Nellie Appleby, born in Chautaugua County, Kansas, had no idea when this picture was taken that she would eventually marry a man named T. C. Van Eaton. She would be his third wife and they would have three kids, John, Robert and Nell.
I’m curious what this little girl would have said if you had told her she would live in a beautiful house on top of a hill. . . in a tiny logging town of Eatonville, Wash.
This photo of Eatonville’s log cabin school, along with the snippet of article, appeared in a publication in 1971, although I’m not sure which one. The girls in the photo are Andrea Tardiff, Diane Henley, Carolee Anderson, Linda Heacock and Chris Gayda.
The portion of the article reads: Tom Van Eaton appears to have left the church growth pretty much to the womenfolk. But the school was another thing.
“He was a great one for education,” Frank Van Eaton said. “He gave a piece of land for the first school and I guess most of the material to build it.”
This building, a small log structure, still stands on the campus of the Eatonville kindergarten-through-12th grade school system.”
Of course, since this picture was taken, the old log school house has been moved to the park. You can’t miss it if you’re at the Eatonville Art Festival.
If you like this picture, the original press photo is still available to purchase on ebay.com.
This snippet from the Eatonville Dispatch, February 9, 1927, gives you a feeling for the everyday goings on in the town the. Some things harken back to a simpler time, when who visited was a newsworthy item. In other areas we can see how far we’ve come as a society (i.e. we’re no longer referring to folks as “colored”).
But for the most part, life goes on like it always has. Movies are still playing in town(although then they were silent). There are still politics — T.C. Van Eaton and H.S. Pravitzbattling it out for school director. There are tragedies, like the death of someone taken too young, and there is still good fun, like dances and suitcase contests, which Frank Van Eaton wins, dressing like a woman.
Life in Eatonville. The more it changes, the more it stays the same.
On September 12, 1912, Eatonville threw a “Welcome Home” parade for the service men who had returned. “Thirty-three of them fell into line at the upper end of Mashell Avenue at the command of J. H. Cosper, formerly First Lieutenant in the 7th Infantry, and with the Starts and Stripes in the lead, paraded to GroeStreet and thence to Red Men’s Hall.
A welcome home address was given by T. C. Van Eatonafter an introduction by Mayor Bridge. The response was given by R. A. Canty, formerly of the infantry regiment stationed at Camp Lewis.
Some of the veterans who paraded were: P. Asmussen, H. Asmussen, Ralph Benston, Alfrew Brewer, Henry Christensen, Will Canty, Einer M. Carlson, Francis Canty, T. Carroll, Ed Christensen, Cassidy, Robert Else, Harry Elmlund, George Fenton, Jas. Franklin, Fred Fredericksen, Dewey Fredricksen, Richard C. Gallear, G. Halverson, F. Jetland, Will Jacobson, Henry James. J. Jensen, Edward Kittleman, Grant Johnson, Giovanni Lazzarette, Wellington Marsh, George Moen, F. L. Metcalf, Anton Mensik, Earl Marrow, Harry Nensen, JacobNightengale, Ward Nettleton, George H. Nelson, Jesse Nagley, Jay Osborne, J. M. Pulford, Jesse Peterson, Earl Pravitz, Al Radigan, Riley, Rusch, Otto Roseburg, Carl S. Risvold, Arthur Snow, Stanley Scurlock Elmer Thomas, G. Turner, Frank Van Eaton, George Wilson, Earl Young.
Looks like the Williams and Van Eatons were having a picnic back in the early 1900s.
• Man to the left against the fence is Charlie Williams and his son Ray.
• Girl holding the watermelon is Susie Van Eaton.
• Girl to the right of Susie with a big bow in her hair is Bessie Van Eaton.
• Annie Miller Crow sits to the far right.
• Man to the right next to Annie is Sid Appleby.
• Girl next to Sid is Ms. Canty.
• Frank Van Eaton is holding the watermelon
• Mac Van Eaton is in the back eating watermelon.
• Between Frank and Mac, the two girls in white are Hazel Williams (left) and Carrie Williams (right). They are are the daughters of Nate Williams and Sarah (Van Eaton) Williams.
The first theater was built by Frank Van Eaton in 1917 (I’ve also heard 1915). The building still stands on Mashell Ave., across from the visitor’s center. However, the “boardwalk” has been long since replaced with concrete.
In 1892, Angelo Pecchia was born a farmer’s son in Italy. No one could have guessed he’d open theaters in the United States — especially since the first motion picture camera was yet to be invented.
Coming to America
Angelo came to the U.S. when his was 16. He performed countless jobs — from railroad worker to laying keel for the Liberty Shipsof WWI. But when a man owing Angelo money paid off his debt with a theater in Orting, Angelo’s destiny was set.
Angelo, who had never seen a roll of film, was a quick learner. By 1922, he opened another theater in Kapowsin and bought the Eatonville theater from Frank and Mac Van Eaton.
By the 40s Angelo was also operating additional theaters in Randle, Mineral, Morton, Steilacoom, Old Town and Salkum, as well as the Narrows Theater in Tacoma, which he built in 1949.
During the 1950s Angelo was constantly on the road. He traveled to Seattle twice a week to pick up new films and to and from the Narrows every night, while his family operated the Eatonville theater.
The Ups and Down The movies and the world changed dramatically over the decades. When Angelo started out, movies were silent (the first talkie didn’t come to Eatonville until 1930) and Angelo hired local pianists to accompany the films.
In the 1930s when Angelo returned from Italy with a new bride, the country was in the throws of the Great Depression. The man who had been handling the Eatonville for Angelo had closed the doors because he couldn’t make a profit.
Angelo immediately reopened, and placed his new bride — who couldn’t speak a word of English — at the door while he ran the projector. In a 1950s interview, Regina said she didn’t look back on that time fondly. But Angelo said, “She learned to talk fast.”
The Roxy By 1942 the economy had improved and Angelo and Regina built the Roxy theater that stands today. But then theaters took another hit — television.
“Everyone in the movie business got scared,” said Regina in a 1979 Dispatch interview. “Lots of people sold out or closed down. People did stay home when it was new, but they started coming back. We didn’t have anywhere to turn, so we stayed open and kept working.”
Another challenge was power failures. “The power would go off a lot and we had to refund everyone’s money when it did,” said Regina.
But it was all worth it. In 1977, after nearly six decades of showing movies, the couple closed their theater doors. The farm boy from Italy and his wife had had an incredible run.
This article article ran in the 50th Anniversary edition of the Dispatch. And you gotta love the name of the bull — General Funston.
The article reads:
Young people of pioneer families in Eatonville around 1909 knew nothing of radios, television, movies, dashing into Tacoma, etc., but they were grand old times, according to those we have talked with recently, and they had lots of fun.
A happy memory was the band that made history by going to the Puyallup Fair, accompanied by a 2,300-pound bull, General Funston, that stories tell was gentle as a lamb. T.C. Van Eaton donated the uniforms and the bull was owned by A. E. Dye.
General Funston walked the nearly 30 miles to Puyallup to haul a float, which was probably Eatonville’s first appearance in an out-of-town parade, and the young players joined him, riding to town on the Tacoma & Eastern.
The band and General Funston were photographed on Mashell Avenueabout where the Richfield Station stands today. Sitting on the General were (left to right): William Canty, Rudolph Wilson, McKinley Van Eaton, Harry Smith, Happy Wilson and Chet McAllister. The drummer was Sam Hawdenshield and with him were Clare McAllister, Frank Van Eaton, Ad Samuels and John Nagley.
The Great Depression was a hard time for families and from 1933 to 1942 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) offered some relief.
Wikipedia states: It was a public work relief program for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.
At CCC camp at RainierThe CCC provided jobs while creating a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory.
Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 2.5 million young men participated. Reserve officers from the U.S. Army were in charge of the camps, but there was no military training or uniforms.
Once the U.S. got into the war, the job market improved and the men were being drafted, the problems was shut down.
These photos were taken of a CCC group up at Mount Rainier. Pat Van Eaton says, “The CCC pictures are of the Nerada Falls camp . They didn’t worked mostly trails bridges and roads.” He adds, that his Dad, John Van Eaton, worked there too. (See images farther down the page.)
Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton. Click on images to enlarge.
Pictured is the home built by T.C. Van Eaton in 1898, located on Rainier Street.
It was built after there were sawmills nearby for lumber and was the height of architecture in its day and the finest home for miles around.
It had eight room. Most of the cedar and scroll were were hand-planed by Lou Osborne. Mr. Van Eaton also freighted some boards, such as flooring, from Tacoma,
The dimension lumber came from Andrean’s mill at Muck Creek, and the foundation timbers from the Goe and Tomlin mill on the Little Mashell.
At the time it was the highest building in town and situated on a knoll. Originally there was a 110-foot well near the back door dug by Nate Williams with the assistance of Silas Barr, an Indian from Indian Henry’s village.
The small house next to is, toward Center Street, was built by Mr. Van Eaton for his mother, Mrs. Caroline Van Eaton, who lived there for five years in the early 1900s. (History of Southeastern Pierce County)
During the 2009 Eatonville Centennial there was a tour a tea at the home. You can read more about the home today in Dixie and Bob Walter’s article. Just click HERE.
Pictured are Left to Right: Kate Dutton, Nellie Van Eaton, Jennie Miller, Frank, Susie and John Van Eaton.