John Harvey’s Hops Kiln, 1884

(Click to enlarge)

Without the photographer’s label “J. Harvey, 1884,” we would not know that Snohomish pioneer John Harvey built a hops kiln on his homestead.

Great-granddaughter Donna Harvey’s extensive accounts of both John and his son Nobel, written with her father Eldon and published on the website HistoryLink.org, has no mention of a hops operation. It’s an action packed story of a man who sailed from England to San Francisco, then to Seattle where he bought a claim on the shores of Lake Washington that was destroyed in the Indian wars of 1855. He was lucky to get any money for his claim, but sold it for $2000 and eventually bought the claim across the river from the Snohomish town site for $50 in 1859.

Two years later, Harvey accepted a seat on the first Board of County Commissioners, which was delegated to organize the new Snohomish County. The Snohomish City Mill Company located on the Harvey claim, was incorporated in 1866. The Seattle-Snohomish Mill continues to operate in the same general location today.

Christina (Noble) Harvey (1839-1892)

Christina (Noble) Harvey (1839-1892)

John married Christina Noble in 1872, and welcomed their son Noble into the world the following year. By this time, John was growing enough potatoes to ship downriver to market in Port Gamble, according to stories told years later, but none about the hops kiln and harvest crew shown in the historic photograph.

In the October 3, 1885 issue of The Eye, it was noted, Over a hundred Indian canoes have passed down the river this week from the hop fields. Ezra Meeker began planting hops in the Puyallup valley in 1866 and by the time of this mention in our local paper, Meeker was a wealthy hops merchant with a branch in London selling hops on the world market. The photograph that accompanies the Meeker article on HistoryLink.org, is a stunning achievement in photographer patience posing a much larger crew than shown in our local version. It’s easy to imagine migrant photographers making the rounds of hops fields seeking commissions to document the harvest.

John died a couple of years after this picture was taken. Donna Harvey believes that the fellow on the far right, seated, with his hat off is her great-grandfather, John. Noble Harvey would have been around 11 years old in 1884 but has yet to be identified in this fascinating composition. He took over management of the Harvey homestead when only 19 years old following the death of his mother in 1892.

Noble George Harvey (1873-1952)

Noble George Harvey (1873-1952)

Young Harvey helped clear the way for the first train to cross the Harvey property on its way to Snohomish City; and, he built the baseball park that was used for the first airplane flight in 1911. The hundredth anniversary of this event will be celebrated in grand style with a fly-in of historic aircraft on Saturday, July 23, and an exhibition, along with another of David Dilgard’s popular slide show talks — “100 Years of Flight in Snohomish” at 2p in the Community Room at the Harvey Airfield.

Keep in mind that the hops harvest crew posing for the camera in the fall of 1884, as if staring into the future, had yet to hear the word “airplane.”

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, July 20, 2011.

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