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(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit.

Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Capsule biographies, Sedro and Woolley, F-I

      Over the next few years, we will add capsule biographies of key families from the Sedro-Woolley, Sedro and Woolley areas. Do you have profiles of your own family or another family from any region of Skagit county? If you do or you have newspaper stories or family research, please mail us a copy or if you have already logged it your computer, email us with the story as an attachment. These capsule biographies will be featured for every area of the county.

Flossie and Verna Hustead and family
      Ed. note: This brief story is from the 1970 obituary notes that John Conrad prepared for the annual Skagit county Historical Society August picnic. Conrad prepared the profiles from 1949-73 and we have transcribed them at this portal website:
      The lead story in the Sept. 24, 1953, Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times special issue, which commemorated the centennial of Washington territory, was headed by the fact that Hustead's Millinery on Metcalf street was one of the two oldest stores in town that were operated by their original owners. The other such store was H. Bean Hardware on State street. Of course the oldest pioneer business in town, Holland Drugs, was owned by the third owner in its history.
      In 1953, Hustead's was operated by Flossie Hustead, who had been at the helm for 42 years. Flossie was 74 and unmarried. She and her younger sister Vernie were born in Illinois and grew up in Whatcom county before moving to Sterling, west of Sedro-Woolley, in 1911 to open their millinery store. It probably began in a temporary location on the east side of Metcalf street but soon moved across the street to 814 on the west side, which is now the north half of Glenn Allen Jewelers. They shared that building with Jack Ames, a barber since the earliest days of old Woolley town, whose shop was at 816 Metcalf. He went to the Klondike in 1898 and continued traveling there after the turn of the century for his own particular gold: furs, which he marketed out of the back half of the building.
      An advertisement in the Oct. 20, 1949, Courier-Times features Flossie selling ladies ready-to-wear coats, dresses, suits, hats. Her sister Verna Hustead, born on Dec. 15, 1883, died in Sedro-Woolley, May 16, 1942. From that point until the store closed in 1960, Flossie owned it alone. Flossie was born on May 4, 1879, and died at age 88 on July 15, 1967.
      John Conrad wrote in his 1970 obituary notes:

      Next door to Gampp's [in downtown Woolley] was the millinery store of Flossie Hustead, whose death occurred several years ago. Her nephew, Charles Randolph Hustead, 60 [Died 1970 in Oakland, California, born in Illinois]. His younger days were spent in the Sterling area. Randolph Hustead had a few prominent relatives. An uncle, Daniel Bell, brother of his mother, was U.S. Director of the Budget under President Franklin Roosevelt in his first term of office. Ted Hustead, a Midwest cousin of Randolph's, owns the famous drug store in Wall, South Dakota with the hundreds of billboards on most traveled highways clear across the nation. That advertising built up a tremendous business as tourists anticipated stops for days ahead at the "Wall Drug Store, Wall, South Dakota," almost a shrine! Randolph's folks' old farm at Sterling is now part occupied by the new United General Hospital. A "farm boy" brother has worked himself up to become general manager of Mt. Baker Plywood in Bellingham.
      The unnamed brother was Charles's father, Charles W. Hustead. He apparently moved to Sterling earlier because we looked at the 1910 census for Whatcom county and found Flossie listed, along with her sibling, Vernie A., and their father, but no Charles. Their mother, Frances Ella (Hazelrigg) Hustead was not noted in the census but she apparently survived her husband and lived with the girls at Sterling. Their father is listed as Herancis E., born in Iowa in 1855. For unknown reason, he is listed as Ves P. in his funeral record at Sedro-Woolley. He and Frances married in either Pike county, Illinois, or Muscatine county, Iowa.
      Research about the Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota — near the Badlands, shows that in 1931, Ted and Dorothy Hustead moved to Wall with their 4-year-old son, Bill, and bought out an old pharmacy. Ted was the son of a doctor in Nebraska, but his roots may have extended back to Muscatine county, Iowa, where Herancis Hustead was born. Dorothy had a stroke of genius in 1936. She suggested to her husband that they offer travelers free ice water. They printed up signs and gave them to the visitors, asking them to post them on telephone poles and other venues on their way back to wherever was home. Within a few years, the signs proliferated all over the country, especially in the Western half. I can recall the signs all over the mountain states when I went with my parents on an auto trip in the mid-1950s. The signs eventually reached Europe, too. Ted died in the mid-1990s and by then the store was a tourist trap, selling Buffalo Burgers for $6 and sprawled over 21 rooms of gifts and trinkets, but the store carved out its place in Western marketing lore along with Burma Shave.
      The Sterling Husteads may have had close relatives in the town of Bow. A man by the name of E.E. Heusted became the postmaster of Brownsville in 1902, a stop on the Great Northern rail line north of Burlington that was soon renamed Bow after the railroad station in a district in London that was the hometown of William Brown. The postmaster also spelled his last name, Hustead. Other burials at the Sedro-Woolley Union Cemetery include the sisters' mother, Frances, who was born Iowa in March 5, 1855, and died here on April 30, 1929; father, Ves P., born July 15, 1851, and died on May 5, 1933; Charles W., born in Illinois on May 12, 1882, and died here on Jan. 19, 1930; Halbert Hustead, son of Charles R., death in 1960, and Lorraine Bell Hustead, widow of Charles W., who was born Missouri on Christmas day, 1881, and died here on Oct. 31, 1957.

Story posted on August 13, 2004
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