WA Secretary of State Blogs

My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015 Posted in Articles, Washington Reads | No Comments »


My Sister’s Grave. By Robert Dugoni. (Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2014. 410 pp.)

Recommendation by Carolyn Petersen, Assistant Program Manager, Library Development

Tracey Crosswhite became a detective with the Seattle Police Department as a result of her younger sister’s murder. Tracey never was convinced that the man convicted and serving time for her sister’s murder was the true perpetrator. When Sarah’s remains are at last discovered, Tracey thought justice would be served at last.  Instead the repercussions for the small town in the Cascade Mountains where Tracey and Sarah grew up are not at all what Tracey expected.   This title is an engrossing cross between a murder mystery and a legal thriller. If you like books by Scott Turow and Nelson DeMille, then author Robert Dugoni is an author you should investigate.

ISBN-13: 978-1477825570

Available in the Pacific Northwest Collection at NW 813.6 DUGONI 2014
Braille and Digital Book editions available for Washington residents unable to read standard print through WTBBL.

Songs of Willow Frost. By Jaime Ford

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 Posted in Articles, Washington Reads | No Comments »

ford-frostSongs of Willow Frost. By Jamie Ford. (New York: Ballantine Books, 2013.)

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

Our protagonist is William Eng, a 12-year-old living at the Sacred Heart Orphanage in 1930’s Seattle. He’s been there since he was seven; no one is interested in adopting a Chinese boy. Only, he remembers his beloved mother, a singer and a dancer, and he remembers finding her slumped in the bathtub, and how she was carried off to the hospital, and he never saw her again.

But now he sees her on the screen in a vaudeville show preview down at the local movie theater—he’s certain it’s her—and he sets off, together with the blind girl, Charlotte, fellow outcast, and his best friend, to find Liu Song, aka Willow Frost, his mother.

The book recounts this seemingly impossible quest, as well as Liu Song’s own tragic story, and how she came to give up her precious child. Will they be reunited to make a life together? We’re kept in suspense until the final page.

Full of old Seattle scenes and images, this poignant tale will tug at your heart-strings, while filling in a chapter in our nation’s regrettable history of the prejudice suffered by its people of Chinese heritage.

ISBN: 978-0-345-52202-3

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 FORD 2013
Available as an eBook.
Downloadable talking book available through NLS and WTBBL.

Truth Like the Sun By Jim Lynch

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 Posted in Articles, Washington Reads | No Comments »

Truth-Like-the-SunTruth Like the Sun. By Jim Lynch. (New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.)

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

Jim Lynch’s third novel, Truth Like the Sun, set in Seattle, bounces back and forth between 1962 and 2001, telling us a story that revolves around the Seattle World’s Fair and its fictional chief mover and shaker, one Robert Morgan, a.k.a. Mr. Seattle, a high-flying, entrepreneurial city booster, who maybe loves wine, women and gambling a little more than is good for him, but is largely responsible for building the iconic Space Needle, and for much of the success of the fair. Through his eyes, we witness the excitement of the fair, and its famous visitors, including Elvis Presley, President Kennedy, Ed Sullivan, John Glenn, and many more.

Back in the more recent present era, we follow the efforts of Helen Gulanos, would-be hotshot reporter, who’s recently arrived in town, and who hopes to secure her career with a hard-hitting, fully researched exposé of Mr. Morgan, who has just decided to run for mayor, after all these many years. Helen’s life is complicated by her single mother status, and the fact that she finds her target to be oddly compelling, and begins to develop a grudging respect for the guy, still charismatic after all these years, even as she strives to dig the dirt on him.

Native son author Lynch seems to be moving ever closer to main-stream fiction with each new novel. His first effort, The Highest Tide, a remarkable coming of age story set in the Olympia area, had an other-worldly almost SciFi aspect to the natural wonders it depicted.

His second attempt, Border Songs, still had more than a hint of the fantastic with its larger-than-life primary character, and its chain of slightly off-kilter, not-quite-believable series of events.

Now, in this third literary foray, the Space Needle itself seems to be the most fantastic element, as we move ever more firmly into the realm of big-city politics and finance as they are in real life. Truth Like the Sun is a great read, but misses some of that element of the fantastical that was so central to Lynch’s earlier novels. Nevertheless, strongly recommended, especially for those who enjoy fiction set in the Pacific NW.

ISBN: 978-0-307-95868-6

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 LYNCH 2012
Available as an eBook
Downloadable talking book and Braille editions through NLS and  WTBBL.

The One Minute Jail Sentence

Friday, October 11th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | 2 Comments »


From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library

The following news article describes what was most probably the shortest jail sentence in Washington State history. This is from the Seattle Daily Times, January 20, 1906:





“Joe Munch yesterday received from Judge Frater what was probably the lightest sentence ever given a prisoner, that of one minute in the county jail. Those who heard the decision were inclined to take it as a joke of the judge’s, until Munch was hustled off to jail and kept there until the second hand of the jailer’s watch had completed the circle of sixty seconds. Munch was so surprised that he hardly knew what was going on and when released decided that the best thing for him to do was to get away for fear the sight of him should cause the judge to inflict a heavier penalty.”

“Munch is a soldier, on leave of absence. On the thirteenth day of August he found garrison life dull and proceeded to get drunk. A policeman found him in this condition and he was hustled off to the police station. In Judge Gordon’s court he was sentenced to thirty days for being drunk and disorderly, but his case was taken to the higher court.”


Judge Archibald Frater

“Judge Frater decided that while the soldier’s crime was not enough to merit punishment, for the looks of things he ought to be sent to jail, and have a lesson taught him. Consequently Munch was sentenced to an imprisonment of one minute, something which the clerk who makes out the sentence documents never heard of before and which caused much merriment in court house circles.”

Judge Archibald Wanless Frater was hardly a flippant character. He was born in Belmont County, Ohio in 1856 and attended college with Warren G. Harding, who became his lifelong friend. Frater migrated to Tacoma in 1888 and after a short time moved to Snohomish. While there he was elected to the House in 1890 and served as a Republican representing the 44th District for one term.

Frater moved to Seattle in 1898 and was elected King County Superior Court Judge in 1904. The Judge was instrumental in organizing the county’s juvenile justice system. He served in office up to his death on Christmas, 1925.

And what of Munch? He didn’t get to enjoy his freedom for too long. In August 1906 after leaving Fort Lawton he was aboard the transport ship Buford and was shot by a sergeant in self-defense when Munch became unruly and assaulted him. Maybe he needed to have been incarcerated for a few minutes more.


The Buford, AKA The Soviet Ark

A bit of Buford trivia: This ship later became known as the “Soviet Ark” during the post-World War I Red Scare as the United States deported “undesirables” such as Emma Goldman out of the country. Later Buster Keaton used the ship as the main set for his 1924 film, The Navigator.

Hunters Kiss Series

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 Posted in Washington Reads | No Comments »

Carl Beu-Demon_large_thumbHunter Kiss (Series). By Marjorie Liu

  1. The Iron Hunt (New York: Ace Books, 2008. 305 p.)
  2. Darkness Calls (New York: Ace Books, 2009. 303 p.)
  3. A Wild Light (New York: Ace Books, 2010. 308 p.)
  4. The Mortal Bone (New York: Ace Books, 2012. 287 p.)
Recommendation by:
Carolyn Petersen, CLRS Project Manager, Tumwater, WA.

If paranormal romance that happens in an action packed setting appeals to you, then you will enjoy the Hunter Kiss series.  Set in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, Maxine Kiss hunts demons with a particular ferocity.  Maxine is greatly aided by the fact the tattoos of demons which cover her skin make her largely invulnerable.  At night the tattoos come off her skin to become her own personal bodyguards.  In each book of the series Maxine discovers a bit more about her family background.  Fast paced fantasy reading

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 LIU 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012
Available as an eReader edition.
Not available as an talking book, or as a Braille edition.

White stuff gets Governor’s son in trouble

Thursday, August 15th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | No Comments »

ferry 2From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library

It was a criminal story bound to generate headlines. Federal agents storm a mansion in Seattle, the home of a former Governor’s son. In the course of their search they discover a large amount of a white powdery substance hidden behind a sofa and an arrest is made.

It was flour. Around 600 pounds of it.

Here’s the report from the Seattle Daily Times, August 2, 1918:


Pierre P. Ferry, Son of First Governor of State, Offers Compromise Plea.

“Charged with hoarding flour in violation of the food laws, Pierre P. Ferry, wealthy pioneer attorney and son of Elisha P. Ferry, first governor of the state, last night was fined $350 by Judge Edward E. Cushman in the United States District Court. Ferry paid the fine and costs at once.”

ferry 1

“Ferry was the first man to be arrested in Seattle on a charge of food hoarding. He was taken in custody early last month when federal officers found more than 600 pounds of flour behind a sofa in the maid’s room on the third floor of the Ferry residence, and subsequently he was indicted by the grand jury.”


Offers Compromise Plea.

“Arraigned last night, Ferry was permitted by the court to enter a plea of nolle contendere. This is a compromise plea involving neither the guilt nor innocence of the defendant. Speaking for the government Assistant United States Attorney Ben L. Moore declared Ferry should plead either guilty or not guilty.”

“Moore also declined to suggest the amount in which Ferry should be fined or otherwise punished. The government prosecutor merely placed the facts in the case before the court, declining to be heard further than a statement that Ferry either was guilty or not guilty and should be compelled so to plead.”

Denies Attempt to Conceal.

“Former Federal Judge C.H. Hanford, who, with Alfred Battle and J.L. Corrigan, represented Ferry, contended that the defendant had not been guilty of an attempt to violate the spirit and intent of the law and had made no effort to conceal the flour. He said Ferry did not know he held an unlawful amount of flour until so notified by federal agents.”

“Judge Cushman said that while he did not countenance food hoarding, if the country was at a point where it was starving such an offense would call for harsh punishment and the rule of guilt or innocence demanded. He said he was thankful that time is not here.”

bride cook bookFlour hoarding was considered a crime in the United States during most of 1918 as the country mobilized for the Great War. The U.S. Food Administration apparently was seen as the enforcement agency. One curious publication in the WSL collection from this era is The Bride’s Cook Book, which takes wartime food rationing into account. A USFA official writes in the preface, “By following the Wheatless and Sugarless recipes contained therein the Housewife is performing a patriotic duty in the conserving of Food so necessary for our Allies and armies abroad.”

Pierre Peyre Ferry (1868-1932) was a successful Seattle attorney and capitalist. Here’s a WSL connection: his brother, James Peyre Ferry (1853-1914), had served as Territorial Librarian 1880-1881.

The Pierre P. Ferry house, scene of the crime, still stands today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I believe it was listed in spite of the flour caper, not because of it.

[Ferry portrait from: The Cartoon : a Reference Book of Seattle’s Successful Men (1911)]

Seattle’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Thursday, August 8th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | No Comments »


E. F. Boucke

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library

By day he was a respectable insurance salesman, a churchgoing man. But by night he was one of the most dangerous criminals Seattle police had seen, performing “dark deeds of the wildest type.”

Eugene F. Boucke, born around 1865, appears to have surfaced in Seattle around 1900-1901 as a carpenter, but quickly took up the occupation of insurance salesman. His secret activity of “sallying forth at night on deeds of depredation” was revealed to the public in the following article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 12, 1903:


E.F. Boucke, Alias Forrest, Brought from Sacramento


Police Declare Dual Life of Crime and Seeming Respectability Will Be Laid Bare


“E.F. Boucke or E. Forrest, the man the police accuse of leading a double life, one of seeming respectability and religious pretensions, and the other of crime, which startled and terrorized the community, has been brought back to this city from Sacramento, Cal., by Detective Lane of the police department, arriving yesterday morning. Boucke is charged with binding, gagging and blindfolding the Blick family at Green Lake, while he, with a companion, robbed the household of money and valuable possessions, some of which he later gave to his wife–to the woman with whom he ran away–and placed in jewelry stores and pawn shops.”

“The police regard Boucke as one of the most remarkable criminals with whom they have had to deal. They say they trace his hand in highway robberies, in such crimes as that committed in the Blick home, when the inmates were threatened with cremation in case they did not reveal the hiding place of money, and in dark deeds of the wildest type. All the while he was respected as a business man and bore the appearance rather of a minister of the gospel than of a daring criminal.”

“Finishing a series of crimes of the most extravagant nature, the police say they have evidence that Forrest, as he was known here at the time, abandoned his wife and three children, to travel under the still different name of Tennant to San Francisco in company with Lena May Molitar, a woman about whom little good is known by the detectives and police officers. The two went to Aberdeen and thence to California. In San Francisco Boucke became an insurance agent, as he had been employed by an insurance concern in this city.”

Detectives Get Wise

“By chance the detectives learned of his whereabouts after they discovered his alleged connection with the various crimes which they were investigating. The San Francisco authorities were instructed to arrest the man and word soon came that he had been taken by the police of Sacramento, where he seemed to be living with his paramour as man and wife and under the name Tennant. He admitted he had left his Seattle wife, but declared he was forced to do so through her Christian Science vagaries and his unpleasant domestic life.”

“Requisition papers were procured on the Governor of California and Detective Lane started immediately after the fugitive. He feared some trouble might be encountered there in bringing the prisoner northward, but this was done without incident. Boucke maintains that he is innocent of any crime, asserting that his change of name was due to his desire to conceal his identity and whereabouts from his wife.”

“It was to cover an alleged shortage in his accounts and also to secure money to lavish on the woman who had found favor in his eyes that Boucke was led to live his life of duplicity, say the police, appearing to the world during the day as a man of exemplary character and sallying forth at night on deeds of depredation. These officers declare they have almost positive proof of the acts which they impute to the man under arrest.”

jekyll 2“Boucke was in the employ of an insurance company having offices in the Arcade building. He is of dignified and reserved mein and from his appearance would scarcely be termed a dangerous man.”

His Victims Women

“Nearly all the robberies charged to Boucke were from women. A sort of epidemic of crime was begun when a woman was held up in one of the suburban districts and relieved of her jewelry, and soon after one or two similar highway robberies were reported. Then the Moore home was entered on Thirty-second avenue and $750 worth of jewels and money was taken, while the aged Mrs. Moore and her grandson, merely a lad, were bound to their chairs and pillowslips were placed over their heads. A $30,000 shawl of ancient weave was missed by the robbers.”

“Not long after that another woman was nearly killed with fright on entering her house when two men jumped from a closet and bound and gagged her, while her valuables were stolen. Soon after that the Blick robbery occurred. In the meanwhile between these affairs there occurred a number of highway robberies and other crimes of lesser magnitude.”

“Toward the latter part of this epidemic it was suggested to the police that Boucke might have some knowledge of the operations which seemed to be connected through their similarity, but the detectives at first scoffed at the idea. They could not find that Boucke’s associates were of a bad type, and as far as could be learned his life was as it should be.”

Pawned Jewelry the Clewjekyll 3

“The intelligence that the man might be the highwayman forced itself on the minds of the police officers through finding at a jeweler’s a nugget pin which had been taken from the Blick home. The jeweler stated that there was something in the manner of Boucke to cause suspicion when he left the pin to be repaired. A few days later a physician in conversation with Detectives Lane and Adams remarked the prevalence of crime and said a man of his acquaintance had pledged a watch with him, and incidentally had remarked that the police were trying hard to find the robbers, while he could lay his hands on them at any time. This man proved to be Boucke.”

“Thus the connection was established, and almost at every turn the detectives were confronted with more evidence against the insurance agent. About that time the latter left the city, and for several weeks all clews were lost, until a letter was received by the Insurance company which said he intended to make up the deficiency in his accounts and would send the money soon. The name of Tennant was signed and an address in San Francisco was given. The letter stated that the writer was doing well there and did not wish to return to Seattle.”

“The specific charge of robbery is made against Boucke in a complaint and a preliminary examination will be held shortly. The detectives are trying hard to locate the accomplice and believe they will make an arrest or two very soon.”

According to the State Auditor’s 8th Biennial Report (1905), Washington taxpayers paid a grand total of $46.20 to transport Mr. Boucke back from Sacramento to Seattle.

jekyll 6

On Dec. 29, 1903, Boucke was handed a 16-year sentence for robbery by King County Superior Court Judge W.R. Bell. Boucke applied for a pardon from Gov. Mead in Aug. 1905, but was turned down. The State Board of Pardons released Boucke in 1908, and after that point he vanishes from history.

The Northwestern Industrial Army and the Battle at Sprague

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | No Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

In the midst of one of the worst economic depressions of the 19th century, thousands of unemployed workers were called upon nationwide to march in protest at Washington D.C. in 1894. They gained the nickname “Coxey’s Army” after their Ohio-based leader, Jacob Coxey. The Coxeyites in the Pacific Northwest were among the most radical followers, and dubbed themselves the Northwest Industrial Army. If you consider they used guerilla tactics and got into several skirmishes involving firearms, they really were an army.

In the spring of 1894 the Seattle and Tacoma units of the Northwestern Industrial Army met in Puyallup, using that town as their springboard for the cross-country journey. They numbered over 1000. In other states some of the government officials were sympathetic to the movement, but Washington Gov. McGraw was no friend to the Army.

Train hijacking in small groups became the main mode of transportation for the industrial soldiers. The following article in the May 11, 1894 issue of the Bellingham Bay Reveille, published out of New Whatcom, not only gives us a case study in the conflict, but also demonstrates a statewide interest in this struggle:


The Coxeyites Attempt to Steal a Train and are Driven off by Marshals Who Pour a Volley Into Them — A Mob Starving at the Columbia and Row Probable.


Sprague 1

“SPOKANE, Wash., May 8.–Telegrams from Sprague bring information that a collision occurred at that place between the industrials and United States marshals, arising out of an attempt on the part of the industrials to capture a cattle train. Circumstances of the affray as near as can be learned were as follows:”

“A cattle train passed through Sprague at the rate of 30 miles an hour, backing to Patterson. An industrial who was secreted on the train succeeded in manipulating the brakes and the train came to a standstill at a point about four miles out of Sprague, where some thirty industrials were lying in the grass. A posse of marshals was close at hand, watching the industrials. As the train slowed down and stopped, the industri[als] made a rush for it, when the marshals arose and fired a volley into their ranks. Some twenty shots were fired. It is not known whether any were injured. Before the train started again ten of the industrials succeeded in getting aboard and made their way to Spokane.”

“Excitement over the affair is intense in Spokane and at Sprague United States deputy marshals are holding a large body of industrials in check at the bridge across the Columbia river and will permit no man known to belong to the army to cross. Industrials are in a serious plight, for there is no town for seventy miles on that side of the river at which they can get anything to eat. Starvation is staring them in the face and they are becoming desperate. If they are not permitted to cross the river, there will likely be serious trouble, as the men will be like hungry wolves at bay.”

“At this point a deputy marshal found a man, presumably an industrial, stealing a ride on a brake under a car. He pointed a pistol at the man and ordered him out. A gang of industrials seized the deputy and beat him severely, nearly killing him. There are 300 of the industrial army who have succeeded in reaching Spokane; 200 are still at Sprague, and nearly all the others who left Seattle and Tacoma are scattered at different points along the line of the Northern Pacific in Eastern Washington.”

Sprague 2

In Yakima and Montana some battles resulted in death or serious injury. A few soldiers in this tattered Army did reach Washington, D.C. and participated in the protest. Northwest historian Carlos A. Schwantes in his Coxey’s Army : An American Odyssey (1985) includes a nice chapter on the Northwestern Industrial Army and their vainglorious leader Frank “Jumbo” Cantwell, a boxer and bouncer who wore a special gaudy uniform while leading his troops. Cantwell had a long history of conflicts with the law before, during, and after 1894.

Much of the discontent of 1894 served as a prelude to the Populist sweep of 1896.

Comedy Works in Threes

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | 1 Comment »

Portrait of Schlumpf from The Cartoon : a Reference Book of Seattle’s Successful Men (1911)

Portrait of Schlumpf from The Cartoon : a Reference Book of Seattle’s Successful Men (1911)

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

Somewhere long ago I read a quote from the late great Larry Fine, the “Stooge in the Middle” of the always underestimated Three Stooges. He said something to the effect that real comedy always works in threes. Either in timing, or in personalities. Library cataloger’s note: I wonder if this where the AACR2 “rule of three” came from– a Stooges fan in the rulemaking woodwork?


The following story is certainly a candidate for Larry Fine’s Rule of Three. In fact, one figure in this story is even called an “amateur comedian.” The microfilm reel grabbed at random this week unearthed this story from The Seattle Daily Times, Feb. 2, 1907:


Well-Known Character’s Attempt to Whip Joe Schlumpf Ends Disastrously for Himself and Ally, Matt Dee.

Latter Offered $20 to Pummel the Cigar Merchant and Lands on His Head in the Middle of the Sidewalk.

“John Andrew Nink, for many years a familiar figure on the streets of Seattle, faultlessly dressed in silk hat and fashionable black clothing, a striking contrast to his snow white hair and mustache, spent the greater part of last night in the receiving cell of the city jail, all because he wanted to whip Joe Schlumpf, the cigar merchant.”

“John Andrew Nink, a good judge of beer, a gentleman of leisure and a man with a notoriety that many persons would not be fond of, was shocked when Jailer John Corbett began to search him, just as he would any other prisoner.”

“‘Why, it’s an outrage,’ declared the gentlemanly John Andrew Nink. ‘I’ll not stand for it. I’ve got enough money to buy you all and sell you again. Lock me up in jail? Well, I guess not.'”

“‘If you’ve got $20 bail money to insure your appearance in court to answer a charge of being drunk and disorderly, I’ll let schlumpf 2you go,’ replied Capt. Laubscher.”

“John Andrew Nink couldn’t raise the $20, although he dug deep into his broad trousers. Against his protestations and weak resistance, Jailer Corbett led him off to the receiving cell. All night long he paced up and down the cell while the hoboes guyed him about his tall hat which he refused to remove. At 8 o’clock this morning he was allowed to telephone to a well known woman who said she would send up the money for his bail.”

Hires Man to Whip Schlumpf.

“The gentleman prisoner had a grievance against Joe Schlumpf. He wanted to whip Joe but the big German cigar merchant looked too stately for Nink. He believed in nerving himself and therefore took on a few glasses of tonic. Then he met Matt Dee, a West Seattle man, who has figured in more rows in the last few years than he has fingers and toes. Nink told Dee his troubles. Dee sympathized with him and offered to help him.”

“‘I’ll give you $20 if you’ll whip Schlumpf for me,’ said Nink.”

“Matt Dee used to have plenty of money and there was a time when $20 wouldn’t tempt him, but when he saw $20 coming so easily he took up the proposition. Nink and Dee had a few more drinks and Dee started for Joe Sclumpf’s cigar store in the Butler Block.”

“‘What you been a doin’ to Nink?’ angrily demanded Matt Dee of Joe Schlumpf.”

“There was no answer. Dee looked at Joe and Joe looked at Dee.”

“‘Well, I’ve come over here to give you a lickin’,’ said Dee as he started for the show case.”Schlumpf 3

“Joe stepped from behind his cigar case and with a stiff right-hander he landed on Dee’s jaw and sent him sprawling to the floor. A kick or so landed Dee in the middle of the sidewalk and Joe Schlumpf went back to the case where he finished telling a friend one of his German stories, just as if nothing had happened.”

“Dee hunted up Nink and told him what he had got.”

“‘You’re not game,’ said Nink to Dee. ‘I’ll go over there and wallop that Dutchman myself.'”

“Nink started across the street, followed closely by Dee. The latter, however, decided to wait on the outside. Nink entered the cigar store and big Joe Schlumpf saw him coming.”

“‘Back for trouble, are you?’ yelled Joe, who by that time had decided that he was tired of Nink and his trouble.”

“‘Yes, I’m back and we’ll settle it right here.'”

“Nink started for Joe, but the amateur comedian was too quick for the angry man, and slapping him not ungently on the side of the cheek he sent Nink to the mat, then pushed him out of the door with his No. 12 foot.”

“Nink and Dee had another consultation but they agreed that no more attacks would be made. Nink said goodbye to Dee and the latter wandered up the street. Nink’s humor was not improved and he went deeper into the cups in a nearby saloon, saying he had a gun and was going to get somebody.”

“Not desiring any bloodshed in the thirst emporium, a bartender was sent out for an officer. Patrolman Charles Dolphin responded. He asked Nink if he had a gun. The latter replied that he had not but if he had one he would use it right there.”

“Unawed by the tall silk hat and the fine clothes of Nink, Officer Dolphin put a firm hand on his shoulder and told him he was under arrest.”

Gay With a Policeman.

“‘Are you a policeman?’ asked Nink, who was probably unable to see Dolphin’s uniform and his star.”

“‘Well, I make a noise like one,’ responded Dolphin.”

“There was no more parleying. A wagon call was sent in and Nink went to jail in the private conveyance furnished at the expense of the city.”

“About four years ago Nink was shot in the back while walking along Second Avenue near Union Street. For weeks he was in the hospital and for a time it was thought he would die. It was ascertained beyond all question that a young man had shot Nink because the latter had interfered in family affairs. Nink refused to prosecute and no arrest was made.”

“Nink says he is an insurance agent, but so far as the police know he has not increased business perceptibly in Seattle.”


“Joe Schlumpf’s ‘Webster’s’ Amateur Champions of the State of Washington. Season of 1908.” Schlumpf himself is possibly the man standing on the far right. Photo courtesy of Northwest sports historian David Eskenazi.

Nink had a knack for getting into trouble. A few years before the above incident, on an evening in November 1903 indowntown Seattle, he was shot in the back apparently by someone who objected to the romantic overtures Nink was bestowing upon a wealthy widow. A Morning Olympian (Nov. 13, 1903) account of the shooting described Nink as “a well known character in the city [Seattle]. He always dresses well and for years has worn a silk hat, which made him quite a prominent figure on the street.”

Nink died in Seattle Jan. 22, 1917 at the age of 65.

Mark “Matt” Dee, born in New York, raised in Boston, and sent to Ireland for his schooling always said he came home to the U.S. not with an education but “returned with a brogue only.” At age 12 he went to sea, and claimed that at some vague date he married the actress and early film star Blanche Walsh (1873-1915), an assertion that cannot be verified by any source except Dee himself.

Dee also included being the manager of boxer John L. Sullivan (1858-1918) for a three-year stint in his resume, as well as having a part in the early career of “Gentleman Jim” Corbett (1866-1933). Again, outside sources to verify these claims don’t come easy.

After a brief time in the mining camps of Montana, Matt moved to Seattle around the turn of the century. He settled in West Seattle where he became known as “Daddy Dee of Alki.” Dee became a very active member of the Republican Party and was known for the practice of taking a dip in Puget Sound on a daily basis. He died in Seattle July 1, 1931 at the age of 73.

Although called a German and Dutchman in the article, Joseph Schlumpf was born in Wisconsin. He arrived in Seattle ca. 1890 and was well known as a cigar merchant. Apparently he was politically ambitious, but had difficulty getting elected to office, although he did serve one term on the Seattle City Council, 1910-1911, representing the East Capitol Hill district.

Perhaps Joe Schlumpf’s real legacy in Seattle was his role as an organizer for one of the early baseball clubs. In this regard he could be considered a visionary.

Schlumpf moved to Hollywood, California in 1919. He died there July 16, 1941 at the age 73. I wonder if he ever had a chance to meet Larry Fine?

A Monument for Melody Choir and Hobo the Dog

Friday, February 22nd, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | No Comments »

004From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

This item on page 1 of the Jan. 17, 1907 issue of the Seattle Daily News caught my eye due to the use of the words “eccentric,” “peculiar,” and the mention of a $100,000 monument for a man and his dog:


Latest Claimants for Estate of Dead Man Declare His Name Was Joseph Calentine

“That Melody Choir, alias Joseph Melchoir was really Joseph Calentine, and that he left a widow and a son residing in Wenatchee, Washington, who are his legal heirs, is the substance of a claim to the estate of the eccentric and wealthy Seattle man who died two weeks ago.”

“Through local attorneys George C. Calentine has petitioned the probate court to appoint a special administrator to the estate of Melody Choir, whose real name was Joseph Calentine. He further alleges that Mrs. Lucy Calentine of Wenatchee, is the widow of Melody Choir, having married him in the East, come West with him and then separated from him. She is said to possess a marriage certificate and other proofs of her claim.”

“The petition for a special administrator to take charge of the estate went on for hearing before Judge Albertson this afternoon. Rev. W.G. Jones, a friend of the dead man, who yesterday applied for the appointment, is satisfactory to the new claimants, Mrs. Calentine and her son.”

“If the special administrator is appointed it will be possible to search the personal effects of Melody Choir for proof of his relationship to the claimants for his money. The special administrator will have no right to carry out the will of the dead man, which provided that his $100,000 estate will be used to build a monument for himself and his dog.”

“The Melchoir family, which is represented in this city by an alleged brother of the deceased, has not yet entered a claim to the estate, but is expected to do so shortly.”

“The petition filed by Calentine does not take cognizance of the peculiar will left by Choir.”

The gentleman known as Melody Choir is yet another one of those great characters in Washington history who has yet to be fully discovered. According to information provided in the 1900 Census, he was born in Kentucky in March, 1850. Several sources indicate his previous name was Joseph H. Melchoir. It would appear he was among the youngest of his siblings. He surfaces in Seattle around the mid-1870s under the name of Melody Choir. His birth family probably lived in Canton, Ohio at this time.


Melchoir was one of the earliest compilers of a Seattle area city directory. His Choir’s Pioneer Directory of the City of
Seattle and King County, History, Business Directory, and Immigrant’s Guide to and Throughout Washington Territory and Vicinity
was published in 1878 and contained a statement it was meant to be an annual publication, but apparently only this issue made it to print. The Washington State Library has a copy on microfilm. It is a fun read, which is not something you can normally say about city directories.

In addition to providing colorful local descriptions, Choir included a photograph of himself with the handwritten caption: “His Royal Impudence, M. Choir, as he daily appears out on the war-path of Professional Business.”

Also he gives the reader a full page advertisement of his services and wares, marketing everything from wooden shoes, marble work for cemeteries, real estate, sewing machines, etc.

And as frosting, we are treated to a long poem he created honoring Seattle. His name might’ve been Melody Choir, but there was nothing melodious about his poetry. An example:

In plenitude thy people live,
Regaled by health that’s wealth: so can attain
Blended this gift with their endowments
Ruling power in Mortal’s highest plane:
Here churches and clans, schools and the press, All tutors of the public mind, that governs
Thy people’s hopes and fears, rights and wrongs
Though one and all are clothed as sovereigns.

I vaguely remember adding a local note to the bibliographic record for his directory a few years ago (when I was WSL’s Head of Cataloging) and encountering this poem and the author’s unusual name. At the time my reaction was, “That’s not something you see every day.” Little did I know.

In city directories his occupation is listed as “book agent” in the 1880s, and “real estate” or “capitalist” in the 1890s. For a brief time at the end of the 19th century he amazingly held public office as a Seattle Park Commissioner.

How did Choir acquire his wealth? In volume 90 of the Central Law Journal (Jan.-June 1920) an attorney named Fred H. Peterson contributed an article entitled “Odd Wills and Peculiar Testators.” It turns out Mr. Peterson represented Choir in the 1890s on the losing end of a deed case that went to the State Supreme Court. Peterson didn’t have a lot of positive things to say about his client:

“For many years an eccentric character lived in Seattle, who called himself Melody Choir, his real name being Joseph H. Melchoir. Like many people, not insane, however, he tried to get something for nothing, which he sought to accomplish by acquiring tax titles to Seattle property. Some of the lots he purchased for less than $5 each, through the rapid growth of the city, in the course of thirty years, had increased to $5,000. At the time of his death than $120,000 … For years he lived in a dug-out, his only friend being a dog, as queer as his master.”

Melody Choir’s will apparently is something of a manifesto, as Peterson describes:

“Of course, he left a will. ‘For the benefit of posterity’ he listed mankind according to a scale of merits; some were designated as trustworthy, others as suspicious, and the remainder as ‘unhung scoundrels;’ his counsel and the appellate court attained to the ‘bad eminence’ of the last class.”

“Choir’s will is closely written in a bound book of 148 pages, ten inches by 18 inches. At the top and bottom of each page he wrote in red ink, ‘Witness my hand and seal–Melody Choir,’ followed by an elaborate seal, and dated October 20, 1900. The will was admitted to probate March 1, 1907. He writes of himself thus: ‘The incontrovertible facts in my case are these– there never was a better, all round individual ever set foot upon the regions of this broad State, than myself!’ He declares that in 1875 he read Blackstone, but detested attorneys, for he says: ‘I never liked lawyers as a class, and to keep away from them and steer clear of their inveigling schemes and grasping machinations– ever an active ingredient in their diabolical profession– has been my constant, lifelong effort.'”

“His egotism stood out ad nauseam; his egregious vanity caused him to provide that all his property should be spent for a mausoleum for himself and dog ‘Hoboe,’ [SW note: all other sources spell the dog’s name as “Hobo”] plans and specifications for which are completely shown in the will– it even shows a diagram of his teeth; his great virtues were to be engraven on the monument in ten languages. That no one might contest because of any marital relations, he declares: ‘I never was married or even engaged to be married. Nor ever gave to any female, old or young, married or single, maid or widow, white or any color, directly or indirectly, verbal or written, open or implied, any pledge, vow or promise of marriage whatsoever.'”

Choir died in Seattle on the last day of 1906.   Choir’s dog, Hobo, a black and white Newfoundland, was killed by a streetcar on May 26, 1906.

It took almost a full year to settle Choir’s estate. The Superior Court jury decided in favor of granting the now $200,000 estate to Choir’s mother, 89 year old Elizabeth Melchoir of Canton, Ohio, apparently rejecting the Calentine claim. There was a real Joseph Calentine, he was last recorded living with his family in Kansas in 1875, but according to Census records he was a carpenter who was Ohio born and at least six years older than Melody Choir.

Choir was buried in Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery, under considerably more modest circumstances than he dictated, and Hobo was not allowed to be buried with him.    Where and how Hobo’s body was preserved is a question yet to be answered.