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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. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of 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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Snohomish history since 1859

From the Mount Vernon Daily Herald, July 28, 1952
Following is a brief sketch of pioneer history compiled by R.D. DeSelle of Route Four, Snohomish.

      Captain George Vancouver landed at [the future site of] Everett on June 4, 1792. First settlement [in future Washington was at] Fort Spokane House in 1812. Western Washington was first settled by Americans at Tumwater in 1845.
      Washington Territory was established March 2 1853. What is now Snohomish county was then part of Island county. Frost and Fowler established a store at Mukilteo in 1859, the first settlement in Snohomish county.
      In 1859 men worked on a military trail on the fall line between the foothills and the tidal marshes from Steilacoom to Fort Bellingham. The road along this fall line or east Puget Sound is [either L-A or 1-A? maybe present Highway 9?] now, a primary highway from Tenino to Sumas, several links of five miles each now under construction.

First Snohomish business was the Blue Eagle Saloon
      In April 1860, E.C. Ferguson, father of Snohomish, arrived. Snohomish then began to grow, the first business establishment being the Blue Eagle Saloon. Snohomish county was established Jan. 14, 1861.
      At an election in July, 1861, Snohomish won over Mukilteo, 11 votes to ten, and the county seat was moved from Mukilteo to Snohomish. In 1896 the Superior Court decided Everett won the election of 1894 by seven and two-fifths [unexplained] and the county seat was moved to Everett.
      First government land title in Snohomish valley was the Snohomish preemption claim of E.C. Ferguson in February 1870. First school in Snohomish 1869. There were 12 school children in 1870.

First school in a blacksmith shop
      Louisa Fowler Sinclair, daughter of Jacob Fowler of Mukilteo, attended this first school in Snohomish, held in a blacksmith shop. Mrs. Sinclair is the earliest surviving school child in the state of Washington. Charles Bakeman of Snohomish, still active at the age of 92 [and owner] in C.H. Bakeman Furniture store, is the earliest school director [from] 1886.
      Clara Niemeyer and [Charles] Morgan was the earliest marriage, the license being issued on Dec. 21, 1881. H.A. Gregory was auditor at that time.
      Henry Sheldon is now the oldest boy born in Snohomish in 1873. Four members of the Pioneer Association, born in Snohomish 70 or more years ago, died the past year: Mrs. Sylvia Ferguson Lenfest, Noble Harvey, Sam Knapp and Ella Hanson Dubuque.
      Surviving founders of the Pioneer Association are: Lottie Johnson, Elsie Comegys Payne, Emma Crueger Patric, Emma Rea Campbell, Mabel Whiting Mero, Minnie Whitfield Nickerman and Maude Brown Kiefer.

David DeSelle biography
      Ed. note: The late David DeSelle spent at least four decades of his life, searching and researching about the history of his county. Thanks to Ann Tuohy at the Blackman Museum in Snohomish, we add this biography of David, written in about 1988. The Blackman Museum in the city of Snohomish is a terrific historical resource when you visit Snohomish county.

      A native son of Snohomish county is R. David DeSelle, resident of the Snohomish district, who today is receiving birthday greetings from his many friends. Mr. DeSelle was born in Mukilteo, Jan. 5, 1885. A progressive farmer himself, Mr. DeSelle has contributed much to the growth of the agriculture and dairy industries in Snohomish county. He was active in the forming of the Snohomish County Fruit Growers Association. He also helped to start the first farm loan association in the county and was interested in the establishment of the first cow testing station. Dave, as his friends know him, also assisted in organizing the Snohomish and Island Counties Dairymen's Association.
      Dave is active in his support of the good roads movement and largely because of this fact, went into the state legislature in 1923. He long has been interested in the Grange and served his local Grange as its Master. He has been a resident of the Snohomish area since he was a child in 1890 and he has lived his entire life in the county.
      In the early days Mukilteo was the seaport of Snohomish county. Snohomish was the most active river port on the entire Puget sound. DeSelle's father settled on 59 acres of ground on the lagoon south of the Mukilteo lighthouse that he purchased in 1879.
      It was the lure of the big city which took the family to Snohomish. There was the county seat, a bank, churches, lodges, about 2,000 people and 42 saloons. Besides, it wsa the home of DeSelle's uncle (his mother's brother) and the stories of the prospects of this booming metropolis were too good to ignore.
      DeSelle's principal business has always been farming. He's lived on the same acreage since the family's move to Snohomish, although not always in the same home. That move, by the way, was made on the "Mable" [steamboat], which continued to serve the river port on regular schedule until the early 1900s.
      Among his early recollections are those of the "upstart" town of Everett. For a number of years — 1904 to 1912 — his principal source of cash income was the sale of fresh vegetables to Everett housewives. The land route from Everett to Snohomish was south on Broadway to Lowell and on to Larimer's Corners. The route wound across the marsh to the bicycle tree and thence to Snohomish.
      His regular market place — if there was any such thing — was at the corner of Colby and Everett avenues which he recalls as "an area full of stumps. You just wheeled the wagon between them." Wetmore avenue, he recalls, was the first street in town to have concrete sidewalks — "the only decent place to walk in town."
      His principal hobby is the taming of the Pilchuck river as it passes along his acreage. It's a never-ending battle, he says, with the river doing its worst to carry DeSelle land away, even as DeSelle struggles to keep it for his own use. Neither admits the other is making any headway, for that pioneer spirit seems to be as determined as the river.

If you have access to photographs or documents or family memories about early Snohomish, Island or Skagit county history, we hope you will consider sharing copies with us.

Story posted on March 21, 2002, and last updated on Jan. 28, 2005
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