Category Archives: Winter 2011-2012

Winter 2011-2012 Newsletter

President’s Message

Mark Foutch

Memories of Olympia in the 1920s and 1930s

Mary Zindt

Meet a Family: Charles and Zoe Chaenn

Richard Edwards

Lanny’s and Deb’s Excellent Adventures in Tacoma

Deb Ross



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President’s Message Winter 2011-2012

By Mark Foutch, President

Your Olympia Historical Society has had a productive year.  Our Web presence is better than ever, with more features to come.  Our membership has never been higher, and hundreds of friends and members view our weeklys Facebook posts, biweekly bulletins, and quarterly newsletters. Our web presence generates significant comment, inquiries, and sometimes even controversy!

Early in the year, with Board-approved funding, Karen Bowen and her husband Walt had a permanent banner made to call attention to the OHS table at local history events.  Karen also produced a very nice trifold OHS brochure for those occasions and any other uses.

For a variety of reasons, the Society departed from its usual practice of holding four meetings a year. We began 2011 with an exceptional program featuring the Fleetwoods’ Gretchen Christopher. We finished the year with our Third Annual Members’ Potluck. That lively and informative presentation by Lanny Weaver and Amber Raney took place in the beautiful new Harbor House on Percival Landing.  Thanks to Shanna Stevenson and Deb Ross (respectively) for organizing those two excellent programs!

The remainder of our activities in 2011 were primarily co-sponsored with other organizations. These included co-sponsoring a presentation by John Dodge at a Yacht Club event about the historic shoreline of Olympia; having a booth at the summer Thurston County Through the Ages event in Tenino; sponsoring the 100th anniversary celebration of the Carlyon Fill; and representing the Society at the unveiling of two installations celebrating restaurateur Rebecca Howard, and Susan B. Anthony’s visit to Olympia. We have had comments from members that they would like us to return to presenting more programs, and the Board has already begun planning for this, with the upcoming presentation, on January 21, about milliner Bertha Eugley.

As we move into the new year, the Board recognizes that the Society is at a crossroads. We face four significant challenges/opportunities:

  1. Filling leadership positions on our Board of Directors;
  2. Sustaining a presence at historical events to publicize OHS and local history;
  3. Involving more members in OHS activities; and,
  4. Establishing future goals for OHS and charting a path to attain them.

Per our bylaws, three terms are expiring this year, and we have also had one resignation. So far, we have two possible candidates to fill these positions (one re-upping, and one volunteering to take the unexpired term). We welcome all expressions of interest in serving on the Board – and we may call YOU if you don’t call us!

As noted above, our primary activities in 2011 included further development of our web presence, and attending and/or co-sponsoring other organizations’ activities. While these were many, we did not have a presence at several other local history related events. The Board sees a need to deepen its bench so that we can participate more fully in these events, as well as sponsoring our own. We need more active members (perhaps a subcommittee?) to organize and help staff OHS information tables at history events and work on programs for our quarterly meetings. And we need more members, period, to grow attendance at our events. As always, we welcome suggestions on how to encourage our many hundreds of friends to take the next step and join the organization.

More food for thought: How can we expand our reach and our offerings? How can we safely and securely store the historic documents, images and artifacts that Collections Chair Sue Goff receives from local people who recognize their value and who trust us to preserve and protect them? The next step, which we have not yet begun to tackle, is how to make them available to the public. Should we establish a “brick and mortar” museum as a goal?  How might we accomplish that? In our Summer 2011 newsletter, I asked members to respond to this question, and received one response, from Deb Ross. Deb suggested that we pursue a twofold approach: first, that we not pursue a museum building at this time, but concentrate on creating a “virtual museum” online that would display parts of our collection as well as continuing to strengthen links with other collections and historic locations.  Second, that we explore opportunities with available spaces, such as the State Capital Museum, to display parts of our collection on a rotating basis. After an extended discussion the Board agreed that exploring the virtual museum concept was a good idea but did not completely rule out a physical space someday if one became available.  That discussion will continue.  And at the November Board meeting, at Deb’s request, we budgeted $200 for 2012 for a grant proposal to add some interesting new interactive features to our website accessible at actual historic locations.  The Board also approved OHS’ annual $200 donation to help support the Bigelow House.

What else is coming up?  Well, Program Chair Shanna Stevenson reports that the multitribal Canoe Journey for 2012 will have Olympia for its destination.  This will be a huge multiday event offering a fine opportunity for OHS to assist and staff a display table.   She also tells us that the Olympia Library will be celebrating its 100th birthday leading up to 2013, commemorating the Andrew Carnegie Foundation’s support for constructing the Carnegie Library building at 7th and Franklin.

Thanks also to Shanna, we have a very interesting program for our January 21, 2012 meeting.  We’ll be joined by guests from the Washington State Historical Society and the Washington Heritage Caucus, possibly including some legislators.

After the program, though, it’ll be “just us” and we’ll get down to Olympia Historical Society business:  The Board election, a discussion on the Board-adopted 2012 budget, plans and choices for the year, how you can help.   The Board is excited about the growth it has seen over the past year, and will be working diligently to create more opportunities for member and friend involvement in 2012. We hope you will join us!

Finally, thanks to our retiring board members Deb Ross, Russ Hupe, and Karen Bowen. Deb has served nearly two full terms, having come on the Board to replace a resigning member. She will continue on as web content master and issuing our biweekly bulletins. Russ and his wife Genevieve, both long-term members, and tireless volunteers in a myriad of capacities since they moved to Olympia in 1948, are leaving Olympia to settle closer to their daughter. Karen is resigning due to pressures from other commitments. All three have been valuable Board members and we look forward to keeping in touch.

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Meet a Family: Charles Chaenn (1839-1910)

by Richard Edwards

Charles Chaenn was born in France in January 1839 to John Chaenn and Madelina Juliet. According to local oral tradition, he served in the French military before entering the United States. He was married on 15 March 1876 to Mari Zoe (maiden name unknown, born in France about 1849) in Texas.

Charles and Zoe (as she is usually referred to) were in Thurston County by early 1879 where he is listed as a Farmer in the territorial census. In 1884 they purchased 80 acres of Section 7, Township 16 North, Range 1 West from Avery Gilmore for $600.

This area just north of Tenino would become known as Chaenn Hill, though spelled many ways over the decades including Chain, Chaen and Chane. In 1885 they purchased lots in Olympia now located on the corner of Capitol Way and 18th Ave SE. In 1887 Charles is listed in the city directory as running a saloon on Main (Capitol Way) near the city limits.

In 1888 a well publicized legal battle between Zoe and her husband ended up in Territorial District Court where amid criminal charges involving Adultery and Selling Liquor without a License (against Zoe though she was not found guilty) they were granted a divorce in 1889. By 1890 Zoe was running a saloon on Main (Capitol Way) between 16th and 17th according to the city directory but nothing after that is known of her.

Charles Chaenn appears to have retired to his farm at Chaenn Hill, though he also spent a brief time around 1900 serving as a gardener for Edward Wittler in Seattle where he also married a second time (to Lisette Schmidt) though it appears they soon divorced as well. By 1903 Charles was living back on his farm in Thurston County. His health declining, in 1909 he sold his land for $1 to Wilbur F Blue in return for being cared for by Wilbur’s wife, Margaret.Charles died on 4 March 1910 from “general breakdown and old age.” He was buried at county expense in Forest Cemetery, Tenino.

This newsletter series will help you become acquainted with some of the families whose names you see in our local history, neighborhoods, and street signs. Their intentional brevity will hopefully pique your curiosity and consequent research. We welcome contributions from our members and friends.

Richard Edwards is a retired librarian with the Washington State Library. He is a member of the Southwest Thurston County Historical Society

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Lanny’s and Deb’s Excellent Adventures in Tacoma

By Lanny Weaver

On a weekly basis, Members Lanny Weaver and Deb Ross catalogue the State Capital Museum collection now housed at the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) in Tacoma. This project is made possible through a collaboration between the Olympia Historical Society and WSHS, and Deb and Lanny are grateful for the time and cooperation of the WSHS and Research Center staff in making this possible. This new and regular column will inform you about their work.

In early fall, Deb completed cataloguing an interesting collection of photos that were donated in 1964 by historian Adah Dye. Around 1949 or 1950, Miss Dye took snapshots of houses and commercial buildings that were then 50 years old or older (I.e., were built before 1900). In most cases, she helpfully noted on the back what and where the building was. While cataloguing the Dye collection, Deb took her own contemporary photographs of those buildings that still exist.

These photographs and catalogue listings are now included in the “Early Residents” section of the Olympia Historical Society’s website, along with links to Miss Dye’s photographs and to listings in the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s database of historic homes, where available. The complete Dye collection can also be searched on line by going to the Washington State Historical Society’s collection catalogue and entering the search term Adah Dye. Unfortunately most of Miss Dye’s photos have not yet been scanned; scans can be ordered from the State Society for a small fee.

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Memories of Olympia in the 1920s and 1930s

by Mary Zindt

My brothers and I spent the summers doing farm chores.  A hike to McAllister Springs was always included during summer vacation.  It was about two miles from home.  We went through a tunnel under Old Pacific Highway and then on a trail to the pristine, beautiful springs.

This natural gushing fountain of crystal clear water flowed over colorful pebbles to form McAllister Creek.  Nature had landscaped this area with vine maple trees, salmon berry bushes and smaller plants.  In the Fall, hordes of salmon fought their way upstream to this place to spawn.

An elderly man, Mr. King, boarded and roomed with us for a while.  One day he took me to Olympia to see the parade of Circus animals up 4th Avenue.  The elephants were huge!  We didn’t to go to the circus and returned home.

In 1925 my family moved to a wooded 10 acres along a 2-lane gravel road (now Sleater-Kinney Road).  I had just graduated from the 8th grade from McAllister School.  There was seasonal work at the Olympia Canning Co. (peeling pears by hand, operating apple peeling machine, etc.)  Many women worked there, many as young as I (18).

My education had been disrupted.  One day I decided that I would like to attend Business College.  We didn’t have funds for this.  However, an uncle in Chicago said he would help.  Daily transportation was not available.  Pacific Highway was about a mile away.  But somehow I managed.  My day had secured a contract hauling U.S. mail by truck from the Nisqually Railroad Station to Olympia.  He left home at midnight and returned in late morning.  On Thursday afternoons he made a trip from the Olympia Post Office to Shelton Post Office in his Hudson touring car.  Sometimes I would skip an afternoon class and enjoy the tour to Shelton.

The country was still in a deep Depression.  As I became proficient at typing and shorthand I found temporary work.  Carlton Sears had four Rexall Drug Stores in Olympia.  The main store was at Capitol Way and 5th Avenue where I worked half days “jerking” sodas at the lunch counter and helping Mrs. Sears with bookkeeping in the office upstairs.  Later on there was a half day job at the Ready Mix Concrete plant in the Port of Olympia area.  The office was in a trailer (two small rooms), but no restrooms!!

The foundation of our new house was concrete from this Ready Mix plant.

By this time I had purchased my first car, a used Pontiac sedan.  The Washington State Licensing Department was giving a test for typists.  I passed the test and was hired.

The typewriter in the Department was partly electric (there was a carriage return button and lever for advancing the carriage to the next blank form).  An early version of the electric typewriter?

Finally my employment became more permanent.  I now had enough income to repay my uncle.  Besides the monetary assistance, it encouraged me on my life’s journey, an impetus moving me forward at a time the United States was experiencing a deep Depression.

Mary Zindt was born in 1910 in DuPont, WA to Catherine and Emil Zindt, one of the first babies born in DuPont.  Emil worked for the DuPont Powder Company which had come to DuPont in 1909.  The first lived in DuPont, then moved to a house on Reservation Road.

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Announcements: OHS 2012 Annual Meeting!

Annual Business Meeting Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:00 a.m., Coach House of the Washington State Capital Museum. This meeting will review our 2011 activities, elect three new board members, and consider changes to bylaws regarding dues.

The meeting will include a presentation by Randi Moe about milliner Bertha Eugley, and a visit by Washington State Historical Society’s Collections Manager Lynette Miller who will be bringing along at least one of Mrs. Eugley’s hats.

The presentation will be co-sponsored by the WSHS.

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Click here to download the membership form or join online.

Mail Checks payable to “Olympia Historical Society” to:

Olympia Historical Society
PO Box 6064
Olympia, WA  98507-6064.

Please include your name and contact information, including phone number and
email address.  Dues also accepted at scheduled meetings.

Annual membership dues categories, as defined in our bylaws, are:

  • $10.00 Student/Senior members (Seniors are defined as 65 years or older. (Students must provide proof of enrollment in an accredited learning institution at time of membership.)
  • $25.00 Regular members
  • $40.00 Non-profit organizational members
  • $75.00 Business, Institutional or Professional members
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