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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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Skagit News earliest issues, 1884
March 4-25, 1884

Skagit News, March 4, 1884
Volume 1, Issue 1 [Published on Tuesdays]
Publisher William Cox Ewing
(William C. Ewing)
William C. Ewing, 1904. Courtesy of Marilyn Price-Mitchell

      Ewing was a descendant of one of the most famous political and military families in America. If you are a subscriber to our separate Subscribers Edition online, you will read in Issue 17 about several generations of the Ewing family and you will also learn about U.S. politics and government in the 19th century; the family's influence on Abraham Lincoln, the defense of Dr. Samuel Mudd and President Andrew Johnson; Washington territory and the first successful ascent of Mount Rainier. Ewing founded the Skagit News, the first newspaper in Mount Vernon, on March 4, 1884. and published it until Sept. 29, 1885. That story will be shared on the free homepages later. If you are not yet a subscriber, here is how to subscribe. If you are a subscriber, you can go to the main page for the current issue and check Issue 17 for the Ewing link.
Field notes
      Mount Vernon Road proposed. Continuous road should be completed from the Samish river to the Skagit river, joining the north road from McPherson's logging camp on the Samish, connect to Gage's Landing. Gap only two miles now.
      [Ed. note: William Gage had the first logging camp in what is now Mount Vernon in the mid-1870s. Researcher Tom Robinson places that original camp somewhere around what we now call Carnation Plaza at the site of the old condensery. That means that Gage's claim would have bordered on the north what was Jasper Gates's claim, which covered what is now the core of downtown Mount Vernon. That is also almost exactly parallel to the bottom of the upper log jam that clogged the river up until about 1880. Gates brought his family from Whidbey island on the famous 1870 trip on the sternwheeler Linnie. See the website about the 1869-71 settlers of the future Mount Vernon area.]
      [Ed. note: Re: the Landing referenced above, we presume that was located on the slough later named for William Gage, north of the Skagit. Tom Robinson suggests: "I don't know precisely where the second camp was, but I know that it was on Gage's Lake (clearly named after him), which is really just a big pond. It's the one you drive past not far from the southern end of the Pulver Road. The lake must once have connected to the river just about where the Pulver Road runs into it." See another note about Pulver in the March 11 and March 25 issues.]

Other editorials

March 11, 1884
Volume 1, Issue 2
Field notes

(Mount Vernon Waterfront 1884)
      This photo supplied by reader Larry Harnden shows a view of the Mount Vernon waterfront on the Skagit river as we look northeast. The building at the right center with a group of men standing before it is Ruby Hotel, opened by Michael McNamara to house some of the argonauts of the short-lived 1880 gold rush on Ruby creek, a tributary of the upper Skagit. We believe that the building at the far left is the Mount Vernon House, owned by Brann and Moran. See the ads above for both.

March 18, 1884
Volume 1, Issue 3
Field notes: Downriver
Rev. B.N.L. Davis
      [Rev. Davis, a Baptist minister from Tennessee, was one of the most colorful characters among the earliest pioneers of the valley. Born in Tennessee on November 20, 1849, Brisbane Napoleon Longinus Davis came to the Skagit valley in 1873 as an itinerant preacher along with his brother J.R.H. (Harvey) Davis. Along with his calling, Davis had a knack for making money. He staked a claim on the south side of the Skagit river, which stretched from the old concrete pilings still in the river from the Interurban days, east to Hoag Hill, named for the family who lived there after Davis's death. He is considered the second upriver settler, arriving a year after Alvin H. Williamson, who planted hop farms near present-day Lyman. Davis leased Williamson's ranch in 1880 when the owner was ill and made a killing on the hops, which were sold to British beer makers. He built his stone and wood house on Hoag Hill a year later and went back to Tennessee and married Doliska Cockreham. In 1885 he built a magnificent barn for the Holstein cattle that he introduced to Skagit county. He died at his home on May 8, 1891, at the age of 41 after contracting influenza while ministering to an elderly woman in his flock.
      Dick Fallis, who published the old Puget Sound Mail in LaConner and self-published a book about Davis, shares his wonderful Davis biography on Dan Royal's fine website. Included is a wonderful item about Davis from his early days when he preached at the old Harmony Church. He explained his unique method of visiting his parishioners:

      "I have to wade much of the way; the water was up to my knees, and my long stick is to protect me from the pits." (Holes washed out by the tides.) The interviewer asked: "You must have to start early; they tell me you have to walk eleven miles." "Yes," he replied, "I start before daybreak. When I get my chores done, I take my lantern and start out." Asked if he had lost his lantern, he replied: "Oh, no; when it gets to be daylight I set my lantern down on a root or stump, and then pick it up on the way back home."]

      At that time, it is possible that Britt's Slough was still open from the river. It once was an overflow channel from the river going out from somewhere around the present sewer treatment plant and running back into the river down at the forks. That might have made an "island" of the Kimble place. I doubt that it would refer to a place down on Fir Island, since no one until long after ever called "the Skagit Delta" anything else than that. Until the early twentieth century, what we call Fir Island — before the complete diking of the North Fork — was divided by Dry Slough, Wylie's Slough, and a few others into several islands.
      Therefore, we suspect that the editor meant an island or maybe a peninsula that was formed between Britt's slough and the river. Maybe a reader will know more about this. ]

Field notes: Upriver


March 25, 1884
Volume 1, Issue 4
Field notes

Continue on to the issues for April 1, April 8 and April 15, 1884.

Story posted on Dec. 21, 2003 and last updated on Nov. 22, 2004
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