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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, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to 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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Northwest Skagit Advocate

Bow and environs, briefly described

(Department store)
      This photo of Crenshaw's Bow Department Store was taken in 1915, when a horse pulled the delivery wagon, just a few years before autos would take over. The book, Skagit Settlers — still for sale at the LaConner Museum, identifies the people as, l. to r., W. Nelson Crenshaw, the owner; Flossie Shadle Rains, the clerk and a daughter of butcher Lou Shadle; and Clyde Des Noyer at the reins of the delivery wagon. We are not sure why the sign reads: " 325 640 Foot Schulze & Co.," but that may have been advertising for a product. Photo from the Paul Shadle collection.

Inaugural Issue, Part 2 of 4
Bow, Oct. 10, 1908, Vol. 1, No. 1, B.M Frederick, Publisher
      The site of Bow, a thriving town on the Great Northern [railroad line], seven miles north of Burlington and on the eastern edge of the rich Samish region, was homesteaded by William J. Brown in 1889. In 1899, the Great Northern railway placed a corps of surveyors in this region, who ultimately ran a line from Belleville [three miles to the southeast] via Brown's place to the extreme western point of Chuckanut mountain, thence up the shore to Bellingham.
      This survey was eventually adopted and in 1901 the railway company began building this cutoff, finishing it the following year, and soon thereafter abandoning the old route over the mountain farther east. To furnish the Samish district, recognized as one of the richest sections of the county, with a new station in place of the one abandoned, the company established Bow. It erected a station building in the fall of 1901 and Henry Christanson was appointed resident agent. From the establishment of this station the real existence of the town dates.

(Shadle Meat Market)
The Shadle Meat Market in Bow, sometime after 1904, with Roy Shadle on the left and his father, Lou Shadle, the owner. they later had a meat market in Blanchard. Photo from the Luella Henry Wright collection, courtesy of the late Roger Fox.

      However, before the building of the railroad there had been a small settlement near Bow, known locally as Brownsville. It resulted from the building of a sawmill on the Brown place in 1892 by the Howard-Butler Company and the erection the same year of a school house near by. Several logging camps in the surrounding region contributed to the stability of the settlement, and gradually the number of ranchmen in the district increased. Postal facilities were not established until July 1901, or until after the railroad had been assured, and regular service did not commence until just one year later, when E.E. Heusted assumed the duties of postmaster. The postoffice and station were named Bow, at the suggestion of Mr. Brown, after the great railroad station in London, England.
      The same year the postoffice was opened, Ben Gardner built the Bow hotel, first known as the Gardner house. The next spring, McDougall & Brown built a saloon and that summer, W. Nelson Cranshaw [actually Crenshaw] established a department store in a shake house. At that time also the Winner Shingle Company built a shingle mill on the Brown place, thus giving the town proper its first industry.
      By 1904, Mr. Brown concluded that the time was ripe for the formal institution of a town, so platted twelve acres of his ranch into the townsite. E.E. Heusted opened a grocery store, a saloon was built, George McMillan erected a blacksmith shop, and Shadle & Smith placed their meat market in service, all before the close of the year 1904.
      The town boats of two rural free delivery routes and has connection with Edison, which lies three miles to the west, by stage three times a day [another article about Edison notes four times]. Aside from its strategic location as a business and shipping point, Bow has a rich tributary farming country, which is being rapidly settled.

(Shadle market exterior)
      This Paul Shadle photo of Lou Shadle's meat market appears to be from the very early days after 1902, when buildings literally rose between the stumps in Bow. Lou Shadle is in front of the doorway, then an unknown man and then Charlie Smith on the right; the man in the wagon is not identified. Reader Dan Miller has identified the building at the left as being the old Bow General Store and part of it still stands in 2006. Read about how you might be able to help save and restore this unique part of Bow's past.

Profiles of early leaders
William J. Brown, founder
      William J. Brown, retired farmer at Bow, is one of the pioneer men of Skagit county, who is intimately connected with the opening up of the country. He probably knows as much about the topography of the county as any man now resident here.
      Prior to coming to this country, Mr. Brown had been through experiences in the world which do not usually fall to the lot of the average man. He was born at the Bow [station? district?] in London, England, on October 15, 1850, the son of William M. Brown. The subject of this sketch left home when he was fourteen years of age, his father having bought him a commission on board a man of war sailing from Plymouth
      During his service on the seas he visited Madeira, the Cape of Good Hope, Singapore and Penang [could that be Penong, Australia?]. From the latter point, he went to the Micobar islands, near the Philippines, thence to Hong Kong and back to Bombay. He was in the Red sea at the time of the [first] war between Abyssinia and Great Britain [1865] , and was one of the expedition sent against King Theodore [Ethiopia in 1867] under [future British Lord] Napier . Another trip was through the straits of Malacca and to Yokohama, crossing from Japan to Victoria, British Columbia. At the last named place, Mr. Brown severed his connection with the queen's navy.
      He then came to Utsalady and commenced to tally lumber for shipping, remaining at that work for about two years. He ten came to Fidalgo island and bought 160 acres of land on Similk bay, which he sold in the fall of 1871. He then came to Samish island and later located on the place where he now resides.
      During all these years he was also engaged in sailing the sloop True Bluethe waters of the Sound. After two years thus engaged he sold the vessel to John J. Conner, one of the founders of La Conner [this newspaper inserted the space and used the two-word name as its style].
      Since leaving the shipping business he has done much cruising on timber lands. He has been deputy county surveyor and in this capacity surveyed the first road leading from Edison to Lake Samish and between the county line [and] Wickersham. During his timber cruising days, Mr. Brown located the first claim for Patrick McCoy, was in charge of the holdings of W.H. Miller of Wisconsin, and did all the location work for Clothier & English. He was the founder of Bow and is the owner of 210 acres of land, including a large portion of the townsite. Mr. Brown now devotes much of his time to his orchard of four hundred trees and his seventy stands of bees. He is a man of force of character and enjoys the respect of all.

      This photo is also courtesy of the late Roger Fox, who, like some other sources, misspelled the name of name of the store owner as Cranshaw — should be Crenshaw. This photo appears to be much earlier than the one above, a cruder view, showing the store when it arose from the surrounding stumps in the early days of the town.

W. Nelson Crenshaw
      Mr. W. Nelson Crenshaw, proprietor of the Bow Department Store, by either chance, good luck or clear-sighted judgment is the possessor of one of the largest and most prosperous mercantile establishment sin the Samish river valley. We would say it must have been a clear insight into the future that caused him to locate here in 1903, when Bow was little more than a field of stumps.
      It was a bright, sunshiny afternoon when Mr. Crenshaw drove from Burlington to Bow, through the dusty roads of the Olympia marsh, and on this first trip when he had looked the field over he expressed his opinion that Bow would some day become the principal distributing center for the entire Samish flats. Pinning his faith to the future, he at once began preparations to enter business here, and now enjoys the distinction of being the pioneer merchant of Bow.
      Mr. Crenshaw spent this boyhood days on a farm in Indiana, where they argue politics with a pitchfork and trade yellow corn and pumpkins to the storekeepers for groceries. After receiving a college education in the splendid institutions of that State, he turned his face to the westward. He broadened his knowledge of human nature and industrial conditions by spending a few years as traveling salesman along the entire pacific coast, and, as most everyone does after visiting California and Washington, he decided that the Puget Sound country had the climate and open door opportunities for young men. Two years ago, when Bow was formed into a new precinct, the citizens of the community honored him by calling him to act as the first magistrate of the district, which position he has filed to the entire satisfaction of everyone.

Cleary Brothers Shingle Mill
      Among the prominent and prosperous firms of Skagit county is that of Cleary Brothers [Benjamin, the eldest, born 1873; William, born 1877 and Grover, the youngest, born 1894], now and for the past eighteen months engaged in business in Bow. Born in Kansas they early longed for a change of scenery and more favorable industrial conditions than those prevailing in their native State. Looking for a suitable field wherein to win fortune they turned toward the northwest, and were not long in concluding that Puget Sound would be the scene of their future labors.
      They first located in Everett, where in great measure prosperity favored them. Finding conditions in that city not entirely to their liking, they came to Belleville, where they engaged in business and were very successful. Here they laid the foundation for the various enterprises in which later they embarked. Realizing that the scope of their operations was too circumscribed in Belleville, and that Bow had a bright future, in March 1907 they moved their stock of goods to this place, where they have since transacted a general merchandising business, being also engaged in the manufacture of red cedar shingles. The capital invested by them exceeds $45,000 and is the result of the energy and enterprise of two young men determined to succeed in the mercantile world. Their store rooms are commodious and well stocked with every article useful to mankind and they are always genial and attentive to customers.

Journal research re: Cleary family
     The Cleary brothers were among the dozens of people who moved to Skagit County from the tiny town of Lincoln Center, Kansas, in the 19th Century. If you have read the Journal story about George Green and Emerson Hammer of Sedro-Woolley, you know that Lincoln Center was the cradle for many of Woolley's pioneers. We are pleased that Mike Day of Kansas recently read that site and responded with many details about the Lincoln City emigres. He informed us that John Cleary moved his family of nine to Burlington sometime before March 4, 1894, the date that his youngest son was born in Mount Vernon. Many Kansans moved to Washington for jobs in the logging industry after the 1893 Financial Panic.
      In John Cleary's case, however, he left Kansas for different reasons and earlier. The impetus for people moving to Skagit County was Green's decision to move; he was a major cattleman back there and many families followed him. He sent Emerson Hammer, his son-in-law, out here first in June 1889, with his new bride, Isabel Green. Green also happens to have been shot by Cleary's older brother, Patrick Cleary, back in Kansas in 1869. Two years later, after Cleary murdered at least two other men, a mob took Patrick out of his jail cell and hanged him until dead in a lynching off a railroad bridge. John Cleary's obituary in the Lincoln Sentinel indicates that John moved his family out here sometime afterward. We are still investigating whether John owned his own mill, separate from his sons, after moving here. We do know that he came to a sad end out here in 1907, dying in the drunk tank of the Burlington jail. We know from Ray Jordan's book, Yarns of the Skagit Country, that three of John Cleary's sons were involved with the Samish River shingle mill: William, Ben, and Grover.

(Early Bow downtown)
      This very old and faded photo from the Roger Fox collection shows what the Bow downtown looked like in the very early days, when old-growth timber still stood on Bow Hill to the east. The building at the far right is the Shadle Brothers Butcher Shop, with the two-story Bow Department Store behind it.

Bow briefs
(Post Office)
The post office in Bow opened on Dec. 27, 1901. Deanna Ammons photo.

      Mayor Peterson is a busy man these days. He not only attends to all municipal affairs but manages to find time to inspect all passing trains.
      Mrs. R.L. McClellan now has her restaurant painted, which greatly adds to its attractiveness. Her popularity as a caterer is well deserved and judging by constantly increasing patronage her efforts to please are highly appreciated.
      A.G. Lincoln is one of our citizens engaged in general merchandising and carries a large assortment of goods, which he is well satisfied to dispose of at prevailing prices. Customers always receive courteous treatment and their wants are attended to with promptness.
      Mr. T.A. Chestnut, one of our most substantial citizens, was in Olympia last week on a business trip. He expects to soon occupy his handsome new residence and shortly after the November election, will depart for Panama, where he will spend the winter. If conditions appear favorable he may engage in business there.
      J.E. Stewart and Son are engaged in the wagonmaking and blacksmithing business on an extensive scale and receive a large patronage from the citizens of Bow and vicinity. The elder Stewart was one of Uncle Sam's frontier guardians of the peace during the times when the redskins were busy "looking for wigs."
      Mr. L.D. Shadle, Bow's busy butcher, is one of the most enterprising men in any line of business. He not only retails fresh and salt meat of all descriptions, but is an extensive buyer and seller of live stock, and also pays cash for all the poultry he can get. A few more such hustlers as Mr. Shadle would make Bow a bigger and better town.
      Men are engaged in clearing logged off land within the town limits and one would be led to believe this is a step toward placing the same on the market in the shape of building lots. Work of this kind cannot go on too rapidly, as the day is not far distant when every foot of available ground will be in demand for business and residence sites.
      Walter Hughes, the harness maker and shoe repairer, is decorating the interior of his shop in a neat and expensive style, in anticipation of a visit from his wife and married daughter, the former from their home in Bellingham and the latter from Big Lake, where she is residing. He is every ready to meet the wants of customers, even though the sign over his door reads "Business is Good."
      Messrs. [George] Botts and [Earl] Kincaid conduct the only pool and billiard parlor in Bow. A good barber shop is also connected therewith, Mr. Kincaid being the tonsorial artist, and besides other attractions, candies, tobacco and cigars are kept in large assortment. A large hall for amusement purposes is located on the second floor, and altogether they are headquarters for all that goes to make life enjoyable.
      The crying need of Bow is a bakery. It is not pleasant to have to substitute crackers and mush for bread two or three days at a stretch, besides which the idea of sending to Bellingham and Seattle for bread is not only inconvenient but seems so ridiculous. The field for a good bakery is a large one, as Edison also has to depend on outside cities for this supply. Give us our daily bread and we'' thank the baker in cash.
      The new WCTU hall is nearing completion and will be the result of some rapid work in the way of raising money to build as well as construction. The idea of erecting headquarters for the temperance advocates was not long in materializing, and soon a fine structure will be ready for occupancy. The money needed for the purpose was raised by subscription, Mr. William J. Brown donating the lot on which the building stands. The hall has a large floor space and the exterior presents a neat architectural appearance. Concrete pillars are used for the foundation, which seemed to be an innovation to a Burlington visitor. Thus do the wiseacres of "metropolitan cites" learn a little by even a short visit to the promising town of Bow.
      The public school of Bow now has an enrollment of 57 pupils, 28 of whom are located on the first floor and 29 on the second. Miss Aiken is in charge of the latter, while Miss Anderson has the task of teaching the tots in the lower grades.
      Coal oil is cheaper in Bow than in Burlington, even with the boasted transportation facilities of the latter place. Something is wrong somewhere, but we would not wan to say the fault lies with the merchants of the "hub of Skagit County." [Journal ed. note: When three railroads crossed at P.A. Woolley's company town to the east in 1890, he called his town of Woolley The Hub of Skagit County. After Mount Vernon grew, following the fire of 1891 and the arrival of the Great Northern train that year, that town also adopted the Hub slogan. This is the first note of Burlington doing the same, which is logical for them, since at that time, both the Great Northern and Northern Pacific trains criss-crossed in the middle of town.]
      About two months ago the citizens of Bow were "going to" place board sidewalks the entire length of the main street. We understand sufficient funds for the purpose are at hand, but it seems prefer "going to" to doing it — sort of manana like.
      Send us all the news you can — by mail, phone or auto. The territory tributary to the publication office is so extensive and populous that we find it impossible to visit each section personally. Help us and we'll help you.

Links, background reading and sources
See links to the other three parts of this issue at Issue 33 contents page for subscribers:
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