T.C. Van Eaton

Van Eaton’s General Store (ca. 1910)

T. C. Van Eaton's building, standing where Kirk's parking lot is today.
T. C. Van Eaton’s building, standing where Kirk’s parking lot sits today.

T.C. Van Eaton built the first general store — where Kirk’s Pharmacy stands today — and in 1912 sold it to A. Y. Lindsey Co. 

This appears to be the back half of the store, and T.C. Van Eaton in the center, wearing the dark suit and hat.

A.Y. Lindsey Co., Marshell Ave. (early 1900s)
A.Y. Lindsey Co., Marshell Ave. (early 1900s)

Per Pat Van Eaton, the boy in the chair is John Van Eaton. The man in the doorway is Charlie Williams and his nephew. The pictures was taken around 1914, making John Van Eaton (born 1911) about 3 years old.

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

 

 

T.C. Van Eaton Builds home for his mother (ca. 1900)

House just south of TC Van Eaton's home, built by TC for his mother, Carolyn Emerson
House just south of TC Van Eaton’s home, built by TC for his mother, Carolyn Emerson

These pictures are of the home T.C. Van Eaton built for his mother, Carolyn Emerson. The house is still standing, next to the large Van Eaton home above the medical billing center.

My guess is that Mrs. Emerson is the woman standing in front of the house.

Photo courtesy of Rick Parnell and the Parnell family.

House south of TC Van Eaton home, built for TC's mother, Carolyn Emerson
House south of TC Van Eaton home, built for TC’s mother, Carolyn Emerson

Click on images to enlarge.

You Got Mail (1890 – 1924)

1913. Left: Postmaster Charles Williams. Right: Rural Carrier Fred Matheny. Background Mrs. Williams and Ray Williams.
1913. Left: Postmaster Charles Williams. Right: Rural Carrier Fred Matheny. Background Mrs. Williams and Ray Williams.

In a time when we receive messages via email, Facebook and texting, “snail mail” seems a little old timey. In 1890 though, getting messages in and out of a frontier town was vital.

T.C. Van Eaton wasted no time setting up a post office in Eatonville. The first post office opened July 25, 1890, and “Van Eaton’s first commission as Postmaster bore the signature of Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States.”

Charley Williams Takes Over
In 1907 Charley (C.H.) Williams took over as postmaster. Charley already had a reputation for avoiding red tape. “Before becoming postmaster, he drove a stagecoach and carried mail form Eatonville to Longmire. One day he got in an argument with a bear, which delayed his arrival at Longmire by nearly three hours. When Washington, D.C. heard of this delay, they were agitated and sent a long form in quadruplicate to Charley to explain his tardiness.” Instead of filling out the lengthy form, Charley scrawled across it, Stopped to skin a bear. He heard no more on the matter.

Postal savings card
Postal savings card

While Charley was postmaster, Washington D.C. decided Eatonville would be a postal savings office and sent Charley $37,000 in postal savings certificates and forms to be filled out. Since it was more responsibility and no extra pay, Charley promptly dumped the certificates and forms in a corner. Letters began to arrive from D.C., each more urgent, wanting to know where the forms were. Charley added them to the pile. Finally a postal inspector came to find out where the forms were. Charley pointed to the now substantial pile, saying, “There they are.”  That was the end of the savings certificates.

Fred Matheny Postal Carrier
On April 1, 1909, the first rural route was established and Fred Matheny was appointed carrier. He would hold the position until 1935 when he retired.

The Dispatch states, “Fred Matheny started out with his old black horse, Old Bill. The route was 29 miles long with about 80 patrons. Old Bill would tire out around Clear Lake and [Fred] would sometimes borrow a horse. The second year Old Bill had help by a pair of wild ponies.” (It’s too bad the stories about mail delivery by wild ponies aren’t still around.)

Liberty Brush Runabout
Liberty Brush Runabout

After a few years, Fred used a bicycle and “pumped the long weary miles on cycle to give his horse a resting period.” Fred also used a motorcycle, before buying a Metz automobile in 1914. Next was a two-cylinder Brush. (People said the rattling chains announced their mail delivery.) Later, the Brush was replaced by “a reliable Model T. Ford.”

During Fred’s 26 years, he saw the roads go from mud and planks to pavement. He also saw the weight and number of packages increase. When he began there were about 4,000 pieces of mail a month and parcel post packages were limited to four pounds. By 1919 he had 15,000 piece of mail monthly and in 1924 the weight of parcel post was raised to 50 pounds and 70 in some instances.

Thank goodness the job qualifications for today’s carriers don’t require a strong back, a good horse, and the skills to fend off bears.

Information comes via The Dispatch and Edith’ Erickson’s Timber Town and Later.

Photo courtesy of the Dispatch and Williams family.

Click on image to enlarge.

Eatonville Moves from Horses to Cars 1914 (Mashell Ave.)

Mashell Ave. (1914)
Mashell Ave. (1914)

The move from horses to cars didn’t happen overnight. You can see from this picture of Mashell Avenue during the winter of 1914.

Per Pat Van Eaton, this pictures shows a big time of change for Eatonville.   T.C. Van Eaton had just sold his store to Christensen. Electric power had reached Mashell Ave.. The two men at the far right are standing where the top rail of the hitching post used to be, and you can still make out the uprights. On the utility pole hangs a sign that reads “Gas for Sale” and there is a hand pump and hose at the base of the pole.

And there is change soon to come. In May 1915 the hardware store will burn down, soon a modern high school will be built at the end of the street and within four years the horse and buggy ear will be gone.

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

T. C. Van Eaton’s Stage Coaches

T. C. Van Eaton's Stage Coach
T. C. Van Eaton’s Stage Coaches

Here we see the stage coaches that took people from Eatonville to Tacoma.

“The two wagons in the center are T. C. Van Eaton’s stage coaches and one of the men standing by it is T.C.,” says T.C.’s grandson, Pat Van Eaton. “The location was a stopping point  — what is now Elk Plain. T.C. would only use two horse teams from Tacoma to Eatonville because of the relatively easy grades.

From Eatonville to Mt. Rainier he had six horse teams due the steep grade out of Eatonville and the one from Longmire to Paradise. They left the Groe Hotel at day break and only from June through September. A diary kept by Bob Potter has entries form the passengers he carried most of whom complained about the rough ride.”

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

T. C. Van Eaton Ad for New Homes (1913)

EHS Cattalog 1912-13 - T.C. Van Eaton Ad
EHS Cattalog 1912-13 - T.C. Van Eaton Ad

T. C. Van Eaton ran this ad in the 1913 Eatonville High School catalog.  Who couldn’t turn down building their home here with the new industries, excellent schools and easy terms.

This really was a good deal. Ten dollars in 1913 was equivalent to about $228 today.

If you’d like to see another of his ads, just click here.

Images courtesy of Rich and Ruthie Williams.

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

First Eatonville Bakery (ca.1902)

Chamberlain's 1st bakery ca 1902
Chamberlain's 1st bakery ca 1902

No town is complete without a bakery. One of Eatonville’s first building’s was Chanley Chamberlain’s bakery built around 1902. Behind you can see the T.C. Van Eaton home up on the hill.

In the same year, Thomas A. Edison‘s Fun at the Bakery Shop was a fun little silent movie. If you’ve got 1 minute and 38 seconds, take a look.

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Day in the Dispatch – Feb. 9, 1927

Piece of a page from the Eatonville Dispatch, February, 1927
Piece of a page from the Eatonville Dispatch, February, 1927

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. Pravitz battling 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.

Click on image to enlarge.

Image courtesy of Linda Lewis.