Clarence Bagley.

History of Seattle from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 3) online

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was chairman of the western division.

In 1895 in Sacramento, California, Dr. Ragley was married to Miss Edna Watson
Harvey, a native of that city and a representative of an old Connecticut family of English
descent, represented in the American army during the Revolutionary war. Mrs. Ragley is
now a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her father became one of
the pioneer residents of California and served as sheriff of Sacramento county in the early
days. Dr. Ragley is well known in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has passed
through all the chairs of the local lodge. He belongs to the Golf and Country Club and the
Chamber of Commerce, and his identification with the latter indicates his interest in affairs
relative to the upbuilding and improvement of Seattle along all the lines which lead to its
greatness and development.



JOSEPH R. LEWIS.



The judicial history of Seattle and of. the state would be incomplete were there failure
to make reference to Judge Joseph R. Lewis, who on the 21st of March, 1872, became an
associate justice of the supreme court. His record conferred honor and dignity upon the
state which honored him and was one of signal service and benefit to the courts.

Of Welsh descent, he represented a family long established in the new world. His
father. Colonel Philip Lewis, was born in Pennsylvania, but in 1803 became a resident of
Adams county, Ohio, and in 1808 took up his abode in Madison county, that state. For
many years he served as county sheriff and on several occasions was called to represent
his district in the general assembly, being a member of both the house and senate. He
left the impress of his individuality upon the laws of the state and aided largely in shaping
legislation which greatly furthered the interests of Ohio. He married Abigail Melvin, who
was born in east Tennessee and was a descendant of the Huguenots of South Carolina.
.\t an early day she accompanied her father to Ohio and there became the wife of Colonel
Lewis, whom she survived for several years, passing away in 1876 at the age of eighty-
seven. For seventy-five years she was a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
She exemplified in her life the characteristics of a faithful wife and mother, a devoted
friend and a sincere Christian.

In London, Ohio, on the 17th of September. 1829, occurred the birth of Judge Joseph
R. Lewis, who there attended the common schools and an academy. When seventeen years
of age he began teaching and while following that profession for five years in his native
county he devoted his leisure time to the study of law and of general literature under the
direction of Hon. Richard A. Harrison. He was admitted to the bar before the supreme
court of Ohio in 1854 and soon afterward removed to Iowa, where he engaged in teaching
school for three months. In July, 1855, however, he entered upon the practice of law in
Washington, Iowa, and in 1856 was chosen by popular suffrage to the office of prosecuting
attorney of Washington county, which position he filled until January, 1859. During the
succeeding decade he enjoyed a large law practice in Washington and it was during that
period that he attended the convention in 1856 at which the republican party of Iowa was
organized. From that time until his death he remained an earnest supporter of the party,
yet withal was an independent thinker. Judicial honors came to him when, on the 15th of
April, 1869, President Grant appointed him an associate justice of the supreme court of
Idaho on the recommendation of the governor, .the supreme judges and the congressional
delegation from Iowa. The letter which recommended him said, in part: "We most
warmly recommend the Hon. Joseph R. Lewis of tliis state for a territorial judgeship. Mr.
Lewis is an old resident of Iowa and has built up a solid character both as a citizen and a
lawyer. Having been for many years a leading practitioner in our court, we are enabled to
testify from personal knowledge to his merits and fitness for the place above named. We
state, without reserve, that he would in our judgment make a most faithful, able and excel-
lent judge." Henry O'Conner, then attorney general of Iowa, wrote a no less commenda-



886 HISTORY OF SEATTLE

tory letter and his recommendations all attested the high regard entertained for Judge
Lewis both as a man and a citizen.

In the latter part of May, 1869. Judge Lewis arrived at Boise City, Idaho, and on the
I St of June commenced a term of the district court at Silver City in the Owyhee mining
district. The docket was full and included twenty murder cases and many important civil
cases. With characteristic energy he took up the work of clearing the docket and dispens-
ing justice. Early in his administration he rigidly enforced the criminal law, thereby incur-
ring the enmity of the criminal class, which is always large in a new territory. It required
much moral and physical stamina, to faithfully perform the duties of the office and in so
doing Judge Lewis won the strong approval and support of the law abiding citizens of the
territory. This was expressed by the Owyhee Tidal Wave when he closed his second term
of court at Silver City in November, 1869. The paper said: "Should the authorities at
Washington always select as good men and faithful officers as Judge Lewis there will be
no cause of complaint on the score of foreign importation. * * * There is a solid and
mature firmness in his judgment that has the true ring about it, without that petulance and
mock dignity that from long habit old occupants of the bench assume. Many of his illus-
trations in elucidation of questions either of law or fact are quaint and often commonplace,
but always pertinent and to the point. In this respect he approaches nearer to Abraham
Lincoln than any man we have ever seen or whose productions we have ever read." Judge
Lewis resided at Boise City until May, 1871, holding court in different parts of the district
and organizing the first court held in the Mormon district at Malad. A short time before
he retired from the supreme court bench of Idaho the Boise Statesman said, editorially:
■"It gives us pleasure to speak of the career of Judge J. R. Lewis as one of the district judges
of this territory. * * * He entered upon the discharge of his office under no ordinary
difficulties, of which the usual prejudice against imported officers was the least. The char-
acter of some of our judges had of late years been such as to destroy all respect of the
people for the judiciary as well as all confidence in the courts. Attorneys had grown rich
and made fat fees solely out of their supposed influence or confidential relations with a
judge, through which practice the bar had become either demoralized or disgusted. For a
year after Judge Lewis came here the same state of things existed in the other two dis-
tricts besides his and with a majority of the supreme court. He soon comprehended the
situation hut determined that no such record should be his. * * * Unfitted, both by a
natural sense of justice as well as by education, for the crooked ways of a debauched judi-
ciary, he could tolerate no other idea of the duties of a judge than a rigid administration
of the laws, uninfluenced by favor and unawed by any kind of power or threat. Such a man
under such circumstances could not but encounter opposition and Judge Lewis had the
fortune to wake the hostility of the bitterest and foulest element that ever disturbed society
or that ever undertook to evade or trample down the laws. It did not take long, however,
for him to triumph over these obstacles. The bar, always ready to honor an impartial
judge, first learned to respect his integrity and then to admire his ability. Through his
inflexible impartiality, bushwhackers in the practice were rapidly falling into discount, while
lawyers who take an honorable pride in their profession were beginning to take heart again.
A case in court, from being a mere auction where the highest bidder obtained judgment,
was under Judge Lewis' administration, a matter of certainty as well as justice to be deter-
mined according to law and evidence. Capital has never before felt so secure in this judicial
district as during the last vear. Citizens never before felt so safe in their persons or m
the enjoyment of their rights, simply because they had begun to have confidence m the
presiding judge. It had become a common remark among persons disagreeing with Judge
Lewis in polkics, to assert their confidence in his ability as a lawyer and integrity as a
judge, and their preference for him over any other who had ever presided in this district."
°Judoe Lewis received appointment to the position of associate justice of the supreme
court of°New Mexico on the 25th of May, 1871, but declined the proffered honor. During
that summer he visited Washington, D. C, and in the fall returned to Idaho to act as coun-
sel in several important cases in the district and supreme courts of the territory. On the
oist of March 187- be was appointed associate judge of the supreme court of Washing-
ton and was assigned to the Walla Walla district. The court was not in good repute with
the public and of his ideal service here a contemporary biographer has written: The



HISTORY OF SEATTLE 887

firmness and integrity with which he held the scales of justice soon taught the unruly
members of the bar who had been in the habit of bullying witnesses and tiring the patience
of juries, that they must observe that decorum which is indispensable to the dignity of the
court and the orderly transaction of its business. That he met with opposition was a mat-
ter of course ; that he incurred the enmity of the venal and vicious of his district was but
natural. Some of the most bitter of the enemies he thus made caused a petition to be
printed and privately and surreptitiously circulated through remote parts of Idaho, Oregon
and Washington, avoiding Walla Walla and vicinity, asking the president to remove him.
As soon as this clandestine attempt to smirch his character was discovered a meeting of
the Walla Walla bar was held, at which resolutions were passed which fully vindicated
Judge Lewis as an upright and fearless judge and a citizen entitled to honor, confidence and
respect. Among other expressions of approval of his course the resolutions contained the
following high indorsement : 'In relation to this matter we further have to say that we
believe Judge Lewis has given more general satisfaction to the members of the bar and to
all others having business before him who are competent to judge, than has been given to
this district during its past history. We also say that we are assured that our people gen-
erally indorse his ability and integrity both as a judge and private citizen.'

"These resolutions were not only signed by the bar but were Indorsed by many of
the leading citizens, officers, ministers and editors of Walla Walla. So complete was his
vindication from even the shadow of malfeasance in office that he soon after, January 26,
187s, was promoted to the chief justiceship of Washington territory, being appointed by
President Grant on the recommendation of Attorney General George H. Williams, both of
whom were his warm personal friends. This distinction was conferred upon him without
the least effort on his part, in fact the first knowledge he had of the appointment was the
receipt of his commission. He was assigned to the Seattle district and in April, 1875,
removed to our city, where he resided until 1893 when he moved to California, engaging in
the banking business in San Jose. He continued in the discharge of his duties as cliief
justice, holding court at Seattle, Steilacoom, Tacoma, Port Townsend and La Conner
until the close of his term in January, 1879, during which period he not only maintained
the record he had already earned as an able, fearless judge, but increased the confidence
and respect his course had inspired as associate justice. No higher indorsement of the
judicial character of his mental faculties could be made than the statement of the fact
that during the seven years and over he was on the bench in Washington territory, no deci-
sion made by him was ever reversed in the supreme court. His fearless, outspoken man-
ner, his unchangeable purpose in making no compromise with the violators of the law,
incurred the displeasure of the vicious class. At all times and in all places he denounced
gamblers, criminals and boodlers and no man has ever been more fearless or less of a time-
server in matters in which he believed he was right. No question of policy or personal
popularity ever caused him to make a compromise with what he considered an evil."

Upon his retirement from the supreme bench Judge Lewis entered upon the active
practice of law in Seattle and was accorded a large and distinctively representative clien-
tage which he handled with success until 1883, when he disposed of his law library and
retired from active practice, although he was still called upon to act as counsel in many
important cases. While active at the Seattle bar he was counsel in the important litigation
between Wells Fargo & Company and the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. He was
also connected with the Port Madison mill cases and many other important cases involving
a comprehensive knowledge of corporation law. His fellow townsmen, appreciating his
public service, elected him to represent his district in the territorial legislature in 1885 and
he was also made a member of the committee of fifteen which planned and perfected the
present school system of Seattle. On retiring from active practice he entered banking
circles, organizing the First National Bank of Yakima, of which he continued as president
until November, 1889, when he disposed of his stock and resigned, but in November, 1890,
was again elected to the presidency. He was also one of the organizers of the private
banking house of Dexter Horton & Company in 1887, remaining for many years one of
its stockholders and directors.

In January, 1850, at Washington, Iowa, Judge Lewis wedded Miss Mary A. Chapman,
who was borii in Ohio and was of English lineage. They had two sons: Howard H.,



HISTORY OF SEATTLE

mentioned elsewhere in this volume ; and Joseph C. Judge Lewis was a lifelong Methodist
and served as chairman of the building committee which had in charge the erection of the
First Methodist church of Seattle in 1888-9. He took a most helpful interest in many
plans to advance the city along material, intellectual, social, political and moral lines. In
1890 he became a member of the Seattle charter commission and urged the dual govern-
ment plan adopted by the commission and prepared the article on public works adopted by
the commission. The Chamber of Commerce made him its delegate to the Pacific coast
board of commerce, in San Francisco in September, 1890. Ere his demise one, writing of
him said : "The conspicuously notable attribute of Judge Lewis' character is steadfast-
ness of purpose — once resolved on a course of action and convinced that he is right, nothing
can move him from carrying out his plans in his own way. On no occasion did he ever
lack the courage to stand alone, if need be, in the maintenance of a principle he believed to
be right. His views on all questions are usually radical and always earnest. He has a
thorough contempt for shams, which, with a combative temperament, has led to a habit
of speaking his mind about men and things with a plain and piquant speech, and not infre-
quently with offense to those who find themselves, in the language of Bret Harte, 'the
individual who happens to be meant.' As a judge he was always fearless; always positive;
no uncertain language or words of compromise or demagogic attempts to conciliate the
public marked his enunciation of a conclusion. He was one thing or the other, and hence
he was at times the object of bitter partisan criticism, but that never swerved him from
his chosen line of duty. He has none of the small arts of the so-called popular leader.
Should success depend on fawning or bending the knee, he would stand erect and take defeat
in preference to victory bought at sacrifice of manhood. Such are a few marked attributes
which belong to Judge Lewis' character which have earned for him the deep and sincere
respect of all who admire an honest, manly man, who has never courted popularity at a
sacrifice of his convictions, or counted the cost or abated one jot of his earnestness in the
espousal of any cause he believed to be right, and who has always cared more for the
approval of his own conscience than for the applause of the majority." Judge Lewis
passed away in igii in Los Angeles and in his passing Seattle lost one of its most honored
citizens, a man who left the impress of his individuality for good upon the history of the
state. He aided in laying a firm foundation for civic righteousness and improvement and
through his example and efforts inculcated a high regard among men for the dignity of the
law and respect for its observance.



WILLIAM M. CURTISS.



William M. Curtiss, a hardware merchant of Ballard, whose well established business
is the direct outcome of close application and carefully managed interests, was born
at Ottawa, Illinois, April 24, 1858, while his parents were temporarily residing there.
He is descended from an old New York family that for several generations was repre-
sented in the Empire state. His father, who was a mechanic of Oswego, New York,
became a contractor and in connection with his father erected a large number of build-
ings at various points in the east. In the '50s he was awarded an important contract
that necessitated a trip to Ottawa, Illinois, and a somewhat prolonged stay in that section
of the state. He had previously wedded Maria I. Todd and his wife accompanied
him to Ottawa, where they were residing temporarily at the time of the birth of William
M. Curtiss. Eventually the father returned to New York and was accidentally drowned
in 1870, while in the employ of the government as superintendent of the breakwater at
Oswego. His boat was swamped while he was making a trip to the lighthouse in a
storm and a heavy overcoat which he wore at the time hampered him in his efforts to
swim.

William M. Curtiss, who was one of a family of three . children was taken by his
parents to New York in his infancy and was there reared to manhood. He had but a
limited chance to attend school and early began to provide for his own support, working
at various occupations until his twentieth year was completed, when he began learning




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HISTORY OF SEATTLE 891

the tinner's trade, since which time his efforts have been directed in that and kindred

'""^Mr Curtiss remained a resident of New York until 1882, when he started for the
west, spending four years in Fargo and Jamestown, North Dakota, but the stories which
reached him concerning the growing town of Seattle, situated on Puget Sound, determined
him to try his fortune in Washington, where he arrived in the year 1886. Busmess was
dull at that time and as it was difficult to obtain work at the skilled trades Mr. Curtiss
be-an building small boats. After a brief period, however, the financial condition having
improved, he opened a mercantile establishment at North Seattle. His venture there how-
ever continued for but a brief period and after disposing of the store he purchased a lot
in what now constitutes a part of the site of Ballard. In September, 1889, he erected
thereon a small building and opened a tin shop, which constituted the beginning of his
present hardware establishment. His trade steadily grew with the growth of the town
and surrounding countrv. In 1890 he secured a stock of hardware and in the fall erected
a part of his present building, which faces on Second avenue. From the f^rst his business
steadily grew and when twelve years had passed Mr. Curtiss was the owner of a large
building with a floor space one hundred feet square and containing the most extensive
stock of this kind in Ballard. Since that time he has dealt continuously in hardware
and is today recognized as one of the most prosperous merchants in his line m Seattle,
dealing in tinware, stoves, pumps, sash, doors, paints and oils and other articles of that
character His annual sales reach a large volume and his success is based on the complete-
ness of his stock, the high quality of his goods and the reasonableness of his prices.
He has a well equipped repair shop, in which he employs competent workmen and thus
adds not a little to the income which he derives from his sales in the store. He is
thoroughly familiar with every branch of the hardware trade and aside from his regular
business he has paid some attention to mining and has made some investments ui that line
which promise well for the future. . ,. r, „ u„ :=

In 1891 occurred the marriage of Mr. Curtiss and Miss Amanda \ an Patten, who is
well known socially in Seattle, being identified with ladies' clubs and with the Daughters
of Rebekah Mr. Curtiss is a well known member of the Odd Fellows society and the
Rebekahs and is also identified with the Woodmen of the World. His political views are
in large measure in harmonv with republican principles, yet he casts an independent
ballot according to the dictates of his judgment. He served for two years as a member
of the city council of Ballard and was also a member of the board of education. He
holds membership with the Seattle Commercial Club and is interested in all that tends
to promote public progress along the line of the material welfare of the county. He
deserves much credit for what he has accomplished, for the development of his business
is attributable entirely to his own efltorts and it is today the largest enterprise of the kind
in Ballard.

HERBERT PRESCOTT WILKS ROBERTS.

Herbert Prescott Wilks Roberts, formerly agent at Seattle for the American-Hawaiian
Steamship Companv, has devoted his life to business interests of this character, haying made
his initial step as an emplove of the Grand Trunk Railway Company in Montreal, Canada,
March 19 1891. He was then twenty years of age and it was in that city that he was
born his natal day being December 15, 1871. While spending his youthful days in the home
of his parents, H. Shenstone and Julia C. (Glassford) Roberts, he began his education,
which was continued in Dover College of Dover, England. He then entered railway service
and after four years' connection with the Grand Trunk became a representative of the
Chicago, Burlington & Quiiicy Railway Company at Boston, Massachusetts, where he re-
mained from 189^ until .901. He was with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad
Company at Boston and Providence from 1903 until 1904 and in the latter year accepted
the position of general agent for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company at Seattle. Two
years were spent in that connection and in 1906 he became manager for Cook & Company,
Incorporated, at Seattle, occupying that position until 1911. In that year he was appointed



892 HISTORY OF SEATTLE

general agent at Seattle for the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company, which he held
until January i, 1915, when he was transferred to Los Angeles as agent of the American-
Hawaiian Steamship Company. The various changes made in his business career indicate
forward steps with increased responsibilities and opportunities and his powers have proved
adequate to the former, while his ambition has prompted him to make good use of the
latter.

In his native city on the 23d of April, 1904, Mr. Roberts was married to Miss Edith
Glassford, a daughter of Gregory Glassford, and they became the parents of two children:
Eleanor Glassford, born June 19, 1905 ; and Sttenstone Wilks, January 15, 1907. Mrs. Roberts
died at Santa Cruz, California, March 23, 1908. On the 2nd of July, 1914, in Seattle, Mr.
Roberts wedded Pearl (Kennedy) Hilbert, a daughter of J. A. Kennedy. His interests and
connections outside of business and home are varied and extensive, indicating a social
nature and also deep concern in various matters which are of importance to the community
in which he lived. He was a well known member of the Rainier, Seattle Athletic, Trans-
portation and Seattle Yacht Clubs and secretary of the Seattle Golf Club. He also belonged
to the Union Club of Tacoma, and the Vancouver Club of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Aside from this he was connected with the Chamber of Commerce, the Commercial Club



Online LibraryClarence BagleyHistory of Seattle from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 3) → online text (page 109 of 142)