The "Gem City" Of Twenty Years Ago

by C. E. CLINE

     To the resident of the Gem City of today a picture of Lynden twenty years ago is an impossibility, but a vague and shadowy pen tracing drawn from the fleeting memories of two decades may be of interest.
     Imagine the whole town site clothed with a great forest; the dark, almost sombre, green of the conifers bordered and brightened with a fringe of deciduous alders and birch along the whole southern slope. The old JUDSON homestead in its deep setting of maples and its wide expanse of meadow and pasture land occupied alone all the southwest frontage. Farther east the log store occupied by Enoch HAWLEY and family stood, as it still stands on the heights over-looking the river whose channel at that time hugged the bank a hundred yards north of the present site of the STICKNEY Indian school.
     Still farther eastward the well-kept farm of Wesley LAWRENCE ended the immediate settlements. Excluding the house now occupied by M. TIERNEY, one corner of which is within the town limits, the only buildings on what is now Lynden were the HAWLEY store building just mentioned, and the JUDSON store building and Lynden post office, now the old cooper shop on the RITTENBURG property.
     The school house of that day may still be seen west of the WAPLES mill and O Tempora! O Mores, is now usedd for a poultry house by Mr. HYATT.
     The only manufacturing enterprises conducted were the CUDWORTH and DELANDER logging camp with headquarters on the farm now occupied by Joseph PYM, and the hoop pole manufactory of Miles RITTENBURG.
     Of churches there were none but occasional services were conducted in the old log school house by Seventh Day Adventists and Free Methodist ministers and an occasional visit from Methodists and Presbyterians. Rev. Peter GRIGGS was then living near by, and his was a familiar figure as from time to time his ardent fervid periods filled the somnolent air. Father FLYNN, a Methodist despite his name, came more rarely and for several years after B. K. McELMON gladdened the hearts of the followers of John KNOX.
     The first white men to settle in the vicinity were Daniel McCLANAHAN and James PATTERSON.
      The former settled on what is now the S. H. BRADLEY farm, took to himself an Indian wife and reared a family of which there are three boys surviving, one of whom still lives near Laurel. At the time of which we are writing his old home was occupied by W. H. DORR, a highly respected citizen of Wiser.
     Mr. PATTERSON had settled on the prairie land south of town. His wife, too, was of the Nooksack or Lummi family, and his two daughters are still living near their childhood's home. When the JUDSON family came to reside here Mr. PATTERSON gave up his interest in the farm to Mrs. JUDSON on condition that she would take the two little girls and care for them as for her own, which she did.
     We have stated above that these two men were the first white settlers but there is some reason to believe that for a time at least several white men lived close by. Twenty years ago, in the woods about a quarter of a mile west of the DORR house there were standing the walls of two houses which bore evidences of having been erected at least forty years before. When discovered by C. E. CLINE while hunting in the vicinity none of the old settlers could explain their presence and none of the Indians now here were living here when the houses were occupied.
     Old Indian Jim told the writer that Almcutty, when George, his son was a delate tenas a party of white men wintered somewhere near the place occupied by the cabins but aside from that fact and that they had horses with them he could not recall anything else in connection with them. The ruins twenty years ago were in a sufficiently fair state of preservation to show they had been built by whites and the principal peculiarity in their construction was that instead of being built like the familiar log cabin of the Mississippi, one end was drawn to an acute angle and the chimney erected therein. The writer has seen similar houses in the far north said to have been built by Russians.
     All the earliest pioneers except Mrs. JUDSON and her son Charles L., are gone but there may still be seen in and around the growing city many whose coming was so soon after hers that they are or should be honored for their intrepidity.
     Among those still living here who were called "old settlers" twenty years ago are "Aunt" Rachel SMITH, R. E. HAWLEY, Lida BERTHUSEN, Captain James O'NEIL and Grace, his wife.
     Twenty years ago marked the new era for Lynden. It was a year of first things. The first literary society was organized in March. It earliest officers numbered Oscar FARROW, Grace O'NEIL, Phoebe N. JUDSON, Charles E. CLINE, Robert O'NEIL and W. H. DORR was editor of the Lynden Plaindealer, the society journal and prototype of the growing list of newspapers which have followed. Its coming was looked for as eagerly week after week as even "The Pilot."
     The town was about to be born. A good natured rivalry between JUDSON and HAWLEY as to the best place for the city that was to be, led to the platting of two sites, one to the east and north including where the depot now stands and extending eastward to the present limits was called Forest City, but not long afterwards was merged into an addition (HAWLEY & LAWRENCE's) to Lynden. The first new buildings were two stories in height and stood northeast of the cottage now occupied by A. J. BROWN. H. J. SMITH, now of Bellingham, and Charles E. CLINE, of Lynden, were builders and owners. Lumber ranged in price from $18 to $40 a thousand.
     The first boat to touch at the townsite was the Edith R., newly purchased by R. E. HAWLEY. It was a steam vessel of the Sebastopol type, fitted with a rapid fire cabin built upon a submarine scow warranted not to draw more than 24 inches loaded. Its advent occurred February 26, 1884, and for a year or so it made tri-weekly trips to the Bay. That is, it came up one week and tried to come up the next. Joking aside, it filled a long felt want and Ben VAN DEVENTER's flotilla of canoes propelled by man and pole power went out of business.
     H. M. GOODELL, owner of the Goshen place, was Justice of the Peace, R. E. HAWLEY constable, H. A. JUDSON and C. E. CLINE notaries public. That year the mail service was increased to three times a week.
The one wagon commenced to have rivals and road officers to pay less attention to placing of skids for the sleds which were the chief means of transportation.
     The road to Whatcom at that time was east past the BRADLEY place, then over a long stretch of corduroy to Old Nooksack Crossing, now washed away, below where Everson now stands. Here the intrepid traveller crossed the raging Nooksack on a ferry or at low water forded it.
     Twice ten years have gone since then and many changes have occurred. Yet it is to be doubted if those olden days of lack and privation were not among the happiest and the "Old Timers" look upon the "Che Chaco" as having missed much which goes too make life valuable.
     Twenty years hence, what of Lynden? It would take a prophet, indeed, to foretell what may come to the prettiest town in Washington. ----C. E. CLINE

I wish to correct a statement made by Mr. CLINE though THE PILOT in regard to the parentage of my foster daughters. Their mother was neither of a Nooksack nor Lummi family but a Snoqualmie princess, and a very superior woman. These children of Washington have as much reason for pride in tracing their descent from this princess as have the families of Virginia in tracing theirs from the royal Pocahontas. ---P. N. JUDSON.

From The Pacific Pilot, August 25, 1904; copied by Susan Nahas

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