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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, 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

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Capsule profiles of Anacortes and
Fidalgo Island pioneers, businesses and place names
Part 1: A-L

(Guemes Channel)
      This drawing of Guemes Channel appeared in a very rare edition of the Anacortes Illustrated magazine that we were fortunate enough to find at a garage sale several years ago. The magazine was published periodically during the height of the boom and this issue was published in the spring of 1891, when the excitement was waning but the publisher, George P. Baldwin, retained hope. The view is looking north from the site of the Bowman's house at present-day 3rd Street and Q Avenue at Cap Sante in Anacortes, towards Guemes Channel and Guemes Island. The artist's name is Winsor, which you can find cleverly hidden in the picture. Issue 34 features a multi-part history of early Anacortes and Fidalgo Island and includes an introduction to Amos Bowman's writing: Before and After — the Anacortes founder publishes an 1879 letter predicting the boom and follows up with an 1890 article answering his own predictions. Includes brief profile and timeline for Amos and his wife, Annie (Curtis), namesake of the town.

      This multi-part section offers the reader brief capsulized profiles that may be expanded into full stories in the future. It was set up as a collection of end notes to our feature on the intriguing twin stories that Anacortes pioneer Amos Bowman wrote, Eleven Years Hence, in 1879 and 1890. You will find a click link in each capsule that will lead you back to the place in the story where you were reading. This section will be expanded in future issues. The capsules are alphabetized, using the first letter of the person's last name or the first letter of the business, building or place name.

William Allard
      "Uncle Billy" Allard, a Missouri native, came to the island about the same time that the Bowmans arrived and he staked a claim near where the San Juan Lanes stands today, on the western shore of Fidalgo Bay. A bachelor, he opened a blacksmith shop in addition to logging — like Henry Holtcamp in Sterling, and kept up a small farm. In 1885, a decade after he arrived, he answered the call of settlers who wanted a wagon road around the head of the bay instead of crossing in their canoes. He soon carved out a road around the Weaverling Bluff that is now followed roughly by the Hwy. 20 spur road near Weaverling Spit. His neighborhood soon became known informally as Utopia, with his neighbors, the Tades, who launched the Plymouth Congregational Church and Alden Academy, and Harry and Elizabeth White, who built a landing that jutted out onto the bay. [Return to Eleven Years Hence]

Cap Sante
(Cap Sante, Quebec)
Cap Sante, Quebec
    the inspiration for Cap Sante, Anacortes. Note how much this view, looking south to the St. Lawrence river, resembles the view of Guemes Island from where Amos and Annie lived.

      This 1879 article by Amos Boyman is the document with that spelling of "Capsauntee" and we are unsure of whether it was a misspelling by Amos or poetic license. The point where the Bowmans built their store and house — across Guemes channel from Guemes Island, actually became known as Cap Sante, named by his wife Annie for the town of the same name. That is the county seat of Pontneuf, 25 miles southwest of Quebec City at the mouth of the Jacques-Cartier River, where it feeds into the St. Lawrence River. Anne Curtis Bowman's relatives lived there and she vacationed there in 1867 before she married Amos. [Return to Eleven Years Hence]

Orlando Graham
      Orlando Graham will also be the subject of an upcoming feature. He arrived in LaConner in 1873 as one of the first permanent mainland settlers and was soon employed by Sam Calhoun at his farm north of town. Graham migrated here from McLeod County, Minnesota, where he settled just before the Civil war, following a move from his native New York. After enlisting in 1861 during the war, he was commissioned and rose to First Lieutenant in the Company B, Nineteenth Regiment, Minnesota State Militia, and served with Gen. William T. Sherman on the march across Georgia to the sea. He and Maine native Amasa "Peg-Leg" Everett both moved here from Minnesota at the same time and they discovered coal on Coal Mountain, across the Skagit River from Hamilton, a year later. A year after that, Orlando apparently sold his coal share and went back to Minnesota and fetched his sons, Albert and Frank, his wife Harriet, their daughters, Carrie and Nellie, and their friend Thomas Sharpe to join him on the island. Sharpe was soon joined by his mother, two brothers and a sister. Thomas had quite a green thumb and soon he boasted one of the finest orchards about, while the Grahams opened a nursery which began to thrive after the Depression of 1893 subsided. Decades later, Albert discovered copper ore on the family land and made a handsome sale to the Anacopper Mine Company, but riches did not follow since the new owner offered shares in 1930, just as another nationwide Depression set in. [Return to Eleven Years Hence]

Horace Greeley and the New York Tribune
      Part of the frustration of researching a life so full of adventure and travel like Amos Bowman's is that the many people who profiled him and his family left some huge gaps and failed to construct a timeline, especially of his life before moving permanently to Washington Territory in 1875-76. Nowhere was that more evident than in the years between when he attended universities at Oberlin, Ohio, and New York, and his permanent move West to California. That gap is even most evident in a series of mistakes that more modern writers have made — even some in his family, by asserting certain facts that do not make chronological sense.
      We know from various sources that Bowman had to work to put himself through school in New York and that he landed a fortuitous job as a shorthand specialist for Horace Greeley's Tribune. That led to various stints as a reporter for Greeley in New York, and then for the Sacramento Union newspaper in California during his first brief stint there before his extensive geology studies in Europe and his post-graduate writing tour of the continent for Greeley. The most obvious mistake is the contention that he reported the Crimean War for the Tribune. That is quite unlikely and could have been easily determined by writers if they checked the years of the war that started in 1853 — when Amos was 14. A family member made a subsequent mistake when she made an alternate claim that he reported on the Franco-Prussian War for the Tribune. But that war occurred in 1870, five years after he was back in California, according to other accounts and timelines. Perhaps the answer for the second mistake is that Greeley could have assigned Amos to observe the lead-up to the war when both countries were posturing and rattling their sabers. We wish that Amos had kept a journal, or if did keep one, that a family member had retained it through the years. [Return to Eleven Years Hence]

Capt. George D. Hill
      Capt. George D. Hill earned his title as a captain of 1st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Cavalry in the Civil War. We do not know when Hill first moved to Washington Territory but we do know that he was the second departmental commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in 1883. He was also a very early speculator in Anacortes property, just after 1870. While other speculators sold out during the mid-1880s doldrums, Hill hung on to his property along with his neighbor and early-settler, Edward L. Shannon. Shannon was actually an absentee owner, but Hill was active with the first townsite development in 1883.
      Hill first gained fame as the organizer with J.M. Frink of Seattle's first central electric power station along with agents of Thomas Edison. Their first electric generator with a steam-powered dynamo was located in Pioneer Square, representing Seattle's first attempt at lighting with electricity. On March 22, 1886, Edison engineers demonstrated the first incandescent light bulb to shine west of the Rocky Mountains. Hill was also the U.S. government Indian Agent in Seattle during the mid-1880s.and was instrumental in setting up the "Old Man House" where Chief Sealth and others congregated. Hill died in Seattle on Dec. 4, 1890, not long after the 1890 Amos Bowman Progress article was published, and his estate was sued and discussed in Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York v. Hill, 193 U.S. 551 (1904) and Ferry v. King County, 141 U.S. 668 (1891), cases that became landmark law decisions and which are widely noted on the Internet. Another George D. Hill was surveyor general in the Dakota Territory but we do not think that was the same man because his term occurred while our George was serving in the Civil War. [Return to Eleven Years Hence]

William H. Holcomb
      We have very little information about William H. Holcomb, except that he was one of the Union Pacific representatives in the mix of the Oregon Improvement Co.'s promotion of the Seattle & Northern Railroad, which was built between Anacortes and Sedro in 1889-90. The UP interests explain the UP logo behind the head table at the banquet held for the visiting dignitaries who arrived on the first through train from Seattle via Sedro on Nov. 27, 1890. The 1890-91 Business Directory of the Nebraska State Gazetteer lists William H. Holcomb, as vice-president at the UP offices in Omaha. There is a different Bill Holcomb who made a gold strike at Victor Valley, California. We hope that a reader will have more information about Mr. Holcomb. [Return to Eleven Years Hence]

George F. Kyle (or F. A.?)
      There is some confusion over Mr. Kyle's first name. In 1927, Judge W.V. Wells referred to him as F.A. Kyle, but Claudia Lowman has found several cites back to 1890 with his name listed as George F. Kyle. But his place in early Anacortes history is insured because he was one of the leaders of the "West End" project, which was an alternate location for downtown Anacortes. We refer to Wells's story, transcribed in Dan Wollam's 1965 booklet, The Anacortes Story.
      One of the sympathizers of what was sometimes referred to as the "West End," and sometimes as the "McNaught Addition," was F.A. Kyle. Mr. Kyle had accumulated a comfortable little fortune as a contractor of the [Canadian Pacific] Railway Co. He exhausted his fortune in the building and equipment of the Anacortes hotel, which stands at the southwest corner of J Avenue and Eighth Street. The hotel was operated but a short time. The building also housed for a while the First National Bank of Anacortes. Since 1890 it has been used variously for stores, public school, business college and apartments. The pathetic story of the loss of a fortune in the building of the Anacortes is only one story of its kind that might be related in connection with the construction of nearly every important building that [was] built in 1890.
      Lowman found citations to him as George Kyle in 1890 and 1893, in addition to his obituary in the Anacortes American on Jan. 12, 1905, after he died at the General Hospital in Seattle. We will expand on both the hotel and its building in a subsequent story based on Lowman's extensive research of her family, who took over the hotel after it faded following the Depression of 1893. [Return to Eleven Years Hence]

      See this Journal website for a timeline of local, state, national and international events for years of the pioneer period.
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Story posted on June 30, 2006
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