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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

(Samish Island)
      This aerial photo was taken in 1964, looking northwest, with Puget Sound in the background, and Samish Island and the western part of the Samish River Valley in the foreground. It is courtesy of, a terrific historical resource, a virtual feast that is packed with research and photos and you will want to start your own research there.

Inaugural Issue, Part 1 of 4
Bow, Oct. 10, 1908, Vol. 1, No. 1
      Deanna Ammons, who has devoted herself in her retirement days to researching the history of Clearlake and Day Creek, has done it again. She found the inaugural issue of the Northwest Skagit Advocate, the only newspaper of the town of Bow. I had long ago given up ever finding an issue of that newspaper, much less the first one. It began two years after the Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties was published, the book that expertly profiles the papers of frontier days. Ray Jordan missed it in his research of newspapers for Yarns of Skagit County, as did the other local histories that have been assembled in the last 100 years. As far as we know, that was the first newspaper in the Samish Valley since the Edison Phonograph launched in 1892 and died during the ensuing Depression.
      When the Advocate was born in 1908, the Samish River valley — tucked into the northernmost corner of Skagit County, was roaring with business and prosperity and hopes and dreams. The economy was on an upswing, starting in 1907, and cities all along the West Coast were growing rapidly, so they were natural markets for both the timber resources of northwest Washington and the annual bumper crops from farmland that replaced the former timber stands.
      If there was any surprise in this particular newspaper, it was the obvious lack of political drumbeating. The editor's stated goal was to be a town and area-booster. Most frontier weekly newspapers at that time were stridently aligned with one of the main political parties, especially in 1908, the presidential election year. Back in Washington, D.C., debate was heavy as Republican Theodore Roosevelt stepped down in favor of William Howard Taft, but there is no mention of such in the Advocate. The publisher clearly stated on Page Two: "We shall be too busy with industrial affairs to pay any attention to politics. Besides which we don't like politics anyway." As you will note below, however, he did not hesitate to reprint an incendiary article from another area newspaper. Another difference — many other weeklies of those days devoted their front pages to national news received by telegraph; that is also absent in this inaugural issue, the publisher choosing instead to profile the growing towns of the valley. We would love to see subsequent issues to observe what priorities the publisher had for news.
      This issue profiled the towns of Bow and Edison, which were lateral bookends for the valley. We reproduce here in detail those profiles, along with advertisements. We wish we could tell you more about the editor, B.M. Frederick, but he seems not to have left a footprint, either. Perhaps a reader will know about him. We also hope that a reader can tell us how long the Advocate existed.
      In this introduction webpage, we present three sections of the Advocate: the plans of the publisher, general area news and a summary of early Skagit Valley settlement that was presented on page one. See the links below for the three other sections of this issue and suggestions for more background reading. We have reproduced the stories with very light editing for clarification, and links and annotation are added in [ ] brackets and underscored items. More detailed annotations will be marked: [Journal ed. note]. We welcome additions by readers, along with copies of documents and photos that will make this section complete.

Introduction to Issue 1
To the public
      The first issue of the Northwest Skagit Advocate speaks for itself, and while we recognize a number of shortcomings and room for improvement in the future, it is a fair sample of what the people of the Samish valley may expect each week hereafter. We do not believe in lengthy promises, nor in undue praise of our own efforts, but we can truthfully say that every exertion will be put forth to make the Advocate one of the representative newspapers of Skagit county, at all times advertising the interests of the rich field in which it is located, and furnishing its patrons with all the local and general news each week to the extent of our ability.

Editorial Page
Natural advantages of the valley

      The sturdy pioneers of this section of Skagit county were not long in realizing its future possibilities as to productiveness of soil after the removal of the immense forests of commercial timber and were not slow in locating homesteads, upon which are now grown the finest deciduous fruits of all varieties, as well as prodigious crops of cereals of every description, all without the aid of irrigation; the precipitation of moisture being ample at all times.
      In the way of fruits, we produce pears, peaches, plums, prunes, apples, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, etc., all of enormous size, finest flavor, and in such abundance as to astonish the Eastern visitor, inasmuch as the impression is abroad that this region is so far north that a rigorous climate would preclude the raising of fruit of any kind. The truth of the matter is that our winter weather is not as cold as that in the vicinity of San Francisco, the temperature during that period never being uncomfortable and remaining equable until the approach of spring, when the days become appreciably warmer, and the nights, ever cool, afford most refreshing sleep, in striking contrast with the enervating climate of the eastern and southern states.

Publisher's plans
      Subscriptions will cost $1 per annum [other local papers charged an average of $2]. It is the intention of the publisher to distribute throughout the eastern states from twenty to fifty copies of the Advocate each week, no county or section receiving them two weeks in succession. By this means we aim and hope to advertise the possibilities and advantages of that portion of the Puget Sound country in which we have chosen to locate and make our home. For this we neither ask nor expect any remuneration save that increase of patronage which naturally results from an influx of population, being quite willing to help the community grow and grow with it.
      We want the news. Friends will please tell the reporter all they know regarding local happenings. Drop a line in the post office or call at the publication office in the Brown Building, where the latchstring always hangs on the outside. We want the names of visitors at your home; births and deaths; those who are on the sick list; accidents or mishaps; improvements in your neighborhood; suggestions regarding social movements or public policy; or anything which you might think would be at all interesting to a friend or relative. This edition of the Northwest Skagit Advocate is free to all.

Our area
      From the Anacortes American we learn that the oat crop of Skagit county recently harvested amounted to 1,800,000 bushels, against 1,500,000 bushels last year, and this from 20,000 acres of land. The market price was $792,000. There are yet many thousands of acres of just as good soil awaiting the energetic, industrious farmers of the eastern half of the continent.
      Bow is the distributing point for all that section of Skagit county north of Belleville and embraces a large area devoted to farming, horticulture, dairying and lumbering. It is situated eighty miles north of Seattle, sixteen miles south of Bellingham and about sixty miles east of Victoria, Vancouver island

Local news
A lively meeting of non-partisan league
A number of Court House candidates are scored and records aired

From the Skagit County Times, Sedro-Woolley
      There was a county issue political rally at the Eutopia [Utopia, east of Sedro, near Minkler Lake] school house, beyond Skiyou, Wednesday night. It was the hottest affair that has attracted attention for some time. Every available seat in the main hall of the building was occupied by ladies and gentlemen residents of the neighborhood, candidates and visitors from this city and other points.
      The meeting was under the auspices of the Skagit County Non-partisan Good government League, and was presided over by R.S. Beavers [unsure of proper spelling], a staunch Republican, a loyal granger and a man of responsibility. The meeting was addressed by Messrs. Howard, Hammack, [William] Bouck, [Lunde?] Perry, Cheney, [Henry?] Gay, Morrow and Beaver. [Journal ed. note: William Bouck, a Utopia farmer and partner in the Skagit Commission granary of Sedro-Woolley, turned out to be a very unusual politician for his rural area, as you will read in an upcoming profile.]
      Good government and the responsibility of voters therefore was the chief topic of discussion. Incidentally the general purposes served by past county administrations, and the individuals purposes and acts of certain Republican candidates now seeking office, were brought into the lime light in a way to frighten decently inclined people [limelight was the bright glow from the stage-lighting apparatus used in vaudeville theaters].

Officeholders' and candidates' feet to the fire
      Commissioner [William J.] Thompson, Frank Bradsberry and August Brawley were atrociously featured. At the opening of the meeting, there was only "one hoss" on Billy Thompson, but before it ended it had developed into two. It is dollars to doughnuts that if William every attempted to answer publicly questions upon this subject, that he won't get away from his questioner as he did from Pressentin. There were some mighty broad assertions made against Mr. Thompson by responsible men who are ready to go to court, if William wishes, and prove their assertions by documentary evidence.
      [Journal ed. note: Thompson will be profiled in Issue 35 of the Subscribers Journal. Thompson was the county commissioner for the third district from 1906-12. He left that post to take office as the elected mayor of Sedro-Woolley in 1912 and presided over the ceremonies when the bridge was built over the Skagit River from Sedro-Woolley to Clearlake in that year. On Aug. 27, 1914, he was killed in an auto accident near Concrete, while campaigning to regain the commissioner's seat against Henry Thompson (unrelated) of Concrete. After his death, the bridge was dedicated to him.]
      Frank Bradsberry's "corroborative evidence" last was read to the audience and pointed to as the one particular thing that made the county's supreme dirty record still dirtier, and more abhorrent to every decent citizen and community of the entire Coast and Northwest. [Bradsberry, one of the most colorful loggers in frontier Skagit County will also be featured in Issue 35 of the Subscribers Journal.]
      August Brawley, Republican candidate for prosecuting attorney, who turned his political coat [from Democrat] to become a candidate for office on the always winning side, was accused of being the accredited intended agent of W.J. Henry [of Allen and Blanchard], Tom Smith [attorney in Sedro-Woolley and then in Mount Vernon], Tom Costello and Zig Nelson, and the intended protector of yet concealed viciousness against good government in the past. [Brawley won the election in November that year and was reelected in 1910.]
      The assertions against the integrity of Mr. Thompson were questioned, but the gentlemen making them declared they had irrefutable evidence to prove all they said and were ready to go into court with the matter if Mr. Thompson desired.

Attempt to blow up a train
made near town of Lyman

      An attempt was made on Friday evening last to blow up the westbound train on the Rockport branch of the Great Northern [railroad], which, if it had been successful, would no doubt have resulted in the death of a number of people.
      When near Lyman the train was halted by a signal from a man with a lantern. The engineer and fireman, upon alighting from the cab, found that some unknown party had placed a stick of dynamite with the cap adjusted so that the train would run over it and cause a fearful explosion. The man who had halted the train had discovered the dynamite just a second before he saw the train coming as he was walking toward Lyman.
      It is believed that the attempt to blow up the train was too close to Lyman for the motive to be a holdup, the opinion being that it was the work of some crank who had a grudge against the company.

"All but the damsels,"
says Commissioner Moody

From the Anacortes America
      County Commissioner R.M. Moody of Burlington (second district) is undoubtedly proof against the gilt brick professor, but the knight or lady of the pick still has hopes in that direction — or had up to last Monday evening, when the big commissioner formed the keystone of an arch otherwise reported formed of dazzling damsels in the Buffalo Bill crush at the Great Northern station in Bellingham.
      It was a fond (spelled with a "U") embrace for Moody and he came out of the squeeze minus $55 in cash and $500 in checks and notes. As for the bricks, however, Mr. Moody ranks with the elect and escortic. He recently incorporated the Enameled Press Brick Co. of Richmond Beach, between Seattle and Tacoma, with $300,000 capital, and owning what is reputed as the best press brick and enamel process extant. A series of factories is planned, the first to be ready for operation at Richmond Beach about December 1.

A.Y.P. Exposition notes of progress
      Fifteen to twenty car loads of material are used daily in preparing the grounds and buildings for the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition at Seattle in 1908. The one-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the Fraser river will come next year. It is proposed to celebrate the event by proper observance at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition at Seattle next summer.
      Five hundred thousand dollars is being spent on new construction work, extension and improvements for the street car lines of Seattle to accommodate the crowds at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition next summer.
      Fifty natives for the Eskimo village at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition arrived in Seattle recently. The natives brought with them their huts, sleds, reindeer, ivory carving tools and everything that goes to make up a complete reproduction of their native habits.
      Canada has officially accepted the invitation to participate in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The Dominion will have a building of its own in which each province, chiefly those of the West and especially the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan will make special displays.
      The government proposes as a feature of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition next year to make a display of gold coin, bullion, dust and gold bearing gravel and nuggets of a total value of $1,250,000. Just think of that amount of money! One tenth of it would satisfy most men as a life-time accumulation and not one man in ten thousand ever possesses the sum of 410,000. Nine men out of every ten never make in a life time of hard work the sum of $20,000 and few people ever possess in actual coin at one time the sum of $100. And Uncle Sam proposes to show at one sitting a million and a quarter in actual gold.
      The gates of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition grounds at Seattle have been closed to free admission and henceforth a fee of ten cents will be charged. The work has progressed so rapidly that several thousand people visit the grounds every day. It is not usual for the gates to close so far ahead of an official opening, but the Pacific World's Fair is making a record toward the completion of the work.

Burlington briefs

Short History of Fidalgo Island-area settlement
A brief review of early times in Skagit County, Washington
      It was in 1858, after the Fraser river excitement [gold rush in British Columbia], that the first permanent settlers began the task of home building in what is now the county of Skagit. In a land where the locomotive's whistle had never been heard, where roads of any kind were not in existence, and where waterways were practically the only means of travel, it is not surprising that an island should be chosen as the site of this early settlement.
      Furthermore, on Fidalgo was one very potent attraction to those who would follow husbandry in a densely timbered country. At the head of Fidalgo bay was a fern-covered prairie of considerable area, a prairie which it is said had been a favorite camping ground of the Indian tribes for unknown ages. It had early attracted the atte3ntion of roving white men from San Juan county and other settlements on the Sound.
      Charles W. Beale states that in the winter of 1858-9, he, with Horace Martin and William McFarland, hunted all over Guemes island, where were an abundance of deer and other game, as well as thousands of wolves. Later, Mr. Beale and his cousin, Robert Beale, in company with several others, including Lieutenant Robert H. Davis, nephew of the president of the Southern Confederacy, visited this fern prairie on a hunting expedition. Pleased with it s appearance, they concluded to establish a permanent headquarters there.
      Davis squatted on what later became known as the Munks place. Charles W. Beale took land adjoining him on the north, and all united in erecting a cabin on the imaginary boundary line between the two claims, which cabin was occupied by all for a time. Davis returned to the army soon thereafter, and his place was taken by William Bonner of Utsalady, who sold his rights in December 1859 to William Munks, the consideration being sixty dollars and a silver watch. It is said that Mr. Munks always claimed to be the first permanent settler and that he was very proud of the title, sometimes applied to him, of "King of Fidalgo Island." His claim as to priority of settlement is, however, disputed.
      Charles W. Beale remained on his claim until 1862, when he placed it in charge of his cousin Robert and went north. Returning after a stay of five years in the British possessions, he found that Robert Beale had become hard pressed for funds and sold the place to George Cagey for seventy-five dollars. The subsequent history of Robert may be summarized by saying that, after disposing of his cousin's rights, he purchased from Joseph Little, for the paltry consideration of five dressed deer skins, worth about two dollars and a half each, a squatter's title to another tract of land and held it until 1869. He then sold it to Robert Becker for six hundred dollars and went to California for this health. Returning later to Puget Sound, he met and engaged in combat with a huge bear, in which both were killed.
      Charles located across the bay from the main settlement, and he is authority for the statement that in 1868 the smoke from forest fires throughout the country became so dense that navigators on the Sound could not see a boat length ahead, and that birds, suffocated by the thick, black smoke clouds of the upper air, often fell onto the decks of vessels and into the water. Crops did not ripen that year because of excessive smoke in the atmosphere. The summers during those early years were usually characterized by dense smoke, but as civilization has advanced on the Sound, more care has been taken to prevent forest fires, and now inconvenience from this source has almost entirely ceased.
      To make a complete roll of the early settlers of Fidalgo, Guemes and other islands of Skagit county would be next to impossible, but among the earliest were William Munks, Enoch Compton, Charles W. and Robert K. Beale, H.A. March, James Cavanaugh, H.C. Barkhousen, Shadrach and Richard Wooten, George Ensley and George Cagey.

Journal research re: Fidalgo
(William Munks)
William Munks — both photos courtesy of Jeffrey J. Munks

      We plan to move this article to a separate section in the near future, but we are sharing our initial research about some of the Fidalgo pioneers mentioned above. We hope that a reader will be a descendant of the family and/or be a researcher who will share copies of documents or photos to help us complete profiles of the pioneers. The reader needs to understand that Washington was still a territory when these pioneers arrived, having split off from Oregon Territory in 1853. And what is now Skagit Valley and Skagit County was part of Whatcom county, which was formed out of the much larger Island County in 1854.
      First, we share the report from Chapter 2 of the 1906 book, Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish Counties, which lists pioneers from the perspective of James A. Power, editor of the Bellingham Bay Mail, who traveled to Fidalgo in April 1975:

      The writer also visited Fidalgo island, noticing the Swinomish Indian reservation in the southern part and the white settlements in the northern classing the land held by the latter as the garden spot of Whatcom county. He made mention of the fine farms of Messrs. H. C. Barkhousen, H. A. March, S.B. Best, William Munks, William Crandall, H.J. White, J. A. Compton, Robert Becker, Shadrach Wooten, H. Sibley and others. He also crossed to Guemes island and visited the places belonging to Messrs. Edens and O'Bryant; likewise called at Cypress island on his round and viewed the well-improved farms of Mr. Kittles and Mr. Tilton.

Charles W. Beale
      We also have on file the memory of Fidalgo-pioneer descendant Carrie White described Beale in her famous but unpublished manuscript, Fidalgo Island Before The Boom, which she delivered at the Anacortes Historical Club on Sept. 13, 1898, two months before William Munks died: "Mr. Charles Beale states that he came first to Fidalgo in March 1859 on a hunting expedition in company with his cousin Robert K. Beale, Robert H. Davis, a nephew of Jefferson Davis, John Hughes, Charles Pearson and [no first name] Brown." She recounted that Beale volunteered that year to supplement Capt. Pickett's force on San Juan Island during the outbreak of the "Pig War" on San Juan Island While he was gone, Robert became hard up and sold their squatters' rights for $75. Beale stayed on at Fidalgo and became an active farmer, famous for his "Beale's Peach" variety that grew here against all advice. The land near his original patch attracted other later permanent settlers, including John and Almina (Richards) Griffin, Hiram A. [usually referred to as "H.A."] March and John Fravel, among others. We also want to note that the Davis story is not apocryphal. We are now transcribing the notes of Bellingham publisher Frank Teck, who profiled young Davis.

Henry C. Barkhousen
      In his Pioneer Picnic eulogies of 1968, the late historian John F. Conrad reviewed the life of Mrs. Helen Matters Wood of Summit Park, which includes parts of the properties listed above. He explained that she was a granddaughter of Henry C. Barkhousen, and Conrad went on to share his notes on Henry:
      Henry Barkhousen, Helen's grandfather, settled on Fidalgo Island, coming from Whatcom in 1865 and located on what was later known as the Baxter Farm, now part of the present Texaco refinery property. He had been Auditor of Whatcom county and a member of the Territorial Legislature. After William Munks served 20 years as postmaster of Fidalgo, Mr. Barkhousen succeeded him on Dec. 4, 1890, the same day the office was changed to East Anacortes. That was the year of the big boom and that office covered an area that included March's Point. Apparently they were not too happy with the new name and in two months it was again called Fidalgo. Barkhousen kept the position for ten years, succeeded on Dec. 26, 1900, by Mrs. Munks. He once sold a team of horses to Capt. George Morse of Whidbey Island and they were obliged to swim them across inner Deception Pass from Dewey [due east of the bridge built in 1935], landing them near a skid road leading to Dugualla Bay [northeast Whidbey Island]. Barkhousen took a more optimistic view of pioneer life than many, said he preferred the open prairie soil of Fidalgo Bay to the difficult muddy farms to be had by diking on the flats. He said he had not seen too much hardship in his pioneering — a good garden was easily grown and a suit of clothes lasted for years. All the Barkhousen children spent their lives on the [Fidalgo] island. Granddaughter Helen and her sister still made their home on a corner of the old homestead, just south of the Texaco plant.

Fidalgo Women pioneers
      When Carrie White and her family arrived in 1873, she and her mother were in a small group of eight white women in the area, "including Almina Richards Griffin, first teacher on Fidalgo Island, and Kate Hilton March, married to Hiram March. Of the male settlers who married native women, most notable were Henry Barkhousen, who married Chief Sehome's beautiful daughter Julia, and James Kavanaugh, who married a Swinomish chief's daughter known as Tol Stola. She is affectionately remembered as Grandma Kavanaugh." For more of the quoted material, see the timeline provided by the Anacortes Museum. Julia was actually the granddaughter of Chief Sehome, whose anglicized name was then Sea-Home. Almina [sometimes spelled Almira] was the wife of William Griffin. They moved to the Cap Sante area, then called Rock Point, soon after 1870 and their early neighbor was Dr. D.Y. Deere. Almina — whose maiden name was either Richard or Richards, also taught in Sehome in the mid-1870s and roomed there with the parents of author Lottie Roeder Roth — Henry Roeder's family.

William Munks
      Munks was one of the pioneer giants of the island, the valley, the county and the Northwest. He is profiled in many places and we are preparing our own profile of him, trying not to just repeat the many accolades and anecdotes of his life. Don Kelley, a grandson of the sister of Munks's second wife, Olive Branch Benston, and he has provided many details about the man that are not commonly known. Jeffrey J. Munks is William's great-grandson, descending from William's wife. Many people are unaware of Arminda Van Valkenburg, William's first wife. Jeffrey provided some new details:
      William served in the Army under Ulysses Grant during the Mexican-American War. Following the war, he made his way north and spent some time mining in Nevada before heading to northern Washington and settling near Anacortes. Based on what I have seen in your newsletter, it looks like you have much of the information concerning his activities during those years; postmaster, hotel builder, etc. He sent away to Sears in Chicago for a mail order bride and that is how [Arminda Van Valkenburg] wound up coming out via the Oregon Trail on a prairie schooner in 1880. [They married on Aug. 11, 1881 at Seattle.] Nicknamed Minnie, she gave William five sons in short order. They were William, Leonard, Arthur, Merton Grant, and one whose name I do not know. Arthur died in the Flu Epidemic of 1918. Merton Grant (middle name in honor of U.S. Grant), born in 1885, was my paternal grandfather. . . . My grandfather spent his remaining years on a small farm next to Leonard Munks's place in Anacortes. Leonard was my great uncle. Our family spent a number of summers dividing our time between Merton in Anacortes and Julia in Mt. Vernon. Mildred married Bud Robinson and moved to Bremerton. Merton Grant, Julia, and Mildred have all long since passed away. My father, Merton Arthur, and mother are still going strong.
      Although some sources contend that Munks came to the Washington Territory at the time of the Fraser River gold rush in 1858, Don Kelly recalls family history that placed him here when the International Border was being carved out of the forest along the 49th Parallel. In 1999, Don Munks — great-grandson of Munks and currently a Skagit County Commissioner, told a reporter from the Skagit Valley Herald: "He came up here to help make peace treaties with the Indians so the surveyors wouldn't be hunted." We also have a copy of the 1890 magazine, Anacortes Illustrated, which notes that he came west from Ohio and . . .
(Minnie Munks)
Minnie Munk

      In 1849 Mr. Munks went to the far West, hunted and trapped for a time on the western slope of the Rockies, visited Oregon and then went to the placer mines of North Carolina, remaining until 1855, during which time he took part in two Indian wars. In 1855 he returned to Oregon and entered the service under Joel Palmer of the Indian Department. After making a successful trading and prospecting trip to the headwaters of the Columbia through a hostile Indian country. [This timeline is at variance with other Munk profiles.] Mr. Munks came to Puget Sound and served one season on the United States Boundary Commission, locating the boundary between Washington Territory and British Columbia and at the breaking out of the Frazer gold excitement, established a trading post at Fort Vale and embarked in mining. In 1859 he selected a beautiful spot on Fidalgo Island, now known as Munks Landing, and settled down, but the following spring went on a trading expedition to the Similkameen mines [eastern Washington/Southern B.C.] and afterwards on an exploration to the Harney Lake country, returning to following fall to his home and opened a mercantile store; he was surrounded by Indians with no white settlers within twenty-five miles but he was never molested. Mr. Munks was postmaster at Fidalgo for twenty years; he had at one time 800 acres of land, of which he sold eighty acres and contributed seventy acres as subsidies to the Seattle & Northern Pacific Railroads.
      During the Great Depression, the WPA researchers interviewed many pioneers, some of whom knew Munks personally. In the resulting 1938 book, Told by the Pioneers, Volume 2, the authors supplied tremendous details of the daily life of Munks and others:
      At that time he was employed as a scout by the State of Oregon. He was the first permanent white settler on Fidalgo Island, having bought a squatter's right of the first homestead on January 14, 1861, from William Bonner, the consideration being $60.00 and a silver watch. Bonner, who came from Utsaladdy [Utsalady], Camano Island, had been occupying the cabin which had been built on the place in the spring of 1859 by Lieutenant Robert H. Davis, nephew of the celebrated President of the Southern Confederacy, who, with several other white wanderers, had come over from the San Juan country on a hunting trip.
      After hunting on Guemes (earlier know as Dog Island, also Lawrence Island) where there was an abundance of deer and other game besides thousands of howling wolves, they pulled their boat over to the head of Fidalgo Bay, (referred to by earlier settlers as "Squaw Bay"). The party included Charles W. Beal and his cousin, Robert Beal [actual spelling was Beale]. They had decided to stay there awhile and, using a squatter's right, built a cabin cornered on the imaginary line of their claims. Then the Civil War called Lieutenant Davis and he left suddenly for the South, where he joined the Southern forces and won distinction.
      Soon after settling, Mr. Munks went to Bellingham to find an old friend, Eric Compton, and succeeded in persuading him to move to Fidalgo Island and locate beside him. These two helped each other and made their trips to Bellingham together. They rowed their boat each way, and it was a long pull with the oars to Bellingham, where they marketed their wild game and produce. Each trip took several days and they had certain places where they camped, usually near other white settlers. During the sixties other families moved to the island and steamers began to run between LaConner (then known as Swinomish Settlement) and Seattle. There was no wharves nor docks, and steamers anchored as near land as possible. Men wearing hip boots carried the supplies, and the ladies ashore.
      Mr. Munks built a wharf and store in 1873. A little later he married Arminda Van Valkenburg. Three sons were born, then twins, and it was during the birth of the twins that necessary medical aid could not be obtained in time from LaConner, and the mother and one of the babies died. The other twin lived six months.
      The first home of Mr. Munks was built of logs, with a shake roof and the rough floors had no carpets. The furniture was all home made. Mr. Munks had first used candles--an open dish to burn oil--then later candles and lamps were obtained. The only means of transportation was by row boat or canoe. Later he had a horse which he rode over the prairie, which was then a fern-covered open country. Munks' Landing was the first stopping place on the island and the piles of white rock used for the landing are all that remain of this oldest landmark.
      An old Indian fort and stockade had been built by the peaceful and quiet Puget Sound Indians years before, at the head of Squaw Bay, on the land later bought by Mr. Munks, and here on one of the hardest fought Indian battles took place. Near the old stockade was a bed of clam shells approximately seven feet deep, indicating the Indians had used the site for a camping ground for many years. There were still many Indians in the region and Mr. Munks had many interesting and exciting experiences with them. He brought the first cattle, seventeen head, to the island, aboard a sloop from Whatcom. He also brought the first wagon and planted fruit trees and a grape vine, and some of these plants still yield an excellent crop of fruit. They were planted in 1863. In 1870, Mr. Munks, a veteran of the Mexican War, was appointed postmaster. Prior to this time the nearest postoffice was at Whatcom, later named Bellingham.
      Mr. Munks had lived in Whatcom before coming to Fidalgo Island, and had served on the Boundary Commission. Later he had a trading post on the Frazer River. He had crossed the plains in 1849 and had engaged many of the Indian wars in California and Oregon.
      When the boom struck Anacortes, December 31, 1890, the excitement spread all over Fidalgo Island, and Mr. Munks built an up-to-date hotel at the water front and near the old landing. He expended his entire savings. When the boom broke he found himself without a cent. However, during the boom he built on a grand scale, and his hotel was a three-story affair, built of lumber from Utsaladdy. Mr. Priest was the contractor. Mr. Munks passed away [on Nov. 19, 1898] on Fidalgo Island, of which he was often referred to as "King," a title of which he was proud.
      After his death, life was a struggle for Mrs. Munks, left with two babies and three step-sons, debts and taxes long unpaid, and a mortgage on their home. However, she managed well and gradually paid off the indebtedness. The Munks home is a rambling old frame house of two stories with large rooms, high ceilings, and large windows made of small square panes. It is comfortably furnished, with old pictures decorating the walls. The floors have a few home- made rugs scattered about. In the attic is stored an accumulation of more than half a century. Among the pieces of furniture is a queer little organ, the height of a table, with flat top. Its tones are still mellow when played. In the parlor is a set of black walnut furniture that came across the plains.

      John F. Conrad's obituary notes for the 1961 Pioneer Picnic included an interesting detail we have not read anywhere else. William's son, Gerald L. Munks, died that year. He told Conrad a family story that William paddled a canoe to Fidalgo Bay in 1848, where he squatted temporarily on a piece of prairie land, but he told the family that Indians threatened his life, so he left for government service on the boundary survey. Some sources state that Munks opened his store as early as 1870. The source above indicates that he became postmaster of Fidalgo in 1870 and another says 1871 but we have not been able to confirm that; the Anacortes Post Office opened in 1879.
      We have not yet determined exactly when his first wife, Minnie, died. But we do know that he married Olive Benston on Aug. 23, 1888, in Seattle. We also know the date of his death because upriver pioneer Otto Pressentin was boarding with the Munks family while teaching at the nearby schoolhouse on the Munks property — probably the first public school erected in the county. At the time of his death, he owned up to 800 acres in the area. Olive had a hard time getting by as the nation pulled out of that decade's Depression, but she held onto a good chunk of land and died on June 17, 1935 in a car wreck. We will share much more in the future when we move his story to its own page.

Hiram A. March
      In his Pioneer Picnic eulogies of 1963, John F. Conrad reviewed the life of Harry Elmer March, the son of Fidalgo pioneer Hiram A. March::
      Harry Elmer March was a son of early settler H.A. March for whom March's Point is named. His father left New York City in 1853, 110 years ago, by boat, then walking across the Panama Isthmus, carrying a gun on his person that is still in the family possession. He went on up to the Fraser river gold rush [in 1858], and then back to Whatcom where his old friend James Kavanaugh was appointed U.S. Deputy Marshall and March became his first deputy. They both filed claims on adjoining places on Fidalgo Island in 1866 but did not move their families down till 1869. March's U.S. Patent, signed by President U.S. Grant in 1972, is still in the family possession. The elder March was educated as a horticulturist in New York and had the only cauliflower seed-growing business west of Long Island, NY. He died in 1905 after serving as a county fruit inspector [does not say if that was in Skagit county.] Harry, the son, started as a deck hand and fireman on the old steamer Utsalady and later was chief engineer and master marine engineer on Puget sound boats. The March farm now is mostly occupied by Shell Refining.
      March was one of the first three county commissioners selected when Skagit County split off from Whatcom in December 1883. As the excellent Anacortes Museum website ( ) explains, Hiram A. March died in February of 1905, short of his 79th birthday. He started farming in 1863 and by 1885 was raising cauliflower seed, the only producer of such seed in America, soon joined by the Tillinghasts and other families farming near Padilla Bay. March became the commander of the Anacortes Yacht Club and died with the title of Commodore.

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Story posted on April 11, 2006
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