The First Settlers

Robert Fiander’s Passport – 1919

Robert Fiander passport - 1919 - to visit British Isles
Robert Fiander passport - 1919 - to visit British Isles

Robert Fiander, born 1847, was 71 years old when this passport was issued to visit his sisters in the British Isles.

Detailed Passport
Passports in the early 1900s were a bit more detailed than today. Notice at bottom, left hand corner, the passport includes a hand written physical description — including the shape of  face and nose.

Robert was the first white man to settle in Southern Pierce County and lived up near Swan Lake, behind the Ohop Grange. He still has descendants living in Eatonville the community today.

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

Clara Fiander Jensen: True Eatonville Woman

Today’s blog is by guest blogger Abbit Wonnacott. She is the author of Firm Foundation, The Formation of Eatonville, Wa., and you can view the entire book on her blog Early Eatonville, WA.

Fiander Daughters in 1899. Clara is the one on the left of the two tallest girls.
Fiander Daughters in 1899. Clara is the one on the left of the two tallest girls.

While researching early Eatonville history, I have come to admire many of our early citizens.  The Dean/Fiander family has become very near and dear to me.  One member that has greatly influenced me is Clara Fiander Jensen.

Clara was the eldest daughter of Robert and Catherine Fiander.  Robert came from England, married a native woman, had one son, and then grieved his wife’s death.  Later, he met and married Catherine Dean.  Catherine Dean was the daughter of Hudson’s Bay employee Aubrey Dean and a Snohomish/Yakima woman named Chelalicum who went by the name Rosa.  Catherine was the fourth child and eldest daughter.  Her own daughter Clara was also the eldest daughter with seven other sisters.

Clara Fiander was born on January 2, 1883 and raised in the Swan/Silver Lake area of Eatonville.  Her home was literally the “end of the road” in South Pierce County.  Many travelers such as Ohop Valley Settlers, James Longmire, Paul Hayes, Nate Williams, and TC Van Eaton were treated to dinner and lodging.  At meals, Clara heard many tales and even an ambitious plan to start a town.  Besides the various travelers, she had plenty of sisters and her schoolmates from Swan Lake School to keep her occupied.

Swan Lake School in 1893. The Fiander girls and mom, Catherine, are all dressed in plaid.
Swan Lake School in 1893. The Fiander girls and mom, Catherine, are all dressed in plaid.

In 1900, Clara was finished with school and ready to start her own life.  She journeyed to find work in the Yakima Valley.  Once here, Clara stayed with her half-brother William Fiander.  One day as she was riding, Clara happened upon some farmers working hay.  On one of the large haystacks, her eyes fixed on one man: John Jensen.  He was strong, handsome, and felt the same reaction when he saw Clara.  Jensen said, “That is the woman I’m going to marry.”  By 1907, they had been married five years and had two beautiful little girls.  Bessie was born in 1905 and younger sister Little Clara was born two years later.

In 1910, Clara longed for family and home, so the Jensen family left Toppenish.  John handled the wagon, but Clara road a saddled horse with her two girls up front.  Their entire, little family traveled over the Cascades through the Naches Trail.  When they came to a large lake, Clara had her horse swim across and carried all three safely to the other side.

Clara and John Jensen with their daughters Clara (left) and Bessie (right) holding the hunting dogs.
Clara and John Jensen with their daughters Clara (left) and Bessie (right) holding the hunting dogs.

Once back home, Clara and John Jensen bought 160 acres farm near Silver Lake.  The farm cost $4,900, and it had been a homestead complete with a log house, a larger framed house, and even an apple orchard.  Together, they cleared more land with a team of mules and worked the place to make it their home.  According to granddaughter June Carney, “The farm had a herd of registered Guernsey cattle, sold breeding stock, and shipped cream to the Enumclaw Creamery.”  There were pigs, a flock of chickens, and fine thoroughbred hunting dogs.

Clara Jensen soon became famous for her hunting prowess.  She was featured in a 1923 article for “Interesting Westerners” in Sunset Magazine.  It touted her as “Washington’s Diana” for her tracking skills and use of her 30-30 carbine rifle.  Every year Clara bagged one deer plus hunted raccoons, coyotes, bears, and her specialty: wildcats.

According to the Sunset article, Clara was quick and ready to help anyone around with a problem wildcat.  One night, she got a call from seven miles away.  Something was attacking a farmer’s goats.  Clara raced out there with her carbine rifle in hand and her dogs trailing ahead.  It was a wildcat indeed.  Once they treed the cat, Clara used a lantern to detect the glow of the cat’s eyes.  She took aim, shot, and the animal tumbled to the ground.  The farmer was so pleased; he grabbed up the wildcat and threw it across his shoulders.  Suddenly, the wildcat awoke and started clawing the farmer.  Clara ran up and hit the cat with a club, shot it through its head, and saved the farmer from horrible lacerations.

Clara's daughters Clara and Bessie with their hunting dogs and photographer's stuff bear.
Clara's daughters Clara and Bessie with their hunting dogs and stuffed bear.

Clara is shown in the Sunset article wearing the actual pelt of the wildcat.  It was one of the biggest wildcats they had seen weighing 45 pounds.  While being interviewed for the Sunset article, Clara was on the hunt for three bears that were bold enough to come into the yard and at one time had even roughed up her hunting dogs.  Later, many family photos feature a stuffed cub.  I wonder if it was one of the three.

Life was good and all was going well at the farm.  Her daughters Bessie and Clara had grown and married in the 1920’s.  Sadly, Little Clara was tragically widowed in 1927 causing her to return home with her own two daughters Ladine (nick named “Chick”) and June.  Later, in the early 1930’s, Clara’s other daughter also returned with her own three sons.  Then, in 1934, John Jensen became very ill requiring additional care at home.  Their neighbor Catherine Nelson was a registered nurse and came over to give shots and other medical care to John Jensen.  Tragically, John did not heal and died in 1935.

Picture of Clara Jensen that appeared in Sunset Magazine. Pelt is of the 45-pound wildcat she took down.
Picture of Clara Jensen that appeared in Sunset Magazine. Pelt is of the 45-pound wildcat she took down.

The farm still required a lot of attention, so the Jensen family hired a man named Red Bray to work on the farm.  He was paid $15.00 plus room and board.  The grandchildren were a big help as they milked, hayed, fed, gardened, and cooked.

June Carney remembers following and aiding her grandmother with daily chores.  June was such a big help that Grandma Clara would say, “Someday, she will save my life.”  Those words were prophetic.  As Clara did many times, she jumped into the corral containing cows and a bull.  As June Carney recalls, “She made a fatal mistake.  She went into the corral with blood on her hand.  This enraged the usually gentle bull, and he attacked her.”  June screamed until Red Bray grabbed a pitchfork and subdued the bull.  June Carney wrote, “The bull had injured my grandmother quite a bit.  She had broken ribs and breast bone and many bruises.”

Clara lived out most of her days of that beautiful farm surrounded by her daughters and grandchildren.  She even enjoyed hunting well into her seventies.  Clara was an active member in the Eatonville Sportsmen’s Club, Silver Lake Club, and the Ohop Ladies Aid.

Eventually, the children grew, got married, and it was just Clara Jensen and her daughter Clara Acuff.  By 1957, the farm became too much, and they moved to a house in the town of Eatonville.  One day, as her great-grandson John Carney was visiting, Clara told John to come in.  Keeping her feet square and knees locked, Clara bent down and with both hands flat touched the floor exclaiming, “I must be still doing good!”  That night with daughter by her side, Clara Fiander Jensen died at age 82 on July 10, 1965.

Clara lived a very full life of a settler, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  She could shoot a wildcat in one moment and dress her two little girls up right with love and care in the next.  She was an all around woman of Eatonville.

I often think about Clara Jensen, her life, the hardships, and joys.  When I get too busy or life throws me curves, I stop and remember the lessons from her life.  Never be too busy for your family and tough it out when life gets hard.


Boettchers Come to Town (1895)

Boettcher Children (plus 1), LtoR, George, Ernest, Emma, Paula Bushing, Willie, Charley, Minnie
Boettcher Children (plus 1), LtoR, George, Ernest, Emma, Paula Bushing, Willie, Charley, Minnie

Carl Boettcher arrived in Alder in 1895. Carl was the brother-in-law of Henry Lutkens. Carl brought his wife and six children. Unfortunately, Carl’s wife died just two year later.

The family was living in a small shack and neighbors got together and built him a hewed cedar log house.

The Boettchers have been active part of the community since Carl came to town. Expect to see their name throughout this site.

Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on images to enlarge.




Charley's pond — Charley on left in later years
Charley's pond — Charley on left in later years

Hotel Groe (1892)

Stage Coach outside Hotel Groe
Stage Coach outside Hotel Groe

Paul Haynes built the hotel for Frank Groe in 1892 on the south corner of Mashell Avenue and Groe Street. It was then called the Pioneer Hotel.

The 20 x 40 building, with eight bedrooms, was constructed solely of split cedar boards, nailed up and down onto a frame of hewed poles. There wasn’t a foot of sawed lumber throughout the entire building. (History of Southeastern Pierce County).

Very Functional
The Groe’s hotel was multi-functional. The first church wasn’t built until 1912, so the first public services were held at the hotel.

The hotel caught fire several time, and the townsfolk were able to put it out. But eventually the place went down in flames.

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.


The King Clan – 1889

The King Family
The King Family - 1889

The King family homesteaded in the Silver Lake area and this photo was taken in 1889 in front of the family home.

Front Row (sitting), Left to Right: Orena King (Mrs. Bob Potter), Tennessee Lahuna King (Mrs. Clifford Manning)

Second Row: Hiram P. King, John Dillard King (Father), John’s wife, Margaret C. King, Margaret King (Mr. M. Taylor)

Third Row: Zella King (Mrs. Salva Jensen), Stonewall Jackson King, Ellen rebecca King (Mrs. Louis Grundell), Roscoe B. King, Laura Olympia King (Mrs. C.C. Josselyn), Vivian Lee King (Mrs. Gurnie Van Eaton).

The Kings would have an ongoing impact on the growing community. For example Roscoe went on to open “King’s Place“, next door to the Ohop Grange.

Expect to see their names sprinkled throughout these blog postings.

Photo Courtesy of Monte King.

Click on image to enlarge.

The Deans & Their Bear Cub

George, Rose and Daisy Dean (and cub)
George, Rose and Daisy Dean (and cub)

Who said pioneers didn’t have pets. Up in the tree the Deans seem to have adopted a cub. Actually, that’s not a pet, it’s a prop that the photographer used. (You may spot it in other Dean photos as well.)

This shot from the History of Pierce County shows pioneer George Dean, his mother Rose and Daisy Dean (Daisy is Eveyln Guske’s mom).

George Dean purchased 160 acres in 1890 near Kreger Lake. From the sounds of it, Rose had some strong opinions and she and Daisy didn’t get along (Per Firm Foundation) and this pictures seems to confirm it.

The Girls are Packing Heat

Susie Scoggins, Emma Parshall, Bud Scoggins, Flora Lish and Bessie Fiander
Susie Scoggins, Emma Parshall, Bud Scoggins, Flora Lish and Bessie Fiander

This photos, taken in the early 1900s, includes (left to right): Susie Scoggins, Emma Parshall, Bud Scoggins, Flora Lish and Bessie Fiander.

The Fianders are some of the easliest settlers. Here is an excerpt from the 1959 Eatonville Dispatch 50th Anniversary Section:

Robert Fiander was the first white made to settle in Southern Pierce County. He was born in Dorcetshire, England in 1947. He cmae to this country in 1871 and three years later found him staking out a homestead claim at Swan Lake. (This site is now Ogie Enwall’s Swan Lake Dairy.)

Bessie Fiander
Bessie Fiander

A brother, Richard Fiander, had come to the “new world” 21 years before and was wth the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Nisqually.

It was a two-day trip from Tacoma and travelers were always welcome to the Fiander home. And extra place was set at the table and if there wasn’t room to put them uall up for the night, beds were made int he barn’s hayloft.

James Longmire stopped thre on this way to Mt. Rainier, as did the Ohop Valley pioneers and later T. C. Van Eaton and his brother-in-law, Nate Williams.

The Fianders had eight children, four os home survive. Theses are Susie Scoggins and Mrs. Clara Jensen, both of Eatonville, Mrs. Hannah Leber of Spanaway and Mrs. Flora Asplund, who lives in Eastern Washington.

Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Swan Lake School, 1893

Swan Lake School, 1893
Swan Lake School, 1893

The first school built was the Swan Lake School, #40, and measured about  16′ x 24′ .

The following is taken from Timber Town and Later:

The school was “made of rough boards” from Tominson’s Mill at Hart’s Lake. It had windows on each side, a split cedar shake roof, a plank floor, and “a small hewn log served as a door step”.

The school was heated by a wood burning “box” in the center of the room. Students were responsible for keeping a supply of wood cut and ready for use.

Swan Lake Roster, 1893
Swan Lake Roster, 1893

A water bucket sat to the right of the entrance on a wooden bench and was filled from a well at the Fiander homestead about half mile away.

The first seats and desks were homemade. The students’ seats and desks were one unit and several children sat at a unit. The teacher’s desk stood at the front of the room opposite the door. On the teacher’s desk you could find a hand bell and the few books she had at her disposal.

The blackboard was simply two painted boards set end to end, with a  small space between. And the teacher and students joined forces keeping the school clean.

The first year students were taught reading, math and writing. “There was actually little formal reading done as the first requirement was to learn the alphabet.”

School Year
The school year was only three months long, with days running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bad news . . . school ran during the summer.