Author Frances Wood has written a novel about a young lady, a recent college graduate from Oakland, California, who takes a job teaching school in 19th-century Snohomish. Even more fun, she stayed in the upstairs front bedroom of the Blackman House Museum — when it was the home of Ella and Hycranus Blackman.
Frances will be reading and signing copies of Becoming Beatrice in the museum on Sunday, October 21, from 1-3p. The reading is hosted by the Snohomish Historical Society and is free.
Read more about the historical background to Frances’s story, which is fiction but based on her family.
Stopped by to give friend Lya Badgley encouragement for her new volunteer job as a docent at the Blackman House Museum on a Sunday in May when a grandson of one of my favorite historic characters of early Snohomish paid a visit to the museum.
Forest and his wife Marliss drove up from the Tacoma area where they live with more information about his connection to grandfather Eldridge Morse, Snohomish’s first lawyer turned newspaper editor and publisher of the Northern Star, Snohomish County’s first newspaper established in 1876.
Extensive documentation of Eldridge’s life and work was written by the late Noel V. Bourasaw in his Skagit River Journal with the help of our society’s genealogy ace Ann Tuohy.
Big thanks to Lya for taking on the task of welcoming visitors to the Blackman House Museum — you don’t have to be descendants of the early Snohomish elites to be warmly welcome and filled with historic stories.
Lya will be on duty June 18th & 25th, from 11â€“2p.
A newsprint copy of this rare historic photograph of a church service in progress was found in the Methodist church folder on file in the Snohomish Historical Society Archives, with the caption: “1901 was a good year to hold a Christmas pageant. This one at the First Methodist Church in Snohomish came complete with all the trimmings including ten angels on front stage. Photo, courtesy Everett Library Historical Collection.”
This Christmas card, signed by Mary Ursula Lenfest, the eldest sibling of the Blackman brothers, was left behind when the Blackman family heirs sold the home and most of its contents to the Society, over 40 years ago.
Mary was born in 1837, of Adam and Mary Blackman, in Bradley, Maine. She married John Lenfest in 1863 and the union gave birth to their only child, Elmer, a year later. Mary and John waited to join her brothers living in Snohomish until after Elmer received his degree in civil engineering. The family arrived in town in 1889, where Elmer landed a job with the newly incorporated city as its engineer. He married Sylvia Ferguson in 1891 and their only child, Norman, was born two years later. Mary lived to reach 90 years of age, passing on in 1927, the same year that our Ella Blackman also died.
Please allow us to add our sincere wishes to Mary’s for every happiness for you and yours in the New Year!
ED ANDERSON, GREAT GRANDSON OF WALTER P. BELL — SNOHOMISH CITY’S FIRST ATTORNEY — DONATES PAPERS AND PHOTOGRAPHS TO THE SNOHOMISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
As Ed tells the story, it was a rainy evening, when he received five dirty dusty cardboard boxes, from his mother. She had been storing them in the crawl space of the family home — an inheritance from her Mother’s sister — the family pack-rat.
That was nearly ten years ago. It has taken Ed this long to sort through all 5 boxes with the discipline of his training as a civil engineer, currently employed with Boeing.
His great-grandfather, Walter P. Bell was born in Iowa in 1856. He came to Washington 23 years later, working as a cowboy by day and reading law in the evening.
He began practicing law in Port Townsend, was engaged in the mail service on the steamships, and finally opening a law office on the second floor of Wilbur’s Drug Store on First Street, downtown Snohomish. Attorney Bell was instrumental in forming the articles of city’s first incorporation in 1888, and was elected to serve as the city’s first attorney.
It was around this time that Walter met and eventually married Lillian Blackman who had followed her father Almon to Snohomish from Maine. They were cousins to the well known Blackman Brothers who settle here in 1872.
The couple gave birth to four children, Harold, Mary, Doris and Winifred. Mary was Ed’s grandmother and Doris is the heroine of this story for saving everything — papers, letters, photographs, even diaries kept by her great grandmother back in Maine who never made the journey west, yet recorded the ups and downs of the clan so far away.
Walter P. Bell moved his office to Everett after Snohomish lost the county seat in 1897. He was elected attorney general of Washington in 1908, serving for three years, when he was appointed judge of the superior court.
Included in this generous and significant donation is a statement from the Claim Department of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, dated July 9, 1934, notifying Mrs. Lillian Bell of a $2,000 payment upon the death of her husband, (in the same year).
All materials donated to the Historical Society are processed under the supervision of Kathleen Lince, the Society’s paid archivist. Your membership makes this vital community service available — please consider joining today.
ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON, Alberta and Richard (pictured above) visited the Blackman House Museum carrying a large box. Inside was a well-used Victorian album, covered in faded rose velvet, with thick pages trimmed in gold. “It was my grandmotherâ€™s album,” explained Richard Guttormsen. She was Edith Blackman, daughter of Elhanan and Francis, born in 1872, the same year that the Blackman brothers left Maine for the Pacific Northwest.
The E. Blackman Album is now under the care of Kathleen Lince, the Societyâ€™s first paid archivist who has been creating accession records of our papers and memorabilia since the spring of 2008 with a generous grant from the Stack Family Foundation.
The album will be on display at our Annual Meeting on Monday evening, November 16, at the Waltz Building, 116 Avenue B. A business meeting begins at 7pm with the election of Directors and Officers and other business, which will adjourn to enjoy the Directorâ€™s (Home Made) Desert Buffet at 8pm, along with a champagne toast to the 150th Anniversary of the Cityâ€™s founding.
The Founders Award for Historic Preservation, 2009 will be presented to Zouhair Mardini and Mosaic Architecture for their outstanding collaboration on the 901 First Street Building project. Joshua Scott and members of the Mosaic team will give a show and tell presentation of the two-year long project.
And my two-year term as President ends with 2009, so this letter is the last opportunity I will have to gently remind you how important your financial support is to the survival of the Society’s mission. The dues have not been raised for 2010; instead, I am asking you to consider raising your level of commitment to the Society by renewing at the Sustaining Member, or even the Archivist level of membership of $150, for which I will gratefully sign and deliver a copy of my book â€œEarly Snohomish.â€
I couldnâ€™t help wonder while turning the thick pages of the recently acquired Blackman Album — what would have happened to this priceless treasure of local history if our Society and its archives did not exist?
And the same question can be asked of our entire collection that began 40 years ago â€“ from one of the smallest artifacts: Mrs. E. C. Fergusonâ€™s calling card that she left while visiting the Blackmans â€“ to the largest: the historic home itself!
Your continuing commitment is our main source of revenue; without it, the Society will fade away, and future donors will have only the likes of eBay … or the dumpster!
Please join us for the Annual Meeting on November 16th at 7p.
Moderating the discussion was Warner Blake who first introduced David as one who introduced him to the history of Snohomish. “And David’s accounts always began with Steilacoom,” Warner said, “so finally, early this year I visited the Steilacoom Historical Society and was lucky enough to show up on a day when Joan was at work in the archives.”
Immediately, she found a reference in the history of Pierce County referring to E. C. Ferguson and some 95 other bachelors calling for a meeting to ” devise ways to secure the emigration of the fair sex from the Atlantic States to our shores.” At the discussion on Sunday, Joan reported that no other account of the meeting has been found, and David felt it was most likely a fraternal activity without serious intentions of taking further steps. In fact, the meeting was called for a day in February 1860, three months before Ferguson took up residence on the Snohomish River.
Four years later, Asa Mercer acted on the idea when he brought 11 women to Seattle from the east coast who became known as the Mercer Girls.
The account that Ferguson had a child with a native woman in Snohomish before his marriage in 1868 to Lucetta Morgan was brought up. David reminded us that it was common for the white settlers of Snohomish to take an Indian wife and that in fact, the first school in 1865 was attended by the children of these mixed marriages. Joan reported that this was not common in the early years of Steilacoom, perhaps due to the transit nature of Steilacoom’s population — most were on their way to somewhere else — as was the case with our Mr. Ferguson.
Following the discussion, guests visited the exhibition in the Gallery of the Blackman House that features images and text of life in Steilacoom when Ferguson lived there, along with portraits of his business partners in the plan to establish a ferry across the Snohomish River for the military road proposed to connect Steilacoom with Bellingham.
Only Ferguson took up residence here when financing for the road fell through. David reminded us that it’s very unusual for a founding settler to actually settle-in as Ferguson did in the town that he named after the river and where he lived until his death in 1911.