The First Settlers

Early Pioneer Hotel (1892)

Pioneer Hotel 1892
Pioneer Hotel 1892

If you made your way to Eatonville in its first years, you would be staying at the Pioneer HotelPaul Haynes built the hotel for Frank Groe in 1892 on the southern corner of Mashell Avenue and Groe Street. It looks pretty primitive, but someone still managed to carry in a camera to get this shot.

Later on it became the Hotel Groe and even served as the first church in 1912. Like most buildings of its time, it eventually burned.

On a completely different note — and I’m aware this is a girl talking — how did the woman in this picture keep her apron so white? I can’t keep my own clothes that clean in the kitchen.

*Note: Read comment below about the water system in the picture.

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

T.C. Van Eaton Home 1971

T.C. Van Eaton home 1971 (front)
T.C. Van Eaton home 1971 (front)

These press photos of the old T.C. Van Eaton home were taken in 1971. The small article says at the time it was being considered as a family and regional museum. It also mentions the town hall was new then too.

“The Van Eatons built a “mansion,” a sturdy square structure on a knoll above town, in the late 1890s. It was pretty fancy going for those roughhewn pioneer days. Another Van Eaton son, John, is having it restored, not a monumental task considering the sturdiness of its construction. He plans to make it into a family and regional museum.

Rear of T.C. VanEaton Home 1971
Rear of T.C. VanEaton Home 1971

As a museum it will be a welcome adjunct to the new Town Hall, which in the manner of such facilities these days is becoming as much a community center as the site of city offices, the jail, the fire house and such.”

If you like the pictures, the original press photo are available on ebay.

Click on images to enlarge.

Van Eaton Text - 1971

Why we have that weird intersection at Mashell and Center

Celebration of the 1st train to arrive in Eatonville, 1904
Celebration of the 1st train to arrive in Eatonville, 1904

The intersection at Mashell and Center is an odd one —  Center almost lining up with itself, but not quite. Makes you wonder if the town planners had one too many beers that night. The real reason, I’ve heard though, was that it was the town’s well behind the weird intersection. The well was vital and the road had to move around it.

Getting Water
Here is a piece that ran in a 1936 issue of the Dispatch:

Paul Haynes favored The Dispatch with a view of some treasured photographs, newspaper pictures and clipping belonging to his daughter, Mrs. Otto Haynes. One of theses showed a picture published in The Dispatch, or its predecessor many years ago, depicting a scene of the center of Eatonville activities at the time.

Groe Hotel — was located approximately where Center and Madison meet
Groe Hotel — was located approximately where Center and Madison meet

In the foreground is the only well of water in the settlement, located, we are told, about where Mashell avenue and Groe [Center] street now intersect. Close by is the Pioneer Hotel, operated by Frank M. Groe, built all of “split lumber,” we are informed by Mr. Haynes, who built it for Groe. The hotel had ten bedroom upstairs, with a kitchen, dining room and sitting room downstairs. Another building in the picture is a shack which housed the saloon, also operated by Groe, and adjoining the hotel, with packhorses standing around in close vicinity to the well, hotel and saloon.

The well was about 20 feet deep, contained good water and was the only source of supply for the inhabitants. The well was equipped with an apparatus unknown to most of the present day population of Eatonville, a “sweep.”

Town Pump article, 1936, Eatonville Dispatch
Town Pump article, 1936, Eatonville Dispatch

The sweep lightened the labor of pulling up buckets of water. It consisted of a long pole mounted on a stationary post in such a way that it pivoted on the post. At one end fo the pole was attached a rope and bucket, and it was weighted down at the other by stones in a container also attached to the pole. When the drawer of water used the sweep he upped down on the rope, raising the weighted end of the pole, and let the bucket down into the well. With the bucket full, the rope was released and the weight of the stones raised the bucket with only slight guidance by the user.

So, next time you’re making a weird jog on Center street across Mashell, you’re making your way around a well that provided water for a young Eatonville.

Photo courtesy of the Dispatch, Pat Van Eaton, Haynes Family.

Click on images to enlarge.
 

Paradise Valley, August 1898

Paradise Valley, August 1898
Paradise Valley, August 1898

This photo of Paradise Valley was taken by an Eatonville family in August 1898. The mountain hasn’t changed much in the last 120 years, but not so back on lower ground. The Spanish-American War was taking place and Caleb Badham was naming his new soft drink — Pepsi-Cola.

“Built in 1917, the Paradise Inn is one of the oldest elevated mountain resorts in the nation and in 1987 was declared a National Historic Landmark. Over its ninety-some year history, the Paradise Inn has housed a number of famous guests, from Shirley Temple to President Harry S. Truman to the crown prince of Norway, proving that the lovely Paradise Valley landscape is truly fit for a king.” (www.threebearslodge.net)

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

Eatonville’s Pioneer Hotel 1890s

Eatonville's Pioneer Hotel, 1890s
Eatonville's Pioneer Hotel, 1890s

I’ve wondered what draws people to hardship. This picture shows the Pioneer Hotel and what Eatonville looked liked in the 1890s. These people came here to start farms and build a town. Sounds good, but starting a farm then meant clearing lands with a hand saw and a horse and building your own house and barn. And that’s BEFORE you ever got to farming.  Heck, I feel taxed if I have to clear branches after a storm, and I own a chain saw.

It’s hard imagining taking your family out in the wilderness where there are no schools or amenities, especially when there were towns like Tacoma, not all that far away. But they did it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad they made the trek, but I’d really like to talk to some of them today and find out what they were thinking.

Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton and City of Tacoma.

Tacoma 1890
Tacoma 1890

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Bridge Near LaGrande

Private bridge across Nisqually Canyon
Private bridge across Nisqually Canyon

When I came across this photo, my heart stopped. Who used ti? And even more frightening, how did they built it?

Pat VanEaton supplied me some of the information.

“It went across the Nisqually Canyon near the Tacoma Power pipeline There were homesteaders on the south side of the canyon that used it. I’m fairly certain that it was a private endeavor. The Kruse family homesteaded across the bridge and left or sold their claim when their son Paul entered Eatonville high school. I believe it was gone by 1930.”

The Kruse family was one of the first settlers in the in Alder area. They built their round log cabin in 1892. (Per History of Southeastern Pierce County.)

If you look closely you can see the Canyada Lodge  on the far hill, sticking out a little behind the trees on the right,

Photo courtesy of Beryl Olson.

Click on image to enlarge.

 

N.P. Christensen and Maren Pederson (early settlers)

Anton Jensen and Family & NP Christensen and family, August 1917, Mud Lake
Anton Jensen and Family & NP Christensen and family, August 1917, Mud Lake

Guest blogger Bob Walter gives us some background on Eatonville’s early settlers, Pete and Maren Christensen.

N.P. (Nels “Pete”) Christensen and Maren Pedersen, both born in Denmark, met in the United States and were married in Neenah, Wisconsin in 1889. Awhile after reaching Tacoma in 1890, they walked all the way to Ohop Lake, N.P. carrying their baby, Katie, in his arms. They settled there but found they were on railroad land, so had to relocate; they moved several times before buying property in the town of Eatonville, where they remained. They raised five children, Katie, Anne (Haynes), Henry, Edward and Dan.

In 1912 Mr. Christensen bought the fledgling Mashell Telephone Company from Dye and Biggs; the Christensen family and descendents have been primary owners of the communications company ever since. It is now called Rainier Connect. There were about 30 telephones in Eatonville when he purchased the two-year-old company.

Maren Christensen
Maren Christensen

Pete Christensen was a key figure in the early days of Eatonville Schools, building the first school building with a furnace in it, then building another of the exact same design when the first one burned down barely a year after it was built. Pete was also a member of the school board that hired B.W. Lyon.

They were determined to have a school system second to none. Pete was on the school board from 1911 to 1917, and was re-elected to the board in 1936. He was a volunteer fireman and was part of the team pulling the hose cart to fires in 1920, at around 50 years of age.

Pete liked to drink one shot of whiskey each evening and smoke on his cigar. Maren sent him outside for that ritual.

Robert and Catherine Dean Fiander

Our guest blogger today, Bob Walter, gives us some background of pioneers Robert and Catherine Dean Fiander.

Robert Fiander and his horses
Robert Fiander and his draft horses

The area’s first pioneer homesteader survived a long, hand-to-hand fight with a cougar, and lived to tell about it.

Robert Fiander was born in Dorset County, England, Sept. 30, 1847, one of 12 children.

Fiander filed his claim near Swan Lake in 1874, several miles west of what later became Eatonville, the very first white settler in this area. He built a small log cabin and survived by hunting and fishing, while clearing and draining his land for farming. His encounter with the cougar was presumably during those early years. He raised cattle, and draft horses, and then became a dairy farmer. He lived there for the better part of 48 years.

Robert married twice. His first wife Jennie, an Indian girl, had a son. Jennie died nine years later. Robert later married Catherine Dean. They had eight daughters.

Fiander is said to have introduced T.C. Van Eaton to Indian Henry.

After Van Eaton arrived in the area in 1889, he persuaded a group of men from neighboring homesteads to help build a road from Fiander’s place to the Van Eaton claim. Certainly Fiander’s involvement, being established and having draft horses, was critical.

Catherine Fiander is on the far right holding the baby
Catherine Fiander is on the far right holding the baby in front of Swan Lake School

Fiander was a county road supervisor for a number of years, a perfect role for a man with draft horses. He helped another settler, Herman Anderson, lower his wagon straight down the side of Ohop Valley to his homestead claim by use of a rope, a stump for a hitch, and his oxen team.

His daughter Susie (Scoggins) was five when she rode in the wagon with her father to Eatonville. On Ohop Hill his horse, Daisy, was so startled Robert almost lost control of her. The source of her fright? A boy careening by on his bicycle.

He served on the Swan Lake School Board for many years.

The Fianders opened their home on many occasions to travelers, and Catherine Fiander was known for her skill at treating and mending the sick, especially with the use of poultices. She comforted the dying as well. She had a huge, plentiful garden and shared her bounty with anyone in need.

At age 71, five years after Catherine’s death, Robert Fiander got a passport and traveled to England to visit his sisters, whom he presumably hadn’t seen in 48 years.

He died in Eatonville in 1927, age 79.

Torger Peterson’s Road Poll Tax – 1899

Road Poll Tax 1899-1
Road Poll Tax 1899-1

It appears Torger Peterson paid his 1899 Road Poll Tax of $4.00 versus working on the roads.

In 1899 every male 21 years or older had to pay the road poll tax or pay by labor of $4/day ($4 equivalent to  $105 today) or 2 days of labor. Each man had to provide his own tool (axe, shovel or pick) as directed by the supervisor when the supervisor needed them out for work. (Per Enumclaw Heritage.)

It’s an interesting way to keep your roads in shape.

Road Tax Notice 1899
Road Tax Notice 1899

Images courtesy of Linda Lewis.

Click on images to enlarge.