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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition 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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Alexander Ross and Ross island
in the Skagit river

Transcribed from Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906, page 805
(Ross Island)
The editor recently drew this map of the area around the Skagit river north and south of Ross island. This bend of the river is about five miles east-northeast of Sedro-Woolley. Ross island is similar in size and formation to Skiyou island farther down the river. The arrow points to Minkler road, which runs north from the river to the town of Minkler at the southeast end of Minkler Lake. During summers in the 1950s the editor and his friends used to wade across Leggett slough to play on the sandbars. Hunters especially loved the island as did a hundred varieties of birds.

      Alexander Ross, a farmer, stockman and raiser of registered short horns three miles west of Lyman, was attracted to Skagit county through an early connection in San Francisco with David Batey, one of the pioneers of the upper Skagit valley. [Read the story of Batey, one of the four British bachelors who homesteaded future Sedro in 1878.]
      Though in those pioneer days he acquired interests here, he did not make Skagit county his home until 1892. He was horn in Ross shire, Scotland, in 1853, the third of seven sons of Alexander and Tinne Ross, Scottish farming people, now dead. But three children remain, Donald in Ross shire, David, near Sedro-Woolley, and Alexander.
      As a boy, young Ross passed the life of a Scottish lad and at the age of sixteen years was apprenticed to the trade of carpenter. At twenty, having served his term, he came to the United States, and in May 1872, was at the carpenter's bench in San Francisco in connection with his work he went to the Hawaiian islands and helped erect mills for Claus Spreckels. then sugar king.
      For twenty years, Ross alternated between San Francisco and Honolulu and the other islands of the Pacific group. But in 1892 lie came to LaConner and on the advice of his old friend, Mr. Batey, took up his present place, then all in timber. Leaving his brother [David] in charge of his Skagit county interests, he has made frequent trips to San Francisco.
      On one occasion he imported from California five head of registered shorthorns, the first thoroughbreds of that breed to be brought here. They cost considerable money, but the venture has proved highly successful and he has imported a number of registered hulls, the entire series of importation resulting in a very choice collection of cattle. He has also imported Percheron mares for the purpose of raising horses.
      Mr. Ross is the owner of 140 acres of land, and has recently sold 200 acres, retaining pasture rights on the latter tract. In fraternal circles he is an Odd Fellow and a past grand; in politics he is a Republican and has represented his section in the county conventions. Mr. Ross is a man of considerable means, thoroughly reliable and respected in his community.

In the June 29, 1939, issue of the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, we read a brief note about the brothers Ross — Alexander and John, locating a claim on an island below Lyman in March 1889. That would be in what we now call the Utopia district, where this writer grew up. The island was the largest of many at a bend of the Skagit river, bordered on the north by what became known as Leggett Slough and on the south by the river itself. The article noted that the brothers brought five head of thoroughbred Durham stock from California. Inferring from the biography, we conclude that Alexander's brother David's name was confused as John in this note.
      We always offer a caveat to the modern reader about the biography section of the 1906 book, Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906. The book was split into two parts, the first half compiled mainly by young journalist Harry Averill as a result of reading the archives of all pioneer newspapers available at the time and interviewing pioneers. Young Averill and others rode out to each farm by horse and buggy and viewed family documents, diaries, bibles and photographs, and transcribed family memories. After writing for years in Idaho and California, Averill returned home to edit the Mount Vernon Herald for two decades. The second half was a collection of biographies subscribed and paid for by families who could afford the fee. Some have said that the subscription was $100 but that seems quite a dear sum for those times. Regardless, this second half has to be taken with a grain of salt, as the pioneers would have said, because several of the biographies have proven to be more works of fanciful fiction in parts or the total. In the case of Mr. Ross, his information matches with other accounts, so we are fairly confident that it is a true record. We hope that a reader is a descendant of this family and can provide more information, copies of documents or scans of photos. We are also working on the history of other pioneer Utopia families, including the Leggetts, Wulffs and others. Are you a descendant of one of those families or do you know anyone who is?

Story posted on December 25, 2003
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Read the history websites of our two newest sponsors and supporters:
Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 82 years
Bus Jungquist Furniture at 829 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 36 years

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 driver from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley

College Way Antique Mall, 1601 E. College Way, Mount Vernon, WA 98273, (360) 848-0807
Where you will find wonderful examples of Skagit county's past, seven days a week

North Cascade Ford, formerly Vern Sims Ford Ranch,
West Ferry street and Crossroads/Highway 20
either on the Sedro-Woolley page or directly at www.northcascadeford.com
DelNagro Masonry Brick, block, stone — See our work at the new Hammer Heritage Square
See our website www.4bricklayers.com
33 years experience — 15 years as a bonded, licensed contractor in the valley
Free estimates, reference, member of Sedro-Woolley Chamber (360) 856-0101

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