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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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The Dunlap family of LaConner

(1916 LaConner fooball)
This photo from the Skagit Settlers book shows the football team from LaConner High School, in about 1916. They boy on the far left of the back row was future county treasurer and sheriff George Dunlap. Clarence Dunlap was the second from the left in the middle row. Phil Cornelius is on the far right of the front row. We are looking for more photos of the family and their businesses. The book is still for sale at the LaConner Museum.

      Ed. note: Below you will find profiles for Isaac, Sam and William Dunlap, and other obituaries and articles from our research about this pioneer LaConner family. We hope that a family member will share scans of family photos that show Isaac or others in the family. Update 2006: our wish has been granted; we were contacted by Alora, a Dunlap descendant who now lives in Snohomish County, and we hope to meet with her soon to look over the photos and documents that she has retained from the family archives. We plan to update this story in summer 2006. Alora is the wife of Steve Dunlap, great-great-grandson of Isaac Dunlap.

Isaac Dunlap
Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906, pages 589-90
      Isaac Dunlap, during the years of his life when he was more actively engaged than at present in the management of his large farm, was recognized as a man of great energy and of wide accomplishment, and since retiring has lost none of the respect he had gained by his industry and business sagacity.
      He is a native of Philadelphia, born in November of 1832, the son of James Dunlap, who came from Ireland and embarked in a transfer business in the Quaker city soon after his arrival in this county. In 1852 he removed to Iowa where he died about a year later. Isaac's mother, Mrs. Mary (Moore) Dunlap, was also a native of Ireland. She survived her husband but a few years and now rests beside him in Iowa. Isaac Dunlap received his early education in the schools of Pennsylvania and at the age of fifteen years was apprenticed to the trade of brass finishing and chandelier making. He continued at this work for six years, then, on the removal of his parents to an Iowa farm, commenced his career as an agriculturist. He continued to manage the old Iowa farm for a number of years after the demise of his father, but in 1863 went to California by mule team, consuming three and a half months on the trip.
      He continued at the work of a farm in California until 1877, then came to Washington and located on Pleasant ridge, where he purchased 160 acres of farm land. He conducted this farm with much success for five years, then bought the old Calhoun place, two an a half miles north of LaConner. This farm, which consists of three hundred and sixteen acres, was in good shape when he acquired it, but he has made many improvements, among them being the dikes. The soil is very fertile, a crop of one hundred bushels of oats to the acre being by no means unusual.
      A portion of this land has been producing oats for thirty years, yet is shows no signs of deteriorating in soil values. The reason for this is revealed by two wells which have been bored for Mr. Dunlap, each of them being sunk to a depth of 93 feet, of which ninety were shown to be of exactly the same character as the surface soil. The farm is now under the management of William Dunlap, one of his sons. In addition to his vested interest in the home farm, Mr. Dunlap owns stock in the Polson Hardware Company, which operates successful stores at LaConner, Seattle and Wenatchee.
      In politics, Mr. Dunlap is a Republican. He is especially interested in local affairs, having been a delegate frequently to the county and state conventions of his party. He served as county commissioner of Whatcom County before the division and was one of the first [commissioners on the] board for Skagit County, later serving another term. He has also been road supervisor of his district and has done much to improve the county roads.
      On Christmas eve, 1859, Mr. Dunlap married Miss Susan Maxwell, daughter of Thomas Maxwell, an Iowa farmer of Scotch descent. Seven children are the result of this union: James, farmer near LaConner; Alexander L., manager and stockholder in the Polson Hardware Company; William, Samuel, Mrs. Mary McFarland; Mrs. Roseanne Flagg and Mrs. Rowena Best. Mr. and Mrs. Dunlap have 20 grandchildren. In fraternal circles, Mr. Dunlap is an Odd Fellow. One of the foremost citizens of Skagit County in public spirit, and one whose service to the county have extended over a large period of years and been at all times of the most worthy character, he has achieved a highly enviable standing in the section which knows him best. He enjoys in abundant measure the esteem and regard of all. Though nearly 73 years old, he is still hale, active and keenly interested in all the affairs of life.
      Ed. note: Carroll Anderson, son and grandson of LaConner-area pioneers, shares this memory of James Dunlap in the book, Skagit Memories:

      On the south side of the James Dunlap little farm, south of Pioneer Park, was a nice sandy beach with the water coming from the mouth of the Skagit River. It was warm and gave those who wanted to lay on the sand a chance for a little pleasure in bathing suits. The water only rose to two or three feet. Later this area was all filled out to McGlinn island. In 1912 they built the road east of town straight out over Sullivan slough and placed a dam over the water. this, too, was a good place to dive and swim as the water was a little warmer.

Samuel Dunlap
Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906, pages 555-56
      Samuel Dunlap, though in point of age one of the younger leading men of the Skagit valley, is nevertheless a pioneer of that section of the Puget sound country. He was born Nov. 22, 1870, in the state of California, the son of Isaac Dunlap, a Pennsylvania farmer who later moved to Iowa. In the latter state he [Isaac] noted the tide of migration to California and joined it, traveling there by mule team.
      In 1877 he [Isaac] came to Skagit County and purchased a place on Pleasant ridge,; he still lives in the county. Mrs. Susan (Maxwell) Dunlap, mother of our subject, was born in Iowa and married Mr. Isaac Dunlap during his residence in that state. She still is living, the mother of seven children, of whom Samuel Dunlap is the sixth.
      The son, though born in California, is in reality a product of Skagit County, obtaining his education here and growing to manhood in the Skagit valley. Two years were passed by him in educational pursuits in the academy at Coupeville when, at the age of 20 years, he went to work for a brother. Two years as an employee were followed by four years of farming on land rented of his brother. At the close of this period, our subject bought forty acres of heavily timbered land which he cleared, and a little later added the 40-acre tract known as the Wells place, upon which he moved in 1899. The holding of eighty acres of — as good farm land as lies in Skagit County, produces principally oats of which the yield is invariably large.
      Mr. Dunlap married Mrs. Hattie Williams at LaConner in 1894. Her father, Richard Ball, a pioneer of Skagit County whose biography appears in this history, came to Washington and settled on the LaConner flats in the Centennial year [1876]. Mrs. Dunlap's father has served as mayor of LaConner for four years. Amanda (Horney) Ball, mother of Mrs. Dunlap, is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, born in 1847. She still lives in LaConner.
      Mrs. Samuel Dunlap was born near Cincinnati, Ohio, on New Year's day, 1867, in the same house which saw the birth of her father. She received her education in the Skagit County schools and after pursuing a course of study in the Portland high school, began teaching in Skagit County when 17 years of age; continuing to teach in the schools here for a total of nine years. When 20 years of age, she became the wife of Dr. A.C. Williams, whose death occurred two years later, after which she resumed teaching.
      The Dunlap home is one of the pleasant places in the Skagit valley and its host and hostess are respected by all. The farm is well kept and, with a goodly number of horses and cattle, constitutes one of the solid properties in the county. Mr. Dunlap is a member of the Woodmen of the World. In politics he is an ardent Republican.
      Ed. note: in the March 6, 1948, Mount Vernon Herald obituary of Samuel Dunlap, we find the following. He died on March 2. He was born in Lodi, California, moved to Pleasant Ridge near LaConner at age seven. He attended grade school in LaConner, completed school at the Puget Sound Academy in Coupeville. He operated a farm at Ridgeway until 1907 when he moved to Mount Vernon, where he opened a feed and seed business. He retired 10 years before his death. He was survived vy: widow Harriet; daughter Mrs. Ruth R. Manley, Mount Vernon, sister Mrs. M.L. Best, Bellingham.

William Dunlap
Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906, page 590
      William Dunlap is one of the successful young farmers of Skagit County and during the 17 years he has operated the large farm of his father has gained a reputation for energetic management and executive ability. He was born in San Joaquin County, California, in August of 1866, one of the seven children of Isaac and Susan (Maxwell) Dunlap, both of whom are well known and esteemed in Skagit County.
      The elder Dunlap is a native Pennsylvania, who moved to California in 1863 but was for many years one of the prominent stockmen and farmers of western Skagit County. He is living as a retired farmer, his place being under the operation and management of his son, the subject of this sketch. William Dunlap received his education in the schools of California and completed his courses of study on coming to Washington when eleven years old. He received a careful training in farm matters under the broad instruction of his father, and when he attained the age of 22 years assumed the management of the property, consisting of 316 acres of fertile land and considerable livestock.
      On the last day of the year 1893, Mr. Dunlap married Miss Winifred Lockhart, daughter of Samuel Lockhart, long a prosperous farmer in Iowa, who removed to Washington and is still living near LaConner. Mrs. Mary (West) Lockhart is still living at LaConner. Mrs. Dunlap was born in Iowa and received her early educational training there, completing her studies after her arrival in this state.
      Four children have been born of this union: Stella, Percy, Loree and Leland. In politics, Mr. Dunlap is a Republican, but devotes little attention to the activities of politics, finding himself pretty closely demanded in running the farm. In the seventeen years that he has managed the well known farm of his father, Mr. Dunlap has gained an enviable reputation as a young businessman of integrity and force of character. Under his hand, the farm has not deteriorated and is keeping in advance with all improvements under modern farming system.

John Conrad's obituary notes 1973
      Two grandchildren of Isaac Dunlap passed away: Frank L. Dunlap [died at 77 on March 25] and Mrs. Stella Dunlap Nelson [died at 78 on April 15] were both lifetime residents of LaConner. Frank was the son of A.I. "Tide" and Minnie Dunlap, while Stella was the daughter of William and Winifred Dunlap. Tide and son Frank ran the Dunlap Hardware Co. store for many years after taking over the former Polson Implement & Hardware Co. Shortly after the company was sold some ten years ago, the old pioneer store of 1885 was destroyed by fire. Stella was the widow of Alfred M. Nelson, a building contractor, who passed away in 1963. Grandfather Isaac Dunlap was born in Pennsylvania in 1832, settled in Iowa at an early age, married Susan Maxwell and in 1863 struck out for California with his family in a covered wagon pulled by a mule tam. The trip took 3 1/2 months and while going through Oregon a baby boy was born who grew up to become Tide, the old LaConner hardware man who died in 1938. They were 14 years in California and while there, William, father was Stella, was born in 1866. The family came north in 1877 and took up their home on a farm he purchased in Beaver Marsh. after five years the bought the large Sam Calhoun place of 316 acres, one of the first two homesteads on LaConner flats, adjoining the Mike Sullivan farm; both of those were settled on in 1868. The old home was just east of Sullivan Grove, now gone.
      Of the family of seven children, four were boys and the good help, the farm in a few years became a highly productive place. William, who was only 11 when the family arrived, took over operation when grown up and in 1893 he married Winifred Lockhart. The senior Isaac Dunlap had been an active citizen, served as a county commissioner in the old Whatcom County, and when Skagit County was created in November 1883 he became county commissioner for the new county. He also acted as a road supervisor and was active at his party's county and territorial conventions.
      [Ed. note: Dunlap was a Republican and was elected to the commissioner's post on Jan. 8, 1884, along with Republican John J. Edens and Democrat Harrison Clothier, when they ran countywide. Designated districts were not enacted until 1890. Isaac Dunlap was again elected in 1888. The late Howard Miller of Sedro-Woolley, who served the longest continuous timespan of any commissioner — 1966-82, noted that many people mistakenly think that the District Line road between Burlington and Sedro-Woolley is for the school district, but Miller explained that it was the original line between commissioner districts.

Open house Sunday to fete pioneer Mrs. Sam Dunlap
Mount Vernon Daily Herald, June 6, 1952
      Mrs. Sam Dunlap, who came to Skagit County in 1876, will be honored at an open house Sunday marking her 85th birthday. Plans for the affair, which will be held from 2-5 p.m. at the honoree's home, 507 N. 4th street, are being made by her daughter, Ruth Dunlap.
      The daughter of Mrs. and Mrs. R.H. Ball, she left Cincinatti, Ohio, with her parents on July 13, 1876. Traveling on the Union Pacific railroad, she remembers arriving in San Francisco August 1. The family boarded a steamship, the Dakota, which took them to Seattle and then the L.J. Libby, which carried them to LaConner August 8.
      Mrs. Dunlap, whose father was among the first to reclaim tidelands on the LaConner flats, remembers when the family would row to Bay View at high tide and Swinomish slough bridge, only wide enough for the rowboat. She can remember the first wagon road from Whitney to LaConner and how her horse would bog down in the mud while making the trip.
      Mrs. Dunlap, who started teaching school at 15 years old after passing the state examination, said yesterday afternoon that her life is interesting because she can see so plainly the things that have happened through her life. [Ed. note: you might note that the article never gives the lady's first name, just Mrs. Sam.]

Dunlaps elected to County offices
      In the book, Skagit County Grows Up, George Dunlap is listed as being elected Skagit County Treasurer in 1934, 1936, 1938. He is also listed as being elected county sheriff in 1940. But two of those listings conflict with the actual county historical record of office holders, which was published in 1988. In that latter record, there was no such election for the treasurer's post in 1936, the post being for four years. And that record also indicates that Pat McCarthy was elected for a four-year term from 1938-42. Perhaps someone can help clear this up for us.
      In that same county record, these Dunlaps were elected to county offices: Isaac Dunlap elected county commissioner, countywide before districts, on Jan. 8, 1884 for two-year term. Later, when three districts were formed, James Dunlap was elected 1st district commissioner in 1904 for four years. A decade before, James was elected treasurer as a Republican in 1892 and 1894. He was defeated by Oscar Ball, in the People's Party sweep of 1896. James was elected to the same post in 1898. In the county records, George I. Dunlap was elected as treasurer in 1934 and 1938. George I. Dunlap was elected as assessor in 1960 to fill the last two years of a term, and then reelected in 1962 and 1966.

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Story posted on August 1, 2004
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