Forks History from the pages of the Forks Forum

  • Fri Sep 5th, 2014 11:33pm
  • Life

Herman and Rosa Morgenthaler as the appeared in September 1936.


The Forks Forum was started around 1930. The Forum office has fairly good archives of hard copies of old newspapers from 1940 until the present day. The only hard copies of the 1930s are thanks to someone that sent some papers that they found back to the Forum at some point in time.

The old papers have very few photos not until the 1970s are there many pictures of local people and events.

Here is a story from the Forks Forum September 24, 1936 that actually had a photo of the subjects of the story with it, a very rare thing.

The Morgenthalers’ story

‘Mr. Morgenthaler , who was born in France and went to Switzerland later, came to America at the age of twenty.  Mrs. Morgenthaler came from Switzerland as a child of seven with her family.  The two eventually met in this country and were married at Toledo, Ohio, Aug. 1886.

Later they moved west to Seattle, where Mr. Morgenthaler was employed for a time. But, neighbors told them, in glowing terms, of the glorious country in the western Olympic Peninsula, and they became interested.

With two other men Mr. Morgenthaler sailed from Seattle to Pysht in 1891 on the old steamer Evengel, bound for Quillayute Prairie to choose a homestead site.  A rough trail crossed the country about 60 miles to Mora, and it took the trio three days to make the trip. Those were three long arduous days, Mr. Morgenthaler recalls.

After selecting a site, the three men returned to Seattle and prepared to take their families to the Quillayute Prairie. Ten families made the trip in a schooner around Cape Flattery to the mouth of the Quillayute River at LaPush. One of the three passengers was K.O. Erickson, now a Port Angeles business man.

A storm arose, Mr. Morgenthaler recalls, and the schooner very nearly became a victim of the rocky “graveyard” south of LaPush. Although the party had just about given up hope, the vessel stayed off the rocks and a safe landing was finally made by aid of Indians and their canoes.

A sled road ran through the woods from the river mouth at LaPush to Quillayute Prairie and Dan Pullen had a store on the beach. The pioneers hauled their possessions by ox team to their homestead just back of Mora, and started hewing a home from the wilderness.

Move to Forks

Those were bitter days on the Prairie. The Morgenthalers found their land unsuited to crops. No money was to be had, and the only way to get any was for Mr. Morgenthaler to go in to Seattle and work.  At the Prairie he could work only for eggs, butter, meat etc.

As for flour and other supplies needed from the outside, one schooner a year came to LaPush in the fall, and the settlers had to get all these things for the following year at one time.  One year, because of stormy weather, the boat did not stop, and there was a distressing shortage of food.

The Morgenthalers had flour, but it did not last long, as neighbors made frequent borrowing visits.

“If you wanted to go someplace you had to take your ax and a pack and cut your own way thorough,” Mr. Morgenthaler relates. “There were no roads and few trails, and those we made ourselves.”

After seven or eight years on the Quillayute Prairie the Morgenthalers turned their homestead back to the government, received a few hundred dollars cash, and bought a farm on the west side of Forks Prairie.  This is the place now owned by Art Reynolds and formerly Dr. Bradley. (Editor’s note: now the Dahlgren farm on Bogachiel Way.) Paying $250 down, Mr Morgenthaler paid the rest by getting out 100,000 shakes single-handed.

The couple lived on the Forks Prairie farm, raised their family of eight children, until 1921. Influenza and pneumonia during the war had left Mr. Morgenthaler weakened for the farm life, so they moved to Port Angeles where they have remained since.

All but one of their eight children live in Clallam County. The eldest daughter, Mrs. Lily Peterson, is in Oakland CA. the others are Mrs. Pauline Danz, Port Angeles; Mrs. Pearl Oberg, Bear Creek; Mrs. Blanche Wahlgren , Forks; Mrs. Halma Fitch, Fairview; and mrs. Ruby Linton,  Miss Hazel Morgenthaler and Ernest Morgenthaler of Port Angeles.

Editor’s note: Rosa Morgenthaler, age 83, passed away in July 1948 and Herman, age 85, followed a few weeks later in August.