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

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in business but he also won the sincere respect of all who came in contact with him, for
his personal qualities were those that combined to form the highest type of manhood.

Mr. McLean was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, July 4, 1863, but became
a resident of Boston, Massachusetts, whence in November, 1889, he made his way westward
to Seattle. He had previously learned the carpenter's trade and in this city worked on
the old Denny Hotel. About a year after his arrival here he began taking contracts
and continued in that business until his demise. He constructed many buildings in the city
and adjoining towns, taking a contract for all of the work on a building and subletting the
painting, etc., to others. He was an expert finisher on fine interior trimmings and did a
great deal of work along that line both on houses and on boats. During the last few-
years of his life he carried on business in partnership with his brother, M. J. McLean. Just
before his death he made a trip to Alaska to help erect the Gorman Brothers' cannery but
his health failed and he was compelled to return home. He erected a fine residence on the
hill west of Lake Union, commanding a beautiful view of the lake and the surrounding

Mr. McLean was married in Boston in 1889, just a week before coming to Seattle, to
Miss Elizabeth Healy, a native of that city. To them were born seven children, six of whom
survive : John, who is living in California ; James Edward, a resident of Seattle ; and May,
Agnes, Annie and Helen, all at home.

Mr. McLean was a stalwart democrat and loyally supported the candidates of that party
at the polls. Fraternally he was connected with the Modern Woodmen of America and his
religious faith was that of the Roman Catholic church. He was proud of Seattle and its
development and confident of its great future and was always willing to contribute in any
way within his power to its growth and advancement. Every obligation devolving upon him
was fully and honorably discharged and he was a representative American business man and
citizen. His busy and useful life was brought to a close on the 30th of June, 1914.


The name of James Griffiths, head of the firm of James Griffiths & Sons, ship brokers
and commission agents and general agents for the Coastwise Steamship & Barge Company
at Seattle, is well known throughout the northwestern country. He was born in New-
port, Monmouthshire, England, on the 19th of March, 1861, a son of William and Mary
(Evans) Griffiths. The former was superintendent of the Tredegar wharves from May,
1852, until his death, which occurred in August, 1912.

James Griffiths pursued his education in the Newport National schools and in Turners'
Nautical Academy at Newport, and entered upon his business career as an apprentice
of the Tredegar Shipping Company in Newport, on the 15th of October, 1875. His term
of indenture continued until October, 1879. and on its completion he was made assistant
to the manager, so continuing until 1885.

On the 13th of March, 1883, Mr. Griffiths was married in his native city of Newport



to Miss Susie Agnes Griffiths, a daughter of James and Amy (Davis) Griffiths, of Brighton,
England, and they have become parents of two children : Stanley Arthur, who was born
at Newport, England, January 19, 1884, and was married at Seattle on the 1st of June,
igio, to Elsa Churchill, a daughter of Dr. Frederick A. Churchill, of Seattle; and Albert
Vernon, who was born in Tacoma, on the 21st of April, 1886. The family is well known
socially in Seattle. Mr. and Mrs. Griffiths hold membership in St. Paul's Episcopal
church and he is a member of the Rainier Club. Following the marriage of Mr. and
Mrs. Griffiths they began their domestic life in England but in May, 1885, they left that
country for the new world, reaching Tacoma, Washington on the nth of June.

The history of Mr. Griffiths' connection with the northwest largely indicates the
trend of development in this section of the country. Business association during the
year 1884 and spring of 1885 with George V. Sims, the first European agent of the Northern
Pacific Railway Companj-, resulted in Mr. Griffiths' decision to engage in business on
Puget Sound. Mr. Sims opened an office in Liverpool, England, principally with a view
to interesting English shipowners in the establishment of an Oriental steamship service.
A change in the presidency of the Northern Pacific Railroad and unsettled financial con-
ditions resulting from the failure of Henry Villard postponed the plans that had been
worked up by Messrs. Sims and Griffiths for the Oriental steamship service, but from
the missionary work performed with Sir William Pearce, the head of the Fairfield Ship-
building & Engineering Company of Glasgow, that gentleman became so impressed with
the possibilities of trans-Pacific trade that a few years afterward he established a service
from Vancouver, British Columbia, in conjunction with the Canadian Pacific Railway
Company and the steamers so employed operated for several years until the advent of
the three Empresses, when they were transferred to the Northern Pacific Railroad and
for a period of almost twenty years were regularly in the trade from Tacoma to the

The decision of the Northern Pacific Railway Company to defer action on the trans-
Pacific steamship service did not alter Mr. Griffiths' decision to engage in business on
the Sound and with the assurance of Mr. Wright, of Philadelphia, at that time a power
in the directorate of the Northern Pacific Railroad, that he would take financial interest
in Mr. Griffiths' shipping ventures, the latter terminated his business associations in
England on the 16th of May, 1885, and with his wife and son Stanley left Liverpool on
the steamer City of Rome on the 19th of May, arriving in Tacoma on the nth of June.
1885. On the 1st of August of that year he opened an office in the old Blackwell Hotel
building at the Northern Pacific wharf in Tacoma, under the firm name of James Grif-
fiths & Company, ship brokers, commission merchants and stevedores. A branch office
was also opened at Port Townsend on the i6th of September of that year. The first
vessel controlled by the company was the bark Wemyss Castle, for which the company
acted as agents and stevedores, loading cargoes of lumber at the Old Tacoma mill for
the west coast of South America in October, 1885.

Mr. Griffiths afterward was instrumental in organizing the Tacoma Steam Navigation
Company with a capital of one hundred thousand dollars in September, 1885, the share-
holders being General John W. Sprague. W. B. Blackwell. Frederick Olds. Samuel Wilke-
son. Jr.. Isaac W. Anderson (representing C. B. Wright of the Tacoma Land Company)
and James Griffiths. The officers were: General John W. Sprague. president; Samuel
Wilkeson, vice president ; Lsaac W. Anderson, secretary and treasurer ; and James Griffiths,
general manager. As general manager Mr. Griffiths designed and built the tug Mogul,
the first seagoing tug built at Tacoma. The keel was laid at Doncaster's yard. Old Tacoma.
on tlie 27th of September, 1885, and the tug was launched the following March and
commenced operations on the loth of May, 1886, by towing the ship Valley Forge from
Tacoma to the sea. The tug Mogul was commanded by Captain Woody Sprague for
the first two years of her service. In 1888 the Tacoma Steam Navigation Company was
dissolved, the firm of Griffiths, Bridges & Stetson purchasing the Mogul and operating
her until June 1893, when she was sold to Victoria, British Columbia, but only operated
under the Canadian flag for nine days, when she was sunk in a collision by the bark
Darra off Cape Flattery. The Tacoma Steam Navigation Company also purchased the
old stern-wheeler Messenger, for many years operated by Captain Parker of Olympia.


The idea of acquiring the Messenger was to try and divert to Tacoma some of Seattle's
down Sound trade, but Seattle's trade connections were so firmly cemented to the old
pioneering firms like Schwabachers, Harrington & Smith, Adairs and others, that the
Tacoma merchants soon gave up the eft'ort and the Messenger was sold to the Tacoma
Mill Company for moving logs around their booms at the Tacoma mills and towing
from small logging camps in the vicinity of Vashon island.

In June, 1886, to take care of increasing business, a partnership was formed with
Captain Joseph H. Stetson, then resident partner of Ross Skofield & Company, American
shipping agents at Liverpool, and his son-in-law, Herbert W. Bridges, assistant manager
to the old established London shipowners, John Elder & Company. The partnership began
operations at Tacoma in July, 1886, under the style of Griffiths, Bridges & Stetson, Captain
Stetson going to Port Townsend to manage the office at that point, with Bridges in charge at
Tacoma and Griffiths in general charge of the work at various ports on the Sound. To
supervise the loading of vessels consigned to one agency it was necessary that one
member of the firm travel around all the time. Members of the firm on many occasions
spent the entire week in that way, leaving Tacoma on Sunday night on the steamer
Olympian for Seattle, where they generally had one or more ships loading Black Diamond
or Franklin coal for San Francisco ; on Monday morning going with Captain Nugent on
his steamer Success to Port Blakeley ; returning Monday evening, would leave on the
Olympian for Port Madison, going from there Tuesday night, leaving at about II :oo
P. M. and getting to Port Gamble about T :oo A. M. on Wednesday morning; from there
by Indian canoe or the courtesy of the late Cyrus Walker on his small steamer Hyack
to Port Ludlow during Wednesday night or perhaps about three o'clock Thursday morn-
ing; that morning would take the steamer Olympian from Ludlow to Port Townsend,
where they would be landed at any hour from 4 :oo to 6 :oo A. M. ; probably that day
proceeded to Hadlock and the following day to Port Discovery and on Saturday going
to Tacoma and frequently traversing the same route the following week.

The untimely death of Mr. Bridges, caused by typhoid fever in January, 1887, resulted
in a Mr. Meyer, a nephew of Captain Meyer of Meyer, Wilson & Company, San Fran-
cisco, joining the firm in the fall of 1887 and the alteration of the firm name to Griffiths,
Meyer & Stetson; but that partnership relation proved unsatisfactory and Mr. Meyer
retired in March, 188S, and the firm became Griffiths & Stetson, so continuing until the
death of Captain Stetson in May, 1893. On the death of Mr. Bridges, the Tacoma office
was closed and business centralized at Port Townsend, where the office was continued
until February, 1896, when Mr. GrifTiths was selected by James J. Hill to represent the
Great Northern Railway in negotiations with the celebrated Nippon Yuscn Kaisha. Mr.
Griffiths arrived in Tokio on the i6th of March and conferred with officials of the steam-
ship line until the 8th of May, 1896, when, the general conditions of the contract being
tentatively agreed upon, he returned to St. Paul to confer with Mr. Hill. His approval
secured, Mr. Griffiths met Director Iwanaga, Counsel Masujima and Secretary Kafuku
of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha. who left Japan on the iSth of June. Mr. Griffiths con-
ducted them from Vancouver to Seattle, where they met Judge Burke and Mr. Finley.
at that time a vice president of the Great Northern Railway. After several days spent
in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland, Mr. Griffiths accompanied the Japanese officials to St.
Paul, where the details of the contract were worked out and the contract signed on the
i6th of July, i8g6, while the service was inaugurated by the Miike Maru on the 30th of
August, a never-to-be-forgotten day for the old timers of Seattle. This traffic connection
is still in effect. The service from 1896 until 1901 was every thirty days, and since
that time every fourteen days, by twin screw steamers of the Aki Maru class, having
accommodation for forty first-class passengers, twenty-four second-class passengers and
two hundred and forty-five steerage and carrying sixty-five hundred tons of cargo, con-
sisting of flour, lumber, merchandise and cotton. Mr. Griffiths was the first local manager
and continued as such until February 10, 1898, when he retired so that his attention
could be devoted to Alaska transportation and barges and the management of the steve-
dore business.

In July, 1896. the Griffiths family removed from Port Townsend to Seattle and have
since resided at No. 752 Olympic Place, Kinnear Park. Mr. Griffiths is today president


til the CoasUvisc Steamship & Barge Company, owners of the barges America {3,M0
tons), St. David (-',600 tons), Louisiana (2,200 tons). General Fairchild (2,200 tons), and
Argus (900 tons). He is also president of the James Griffiths & Sons Shipping Company,
502 Burke building, managers of the steamship Amur (1,000 tons) and the barges Henry
Villard (2,600 tons), Baroda (2,600 tons), Oregon (2,200 tons), John C. Potter (1,600
tons), Amy Turner (1,500 tons) and Bangor (900 tons). He is also president of the
Griffiths & Sprague Stevedoring Company, handling all the freight over the Great North-
ern docks at Smith's Cove; the Griffiths & Weber Stevedore Company, which has the
contract for handling freight for the new Hill steamers Great Northern and Northern-
Pacific to be operated between Flavel and San Francisco. Mr. Griffiths can truly claim
10 be a pioneer in the shipping business of the Puget Sound, having had an active con-
nection therewith from its actual commencement, other than the shipment of lumber,
to the period of its present magnitude.

A resume of his life on Puget Sound shows that as manager of the Tacoma Steam
Navigation Company he built the first seagoing tug in Tacoma. By reason of his con-
nection with the original proposed trans-Pacific service of the Northern Pacific Railroad, he
was their representative in Tacoma in handling the first shipments of tea received at that
port from the Orient in the bark Isabel, also from the bark Artizan and the American
ship A. G. Ropes. Mr. Griffiths was not only identified with the first movement of the
Oriental cargo by way of Tacoma but was also connected with the tug Mogul, which,
commanded by Captain Woody Sprague, towed in the British ship Everett with the first
cargo of tea transported over the then just completed Canadian Pacific Railway. The
firm of Griffiths, Bridges & Stetson imported the first cargo of cement, pig iron, salt
and general merchandise brought direct from Europe to the Puget Sound, chartering
for that purpose the ship Carondelet, which arrived at Port Townsend on the ist of
March, 1887. They were the agents for the American ship Joseph S. Spinney and the
British ships Cape Verde, Rydalmere and Persian that brought rails for the building of
the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway and the Seattle & Montana Railroad and
discharged the first cargo of rails unloaded at the port of Seattle, namely, the cargo
from the ship Cape Verde.

Mr. Griffiths operated the first barge or dismantled sailing vessel on the Pacific
coast, sending the barge Ludlow with coal from Tacoma to San Francisco in tow
of the tug Collis and bringing back a cargo of bituminous rock from Port Harford to
Tacoma. He was manager of the Pacific Barge Company, owners of the celebrated
whaleback steamer Charles W. Wetinore, which brought the first cargo direct from
the Atlantic to Puget Sound in December, 1891, and which while under his management
was wrecked at Coos Bay in 1S92. For the Klondike rush, in conjunction with Moritz
Thomsen of the Centennial mills, he bought the Japanese steamer Takasako Maru, brought
her to Seattle in February, 1898, and adapted her for the Alaska business, changing the
name to Centennial. On the outbreak of the Spanish-American war they chartered her
to the government for a transport. The steamship Centennial was the first ocean-going
steamer to hail from the port of Seattle. During Mr. Griffiths' long operations on the
Puget Sound he has been identified with the management of the following vessels, many
well known to the old pioneers: The tugs Mogul, Mastick and Collis; the steamers Little
Joe, Charles W. Wetmore, Centennial and Amur; the sailing vessels America, Coronado
and Charger; and the barges Ludlow (1889-1894), Melanopc (1906-1911), Quatsino (1907-
1909); Hayden Brown (1908-1912); Carondelet (1886-1889 and 1908-1910), Big Bonanza
(1908-1910), James Drummond (1908-1910), St. James (1908-1910), St. David (1908),
Louisiana (1909), Rufus E. Wood (1910-1011), Argus (1906), Bangor (1910), Oregon
(1912), John C. Potter (1912), Henry Villard (1913) Gerard C. Tobey (1913). Amy
Turner (1913), General Fairchild (1915) and Baroda (191.S).

Mr. Griffiths has seen the transition from sail to steam in the years from 1885 to 1894.
Before the days of California's discovery and adaptation of oil for fuel, the coal trade
between the Sound, British Columbia and California was principally transported by sail-
ing vessels. The local coal companies owned or controlled fleets which were entirely
employed in carrying coal to San Francisco. From Tacoma, carrying South Prairie and
Carbon Hill coals, the following were regularly engaged: (Oriental {2,600 tons). Pales-


tine (2,200 tons), Two Brothers (2,000 tons), Yosemite (2,000 tons), Alaska (2,000 tons),
Lizzie Williams (1,600 tons). Aureola (1,500 tons), Seminole (2,000 tons). Valley Forge
(2,000 tons), Ella S. Thayer (1,800 tons) and Eldorado (1,800 tons). From Seattle the
following were operated by P. B. Cornwall for carrying Black Diamond coal : Ivanhoe
(2,600 tons). Spartan (2,400 tons). Blue Jacket (2,200 tons), Germania (1,600 tons) and
Templar (1,200 tons). For carrying the Franklin coal of the Pacific Coast Coal Com-
pany, in addition to their steamer Willamette, the company used the Detroit (2,000 tons),
Sierra Nevada (1,200 tons) and Henry Buck (1,000 tons). The Griffiths Company were
also extensive charterers of American sailing ships that came to the Sound in ballast
to load coal for San Francisco and the files of the company show that at Seattle, waiting
to load, coal in September, 1887, were: George F. Manson (2,100 tons), William H.
Macey (3,500 tons). Baring Brothers (3,500 tons). Highland Light (2,200 tons). Chal-
lenger (2,200 tons), Robert L. Belknap (3,700 tons) and St. Stephens (2,300 tons). From
Nanaimo and Departure Bay, British Columbia, in the coal trade to San Francisco in
those days, were the following ships: America (3,200 tons). Glory of the Seas (3,200
tons), Kennebec (3,100 tons), Commodore (3,000 tons), John A. Briggs (3,000 tons),
Fannie Tucker (2,400 tons), Bohemia (2,400 tons), St. Paul (2,800 tons), Carrolton (2,400
tons), Oregon (2,400 tons), J. B. Brown (2,400 tons). Ocean King (3,000 tons), R. B.
Buck (2,400 tons), Frank Pendleton (2.400 tons), Wilna (2,400 tons), Rufus Wood (2,400
tons), Sea King (2,400 tons). Sintram (2,400 tons), General Fairchild (2,400 tons), and
frequently large numbers of British sailing vessels, like the New York (3,400 tons),
Bremen (3,400 tons), Cumberland (3,000 tons). Great Victoria (3,000 tons) and Earl
Dalhousie (2,700 tons).

In the lumber business from tlie Puget Sound to California, before the day of steam
schooners, the mill companies owned their own vessels and the following list will give
some idea of the number of vessels employed: From Tacoma Mill at Old Tacoma, the
bark Samoset (600,000 feet capacity) and the ships Shirley (800,000 feet) and Dashing
Wave (800,000 feet) ; from Port Blakeley, the schooners Courser (400,000 feet), R. H.
Ham (600,000 feet), William Renton (450,000 feet). Topgallant (900,000 feet), Prussia
(900,000 feet) and Kate Davenport (800,000 feet) ; from Port Madison, the barks Vidette
(700,000 feet). Tidal Wave (700,000 feet), Northwest (700,000 feet), Oakland (700,000
feet), Nellie May (550,000 feet) and the ship Nonantum (750,000 feet) ; from the Puget
Mill Company of Port Ludlow and Port Gamble, the barks Arkwright, Atalanta, Bonanza,
Carondelet, Camden, Fresno, Klickitat, Emerald. Palmyra, Cowlitz, General Butler, Saga-
more and James Chcston, all these from 500,000 feet to 1,000,000 feet capacity; from the
Adams Mill Company of Port Hadlock, the J. M. Griffith (750,000 feet). Retriever (750,-
000 feet) and the Guardian (1,000,000 feet); from the Port Discovery mills, the brigs
Deacon (400,000 feet), Mary Glover (600,000 feet). Tanner (300,000 feet) and the ship
Jeremiah Thompson (1,400,000 feet). All of the foregoing vessels, with the few exceptions
of those used as barges, do not e.xist now, for the evolution of the coastal carrying trade
to steam lumber schooners did not warrant replacing the sailing craft. It is much the
same with sailing vessels for carrying grain to Europe. For the season of 1889-90 over
fifty-four sailing vessels conveyed full cargoes of wheat from Tacoma or Seattle to
Europe. Now it is a rarity to see or hear of sailing ships carrying cargoes of wheat.
Today practically nothing but steamers are used, and with the opening of the Panama
canal, it will be but a few years that a sailing vessel for the carrying trade will be a
thing of the past.


John H. Byer, proprietor of the Interurban Lunch Room at Seattle, was born January 21,
1869, in Cleveland, Ohio, the fifth in order of birth in a family of nine children whose parents
were Frank A. and Julia (Koch) Byer, both natives of Germany. Coming to America in
1859, Frank A. Byer settled near Cleveland, Ohio, where he engaged in the raising of fruit,
winning substantial and gratifying success in that undertaking. He is now living retired at



Lakewood, Ohio. He was married in Germany and tlieir wedding journey was the voyage
to the new world. Hi.s wife died in Rockport, Ohio, in 1899, at the age of sixty-seven years.

John H. Byer largely acquired his education in tlie public and high schools of Lakewood,
Ohio, which he attended to the age of seventeen years. Up to that time he had remained upon
the home farm and after leaving the parental roof he was employed for a period of ten years
in the store of L. John.son at Lakewood. Ohio, and there thoroughly learned every phase of
merchandising and acquainted himself with commercial' methods. In 1897 he removed to
Montgomery county, Texas, where in connection with his younger brother, Frank A., he
engaged in tobacco raising for three years with moderate success. He then sold his interest
and came direct to Seattle, where he arrived on Tlianksgiving Day of 1900. For about four
years he was employed as a clerk in retail stores and on the 1st of March, 1905, he purchased
the Interurban Lunch Room, located at 151 Yesler Way, at the depot of the Puget Sound
Electric Railways. By careful management and the introduction of modern improvements
and equipments he has established one of the best conducted and most largely patronized
enterprises of the kind in the city. He receives the support of a large number of business
men who are steady and regular patrons and also is liberally patronized by the traveling
public. In his establishment he uses nothing but the finest and best food stuffs and employs
a number of pleasant mannered and well dressed waitresses to serve his regular patrons
and the tired and hungry traveler, who always finds a wholesome and well prepared repast,
.^s he has prospered Mr. Byer has made investment in real estate and now owns considerable
Seattle property, including a beautiful home at No. 216 Twenty-ninth avenue, South.

Mr. Byer belongs to the Seattle Commercial Club and in politics is a republican but has
never sought nor desired office, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his business
affairs, which have been steadily growing and which through capable conduct and manage-
ment have become a source of most gratifying income.


Captain Harry H. MacDonald, a shipowner of Seattle and well known in business
and maritime circles, was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia, May 16, 1857. His father, Alex-
ander MacDonald, is now eighty-one years of age. By occupation he has been a ship-
builder all of his life and he built the steamer Harvester, now owned by his son and of
which his grandson is captain. He is retired from active business and is leading a quiet
life in Victoria, British Columbia. He, too, is a native of Nova Scotia, where he built

Online LibraryClarence BagleyHistory of Seattle from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 3) → online text (page 117 of 142)