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

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destroyed in the conflagration he rebuilt them. He had great faith in the future of the
city and gave practical demonstration thereof by his investment in property here. He
was also well known in industrial circles as he organized and was the first president of
the Fremont Milling Company at Fremont, now a part of the city, and remained the
president of the company when it was reorganized as the Bryant Milling Company, by
which name it is still known. He also purchased a plant in Olympia which he devoted
to the manufacture of shingles and lumber. He readily recognized opportunities and was
prompt in their utilization, and this insight and enterprise, combined with his excellent
judgment, enabled him to gain a large measure of success.

Mr. Griffith was married, in Michigan, to Miss Ann E. Wilson, who passed away in
1873. To this union were born five children, four of whom survive : L. H., Mrs. Flor-
ence Hale, Frank S. and Mrs. D. A. Lombard. He was married in 1874 in Nebraska, to
Mrs. Eliza A. House, a widow, who had three children, Olive, Fremont and Grace, now
Mrs. H. A. Schroeder.

Mr. Griffith gave his political allegiance to the republican party but never aspired to
public office. During the Civil war he served for two years as a member of a Michigan
cavalry regiment and was later connected with Sexton Post, G. A. R., of Seattle. He
also belonged to the Knights of Honor and the Royal Arcanum, and his religious faith was
indicated by his membership in the Temple Baptist church, of which he was treasurer at
the time of his demise. In all the relations of life he measured up to high standards of
manhood and he made and retained many warm friends. For fifteen years he resided at
Seventh and Pike streets but later made his home on Melrose avenue. He was interested
in everything pertaining to the public welfare and did all in his power to promote the
growth and development of Seattle, which he believed destined to become one of the
metropolitan cities of the northwest. He passed away May 19, 1909, when seventy-three
years of age, but his memory is still cherished by many. He not only gained financial inde-
pendence but also won a highly respected and honored name.


Dr. Claud F. Lathrop, a neuropathic physician, who has won a well deserved reputa-
tion as a nerve specialist in Seattle, was born May 4, 1882, in Oskaloosa, Kansas, a son
of Charles Edwin Lathrop, a native of Iowa, who devoted the greater part of his life to
the art of photography. He met a tragic death when but thirty-five years of age, passing
away in Ottawa, Kansas, in 1893. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Sarah M.
Ware, died in Ottawa in 1898, at the age of forty-five years.

Dr. Lathrop pursued his early education in the public schools of Ottawa but on ac-
count of his mother's death, which occurred when he was but sixteen years of age, he was
obliged to discontinue his studies. When eleven years of age he had been apprenticed to
learn the barber's trade, which he followed as a journeyman until 1904, save for a part
of that time when he was in business on his own account in Ottawa. However, he desired
to enter upon a professional career, and became a student in the Tomsonian Medical Col-
lege at Denver, Colorado, entering the osteopathic department, from which he was grad-
uated in 1904 with the D. O. degree. He also pursued post-graduate work in the Palmer
School of Chiropractic at Davenport, Iowa, winning the D. C. degree. He then began
practice at Ballard, Washington, in 1906 and there remained for nine months, after which
he removed to Seattle and in the intervening period to the present time he has been in
active and successful practice here. He is well known for his work as a nerve specialist,
largely concentrating his efforts upon neuropathy.

On the 29th of November, 1899, Dr. Lathrop was married at Ottawa, Kansas, to Miss
Lydia A. Valentine, a native of Ohio, born July 25, 1879. and a daughter of Mr. and Mrs.
Amos Valentine, both now deceased. Mrs. Lathrop is a graduate of the same schools as


her husband. Two children have been born to them : Lionne L., whose birth occurred
July 4, 1901, in Ottawa, Kansas; and Edwin V., born April 7, 1903, in Ballard, Washington.
In his political views Dr. Lathrop is independent, voting as his judgment dictates. He
belongs to the Bahai Assembly, which is a religious movement with about thirty million
followers. For his diversion he turns to tennis, being a lover of the sport. He is also
fond of reading and study and is well informed concerning the best literature. He de-
serves great credit for what he has accomplished. Left fatherless at an early age, he
became the sole support of his mother, who was an invalid, and at the age of sixteen years
he was left an orphan by her death. Dependent upon his own resources, he has worked
his way steadily upward, achieving that success which is the merited reward of industrj-,
capability and integrity. He has held before him high ideals and laudable ambition has
prompted him to reach the position which he now fills as one of the prominent neuropathic
and osteopathic physicians of Seattle.


Alpheus F. Haas, president of the city council of Seattle, was born in Jackson county,
Michigan, October 21, 1845. His father, John Haas, was a native of Stuttgart, Germany,
and in 1832 came to America, being then in his twenty-second year. He settled in Freedom
township, Washtenaw county, Michigan, and married Miss Sarah Croman, who was born
in Pennsylvania of German parentage. They removed to Hudson, Lenawee county, Mich-
igan, during the early boyhood of their son Alpheus and there the mother passed away
in 1851, leaving five children, two sisters and a brother older than Alpheus and a younger
brother. All are still living.

Alpheus F. Haas attended the district schools until his fourteenth year, when he began
work on the farm, being thus employed for two years. At the end of that time he began
learning the carpenter's trade, but put aside work at the bench in order to respond to
the country's call for troops, enlisting in Company G, Thirtieth Michigan Infantry, with
which he served until June 17, 1865, when he was honorably discharged, for hostilities
had ceased and the country no longer needed his military assistance. Returning to civil
life, he resumed work at his trade in Hudson. While there residing he was united in mar-
riage to Miss Mary H. Tolchard, of Hudson, Michigan, on the 15th of October, 1868, and
to them was born a son, Louis T., who is now with his parents in Seattle. In 1872 the
family removed to Adrian, Michigan, where Mr. Haas entered the employ of the Adrian
Car & Manufacturing Company, which later became the Peninsular Car Works. For sev-
eral years he held the responsible position of foreman in the woodworking department and
during his residence in Adrian he also became an active factor in local political circles and
was elected supervisor from the first ward, being the second republican ever elected and
the first one to hold that office in twenty years. He made such an excellent record, how-
ever, that his fellow townsmen indorsed him for re-election and he continued in the posi-
tion for three terms, making a most creditable record through his fidelity to duty and his
practical efforts to advance the interests of the county in as far as his official prerogatives
permitted. He was also superintendent of the water works at Adrian for nearly six years
and that city lost a valued resident when, in August, 1890, he left there for Seattle.

Mr. Haas came to the northwest to accept the position of secretary and manager of
the Seattle City Railway, the Ycsler Way & Jackson street cable line, at which time the
late Fred J. Grant was president of the company. Mr. Haas continued in charge of the
property as manager and later as receiver until the railway plant was acquired by the
Puget Sound Traction, Light & Power Company in December, 1901. On assuming charge
he at once double-tracked Yesler Way to Thirteenth avenue and thence to Jackson street
and in so doing eliminated the high trestle on Jackson street across what is now Frink
Park. In 1891 he developed and opened to the public Leschi Park, now considered one
of the most attractive of the city's many beauty spots. In 1899 he secured a new franchise
and double-tracked Yesler Way with a cable line and extended the same to the shore of
Lake Washington, which made easier entrance to the park and the boats plying on the


lake. He built and for many years operated the steamer L. T. Haas on Lake Washington.
In 1892 he purchased property at Bellevue on the east side of the lake and there built
greenhouses, being one of the pioneers in the business of growing flowers and vegetables
under glass at Seattle. He also materially aided in the development of that section of
the country. After the line was sold he entered the employ of the city as an inspector in
the engineers' department, was elected to the city council in 191 1 for a one year term and
was re-elected in 1912 for the three years' term. At this writing, in 1915, he is president
of the city council and has given many tangible evidences of his devotion to the genera!
good. He is a believer in the future of the city and its rapid and substantial development
and has utilized every means at his command to contribute to the result. His work with
the street car company and his subsequent official service has been of great benefit to
Seattle and all acknowledge him a public-spirited citizen whose activity has made his name
a synonym for loyalty to the public good.


In a history of Seattle it is imperative that mention be made of U. R. Niesz. He
came here in pioneer times and following the conflagration of 1889 took a most active
and helpful part in a readjustment and shaping of conditions which have led to the
development of the city along modern lines with the opportunity to meet modern con-
ditions and bring about the present development and improvement. He was born February
17, 1849, in Canton, Ohio. His father, William Niesz, also a native of Canton, died in
the year 1913, at the advanced age of ninety-one. He was a, farmer living on the out-
skirts of Canton and was prominently identified with the interests of the community in
-which he lived. He served as school director for many years, giving stalwart support
to the cause of education, and he also served as assessor of his district a number of terms.
At the time of the Civil war he served as captain in the Home Guards. He was a repre-
sentative of an old Pennsylvania family, as was his wife, who bore the maiden name of
Delilah Roush. She was born at Richville, Ohio, and passed away in 1853.

U. R. Niesz acquired his early education in the school of hard work on his father's
farm and in the public school, attending the old Niesz school, which was also known as
Prairie College, for three or four months during the winter seasons. The farm consisted
of one hundred and sixty acres, and as only about forty acres had been cleared and
planted to crops when Mr. Niesz appeared upon the scene, it afforded ample opportunity
for hard work from early morning until late at night, year in and year out, for when not
working on crops, the order of the day was preparing more land for tillage. This thor-
oughly closed the safety valve against any loss of time, as a moment wasted was forever
gone and could not be recalled.

At the age of fourteen years Mr. Niesz had completed the common branches at school,
including algebra and physical geography, and had read the entire school library at Prairie
College. From that time on his winters as well as his summers were spent in clearing
land, but during the evenings he devoted his time to reading the' books of his father's
librar3' and other volumes that he could borrow. Arriving at young manhood and with
a strong yearning for more useful knowledge, he entered Mount Union College at Mount
Union, Ohio, and after a term's study there determined to work his way through college,
taking an elective course. Pursuant to this end, he was willing to turn his hand to any
honorable calling which would yield the means to enable him to continue his studies. In
retrospect he can now see himself between that time and the time of his graduation, on
the road with horse and buggy, going from town to town with a stencil outfit, cutting
name plates and stamping key checks ; then by railroad on the same mission. Again he
can see himself selling books and later establishing agencies and drilling agents. He can
also see himself selling nursery stock and for one season serving as superintendent of a
nursery near Hastings, Michigan.

During this period Mr. Niesz also tauglit two terms of mixed schools, the first a six



months' term near Genoa, Ohio, about midway between Canton and Massillon, in which
he had one hundred and five pupils enrolled, with an average daily attendance of seventy-
five. At the close of the six months the school board insisted he should continue the
school for two months more, but he had made arrangements to be at Mount Union for
the spring term at college. The school board then exacted the promise that in case he
should teach the next winter he would give their school the preference; but after pursuing
the spring and summer terms at Mount Union and helping his father on the farm through
harvest time, urgent request was made that he should attend the Northwestern Ohio
Normal School, which later became the Ohio Northern University. Hence he notified
the school board at Genoa that he would not accept a school for the coming winter, but
fate intervened. He had taken a position against corporal punishment in schools, about
which time an application was received at the normal school for a teacher who could
handle a school near Kenton, Ohio, which had been broken up by unruly members for
three successive years. On a dare Mr. Niesz took the school and came out triumphant
at the end of his four months' contract, saying that he had spent a most delightful four
months with that school. He then returned to the normal for the spring term. Before
he was graduated he also served for two years of ten months each as superintendent of
the schools of Remington, Indiana, and one year at Kentland, Indiana, in which school
George Ade, the noted humorist, was a pupil. During that period he blandly says he was
known by the appellation of Professor Niesz.

His college career was necessarily an intermittent one and was divided between two
institutions of learning, but taking an elective course, he pursued such studies as appealed
to him most for usefulness in the future. He was partial to commercial and scientific
studies, though in the languages he gave attention to Latin, German and French and as
teacher carried a class in German through a two years' high-school course, at the end of
which time he says they knew a great deal more about German than he did. Closely
applying himself to his work, however, he had by 1876 graduated from both Mount Union
College and the Ohio Northern University. While pursuing his college course his travels
took him through some thirty-three of the states and territories of the Union and most
of the provinces of Canada, during which he visited practically all of the large cities of
both countries, thus gaining much valuable information and experience. In the year of
his graduation he took a trip of seven thousand miles, visiting the Centennial Exposition
at Philadelphia and ending with a trip up the Hudson river and then around the Great
Lakes to Chicago, whence he went to Sheldon, Illinois, in time to assist in conducting a
Teachers' Normal Institute. He afterward became superintendent of the Sheldon schools
for the ensuing year and at the end of the ten months' term conducted a six weeks' normal
institute and lecture course at the Sheldon school, at whicli about one hundred teachers
were in attendance. Among the lecturers secured were the Illinois state superintendent
of public instruction and other eminent educators.

With but one week's vacation after the institute, Mr. Niesz commenced another year
of ten months as superintendent at Sheldon, but while he enjoyed the work, he had
arranged to enter upon mercantile pursuits and when the year was about half over notified
his school board in order that they might look for his successor. The board, however,
persisted in reelecting him notwithstanding his fully matured plans to enter the field of
merchandising. He still cherishes the recommendation they insisted on presenting him
to show their goodwill in case he should again wish to enter school work. He still takes
great delight in his experiences leading up to and during his college days and also in his
former school and teachers' institute work, and is especially glad that he never failed to
help his father at harvest time after leaving the farm until he graduated save for the
one year when he was a nurseryman in Michigan. The only school for which he ever
applied was his first one, as after tliat he was always solicited to accept schools. In
taking the examination for a teacher's license at Kentland, Indiana, answering questions
prepared by the state board, he made one hundred per cent on every branch, which was the
only teachers' certificate of that percentage that he has ever seen or heard of.

In 1878 Mr. Niesz went to Denver, Colorado, and formed a partnership with his
uncle, B. F. Niesz. in the boot and shoe business under the firm name of Niesz & Com-
pany. Neither had any previous experience in mercantile lines but commenced in a small


way. Two years later they were shown a report which appeared in a commercial agency
in Boston, reading about as follows : "Weak firm, in poor location. No experience in
the business. Not likely to last more than six months." Yet within two years' time the
largest boot and shoe establishment in Denver had failed, throwing a sixty thousand
dollar stock of boots and shoes on the market 3.X1 bankrupt sale, with Niesz & Company
as its nearest competitor, and in three years this firm had built up the largest boot and
shoe business in Denver. In September, 1882, U. R. Niesz, with a view to locating in the
northwest, sold his interests in Denver, took a trip back to Canton, Ohio, and on the 19th
of October, 1882, was married to Miss Ada Branner, daughter of John Branner, president
of the Farmers Bank of Canton and a representative of an old Pennsylvania family of
Holland Dutch descent. Mr. and Mrs. Niesz became the parents of five sons, two of
whom have passed away, the others being : Paul B., twenty-three years of age, who was
a law student in the University of Washington and is now associated with his father in
the real-estate business ; Adrian Raynor, eighteen years of age, a senior in the high school
of Seattle ; and Penn Earl, a youth of fourteen years, a sophomore in the high school.

Following his marriage Mr. Niesz with his wife visited relatives in Pennsylvania and
after spending some weeks in the larger cities of the east, ore the 20th of January took
a steamer at New York for the territory of Washington by way of the Panama and Colon
route, arriving in Seattle, March 15, 1883. Until December Mr. Niesz spent his time in
looking over British Columbia, Washington and Oregon on the general theory that there
would be a great city somewhere in the northwest and finally concluded that with all its
natural advantages and the spirit of its people Seattle must become that city. In Decem-
ber, therefore, he became associated with W. H. Whittlesey, mentioned elsewhere in this
work, in organizing an abstract company and later they admitted Charles F. Whittlesey
to a partnership under the firm name of Niesz, Whittlesey & Company. They classified
and indexed the county real-estate and court records of King, Pierce, Whatcom and
Skagit counties, continuing in the abstract business for about four years. In July, 1887,
Mr. Niesz was elected a member of the city council and in the following j-ear sold his
abstract business. In the meantime he had backed his faith in the future greatness
of Seattle by purchasing one of the best view lots in the city and erecting thereon one of the
finest homes then in Seattle. He also purchased eight hundred and fifty acres of land
in West Seattle, where he kept adding to his holdings until his property interests there
aggregated about fifteen hundred acres. When he disposed of his abstract business he also
had extensive property interests in Fairhaven, Bellingham, Sehome and Whatcom, much of
which has since become very valuable. He also purchased two hundred acres of land at Eagle
Harbor and erected there what was then the largest brick plant in the northwest but lost that
during the financial panic of 1893. He suffered much in the panic but accepted his losses
philosophically and with determined purpose and courage set to work to regain the position
which he had previously held as a successful business man. He did not accept the old
adage that opportunity knocks but once, realizing that each day holds its opportunity and
that the accomplishment of the work of one day gives power and adaptability for the
labors of the succeeding day.

Against his wishes Mr. Niesz was reelected a member of the city council in July,
1889, and served during the reconstruction period following the great fire of that year,
taking a prominent part in the replatting and upbuilding of the city. He with other
members of the council had mapped out the whole plan some time previous to the fire,
which made it possible to accomplish their purpose. Theirs was a farsighted policy and
has done more to advance the interests of the city than anything else that was ever under-
taken. Owing to inadequate wharf facilities outside communities could do no business
with Seattle. As a member of the council Mr. Niesz was made cliairman of the judiciary,
finance and harbor and wharves committees and the last named took up the whole burden
of replatting the business and shipping section of the city. This committee directed the
replatting of the downtown district, establishing Railroad avenue. Western avenue and
Post street, where the old "Ramshorn Railroad" formerly wound its sinuous course
between First avenue and the water front from the southern limits of the city to Pike
street; widening First and Second avenues; continuing and widening Commercial street
and cutting it into First, making it First avenue. South, thereby creating the triangular


park upon which the famous totem pole now stands. They also widened what was then
Second avenue, South, and named it Occidental avenue and widened what was then
Third avenue, South, and cut it into Second avenue, naming it Second avenue. South,
thus creating the square at the intersection of Yesler Way.

Herculean as, was the task of this committee in bringing order out of chaos in this
part of the city; in opening the way for land and water traffic to meet at a minimum cost
of transshipment; in providing facilities for a marvelous growth in the business of a
future great city; in short in giving the city a new birth, yet this great task paled into
insignificance compared with the responsibilities resting upon the finance committee, of
which Mr. Niesz was also chairman. The conditions confronting this committee were a
thoroughly devastated business district— every wharf gone; every approach to the water
front gone ; streets in the business district, which were mostly built on trestle work, all
consumed by the fire; practically every stock of goods, every store, every hotel, every
fire engine house and the city hall all gone up in smoke, and the fire-fighting apparatus
all destroyed, with the water service in the business district all out of commission. With
many of the best citizens ruined by their losses in the fire, estimating that the city had
been set back at least ten years, if indeed it would ever recover its former prestige or
position as chief commercial city of the great northwest, some, discouraged with their
losses and the glimmering prospects for the future of the city, left to seek their fortunes
elsewhere, while others estimated that to rehabilitate the streets and approaches to the
water front alone would cost half a million dollars; that in providing a new fire depart-
ment at least five new sites should be secured, which with buildings and equipment would
cost about one hundred thousand dollars ; that a fire boat should be provided which would

Online LibraryClarence BagleyHistory of Seattle from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 3) → online text (page 35 of 142)