Site founded September 1, 2000, we passed 3/4 million page views in December 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, 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

(Click to send email)

Edward V. Pressentin, Part 1
Memories of an upriver pioneer

(1914 wedding photos)
Wedding photos of Ed and Bessie (Martin) Pressentin from 1914. Both were descendants of famous pioneer families. These photos are from a faded clipping. We hope that a family member or a descendant from another family will have scans of the original photos and will share with us.

      Edward V. Pressentin was a key member of the second generation of this famed upper Skagit River pioneer family whose patriarch, Karl von Pressentin, who arrived here in the late spring of 1877, and was among the handful of first settlers in the area centered on the future town of Birdsview. Edward's father, A.v. Pressentin, was Karl's younger brother and made his mark on Hamilton, Sauk City and especially Rockport, as both a businessman and farmer. In this first part of the Edward story, you will find these stories below based on his memories and life. Following those, you will find the links to part two of the story, which includes a brief background on the von Pressentin family, and articles about Ed's father, wedding anniversaries of Ed and his wife, Bessie, and finally, his obituaries from 1971.

Pioneers faced problems in Valley
Skagit Valley Herald, [date clipped, probably] May 16, 1971
      Herald ed. note: Prompted by the Herald's series 'Skagit Portraits," Ed V. Pressentin of Rockport wrote the following on the early days of the area Pressentin, appointed postmaster of Rockport in 1924, retired in 1959.
      As my wife and I are — like many others — old timers, I will try to give you some of the early history of the Upper Skagit Valley.
      I was born May 12, 1889 [just months before Washington statehood], about two miles east of Hamilton, Wash., on the place now known as the Tim Stein place. When I was one year old, my folks moved to the town of Sank City, the population of which was about 600. My dad, A. von Pressentin [who usually went by the initials, A.V.], opened up a large general merchandise store and he also was Postmaster there. At that time, the Monte Cristo mining boom was on and all equipment and supplies, such as machinery needed to operate the mines, were shipped up the river by steamboat from Seattle, Mount Vernon, and from Sauk City, [and] was transported by six-horse teams to the town of Monte Cristo.
      One particular piece of machinery was a steam boiler; a contract was let to transport this boiler to [the] Stafford Brothers, Hank and Alex. They built a special ox wagon with big wooden wheels and used eight yoke of oxen to haul this to its destination. The contract for this job was $1,500, which at that time was a lot of money.
      We lived at Sank City until 1892, and then my dad leased out the store to one Pat Ferry, who operated it until 1894, when the Byers Hotel caught fire and burned, and also burned our store, with a huge and total loss of everything.
      In 1892, we moved to the present site of Rockport, which, at that time, was known as the Leonard Graves farm. Times were very hard and everything seemed to be at a standstill [a nationwide Depression continued from 1893-97]. Dad raised grain and cattle and hogs, and managed to make a living for the family.

(Rockport Hotel)

Upper Skagit Indians, 1897 flood and gold fever
      There were many Indians on the river in the early Nineties, and I remember when there was an Indian murdered near Mount Vernon. His name was Kelly, and some Skagit Indians had committed the crime. The Indians who committed the crime, Johnny Tommy, Johnny Enick, Johnny Towne, and Charley Moses, all fled up the Skagit River and on to Marblemount to the Cascade River. Jack Millett was sheriff of the county at that time, and he came up the Valley with horse-team and buggy to round up the killers. He finally got all four of them and brought them to our house at night,, where he waited for the downriver stage to Hamilton, which came along about 7 a.m., and then from Hamilton on to the county jail at Mount Vernon. [Journal ed. note: as others have noted, the stage was not the "stagecoach" you may have seen in old Westerns, but a crude wagon that had a covering for rainy days — which meant usually.]
      Two of the Indians turned state's evidence and went free, and the other two were convicted and sentenced to prison at Walla WaIla for five years each. When the stage left that morning with the four prisoners, there were at least a hundred or more Indian there to watch them leave with the sheriff.
      About this time, things and times seemed to be better, when lo and behold, along came the big 1897 flood. The Skagit River was the highest flood in history before or since. It flooded the whole valley and hundreds of cattle, hogs, horses and sheep were drowned. My dad and my oldest brother, Bill, and I [at age eight] went out to drive our cattle and horses high ground, as all the lowland started to overflow. Dad went on with the stock and Bill and I had a hard time to get back to the house where mother and the rest of the family were. Six of us and Mother were upstairs in the house and the water was four feet deep in the house. It washed away every one of our barns and buildings, and the house was all that was left. After Dad got the stock on high ground, he was unable to get back to the house as the river overflowed the whole farm. We lost 50 head of nice hogs, all fat and ready for market.
      The next big thing to happen was the Klondike Gold Rush which was in 1898, and everyone got the fever in the Valley. Many mortgaged their homes and farm and left for the Klondike gold fields. There were only two families left on the south side of the Skagit River between Rockport and Marblemount — the H.A. Martin family and the Ed O'Brien family; the rest had left for the goldfields.
      At that time there were a great many yoke of oxen in the Valley that had been used for logging These oxen were all sold to buyers who were headed for the North, and along with this, the ordinary dog was in great demand. The dogs brought as high as $12.50 each; it depended how large the dog was, and some were sold as low as four dollars each. They were used as sled dogs and also some were used as pack dogs. Likewise some of the oxen also were used as pack animals on their way to the North.

Railroad comes to Rockport in 1900; family starts hotel and store
      In 1900, the Great Northern Railroad extended its line from Hamilton, Wash., to Rockport and the country began to prosper. There were five shingle mills within a radius of five miles of Rockport, two being built right in Rockport. Shingle-bolting was the principal industry for a while, then the logging started, and a few sawmills were erected. The same year the railroad came to Rockport, my dad erected a large three-story hotel, store and also a large restaurant and several cottages, and our new home, a modern dwelling. [See this Journal website for the full hotel story. ]
      Dad operated the hotel, store and hotel dining-room and rented out the restaurant and cottages. He also built a fine livery barn, and besides operating the hotel and store, he had his large farm well stocked with fine dairy cattle.
      Along about this time there was a jail break at Mount Vernon, and two prisoners escaped and headed up the Skagit, figuring to cross over the mountains and get into Eastern Washington. That was about 1902, and Charles Harmon was County Sheriff. One of the prisoners was up for horse-stealing and the other was a burglar. Harmon came up from Mount Vernon, as he knew his prisoners were headed this way. He deputized a number of people in Rockport and posted them along the county road and railroad, and was successful in catching both of them. He returned them the next morning by train to the Mount Vernon jail.
      Then, along in 1906, we had another Indian killing. George Campbell, an Indian, was killed between Rockport and Sank. A young Indian by the name of Tom Joby was accused of the crime and was arrested by the sheriff, Charles Stevenson, and taken to the county jail at Mount Vernon. When the sheriff left with his prisoner on the morning train, there were at least 150 Indians along the side of the train and on the platform at Rockport as the train pulled out.

Ed moves to Bellingham but soon moves back
      In 1908, in the fall of the year, dad sold out his entire holdings in Rockport to Johnson and Janson of Mount Vernon, and moved to Bellingham, where he built a large modem home. At that time I was 19 years old and I went to work for the Morse Hardware Co. [in Bellingham]. I left them at the end of the year, and came to Marblemount and went to work for Paul V. Pressentin [his cousin] in the store and post office. This was Jan. 1, 1910, and I worked there until the month of June 1914.
      During the summer of 1911, when business was slack, I took time off from the store and worked on the pack train, packing horses with supplies for the miners. Jerome Martin, who later was my brother-in-law, was with me. We packed to Thunder Creek, Granite, Ruby, and to Mill Creek. We had 11 head of pack animals. We walked all the way going, and rode horseback on the way out. It generally took us five days to make the round trip; we cooked on open fires; never stopped for lunch and slept in saddle blankets at night. I did this for 30 days and it was a great outing.
      During the spring of 1914, in February when business was not very brisk in the store at Marblemount, I decided to do little wildcat and cougar hunting. Epp Shular, who was another old timer in the Valley, had some good hunting dogs. We hunted from Marblemount to the Gus Dohne roadhouse, which is now where the City Camp, some call it Newhalem, is located. Some places the snow was deep and we had to use snow shoes, but early in the morning, it was frozen, and we could walk on top of the snow. During the 21 days that we hunted, we killed 21 bobcats and one cougar. At that time the bounty on cats was $5 and on cougars, $20. We had a nice hunt and I enjoyed it very much. [For more about Newhalem and Dohne, see the Journal website about Edward Goodell

Ed Pressentin traces early Rockport history
By Mrs. Marjorie Barber, Skagit Valley Herald, Undated 1960
      CONCRETE — No history of the Upper Skagit Valley would be complete without a sketch of Ed V. Pressentin of Rockport. Pressentin, who has spent the major part of his life close to the Skagit River, retired last spring after 41 years in the mercantile business and 35 years as Postmaster of Rockport. Pressentin was born May 12, 1889, two miles east of Hamilton, where his father, Albert von Pressentin, had a store. In 1890 during "the Monte Cristo Boom" the family moved to Sauk City to operate a store and post office. At that time materials came to Sauk City via the Skagit River and were taken in wagons by six-horse teams up the Sauk River wagon road to Monte Cristo.
      Sauk City in those days boasted a newspaper, doctor, real estate office, shoe shop, three hotels, and several saloons besides the Pressentin's general merchandise store. Then came the Panic of '93 and one by one the businesses folded so that now there is nothing left to mark this one-time boom town southeast of Concrete.
      The Pressentins kept the store in Sauk City until '94 but moved to Rockport in '92 where the older Pressentin built a store, restaurant, hotel and several houses to service the many shingle mills in the area. This was the beginning of a town that was to associate general merchandise stores with three generations of Pressentins.
      Ed V. Pressentin was a young man in 1910 [actually 1908] when he left Rockport to work in Bellingham, Marblemount and Clear Lake for short periods of time. But in 1916 be returned to Rockport to build a new store, replacing the one of his father's that had burned. Another fire destroyed this building in 1926 and a tile one was built, the same one that is being operated in Rockport today by Pressentin's son, Martin.
      By the time Ed Pressentin took over the store, Great Northern Railroad had built a branch line to Rockport and provided transportation for supplies.
      "When my dad had his store here, supplies were brought up the Skagit by Indian canoe," said Pressentin. "Now everything is trucked in and everything is packaged, no more weighing out sugar or flour or beans by the pound.
      "I can remember one gentleman who bought $7 worth of sugar by having me weigh out fifty cents worth at a time."
      Pressentin took over as Postmaster of Rockport in 1924. About his term as Postmaster, Pressentin said:
      "Retirement from the postal service is mandatory at 70 and. my seventieth birthday was May 12. I retired. I witnessed many changes in the area served by our post office during this period. The City of Seattle built their railroad from Rockport to Diablo and later the Diablo and Ross dams were constructed.
      "The railroad has since been dismantled and a good highway built over approximately the same route. During the construction period, the Rockport office handled all the incoming and outgoing mail, which included six different construction camps. Each camp had a private locked bag. The population of the construction area and City of Seattle camps varied but at one time this office served over two thousand people.
      "In a smaller office such as this one you must put in longer hours than in the larger offices and do many things that are not done in the cities. For many years, when the City of hauled the mail over their railroad from Rockport I would meet the Great Northern train at night to sign for the registered mail and then get up at 5:30 a.m., and dispatch it on the 6:00 a.m. train to Newhalem. This was done seven days a week, but if the public served was to receive good service, it had to be done."
      In June 1914, Pressentin married Elizabeth Martin a pioneer in her own right. Mrs. Pressentin was born on lllabot Creek across the Skagit River from Rockport. The Pressentins celebrated their forty-fifth anniversary as well as Pressentin's retirement as postmaster last June.
      The Pressentins have four children and thirteen grandchildren. Norman, the oldest, is an attorney for the Veterans' Administration in Seattle; Martin is the proprietor of the Rockport store, accountant, bookkeeper and insurance salesman; and Bruce is the manager of the B.F. Good rich branch in Seattle. The Pressentins' daughter, Jean, is Mrs. Edward McCormack, living in Washington, D. C., where her husband is an attorney.
      Herald ed. note: To bring this historical sketch up to date, Mrs. Ed V. Pressentin is State Senator Fred Martin's. sister

Ed Pressentin, postmaster at
Rockport 36 years, honored

Undated, unknown newspaper, 1959
      The Rockport community and friends from all over the state turned out Sunday for a reception and party in honor of E.V. Pressentin. The occasion was his recent retirement after nearly 36 years as postmaster at Rockport. A highlight of the party was the presentation by Luella Henry of Bow, of the National Emblem Lifetime Pin of the State of Washington Association of Postmasters, for his years of service.
      Fred Martin acted as toastmaster for the program which included talks by Postmaster Clyde Shrauger of Mount Vernon, Postmaster Gus Dahlstead of Anacortes, Postmaster Clara St. John of Concrete and past Postmaster Mabel Pressentin of Marblemount.
      Moving pictures were shown by City Light of the former days at Rockport when the tours were originating at the railway depot there. They also displayed the trip up to the dams and the beautiful scenery along the way.
      Music for the afternoon was supplied by Bond's Orchestra and Ed's favorite songs were sung by Mrs. Tecla McDaniels of Concrete. The huge cake, baked for the occasion in the form of a letter with a stamp in the corner, was cut by Mr. Pressentin to start the serving.

Ed Remembers Past Years
      In commenting on his term as postmaster Mr. Pressentin said: "I. was postmaster at Rockport from Feb. 7, 1924, to May 31, 1959. Retirement from the postal service is mandatory at 70 and my 70th birthday was May 12th. There have been many changes in the area served by our post office during this period. The City of Seattle built their railroad from Rockport to Diablo and later the Diablo and Ross dams were constructed. The; railroad has since been dismantled and a good highway built over approximately the same route. During the construction period of the railroad, dams, etc., the Rockport office handled all the incoming and outgoing mail, which included six different construction camps. Each camp had a private locked bag. The population of the construction area and City of Seattle camps varies but at one time this office served over two thousand people. There were never any serious complaints or loss of service from any of these patrons."
      Ed went on to say: "Operating a post office is like many other jobs; it is impossible to please all the public all the time but I have really enjoyed the work. In a smaller office, as this one, you must put in longer hours than in the larger offices and do many things that are not done in the cities. For many years when the City of Seattle hauled the mail over their railroad from Rockport I would meet the Great Northern train at night to sign for the registered mail and then get up at 5:30 a.m. and dispatch it to the 6 a.m. train to Newhalem. This was done seven days a week, but if the public served was to receive good service it had to be done"
      Over one hundred and fifty people were present during the day. Those helping plan the affair and carrying out all details were Mrs. Kathleen Stafford, Mrs. Kate Clark, Mrs. Hazel Buchanan, Mrs. Don Sutton, Mrs. Irene Blumenschein, Mrs. Florence Pressentin, Mrs. Bruce Pressentin, Mrs. N..E. Pressentin, Mrs. Mary McLeod, Mrs. Beryl Olson, Mrs. R. L. Bangert, Mrs. C. L Williams, Bert and Martin Pressentin, Lee and Bill Fritzsinger and many others.
      At the beautiful tea table decorated with flowers, patriotic colors and flags, a series of friends took turns at serving. Pouring were Mrs. E. E. Scott of Newhalem, Mrs. St. John of Concrete, Mrs. Bert Olson, Mrs. Mary McLeod, Mrs. Ray Johnson Sr., Mrs. Viv Cowden and Mrs. George Sharick of Rockport, Mrs. W.A. Porter of Mount Vernon, Mabel Pressentin and Mrs. Edith Sloan of Marblemount, Mrs. Evelyn Clovis [sp??] of Hamilton and Mrs. Fred Shular of Concrete, Mrs. Norman Pressentin served the cake. Patty von Pressentin of Seattle had charge of the guest book.

Links, background reading and sources
      The von Pressentin stories form the most extensive family section we have on the website as of 2006. Out of roughly 500 story files, 14 are now about various members of this family and many more will follow, with cross-links between them. Please note: we did not post one profile of Ed that we found because most of it was redundant, but if you would like a copy, email us and we will forward it to you. It is from A history of the State of Washington, Lancaster Pollard, Vol. III, 1937. Here are some links we particularly suggest:

You can click the donation button to contribute to the upkeep of this site at a time when we may be forced to cut it back for lack of funds. You can also subscribe to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online, which is about to enter its sixth year with exclusive stories, in-depth research and photos that are shared with our subscribers first. If you like what you read, t hank you in advance for whatever support you can provide.

Story posted on Jan. 10, 2006
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) 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) DelNagro Masonry Brick, block, stone — See our work at the new Hammer Heritage Square
See our website

(bullet) Would you like to buy a country church, pews, belfry, pastor's quarters and all? Email us for details.
(bullet) Are you looking to buy or sell a historic property, business or residence? We may be able to assist. Email us for details.
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. Tip: Put quotation marks around a specific name or item of two words or more, and then experiment with different combinations of the words without quote marks.
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 the right.
Email us at:
(Click to send email)
Mail copies/documents to Street address: Skagit River Journal, 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284.