In the spirit of reflecting on the history of our now-fallen historic barn, and the old homestead on which we reside, here is a fun blast from the past. This is a snippet from a very long Snohomish Eye newspaper article, written in 1883 by Clayton Packard. You can read the full text on the Monroe Historical Society’s website. Perhaps my favorite part about the article is Mr. Packard’s love of the run-on sentence, a problem which I share! 😀

Mr. Packard went on a riverboat tour of the county, from Snohomish to Cherry Valley (Duvall), and recorded all the  homesteads along the route. It’s a fun read, half informational, half vanity-fair gossip on who had the nicest digs of the day. (It would seem that then, and now, the Cedargreens take the cake.) And it even has murder and intrigue! He gives some good coverage of our chunk of the road and to the progress of the  Hoem homestead. You have to remember that, at the time, this entire river valley was basically a swamp, and homesteaders were hard at work clearing it and re-routing the waterways to tame the land for agriculture. The discussion of them slashing and burning their clearings reminds me of us. That part we’ve had to repeat, since the property had been largely overtaken by blackberries in the last decade.

I find it interesting how he spelled  CedargreenCedergren – the name of another old-time Snohomish family who built the grand Craftsman mansion across the street from us. The Cedargreens were also related, by marriage, to the Hoem family. Maybe he misspelled it, or maybe they changed their spelling somewhere along the way, as many immigrants did.

The landmarks in the article begin to sound familiar to us at the mention of Short’s School. I remember that building from my childhood; I believe the fire department used it as a practice burn in the eighties? And, of course, we still have Shorts School Road nearby. Here is a photo of one class of Short School students posing in front of the river, from the Hoem  history in the Snohomish Historical Society archives. Myrtle Hoem taught school there, and of course the Hoem kids attended.


So, all aboard the tour boat, here we go…

The first object that attracted our attention, after stepping off the bridge was a new building, whose white walls in strong contrast with the dark green background, stood out in bold relief, challenging the notice of all passers-by. This was the new schoolhouse belonging to School District No. 12. Although not quite finished, it would be a credit to many older districts. It is 20 by 30 with fourteen foot posts, is well lighted, and when finished will be one of the pleasantest little schoolrooms in the county.

It is located on the county road on an acre of ground one-half of which was donated by Mrs. Mary L. Evans, from the Buchanan claim, and the other half by John H. Swett. This district, organized quite recently, owes its new schoolhouse, as well as its very existence, to the energy and push of one of its directors, Charles Short, and H. W. Light, its clerk, backed by a community of wide-awake citizens.

Passing the schoolhouse a few rods, the road branches off, which, affording H. W. Light an outlet, intersects the river at George Saunders’ place. Some thirty rods distance is Fred Cedergren’s old clearing and a few rods further on brings one to LaGrande Marsh, on the south side of which, opposite the point where the road intersects it, is Forest Hill, the residence of Elling Hoem, whose ranch, including about ninety acres of marsh, lies on the south side of the road. This marsh, though called LaGrande Marsh, is but a branch of LaGrande Marsh proper, which is nearly six miles in length and averages one and one-half miles in breadth.

A part of this marsh was settled by some Frenchmen, Peter Tessier, Peter Bosseau and Alex, last name unknown, who tried to get rid of their neighbors by putting strychnine in the spring. The drug being slightly soluble did not fulfill their expectations. These would-be murderers now conspired against each other, and Bosseau placed strychnine in the sugar bowl in Alex’s cupboard. Alex invited a friend into the back of his shop to have a social glass, to improve which, he introduced sugar (and strychnine) into the compound. Bosseau, being present, was for once not inclined to be tempted. Alex then sat down to dine, and used more of this doctored sugar in his coffee, but soon felt the effects of the poison and called for help.

Doctor Folsom was summoned, and pronounced it a case of poison; whereupon, M. Edgar declared that he, too, had taken a dose. Ignorance had again baffled the would-be murderer’s design for the strychnine, for the most part remained undissolved in the bottom of the cups. These cups are still in the possession of the sheriff.

Both men recovered, Peter Tessier, who inspired the deed, escaped, while Bosseau, his tool, was convicted and sent to the state’s prison at Seatco. Thus four lives were attempted to secure the beautiful marsh which now belongs to Elling Hoem and Fred Cedergren.

Elling Hoem’s house on the south side of the road, is built of nicely hewn logs; two stories high, and well proportioned. It is well finished inside and presents a picture of home comfort. It is surrounded by a clearing of two acres which, though belonging to the once denounced highland, furnishes a productive garden.

Fifteen rods east is the residence of Hogan Frederickson, father-in-law to Mr. Hoem, which relationship he also bears to Fred Cedergren, whose place is just across the road. Frederickson’s house is built of sawed lumber, sided with rustic, and of recent construction. Frederickson has quite a slashing on his claim, which is composed entirely of high land.

Opposite Hoem’s house is the new home of J. A. C. Cedergren, which, when finished, will be one of the finest farm houses in the county. It is literally a ‘House of Seven Gables’, it having just that number of peaks. He has been his own architect and his own builder.

Hoem has forty-six acres of marsh land slashed and burned and the larger portion under cultivation; Fred Cedergren has twenty-five acres slashed and burned. The opening is about one mile long and one-half mile wide and has a decidedly farm-like appearance.


These heavy-boned Hoem work horses would have looked down the street from their pasture at the old Short School. If the 1905 date on the photo is correct, you can see that in two decades since the article was written, the Hoems and Cedargreens had made good progress on their slash-and-burn and marsh drainage efforts! (And, look, is that an ungrazed Canadian thistle in the foreground? Did they have noxious weeds even then?)

Behind the horses, you can see a white two-tier building-I’m not sure what that was for. And barely visible behind the stand of maple trees is the original Hoem log cabin house. Further beyond that is what I imagine is the original Cedargreen homestead house. I don’t know if this is the “house of seven gables” mentioned in the 1883 article, or whether the author was discussing the larger Craftsman mansion that was built later (I think the latter). Near it is an older barn which preceded the huge brick gambrel barn that’s there now. The Cedargreen house in the photo still stands, though unfortunately the original Hoem house and the blacksmith garage are now gone.

Here is a similar view today.