Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed one million page views on Memorial Day, May 2006
These home pages remain free of any charge. We need donations or subscriptions/gifts.
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)

Gar Green, salt of the earth
and Hamilton/Birdsview pioneer

      Several folks have asked for a good profile of the inimitable Gar Green. Unfortunately records proved to be scarce. He passed away in 1978 and not many people could remember the details of his long adventurous life. But luckily a reader responded to our call and shared these photos of Gar. Lloye Patmore is a niece of Gar's, the daughter of his sister Mildred. Through her, we learned that Gar was the son of Captain Leander "Joe" Green, who was at the helm of various boats that gold-seekers rode up to the Klondike. Gar homesteaded between Hamilton and Birdsview in 1883. We also received a wonderful photo of Gar's still from another of his relatives, John Linn. And Lois Pinelli Theodoratus, one of most faithful correspondents, saved and transcribed Gar's obituary. The most personal profile of Gar was from Mollie Dowdle, who was his dear friend for decades, and Lloye saved it. We visited Mollie's son, Wally, and he gave us an update on his mother, which follows the stories.
(Gar in the early 1960s)
Gar in the early 1960s,
photo from Dowdle story

Gar Green profiled by Mollie Dowdle
Undated article from unknown newspaper, probably the Skagit Valley Herald
      The name Gar Green is a familiar one in the Valley and it keeps cropping up in my stories so I've decided it's about time I introduced him to you, just in case you aren't acquainted.
      I don't see Gar near as often as I'd like to because I enjoy his company just about more than anyone I know. He lives several miles up the road and he's one of those people you don't have to see very often to feel en rapport. We find it very easy to take right up where we left off the last time, whether last time was yesterday or a month ago.
(Gar and Jughead)
Gar's handwritten caption for the photo (from Lloye Patmore): "Two old timers of the Skagit Valley. Old Jughead 1940 still rairin' to go. Old Gar 1892 still kicking but not raising much dust. Taken in winter of 1969
      There wasn't a fence in the world that we knew
      The west and its people were honest and new
      The range swept away with the sky for a lid
      I'm old but I'm glad that I lived when I did"

Being sure
      I like the feeling of being sure Gar is going to be exactly as he was when he last walked to the back door with me. He's always "just Gar" and till death do him part he'll never change. Both of us are a bit, to put it mildly, deaf, so we talk real loud to each other. Our conversations are always so important we couldn't bear for one word to be misunderstood.
      Everybody loves Gar. I'm just one of the vast number of people that stop off to chin with him and bum a cup of coffee from Clara, his wife. Gar is a pioneer, born about half a mile, as the crow flies, from where he lives right now. His father, Joe Green, or more familiarly known as Captain Green, came up the Skagit and staked homestead claims in 1883. Gar was born in 1891, one of a large family of children. I suspect that he was an inquisitive little boy because he's a veritable bureau of information about the old settlers and historical facts. concerning them. He an incredible story teller.

Drop of a hat
      And he has never liked to stay put. Clara can pack up and get ready to move at the drop of a hat, which she's doing right now, and she recounts 20 moves in 20 years. Gar is a bit argumentative about her figures, but Clara is an exact woman.
      Gar maintains that one should always go forward and never backward. He seems to have proved you'll come exactly back to the point where you started. And it's true, he always has.
      In 1905 he went to Alberta, Canada, where he spent 20 years. But all the time he remembered the old Skagit and knew that sometime he would return to the Valley. He had some exciting experiences in Canada. The one I like best to hear him tell is this story, in which he always acts out all the details, in his sock feet, with flamboyant hand gestures and if necessary, sometimes he uses feet movements:

      Well, I can't just remember where I was headed but I was on a horse. I'd traveled all day and was tired. I knew this old trapper that lived on the trail in a cabin and I'd always try to make it there sometime early in the night and stay with him. He'd feed me and I always felt free to throw out some of his grain to my horse. If he was in bed I wouldn't wake him but I'd crawl in with him. Sometimes he'd wake up and we'd chat but more often he wouldn't know I was there until morning. This one night it was cold and I was sort of surprised the house felt so chilly but I just kicked off my shoes and crawled in the bed. I was awful cold so I rolled over a little closer to him.
      But holy gee, he was as cold as an iceberg and as stiff as a board. I grabbed my shoes, put them on in a run and I got out of that place. I jumped on my horse and got to the nearest cabin as quickly as I could. Help came and we found out that the old fellow had been dead about a week.

      By the time Gar is finished with his story, I'm almost as steamed up as he is and shivering at the clammy touch of the dead.
      I don't know if it was Gar's patriotism that inspired him to enlist in the Seabees at the age of 51 or if he just had a case of itchy feet again. Anyway they looked him over and gave him their OK. He donned a uniform, fell in line with the younger generation and served in Trinidad. He grew himself a Mitch Miller goatee and looked very distinguished in his pictures with the youthful servicemen.

Here and there
      When he returned home he moved around several more times — over to Idaho, up to Marblemount — here and there, but always coming back to the old house on the back section of the homestead place.
      For 15 years he worked for the government, most of the time as a preacher with their mules and horses. Gar is a nature boy, every inch of him. He loves the hills better than anyone I know and he has more knowledge of them than anyone. He wants to die up there, under a blue sky, on a horse and with his boots on.
      He owns several comely old nags which are somewhat like his babies. There's Jug Head, the stubborn old patriarch and the one which Gar is going to share his last rest place. And there's Big Bad John, etc. Gar's horses have very impressive names, with strength and character.

A good life
      Gar has packed a lot into his 72 years and he says he's had a good life. He's been a logger and was once a high rigger. In fact he's done a little bit of everything. Clara passes on her two bits worth:
      "Tell her all of it. He does it if he wants to. I do the carpenter work, the painting and the digging around here. He feeds the horses, greases his guns, plays solitaire and runs off at the chin."
      The Lord only made one Gar and I guess he shelved the pattern because there couldn't be another like him. I cherish his friendship. My biggest worry right now is the possibility he might get a big idea to move as far away as Idaho again. Of course he'd come back. Come some bright spring day when the frogs are singing in the back pond Gar will show up and we'll begin just where we left off.

Gar Green's obituary
      One of the most colorful old-timers of the Skagit Valley, John M.G. (Garfield) Green, died Monday Feb 20, 1978 at Skagit Valley Hospital following a lengthy illness. He was born in Seattle January 22, 1892 and brought to the family home on the Skagit River as a two week old infant.
      Mr. Green's home in recent years, 832 Pinelli Road , was part of the original property homesteaded by his father, Captain Peter Leander Green, in 1883. The homestead included territory from Pinelli Road to the river and west to the Steen Farm [east of Hamilton].
      A forester, logger and horseman, for many years he led pack trains into the North Cascades. He served in the US Navy during WW II. Survivors include his wife, Clara, at the family home; three sisters, Mrs. Howard Allen and Mrs. Dorothy Johnson of Alberta and Mrs. F.E. Pattmore of Saskatchewan, Canada; and numerous nieces and nephews.
      He was preceded in death by his only son, Ward Green, in 1972. Funeral services are scheduled at 1:30 p.m Thursday, February 23, at Lemley Chapel. Military burial services will be conducted by George [Baldridge] Post, American Legion, [Sedro-Woolley #43], at Hamilton Cemetery.

(Gar's family)
(Gar and neighbor)
(Green family reunion 1960s)
Click on these thumbnails for full-sized photos.
All photos on this page except the one at the top courtesy of Lloye Patmore

Left: Gar's family, circa 1912 when he was 20. From left, back row: Norwood, Howard, Harvey, Robert, Gar. Front row: Mildred, Uma, Dorothy and Beatrice.
Center: Greer and an unidentified neighbor in the North Cascades.
Right: Green family reunion in Washington, probably 1960s. From left, back row: Gar, Mildred, Beatrice. Front row: Norwood, William and Howard.

Wallie and Mollie Dowdle and Gar Green
      Fred Slipper, a descendant of one of Hamilton's pioneer families, went with me last week [summer 2002] to visit Wallie Dowdle. We both recalled how, up until ten years ago, he faithfully took care of his mother, Mollie Dowdle, who chronicled events upriver for almost 30 years. Wally still lives on the same farm north of Hamilton on the Cemetery road where he moved with folks fifty years ago. He can still remember the old railroad tracks that were located nearby on what was known to everyone up there as "The Siding." Wallie is still a modest man with a firm handshake, but his memory is very sharp.
      Before moving to Hamilton, they lived in Darrington, where Wallie went to school; he high school early to work in the woods. He's been working ever since, on the farm after many years in just about every job in the woods. He has known most of the old pioneers and characters in the area and Gar Green is obviously one of his favorites. Wallie brought out a photo of Gar on his favorite horse, Jughead, and told us what a unique person Gar was. Wallie says they don't make them like Gar anymore.
      He took us into the kitchen and showed us where his mother used to cook for a dozen loggers at a time when they logged the hills north of the farm. He also remembers the many chats that Mollie and Gar had there. In the very early '90s Mollie had a series of strokes that have left her incapacitated. Now 96, she is unable to speak or hear and lives at the Mar Vista retirement home in Mount Vernon.
      Update Jan. 31, 2003: Mollie Dowdle passed away on Jan. 13, 2003. You can read her obituaries..

Memories of Gar Green

(Boland still photo)
      You can go to the Skagit County Historical Museum in LaConner to see the remains of Gar Green's still, but this photo of a similar Prohibition still was discovered by reader Larry Harnden. No details were written on the back of the photo except for the photographer's name, Boland.

(Green still)
Update Oct. 24, 2002
I enjoyed your article "Gar Green, salt of the earth" on your website. Gar was my uncle by marriage to Clara (Worstman) Green, my mother's sister and a local character in her own right. I thought you and your readers might enjoy the attached photograph of Gar's still I took at his home in August 1969 in Hamilton. This was before he donated it to the local "Hysterical Society," as he affectionately called it. — John Linn

      Many upriver residents remember Gar as a neighbor. Lois Pinelli Theodoratus recalls visiting him with neighbor kids as a child and being fascinated with his collection of animals and his stories that were bigger than life. She remembers that after he came home from serving in the Seabees navy unit in World War II, "he came home with carved coconuts, and had a baby's head tattooed on one leg below the knee I remember, among other tattoos."
      His niece, Lloye Patmore, gave us more details about his life. Gar and his brother Norwood were the only children in the family that stayed in the U.S.; the rest went back to Canada. The father, Leander Green, and his wife, Emma, were from Maria, Quebec and after they married they moved to Seattle and then purchased the land upriver. Clara was Gar's second wife, but we have no record of the first one. Clara was born on Feb 4, 1905, and died on Oct 11, 1984, after living in Ferndale for the last few years. Gar's son, John Ward Green, was born on March 18, 1920, and died on May 3, 1972.
      The Hamilton 1991 centennial book by Carol Bates gives a few more family details. The 1902 school census shows the Green children as being: Robert age 13; Howard 11; Garfield 10; Norwood 9; Uma 7; Beatrice 6; and Mildred 5. [Ed. note: Does any reader have information about the other Green children and Green descendants?]
      Finally, if you visit the Historical Association museum in LaConner, you will find a marvelous display of a still that Gar saved from the very old days of Prohibition. Many say that half the cash in town in the 1930s came from sales of Everclear moonshine. The display quotes Gar who said that the still never cooled off from 1917-37 while twelve families used it. He said that it was last used in 1944. The whole apparatus weighed 150 pounds and was built so that it could be knocked down quickly in 3 pieces in emergencies. It had copper rivets with no solder, was leak-proof and was not operated in wintertime. He said that 200-gallon hemlock vats were used for mash, and that the cookers used two gallons of old mash to get the new mash of corn, barley and rye started. It could produce 24 gallons in 24 hours.
      Please let us know by email or U.S. mail if you have more information about Gar or other upriver pioneers.

      See this Journal website for a timeline of local, state, national and international events for years of the pioneer period.
      Search the entire Journal site.
      Due to continued popular demand, in the interest of furthering our "open source" policy, we are assembling a collection of CDs that will include MS Word files of our pioneer profiles and town profiles from years 1-5, so that you can print them individually at your convenience. Inquire for details today via email or see our site about the planned CDs offering.

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, thank you in advance for whatever support you can provide. You can go here to read the preview edition to see examples of our in-depth research.

(bullet) Story posted July 2, 2002, and last updated Aug. 22, 2006
(bullet) Did you enjoy this story? Remember, as with all our features, this story is a draft and will evolve as we discover more information and photos. This process continues until we eventually compile a book about Northwest history.
(bullet) Can you help? We welcome correction and criticism.
(bullet) Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. With more than 500 features, we depend on your report. Thank you.

Return to our home page anytime

You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors:
(bullet) Jones and Solveig Atterberry, NorthWest Properties Aiken & Associates: . . . See our website
Please let us show you residential and commercial property in Sedro-Woolley and Skagit County 2204 Riverside Drive, Mount Vernon, Washington . . . 360 708-8935 . . . 360 708-1729
(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 section 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) Are you looking to buy or sell a historic property, business or residence? We may be able to assist. Email us for details.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit river, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley

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 seeking? We have helped many people find individual names or places, so email if you have any difficulty.
    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. We are currently researching some of the names most recently searched for — check the list here. Maybe you have searched for one of them?
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.

View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook
Email us at:
(Click to send email)
Mail copies/documents to Street address: Skagit River Journal, 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284.