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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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Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties
1906 Biographies — Villeneuve and Lloyd

      These two biographies below are about a Charles Villeneuve and his son-in-law John Lloyd, who were key pioneers on both the South fork of the Skagit and in old Woolley. Their descendants are some of the earliest folks we connected when the website first started in 2000 and we plan a whole series of future articles on the impact that the two men and their families made on local history. Villeneuve and Lloyd both had many things in common, although they were born nearly 40 years apart. They were both native to Canada, both logged as youths and both moved far away from their roots to carve a new life out of the wilderness in northwest Washington territory. Their descendants lost contact over the decades and we are happy and proud to have helped them connect and meet.

      This photo from Kathy Stone shows Charles Villeneuve Sr. at the far left with a long beard sometime after the turn of the 20th century. We believe we are looking west down State street, possibly when the gentlemen are setting up a parade route for the Fourth of July. If we are correct about the location, that structure at the right would be Elza Harris's Sedro-Woolley Steam Laundry at the northwest corner of Murdock and State streets. Third street would extend to the left and way back in the background on the right would be the brick Livermore Apartments building that still stands at the northwest corner of Metcalf and State streets. At that time, the building that now houses Bus Jungquist furniture across the street had not yet been built.

Charles Villeneuve, Canadian immigrant
      Charles Villeneuve Sr. is one of the men whose activities in Skagit county commenced in the days when settlers were few and communications difficult. He and Mrs. Villeneuve were the real pioneers of Conway, where they still have interests, though living in Sedro-Woolley and operating the St. Charles hotel in that city.
      Mr. Villeneuve was born in Ottawa, Carlton county, in the eastern part of the province of Ontario, Feb. 18, 1830. His father, Charles Villeneuve, was a native of Quebec where his ancestry had gone to engage in the fur trade. He took sides with the American revolutionists when the struggles of the colonists commenced with the mother country, and as one result of this, the Villeneuve estates were forfeited. Mrs. Ann (McKusick) Villeneuve was a native of Ireland.
      Charles, who was the only son of his parents, attended school until he was sixteen years of age, and his interests being in common with those of his parents, he continued to reside with them long after he had attained to man's estate. January 29, 1868, at Ottawa, Ontario, Mr. Villeneuve married Miss [Bridget Ann]. Treacy, daughter of William and Rachael (Dagg) Treacy, who were of Irish descent. [We now know from descendants that the family name may have been Tracy; it is spelled both ways on many records]. Mrs. Villeneuve was born in Ottawa in 1847, the tenth of a family of eleven children.
      In 1868, shortly after his marriage, he went to San Francisco, where he passed three years in a sash and door factory, his natural ability with tools supplying in a great measure what he had lacked in experience and training. He finally determined to come to the Puget sound country and boarded the Forest Queen for the trip to Port Gamble, in Kitsap county, reaching his destination after an exciting voyage in which the vessel was driven 200 miles to the south of the Golden Gate on the third day out from San Francisco.
      At Port Gamble Mr. Villeneuve passed two years in a saw-mill, engaged in sawing and tallying, then he went back east and visited his family and friends for six months, returning with his daughters. In the fall of 1873 Mr. Villeneuve came to what is now Skagit county and took up land where now stands the town of Conway. In a few months his family came.
      On the east side of the [South fork of the] river at that time were Big Wilson, Little Wilson, Willard Sartwell, Orin Kincaid and Billy Johnson. During the following summer an Englishman named Marshall started a little trading post across the river where Fir now stands. Marshall had to leave because he was selling whiskey to the Indians, and a Frenchman named Longpre, who became his successor, left after a time for the same reason, but was later caught by the authorities and had to serve a term in prison. The stock of goods was bought by Charles Mann early in 1876, and the steamers, which by that time came up the river quite frequently, gave the place the name of Mann's Landing.
      Further up the river were Joe Lisk, William Caton [probably Hayton?], James Abbott and John Wilber [Wilbur], in regular order toward Mount Vernon, all squaw men. Next came Thomas and John Moore with their white wives, and Robert Gage and McAlpin [Edward McAlpine] came next after them, all on the west side of the river. To the south was Tom Jones, who came shortly after the Villeneuves. There were no roads, and travel was wholly by boat. Mrs. Villeneuve had preceded Mrs. Tom [Moore] and Mrs. John Moore, and was thus the first white woman in that section of the county. At that time on the site of Mount Vernon were Mrs. Jasper Gates, Mrs. [Augustus or George?] Hartson and her mother; Mrs. Kimball [Kimble] and Mrs. [Levi] Ford, the Washburn family not coming till later.
      In order to get lumber with which to build his house Mr. Villeneuve went to Utsalady, on Camano island, made the lumber into a raft and towed it behind his Whitehall boat. The tides greatly hindered progress, and he was four days in making the return trip. The house built from that lumber was the first board structure in this section of the country. A suggestion as to the utter wildness of the country may be gathered from the fact that on the site of Mann's landing was an old Indian burial place and bodies were found wrapped in blankets and hung in canoes in the trees, which were removed by the first two traders because they caused so great a stench. Many of the Indians at that time had long, fiery-red hair.
      When Mr. Villeneuve fist settled on the Skagit where Conway now is, he worked in the woods and logging camps for a number of years. In 1880 he sold out and went to Snohomish county, taking up a preemption near Stanwood, but on proving up, he came back to Skagit county in 1885. For a year after his return he ran a hotel at Fir. Later he purchased land on the east side of the river hard by Conway and commenced to operate a ferry across the Skagit, also built the first store in Conway and arranged for keeping boarders. When he attempted to get a post-office located there, he met with opposition from the people of Mann's Landing who looked with displeasure on the rival town across the river. He was postmaster at [the new town of] Conway for eight years, during the last three of which he was a resident of Sedro-Woolley and conducted the post-office through a deputy.
      In 1897 Mr. Villeneuve came to Sedro-Woolley and built the Hotel Royal and built the St. Charles which he continues to operate. In addition to his hotel property he owns seven acres of the town site. During his residence at Conway and in Snohomish county he was justice of the peace; he was a member of the city council at the time of the consolidation of Sedro and Woolley [1898] and is still a member of that body, also is secretary of the Skagit County Pioneer Association [which debuted in Sedro-Woolley in 1904].
      The Villeneuves have six children: Mrs. Drusilla T. McGregor; William Eugene, now in Alaska; Mrs. Ida Emogen Lloyd, wife of John Lloyd; Charles F. and Joseph Benjamin, bought of whom are in British Columbia; and Cecilia, living at home. Mrs. Villeneuve, who is deeply interested in education, was the prime mover in the establishment of the first school built on the Skagit river, the lumber for which was brought by boat at half charge owing to Mrs. Villeneuve's individual effort and public spirited action. In politics Mr. Villeneuve is a Democrat, always active in attending the conventions of that party and prominent in its work.

Footnotes to key words above. Click on the "text above"
link to return to the main text.

John Lloyd of New Brunswick
son-in-law of Charles Villeneuve Sr.

(John-Stella wedding)
The wedding photo of John Lloyd and Ida Villeneuve, with a bevy of little girls, probably staged at the Catholic church.

      John Lloyd is one of the natives of the province of New Brunswick who have prospered in Skagit county. He was born in 1868. His father, Michael Lloyd, of Welsh extraction, crossed from Ireland and engaged at first in lumbering in New Brunswick, but late in life took to farming. He died in 1894. Mrs. Lloyd, the mother of the subject of this sketch, was born in New Brunswick of Irish parentage, and died in that province in 1881. She was the mother of four children, Mrs. J.P. Collins of Portland, Maine; William and Daniel, living on the old farm in New Brunswick, and John, logger and real estate owner of Sedro-Woolley, Washington.
      The early life of John Lloyd was like that of other lads on Eastern farms. He attended school some, helped with the crops during harvest, and worked in the woods in winter. When nineteen he left home and went to the Rice Lake district of Byron county, Wisconsin, where he spent one season logging and driving. He then passed some time in the lumber town of Stillwater, Minnesota, but was working westward and reached Seattle in July 1888.
      Having been connected with the lumbering industry, he naturally looked for an engagement in that line, so went to the Skagit valley, landing at the mouth of the river in the days when there was nothing there but a logging camp dignified by the name of Fir. The nearest mill, however, was Decatur's at Mount Vernon. Mr. Lloyd found a half brother, Michael, at Fir, and for him he began working, logging off the brother's claim. He also took up a homestead near Arlington in Snohomish county, upon which he proved up six years later. His homestead adjoined that on which James Cavanaugh had filed and the two men decided, while improving their places, to combine their efforts, working part of the time on one homestead and part of the time on the other, Mr. Lloyd making his home with Mr. Cavanaugh and wife in a shack they had erected.
      Mr. Lloyd worked at logging in Skagit county mostly until 1897, when he went to Alaska, with a partner, Eugene Taylor. They each packed eighty-five pounds over the White Pass from Skagway to Lake Bennett, and that summer they put in whipsawing lumber, receiving six hundred dollars per thousand for their product. With a new partner, Fitzpatrick, they went the next spring to Dawson City, but returned to Mount Vernon in 1898. Mr. Lloyd has done a varied business, dealing in any kind of property which gave promise of legitimate profit. He has brought much timber and from it furnished bolts to shingle mills.
      In the summer of 1900 Mr. Lloyd married Miss Ida Villeneuve, who was born near the mouth of the Skagit river in 1877. She is a daughter of Charles and Bridget Anna (Tracy) Villeneuve, pioneers of Sedro-Woolley and now proprietors of the St. Charles hotel in that city. Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd have one child, Frances, born September 15, 1902. Fraternally, Mr. Lloyd is a member of the Knights of Pythias; in religion he is a Catholic; in politics a Republican. Mr. Lloyd's holdings now consist of one hundred and sixty acres of timber and forty acres of farm land between Edison and Bay View together with a number of lots in Anacortes, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley. He is recognized as one of the substantial citizens of the county, a man who has won success because of the possession of those sterling qualities so characteristic of many of the privates in the great army of settlers that has subdued the forests of the Northwest and established its commercial and industrial institutions.

Connections to the family
through the website

(Charles-Stella wedding)
Wedding photo of Charles Villeneuve Jr. and Stella Gerdon

      The process of weaving this family story together illustrates how we were happily convinced early on that our intention for the website as a connector for descendants of our pioneer families was clicking. On Jan. 28, 2001, just months after our first posting the year before, we received an email from Tonya Senkbeil. She and her mother were searching for information about a Villeneuve ancestor who was orphaned and they had lost contact with Villeneuves over the generations. We posted a story about the famous 1914 Bank Robbery when Charles Villeneuve Jr. was the constable of Sedro-Woolley [see our Journal website: ].
      Tonya motored up to meet us in Conway and tour the old Villeneuve stomping grounds and a Skagit Valley Herald reporter profiled her and the family. Tonya told us two stories that explained why the family splintered over nearly a century. Charles's younger sister Cecilia married a Protestant named Clarence Smith and her name was stricken from the family bible. She died at age 20 during childbirth. Tonya's ancestor was the daughter of Charles Jr. and Stella Gerdon, a daughter of the Gerdon grocer family of Sedro-Woolley and Clearlake. When Stella died of consumption at age 25 on June 30, 1906, Charles sent his two daughters, Cecilia (called Irene) and Margaret, to an orphanage in Seattle. As Irene, Tonya's grandmother, grew up, she lost contact with her cousins.
      Meanwhile, we searched everywhere for information about the family and we found the obituary of Ida Villeneuve Lloyd who died Oct. 22, 1939, at her West Ferry street home, and her daughter Mrs. Frances Maks lived in Portland; John Lloyd survived as a widower. Old timers told us that the Lloyd home was the house that folks often call the "Sinking Ship," at the southwest corner of West Ferry and Rita streets, because the south end has settled into the marshy soil over the decades. Cue Kathy Maks Stone who wrote to us nearly a year after Tonya and announced that her father, David "Jerry" Maks, spent his summers at his grandparents' home and he was still living. After several emails with both father and daughter, we learned details of John Lloyd's life.
      We had long been curious about that corner because it was part of one of the earliest homesteads in the Woolley area. A 1939 article in the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times included a story of how logger Christoffer Olson [or Olsen] bought a 160-acre homestead in 1884 that included West Ferry street. The article illustrated the appreciation of local land values by the time that P.A. Woolley platted the town of Woolley in 1890 [see our Journal website: ]. Olson paid $200 for the land and then sold it to George Nelson and Ole Borseth in 1886 for $500. At that time the land was still a combination of marsh and forest where trees towered from 200-300 feet tall. The partners soon sold the land for $700 to the Skagit Railway & Lumber Co., the firm that bought out Jesse Beriah Ball's original holdings in Sterling, two miles west. The only other town nearby was a tiny village on the north shore of the Skagit that Mortimer Cook founded around his general store the year before. The Skagit Railway company then sold five acres of that original homestead in 1890 for $500 to an N.W. Carpenter. Carpenter then sold that piece later that year to P.A. Woolley for $2,000 and he platted it as the West Addition to the Town of Woolley. The St. Charles hotel was across the street from the Lloyd house and by World War II it had become a seedy place that was home to a combination of pensioners, prostitutes and bootleggers. It was torn down in the early 1950s to become a display lot for Sig Berglund's Ford dealership, which was erected on the north side of Ferry in October 1949.
      The good news was that Jerry Maks sent us a photo of the old hotel, the only known photo of it. Dave had not visited town for some time, but he fondly remembered his old friend, the late Ivan Drake, who leased a service station across from the Lloyd house and hired Jerry to work there in the summers when he visited. Jerry also remembered Donald "Spud," Walley, an old friend he made during those visits.

(Maks and St. Charles)
David Maks and parents and their auto in front of the St. Charles Hotel

      Kathy Stone also helped solve the mystery of Mike Lloyd, a name we found in the 1885 census, when he was living on the South fork of the Skagit. We finally connected him with John Lloyd and the mention in the sketch above when Kathy explained that Mike was John's oldest brother by his father's prior marriage. Members of Kathy's Lloyd family think that the brothers probably corresponded before John left his home in Big Bartibogue, New Brunswick, before he moved to the Midwest in 1887. When John Lloyd came to Washington territory, the half brothers joined up and helped each other log and clear their properties.
      Flash forward to the fall of 2004 when Kathy and her husband, Mike, traveled cross-country from their home in McKinleyville, California, and from October 4-6th, they became the first descendants of John Lloyd to visit his birthplace. There she met several of her cousins, most of whom are grandchildren of Dan Lloyd, John's brother. Last December she wrote to us about her thrilling visit to find her roots:

      My husband and I flew to Boston and drove up the coast of Maine to Miramichi, New Brunswick. I was trekking back into the past of John Lloyd. The short write up on him [see above] set me off in the right direction. I was able to meet a daughter of one of his brothers who remained on the farm. I found out that this woman's sister corresponded with my grandmother up until some time in the 1930's. I visited cousins twice removed who had pictures of my grandmother and pictures of John Lloyd I had never seen before. I now have a letter John wrote to his sister which for me is priceless. The whole family "down East" talks about John Lloyd mining gold in the Klondike. If I ever get a copy of a picture of him I saw back there, I will send it your way. Fascinating that my quiet, gentle great grandfather is standing leaning on a rifle barrel with pistols strapped to both hips. I learned a lot about what life was like in New Bruswick. No wonder so many people traveled to Washington Territory. It was a very hard life back there and it was very cold. They farmed all spring and summer and logged all winter. Washington Territory mirrored the environment in Maine and New Brunswick and must have seemed like a very mild climate to those Easterners.
      Connecting these Villeneuve/Lloyd relatives has been very rewarding to us. Tonya Senkbeil was thrilled to be the first descendant of the family to attend the annual Founders Days weekend and see the reenactment of the 1914 Bank Robbery, in which her great-grandfather is an annual star [see our Journal website: ]. Charles Villeneuve Sr. died in Sedro-Woolley on Jan. 17, 1922, at age 93. His son Charles F. Villeneuve died in 1958 at age 85; both were widowers. We are uncertain if they were ever called Sr. and Jr., especially since the father of the elder Charles was also a Charles back in Canada, but we attach the suffix Sr. and Jr. to differentiate between father and son here in Sedro-Woolley. John H. Lloyd died on Aug. 21, 1948, also a widower; Ida E. Lloyd died on Oct. 22, 1939. This page is just the beginning of the story about this family who almost fell through the cracks of history, both locally and in the records of the descendants themselves. Elsewhere you can read about Ole Borseth, a fellow land speculator along with Charles Villeneuve and John Lloyd. We also plan to profile other settlers of West Woolley, especially the Drake brothers and Dr. Frazee and his family, who located one of the earliest hospitals in town next to where Ivan Drake had his service station. We hope that readers will share any information and copies of photos they may have in their family collections about this part of town and the people who carved it out of the wilderness in the late 1800s.

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