Padden Family Notes

The Puget Sound Mail March 1880:

Michael Padden was killed instantly by a shotgun-blast fired by ten-year-old Thomas Clark, Jr. at the insistence of the boy's mother. Padden, accompanied by his father-in-law, Connelly, was fencing a piece of disputed land when he was challenged by Mrs. Clark. Although the land had been resurveyed and found to be in Padden's favor, Mrs. Clark ordered her son to shoot.

In March a preliminary hearing of Mrs. Clark and her son, Thomas, Jr., was held before Justice Marston. W. H. White represented the Territory and Hon. Orange Jacobs, Seattle, represented the Clarks. Justice Marston ordered Mrs. Clark and her son to be committed to jail at Jefferson County to await action of the District Court at its next regular session at La Conner.

In September 1880, Mrs. Clark was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in the peniterntiary. She hung herself in her cell. It was reported frequently, she had expressed a desire to commit suicide.

March 6, 1880:

Michael Padden, residing a few miles from Whatcom, was on Saturday, the sixth, shot dead by a little son of Thomas Clark, at the instance of the boy's mother. The circumstances of the tragic affair are briefly reported to be about as follows: The Paddens and Clarks, being close neighbors quarreled over the ownership of a small tract of land, which each claimed was within their lines. To settle the matter the land was surveyed not long ago; at the instance of either or both parties we believe was decided to belong to Padden, but the Clarks still lay claim to it. On Saturday Mr. Padden with his father-in-law Connelly, went out to fence in the tract in dispute. Mr. Clark being away from home to work at the Seattle Coal Mine, Mrs. Clark, accompanied by her little boy, aged about 10 years, with a loaded shotgun, went out to expostulate with and warn of Padden who would not desist. Hot words followed, and Mrs. Clark requested her son to shoot, which he did, killing Padden instantly. The boy and his mother are under arrest to appear at the next term of court at La Connor. Mr. Padden, the victim of this tragedy, has long been a resident of the Sound. At one time he was foreman of the B. B. coal mine and more recently connected with the Talbot mine at Seattle, and after the collapse of that mine, in which he was part owner some three years ago, he returned to his homestead near Whatcom with his family, where he resided up to the time of his death.

The Puget Sound Mail March 20, 1880:

The preliminary hearing of Mrs. Thomas Clark and her son for the shooting and killing of Michael Padden near Whatcom on the 8th inst., was heard before Justice Marston of the precinct on last Tuesday, Hon. W. H. White, appearing for the Territory and Hon. O. Jacobs for the accused. The learned counsels made an able presentation of the case from their respective standpoints, and Justice Marston, after taking the case under advisement until 10 o'clock the following day, ordered that Mrs. Clark and her son be committed to jail at Jefferson County to await the action of the District Court at its next regular session at La Connor.

The Puget Sound Mail, August 14, 1880:

Mrs. Susan Clark and her son Thomas Clark, Jr., a boy about twelve years of age, charged with the murder of Michael Padden near Whatcom on the 8th day of March last, were arraigned on Monday afternoon, and the empaneling of the jury occupied the remainder of the day. All day Tuesday and most of the forenoon Wednesday was occupied in examining witnesses, the prosecution being conducted by Prosecuting Attorney Ballard, assisted by Hon. W. H. White, with Hon. O. Jacobs and J. C. Haines Esq., counsel for the defendants.

For the information of those not conversant with the nature of this homicide we will briefly state that on the day of the shooting Mr. Padden, with three others, was fencing in a piece of land over the ownership of which there had been a dispute between the Paddens and Clarks. Which dispute appeared to have been settled by the county surveyor in favor of Padden. Mrs. Clark went out apparently to remonstrate with Padden, and was followed by the little boy who carried a shotgun, but before any word was said on either side the boy fired and killed Padden. The prosecution claimed that both the mother and boy went out with murderous intent, while the defense set up they went to remonstrate, and that the boy, either through fear of the possible consequences of an interview, or accident in firing with the intent of scaring off Padden, committed the homicide. In the summing up of the case, Mr. White led off for the prosecution in an able arguement on the law and the evidence; and was followed by Mr. Haines' fertility of resource of logic in explaining away the most damaging testimony against his clients was agreed by all to be superb and masterly in the highest degree. Judge Jacobs followed in his usual impressive manner in appeal to the jury in behalf of the prisoners. Prosecuting Attorney Ballard closed for the Territory, and right earnestly did he apply himself to securing a conviction. His very able review of the case occupied over an hour. At the conclusion of which Judge Greene delivered his charge to the jury as to the law and their duty in the case. The instructions to the jury were full and exhaustive, but the principal point in his honor's charge was that the might find the boy guilty and acquit the mother, but if they found her guilty it could it could not be of a greater offense than which might be found against the boy; and that if they acquit the boy they must also acquit the mother.

The jury after being out for about ten hours returned a verdict of manslaughter against the boy and his mother.

The counsel for the defense moved for a new trial for the boy, which the court took under advisement, and finally granted; and sentenced the mother to five years in the penitentiary.

The Puget Sound Mail, September 4, 1880:

Committed Suicide - Mrs. Clark, who was recently found guilty of manslaughter in the Padden homicide case, and sentenced to five years in the Penitentiary, committed suicide by hanging herself in her cell on last Wednesday. Since her arrest and imprisonment she has frequently manifested symptoms of insanity and she finally accomplished her purpose. It was only the other day that her little girl, about two years of age, was nearly gored to death by a cow. This homicide case is a very sad affair from beginning to end, and both families have out deepest sympathy in their affliction.

The Puget Sound Mail, January 15, 1881:

The grand jury was called Thursday morning on re-assembling of the court. Judge Greene's charge to the jury was a plain, comprehensive statement of their duties under the laws of the Territory and United States. After the grand-jury retired and some preliminary motions heard on the civil docket, the Acting Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. White, moved that a nollo pros. be entered in the case of the Territory vs Thomas Clark, Jr., a new trial having been granted the accused at the last term of court. The Prosecution expressed the belief that public interests would not be served by further proceedings in the case. So the Court allowed the motion and the prisoner, a boy of thirteen years of age, was discharged from custody, he receiving the congratulations of his counsel, Judge Jacobs.

The offense this boy stood charged with, it will be remembered, was the shooting and killing of Michael Padden near Whatcom in the spring of 1880. Himself and mother were found guilty of manslaughter at the last term of court. Mrs. Clark was sentenced to five years in penitentiary, where she subsequently committed suicide; but through the instrumentality of able counsel (Jacobs and Haines) a new trial was granted the boy; and hence this dismissal of the case, which was chiefly based on the ground that the prisoner was of that tender age as to render him responsible for the act, committed by him at the instance of his mother.

Bellingham Bay Reveille, May 10, 1889:

In the matter of the estate and guardianship of Edward Padden and Nellie Padden, minors.

On reading and filing of the petition of Thomas W. Padden, guardian of the persons and estates of Edward Padden and Nellie Padden, minors, praying for an order of sale of the interests of said minors in the following real estate in the county of Whatcom W. T.:  The S 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of Sec. 6, Tp. 37 north, range 3 east, and lots 1 and 2 in block 36 in the City of Whatcom, W. T., also the NE 1/2 of lot 1 in block 10 in Sehome, as originally platted.

And it appearing to the court that it is necessary, and will be beneficial to said monors that their interests in said real estate should be sold. It is hereby ordered that all persons interested in said estate appear before this court at the court room thereof in Whatcom, W. T., on the 30th day of May, 1889, at 10 o'clock a. m..; then and there to show cause why the interests of said minors in said real estate should not be sold in accordance with the prayer of their guardian in his petition.

And it is further ordered that a copy of this order be personally served on all persons interested in said estate, or on their guardians, at least ten days before the time appointed for hearing this petition, or that it be published at least four (4) successive weeks before said hearing in the Bellingham Bay Reveille, a newspaper printed in said county of Whatcom. Provided, however, if all persons interested in said estate shall signify in writing their assent to such sale, the notices may be dispensed with.

Dated this 24th day of April, 1889.
W. H. Harris, Probate Judge.

Bellingham Bay Reveille, February 28, 1896:

Annie Padden to M. O. Stenvig, part of lot 3 Padden Partition plot, consideration $300.

Notes for John Vincent Padden:

The following article was in The Fairbanks Daily Times," dated October 6, 1906, entitled "Padden Story a Pipe Dreamed Evening Limp Comes Out with Yellow Story About a Young Man Being Drowned--Padden calls at the Times office.

There are two evening jokes. One is the Fairbanks News and the other is The Bellingham Herald. Both have contained yellow and unwarranted accounts of a young man being drowned, which would provoke applause from the head "yen hok" of a dope joke.

In last evening's joke was an account of the drowning of John Padden, a young man from Bellingham. Now Padden has been plodding along very nicely and when he read about himself in the evening "limp" he threw both hands up in the air and swam to shore, so to speak.

Padden was pretty mad when he called at the Times office. He said he did not mind the story for himself, for he had but few friends up here and none of them would take the story seriously, but it might get to the outside and distract his mother. He wired her last evening that he was alive and well and had been writing every two weeks.

Henry Schloss, yard boss, at the Noyes Mill, accompanied Padden to the Times office and denied that he had ever inquired for or been separated from Padden. Just who left the can containing the dope where the newsman could get it will be hard to find out, but whoever he is, he should be prosecuted. Following is the denial of the story in Bellingham Reville: "The front page story of the Herald last night, aledging that John Padden of this city had been drowned inthe Yukon River, has no foundation in fact. P.E. Connelly, an uncle of Mr. Padden and other family members are highly inscensed that such empty vaporing should have gotten into the evening journal, as they caused a shock to his mother and the other members of his family. The maternal feelings of Mrs. Oeser, Mr. Padden's mother, have been stirred profoundly by the story, and she has since lain in bed sick."

"A close investigator of the Herald's source of information reveals that there is nothing to the report and that there never was. Someone idly suggested the John might meet his death in the Yukon and a reporter manufactured the story from his statement."

Mr. Connelly stated last night that his newphew has been in Fairbanks for more than two months, the family having repeatedly heard from him and Henry Schloss, with whom he went north, has never at anytime written letters to this city inquiring of Mr. Paddens whereabouts."

From the Fairbanks Evening News (Fairbanks, Alaska) October 8, 1906


Should there still remain in the mind of any local businessman the smallest remnant of doubt that publicity by means of the columns of the Fairbanks Evening News bring results, an occurrence of yesterday should go along way to dispel that illusion.

On receipt of a copy of the Bellingham Herald, a paper that has a reputable record behind it, containing an account of the supposed drowning of John Padden in the Yukon River somewhere below Dawson, the News gave publicity to the item in the hope that, in case the man had not been drowned, his whereabouts might be revealed.

Well acquainted as we are with the habit of News items "doing things," we have to confess ouselves as, to a slight degree, surprise in this case, for, almost before our busy corps of distributors had gotten through their work last evening, not only the "whereabouts" of the man was located, but the man himself was insisting to a News man that he was alive.

Mr. Padden and his partner, Henry Schloss, left Seattle on May 29 and came direct to Fairbanks by way of Dawson, arriving June 12. Last night they said that they could only understand the rumor of the accident to Padden on the supposition that a mutual friend of theirs, Mrs. McMahon of Dawson, had read of the drowning of a man named McPadden in the Yukon and had jumped to the conclusion that it was John Padden and made inquiries on the outside.

Mr. Padden has been working on No. 2 above, Dome Creek, all summer, and only came into town last night. He says that his mother was in doubt as to his safety for but a short while, as his uncle, Pat Connelly, had received a letter from him dated subsequent to the supposed drowning, and at once notified his mother that here could be no truth to the report.

Bellingham Herald, December 26, 1911:

John Padden, formerly a postal clerk in the local office, and later employed by the Puget Sound Mills & Timber company, will leave for his home in South Bend this evening, after spending Christmas with his mother in South Bellingham. Johnny Padden, as he is known by many of his old friends here, is the son of the pioneer after whom Lake Padden was named.

Bellingham Herald, November 11, 1957, or 58:

Padden Recalls Early Days On Bay for Clamdigger Meet.
By Nellie Browne Duff, Herald Reporter.

"I have always wondered why the port commission never had that rock removed," John V. Padden said. He meant the Starr Rock out in Bellingham Bay off the South Side. "It's in direct line of navigation if they ever open up this area to industry."

Starr Rock got its name when the steamer George E. Starr running between Seattle and the town of Fairhaven in 1886 hit the big rock sticking up out in the bay "between the Red Mill and the old coal bunker," as he described the location then.

"It caused a lot of excitement," he related. "The boat beached on Dan Harris's Spit and lay there until it was repaired and could return to Seattle." He remembers as a lad joining in the excitement and running down to the bay to see the boat.

This and other incidents in early Fairhaven were related by Padden Tuesday at the Whatcom County Clamdiggers' meeting in Lynden where he was the speaker, telling the story of the pioneer Padden for whom Lake Padden and Padden Creek on the South Side were named.

The Clamdiggers Tuesday were celebrating Admission Day, on the 69th anniversary of the Territory of Washington becoming a state by admission to the Union on November 11, 1889. Old-timers at the meeting related many incidents of the historic day as they recollect them.

Padden was 10 years old at the time, but he says he doesn't have any very clear memory of anything but the excitement that ran through the town of Fairhaven when the news that Washington had at last become a state came by telegraph. "I remember that bells rang and whistles blew and everybody was talking about it, but I heard more afterwards than I can remember at the time," he said.

The following is from "Looking Back Vol.2", by Galen Biery & Dorothy Koert, who interviewed John Padden on February 6, 1956.

John Padden had definite ideas about the Water Department. He said, "The Water Department is the worst political football. I remember when Black was elected the first Mayor of Bellingham. An engineer from New York was a guest of Black. I was present on evening when he gave a talk about a growing city. He said, "If you are going to have a city you are going to have a different water supply than Lake Whatcom or Lake Padden. As the city grows, all that land around the lakes will be settled and that water will become contaminated. Of course, I realize that septic tanks must be built thirty feet from the lake but residents don't want to do that. Use Lake Whatcom as a reservoir for industry. The water of Lake Padden could be brought to a water shed for a pure water supply."

Padden recalled the first days of the city, "When the boom hit this was all timber. They had logged a little up on 17th Street."

As a boy his playground was up near the Jim Wardner home. His friends were Ted Wardner and his three sisters. He said, "as a kid I watched the mule pull the elevator up with material when Larrabee built the hotel. I was at the opening in 1890. Mother went to Seattle to get a gown for the Opening Ball. The hotel operated for five years, then it was leased. It died with the boom. The Larrabees were the only occupants. They had offices there. Later it was the Victoria Hotel. The Washington Club met there. Later it became a sanitarium.

"The old Pavilion was built in two days. The carpenters were so thick on the building you couldn't see it. It was built to house the K.P. Convention here. You could go down town and see a house started, if you went back the next day it was finished. There was a lot of gingerbread stuff, but the Larrabees had the best hotel in the state.

"I remember Dan Harris, wearing a red tam o'shanter, coming out to you place to look for his cows. Those were the days of teams and carriages. On the corner of 12th and Harris there was a bank, a pool hall down below and a barber shop in the basement. The Blankenship Mill was between Mill and Knox Street. The Old Round House was in Happy Valley. The Apple Cannery, Old Fairhaven Dock, Harris Dock, Old Cornwall Mill-the Old Brewery, mall. There was a beer garden around the brewery.

"In 1892 the depression hit," Padden said. "There wasn't any money. I wanted a shotgun. I found a barrel in the woods. I needed a stock. I had no money. A neighbor made a stock, and I cut two cords of alder on the Samish Road for him. In those days if you money in the bank you lost it.

"They use to tell a good story about Colonel Visscher, the editor. He was a drinking man in those days. When he was in an Arizona saloon some cowboys came in and said to the bartender, "Fill up six rigs for that fellow. Now drink it down!"

Visscher said, "I'd like to see anyone make me do that!" "The cowboy said, "You would! Come up! Fill them up for this fellow! Visscher began drinking. He finished. "Now I've drunk my way down. If you fill them up I'll drink my way back."

Submitted by Cathy Padden Atkinson

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