By George Hopkins
The Poll Tax:
The roads over which we traveled were not really roads, but horse trails. There were no wagons, everything was moved on pack horses. But there was a considerable expense to the County in keeping the trails open. All work was done by the settlers either at their own expense when immediate action was required, or at the expense of the County. The only income the County had, as far as I can remember, was the Poll Tax which was assessed against each person, big or little, at the rate of $2.00 per capita per year. For our own family, this amounted to $14.00 per year until 1895 when my youngest sister came along and increased the tax burden to $16.00 per year. The tax was generally paid by the settlers in labor at a rate of about $2.00 per day.
When road repairs were required by the County, the work was paid for in County Warrants, which generally had a cash value of from 50% to 75%.
One day everyone was invited by Mr. Irving Garland to his home on Burnt Mountain where we danced and ate and generally had a good time. When we left for home, my father somehow had acquired a pack consisting of 50 pounds of bacon, which really was a wonderful thing for us.
For a long time, I could not figure out how Father came to get this amount of bacon but finally learned that it was tied up somehow with the Poll Tax. Dad had evidently worked out Garland’s Poll Tax and had been paid by him in bacon. When we had money to spend, which was not often, we sent our orders to Cooper and Levy’s General Store in Seattle.
Timber Claim Troubles:
Many of our neighbors were living on Timber Claims, the Government requirements on which were much less in obtaining title than for the Homesteads. Among the neighbors around about us, those living on Timber Claims were my uncle, Elmer E. Hopkins, Franklin, Gorder, George Town, Pete and John Anderson, the Emmetts, and others. While the Government required a cabin to be built on the claims, there was little else required except living on the claim for a certain specified length of time.
Gradually, difficulties began to appear for some of those seeking to obtain title to their timber claims. Two of our close neighbors were active in their efforts to prevent certain men from obtaining title to their claims. Two or three men failed to obtain title to their claims.
Then conditions became worse and warnings were given to the two men. Failing to get the two men to cease their efforts to create trouble for the settlers, those in the general neighborhood decided to take things into their own hands, and one day a group of masked men called on the two trouble makers. The leader could not be found, but his helper was caught and a warm coat of tar and feathers was administered to him and then he was given an old-fashioned ride on a fence rail.
Later that day a number of men were returning home from Sappho in small groups, and in the front were Foster Sawyer and my brother Darwin, or Dor, as we affectionately called him. Dor was eighteen years old at the time. Somewhere midway between Sappho and our river crossing as these two men were walking along in the early darkness, a sudden command to “halt” was heard, and the two men stopped. The flashes and reports of two rifles came quickly, and my brother was down.
Foster Sawyer told me later that one bullet whizzed uncomfortably close to his head. Dor was not dead but had received a horrible wound at his right temple. The bullet, a 45-90, struck him just at the outer edge of his eye, taking away flesh and bone and leaving a terrible wound. I do not know what the men did with him that night, but next morning a group of four men, one of whom was my father, crossed the log bridge at the deep hole carrying Dor on a litter.
Mother and I saw him lying on the litter alongside the trail and I will never forget the sight. Dor was a big strong boy, but there he lay silent but breathing, unconscious, and with the terrible red gash across his face. The four men carried him on the litter to Lake Crescent, about eighteen miles away, found a boat that carried them to the east end of the lake, and then walked the rest of the way to Port Angeles, where he was placed in the hospital, and later was taken to the Navy Hospital at Port Townsend.
The wound healed, but the eye was lost, and Dor never got over the effects of the wound. Years later I found him in a rest home in southern Utah. I had not seen him for fifteen to twenty years. He was an old man, over seventy years old and did not know me. His mind was affected somewhat, but finally, after he had asked me about his mother and sister, he accepted me.
He spoke of his wound and said that his father had shot him. I tried to explain that his father had not fired the shot but he was firm in his belief and several times restated that his father had shot him. I could not help but feel that he was right in one way, his father should not have allowed him to take part in the raid.
I knew well the two men that provoked the raid but I am sure that it will do no good at this late date to name them. Actually a third man, who also was a close neighbor of ours, had become involved and had taken part in the shooting. Father met this man at Port Angeles and the man asked if Father would talk to him. Father had replied, “Yes, sir, I would talk to the Devil if I thought It would do any good. The man apologized for his part in the shooting and said that he was sorry that he had been drawn into the trouble.
Mother Needs a Doctor:
Very shortly after we reached our home in 1892. Mother began to have trouble with her teeth. The great suffering that she must have endured was kept to herself alone. There were no dentists in the area, and reaching a dentist would have necessitated a trip to the outside. This we could not afford, so Mother kept her suffering to herself. Her teeth became ulcerated and these sores actually worked through the cheek, and the whitish cores, of considerable size, appeared on the outside.
The scars resulting from these sores remained with her through life. I remember well how, when her work allowed, she kept hot cloths pressed to her cheek. The stamina and will power shown in resisting the suffering she must have experienced was wonderful, and I don’t think any of us realized at the time how much she was suffering.
Six years later, when we reached Tacoma, her trouble was ended with the installation of a set of new teeth.
Fish in Season:
Although our principal food supply came from the garden in the form of potatoes, cabbage, rutabagas, etc., we made an effort in the proper season to a supply of fish. This supply came from the fall runs of dog salmon in the river and in the creek coming into the river just above the Deep Hole.
These fish went up the creek in great numbers, and it was fine sport for my brother Steve and myself to handle this job. Father smoked a good deal of the fish, and a barrel or so of salted salmon was put away each fall. A simple trap was made in the creek, and many wonderful fish were taken in this way. Another method of obtaining the fish was by spearing them, and the weapon used was what we called a “Chinook spear.” The Indians made this spear by using a piece of deerhorn about three or four inches long, with a point ~ sharpened properly. A good shaft and a long strong cord completed the equipment.
When this spear was thrown and passed through a fish, the Chinook point came off and was held solidly against the fish on the far side. Steve and I became very adept at spearing fish in this way. We made our own Chinook Points by cutting out a diamond-shaped section from an old saw blade and then after heating, rolled the piece so that the edges on one end would come together.
This method gave us a good sharp point. This was all very pleasant work for us, and even the dogs enjoyed lt. I remember seeing the pup, Major, (or Swipe, as we liked to call him because we always had to hunt for our shoes in the morning) jump off a foot log eight to ten feet above the water in an effort to grab a Salmon in the creek below him. He always had lots of fun and excitement but I do not recall any success in his efforts.
When Grandpa Gets His Money:
Early in our life on the ranch, great news came to us and throughout our stay, this great hope held sway in our waking moments, especially for us youngsters. Word came to us from our home folks in Tacoma that Grandpa Hopkins was going to receive a very large sum of money from an Estate in New York City, and the property there was tied up with other property in England.
The sum was said to be in the millions of dollars. Hope became rampant, and we kids spent our waking hours in planning what we would do when Grandpa got his money. At night, Steve and I would lie awake in our upper bunk dreaming what we would do, what we would get, where we would go when the golden time came. Because of our great hardship on the place caused by the scarcity of food, that item became the most important with us.
We very seldom had flour, and when we did Mother always mixed it with 25% to 50% potato meal. Our food came from the garden and from the streams, with very occasional wild meat. We had a cow generally and that helped immensely.
So our thoughts were often of food. We would have all we wanted to eat of hot biscuit, roast beef, gravy, apple pie, and many other wonderful items. Next would come a pony apiece, real fishing poles and real lines and hooks, a new rifle apiece (we could both shoot well) and finally, new clothes.
Many and many a night we dreamed of our coming good fortune and often offered to share our good luck with our near neighbors, the Vail children.
Incidentally, we continued to dream, moved back to Tacoma via the Alice Gertrude, in 1898, and continued our dreams there. Grandfather was called back East to confer with his lawyers, raised all the money he could to help pay the “legal costs” and finally gave up entirely and died years later as poor as he had always been. The dreams were tied up with the settlement of the Edwards Estate near New York City, and “heirs” by the tens of thousands must have been dreaming as we dreamed.
This proved to be an old hoax that had often been held up to possible heirs, the principal motive being to obtain as much money as possible from the ”heirs” to pay the cost of “legal” efforts. I would like now to speak of a row of spruce trees that my father had set out a few yards in front of our home. In 1936 we had located the place only after finding this row of trees which then were tall and of large size.
In 1953, I was again at the home site, but a pulpwood contractor was working toward the spot from up the river and these trees were cut down at that time.
In the summer of 1957 my grandson, George Chalmers Hopkins, and I were on the place again and took several pictures of the home location. Two of the stumps were measured and each was found to be 42 -inches in diameter at the cut-off and each showed fifty-eight annual rings of growth from the center to the bark. This would indicate that they were fifty-eight years old.
My Dad had planted them about 1895 when they stood about three feet high. There is one additional thought I would like to leave with those who may be historically minded. After considerable thought and a good many hours of study in the Seattle Public Library, I am very strongly of the opinion that all thought of degenerating the fine old Indian name of Soleduck into so meaningless a name as the fictitious “Sol Duc” should be forgotten.
Edmond S. Meany, in his book on “Origin of Washington Geographic Names” on page 296 says “Sol Duc, a river in the southwestern part of Clallam Co., and Hot Springs at which was developed a resort and hotel and post office.” He adds, “More recently, the hot springs are called “Sol Duc” and the river “Soleduck”, and cites Mr. Landes’ “Geographic Dictionary of Washington”.
Landes recognizes Soleduck as the name of the river from its source to its junction with the Bogachiel. I knew both Meany and Landes having attended the University of Washington from 1907-1911.