Joseph Vance, Developer

Joseph A. Vance (1872-1948), born in Quebec, Canada, moved to Tacoma in 1890 for work in railway construction.  By 1897, he had built and begun operating a small lumber mill operation in Malone, Washington — close to the site of Vance Creek County Park , which opened in 1988.  He founded the Vance Lumber Company in 1908, a highly successful milling operation which he sold in 1918.

Joseph Vance

Vance moved to Seattle and began to invest in real estate through the Vance Company.  He became involved with developing personal business and commercial properties in downtown Seattle, including the Vance Hotel (1927 at 620 Stewart Street, later known as Hotel Max); the Lloyd Building  (1928, named for one of Joseph’s sons and in 2010 designated a City of Seattle landmark); and the Joseph Vance Building (1929), where the Vance Company operated.  Victor W. Voorhees designed all of these buildings.

For the Vance Lumber Company,  Voorhees designed the 1926 remodel of the Seattle Engineering School, which trained auto workers, into an apartment house known as the Vance Apartments until 1930 and then the Marqueen  Apartments and now the MarQueen Hotel, in the Queen Anne neighborhood.  Voorhees produced the plan book catalog known as the Western Home Builder, a source of designs for homes throughout Seattle,  including on Queen Anne.

By 1931, the Vance Company had acquired hotels in downtown Seattle:  the Camlin and Hotel Continental — later known as Hotel Seattle and then renamed Hotel Earl for one of Joseph’s sons.  As documented HERE by historian Maureen Elenga, Earl died in a skating accident in the icy winter of 1935.

Vance’s son George took over the company in the 1930s and ran it until his death in 1981.  As of 2021, the Vance Corporation continues to develop and manage Seattle properties.
Reference:  “Vance Corporation returns to local ownership” (1998)                                                          Vance Building, 4th Avenue & Union St.

Don Miles, Urban Designer

A long-time Queen Anne resident, architect Don Miles (1942-2021) contributed to urban design projects on the hill and beyond.

Don Miles grew up on his family’s farm in Eastern Washington, then moved with his family to Olympia.  He earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree at the University of Washington in 1966, followed by a Master of Architecture and a Master of City Planning / Urban Design from Harvard University.  He married Pam Wait in 1972, and they moved to New York where he worked in urban design.

In 1976 Don returned to Seattle and opened Don Miles Associates in Pioneer Square.  He worked with Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership (ZGF) beginning in 1989, until his 2010 retirement.  His projects include master plans for developments in Seattle and throughout Washington.  His colleagues honored him as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1992, recognizing his contributions to the development of many successful urban design projects in Seattle and elsewhere throughout the US.

Don and Pam and  their family lived on Queen Anne beginning in 1976.  He served on the Queen Anne Community Council 1978-80, engaged in developing design guidelines for the neighborhood.

As a founding board member of Project for Public Spaces, he established an organization dedicated to making urban spaces attractive and accessible for pedestrians.  He also advanced these goals with Picture Perfect Queen Anne, a neighborhood organization revitalizing the streetscape of Queen Anne Avenue from Galer to McGraw; and he played a role in the founding of Seattle Children’s Museum at the Seattle Center Armory as a Board member 1978-82.

Community Life in the Early Twentieth Century

Published 1993 by Queen Anne Historical Society, edited by Kay Reinartz PhD

Chapter Eleven
“Community Life in the Early Twentieth Century”
by Kay F. Reinartz PhD

Queen Anne is more than a neighborhood — it is an atmosphere….  Everywhere on Queen Anne you are on a hill, you feel it when you can’t see it …   the local paper speaks of “the hill” and “hill people” and a “hill boy” or “hill girl” — everything but hill-billy.
Almira Baily
October 31, 1927

Living on Queen Anne Hill in the early decades of the twentieth century was a time of close relationships with family and neighbors.  Life for most people was centered around the home and local institutions, including the school and church, and community organizations.  A very large portion of the families were young and there were many children.  The majority of married women with young children devoted themselves to full-time work as homemakers, while their husbands typically traveled by streetcar to jobs in other neighborhoods or in downtown Seattle.  Most unmarried women held jobs.

From 1900 through the 1920s almost everyone walked or took the streetcar everywhere — to church, to work, to shopping, to school, to parties and funerals.  Many traveled to their own weddings on the streetcar.  Traveling by streetcar helped neighbors get acquainted and was the beginning of more than one friendship and courtship.  The fare was a nickel in the 1920s and increased to three single-trip tokens for a quarter by the 1930s.
In the 1920s there were four streetcar lines on the hill.  Both the north Queen Anne and east Queen Anne routes came up the hill via Taylor Avenue N. to Boston Street and Queen Anne Avenue, where they separated.  The east Queen Anne route ran to Blaine Street where it turned left and terminated near the High School.  The north Queen Anne car went across to McGraw Street and Seventh W., where there was a T-style turn-around.
The west Queen Anne line, popularly known as the Counterbalance route, came straight up Queen Anne Avenue.  In 1905 this line replaced the old Front Street cable line that ran up the hill as far west as W. Highland Drive.  The Counterbalance was a simple, efficient system for getting the trolley up the steep hill.  At the foot of the hill the motorman or conductor got out and attached the car to a “shoe” which in turn was attached to a huge underground counterweight equal to the weight of the trolley car.  When the car was at the bottom of the hill, the counterweight was at the top, and vice versa.  When the car reached the top of the hill the counterweight was disconnected near Lee Street, a block and a half above W. Highland Drive.  The west Queen Anne streetcar then proceeded on to Sixth Avenue W. where the route terminated at Sixth Avenue W. and McGraw Street.
The fourth streetcar line was the Kinnear line.  It started up Queen Anne Avenue and turned west at Roy Street and ran past Kinnear Park to Tenth Avenue W. where it terminated at 10th W. and McGraw Street.  People also walked down the hill to catch street cars.  The car out to Ballard was caught on Fifteenth Avenue W. in Interbay.

Tales of the Counterbalance

Queen Anne Streetcar counterweight of the Counterbalance, ca. 1925

On several occasions the eight-ton counterbalance weight broke loose, creating a slight earthquake when it reached the bottom of the hill under the street.
Roy Kinnear, who grew up next to the Counterbalance, recalled that when the car was coming down the hill, the conductor would yell, “Look out for the curve!”  Occasionally the force of the car going over the abrupt dip that characterized the topography of the slope would throw someone right out of the car.  One woman was killed this way in the 1910s.
The roar of the metal-on-metal wheels was deafening as the car careened across Aloha Street, but those living nearby became accustomed to the racket.  Kinnear declared that if the Counterbalance stopped earlier than the usual midnight hour, his family would wake up because it was too quiet.
Fred Betts reports that as a lad he once sneaked into the Counterbalance tunnel and rode the counterweight to the bottom of the hill and back again to the top — petrified with fear every inch of the way.  In 1939 the counterbalance system was replaced by a trackless trolley system.  Courtesy Queen Anne Historical Society

Above:  The automobile became available to many families by the 1920s, and just going for a drive was found to be a wonderful way to spend a day.  Here the Sandvigen family enjoy a summer outing in the family’s flivver.  From left to right:  Emilia Black, unknown, Delma, hired girl, hired girl, Carrie Melby with veil (cousin) , father holding Alex and mother holding Emma, Gilbert in front of car with Buster.  The collie dog was named Rover.  Courtesy Queen Anne Historical Society

Between 1900 and 1930 most married women devoted their time and talent to homemaking and caring for their families.  However, there was a beginning trend for more married women, particularly college-educated, to be working outside of the home.  Homemakers had a big job.  They were expected to make a major contribution to their family economy by producing and processing raw materials rather than buying end products.  Through their efforts they reduced the household costs of cooking, sewing, and home management, and often greatly improved the standard of living afforded by their husbands’ earned income, which was often very modest.
Most purchases were made at neighborhood shops.  Miriam Marston Owen recalls the little business centers around the hill from 1910 on had food shops and dry goods stores which offered fabrics by the yard and sewing notions, as well as inexpensive children’s clothing, e.g. socks, underwear, and play clothes.
Between 1910 and 1930 doorstep delivery was common.  In addition to the regular rounds of the milk and ice wagon — the latter followed by youngsters begging for “a little piece of ice” — there were bakeries, dry goods stores, pharmacies, laundry, and fuel enterprises delivering to the door.  Normally, the homemaker had a standing weekly order, or called in a special order.  No charge for delivery.
Jobs were often hard to find in the Seattle area between 1900 and 1920 because of the huge population influx.  However, many people, particularly immigrants, pursued activities common at the time in Europe — vending from door-to-door.  Such “permanent” vendors included fish mongers and farmers from outlying areas as far away as Poulsbo, who served both new and established customers with standing weekly orders for their fresh produce, eggs and butter.  Other vendors did not raise their products, but bought them at wholesale prices from a railroad “fresh produce car,” which stood on a sidetrack alongside the ship canal between Ross Station and the Ballard Bridge.
Kirk Jenner remembers that a highlight of the week for the kids in his neighborhood was the regular visit by the garbage truck, pulled by four huge Percherons.  About once a month another interesting entrepreneur, the junkman, made the rounds with his small wagon drawn by a single horse.  The children marveled at how the junkman tethered his horse by placing a lead weight on the street which he attached to the end of the reins.
Coal and wood for heating and cooking were needed by every home in this era.  Bob Bishop recalls working one summer for the Consolidated Fuel Co., whose office was beside the Uptown Theatre.  Bob says he and his brother “backpacked garbage cans of coal, cradled high between our shoulder blades, to flats and apartments.”

“New System 44 Wet Wash” 222 1st Ave N

Above:  The red Wet Wash laundry wagons were a familiar sight on Queen Anne Hill in the early years of the twentieth century.  With their plant at 222 First Avenue N., the company used “New system 44 wet wash” which provided the cleanest, brightest laundry with only three days between pickup and delivery.  Courtesy Queen Anne Historical Society

The House that Davidson Built
The influx of people to Queen Anne Hill between 1900 and 1920 created a steady demand for houses that was recognized as a business opportunity by Fredrick J. Davidson, a skilled carpenter, who immigrated from Canada around 1903.  Davidson soon established himself as a contractor and built over 150 houses between 1910 and the late 1920s.
Built mostly of brick, Davidson’s houses were noted for their high-quality construction and modern features including built-in central heat (hot water radiators). good plumbing, and adequate electrical wiring — qualities that were missing in many houses constructed in that era.  Davidson kept in his employ Sam Ernst, plumber, and John Beattie, electrician, both Queen Anne residents.
Davidson built custom houses as well as blocks of homes which he sold prior to construction.  His final and major work was developing the entire block bounded by Bigelow Avenue N., Fifth Avenue N., and Boston Street and Lynn Street.  The several dozen homes were all pre-sold.  The average price of a Davidson house in the 1920s was $12,500, house and lot.
Son Howard Davidson recalls that while he was growing up the family frequently moved from one house to another in his father’s developments.  For a time they lived at 2312 Bigelow N., as well as 2302 Fourth Avenue N.  Davidson operated his business out of his home, with records kept in a large roll-top desk in the dining room.  Jane Skinner Davidson, a former school teacher, assisted her husband with telephone and paper work.
Many of Fredrick Davidson’s quality houses continue to be home to community residents.  Houses by this skilled builder may be seen at the corner of Second Avenue N. and W. Highland Drive, 370 Lynn Street, 1701 Nob Hill Avenue N., and 310 and 314 W. Prospect Street.

In the 1920s clubs and community organizations flourished on Queen Anne Hill as people got together over mutual interests, hobbies or community concerns.
Many of the clubs formed during this period lasted only a few years, and little more than their names is known 80 years later.  These include the Townsend Club, for retired community members, the Queen Anne Knickers Club, the Queen Anne Men’s Club and the Women’s Single Tax Club.  The Town Meeting Club provided a forum for debating issues of the era, such as the League of Nations as a peacekeeping organization or the merits of the unicameral legislature.
Clubs focusing on history, world cultures, literature, music and the arts were popular and included the Queen Anne Study Club, Optic Club, Fortnightly Club, and the Apasia Club.  The Fortnightly Club, formed in 1894, is still active in the Queen Anne community a century later.
The Queen Anne Nomadic Circle was a popular intellectual club whose members wrote stories.  Open to women and men alike, the club provided both an outlet and guidance to those interesting in being writers.  The club published, in the Seattle Mail and Herald on January 3, 1903, an installment of “Dr. Allen’s Temptation,” a novel the members had collectively written.
This story is a combined product of the 15 to 20 ladies and gentlemen who constitute the literary circle known by the name “The Queen Anne Nomadic  Circle.”  For several years a part of the evening’s program of this circle has been the reading of a chapter of an original story.  During the year, from October 1 to June 1, each member contributes a chapter, and the story is then complete.  For the Mail and general reading public, the resulting novel will be published in serial form, a chapter from each member of the circle each week.

Undoubtedly, the Queen Anne Community Club, organized in 1922, was the most significant community organization of the decade.  The club evolved from local improvement clubs and served as the community’s voice at Seattle City Hall.
The club’s initial project was the paving of the lower section of Taylor Avenue.  Accomplishing this goal, the club brought about other community improvements such as street paving, lighting, drinking fountains and playfields.  The club grew from 40 to 2,000 members in its first seven years.
The heavy debt caused by the building of a clubhouse in 1927 forced the club to spend most of its efforts in the early 1930s raising money to pay for the building located at the corner of Queen Anne Avenue and Garfield Street.  This activity drove members away and the club never regained its popularity of the 1920s.

The main forms of recreation for most people continued to be that enjoyed in the nineteenth century, namely family gatherings, visiting with neighbors, and church and school centered activities.  For many the work week was six 10-hour days, and Sunday was set aside for church, leisure and socializing.  Fred Criddle recalls that in the late 1910s almost every Sunday after church his family walked from their home on Fourth Avenue W. and Smith Street to their grandparents’ home on Bigelow Avenue N. and W. Garfield Street.   Other Sundays the grandparents walked to their house.  In the summer, they might all walk to Kinnear Park after dinner to hear the band concert and for the little children to play on the swings.  Then there was the walk home, about ten miles total walking for the “day of rest.”

Most children were given little money because the average parent did not feel they needed any since their needs were looked after by their parents.  However, enterprising children often found ways to earn a little of their own.
Many boys delivered newspapers in the 1920s.  Ted Delius earned money with his magazine routes.  He sold The Saturday Evening Post, Liberty, and Ladies’ Home Journal.  His business involved finding customers, delivering the magazines, collecting the money, and paying the magazine company.  Ted sold monthlies for ten cents and weeklies for five cents.  When business was good Ted would buy a Coke and Sunfreeze slice at the grocery store on Saturday.
Ag age 13, Kirk Jenner managed to land a good job with The Seattle Times as a combination copy and office boy.  He worked Friday evenings five to nine, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning.  He traveled by streetcar at first, but by the time he was 15 he was walking to and from work.  Kirk recalls “I rather enjoyed the walk which was about five miles, but in reality there was no easy way to get there by streetcar.”
With the $6 he made each weekend Kirk bought his mother her first washing machine.  Still proud of his gift 50 years later, Jenner remembers, “It was a used Savage rotary type with a copper tub and cost $65.  I paid for it on the ‘easy payment plan’ which took about a year.  Mother really appreciated the washer and never again had to use the scrubbing board in the bathtub.”
George Knutsen remembers that in the 1910s, after they had finished the supper-time chores he and other children in the neighborhood would walk over to the movie house and sit in the alley behind the building listening to the organ playing as it accompanied the silent picture show.”
Kids living on the north side of the hill would save up a few pennies and then head down Third Avenue W. to the big store, the Ross Marche, across the street from Seattle Pacific College on Third Avenue W.   Bill Hunter relates, “To us children, the exciting thing about the Ross Marche was its supply of penny candy, visible on shelves behind a big glass case.  A penny was big money in those days, and it was an event to be relished to choose from a dozen possibilities your kind and flavor of candy.”

In the 1910s most children had few toys, but playing outside year around offered plenty of fun.  Donna Everett Williams moved with her family into their new home at the corner of Fourth Avenue N. and McGraw Street around 1904 when there were only three houses in the immediate vicinity.  The Everett children’s favorite place to play was a “canyon” formed by the streams which was the outflow of Nils Peterson’s big spring up the hill.  It was a dark, mysterious place filled with huge ferns, skunk cabbage, cattails and tall grasses.  It was cool in the summer and a grand place to hide.  As a part of street construction in the 1910s the stream was diverted into a storm sewer and the children’s canyon became Third Avenue W.
Bill Hunter recounts playing on the north side of the hill, near Evergreen Park (Rodgers Park) around 1918:
Above the bank was a wooded area, in which we climbed trees, built tree houses, and played “Pioneers and Indians.”  There was a thick patch of blackberry buses up there, which bore berries prolifically.  One day I got so absorbed in picking and eating berries, I found myself helplessly trapped by the sharp barbs of surrounding bushes.  The more I struggled, the worse I was trapped.  One of my playmates had to go home and bring my Dad up to rescue me.  He brought up a butcher knife and ball bat, wore gloves, and by hacking and beating the bushes, he finally set me free.
The play area enjoyed by the Everett and Hunter children was destined to become the first park on the north slope.  In 1883 B. F. and Frances R. Day, north slope real estate developers, had given the city a five-acre parcel on the north side of the hill.  After lying untouched for 30 years, in 1909 an adjoining 50-acre tract was purchased, and the park was named Evergreen Park for its beautiful grove of fir trees.
The park was improved in 1914 when the North Queen Anne Elementary School was built at the northern end of the park, which was at Second Avenue W. and Florentia Street.  Much to the consternation of the neighbors, the improved park attracted the north slope youth.  In May 1915, R. H. Lyon complained to the city:
In the two past months several evenings each week a gang of hoodlums have made this park a resort, some evenings for an hour or two only, and other evenings for a greater portion of the night, and have kept up a constant pounding, whistling and yelling, with the use of loud, vulgar, profane and obscene language….  This condition has become intolerable and a park that should add greatly to the desirability of the location for residence has been rapidly turned into a public nuisance and [is] being used for illegal and immoral purposes.
In 1919 Evergreen Park was renamed Rodgers Park for David Rodgers, who is credited with having “done more than anyone else in placing the name of Seattle in the foremost rank of the shipbuilding industry.”

In the 1920s a problem developed in the north slope neighborhood that was to remain “the issue” for years.  The trouble centered on a gravel pit originally dug by Nils Peterson in the 1870s, when he excavated sand for construction projects.  Located at Third Avenue W. and Florentia Street just south of the North Queen Anne grade school, the gravel pit was a favorite place of the children.  Bill Hunter remembers that
It was a marvelous sandpit!  It was roughly 300 by 400 feet.  The sand was an excellent quality beach, and it was great for tackle football [but] only fair for sand lot softball.  Its greatest virtue was that on two sides, there were sheer banks, about 25 or 30 feet high.  We kids dared to dig steps in the face of a bank, and then climb precariously to the top.  If you fell, you lit in soft sand below.  That was the ‘Mount Everest’ of our neighborhood.
In the 1920s the Queen Anne Sand Co. began working the high grade deposit and soon created a very large, deep pit.  The pit naturally filled with water running off the nearby slopes.  The children loved to play around this ‘little lake.’  Occasionally a child went home dripping wet after slipping into the pit. and parents constantly warned their children “Stay away from the pit!”  The problem of the gravel pit was to reach a crisis in the 1930s, when a neighborhood boy drowned.

By 1910 the streets on the east side of the hill were constantly filled with playing children.  Recognizing the need for a regular playground, the East Queen Anne Improvement Club laid their desire before the Seattle Parks Department, which quickly purchased a 1.4 acre parcel bounded by Howe and Newton Streets, Second Avenue N. and Warren Avenue.  Eventually the park became known as the East Queen Anne Playground.
In 1914 a tennis court was built in the park.  The next season a group of boys began showing up as early as 4:30a.m. to enjoy tennis at dawn.  For two hours or more they would play game after game of fast, hard-hitting tennis.  Those sleeping in the nearby houses were awakened by the smart walloping of the ball.  Neighbors complained to the Parks Dept. Superintendent, such as Jeannette MacDonald, who declared that “it is absolutely impossible to get any sleep after they start in.”

Early in the century there were many hard winters with sufficient snow to make for splendid sledding.  The two favorite hills were Third Avenue W. and Queen Anne Avenue.  The latter was like a roller-coaster ride with the sledder’s stomach making “flip-flops” with each dip up and down — and then the final wild stretch, flashing across Mercer Street and finally slowing to a stop.  It was a ride well remembered by the children when they were 80 years old.
Will Hunter lived on Fourth Avenue W., a street less busy than Third Avenue W. and, best of all, without significant intersections.  Will and his sister and brother Helen and Phil would trudge six blocks up the hill and then jump on their sleds for the thrilling ride down.  The hill got steeper the farther down they went and the only way to control the speed was dragging their feet in the snow.  Often kind adults scattered an abundance of ashes on the road at the bottom of the hill near the college, which helped prevent crashing.
In the summer the kids would swim in the canal between Ross Station and the Ballard Bridge.  Some also went swimming in Lake Union, although their parents frowned upon it because it was very polluted.  Undoubtedly, the place where children growing up on the hill spent the longest hours year round was the Queen Anne Library.

From the 1890s, when the women of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.)  opened a reading room in North Seattle, many had longed for a library on the hill.  In 1912 the community was selected by the Seattle Library Board as the site for a branch library.  Funded by the City of Seattle, a Carnegie Corporation grant, and a $500 donation from Col. Alden Blethen, Queen Anne resident and owner of The Seattle Times, a building was selected at Fourth Avenue W. and W. Garfield Street after much controversy and community bickering.

Queen Anne Public Library, 1929

January 1, 1914 was a community Red Letter Day — the beautiful new library was opening.  All day long Queen Anne residents crowded into the new library to inspect the handsome golden oak paneled rooms well appointed with reading tables and comfortable chairs.  All eyes hungrily studied the titles on the long shelves — a total of 5,000 books.  The anticipation of long happy hours “with a book” filled many with joy that day.
The new library was open daily under Head Librarian Frances L. Holmes.  Helen Watson, the first Children’s Librarian, pledged:  “The work of the branch with the children of the Queen Anne community will always be of paramount importance.”  And the Queen Anne children soon found their way to the little library in droves.  In 1914 a distraught parent wrote to Miss Watson:
Dear Madam:  Will you please stop John and Mary from getting any more books as we can’t get anything out of them at all — they won’t go to bed at night and won’t get up in the morning and won’t do anything but read when they get up.
The new library had a special children’s story room which was crowded every Saturday morning from 1914 through the 1940s with children coming to hear stories and book talks.  In the 1960s, the room was converted into the library office.
The library has served the community’s children in a variety of ways over the decades, including library lessons given in the elementary, middle schools and junior high schools by librarians, library visits by school children, cooperative creation of young people’s reading lists, preschool children’s programs, puppet shows and films.

During World War I the Queen Anne Library auditorium became a community focal point.  It was there that many activities geared toward helping “win the war” took place including meetings of the Home Guards, Council for Defense, Red Cross auxiliaries, Minute Men, and the Council for Patriotic Services, which sold war savings stamps.  The women gathered here several nights a week to knit warm socks, mittens and vests, and prepare dressings to be shipped overseas.
The war over, the library staff wrote a weekly “Book Notes” column for the Queen Anne News, designed to increase the community’s awareness of its library resources.  During the Depression years the community turned to the library as never before and circulation increased to a record 197,222 books for the year 1932.  The city’s tightened budget had reduced the size of the staff which worked even harder to to serve the many readers.  To ensure the upkeep of the book collection, librarians made home visits after work to retrieve overdue library materials.  At the end of the 1930s the auditorium was used for two years by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) statewide Library Services Project, which left the library much improved with new lighting, bookcases and paint.  From the beginning, the Queen Anne Library has been a major community resource.

In 1970 Florence Ekstrand, retired editor of the Queen Anne News, reflecting back on the 1920s, observed:
The 1920s were a pleasant interlude [during] which Queen Anne families saw no reason why they and their offspring would not go on forever picnicking and swimming along Lake Union’s shores, or exchanging pleasantries with others who rode the East Queen Anne trolley home in the February dusk.

Helen Tillman Zednick — Queen Anne Community Leader, 1914-1930

The future history of America will be shaped in large measure by the character of its homes.  If we continue to be a home-loving people, we shall have the strength of character that comes only from a wholesome family life and our development will be sound and in the right direction.
– Helen Tillman Zednick, 1926

Helen Tillman Zednick grew up in Seattle in the 1880s and graduated from the University of Washington in 1911 in journalism.  She was a member of the first University of Washington women’s rowing crew, which distinguished itself by become national champions.
Helen Tillman married Victor Zednick in 1914 and the couple settled on Queen Anne Hill.  In the next two decades the Zednicks were prominent in both Queen Anne and the region for their leadership in public affairs.  Victor’s ambitions are well known, for they took him into politics first as a member of the State Legislature and eventually as Lt. Governor.  Helen’s work was more focused on Queen Anne and Seattle activities and community service.
Soon after setting on the hill she founded the Aspasia Club, West Queen Anne Parent-Teachers Association, as well as the Century Club, a city-wide organization in which she served as leader, undertook many valuable community service projects in the 1910s and 1920s.
Helen Zednick’s management abilities were soon recognized by Seattle’s Mayor Bertha Knight Landes, who appointed her to various municipal committees.
Helen Tillman Zednick’s work supported her belief that good homes are the backbone of a good America.  In 1924 Herbert Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce, appointed her Director of the Better Homes in America Committee for the Northwest.  The Better Homes movement was a nation-wide federal program established to improve the standard of living in the American home.  In her role guiding the federal project in Seattle, Zednick stressed the importance of aesthetics and beauty in the home environment to nurturing spiritual values and a peacefulness in family life.
Courtesy Helen Zednick Mercier

The Circus
by Ted Delius
When the circus came to town from the early 1900s until 1927 its tents were raised on the vacant land south of Mercer Street from approximately Fourth Avenue N. to about the Nob Hill area.

Circus grounds, Republican and Nob Hill, ca. 1915. Now (1980s) site of High School Memorial Stadium

Courtesy University of Washington Hamilton collection
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey paraded the circus animals up Warren Ave., much to the pleasure of pupils at Warren Avenue Elementary.  Many boys from Warren Avenue School and Mercer School earned tickets of admission by doing such chores as carrying water for the elephants and spreading straw and sawdust on the grounds.  There was a large performing tent and a sideshow tent where the kids were not allowed.
A favorite for some children was a sort of wild west show with Indians in full regalia, complete with feathered headdresses, riding ponies, shouting and shooting blanks.  When the circus folded its tents and left town the grounds were searched for coins that, hopefully, had been dropped.  One little girl was sure that one day she would find a diamond ring somewhere in the trampled straw.
Queen Anne community on the Hill

Building Homesteads and Families – The 1860s

Chapter Five:  Building Homesteads and Families — The 1860s
by Kay F. Reinartz, PhD; copied from Queen Anne:  Community on the Hill

Published 1993 by Queen Anne Historical Society, edited by Kay Reinartz

[We] were obliged to do whatever {we} could to obtain a livelihood; [we] were neither ashamed nor afraid of honest work and enjoyed the reward of a good conscience and vigorous health.  Life held many pleasures and much freedom from modern frets besides. … We were happy then, in our log cabin homes.
                                                                         Louisa Boren Denny
                                                                          circa 1876

On November 9, 1860, Territorial Governor Henry M. McGill proclaimed November 29th “as the day of Thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God.”  In the district north of Seattle, neighbors congregated at Dr. Smith’s, whose house was the largest, and as the rain fell outside they sat down to their first Thanksgiving Day celebration.  There was much to be thankful for.  Most of the pioneers had been on the hill or around the cove for at least five years and some nearly ten.  No one had died in the conflict with the Native Americans.  Houses, barns, and fences had been rebuilt.  The crops, gardens, herds, and orchards were growing, there had been marriages, and children had been born.  Everyone was healthy and they were prospering.  In spite of the hardships, they still believed in the future of the Northwest and most particularly Seattle.

“A Visit from Our Tillicum,” by Inez Denny, depicts the Denny family’s house in the swale, later the site of the Seattle Opera House.  Inez shows the sisters visiting with Indian friends through the open half-door locally called a “Seattle door.”  Courtesy Museum of History and Industry

After the native uprising the rapid growth that had characterized Seattle from 1853 ended, and for several years no one started new business enterprises.  Dillis Ward reported that when he arrived in Seattle in August 1859 there were no real streets, just a rough road that followed the shoreline with trails leading away from the water’s edge up to the homesteads and businesses.  There were no more than six houses in the settlement proper north of Mill Street (Yesler Way), with David and Louisa Denny’s little cottage being the northernmost house.
Along Commercial Street, between Mill and Jackson streets, stood four dry goods and general merchandise stores.  The post office operated out of Plummer’s Mercantile.  In addition, there were two restaurants, three saloons, two small lodging houses, a tin shop, and a stove shop.   Nearby was a blacksmith shop and tannery, as well as the Methodist Episcopal Church and the school house.
Although three wharves had been built, only Yesler’s was maintained, and it received nearly all of the business from ships picking up logs and pilings and dropping off supplies and merchandise.  Yesler’s sawmill, the only industry, provided five full-time jobs.  A good deal of the money in circulation in Seattle was brought in by the loggers and lumbermen from the thriving milling centers of Port Orchard, Port Madison, and other places along the west side of Puget Sound.
Elliott Bay was no longer regularly visited by coastal sailing ships looking for lumber cargoes, and the flow of settlers slowed to a trickle.  Gold reversed this trend.  From 1855 to 1865 the discovery of gold in various locations throughout the Northwest created a series of little “gold rushes.”  Men weary of the monotonous round of cutting, clearing and burning slash dropped everything to join the excitement at Colville, Rock Creek, Stehekin, Lillooet, Wenatchee, Florence, Boise, and the Fraser and Thompson rivers, where streams yielded enough placer gold to bring in thousands of prospectors overnight.
It was the big Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858 that brought energy and activity back to Seattle.  The population grew, but it was lopsided with young single men.  The 1860 census reports a population of 275 for King County and 160 for Seattle.  Clarence Bagley records that in 1861 the community had 100 men, 25 women, and 25 children.  There was a total of 23 families including several headed by a single man or woman.  There were only two marriageable-age women in the community — Kate Denny, Arthur and Mary Denny’s daughter; and Susie Mercer.

Isolation was the greatest tension source for everyone living around Puget Sound.  The telegraph line from Portland had been completed in 1855 but was destroyed by the natives that winter.  The telegraph connection to Portland, thence San Francisco and the rest of the country, was not re-established until 1866.
The handful of settlers remaining in 1856 attempted several plans to end their isolation, including cutting a road through Snoqualmie Pass and trying to organize a railroad company.  Their plans were getting support from the federal government until the national disruption of the Civil War diverted all federal funds, without which such ambitious projects could not be accomplished.  David Denny, John Ross, Thomas Mercer, and Dr. Henry Smith were at the center of all these schemes.

All roads around Seattle led to Yesler’s Mill.  After the native uprising, the local roads leading back through the hills and to the lakes were neglected and quickly became nigh impassable.  Thomas Mercer and David Denny diligently maintained the road out to their homesteads, as well as the lane that connected Mercer’s with John Nagle’s place (Eastlake area).  A trail led out from Mercer’s homestead to his daughter Eliza and Walter Graham’s place on Lake Washington.  Inez Denny describes the Eden Hill road as “being the most notable for ups and downs, stumps in the middle and numerous muddy places, but useful nevertheless.”

Thomas Mercer’s two older daughters had married in 1857.  Mary Jane, at age 18, married Henry G. Parsons and moved to Olympia.  Eliza Ann, at age 15, married Walter Graham and they homesteaded on Lake Washington.
While on a trip to Salem to purchase livestock in the summer of 1859, Thomas Mercer met Hester L. Ward, 28, and after a whirlwind courtship the couple married and returned to Seattle, bringing Hetty’s younger half-brother Dillis B. Ward with them.  After living a year in Seattle, Hetty and Tom moved permanently back onto Mercer’s homestead on the hill.

The Mercer Family
Hester Loretta Ward was a very unusual woman, who was known for her ability to learn and adapt quickly, good judgment, and an all-prevailing courage and calmness in a crisis.  Possessing enormous reserves of energy and stamina, she always did more work than most and yet had energy left for fun.
Born in 1826 on the Kentucky frontier, she became a highly skilled frontier woman at a young age.  She lost her mother when she was an infant and at age 13, upon the death of her stepmother, she assumed the role of “woman of the family” by caring for four younger children born of her father Jesse Ward’s various marriages.  This role included caring for newborn infant Dillis Ward, Hester’s half-brother.
In spite of the exceptionally heavy adult responsibilities placed on her as a young girl, she completed grammar school.  Hester Ward was also a textile artist.  She learned to weave while still a girl and often processed raw cotton or wool into fine threads and yarns, which she then wove into fabric.  Over the years she originated many complex patterns which were expressed in useful textiles, particularly coverlets, tablecloths, and clothing.
Inez Denny, who as a child often visited her and became her friend in adulthood, observes regarding Hester’s character:  “A more generous, frank and warmhearted nature was hard to find, the demands made upon it were many and such as to exhaust a shallow one.”  Hester Ward died in 1903 and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery by the side of Thomas Mercer.
On May 23, 1861, Susannah, age 18, married David Graham, the younger brother of her sister Eliza Anne’s husband, Walter Graham.  The wedding was held at the Mercer homestead with Rev. Daniel Bagley officiating.  Susie was dressed in a simple dress of white lawn made by a local seamstress, while David wore his old black suit, long in the bottom of his emigrant trunk.
That evening Susie and David were shivareed by a group of men who went out to the Mercers’, where the newlyweds were staying.  The gang stood around the outside of the house and pounded on tin cans, washtubs and anything else they found lying around to make a racket.  They also sang nonsense songs to the newlyweds and then called for whiskey.  Graham, like Thomas Mercer, was a temperance man but he finally went out and told the crowd to go down to the saloon to get what they wanted to drink.  When he went down to the village the next morning, he found the men were still celebrating at the saloon.  He ended their party by paying the bill.
After the marriage David Graham returned to surveying work, which took him out of the village most of the time.  Susie lived with Rev. and Mrs. Bagley and attended the nearby Territorial University.
David Graham’s pioneer dream included farming in the Duwamish Valley, and he and Susie moved to a homestead in what became the Duwamish-Allentown district of Tukwila.  Homesteading so far from Seattle was not totally to the sociable Susie Mercer’s liking.  She often went into Seattle to visit her family and friends via a native “canoe taxi” which she would catch by going down to the riverbank and calling, “Mi-Ka Ticky Klat-a-wa Kopa Seattle” (I need a ride to Seattle).  Any native who wanted a job would answer her call and come by with his canoe and a clean cattail mat for her to sit on.  For 50 cents, he would paddle her to the cove where she would walk around the hill to the homestead.  It took almost an entire day to get to Eden Hill from the Duwamish homestead.
In 1862, Eliza Ann died, leaving William, four, and George, two, to be raised by Walter Graham.  Grief-stricken, Thomas Mercer’s heart went out to his son-in-law, who like himself had to face the task of raising his children alone.
In 1862, Tom’s brother Asa Shinn Mercer came to live with the family.  Twenty-two-year-old Asa would gain much notice in a handful of years in Seattle for his promotion schemes, including easing the shortage of marriageable women by arranging for two small parties of New England school-teachers to come to Seattle to seek their fortunes.  Asa Mercer married one of the teachers himself and they left the region a few years later.

Natural wonders of the Northwest amazed and frightened the settlers in the 1860s.  On April 2, 1859, they experienced their first serious earthquake.  Inez Denny describes her family’s experience:
Not a breath of wind was stirring, the stars were shining and reflected in the depths of the water, no storm was there, but the people saw the tree tops waving, like plumes of warriors swiftly riding and heard a sound like a cannonading, as thousands of trees feel crashing to the earth.  The house … rocked like a boat, [and they] held on to the door frames and looked out — soon it passed by — and it really was quite an earthquake!
It is recorded that the earthquake lasted 90 seconds and seemed to move from the north to the south.  While no damage was done, it had a sobering effect on the pioneers, few of whom had come from areas that had seismic activity on the scale of the Northwest.
Also troublesome to many of the settlers who had come from New England or Midwest states was the Puget Sound weather.  The mildness everyone seemed to agree was most desirable, but the periods of continuous rain were wearying to say the least, particularly in the dark winter months.
The weather was normally gentle, lacking extremes.  However, there were dramatic departures from this pleasant norm.  The winter of 1861 was one to remember.  What began in early December as a mild winter changed radically just before the Christmas holidays when snow began falling and continued falling for a week.  When it stopped snowing the mercury dropped to four below zero, where it stayed for days.  Tom Mercer and Louisa and David Denny lost fruit trees, but Dr. Smith’s sheltered orchard in the cove was undamaged.  Many homesteaders around King County lost livestock.  There was snow on the ground until April, and the pioneers always called this season the Big Winter.

The winter of 1861 Lake Union was frozen solid one-half foot for four months.  The little lake tucked away in the deep woods suddenly became a community social meeting place as settlers originating from New England and other cold parts of the country turned out in full force to ice-skate.  Some people miraculously produced ice skates from the bottom of trunks.  Others ingeniously invented ice skates from things they had around their place.
The Seattle village dwellers made the two-mile trek to the lake walking up Front Street, around the east side of Denny Hill and along Military Road, scrambling over deep frozen ruts, logs, and skids until they veered off Military Road onto a path leading to the lakeshore.  One person estimated that over half the population of the Seattle area joined in on the skating fun that winter.

In the mid-1860s the area was hit by a cyclone.  Inez Denny describes the storm as the Dennys experienced it in their house on the swale:
It began in the evening with a sky of living hues, puffs of wind increasing every hour until one hurtling stream tore at the forest as with giant hands, uprooting great trees, twisting others off as though wisps of straw, lifting sheets of spray from the frothing waves; . . .  Large stones were taken up from the high bank on the bay and piled on the roofs along with limbs broken from tough fir trees.  Thousands of giant trees fell crashing and groaning on the ground, like a continuous cannonade; the noise was terrific and we feared for our lives.
[Down along the beach] the Indian camps caught fire and long streams of flame flowed horizontally into the thick darkness beyond.
The [family] prepared to leave [the house] and go to the big barn, substantially built of heavy timbers and standing on a more protected place.
[They] put out all the fires in the house and [Louisa] wrapped the children well and all sat in one room  — with the lanterns lit, waiting for a lull.  [About midnight they] knelt and commended [themselves] to Him who rules the storm.
Fortunately, [about one o’clock] the wind died down more quickly than it came and much relieved the people retired to rest.  When morning broke some trees near the home were missed, the roads were blocked for many miles ….
The Spring of 1866 was a particularly wet one.  Early in June the rains abruptly stopped and the pioneers sweltered under temperatures reaching 114 degrees F in the shade.  In December 1867 the worst flood on record covered the region and many settlers in low-lying areas, including those living by the cove, were forced out of their homes.  Homesteads up on the hill suffered no losses.  The next year the weather reversed and little rain fell.

In 1868 the Puget Sound area experienced its most severe drought since the beginning of the settlement.  From June 1 to October 29 no rain fell.  A hot dry wind shriveled the crops in the fields and in July, forest fires began breaking out.  By September fires were roaring throughout the Northwest from 600 miles north of the United States-British Columbia border, through Washington and Oregon territories, and into California.  The drifting smoke was reported 1,000 miles west on the Pacific Ocean.  The air was so filled with the acrid smoke of resinous woods as to be almost intolerable.  There was no way to stop the fires and vast areas of forest were burned totally clear.  The onset of the autumn rains finally brought the destruction to a halt.
During this season of forest fires, the south slope of Eden Hill burned.  Inez Denny recounts how she and her sisters ran down the road to their farm with “the tall firs and cedars flaming far above their heads.”

In the autumn of 1861 Rev. Daniel Bagley moved his family from Salem, Oregon, to Seattle so that his son Clarence might attend the new Washington Territorial University, which had opened in 1860.  They traveled over the newly-completed section of Military Road running from Seattle to Portland.  Their arrival in late October brought everyone out into the dusty streets to see the first carriage to come into Seattle from “the outside” on its own wheels.  Rev. Bagley agreed to teach the Fall term at the university, with Clarence assisting him.  When his father was away Clarence took over and taught all of the classes, which were grades 1-12.  Eighteen-year-old Clarence Bagley was the envy of every young man in the area for he had a horse and buggy at his disposal for courting the young women.  The drives were short since there were only two roads — the north route to Tom Mercer’s place, and the south route over the ridge of Beacon Hill down to Lake Washington.
Rev. Bagley was disappointed with the university as a place for Clarence to complete his higher education.  The Bagley family went back East in 1862 and Clarence entered Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania, Dr. Smith’s alma mater.  Before he left Puget Sound, Clarence Bagley had renewed his friendship with the Mercers and over the next four years, which included several trips back to Seattle, he courted Alice Mercer.

The pioneer historian Cornelius Hanford comments on the Seattle settlement in the 1860s:
Life in the village was serious and strenuous.  The friendship of neighbors was the principal source of good cheer, dispelling gloom.  Neighbors visited each other, and those occasions were holidays for the visitors and the visited.  Evening prayer meetings, spelling schools, and singing schools were means of assembling the community, and occasionally, questions of public concern were debated at meetings of the library association, which existed without a library.
As the community grew there were regular church socials.  Chicken dinners, oyster suppers, and strawberry festivals were the most popular entertainments.  George Frye organized a dozen young men to buy and master the instruments.  The Seattle Brass Band turned out for every community event and infused the occasion with musical delights.

Without a doubt the Fourth of July celebration was the grandest event of the year for the pioneers.  Beginning in 1852, the day was observed with speeches, picnicking, and dancing on a wooden platform built just for the occasion.  The Native Americans, who attended the settlers’ party, called the event Hyas Sunday, as they did all of the settlers’ social gatherings.
The Fourth of July that the Denny girls remembered the best was held in the Methodist Protestant Church around 1864.  The Denny family was a little late in arriving and the orator had already launched into his speech.  Their commotion at the door of the church turned every head, and they beheld Inez, Madge, and Abbie marching down the aisle, each respectively dressed in red, white, and blue and proudly holding high a banner with mottos written with large letters cut out of the newspaper:  “Freedom for All,” “Slavery for None,” and “United we stand, divided we fall.”  Each motto was encircled with a bountiful wreath of fresh red, white, and blue flowers.  The girls were wildly applauded by the audience, composed mostly of young bachelors, who were by far the majority of the population.

Beginning in the 1860s there was a regular Christmas party held in Yesler’s Hall, attended by everyone in the community.  At one end of the hall was a curtain that was dramatically drawn aside at the critical moment to reveal a tall Douglas fir glowing from the light of hundreds of homemade tallow candles.  The graceful branches were festooned with strings of popcorn and local cranberries.  Henry Yesler wore a Santa suit that his wife Sarah had made for him, and handed out wonderful trinkets, many of which were not to be found in the Seattle mercantiles, but had been ordered from Victoria.
Louisa Boren Denny was asked on the fiftieth anniversary of the Denny Boren party’s arrival at Alki Point how the pioneers kept Christmas in the early years.  Louisa, 76, responded with her characteristic energetic good humor:
If you get up as good a Christmas dinner now as we could fifty years ago, I should like to help eat it.  Here is one the Indians would call hyas closh muck-a-muck:
Olympia Oysters, panned
Clam Soup
Fried Smelts
Grouse Pie
Roast Wild Goose — Giblet Sauce
Roast Haunch of Venison — Native Cranberry Sauce
Browned Potatoes — Creamed Carrots — Baked Squash
Huckleberry Pie — Cranberry Tarts — Clotted Cream
Coffee — Milk — Tea

In the 1860s two important lodges were formed, St. John’s Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons and the Order of Good Templars.  The former did not involve north district settlers to any extent, but the latter was their organization.  In the Fall of 1865 Rev. A. C. McDougall came up to the frontier settlement from California and delivered a series of lectures on temperance at Headquarters Hall, the old Snoqualmie Hall on the second floor of Plummer’s Mercantile.
McDougall’s visit inspired many to increase their commitment to temperance, David and Louisa Denny among them.  Around the Dennys’ kitchen table the Independent Order of Good Templars, Seattle Lodge No. 6, was formed.  The settlers in the district north of Seattle were at the hub of the organization, with 20 percent of the charter members being from that area.  Officers were elected, including David Denny, Lodge Chaplain; William Hammond, Secretary; John Shoudy, Financial Secretary; Louisa Boren Denny, Treasurer; John H. Nagle, Marshall; Gertrude Boren, Inside Guard; and Inez Denny, Outside Guard.  The group met regularly to discuss temperance goals and ways it could advance them in Seattle.  Thirty years later this nucleus of temperance movement advocates would be at the center of a highly visible Prohibition political party championing the Queen Anne community’s needs at City Hall.

By the late 1860s there was still only a handful of settlers in the north district and game still roamed the area, although in ever smaller numbers.  In 1854 David Denny had killed a nine-foot cougar; however, few wild cats of this size were seen by the pioneers.  However, cougars were still common through the 1860s.  Around 1867 David killed one on the north side of the hill near John Ross’s homestead.  The half-grown cat had been dining on one of Dr. Smith’s sheep.  David reported that it was the color of a deer.  In September 1869 David Denny killed a 650-pound elk in the woods northwest of Green Lake.
John Wetmore, who was homesteading along Lake Washington, was having trouble with cougar attacking his herd of sheep.  He heard that Denny’s little dog Watch was a good hunter and came over to borrow the small fierce dog.  Watch successfully treed the cougar and remained below the tree all night.  However, the cat finally escaped only to be later captured with a trap.

In 1867 Dr. Henry Smith wrote a series of articles called “Reminiscences” for the Seattle Star.  In the November installment he commented on his hermit neighbors Ira Utter, David Stanley, and Osmine Frost.  He observed that all three of these mean suffered from mental disorders, resulting from too much social isolation in Smith’s opinion.  Throughout the 1860s Ira Utter, who lived north of Smith Cove on Salmon Bay, diligently improved his land and bought additional nearby parcels.  By 1869 he had become the largest landowner in the district north of Seattle, owning more land than even David and Louisa Denny.  His holdings included 850 acres located on Queen Anne Hill, Denny Hill, the cove, and Salmon Bay.
Utter never married and as the years went by he rarely went to Seattle and his neighbors saw less and less of him.  Of the neighbors, John Ross knew him best, but no one seemed to really know him.  Dr. Henry Smith says of his neighbor across Salmon Bay:
Ira W. Utter, the Salmon Bay hermit … was an educated man and more than ordinarily intelligent, but for twenty years he was the only white man on the north side of Salmon Bay and solitude finally soured his mind so that he became suspicious and censorious and finally deserted the throne, and he ended his days, I believe, in an eastern asylum.
On November 28, 1870, the Weekly Intelligencer announced the somber news that Ira Utter, age 46, “had been taken into custody on account of insanity, and his neighbor John Ross was appointed by the court as his guardian.”  On the same date it is noted that Utter had walked away from the county jail, where he was being cared for until his family arrived from the east coast.  On January 9, 1871, his brothers George and Francis Utter arrived from Bridgeport, New York, and after assisting Ira in putting his affairs in order took him back home with them.  He died in 1876 at age 51 in an asylum for the mentally ill.
The fate of Osmine Frost was not unlike that of Ira Utter.  Frost lived alone proving up his claim for 32 years.  His mental health deteriorated and he was sent by his neighbors to a mental institution in Portland.  After eight years he was released and, returning to Elliott Bay, hired a boatman to paddle him around the Magnolia shoreline as he searched for his land papers.  Before leaving for Portland he had buried under a large tree an iron box containing all his documents, including his donation claim patent.  Leaping suddenly from the boat into the water which was icy cold and chest-deep on the old man, Frost scrambled ashore and ran into the woods.  Although the tree was gone, he proclaimed he had found the spot, and after ten minutes of digging, the box of papers was in his lap.  Frost was jubilant.  He lived on the cove for a few more years, but the hard life and solitude seemed to have a deteriorating effect on his mental health.  Dr. Smith observed the following about his hermit neighbor:
Solitude soured him also [comparing him to Ira Utter], and to such an extent that in order to seclude himself as much as possible from all mankind and to shield himself from assassination at the hand of the Rev. Daniel Bagley, H. L. Yesler, A. A. Denny, and D. T. Denny, and other old timers equally harmless, he dug a cave on the hillside where he passed most of his time, until his brother-in-law came last Spring [1887] from the east, at the earnest solicitation of Mr. Bowman, and induced the old man to return with him.  Verily it is not good for man to live alone.
David Stanley does not appear to have been insane so much as highly eccentric.  He often appeared at his neighbors’ doorsteps, sometimes because his cabin had been stripped bare by the natives.  Each time this happened over the years his neighbors, the Dennys, Mercers, Rosses, and Petersons, furnished the old man with food, bedding, and sympathy.  Thus did he live year after year in his shanty on the beach at the mouth of Salmon Bay until his old age compelled him to accept the hospitality of friends.  It appears that he died while living in the home of an unnamed neighbor in the north district.
Thus, young and old, the little band of stalwarts in the wilderness lived out the days of the years far from the comforts and cares of “civilization,” their attention focused close to home on the needs of the season and their neighbors around the hill.

[61] Henry A Smith Home, 2827 15th Ave W.
By the Dreaming Shores
Lake Union in 1864
by Emily Inez Denny
On a pleasant day of early Spring in 1864, a pioneer was driving his team of grays with a stout farmer’s wagon on a road through the great forest of Western Washington Territory.  …  The little party was on its way to an inland body of water some distance from their small village of tidewater …  they walked along a narrow trail through dense woods to the shore.  Here they looked out over the placid water to see a primeval forest on every hand, and absolute wilderness.  From afar came the cry of a loon and an otter slipped into the water nearby and swam noiselessly away.
Here, indeed, were the Dreaming Shores.  The past eons had woven a marvelous dress like a rich mantle it hung from the shoulders of the hills and trailed its fringes in the waters.  There was not a mark of fire or axe, no human habitations, no improvements whatsoever. …  They saw on this fair day that all the trees and shrubs by a forward spring were in full array of fresh foliage and maple, dogwood, syringa, service berry, vine of honeysuckle crowded thickly among the green mass of dark green evergreen forest of fire, spruce, hemlock and cedar.
Thick forest they saw on all the Dreaming Shores and the surrounding hills.  No taint of smoke or dust was in the air.  No clamorous sound broke harshly on the ear.  Only the gay voice of the little children, the thrushes singing in their shadowy retreats, low-lapping of little waves, soft sighing of a breeze in the tree tops.

The Primeval Forest Burns
by Dr. Henry A. Smith (1830-1915)
As soon as the fire worked its way to the massive windrows of dry brush, piled in making roads in every direction, a circular wall of solid flame rose half way to the tops of the tall trees.  Soon the rising of the heated air caused strong currents of cooler air to set in from every side.  The air currents soon increased to cyclones.  Then began a race of the towering, billowy, surging walls of fire for the center.
Driven furiously on by those ever-increasing, eddying, and fiercely contending tornadoes the flames lolled and rolled and swayed and leaped, rising higher and higher, until one vast, circular tidal wave of liquid fire rolled in and met at the center with the whirl and roar of pandemoniac thunder and shot up in a spiral and rapidly revolving red-hot cone, a thousand feet in mid-air, out whose flaring and crater-like apex poured dense volumes of tarry smoke, spreading out on every side, like unfolding curtains of night, till the sun was darkened and the moon turned to blood and the stars seemed literally raining from heaven, as glowing firebrands that had been carried up by the fierce tornado of swirling flame and carried to immense distances by upper air currents, feel back in showers to the ground.
The vast tract, but a few moments before as quiet as a sleeping infant in its cradle. was now one vast arena of seething, roaring, raging flame.  The long, lithe limbs of the tall cedars were tossing wildly about, while the strong limbs of the sturdier firs and hemlocks were freely gyrating like the sinewy arms of might giant athletes engaged in mortal combat.  Ever and anon their lower, pitch-dripping branches would ignite from the fervent heat below, when the flames would rush to the very tops with the roar of contending thunders and shoot upward in bright silvery volumes from five to seven hundred feet, or double the height of the trees themselves.
Hundreds of these fire-volumes flaring and flaming in quick succession and sometimes many of them simultaneously, in conjunction with the weird eclipse-like darkness that veiled the heavens, rendered the scene one of awful grandeur never to be forgotten.