Lights and Shades of Pioneer Life on Puget Sound, By A Native Son
George E. Blankenship
Transcribed by Roger Easton
Lights And Shades of Pioneer Life on Puget Sound, was published in limited edition by
George E. Blankenship in 1923. In 1972, Shorey’s Book Store in Seattle printed only 100
facsimile editions. Blankenship’s book offers a rare glimpse into life on Puget Sound
many years ago.
As always, spelling, out-of-date grammatical rules, and words than have gone out of
modern usage has been left as Blankenship wrote them. Unfortunately, as a product of its
time, this text also includes denigrating references to Indians and other minorities. No
attempt has been made to delete or re-write these passages to soften the author’s words,
which remain in their historical context. From Blankenship’s forward of Tillicum Tales,
Thurston County, another valuable local historical reference used by researchers today,
he says of himself,
“As I am not myself a pioneer, or in the proper conception of the term, an early settler, it
may be necessary to explain why I should intrude in a field more properly the work of
others. As one who crossed the plains three times in an ox wagon, and whose parents
were inured to the hardships of frontier life, I myself took a deep interest in this subject.
Upon coming to Puget Sound I found the ranks of the pioneers decreasing rapidly. With
the modesty characteristic of this race of hardy empire builders, they had not appreciated
the value of their work and its import to their posterity.”
So, Blankenship’s opinion and bias against Native Americans was shaped by living
among many of the veteran’s of the Indian Wars of 1855-56, and from stories of difficult
encounters experienced crossing the plains in earlier days.
I wish to express my gratitude to The Bigelow House Preservation Association,
[www.bigelowhouse.org] who recently found a copy buried deep within the many books
collected by the Bigelow family. The Bigelows were no doubt friends of Mr.
Blankenship. BHPA graciously allowed the transcriber to borrow the book to do this
transcription, and to Edward Echtle, Director of the Association for help in formatting
Lights and Shades of Pioneer Life on Puget Sound
A Marine Disaster – Pages 5 – 10
-Judge McFadden’s Popularity Demonstrated
-The Volunteers Poorly Equipped
-Olympia Once Ruled a Vast Domain
-Seattle’s First Newspaper
An Unfortunate Misnomer – Pages 11 -14
-The First Mail Route
-A Historical Steamboat
-The First Railroad
Gov. Stevens’ Arrival in the Territory – Pages 15 – 22
-Celebrities Identified With Early History
-Origin of Geographical Names
Women in Pioneer Life – Pages 23 – 27
-Hardship and Privation Borne Unflinchingly
-Olympia Girls that Gained Notoriety
The First Circus – Pages 28 – 31
-An International Baseball Game
-Enthusiastic Reception of Good War News
First Governor’s Reception – Pages 32 – 36
-Some Divorces Abuse
-Early History of Woman Suffrage
-Scarcity of Women Deplored
An Enterprising Preacher – Pages 37- 40
A Reluctant Bridegroom
A President’s Wife in an Indian Camp
Washington Territory is Organized – Pages 41 – 44
-Territorial Capital Located at Olympia
-Early Political Campaigns
First Catholic Mission – Pages 45 – 48
-Civilizing the Young Indians
-A Mission Converted Into a City Park
Life on the Plains – Pages 49 – 52
-A Pioneer By the Pacific Ocean
-Cook Stove Sold to Provide Circus Money
A Degraded Idol – Pages 53 – 55
-A Northern Shrine Now Serving As A Park Ornament
-A Plutonic Fall
The Pioneer as a Weather Profit – Pages 56 – 59
-A Secret Order Now Defunct
-Old Settler A Politician by Nature
First Fourth of July Celebration – Pages 60 – 63
-Militant Preachers With Brawn
-Sample of Early Day Journalism
Early Newspaper Publications – Pages 64 – 67
-A Virile Style of Journalism in Vogue in Washington Territory
Strange Case of S. W. Hall – Pages 68 – 71
-A Tennyson Poem Paraphrased
-A Diplomatic Kentucky Judge
Early Musical Organizations – Pages 72 – 75
-A Buckskin Cayuse With a Bad Disposition
-Humiliating a Beau Brummel
A Sensational Murder – Pages 76 – 78
-Many Changes in Geographical Names
-Editorial Courtesy Not Characteristic
The Indians – 79 – 82
Fruition of Pioneer Effort – 83 – 84
Past and Present – 85 – 86
Bench, Bar and Pulpit – 97 – 90
A Marine Disaster
Judge McFadden’s Popularity Demonstrated. The Volunteers Poorly Equipped. Olympia
Once Ruled a Vast Domain. Seattle’s First Newspaper.
Many years ago before Seattle had become a town of considerable importance a cemetery
was established out north of the city. At that time it was remote, but with the passing of
years and the gradual development of small logging and lumbering town into a
metropolis, the residence districts expanded until now this cemetery is completely
surrounded by the city. Engraved on the stones in this cemetery are many names that in
the past have been identified with the settlement, the village, the town, the city. Passing
through this sacred plot a short time wince the writer’s attention was attracted by a
monument on the base of which was written the name, Capt. Jefferson D. Howell. This
name recalled the first marine disaster occurring on the north Pacific coast so terrible as
to cast a cloud of gloom over the whole Puget Sound country and across the line into
The Steamship Pacific left Victoria at 9:30 a.m., November 4, 1875, enroute to San
Francisco. On the evening of that same day she collided with the schooner Orpheus,
Capt. Sawyer, sinking almost immediately, leaving two survivors out of a passenger list
of over 200. So near to the port from which she sailed did the disaster occur, that
the return tide brought back the body of a young woman to the door of her former home
on Vancouver Island. The Pacific was commanded by Capt. Jeff D. Howell, a relative of
Jefferson Davis, President of the Southern Confederacy. Howell was formerly in the
It was a peaceful night, and the conditions were such as to make the reasons for the
calamity inexplicable. The Orpheus proceeded on her way, not laying by to offer
assistance. This created bitter feeling toward Sawyer. He made a Statement saying he
came on deck when he realized that his vessel was rapidly changing her course. His
vessel was thrown into such a position as to bring her to a comparative standstill. He saw
the steamer coming on and thought she would change her course to avoid accident. She
blew her whistle and continued to come on. When the collision occurred he ordered
examination of his vessel. It was reported that she was rapidly filling. Before he learned
that this was not true the steamer had disappeared and, he supposed, had continued on her
course, and he blamed the Captain of the steamship for not standing by to learn the
condition of the schooner. All of which was a very unlikely story, when one considers
that 200 people were drowning all about him on a clear night.
The survivors of the Pacific were Quartermaster Neil Henley and a passenger named
Henry F. Jelly. Henley was rescued after floating eighty-four hours on the wreckage.
Jelly was picked up by the bark Messenger, the second day after the catastrophe. Henley
said he was off watch and came on deck when the collision occurred. He found the
Captain and his first and second officers attempting to clear the boats, but the panic
prevented effective work. Fifteen men and six women were in the first boat lowered, but
it struck the side of the ship, was crushed and in this accident a child was killed. Henley
got on a skylight and was picked up by a party of eight on a large piece of wreckage. In
the party was Capt. Howell. The cries of the perishing were now stilled. One by one
Henley’s companions succumbed to exposure, until he was left alone.
Sawyer continued on his course and piled his vessel up on the west coast of Vancouver
Island. No lives were lost. The Pacific carried about $80,000 in treasure. She had as
passengers a number of northern miners who doubtless carried on their persons large
amounts of gold.
* * * *
The most popular man in the politics of Washington Territory was Judge O. B.
McFadden. Especially was this true in Thurston County, where he had long made his
home. It remained for him to defeat the eloquent Garfielde and break the power of a ring,
which had long dominated the affairs in the Territory. The campaign of this memorable
contest was drawing to a close and McFadden was to arrive on a certain date to address
personal friends and neighbors. On that day every man, woman and child in Olympia, in
vehicles of various characters, on horseback and on foot, wended his or her way to Bush
Prairie to meet the Sage of Saunder’s Bottom, as he came by way of stage coach.
Olympia was then a very wide open town, almost as much so then as now, and possessed
a number of gamblers. Among these was a man named Saunders – handsome, a good
dresser, accomplished, well educated, a living impersonation of Bret Harte’s famous
character, Jack Hamblin. He was a great admirer of McFadden, and the showiest team
and carriage in the long procession to greet the coming Delegate was driven by Saunders,
with a few of his professional friends as convivial companions. A presumptuous boy of
twelve asked the sporting element to take him along, to which they readily agreed. Going
down Tumwater hill there was a little delay, during which Saunders produced a bottle.
An old stage driver was driving a coach just ahead, and with an instinct characteristic of
his race, smelled the bottle, and waved Saunders to drive alongside and divide, which he
did. A lady in the coach eyed the proceedings disapprovingly and sternly said, “Driver,
let me out. I will not ride with a man that drinks.” Saunders, with a smile, dropped his
lines, stepped out and
opened the door of the coach. Throwing his handsome overcoat in the mud, with a
Chesterfieldian bow, he said, “Madam, permit me to be your Sir Walter Raleigh.” A just
rebuke to a prude by a gambler.
* * * *
The volunteers in the Indian wars of Washington were poorly equipped in every way,
particularly was this true in regard to mounts. The number of horses was inadequate and
poor stock. Mules were not uncommon. The sale of the Ruth farm at Rainier recently
recalls an incident not unrelated to Frank Ruth, a better man than whom never lived. A
small detachment of mounted men had a narrow escape from being ambushed by a large
band of Indians, a condition that suggests that discretion is the better part of valor. The
whites turned and commenced a masterly retreat, every man for himself. One man was
mounted on a mule. A mule can go if he wants to, but he must be inspired. This
particular mule, although prodded unmercifully, refused to respond, whereupon the rider
called out to those ahead, “Hold on, boys; we can lick ’em. Hell, boys, do you want to
live forever?” About then the tide in the affairs of that mule took a turn. He wanted
solitude and proposed to find it. Whereupon the rider called back to his comrades,
“Come on, boys, if you want to save your ha’r.”
* * * *
Olympia was once the capital of a vast domain – all that country included between the
mouth of the Columbia and the 49th parallel, thence easterly along that parallel to the
Rocky Mountains. In 1862 Idaho was organized and Montana was set apart in 1864,
reducing Washington Territory to the present boundaries of the State.
* * * *
The first newspaper to carry a Seattle date line was published in Olympia August 15,
1863, by James R. Watson.
Olympia was by far the most important town in the Territory at that time. Watson was
evidently far-sighted, for he took copies of his paper to Seattle and met with so much
encouragement that he established himself in the future metropolis and issued the first
copy of his paper December 10, 1863. It was printed in the second story of a building on
the southwest corner of what is now Yesler Way and First Avenue South.
* * * *
The cootie-infested Indian, with all his filth, was possessed with a certain amount of
vanity. A pioneer was building a house back in the ’60s. An Indian applied for a job,
and was put to work with the understanding that he was to receive a shirt for his pay. It
may be well to state in passing that his old clothes and victuals were usually the medium
of exchange between whites and Indians. The first Indian had no sooner gone to work
than a second one applied. The pioneer said that there were no more jobs, as he had but
one shirt. The quick-witted wife was always ready to meet an emergency. This
condition was a necessary result of the pioneer training. She told the husband to put the
Siwash to work and she would provide the shirt. On completion of the job the first Indian
was presented with his shirt and put it on, where it was destined to remain until it dropped
off. The second Indian was met by the ingenious wife with a flour sack, opened at one
end and with holes cut in the other for head and arms. However, the result was not
satisfactory, as the first Indian felt he had been discriminated against when he discovered
the manly breast of his compatriot decorated with black and red letters reading: “Extra
Family XXX. Tumwater Mills.”
* * * *
The Indian was an eager searcher after truth and in a way responded to religious teaching,
though the primal instinct would often crop out. A certain Indian, the protégé of a devout
minister, was taught the doctrine: If thine
enemy hunger, give him bread; if he thirsteth, give him drink. He was also told that he
must pray for his enemies, thereby heaping coals of fire on their heads. Under the
tutelage of his reverend master he was one day praying assiduously, and continued to
pray until the preceptor, growing impatient, told the devout supplicant that he had prayed
sufficiently for his enemies. The Indian ceased long enough to interpolate: “I pray some
more. I burn ’em to the ground.”
An Unfortunate Misnomer
The First Mail Route. An Historical Steamboat. The First Railroad.
The selection of “Thurston” as the name for Thurston County was a sad mistake. No
man identified with the history of Oregon Territory is entitled to as much credit and
gratitude for his brave and charitable attitude as John McLaughlin. Many of the early
settlers were destitute of food when they arrived at their destination in the fall. Dr.
McLaughlin opened the doors of the Hudson Bay Company’s warehouses to them,
notwithstanding the fact that the settlers were inimicable to his interests as a fur trader,
and necessarily to those of his company. Not only that, but the Doctor finally lost his
position as the Chief Factor because he showed such great liberality towards the settlers,
when the English company thought they should be left to starve as a deterrent example
for future immigrants. Samuel R. Thurston, first Delegate to Congress from Oregon
Territory, and for whom this county was named, was an unjust and bitter enemy of
McLaughlin. Thurston County would have been McLaughlin County, honoring a man
who was so deserving in contrast to one to whom the country owes nothing.
* * * *
Prior to the year 1853 the sparse population of Olympia and vicinity was without any
regular means of communication with the outside world. The Sound country then
constituted the northern part of Oregon and was isolated. Many of the villages or
settlements were many miles from
the seat of government, and under such conditions the settlers here received little
consideration from the Territorial Legislature, though at this time it was considered that
Lewis County, that section north of the Cowlitz, contained 300 inhabitants. Thurston
County was partitioned from Lewis in 1853.
Newspapers from San Francisco arrived at irregular intervals, by sailing vessels, months
after date of publication. It was an event calling forth universal rejoicing when a mail
route was finally established in 1853, by means of a stage line, leaving Olympia every
Tuesday, connecting with boats or canoes on the Cowlitz for Portland. Later, however,
B. F. Yantis and A. B. Rabbeson formed a partnership for the purpose of running a stage
line and advertised to land passengers at the river in the marvelously quick time of twelve
The trail made by the early pioneers was widened and dignified with the name of a road,
but such a road as made the trip from the headwaters of Puget Sound to the Columbia
river frequently thrilling, but always a hardship. In the summer the picturesque old stage
coach was used, but in the long wet months, when the road was well nigh impassible, a
dead-ex wagon was used. A stage driver, being asked by a tenderfoot the means of
conveyance, said: “Well, we use a coach when we can, but there are two seasons on
Puget Sound; eight months of winter and the other four months d—d late in the fall, so
we generally use a wagon.” Expense of the trip, $20 to Portland. If you were a male
passenger and able-bodied, however, the payment of this money did not exempt you from
lending a hand with an axe to clear the road of a fallen tree or put a shoulder to the wheel
to pry your conveyance out of a mud hole.
Having endured the trip from Portland the traveler would reach the little village of
Tumwater and then threaded a narrow road, knee-deep in mud through a dense forest to
what there was of Olympia 65 years ago. If his expectations had led him to ambitious
heights, on viewing the capital
city and metropolis of Puget Sound, he was doomed to bitter disappointment. Looking
down from the top of the hill at the head of Main street there was viewed a dismal and
forlorn scene. A low neck of land running down into the bay, along it stretching a muddy
track, winding among stumps standing thickly on either side. Possibly twenty small
wooden houses bordered the road, while back of them on the left and next to the shore
were a number of Indian lodges, with canoes drawn up on the beach, the scene plentifully
interspersed with dogs, which in turn were plentifully interspersed with fleas. The latter a
discovery made on a nearer approach. Only two shacks appeared above Sixth Street.
In 1854 a tri-weekly stage service to Cowlitz was inaugurated. Steamer connection was
also made for all ports or settlements on Puget Sound. The steamers of those days were
always advertised as “fast and commodious,” a very deceptive term, for the steamer that
could make twelve miles an hour was rare and the accommodations remarkable for
The headquarters of the stage line was a large barn on the present site of the city hall,
[2007 – NW corner State and Capitol Way] and opposite stood Olympia’s leading hotel,
the Pacific House, owned and conducted by a colored lady named Rebecca Howard. She
gained an enviable reputation by catering to the none-too-fastidious travelers whose
appetites had been sharpened by an ever-jolting ride of ten hours over corduroy roads.
“Aunty Becky” was a familiar name for Mrs. Howard, which she good naturedly allowed
from some. But if “Aunty” was applied to her by a stranger she would go up like a
human balloon and dignifiedly reply, “Aunty! By the way was I sister to your father or
* * * *
One of the historical water crafts of the early days was the Eliza Anderson, mail and
passenger steamer on the Olympia-Victoria route. She left Olympia immediately after 12
o’clock Sunday night (the Captain was a staunch
Methodist) and arrived back some time the following Friday night. She touched en route
at Steilacoom, Seattle, a hamlet consisting of a saw mill and a few cabins scattered along
the water front; Port Madison, Port Gamble, Port Ludlow, Port Townsend, Victoria.
Fare, $15, meals and berth extra. What with passenger fares, freight and cattle traffic, it
is safe to say the Anderson made her weight in gold.
Puget Sound in those remote days, was traversed by comparatively few steam crafts, and
they were crude and unreliable affairs. Boiler inspection not being compulsory,
explosions were not uncommon. A tug, on the upper Sound, with logs in tow, was one
day wrecked by such an explosion. The Captain, who was also pilot, was scalded and
brought to Olympia for treatment. He made the following Finnegan-like report to
headquarters at Port Gamble: “Resolute blown up; boom gone to hell, and I’m at the
When, in the ’70s, the Northern Pacific railroad was built with terminus at Tacoma,
Olympia was fifteen miles from steel rails. The Port Townsend Southern, a narrow
gauge, was built by the people of Olympia to connect with the Northern Pacific at
Tenino. Really fast and commodious steamers churned the Sound, and the old walking
beam steamers of primitive type were tied up to rot, if they had not already found a
watery grave through a defective boiler.
The Anderson was tied up at Seattle until the Alaska rush created a demand for her. She
made the trip up but never returned. Her bones are bleaching on Alaska’s bleak coast.
Gov. Steven’s Arrival in the Territory
Celebrities Identified With Early History. Origin of Geographical Names
Much of the history of Washington was made in the portion of Olympia on Main street
[Capitol Way] and included between Second [Thurston] and Third [State Street] Streets.
It was here, on the east side of the street, that the first Territorial Legislature met, and
opposite, in a one-story frame building, much of the office work of the survey for the
transcontinental railroad was done, in part by Captain Geo. B. McClellan, who was one
of the party, under Gov. Stevens, who made the survey. McClellan, later commander of
the Union Army during the civil war, was removed from his command by President
Lincoln on account of his never-ready tactics. This reputation he fully sustained while in
Washington Territory. He was sent ahead to survey a wagon road through the Natchez
Pass to the Sound, and to let a contract for a wagon road from Walla Walla to Fort
Steilacoom. He accomplished nothing and reported the route impracticable. McClellan
failed a second time, when ordered to go through Snoqualmie Pass and complete a
survey, though the work was later accomplished by a subordinate officer.
* * * *
One of Olympia’s first hotels was also located in this district, and it was here Gov.
Stevens stopped on reaching the capital. Great preparations were made for the
Governor’s reception. He arrived ahead of his party and in an unostentatious way asked
for admission to the dining room. He was informed that there was no time to lose on
strangers, as they were “getting ready for a great doin’s.”
Saying he was very hungry, Stevens asked for a snack in the kitchen, which was
furnished him. He then went outside, where he met a stranger, who complained that the
Governor was late in arriving. “Why, I am the man you are looking for,” said Stevens.
This announcement made by the small travel-stained man was enough. The arrival was
announced by vigorous beating on a circular saw hung from a post, and the first
gubernatorial reception was fairly on.
* * * *
Olympia and Washington Territory were the temporary residences of a number of men
who were later on to distinguish themselves in the Civil War. Gen. Grant was stationed
at Fort Vancouver in 1853, and Gen. Sheridan helped to subdue the Indians east of the
mountains. At Olympia were Gov. Stevens, who was to give up his life at Chantilly, and
McClellan, who was to fail as a military commander and to be recalled as chief of the
Union forces. Captain Wilkes explored Puget Sound in the early “40s and later
distinguished himself by well-nigh involving his country in war with England by his
audacious capture of Mason and Slidell. J. Paton Anderson, first United States Marshall
in Washington, resided in Olympia. He was a prominent Confederate leader.
General Picket, who led the gallant but disastrous charge at Gettysburg, when
Virginia charged and waged
A tigress in her wrath encaged
Till all the hill was red and wet,
was stationed on the lower Sound and figured largely in the dispute over the San Juan
Archipelago. Gen. Picket had a son by an Indian woman. This boy was named James
Pickett, or “Jimmy” as he was familiarly called, and he attended school in Olympia for
some time. He was a boy of more than ordinary attainments generally, with a strong
predilection for painting and drawing. He was by no means disowned by his
distinguished father, who was planning to take the boy east for the purpose of finishing
his education, which plan was frustrated by the death of the General. Jimmy died in
* * * *
Capt. Wilkes commanded the San Jacinto while exploring Puget Sound. Much of the
geographical nomenclature of the upper Puget Sound country was bestowed by the
Wilkes party. Port Madison was named after President Madison. Harstein Island was
named after Lieut. Hartstein, of the expedition, and Pickering Passage after Pickering, the
naturalist. The waterway leading to Shelton was named Hammersley Inlet, for a
midshipman. Budd’s Inlet was named after Acting Master Thomas A. Budd. The
waterway south of Harstein was named Dana’s Passage, after the mineralogist. Eld Inlet
was named after Midshipmen Henry Eld. All the men named above were connected to
the Wilkes Expedition.
Referring to this latter name Professor Edmund S. Meany, in a recent address before a
pioneers’ meeting, said it was a shame that Olympians, as well as others, had permitted
themselves to fall into the habit of calling one of the most beautiful inlets on Puget Sound
by the name of “Mud Bay”, when in fact it had an authorized geographical designation.
The name Olympia was bestowed by Charles H. Smith, who together with M. T.
Simmons, had established a store at the corner of Second and Main streets. The name
suggests the idea that even in this remote region and in crude environment there were
those conversant with classics. Also that it was suggested by the beautiful view spread
out before them, where the north of the Olympic range was visible and to the east Rainier
reared his majestic head.
* * * *
President Pierce appointed Gov. Stevens, who beside performing the duties of Governor
was also to act as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. As if these commissions were not
sufficient, he was put in command of the party to survey
a railroad route from the Mississippi river to Puget Sound. There were 250 men in this
party, including army officers and scientists. When Gov. Stevens’ report, printed later,
proved a northern route practicable, he was brought into direct conflict with Jefferson
Davis, then Secretary of War, and later President of the ill-starred Southern Confederacy.
Davis endeavored in every way to belittle the work of Stevens, as he himself was exerting
every effort to encourage a Southern route, but Steven’s report proved a splendid
monument to his ability as an engineer.
Town of Olympia Incorporated
Early Schools and Churches. A Militant School Teacher Enforces Discipline
The Town of Olympia was incorporated January 29, 1959, the election being held the
April following. The incorporating act designated Geo. A. Barnes, T. F. McElroy, Jas.
Tilton, Jos. Cushman and Elwood Evans as Trustees. At the election in April Elwood
Evans, Geo. A. Barnes, Edwin Marsh, W. D. Dunlap and Isaac Lightner were elected
Trustees. Geo. A Barnes became the first Mayor.
The Federal census of this year showed a population of 1489 in Thurston County – 967
males, 522 females. Real property valuation $942,990; personal $586,710.
Evidences of advancing civilization preceded municipal organization by at least seven
years, for a school house was built in the fall of 1852, on the northwest corner of Sixth
and Franklin streets. The building was frail and succumbed under a heavy fall of snow
during the winter following. Later a more substantial two-story frame building was
erected, and here, for a number of years, School District No. 1 maintained its school.
Afterward the building was taken over by the county and used as a court house. Later it
was occupied as a printing office, from which the Morning Olympian was published.
The old building has been moved below Third street.
In October, 1855, a stockade was erected along Fourth street from bay to bay, with a
blockhouse at the corner of Main, on which was placed a canon. During the Indian wars
stockades and block houses were built in various parts of Thurston County.
In the erection of the stockade in Olympia every man and woman available worked
faithfully on the defense, as did the children who were large enough to be useful. On
November 9, 1855, the Pioneer and Democrat announced as a reason for having missed
an issue of that paper that the employees in the office were either acting as volunteers or
were engaged in the work of fortifying the town.
* * * *
At the time of the organization of the town the people were spiritually served by four
denominations—Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian and Catholic. In 1853 the
Methodists erected a church edifice, as did the Catholics, and on January 1 of that year
Edmund Sylvester donated two lots to the Masons, where was erected a building which
was a Masonic home for many years, and it was here on December 31, 1858, that the
Grand Lodge of the Territory of Washington was organized.
Rev. Geo. F. Whitworth organized the First Presbyterian church in a cooper shop on Fifth
and Columbia, and held services there, later moving to the district school house,
remaining until the church building was completed at Sixth and Franklin.
* * * *
It was not until 1859 that Fourth street was planked from Main east, and the stumps
removed from Main street above Fourth, and the first fire organization, a hook and ladder
company, was consummated.
On August 25, 1860, a contract was let for clearing the capital grounds. Much
dissatisfaction was expressed locally, many feeling the $30,000 appropriated by the
Federal government should have been devoted to the erection of a building.
All former and subsequent historical events in this section fade into insignificance before
the development of April 3, 1869. This was the red letter day in history. A velocipede
appeared on the streets of Olympia. The old settler
stood aghast at this evidence of the marvelous progress of his age.
* * * *
The northeast corner of Fourth and Main streets was vacant in the earliest days of the
settlement, and next to the corner and facing on Main street was the store of Edmund
Sylvester, the founder of the town. Here Mr. Sylvester played checkers with all comers
and incidentally sold cigars, tobacco and confectionary, as well as fruit. At the back of
this lot at Fourth and Main was a plenteous spring of pure cold water. In 1864 the city
built a reservoir and established a pump here for the convenience of the public, and here
the “rude four flushers of the hamlet lied.” Politics and general village gossip was here
indulged. Later in the same year a water system was installed and the old town pump had
* * * *
Absolute candor compels one to admit that School District No. 1 was hard boiled, taking
its character from the scholars attending. Several principals left in disgust or despair,
then Freeman Brown appeared on the scene. He was the father of Fred Brown, later
County Superintendent of Schools. Mr. Brown was a kindly man, mild mannered and
soft speaking. He gave no outward evidence of having unusual strength or of being a
trained athlete. Quite the contrary. But whosoever was deceived thereby was not wise.
The boys who had long held sway in school matters here differed materially with Mr.
Brown regarding discipline. The latter entertained the idea that he should be boss, an
idea not to be tolerated by the boys. Mr. Brown had a very harsh way of emphasizing his
arguments in a controversy, and he was not long in gaining the ascendancy, though his
methods would not be tolerated in these days of sparing the rod and spoiling a perfectly
good child. One day Mr. Brown had occasion to administer merited punishment to a girl,
the daughter of a brawny blacksmith. Later in the day this brawny son of Vulcan went to
school house to redress the fancied wrongs of his daughter. He was met in a courteous
manner and invited in, but immediately the visitor became violent and gave evidence that
he was there for trouble, and he got it. Our school teacher, on catching the drift, cleared
decks for action and proceeded in a most pugilistic and scientific manner to go around
that father like a cooper around a barrel. And then some one turned off the sunshine for
Mr. Baldwin. His eyes ceased to function at once, and were useless as such, but they
continued to be a study in colors for a month. Mr. Brown was distinctly a man of peace
and was not afraid to fight for it.
A few are still residents of Olympia who received the rudiments of their education in this
old school house and experienced a sentimental regret when it was abandoned. Many are
scattered to the four corners of the earth; some are out in the cemetery as permanent
tenants, two went to the penitentiary, and as many more to the Washington State
Women in Pioneer Life
Hardship and Privation Borne Unflinchingly. Olympia Girls That Gained Notoriety
Woman’s name was never written bold in the history of all time, and the preponderance
of her influence has always been for good. If Cleopatra lured Antony to his ruin, there
was a Joan of Arc that took up the banner of France and restored a spineless king. The
characterless Montespan’s evil influence over Louis XIV was later more than counter
balanced by the benign sway and a wise counsel of Maintenon.
So, in our own time and in our own local history, it is recorded that the women came,
bearing without complaint, their part in the dangers and hardships of pioneer life, and
bore a conspicuous part in the foundation-laying of this state.
They led in all movements of education and Christianization. They demanded these
civilizing influences that their children, the native sons and daughters, should not be
deprived of advantages they themselves had enjoyed in their eastern homes.
To fully appreciate the bitter experiences and hardships these women had to endure, the
reader must bear in mind that many refined and cultured ladies were called upon to
abandon comfortable homes in the east to take up the march, shoulder to shoulder with
husband, brother or father, over a trackless plain, harassed by Indians and wild animals,
often without sufficient food and water, ever onward toward a destination of which they
knew nothing, arriving
at last, generally in the fall of the year, to witness a scene rendered disheartening with its
cold, wet climate and impenetrable forests. Following is from the diary of a lady
recording experiences on first entering Washington Territory:
“It was dark when we reached Cowlitz Landing. We walked ankle deep in mud to a log
cabin. Here we found a number of rough men, pantaloons in their boots, and so much
hair on their heads and faces that they all looked alike. I was shown into a small room
filled with beds. I was assigned to one and with my family, all of us dressed, occupied it
for the long night, and so fatigued we all slept well.”
But it was not alone the hardships that made pioneering a heroine’s task. These were
soon forgotten, but the pathetic incidents left distinct impressions. Hardly a family
reached the coast without having left at least one member in a shallow grave on the alkali
plains. No time to stop and care for an ailing one. The train must move and the sick and
disabled with it.
One lady, long a resident of Olympia, until her death a few years ago, buried a mother
and three brothers on the plains. Another, who lent her energies for the development of
Olympia in its early days, lost her baby by death in the early morning. No time to lose,
the train must move, and this broken hearted mother was compelled to carry the body of
her child all day that she might have the time to give it a decent burial at camping hour in
* * * *
It was a cosmopolitan immigration that took up the march toward the setting sun.
Olympia, from its earliest inception, was peopled by a desirable class. Not all probably
of the class of Vere de Vere, but a hardy people, with the courage of their convictions,
and the women always held morality in high esteem, especially regarding the home.
Living in primitive Olympia was a man with a large family and he was extremely brutal
in his treatment of wife and
children. The men of the community were slow to meddle in the family affairs of
another, so the women took the matter in hand and informed the brute, through a
committee, that he would mend his ways or there would be subsequent proceeding in
which he would cut a sorry figure. He was wise and gave no further offense.
The women of Olympia took their part in raising the funds to build the first town hall;
they helped to buy the first hand-brake fire engine; they took an active part in the
construction of the narrow gauge railroad to Tenino. Their method of raising funds for
any specific purpose was generally by means of a “grand ball”, which cost the men $10
to play, including a midnight supper, for they danced until daylight, and such suppers as
would make the modern “banquet” look like a hobo handout.
* * * *
Some of the girls of Olympia in the earlier days gained enviable prominence, and some
others merely notoriety. Among the former was Annie Pixley, who became a famous
actress, and first attracted attention in the play “M’liss,” dramatized from Bret Harte’s
story of that name. Her father toured the Sound country in early days with Annie and her
sister Minnie, as stellar attractions. Their specialties were singing and dancing, and very
good they were for their time. Annie’s greatest achievement was in the character of
Gretchin, played to the famous Joseph Jefferson’s Rip Van Winkle.
May Tilley, daughter of Rice Tilley, a well-to-do liveryman, became the Countess Starva,
and attracted considerable attention in European capitals with her wild west beauty.
Woven into the woof of the life of Lucky Baldwin, the California millionaire, who built
and owned the Baldwin hotel and Baldwin theater, destroyed by the great earthquake,
were the lives of two Olympia-born girls – one shot—him, the other married him. After
Baldwin had acquired his immense fortune he met Verona Baldwin, daughter of
an Olympia pioneer. There may have existed a distant relationship. He persuaded her to
go to his ranch in Southern California, there to teach a school. For some injury, real or
fancied, Verona professed to have experienced there she later shot Baldwin on a stairway
in his own hotel in San Francisco. The venerable Lothario survived the wound he
received. There lived in Olympia in 1858 a contractor and builder named A. A. Bennett.
While here a daughter was born to the family. Mr. Bennett later moved to San Francisco
with his family and opened an office as an architect. Lucky Baldwin secured his services
to make certain improvements on his ranch in the south. The architect took his pretty
daughter Lily with him. Thus it was that December met May and a marriage followed,
which act netted the bereaved widow nearly a million on the death of Baldwin, which
occurred after some years of martyrdom – on the part of the survivor.
There lived down on the bay, on the east side, many years ago, a truck gardener, Herbert
Jeal, who came to town frequently with his produce, returning home generally
intoxicated. He had been married in England, lost his wife, and arriving here took unto
himself a squaw helpmate. Our little village became somewhat exercised when it was
rumored that a circus about to come to town there was a lady bareback rider, Linda Jeal,
daughter of our own Herbert. It was a proud time for the old man when he came to town
on a circus day, accompanied by his squaw wife, arrayed in brilliant colors. The talented
daughter, be it said to her credit, gave the old man a gracious reception.
At the same time there was on our theatrical circuit a monologue artist and singer, named
Charles Vivian. He was an exceptionally handsome and talented Englishman, well
educated and an author of his own songs. He is credited with being the founder of the
Elks. Charles Vivian was a great favorite on the Sound. After the show, when he had
taken himself to a saloon, he was especially entertaining. He frequently told with great
glee how Jeal tried to
persuade him to marry the fair Linda, graphically portraying how profitable could be
made such a combination of talent.
* * * *
Sentiment, defined by Webster as a noble, tender, artistic feeling, seems to be regulated
in a measure by location. Portland has perpetuated the memory of her pioneers by
naming her streets for them. A few months ago a move was made to change the name of
Stark street to Wall, which aroused such a storm of protest that the proposition died an
unnatural death. Seattle’s avenues are named after the founders of the city. Olympia has
a Tilton street, in the water; a Sylvester street, no one knows where except those living on
it. Olympia’s sentiment is expressed in Quince street, Pear street, Plum street,
Gooseberry street, ad nauseam.
The First Circus
An International Baseball Game. Enthusiastic Reception of Good War News
Breathes there a boy with soul so dread that he cannot recall his first circus experience.
The first tented show to appear in Olympia was in 1868, which was known as
Bartholomew’s Circus, which pitched its tend on the north half of the block to the west
side of Main Street [Capitol Way], between Fourth and Fifth. Its arrival occurring late in
the day little time was allowed for preparation for the evening performance. The seats
had been put up so hurriedly that soon after the audience assembled, and when the grand
entry was about to occur, the seats collapsed and went down. Wild pandemonium
prevailed, but order was soon restored and the seats again erected. No sooner had the
audience become quiet than the seats again went down. Bartholomew, much of a
gentleman and evidently an honest man, came into the ring and made a talk, regretting
the occurrences and saying it now rested with the people, he would make another attempt
to go on with the performance or he would refund admittance money and give up. The
people would not listen to the latter alternative, demanding that the show go on and
assuring Bartholomew they would stay with him right loyally until rosy dawn tined the
eastern sky. The show did go on very successfully, and proved a very good one for its
time. The second aggregation attempted the trip from Portland to Olympia by water. A
storm overtook the steamer and much of the best stock was lost, and what horses
remained on reaching Olympia were hoisted from the hold of the steamer in slings and
on the dock helpless. Thus the first two circus ventures to a pioneer town proved
* * * *
As a rule the early residents were thrown on their own resources for entertainment, but
occasionally a barn-storming aggregation, with more valor than discretion, would stroll in
and attempt more or less ambitious performances. In 1862 a theatrical company
harrowed the sensitive feelings of Olympians for one whole week, committing desperate
outrages on the “Lady of Lyons,” “Lucretia Borgia,” “David Copperfield,” etc. The
people were hungry for entertainment and permitted the torture to proceed.
Charles Vivian, father of the Order of Elks, made his first appearance here August 17,
1872. He was reputed to be a graduate of an English University. At any rate he wrote his
own songs, and they all had merit, notably “Castles in the Air” and “Ten Thousand Miles
Away”. Vivian’s first appearance on the street here created a mild sensation. The
prevailing dress for men in those days as a rule was jumper and overalls, and these went
morning, afternoon and after candlelight—at least till bedtime. Imagine then the
consternation prevailing when Vivian, himself a very handsome man, strolled out of the
hotel in patent leather shoes, lavender trousers, black velvet sack coat, white vest, gray
crush hat and exceptional linen and neckwear. So much did the village yokels suffer by
comparison that all proposed and prospective matrimonial bets were declared off, at least
until the defendants could measure up to Vivian’s sartorial standard. It was reported at
the time, though the rumor was not confirmed, that a man in a saloon having seen the
vision, remarked he guessed he would go and buy a white shirt, whereupon an
enterprising townsman remarked: “No use; I have bought all the white shirts in town, and
I’ve got ’em all on.”
* * * *
Olympia, in early days, was not without its baseball team, in which it took great pride in
the days of under-
hand pitching. Several match games were played with Victoria, and Olympia was victor
each time. The English knew more of their national game of cricket, and had not
perfected themselves in America’s favorite sport. About the time these games were being
played the matter of the San Juan controversy was on, involving Uncle Sam and Great
Britain. The dispute was in the hands of Emperor William of Germany for arbitration.
On the day the first game was to be played there was conspicuously posted at the post
office a telegram in proper form on a Western Union blank, reading as follows:
Washington D.C., July 16
Governor Washington Territory:
Emperor William, having in hand the matter of the San Juan controversy, has concluded
to base his decision on the result of the baseball contest between Olympia and Victoria.
Secretary of State.
Thus inspired the Olympia boys went in and won. It is barely possible that the illustrious
grandsire of a degenerate grandson never heard of the game, but the victorious
Olympians came from the field with breasts distended like pouter pigeons, plainly
conscious of having won an empire for their Uncle.
* * * *
The residents of Olympia were intensely patriotic during the Rebellion. There was a
minority from the border states who entertained Southern sympathy, but they were
undemonstrative. One night when news of an important Union victory had been received
two prominent citizens, fired with patriotic zeal and liquefied enthusiasm, bought up all
the visible supply of powder in town, went to the foot of Main street, where stood an old
canon that had been dumped there by a revenue cutter in Indian war time. This gun they
proceeded to put into action by placing it in position in the middle of the street aiming
north and proceeded to fire. Following each recoil of the gun they proceeded up Main
street, until they reached the front of the saloon owned by one of the gunners. Here they
paused for refreshment.
They took one drink, maybe more. Anyway their enthusiasm had increased considerably
and they increased the charge for the gun proportionately, the concussion from which put
the saloon man out of business until he could replenish his stock of glass tumblers. In
fact shingles were the prevailing fashion in window sashes along Main street until the
next San Francisco steamer arrived. But the good citizens accepted the destruction as
right and absolutely necessary as a proper expression of their gratification over a Union
First Governor’s Reception
Some Divorce Abuses. Early History of Woman Suffrage. Scarcity of Women
Pioneer life was not all hardship, nor was this existence entirely devoid of social
enjoyment. The pioneer’s attendance on a function was not in response to a handsomely
engraved card, nor did they come garbed in the conventional dress suit. Those were the
days when a man’s list of acquaintances included the population of the town, and
everyone knew each other by his or her first name. No class distinctions, no caddish
display of assumed superiority. One unwise enough to be guilty of this unpardonable sin
would meet with a social ostracism that would make him feel as lonesome as a
Republican in Texas, a Democrat in the Washington State Legislature or a Bourbon in the
Thurston county court house. There was a state of simon-pure socialism. There were no
rich, but no one was allowed to want. The cent per center had not invaded their earthly
paradise, and what one possessed was for the general benefit of all. The lived far from
civilization of the higher order, in a pent-up Utica, and their feeling of dependence made
The initial social event of note in Olympia was the first state reception held by Gov.
Stevens and wife in the old mansion on Eleventh and Main streets. The governor built
this house soon after his arrival, and it was then considered quite palatial on completion.
The invitations were general and met with a hearty response. The mansion stood alone in
solemn grandeur, for the town consisted of a cluster of small buildings below Fourth
street. The night of the reception was very dark and the trail leading
to the scene rough, narrow and muddy. Lanterns were hung every few feet from the
branches of trees to guide the guests.
A dance followed the reception, and then a supper. There have followed occasions of
greater pomp and ceremony in later days, but none equal to this in wholesome enjoyment.
This same house was later the scene of a social event that had a rather amusing incident
as a sequel. When President Hayes, on a trip to this coast, visited Olympia, he and Mrs.
Hayes were entertained by Gov. and Mrs. Ferry, who then made their home in the old
Stevens house. Gov. Ferry and a citizen’s committee took the President out to see a real
forest, while Mrs. Ferry entertained the ladies at a dinner. This repast was well featured
with Puget Sound products, which called forth much favorable comment. As the ladies
were retiring to the parlor Mrs. Ferry was called into the kitchen, and then marched the
cook into the parlor with a huge platter of fried chicken. This important part of the feast
had been forgotten. The President’s wife laughingly told her hostess that she had been
fed up on chicken, and enjoyed all the more the products of the Sound, including oysters,
clams and fish, made more palatable by the oversight.
* * * *
The mention of society naturally suggests the subject of divorce, as they seem to be
intimately related these days. Fayette McMullen was the second Governor of the State
[Territory], and all the evidence seemed to give credence to the report that he came out
here to get a divorce, which he did by legislative enactment and married an Olympia
belle, Miss Mary Wood. Legislative divorces were quite the thing in early days, and so
flagrant became the abuse that Gov. Pickering, in his message to the Legislature in 1862,
made urgent demand to stop the evil. Notwithstanding this that same session passed
sixteen divorce bills. In 1866 the Legislature declared marriage to be a civil contract,
compelled disillusionized [sic] ones in the future to resort to the courts to be relieved of
galling matrimonial yokes.
* * * *
The question of woman suffrage was ever a burning issue in the Territory and State of
Washington until it was finally disposed of by Federal provision. In the first Territorial
Legislature a bill was introduced conferring suffrage on white women. It did not get far.
From 1870 on Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway, in her paper and on the rostrum, kept a
vigorous campaign in Oregon and Washington. In 1871 the Legislature passed a law in
relation to woman suffrage, which was brief and to the point, as follows:
“That hereafter no female shall have the right of ballot or vote at any poll or election
precinct in this Territory until the Congress of the United States of America shall, by
direct legislation upon the same, declare the same to be the supreme law of the land.”
Mrs. Duniway attended the Constitutional Convention at Walla Walla in 1878 and
succeeded in having articles on woman suffrage submitted to the people with the
constitution. But success did not crown the persistent efforts of the women until 1883,
when an act was approved specifying legal electors in the Territory, as follows:
“Whenever the word ‘his’ occurs in the chapter aforesaid it shall be construed to mean
‘his’ or ‘her’ as the case may be.” In 1887 the women again lost their suffrage, when the
Supreme Court decided against them in a suit involving their right to the ballot.
* * * *
At one session of the Legislature, when the question of woman suffrage was a burning
issue, a man named Arrasmith was a member of the Senate, as was also James Hamilton
Lewis, the pink-whiskered mirror of fashion. Naturally in alphabetical order, the name of
Arrasmith led on roll call. Lewis was an enthusiastic supporter of the women. Talking
on the subject in the Senate he said: “O, that my name was Arrasmith, that I might be the
to cast a vote for woman suffrage.” A few days later the lower house passed a bill
changing the name of James Hamilton Lewis to J. W. Arrasmith. This was supposed to
end the matter. Beau Brummel was down stairs one day when a friend approached him
and said, “Lewis, you had better hurry up stairs, the Senate is about to pass that bill
changing your name.” The Senator laughed, but the friend insisted, “It’s on third reading
now.” Lewis took alarm, hurried into the Senate and pleaded to have the bill called off,
and this was done.
* * * *
Up to 1859 there was a deplorable scarcity of women in the Territory, which caused an
editor to publish the following in his paper:
“Here is the market to bring your charms to girls. Don’t be backward, but come right
along, all who want good husbands and comfortable homes in the most beautiful country
and the finest climate in the world.”
Asa S. Mercer, the first President of the Territorial University, conceived a plan of
persuading New England girls to emigrate to Puget Sound to become teachers and enter
into other activities for which women were adapted. The first group of Mercer girls to
arrive consisted of but eleven. As self-supporters their careers were brief, for they were
soon married. A second party, consisting of 95 persons, arrived on the Sound in the
Spring of 1866. The women constituting the Mercer parties were ladies of high standard
of character, some refined and educated, and were welcomed as wholesome acquisitions
to Puget Sound’s limited society.
* * * *
After 1865 military titles in Olympia were thicker than cooties on a Colonel, due to the
fact that after the war many ex-officers were given commissions and sent to the Territory.
This was the class John Miller Murphy, in his Washington Standard, called “the bread
and butter brigade”. These official gentlemen one year prepared to observe New Years
day according to ancient calling custom.
Each name upon their calling card carried a title, ranging in rank from Captain to
General. The idea of a burlesque suggested itself to certain young blades of the town.
They had a card printed bearing the names of Gen. S. C. Woodruff, Major S. M. Percival,
Col. S. L. Crawford, Capt. Waldo Moore, Admiral Jas. P. Ferry, and one other
unidentified. They followed their seniors throughout the day, meeting them frequently at
various houses. The elders enjoyed the joke. Indeed, a lady, noticing that one of the
youngsters was shy the high hat that adorned the others, donated her husband’s stovepipe,
but that old plug hat never looked the same after that fateful day.
An Enterprising Preacher
A Reluctant Bridegroom. A President’s Wife in an Indian Camp.
It was not all tragedy and hardship in pioneer life, for the vicissitudes of existence in this
primitive community were often relieved by occurrences both humorous and diverting.
Some of these stories have been handed down from generation to generation, and one
suggesting itself at this time is that relating to the building of the First Methodist Church
in Olympia, in fact the first on Puget Sound. Rev. J. F. DeVore was pastor here and set
about soliciting Captain Crosby at Tumwater and asked him, as a mill owner, how much
lumber he would contribute. Now the Captain was a liberal and public spirited citizen,
but he did not have much confidence in the ability or inclination of the average preacher
for hard work. So he replied, “DeVore, I will give you all the lumber you alone will raft
here at the mill in one day.” “Very well. Thank you, Captain, on behalf of the church.
The next day the stalwart preacher was on hand at break of day and went to work in
earnest. At noon Capt. Crosby went down to the water front and said: “DeVore, we are
about to have dinner and would like to have you join us.” “No, thanks, Captain. I have
brought along a snack in order to save time. The more time the more lumber.” The work
went on without regard to union rules until sundown, when the greater part of the
Methodist church was rafted and ready to float down to Olympia the next day. No one
enjoyed the incident more than Capt. Crosby, the financial victim of the episode.
At one time there appeared in Olympia a man calling himself Charles Henry DeWolf,
claiming to be a physician. He delivered lectures on phrenology, free love and kindred
subjects. Now Charles Henry was inclined to be a bad actor, and while here contracted a
matrimonial alliance with a lady belonging to a highly respected family, and the lady
herself was doubtless mislead by the suave Charles Henry. Her name is omitted below in
the announcement which appeared in print:
Charles Henry, with his bride, intended taking an early boat for down Sound, but a
Deputy Sheriff interfered, and DeWolf was arraigned before a Justice of the Peace and
plead not guilty to a charge of violating the marriage law. Defending this M. D., F. F. L.
S., also a minister declared his right to marry himself, and then the unscrupulous dog let
loose a storm of abuse and ingenious argument. The peacock, whose little heart is a
beating pulse of vanity, was not more vain. He desired to assume martyrdom at the hands
of “speaking, lying, peddling, begging sons of Ahab; the drunken justices and besotted
judges and their black-hearted and villainous supporters”.
About here the Justice of the Peace lit on him with a bail bond of $1000, binding him to
appear before the District Court. The bride’s father went bail and our gay Don Juan went
forth. Later he was arrested of open and notorious conduct and sent to the bastile. On
time he waxed even more eloquent and abusive. It was degrading to his manhood to
think of being married by a lawfully authorized person. He would bow to no “fawning,
hypocritical priest or corrupt judge for the senseless words, I pronounce you man and
wife.” Olympia was incapable of judging his high motives. District Judge McGill said
he would ask a few questions that might have a bearing on his decision
“Do you,” he said, “consent to take this woman as your wedded wife?”
“I do,” answered the abused gentleman. He dared not answer otherwise.
“And do you,” to the woman, “consent to take this man as your man as your lawful
“Then, said the judge, calmly, “by virtue of the authority vested in me in the presence of
these witnesses I pronounce you man and wife.”
Charles Henry went up like a human balloon. Visualize a hail storm with thunder and
lightning accompanying; a briny ocean whipped into snow-capped mountains. Then you
have a vague conception of Charles Henry.
Thus did the honorable pioneers resent the intrusion of an unscrupulous charlatan upon a
* * * *
Col. N. H. Owings, an able and courteous gentleman, was sent to Washington as
Secretary of the Territory. The Colonel could enjoy a good story and tell one well. He
related the following to the writer, as an incident attending the visit of President Hayes to
the Sound. As Secretary Col. Owings was invited to accompany the Presidential party
about the Sound on a chartered steamer. The party landed at Port Townsend, and as the
President was to make an address he went on ahead, leaving the Colonel to escort his
wife. From the dock Mrs. Hayes saw an Indian camp on the beach and became possessed
with the idea to visit it and view the interior. Her escort shied; he had been a
resident long enough to know about an Indian camp and its attendant fleas. However, his
inherent courtesy would not permit him to deny his guest the privilege she so much
desired, and they went. The Colonel said he noticed that Mrs. Hayes was very uneasy
during the meeting which they attended later, but he maintained a discreet silence. The
next morning the President addressed Col. Owings as follows: “Mr. Secretary, hereafter
when you take my wife to a visit to an Indian tepee kindly inform me of the fact, then
being forewarned I will sleep alone.”
* * * *
The public men of Territorial days were delighted when they could make one another
the subject of a practical joke. When Judge McFadden was elected Delegate to Congress
he was a resident of Olympia and had a law office on lower Main street. Before going to
Washington he was sitting in his office one day, when he was visited by a party of
Indians, who desired to redress of some grievance by the great White Father at
Washington. Seeing a fellow lawyer across the street, prominent in Territorial politics,
Judge McFadden asked the Indians if they knew him. They said they did and expressed
some very unfavorable opinions regarding him. Calling the lawyer over the Judge said:
“Clark, do you know these Indians? If so what are their reputations for truth and
“Oh, yes,” replied Clark, “I know them well. You can rely implicitly on anything they
“That’s what I thought,” calmly replied the Judge. “They say you are the biggest rascal
and the d—dest liar in the Territory of Washington
Washington Territory is Organized
Territorial Capital Located at Olympia. Early Political Campaigns
In 1852 the pioneer settlers began to feel the necessity for a division of the Territory.
Accordingly a convention was called to meet at Monticello November 25, 1852.
Thurston County sent as delegates M. T. Simmons, S. D. Ruddell, S. P. Moses, Adam
Wylie, Q. A. Brooks and C. H. Hale. The result was that Congress was memorialized to
create the Territory of Columbia out of that portion lying north of the Columbia River.
There was no opposition on the part of Oregon, and the new Territory was created by act
of Congress signed by the President March 3, 1853. Congress, however, overruled the
people in the matter of the name. Inasmuch as there was already a District of Columbia,
it was decided to honor the father of His Country. Hence, Washington.
Isaac I. Stevens was appointed Governor. He issued a proclamation November 28, 1853,
calling for the election of a legislature to convene in Olympia in February of the
following year. This act constituted Olympia the capital for the time being, which choice
was confirmed by the Legislature during the session of 1855. In the session of 1860 it
was quite evident that Portland, Oregon, was taking part in a movement to change the
capital to Vancouver. This was a matter of self interest with Portland. The bill passed
both houses and was signed by the Governor. It was discovered later, however, that the
bill as enrolled carried no enacting clause; neither did it bear a date. The matter was
finally settled by the Supreme Court in favor of Olympia. The man that stole that
enacting clause has gone to
his final accounting. Whether he was condemned or wears a resplendent diadem is a
matter of doubt
* * * *
George N McConaha, of Seattle, was President of the first Legislative Council. He was a
brilliant man, and his life ended with a tragedy. On final adjournment McConaha made a
farewell address full of lofty sentiments. He took a fling at pernicious lobbies and
legislatures, who posing as statesmen were merely petty, trafficking politicians. He said
he would not meet with the succeeding legislature. A prediction which proved true. On
the night of the adjournment of the first session some of the members proceeded to
engage in a howling wilderness of unalloyed joy. The strictly temperate legislators were
in the minority. The down Sound members had already arranged to go home in canoes.
Mr. McConaha had been a drinking man, but at this time was making an honest effort to
reform and tried to reach his canoe without being detected. He was seen and brought
back. They put the cup to his lips and he fell. “There is a destiny which shapes our ends,
rough hew them as we may.” Maconaha started home the next day. His canoe capsized
off the south shore of Vashon Island, and he was drowned.
There were ardent temperance men in the first Legislature, but they constituted a very
respectable minority. One member of the first session said that on entering the place of
meeting in the morning he was invariably challenged with the question, “Senator, have
you taken the oath of allegiance this morning? If not you will find it behind the door”
The oath was contained in a wicker demijohn. They needed no glass. In those days they
took their liquor straight and wild, direct from the shoulder. But then they did not go into
session and vote for prohibition.
* * * *
In the politics of early Territorial days Selucius Garfielde cut a very wide swathe. He
was a talented lawyer and an
exceptionally eloquent speaker. In his first campaign for Congress he made many
promises of reward for services rendered. On leaving for Washington endorsements of
the faithful for various political places were packed in one trunk. After Mr. Garfielde’s
arrival in Washington, and after some time had elapsed, the impatient would-be office
holders plied the Delegate with telegrams of urgency. Finally, quite desperate, a telegram
was forwarded Garfielde demanding to know why the appointments were not made. The
harassed Delegate wired back: “Trunk and endorsements lost.” Here was an opportunity
for the cartoonist, who took advantage of it in this way: A large trunk was pictured, the
lid thrown back, disclosing a life-like portrait of every Republican politician in Olympia.
Garfielde met his Waterloo in 1873, at the hands of Judge O. B. McFadden. The people
were ready for revolt and the people do sometimes revolt, though often long suffering.
* * * *
Alvin Flanders rode upon
A horse that wouldn’t mind him,
And so to act as fugleman,
Selucius rode behind him
Selucius was a proper man
And shad so good a straddle
That he could ride two horses with
One office for a saddle
His classic seat was full of grip,
His brain was scientific,
And large enough to hold a train
Of cars for the Pacific.
His mouth o’erflowed with oily words
In fact ’twas even hinted
That he could make an off-hand speech
Just like a book that’s printed
And thus they rode from place to place,
Where’er their pony bore them;
When Flanders had to speak a piece
Selucius spoke it for him.
‘Tis mostly thus with those who shriek
Of Congress orthodoxy,
When called upon to fight or speak
They do it best by proxy.
But Garfield talked Flanders into Congress.
* * * *
On Sunday, September 4, 1864, the telegraph line was completed in Olympia. The
following congratulatory dispatch was sent by Gov. Pickering to President Lincoln:
Washington Territory this day sends her first telegraph greeting to yourself, Washington
City and the whole United States, with our sincere prayers to Almighty God that His
richest blessings, both spiritual and temporal, may rest upon and perpetuate the Union of
our beloved country, that His omnipotent power may bless, protect, defend the President
of the United States, our brave army and gallant navy, or Congress and every department
of the national government. For and on behalf of Washington Territory.
Washington, D. C., Sept. 6, 1864.
Gov. Pickering, Olympia, W. T.:
Your patriotic dispatch of yesterday received and will be published.
These were the first dispatches to pass between Olympia and Washington City.
* * * *
At the Election of 1855 the question of the manufacture and sale of ardent spirits was
submitted to the people. Prohibition won by 14 votes in Thurston County, but was
defeated in the Territory.
First Catholic Mission
Civilizing The Young Indians. A Mission Converted Into a City Park
No sooner had the adventurous wanderers, prompted, some by desire for religious liberty,
others for more personal freedom, and still others to escape a debtor’s prison or leave
behind an unsavory past, set sail for the new world and later settled upon the inhospitable
shores of New England and further south on the Atlantic seaboard, than restless spirits
commenced the journey toward the setting sun. As westward the star of empire took its
way, first the Northwest Territory fell and acknowledged the sway of the indomitable
pioneer; the skulking savage, the roaming buffalo and even the very best barricades of
nature gave way before his tireless progress. Onward, still onward, following the blazed
trails of Lewis and Clark, who were already well on their way to “where rolled the
Oregon and heard no sound save its own dashing,” he progressed until he was forever
held by the ebbing and flowing tides of the Pacific, that lashed alike shores of Occident
and Orient, and his discontented spirit must rest for lack of other worlds to conquer.
Twenty-eight years after Senator Thomas A. Benton, in a speech in the United States
Senate, had declared that the Rocky Mountains should serve as the everlasting western
boundary of the United States, intrepid immigrants had formed a provisional government
for Oregon Territory. Sixty-four years from the time Webster, the God-like Daniel,
referred to the northwest territory as a worthless area, a region of savages and wild
beasts, of shifting sands of cactus and prairie dogs, there was a state admitted to the
Union destined to equal any in population, and with natural resources that would place it
in incredibly short time, in a position to rival any of the sisterhood of commonwealths,
and it was called Washington.
* * * *
In the year 1847 Rev. Pascal Ricard, at the head of nine Oblate missionaries, pursuing the
policy of the Catholic church of establishing missions on the outposts of civilization,
created St. Joseph’s Mission on the east side of Budd’s Inlet about a mile and a half north
of Olympia. Father Ricard here took a tract of 320 acres as a donation claim, and the
Rev. George F. Whitworth located a like claim on the east. Mr. Whitworth was the first
disciple of the Presbyterian faith to hold services in this section. The Squaxon [Squaxin]
Indians lived in large numbers along the shores of the bay, and the nights were often
rendered hideous by their incantations dispelling evil spirits and entreating the curative
influences of the good spirits for their sick and dying. Sometimes the spirits that
prompted the terrifying noises were not good in a spiritual sense, but the article furnished
the Indian at $1 per bottle when Uncle Sam wasn’t looking. The woods were full of
game, the water abounded in fish, the flats were full of oysters and clams, and the
Washington Legislature had not thrown its protecting arms about these wise provisions of
nature for man’s sustenance, or had greedy monopoly asserted itself.
The Catholic Fathers found a field ready for their beneficent offices, and they
immediately commenced the work of education and Christianization. Land was cleared
and gardens planted. Part of the orchard planted by the Fathers still stands adjoining
Priest Point Park. The savage mind most readily responded to that religion presented by
symbols and pageantry. The black-robed Fathers, with kindly words and actions, easily
won these simple children, and so got their confidence that when, a few years later, the
white settlers were living in fear of an Indian outbreak, the priests at St. Joseph’s mission
lived in peace and amity
with the treacherous savages. In fact the Fathers were in position to give timely warning
to many settlers. Father Blanchard succeeded Ricard, when the latter moved on the other
scenes of activity.
About forty young Indians were here taught, in a long rambling building, with
windows so high from the floor that one had to stand on a chair to gain a view of the
outside. High windows served a double purpose—outside matters did not distract the
attention of the pupils, and also prevented the possibility of one on the inside becoming
the target for a stray bullet.
An early resident on the Whitworth claim said the Indians took great interest in learning
the hymns and chants taught by the priests. It was not an infrequent occurrence for an
Indian picking berries or otherwise engaged to commence a chant, another would take it
up in a remote part of the woods, until the Indians on beach and in canoes would join, and
then the woods and shores would resound with the wild melody. The Fathers organized
the Indian boys into a military company and, headed with fife and drum, they would
march to town, parade the street, and finally pass the hat to the public for contributions.
When the wars were over and the Indians had been sent to their various reservations, the
Catholic Fathers, feeling that their work was finished, abandoned the Mission, and the
property passed into other hands. One hundred and fifty-six acres was acquired by the
city of Olympia and dedicated to park purposes.
* * * *
When Washington had reached that degree of civilization that horses quit shying at
locomotives and citizens could resist the impulse of going to the depot to see the daily
train in and out, the burning political issue was the forfeiture of the Northern Pacific
railroad’s unearned land grant. In the first campaign, when this became the issue, the
Republicans had already made their nomination for Delegate to Congress, when the
Democrats met at Walla Walla to
this was purely a matter of form, with a view to keeping up party organization. The
Democrats were hopeless. They put in a day trying to pass the buck from one to another,
when they at last lit upon Charles Voorhees, a new arrival in the Territory, and a son of
the Tall Sycamore of the Wabash. They adopted a platform calling for forfeiture of the
land grant. In the evening a few of Walla Walla’s unterrified gathered in a saloon to
inhale something for what was ailing them. An old farmer, addressing another, said:
“Well, Barnes, what do you think of Voorhees?” “Why, John, he seems to be a right
peart sort of youngster. But I tell you, boys, we must persuade him to part his hair a
leetle to one side until the campaign is over.”
Voorhees not only did that, but wore a woolen shirt at all out-of-town meetings. He won
by 137 majority, and two years later succeeded himself by a majority of 2200, and then
Democracy went into an eclipse.
* * * *
The Indian as detective had Sherlock Holmes looking like a poor second. An Indian
living on the outskirts of Olympia made a complaint in town that a “little old white man
with a short gun, followed by a dog with a stump tail,” had stolen some meat he had tied
to a limb of a tree.
“If you did not see him how do you know all this?” asked the Boston man.
“A white man toes out, and Indian walks straight ahead. He was little and old because
he took short steps. His gun was short, for I saw the scratch it made on the tree on which
it leaned. The dog sat in the sand and left mark of his tail. He make short track”.
Life on the Plains
A Pioneer Estopped By The Pacific Ocean. Cook Stove Sold To Provide Circus Money
Near Seventy-five years ago there left Saline County, Missouri, an emigrant train bound
for Oregon Territory. In this train were a number who later settled Thurston County.
Among them were Dr. N. Ostrander and family, B. F. Yantis and family, George Scott
and wife, Hillory Butler and wife, Gilmore Hays and family, Isaac Hays and Rev.
Lapsley Yantis. Hillory Butler later became the owner of the Butler hotel property in
Seattle, but he was destined to experience the pinch of poverty before his property
became very valuable. Lapsley Yantis became pastor of the First Presbyterian church of
Portland. Two of the families in this train had lived so close together and on such
intimate terms that there enlisted a sentiment of kinship that had ripened with years. On
the way westward these families agreed amicably to separate, as one part of the train
desired to travel on Sundays, the other to lay by and hold Divine worship. Soon after the
separation the mother in the train ahead died and her body was wrapped in a blanket and
buried on the roadside, there being no means to make even the rudest coffin. The
tailboard from a wagon was used as a headboard, and the name “Naomi” rudely scrawled
upon it. A few days later the second section of the train passed this spot, and several of
the travelers were attracted by the evidences of a new-made grave. Then they knew the
calamity that had befallen their friends. The mother in the second section, already in
delicate health, was unable to withstand the shock and sank to rest, making her last
“Take me back to sleep beside Naomi.” The train retraced its course three days travel.
These older mothers from girlhood to old age had lived in loving friendship, and in death
they were not separated. The fourth generation survive these families in Thurston
* * * *
George W. Mills and wife arrived on the Sound in 1865. A short time before his death,
Mr. Mills gave interesting details of his pioneer experiences. He said he had been
disposed to be of rather roving disposition, so when the family arrived and looked out
upon Budd’s Inlet his wife said: “Well, pa, we have reached the jumping off place; we
can go no further.” This estimable couple ended their days here. Mr. Mills relating that
during their journey west they came upon what was doubtless the scene of an encounter
with the Indians. The remains of a burned wagon were in the road and what had been its
contents was scattered about the plain. A few feet away from the side of the road was a
hastily made mound of dirt and sod. Between two clods there streamed a tress of
woman’s hair. From the size and form of the hastily constructed grave it was evident that
two were buried there, and to add to the pathos of the scene there was curled upon the
rude grave the form of a small spaniel. He remained by the grave of his friends and there
starved. An example of loyalty seldom if ever equaled by human beings.
* * * *
The Indians in early days, had a custom of suspending the bodies of their dead in trees,
and in some instances the remains were laid upon rudely constructed frames. This
primitive method was not known by Jacob Ott, who arrived in Tumwater in 1852. The
first thing this young man did was to buy some timbered land and proceeded to clear it.
One morning, while chopping down a fir, and which was already swaying to its fall, there
dropped at his feet the body of a small child, which had been dead but a few days. In
order to solve the mystery of this strange
occurrence Mr. Ott instituted an investigation and discovered in the tree a small cradle,
wherein had reposed the body of the young aborigine. Further search disclosed other
bodies, and then the young man concluded he had acquired a cemetery. This was a novel
experience for a young man fresh from Switzerland.
* * * *
Owen Bush was a highly respected pioneer, and a current story illustrates his
philanthropic character. One year there was a great scarcity of grain. The yield, owing to
an unfavorable season, had been very light. Speculators came to Mr. Bush and offered
him a very high price for what grain he produced, and met with prompt refusal.
Surprised at their failure they asked Mr. Bush what he intended to do with his surplus.
“I’ll keep my grain and let my neighbors who have failed have enough to live on and for
seeding their fields in the Spring. They have no money to pay your fancy prices, and I
don’t propose that they shall want for anything that is within my power to provide them
with,” Mr. Bush informed the speculators. Such instances are remarkable for their rarity
* * * *
An old gentleman still living among the first born in the Southwest, and whose birth
chamber was a sheep shed covered with canvas to keep out the rain, gives a graphic
account of his wedding, a romance impossible in these days of “beautiful and impressive
ceremonies,” wherein “the lovely bride enters the room on the arm of her father to the
sweet strains of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March,” and enters the divorce court a year
later to the tune of $250 a month alimony. When this young man had reached the age of
19 he fell in love with a girl of 14. The girl’s parents would not hear of marriage, so the
young couple had to elope. One dark night the young man rowed from Big Skookum to
Steilacoom, where the young girl was attending school, picked her up at a point agreed
upon, and proceeded on their way to Seattle. Even in these early
days it was required that a girl should have attained the age of 18 before entering upon a
state of matrimony. Here was a difficulty, which was referred to Dr. Maynard, an early
settler in Seattle and uncle of the prospective bride-groom. The old man took the matter
under advisement for a moment and then told the girl to take off her shoes, which she did,
whereupon the doctor inserted in each shoe a slip bearing the figures 18. In a short time
the blushing girl stood before a minister, and upon being asked her age demurely replied,
“I am over 18,” and they lived happily ever after, wherein this story differentiates again
from the modern wedding.
* * * *
There was a decided flavor of the Bohemian in pioneer life. Probably if this element had
not entered their blood the pioneers would have never launched upon the great adventure.
There is a worthy and aged couple still living in Thurston County who were a young
married couple when the first circus came to town. Their desire to attend was darkened
by the fact that they did not have the price. Casting about for some worldly possession
they mart barter they at last settled upon the cook stove, the young matron allowing that
they did not need the stove any way, as it was summer and she could cook on a camp fire.
Thus was the wind tempered to the shorn lamb.
In early days this young man was offered a deed to quite a tract of land in West Seattle
and refused it because he did not want to be bothered with the taxes.
A Degraded Idol
A Northern Shrine Now Serving As A Park Ornament. A Plutonic Fall
There stands near the entrance to Priest Point Park a hideous statue carved from wood.
This image has nothing to recommend it as an ornament, and is certainly far from being a
sartorial exhibit. While it has nothing to offer for its existence in the park, it has had an
At some time this god occupied a proud location on a river bank in the far north. Owing
to years of erosion of the bank the god was undermined and fell into the river, which
carried him on to the sea, and there he took a southerly course until he was picked up in
the Straits of Juan de Fuca by a sea captain and by him sent to a saloon keeper in
Olympia. Thus did the god fall into bad company, and from this time dated his downfall.
He may have been an object of idolatry in his northern home, but here he became
dissolute and engaged in escapades that cast no credit upon himself or his reckless
There was about town a young man who had become addicted to drink, and he frequently
saw and heard things that were purely the result of disordered nerves. One night, in an
intoxicated condition he laid himself to rest on a billiard table in the back of the saloon.
This offered the practical joker his opportunity. The hideously painted god was brought
in and laid alongside of the sleeper, in close proximity. Candles were brought in and
lighted. These were arrayed about the figures, which were canopied under black and
white cloth. Other lights were
turned out, and the scene allowed to develop itself. The sleeper became restless, and
then, thoroughly aroused, he gazed in agony at his bedfellow. With a wild cry sprang
from his bed and, trembling with fear, rushed into the bar-room. With some effort he was
quieted down, though great beads of perspiration stood out on his brow. A friend
suggested that he take a drink to brace his nerves. The sufferer said, “No, boys, never
again. I am going to take the veil. I have had a bad vision, and it warned me it was time
Years ago the tide came up to near the west line of Columbia street, and it was here that
the Baptists emersed their converts. It was announced that on a certain Sunday this
ceremony was to be performed. This announcement suggested an idea to a few
unregenerated boys. When the tide was well in the idol was taken down to the water at
the scene of the religious ceremony, where the feet where securely anchored and the head
held down by a trip anchor, to be released by means of a cord in the hands of a bystander.
The preacher appeared, meekly followed by those that had been snatched from the
burning. The preliminaries had been gone through with. Into the water the black robed
minister led the convert, and eased him into the cold water, and was slowly drawing him
to the surface again, when there was an unlooked for denouement. The miscreant on the
shore pulled the string, released the anchor, and the hideous apparition arose to the
surface alongside the minister and his charge, while the choir sang “Just As I Am.” One
look at the awful sight and the newly-fledged Baptist rushed for dry land.
But in the wild course of the idol was packed away in a warehouse, where he led a
retired and respectable existence until discovered by an enterprising Park Commissioner,
given a fresh coat of red, yellow, green, blue and black paint and brought out again to
offence the public gaze. He has lost his deific attributes, that made him the shrine of
some Northern Indians; led a dissipated career for years;
retired to expiate his sins, and now, newborn, he emerges to confirm the comforting
statement that while the light holds out to burn the vilest sinner may return.
The Pioneer as a Weather Profit
A Secret Order Now Defunct. Old Settler A Politician By Nature
The old settler, like the Indian, was an inveterate weather prophet. What he did not know
about the weather he very strongly suspected, and being profuse in his predictions he
made good in about the same ratio as did the weather man. Nothing daunted, when he
fell down he simply said, “Well, the climate is changing.” All this suggests a poem by
the poet laureate of territorial days:
Some say this country’s improving
And boast of its commerce and trade,
But measured by social enjoyment
I find it has really decayed
In the pioneer days on the Sound
When the people had little to wear,
And subsisted on clams the year ’round
We’d hearty good fellowship here.
The thoughtful industrious old settler
Was so fond of obliging a friend,
That if anyone wanted his tools
He’d always quit working to lend.
At our gatherings for pastoral pleasure—
Dance, picnic or social knockdown,
One man was as good as another,
No kind of distinction was shown.
And even the climate is changing,
For only some ten years ago
Strawberries got ripe in December
Whilst now it brings four feet of snow.
The versatile author of this poem was a rare humorist, and left an indelible impress of his
genius on the local history of his time. He was the founder of the U. F. of F. U.’s an
order of only local repute. While strictly a local order there was hardly a man of any
prominence in the Territory that did not belong to it. This being the capital, business and
professional men of the Territory were frequent visitors, in attendance on the Supreme
Court, the Legislature, Masonic Grand Lodge, etc. It is not necessary for the purposes of
this sketch to go into details regarding the ritual, nor would it be possible. Suffice it to
say that the end of a night of torture the bedraggled victim, blindfolded, in scant but
suggestive apparel, his head surmounted by a pair of asses’ ears, was led before a full
length mirror, the order was given to “remove the hood ‘wink that the candidate might
see himself as others see him,” and embarrassed at his plight the victim felt that the asses’
ears should be retained as a permanent personal adornment. The lodge only held
meetings when there was work, and the only work was initiation. When a candidate
offered himself, a long tin horn was thrust out the window of the second story of the
frame building at the corner of Third and Columbia streets. When the loud blasts from
the instrument were wafted over the village the clans began to wander toward
headquarters. The notes of this horn were also sufficient notice to the housewife that
hubby would come romping home in the small hours of the morning. So popular was the
order that out-of-town members made demands for an organization in their own cities.
This was attempted at Seattle and Walla Walla, but the U. F. of F. U.’s thrived outside of
Olympia, because there was but one Francis Henry.
* * * *
The pioneers were politicians by instinct—not office seekers, but playing the game for
the sport of it, the vanquished emerging good naturedly like good sports. They were too
broad minded to nurse a grudge. The first convention to
nominate Selucius Garfielde for Congress met at Vancouver. L. P. Beach was
Garfielde’s manager. Arriving at the scene of the Convention Beach wired Olympia as
“Delegates are arriving. Garfielde is a favorite. The band is playing.”
An hour later:
“Convention has convened. Garfielde sure winner. The band is still playing”
“On the first ballot Garfielde leads. The band is still playing.
Whereupon the impatient Olympian wired:
“Beach: For heaven’s sake stop that band and give Garfielde a chance.”
By this time, however, the band ceased from sheer exhaustion and Garfielde was
* * * *
One of the campaigns in which Garfielde was a candidate was hotly contested. Marshall
Blinn, a wealthy down Sound mill man, entered the race, as an independent Republican
in order to beat Garfielde. Having the money and willingness to spend it, Blinn chartered
a steamer, hired Olympia’s brass band and held a meeting at every point on the Sound
where two or three could be gathered together. But Garfielde’s eloquence prevailed.
At this time Garfielde, E. P. Ferry and L. P. Beach constituted the Republican
triumvirate. When it was known, in a later campaign, that McFadden had defeated
Garfielde the Democrats formed a procession and marched through the streets of
Olympia bearing a banner on which was emblazoned the words—
“Garfielde’s Ferry is Beached”
Garfielde never returned to the Territory after his defeat and died a few years later in the
* * * *
Every small town has its character or village cut-up, and Olympia possessed a unique
character in the person of a big fellow named Jake Summers. He was homely and deeply
pock marked, but he had a voice and he loved to sing. His voice lacked the qualities of
Werrenrath’s and the sweetness of John McCormacks, but what he lacked in these
respects he made up in volume. He ran with the fire machine. Olympia had one of the
old hand fire engines, which required about twenty men to man the brakes. At the corner
of Third and Main streets, opposite the city hall, there stood a flag pole, probably as tall
as any that has ever been erected in the State. On a summer evening the fireman would
bring out the old engine and, drawing water from a cistern, would make the old flag pole
a target. Summers would mount the machine and commence to sing soft and low, and as
he increased in volume the boys would increase in speed, until in a wild burst of song old
Jake would call upon the boys to step on her, and when the stream had been thrown well
over the pole all effort would cease. The old trap would be hauled back to the engine
house and the boys would repair to the brewery on Fifth and Columbia streets to secure
much needed rest. It was even hinted that during these hours of repose the visible supply
of beer was greatly diminished.
Summers’ voice is stilled. The old engine was turned in on the purchase of a steamer, the
old brewery has disappeared, the people are condemned to a beverage of approximate
beer, with a voltage of one-tenth of one per cent, and Time’s devastating hand continues
its work of utterly Desolating existence of all that makes life worth while. But the old
timer, God bless him, got his.
First Fourth of July Celebration
Militant Preachers With Brawn. Sample of Early Day Journalism.
The first Fourth of July celebration to be held in the future Oregon Territory, and it might
be added the first to be held on territory that never owed allegiance to any foreign country
was observed in 1841.
Lieut. Charles Wilkes, in 1838, was given command of an expedition and ordered to
direct his course to the north west coast of America, making surveys and examinations,
first of the territory of the United States and seaboard and of the Columbia river, and
afterward along the coast of California.
Wilkes arrived at Nisqually June 16, 1841, and was there the Fourth of July following.
Wishing to give his crew a holiday and permit them to have a full day of pleasure, they
were allowed to barbecue an ox, which the Hudson Bay Company had sold them. The
place chosen for the purpose was a corner of the mission prairie. This was the prairie
upon which had been established the Puget Sound missionary station, a few hundred
yards from Fort Nisqually. The actual celebration took place on the 5th, as the Fourth fell
on a Sunday. At 9 o’clock all the men were mustered in clean white frocks and trousers,
and including the marines and musicians, were marched to the scene of the festivities,
with flags flying and with soul-stirring music. Two brass howitzers were taken along
with which to fire the salutes. Various games were indulged in by the men, as well as
officers, until the dinner hour, when all were called to partake of the barbecue.
Indians came and were interested spectators of the scene. Wilkes and his men are
reported to have made good a good impression on the savages during the day of this
memorable celebration, marred only by an accident to a gunner who had his arm badly
shattered by the premature explosion of a gun. This historic prairie was first known as
Big Prairie and later as Mission Prairie. After the celebration it was called American
Prairie. Captain Wilkes called the body of water American Lake. The Indian name was
Spootsylth. Che-Chacoes attempting to pronounce this name should commence it with a
lisp and finish with a chuckle.
* * * *
Rev. J. F. De Vore, of whom mention has already been made, arrived in Steilacoom
August 28, 1853, and organized a Methodist church there. While on the vessel bringing
him to the Sound he made known to the officers and passengers the object of his mission
and solicited a considerable sum toward the erection of a church in the new field. The
organ in the Steilacoom church was the first brought to the Territory. It is now in the
Ferry museum. A piano brought around the Horn by DeVore, the first in the Territory, is
also in the museum.
Brawn as well as brain was a component part of the pioneer preacher. After DeVore, as
already related, had carried enough lumber out of Crosby’s mill at Tumwater to build the
first Methodist church at Olympia, he rambled out to Mound Prairie for further
contributions. Going out to the harvest field of one of the large farms he made his
appeal. It was finally agreed that he was to have one dollar for every man at work if he
would cradle one around the field. The number of men justified the effort. DeVore
shucked his coat and vest, and with the stride of a giant he cradled around the field,
cutting a wider and better swathe than any one of the harvesters.
Rev. John R. Thompson of the Presbyterian church, was a man of great strength and new
how to use it. Mr. Thompson was helping his Methodist brother out at a revival
A well known brother arose, during the period given over to experiences, and held the
floor until there were manifest signs of restlessness. Mr. Thompson quietly stepped up to
his brother preacher and said, “I am going to give that brother an invitation to sit down.
Will you be kind enough to start a hymn at the proper time?” Then the reverend
gentleman sauntered down the aisle and quietly took a seat alongside the speaker. In
doing so he took a firm hold on the man’s coat tails and gave a mighty jerk. The speaker
sat down so hard that he jarred the building. The bell in the steeple struck one, and the
conspirator at the other end of the room broke loose with “A Charge to Keep I Have”,
and he was keeping it.
* * * *
The first number of the Washington Democrat appeared in October, 1854, published in
Olympia. It was violently copperhead and as a sample of what a pioneer editor could do
when het up the following is quoted from the editor’s salutary:
“Belial and Beelzebub, the foulest fiends that curse the earth, are reveling in hideous
orgies around the dome of our national capitol, and the country is full of vampires. Sons
of Mammon, the meanest of all the spirits that fell, are lapping the warm heart’s blood of
our nation, while the scared world stands aghast at the scene.”
Here the writer came up for air and took a fresh hold:
“Awake, ye sons and daughters of liberty-loving, patriotic white men. Shake off the foul
nightmare of negrophobicy. Arise in your might and shake off the black demon of
destruction ere its fangs poison the heart. If you pursue the mad folly of your abolition
party zealots destruction awaits us.”
Just like that. And they did not have schools of journalism in those days, either. Hitting
such a pace at the start it is not surprising that the Democrat did not last long.
* * * *
Fannie Verona Baldwin was a native of Olympia. From a pulchritudinous standpoint
Fannie was there with chimes and charms, but she was erratic. Indeed, it was even
hinted that mentally she was not all there, a suspicion confirmed when she was sent to an
asylum. Among other efforts to pose in the glare of the spotlight, she staged one in
California, when, in 1888, she announced herself a candidate for the mayoralty of Los
Angeles” * * Needless to state Fannie did not connect.
Early Newspaper Publications
A Viral Style of Journalism In Vogue in Washington Territory
A half century intervened between the time that Lewis and Clarke entered the wilds of
Oregon Territory and the missionaries had commenced their civilizing work before the
first newspaper was published within the territory now known as the State of
The first newspaper to be printed in the whole northwest territory of the United States
was the Oregon Statesman, Vol. 1, No. 1 of which appeared at Oregon City on February
5, 1846. The first newspaper to be printed in the territory later to be known as
Washington was The Columbian, the initial number of which appeared at “Olympia,
Puget Sound, O. T.,” by Wiley & McElroy. It was a neat six-column weekly, and was
circulated at the subscription price of $5 per year. This newspaper immediately
commenced a campaign for development by advertising, as will be evidenced by the
“Persons skeptical about the richness of the soil immediately upon the Sound would have
all their doubts removed by visiting the garden at the Mission of St. Joseph under the
charge of Rev. Pierre Ricard, where they will find every species of vegetables growing in
the most luxuriant profusion and mammoth size.”
This refers to the tract now known as Priest Point Park, which was then a Catholic
Four columns of advertising appear in the first issue, but it is a noticeable fact that not
one of these advertisers
is alive today, though many are represented in this community today by their
descendants. Notably Harry McElroy, who was the son of the first publisher of the
Edmund Sylvester, as proprietor of the Olympia House, corner of Second and Main
streets, advertises an “accomplished Chinese cook, who comes highly recommended by
the American Consul at Canton.” Charles C. Terry & Co. notifies the public through the
columns of the Columbian that they still continue their business in the town of New York
(Seattle), where they kept goods suitable for a new country. A. M. Poe advertises that he
has a few more choice lots in Olympia for sale, and it might be added parenthetically that
real estate men of the present day are advertising the same way.
The Columbian was printed on a Ramage press, a crude affair now in the University
collection of pioneer relics. It was shipped from New York to San Francisco in 1846. It
was taken to Portland in 1850, and brought to Olympia in 1852, the first printing press in
The Columbian was succeeded by the Washington Pioneer in 1853. Finally came the
Pioneer and Democrat, which held the journalistic field until it was succeeded by the
Washington Standard, which continued publication for over half a century.
The newspaper men of early day were, as a rule, men of exceptional ability, most of
them practical printers, who saved the time of making copy by standing at the case, stick
in hand, composing articles on state affairs and economics, and devoting much space to
* * * *
It may not be amiss to include here a few samples of journalistic denunciation as a guide
for the more diplomatic “Scorpion” attacked Gov. Stevens, and the Pioneer and Democrat
“Scorpion, the name of a vile snake, a reptile, a venemous
serpent. It moves noiselessly along the path of the unsuspecting, hissing, biting,
retreating. Now let us contrast the conduct of our citizen-soldier with his snakeship
Scorpion, heaping his vile abuse upon an absent soldier. We mean Gov. Stevens. Can
the white-livered, cowardly, crawling reptile Scorpion look such a man in the face and
utter one word of disparagement. No! He would rather seek employment at one cent a
day to dig for himself a coward’s grave, beneath the bosom of the earth. Such a
scorpion’s grave should be in some dark, gloomy spot, where the sun’s rays, that green
the grass, can never reach his resting place. Let him rest in ignominy, solitude and
To the vile dust from which he sprang,
Unwept, unhonored and unsung.
Avaunt and quit my sight!
Let the earth hide thee! Thy bones are marrowless!
Thy blood is cold!
Hence, horrible shadow!
Let justice be done though the heavens fall!”
Such extravagant language generally resulted in a meeting and adjustment of difficulties
by main strength or a six gun.
This same paper referred to James Buchanan, a democratic candidate for President as
“He is riding on the topmost wave of eternal Democracy, which is ever rising higher and
higher, and like the tide of the Propontic sea knows no retiring ebb.”
J. Newton Gale, a pioneer editor, thus describes his method of securing inspiration:
“By reflecting, sitting alone in our room with our eyes closed and our mind’s eye soaring
away into the eternal realms of thoughts, gathering knowledge from the falling spray of
the fountain of eternal realities, while scintillations from the great central sun of
intellectual light awakens latent powers of the mind into active existencies.”
Even local editors were given to a grandeloquent style. One announces a Fourth of July
dance as follows:
“Room for the million can e obtained at the low price of $5 per couple, for which more
than value received cannot fail to be derived by this indulgence.
On with the dance, let be joy be unconfined.
No sleep till morn when youth and pleasure meet to chase the glowing hours with flying
It would be unfair to say that these journalists devoted their talents to fierce denunciation
or frivolous generalities. Their ability was evidenced by articles ranging from the
ridiculous to the pathetic, running the gamut from bitter personal and political attack to
the finer expressions of brotherly love and good will, always uniting in eloquent tribute to
the fellow pioneers as they, one by one, quit the scene of earthly activities. Then, too,
they were a unit in their efforts for the upbuilding of the Territory and in developing its
Strange Case of S. W. Hall
A Tennyson Poem Paraphrased. A Diplomatic Kentucky Judge
In the year 1871 there arrived in Olympia a man introducing himself as S. W. Hall. No
one here knew anything of him – whence he came or the reason of his coming, and so
Far as that was concerned no one was the wiser after having made Mr. Hall’s
acquaintance, for he was reticent to a degree that aroused suspicion, giving rise to various
surmises varying from a convict career to that of a man who had escaped a galling
matrimonial yoke and was looking for a cyclone cellar for refuge until the clouds rolled
Hall was a scholarly man, an entertaining conversationalist and withal had a pleasing
personality, although an enigma. He commenced work as a land agent and was regarded
as a very competent one. Later he was taken into the Land Office as a clerk. Soon it was
noticed that if any hitch occurred in any papers passing through the office in connection
with the securing of title by settlers in this district that matters could be considerably
expedited by seeing Hall. Many of these matters for which he received fees from the
settlers should have been adjusted by the Register without charge. These things became
so flagrant that he was discharged as clerk and disbarred as attorney.
Having now identified himself with the community he took an active part in politics and
worked with that faction of the Republican party opposed to the so-called ring. There
was a bitter political fight on and so active and useful
was Hall to his element that the opposition conceived the idea of looking him up as a man
with a past. But there were others looking for Mr. Hall.
One evening there arrived in Olympia Mr. Daniel Delaney, Deputy Sheriff of Macoupin
County, Illinois, armed with a copy of an indictment against George H. Halliday, and a
requisition from the Governor of Illinois for that person. Long on the watch for Halliday,
the officers discovered that a clergyman in Macoupin County occasionally received a
letter from Olympia and that the day following the mail carried a letter from him to the
Halliday family. The next day would bring a letter from the family to the preacher.
Then a letter would be mailed to S. W. Hall, Olympia, W. T. Inquiries were made and
full details desired were returned from here. Delaney, on his arrival, shadowed Hall,
even to church where he regularly attended, and being fully satisfied arrested his man.
Delaney said that he had known Halliday from 1868 to 1870, and that while the latter had
grown older he was satisfied of his identity.
On arrival in Macoupin county Hall was put on trial. The prosecution called 28
witnesses, of whom three positively identified, seven that they believed he was Halliday,
and eighteen swore he was not Halliday. Then 23 of the county’s most reliable citizens
swore positively that he was not Halliday, and he was discharged.
During the hearing in court, and when the minister who had formerly been the go-
between in correspondence was on the stand, it became evident that communication by
signs was being had between the witness and the prisoner, and the former was withdrawn.
This mysterious communication was explained by the fact that the door of the court-
house a friend of the prisoner was awaiting his appearance, and at once spirited him
away, and he disappeared from the ken of man.
Time reveals all things, and in this case the astonishing fact that S.W. Hall was T. C.
Calvert of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and a defaulting cashier short in
his accounts $350,000 , who decamped for parts unknown in 1870. This large sum was
lost in cotton speculation. It was his faithful daughter that met the freed prisoner at the
door of the Macoupin County court house and accompanied him to a remote region of
one of the Carolinas, where she procured for him a position as school teacher. Nor did
the good offices of this loyal girl cease here but continued her guardianship over a period
of thirteen years, from the time the crime was committed until the wanderer returned to
Bowling Green gray and bowed with age, but pardoned by the grace of the Governor of
* * * *
When Mercer’s steamship, conveying the ladies that were induced to leave their New
England homes and come to the Pacific Coast to fill a long felt want, was about to arrive
in San Francisco the papers there boasted that few would stay with the ship and reach
Puget Sound. When the steamer did arrive a Golden Gate poet paraphrased Tennyson’s
“Charge of the Light Brigade,” as follows:
Husbands to the right of them,
Husbands to the left of them,
Husbands behind them
Now badgered and thundered.
Stormed at with words so fell
Who shall their feelings tell?
There goes the steamer’s bell.
Back from the Golden Gate,
All the town wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the bright brigade,
Notwithstanding the predictions by the San Francisco papers a large number of the
passengers reached the Sound and proved welcome accessions to society, inasmuch as
they were a superior class of New Englanders.
There was once a lady in Olympia society, figuring away up in the Vere de Vere class.
She was a prepossessing woman, so much so that she got on to the nerves of her society
friends. If she saw any lady with anything of especial value she took it as a grudge if she
couldn’t take it any other way. She belonged to that breed who are classed as criminals
one on social level and as kleptomanicacs on another. The ladies canvassed and decided
to pass the buck to the husbands. The husbands canvassed and passed the buck to one of
their number, considering that he was diplomatic, suave and courteous. The delegate
went to the husband of the recreant one and declared himself of his commission as
“Mr. O., some of our mutual friends have designated me to call upon you a very delicate
errand, believing that I could confer with you regarding a disagreeable matter, without
hurting your feelings, which they would very much regret to do. This delicate matter
is—a—that is—ahem. Well the fact is, O., your wife is a d—d thief.”
Early Musical Organizations
A Buckskin Cayuse With A Bad Disposition. Humiliating A Beau Brummel.
Music came early into the lives of the pioneers, though its advent was marked by no more
pretentious instruments than the fife and drums. The first public appearance of a musical
organization was that of a fife and drum corps and the occasion the funeral of two brave
men who had been shot from the ambush by Chief Leschi and his band, for which Leschi
later mounted a scaffold and fell through, a precipitate plunge that was stopped with a
The performers were making the best of instruments at hand to pay merited tribute to
their hero dead, and that with hearts overflowing with sympathy for a broken hearted
young widow who was following in a dead ex wagon, the body of her husband to its last
resting place on Bush Prairie. The musicians were playing “The Girl I Left Behind Me”,
but no dirge was ever played with more feeling.
* * * *
The first brass band organized of note was that taught and led by Dr. Eggers, a cultured
German. He owned the block bounded by Fifth and Sixth, Franklin and Adams streets.
Here he had a fine orchard and market garden.
Connected with one of the early bands was a bass drummer. He was a fine performer and
the pathos he could draw from a bass drum was sufficient to bring tears to the eyes of an
oyster. But he had one bad failing. He indulged the cup that cheers and also inebriates.
When the band went on a professional trip he would frequently be lost to his fellows. On
one such occasion, when he had re-
turned to normalcy, he found his brothers had gone home. He was a stranger in a strange
land and broke. He went to the steamer office and stated his case and said that he had lost
his ticket. “Nonsense,” said the agent, “you couldn’t lose your ticket” “The hell I
couldn’t”, replied the musician, “well I lost my drum yesterday”.
* * * *
A unique musical organization was that formed by S. C. Woodruff at the Western
Washington Hospital for the Insane. Mr. Woodruff was accountant there and himself a
good musician. He conceived and successfully executed the idea of a brass band among
the number of the harmlessly insane. Of this number there was one, Jimmy Lord, who
had been a bright boy whose parents resided in Olympia. Jimmy was a proficient piccolo
player, and his darkened mind was lighted by this ray of his former self. He was
accordingly drafted into the new band. This musical combination was sometimes taken
out on trips and performed and behaved very well. Jimmy, however, was an exception.
He would march along sedately for a time and then most unexpectedly he would step
from the ranks, take off his coat, turn it inside out, put it on so, with bright lining very
conspicuous. He would then resume his march and playing, though now far behind the
procession. Mr. Woodruff admitted that this performance was somewhat embarrassing,
especially if they happened to be leading a funeral procession, as it had a somewhat
depressing effect on the mourners.
* * * *
The name of S. C. Woodruff, who about two years ago resigned as Superintendent of the
Custodial Home, where he made a record for good management and efficiency, suggests
an incident. Sam and the writer reached a sort of Tom-Sawyer-Huckleberry Finn
agreement to make ourselves independent as cranberry merchants, picking our berries in
the vicinity of Black Lake. Now Sam possessed something he dignified with the name of
a horse. It did possess four
legs, one at each corner, but here the similarity ceased, for the buckskin cayuse was a
living allegory of cussedness. Looking into his eyes during his tranquil moods one was
reminded of the mild gazelle, but any one acquainted with him knew he was liable to go
into convulsions at any time and then nothing was safe for fifty feet around in any
direction. Si’s Maude was a Sister of Mercy alongside him. But he was our stock in
trade, so we packed our kit on him. Being unfamiliar with the diamond hitch, we tied our
goods on helter-skelter. After the saddle had disappeared under the load, we used
forelock, main and tail as a means of attachment, and that deceitful brute stood for it with
a meek sense of abuse. And then on a bright summer day we started, little thinking that
disaster was stalking us. Sam had learned to smoke and had reached that degree of
proficiency where he could take a few puffs without bailing from under the tongue. Now
well away from parental authority Sam proceeded to smoke up, and to facilitate matters
he tied the rope halter to his belt. We then commenced to overlook our prospects and had
glutted with cranberries all that territory north of the Columbia river, when that equine
earthquake connected up with the business end of a yellow jacket, and he immediately
yearned for solitude and proceeded to look for it. Sam went along, not that he wanted to,
but he went anyway. I followed along behind, gathering up, here a little there a little; a
tin cup her, a frying pan there, over a scene that had been desolated by a four-legged
cyclone. Then I discovered that my partner was making footprints on the sands of time,
for I saw the firm impact of a heel and then a void for about fifty feet, broken by another
heel print. Sam was going good and breaking his own record with each successive step.
I was glad the buckskin monstrosity was gone and hoped he would continue to the
Columbia river, bridge it and go on, but I did want to overtake the mangled remains of
my partner, and dreaded at every step to find them. All things must have a culmination.
At the end of a straight stretch of road I saw my companion, still connected by the
tie that bound. The nag had stopped for lack of power to continue and Sam stopped
because he couldn’t help himself. We gathered up our traps and continued our journey,
marred by no other mishaps, for our little dynamic pet seemed filled with contrition and
ashamed of his conduct. At times he was even heard to sigh, for we were careful to see
that the saddle girth was tight.
* * * *
In early days there stood on the corner of Main and Third streets a hotel called the Pacific
House, conducted by a colored lady, who was a very fine cook. Originally she was
known as Aunt Becky; when she had gained affluence by hotel keeping she insisted upon
being called Mrs. Howard. Being childless she adopted a boy, whose features suggested
the amalgamation of several nationalities. This youngster was decidedly persona non
grata with the elect of Olympia juvenile society, for the very good reason that he could
dress better than the others. With all the old lady’s indulgence she frequently submitted
the young man to severe discipline. A favorite method was to leave him suspended in a
deep well in a bucket. One day this Beau Brummel appeared before two youthful
Penrods, who were playing near the brewery on Fifth street, clad in a handsome
chinchilla coat. This was an affront to akin to an insult, and a consultation was held as to
how best punish the young man for his presumption. One of the conspirators engaged the
boy in active play, necessitating the laying aside of the offensive garment. This article
Penrod No. 2, filled the pockets with rocks and threw it far into the placid waters of Puget
Sound. And here trouble commenced. The two culprits were hailed before the colored
lady, who delivered a severe lecture. She suspended sentence and then suspended the
two young criminals in twin buckets in the well. Now these boys had never evidenced
any swinish propensities theretofore, but we did want the earth before we got out of those
A Sensational Murder
Many Changes In Geographical Names. Editorial Courtesy Not Characteristic
Olympia as a frontier town was unusually orderly. The first sensational murder, or at
least one to attract general attention at the time, was the killing of B. F. Kendall in 1862.
Kendall was the publisher of the Overland Press, and though a man of marked ability was
aggressive and vindictive. In an issue of his paper he charged a man named Horace
Howe with burning the buildings of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company in Lewis
County. Later Howe met Kendall at the corner of Third and Main streets, and during a
controversy struck Kendall with a switch which he carried. Kendall ran, Howe following
for a short distance. Kendall turned and fired four shots at his pursuer, one entering
Howe’s left side, which proved a serious but not fatal wound. Some days later Howe’s
son entered Kendall’s office, which was situated on the present site of Bettman’s store,
and asked to see him privately. The two went into an adjoining room, when a pistol shot
was heard and Howe came from the room saying, “I shot him in self-defense”. The
young man was put under bonds, but later disappeared. The pistol used by the assassin
was owned by a prominent Territorial official, which gave rise to a suspicion that Kendall
was the victim of a conspiracy. He was only 34 years old and came to the Territory as an
attaché of the railroad exploring party led by Gov. Stevens. He was a graduate of
Bowdoin College, and had held several political positions before becoming a
citizen of Washington Territory, where he was held in high esteem.
* * * *
Time has wrought changes in geographical names as well as in all things else. British
Columbia was once called New Caledonia and West Minister was called Queensborough.
Victoria, before it became a city, was called Fort Vancouver and prior to that Fort
Camasun; [Camosun] San Juan [Island] was frequently Bellevue. On the Sound Port
Gamble was Teeklet; [Teekalet] West Seattle was called Freeport and Milton. Whatcom,
Sehome, Fairhaven and New Whatcom are now Bellingham. Tumwater was New
Market, Auburn was Slaughter, Sumner was Franklin, Olympia was Smithfield, Tacoma
was Commencement City, Seattle was Duwamish, and Alki Point was New York.
[Note – Blankenship may have confused Vancouver, Washington with Victoria BC.
Vancouver WA is the site of Fort Vancouver, a Hudson’s Bay Company Outpost.
Victoria was “Fort Victoria” after it was “Fort Camosun”]
* * * *
In early days a newspaper editor was not considered as doing his duty if he did not keep a
running fight with his editorial contemporary. The fights were conducted in a ruthless
way utterly regardless of ethics or the finer feelings of the one attacked. Henry G. Struve
edited the Puget Sound Courier, the Republican organ. This gentleman had abnormally
big feet, and like the Achilles’ heel this was his vulnerable point. The Democratic editor
never allowed an issue to pass that he did not refer to these feet. At last Struve applied
for an armistice. He said he did not care for himself but such personalities hurt his wife’s
feelings. The week following the merciless editor related this incident and said Struve
was hiding behind his wife’s skirts. “Come out,” said the Standard, “even the wife’s
ample skirts can’t hide those feet.”
* * * *
Speaking of taxes, and almost every one does speak of them these days, the road poll tax
in 1882 was $6. The average wage scale in the woods was $45 per month. This may not
soothe the outraged taxpayer of today, but it is offered for what it is worth.
The first Pioneer Association formed in Washington was organized in old Columbia Hall,
Olympia, January 23, 1871, and all were held eligible whose residence dated back to
1860. Of the original members, not one is living today .
* * * *
In 1870 the Territorial Auditor and Treasurer met together to make an estimate of the
amount necessary to meet the current expenses for the ensuing year, and placed the
amount at $37,000. In the year of our Lord 1923 this modest sum would not buy a
Packard car for one state officer and maintain it for one year. How our great state has
The White man’s predecessor, the Indian, the pioneer found, though in diminished
numbers. There is indisputable evidence that the Indians existed in large numbers on the
Sound and generally throughout the western territory. The oldest Indians found living by
the pioneers attested the fact that the shores of bays and rivers were at one time lined with
Indian camps. Questioned regarding the remarkable decrease in the number of Indians,
the natives would hint of the tribes falling under the displeasure of the Great Spirit. The
marked decrease commenced before the advent of the white man and continued to 1830.
It was probably due to an epidemic. Since the advent of the white man, bringing small
pox, measles, the white plague and other diseases, the Indian, in his filthy, unsanitary
condition, was an easy victim. But the early plague was none of these. The Indians
talked of “cole sick,” possibly a form of what in later years was known as influenza.
The western Indian was infinitely inferior to the eastern Washington Indian, mentally and
physically. The eastern Washington character more nearly met the physical conditions
depicted in Cooper’s works. There was nothing inspiring admiration or romance in the
Sound Indian. He was a short, bandy-legged, flat-headed travesty on humanity. There
were exceptions to this rule, but they were rare. They readily assimilated all the vices of
the whites, but absorbed none of the virtues. They lived in villages, some in houses
twenty to thirty feet long of rude construction, or in tents made mostly of mats, which the
women wove of reeds.
In these the Indians existed in a state of inconceivable squalor, mats upon the dirt floors
for beds, the atmosphere so thick with smoke as to make it impossible for a white man to
exist therein. Hung about overhead were pieces of fish in process of curing which, added
to the smoke, enveloped the Indian with an aroma that easily announced his approach at
one hundred yards. Men, women and children laid about in easy abandon, interspersed
with dogs of the most mangy and currish propensities. These travesties on a noble
species of animal were made up of a compound of fleas and bark. The stranger’s advent
to the camp was announced by the latter. With his exit he carried the former.
The Indians subsisted by hunting and fishing, but the burden of the drudgery was carried
on by the squaw, who was treated brutally by her man. To become the wife of a Boston
or King George man was the woman’s idea of the acme of human happiness. The white
man might be lazy or worthless, but if both he was greatly superior to the Indian. Her
gratitude was made manifest, not in any exuberance of spirits, but by a stolid demeanor, a
life of loyalty and sacrifice. The children grew to maturity much after the manner of
Topsy – just grew. In baby hood they were strapped to a board with bands drawn tightly
across the forehead to bring about the flat head effect, much desired. Soon after being
released from this somewhat strained condition the boy took a musket and fish spear in
hand and commenced his life work.
In times of sickness the Indian resorted to a medicine man. The method of treatment
resorted to by this professional fakir was such as to have one great redeeming quality,
that of reconciling the patient to death to avoid further treatment. It consisted of weird
incantations, the beating of tin cans and upon wood, and demoniac dancing. These
performances carried on by from a dozen to one hundred Indians were disconcerting to
say the least of it, and a method not desirable in cases of insomnia or nervous disorder.
An original institution with the Indians was the sweathouse. It consisted of a little
mound-like affair or excavation made in a sidehill. This was lathed with willow branches
and then plastered over with clay. The entrance was a hole large enough for a man to
crawl through. These houses were generally built along streams of ice cold water. When
the Indian was ready for his bath he would strip himself, put a number of very hot stones
in the little enclosure and would himself enter with a basin of cold water, which he would
throw upon the hot stones, creating a dense steam, in which the Indian existed until in a
parboiled state, when he would rush into the cold water. If applied for merely bathing
purposes it was heroic, if for medicinal purposes it was effective, it either killed or cured.
The native sometimes had a summary way of dealing with medicine men who failed to
cure. This custom might have such redeeming qualities as to recommend it to
civilization. One outraged Indian lassoed the medical gentleman, tied him to the pummel
of his saddle, and rode until he had broken the doctor into a number of pieces.
The union of Indian woman and white man, in the pioneer days, was not uncommon, and
in most instances resulted in contented relations. The woman expected little and gave
much. She was loyal and no labor was too great for her to endure. Many families in
Washington have Indian blood in their veins traced to these early marriages. But a
pathetic episode in the Indian woman’s life was when no legal obligation existed. She
was sent back to her tribe by some white man who had tired of her. Her love and
devotion remained the same, and it was a sad scene when this loyal creature must turn
back to her old life at the whim of a man unworthy of her, even though white.
The Indian’s ruling passion was gambling. The white man knew a limit, but the Indian
had none but a state of utter destruction. At intervals summons was sent out for a
gathering of the Indians. The guests would arrive with their earthly possessions,
including wives and dogs. These gatherings were in the nature of a white man’s fair or
meet. Here gambling, not only on horse racing, but all crude games of chance, were
indulged for days, and many a good old sport went home clad only in his chest protector.
One gambler, in his extremity, offered his fore arm.
A custom not generally indulged by the whites was a potlatch. When some Indian
became possessed of much of the world’s goods he would call together his friends and
enemies for a potlatch. This word is Chinook for give. Here the native philanthropist
would give away a great deal in the way of clothing, food staples, blankets and even
horses, observing an equitable distribution. If this benevolent idea has been engrafted on
civilization it is not a matter of common notoriety.
The Indian, his earthly course full run, was not returned to Mother Earth. He wrapped
the drapery of his couch about him, figuratively speaking, and stayed on top. Arrayed in
his best, with he earthly possessions well packed about him in his favorite canoe, he was
elevated on a platform raised well above ground or swung between two trees to await the
judgment day. He will have much to answer for, but not more than his white brother.
Here the Indian will have an advantage in pleading his ignorant and barbarous state,
while the civilized brother can plead only moral degeneracy.
Fruition of Pioneer Effort
The history of the acquisition of the Oregon Territory, of which Thurston County later
became a geographical division, and of the events leading up to its organization and
development, studied in connection with the toil, hardships and sacrifices endured by
those who first entered as explorers, as fur traders and later as settlers, forms an epic
almost without parallel. The great river of the west named for Captain Gray’s ship was
unknown when the Constitution of the United States was adopted, and the first permanent
settlement of the northwest was practically coincident with the war of 1812. These are
indeed significant facts when it is taken into consideration that three sovereign states of
the union have been organized from the original Oregon Territory, the acquisition of
which by the United States met with strenuous oppositions from such profound statesmen
of that day as Daniel Webster and Thomas A. Benton, who characterized the territory as a
barren waste, with an inhospitable coast without a harbor.
The indomitable pioneer persevered against every conceivable obstacle, and finally met
with the success his self-denying efforts deserved and an empire was acquired that would
place three additional stars in the blue field of our country’s banner.
We may refer to the beginning in this great domain and recall the scenes of border life in
these once dense forests and along the mighty waterways, and on the broad plains, where
every inch of progress by the pioneer was contested by the native wild man and the wild
beast, which like him, roamed unfettered and free through her equally wild
forests. We can tell of the sacrifices and toils and perils of the backwoodsmen in leveling
these forests and clearing and cultivating farms, rearing towns and founding institutions
of learning and worship, but who can tell of its future? What imagination can conceive,
or what pen describe the panorama before the vision of coming generations?
Past and Present
It is safe to say that not ten people among the 10,000 that inhabit the city of Olympia
today  know anything of Swantown and Marshville, Newmarket and Smithfield,
all identified with early local history.
The first arrivals at Tumwater named that settlement Newmarket. The founders of
Olympia, Smith and Sylvester, called their town Smithfield. Swantown was what is now
the Third and Fourth wards of Olympia, and was connected up with the peninsula by a
bridge called Swantown bridge. This section was named after a man named Swan, who
owned property on that side.
Marshville was what is now the Sixth ward of Olympia, and was named for Edwin
Marsh, who owned real estate on that side. It was made accessible by Marshville bridge.
Dofflemyer’s point, now known as Boston Harbor, was called “Pap’s Pint”. The point at
the south end of Hartstein Island was called – well – confidential information will be
furnished inquisitive readers.
Olympia proper stood on a narrow peninsula, salt water running to Tumwater on the west
side and as far up as Union street on the east side.
Swantown was the residence place of a number of Olympians from the beginning, but
Marshville was but sparsely populated by whites. Indian camps were numerous here, and
almost every knight could be heard the weird incantations of the Indians, invoking help
for the sick, or the wild cries of grief over a departed soul.
The harbor had not been dredged and natural oyster beds, plentifully supplied, laid before
the little town. At low tide the flats were dotted with squaws digging oysters and clams,
which they traded in town for stale bread and
old clothes. How vast the change. J. J. Brenner recognizes only the coin of the realm, and
plenty of that, and would not think of letting a sack of oysters go for an old pair of pants,
even though they were of ample growth.
Free lance sportsmen were located, one back of where is now the Union Pacific depot and
the other at the rear of the K. P. Hall [Knights of Pythias Hall] True these resorts of
boyish delight were dangerously near the bridges and bathing suits were regarded as an
affectation, but September morn disported regardless, and officious police officers wot
not. These days of real sport when every boy was prince and grownups only were
But all is changed The primitive manners and customs have given way to the effete
existence of today, distinguished by an aroma of gasoline and physical activity made
necessary to dodge Fords and other vehicles in the hands of speed fools. Perhaps it is an
improvement. Who can tell?
Many of those who disported in the old swimming holes never lived to have their lives
pent up by law and ordinance. Some of those who awoke the echoes with boyish
laughter at the end of old Marshville bridges have gone out south of town and there their
names are engraved on stones, ‘neath which have long slept the forefathers of the old
town. Possibly they have the best of it at that.
Bench, Bar and Pulpit
The Learned Professions Represented by Able Men In Early Days
The love of adventure, inherent in mankind, as well as vague hopes that the new country
might hold out superior advantages for them, led many brilliant men into the Oregon
Territory, and late to the newly organized Territory of Washington.
Standing pre-eminent among the legal lights was Judge O. B. McFadden, a handsome
man with snow white hair and beard, with a very dignified mien, but withal very
approachable. He was Associate Justice of the Territory from 1853 to 1858 and Chief
Justice from 1858 to 1861.
Selucius Garfielde was Delegate to Congress in 1869 and in 1870. Even hid away in this
far-off land his matchless eloquence attracted such attention as to cause him to be called
into the national campaign for U. S. Grant.
Judge B. F. Dennison was a living embodiment of Charles Dickens’ great character
Dombey, in “Dombey & Son”. The Judge stood over six feet of rigid height and
habitually wore a Prince Albert coat and high collar, the points of which reached high up
on his cheeks and seemed to render impossible the turning of the head in either direction
to any perceptible degree, together with a black stock. He was smooth faced, with an
under lip that obtruded appreciably giving him a most forbidding appearance, but he was
an able lawyer that had not gained his legal knowledge from a Correspondence School.
Judge Roger S. Green, Chief Justice of the Territory from 1879 to 1887. A learned judge
whose devout Christian character led him to occupy the Baptist pulpit in
Olympia in connection with his legal duties. He stood six feet four inches and looked to
weigh 100 pounds.
John B. Allen, though a younger man and a later arrival, may be classed as one of the
pioneer lawyers. He came from Minnesota and after practicing for a time, was appointed
U. S. Attorney, the last Delegate to Congress from the Territory, and on admission to the
Territory he was elected Senator.
Olympia supported a very meager town library at the time of the advent of Allen, which
was under the auspices of the Good Templars’ lodge. To help out the young man’s
slender income Allen was made librarian. After serving a year, funds being insufficient
to pay his salary, he was given an old silver watch. One day on a trip down the bay, Mr.
Allen said, he accidentally dropped the watch into the water and thus his first year’s work
in the Territory went for naught.
Mr. Allen was a man of very youthful appearance, and even in later years retained his
boyish look. One day an Indian was on trial and having no counsel the Court told the
prisoner he could take his choice of either Allen or Dennison. The Indian seized upon
Dennison, impressed with his appearance. The judge declined for lack of time. When the
Court pointed to Allen and told the Indian he would defend him the prisoner promptly
plead guilty. Allen was an able man and died too young.
In point of dignity Judges Greene and Dennison broke about 50-50, and so it was only
once that they were known to break through their frozen fronts and appear almost human.
Judge Dennison, in quoting an authority, insisted on saying Brownie for Browne. This
continued until Judge Greene could tolerate it no longer, and interrupted . “Judge
Dennison, why do you insist on saying Brownie with a final ‘e’.” “Well your honor, the
name is spelled with a final ‘e’.” “Yes,” said Greene, “so is mine. But would you call me
Greenie?” “That depends very much on how you decide this motion.” Said Dennison, a
reply too good to rebuke.
Among the ministers whose names will always stand distinguished for their sincerity and
the good they accomplished in the missionary field are those of J. F. DeVore, I. D.
Driver, Methodists, and John R. Thompson, Presbyterian. Mr. DeVore was a tireless
worker and built a number of churches, the first in the new Territory.
Rev. Driver was a matchless exhorter and could arouse a revival meeting to a high pitch
of enthusiasm. His voice carried so well that people could sit on their front porches of a
pleasant evening and listen in without the aid of radio, and were not put to the trouble of
going to church, where the preacher, perspiring like a June bride, exhorted the sinner.
One pioneer preacher, who may go nameless here for good and sufficient reason, was
experiencing financial hard-sledding; indeed it was reported his family was in need. This
rumor reaching the saloon the boys took up a subscription and with a handsome sum of
money purchased a drayload of provisions for the preacher’s house. They sent one of
their number along to explain matters. On beholding what seemed to be a dispensation of
Providence the minister broke down. Regaining his composure he said: “Jim, I don’t
know just what the good Lord is going to do with you. Your not fit for heaven and too
good to go to hell. I think it will be necessary to establish a place of probation for you in
which to reform, which it is certain you will not do so long as you are in reach of a faro
layout.” Jim went down the hill highly elated with the idea that he and the boys were to
have special accommodations in the hereafter.
John R. Thompson was physically a powerful man and spiritually a good man. He was
called to Seattle to testify in court. Reviewing the evidence Col. Larrabee frequently and
sarcastically referred to “this man Thompson of Olympia.” The old hall where court was
held stood high above the street, and at the entrance stood Mr. Thompson. When court
adjourned the reverend gentleman seized Larrabee on his appearance, swung him around
a few times and then
threw him to the street below. On his return to Olympia, explaining to members of his
congregation, he said “Simply because I am a preacher is no reason why I should submit
to insult, and I will not.”