson. He had his small house shipped to the future site of Snohomish City in pieces and reassembled near to where it stands today.
It was in this one-room home, referred to as Ferguson’s Cottage through the years, that a petition was drawn-up requesting the formation of Snohomish County by the Legislature. Besides the settlement on the Snohomish River, there was Fowler’s Store in Mukilteo and that was it within the proposed boundaries of the new county. A rough census of the non-native population counted 49 men and no women. The Legislature placed the temporary county seat at Mukilteo.
The first Snohomish County election was held July 8, 1861, when the yet unnamed Snohomish won the permanent county seat thanks to Ferguson’s superior effort to get out the vote with 17 to Fowler’s 10. Ferguson returned to Snohomish with the county records in his vest pocket, making his cottage the county’s first courthouse.
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Today, the City of Snohomish promotes itself as the Antique Capital of the Northwest and has since the 1980s when the tag line was coined by John Regan, the original owner of the Star Center Mall he opened in 1982. This was learned from an article posted on Herald.net “Something old for everybody in our state’s antique capitol,” January 7, 2019. “To be sure, it wasn’t antiques,” the article reports Regan’s thinking, “he felt like Snohomish needed a little something.”
Indeed, Main Street had become increasingly forlorn throughout the sixties & seventies. A city planner contracted with Urban Renewal funds proposed tearing down all of the buildings on the south side of First Street in order to open the city to the river but there was no money to act on the plan. As it’s said: Economic depression leads to historic preservation. Low downtown rents brought in more antique/collectible shops and the nickname stuck and is now “synonymous with Snohomish” as the Herald story pointed out. In other words, we are stuck with it.
Next month, I will make the case for an alternative tag line:
City of Snohomish: Birthplace of the County.
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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.
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.
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.
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)
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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.
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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.)
“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.”
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!
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Around 1910, Ben and Nettie Morgan commissioned J.S. White to design and build a beach cabin on Whidbey Island. The story is told in the endearing memoir, “Down to Camp,” by Frances Wood, who is pictured above with the family cabin.
By 1890, it was the summer tradition among several Snohomish families to shutter their city home and board a steamship loaded down with enough supplies to last a generous part of August camping on a beach across Possession Sound. Since, for many years, the journey began by going down the Snohomish River, the annual event became known as going “down to camp,” well into the age of the automobile. At first platforms with tents were set-up on a relatively narrow shelf of land between the water and a steep bluff, then modest cabins sprouted up year after year, all in row, along a foot path still referred to as “Camper’s Row.”
Ben and Nettie purchased a lot in 1902 and around eight years later, commissioned White to build a cabin to replace their tent, a choice perhaps based on his association with Ben’s father. They christened the structure “Camp Illahee,” a word of the indigenous people carrying “a sense of home, and connections between people and living place,” according to Frances.
Three decades later, Frances tells us, her grandparents purchased Camp Illahee from Nettie, then married to a Taylor, who described the cabin in a letter: “… it could be rolled over and over and not come to pieces.” Regardless of this vivid pitch, Frances’s grandparents got the cabin for a low-ball offer of $1,100.
The cabin was renamed to “Drift Inn” by Frances’s parents when it was passed on to them. Fast forward through a childhood of summers spent at the beach cabin to the 1970s, when Frances and her sibling’s families are enjoying summer months at Drift Inn and the discussion of modifying the cabin comes up. The conversation involves three generations, including her grandmother Inez, the daughter of Nina and Charles Bakeman, who owned the furniture building that burned in 1893, sending the homeless city council members to White’s then-new building.
In a telephone conversation, Frances shared with me the family lore that White was given the commission because he was down on his luck and needed the work. She also remembers Inez advising the grandchildren, when remodeling, to not change the “lines” because it was designed by the famous Snohomish architect, J. S. White.
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This is an excerpt from my book in progress, “J.S. White: Our First Architect.“
Eunice Blackman is pictured above in her costume for the Illuminated Bicycle Parade, the featured event of a day-long celebration. Eunice grew up in the house that is now the Blackman House Museum with her brother, Clifford, and parents, Ella and Hyrcanus.
Snohomish no longer celebrates the Fourth with a community gathering. Over 100 years ago the city moved its community celebration to the middle of July, and it has been called KlaHaYa Days since the 1930s.
Note in the schedule below, that First Place for the “Best Decorated Wheels” in the Illuminated Bicycle Parade is awarded $10!* Wonder how many people were looking at the wheels when Eunice peddled by?
*In 2015, the relative value of $10.00 from 1899 ranges from $248.00 to $9,110.00.(MeasuringWorth.com)
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A Sketch of Early Snohomish Life
On the first day of May, 1865, a small, unfinished steamer, The Mary Woodruff, slowly made her way against the strong current of the river, having left Port Madison, Kitsap county, the day before, with the families and household goods of W. B Sinclair and I.C. Elles, who were removing to Cadyville, as it was then called. Mr. Sinclair had bought out Cady the December previous and started a small trading post. Ellis also began logging for the Puget Mill Co. at the same time, building his camp in the dense forest near where the E.C. Ferguson home now stands. As the steamer landed at the gravel bank near the foot of Maple street, a small clearing appeared in the other wise unbroken timber. The town consisted of a rough log house on the bank, in which supplies were stored. The store farther back was a 12×16 shack. The old building still standing at the corner of Maple and Commercial streets, without windows, doors or floor, in time was used for the store, with living rooms in the back. During forty-seven years the Sinclair house has stood, the roof never having been renewed.
The original home of E.C. Ferguson is still standing, having been remodeled and now belongs to M.J. McGuinness.
There was much to do, but the pioneers were hustlers and could turn their hands to anything–no specialists in those days. The women, young and hopeful, fearing neither danger no privation, soon began to make things look homelike. A large fire place assisted materially in clearing the door yard, in which later bloomed old-fashioned flowers–Sweet Williams, Marigolds and Hollyhocks. There was no time to be lonesome; the frogs sang cheerily in the near-by marshes; mosquitoes kept the people busy building smudges. Wild game was plentiful. The Indians brought venison, wild ducks, fish and clams. Also the ranchers from Snoqualmie prairie brought delicious hams and bacon of their own curing. For two years there was no regular steamer outside, and the only fruit obtainable was wild berries. But living was cheap and good, and not a butcher shop within forty miles. the Indian wives of the ranchers made sociable calls on their white neighbors, conversing in mingled Boston, Chinook and Siwash wawa (talk). One of the aristocracy, Mrs. Jenny, dressed in red cotton velvet, surprised the hostess by asking for patterns of the latest fashions in clothes. Julia also came, young and buxom, the third wife of Jack Pillchuck, with her first born, Haqueos, sitting on a basket of blackberries carried on her back. Occasionally wild Indians, Klikitats, insisted on coming in to see the white women and babies.
The storekeeper, while blazing a trail up Pillchuck to get the cattle into their winter forage of rushes, cut his foot severely, limped home and with second aid dressed and sewed up the wound. One morning a hurry call came. A man had taken poison by mistake, but a pot of strong coffee and a basket of eggs saved his life. The first burial was that of a drowned stranger, who was laid to rest under a large cedar tree. Mr. Ferguson read the English burial service, and on the home-made coffin rested a simple bunch of daisies among the evergreens. Could the elaborated floral offerings of today express more?
Some one said: “Write something funny.” Life was too serious, amid such surroundings to be comical. The spirit of the Indians, perhaps, who paddled their canoes silently in the dusky shadows, and spoke in low tones, lest the Stick Siwashes (ghosts) came down and caught them. One Sunday two farmers with their native helpmates came to trade, bought $50 worth, and said it was time to go home, but those stubborn creatures sat on a log outside and would not move until an additional $10 shawl was given each. About dark Frenchy and Jake surrendered. It was dangerous to have words with the cook in those days, for after doing so a man came home to dinner and found his hanging to the limb of a crabapple tree. As the country began to settle up the town began to take on airs. The front of one house was painted. A man in a white shirt astonished the natives, as did the first horseman passing through. Finally an ox cart, with great wooden wheels was heard, as well as seen on the street. Clark Ferguson was the fortunate owner.
E.C. Ferguson found a bride in Olympia. Samuel Howe met his promised wife in Victoria. She left her English home and braved a five thousand mile sea voyage via Cape Horn to join the lover of her youth in making a new home in the wilderness. E.D. Smith, of Lowell, married Miss Margaret Getchell in San Francisco. She came out from Maine across the isthmus. W.M. Ward and wife, the Blackmans, J.N. Low and many other important families arrived. Our pleasures were few and simple, but none the less enjoyed
On Sunday afternoons, gathered in the first school house, we would repeat the Lord’s Prayer. Mr. Ward led the singing, which was followed by an original address by some one in the audience on moral, religious or philosophic topics. Varied social diversions at the homes promoted good will and friendship.
The early settlers will all soon have crossed the river, and have been forgotten, but while life lasts the associations and friendships of those early times will never be forgotten.
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NOTES: Photograph of Mary Low Sinclair was taken by the LaRoche Studio in Seattle, dated 1905, courtesy University Libraries Special Collection #26773.
Read more about Mary Low Sinclair on HistoryLink.org.
Bob Davis is standing in front of his grandfather’s former gas station and holding a photograph of him wearing a bow tie and white jacket as the owner of the first gas station in Snohomish on the corner of 1st and Cedar.
Yes the charming little red brick building that many have asked what was it built for? And now we know. With the first autos, gas was available only in cans at the hardware store. Knowing that, it’s easy to imagine how driving up and asking, “Fill it up,” plays a developmental role in our love affair with the automobile.
Within five years, Ralph is promoting the addition of a hydraulic lift with this dramatic ad published in the Snohomish County Tribune on March 3, 1929. It invites readers to: “Bring Your Car in and See How “She” Looks Underneath” — sounds like an invitation to first base of the affair to me!
The lift looks to be outside, but it was before Bob’s time so he doesn’t know its location. The building is best known as the office of the Thurston Insurance Agency, but now serves as the office for the Feather Ballroom in the former Eagles Hall across the street.
In the 1940s, Ralph opened a larger station on 2nd Street at Maple, where the SnoTown Brewery and Ixtapa Restaurant are located today. In addition to playing baseball with the Snohomish Indians for many years, Ralph served as president of the local association that sponsored the team and built the ball park featured in last month’s story.
Opening the new gas station with his son Neil prevented Ralph from continuing on as an elected council member and after ten and half years of service he resigned. For several years Ralph was the Mayor pro-tem, sitting in for the elected Mayor when needed.
His daughter Lorraine married Hugh Davis and Bob was born in 1947. In 1951, Bob’s family moved to Yakima, where his father got in on the ground floor of the local television business. Four years later his mother was stricken with a severe case of polio, just a few months before the Salk vaccine became available. Immediately the grandparents sold everything, including the Union Station on 2nd Street, and moved to Yakima to care for Bob, his brother Jim, and their baby sister, who was only three years old at the time.
In 1976, when Bob, Joan and their two daughters were living in Seattle, Ralph came for a visit, and Bob drove his grandfather to look up one of his old team mates, Eddie Blau, from the Kirkland team, circa 1904/10, “and the two 80 year olds had a grand time reminiscing – and remembering all the details — of their great plays,” Bob tells me with wet eyes.
Ralph died two years later on March 7, 1978, in Yakima, he was 86 years old. I couldn’t find an obituary for him in our local paper.
Ralph is pictured above with his two grandsons, Bob, age 5 on the left, and Jim, age 4 — all suited up for the Snohomish Indians’ Old Timers Game of 1952.
“This is my favorite picture,” Bob said, showing it to me last of seven photographs. We were meeting at the Snohomish Bakery to accept a gift of the photographs and Ralph’s baseball uniform for the Snohomish Historical Society. “I’m keeping the jock strap,” confessed Bob, confidentially.
Ralph began playing baseball in the 20s when Snohomish had a real baseball stadium right here in town, where the Boys and Girls Club, the skate park, playground and the closed Hal Moe Pool are located.
The Snohomish Ball Park, on 2nd Street, between Maple Street and the Centennial Trail.
The Snohomish Ball Park hosted the annual, “Averill Day game celebrating the return home of the local player, who is now starring with Cleveland Indians of the American League,” reported the Tribune on October 13, 1932. “The stands and field were jammed with fans from all over the Northwest here to see the game,” the account continued. Ralph’s brother, Ing, played first base while Ralph went in to catch.
Best guess is that I’m standing about where center field might have been in the old stadium, close to where the photographer of the historic photo from 1932 stood. The Boys and Girls Club’s building is to my back. The bleachers were removed to build the pool in 1973, and the baseball diamond was reduced for Little League play. Use of Averill Field for the skate park and the youth center was approved by city council in 2000.
What to do with the long closed Hal Mo Pool is currently under consideration by the Hal Mo Pool Advisory Committee, which meets monthly at the Senior Center through June 2016. Follow this link to learn more.
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Jennie and Lot Wilbur celebrated their wedding anniversary on April 8th; she was 24 years old and he was two years younger when they got married in 1868. The Michigan State marriage register for Calhoun County, with penmanship fit for a wedding invitation, lists Charles Proot and his wife as witnesses to the Wilbur’s union.
The union produced no children, but together they established the first drug store of Snohomish County at the corner of First Street and Avenue C, where their two-story brick building still stands.
Not so lucky for their three-story home on the corner of Second and Avenue B. It was on a hill, overlooking the town sprouting up on the north bank of the river, but was moved in three pieces and the hill lowered to street level for an automobile dealership.
Fortunately, it was long after they had stopped celebrating their wedding anniversaries — Jennie was gone in 1919, and Lot died in 1930.
PHOTOGRAPH BY G.D. HORTON | SNOHOMISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY ARCHIVES
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Pictured around the time of her marriage to Charles Sprau in the 1920s, this is the only known photograph of any member of the J.S. White family, that settled in Snohomish when Linnie was only eight years old. She was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Delia and John White as their first of three daughters.
Alice White was born around 1879 and Elsie in 1882, both in Topeka, Kansas, as well.
The family arrived in Snohomish in February, 1884, where it seems, John, as an architect and contractor, had a commission to build a church for a newly formed Methodist congregation where John and Delia served as trustees and remained members until their deaths.
Linnie was one of four graduates of Snohomish High School in 1889, a year after moving into the family’s new home at 310 Avenue H. She worked as a bookkeeper for the popular grocery store Bruhn & Henry. In 1906, Linnie married Charles Sprau and the 1920 Census recorded the couple living on a fruit farm in Chelan County, Washington. They did not have children.
Ten years later, the census showed Linnie living with her mother in the family home on Avenue H, while her husband was lodging across town. Apparently she was ill and her mother was caring for her. Linnie died in 1930, ten years after her father, who also died at home. Linnie was buried on the 13th of May at Woodlawn Cemetery alongside her sisters Alice, who died in 1898, and Elise, 1928.
On March 6, 1933, Delia White passed and was laid to rest with her daughters in a spot high on the hill overlooking the Snohomish River. John was cremated in Seattle and the location of his remains are not known but our imagination has the family members together again.
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Thanks to our favorite genealogist, Ann Tuohy, for her workup of the White Family; and to Dave Sprau for the photograph that included Linnie in a multi-family pose.
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June Gregory is certain she has found all of the members of Snohomish High graduating class of 1942, that are still among the living. “Our group is getting smaller every year,” she tells me, when I finally accept her invitation to join the 73rd Annual Reunion at Hill Park Picnic Shelter around noon on September 9th.
Of course, the class of 1942 has held reunions on the conventional schedule through the years, but 11 years ago, June, proposed to the dwindling numbers that they meet every year for a picnic lunch. “At first some still wanted go to a restaurant,” claims June, “but all seem to agree now that this is much less fuss.”
Five women and eight men of the class showed up this year, and just like high school, most of the men gathered at one end of the table and the women at the other. The group was joined by spouses, family members, even some who graduated in different years.
All were welcomed, including me with my movie camera.
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Pictured above is the “White House,” as it’s referred to by Donna Harvey, who wrote of her memories growing up in the home.
The image dates from around 1910, shortly after it was built by Nobel Harvey to use as a barn, even though it looked like the home it would become one day. The young person in the center is Eldon Harvey, who eventually raised his family in the structure. Behind him stands his mother, Edith White Harvey and next to her is Nobel, son of John who homesteaded the claim in 1859. Standing on the left is Maude Wheeler, a cousin, and alongside her is Bunny Bunstead, a family friend.
This significant piece of the Harvey Family heritage, empty of life for over 50 years, and listing badly to the south, was quickly demolished and disappeared into several large dumpsters during the last week of August 2015.
Doing all we can to preserve our historic structures is vital because of the stories our old buildings tell us. You may download the pdf of Donna Harvey’s Memories of the White House.
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While the 2014 Oso mudside got all the attention, a smaller slide destroyed one, maybe two, historic beachfront cabins on Brighton Beach, Whidbey Island, which shares historic roots with the city of Snohomish reaching back to the 1890s. The photo above is from the Ferguson family album documenting their summer days at the beach. Let’s revisit a story I wrote in August 2009, about going down-to-camp.
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Just as the leading families of Early Snohomish would do, we are going “down-to-camp” for the month of August.
Perhaps beginning as early as 1890, all three Blackman families would board a steamer at Snohomish and head down river loaded with tents, cots, and 30 days worth of supplies. The boat would head out into Possession Sound, past Hat Island, and aim for the sunniest beach on Whidbey Island. The overdressed passengers joyfully set up a row of tents along a narrow beach hemmed in by an unscaleable bluff of thick green woods.
The name “Camper’s Row” remains to this day. Even though a very steep road now allows the contemporary camper to park closer to the beach, it’s still necessary to walk-in, past several cabins to reach your destination.
I am looking for the cabin called “Drift-Inn” where I am to meet co-owner and author Frances Wood. We became acquainted several years ago when she visited the Blackman House Museum and introduced me to her book, “Down to Camp: A History of Summer Folk on Whidbey Island.” The story begins when Nina Blackman arrives in Snohomish to begin teaching school and she stays with her cousin Hyrcanus Blackman’s family in the home that is now our museum. But her stay was short, for within the year, she married Charles Bakeman, an early Snohomish furniture maker who responded to the demand for coffins by becoming an undertaker. Saving that story for another time, the union gave birth to Inez who is Frances’s grandmother.
Frances’s story reveals another wonderful fact about our famous Blackman brothers: they had an older sister, Mary Ursula. With her husband Eugene and their son Elmer, the family arrived in Snohomish around the same time as Nina. Trained as a civil engineer, Elmer landed a job immediately as the city and county surveyor. Next, Elmer met and married Sylvia Ferguson, Emory and Lucetta’s eldest. With the birth of their only child, Norman, the Lenfest family eventually out grew tent camping and built a cabin on the beach around the time their son turned eight.
Online: “Clinton landside claims another Brighton Beach cabin.” Includes close-up image of the Wood family cabin.
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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!
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.
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.”
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