Friday, January 30, 2015

History presentation at the Sumas Senior Center

I invite everyone to come to my presentation about the history of the Sumas Roundup next Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at the Sumas Senior Center. 
I look forward to seeing you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Historic Trial of early Sumas saloonkeeper is a milestone for the ladies of Whatcom County!

In 1911, after suffrage, the Washington State legislature changed the jury statutes so that men And women could be placed on the list of potential jurors. Washington was the first state in the U.S. to allow women to serve as jurors. 
 picture 1
picture credited to the Whatcom Museum, Photo Archives, Bellingham, WA
pictured is the first Superior Court jury in the state that included women.  The six men and six women were sworn in by Judge John A. Kellogg on 5 September, 1911.
picture taken at the Whatcom County Courthouse, Bellingham, WA. Originally the photograph was published in the Bellingham newspaper "The Morning Reveille"...7 September, 1911.
The jurors pictured:  left to right, 
Front Row: C. L. Thomas, Mrs.  S. Philbrick, Mrs. Clara C. Cline, Mrs. F. A. Rogers     (Foreman), Mrs. Laura Higgerson, Mrs. M. Crane. 
Back Row:  P.C. Valde,  C.K. Smith,  A.S. Hardenbrook, Sam Larson, L. Olson, and Mrs. Beth Purnell.
The case to be decided was regarding Sumas saloon owner Thomas Stambaugh and whether he was guilty of selling liquor to a Native American man, Dick Harry.
Thomas Stambaugh was born in Indiana about 1876 and settled in Sumas with his wife, Theresa.  According to the 1910 census they were raising two young children, Thomas and Mary.  He owned and operated the Eagle Bar in Sumas.  
The jury was split.  The men were all convinced of Mr. Stambaugh's innocence in the matter, while all the women decided he was guilty.  The jury couldn't come to an agreement and they had to set a new trial. 
picture 2
A token from the Eagle Bar in Sumas as owned by Thomas Stambaugh.
Posted with permission from the Cregan Marmont collection.
Thanks for visiting Nooksack Valley Nostalgia!  See you next time...

Floods of Sumas - part 1 of 1 - featuring early floods

Those who have lived in Sumas for any length of time are familiar with the flooding risks.  It is not
"if" the flooding is going to happen, but "when"...
 picture 1
   illustration from the Geologic Survey of Canada
As can be seen from picture 1, "...the Fraser River to the north in Canada had at one time spread into a large delta, south of Sumas Mountain, that fed into the Salish Sea to the west, through what is today the area between Vancouver, B.C. and Bellingham, WA."...the Geologic Survey of Canada.
It is believed that the Fraser River had possibly changed courses numerous times and ran into Bellingham Bay.  This, combined with glacial activities leaving depressions and moraine deposits formed what we know today as Nooksack Valley.  Moe Hill on the west side of Sumas, is a classic example of a glacial moraine deposit.  The geological activities also created Sumas Lake which we discussed in an earlier posting, from 18, February, 2014. 
Before the draining of Sumas Lake, flooding was a major source of difficulties.  The Spring rain and snow melt would cause the Fraser River the raise 10 to 12 feet and caused the local streams and rivers to overflow their banks causing much community and farmland damage both the United States and Canada.  There was simply no where else for the water to go quickly. 
The draining of the Sumas Lake and the building of the Vedder Canal helped improve the flooding situation in Sumas however our community is still prone to flooding.
picture 2

picture 2 shows Sumas Lake before 1924.  The dotted  boundary shows where the lake flooded during the high water season.  The pink arrow points to the approximate eastern edge of modern Sumas at the International Boundary.
illustration credited to Yarrow Pioneer and Settlers website.

picture 3
picture 3 looking N towards the International Boundary on a soggy Cherry Street, Sumas.
written on the back of the photograph..."Photo taken 10:30 A.M. Monday 31st Dec 1917".
picture posted with permission from the Morgan family collection

Picture 4
Photograph taken by Deborah Morgan, 26 January, 2015
picture taken at the same location as picture 3.  Looking north to the International Boundary, the yellow lines points to the red-orange Canadian Immigration Building. The blue building on the left is visible in the old photograph with a large Z painted on the side.  The bright green 24/7 Parcel building (arrow A) is barely visible in picture 3.
 picture 5
a vintage flood view looking S down Cherry Street in Sumas, date unknown.
Notice the building on the right side of the picture (seen in picture 6 as arrow A), through the years it has housed many businesses: today it is the home of 24/7 Parcels.
picture 5 credited to the Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford, British Columbia
Picture 6 
 Photograph taken by Deborah Morgan, 26 January, 2015.
picture taken at the same location as picture 5.  Both the current Wow Hair Salon (arrow 1) and 24/7 Parcel (arrow A) buildings are visible in  picture 5.

 picture 7
 picture 7 shows another vintage flood view, looking N, up Cherry Street, from a position just S of Second Street, Sumas, date unknown.  The brick building to the far left is currently the Wow Hair Salon, (originally was the Bank of Sumas and then later the Seafirst Bank).
Notice the 'FURNITURE' sign on the right side of the picture, see the same sign in picture 9.
posted with permission from the Gannaway family collection
Picture 8
Picture taken by Deborah Morgan, 26 January,  2015.
picture taken at the same location as picture 7.  Again, the Wow Hair Salon (arrow 1) and the 24/7 Parcel (arrow A) can be seen in picture 7.

picture 9
another vintage picture looking S, down Cherry Street from a position just N of Second Street, Sumas, date unknown. 
Notice the 'FURNITURE' sign on the left side of the picture, see the same sign in picture 7. 
 posted with permission from the Gannaway family collection 

picture 10

vintage flood view looking SE (towards Mount Baker) with Vedder Mountain strung out in the background, from the classic vantage point on Moe Hill (early 20th C).  In the center background, you can see Central School (featured in my posting 23 January, 2014... )
posted with permission from the Gannaway family collection.
Watch for more postings on the Floods of Sumas!  Thanks for visiting. 


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Historic Homes of Sumas, WA. part 2 of 4...featuring the Linn House

About 1/4 mile east of Sumas on the N side of Kneuman Road, in the midst of a tangle of brambles and tall grass, is a fairy tale cottage.  As a child I was transfixed by this picturesque house and often wondered who lived there.  Now, thanks to Mr. John Linn, I have learned the story of his childhood home.  The house belonged to Johns parents, Vernon and Ora Linn.  It was their first home and they raised their family there.

picture 1
Vintage photograph of the Linn family house looking NE from Kneuman Road (circa July, 1938).
Photograph posted with permission from the Linn collection
According to communications from Mr. John Linn, the little house was built in 1933 by his father Vernon Linn.  Vernon was proprietor of Linn's Hardware store (on Cherry Street in Sumas) a business which was originally established by his father, Art Linn. The family was known for their skill as carpenters.  Vernon's paternal uncle Elmer Linn and maternal uncle Carl Holmberg were responsible for building several houses around Sumas and the region. Elmer Linn later relocated to los Angeles and was a Set Carpenter for RKO Studio and worked on the giant mechanical hand that was used in the 1933 version of the movie " King Kong". 
Vernon built the house featured in this posting with many features to accommodate his wife's garden and bedding flower business. The property was given many architectural and landscaped features that gave it a unique charm and fairy tale look.
picture 2

A model constructed by Vernon Linn before building the real house in the early 1930's.
picture posted with permission from the Linn collection
picture 3
Looking N at the garage that matches the little house with John Linn's brother, Lawrence "Elbert" in front.
picture posted with permission from the Linn collection

 picture 4
a delightful snow scene, January 1937, looking NW with Lawrence "Elbert" at the little house with the S slope of Moe Hill in back. 
 Notice the icicles hanging off the siding of the house. 
picture posted with permission from the Linn collection.

picture 5
Looking NE towards the Linn House and greenhouse, circa 1949
picture posted with permission from the Linn collection.

Vernon added a greenhouse to nurture the plants they were known for, a garage, a playhouse in the back (on the S slope of Moe Hill) as well as a barn, all of which matched the style of the house.

picture 6
Plants growing inside of the greenhouse seen in picture 5, circa 1949.
picture posted with permission from the Linn Collection

picture 7
The garden shop (May, 1941) in Lynden, WA that sold the bedding plants raised by Ora Linn in their greenhouse shown in picture 5.  The lady in the picture is an unidentified employee of the shop.  picture posted with permission from the Linn Collection

picture 8
picture taken looking E along Kneuman Road towards Sumas, circa 1949.
Vernon Linn posed with his son, John, on the little bridge Vernon had built over Van Valkenburg creek, in front of their house. 
Later in the 1960s..." the creek was diverted to a culvert on the other side of the road."...J. Linn. 
Today, Kneuman Road is paved and the beautiful little bridge is no longer there.
picture posted with permission from the Linn collection

picture 9
Photograph taken 9 January 2015 by Deborah Morgan
Looking NW from Kneuman Road at the house and garage. The house is still standing and is charming in spite of the disrepair.

 picture 10
picture taken 9 January 2015 by Deborah Morgan
looking E along Kneuman Road towards Sumas
The road is no longer the gravel road shown in picture 8. 

picture 11

 detail of picture 10, taken 9 January 2015 by Deborah Morgan
looking NE

In the recent years the house has been used as a rental.  Someone is keeping the grass mowed and seems to be maintaining the property, but otherwise the house is currently vacant.  Apparently according to community rumors, the current owners intended to level the site and place a business at the location. I haven't been able to confirm this one way or the other.

Thanks for visiting Nooksack Valley Nostalgia! 
My next posting will start a new series...the Historic Floods of Sumas! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Historic Homes of Sumas, WA. part 1 of 4...featuring the Parkinson House

This is a new series that will feature local historical homes and share their fascinating stores.  If you know a local home of historical significant  that you would like to have featured please contact me.  I will start with the beautiful Parkinson House. 

We are familiar with Moe Hill which stands watch over our little town.  It was known in the earliest days of Sumas as Barker Hill after a local investor who intended to cash in on the railroad coming to town.   Mr. George Parkinson built a lovely home on the south slope of Moe Hill just south of the International Boundary sometime between 1890 and 1892.

Mr. Parkinson was a local businessman who successfully started a dry good store on Railroad Street here in town. The dry good store is pictured on my post from 4 March, 2014...   
He had immigrated from England leaving his actress wife to follow him with their young daughter.  George built this home and had it waiting for the family when they arrived.

picture 1

photograph looking E at the Parkinson House, circa 1920's?
photograph posted with permission from the Brock collection

 Picture 2
photograph taken looking W, date unknown
posted with permission from the Brock collection

One amusing story about the arrival of Florence Parkinson in Sumas is as follows:

 "George Parkinson had completed the home for her and the community was eager to meet this fine English lady who was coming to their town.  Mrs. Parkinson and her daughter arrived in Fairhaven, Washington in the fall of 1890.  She was an English actress and dancer from the London theaters and supposedly had quite a presence about her.  They checked into the Fairhaven Hotel (which was newly built at the time) for the night with plans to continue to Sumas the next day.

She was allegedly dressed in a bright red bustled dress with laced mutton chop sleeves, a giant feathered hat and slippers to match carrying a parasol with a red feathered rim.  She had a red satin purse with a ten year old daughter dressed in matching red in tow. Supposedly she was not impressed with the Fairhaven Hotel.

The next day Mrs. Parkinson went to the train station to enquire about travel to Sumas.  The ticket agent told her that there was a locomotive leaving later that day but it had no passenger cars with it.  She was insistence that he would simply have to secure a passenger car for her and her daughter.   While the agent was intimidated by her mannerisms he asked her to wait while he checked with his boss.   After a while he returned to tell her that there were no passenger cars available at that time.   The only way to get on the train was to ride an empty flatcar, which was not appropriate for a lady and her child.

She simply paid for passage on the flatcar to Sumas with her trunks and luggage loaded in advance.  She and her daughter were seated on their luggage and journeyed that way to Sumas.  Notification of her arrival came by telegraph and the town folks eagerly awaited her arrival at the railroad station. 

The locomotive blasted the whistle and slowed to a stop with Lady Parkinson seated in the middle of the flatcar as if she was royalty.  Once the train stopped, a group of men pushed a series of boxes up to the car making a set of stairs.  She calmly closed her parasol and stepped down in her bright red dress.  Her daughter followed holding the trailing hem of her mother's dress.   Mrs. Florence Parkinson had arrived and made her mark on Sumas."
story posted with permission from the Brock collection

Picture 3
 Another vintage view looking SE at the Parkinson House, date unknown
picture posted with permission from the Brock collection
Picture 4
photograph taken looking SW, date unknown 
Photograph posted with permission from Brock collection

Picture 5
Photograph posted with permission from the Linn Collection
This photograph (taken February 1936) is looking NW at the Parkinson house at an earlier time when the southern slope of Moe Hill had been cleared of trees.

According to correspondence from John Linn (grandson of Arthur Linn, who owned the Linn Hardware in Sumas), the city of Sumas would hang Christmas lights on one of the two evergreen trees (the dark trees to the right of the Parkinson House) and the pleasing lights would be visible for miles across the valley. This practice continued for many years.

John Linn also shared that Roy and Alice Tudor lived in the Parkinson House for about a year from 1919 -1920. 
Quotes from the  book "A Good Life in a Good Land" by Alice Tudor describe the experience as follows:
 "We had to look for a house in Sumas now, since was out of question to move back into our small place.  Ed living with us plus our expanding family required more room.  Our best choice seemed to be the Parkinson House on the hill and that is where we moved.  The
Ford was not powerful enough to drive up the hill, but we managed 

We enjoyed living on "Parkinson's Hill" but it was very inconvenient to climb it.  We still did not have a car with enough power to drive up, which meant we had to walk, except when the store truck made deliveries.  When we took Kenneth out in the stroller, we would carry him up the hill and pull the empty cart. When I came home from the hospital, the Easterbrooks took me home with their horse and buggy.

There was much fruit on the place - prunes, cherries, apples and pears, even apricots and walnuts. I argued that it was easier to have the children away from the town, but soon found that they had plenty of visitors, children who enjoyed playing in the country -like the area around the hill."

Mr. John Linn added to the following footnote to Tudor's story regarding the Parkinson House:
 "At that time, the side of the hill was terraced, with fruit trees growing on the terraces.   One time Arthur's son, Vernon, was visiting his cousins during a "silver thaw" (ice storm) and he slipped on the top of the hill and slid down making a resounding "bump" each time his bottom hit the flat of a terrace.  Finally, he reached the bottom, just barely sliding under a barbed-wire fence before coming to a stop. 

The hill was later called "Moe's Hill" when Arthur Moe lived in the Parkinson (D.M.) house.  Vernon and Ora Linn bought about an acre of land from Arthur Moe and built a house (early 1950's...D.M.) above and to the northeast of the Parkinson House."

Picture 6

Photograph taken 9 January 2015 by Deborah Morgan
looking N at the Parkinson House (see the arrow).
This photograph taken very close to location of picture 5 just S of the intersection of Bob Mitchell Way and the Burlington Northern tracks.  The green shipping containers, N of the tracks are on the property of  Pacific Rim Reload Service.

 Picture 7
 photograph taken looking W
 12 November, 2014 by Deborah Morgan
with permission of the current property owners

The home is still standing and is currently in the stewardship of Mr. and Mrs. S. Brock. 
It's historical integrity is wonderfully preserved. 

picture 8

Photograph taken looking NW towards Moe (Barker) Hill.
13 December, 2014 by Deborah Morgan
  Notice the peak of the Parkinson House (see the arrow).  
The stop sign marks the SE corner of Railroad and Garfield Streets here in Sumas. 
This photograph was taken next to the northbound railroad tracks where Mrs. Parkinson made her grand entrance in 1890. 

picture 9

a detail of picture 8
Photograph taken 13 December, 2014 by Deborah Morgan
Looking northwest towards Moe Hill where the Parkinson House oversees our community
  Look forward to part 2 in the series of Historic Homes of Sumas.
(thank you for respecting the privacy of the current homeowners of these historic properties)
...posting updated 9 January, 2015...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's Eve, 1961. "Another quiet night at the Border"

 May everyone have a safe and Happy New Year! 
picture 1
An advertisement from the Nooksack Valley Farm Review, January 1, 1942
Posted with permission from the Morgan family collection.
New Years eve 1961, was an important one to my family, the community and was nearly tragic.  My father, Burl Brooks Beane was the new Port Director at the U.S. Customs office on the border.  In those days it was usual for an officer to work alone on a shift at the border during the quiet times.   Burl decided to work the holiday night shift to allow the other men to be with their families.  It promised to be an uneventful and quiet night.  However, as outlined in the article below, there was a surprise in store for him in the early hours of the new year...
 Picture 2
Everson News, January 4, 1962
Posted with permission from the Charlie Patterson collection.
The transcription of the above article for easier reading is as following:
"There is more to inspection of cars than meets the eye at a border station,  Burl Beane, deputy collector of customs at Sumas, holds the rifles that were uncovered early Monday morning during an inspection and which led to the apprehension of three Canadian youths who later admitted being involved in a robbery of a store in New Westminster, B.C. New Year's Eve.  Besides the Enfield and Higgins rifles were a Burgo revolver, 100 rounds of ammunition and two hunting knives.  Driver of the car held the revolver on Beane after he ordered them out of the vehicle to explain the rifles.  Beane said, "You stay put when you have a revolver pointed at you."
Three Canadian youths who confessed to their part in a robbery of a paint store in New Westminster, B.C. New Years Eve, were caught in Sumas Monday at 2 a.m. after holding a revolver on Burl Beane, deputy collector of customs. 
Beane, who was working alone on the graveyard shift made an inspection of the 1955 Mercury and found two rifles concealed under a tarp in the back seat.  He ordered the youths to get out of the car and come into the station.  Beane reported they all got out of the car and stood for a moment, then one pulled a gun on him and said "stay right here". 
Beane said that the youth holding the revolver backed away like he was playing a role in a Western movie and kept him covered as they all got into the car and headed south.
And like a scene in Western Movie, Town Marshal LeRoy Witman was nearby.  Suspicious of the group as he drove by, he parked his car and walked to the station, noticing as he passed, the revolver in the pocket of the youth, the Canadian disregarding Witman, who was in plain clothes.  Witman was unarmed and as he entered the door of the immigration office he ducked behind the counter to search the drawers for arms kept at the station.  
As the youth drove away Beane got a revolver for Witman, who raced after the car which failed to negotiate a turn at the Milwaukee crossing a mile away and went off the road.  
Witman got to the car in seconds and ordered the youths out at gun point.  In the meantime Beane was on the radio alerting Deputy Howard Bowen, who was east of town, also the Border Patrol, the Sheriff's department and the Lynden police.
Deputy Bowen arrived on the scene and assisted Witman who had the youths "spread eagled" on the ground.  One of them remarked  "If we had the rifles you would never have taken us". 
Russell Bruce Vogler, 20, South Burnaby, B.C., Clifford George Foreman, 18, Rt. 3 Cloverdale, B.C., and Steven  A. Gilbert, 17, Langley, B.C., were brought back to the Border Station where Vogler confessed robbing the paint store where he had been employed  stating he divided some $200 with the other youths and said he had planned the "job" for weeks. 
They appeared before the U.S. Commissioner Richard Fleeson in Bellingham, Tuesday.  $5,000 bail on each for an assault charge was set by Fleeson.  The Canadians will be taken to Seattle by U.S. Marshall where they will await further action.
Witman and Bowen reported New Year's in Sumas was orderly, the party crowd was well behaved, just a little noise and cheer at midnight.  Another routine report.
This was before 2 a.m.!"
This is what the Everson News reported, however there was more to the story...
"After an evening enjoying social drinks with their wives at the Wee Drop Inn on Cherry Street in Sumas, LeRoy Witman (the city Marshal) and Fred Miller (owner of the Signal Gas Station in Sumas) were in the process of taking the Witman's babysitter home, when the men noticed the situation in progress at the Customs House.  After quickly dropping the babysitter off in the street and telling her to hurry home, Leroy (leaving Fred in the car) parked behind the Customs house and entered through the back door but couldn't find any of the police firearms in the usual spot because Burl earlier in the evening had rearranged the office.  After the three fugitives fled, Burl retrieved a revolver for Leroy to use in a pursuit which was quickly joined by Deputy Howard Bowen.             
In short order, after the perpetrators car went off the road, they were caught trying to flee into a field on the south side of Sumas by John Hide's house (now the caretaker's house for the Sumas R.V.Park) and were forced to lay face down, spread eagle on the ground by Leroy, Howard and Fred.  The law enforcement officers each held a gun on a perpertrator.  Fred Miller who wasn't armed, jammed his finger (pretending it was a gun!) into the back of the third man telling him not to move.  Fred held the fugitive in place with his 'finger' until the law enforcement officers could cuff and move him to the patrol car."
pers. comm. Burl Beane and Doug Miller.
The incident could have been tragic but all ended well. 
Picture 3

Fred Miller (date unknown)
Posted from the Crouse family collection (currently archived at the Sumas Library)
I wish the members of the
Sumas Police Force and First Responders, and our local Border Protection and Immigration officials
a safe 2015. 
Happy New Year!