Edmonds creation myth? Let’s get real | Taking Stock

By Tim Raetzloff | Oct 22, 2017

In college I had a professor of ancient history who was fond of poking fun at various societies’ creation myths.

I wonder how he would regard Edmonds. Edmonds certainly has a creation myth and has various places in the city focused on that myth.

Specifically, George Brackett paddled ashore in his canoe, chased away the snakes, cleared the land using his oxen with his faithful dog by his side, and platted and built the city.

How George got the oxen into the canoe is still a mystery. OK, so maybe I borrowed the part about the snakes from another creation myth, but the rest of the story is what I have heard for the nearly 30 years I have lived in Edmonds.

A decade ago, I dated a woman who is descended from the Brackett family. Her branch of the family didn’t live in Edmonds. She said that, when they did go to Edmonds, her father told his daughters not to mention their last name because there were people in Edmonds who didn’t like George Brackett.

It was interesting to see her family genealogy. George Brackett’s father was an undocumented immigrant. Of course, in those days it was not illegal, and he drifted across the border from New Brunswick to Maine.

It seems he took his position in his new country seriously by enlisting in the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812, serving probably in USS Congress, and certainly in USS Washington. Neither vessel fought against a comparable Royal Navy vessel.

Poor George Brackett’s mom had 20 children, the first when she was 19 and the last at 48. A few Brackett descendents landed in or near Edmonds, which brings us back to the canoe and the founding of Edmonds.

George Brackett wasn’t the first person to settle in what is now Edmonds. At his arrival, the land was already owned. George bought the land. I haven’t seen the original deed, but those who have say that George bought Edmonds from Pleasant Ewell (or Elwell). Ewell is certainly the more common name, but there were definitely pioneers in Snohomish County named Elwell.

George Brackett did certainly log the land that is now Edmonds, and sold some of the land to affiliates of the Great Northern Railway to get the railroad to come to Edmonds and build a depot here. That was a critical event in the city’s history.

But there were others who were instrumental in the creation of early Edmonds. The Roscoe family were important pioneers. Old Mill Town used to have the painted name of the Brackett & Roscoe Store, which wasn’t actually at Mill Town, but was located where the Beeson Building now stands.

The Heberlein family was also important, and that name is preserved on Heberlein Road in Woodway. All three families seemed to have inter-married.

It is possible that the names of George Brackett’s ox and dog found their way into the incorporation papers of Edmonds, as the myth suggests, but the area was active enough that two valid signers would have been found soon enough.

The Yost family became important in Edmonds soon after incorporation. The Yost bus garage became Old Mill Town, and everyone knows Yost Park.

The building of Edmonds, like almost everywhere, was done by many people working together. The problem is that the creation myth sometimes gets in the way of the real history.

 

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