Our Farm’s History

So I was inspired to look more into the history for our farm after Pat Valentine posted these three photos on History of Puget Sound on facebook.

My great grandfather JJ Sullivan farmed 60 acres on Jarman prairie in Skagit co. 17 acres were in hops, the rest in hay. Top picture is their hops farm in 1898. .

My great grandfather JJ Sullivan farmed 60 acres on Jarman prairie in Skagit co. 17 acres were in hops, the rest in hay. Top picture is their hops farm in 1898.

The next picture is the hay part, in early 1900's. Pictured are Eric Buss, Phoebe Sullivan, Johnny Sullivan, Frances Shassy, and mr. Brennon

The next picture is the hay part, in early 1900’s. Pictured are Eric Buss, Phoebe Sullivan, Johnny Sullivan, Frances Shassy, and mr. Brennon

Next picture is my gr gr gr grandmother Catherine Burgoyne standing by some hops plants.

Next picture is my gr gr gr grandmother Catherine Burgoyne standing by some hops plants.

I initially thought that J.J. Sullivan might have farmed hops on our land looking at the hill profile in the background.  So I looked further into it.

Here is the history of Jarman Prairie that I was able to find.

Samish people are depicted in 1792 paddling

Samish people are depicted in 1792 paddling out to meet explorers on the ships the Sutil and Mexicano in the Guemes Channel

Per Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America edited by Douglas Deur, Nancy J. Turner, the Upper Skagit tribe maintained tiger lilies and wild carrots on Jarman Prairie.

Upper Skagit tiger lilies and wild carrots

Per Portraits of Prairies Past by David A. Ek “Historic references reported Swinomish women cultivating camas and bracken fern gardens in Jarman Prairie, not far from present-day Sedro-Woolley in Skagit County. Apparently, wherever these women wandered or traveled, they would gather choice bulbs they encountered and transplanted them into their local prairie garden. Life on the prairies continued like this for generations.”

Per Camas Bulbs, The Kalapuya and Gender: Exploring Evidence of Plant Food Intensification in the Willamette Valley of Oregon by Stephenie Kramer “In his classic study on how the cultivation of the introduced potato relates to the cultivation of indigenous plants (such as camas) among the Coast Salish, Suttles hypothesized that potato cultivation may have influenced the use of native plants, or vice versa.  He spoke to a Nuwhaha informant who reported that women on Jarman Prairie raised three different native bulbs in privately owned, fenced gardens. Suttles wrote: “[i]f a woman found good bulbs elsewhere, she brought them to her patch; and when she harvested the roots, she broke off the tops, crumpled them up, and put them back into the holes the roots came from.” This quote indicates knowledge of regeneration and how to influence it. However, it is important to mention that when he was interviewed in 1988 by Alston Thoms, Roscoe Watson, a plant pathologist, “expressed doubt” that camas seeds would sprout when planted in a hole as deep as one in which a mature bulb sits, because camas prefers shallow germination depths. In the Willamette Valley, Zenk, quoting Clyman, reported a somewhat similar practice among the Kalapuya: “…a portion of earth containing from (sic) 2 to six roots(sic) is taken up the roots being the size of a small onion and much resembling the onion in appearance.”

Per Wapato and Camas by Terry Glavin “On Jarman Prairie, east of the hills above Bellingham Bay, Nuwhaha women were cultivating camas and other indigenous bulbs in small plots surrounded by high pole fences secured with cedar rope long before they incorporated potatoes into their fields.”

So it appears that Camas root was grown here but perhaps also tiger lilies and wild carrots as well.  But then came the loss of the local population. Per The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: Introduced Infectious Diseases and Population Decline Among Northwest Coast Indians, 1774-1874 by Robert Boyd, Robert Thomas Boyd

1830 scourge Jarman Prairie
As I have posted previously, William Jarman was the first white settler on the prairie which was named after him.  I found him and his Native wife Alice in the 1870 census.

William and Alice Jarman in 1870 Whatcom census

William and Alice Jarman in 1870 Whatcom census

I also amazingly found a copy of the original 1873 survey of the area.

1873 Skagit survey

1873 Skagit survey

And even more incredibly I found a copy of the original land claim of Blanket Bill Jarman on our prairie.

Jarman land claim 1876

I also found a description of a hop barn fire here in 1891.

Jarman Prairie Fire 1891

Jarman Prairie Fire 1891

Per Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History: Oregon, Washington by Donald B. Robertson this is a map of Jarman Prairie in relation to the railroad lines that were here.  The F & S railroad actually headed to Sedro Woolley slightly up river from us, and it was the Seattle and Montana railroad that ran in front of our farm.

Jarman Prairie on railroad map

Jarman Prairie on railroad map


The Fairhaven and Southern operated 1888-1898.  The Seattle and Montana line began operation on December 4, 1891.
Per stumpranchonline.com James J. Hill, the owner of the Great Northern, bought the F&S line in early 1890 as a hedge while he was still building his line west across the state from Spokane Falls. The Seattle & Montana Railroad, another line that Hill would eventually own, built a route north from Seattle in 1890-91, which passed through Mount Vernon that fall. It met the F&S route near the town of Belfast, north of Burlington. After Hill gained control of all the lines plus the Northern Pacific, he decided to abandon the old Friday creek route and build what was known as the Chuckanut cutoff that angled north-northwest through Olympia Marsh to the site of the Blanchard sawmill and then hugged the cliff along the west side of Chuckanut mountain, eventually entering Whatcom county and Fairhaven.

There was even a murder on Jarman Prairie!

Tuesday, December 20, 1892 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Killed at Jarman Prairie
Mt. Vernon, Dec. 19 — Hank DONNEY was fatally and George FRAZER seriously stabbed by Indians at Jarman Prairie early this morning. They say three … men met them and demanded whiskey and, upon being refused, drew knives; but in all probability DONNEY and FRAZER took possession of the Indian camp doling the absence of the owners and the stabbing was the result.”

Here is a photo of Ephraim Shassey who established the farm to the east of us.

Ephraim Shassey

Ephraim Shassey

Partially thanks to Ancestry.com I was able to determine that he was born in 1844, arrived in 1897 from Canada and died in 1916.  He and his wife Frances Burgoyne had a number of daughters (Phoebe 1876, Frances 1878, Adelaide 1880, Dora 1882, Elfrida 1885, Amelia 1889, Katharine 1892).  Adelaide Shassey married Jeremiah “Jerry” Kennedy.  They were married in 1908 on German Prairie (a common misspelling of Jarman Prairie) and it appears that they inherited the farm.  They had a son Paul who sadly died in 1935 at age 25 and a daughter Wilma who was born in 1916.  She married Richard Walton and inherited the farm.  They had a daughter Paulette who married Clarence Leslie, and they then inherited the farm.  It is interesting that the farm has passed through entirely female lineage.  Paulette is our neighbor to the east.  Below is a photo that Pat Valentine posted on facebook in January.  “The picture is of my great great grandparents home up in Skagit county. The area was called Jarmin prairie at that time. Up front is my gr gr grandfather Ephraim Shassey, Addie Kennedy, Paul and Wilma. And my grandma Georgia Sullivan. Up on the porch is my gr gr grandmother Frances Shassey. This was taken approx 1918.”

Shassey house 1918

John James (J.J.) Sullivan had married Phoebe Shassey in 1900 in Canada and the same year they immigrated.  They had 9 children (John 1901, Daniel 1903, Phoebe 1905, James 1907, Georgia 1908, William 1912, Alice 1913, Ephraim 1914, and Francis 1917).  They were listed in the 1910 census in Samish District and 1920 and 1930 in Bessner.  I have not yet figured out where Bessner is.

This is another photo that Pat Valentine posted on facebook of her great grandfather J.J. Sullivan that had the hop and hay field on Jarman Prairie.  In this photo he is in an Edison saloon, on the other side of Bow Hill.

A saloon in Edison washington. My great grandfather JJ Sullivan is on the far left.

A saloon in Edison washington. My great grandfather JJ Sullivan is on the far left.


Here is a railroad map of 1892, around the time Ephraim Shassey had his farm.

Mosier's new railway map of Skagit County 1892

Mosier’s new railway map of Skagit County 1892

Here are copies of the 1900 census for Belfast, WA which include Daniel and Frances (Shassey) Sullivan are on page 3. as well as other prominent local names like the Moodys.

1900 census for belfast page 11900 census for belfast page 21900 census for belfast page 31900 census for belfast page 5

Here is a 1908 map of Skagit County showing the town of Belfast and other local features.

skagit map 1908

This is a description of the Sullivans of Jarman Prairie.

Sullivans in Jarman Prairie (WP)

Here is a 1918 map including our area.  It has German Prairie listed, a common misspelling of Jarman Prairie.

WA_Samish Lake_243571_1918_62500_geo

Here is the 1920 census on our area.  It includes the Ruthfords, Jonassons, Ershig, Hobson and Wymans (all prominent names in our area).  Ray Jordan, local historian and author, is listed.  Frances Shassy is listed (the widow of Ephraim) with the Kennedys (Adelaid, Jerry, Paul and Wilma).  Freda Ruthford would marry Ernest Bumgarner.  She was related to the Jonassons, and all we originally from Iceland.  She grew up where the KOA is now, and the Jonassons were at the corner of Prairie and 99.

1920 federal census belfast page 11920 federal census belfast page 21920 federal census belfast page 31920 federal census belfast page 41920 federal census belfast page 51920 federal census belfast page 61920 federal census belfast page 71920 federal census belfast page 8

This is the Marriage Return for Ernest and Freda Bumgarner who ultimately bought our farm.  They were married in 1929.  He had a rough childhood, coming from a poor and large family in the midwest.  He came west with the CCC and met Freda at a grocery store in Birdsview.  He offered to help take the groceries home, and she said he never left.  She was teaching at the time, staying with an older woman.  She would invite him to dinner, and he kept coming back.

Ruthford Baumgarner marriage certificate

The Bumgarners bought 25 acres in Jarman Prairie and built our home starting in 1940.  They bought the land from Bloedel Donovan lumber company.  So I am doubting that JJ Sullivan had his hop field on our property but certainly nearby.

Here is the 1940 census of the area with them listed on page 7 with their children Edward and Barbara.  Interestingly he is listed as a barber in Gray Harbor.

1940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 11940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 21940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 31940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 41940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 51940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 61940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 71940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 81940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 91940 United States Federal Census Belfast page 10

Here is the WWII draft card for Ernest.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 for Ernest Bert Bumgarner

Here is a photo of Ernst and Freda Bumgarner from 1946.

Ernest and Freda Bumgarner 1946

Ernest and Freda Bumgarner 1946

Apparently he was not too interested in farming the land. He cleared the land himself with some help from his in-laws.   Because of the peat soil, there would be underground fires from the stump burns that would pop up a fair distance away.  He did grow corn on the land and have a milk cow and a couple of pigs.  He had a large garden to the east of the house, but no orchard.  They had paper birch by the road, two evergreen trees in front of the house and a large silver backed maple near what is now the orchard.  Apparently that was a swamp with large wood debris in it.  There was no barn, just a small shed for the cow.  He drove an ice truck and later a beer truck for Olympia beer.  He with a brother-in-law owned the Idle Hour bar in Belfast which eventually burned down.  He and his wife raised three children here, a son and two daughters.  The bedrooms were not finished while they lived here.  The road was gravel, and the pipes would freeze every winter so they had to bucket water from the ditch across the road.  There was an oil furnace in the dining room and a wood burning stove in the kitchen for cooking.  There was a hand crank washing machine that was often used outside.  It was a lot of work for Freda managing the home.  The children had to walk home from the school bus on the road from 99.  But there were lots of cousins in the area to hang out with.  Ernest was described as stubborn and ornery, but Freda did love him and was described as happy every day.  He was uneducated when he arrived but became a member of the Masons, becoming head of the Lodge.  With that he became quite eloquent.

In 1974 he subdivided the land.

1974 short plat survey

Here is the survey of our property from 1974.

1974 Bumgarner land survey

He sold our property to the Jungers in 1974.  This was a surprise to me because I had thought that the land had gone from the Bumgarners to the Foxes (the couple we bought it from).  He sold some of the other lots and kept some in the family.  He and his wife lived in a mobile home on one of the lots for a period of time.  Freda died in 1990 at the age of 86 and Ernest died in 1999 at the age of 95.  Two of his grandchildren still live on the lots he platted.  Here is the contract selling our property to the Jungers.

Jungers contract 1974

For reasons that are unclear to me, they sold it two years later to the Foxes.

purchasers assignment of real estate from Jungers to Fox 1976 of our property

The Foxes had horses and sheep on the property.  She also like to plant trees so most of the trees her are from her efforts, including the orchard.  They must have built the barn and the garage, as well have done all of the pasture fencing.  They raised a daughter here as well.

We purchased the land from the Foxes in 2002.  That is the history I have found so far.  I will continue to pursue it as I am fascinated by the people that proceeded us here.


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2 Responses to Our Farm’s History

  1. Jeanne says:

    Very interesting! I’ll look at it further on my laptop. Thanks for sharing!

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