Newly-discovered documents open window into Edmonds’ past

George and Etta Brackett with four of their six children in front of their home at 2nd and Edmonds Street, circa 1900. (Photo courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)
A collection of more than 70 original documents dating back to before Edmonds’ founding is shedding new light on the earliest days of our community, and further enriching the city’s already colorful and interesting past. While the records are still being studied in detail, initial examination of them is already closing gaps in the historic record, and providing information about Edmonds’ origins that had previously been only known anecdotally.

Source documents dating back to 1870 on original land purchases by Edmonds founder George Brackett and others reveal names, dates, descriptions and prices paid for forest acreage and home sites that were the genesis of our community. The collection also includes George and Etta Brackett’s original 1906 divorce decree, in which the court found Brackett “guilty of great cruelty” toward his wife, which “rendered her life burdensome.” In this decree, the court ordered him to pay her an initial $200 settlement plus $25 per month in child support. It also directed George Brackett to give his estranged wife “the piano now in the old house and place said piano in plaintiff’s [Etta Brackett’s] new home within ten days, and in addition thereto the plaintiff be given one hog.”

“We became aware of these documents while working with the [Edmonds] School District to transfer ownership of the Civic Field property” said City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite. “The District’s Facilities Director Brian Harding happened to be cleaning out some old files at the time, called me over, showed me a foot-high stack of documents and asked if I’d be interested. My eyes just popped! It is amazing that these have been maintained in such good condition over the years, and bear such historical significance for the early foundation of Edmonds.”

After discussions that included Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, it was agreed that the Edmonds Historical Museum would be the appropriate home for these pieces of our past, where they will be maintained for public display and safekeeping.

“The Edmonds Historical Museum is thrilled to add these important pieces of history to our collection,” said Museum Director Caitlin Kelly. “Documents like these provide valuable insight into our city’s history, and history buffs will no doubt enjoy perusing their contents.”

Kelly said Museum Collections Manager Briana Brenner will properly catalogue the documents and then enter them into the museum’s database. Kelly hopes to have them publicly displayed alongside the museum’s new exhibit “Edmonds in Focus”, which opens Feb. 4, 2017.

Earling and Hite plan to officially donate the documents to the Edmonds Historical Museum at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, and the public is invited to attend. The museum is located at 118 5th Ave. N.

— By Larry Vogel


  1. What a treasure to find. I hope the Edmonds School District’s Facilities Director, Brian Harding, is invited to be a part of the presentation. For, without him, these documents would not be in the hands of the City of Edmonds. Many people find old papers and just toss them. He had the insight to contact the city and should be recognized. Edmonds School District is, in my opinion, more of a donor to the Historical Museum than the City of Edmonds as the documents have been in their possession for over one hundred years. They simply passed through the “hands” of the City on their way to the Museum.

  2. This is a good reminder to people who may have items of historical interest. Before donating them to Goodwill or the trash can, check with Caitlin Kelly, Director of the Edmonds Historical Museum.

    1. My assumption, since the article says it was during the process of transfer of ownership of Civic Field property, is that these documents were in storage used by the ESD on the south side of the grandstands. There are a number of storage areas located under the seating area and they are mostly accessible from the alley behind the grandstands.

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