Looking Back: The life of George Brackett (1841-1927) — Part 2

George Brackett in 1926. (Courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)

You can read Part 1 here.

Along the shores of Puget Sound, all seemed quiet at the Ten-Mile Beach Settlement when the census taker visited the home of George and Etta Brackett and their children in June of the year 1880.  Four years later much had changed, and 1884 turned out to be an important year in the lives of the Brackett family.  That year, the Ten-Mile Beach Settlement was renamed Edmonds, a post office was authorized, Edmonds was platted, and the Edmonds School District became a reality.

Continuation of the timeline relating to the life of George Brackett

1884 – 1887: As more settlers began arriving, the Ten-Mile Beach Settlement was renamed Edmonds by George Brackett. Following the name change, he filed an application with the Post Office Department for the establishment of a post office under the settlement’s new name. On April 3, 1884, the Edmonds Post Office was authorized and George Brackett was appointed as the first postmaster.  The post office was located in a building he had erected for that purpose on the waterfront, near his wharf.

George Brackett became the first merchant in Edmonds when he purchased some food items and other goods and opened a store in his post office building.

George and Etta Brackett home, 2nd and Edmonds Streets. (Photo courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)

On Aug. 24, 1884, George and Etta Brackett filed the first plat of a townsite for Edmonds.

Edmonds School District #15 was organized in 1884, and held its first classes in space provided in George Brackett’s feed barn; with six children attending the school. The historic building remained at the southwest corner of today’s 3rd Avenue North and Edmonds Street until 1964, when it was demolished and replaced by an apartment complex at 233 3rd Ave. N.

George Brackett’s house before demolition in 1965. (Source: Edmonds Tribune-Review)

The feed barn proved to be an inconvenient class room, and a one-room school opened in 1887 on land donated by George Brackett between Third and Fourth Streets, just south of George (Main) Street.

In 1887, George Brackett sold his waterfront building and the inventory, and turned the post office and the store over to newly-arrived Matthew Ellison Hyner.

1889: Mary Connell Brackett, widow of Daniel Brackett, Sr. and mother of George Brackett, died Feb. 22, 1889, in Dunn County, Wisconsin, at the age of 81. Mrs. Brackett had lived with son Abraham Brackett on his 160-acre farm in Dunn County, Wisconsin, since 1872. She is buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Eau Claire, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, where her husband Daniel Brackett, Sr. may also be buried. Cemetery records state that Mrs. Brackett had been blind for nine years. It was also noted that only nine of her 20 children survived her.

In 1889, at his old wharf, George Brackett built the first lumber mill in Edmonds — where Brackett’s Landing is located today. His lumber mill was active until a fire destroyed it in 1893.

Much the same as in Holland, along the waterfront of Edmonds dikes continued to be built to hold back the sea water. Along with the many shingle mills they protected, the dikes remained a part of the Edmonds waterfront for several decades. Also, more trenches were being dug to drain the marshland.     

1890:  On Monday, Aug. 11, 1890, the board of Snohomish County Commissioners declared that the voters had on Aug. 7 cast a majority of favorable ballots for the incorporation of Edmonds. Incorporation was made official on Aug.14, 1890, when Allen Weir, Washington’s Secretary of State, filed the order creating Edmonds as a fourth-class village, to be designated as the Town of Edmonds. On Aug. 20, 1890, George Brackett was elected as the first mayor of Edmonds.

George Brackett had previously obtained 555 acres of land adjoining his original 140.75-acre purchase. The 555 acres was mainly to the east of his original holding. In 1890, he sold 455 acres of this land to the Minneapolis Realty & Investment Company, and the company, in anticipation of a land boom with the expected arrival of train service via the Great Northern Railway, formed the Edmonds Improvement Company to supervise development of the town.

Mr. Brackett continued to maintain a personal interest in Edmonds as the streets were laid out and other public improvements were made.

A larger wharf was built in 1890. Six hundred feet long, with a 200-foot face, this new wharf was used in the fueling of the Puget Sound steamers making stops in Edmonds.  Until Great Northern Railway’s train service did arrive, the Puget Sound steamers furnished the only viable means of connection with the outside world.

As mentioned earlier, the town already had a lumber mill; however, in 1890, the first shingle mill began operation on the waterfront of Edmonds.  

1891-1893: Even though the country was beginning to experience a financial recession, for a time Edmonds appeared to be moving forward. Of great importance, and as expected, Great Northern Railway began laying tracks along the waterfront. Postmaster and merchant Matthew Hyner wrote in his diary on June 17, 1891 that the track laying engine had rounded Hamlin’s Point (Point Edwards) at 5 p.m. that day.

Edmonds Graded School, 1891-1927 (Courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)

From the earliest days of Edmonds, George Brackett seemed to maintain a special interest in the education of the children. Realizing that as more families were arriving, and the small one-room school in use since 1887 needed to be replaced by a larger and more advanced one, Mr. Brackett negotiated a trade with the investment company, and reclaimed a small section of the 455 acres he had sold to them. He then gave this section of land to the town for construction of a two-story, turreted, wood-framed building for the new school — this one consisting of eight grades. Opened in 1891, this more advanced school became known as Edmonds Graded School. Its location was between 6th and 7th on George Street.

In this progressive graded school, the lower classes ended with the sixth grade. Since Edmonds did not have a four-year high school until 1910, a two-year accredited high school curriculum was made available to students following completion of the sixth grade.  For those who took advantage of this opportunity, after graduation from the eighth-grade, this two-year accelerated high school program was considered a full high school education. Some of the graduates did go on to college.

As the economic recession of the 1890s deepened, by 1893 the business world and people throughout the entire country were in a state of panic. When the worst of the recession reached Edmonds, even with good rail service now available, any hope for a land boom was ended. As a result, the Minneapolis Realty & Investment Company defaulted on its payments, and the company’s holdings — through foreclosure of the mortgage — reverted back to George Brackett.

Recovery from the recession was slow, but with the approach of a new century, the economy in Edmonds stabilized, and under the able leadership of George Brackett, councilmembers, and the businessmen of the town, Edmonds grew and prospered. One man who had a big impact on the growth of Edmonds was Allen M. Yost, a native of Pennsylvania, who had arrived in Edmonds by way of Kansas in 1890.

1905-1907: A disillusioned Etta Jones Brackett filed for a divorce from husband George Brackett in 1905. The divorce was finalized in 1906, and proved to be an extremely bitter ending to their 28-year marriage.

An Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties; their people, their commerce and their resources, with an outline of the state of Washington was published in Chicago by the Interstate Publishing Company in 1906. Included on pages 354-358 was a history of the town of Edmonds. Some of the information for the years 1869, 1870 and 1874-1876 was published in the book and used in this timeline. According to the publication, in 1906, the population of Edmonds totaled 1,100.

To bring complete closure to the marriage of George and Etta Brackett, on Nov. 12, 1907 at the Everett Courthouse, Etta Brackett married Edward D. Carpenter, an Edmonds’ neighbor and vice president of the Edmonds Mill Company, shingle manufacturers located near the city dock. Edward and Etta Carpenter eventually moved to Everett, and in 1911 advertised their real estate holdings in Edmonds for sale. Sometime after 1920, they moved to California, making their home in National City, San Diego County, where Edward Carpenter worked as a watchman at the jail. Etta Carpenter died in San Diego County, May 12, 1934, at the age of 75. Edward Carpenter died at the age of 82 in San Diego County on March 14, 1936.  

1908: Information pointing to a progressive Edmonds was published in 1908 by R. L. Polk & Company’s Everett and Snohomish County Directory. To-wit: “Edmonds – Population 1,500 – an incorporated town on Puget Sound and the Great Northern Railway, 18 miles southwest of Everett, the county seat, and 17 miles north of Seattle. The town is governed by a mayor and city council. It contains Congregational, Free Methodist, Catholic, and Swedish churches. The town has a good graded school with seven teachers; and a progressive chamber of commerce. There are eight shingle mills, a saw mill, a box factory and veneer works, iron works and a bank. Steamers run from Everett and Seattle three times a day, fare 40 cents, and round trip 50 cents. There are two telephone companies, the Independent and the Pacific.  Express: Great Northern Railway and Great Northern Telegraph Co.  Many mails daily. Postmaster: Samuel F. Street.”

1910: With the passage of years, George Brackett slowed down and finally retired, and when the federal census was taken in 1910, he listed himself with no occupation. Three unmarried daughters — Nellie, Edith and Mary Brackett — were living with him at his longtime home on Second Street in Edmonds.

Even though George Brackett had for the most part retired from public life, when Edmonds High School opened in 1910 at 4th and Daley Streets, it was on land donated to the school district by Mr. Brackett.

1920: Seventy-eight years old in 1920, George Brackett was still living at his 2nd Street home, along with daughter Nellie and her husband Dr. Lorin C. Knickerbocker, an Edmonds dentist. Dr. Knickerbocker had arrived from Nome, Alaska, married Nellie Brackett in 1911, and opened a dental office in Edmonds in November of 1912.

1924: William Brackett, Sr., a younger brother of George Brackett, and an early resident of Edmonds, died at his home July 3, 1924 at the age of 72. He was born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1852.  In 1889, he married Anna Lee, and they had two sons, William Brackett, Jr. (1891-1961) and Horton Brackett (1893-1980) — both Edmonds residents. In 1908, William Brackett, Sr. served as the Justice of the Peace for the town.  In addition, he worked as a logger and as a shingle bolt cutter at a local shingle mill.  According to his death certificate, William Brackett, Sr. was buried at the IOOF Cemetery in south Edmonds (now known as Edmonds Memorial Cemetery). His widow, Anna Brackett, remained a close friend to her brother-in-law George Brackett, and was named by him to serve as executrix of his estate.

1926: William Whitfield compiled the History of Snohomish County, Washington.  Published in Chicago in 1926 by the Pioneer Historical Publishing Co., the book contains information in biographical form regarding George Brackett. Much of the information included in the 1926 publication was furnished by George Brackett himself, and a portion of that information has been included in this timeline.

1927-1928: By 1927, the 1891 Edmonds Graded School was considered obsolete, and it was demolished. At a cost of $54,000, the modern 11-room Edmonds Grade School was constructed to replace the old school. The new school opened in 1928 on the land previously given to the school district by George Brackett.

Edmonds Grade School, 1928-1972.. (Photo courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)

With a steadily expanding population in Edmonds, it was necessary at times to enlarge the grade school.  With these additions, the school continued providing education for the children of Edmonds until its doors closed in 1972. Located at 7th between Main and Dayton Streets, the former grade school building is now part of the Frances E. Anderson Cultural and Leisure Center. The recreation and meeting-place complex was named for Miss Anderson, a 1911 graduate of Edmonds High School with a long career as principal and second grade teacher at the school.

On November 18, 1927, George Brackett, now 86 years old, executed his short and interesting Last Will and Testament, naming Anna Brackett and George B. Armstrong as executors.  As mentioned earlier, Anna Lee Brackett (c.1871-1937) a long-time resident of Edmonds, was the sister-in-law of George Brackett — and widow of his younger brother William Brackett. The other executor, George B. Armstrong (c. 1874-1960), was an employee of the Edmonds Street Department, and a friend and neighbor of George Brackett.

George Brackett died Dec. 29, 1927, at his sister-in-law Anna Brackett’s Edmonds’ home. Surviving him were his five children — one son and four daughters: George Sumner Brackett of Edmonds; Mary Brackett Carpenter of Seattle; Edith Brackett Cary of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Fannie Brackett Sill and Nellie Brackett Sinclair-Knickerbocker, both of Edmonds. Another son, Ronald Crawford Brackett, who had made his home in Alaska, was accidently killed a few years earlier while he was an employee of a packing company and loading large crates at a waterfront dock in Southeast Alaska.

On Jan. 9, 1928, George Brackett’s Last Will and Testament was filed for probate in Snohomish County under Case No. 8058 — his attorney Claude E. Stevens, 425 Main St., Edmonds. The words of George Brackett in his Last Will and Testament, as well as the final distribution papers, indicated a family with deep unresolved personal problems.

In his Last Will and Testament, George Brackett left the residue of his estate, after probate, to his executors in order to finance a suitable monument or memorial in his memory, at a place to be chosen by them. However, after settlement, there was no residue left in the estate. It seems that his will actually had made no provision for any residue. All of George Brackett’s remaining tideland property had previously been given to his beloved son George Sumner Brackett; and following probate, the entire remainder of the estate, after payment of the just debts, was distributed to the five living children, according to the directions in George Brackett’s Last Will and Testament — leaving a zero balance showing in the estate’s final report.

George Brackett is buried at the historic and city-owned Edmonds Memorial Cemetery in the Westgate area.  On Memorial Day, May 28, 1990, a memorial was dedicated at his gravesite, to-wit: To the memory of George Brackett, Edmonds’ Founder-Postmaster and Mayor. Because of his foresight, energy, and perseverance Edmonds has grown from two primitive cabins to the beautiful modern-day city it is today. The spirit of his vision for a quality residential community still remains with us. The Brackett memorial was made possible through contributions from the City of Edmonds, Edmonds Service Clubs, and private donations. 

— By Betty Lou Gaeng

Betty Gaeng is a former long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. Although now living in Anchorage, she occasionally writes about the history and the people of both early-day Lynnwood and Edmonds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 Replies to “Looking Back: The life of George Brackett (1841-1927) — Part 2”

  1. Thank you Ms. Gaeng for submitting this. I have lived in Edmonds all my life and still knew comparatively little of its history. It is good to know that George Brackett recognized the importance of educating our youth and supported that endeavor by repeatedly donating land for schools. Those who grumble about their property taxes, which are the main source of state funding for our schools, should take note.

    Ignored

  2. Thank you, Betty Gaeng for the details on our history. The waterfront has had many influences including blocking water, a common practice in past years. Now we are reevaluating that kind of action. I am looking forward to reading more about the people who preceded us.

    Ignored

  3. Well researched and just really interesting history of this area. Thank you again Betty Lou Gaeng, your columns are always appreciated.

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