Looking back at Wilcox Park
With the opening of Lynnwood’s Farmers Market at Wilcox Park on June 12, I could not help but think that Charlie Olson would be pleased.
Wilcox Park, a community park where people of all ages can picnic and play was once the home of Charlie Olson’s Countryside Dairy, and was located in what was known as Alderwood Manor. Charlie Olson was a well-known dairy farmer in south Snohomish County, and during the 1920s and 1930s, his cows provided milk and cream to its customers — delivered right to the door of many residents in this area. The little ad for his dairy often appeared in the Edmonds Tribune-Review during the 1930s.
Wilcox Park is a small section of the 640 acres held by the State of Washington as school land. Once covered with stately fir trees, loggers had cleared the land by the time Charlie Olson leased acreage from the state for his dairy. His leasehold was not only where the park is now situated, but extended east to more of the school land. In fact where the Fred Meyer store sits today, Charlie’s cows once grazed for their food. Halide (Lobdell) Patterson grew up just across the road from Charlie’s pasture land, next to what was once Cedar Way (now 44th Ave. West). She remembers the cattle grazing in the field. Now, the house that was Halide’s childhood home is gone and the space is occupied by a Jack-in-the-box restaurant. Halide has a lot of memories of her childhood days and shares them with visitors when they visit another beautuful Lynnwood park — Heritage Park. If you visit Heritage Park and Alderwood Manor Heritage Association’s Cottage on a Thursday, you can listen as Halide shares her memories of former days when a part of Lynnwood was known as Alderwood Manor.
In the late 1930s, Charlie retired and Eugene and Gunda Wilcox, along with their children, then leased the land and made their home on the hillside on the east side of the farm. The Wilcox family came to the area in 1926 and first lived on the south side of what is now 196th Street; their property overlooking Scriber Lake. Before his death in 2008, Harold, the youngest boy in the family, shared his memories of growing up with a year-round playground all around him. In the warm months there was swimming, fishing, and building rafts. During the winter, if it was cold enough, the kids could ice skate at the lake.
As shown in the 1928 photo, five Wilcox children, Harold, Lorraine, Ken, Ellsworth (Al) and, Jr., were enjoying a nice day of play along the shore of Scriber Lake. Looking north across the lake you can see the row of telephone poles along North Trunk West, the Alderwood Road, (196th Street).
After incorporation, the City of Lynnwood established both Wilcox Park and Scriber Lake Park, and now the childhood playground of the Wilcox children offers enjoyment for people of all ages.
The next time you visit Wilcox Park, walk under the trees on the small hill to the north. There you will find a picnic shelter and a large stone monument. Carved into the face of the stone are the names of Eugene and Gunda Wilcox and each of their children. The covered picnic shelter was donated to the city by the Wilcox Family’s Loving Trust. Now you know why the first community park in Lynnwood carries the name Wilcox Park. This was a family that never forgot their roots.
Whether you visit Lynnwood’s Farmers Market at Wilcox Park or walk through the trails at Scriber Lake Park, remember Charlie Olson and his cows, and Eugene and Gunda Wilcox and their eight children: Betty, Kenneth, Lorraine, Al, Eugene, Harold, Ardelle and Lorna.
By Betty Lou Gaeng/For Lynnwood Today
A long-time resident of Lynnwood, Betty Lou Gaeng is a genealogist, historian, researcher and writer who is active in volunteer work for Lynnwood’s Heritage Park Partners Advisory Committee and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association at Heritage Park. She is also a member of the League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations (LOSCHO) and the South County Historical Society and Museum. Gaeng is the author of two books: “Etched in Stone,” which is the history of the Edmonds Museum memorial monument, and “Chirouse” about a Catholic missionary priest who came from France to Washington Territory in 1847 and became a father figure and friend to the Puget Sound area’s Native people.