Old Timers' Speak


Interesting reminiscences dealing with some of the early incidents of Bellingham's history marked the "Old Timers'" meeting of the Bellingham Rotary club today, which was addressed by Roland G. GAMWELL and J. J. DONOVAN, both of whom lived on Bellingham Bay since 1888.

Mr. GAMWELL's talk dealt in part with a few of the pioneers who were permanent on the bay thirty or thirty-five years ago and included a list of names of many persons who have left the city and who now are living elsewhere. It was brought out that California always has been something of a lure for Bellingham people and most of those whom Mr. GAMWELL listed are living in the Southern coast state.

Mr. GAMEWELL spoke of T. G. NICKLIN, who with W. D. JENKINS, established the Bellingham Reveille in 1883. After leaving here Mr. NICKLIN went to China as a representative of a typecasting concern, remaining there for several years. At present he is living in Arizona. Among the others mentioned were Frank RICHARDS, former floor leader of the state senate, who went to Alaska during the Klondike gold rush. Mr. RICHARDS was the original of the marshal in Rex BEACH's famous novel, "The Spoilers," which dealt with the early history of Alaska. Albert PETERSON, who was prominent in early Yukon affairs, being active in business and politics, and who was particularly conspicuous because of his enormous build, almost 7 feet tall, now is selling life insurance in the Northwest, Mr. GAMWELL said.

Among those now in Los Angeles who were listed are Alfred L. BLACK and his two sons, Alfred, jr., and Francis; Frank FARNUM, for years a well known plumber; Captain J. L. BYRON, former owner of the Byron hotel; Mrs. Nellie COUPE, a music teacher who at the age of nearly 80 years, is making a success of an apartment house; Simon KILDALL, N. L. DAVIS, taxidermist; John S. SWAIL, of the Swail hotel, Sumas; J. M. RIDDLE, recently a paving contractor; James GROSART, photographer.

J. L. SMILEY is living at Monrovia, near Los Angeles; Jake KEMPER, former county commissioner, is caretaker of an estate at Catalina island; Rev. William R. MARSHALL is at Long Beach, as is William SANDERSON, for many years a grocer here; Thomas McFADDEN, former city attorney, owns an orange ranch and practices law at Anaheim. Will D. WALLACE, ex-sheriff, is at Sawtelle, at which city Captain O. D. McDONALD is collector of customs. Al OWEN, grocer, is in the grocery business at San Diego. Elmer L. CAVE is superintendent of schools at Vallejo; Howell O. MORRISON is at the Pantages theater at San Francisco; A. L. CALHOUN is selling pianos in San Francisco; Charles S. RICE is with the Oakland Bulletin; Harry VINCENT is manager for the E. K. WOOD Lumber company at San Francisco, William TIMSON is president of the Alaska Packers' association at San Francisco. Archie MARTIN, of San Francisco, is vice president of a combination that owns most of the paper mills on the coast. John H. COLE is assistant cashier of Suisun, Calif. Roy MARTIN is with M. J. SCANLON Lumber company of Minneapolis. Samuel ALTSHULER is in San Francisco. Leigh ROSE, who operated the first moving picture machine in Bellingham, is at Los Angeles. H. C. KERN, operator of the first moving picture theater here, is in San Francisco. E. R. CROFT, owner of a livery stable on Elk street for many years, is now retired at San Jose, Calif. W. M. FRIZZELL, hardware dealer, is on a fruit ranch at Grizzly Flats.  

Among others mentioned were: Sam SLENTZ, now of Washington D. C.; Jack ASHROK, Missoula, Mont.; Louis L. LUCAS, Cincinnati, O.; H. E. SHOOK, Canton, O.; Louis C. TIDBALL, commissioner of education for Wyoming; Rev. Fred Alban WEIL, Quincy, Mass.; Rev. N. A. BAKER, Keene, N. H.; Rev. S. S. SULLIGER, Kent, Wash.; Rev. William O. WARK, Pomona, Calif.; Denis BUTLER, Oregon; Captain L. O. WALDO, Westport, Ore.; Harvey WALDO, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; John PANTON, sr., drygoods dealer, San Pedro, Calif.; Homer MUSSER, Plainsfield, N. J.; Scott A. POST, Lost Creek, W. Va.; Spencer VAN ZANDT and Arthur WADHAMS, Ketchikan; Charles HEISLER and George W. MOCK, Juneau; Bradford B. HOLMES, New York.

Leslie COFFIN is manufacturing building tile at Los Angeles; Louis BEAN is manager for Dwight ROBINSON company, building contractors at New York, a concern which has 400 persons in its office and has an average $50,000,000 in contracts a year. John PANTON, jr., is running a successful pie bakery at New York. Dr. Edward TURNER is military instructor at a school in Minneapolis. Dr. Charles A. DARLING is captain of the steamship West Keats, a 10,000-ton vessel operating between the Pacific coast and the Orient. Norman TUCKER is manager of the Carey Manufacturing company at San Francisco. Carey HAY is the largest dealer in building materials in Los Angeles, with 600 persons on his payroll and sells 200 carloads of material a day.

Mr. DONOVAN's Talk

Mr. DONOVAN spoke reminscently of his first visit to Bellingham bay in 1887 and of his coming here to live in 1888, having been employed at the time as a civil engineer. He spoke of the rivalry between Seattle and Bellingham bay, and recalled that Samuel HILL, son-in-law of J. J. HILL, famous railroad builder, had told him a few years ago the reason why the Great Northern railroad was built into Everett instead of Bellingham. Mr. HILL said he and his father-in-law had sat up all night trying to decide the point and finally selected the southern route because it was possible to build a switchback at Stevens pass, whereas Sauk pass, which would have brought the railroad down the Skagit, afforded no such engineering possibility. He recalled that the chief engineer of the Great Northern, convinced that Fairhaven would be the terminus of the Great Northern, had paid $100 a front foot for twenty-five lots in Fairhaven before the decision was made.

Mr. DONOVAN contrasted Bellingham of twenty years ago, saying little resemblance in many ways was to be seen. He said that twenty years ago there were three automobiles in the county, one owned at Lynden and the others owned by S. J. CRAFT and Captain J. L. BYRON.

Mr. DONOVAN cited two important factors in the development of the county in the past few years - the building of the existing system of paved roads and the maintenance by the Chamber of Commerce of the city's rights on terminal rates. The greatest asset of all, however, is the spirit of unity which has been developed in the past few years, Mr. DONOVAN said, and he declared that in no other city in the state is there so fine a spirit of community co-operation. He referred to the suggestion that the city wharf be turned over to the port commission and that its capacity be doubled to handle the rapidly growing commerce which the city is enjoying.

"I feel that the outlook in this city today is better than it ever has been," he said, "and I am satisfied that I cast my lot here instead of some larger city or some larger corporation."  

From The Bellingham Herald, March 3, 1924; copied by Susan Nahas

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