Fourth Street and Avenue B Looking West

My promise to share with you a second, early image of the Eagles Hall is postponed until next month in order to follow up on the front page story in last week’s Tribune – the story of apodments and the vacant structure at 402 Avenue E.

[singlepic id=203 w=260 h=175 float=left]This month’s historic image was first published in the paper, October 24, 2007 (pre-dating this blog), following the annual Tour of Historic Homes that featured the Stevens’ House pictured predominantly on the left. The structure in the distant center was identified at the time as possibly that of 402 Avenue E.

Referring to the Sanborn Insurance Maps of 1905, and seeking second opinions, I am certain now that the home pictured in the distance is the subject structure of so much community discussion and emotion.

Missing is its beginning as a family home.

Victor A. Marshall is listed as living at “402 E” in three directories, 1903, 1904 and 1905. The 1900 Census has Victor as head of household, age 46, owner of the home and his occupation as a proprietor of a shingle mill. Family members include his wife, Minnie, age 31; Virgil, age 10; George, age 7; Mary age 4; Maurice, age 2; and a nephew, James, age 20, from Victor’s birth state of Ohio. Snohomish County property records indicate the home was built in 1896.

By 1920, Victor, now 66 years old, is listed as a widow and border living in Seattle with a job described as “Mine owner.” His first born, Virgil, is 40 years old in 1930, and has been married to Grace for 18 years. They are living the good life, we imagine, in San Francisco — he working in the automobile industry, and she as a bookkeeper with a wholesale tobacco company.

Brother George, also living in San Francisco, but in a hotel, still single at 37 years old, and selling insurance. The third boy, Maurice is 32 in 1930, listed as head of household but single, working as a Real Estate salesman.

First daughter and her mother’s namesake, Minnie, doesn’t show up in the records until 1940, age 38, living with her 13 year old son, Dudley as a single mom in a rented home on Bush Street in San Francisco, and working as a waitress. Daughter Mary married Raymond Hatch in Spokane in 1917, and their son Marshall was born the following year. In 1930, age 11, he was living with a relative named Holmes When the boy turned 21, he married Helen Rupp, also 21 years old, living in Seattle, but no record found of any children. My search for living descendants ended there.

Going back to the beginning of this census synopsis, pre 402E, the parents, Victor and Minnie turn up in a 1884-1887 Washington Territory Census, where he is listed as 30 years old, working as clerk; while his wife Minnie Marshall is 18 years old, born in the Territory to a mother from Missouri and a father from New York in 1869.

Snohomish was the county seat then, though barely a clearing on the north bank, 12 miles up the Snohomish River. But by the time their first child, Virgil, was born on October 28, 1890, Snohomish had been an Incorporated City for three months, with a counted population of 2,012 residents.

The passionate discussion around 402E repeated the refrain that the developer was an outsider, looking to make buck. But it’s a song of irony since the town of Snohomish was founded by an outsider looking to make a buck.

E. C. Ferguson came from the east coast via Steilacoom with first, plans to soak the military with a ferry service crossing the river; but when that scheme sunk, he showed up anyway in 1860 to live on his claim with enough supplies to build our first saloon.

The location of the property at 402 Avenue E is legally described in part as “Fergusons 2nd Add to Snoh.” This was land Ferguson was holding back from selling until the arrival of the railroad (1888). Editorials in “The Eye” often chided Ferguson for not developing his land holdings between Avenue D and the Clay Addition to the west.

Council member J. S. White, representing Ward 1, had to bring a lantern with him to council meetings in order to light his way through Ferguson’s dark land to his home on Avenue H.

By the time the Marshall family was living at the corner of 4th and E, Ferguson was doing a land-office business. In the end though, a home is not about price but about the family stories it holds and the memories the Marshall family members carried with them into the world – memories of their childhood adventures amongst the stumps, for example.

Slideshow: Interior Images of 402E Click to Visit

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Click to View Thinking of Starting Your Own Blog?
Then Save the Date: Sunday, April 21, 2013,
for a workshop on using WordPress software which I use to publish this blog — to be held at the Snohomish Library, 2-4p — follow this link to download the details!

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, April 17, 2013

Odd Fellows Hall, 2012

Photograph by Otto Greule

It’s early evening by the time we reach the last stop, #5, on our 19th-century walking tour, where a long line of mostly men, engaged in several sotto voce conversations, are waiting to enter the Odd Fellows Hall at 1205 Second Street.

Snohomish Lodge, No. 12, of the I.O.O.F was dedicated on April 20th, 1886, in an elaborate ceremony presided by Grand Master G. D. Hill, of Seattle, that included Lodges of the Order in the Territory, as well as the general public. The ceremony was followed by a grand ball at the Atheneum Hall, First and Avenue D.

Referred to as the Odd Fellows Hall in the newspapers, the handsome facility, built by J. S. White, immediately filled the need for a community meeting place for a growing Snohomish.

For example, there was a huge turnout for the railroad meeting held in the hall on Friday, December 15, 1887, about bringing the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway into town — a meeting that I wrote about in March 2010.

The “Snohomish Choral Society” meet there on a regular basis, charging ladies 10 cents and gentlemen 15.

With a name whose meaning has been lost in translation over the years, the “Wranglers Society” offered a mix of song and debate.

The “Free Thought Society” met to organize its upcoming schedule of lectures in 1889: State Constitution, Weatlh and Want, Evolution and Religion — but put off forming a committee for music.

Lectures by travelling personalities were a staple of the hall, usually about religion, such as the one announced June 8, 1889 in “The Eye” — “Dr. J. L. York, the well known lecturer will speak upon the subject: ‘Our Religion and the New State Constitution.’”

The Odd Fellows Hall was the scene of many contentious gatherings beginning in 1887, over the tandem subjects of statehood and incorporation, covered in juicy detail by the two newspapers, “The Eye” and “The Sun” — each with an editorial stake in the outcome of the discussions.

Let’s imagine it’s Friday, April 25, 1890, the issue of incorporation is coming to an head as the crowd gathered on Second Street is waiting to hear Hon. Sam H. Piles, a lawyer who got his start in Snohomish and has returned as Seattle’s city attorney. The expectation is that Piles will speak in support of the opposition to the wishes of Snohomish’s Founding Father, E. C. Ferguson, on the question of re-incorporation as the City of Snohomish in the new state of Washington.

The doors are opening now and the charged crowd quickly disappears to find a seat in the large, open room on the second floor — a room that remains essentially unchanged over the years. Of all the wonderful historic structures in Snohomish, I would select this room if I had one wish to make the walls talk.

You are invited to read the fascinating story of Snohomish’s re-incorporation as a City of the third class at

Birdseye View of Second Street Walking Tour, circa 1890

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, November 21, 2012.

The Ferguson Mansion, circa 1900

The Snohomish School District’s Maple Avenue Campus is located on the former grounds of the Ferguson Farm.

Soon, construction will begin on the new Aquatic Center on this site for an anticipated opening of fall 2013, and best as I can tell, the competition pool will be located in between where Ferguson’s barn and the mansion once stood.

Bruce Ferguson, Ferguson Farm mapBruce Ferguson, great grandson to E. C., is pointing out where the Ferguson mansion was located, just south of the Maple Avenue Campus and up on a rise where an apartment complex now stands at 514 Maple Avenue. Bruce remembers exploring the mansion’s foundation with his brother Gary. The large barn to the north was still standing during his childhood. “It had a concrete floor,” claims Bruce, still impressed after all these years. Ferguson Creek, now called Swifty Creek, ran above ground in those days, directly in front of the home. There were two wooden bridges built for cars crossing the creek to the estate. Asked about the “water tank,” Bruce pointed out where concrete footings were removed for the new trail, near the Soccer Dome. He expressed his hope to the trail designers that the footings might remain with an interpretative sign indicating the location of the railroad water tank that serviced the steam engines beginning in 1888.

For readers new to Snohomish, E. C. Ferguson is often referred to as the “the father of Snohomish.” It’s my hope that some part of the new Aquatic Center will carry the Ferguson name. Judging by this historic photograph from the Ferguson Family album, the entire family were avid swimmers.

"The Bathers, 1900" Ferguson Family Album

The School Board’s decision to go ahead with the Aquatic Center at this site followed a February 7, 2012, vote by the Snohomish City Council to approve an Interlocal Agreement between the city and school district to provide the water and sewer to operate the facility at the Maple Avenue Campus. (The city paid for these same utilities at the Hal Moe Pool during its many years of operation.)

In return, residents of Snohomish will receive discounted use fees for what promises to be a must use facility with various water features for every family member. My granddaughters and I are particularly looking forward to the water slide that protrudes at the top of the structure and ‘S’ curves its way down outside of the building, then re-enters the structure — dropping us off into the ground level pool inside!

How does the “Ivie Ferguson Water Slide” sound to you? Let’s let the School Board Members know that we would like to see this fantastic facility honor the founding family of Snohomish.

Now and TomorrowMaple Avenue Campus: Now and Tomorrow

Please follow this link to contact School Board Members; and/or leave a comment of support below.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, April 18, 2012.

Raise a Glass to the Memory of E. C. Ferguson

You are invited to the inaugural celebration of E. C. Ferguson Day, Sunday, November 14, 4p, at Fred’s Rivertown Ale House (1114 First, Historic Downtown Snohomish).

November 14th is the day that Ferguson was awarded a license to operate his Blue Eagle Saloon — the first saloon of Snohomish — in 1864. For new readers of this page, E. C. Ferguson is considered the founder of Snohomish City in 1859.

To help us honor this occasion will be historian David Dilgard with the Everett Public Library, speaking to the more colorful aspects of old Ferg’s reputation. And to help us celebrate will be Tim Noah, founder/director of Snohomish’s Thumbnail Theater, who is working on an original song for the occasion. (There is no cover charge or suggested contribution for this event.)

Cady Landing, 1885, the Blue Eagle Saloon is left of center
You may learn more about this image HERE.

Riverfront Trail Markers Installed

Join us this Saturday, October 16th at 11a for the dedication of the river trail markers that you may have read about in the Herald.

Riverfront Marker for the Ferguson Cottage
You can see in this photograph why the Parks Foundation is organizing a Riverfront Trail Beautification Workparty that will begin at 8:30a, bring work gloves, hand tools, and meet up at the Gazebo located at the end of Avenue A. For more information, call 360.863.3346.

And you may read more about the Ferguson Cottage in this earlier post.


Wait, there is more: a gentle reminder of our GAR Tour coming up next Saturday, October 23rd, 10a. Follow the signs to the caretaker’s garage at the end of the drive at 8601 Riverview Road, Snohomish. Allow an hour and half, prepare to walk on uneven ground and the tour will be conducted in rain or shine (last year it was gorgeous). A suggested donation of $10 will help support this website.

Please contact me if you need more information.


The Ferguson Cottage, 1859

A turn of the century snapshot from the Ferguson Album of Sylvia (Ferguson) Lenfest posing in front of her father's one room home, assembled here in 1859.

BAD NEWS THIS MONTH: we may have celebrated the founding of Snohomish a year too soon.

It seems that our founder, E. C. Ferguson, didn’t take up residence here until 1860 – around this time of the year, 150 years ago – according to historian David Dilgard, of the Northwest Room at the Everett Public Library. He wrote in the Journal of Everett & Snohomish County History a story titled, “The Adventures of Old Ferg” published in the summer of 1981: “Ferguson made his journey to the site, known initially as ‘Cadyville,’ in March of 1860 aboard the Ranger No. 2, a sidewheel steamer captained by John Hill.”

If we were to be challenged on this technicality, however, we can point to his first home that is still standing and say: but his home was here in 1859!

E. C. Ferguson, circa 1903
Ferguson, only 26 years old, built the one-room home in Steilacoom where he was living and working with a group of wide-eyed businessmen looking for an opportunity to cash in on the planned military road to Fort Bellingham. Their idea was to establish a ferry service where the imagined road was to cross the Snohomish River. But, Federal funds and troops were diverted to support the Civil War and the military road ended as barely a path at the river’s edge on the south bank. (I have found no record of regular ferry service until one was licensed by the county in 1887.)

Ferguson’s business partners disappeared like the cigar smoke that once hovered over their boisterous talk of how rich they were all to become. Only Ferguson followed the shipment of his home to the high bluff overlooking the Snohomish River. His claim holder Hiel Barnes assembled it for him.

Historian David Dilgard created this drawing of the Ferguson Cottage from on site measurements he gathered in 1980.
In 1980, Dilgard was awarded a grant to document the structure, which at the time was in danger of being demolished before in fell down. It measures 16 feet across the front and 24 feet deep. Ferguson lived in the house, expanded to two-rooms, for 20 years, and later in life told a reporter for the Everett Daily Herald, “It wasn’t a palace, but it was home sweet home to me for many a year, and I never have been happier than while I lived there.”

The Ferguson Cottage was purchased and renovated by Rebecca Loveless in 1997 and has been occupied since that time. It is considered the oldest building still standing in the county and it can be viewed only from the Snohomish River Trail. This is the time of the year to check it out, before the blackberries block the view completely.

The Ferguson Cottage as it appears today from the Snohomish River Trail. It was purchased and fully restored by Rebecca Loveless in 1997 and has been occupied since then. This is the only public view of the historic home.

Join me in silently celebrating Snohomish’s secret year of when its founder finally showed up.

Published April 21, 2010, in the Snohomish Country Tribune

Ferguson Wharf, 1877 -2009

Ferguson Wharf, 1888-2009

WE CONTINUE OUR TOUR OF EARLY SNOHOMISH’S RIVERFRONT this month to the western end of town, when Avenue D was little more than a rutted dirt path.

E. C. Ferguson and his wife Lucetta, platted the town site they named
Snohomish City in 1870, which comprised of Avenues A through D, and three
or four streets. Seems that between the two of them, they couldn’t come up
with, or agree on, names for the avenues. Woodbury and Mary Low Sinclair*
on the other hand, the couple who purchased the Cady claim to the east,
named the streets after trees. Evidently, both couples agreed on naming
the shared street “Union. ”

Ferguson was serving as a territorial representative in Olympia, where he
met Lucetta Morgan and they were married in 1868. Returning to Snohomish,
the couple appears to have worked together to develop the town site,
including the wharf and warehouse pictured in this month’s historic image.
There is still much to learn about the Fergusons’s business dealings in
those early days, but we do know that by the time railroad arrived in
1888, the Bruen and Henry business had taken over the wharf location. And
Ferguson had built a handsome building at the corner of 2nd Street that
featured a large window built into the roof, which was required for a
photographer’s studio.

We have yet to learn which photographer(s) rented the studio from the
Fergusons. It could have been the one who captured this month’s image
since we have no record. So, we are left to imagine the festive scene
that brought the Nellie to town, and wonder why it was photographed at
Ferguson’s wharf rather than Jackson’s at the east end of town?

Plus, the sight of the unknown photographer setting up the large format camera
across the river didn’t go unnoticed by the workers in the warehouse who are filling very doorway, with a curiosity that is related to ours, watching back we could say, even though ours is from a viewpoint over a hundred years away.

*Follow this link to read more about Mary Low Sinclair
Ferguson Wharf, 1877
The steamship Nellie tied up at Ferguson’s Wharf. This is most likely the first photograph of the year-old steamship that grew to become very popular and essential to the everyday life of early Snohomish. Behind Ferguson’s warehouse is Isaac Cathcart’s Exchange Hotel built around 1875. On the right, looking at this image, we are treated to our first view of the muddy lane leading from the river that eventually becomes Avenue D. (Courtesy Snohomish Historical Society Archives)


North bank, west end of town

The Snohomish Riverfront at the west end of downtown as it appears today, 2009. The Snohomish Visitor Center, pictured here just west of the Avenue D Bridge, is the approximate location of the Ferguson warehouse.