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.

Snohomish Dairy Products

This ramshackle collection of structures sported several company names over the 75 years of service, but it has always meant dairy products and jobs to the people of Snohomish; now, it’s a used car lot with an abandoned boiler.

[singlepic id=124 w=240 h=320 float=right] “Wm. H. Schott, right, firing furnace at condensery” reads the inscription on the reverse of last month’s historic image. The twin stacks to the boilers are clearly visible in the historic image; and the abandoned boiler is just left of center in the contemporary view. The stacked wood pictured in the left-hand foreground is the fuel for the wood fired boilers.

The first creamery in Snohomish County was located on this site when Noble Harvey leased land to John Alexander and E. C. Ferguson in 1894. Turned out that not enough milk was available in Snohomish and Alexander moved his operation to Stanwood. H. McMaster moved in with a small scale cheese making factory and two years later he was producing prize winning buttermilk as well.

By the turn of the century, the Snohomish Condensed Milk Company had its name in oversize letters on the main building of its thriving business of providing an market for the local dairymen. At some point, the company attracted the eye of East Coast investors and it was sold to a New York firm.

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Washington State Dairyman’s Association annual convention held at the Fraternal Hall, Stanwood, WA in 1907. [Courtesy Stanwood Area Historical Society]

By 1917, the Snohomish County Dairymen’s Association was established and took over the plants here and the largest operation in Arlington. The record is not clear, but it seems that the co-op was responsible for the name change to “Snohomish Dairy Products” as pictured in the historic image.

The name “Darigold” first appeared in 1925, and by 1931, the Snohomish operation was the manufacturing all the butter and ice cream sold by the Association under the Darigold name. The facility was updated in the early 1940s with a new concrete building and the installation of refrigerated holding tanks. Cottage cheese was introduced in 1954, in case you were wondering.

As is the way these days, consolidation of the plants, within the Dairymen’s Association, took place in the early 1960s and our plant was closed. Several business came and went until the structures were destroyed by a spectacular fire on June 12, 1979.

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“While Firemen reach through the burning walls with their hoses, one of the many trucks damaged in the June 12 fire burns in the background. This truck was soon pulled to safety.”

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“A Fireman clears out of the way as volunteers prepare to pull one of the many large trucks away from the burning structure. The truck’s rear tires were completely afire.”

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

Snohomish Police Department, Part 4: In the News

Snohomish Police Department, 2009.

The City of Snohomish has been parked at the edge of history for the past several months, and a three hour limit is about to go into effect. It’s expected that the city council will vote to change how we pay our police and that the municipal entity known as the Snohomish Police Department will begin the next chapter in its 123-year history.

So. I have begun the process of putting together a thumbnail history of the department up to this point. Scrolling through pages of old news on the library’s microfilm reader has turned up a historian’s candy store of stories. Allow me to tease you with a few headlines.

September 3, 1970, in the Tribune: “Boyd seeks $250,000.” The story begins: “Snohomish Police Chief Clarence Boyd has filed a complaint with the clerk of the Superior Court […] Three men city council members signed a formal complaint against Boyd following a motion made and passed unanimously at the June 2 council meeting….”

Chief Boyd is pictured on the left in the photograph above, he served 22 years as the Chief. On November 1, 1973, he was given an editorial send-off in the Tribune: “He did his job under difficult circumstances. Almost every year was ‘Retire the Chief Year’ in Snohomish.”

October 4, 1951, in the Tribune: “Police Chief Adams Removed From Post By Mayor Nickerman Following Protest Made On Punch Boards, Traffic Arrests.” Fascinating to imagine, the chief was dismissed in the council meeting and Robert Twitchell was appointed on the spot. (Twitchell went on to serve as County Sheriff.)

Readers who were in attendance at this meeting are encouraged to contact me.

Here’s a possible scene from a period movie, published by the Tribune, December 30, 1910: “Desperado Fights Duel With Marshal.” Marshal Roy Norton, pictured above, found the desperado, a Mike Donnelly, at the shooting gallery in the basement of the California Wine House on First. Donnelly fired a shot at Norton that passed through his uniform just grazing his stomach. Chief Norton got off two shots toward Donnelly, who fired again. None of the bullets hit their mark and the action moved outside, up Avenue A. (To be continued in the thumbnail history.)

Marshal Wm. Brown
Published in 'The Sun' 1891

My favorite story so far is from the second year of our incorporation as the City of Snohomish when our first Marshall just about takes down the young city government. In the August 29, 1891, issue of The Eye, a headline shouts: “A Brown Study.” A sub-head teases: “ Lively Times in the City Council.” And a second sub-head explains: “The Ordinance Says the Money Belongs to the Chief of Police — Attempts to Convict Brown Regardless of Law — Resignation of City Attorney Coleman.”

Wait, there’s more, September 19, 1891: “The Ludicrousness of It!” The middle of the second paragraph reads: “According to the best light now shed upon the scene, the city has two chiefs of police….”

To be continued.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, November 16, 2011.

Snohomish Police Department, Part 3: O. D. Morse

Beth Greenlee, born to Orrin and Maud Morse in 1929, may have trouble remembering the day of the week these days, but there is no hesitation in her telling of the time when her father, who was the city Marshall, unlocked the door of the gun room on the lower level of Snohomish City Hall to proudly show his young daughters the department’s latest acquisition of a “Tommy gun.”

“The layout of the building is unchanged,” Beth said, as we entered through the double doors at 1009 First. On the left was the City Clerk’s and Waterworks office. Across the hall was Mr. Knapp’s office, who was the city attorney. Straight ahead was where the council met, and the Police Court.

Today, this room is the Mariposa Day Spa, featuring an “intimate setting overlooking the Snohomish River,” according to its website.

On the lower floor, the door straight ahead was to the gun room, “and they had quite a collection!” To the right was the door to her dad’s office. “There was a roll-top desk against one wall and spittoons on the floor,” remembers Beth as a young girl. “And there was a big old safe, that has to be somewhere in town.”

Alongside the desk was one cell that was usually for women. “And behind his desk, you would open a door and there were cells on both sides and in the center, so it was like a ‘U’ — and that’s where people would come to …” Beth searches for a word with a polite chuckle, “rest.” Mentioned several times in our conversation, was Beth’s memory of her father bringing the prisoners breakfast.

The windowless room was the new city marshall’s office and “drunk-tank.” O. D. Morse, as he was known, and who was appointed Marshall only three years earlier, moved in August 1927.

The cells were removed long ago, but it was our police station/office for over 50 years. It’s now a private apartment.

Beth and her younger sister Billie would often hang-out at the city hall waiting for a ride home from their dad. Once, O.D. was bringing in a drunk who fought back on the way down the stairs, “and my little sister jumped up on his back and just beat the hell out of him,” as Beth tells it. “She couldn’t have been more than eight years old, just a little thing … she was always a rascal,” Beth adds.

O.D Morse served as city Marshall for 19 years, until 1943, the longest leadership of the Snohomish Police Department. Somewhere along the way his title changed to Chief of Police, so it could be said, he lead the way to creating a modern police force in Snohomish.

Except for his assistant, “Bicycle Jim” (officer Jim Wright), didn’t drive but could bike fast enough to pull over people driving cars! Let’s save that story for another time.

He looks stern, Beth agreed, “but he was a sweetheart.” He could walk into the middle of a ferocious fistfight and within minutes have the men shaking hands. According to his daughter Beth, O. D. never used the “Tommy gun.”

Beth: “…it was like living in a monastery sometimes.”

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, October 19, 2011.

Snohomish Police Department, Part 2: Mike Lively

Mike pictured in city promotional flyer.

Mike Lively’s body is betraying his name these days. Heavy doses of chemotherapy for his testicular cancer resulted in serious bone death.

“I’m all metal from here to here,” Mike explains, pointing to his thighs on up to his chest. “I need to sit down,” he reminds me, before answering another question. Once comfortable, his memory is quick and the stories come easy, bouncing between touching and humorous, but always informative.

“I became a cop because I didn’t like cops,” Mike states, explaining that while he appreciated law enforcement, he never met a cop that he liked or respected. Mike graduated in 1965 from Snohomish High and spent four years in the Air Force where he served all over the US, Japan, even a thankfully short shift in Vietnam loading planes with returning wounded and dead servicemen.

Although he earned an Associate Degree in engineering, Mike found himself accepting a job offer with the Snohomish Police force in 1974. He was challenged to become a better cop than those he had experienced.

Mike comparing new and old uniforms, then Snohomish as a “war zone” in the 70s with fellow officer Terry Gilfillan.

Around the time that Jim Pettersen was appointed chief, Mike was working on a second degree from Everett Community College, this time in law enforcement. Looking back over his two dozen years with the department, it was under Pettersen’s leadership, Mike feels, that Snohomish developed into the best small-town police force in the county. “Everyone worked together,” Mike said.

When Pettersen had to resign three years later because he decided against moving to Snohomish, as required at the time, Mike was appointed acting chief. Mike served nearly two years in that position, a statewide record he was told.

Mike on the change in policing attitude.

Mike also assumed care of Pettersen’s collection of the department’s history, including photographs, records, and he added more memorabilia. The collection was stored in a room off the department’s office in the basement of City Hall. Sometime after the appointment of Patrick Murphy as chief in 1983, Mike found the room empty. He was told that collection had been tossed out by the order of the chief.

Over his 13 years as police chief, Murphy is credited with the growth of the department to its current size and location in a renovated bank building on Maple Street. Mike hints at an alternative appraisal of Murphy’s leadership but begs off any further questions because of ongoing relationships with Murphy’s family.

Murphy resigned in 1996 to accept a Snohomish County Council appointment as sheriff. “That was always his dream,” according to his daughter Tennille Murphy of Seattle as quoted by the press upon her father’s early death at age 54 in 2006.

Mike agreed to take on the chief’s job for at least three years, but he had to step back due to his struggle with testicular cancer, which by now had spread throughout his body, with only one month to go.

Plus, the new city manager, Bill McDonald, was pushing Mike to retire in order to fill the position with McDonald’s choice. Between this pressure and the growing pain, Mike finally made an appointment to submit his official resignation. McDonald was not in his office at the appointed time and left no word of his whereabouts. It was not the first meeting that McDonald had brushed-off — but it was the last. Mike placed his badge and gun in his patrol car, locked it, and gave the keys to a colleague with instructions to give them to the city manager when he returned to his office.

mike lively
Mike in 2011 at his home.
When word finally arrived from McDonald, he accused Mike of abandoning his post. But by that time Mike had voluntarily committed himself to a hospital. Between his physical pain and the emotional pain of a broken marriage, “I had lost the will to live,” Mike told me in a follow-up phone call.

Then he had to go. Mike was helping a neighbor clear her land with his impressively equipped John Deere tractor, where he would get to sit down.

Mike on the difference between local and county policing.

Mike on the benefit of investigative power with the county agency.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, September 21, 2011.

Snohomish Police Department

When discussing the future of the Snohomish Police Department, let’s be clear about its past — the department is not 150 years old.  Looking for the beginning of a paper trail establishing our Police Department has lead me to the unexpected discovery that legally, the entity called “The Snohomish Police Department”  is only 38 years old.

Ironically, we are marking the 150th anniversary of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office this year, since  it was established by the Washington Territory Legislature with the formation of the county on January 14, 1861.  The office provided county wide policing services, such as it was in a place with around 50 white men, and at least that many guns. Those were the days of deputizing citizens who provided law enforcement with an emotional interpretation that inspired popular western movies and TV shows.

The clearing in the woods on the north bank of the Snohomish River that quickly developed into a viable town was not called “Snohomish” until 1871-72, when the Fergusons, then the Sinclairs laid out their claims with streets and avenues joined at Union Street.  It’s easy to imagine that the new town had its own Marshall, as the population of loggers and saloons increased, but there is no record to point to, nor reliable news coverage to help us out here.

Early Snohomish as the county seat, was home base for the Sheriff, an elected office since 1863. The famous Benjamin Stretch was first elected in 1867, then re-elected every two years, serving until 1875 when W. B. Stevens became the first full time Snohomish County Deputy Sheriff.

It seems we must wait until our town first incorporates as the Village of Snohomish in 1888 for a written record concerning police matters.  At an early meeting of the Village Board of Trustees held in April, 1888,  it is recorded: “On motion of H. Blackman, Chas. M. Jordan was appointed Marshal of the Village of Snohomish with Salary at $20 per month and $2 for each arrest made.”  (This record has been inaccurately published that Blackman was the first policeman, a certain conflict of interest with his position as a Trustee.)

And Ordinance #8, approved on May 10, 1888, by E. C. Ferguson, Chairman, ordained in Section 2: “The night watchman shall be on duty from eight o’clock P.M. until six o’clock A.M. of each and every night during his term of office, unless excused by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.”  The pay was $50 per month, but only $1 per arrest.

All of these fine, handwritten details were set aside with statehood in 1889; and the carefully watched-over sleeping citizens of Snohomish woke up and voted to incorporate as a third class city, rejecting Ferguson’s wish to remain a village.  And if that wasn’t insult enough to our city father, Ferguson went on to lose the election as Mayor of the new City of Snohomish to Hyrcanus Blackman.

The ordinance count begins again, (we are currently at #2218) and Ordinance #3 establishes a “Police Force” that in addition to a Marshall, “shall consist of one captain if the City Council shall determine, and such members of police officers not exceeding five as the City Council may from time to time determine.”  The ordinance was approved in July, 1890 and in October the city purchased a lot on Avenue A and built the complex of buildings pictured in this month’s historic image, primarily to house the city’s first  fire engine and prisoners in the new jail. No mention of a “police department” in the weekly newspaper, The Eye.

The facility was serving way beyond its expiration date when the July 21, 1927 issue of the Snohomish County Tribune announced the move to “new civic homes.” One is pictured as this month’s Now image, the former fire station, and the second new home was the City Hall at 1009 First, now called the “City Mall.”  The article notes that the jail is already in use but still no mention of the “Police Department” or “Force.”  Yet the label “Police Dept.” is used in official documents throughout the years without any ordinance establishing it, or amending Ordinance #3 that authorized a “Police Force”  of only five policemen?

In 1964, Ordinance #3 was repealed, but  nine  years went by before Ordinance #1250 was approved and published November 22, 1973, finally establishing the “Snohomish Police Department” — 38 years ago.

Next month we will feature Police Department personnel, Then and Now. Please contact me with your stories and pictures of Snohomish policeman past and present.



Engine House and Jail, circa 1900

Courtesy of the Snohomish Historical Society Archives
(Click to Enlarge)

Firehouse Center, 2011
(Click to Enlarge)

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, August 17, 2011.

“This Place Matters”

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This Place Matters: March with the Mayor 2011
A good time was had by all who turned out Saturday, July 23rd to help carry this important message to the great turn-out by the parade fans of Snohomish.

Hope you will join us next year; in the meantime, please follow this link to the National Trust for Historic Preservation website to learn all about the “This Place Matters” campaign.

And use our new tab “This Place Matters” to view pictures from the past two years of parades.