Story and photos by Lily Jaquith
Western Washington University communications intern
On Thursday, many current Edmonds residents gathered at the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery and Columbarium to hear about residents of the past during the annual “Walk Back Through Time” event. Cemetery board members put on period costumes to lead a tour of the historical graves located in the cemetery, including those of 14 former mayors. They also brought back some “ghosts” to share their own tales from Edmonds’ founding.
Among those ghosts was Carrie Yost Astell, the daughter of Alan Yost, one of the founding fathers of Edmonds along with George Brackett. She arrived in Edmonds at age 8 and attended school in the building that is now the Frances Anderson Center.
She married at age 20, to George Astell, who worked with both her father and brother. They had six children, of which one is alive today.
A friend of George Brackett, John C. Lund, was also present at the cemetery. Originally from Norway, his family moved to Minnesota when he was child. When Lund decided to move West, he accompanied the family of Etta Jones, Brackett’s future wife, to the Pacific coast.
Lund worked for many years with George Brackett in logging and the saw mills, where they became great friends. He lived in the Meadowdale area with his wife Matilda and her five children from her first marriage. In 1909 they moved to Edmonds to live out the rest of their years. The land that the Lunds lived on is now Meadowdale Beach Park.
Margaret Brady, the wife of former Edmonds Mayor James Brady, stood by her headstone and set her tragic story straight. She married James at 27 and they moved to Washington from Minnesota shortly after. James Brady held many government positions in Edmonds, including the office of mayor for eight years.
James was a tough businessman who was disliked by many of those who worked with him. He even evicted the Edmonds Tribune after an article was published that criticized a committee James was part of. “Mr. Brady was not afraid to make an important, tough business decision,” Margaret said of her husband.
“It has been said that my last act… was to shoot my husband and myself the same day.” Margaret recalled of her past. That was not the case, she said – she had never touched a gun in her life. Margaret told her audience that she was framed by one of the businessmen who had been upset by her husband’s strong-willed behavior. She leaves it up to the audience to decide what happened.
Special guest George Brackett, the founder of Edmonds, was also present at the event. He ended up on the beach, now known as “Brackett’s Landing,” in the middle of a storm in 1870. After landing, Brackett (played by actor John Hartquist) purchased 140 acres in what is now Edmonds.
In 1884 “we got our post office here, and I was the first postmaster,” Brackett said in explaining the early timeline of Edmonds to interested residents. “We started the board of education, which I was on.”
The city had been named in 1884 after a U.S. senator that Brackett was fond of — George Franklin Edmunds. Due to Brackett’s poor handwriting, the name was mistaken as Edmonds, — the way it is spelled today. Finally, in 1890, Brackett wanted to incorporate the town. “I needed 300 signatures on the petition to incorporate. I had 298 … I used the names of two of my favorite ox.” Officials accepted the petition and Edmonds was incorporated.