Think before you shred history

  • Fri Apr 11th, 2014 5:10pm
  • News

Forks Trading Company (1920-1930) where Native to Twilight is today at the stoplight.


What if you never threw anything away? I know what you are thinking; it would be like those people on the hoarder show. I’m not talking about that extreme where you are living with your garbage in your living room or you cat goes missing in your house somewhere.

It’s more like important documents and photos that maybe 100 years from now people would find of interest. Those items would really tell the story of your family and community, one family in Forks has those documents and photos, from a simple receipt for a stay at the local hospital in 1944 to a monthly list of locals that charged items at their store in the 1920s it is some interesting stuff.

When the Mansfield brothers, James H. and Thomas W., came to Forks it was around 1917, the land they eventually settled on is still in the family today, in 1917 a house that still stands was at the end of the line for travelers that needed to go south, beyond Mill Creek there was just a trail.

Over the years other family members built homes around the old house and while no humans have lived in the structure for many years, old books, photos and documents have been stored there.An old book that once belonged to A.W. Smith of Neah Bay is dated 1884 and a notary stamp by O.P. Nelson, Washington Territory, is imprinted on one of the first pages.

The book is a family medical book with recipes for ice cream, beer and toad ointment, which because you have to boil the toad, it says in the directions that it is hard on the toad, then just add butter and tincture of arnica and you have yourself some fine ointment and in case you didn’t know there is nothing better than blackberry wine for your bowel disease, or maybe after the wine you just didn’t care.

A “Farmer’s Business Record Book” from 1918-1919 tells who bought oats and butter, and documents the fact that the World War I spruce camp at Tyee purchased cream and potatoes and also rented a team of horse for a few days.There are records of Forks, Beaver and Tyee milk deliveries. In 1928, the Roscoe Murrow family (Edward R. Murrow’s parents) had a quart and a half of milk delivered each day and the bill at the end of the month was $4.35.

There are invoices from Theo Klahn and Sons Inland Transportation Company from 1917, Forks Oil Company from 1923 and the Forks Electric Company from 1934.The Mansfield brothers operated the Forks Trading Company and extended credit to many locals including Sigard Gunderson, Otto Siegfried, the Forks Congregational Church, as well as other early pioneer families like Crippen, Whitehead and Whitcomb.

California Hobucket purchased a pair of tennis shoes, S.S. Mullen who built the original high school and first gymnasium bought materials from the Forks Trading Company. One of the most ordinary but interesting items is a bill for a 10-day stay at the Olympic Hospital, which was located on the block where the PUD office and fire hall is today, the total was $69 and is signed as paid in full by Dr. U.S. Ford. Today everybody shreds everything.

In another 100 years will there be any documents that tell the story of everyday life? Thankfully the Mansfields never got around to shredding and the items that survive tell the story of life in Forks from its very beginning.While none of the items in boxes and trunks are worth a huge amount of money the value as a look back at our community’s history is priceless.