This photo of Ladd, Jim and George Van Cleve was taken around 1940. These three guys were the heart and soul of Van Cleve Motors in Eatonville and Morton for decades.
We’re posting this picture because early March, 2011 the VanCleve motors building in Eatonville was knocked down. Even though the structure had gotten old, we’ll always remember these guys in their prime.
This book looks at the notorious Medicine Creek Treaty with the Nisqually, Puyallup, Muckleshoot and other tribes, which claimed 2.4 million acres for the United States — an area that includes much of today’s Pierce, Lewis, Thurston and Mason counties.
The 384-page book by Richard Kluger takes a new look at a local piece of history. For more information, click HERE.
Ready for an “unsolved crime” story? This one, however, is likely to stay unsolved since it took place over 80 years ago.
In October 1928, Julian Tison, his wife, and two teenage sons, took over the management of Friendly Inn — a “roadside resort and eating place” about 2.5 miles outside Eatonville near the Mashell River.
December 2 was a busy day, but by 9 p.m. things had slowed down. The boys had gone out and it was just Julian and his wife at the Inn.
Mrs. Tison was in the living room, and Julian was taking wood to the kitchen when they heard a car drive up. Two men carrying revolvers came in wearing overalls and white handkerchiefs over their faces. One of the men ordered Mrs. Tison to put her hands up.
She offered the outlaw the day’s receipts, but he wasn’t interested in her money. He wanted her.
Julian watched through the glass door between the kitchen and living room as his wife was backed into a small hallway at gunpoint. As Julian crept into another hallway to get his gun from his coat, the second man spotted him, shot him in the back, smacked him over the head with a gun, and left Julian for dead.
Back from the Dead Julian was very much alive. He quickly revived, and although he was now partially paralyzed from the waist down, went to help his wife. When Julian approached the first man and his wife, the thug turned to put a bullet in his head. That’s when all hell broke loose.
Mrs. Tison jumped for the man’s gun. As they wrestled, the gun discharged six times. At the same time, Julian tried to get off a shot without injuring his wife, but thug two showed up and shot Julian twice more in the stomach.
Despite his mortal wounds, Julian realized the first man was out of bullets and shot him above the heart. The man staggered through the house, onto the porch and dropped dead in the driveway. Julian died at the Eatonville Hospital hours later, but not before he told his story.
On the Run The murderer took off and walked five miles to Ohop Bob. He told the owner, Mr. Josselyn, how he’d been robbed near the Triangle. Josselyn called it into the Sheriff (busy with a murder), then gave the man a nice room and loaned him stage fare to Tacoma, where he was dropped at the police station to make a report.
The Pierce County Sherriff never apprehended the murderer. The police did determine, however, that the criminals had planned on kidnapping the previous owner for ransom and didn’t realize they had the wrong woman.
NOTE: Another version of this story by Pat Hamilton can be found by Clicking here.
Forty years ago, in 1971, an article ran in the Dispatch about the development of a “535-acre Zoo-Park”. This facility, tentatively called Northwoods Trek, would “exhibit, propagate and preserve predominately native Northwest and Alaska species of wildlife in their natural habitat,” and potentially bring in 500,000 people a year.
A local couple — Dr. David Hellyer and his wife Connie — had already donated the large tract of land. He was a 58-year-old Tacoma pediatrician and they operated a cattle ranch outside Eatonville. Their gift was substantial in more than just acres. The couple had recently been offered $1 million for the site by a developer — approximately $5.5 million in today’s dollars.
Plans were already in the works for this self-supporting Zoo-Park. It would be stocked with elk, buffalo, antelope, moose, muskoxen and more; and the offspring would stock the Point Defiance Zoo.
Noah’s Ark The whole thing sounded a little like Noah’s Ark. Then Parks Director, W.O. Glundberg told folks that for the next year, one pair of each kind of animal would be released in the park to determine the numbers of each species the acreage could support. A $50,000 loan was being secured to pay for a two-year animal acquisition program.
How they were going to move people around this zoo-park was still a mystery. There was talk though of an “aerial tramway” to allow visitors great views.
A few interesting facts 40 years later • The park has grown to over 722 acres.
• Attendance never did reach 500,000, but a 210,356 record was set when the grizzly and black bear exhibit opened in 1993.
• Since it opened, over 4 million people have visited.
• In 2006 Dr. Hellyer passed away, leaving an amazing legacy.
It was 1943 and the world was at war. Even in the tiny town on Eatonville, far from the front lines, the impact the war was having on the country was obvious.
Articles of the Time
In a September ’43 issue of the Dispatch, articles about the new women’s athletic club and an episode at the pool hall ran alongside articles like this:
• Dim-Out. Eatonville’s “Dim-Out” regulations were easing up. Dim-out regulations were in effect along many coastal area roads to reduce light, and make it hard for enemy aircraft to identify target locations. The regulations required homes to pull shades and businesses to turn off signs and marquees.
• Ration Board Needs Volunteers. The Eatonville War Price and Rationing Board was scheduled to open in August and would service LaGrand, Silver Lake, Alder, Elbe, and Ashford, among others. The call was out for volunteers.
Rationing scarce resources and goods, such as gasoline, tires, sugar, meat, silk, shoes, and nylon, was commonplace in 1943 and the Dispatch was anticipating a run on canning sugar.
• The 2nd War Loan Drive. The Eatonville Lumber Company ran an ad to promote the sale of war bonds.
According to Duke University, the War Finance Committees, in charge of the loan drives, sold a total of $185.7 billion in securities. “This incredible mass selling achievement (for helping to finance the war) has not been matched, before or since. By the end of World War II, over 85 million Americans had invested in War Bonds, a number unmatched by any other country.”
• War Stats. The Dispatch also ran information on Eatonville men involved in the war, from where they were stationed to who had been lost.
The paper also reported interesting facts, such as “Two dollars a day from the pockets of every man, every woman, every child in the United States! That’s what it is costing the U.S. to win this war — $260,000,000 a day.”
On a brighter note, the Roxy Theater was doing great business and playing 5 movies a week, including Wings and the Woman, the story of one of the first women in uniform.
In 1909 a young doctor, Albert Wellington (A.W.) Bridge, schooled at the Vermont Medical School, arrived in Eatonville carrying his bicycle and all his earthy possessions. He’d lost his father to a logging accident and his late mother had worked in a sawmill. Now he was focused on providing services to logging camps and lumber mills.
The town was in need of a doctor and T.C. Van Eaton offered to build him a clinic if he’d set up shop in Eatonville.
Taking Care of Loggers A.W. settled in and got right to work. He set up clinics in Kapowsin, Mineral, Ashford and Morton. He also established one of the first medical plans for loggers and lumber company employees — $1 a month for medical care
The doctor didn’t just provide care to loggers. You could find him traveling out to farms — first by horse and buggy and then by car — to deliver babies and care for the sick and injured. Despite this incredibly busy schedule, he still found time to serve as Eatonville’s mayor in 1919.
Estate Goes to Children
When Dr. Bridge passed away in 1949 he surprised many by leaving a half million dollar estate ($4.5 million in today’s dollars). He said all his money was to go to a group or hospital for children, but there was one stipulation. It must be named after his mother and inspiration, Mary Bridge.
The years between 1909 and 1949 were filled with lots of colorful stories, which will be the subject of future columns. Until then, take a look around Eatonville. Dr. Bridge’s footprint is still here.
History of Southeastern Pierce County
Besides a history of Eatonville, Ohop Valley, Longmire, Ashford, National, Elbe, Alder and LaGrande, this 235-page book also includes 154 photographs, an every-name index to text and photographs and the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Eatonville Dispatch. 252 pp. Velobound. 1989.
This 114-page book, written by Abbi Wonacott, covers the early Eatonville settlers, Indiana Henry, Ohop settlers, T.C. Van Eaton, and more. The book contains many facts, stories and pictures of the town and community’s early days.
Where You Can Find Your Copy • The book can be purchased at Kirk’s Pharmacy, in Eatonville, WA
• You can also find the book at the Eatonville library.
It was September 21, 1924, and the townspeople of Eatonville were battling a string of arsons. Little did they know the real fire was yet to come.
Rumor has it, that afternoon in Alder a Fire Marshall swapped someone at the Cascade Timber Company a bottle of whiskey for a slash fire permit. Despite how the slash fire started, what made it a deadly were the 40 mph winds that picked up shortly after it was set.
The fire swept down the hillsides toward Eatonville, covering swatches half a mile to five miles wide and 15 to 20 miles long. It ravaged its way through Pack Forest, Ohop Valley, jumped roads, traveled through Lynch Creek, and Kapowsin, and set fire to millions of board feet of timber as far as Graham.
The draft from the blaze was so powerful “good sized” fir trees were twisted and pulled up from their roots. Barns, houses, livestock, and logging camps were destroyed in the fire’s path and people frantically worked to save their homesteads.
Eatonville resident Frank Hoffman says, “Our family was good friends with the Conrads who lost a barn in the fire. Mrs. Conrad worked hard to save their home and I’m not sure if it was the smoke or the heat, but it left her blind.”
By 5 p.m. the fire had completely encircled Eatonville and 500 people had yet to evacuate.
“The late Mrs. Otto Anderson once told of walking down Eatonville’s main street at the hour,” writes Marjorie Hayes in History of Southeastern Pierce County. “There was no sign of life. All the stores were empty and there was no one on the street but Mrs. Anderson and a bewildered cow. The air was full of smoke and ashes which obscured the sky, and there was a lurid glow over everything.”
Mrs. Larry Smith went up to the school to check on her husband, the custodian. Hayes says, “The fire was roaring through the canyon behind the buildings, and the draft was so great that she feared she would be sucked into it and resorted to crawling on her hands and knees.”
Firefighters from Tacoma arrived in time to help save the residences on the north end of Washington Avenue. More equipment arrived from Fort Lewis, right behind Dr. A. W. Bridge who had rushed from Tacoma to his patients at the Eatonville Hospital.
In the end, it was probably Mother Nature who played the biggest part in saving the town. The “freakish” windstorm shifted direction, which kept the fire literally at arm’s length.
Rains came the next day and Eatonville residents returned, relieved to find their town intact.