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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
April 1-15, 1884

Skagit News, April 1, 1884
Volume 1, Issue 5
Field notes
Capt. Henry Roeder
      [Capt. Henry Roeder is considered the father of the Whatcom settlement. There were others in the Bellingham Bay area before, but he established a permanent site. He and Russell Peabody and two local Lummi guides landed at the foot of Whatcom Falls on December 15, 1852. That was roughly where the Whatcom county courthouse stands today. Chief Chawitzit of the Lummi island tribe supplied men to help the partners build their sawmill.
      Roeder was born July 4, 1824, in Herstadt, Germany, and his father, John Roeder, was a soldier in the Prussian army that fought at Waterloo. The family emigrated to Vermilion, Ohio, when Henry was seven and he became a sailor on the Great Lakes when he was 16, thus earning his title over the years. He met his future wife, Elizabeth Austin, there and her friend Phoebe Goodell later married Holden Judson and became one of the first settlers of Lynden.
      His wagon train reached Sacramento in August 1850, he started a store with Peabody at the headwaters of the Feather river and later bought stock in the Sacramento Fishing Company. Although we have not been able to place them together for any significant period of time, Roeder and Sedro pioneers Mortimer Cook and John Warner were all argonauts during the 1850s Gold Rush in that area. Fire led Roeder north. The fish company burned and he and Peabody headed towards Portland. En route they heard of the sixth fire in San Francisco and they began looking in earnest for a site to build a sawmill and provide lumber for rebuilding the city.
      After locating the site at Whatcom Falls, Roeder returned to San Francisco for machinery and millwrights. There he met William Utter, a millwright, and his old friend from Lake Erie, Edward Eldridge, who was on his way to settle in Australia when Roeder persuaded Eldridge to join him. They became two of the earliest settlers on Bellingham Bay.
      The mill was an iffy business, so Roeder sailed on Puget sound and built his own boats, trading up and down the Sound until 1858, when gold was discovered on the Fraser river in British Columbia and Whatcom became the gateway. He and Mortimer Cook partnered in a pack-train business, delivered freight to the miners. He had discovered the sandstone deposits on Chuckanut in 1853 and his major contract was for a lighthouse in Victoria, B.C. That business was a sideline for Roeder until 1876 when Portland, Oregon, ordered 6,000 tons of sandstone for its Customs House. He married Elizabeth Austin in the parlor of the old hotel at Olympia on Feb. 10, 1855.]

Logging camps

(Steam Donkey)
      This photo from the late John Wicker shows a logging crew with an early steam donkey sometime circa the 1890s. See the note above for details and a link to the story of the Dolbeer steam donkey that revolutionized logging starting in the 1880s.


April 8, 1884
Volume 1, Issue 6
Field notes
The Ranch
Talks with farmers

April 15, 1884
Volume 1, Issue 7
Field notes
[This ad group repeated weekly on the Field Notes page]
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Field notes
Return to the issues for March 4-25, 1884. Or return to transcriptions of other newspapers in Old Newspaper Logs

Story posted on Dec. 21, 2003 and last updated on Sept. 23, 2004
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