My father, James Peter SMITH, was born in 1864, the third child of six children of Martin and Minnie SCHMIDT, who resided at that time in the province of Slavick, Holstine. The state was later taken over by Germany in 1870 from Denmark.
Thereby hangs a story.
There were three boys and three girls in the family. The eldest a girl, Mary, Uncle Willie (Wilhelm), my father, James Peter, Aunt Sophie, Minnie and Uncle Martin, the baby. At that time in Germany a young man reaching the age of eighteen was automatically inducted into the German army. The family raised enough money to send Uncle Willie to America just before his eighteenth birthday. Uncle Willie landed in Seattle in 1878. He had been apprenticed to a bricklayer so he had no trouble finding work at his trade in the city at that time.
After three years he sent for my father. In 1881, Father arrived in Seattle. He obtained work with a Danish farmer in the White River Valley. He was quite proficient in learning the English language. He would be eighteen on his next birthday. He was a lover of history, so read about the history of America. He so wanted to become a citizen of America when Washington Territory became a state. After two years with the Danish farmer, he obtained work as a stone mason in Seattle.
Later, my father and Uncle Willie paid their passage and brought his mother, three sisters, and youngest brother, Martin to Seattle. The father had deserted the family after Uncle Martin was born. Grandmother had obtained a divorce in Germany from her husband. Arriving in Seattle, they were met by a cousin, Martin HANSEN, who offered to marry Grandmother. Martin was a Dane. He had homesteaded 160 acres on the Everson-Goshen Road, about half-way between Wahl and Goshen, although there was no road at the time, just a trail.
Grandmother married him and went with him to the homestead with her youngest son. Grandmother HANSEN lived on the farm for only two years. Always having lived in a large populated area, she became lonely for the city. She went back to Seattle and started a millinery shop on the corner of 4th and Pine. Her business grew, as she supplied hats for most of the wealthy people. Among them, I remember her saying she sold to Mrs. DENNY. She designed all her hats and at her peak time, she had eight girls working for her. She sold hats for as high as $80.00. That did not seem an unusual price for many of her customers.
Now she was slowly going blind, although she still kept busy in her shop. Some time around 1909 she sold her shop to her son Martin and his wife. Uncle Martin had to move the shop onto Westlake, as the hill behind the shop was being regraded. It is now called Denny Regrade.
Grandma retired and moved to Kent on a farm owned by her daughter Sophie and her husband, Henry PENDERGAST. They were in the dairy business and later rented the farm to Japanese people, who had beautiful gardens, until they were forced into a concentration camp by the War.
My father and Uncle Willie met an old Indian called Coffee JOHNSON, who was, they found out later, not too friendly with the Indians as they resented him bringing in white settlers. The three went up the Nooksack in a canoe and stayed over night at the Nooksack Tribal House near the junction of the North Fork and South Fork. During the night, they heard the Indians talking. Both father and Uncle Willie could understand Chinook so understood them talking of the invasion of the white people into their territory. The next day they started out up the Middle Fork, Dad, Uncle Willie and Coffee JOHNSON, heading for the vicinity of Mosquito Lake. Seeing a canoe full of Indians coming up behind them, they were uncomfortable as to what was going on. They beached their canoe and Uncle Willie slipping on some ice, was knocked unconscious. Father got his 44-40 and started shooting at some eagles. The Indians seemed to think they had better leave the area, so they turned back. Reviving Uncle Willie, they also decided to turn back down the river.
Then Father and Uncle Willie took up a 70 acre timber claim joining each other's land, north and east of Martin HANSEN's place near the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Railway right of way.
Later, Coffee JOHNSON disappeared and his body was never found. They surmised foul play by the Indians.
In the meantime, Dad and Uncle Willie had their name changed to the American Version, SMITH. Aunt Mary met and married a man named JACKSON. My dad said that Jackson Street in Seattle was named after him as he came to a tragic end. He was a watchman on the Great Northern Railway. His route was over a trestle over the bay. He did not show up that morning and after searching, his body was found with his head bashed in, although his lantern was still on his arm.
Later Aunt Mary married John Robert ROUGET, son of Count Robert ROUGET DE LISLE. Aunt Mary tells what a gilly (the flower) person he was, often enacting his role as a count, bowing to Aunt Mary from the walk in front of their apartment, asking her if he could court her and marry her. She would later tell the children how mad she would get, laughing all the time. They had a happy marriage, although short. They were married only three years when he died of pneumonia. They lived in New York City at the time. John Robert ROUGET's uncle, Claude Joseph ROUGET DE LISLE was the author of the Marseillaise, the French National Anthem, in 1792. He wrote the words and music in a single evening. It was first called "War song of the Army of the Rhine."
Aunt Mary returned to Seattle, a wealthy woman. Living in Seattle a number of years until the middle of the 1800's when she and Aunt Sophie met a couple of miners from Wardner, Idaho, who had sold their mining claim and come to Seattle to invest their money. Aunt Sophie married one of the miners, Henry PENDERGAST, and later bought a farm new Kent, Washington. Aunt Minnie married the other miner, Charlie WILLIAMS, who was a railroad construction contractor. They moved to Ellensburg for about ten years, later purchasing a farm in Maple Valley.
Neither Aunt Mary nor Aunt Sophie had children. Minnie had one son, who lives in Seattle in 1976. Uncle Martin grew up in Seattle. He also worked in Wardner, Idaho in the silver mines, later buying his mothers hat shop. Selling the hat shop, he bought a farm in Ferndale on what is now the Thornton road. Uncle Martin died in 1965 in Seattle. He had been caretaker at a game reserve near Bow, Washington in his later years. During his time there, game poachers burned his cabin down with all his hunting gear and fishing tackle that he had collected for years, almost breaking his heart. He later retired and them moved to Seattle, where he died.
My Uncle Willie met and married a girl from Victoria, Mary LEDINGHAM. He bought a lot on Harvard Avenue in Seattle, between Pine and Stewart. They had four children: Mary, George, Anna and Minnie. Aunt Mary died in 1902 or 1903 and Mary being the oldest, took over the care of the family and housework. They lived in Seattle till 1916, then sold out and purchased a home on Genesee Street, where they lived for two years, buying Uncle Martin's farm on the Nooksack. The older son, George, still lives there with his wife Ella and a boy, nearby a daughter in another town, the oldest girl having died when she was a little child.
In 1887 or 1888, Grandmother AIKENS, my maternal Grandmother, came from Indiana and took up a homestead at Goshen, about one-half mile north of Dad's and Uncle Willie's claim. Later, the Goshen railway station was situated on Grandmother AIKEN's property. She had a two-story house of hewn cedar logs built on the property. She was a Civil War veteran's widow. She had come to Whatcom with three daughters, Olive, Ella and Maude, and one son, Manson.
Grandmother had been married to a young man named TYCEN. He was father of Olive and Lily. He was killed in the civil War. In 1865, Grandmother married another Civil War veteran, Alexander AIKEN. To this union was born Ella, Maude and Manson. Shortly after the birth of Maude, my mother, her father, Alexander, died from the effects of confinement in a Southern Army prison camp. For several years, Grandmother had to have relatives take care of two of the girls and the boy while she worked out to make a living.
When Grandmother came to Whatcom, my mother was thirteen years old. Her first teacher at the Roeder School was a Mr. FOUTS. She attended Roeder School one year then the family moved to Goshen on their homestead. She had two relatives who proceeded her, Jim and Oliver RAPER, who had homesteaded in Whatcom County. Being carpenters they probably built her log house. Grandma AIKENS was a descendant of Indiana Pioneers.
My Great, great, great grandfather on my mother's side, John RAPER, came to the United States in 1790 and settled in Virginia, later moving to Indiana. In 1808 John RAPER Married Elizabeth KESSLING. Relatives of Elizabeth KESSLING RAPER came to Whatcom and located on a small farm in the western part of the city known as Kesslingville. A street here in Bellingham is now called Kessling Street.
My mother, Maude and father, James, met at Goshen and were married in 1893. They moved to Seattle, living on Harvard Street, next to Uncle Willie's place, where I was born in 1894.
When I was one year old we moved to Charleston, out of Bremerton. In 1895 Father, Uncle Willie and a man by the name of Ed BOOKER, took a sub-contract to line the first dry-dock in Bremerton. The lining consisted of huge granite blocks, four feet square, which formed the bottom and sides of the dry-dock.
Before they started on the job, the concrete bottom leaked water. In order to stop the leakage, a train load of wheat was dumped in the bottom. The granite blocks were placed on top of the wheat, stopping the leak.
After two years on that job, we moved to Bellingham, living in a rented house on Ellis, near Gladstone Street. Later we moved to "I" Street, directly behind Grandma AIKEN's home. There was a six-foot-high solid board fence around her lot. Uncle Manson, Mother's brother, knocked a couple of the boards off the fence so that I could go through to Grandma AIKEN's, where she always had sugar and ginger cookies. During the time we lived there, Uncle Manson contracted the red measles, so of course, I got them too.
In 1897, the year we moved back to Bellingham, my sister Dorothy was born. In 1900 father built a house on the corner of North and Iron Streets. In the meantime father and a man named Jack FRASIER started in the contact business of stone and concrete construction. They had the contact for putting in the basement of the original old Catholic church, which was blasted out of solid sandstone, later being converted into the south wing of the old St. Joseph Hospital. They also worked on most of the stone buildings, including the courthouse, in Whatcom.
We lived on North and Iron Streets for two years, where my brother John was born. My Uncle Anderson RAPER moved from Indiana to Washington and bought property across the street from our home at North and Iron. He had three girls, Eunice, Vinnie and Wanda.
Adjoining Uncle Anderson's property lived an elderly Negro, a Mr. Wright, who was a Civil War veteran with a fairly good education. He would sit on his porch in the evening, reading the Bible, when not telling me Bible stories. His hands were so crippled with rheumatism he could not write, so he would have father write his letters. He had a large vegetable garden and when he would go to the market with his produce, he hauled the vegetables in a wheelbarrow. I would trot along beside him and when he came back with the vegetables sold, he would give me a ride home.
Father sold our house, buying property on North Elk, which is now Ellis, near Kentucky. At that time father, FRAZIER and Ed BOOKER had a sandstone quarry up by what was then, Normal School, now called College. Father built a small barn on his property for the horses that he used to haul the sandstone from the quarry.
While living on North Elk, my brother Ralph was born. While living there, Uncle Willie's wife died after giving birth to a baby girl named Minnie. Mother volunteered to take the baby for a year. Then the baby was taken back to Seattle where the oldest sister, Mary, was caring for the family.
Uncle Willie took the contact for building the B.B. Brewery smokestack that was 100 feet tall. Later it became the Darigold plant. A few years ago it was torn down.
I Remember, 1898 to 1899
The first house on the southeast corner of Holly and I streets belong to County Commissioner McCarty. The second house was our family where mother, father, sister Dorothy and I lived. The third house belonged to a family by the name of OFFERMAN. They had several boys.
Mr. OFFERMAN was a partner with Mr. GRAHAM, at that time, in the Owl Pharmacy. The house directly behind ours was where Grandmother AIKENS, Aunt Ella and Uncle Manson lived. Father took two boards off the fence so Mother and I could go through to visit. Mother for a gabfest and I for Grandmas good cookies.
Sister Dorothy sitting in her small rocking chair, she being about a year and a half old, fell over backwards and fainted, scaring the wits out of mother and me. I went over to see Uncle Manson, who was ill and in bed. It turned out to be the Red Measles and Dorothy and I both got them! I had long blonde curls down to my shoulders. Dad decided it was time I became a boy, so he cut my hair. I went over to see Aunt Ella to show her my new haircut and she cried.
Dad had captured a buck fawn and we had it penned in the back yard. Anyone coming near, it would try to spear the person with its hoofs. We gave the buck to a saloonkeeper, who had a mixture of wild animals: a bear, cougar and wild cat. All of this could be viewed from the viaduct, passersby always stopping by and looking.
I was on the front lawn of my Grandmother's lot when the OFFERMAN boy came up the steps. Scaring me so badly, I was paralyzed. I was four years old then. The boy had on a hideous mask!
I would go with Mother to the IRELAND and PANCOAST Store on the corner of E and Holly. I would wait for Mother to take the pretty card out of Arbuckle Coffee. They would have coffee beans and grind it there.
I went to my first Sunday school class with my Aunt Ella, who was a Salvation Army lassie. She would sell the Salvation Army paper "War Cry". I still remember some of the Bible Stories that our Sunday school teacher would tell us. I remember watching the parade of the Veteran Company of the Spanish American War veterans. Captain RODENBURGER led it on a white horse, when they marched through Old Town.
I Remember, 1899
Moving to the new house on the northeast corner of North and Iron Streets, which father had built while we lived on "I" Street, there house is still there.
Uncle Anderson, wife and three girls lived across North Street. The youngest, Wanda and I used to eat onion sandwiches. Were they good!
West of Uncle Anderson's, and old Negro, Mr. WRIGHT, a Civil War Veteran had a half block of land and grew vegetables to sell. I used to help him pick up potatoes, taking them to market with me trotting along. He would give me a ride back.
On my birthday, father made me a kite. One rainy Saturday, he was taking off to visit a friend, a carpenter. I loved to go along and play in the shavings, but dad said I could not go, so I got mad and kicked a hole in the kite getting my fanny tanned for doing it.
Dad's friend, George ROTHFUS, who had homesteaded out at Northwood came to visit. He used to grab me, throwing me up in the air, tickling me until I could not breathe. Mother had to make him stop of she was near us.
I went to MUSSER's workshop with Dad, watching him carve letters in tombstones. He made me a book of marble, carving my name in it. We still have it. I was fascinated watching him work. He worked for Dad when he wasn't carving tombstones.
I Remember 1899 to 1902
Father sold the house on North and Iron in 1900 and bought a house on North Elk, now Ellis Street located about half way between Ohio and Kentucky streets on the East Side.
Watching mud hens and humpback engines switching cars, from the B.B. and B.C. tracks to the street railway tracks which ran out to Lake Whatcom.
I started the first grade in Washington School. Mrs. GRIFFITH was my first grade teacher. She lived to be 102 years old.
In 1901, I was 7 years old and starting school at the old Washington school where I attended for two years.
Along with the three men's stone work, they installed many sidewalks in, what was then Whatcom. Among them were parts of Eldridge, Walnut and Utter. Their names are still on some of Eldridge, Smith and Frazier Streets. With many of the streets being rebuilt, their names are gone.
In 1901, Father bought his step-father's homestead. Then his step-father, being a Civil War Veteran, went to veterans' home in San Diego, spending the rest of his life there. The homestead was at Wahl and consisted of 160 acres. It was located three-fourths of a mile north of the Smith road, on the Everson-Goshen road. The farm consisted of a peat marsh and Father built a new home on the hillside. There was a long, high bridge across the marsh. This bridge was later torn down and the area was filled with dirt.
My Uncle, Henry PENDERGAST and his wife Sophie rented the homestead from Father for two years. We were still living in Whatcom. In 1903 they left the farm and leased a farm in the White River Valley near Kent, which they later bought. Our family moved to the homestead in 1903, in the house that Father had built. The house still is lived in, though improved and kept in good condition.
That winter I stayed with my Grandmother AIKENS on "H" Street, so I would not have to miss school. I stayed until the following fall, going to Washington School.
I will never forget the first time I went out to Wahl on the train. I was afraid the conductor would not let me off at the right place. The train stopped at a little station at Wahl.
The bottomland on the homestead was very fertile. My father raised big crops of cabbage, rutabagas, celery and a fine crop of hay. Ten-Mile creek flowed through our place through a wide ditch, which had to be cleaned out about every two years. This was a very arduous undertaking, as everything had to be done by hand. Father rigged up a dam through the ditch, so the he could irrigate his garden. The cabbages were so big a ten-year-old boy could not lift one. Father hauled the cabbages by wagon load to a Kraut factory in Bellingham.
The second year we lived there, Father built a large barn at the foot of the hill. We had a barn-raising bee. All the neighbors, about twenty men, started on the building. In one day the fame was up. The next day the roof was put on. The framing was all hand-hewn timbers. The roof was of shakes. The siding was rough 1 x 12 boards bought from a sawmill. A number of women came with the men and helped mother. They are their dinner and supper there, all bringing delicious food.
I was wading in the swamp along Kentucky Street with my new boots on. They had dug the hole for the power pole and it was full of water. I fell into the hole.
Living beside the KENNEYs, who had a fish trap and two boys.
Dad building a barn on the back of the lot on Ellis, then buying a team and wagon. Me riding on the wagon to the rock quarry with Jesse PYM, the teamster.
Uncle Willie's wife, Aunt Mary had died from a brain tumor and mother taking the six-week old baby, Minnie to raise for a year. My first taste of Eagle Brand Milk that I loved.
Uncle Willie building the smoke stack in 1902 on the Bellingham Bay Brewery. The home of B.B. beer, capping the stack with granite stone, and when completed, he stood on the top of the smokestack.
I remember going to the Fair Store for Mother and getting 10 pounds of sugar with the 50 cents that she gave me.
The worst blizzard I ever went through was in 1902 on March 12. It blew the stack down on the steam power plant, shutting the streetcars down. There were no lights or power for two days. The blizzard also blew the stacks down on a couple of mills.
The circus grounds were across the street from our house, where Bellingham High School now stands. I would watch them unload the circus trains, erecting the tents and then off to the circus when the tents were up.
In 1900 Senator William Jennings BRYAN came to Bellingham (Whatcom) and gave a talk from the porch of Sehome Hotel, located on the corner of Holly and Forest Streets. There were no buildings below the hotel down to Elk Street. Dad and I stood on the hillside, listening to his speech on free silver. He did not get elected.
In 1904 father sold the farm near Wahl and rented a house on Williams Street. The house was situated between the CANFIELD and Bob BATTERSBY houses. We lived in a rented house until Father built a home on the corner of Walnut and Elizabeth streets. At that time, Father had a contract to lay the sidewalk on Walnut Street. I got a job keeping the cement watered so it could be well cured. There were large areas where there were no homes, so I had to carry the water in a sprinkling can. In crossing a pile of old sidewalk planks, I stepped on an old rusty nail (spike). It went through my foot behind the second and third toes, coming out through my shoe. I remember I had trouble getting my shoe off. Thus ended my job as water carrier for the summer.
At that time, Father and his partner, Jack FRASER, were paving the sidewalk on the east side of Walnut Street from Eldridge Avenue to North Street. You could find their names in the sidewalk near Columbia School and North Street. I was given the job of water boy that summer for fifty cents a day. My duties were to keep the newly poured cement wet with either a hose or sprinkling can. I had reached the point where there were no more houses for about two hundred feet, so I could not reach the walk with the hose. I was carrying two sprinkler cans across the lots, when I stepped on a spike from one of the planks that had been torn up. I had quite a time pulling my foot loose from the spike. I went home and Mother called Dr. KELLY. He came and put my foot in a pan of turpentine, bandaging the foot, telling me to keep it elevated on a chair. That ended my career as a water boy.
In the meantime, father had built a house on the northwest corner of Walnut Street. After living there for about three months, we moved in to the new house on the northwest corner of Elizabeth and Walnut streets. While living there, I had many friend my age. The Holiday boys, Joy and Glee and Glad; Lester and Claude PELLET; Charlie WATERS, Charlie FERGUSON and the two ROCKY boys. Their names escape me.
I attended the Columbia School, where I lost a grade, setting me back from the fourth to the third. I had not had geography in the Wahl School. I loved sports and at school, we had a game for every season. Mumblie peg and marbles in the Spring. Baseball during the summer and Knoblys in the fall. This game was played with two rubber balls held about five inches apart with a leather thong and thrown with a stick with a crook on the end. It was played by LaCrosse rules. It was a dangerous game if you got hit by one of the balls. In the winter, we played duck on the rock and when the snow was on the ground, we played fox and geese. In the early spring, we played One Hole Cat, which was played with twelve players. We formed a large ring, digging a hole with a stick each player had. There was one hole in the center and the boy that was it, tried to keep the tin can out of the center hole. Trying to steal one of the holes in the outer ring, that person had to take his place in the center hoke.
In 1905, Father went into the shingle business with a man by the name of Nels ANDERSON on the Mosquito Lake Road, which was on Hutchinson Creek, three miles above Acme with the idea of building a shingle mill. They had to rebuild almost all of the Mosquito Lake road and puncheon three-quarters of a mile of swampy road. Puncheon is split out of cedar in boards three to four inches thick and as wide as they could make them. They were eight feet long, laid on puncheon stringers and covered with gravel. A puncheon road without gravel is called a corduroy road. This was because of the uneven thickness of the planks, so it was necessary to put gravel on the top. Father and crew had quite a time getting the boiler up this road for the mill. The grade was so steep that they had to block the boiler. The horses having to stop each time. They built a two-machine mill and later installed a small lumber mill. It was installed under the name of Anderson & Smith Shingle Co. The mill was situated where the EMIL house now stands under new owners. They later built two and one-half miles of flume along the creek and through the GARIE (Carie?) Homestead, where a pond was made. The flume had running water in it, which would transport the belts to the pond, dump them and once a day the bolts were flumed to the shingle millpond. The shingles were hauled to Acme by a team and wagon, then loaded onto the Northern Pacific Railroad cars. Sometimes there was a shortage of boxcars, so the shingles were stored in Acme, necessitating the building of a storage shed.
They manufactured a grade of shingle known as Perfection. There were shipped to the New England States. They were an 18-inch shingle and on-half inch think on the butt.
Father and Nels ANDERSON completed the mill on Hutchinson Creek on the Mosquito Lake Road East of Acme. It was incorporated as the ANDERSON & SMITH Shingle Company in the Summer of 1905. During vacation, I had the job of punching bolts from the pond into the mill, where the cut-off man cut them into 18-inch blocks, to fit the shingle machines. I goat the big sum of one dollar a day and in my spare time, I helped the cook for my board. In those days before the automobile, the mill workers lived in camps by the mill, in family houses, bunkhouses and a cookhouse for the single men.
The cook was a Frenchman, who made the most delicious doughnuts I ever ate. I worked in this way during school vacation. Many times, after the noon meal was cleared up, the cook and I would go fishing in Hutchinson Creek that was above Acme. We would usually manage to catch enough fish for the crew's supper. As I can recall, there were seventeen or eighteen men. My, how they enjoyed those trout feeds! One Friday evening Dad said he and I would layoff the next day, it being Saturday. Dad said we would go out and pick huckleberries to take home. We got up early and picked until about two o'clock. Dad had two ten pound lard pails and I had two five pound lard pails. We then hitched up the house and drove to Acme. That was a three-mile trip. We unhitched and put the house in Mr. ANDERSON's barn and we walked the eight miles to the Lake at Park, where we boarded the steamboat for Silver Beach. The name of the boat was Elsinior.
We the boarded the streetcar for Bellingham. The streetcar was jammed with people, the aisle being full of men hanging onto the straps. It being the end of the week and the white city Amusement Park was in operation and it being around seven o' clock in the evening, many people were going home. We had stored our berries under the seat in safe places. Dad was standing in the aisle hanging onto a strap and I being real short was hanging onto his coat tail. There was quite a long downhill grade, from the Larson Mill spur to the car barn on Iowa Street. At the LARSON Mill spur, the motorman pulled in on the spur but the conductor gave him two bells, meaning g ahead, he and the motorman proceeded down the hill. In a rock cut just North of Bay View cemetery, we met a streetcar coming up fast. Someone yelled, "There's a car!" Then a flash of blue light and an awful crash as the two cars met. Everyone standing in the aisle went down flat, taking their straps with them. The car had a front vestibule where the motorman stood that was shoved back about five feet. The motorman was killed. That was Mr. Frank HICKOK.
That was in 1905. It was the day before the 4th of July. Every window in the car was broken and people sitting in the seats were peppered with glass. One young man, sitting on the front steps of the car, was thrown off, landing with one leg across the rail. The two cars started down the hill, cutting his leg off. No screaming or panic though all were afraid the car would run down the hill. The conductor finally got the hand brakes set and got the cars stopped. Dad and I had about three miles to walk at Walnut Street carrying our huckleberries, not having one spilled in the accident. As we were walking down the hill, we met the work car piloted by Pete LOFT, to tow the wrecks in. We heard later that the seriously injured were made comfortable in the empty car. The car was towed to the car barn were they were met by ambulances. Dad and I were tired having walked around 12 miles that day. I could not sleep for about 3 days, dreaming about the wreck.
In the meantime father sold the house on Walnut Street and the family moved to Acme, where we rented a house. My brother Bernard was born while we lived in Acme. Mother had a midwife, a Mrs. SHERRIN, who was a lovely person, always willing to help. I started in the sixth grade in Acme, going three years, to the eighth grade.
The teacher we all liked, Mr. Roscoe TIBBLES, was a very versatile teacher. He taught extra subjects: current events, weather reports and in the spring, we had a big garden in the schoolyard. The girls grew flowers and the boys had their vegetables all under Mr. TIBBLES supervision. While I was in the eighth grade, Mr. TIBBLES took Fred ZOBRIST, Norman ROTHENBUHLER and I on a hike 40 miles up the South Fork of the Nooksack River, where we spent a week. We discovered a mysterious pond that must have been caused by an earthquake or slide, as all the trees leaned in. There was a huge dike thrown up that resembled a causeway, very smooth on top as if man and beast had used it as a bridge for centuries.
Mr. TIBBLES was a one-armed man who used a hook when necessary but was very capable without it too!
Father sold the house on Walnut Street in 1906 and we proceeded to put all of our belongings in a boxcar and taking the Northern Pacific in Bellingham, we moved into Acme. The town was much larger than it is now. The industries consisted of two shingles mills, three logging camps, two stores, a hotel, two churches, a depot, the post office and a blacksmith shop. There were about 600 inhabitants. I was in the sixth grade, my sister in the third, brother, John in the first. It was a two-room schoolhouse, each room having from twenty to thirty children.
It was an ideal town for kids to grow up in. The two churches in the town were Presbyterian and Methodist. For recreation, we had seasonal games and the best fishing in the Nooksack River. In the summer, we had a wonderful swimming hole, in an old channel in the river. With just a trickle of water running into it, it warmed up considerable in the summer. It was about ten feet in the deep end, where we had our diving board. We never saw a beaver while swimming there, though they had a beautiful mudslide, which we used too. One early morning, I decided to sneak up on them. They must have heard me or smelled me because when I got near there was not a beaver in sight. They worked at night, sometimes we would find a cottonwood tree down that was from six inches to a foot in diameter.
Before moving to Acme, I got acquainted with some boys of my own age. Larry RAYMOND, whose father owned a shoe store in Bellingham, and the BARKER boy, whose father had a hothouse on Walnut Street, where he had a banana plant growing through the roof of the house. He also had a century plant in bloom. The banana plant had a small bunch of bananas on it. He also owned a genuine Stradivarius violin, I remember reading the name. I was told, at that time, the violin was 300 years old.
There was Gary ROSS, whom I used to accompany to the pasture on the Northwest Road to pick up his cow and bring it home for milking. One day, sighting smoke, we went to investigate and found the remains of a man who had blown himself up with dynamite. The remains were scattered all over the place and were so gruesome that we ran for home to tell the police. For a long time after we steered clear of that spot.
One day, my four-year-old brother Richard took off up the street with the running gear of an old baby buggy that belonged to a neighbor. He turned down Monroe Street, where a lady who was visiting mother saw him. I came home for noon lunch and Mother asked me to find Brother Richard. I traced him, asking questions until he got to the Fountain District, where he had followed the streetcar tracks. I could see the buggy tracks where there was mud until I got to the old court house, there loosing the tracks. Later I met a man who had a team and wagon, saying he had stopped to let a little boy past with an old baby buggy. Father was called home. He informed the police. The police, Father and I and a couple of neighbors searched the town all afternoon. About six o'clock, a storekeeper up near the Normal School called and told us that he had heard crying in front of the store, the little boy saying that his buggy wheels had been taken from him by another boy. So father hired a horse and buggy and went and picked Richard up.
One morning going to school with a couple of other kids, we were informed that there had been a wreck on the Great Northern. We took off to see it. The location was on the siding next to the roundhouse, situated near Squalicum Creek. The night hostler and pulled the freight engine out on the turntable and pulled it onto the siding. The night train from Vancouver called the "Owl", which arrived in Bellingham at 2:15 A.M. had struck the tender of the freight engine. It hit so hard it drove the cab clear back to the tender. The holster was sitting on the engine so when the cab came back, it decapitated him. One of the baggage men was also killed. It was a freezing morning and blood was frozen all over the tender. The truant officer showed up and said if we boys would get to school before noon, we would not be called absent. I believe that wreck happened about 1904.
In the winter the weather got so cold in Acme the three years that we lived there, it would freeze all of the ponds, old river channels and Mirror Lake. We had good Ice skating, now and then having skating parties.
One time the train crew unloaded a fifty gallon barrel of red wine in the freight room. It was billed for Sumas but mistakenly unloaded at Acme. It sat in the depot for about three months. Finally, a bunch of shingle weavers rolled the barrel out and down into a ditch where they hid it. That night the shingle weavers and older girls of the town held a skating party, with a ten-gallon lard pail of red wine and some stolen chickens roasted over a fire. Of course, we kids got in on it also. When the first pail of wine was gone, they sent Walter Moran up for another pail. The barrel of wine had been tipped so that when you pulled the wooden plug, the wine gushed out. We were in the act of filling a bucket when we heard someone walking down the track. We hurriedly jammed the plug back in, with only about a half a pail of wine. We were soon sent back to get more wine and found to our dismay that we had not plugged the barrel tightly and all the wine had ran out. Needless to say, we didn't go back to the skating party. Walt and I took a taste of the wine, but it was way to sour for us.
In the summer of 1907, I worked in the hay field for Mr. ZOBRIST. I made about thirty-five dollars. I ordered a two piece suit with long pants, this being my first pair of long pants. I was thirteen. The suit was ordered from Mr. ZOBRIST's catalogue and came from Chicago. It fit me perfectly. Mr. ZOBRIST owned the general store in Acme. He carried a very good stock of general merchandise. Nobody carried any better. Mr. Fred ZOBRIST had a pioneer store there. His first merchandise was brought in by boat to the head of Lake Whatcom, then packed into Acme by horses. This was probably in the 1880's. They had nine children, five girls and four boys. Fred was my age, Paul being two years younger. I chummed around with them a great deal. The mother was, we thought, a grand person. She wore a large apron. We kids would trail her over to the store, she would fill her apron with what she needed, then always treated us kids, Mr. ZOBRIST grumbling all the time. All the kids in Acme loved her. However, if we got her goat, she would grab the broom, yelling at us to get out and of course, we did!
Mr. ZOBRIST supported the Presbyterian Church, and I always thought if it hadn't been for him, we would not have had a minister. The minister, who lived in Everson, would drive down with his wife in their buggy and hold the morning service in the Acme Church. They always had their dinner with the ZOBRIST family. After the dinner, they would drive back to Everson for the evening service. The had a chicken dinner every Sunday for three years at the ZOBRIST home.
I graduated from the 8th grade in the spring of 1910, from the Acme School. Mr. TIBBLES was teaching the 9th grade at Acme in a two-room school house. He was also teaching four other grades and manual training. We started to build our work benched for our manual training class. Only working two hours a week, it took me a month before I had mine half done.
Then father sold his interest in the mill to a Mr. RUSSEL and purchased a farm north of Ferndale, on the Nooksack River. The farm consisted of 76 acres, with about 60 acres of river bottom, the rest bench land. Bench land being higher land that was a good building site for the house and barn. Father built a barn and as the house there was a log house covered with shakes, we lived in that. The shakes were cut by hand.
In the matter of two years, we acquired a herd of 27 purebred Holsteins and a registered bull. We had a good market for milk for two years in Vancouver. Late in 1912 or 1913 the cattle in Eastern Washington contracted hoof and mouth disease. All produce and milk were quarantined. Later a condensery was built in Ferndale, so we shipped our milk there.
In 1914, the owner of the Lynden Creamery talked to father and proposed forming a dairymen's cooperative, which was later called Darigold. Mr. SORENSON was elected president, Father secretary and treasurer. They toured Whatcom and Skagit counties organizing the farmers.
We had a Model-T ford that Father could never learn to drive, so I went along as the chauffeur. The cooperative purchased the Bellingham Bay Brewery, where they processed the milk into butter, cheese and consumer milk. Lynden brand butter became famous and won many first prizes at the fairs.
Working on the farm was a full-time job for the whole family. The farm produced all the grain and silage that was needed for the stock. In 1912, I started high school in Ferndale and father was elected chairman of the school board. During his term, a new high school was built, which is still in use today. I went to high school for six months, then I quit as the farm work was too much for father. I then went to night school, taking agriculture classes. The school district consolidated with West Mountain View, Enterprise, and Evergreen Schools. The school board appointed Mr. TIBBLES, my old Acme school teacher, to the manual training department. A horse and buggy was provided, as they still had individual classes in the grade schools along with the high schools.
Father continued his contract business partly in Whatcom. He took a contract to build a water reservoir on Semiahmoo spit in Blaine for the fish cannery. He came home only on weekends, riding his bike from Blaine to the homestead.
The shingle business was prosperous, as there was a housing shortage. Later in the summer of 1919, I took over the woods and supervised the building of skid roads and hauling out shingle bolts. The younger boys had a great time while there, as there was plenty of hunting and fishing. My brother John learned to pack shingles and later to saw. In the spring of 1920 we sold the mill, called Lake Valley Shingle Company and bought a mill near Grandy Lake in Skagit County. This mill was called the Grandy Lake Shingle Company. There we built two mills of narrow gauge railway to reach the foot of the mountain, where the bolts were sledded down, off the mountain, then loaded on to cars.
The sled loads of bolts were put onto flat cars and pulled by locomotive to be delivered to the pond. From there, they were flumed another half mile to the middle pond. We were running a two-machine mill, which produced a shingle cut of about sixty squares a day. The shingles were kilned dried and hauled down the mountain to a siding at Grasmere below Concrete, about one-half mile west of the town.
The Mill employed eleven men and the woods fourteen men. There were five family houses and a large bunkhouse for the single men. At the upper camp, we had three family houses and a bunkhouse. The market for shingles was good in 1920 and 1921. In 1922 the shingle market began to slump.
In the fall of 1922, they decided to build a new road from Concrete along the side of the mountain in order to reduce the grade and connect with the old Baker Lake Highway at the top of the mountain. There was a dry gully to be spanned by a bridge. So father and I and a teamster took on the job of building one. It was horrible weather in November, raining and snowing. We had to get timber along side the road to build the bridge. We had to fall the timber and peel the logs, a mean job at that time of the year. We also had to build two cribs eighteen feet high that had to support the ends of the bridge. The bridge had a span of sixty-two feet. Father was in poor health, that fall. As soon as we got the stringers across for the decking, I persuaded him to go home to Bellingham. The teamster and I finished putting the railing and decking on the bridge.
In the Spring of 1922, the fishing season opened at Grandy Lake. There was a big farm near the mill, rented to Mr. CLINCHARD's wife and three children. They would have as many fishermen as they could handle some sleeping in the barn and others on cots all over the place. A good forty or fifty stayed there. They had to hire help, so Doris EVANS came up from Concrete. Doris A. EVANS was the daughter of Warren and Lottie EVANS of Concrete. Mr. CLINCHARD and Doris came over to borrow bedding from the bunkhouse. That is when I met Doris. From that time on, we went together that summer, being married the fourteenth of September of that year. Shortly after the first of the year, in 1923, we had snow and cold weather. I came down with the grippe. We were living at the mill. I took care of the teams and watched over the mill sight. Doris was nursing me back to health and I had a premonition that all was not well with my father.
The only telephone line belonged to the cement plant at Concrete, placing telephones along the lines, between the power plant at Bear Creek and Concrete. The CLINCHARDS had one of the few telephones. About 10:00am one morning, Mr. CLINCHARD came over saying a telegram had been relayed to him from the railroad telegraph office by phone, that father was in a coma and that he had pneumonia. As there was too much snow to drive a car out, Mr. CLINCHARD offered to take us out with his team and buggy. I was wrapped in blankets and hot bricks. We took the Great Northern to Bellingham. Father was still in a coma. A few days later, Dr. BRINSON with Drs. MCRAE, SMITH and KIRKPATRICK decided to move father to St. Luke's Hospital. I accompanied him, staying at the hospital with him. At about 11:00pm that night he almost sat up in bed, I rushed over to check his pulse which became so feeble, finally stopping. Father had died. I called the nurse and the doctor.
After father's death, Mother continued to live in Bellingham with the younger boys. In February 1923 our partner, Tom NICHOLS decided he wanted to sell his share of the mill business. So I asked Eli ANDERSON if he would come in with us and buy out Mr. NICHOLS, which he did.
That spring the snow was still in the woods in the middle of May. We did not get started operating, as we could not get the shingle bolts out of the woods. We operated the mill for about six weeks, when we ran out of timber, having to shut down on a Thursday. We had a contractor sending in bolts while the mill was down and Sunday of that week I instructed the night watchman to fire up the boiler at five A.M. At two o'clock Monday morning, the filer, a Mr. Ed BAILEY, woke us up saying the mill was on fire. When my partner and I got out to the mill the fire room was ablaze. I asked Ed if he had tried to hose it down. He replied that there was no water pressure. I tried the main valve on the water line and we still had no pressure. We had to stand by helplessly and see the mill burn down. We eventually found out that someone had stuffed a gunnysack into the water main. The insurance the mill had lapsed, so we borrowed from the bank to rebuild. Within two weeks, we had the mill framed. We were able to salvage a great deal of the machinery, some of which was repaired in Sedro Woolley, and within six weeks, we had the mill operating. Brother Ralph was sawing, Richard packing, Bernard was punching bolts, John hauling the shingles to be shipped, loading them at Grasmere below Concrete.
It had been father's dream that when the boys had grown up, there were enough of us all to operate the mill having to hire only the crew that worked in the woods. His dream did not pan out that way.
In the summer and fall of 1923, there was nothing but trouble for us. Having the mill burn down, then we had a forest fire which cost us considerable. The contractor allowed one horse to be killed by allowing a sled to ran away on a hill, running over the team. One horse died and the other was hurt so badly it had to be shot. We then had to purchase another team. It started to rain in the middle of August, never letting up until after Thanksgiving, when it started to snow. The ground on the hillside was so full of water that the houses would go to their knees in the mud, which necessitated shutting down the mill.
That fall two timber cruisers and their helper came to the mill asking permission to sleep in the bunkhouse until mid December, when they had to quit as the snow got too deep. They were cruising a tract of timber owned by a Mr. LOZIER who owned about 600 acres of timber near Grandy Lake. Their board money sure helped us out that fall. Doris and I stayed at the mill that winter as I had two teams that had to be taken care of. Doris was awaiting the birth of our first child and in March of 1924, she went into Bellingham until the baby was born. Our son, James Warren, was born on March 15, 1924. Doris stayed at Mother's and Mrs., DAWSON helped the doctor.
In the spring on 1924, the mill company was broke and we owed the bank. All the labor had been paid off. My partner and I were left with no salary for the year. The house on Ellis Street was mortgaged. Mother lost it, as it was foreclosed on. Mother moved to a rented house. My brother Ralph, was working in Vancouver, supporting Mother and the younger boys. The next year Bernard went to Alaska to fish with his brother-in-law, so he could help out. In May 1924 the bank petitioned for a receivership. Ernest BOYD and George CHILDS were appointed receivers with the understanding that they would pay off the firms indebtedness which they did. They offered me a job, so I stayed on, working in the woods.
In the spring of 1925 brother John married Doris's sister, Ruth. As John had been hauling shingles for us, Mr. BOYD, the new owner, had him continue in that job. I operated the tractor, hauling the shingle bolts to the upper pond and fluming them down tot he mill. Later, when they built a pole road up the mountain, I operated the snubbing donkey too. Doris and I lived in the house we had lived in since we were married, John and Ruth living in one of the smaller houses down by the mills. In the fall of 1926 Boyd and Child's Company was almost broke. The receivership being taken over by Mr. Dan DILLARD, who had operated the Baker River Shingle Company in Concrete. Mr. DILLARD had sold the mill at Concrete when they built the dam at Concrete, as the supply of timber had been cut off where the dam was built. Mr. DILLARD turned over the operation of the Grandy Lake Mill to his nephew, Cecil PHILIPS, of Concrete.
In the fall of 1927, Doris and I leased a farm in the Rome district northeast of Bellingham. There were 110 acres on the farm, a log house and a good barn. I rented the farm from my third cousin, Rolly TOPER. I bought three milk cows and five heifer calves. I was to pay $100 a month to Rolly for the cattle. In February, I started trucking bridge pilings and cribbing for Rolly as he had a contract with the county to supply the timber. He had an old Garford truck, which I constantly had to work on. It was one of the first trucks in Whatcom County, which had brakes on the trailer that had to be operated by hand.
That summer turned out hot and dry. The well dried up and the gardens burnt up. Even strawberries that my younger brother planted died for lack of water. We had to haul the water from Anderson Creek in large milk cans off the Sand Road every other day. Our drinking water we got from the Rome Grocery or an artesian well up the road from us. Before we moved to Rome, our daughter, Janette Irene was born. She was born on May 26, 1926, my birthday.
While at Rome, our son Ray was born February 13th 1929 and thirteen months later our daughter Margaret was born in Bellingham. December on 1928 I was back working at the Grandy Mill. In January we sold the cattle and I had a chance to take over the one machine mill at Acme from the GALBRAITH Brothers, so after Margaret was born, March 22, we moved to Acme.
My brother John and I operated the mill on a percentage basis. The GALBRAITH Brothers supplied the timber and mill supplies for sixty-five percent of the gross. John was the sawyer and brother Bernard was the cut off man. Forrest ELSBREE was the packer. I was the filer and fired the boiler. We were making wages but nothing big. The panic hit in 1929 and prices dropped from $3.15 a square to $2.60 in less than month, as there was no demand for shingles, we had to shut down.
We sold some shingles to a farmer over in Lynden, partly paying for them, still owing $45.00. I explained to him that we needed the money and as he did not have the money, he gave me a cow instead. So we had plenty of milk, cream and butter, plus a big garden that tied us through the depression.
The first year of the depression, the township had twenty-one thousand dollars and the directors decided to improve the roads in the district. They organized two crews and worked one crew three days, then the other crew three days until the money was gone. I was on one crew so that helped us. In the early thirties, I met my old employer, Mr. BOYD, in Bellingham and told him that E.K. WOODS lumber company was going to log the hills west of Acme and was building and incline. As there was a good deal of cedar, I understood that Mr. WOODS said he would like to build, or have someone put in, a shingle mill. So Mr. BOYD, an old partner of his, Jack O'CONNELL and the Mauk Lumber Company went in and the Marona Shingle Company was born. The first part of the company's name came from Mr. BOYD's oldest girl, Marian, and the last part from Mr. KNIGHT's daughter, Ramona. They bought the shingle machines from a mill they had formally owned in Sedro Woolley. I was hired to assemble the shingle machines that had been taken apart. I worked about six weeks when Mr. WOODS came up and said that the price of logs had dropped making it impossible so make it, so the mill was shut down just as they were going to start logging. That fall and winter, I helped clear land for a Mr. ZOBRIST, who then had a store in Acme and owned most of the land around that part of the county. The oldest son, Fred, had a small donkey engine with which he pulled stumps and piled them after I loosened them with dynamite. My wages were almost all paying for our grocery bill, which had mounted up during our out-of-work periods. In 1931 I built a chicken and tenant house for Bill ULRICH, later that year my brother Ernest and I built a tenant house on Mr. ZOBRIST's Clipper Ranch. Early in 1933 the demand for shingles picked up and Mr. Boyd came to see me, asking if I would work the night shift as they were starting up.
I was working on the night shift when the four children came down with what we thought we the measles as Acme was full of them. The Doris and I got sick and a neighbor reported us to the county health officer who came out and quarantined us, the only family in town. We were all very sick, so our family doctor came out, said we had scarlet fever. We found out later that many had the same, though not sick enough to report it. Doris's sister, Ruth, came from Concrete to help, as we were all sick. Then she got a slight case. Doris was very ill and I tried to do what I could. We were quarantined for six weeks, then I went back to work too soon. When the health officers released us from quarantine, they had warned me of the after-effects, and not to go back to work to early. So I suffered with rheumatism in my back for over a year and keeping working seemed to relieve it.
In 1934, Mr. BOYD put in two more machines, making a total of six, and worked two shifts. I was night foreman and millwright and worked at that for thirteen years, on nights. In 1935, the shingle weavers' formed a union with headquarters in Bellingham, meeting once a month. I was doing the work of three men, starting out at $2.50 and the year the union was formed, I was paid $3.00 a day.
In 1936, the weavers went on a strike for a six-hour day for the same wages. I got a clean-up man to help me and was paid overtime, which I had never gotten before. In 1946, I went on days and Mr. BOYD built a lumber mill to cut cedar siding and paneling. I was given the job of head engineer, working days after 13 years of working nights. My duties wee maintenance of engines, boilers and pumps. At the end of World War II, our sib, Jim, was discharged from the Army Transport Corps with son, Ray. He had worked in the mill nailing bands three school years from the age of 16. I got Jim a job as fireman on the first shift with Ray working as tallyman on the day shift.
In 1951, I had a heart attack that put me in the hospital for two weeks. When I went back, Mr. BOYD gave me a helper and told me to supervise the work.
The Korean War started and Ray was drafted and sent to Japan. He was the only man out of his company who knew anything about steam boilers, so they put him in charge of eleven boilers in the town of Sappora. Son Ray was drafted being sent over with the occupation forces in Japan, after the second World War. He trained as a paratrooper in the 11th division.
After Ray was discharged, he got his old job back at the mill. In 1952, I had my second heart attack.
In the spring (April) of 1958, the forester of Puget Sound Pulp and Timber Company called me into the office and asked me if I would take a job scaling trucks of logs at the logging project at Baker Lake. This was the time they (Puget Power) was building their second dam on Baker Lake, about sixteen miles above Concrete on the Baker River. I took the job with the understanding that there would be about twenty-five loads a day, but there were as high as fifty loads a day at times. In order to be on the job at seven in the morning, I had to get up at three, eat my breakfast, drive fifty-five miles to Concrete, then up the Grandy Lake Road and then fourteen miles up Bake Lake Road over parts that were almost impassable. I had to count the logs on each truck, compute the board feet, make out slips for the trucker, the company and for the Forest Service. One morning I arrived at the scale shack and found everything on the floor. The scale shack was about ten-by-ten Feet Square, made of plywood, even the floor, sitting on 4 x 6 skids. My first thought was that they had been blasting at the dam site although the shack had never been bothered before. I walked outside, found where a bear had tried to crawl up on the building, and had shook it.
In the latter part of May I decided to by a trailer and live near the logging site. My son-in-law stayed with me in the trailer. It rained a lot between April and May, then warmed up. We would take our lunches at noon and Vic usually worked late. I would have supper ready when he got in. In the middle of June, it got warm, so they shut the camp down for the summer leaving me out of a job.
In 1959, I was offered the job of running the dump (No. 1) in Mount Vernon on the Skagit River for the Puget Sound Pulp and Timber Company. At this dump the logs were bundled and then rafter in the river and towed to Whitmarsh, near Anacortes, where they were stored until the mill needed them. After some time working there I developed a hernia which ended the job for me that fall. A short time later I was operated on. After that, I did odd jobs around Acme, mostly for the widows and old maids, from fixing the plumbing to fixing the wiring. I spent much of my time at home on our large garden, raised a couple of beef cattle and kept up on the home repairs. All this has kept me busy.
Submitted by Sherry Smith Sharp from the records of Ralph Gordon Smith
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