Fourth Street and Avenue B Looking West

My promise to share with you a second, early image of the Eagles Hall is postponed until next month in order to follow up on the front page story in last week’s Tribune – the story of apodments and the vacant structure at 402 Avenue E.

snohomish then and nowThis month’s historic image was first published in the paper, October 24, 2007 (pre-dating this blog), following the annual Tour of Historic Homes that featured the Stevens’ House pictured predominantly on the left. The structure in the distant center was identified at the time as possibly that of 402 Avenue E.

Referring to the Sanborn Insurance Maps of 1905, and seeking second opinions, I am certain now that the home pictured in the distance is the subject structure of so much community discussion and emotion.

Missing is its beginning as a family home.

Victor A. Marshall is listed as living at “402 E” in three directories, 1903, 1904 and 1905. The 1900 Census has Victor as head of household, age 46, owner of the home and his occupation as a proprietor of a shingle mill. Family members include his wife, Minnie, age 31; Virgil, age 10; George, age 7; Mary age 4; Maurice, age 2; and a nephew, James, age 20, from Victor’s birth state of Ohio. Snohomish County property records indicate the home was built in 1896.

By 1920, Victor, now 66 years old, is listed as a widow and border living in Seattle with a job described as “Mine owner.” His first born, Virgil, is 40 years old in 1930, and has been married to Grace for 18 years. They are living the good life, we imagine, in San Francisco — he working in the automobile industry, and she as a bookkeeper with a wholesale tobacco company.

Brother George, also living in San Francisco, but in a hotel, still single at 37 years old, and selling insurance. The third boy, Maurice is 32 in 1930, listed as head of household but single, working as a Real Estate salesman.

First daughter and her mother’s namesake, Minnie, doesn’t show up in the records until 1940, age 38, living with her 13 year old son, Dudley as a single mom in a rented home on Bush Street in San Francisco, and working as a waitress. Daughter Mary married Raymond Hatch in Spokane in 1917, and their son Marshall was born the following year. In 1930, age 11, he was living with a relative named Holmes When the boy turned 21, he married Helen Rupp, also 21 years old, living in Seattle, but no record found of any children. My search for living descendants ended there.

Going back to the beginning of this census synopsis, pre 402E, the parents, Victor and Minnie turn up in a 1884-1887 Washington Territory Census, where he is listed as 30 years old, working as clerk; while his wife Minnie Marshall is 18 years old, born in the Territory to a mother from Missouri and a father from New York in 1869.

Snohomish was the county seat then, though barely a clearing on the north bank, 12 miles up the Snohomish River. But by the time their first child, Virgil, was born on October 28, 1890, Snohomish had been an Incorporated City for three months, with a counted population of 2,012 residents.

The passionate discussion around 402E repeated the refrain that the developer was an outsider, looking to make buck. But it’s a song of irony since the town of Snohomish was founded by an outsider looking to make a buck.

E. C. Ferguson came from the east coast via Steilacoom with first, plans to soak the military with a ferry service crossing the river; but when that scheme sunk, he showed up anyway in 1860 to live on his claim with enough supplies to build our first saloon.

The location of the property at 402 Avenue E is legally described in part as “Fergusons 2nd Add to Snoh.” This was land Ferguson was holding back from selling until the arrival of the railroad (1888). Editorials in “The Eye” often chided Ferguson for not developing his land holdings between Avenue D and the Clay Addition to the west.

Council member J. S. White, representing Ward 1, had to bring a lantern with him to council meetings in order to light his way through Ferguson’s dark land to his home on Avenue H.

By the time the Marshall family was living at the corner of 4th and E, Ferguson was doing a land-office business. In the end though, a home is not about price but about the family stories it holds and the memories the Marshall family members carried with them into the world – memories of their childhood adventures amongst the stumps, for example.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, April 17, 2013

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