By George: A Brackett mystery solved

By Betty Lou Gaeng | Nov 08, 2017
George Brackett, in his 1905 City Council portrait.

In the Oct. 19 Edmonds Beacon, Tim Raetzloff in his Taking Stock column titled “Edmonds creation myth? Let’s get real,” mentioned that it was a mystery as to how Edmonds founder George Brackett got his oxen to his property in a canoe.

So, let’s try to clear up the mystery.

Although, before doing that, I do have to say I was surprised to read Raetzloff’s article in the Beacon as earlier the very same day, I had given a talk at the Edmonds Landing on the subject of “Before Edmonds – The story of Pleasant Ewell.”

In 1876, when George Brackett paid $650 and obtained his 140.75 acres of land that became Edmonds, he bought the property from Morris Frost and Jacob Fowler, two businessmen from Mukilteo. The acreage had originally been the pre-emption claim of Pleasant H. Ewell. Morris Frost and Jacob Fowler had purchased the land from Ewell in 1870 for $200.

In 1870, when a storm forced George Brackett to land his canoe on the shore of the Frost and Fowler property, he found a man by the name of Daniel Hines working at a small one-man operation making shakes, or shingles.

Ewell started the business in the 1860s. In order to get his shakes to market, Ewell blazed a rough wagon road southeast through the woods to Lake Washington. From that location he was able to reach a larger market for his wares.

Ewell’s wagon road had its beginning near what is today the Edmonds-Kingston ferry dock. No doubt, this old wagon road was how George Brackett was able to take his oxen and supplies to his property, over land, not by water.

We now know Ewell’s old wagon road as State Highway 104 and, in Edmonds, it is usually lined with cars waiting for the ferry.

Incidentally, as I have written before, prior to the naming of Edmonds in 1884, it was known as the Ten-Mile Beach settlement because the land was about 10 miles south of Mukilteo, Snohomish County’s first county seat.

Brackett, being a savvy businessman no doubt saw a great future opportunity when he landed his canoe on the Frost/Fowler property. Probably there were some people who did not like his brusque business style, but he was an accomplished lumberman, having honed his skills back east and in the Midwest before coming to Washington Territory in 1869.

There, along with his brother Daniel, he logged land at Fort Lawton and Ballard. He also had property he owned and logged at another Brackett’s Landing, the site of his logging camp along Sammamish Slough, which is now part of the city of Bothell.

Of course, I personally did not know the senior Mr. Brackett; in fact, he died the same year I was born. However, I did get to know his eldest son George, when as a child I spent many hours at the Brackett home located between Sixth and Seventh avenues north on Glen Street in Edmonds.

Shortly after my family moved to Edmonds over 80 years ago, Peggy, the daughter of the younger George Brackett, became a childhood friend of mine.

Betty Lou Gaeng is a local historian and member of the Edmonds Cemetery Board.


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