Discovering history sources
Clues to historical stories can be found in records from many different, and even unusual sources. The idea for this column originated from a small portion of a 1910 Plat of Township 27 North, Range 4 East, Willamette Meridian, Snohomish County, Washington.
The southwest Snohomish County landholders of 1910 shown on this Township plat were a varied mix of entities. They held land from the eastern section of Edmonds, Meadowdale, and further to the east, the communities of Forest Park (later Alderwood Manor), Cedar Valley, Mountain View (Esperance), Seattle Heights, Lake McAleer (Lake Ballinger), Grand View (Lynnwood), including nearby communities, such as Martha Lake, also the area that became Brier, and extending to the Snohomish/King County line.
Some received land patents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM); others purchased properties in private real estate transactions. Many never lived on their property. They were attorneys, capitalist investors, owners of mills, and some others, just ordinary people trying to cash in on the rewards of owning revenue producing forest land.
There was a widow who owned only 10 acres — she had invested her savings from her hard work as a laundress in Edmonds. There was another widow who received an inheritance of hundreds of acres. Then there was Puget Mill Company, and even Cyrus Walker, Mr. Puget Mill himself. Finally, there were the pioneers whose investment was a lifetime of hard work.
These were the landholders of 1910 whose foresight led to prosperity and the building of the communities and cities we know today.
Looking back at the local history represented on this 1910 Plat map, my attention was caught by a name on two adjoining 40-acre sections of land—the name was W. J. Potts. He was a man whose name I recognized as an early resident of Edmonds.
Investing in the local lumber market
During the first decade of the 1900s, many people discovered the opportunity to prosper by investing money in the booming lumber market. Some of these were investors from Edmonds who had prominent names, such as Yost and Brackett, but most, such as W. J. Potts, were little known.
William J. (W. J) Potts and his widowed sister Jennie Anderson, both pioneer residents of Edmonds, had some extra cash on hand and soon joined the list of investors. As shown on this small portion of the 1910 plat, W. J. Potts was listed as the owner of 40 acres of property in Section 22, plus another 40 acres in adjoining Section 27 — located in what has long been referred to as Cedar Valley.
Prior to 1910, with $8,000, William Potts and his sister Jennie Anderson purchased this 80-acres of land from John Salty, a native of Finland, and a south Snohomish County pioneer. These 80-acres were the northern half of the Salty’s 160-acre homestead.
Under the title “Timber Land Valuable,” circa 1912, the Edmonds newspaper published the story of the extremely profitable Potts/Anderson real estate investment.
- J. Potts ad Mrs. C. J. Anderson on Tuesday sold their 80-acre ranch east of the interurban, formerly known as the John Salty ranch, to the Hall’s Lake Mill Co., for the munificent sum of $20,000. The old saying, that it is better to be born lucky than rich, is exemplified in this instance, for the sellers cleared the handsome sum of $12,000 on the deal, after holding possession of the same for only three years. In explanation, however, of the seemingly exorbitant price obtained for this small tract of land, it will be noted that the soil is exceptionally deep and susceptible of large production of crops, and, besides, is covered with a dense growth of merchantable timber, the estimated cruise placing the standing timber at four million feet.
A note of interest: According to the inflation index, $12,000 in 1910 would have an equivalent buying power of over $327,000 in the year 2020.
William J. Potts was born June 12, 1857 in Ontario, Canada, the son of England-born John Potts and Frances Nash, who was born in New York. A longtime employee of Great Northern Railway in Montana, along with his sister and her family, he moved to Anacortes in 1891, and to Edmonds in 1895. In Edmonds he became the first station agent for Great Northern, a post he held for over 13 years. Along with his position as station agent, Mr. Potts also became the local manager for Western Union Telegraph Co. His Edmonds home was next to the railroad station.
William J. Potts was the brother of Jennie Anderson; whose husband Charles J. Anderson, also an employee of Great Northern Railway, lost his life while on night-time duty as a track-walker, when he was run down near Edmonds by the fast-moving Vancouver Flyer on its scheduled trip between Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. Mr. Potts was the uncle of Edmonds legend Frances Anderson, the well-remembered longtime principal and second grade teacher at Edmonds Grade School. The Frances Anderson Cultural Center at 700 Main St. in Edmonds is named for her. As well as being Frances Anderson’s uncle, William Potts was also the uncle of Otto Anderson, a former prominent Edmonds and Everett attorney, and Lorne B. Anderson, the youngest sibling.
William J. Potts was a popular resident of Edmonds, as well as an investor in the fruit industry in Eastern Washington. His name appeared several times in the About Town section of the Edmonds newspaper, The Tribune Review.
In December of 1909, Mr. Potts and his sister were notified that they had received an inheritance in England. In February of 1911, he traveled to England to look after their business interests there. He wrote home to friends to say that after a couple of months spent in England, he had managed to dispose of the family’s property and planned to return home to Edmonds very soon.
Back home in Edmonds, in addition to his real estate transaction in south Snohomish County, he was busy business man. In August of 1911, along with his nephew, Otto Anderson, he returned from a week in Okanogan County in Eastern Washington, where he had been planting an apple orchard as part of the government’s new irrigation project.
In November of 1911, after having spent time in the east while accompanying his sister and her family, he arrived back in Edmonds, and immediately left for his fruit ranch in Omak, Okanogan County.
Life-time bachelor, William J. Potts, died in February of 1931 in Edmonds, while living at the North Second Street home of his sister Jennie Anderson. He is entombed at View Crest Abbey Mausoleum in Everett, Washington, next to his sister and her family.
A collection of snippets from the past
The location of William Potts’ former 80-acres of land in Cedar Valley is on the east side of 44th Avenue West, intersected by 212th Street Southwest. In later years, this 80-acre property was renamed Lynnwood Acres, and subdivided for development.
In 1913, the land on the eastern shore of Hall Lake became a place for the public to picnic and swim at the very popular Eisen’s Resort. Years later, the downside of Hall Lake as a perfect lake for swimming was its yellowish-brown water — a reminder of the former lumber mills and the many cedar logs submerged in the waters of the lake. As children who just enjoyed swimming in the cool water on hot summer days, we did manage to pretty much ignore the odd color of the water, the perpetual smell of cedar, as well as the discomfort from the annoying rash which often followed what we considered a refreshing swim. It was a sad day for the children of the neighborhood when in 1945, the resort had been sold and was no longer open to the public for picnicking and swimming.
You may have noted the different ways of spelling the name of the lake in this article. Hall Lake is actually the original and official name for the small pristine lake located on the north side of 212th Street Southwest in Lynnwood; although it is more often referred to as Hall’s Lake, or Halls Lake. The lake was named for Riley Hall aka Rilea Hall, who in 1885 homesteaded the densely forested land on the east side of the lake — five years later, he was issued a land patent for his 160 acres. On this map, his former homestead located in Section 21, was referred to as the Halls Lake Tracts. Mr. Hall, a Civil War U.S. Union Navy veteran, became disabled and could no longer work to develop his property. He eventually became a resident at the Washington Soldiers Home and Colony in Orting, Pierce County, Washington, and when he died c. 1904, he was buried in the cemetery at the soldier’s home. Riley Hall never married and had no family. His full story was published in Lynnwood Today, November 2017, as one of my columns for Looking Back at local history.
Homesteader John Salty was an immigrant from Finland, and was one of the earliest settlers in the Cedar Valley area. His citizenship papers dated July 26, 1892 in King County, Washington, show that he filed his intent to become a citizen of the United States on October 25, 1887, having lived in the United States for at least five years. After building a cabin and improving his homestead, the title to his land was issued April 6, 1894. John Salty and his wife Anna had been married in Finland, and she and their oldest child, Hilda, traveled to this country a few years after her husband. Three sons, John, Charles and Gustave, were born at the Salty’s home in Cedar Valley.
John and Anna Salty retained the other 80 acres of their ranch in Section 27, located just south of the property sold to William Potts. On the plat map it shown under the name of Anna L. Salty. After the deaths of their parents, sons John, Jr. and Charles lived on the Salty ranch until its final sale.
Since its establishment in 1960, Mountlake Terrace High School has occupied a large part of this former Salty property. The high school is located on the east side of 44th Ave. West at 218th Street Southwest.
The school shown in 1910 on the northwest corner of the south 40 acres of Mr. Potts’ land is the former one-room Cedar Valley School, sometimes called the Burleson School. The school was in operation for the children of the area before 1921, when the larger and more modern red-brick Alderwood Manor Grade School was dedicated to replace neighborhood one-room schools.
Another school shown on the upper portion of the 1910 plat map, near Scriber Lake, was located on what was once state-owned school land. This school was a rustic one-room clap-board building known as the Maple Leaf School — in operation 1904-1918. Several children of pioneer families attended the Maple Leaf School after it replaced the first school in the area, i.e. the very primitive one-room log Hunter School, once located at the northwest section of today’s Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park is a short distance west of Alderwood Mall — on land that was part of the 80-acre homestead of Duncan and Jennie Hunter, and their four sons, William, Gordon. Reuben and Basil.
The rail line shown intersecting this portion of the 1910 plat map was the Seattle-Everett Interurban line, which until 1939 served the residents of what is now Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.
Another person of interest shown on this portion of the 1910 plat map is Mary A. White, named on a 20-acre plat in Section 28. Mary White was the widow of Thomas White, who was killed that year in an unusual accident at Hall Lake while at work on a log boom. Thomas White, also a former homesteader in the north Edmonds area, deeded four acres of his Edmonds homestead to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) in order to establish a cemetery. The cemetery is now known as Edmonds Memorial Cemetery, and is located just a block north of the four-way intersection at the Westgate area of Edmonds.
Still another name to note is that of Carrie R. Orton. Her name is scattered throughout the entire 1910 Plat of Township 27 North, Range 4 East, W.M., showing she owned at least 720 acres in this township alone. However, even though she was a large land owner in south Snohomish County, she never lived on these or any of her other Snohomish County properties. More on the interesting story of Carrie R. Orton at a later date.
The two images shown with this story are from the archives of Lynnwood-Alderwood Manor Heritage Association (LAMHA). A large-size copy of the entire Snohomish County 1910 Plat of Township 27 North can be seen at the LAMHA Heritage Cottage Museum located at Lynnwood’s Heritage Park, 19903 Poplar Way in Lynnwood.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Lynnwood-Alderwood Manor Heritage Association Museum has been closed since mid-March this year. Current plans are to reopen for visitors the first of October, or perhaps a bit earlier. As always, the museum will be open for visitors on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday each week. However, to verify the scheduled hours, please call 425-775-4694 for a recorded message. For more information go to: www.alderwood.org. The friendly folks at Lynnwood-Alderwood Manor Heritage Association thank you for your patience, and they hope to see you soon.
— 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, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. She is also an honorary member of the Edmonds Cemetery Board.