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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Free Resources Stories & Photos
(Seattle & Northern 1890)
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 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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The Huntoon brothers
in early Hamilton and Anacortes

      This very early undated photo of downtown Hamilton shows buildings along Maple street that may have been built during the days when the Huntoon brothers were helping the new town boom. Coal Mountain is behind, south across the Skagit river.

John and Isaac D. Huntoon
      In the Carol Bates book, Hamilton 100 Years, you will see on pages 7-9 the handwritten incorporation articles of the Hamilton Townsite Company, logged in King county and dated May 13, 1890. Along with signatories such as our favorite New York Times columnist — boomer Frank Wilkeson, and H.C. Pettit, for whom one of our prominent Hamilton roads is named, you will find the chicken scratching of two brothers: Isaac D. and John Huntoon. We wish we could tell you how they were related to Bert Huntoon, who explored the Cascades in 1895 and became a key figure in Bellingham in the early 20th century, but after consulting with Huntoon family genealogy experts from coast to coast, we have not found the link. Bert's family was originally from Vermont and the brothers' family originated in New Hampshire. All we know is that the two brothers were at least 30 years older than Bert and that their paths crossed in California, Fairhaven and the foothills of the Cascades.
      The brothers also signed the petition to the Skagit county board of commissioners back on March 27, 1890, which requested incorporation of the town. In the Seattle City Directory of that year and 1888, we find the Hamilton Townsite Co. in the Tremont building (no address) and the Huntoon Land and Investment Co. at #30 and 31 in the Roxwell building, located at the corner of First and Columbia street. N F McNaught and Norton Ladue, also Hamilton signatories, are listed as president and secretary of the townsite company, and John Huntoon is Treasurer. The land company officers are listed as: Isaac D. Huntoon, president; Charles R. Moulton, vice-president; John Huntoon, treasurer; H.B. Wilson, Secretary; and D.W. Douthitt as attorney. Also listed in the 1890 directory was a business called Columbia House at 222 Columbia street, with the officers: John Huntoon, proprietor, and Charles Morgan, manager. These businesses had an alternate address of 403 Olympic Avenue. Coincidentally, the Roxwell building was also the address of Conrad Rideout, a black graduate of Ann Arbor University, who had recently arrived in Seattle from Arkansas where he served two terms in the state legislature as a Democrat.
      The Hamilton Townsite Co. also had an office in 1890 in the new Mason building at the corner of 12th & Harris 85 miles north in the new town of Fairhaven, a building which still stands today after significant restoration in the 1970s. The Huntoons shared space with five of the forty very active real estate companies of the booming town plus dozens of doctors, dentists and lawyers, and the Cascade Gentleman's Club on the west side of the top floor, founded by boomer James F. Wardner and managed by Captain Grahame, survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade of Balaklava. We can safely assume that the paths of brothers Huntoon and Bert must have crossed in Fairhaven.
      John Huntoon also made quite an impact on the third boom town of that year, Anacortes, which was growing more rapidly than any of them. In May of that year a handsome Victorian building opened downtown for John Huntoon, described as a Boise City, Idaho, banker. In other stories, he is linked to the McNaught brothers who were attorneys and developers for the Northern Pacific railroad syndicate. Read about this boomtown building in the linked clipping file. That is where our trail of the brothers grows cold, but we hope to find more information in the catacombs of either the University of Washington, Museum of History and Industry or Olympia, or maybe even the catacombs of a reader's memory.

Huntoon brothers were originally from New Hampshire
      Harry Huntoon [website: http://www.www30013.w1.com/huntoon_family.htm, email: hhuntoon@mindspring.com] helped me trace the Huntoon brothers. They were sons of Benjamin Huntoon, a rather notable Congregational minister, who lived in Maine and later in Massachusetts, and who descended from a New Hampshire family. A third son, Marcellus, also migrated with his brothers to California during the '49er gold rush days. A fourth brother, Daniel T.V. Huntoon, compiled the book, 1881 history of the Huntoon family of New Hampshire, which is an invaluable aid to researching this family. Harry has reproduced the book at his website, and has added much more, such as census records, cross-checking by geographic location, etc.
      John, born in 1828, migrated from Canton, Massachusetts, to the Sacramento area of California with his older brother Marcellus in 1849; Marcellus was born in 1826. Their oldest brother, Frederick W.L. Huntoon, also moved to California sometime in that year. Isaac, born in 1830, migrated to San Francisco, California, on March 25, 1852, and resided there again in 1880 when the book was published. None of the brothers served in the Civil War.
      John and Marcellus went to Boise City, Idaho Territory, in 1864. He still resided at Boise City in 1880. Frederick returned to Massachusetts and died there in 1868. Unless there is a coincidence with the given names, brothers John and Marcellus apparently first moved to Washington sometime prior to 1860 because they were enumerated as farmers in the 1860 federal census at Cherbourg, which was later changed to Port Angeles. They were also enumerated there in 1870. We know that John married a woman named Mary Gertrude Hyde in 1868, but we do not know where. We do know that John returned to Idaho and was appointed treasurer of the territory in 1872. He was enumerated in the 1870 census in Boise City, along with his wife, Gertrude, and his daughters, Caroline, Lucey and Mary. In the Boise City election of July 15, 1874, John Huntoon was elected councilman from the fourth ward. There is no further record of Marcellus.
      Meanwhile, Isaac also lived in Idaho off and on. We know this because we found an article in The Idaho Weekly Statesman of May 20, 1871:

     People who lived in Boise in '64, '65, and '66 will remember the genial, whole-souled and wide-awake Isaac D. Huntoon; how he left here for Montana, where he met with the usually varying fortunes of life among the mountains. Well, his card appears in the Statesman this morning announcing that he is in the forwarding and commission business in San Francisco, and with it comes a letter saying that he has his hands full of business purchasing and forwarding all sorts of goods for all sorts of people and for almost every place on the Pacific Coast and interior. Comes also, Huntoon's Market Report, a letter sheet issued every week, giving a complete review of the state of the San Francisco market, commencing with Brooms and ending with Wines. Of course every one in Idaho and Montana knows of Mr. Huntoon's ability, tact and fitness for the business he is engaged in, and when they have occasion to make purchases in San Francisco and cannot attend to them personally will intrust the business to him.
      The last public record we can find of one of the brothers is in the 1892 federal census in Hamilton. "I. D. Huntoon, 62, male, real estate, born Maine." No wife or family is listed. Perhaps he was just there at the time that the enumerator came around.
      And there the trail goes cold again until 1890 and the activities of the brothers in the boomtowns. An interesting footnote to this story is that we know Isaac must have died by 1918 because the widow Clare Huntoon arrived in Seattle with a small fortune and cut a wide swath. She invested in land in the Haller Lake area of north Seattle, which still has large-sized lots that are reminders of its farm days when that tract was outside the city limits. We found her story on the wonderful www.historylink.org website — you can go there and read the whole story by entering Huntoon in the search box. Here is an excerpt:

     Plat filings by other landowners followed in 1908 and 1909, but most came later, some as late as 1947. The widow Clare E. Huntoon, who arrived in Seattle in 1918, owned nearly 200 acres of real estate in the Haller Lake area, which she never platted.
      She was long gone from the scene before the land was developed, but later use of her land is historically important to the area. Ingraham High School and Haller Lake Playground (Helene Madison Pool) were built on 36 acres bordering Meridian Avenue N at 130th Avenue N. Huntoon also owned land along the west side of the North Trunk Road (Aurora Avenue N) on which subsequent owners built Playland, and an adjacent auto race track that operated until the 1950s. Northwest Memorial Hospital sits on 33 of her 146 acres neighboring the south and east sides of Haller Lake. The commercial property at the intersection at N 130th Street and Aurora Avenue N is part of Huntoon's original holdings. Even the Bikar Cholum cemetery occupies nine acres of Huntoon land, on 115th Avenue N.

      Other researchers of the Huntoon genealogy include: Leanne Moringlanes [moringlanes@yahoo.com] — I owe her for finding records of Bert's parents for me; and Scott Osborn [Natims@pacbell.net], who is very proud of his late grandmother and their Huntoon connection.

Links to the Huntoons of Cascade Pass, Hamilton,
Whatcom, Mount Baker, Cherbourg and Idaho

Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. Thank you.

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