The lands of Fundy National Park were once home to many families, those names are still part of the park, trails in the park are a reminder of those families, Dixon Falls, Foster Brook, Matthews Head. Some of these families still live in Alma and the surrounding communities.
This section of our site will grow as we collect more information on these families. Foster Brook is the old homestead of the Foster family, here we present you with our first family account with a journal written by Hiram Gilbert Foster.
The Fosters of Alma, N.B.
A Journal Written By Hiram Gilbert Foster
Alma is a beautiful little village located at the mouth of the Salmon River which enters into the bay of fundy, about sixty miles east of the city of St. John. The village is surrounded on three sides by hills rising in steps to an elevation of about a thousand feet and on the south it faces the bay, semi-circular in shape. On the southeast the hills end abruptly, forming a high promintory known as Joel’s head, and on the southwest and extending further out in the bay, a another high promentory known as Owl’s head, protects the harbor from the swift running tides and southwest gales. Here the tide rises to a height of thirty-six feet, floating vessels into the harbor, and at low tide the flats are left bare for a mile or more. On the outer bar, a long breakwater had been built to protect the harbor from the winter seas lashing the shore. The vessels sailing around the end of the breakwater were in no danger of being blown ashore.
On the village side of the harbor,long wharves had been built on which lumber could be stacked, awaiting shipment. Above the wharf a drawbridge spanned the harbor,and above the bridge were several other wharves. Near the harbor entrance, also on the village side, the shipyard was located, where ships and schooners were built and launched into the smooth water of the harbor. A road coming down into the hills, both from the east and west, passed through the village and was lined with white painted houses on both sides with lanes branching off in different directions. They lead to other houses which were scattered throughout the village. There were three general stores that supplied the needs of the people in Alma, a school, and two churches with their own cemetery.There was no drugstore, bakery or meat market. What few drugs were necessary, were sold in the general stores and all the village wives did their own baking.The butcher cart made weekly visits, where meat could be bought. All kinds of fish and lobster could be purchased for a very small amount from the local fisherman who had a fish weir, or fished from dorys out in the bay. A large lobster could be bought for fifteen cents, right from a boiling pot on the beach.Chase-Talbot of New York, had acquired large timber holdings and had built a sawmill on the river, about a mile from the village. A high dam had been built, forming a deep pond which water furnished ample power for a large mill. Three piers above the dam kept the logs from running over the dam in the spring, during the high water. The mill was built below the dam and a huge waterwheel supplied the power for all the machinery on the first floor, which operated the gang saws, planing mill, lathe mill and edger on the upper floor. An endless chain hauled all slabs and refuse from the mill to a fire on a rocky bed below the dam on the other side of the river. Logs were cut during the winter months and stacked in brows along the river. In the spring, when the ice was out of the river and pond, the brows were broken and the logs driven down the river into the mill pond, where they were sawed into lumber and hauled over the plank road to the wharves. There were then piled and readied for shipment to ports along the coast, both in Canada and the United States.In larger ships, they were sent to England and other British possessions. The larger ships anchored off in the bay and lumber was litered out in schooners. During the summer months, about eighteen million feet would be cut and shipped. A three masted barque or schooner could sail into the harbor, and when the tide was out, would rest on the bottom with a slight lean against the wharf. Alma was the home of many captains who owned their own vessels and made their living from the sea, carrying lumber along the coast and some across the Atlantic. One of these captains, was father, who had owned and sailed three different vessels. The first was the “Palmerston” which was lost on Squirrel Island in a snow storm. The crew, together with a passenger, managed to reach shore and found shelter in a house on the island. I had a telegram which father sent to the brokers, advising them of the loss of his vessel, Walter has it now. The next vessel was the “Laura” which sank outside of St. John in a storm. He then purchased a faster schooner, the “Jessie”, said to be the fastest vessel on the bay. It was on that ship where my father was to meet his fate. During the winter of 1888 the schooner was being new-topped, that results from the timbers above the water-line deteriorating and have to be replaced. After this work had been completed, she was moved to the breakwater where the spars were to be re-stepped. Timbers and block and tackle had been set up on the breakwater, high above the deck so that the spars could be lifted into place. To do this, the windlass was used for power and a rope from the blocks had to be wound around the windlass. It is turned by hand and the pawls fit into notched slots, making the windlass revolve, slowly lifting the mast high enough in order that it be lifted into place. Father was holding the end of the ropeas the mast was being lifted, when the pawls, which were worn, suddenly slipped and the weight of the mast turned the windlass so rapidly that he was drawn under and around the windlass. He died the following day from his injuries. Walter and I were on the breakwater and witnessed the accident, and during my entire life I have never been able to erase this from my memory. I was only seven at the time. Mother was left alone to raise four young children and another to be born three months later. This was a terrible blow to our family, the vessel had to be sold to pay the costs of the re-topping and there was no employment in the village for women. The only way to keep the family together, was to take in roomers and boarders. The local doctor was single, as was the minister and the primary teacher, so they came to live with us together with mothers brother, who was also single. Our home was a two story frame house with an ell on the left side in which was the summer kitchen and the woodshed on the end separated by a partition. The front door entered into a long hall which was used as a sitting room. A stairway on the right led to the bedrooms on the second story of which there were four. At the foot of the stairway, a door entered into the parlor which was carpeted from wall to wall, and had to be taken up every summer and hung on the clothes line and beaten until it was dustless. The room was furnished in hand carved rosewood, upholstered in black mohair. A large wood stove provided heat during the winter months. The front bedroom was furnished in some oriental wood inset with ebony, and the dresser and commode were marble topped.The kitchen was back of the hallway and the pantry and dining room off the kitchen. There was running water in the kitchen, but no bathroom. Bath’s were taken in the kitchen in winter and in the bedrooms in summer. The water had to be heated in a large boiler on the kitchen stove. At the time, there were no bathrooms in any house in the village and if the water pipe froze in winter, then water had to be hauled on a sled from a spring. At different times, we boys all had typhoid from using this well water in the spring, and we would have to spend a month in bed without anything to eat, to starve out the fever, as it was the only treatment. Every fall the house had to be banked with sawdust, and the storm doors and windows put in place. Snow drifted so deep that at times it was as high as the upstairs windows. The out-house was at the back near the barn and a path had to be kept open all winter. The doctor and the minister each kept a horse and they were stabled in the barn. The price of room and board was $3.00 per week, and this included barn rental. The first minister to o live with us was a Methodist whose name was A.D. McLeod. He was tall and dark and he took over the parlor for his study, to the exclusion of the family. Another was the Baptist minister, tall with a long mustache and was very absent minded. The next was again a Methodist, who was English and was rarely seen only at meal time. He played the violin and only once, as he was afraid of disturbing the household. The doctor was named Melvin, tall and dark and a perfect gentleman. He later married the music teacher whose name was Mervin. They built their own home in the village but later moved to St. John. His daughter has been a teacher at Mills College in California for many years. There are only a few incidents in which I remember my father, as he was at sea the greater part of the time. Once when the vessel had lightered out a cargo of lumber to a ship anchored out in the bay, he took me with him to stay overnight aboard the vessel. The next day the sailors from the ship were unloading lumber from the schooner into the ship and I was playing on the after deck. One of the men would speak to me as he passed and seemed friendly. The first mate of the ship standing nearby on the deck load of lumber, thought the sailor wasn’t working hard enough and struck him in the face with his fist. Blood spurted all over the clean lumber, and then was taken aboard the ship and placed in the brigg. This seemed very cruel to me and I have never forgotten it. Another time father had arrived from Boston one Sunday, and after the vessel was tied up at the wharf we were allowed to go down and go aboard. I can remember of seeing him sitting in the cabin talking to another man. Another time I remember him, was one cold bitter day he had taken Walter and I out with him all bundled in our heavy coats. He went into the carpenter shop at the back of uncle Than’s store, and there were two other boys of our size without any overcoats and were shivering from the cold. Father took off our coats and put them in the other boys and took them home, while we waited until he came back. The other boys were members of a large family and their father was the cook on fathers vessel. One time I was sent to the pasture to get the cow and it seemed a long way to go for a small boy, and instead I played in the school grounds. Father and Walter came looking for me and I hid in the boys out house back of the school, and peeking out a crack in the door. I could see father and Walter looking at the pasture beyond, and I could also see that father had a switch in his hand, so I kept very quiet until they had gone. When I got home he still had the switch and he used Grandfather Elliott came to Alma from Nova Scotia about 1843 and purchased 3400 acres of land from grandfather Foster. History records that five Elliotts arrived in Halifax from Massachusetts in 1763, and grandfather was a descendant of one of the five. The land he purchased was on the west side of the river about two miles from the village, and extended back in the hills for several miles, it was covered mostly by timber. He built a house with lumber sawed by hand, and the roof and sides were of what would now be called shakes. When the house was completed, he planted a garden. It was his intention to establish a home for the girl he was to marry, and that is why he had come. Now that he had made a home he went to Moncton, fifty three miles to the north, them crossed the river at the bend, and walked down the shores of Nova Scotia to Truro where his bride to be lived. They married in Truro and then started the long journey back to Alma and the home he had built to raise a family. Grandmother’s maiden name was Simpson and her mother was the daughter of one the Fawcett’s who manufactured the Fawcett stoves, so well known in Canada. On each side of the road passing the house grandfather had planted two rows of English willow trees, they were tall and straight and towered high above the house. On each side oh the path leading to the front door, there was a lilac bush and an orchard had later been planted to grow the fruit they would need. A cold spring back of the house flowed nearby and a milkhose had been built over the stream where perishable food was kept in earthen pots and kept cool during the hot summer days. The front door entered into a small hall and a door to the left entered into the large living room with a huge stone fireplace, which was never without a fire during the cold winter months. Another door in the hall entered into the parlor which was never used in winter and seldom in summer, unless one of the girls was entertaining a bow. Back of the parlor was the spare bedroom with it’s high feather bed. A door in the living room wall opened to a stairway which led to the upstairs bedrooms. The dining room was in back of the living room and off that room was grandmother’s bedroom. Another door in the back of the living room and two steps up, entered into the summer kitchen where all work was performed in the summer. There were cattle and sheep, chickens and geese, and a large garden that supplied what food they required, and most of their clothing came from the sheeps wool, which was washed and carded on a carding machine. It was then spun into yarn on the spinning wheel, and later woven into cloth on the loom. As a small boy, I can remember seeing all these machines being used. The floors were covered with hand woven rugs, all the quilts and blankets were made by hand. A picture of mother when she was eighteen, shows a good example of the kind of home made dresses they made. There were two sons and four daughters in the family. The oldest daughter married and died and left a daughter which grandmother adopted, and she lived with them until she married years later. All the girls married with the exception of Rebecca, she spent her entire life serving the family. Money, she did not need, she worked long hours and never seemed to tire. Grandmother died in 1902 and Rebecca stayed on and kept the house and cared for the neice whom they had adopted, and when the neice married and had a family, she cared for her children too. All harvesting of grain on the farm was done by hand labor, for there was no farm machinery, except a wagon to haul the grain after it had been mowed by hand. The grain was threshed by hand with a flail, this was made by two hardwood sticks held together with a leather strap. It was raised over the head and brought down on the grain with all the force possible, to separate the grain from the stocks. The vegetables were stored together with the fruit in a root cellar built underground. Grandfather had built a sawmill below the house over a brook, and a flume had been built which was filled with water from the brook.This water furnished power to run the mill. A single gang saw cut the logs into deals and when the flume was empty the gang would be shut down for the flume to fill again before another cut was made. The logs were cut in winter and hauled to the mill and then were sawed in the summer. They were then brought to the wharf in the village, to be shipped in schooners. It was a slow process, but the sale of lumber supplied money to purchase the things they could not raise or make themselves. When father died, my oldest brother Clarke, was in partnership with another man in another town where ships were built. Laura, our sister, had kept house for him and when a small boy, I had lived with them one winter. About all I can remember was a fireplace in which coal was burned, and in the summer when a ship was launched, Clarke would take me aboard as she slid down the ways into the water. The next year he decided to sell his interest in the business and move to the Pacific coast. Laura married Alvin Bray and they lived at Hopewell Cape , some twenty miles north. Clara, another sister, was attending normal school and when she had her certificate to teach, would end up teaching the primary grades in Alma. She lived at home. I remember on my fith birthday, Walter decided we should go over to grandmother’s house for a way of celebrating it. We left home without telling mother and headed down the road to the bridge and up the hill to the other side and on by the lake. We walked the final two miles to grandmother’s and arrived just in time for supper, which was always at noon. Grandmother had made thick molasses cookies which we liked at any time of day, and when grandfather was through working in the afternoon, he harnessed one of the horses and drove us home. Mother never punished us, but whenever we did any thing of which she did not approve, she would talk to us and convince us of our error. The memory that I have of my grandfather, is that he was the kindest man I ever knew. What ever went wrong, he would never get angry or lose his temper. On Sundays he would dress in his Prince- Albert, and walk over to the church in the village, for Sunday was the day of restfor the horse too. My birthday is on August 30th, and on September 1st when school opened I was sent off to school. The teacher was Miss Bishop, who loved all children, and especially a little white haired boy, such as I was then. The school house was across the road from our house and on top of a small hill. It was a white two story building, with an entrance on each side which entered into a large hallway. There were rows of hooks to hang our coats and caps, and a wide stairway with a bend half way up that led to the upper room. In both rooms there were about six rows of desks with a space in front between the platform on which stood the teacher’s desk. On the back wall, a wide blackboard reached from side to side, and a large wood stove with the pipe nearly reaching to the ceiling, and then running horizontally to the chimney.
The grounds were enclosed with a white fence, with a double gate at the foot of the hill, and another on the right side near the back. On arbor day during pasts years, maple trees had been planted inside the fence on both sides and in front. Some of these trees were now quite large. The woodshed was behaind the school building and two out houses were on each corner at the back.
I remember of being called up to the teacher’s desk the first day to begin learning my ABC’s, as was then the custom in those days. At the end of the first lesson I was given some peanut candy and sent back to my seat. Each pupil was given a slate and pencil and all problems small and large were worked out on the slate, and that was subject to inspection at any time.
The first year passed quickly and we all loved the teacher, who rarely ever had to punish any pupil, and the next year when we were to have a new teacher, we looked forward to another term like before.The new teacher’s name was Miss Gallagher and her philosophy was “ spare the rod and spoil the child” and to enforce this she used a long flat wide ruler. When she decided any pupil needed to be punished, the pupil was called up to her desk, and she wasn’t any too gentle with that ruler. We never did love that teacher.
The school was a grammer school, and Mr. Colpitts had been teaching the advanced grades for many years. He had been offered jobs at bigger and better schools but had always chosen to remain in Alma. He lived way ahead of his time, and many of things he talked of would come to pass. He lived to enjoy those and many more that we enjoy today came into general use after he died. Whenever a pupil wished to further pursue his studies he would have him come to his home in the evening and would give him further instruction, without any obligation. His ambition in life was to help both boys and girls to get the best education it was possible for him to give. There were no written exams, they were all verbal. Classes were assembled on a long bench on the side of the room, and whatever the subject, each pupil would have to answer verbally any that he might ask. If in his estimation the pupil did not have the sufficient knowledge of the subject discussed, that pupil would have to study further. The school compared favorably with the high schools of today, but without facilities such as the schools have today.
The building of a vessel in those days was much more complicated than in later years. The woods were searched for timbers for the keel. They were then cut and hauled to the shipyard and hewn with a broadaxe as sharp as a razor. When the keel was in place, the knees had to be found. They were squared and hewn by hand and the timbers for the frame had to be given the same treatment. Trunnels were made by turning a machine by hand, and thousands or hardwood tunnels had to be made before the job of setting up the frame was begun. Holes bored with long augers had to be bored through every timber. When the frame was finally completed and braced, planking was hewn and steamed in the steambox. They were then bent to the proper angle and bored and trunneled to every rib. When the planks were all in place, the seams were calked with oakum by expert calkers and then filled with hot pitch until they were water tight. The deck planks were treated in the same way. The deck house and galley were then built to accomodate the crew. It was a long and very slow process and it took many months to complete. Finally, the whole vessel had to be painted and taken to another town to be rigged with spars and sails before she was ready for sea.
The last ship built that I remember, was the barque “Cerdic”. It was being built for Captain Martin, a great friend of father’s. After the frame had been completed, a staging had been set up around the entire ship at different levels. Captain Martin was walking along the staging around the top and was warned not to go around the bow.Ignoring the warning, as he did so the staging gave way and he fell to his death below. After this accident the work was discontinued for a time, but the ship was finally completed and launched. Captain Dowling was to sail the ship on her maiden voyage. Several years later, while I was on the Pacific Coast, a vessel came into port and I noted the the captain’s name was Dowling. I went aboard and asked him if he was the same Dowling that had taken the “Cerdic” on her first trip and he said he was. He did not remember me as I was too small a boy at the time, but he did enjoy meeting me and talking about Alma. The same vessel taking a cargo of lime across the Atlantic, was later lost when the cargo became water soaked and burned.
Around 1890, a private company were extending the railroad from Albert, sixteen miles north, to Alma, and it was to be called the Albert Southern Railway. Our neighbor would not allow the railroad to cross his property until he had recieved payment, and he stood on his land with a shot gun. He recieved his payment but my mother was not as fortunate, as it was not her nature to demand anything. The depot and freight shed were built on our property without payment and mother never did recieve any money for it. The revenue from the freight that the railroad hauled was not sufficient to even pay the train crew. So, after about two years, the road was abandoned. A locomotive was one the greatest sights I could ever imagine, and for the priviledge of riding in the cab, I would polish the boiler with waste and coal oil, whenever I had the opportunity. Wood was used for fuel, and one day a live spark dropped inside my collar. This discouraged me from any further polishing.
After the railroad was discontinued, I could always be found, in my spare time, in one of the blacksmith shops blowing the bellows, while the blacksmith would be heating the iron in preparation for making a horse shoe. As he hammered the red hot iron on the anvil, the sparks would fly in all directions, and I was always sure to be far enough away so the sparks couldn’t reach me. There were two blacksmith shops in the village, each owned by two brothers. The one by the corner near the bridge was always my favorite. There were two shoes shops where shoes and boots were made and ours would cost two dollars a pair. Machine made shoes were only worn when the hand made one could not be had, and they were soft and smooth and fitted perfectly. The cobbler also made harness and straps of all kinds. One cobbler was Scotish and a strict Presbyterian and I remember a friend of mine and I went to him to have our baseballs covered. The other boy was also a strict presbyterian and I a Methodist. The cobbler covered the ball for my friend and sewed it all around, and for me he gave me the leather to do the job myself. He charged me the same amount as my friend. I never went to that cobbler again. There was another cobbler who only had one leg and used a crutch. He also served as the barber and undertaker. This cobbler sat on a bench with little compartments on top of the bench for shoe pegs of all sizes, both wood and metal. He used a ball of wax to run the tread over, before sewing the seams and in front, was a tub half filled with dirty water in which the leather was soaked before it was nailed on the soles of the shoes.
Whenever a schooner came around the head, heading for the harbor, there was always speculation as to what schooner it was. Almost every one had a distinguishing mark and if it was a home port schooner, it was never difficult to name the vessel. Ships which anchored in the cove were usually English clippers and were always nicely painted and trim looking. If we could borrow a boat from a schooner, we could always roow out to the ship and gop aboared. The crews were either cockney or the ships from Africa would always have negro crews.
On a fine summers day, ships and schooners going up and down the bay under full sail; was a beautiful sight, especially when there was a head wind and they would tack back and forth from shore to shore across the bay. The bay was alive with the movement of vessels of all kinds and life in the village was dependant in some manner with life on the bay. In the fall schooners loaded with apples from Nova Scotia, would sail into the harbor. The people from the village would go aboard and select the kind of apples they would buy. The price would be one and two dollars per barrel according to the variety. Our family would get our supply of apples from grandfather’s orchard, while they might not be as good as the Anappolis Valley allpes, they didn’t cost us anything and that meant much.
I remember my first job in Alma, our neighbors were for Vancouver,BC, where the family might have a better opportunity in life. One of their sons had been the janitor of the school and it was arranged that I should take over the job. I was now around ten years of age and had been assigned to the higher grades. My salary was to be six dollars a year and it was the first money I had ever earned. My duties were to sweep and dust both rooms, build the fires in the morning , early enough to have the room fairly warm by the time school opened and to bring in the fire wood during the day. A sprinkling can filled with water was used to wet the floors to keep down the dust and then it would be so thick the air would be filled and visability would be very poor. As long as I attended school I did the janitor work and I turned the money over to mother to help her support the family.
Whenever there was a death in the village, the carpenters would donate their services in making the coffin if the family had any difficulty in paying the two dollar fee. The coffin was made of pine boards and covered with black cloth. It was fitted with pewter handles and a pewter plate on top. They were all the same regardless if they were poor or not. During the making of the coffin, the whole life of the deceased would be talked over and all his or her good or bad deeds would be brought to light and thoroughly discussed, but not in a disparaging way.When the day arrived for burial, the whole village went to the church and the sermon was preached and followed by burial in either cemetary.
The old Baptist Church stood on a hill at the end of the village, overlooking Alma and the bay. Joel Foster had been instrumental in it’s building and it was built with large timbers and the roof and walls covered with boards cut like shakes. The pews were straight backed and had a door at the end.The pulpit stood on a platform in front and the choir loft at the back, with each row higher than the one in front. The first minister I remember was Rev. Moore, a gifted speaker and had occupied the pulpit for many years. Grandfather Foster led the choir without any organ and their harmonized voices singing the old hymns would fill the old church to the rafters.The Methodist Church was in the center of the village and that’s where all the Christmas entertainment was held. There was always a tall tree strung with popcorn and lit with candles. Each boy and girl recieved a muslin bag filled with candy. I recall one Christmas, a little girl and I were in a tableau as “Tom Thumb and his wife”, and all the women had made her a long white dress and I wore a cutaway coat with long trousers, carrying a high hat and cane. A tint type taken by a transient photographer is proof of this event and has been preserved all through the years. The Methodist Church did have an organ and the choir, mostly of Fosters, was directed by Myrtie Foster. She was also the organist and spent many hours teaching us to sing. The minister’s name was Page. He was married and lived in Alma. The next one was Mr. Mcleod and lived with us. He was followed by Mr. Read and the next one was John B. Gough, who was followed by his brother Ernest Gough, who turned out to be scoundrel. Years later he went to Alaska and was editor of an Alaskan newspaper. He still had not reformed.
We had plenty of amusement both summer and winter. In summer, we would swim in the creek which was filled with salt water when the tide was in and would be warmed by the hot sun. We would borrow a row boat from a schooner and row around the harbor when the tide was in, and if there happened to be a sail on the boat, one of the older boys would always know how to sail. We would fish in the brooks and in the mill pond which was stocked with small trout. One day I was walking on the boom in the mill pond and slipped and felled into the water. I was sure I was never coming up again, and my only thoughts were that I would never see my sister Clara who was coming home from Boston soon. Another boy sitting on the bank had seen me and came running down the bank and caught my hand sticking out of the water, and pulled me out. I saw the boy, now a man, last summer and he still lives in Alma, he never married. He said, “now that you’re rich, you might pay me back for saving your life”. I’m far from being rich in money, but of course he was only joking.
In winter we skated on the lake and mill pond, and coasted down the hills on sleds.We also would go sleigh riding and would hitch our sleds to a bobsled drawn by a team of horses.The team would pull us to the top of the hills and then we’d coast down right into the village over the smooth packed roads. People took great pride in their fast stepping horses, and the jingle of sleigh bells filled the air. When I was old enough to own a gun, I had a single barrel shotgun which had to be primed with powder and loaded with shot and tamped with a ramrod. A cap was then placed on the nipple under the trigger. I would go to the woods on the hills nearby to hunt for partridge, and in my first day’s shooting, I shot five of them, each time having to reload the gun.
When I was fourteen, after I’d done my work at the school, I was shoveling a path through the snow from our house to the road, my life was suddenly changed. The manager and owner of the mill and his bookkeeper came along. They called to me to take the keys and run along to the store and office. It was a large building filled with general merchandise. There were groceries, hay and feed, hardware, dry goods and men’s furnishings. From that day on I was to work every day except Sunday, from 7 am til 9 or 10pm and I did this for eight years. The wages were .50 cents a day which made for about $156.00 per year. Some years later it was increased to a dollar a day and this seemed like a lot of money to me then. It was much more to mother, as it would help support the rest of the family.
Groceries came in bulk in boxes and barrels and all had to be weighed by the ounce and poured when sold. Flour came in barrels of 196lbs. and beef and pork packed in barrels with a salt brine. Molasses came in hogshead of about five hundred gallons and was measured by the gallon. There were no electric lights, so coal oil lamps were used. Coal oil came in wooden barrels of fifty gallons each and sold by the gallon. Even soda crackers and hardtack came in barrels and was sold by the pound.Packaged goods were not to be had for years to come. The winter’s supplies of merchandise had to be shipped in schooners, and arrive in the fall before the cold weather. When the schooner arrived with the freight, I would hitch up a horse without the wagon. A block and tackle would hang from the gaff of the schooner and one end of the rope would be fastened to the wiffle tree on the harness, and when the barrel had been clamped I would start the horse and pull the barrel to the wharf, and back the horse for the next barrel. The process was slow but nothing else had yet been invented to do otherwise. There was a large basement the full lenght of the store, and the freight would be lowered into the basement for storage, in the same manner, and other merchandise to the second floor of the store. Oats were stored in the barn in a large bin, high enough off the floor to fill a sack by gravity. The store was lighted by two large brass coal oil lamps hung in the center of the building, one at each end. These had to be filled and the chimneys cleaned each day.
The bookkeeper did all the office work and the buying of merchandise and his salary wa $60. per month, and he had been with the company for years. He was a short man with a mustache and vandyke beard. He was always afraid of thunderstorms, of which there were many during the summer. When a storm approached, he would go away by himself and stay until the storm had passed. We all dreaded the storms, some were terrific, lightning came down the chimney in my aunt’s house, tore up the mats and plowed the dust out of the cracks in the floor and passed out the back door, leaving a burning odor in the house. Fortunately no one was injured. When the store owner went away, it would be my duty to drive him to the depot and meet him when he returned. There were fine horses kept for this purpose as well as work horses for hauling the cut lumber to the wharf. I used to enjoy these trips, as it gave me an opportunity to get away from the store, both in summer and winter. In the winter, there would be heavy storms and the roads drifted and the travelling would be tough, but I never had any mishaps.
After I had been working at the store for about four years, the company decided to sell the mill and all the property, as they thought the logs would not last many more years; in this they were wrong, as more than fifty years later logs were still being cut and the mill kept running at full capacity. During negotiations I went to Sussex, forty miles away, with papers they did not wish to send by mail. Sussex was the biggest town that I’d ever been to and it was there that the new company had their head office. I drove this same route last summer and wondered how I had ever driven it with a horse and a one-seated cart. I was sold with the business and when asked if my salary was satisfactory, I replied that it was. I was glad to be able to retain my job at any salary, but I know I could have secured a raise if I had only asked for it. The new manager sent his brother to run the business in Alma, and in 1950, I saw him when I passed through Sussex. He was 81 years old. Whenever the new owner came over, he rode a horse that was a thouroughbred and had been race bred. He had tall shoulders and a beautiful neck and head, with a broad forehead and wide set eyes which seemed to look far ahead. He would carry two men in a buggy, up and down hill at a steady pace, hour after hour. Once when the stableman was away, I was asked to hitch up the horse and buggy so the owner could return home. I went over to the barn and carried the bridle to the stall and when I entered, the horse grabbed the head in his teeth and swayed from side to side. I didn’t like the looks of this and asked the help of three gentlemen , if they could assist me in putting on the bridal. They refused to help, so it was left up to me to do it. When the horse went ot the right of the stall, I made a dash for his head. I got the bridal on and then backed him out to finish harnessing. I learned to like that horse as I had never liked any of the others and I never had any more trouble with him after that. He was later stifled and sold for $10.00 and was put out to pasture for the rest of his life.
The store hours were from 7 a.m. ‘til 9 or 10p.m. and after I went to work in the store, my play days were over. There was no more swimming in the creek, or skating or coasting down the hills. For a fourteen year old boy to suddenly have to quit playing, was quite a shock, but it had to be done. After the new management took over, they had the first telephone in the village installed in the office and it was a connection between Alma and the head office in Sussex. There were two glass jars containing water mixed with salamoniac, and the wires were attached to lead bars and left in the jars. Sometimes the voice at the other end was very faint, but it saved the manager many trips to the office.
People in the village were vey curious about the telephone, most people had never seen one. One man to whom the owner wished to speak with, before he went to the phone, he took off his hat and staightened his neck tie. He yelled so loud that he didn’t need a phone to be heard in the next town. When the wire was down from a storm, it would also be my duty to go out, trace it and repair it.
There were no electric lights in the village, and most people there had never seen that either, and it wasn’t until the mill had changed from water power to steam, that electric lights were in use, and then only in limited way. The store was lit by two large coal oil lamps and a few small glass ones. One merchant kept the coal oil in the barn and after a time the floor became soaked with oil. One day, he decided he would burn it off, so he lit a match and started a fire that nearly put him out of business. The men rushed to the barn and formed a bucket brigade, of which I was one, and by passing buckets of water from man to man, we were able to get it under control. It was not until then that the merchant realized what a crazy thing he had done. The man was a peculiar character, he kept a small stock of merchandise and a livery stable with one horse for hire. The horse and buggy could be rented for $2.00 a day. He spent most of his time playing dominos with anyone who might come along, man or boy. He would get into an argument with a customer and later hitch up the buggy, and drive four miles to his home to opologize. It was not that he thought he was wrong, but that he might have offended the customer and lose his business. Mother once sent me to the store with $4.00 to pay on her account. The merchant was away and his brother, who was there on a visit, took the money without giving me a receipt and kept the money. She never did get credit for it. I told the story, just as it happened, but he would not take the word of a small boy over the word of his brother.
The postmaster was another character but in a different manner. Rory McDonald was a Scotch Presbyterian and we had been close friends for years. The Postoffice was in another room on the left side of the store, and whenever anyone came for mail, they would knock on the door or wall and Rory would have to leave whatever he was doing and see if there was any mail. If there wasn’t, he would growl and grumble, the villagers were used to it and didn’t pay much attention. He finally decided he would install glass partitions, with a space for each family’s mail. When they were installed and numbered, there was something not quite right. People could see the mail in the box but they couldn’t get it out. The postmaster still had to give it to them, but it did save him some trips if there wasn’t any mail, he wasn’t called. Rory was a checker player and always kept a checkerboard under the counter, and he wasn’t particular who he played with as long as he could win. I played many games with him and was beaten many times. He had two sons and a daughter. After the sons finished school they were sent to college, and one became a doctor and the other started as a clerk in a hotel. Today, he’s about the wealthiest man in Nova Scotia and has interests in several businesses. The doctor practiced in Halifax and died about two years ago.
Rory was taking inventory one year, the boys were away at school and he was having a difficult time. I volunteered to help him after I was through with my work at the store in the evening. I did this because I always liked him and knew he was having a hard time. Sometime after, I recieved a two page letter from the owner in Sussex about the whole matter and advising me that I could find plenty to do in the store where I worked if I tried hard enough. That was the first and only letter I ever recieved in condemnation for a charitable act for which I did not ask or recieve any renumeration, and I could not understand haow any person could be so mean.
Rory was a collector of rare coins, and had several which he had shown me at different times. One day I found a rare copper coin with a date in the sixteen hundreds on one side and another date on the other side. I showed it to Rory and he was very interested in it, but I never got it back. I never could understand until many years later why he kept that coin. I have often wondered how much he sold it for.
The Province of New Brunswick was under the Scott Act and liquor could not be legally sold in the province. A man under the influence of alcohol was a very rare sight, and only when what was called “ mountain dew “ would find it’s way into the village, and I can only remember seeing two men intoxicated, and I was so scared of them that I wanted to hide until they had gone. Mother’s brother liked to have a nip occasionally, but never around the house. When his thirst was bad enough, he would take a trip to St. John for a few days. He came home from one of theses trips dressed in his cutaway and high standing collar, and he was almost sober. The water pipe had frozen and a deep hole had been dug just outside the kitchen door under the floor, and the boards had not yet been put in place. The hole was full of muddy water and it was after dark. No one had mentioned to uncle Dave that the hole was there and when he opened the kitchen door, down he went into that muddy water. He was covered from head to toe and his cutaway was a mess. I’ll never forget that night.
Another family in the neighbor hood were seventhday adventists and had prophesyed the end of the world on a certain date. When the day arrived, the whole family climbed to the top of their house to await the event. They were intelligent and prominent people but they believed this would happen as much as night would follow the day.
Doctor Melvin was the first resident doctor to come to the village. Prior to that time the village was served by Dr. Murry, who lived in Albert, sixteen miles away and when someone needed his services, they would have to ride to Albert to get him. His fee was only $3.00 a trip and if the family was poor, he wouldn’t be paid at all. When Dr. Melvin came to the village, his fee was a $1.00 a call, and he boarded at our house until he married and built his own home where his office was located. There was no hospital and operations were not performed. If the illness was appendicitis, the patient usually died. Dr. Melvin later moved to St. John and practiced there for many years. The next doctor to come to Alma was Dr. Coates, who lived at the Alma house and had his office in a small building on the grounds. After serving as doctor for three or four years, he moved to Vancouver, B.C. where he lived with his mother. He later married the school teacher who had been in Alma and who was a sister of the Prime Minister of Canada. When she visited in Vancouver, I went over and we used to have tea at Dr. Coate’s home, and from that visit they corresponded and later married. She died several years later. Another doctor that came to Alma was Dr. Fairbanks, who lived with his wife, a twin sister and their mother. He was a heavy smoker and used to come for me at any hour of the night to go to the store and get him cigarettes. A dentist would come to the village for a week and on one occasion I had eight teeth extracted. The doctor gave me chloroform while the dentist did the work. Forty years later, some of the roots were extracted.
Everyone went to church on Sunday and attended every sevice. We went to baptist Sunday in the morning and methodist in the afternoon. We also sang in the choir at all the services. The minister’s salary was $30.00 per month and if donations were sufficient, and if not, then his pay was accordingly lower. Hellfire and brimstone was then preached and death was feared by all. A student baptist minister in Alma, has been pastor of the First Baptist church in Vancouver for many years, and after attending his church, I spoke with him and told him I had grown up in Alma. He said he had spent many happy hours at Clara’s place while he was there.
After my oldest brother Clarke had gone west, he filed on a homestead in Clallam county, about five miles from Port Angeles, Wa. My sister Laura had married Alvin Bray and they later followed Clarke and also filed a homestead. It was nesessary to build a cabin on the land and to live there for six months of each year until the titled was secured. There are two photographs of two of these cabins and they tell a much better story than I could. These were pioneer days and no individual was exempt from doing any work that had to be done, such as falling large cedar trees and splitting them into shakes to cover the roof and sides of the cabin. There were wild animals and it was necessary to have a rifle within easy reach, even during the day. At night the animals could be heard howling in the woods near the cabin.
When Clarke had secured title to the homestead, he went to Skagit county and LaConner, where he engaged in the grocery and feed business, later adding dry goods and mens furnishings. He wrote home that he would like to have Walter come to La Conner and work in the store for him. Mother did not want him to go to sea and did not want him to leave home, but she finally decided to let him go west. On the day he was to leave, she got a horse and wagon and we drove him to Harvey where he was to take the train. We stayed overnight and in the morning he boarded the train for LaConner, and then we drove back home.
Walter had been working for Clarke in La Conner and was now leaving and going to Seattle to find other employment, where he thought he could earn more money. He had started at $30.00 a month but his salary was not being increased as rapidly as he thought it should be. Alvin and Laura had gone to Seattle after proving up on their homestead, and had later moved to La Conner where he was also working for Clarke, and Walter had been boarding with them. Clara had gone to normal school in Fredericton and was teaching in Alma until she married Mr. Colpitts.
Clarke had been writing me to come to La Conner and work for him also, but I had not yet decided to do so unless arrangements were made whereby all the family would go west. It was finally agreed that if I should go the family would later come also. I had now been earning $6.00 per week without any vacation during the eight years I had been at the store, and when I indicated that I was going west, they agreed to raise my salary to $7.00 per week. I had already made up my mind to go and was not tempted to stay. I was to be given a weeks vacation before I left and started to ride my bicycle to Moncton, fiftythree miles to the north, and on to Sussex and back home, a total distance of over 120 miles. The first day I rode to Hillsboro, about half way, and stayed with a cousin overnight. The next day I rode to Moncton, the largest city I had ever been in. Father’s sister had married and lived there and they had a son about my age and I stayed with them. We would go to the depot and watch the train coming up the line into the depot, hissing steam and belching black smoke. This was a great thrill for me and we saw every train come and go. Another interesting place was the drug store and the soda fountain, this was something new to me and I thought it was wonderful. After two or three days in Moncton, I rode on to Sussex and while there I stayed with a family who had lived in Alma. The same trains that went through Moncton also went through Sussex. This town wasn’t as large as Moncton, but there were interesting things to see. On the last of the week I started to ride home to Alma, a distance of forty miles. Much of the road was hills and I had to push the bike up the hills and ride carefully down the steep ones. I arrived home at noon, just in time for dinner.
I was to leave for La Conner the following Monday. On Sunday I went to Sunday school as usual. I was presented with a five dollar gold coin, which I still have and is dated 1834 and has thirteen stars around the border. I was also given a letter which reads: “ It is with feelings of deep and sincere sorrow that we learned a few days ago, that you had decided to leave your native village and make your future home in the far west. We wish to express to you our great appreciationof your valuable services in the Sunday school, in the choir, in the social services and in all moral reforms. The small gift which we herewith present, it is hoped may ever be the means of reverting your thoughts to this occasion, and help to keep green in your memory your many friends, your native village and your boyhood days. May God’s Blessing of Happiness and Prosperity accompany you through a long and successful life.
Signed on behalf of the Methodist Sunday School”.
Hamilton Kyle, Supt.
T. E. Colpitts, Sec. Treas.
Other names signed were:
Thos. E Colpitts-Minnie Colpitts-Hamilton Kyle-Ned McQuaid-Annie McKinley-Stella Sheilds-Miss Benett-Martha Smye-David McKinley-Russell Kelly and Jas. Thompson.
Miss Bennett was the sister of Richard B. Bennett who became Prime Minister of Canada, and who married Dr. Coates and lived in Vancouver, B.C. and died several years ago. I beleive all the others have died excepting Stella Shields, who I saw in Gloucester in 1950, and is a nurse who served in the Canadian army. She was awarded a medal of honor.
The next morning mother and Jerome drove me to Albert, where I was to embark on my long journey to La Conner. It was the saddest day of my life when I left mother standing on the station platform waving goodby. Before we had gone too far, a flat car broke in the middle and as the passenger car was on the rear end of the train, we were stalled. The conductor decided we would all ride in an empty coal car to Hillsboro, where another passenger car was located on a siding. After a wet ride standing in the rain, we finally arrived and on to Sussex, where I was to pick up my ticket for Seattle, as prearranged. When we arrived there the ticket agent had gone fishing and forgotten about my ticket, and there would be another train for the west until three days later.
Mother had packed a small telescope with food, and I had $10.00 in cash. This meant that I would have less food and cash for the journey. A man from Alma was working as a carpenter in Sussex, and said I could stay with him while I was there, he had a room in s small hotel. I phoned home to the store and asked them to tell mother what had happened and not to worry. When the train arrived three days later, I had my ticket and again boarded the train for Seattle. At that time it was a six day trip from Montreal. The train to that point had been the ICR and we now changed to the CPR, and I was to travel tourist from that point on. There was a range in one end of the car, and the porter looked after our needs. In Winnepeg, there was a four hour layover and I decided to take a look at the largest city I had ever been in. First, I went to a barbershop, the first one I’d been in, and when the barber started to tuck the towel around my neck, I nearly jumped out of the chair. After leaving the barbershop I boarded a street car, which was a first and made a tour of the city. Back on the train again , the trip was uneventful until we reached the Canadian rockies, and all the passengers, including myself, were amazed at the scenery winding through the mountains. Arriving at Mission, I changed trains to the Seattle International. This was a mixed train, with CPR and NPR cars. The train moved along the water front and the west side of Queen Ann hill was covered with trees. The depot was a small red depot at the foot of James street, on the water front. The train stopped four or more tracks out in front of the depot.Walter was there to meet me and we went back to the office where he worked in the Mutual Life building. There was a washroom off the main office with a white tile floor and other fittings such as I had never seen before. Walter was living out at Madrona park with several other boys and they had tents for sleeping quarters. There was a large tent presided over by a woman, where they had breakfast and dinner. The weather was cold and wet and I was still wearing my heavy overcoat and it was the first of July. The bed clothes were damp and I spent a very uncomfortable first night.
The next day I went down town with Walter and then called at Uncle Mac’s. They were living near eighth avenue and James street, and was reached by cable car. There were also cable cars running on Yesler and Madison streets. Aunt Ellen and her daughter Fannie had visited Alma a few years before and they were not strangers to me. I wanted to look around Seattle as this was a very large city, compared to where I’d been before arriving there. The sights were thrilling. First and second avenues were the only streets that were paved and only ran as far north as Pike street. The Washington Hotel was on top of a hill, north of Pike and was reached by cable car which was pulled up hill by a heavy weight and eased it back down. Third and fourth avenues were dirt streets with wooden side walks, and the grade much steeper than it is today. Below Yesler was out of bounds and open to those who lived there. The next night out at the camp was not so bad, the weather had cleared and in the evening we walked down to the lake to hear a band concert and watch the canoes paddling along the lake. That same afternoon Walter was taking me up to the ranch where Alvin and Laura were living, about four miles west of Burlington. We boarded the Great Northern about four o’clock and arrived around 6:30 pm. If there was a livery rig we would then be driven out to the ranch, but there wasn’t a rig and the local hotel was full. It was the 4th of July weekend and a celebration was scheduled for the following day. So, we were taken to a vacant building where some beds had been set up for an emergency and we slept there. The next morning it was raining and again there was no rig to be had, so we started to walk the four miles out to the ranch, through the woods over the muddy road. I expected a bear or some other wild animal to come out of the woods and chase us at any moment. We finally arrived at the ranch and Alvin and Laura were more than glad to see us, it had been several years since they had left Alma.
The ranch was 160 acres and was mostly stump land, some of it had been cleared for hay and oat crops and some was still being cleared. Ranching in those days was a pioneering job. The house was a two story frame building with a veranda along one side, and was as comfortable as any ranch house at the time. The barn was built of timbers and covered with cedar shakes, which had been split from some of the stumps. There were seven or eight head of cattle and the milk had to be separated and sold as cream for butter, as there was no condensaries. There was always a vegetable garden, which supplied most of the food. Most of the feed for the cattle had to be purchased, but they were trying to clear more land so they could grow more.
Clarke drove out to the ranch from La Conner in a livery rig the following day, which was Sunday. Clarke took me back to La Conner, which was about fifteen miles west of the ranch, and when we arrived there that evening he took me to the house where I was to board and room. Clarke lived over the store and got his meals at the same place. My room was furnished with an iron bed, a dresser and a single cane bottom chair with a big hole in the center. I was immediately homesick and continued to be for the next six months. The old couple that owned the house were very nice and the meals were good. They had lived there for many years and it was there home and they loved it. One of their grandson’s runs the newspaper in Darrington but I have never met him.
The store was on the water front and was stocked with groceries, feed, dry goods and mens furnishings. There was a lady drygoods clerk who assisted with the bookkeeping, and another male clerk. Deliveries around town were made in a push-cart, which had to be pushed up hill. It was a very strenuous job for me at the beginning, but as I continued I developed a bit more muscle and it became alot easier. A steamer called the “Fairhaven” made daily trips from Seattle and carried the freight. When there was sufficient freight, the boat landed at the back of the store and the freight was then carried in by the crew on hand trucks. If there was not enough freight for the boat to land, the supplies were then unloaded at the steamer dock and had to be trucked over the sidewalk and into the store.This was also one of my jobs. Clarke also bought hay and oats from the farmers in the area and shipped it to Seattle on sternwheelers, which would land at the grainery on the farms along various sloughs. Whenever they arrived, day or night, I would ride a bicycle out to the farm and weigh the cargo as it was wheeled aboard. Farmers drove into town with a team and wagon and hauled their own supplies and feed. Groceries were in packages here and it was not nearly as much labor in filling an order as it was in Alma. Coffe was sold to the saloons in 20lbs lots and ground in a hand grinder. I would grind the coffee but I wouldn’t deliver it. There were several saloons in La Conner and I had never seen a saloon and it was the last place I would go to, some other person had to deliver the coffee. The Indian reservation was across the slough from La Conner and they traded at the store. It was necessary that I learn to speak chinook well enough to be understand them.
There were people in La Conner who had lived in New Brunswick and still received newspapers published there. My farewell letter had been published and when it was learned that I sung in the choir, I was asked to join the choir of the Methodist church. I soon learned that they had a good bass singer and it would be necessary for me to sing tenor, as they were short on tenors. After church, I would ride a bike out to the ranch to visit Laura and Alvin and that eased my homesickness somewhat. In three months I had gained about twenty five pounds and after six months I was becoming accustomed to the change and began to take some interest in the country. After I had been there for a year, Clarke said he had been in business so long that he was getting tired of it and would sell out if he could find a buyer. Eventually he did find a buyer, one year to the day infact, I left La Conner to enter business college in Seattle. The Acme Business College was on the top floor of the McDougall Southwick building, which was only two stories high and was operated by McLaren & Thompson. Uncle Mac and a Mrs. Dalton had built an apartment house at sixth and Madison and his son Frank, who travelled for Schwabacher Bros., was moving in and would have some rooms to rent. I made arrangements to room there, and enrolled in the school in August.There were three other boarders, a Miss Knox, who was an operator at Western Union, and a nurse whose name I can’t remember. They had a chinese cook and on many occasions their young son and myself were the only people for lunch. The back porch of the apartment overlooked the bay, and in the warm evenings we would sit there and watch the steamers coming and going in the harbor.I made arrangements to start school, to take up shorthand, typewriting and penmanship, and some bookkeeping. the shorthand seemed difficult at first but became easier as time passed.
In November, Clarke and Alvin came to Seattle with plans to file on some timber land in Oregon with several other men. They wanted me to go for the same purpose. So, we left Seattle that night at eleven o’clock and arrived in Portland the following morning. We then boarded the Southern Pacific for Weed, California, and we got there the next day. We then boarded a logging train headed for Pokagimie, about twenty miles farther. There we were met by two four horse stages and bound for Klamath Falls. We travelled all night and arrived the next day. Klamath Falls was a small village of three hundred people, and the land office was there. After registering at the land office and securing a timber cruiser, we again boarded our stages for another twenty miles. There was no hotel and we were to stay at a farm house where there were only two beds, one occupied by the farmer and his wife. Two of our party slept in the extra bed and the rest of us slept on the floor with a tarp over us. The altitude there was about 5000 feet and there was snow on the ground, but we managed to survive the night. The farmer had not been married long and his wife, unlike most farmer’s wives, could not cook, neither could the farmer. It was one of the worst meals I had ever ate, fortunately, one of the men in our party could cook, so we had a very good breakfast the following morning. After the meal, we started out to cruise the timber and found it to be smaller than we had anticipated, so only a very few of the claims having the best timber were filed on. Clarke and Alvin didn’t file but thought that I should, and I did. After a very good dinner at another farm house the same evening, we decided to go back to Klamath Falls and we arrived early in the morning. I was still a Canadian citizen and before I could file on the timber I would have to declare my intentions to become an American citizen, which I did. The next day we boarded the stages for the logging railroad. There were no finished roads and the stages would drive through the timber in many places, as there was no underbrush in the pine timber. I was the only tenderfoot in the party and the stage trips seemed pretty hazardous to me, and I was very glad to get back aboard the box-car which was used for a passenger car on the logging railroad. Had we invested in land around Klamath Falls it would have been a much better investment, as the town later increased in population to 25,000 after the railroad came, and the lumber mills started cutting the trees. In 1923 I sold the timber for a $1.00 per thousand and just a few years ago that same timber was $22.50, but holding it for so many years, the net profit after taxes would be small.
Arriving back in Seattle, I resumed my business course until the following summer. Clarke was paying my fees at the college and my room and board, which I later paid back, with interest. Seattle had a population of less than 100,000 and in 1900 there were only 80,671 people, and they boasted of having five thousand telephones and seven thousand bicycles. $68,584 had been appropriated for wooden sidewalks. There were band concerts at some of the parks and every Sunday I would visit one to hear the music and take in the sights. On Saturday evening we would parade up and down first and second avenue, where you would always meet someone you knew. There were steamer trips across the Sound and on Lake Washington. You could steam to Victoria or Vancouver for very little money and there were rate wars between the Canadian and American steamship companies. I went from Seattle to Victoria, .25 cents round trip. Whenever there was an excursion and if I had the money, I always took advantage of the low fares. It was a great way to get a look at the Puget Sound country. There were no automobiles or trucks in Seattle that were in general use, fire equipment was horse drawn and all the taxis were as well. All the freight was moved with two or four horse teams.
Denny hill beyond Pine street was being leveled by hydraulic power and sluiced into the bay, and first and second avenues were extended further north. The Bon Marche was at the corner of second and Pike and Frederick & Nelson’s at second and Marion. The tallest buildings were the Pioneer in Pioneer Square, and the New York block on second avenue. Where the Olympic Hotel now stands was a vacant lot and where carnivals were stationed whenever they came to the city. One day a fire engine came roaring down Madison street, drawn by horses, between second and third avenues. The horses slipped and fell and were pushed by the heavy engine half way across second, afterward they had to be destroyed. The battleship Nebraska was being built by Moran Bros. and when she was launched, I stood on the dock and watched her slide into the bay.
I was doing some work in Seattle after I finished school, but nothing permanent had come up. Walter came up one weekend from Port Gamble, where he was now working and asked me if I would be interested in going back with him to work. He had been working in the mill office there and was learning the lumber business, or would I rather go to work at Shuey’s Bank. The man I was to see from Port Gamble would be at the Rainier Grand Hotel, and I could have a talk with him. In trying to decide, I didn’t know what I’d be required to do in the bank, for I had never been in one before and I did know something about selling merchandise. So, I decided to go and see the man and it was arranged that I would go to Port Gamble the following week.
The steamer “Dode” made daily trips from Seattle to Port Townsend and made regular stops at Port Gamble and Port Ludlow. I boarded the “Dode” when the day arrived, and there was another man on board who was going to work in the office, we struck up a friendship that lasted several years until he left. He was from Pawtucket, R.I. and had come west for a change of climate. He suffered from chronic rheumatism and hope that the change would do him good. After a four hour trip we arrived at Port Gamble and I was taken to the “New York” house where several office workers roomed. The room I was to occupy had been used by a man who contracted T.B. and it had been fumigated by forcing formaldihyde through the key hole, and had been left closed for days. The air was so saturated that it was impossible to stay there until it had been aired out.
Meals were served in a private dining room in the cookhouse and the servants were all Chinese. The menu was made a year in advance and what was served on Monday would be served every Monday for the whole year. The whole town was owned by the company and house were rented to the married men for a low fee. There were two sawmills running day and night, the year round, and two large fires burned the refuse from the mills and were never out. All during the night, the clank, clank of the endless chain dumping debris onto the fires could be heard, and until you became accustomed to the noise, sleep was impossible. The docks were lined with ships and schooners moored end to the dock loading lumber through their portholes, and shipped to all ports in the Pacific, including Austrailia, New Zealand and the Hawian Islands. It was here that I saw Captain Dowling who had sailed the Cerdic from Alma and was now sailing an American four masted schooner, the “Glory of the Seas”, built in Boston and was the largest sailing ship afloat.It loaded lumber there several times. She was built by Donald McKay of Boston, and the inside of the cabin was finished as smooth as a piano and of the same kind of wood. Ships would be towed in from the entrance to the straights, and would be towed out again when loaded. The tugboats were owned by the Puget Sound Tow Boat Co. which was owned by the Puget Mill Co. These boats would come in for supplies anytime, day or night, and when they arrived the store clerks would have to turn out and fill their orders.
At this time all the logs were purchased in the open market and towed to the mill by their own tugboat the “Resolute” and sailed by captain Baker. The two mills cut around 300,000 feet of lumber per day and the men who held the key jobs, had sailed around the Horn with Cyrus Walker when he left East Machias, Maine, to establish a lumber business on the Pacific Coast. The men who handled the lumber in the yard were transcients and were supplied by employment offices in Seattle. The wages were $2.00 a day and the employment fee they paid was $2.00. There was always a constant coming and going with their blankets carried on their backs. It was said that the yard foreman made a deal with the employment office, whereby he was to get half the fee and he would keep the men coming as fast as they were fired. There were doctors and lawyers and educated men among these men who had come west and were out of money and needed the work.
Cyrus Walker was the head of the company on Puget Sound, and lived at Port Ludlow a few miles away. When he was at Port Gamble he stayed at the mangers house which was occupied by the log buyer. Will Walker was chief millwright and lived with his wife and daughter, and she had married the general manager. Cyrus was very wealthy, but would walk around picking up anything he might see that had any value, like nails or bolts. If a man handling a peavie in the mill did not use it properly, he would grab it out of the man’s hand and show him the right way. When some machinery was being unloaded, he was giving orders as to how it should be done, then a piece fell and he was injured. A tugboat was rushed from Seattle with a doctor and nurse, and when I met them coming up the dock, I noticed that she was the same nurse who roomed at Frank’s when I lived there. Mr. Walker smoked $1.00 cigars and was a tetotler, but many times I had sold him Peruna, which was 90% alcohol. When Mrs. Walker travelled east to see their son where he was attending school, she always travelled in a private car over every railroad, but it was said that Cyrus would walk a mile just to save car fare.
The store and offices were in a three story building on the dock level. The offices were on the right side and ran the entire length of the building, except the log buyers office which was on the second floor. There was a huge stock of merchandise, consisting of groceries,feed,hardware,dry goods,men’s furnushings and clothing, crockery,boots and shoes,drugs,ship chandlery and mill supplies. An elevator operated by hand, moved merchandise from one floor to the another. The hours were from 7am to 7pm, in order to give the mill workers an opportunity to make purchases after work.
My salary to start was $60 a month plus board and room, and it was increased several times during the five years I was there, and this was voluntary on the part of my boss. When a stenographer left, I was asked to take his place. Stenographers did not stay long and I soon learned why. The manager was away a great deal of the time, and when he was gone there wasn’t much to do but sit in my own office and be idle. When the manager was there I would be called into his office to take dictation all during the afternoon. There were letters twenty four pages, singled spaced, and for a fellow who had never held a position as a stenographer, it was quite a job, especially after two year of not using shorthand. Like the others before me, I did not like the job and went back to the store. There is a picture in front of my desk of Port Gamble in 1903, with ships loading lumber, and is exactly it was then.
A new hotel had been built on the hill overlooking the bay and they closed the cookhouse. There was also a men’s dormatory and the red cabins where the single men lived would be torn down. The men would live there and get their meals in another dining room in the hotel. Meals for us were a $1.00 per day and were excellent. We could have anything on the menu at any meal, and we were delighted with the change. We still lived at the New York House but some had moved to the hotel where they paid extra for their room. Our waiter seemed to be a well informed man and would join in conversation, until a Pinkerton detective arrived and took him away. He had robbed a bank in the east and they had finally caught up with him. The hotel manager was an accomplished musician, and many of the travelling men had musical talent, and during the winter months whenever they came to the hotel, the big lobby was filled with entertainment. There were also two billiard tables and we became quite expert at that and bottle pool. A new building had been built to where they post office had been moved, also the barber shop and the doctor’s office. The second story was converted into an opera house where travelling road shows performed, as well as local talent shows. At one such show I was a colored butler, and another I took the part of an Irishmen and surprised the audience in the use of both dialects.
One day during the noon hour I was walking along the dock, as I did many times, and there were two sailors loading lumber through the porthole of a four masted schooner. As I passed, one man looked familiar to me and I waited until he spoke to the other sailor and then I was sure of his identity. I found the captain and asked him if he had a man aboard by the name of Foster and he said he had, a young fellow from New York. I went back to the dock and approached the fellow, calling him by name but he didn’t recognize me, and did not know that I had come west. It was Frank Foster, whose father was a ship captain and they had lived in Alma and we had gone to school together. There were two boys in the family and an aunt had kept house for them for their mother had died. The other son, Willie, now lived in New York and wanted Frank to live there too, but he told me he had been all over the world in sailing vessels and did not want to stay ashore. I later learned that he had settled in Honolulu, married and died there.
While I lived in Port Gamble I did not know that the Pope’s and Talbot’s were related to us. Cyrus Walker had married a Pope and her mother was a Foster, and her name was Emily Foster Walker. W. H. Talbot’s father had also married a Foster, and they all came from East Machias, Maine, going through the back of the cemetary in back of the church tells the story. Lloyd has a copy given him by one of the Talbot wives. The ship in which Cyrus first sailed around the Horn was named Foster. There were people living in Port Gamble who knew all about the relationship but they never mentioned it.
The merchandise manager’s name was Crombie, a bachelor and had come from Maryland, and still supported some of his relatives who still lived there. He wore a vandyke beard and mustache, and was a gentleman of the old school. The assistant was a man named T.R. Jones who had previously been with the company and had been released because he drank too much, but had been rehired at the request of Mr. Crombie, and if he still continued to drink, his salary would be cut to one-half. When I heard the name, it seemed to mean something and then I remembered that in our school books in Alma there was a T.R. Jones and Co. I told this man about it and asked if there was any connection and he said that Jones was his father, and he had lived in St. John, N.B. He had left home when he was twenty five and had never been back. I showed him the telegram from my father to T.R. Jones & Co. notifying them of the loss of his vessel, and he then knew who I was. He stilled continued to drink but very quietly and it was only noticeable by his flushed face. His wife lived in Seattle and he would go home on weekends and drink.His wife finally divorced him. In later years he lived alone in Seattle and died in 1953, he must have been close to ninety years old.
After I had been in Port Gamble for five years, the lumber business was undergoing a slump and the Pope & Talbot Co. came up and decided to close down the mills there, and also in Port Ludlow. Men who had been with the company for forty years were out of a job, even the superintendant. I was the only single man in the store except for the manager, and when I learned what was taking place, suggesting that when it became necessary to lay off men in the store, that I should be first as I was single. I then went to Anacortes where mother was now living, and I had met the family when they arrived and had lived for short time in Mount Vernon, and later to Anacortes where Walter was manager of a mill. He had left Port Gamble about two years after I had gone there, and had been auditor of a mill company who had mills in Anacortes and New Westminister.
The slump was also being felt in Anacortes, and the bookkeeper was leaving the mill there, so there was a job for me to go to. I didn’t know anything about the job but I had plenty of time to learn, and was soon able to do the work. We lived in a house near the mill which was owned by the company, and Lloyd was attending high school and May was living at home. Jerome was working in a store in Mount Vernon where Laura and Alvin now lived. A bank had taken over the mill to protect their investment and were financing some improvements at the mill, together with the building of a new dry kiln. When the mill started operating again, the price of lumber was still low and profits were small. About two years late another company who had several mills, wanted to purchase the mill, and the bank agreed to sell. There were several realations in the new company and one was made manager and the other bookkeeper. We were out of a job, so Walter moved to Vancouver and was connected with mills there in Port Moody, and later engaged in the lumber brokerage business and lived in Edmonton, Port George, Calgary, New York, and finally moving to Portland, where he has lived for many years. I then headed to Seattle to find a job and at first worked for McRae & Branigan who had four grocery stores and were to open a fifth in the near future.My job was in the Pike Street store as cashier, which I held until they opened the new store at 4th & Pike and I moved down there. Sometime later Branigans’s sister wanted the job I was doing and it was given to her.
Lloyd was now working with the dry kiln company who had installed the dryer in Anacortes, and one day I dropped into the office and the owner asked if I would like to work for him as superintendant. My duties would be to oversee construction from blueprints, wherever dryers were being installed. My first job would be in Tacoma where I would be near in case I needed any information. I went to Tacoma and was assigned to the Donnelly Hotel where I was to live during the time I would be there, a clause in the contract stated that my room and board would be paid by the company having the dryer installed. After about two months, the dryer was completed, tested and was proved satisfactory. I then was sent to Dallas, Oregon to oversee another installation job. That particular job took three months and the summer in Dallas was hot. I put a thermometer under the tramway out of the sun and the temperature was 124. I did not have to do any manual labor, but the workman threading one inch pipe by hand, found it plenty warm. That is hard enough in cool weather. Dallas was a quiet town and I enjoyed my stay there. The churches on Sunday would be filled to capacity and it seemed that everyone went to church. I stayed at one of the two hotels in town and at night it was deadly quiet, not a sound could be heard. I enjoyed my stay there, the employees at the mill office were very friendly as well as the workmen at the mill.
I do not remember whether I went back to Seattle or not, but my next job was in Eugene where the Portland Lumber Co. were building a new sawmill and had contracted for a dryer with a daily capacity of 45,000 feet of lumber. I went to Eugene and stayed at the Marion hotel over the weekend, and Monday morning boarded the train where twenty miles farther I was transfered to a speeder on a spurline which took me to where the mill was being built. It was a small mill village where a guest house substituted for a hotel. I stayed there and took my meals at the cookhouse. Breakfast was served at 5 am but I was seldom up at that hour so consequently went without.
The masons finally arrived and work was begun. The building was to be contructed of hollow tile and plastered on the inside to prevent any heat from escaping. The mill was under contruction also and would not be completed until a couple of months later. The manager had at one time been connected with a dry kiln company in the south, and he was unable to believe that it was possible for a kiln to dry lumber in twenty-four hours, as this one was supposed to do. The mill-wrights were of the same opinion, and if the company wanted to guarantee it, it was alright with them. I did not argue with them and continued with the work and paid no attention to what was said. Mr. Wentworth, the Portland manager, came up during the process and stayed at the guest house with me, and as he had not expected to stay overnight, I loaned him a pair of my pajamas. A man by the name of Todd, had come to look over the plant when they were looking fo a manager. He had been at Port Ludlow when I was at Port Gamble, and had accidently run into a pile of lumber at night, damaging his eye, and had brought suit against the mill company. He did not remember or recognize me and I did not mention that I had been there. It was very dull place and I would go down to Eugene during the weekends to relieve the montony.
After about three months the dryer was completed but the mill was not yet operating and there was no lumber cut to complete the test, and it was decided that I would come back later when there was lumber and make the test. This was done about a month later, and the weather was wet and the lumber was soaked. There were several other lumbermen who had come to witness as well as the men from Portland, and they were amazed when the lumber came out of the kiln after eighteen hours, thoroughly dry. The manager who had been connected with drying in the south, was amazed the most.
It was now the middle of November and I went back to Seattle after a stop at the office in Portland for a check for the job, and when I arrived back in Seattle, I learned that my next assignment would be in Vancouver at the Vancouver Lumber Co. plant. Arriving at the plant I was assigned to a hotel which was within walking distance of the plant and I could come in even for lunch. The Vancouver job did not go as smoothly as the others. The mill foreman had been in the habit of recieving favors from any concerns who made sales with the plant, and when he found that it wouldn’t apply in this case, he was not very co-operative and when I needed anything done I had to go over his head to someone in authority in the office. However, the job was completed and was to be tested on Christmas day or the day after. I wanted very much to be home for Christmas and was quite disappointed. The foreman was pleased that he could prevent me from going home. When I arrived back in Seattle my boss informed me that he was going east for a time and would leave me in charge of the Seattle office. Lumber operators were having hard times and some had to give notes in settlement of work completed. Pipe was purchased by the carload for each job and the costs were heavy, and it was decided to ease up construction and take only jobs where there would be no doubt of payment when the job was completed. Iwas to answer all correspondence and to follow up any inquirees and make contracts where payment was assured. After the correspondence was taken care of, there was little to do, and I had been busy all my life and did not like to be idle, so I would make trips to Oregon and other places in Washington, taking photographs of dryers that had been installed, in preparation for a new catalog which would be issued later. These catalogs were sent to all lumber mills in the Northwest and Canada.
I made another sale in Oregon on the Tillamook branch beyond a station called Timber, and sent another superintendant down to oversee the job. I made a trip down to see how it was progressing. There were very poor accomodations at the small hotel and as there was only one train out each day, I decided to try to go down on the freight train. I went to the depot, and while the agent could not sell a ticket, he thought it would be alright if I could find an empty car which would take me down to Hillsboro and there I could get to Portland on the interurban. I found an empty car and climbed in and everything went fine we stopped at the summit before entering a tunnel. The brakeman always made a brake inspection before starting down the grade, and he already new I was in the car, but said I would have to get off as it was against the rules to let passengers ride a freight. I offered to pay my fare and he could keep it, but no amount of persuasion on my part could induce him to change his mind, so I got off the train. It was four miles back to the depot, and it was raining and not a plesant trip. It was the one and only time I ever tried to ride a freight train.
I followed up another inquiry and made a sale of a large dryer at Aberdeen. I had been there before without making a sale. The dryer was patented and the mill owner was trying to construct the dryer without paying for the patent rights, and he found that this was impossible to do, he decided to go ahead. The mill was on the dock level and there would not be enough space between the high tide level and the dock for condensation to flow back. In each drying chamber there were two headers filled with rows of one inch pipe capped on the end, and with enough slant for condensation to pass out into steam traps, and this would call for a depth of about five feet. To overcome this it was decided to put four headers in each chamber instead of two and the depth would not have to be so great, and would take double the number of steamtraps.There were then two different railway lines into Aberdeen and several passengers trains daily. I made several trips down during the contruction, and when the dryer was tested, it gave a good performance and the mill company was well pleased, and payment was promptly made when due.
Travel in 1912 and 13 was mostly by rail, there were two separate railway lines to Gray’s Harbor and passenger traffic was heavy. Between Portland and Vancouver there were four and five trips both ways each day. There was an interurban line between Everett and Seattle and between Mount Vernon and Bellingham, and daily boat service between Seattle and Tacoma. I travelled a lot to Oregon and to break the monotony of the trip, would go to Tacoma by boat and take the train from there both going and coming.
The Cameron Lumber Co. in Victoria were in the market for a dryer for their mill at Cowichan Bay. I went to Victoria to see them, and the same day there were three other men representing other dry kilns, which I did not then know, and after the interview without any definite commitment, I boarded the boat back to Seattle. After the boat had left the dock, I was paged on the boat and the messaged stated that I was to come back the next day. I went back the next morning and it was then that I learned about the other dry kiln men, and they could not give a definite answer until he had interviewed all of them. I recieved the order and again returned to Seattle.
Conditions in the lumber business were not improving and the owner came back from Baltimore and sized up the situation. Lumber companies who had a high rating with D&B were giving notes and the notes were being renewed, so it was decided to close the Seattle office for the time being. It never reopened and again I was out of a job. I went home to Anacortes. Walter had married and Mother was living on Cap Santa. After a couple of weeks I again went back to Seattle to find employment. A man named Hutton had purchased the Northwestern Credit Association and was expanding the business, and he offered me a job soliciting firms to join the association, paying an annual fee and I was to recieve a commission. When a firm joined the association they would submit a list of their customers indicating how they paid their account, listing amounts and dates. The Association had a file listing all names that had been submitted to them, and would give this information to any firm when asked for, by telephone. I worked for several months soliciting firms, but Mr. Hutton himself solicited the banks and other larger firms where the fee was larger and the small firms were left for me. The commissions were not enough for the time involved I gave up the job.
I learned that Cheasty’s men store were in need of a bookkeeper and I went to their office and got the job. They were the oldest men’s furnishing store in Seattle and the place of business was on second avenue. They rented the building at $100. per day and occupied the ground floor and sublet rooms in the rest of the building. The building was owned by the Puget Mill Company, which I did not then know, and I gave them for a reference, and I had no difficulty in getting the job. Conditions were bad and they were feeling the effects as well. Their employees had been with them for many years and they had the cream of the trade in Seattle, and it was their policy not to change clerks for this reason, they knew most of the customers and could call them by name. There were only about two days in the week that the store was showing a profit, rent had to be paid as well as the clerks, and banks weren’t extending further loans. I would be sent out to collect accounts which people did not have the money to pay. Prominent lawyers, doctors and business men and even the mayor of Seattle would apologize. The mayor was William Hickman Moore. These people were customers, amd it was embarassing to them to be called on to pay when they were having the same trouble.
Mr. Cheasty was a single man and had lived at the Washington Hotel for many years, and had recently moved to the tenth floor. He was a large man and had worn whiskers f;or many years, and was always immaculately dressed. He was very well known in all parts of the State. The clothing manufacturers in New York had sent their credit man out and he was now here. They held a meeting the previous evening and the next morning Mr. Cheasty came down to the office, then could be seen on the balcony overlooking the store, and he seemed greatly agitated. He left the store shortly after, and when the telephone rang sometime later, the voice said, “This is the Washington Hotel, Mr. Cheasty has fallen out the window on the tenth floor”. I reported what I had heard over the phone, and one of the clerks had misunderstood and thought it was out of his office window. He rushed out the front door and around the corner, knocking a man down in his hurry.
When the store reopened, a man from Myer & Frank’s on Portland, was in charge. He was a different sort of man , he would keep all the employees after work for lectures and they resented this. They knew the trade better than he did and had been selling in the same store for years. One Saturday I was asked to leave the office and sell neckties. I didn’t like the idea and offered to resign and did when they had a man to take my place. The Puget Mill Co., owners of the building, never made any comment until one day I went up to the office with the rent check, and they asked me who was taking my place. I gave them the information they asked, and that was the last rent check for me. The man from Portland did not make a success of the business and they later moved to a smaller space up on Pike street. The old employees were leaving one by one. Again I was out of a job. I went home to Anacortes. In June a cousin of Claudia’s had invited us to come over and visit them some Sunday and soon after we drove over with another friend who was now the possesor of an automobile. We arrived about noon and later were driven up towards Darrington by the husband who had a big Winton car, and spent a very pleasant day. I liked the looks of the town, there were rows of big maple trees on the main street and it had a friendly atmosphere. During the day this man asked Lloyd if he knew where he could find a bookkeeper, and a few days later he mentioned it to me. I was in the market for a job and I liked the looks of Arlington. I wrote that if he still wanted a bookkeeper,I would take the job.
On the first of July, I arrived at Silvana and walked the dirt road to Arlington, a distance of seven miles. I went to the office where I was to work and found that the owner had gone to Seattle, and the present bookkeeper had not been advised that I was coming. This was not in accordance with my principles but there was nothing I could do about it. It did give me an incite to the character of the man I was to work for.
The year was 1915. I was rooming at the old White House hotel, a firetrap. On the inside of each window casing there was a knotted rope so that in case of fire the occupant of the room could go down the rope. The hotel was operated by Mr. Watson and a woman by the name of “Jen” who did the cooking. I never did learn what her last name was. My room was a front room on the second story and was without heat in the winter. Jen was a fairly good cook and my board would guarantee the meat bill at the market, which my boss owned, would be paid. Travelling men went by rail yet, and many stayed over night. Late in January it started to snow and before the week was over, there was five feet of snow and business was paralized. Trains were not running and the roads were blocked and travelers were stranded at the hotel. Men were paid a dollar an hour to shovel snow off the roofs of the buildings to keep them from falling in. It was the first time in the history of the country that wages were a dollar an hour. The roof of the skating rink did collapse but the shovelers managed to keep the other roofs from falling in.
The man I worked for sold hay and feed, he had a meat market, a lumber yard and two farms at the time, and when I came to work for him I thought it might just be for a year. The first world war was on and it was expected that the U.S. would get involved, and did. Men were registering for the draft and I registered, but because of my age, I would not be called for some time. There were bond drives, and this man headed the drives in this part of the county and these were busy times. Wages were increasing on account of the shortage of men, I stayed on. I had acquired a Ford in 1916 and made many trips home on the weekends. There were no paved roads and the dirt roads would become very rough so that top speed on the good ones was only about thirty and down to five on the bad ones. The trip to Anacortes was made in about four hours, and to Vancover the time was about eight. It was four hours each way to Seattle. After I had driven around 10,000 miles, I was offered more than I paid for the car, if I would sell. Cars were not being made at the time but only for purposes connected with the war, and I did not wish to sell, but finally I did. The banker had bought a car and delivery was finally made. He had been driving a Overland roadster and had bought a Willis Knight. One day in the bank I asked him what he planned to do with the Overland. He said he was going to sell it and I asked , “for how much?”. I had seen the car but never ridden in it, and when he named the price of $700. I said “it’s sold” and now I was the owner of another car.
About this time, Mother who had enjoyed good health, had become accustomed to living in the west, and had enjoyed many rides in the Ford, even though she thought it was not right to enjoy it on Sunday. She became ill with cancer that July and I would visit her during the evenings, but we felt that she would not live much longer. She passed away before the month ended. She had always said that when she died she wished to be buried beside father in Alma, but had recently changed her mind and said she wished to be buried in Mount Vernon beside Ella, Jerome’s first wife who had died shortly after she had come out from Mocton.
I had lost considerable weight and decided that I would have to do something about it. Several people from town were living in tents at Warm Beach during the summer, so I got a tent and arranged with another young man to go with me, if he would cook what meals we would need, I would furnish the transportation. That suited him fine, so we moved down to the beach. In a month or two I had gained back my lost weight and was feeling much better. I had not intended to stay in Arlington indefinently, but businees was improving and wages were increasing, so that $200 a month was considered a reasonable salary and I continued to stay. I had registered for the draft, and as my boss was the head of all the bond drives, there was plenty of extra work to do. I had not yet been called and was just about ready to go when an armistice was called.
Due to the travelling men now using cars, the White House had ceased to operate and I secured a room at the Moran Hotel, where I lived for the next seven years. I got my meals at different restaurants until I married.
A grocery store had been added later, and an automobile agency had been acquired and business was increasing. Later, a garage was built which meant more business, and I continued to stay on. In 1922 I was appointed City Treasurer and secretary of the Commercial Club. Sidewalks had been paved and a city hall had been built, and at that time the City Treasure’s compensation was 1% of the receipts and disbursements, which all added to my salary.
Jerome had married again and was operating a confectionary and ice cream parlor in Mount Vernon, and then later bought an interest in the hotel when one of the partners had died. This was a wood building and it later burned. He sold stock to build a new hotel and interested the Western Hotels in financing the project, he holding 51% of the stock and later traded for stock in the Western Hotels, which was a mistake. Daisy, his wife was a newspaper correspondent and wrote for the Mount Vernon Herald and for the Seattle Times. He gave her most of this stock, and when she died it went to her brother.
Alvin and Laura lived in Mount Vernon for many years and Laura died in 1918 and he later married Edith Duffy, who was the widow of Dr. Duffy of Lubec, Maine, and who was boren in Harvey, New Brunswick. Edith died about 1935 and Alvin died in 1946. Clarke married Annette Kumler in 1914 and they had one son, Jason, who died in 1954. Clarke passed away in 1952, at the age of 94.
My sister May had validated her teachers certificate for Alberta and British Columbia, and had taught school for a short time in Alberta and then in B.C. She was teaching in Naramata, B.C. where Emma, my future bride to be, and her parents lived and they had become close friends. She later taught on Vancouver Island and met the man she later married, Jack Maguire. He had built a house a house on one end of the farm where they now live. In 1922, May invited me over to spend Christmas and at the same time had invited Emma who had gone in training for a nurse in Vancouver and had been in Willimington with another nurse, and while she was there her mother had died. She was now back in Vancouver, and when I arrived I phoned and arranged to take her over to May’s for Christmas. I had seen Emma before in Vancouver in 1917 while she was in training, when I had taken May over there on a trip during the summer, but had not seen her since. I did not have the faintest idea that before the next Christmas we would be married. I had met several girls but did not want to marry any and was confident that I would remain a bachleor.
We were about three hours crossing from Vancouver to Naniamo, and when we arrived there was snow on the ground. Jitneys were in use then instead of taxis for rural transportation, and I finally located one that would take us out to May’s where we arrived shortly before midnight. May and Emma had plenty to talk about and it was after three before they got to bed. The next morning Jack harnessed Professor to the buggy and drove us over to the station not far away. Professor was quite a fast stepper and the snowballs flew in all directions. We arrived back in Vancouver in time for dinner which we had in a cafe on Granville Street and then I drove Emma home and came back to Arlington. I soon made a date to see her again and from then on I was a regular visitor to Vancouver on Sundays. All my resolutions to remain a bachelor were gone, and on Easter Sunday, 1923 I proposed. We had gone to North Vancouver and had driven out to a rocky point overlooking the harbor, when I finally got up enough courage. Emma did not give me an immediate answer that day, not until a week later and then suggested that I write her father for his permission, which I did.
During the summer I went to Vancouver most every Sunday, and finally the wedding date was set for August 6th and at that time I would take my vacation. Emma had been living at McCaul’s, and Edith, one of the two daughters, was to be a bridesmaid, and a friend of mine from Seattle, Hupe, was to be bestman. It was to be a quite wedding with out quests, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church where the McCauls attended, and Father Owen, whom the nurses all new around the hospital, was to perform the ceremony. I arrived in Vancouver with the best man the day before the wedding, and arranged for the bride’s bouquet and whatever else was necessary. That evening the four of us went out to dinner and when the bouillon was served in cups, Hupe put sugar in his and was very much embarassed after he discovered it wasn’t coffee.
The wedding was to be at 10:00 am and when we arrived at the church we found that all the nurses from the hospital and several more were seated in the church. I had told my relatives who wanted to attend, that there would be no guests present. As the organist played the wedding march the best man and a nervous groom took their places at the alter, and the bride walked up the aisle with Mr.McCaul who was taking the place of her father, together with the bridesmaid. When the ceremony was over we left the church amid a shower of rice, and made a dash for my car waiting at the curb. We left the taxi I had engaged, standing at the curb to be used by anyone who might want it.
I had made reservations at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, and we left Vancouver for Bellingham to board the ferry which would take us to Sydney and from there we would drive to Victoria. I had neglected to have the gas tank filled and discovered we just had enough gas to get off the ferry. In Sydney, there was only one gas pump and the owner had locked it up and gone to Victoria, so there we were. I went to the hardware store and told them if they would saw the lock off the pump so we could get some gas, I would buy a new lock and anything else necessary. They finally agreed to do this and by that time the owner arrived back and was very apologetic and would not let me pay for anything. It was thirteen miles to Victoria and we arrived in plenty of time for a late dinner. Emma had eaten a crab salad and afterwards walking around the grounds around the hotel, complained of stomach pains but it did not turn out to be serious. Sitting around the big lobby in the evening, we noticed an elderly lady smoking a long black cigar and seeming to enjoy it. A few woman smoked ciogarettes but not in public, and this was the first time we had ever seen a woman smoking a cigar. One of my trips to Vancouver I had taken a young fellow who worked in the store with me and we were having lunch, he noticed a woman smoking a cigarette, the first woman he had ever seen smoking and he was amazed at such a sight.
The next day we drove up the island to where May lived and stay the afternoon and drove the seventy miles back to Victoria. There were only a few paved roads on the island then and some of the hills travelling over the Mallahat were pretty steep and the curves sharp amd narrow, but it was considered a beautiful drive. The next day we left Victoria for Port Angeles and stopped at the very popular resort on Lake Crescent. There were several cottages and would be served meals in the lodge dinning room. We stayed there several days and then on down to Portland. There we stayed at the New Heathman Hotel in which there was a radio broadcasting station in a glass room, and in the evenings we would sit and watch the performers. We drove out the Columbia River highway as far as Hood River. The weather was very hot and driving in the open car with the top up, it was scorching, and when we came to a forest service park, we drove in and stayed until the day cooled. At Crown Point we noticed an Inn high up on the hill, and drove up for dinner. It was quite a famous place and well known by tourists all over the U.S. for the wonderful dinners they served. We ordered our dinner and sat around the lobby until we noticed it was ready. Everything was prepared to perfection and served by young girls dressed in white. The price of $2.50 for a meal was considered the top. It was operated by a widow whose husband had died, and she was well versed in the art of knowing what would appeal to the people who would patronize a place of that kind.
We made several side trips around Portland, and then decided to go to Seaside, then a very popular resort. We secured a room at the hotel and stayed for several days bathing in the ocean and lying on the sandy beach listening to the roar of the crashing waves. We then drove up Hood’s Canal and again stopped at another resort near Brinnon, and then on to Port Gamble and crossed the ferry to Seattle, where we to spend the last few days of our honeymoon. While in Seattle we selected furniture that we would need for the cottage I had rented in Arlington. Emma had never seen the cottage and was not sure what would be suitable, and when it had arrived, it was much to large for the small cottage. We were there only about one year when the owner said that his son-in-law wanted to move into the cottage, but he would sell it. We wanted a larger house and looked for another to rent but there was none to be had, so we purchased the house we now live in, and the furniture was more suitable.
Our daughter Shirley was born August 30th at Vancouver General Hospital. I had taken Emma up about two weeks before and she located with friends near the hospital. I was not notified until Shirley arrived and left Arlington for Vancover at 7 pm and the fog was so thick that I did not arrive until about 2 am. A nurse friend of Emma’s met me and took me to the hospital as soon as I arrived. I was shaking and my teeth were chattering and I was very embarassed but she probably understood better than I. Emma was expecting me and was still awake and a nurse brought the baby in for me to see. After visiting with Emma and seeing the baby several more times, I left that evening for home.
I had been driving a Dodge touring car and had sold it and purchased a Dodge sedan, and three weeks later had driven to Vancouver to bring Emma and the baby home. While there I had visited the American Consul’s office for the purpose of having Shirley registered as an American citizen, and was told by a deputy that it would take about three days and would be necessary to have photographs and would cost about $22.50. I was unable to wait so long and decided to bring them home. I later wrote to the American Consul and recieved a reply to call at the office at the office when I was again in Vancouver. When the time arrived, I called at the office and without any delay or cost, she was registered and now would be an American citizen.
When Shirley was old enough to travel we made a trip to Naramata where Emma’s Father and Mother had lived and where he had died after making us a visit. He had returned to Vancouver and on his way home had had a stroke and was taken to the hospital and later to the hospital in Penticton where he died.
I continued to woork in the same capacity until during the depression of 1932 and 33 when I was informed that a son would take over my duties and I would find another job. I then went to work for another man, for $50. per month, and with that income I had from the city and some other accounts I picked up, was able to get along. This firm had a trucking business and a garage and weathered the depression and later expanded and my salary continued to increase as the years passed. In 1935, Emma’s cousin in Seattle was driving east to Ottawa the first of June and invited Emma and Shirley who was now eleven, to go along with them. When my employer learned of the trip he said that I could also go along as it was a good opportunity, so I arranged to go too. We left Seattle on June the first. The roads and the accomodations were not like they are today, but we stopped in cabins where they were available and hotels when there were no cabins. Six days later we arrived at Emma’s brother’s place, and on the next day, her other brother and his family drove out to see her. It had been several years since she had last seen them and they had a grand reunion. We later went into Ottawa and I went on down to Boston to see some of my relatives whom I had not seen for many years. When I arrived back in Ottawa, the CNR was offering a five day excursion trip down to Moncton for less than half fare, and here was my chance to get down to Alma which I had left thirty three years previous, and Emma could visit with all her relatives while I was gone.
Arriving in Moncton I boarded the stage for Alma, fifty three miles further south, and at Albert I was informed that the stage did not run to Alma. A car came along with some people whose parents I had known, and I was asked to ride down with them to Alma. When we came to the top of the hill overlooking the village, I admit that I was thrilled to see the village that I had left thirty three years before to the day. I stopped at the Alma House for dinner or supper which it was still called and it was now run by people whose parents I had also known. After supper I walked down to the store where I had work as a boy, and I was talking with a group of men in front of the store, and the owner was standing in the door listening to our conversation, and he said “you must know my wife” and I asked her maiden name.He then told me to go over to the house and see her and when she came to the door I asked if she remembered me, and she did not. Her father had run the Alma House for many years and when I said I was staying there, she said that I must stay with them, that there were no accomodations at the Alma House for me. I gladly accepted and during my stay for the next three days, I was made most welcome.
The mill was running as before, and schooners were loading lumber at the wharf, and there were more schooners at anchor in the bay awaiting a fair wind. In Boston Aubrey said there was a three masted schooner leaving for Alma the next day and he knew the captain and he would be glad to have me sail back to Alma with him on the schooner. My stay was limited and I did not want to take the chance of being anchored in the fog, so I decided not to go. When I left Alma she had not yet arrived. The village was the same peaceful place and there were a number of people with whom I had grown up. Years before there had been a fire which burned several houses and places of business on the north side of the road, but new buildings had been built to replace the old. When the mill was operated by a steam plant, there had been a few electric lights, but now there were none, and the mill was still powered by water. Clara had died in March and was no longer there, and Thomas Colpitts had died a few years previous. When the owner of the store, whose house I was staying, made it convient to send a pickup to Moncton the day I was leaving, I went along and then was on my way back to Ottawa.
Shirley was now in grade school and a new high school building was being erected. I had sold the Dodge and purchased an Auburn touring sedan for $1695. It was a powerful car and consumed gas at every mile and after driving it thirty thousand miles, traded it for a Buick and recieved $195. for the Auburn. They were no longer manufactured which was the reason for the low price. The second world war was coming and an air field was being built south of town. After graduating from high school Shirley was going to attend Whitman College in Walla Walla, and in the fall we drove her over. It was a Sunday and very few students had arrived. The room was to occupy was bare and unfurnished, except for the bed and dresser, and her illusions of what college life were not what she thought they would be, and when we left that evening she had a very forlorn look on her face, that I have never forgotten. It wasn’t long however before she adjusted to college life and was enjoying it very much. She had met a young man in whose company she was often found. We had not yet met him but thought that it was just a college friendship. Later the navy recriuts were to be trained at the college and we were bringing Shirley home and Jack had enlisted and would be staying. When we arrived for her we met Jack and I could see that it was more than just a college friendship, he appeared to be real serious, and the thought of leaving was weighing heavily. They were engaged and would not be married til after the war. We were now to meet his parents and they us, and after we met we new that he had come from a fine home, and was an only son.
Afte Jack left for active duty, he was sent to Newport, R.I. to the navy base there. After he arrived he found many young officers with their wives there, and he felt alone and wrote back that he would like to be married while he was there. We decided that if Shirley was of the same opinion we would send her east. Margaret, a cousin, lived near Newport, and Emma wrote her and asked if Shirley could be sent to her and she would look after her until she was married. We recieved a reply that she would be happy to do so. Emma had not intended to go with her, but later changed her mind and decided to go. On Sunday the day before they were to leave, my boss came over and said I must go too, that we only had one daughter and it was my place to be there, and he would get a man to work while I was away and he would even pay for my expenses. I was very much surprised and very glad to be able to go. Emma had written one of the McCaul girls to make her reservations but I did not yet have any. We drove to Vancouver and parked the car in a garage, and I was fortunate enough to get accomodations. This would have been impossible on any U.S. rail as passenger servive was very limited, but on the CPR there were better accomodations.
We had a nice trip across the continent to Montreal, to Boston and then on to Providence where we met Jack. On the way out to Margaret’s Jack informed us that his ship was to sail on Monday and they would have to be married today. There was a three day waiting period in the state and a blood test was necessary. When we arrived at Margaret’s, she said she would drive us into Providence to get the licsense, and she would see if the three day waiting period could be waived. She was acquainted with the men in the office and this was easily accomplished, but the blood test had to be taken and that normally took three days. Jack went back to the base and the test was arranged and when he returned Margaret called the minister and he agreed to perform the ceremony in a little church which had been the scene of another wedding that same day, but we learned that that was in another township and the ceremony could not be performed there. Margaret then said it would be in her home, which was a beautiful place, and Myrtie gots some flowers and decorated the room. Jack’s mother was to arrive and he went again to Providence to meet her and it was past the time when they arrived. The minister was called and came to the house. He asked Jack and Shirley if they had been baptised and they both had not, and he said it was not right for him to perform the ceremony unless they had, but finally it was decided that if they promised to be baptised later, he would perform the ceremony.
Myrtie played the wedding march as I escorted Shirley down the stairway and in front of the fireplace which had been decorated and where they were to stand. After the wedding we all sat around the dining room table, and the maid had made a wedding cake with all the trimmings. We stayed two or three days with Margarate and Myrtie, who lived with her, and then we went to Newport where Shirley was living with several other married couples in an old mansion taken over by the navy. Jack had gone to sea as scheduled but would soon be back. We went back to Boston and visited our neighbors who were living there as the daughter’s husband was in Iceland. A dinner was arranged at one of the cousins on Sunday and we met all my cousins who now live in Boston. We stayed for three or four days and then made our way back to Vancouver and on to home.
When Jack left for the Pacific, Shirley came home to stay until Jack returned,and when he arrived in California she went down there to be with him while he was there. When the war was over and Jack was attending the U of W they lived at Union Bay and we made many trips down before and after Skippy was born. After graduation when they moved to Bellingham our life seemed to be a part of theirs through their early struggles, and then came the Korean War when they were just getting started. Now Shirley was left alone again and Stevie was soon to be born, but mother was always on hand to be of any assistance, and when Stevie was old enough to travel we drove to Berkeley where they were to live until Jack had served his time in the navy. When he got out they would then return to Bellingham.
Our life in Arlington went along as usual for the next several years, and in the meantime Jack and Shirley moved to Seattle where he was to engage in a new mode of entertainment, Television. They purchased a new home where they now live. Every year we visit Jack’s parents in Portland and they visit us. One summer we spent a week together at Harrison Hot Springs, and enjoyed a delightful week together. At Christmas both families are always together with Jack and Shirley and the boys, and this being possible, is one of the bright days we always loof forward to.
In 1949 after I had come back from my vacation, a change was being made in the business where I had worked. I knew that this was going to take place and was not altogether a surprise. When a man has sons it is only natural that he try to look after their welfare, and one son had been taken into the business and given too much freedom which was a great mistake. Profits were decreasing and it was decided that the son would take over my duties which I new was impossible, and I was now out of a job again after sixteen years. I still had a few small accounts which I took care of after working hours, and decided to increase them and make application for social security. I had been offered other employment but declined for various reasons. We had saved some money which I felt would provide what was necessary for us to live as we were acustomed to. I had an endowment policy which we had taken out several years before for Shirley’s education and had not drawn on. This policy was due the following year and was liquidated and with the proceeds I purchased another car, as the one we had had high mileage. The new car was a Studebaker and had been driven about ten thousand miles and was in excellent condition. We then decided to take a trip back east, and at the end of May we left Arlington for Boston via highway 30. We had a nice trip across the continent and arrived at Aubrey’s on a Saturday afternoon. We stayed with them until Tuesday morning and drove across Boston to another cousin’s who had been west and visited us, and we were to stay for a few days with them. We also had met several other cousins and had a very nice time.
We left Boston to drive up the coast to New Brunswick and on to Quebec and on to Ottawa where Emma could visit with her brothers. On the way up the coast we drove into Glocester and we called on a school mate of mine who was a nurse and had lived there for many years and never married. The next day we arrived at East Machias and this was the first visit to the place where my ancestors were born and had lived. There are several Foster’s still living there, sons, and daughters who were Foster women. We visited the cemetary behind the church where generations of Foster’s have been buried. Some have have had monuments and placques erected honoring them for deeds of valor. The Foster Rubicon erected by the Hannah Weston Chapter of the D.A.R. in 1917 is one example. Leaving East Machias we drove onto Alma. A new Hotel had been built where the shipyard once stood, and the Canadian Gov. was building a national park on the west side of the river overlooking the bay. The grounds were beautifully landscaped and cottages of French chalet design were being erected for the accomodation of tourists. A salt water swimming pool had been built together with a golf course and tennis courts and administration buildings. The park covers eight sguare miles and much of the land was owned by my Grandfather. The two lilac bushes which stood on each side of the walf were still blooming, and the water from the spring still flowed by, and some of the trees in the old orchard were still standing.
There were now electric lights in the village and the once peaceful atmosphere was now being invaded by tourists passing through the park. The mill was still operating but the lumber instead of being shippedin schooners was now being hauled on trucks to the nearest railway station and shipped by rail. Our old home was still standing and was unchanged. More homes were scattered throughout the village and with more modern designs. The blacksmith shops had disappeared and there were no longer cobblers plying their trade. Garages and gas stations now served the villagers as wellas tourists, and horse drawn vehicles were replaced by cars and trucks. After spending a few days there we proceeded on our way up through the province to Quebec. This was our first visit to this city that we had read about for years past. There were modern highways and the trip was made in a couple of days. There was much of the old world customs in Quebec, and after visiting the many attractions of historical wonder, we proceeded up the St. Laurence river to Montreal and Ottawa. This ia a beautiful trip driving along the river through the old villages and leaving each one, the tall steeples of the churches are visable in the next village all along the river. We soon arrived in Ottawa and for the next two weeks we visited with Emma’s brothers and their families. Ottawa, the capitol of Canada is a busy city and here visitors can view the capitol buildings and grounds,and the old Rideau Canal where British gunboats once went through the locks into the lakes, which are now suurounded by beautiful parks.
After our two weeks visit, we were homeward bound over highway 10. On this highway coming west,there were many towns and villages to pass through and while the distance is shorter, the time consumed is about the same. There were many changes for tourist travel, there were now motels and accomodations were much better,many were furnished better than the hotels and had every comfort desired.
Five years later, just last year we made another trip back and this time we would travel over highway 2 which was the northern most route and the shortest. We left on a Sunday morning June 5th and traveled over Steven’s Pass and at Helena, Mont. turned north until we were on highway 2. Travelling is easy and the roads are all improved highways. Motels after five years are still more improved and in many places another story has been added. The furnishings are more luxurious and rates have risen in comparison to the service offered. We crossed the Sault St. Marie into Canada and from there a long days travel to Ottawa. We had written that we were coming and were warmly welcomed. One of Emma’s brothers was having his vacation later in the month and wanted to spend this time with her, so we decided we should go on down to Alma and to Nova Scotia, and then come back when he would be home. We crossed the border and the highway led us down the middle of Lake Champlain, into Vermont, and then on through New Hampshire and to Maine where we again stopped at East Machias. There were some changes since we had last been there. Motels had been built for the tourists and there was an indication of an increase in population in the town. We then called upon the Sanborn sisters and after a short visit were on our way north to Calais where we crossed the border and back into Canada.
Driving through to Alma over the road I had driven many times with a horse and buggy it did not seem so very short in an automobile and I wondered how I had ever driven it in less than a day. I told the park superintendant when we arrived, that the road was in worse shape than it was fifty years ago, and he laughed. The road in the park had been nicely surfaced, and now they would improve the road to Sussex. Alma had changed, the mill was no longer in operation and had burned, leaving a large opening in the dam and the pond was only a stream passing through. The old plank road to the village was gone and unfit to travel. There was no shipping on the bay, the tide coming and going for no purpose. The wharves had rotted and fallen in and the breakwater on the outer bar was fast being ground to splinters by the sea.
We registered at the new hotel and yet were the only guests, and were assigned to the only room with a bath. There were two other baths on each floor. The park was open for the season and some of the cottages were occupied. On Sunday, people from all over to visit the park, but only a few remained as the season was yet early and not too warm. We sat on the grounds and looked out over the bay which was once full of life, and I thought about the English ships lying at anchor in the bay loading lumber, and of the other ships and schooners which used to sail up and down the bay in the shimmering waters.The ship captains who lived in the village were now lying in the either cemetary, and their sons and daughters had married and moved away. There were still three stores in the village and still kept open until ten in the evening but wanted to close and could not agree. Food which for years had come in barrels and had to be weighed and measured, now came in packages and could be supplied to customers quickly. They resented the tourists interefering with their peaceful life, and did not cater to them to increase their business, but were satisfied with what they had. There were now telephones and electrical appliances for those who could afford them. This visit did not fulfill my dreams and I felt that this would be may last, but then if I had another opportunity, I would go again and feel the same way. We drove over to Harvey, another village and it seemed as if I had never been there before. There were no stores left and only a few scattered houses which I did not recognize. The river was being damed and men from Alma worked on the dam. The drive up to Moncton was beautiful, white painted house still lined the road which was now paved, and the city has taken on new life and is many times larger than fifteen years ago. Traffic is as heavy as any Canadian city. I thought I would call on a woman who had taught school in Alma years ago, and when I saw her, there was no resemblance to the person I once new. I was sorry I had gone.
Driving on to Sussex,we rode over the same road that I had ridden a bicycle over before I left for the west, only now it was paved. Arriving at Sussex we found tourist accomodations with people whom I knew. The cafe where we dined was modern and the food was excellent and reasonable. After dinner we called on Kit, an old school mate of mine and we had a nice visit. She was the nurse that never married because she had to support her widowed mother and her sister. The next morning we were on our way and a day later passed through East Machias and stopped for an hour or two. I had gone into a drug store and made a small purchase and paid with a travelers check as the young woman who waited on me, did not wish to take Canadian money. Later I was standing on the sidewalk when a man approached and asked if my name was Foster. I replied that it was and he said “so is mine”. His name was the same as father’s and his grandfather’s name was the same as mine. He had decended from Wooden Foster and was a cousin several generations back. He had seen my name on the travelers check and lost no time in looking me up. I talked with another man and his mother was a decendant of Wooden too, and there were many of the same name living in that area.
That night we stayed in a motel near Skowhegan. A hurricane was supposed to have struck there or near, during the night, but failed to do so. We again traveled over the same route we had come but crossed the border at the Rouces Point on the road to Montreal. Here we found a wonderful new highway known as the trans-canada to Ottawa, arriving there the next night and stopping at Evan’s, Emma’s brother. We stayed for the week and the next morning headed out for Sault St. Marie. We drove to the ferry dock and while waiting for the ferry watched the ships pass through the locks and into the lake. Crossing by ferry we were now in the States and we traveled over the same route to home.The drive was fairly easy and the car seem to eat up the miles. We stopped in Spokane to visit Betty Campbell and she insisted that we stay over for a day, which we did. Her husband is a Col. at Fairchild Air Base. We went directly to Seattle to see Shirley and the boys,whom we had missed while being away and were anxious to see them again.