Site founded September 1, 2000, passing a half million page views in July 2005
These home pages remain free of any charge. We need donations or subscriptions/gifts for students, military and family. Please pass on this website link to your family, relatives, friends and clients.

(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

(Click to send email)

George Savage becomes a shill
for the Skagit county rebellion

      George Savage was one of those peripatetic wanderers who sought out places like the upper Skagit river. He moved his family here from Nebraska in 1873 after taking an emigrant train ride on the Central Pacific to San Francisco and a succession of steamers to the Territory of Washington. He spent some hardscrabble years, farming and logging in the Skagit delta and British Columbia. Then he moved the family to Birdsview in 1878-79 and claimed land on the south shore of the Skagit across next to Birdsey Minkler and just west of pioneer Karl von Pressentin. He would later become Skagit county's first surveyor in 1884.
      Skagit county was originally the south half of Whatcom county. In the late 1870s, the southern part began to boom because of logging along the Skagit river and residents from LaConner and the new town of Mount Vernon began planning the formation of a new county. That movement took new impetus when James A. Power moved his newspaper, the Bellingham Bay Mail, from Whatcom to LaConner in 1879 and renamed it the Puget Sound Mail. Hon. James Power, of La Conner, Washington, is a pioneer of this section of the state, having come to Puget sound in 1873. A Republican in politics, Power was elected to the territorial legislature in 1882 to represent the northwest counties. He joined at the legislature in Olympia with Orrin Kincaid, one of the earliest settlers on the delta in the early 1870s and logging upriver by the early 1880s. Power was elected to the council, equivalent now to the Senate, and Kincaid served in the House. Between them, they succeeded in sneaking in a bill for formation of the new county in the November 1883 and maneuvered it to a successful vote when representatives from Bellingham Bay were not looking. This wonderful autobiographical story is Savage's description of how he became a shill for the powers that be from the western part of the county, starting in the 1880-81 period.

My first convention

by George Savage
(George Savage)
George Savage in his 40s, photo courtesy of descendant Barbara Thompson

      While working at a small camp as a common lumber jack in the early eighties, I went to a small grocery store, kept by Clothier and English, at a village called Mt. Vernon. There were several men around the store, sitting on the counter talking. I remember there was Harrison Clothier, Ed English, Jasper Gates and David E. Kimble [Journal added the first names.] I have forgotten the others.
      Mr. Gates informed me I was selected to go to Bellingham to the county convention. I had never been to a convention. I laughed at them and said, " You all know I haven't a cent to spare. I have no boat and there isn't even a blazed trail for me to follow to Bellingham." "Never you mind;" said Gates, "We will attend to all that." They made up a ticket, of all the offices they could remember and gave it to me. They told me to see to it, the men named got nominated. Clothier was to be the representative. Gates was for sheriff. I have forgotten what the others wanted. I was instructed to have nothing to do with the other delegates, as they would beat me out of some of the offices I was to get.
      As there were no steamers running to Mt. Vernon then, I had to go to LaConner, to get a boat to Bellingham. There was no road to follow, just a trail through the brush, with blazes, dim from age. There were huge windfalls, salmon brush, sloughs and marshes to cross. Bogs, where if you missed a step from grass clump, to clump, you went in, over your head. Several times I lost the blazes, but found them again. I saw bear, deer and cougar tracks in the muck, but had no time to think of them beating about, to keep on the trail.
      At the boat, I met the LaConner delegates. James Gilleland [Gilliland], James O'Laughlin [actually O'Loughlin] and John Chilberg. I kept away from them, as I had been told to. After dark I stood alone on the boats deck, and Chilberg came up to me. I had to listen to what he had to say. He said they wanted O'Laughlin for sheriff and would help me if I helped them. I remembered Mr. Gates, who was the largest man in our camp. I knew what he would do to me, if I let him down. But I did not tell Chilberg this, as I should have done. [Ed. note: James H. Gilliland became the first telegraph operator at LaConner in 1865. James O'Loughlin was the Indian agent for the Swinomish reservation and built a hotel in LaConner.]
      At the convention the next day, we were told they had a full ticket, and it could not be broken. Then the LaConner men placed O'Laughlin in nomination. I got up and made a speech placing Clothier and Gates in, they got nothing, but they suggested I take a position instead, I think I would have accepted. But there was Gates to be settled with had I got a position for myself and left the rest out. So I stood by my arguments, but got no recognition whatever.
      Two years later, I was sent again, along with Clothier. This time, the steamer got stuck in the mud at Munks Bay, so we took the ships boat, and rowed all night to get to Bellingham. We reached there at ten in the morning. A man named Mill Cook, also came along to get a saloon license. He was so soft, he could not row, but he did offer plenty of stimulation, to keep up others energy. I refused his bottle. [Ed. note: Milton B. Cook and his wife originally ran hotels and saloons in LaConner and western Skagit county and then took over the Hamilton Hotel on the north shore of the Skagit river when William Hamilton moved away to Oklahoma in 1890.]
      Later, I joined with all the Skagit delegates and many who were dissatisfied in Whatcom Co. We carried the convention with ease. We personally asked for a sheriff and councilman and both were elected. Skagit county was then created [November 1883], and I served two years as surveyor. Since then, I have attended many conventions, both county and state, and I wish to say, the improvement since those early days, is little short of marvelous.

      Savage's brother-in-law, Lewis Alexander Boyd joined him at Birdsview in 1883. You can also read this story from our old domain (links will not work) about Boyd, who was a round-the-world sailor several times, the first upriver schoolteacher and later the clerk of Skagit county. He was the great-great-grandfather of Dan Royal, publisher of the Stump Ranch. He has done an extraordinary job of collecting and maintaining family stories, with the help of his father, Phil, and his grandfather, Howard. He is now publishing a family newsletter, which also features information on the Royals, Boyds, Hoyts, Savages and other families.

Story posted on Aug. 8, 2001
Did you enjoy this story? Please consider subscribing to the optional Subscribers Edition. That is how we fund this grand project.
Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. Thank you.

Return to our home page anytime
You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors:
(bullet) Allelujah Business Systems/Copies/Mailbox, 133-B State St., Sedro-Woolley, 360 855-1157
Preserve your family keepsakes . . . allcopiersystems web page
(bullet) Schooner Tavern/Cocktails at 621 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, across from Hammer Square: web page . . . History of bar and building
(bullet) Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 82 years.
(bullet) Joy's Sedro-Woolley Bakery-Cafe at 823 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 82 years.
(bullet) Heirloom Gardens Natural Foods at 805B Metcalf street, the original home of Oliver Hammer.
(bullet) Check out Sedro-Woolley First for links to all stories and reasons to shop here first
or make this your destination on your visit or vacation.

(bullet) Would you like to buy a country church, pews, belfry, pastor's quarters and all? Email us for details.
(bullet) DelNagro Masonry Brick, block, stone — See our work at the new Hammer Heritage Square
See our website

Looking for something special on our site? Enter name, town or subject, then press "Find"
Search this site powered by FreeFind
Did you find what you were looking for? If not, please email us and tell us what you seek and we will put it on our list to research. The more details, the better.
Please sign our guestbook so our readers will know where you found out about us, or share something you know about the Skagit River or your memories or those of your family. Share your reactions or suggestions or comment on our Journal. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit our site.
Sign Our Guestbook Get your own FREE Guestbook from htmlGEAR
View Our Guestbook
Remember, we welcome correction and criticism. Please click on the email slot at the right to report any problems with these pages or to suggest ideas for future stories. This is a completely free site. We fund it by providing an online magazine for paid subscribers. If you are not already a subscriber and you would like to help support our considerable research costs, you can subscribe for just $20.00 per year. As a paid subscriber, you will receive eight yearly issues plus many rare treats between times, including scans of photos and documents that illustrate local history, before they are shared with anyone else. You can go here for Subscription details and you can read the preview edition to see examples of our in-depth research. You may also order gift subscriptions for friends, family or clients who are interested in local history or students or military people who are away from home. Or you can email us for more details. Do you have scanned photos to share? Or you can mail us copies. See addresses to right.
Email us at:
(Click to send email)
Mail copies/documents to street address: Skagit River Journal, 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284.