ORILLIA, WA 1887 – 1980

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July 3, 2017 Renton, WA

Orillia, was an unincorporated community in South King County, Washington. At the heart of this community was the small village of Orillia. Between the Northern Pacific Railroad and West Valley Highway was “Main Street.” The village had a Hotel, a Grange, two General Stores, a Tin Shop, a Church, a School, and two blacksmith shops, houses, and farms, and a railroad depot.

Orillia, like so much of the West once belonged to local Indian tribes; today their decedents now belong to the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. Back in those days the whole valley from Tukwila to Auburn was referred to generally as the White River Valley.

During the 1970’s I commuted through Orillia each day on my way to Kent. Driving through the village of Orillia, was like taking a trip back in time, the old rustic buildings built in the early 1900s, were standing testament of time that reflected old architecture, and a pioneering community that once was very prominent in its location. By the late 1970s this community was striving to preserve its legacy.

The road that passed through this village, once called “Main Street” has had some confusing name change’s due to annexation. Because of annexation, Orillia was initially divided up by two cities; Renton and Kent in the late 1950’s.

Main street was a dividing line, the North Side of Main Street, became part of Renton; The South side of Main Street became part of Kent. Today Main Street is referred to as South 180th Street if you have a Kent Address, but if you had a Renton Address the same street is referred to as S.W. 43rd Street. In other words S. 180th St. & S.W. 43rd Street are in fact the same street.

After annexation occurred, the city of Kent chose to keep all the addresses as they were, only changing the city name from Orillia to Kent. Renton however did make changes to addresses on the Renton side of Main Street. For example, Randall Weitzel’s home was 7210 S. 180th St., Orillia, WA it was changed to 7210 S.W. 43rd St. Renton, WA. In some cases Renton changed some of the house numbers and parcel numbers as well. At some point, Renton transferred their portion of Orillia, West of the railroad tracks to the city of Tukwila.

Main Street was a two lane road until the 1980s. Traffic would frequently get congested through Orillia because of the traffic light on West Valley Highway, or because of the railroad crossing, when freight trains were going by. Sometime in 1980 or shortly thereafter, South 180th Street was widened to a four lane road.

Widening the road at that time was controversial, community residents wanted to preserve the essence of their small village, and warned that widening the road would signal the end of this historical little village. And indeed, the old rustic buildings began to disappear fairly rapidly as a result of the road widening. Today, most people who pass through this area, wouldn’t even guess that a small village was once fairly prominent there.

In the mid to late 1970’s I remember there being a cabinetry shop, a tropical fish & aquarium store, a general store, and a couple of homes and small farms, and a vacant brick and mortar elementary school. The school was built in 1921 and was closed in 1968. It remained vacant for many years. The Renton School District put the school up for sale in 1971, and I am not sure when it was sold.

In October of 1980, the vacant elementary school was used as a Halloween Haunted House, which I attended. I remember entering a room where Dr. Frankenstein was resurrecting the Frankenstein Monster. Dr. Frankenstein in this case was a young woman who was wearing a white lab coat, and goggles. When she flip the switch on the wall, an elaborate light show entertained while the monster came alive. The Haunted house was hosted I think by radio station KNBQ. The Orillia school was demolished shortly thereafter, 1981 or 1982 if memory serves.

On June 5, 1998 there was a fatal accident when a Burlington Northern train slammed into a car killing the two elderly occupants. It was not the first train accident that occurred there on South 180th Street, but it was probably the last. As a result of a major lawsuit that was filed after that accident, road construction began in 2002 to build an underpass at that location. The road was closed at that section of South 180th Street for one year. The ground underneath the Rail Road Tracks was excavated so that the road now passes safely underneath the railroad tracks. And the Rail Road tracks above the road are now supported by a concrete trestle.

Today, that historical village of Orillia, has all but disappeared, and the landscape has changed. Most people who travel down South 180th Street are probably unaware of the historic pioneer settlement that was established there.

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DONATION LAND CLAIM ACT OF 1850

The Green River that originates in the Cascade mountain range, just South of Stampede Pass  and flows 90 miles Southwest to Elliot Bay in Seattle played a significant role in the histories of the people and communities that lived along the rivers path. Sections of the Green River have been known by different names. At the river’s origins near Stampede Pass and it’s pathway down to Auburn this section of the river has always been known as the Green River, sometimes referred to as the Upper Green River. When the river reached Auburn, WA, it joined the White River.

The River from Auburn to Tukwila was known as the “White River” until 1906; in that year, the White River was diverted away from the Green River near Auburn, WA and now flows into the Puyallup River. So after 1906 the river between Auburn and Tukwila was renamed the Green River, sometimes referred to as the Lower Green River. And from Tukwila to the mouth of Elliot Bay this section of the Green River is known as the Duwamish River, and still is today.

Several Indian Tribes occupied the lands along the Green River, for thousands of years before the first white explorer arrived. The river was a source of life, it provided salmon, and was used as a method of transportation. The Skopamish Indians occupied the land of the Upper Green River, mainly in the valleys near the Green River from about where the Kanaskat-Palmer State Park is located down to the Flaming Geyser State Park. The Smulkamish were people of the “White River” and they occupied the land from Enumclaw to the where the present day location of the Muckleshoot Indian reservation. The Stkamish tribe lived in the area from Auburn to Tukwila; their main village was in the vicinity of what is now Kent, WA. The Duwamish Indians occupied the land between Tukwila and the Elliot Bay.

It has been alleged that the first white men that came into the White River Valley occurred in the 1830s, and that they were explorers and traders. There is probably some record of these explorers in some archive or library. Notable people would have probably been those who made first contact with the White and Green River Indians.

The United States Congress passed legislation in 1850 called the “Donation Land Claim Act.” The act, which became law on September 27, 1850, granted 320 acres of designated areas free of charge to every unmarried white male citizen eighteen or older; and 640 acres to every married couple–arriving in the Oregon Territory before December 1, 1850. Claimants were required to live on the land and cultivate it for four years to own it outright. The law expired on December 1, 1855.

Essentially, what Congress had done by enacting this Land Claim Act, was to confiscate the land that Green and White River Indians had occupied for thousands of years, and gave ownership of those lands to white settlers.

Historically when the White Europeans first encountered the indigenous Indians in America, they were treated with mutual respect and admiration. In fact, I believe that the first encounters with most Indian tribes across the America started out friendly, and peaceful enough.

There was time in European History when the White Europeans were comparable to the American Indian. A time when White Europeans used bows and arrows, axes, spears, and knifes as weapons. A time when they worshiped pagan gods like Zeus, Woden, Thor, Apollo, etc. A time when Europeans belonged to tribes, or clans.

So when Europeans encountered the American Indian, they saw them as a primitive race of people who’s culture had not advance with time. A people who were content living and following traditions, handed down to them from their elders.

So White Europeans thought they could bring the American Indians into the civilized world. They wanted to teach the Indian about their culture, to advance these people to the modern era, so that one day, they could assimilate into modern society.

Most American Indians, had no desire, no interest in learning the “White Man’s Way.” They were content with their traditional way of life, and began to resent the white culture for their relentless pursuit to change the American Indian, to take away their culture, their beliefs, their land, and all that was given to them by the “Great Spirit.”

American and Canadian settlers started to pour into the White River Valley, as land was being claimed all along the river and throughout the fertile valley. The Indian tribes saw the injustice of what was happing to them. Having their land confiscated from them, caused a lot of friction among the white settlers and the Indians.

See: Donation Claim Act – Wikipedia


ADAMS CLAIM 1855

Henry Adams (1825-1903) was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. He traveled to California in 1849 presumably booking passage aboard a ship on the East Coast, and sailing around the Southern tip of South America into the Pacific. A voyage from the East Coast to the West Coast typically took 5 to 7 months to complete back in those days. 1849 was the year of the California Gold Rush. Henry traveled to the Oregon Territory in 1850, and then he came up to Seattle in 1853.

On April 17, 1855 Henry Adams filed for a donation claim. The document he filed states that he was a single man, carpenter and joiner by trade and farmer by present occupation. It states on this paper that he arrived in the Washington Territory on the 8th of October 1850. He received 324.52 acres of land: King County; Sections 35 and 36; T23N R4E (map coordinates).

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DonationLandClaim1850s                      DonationLand

Most settlers selected land near waterways due to lack of roads and most people traveled by canoes and small boats. Henry Adams built a cabin near the White River (Green River), today that location would be in the vicinity of “Riverside Drive” in Tukwila, Washington. From 1855 to 1886 this land was referred to as Adams Claim, from 1887 to 1980 much of this land was referred to as Orillia. All legal documents, and deeds on this land dating back to 1855 still refer this land as Adams Claim.

During his time there, at what was then known as Adams Claim, there were a hostile band of Native Indians that periodically caused trouble for the settlers. Word went up and down the White River in late September and early October that Indian hostilities were eminent. Most of the settlers heeded the warnings, and evacuated to Seattle for safety. Some chose to discard the warnings and stayed. Henry was one of the settlers that took the warnings seriously, and left. He remained in Seattle for the next five to six months.

On October 28, 1855 on a Sunday morning, Chief Lewis Nelson of the Skopamish Tribe, and Chief Kanasket of the Klickitat Tribe led a war party to massacre the white settlers living along the White River. Some of the vacant homes were ransacked, most were burned. There were three homesteads that were attacked. Those homesteads were located in the North Auburn area, on the West Side of the Green River.

Most of the White River Settlers took refuge in Seattle, and they were there for the “Battle of Seattle” that took place on January 26, 1856. Most of the homes along the White River were burned by the Indians.

Six months after leaving his claim, the Puget Sound Indian War was over. The Indians of the Green and White River were moved to a reservation on the Muckleshoot Prairie, and were hence known as the Muckleshoot Tribe.

Henry Adams returned to his home on the White River. His cabin was destroyed by fire, he clear the land and began construction of a new home. He lived there for several years. He sold most of his claim on the White River to Malcolm McDougall in 1887; by then Henry was 61 years old, and still single.

Henry Adams went back to Seattle to live; he lived there until about 1902. Henry decided that it was time to go back to his home in Greenwich, Connecticut. Henry died in Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut on April 24, 1903. He was buried in the Woodland Cemetery in Stamford, Connecticut.

See: California Gold Rush – Wikipedia

 

FOUNDER of ORILLIA, WASHINGTON

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Malcolm McDougall (1842-1915) was a Lumberman, Prospector, a Miner, Banker, a Farmer, Land Speculator, a philanthropist, businessman, Merchant, Postmaster, a devout Catholic, and the founder of Orillia, Washington.

Malcolm McDougall was born on a farm in 1842 in the 4th Concession, Kenyon Township, Glengarry County, Ontario, Canada. At age 13 he left his home to work in the lumber camps of Ontario. He learned the logging business within eight years; he also learned to invest his earnings into profitable business ventures. He accumulated a fortune in the lumber business, and earned the recognition as the wealthiest lumberman in the district. In the year 1881 he saw most of his savings of twenty years wiped out in a single day, when storms on the Great Lakes wrecked the cargo ships transporting his lumber. Practically penniless, McDougall went to Winnipeg and did some logging there for a short time.

Malcolm McDougall married Mary McRae on November 6, 1872 at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Wolfe Island, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada. They lived in Fenelon Falls, Victoria County, Ontario, Canada. While living in Fenelon Falls, Mary gave birth to 4 children, two of which died as infants. Rosemary McDougall (1873-1954) was born with infantile paralysis and was confined to a wheel chair. She lived most of her life on the family farm in Orillia, Washington; Anna Albinus McDougall (1875-1933) left home (Orillia, WA) in 1894 to join the Carmelite Convent in Baltimore, Maryland, and became known as Sister Cyril of the Mother of God. She came back to Seattle in 1908 after her father had donated a newly built Monastery for their convent. Soon Sister Cyril was known as Mother Cyril Superior.

The McDougall family lived in Fenelon Falls, Ontario, from 1873 to around 1878. They then moved to Parry Sound, Muskoka, Ontario, they are recorded living there in the 1881 Canadian Census. Mary gave birth to a son, Alphonse McDougall (1879-1890).

The McDougall’s moved to Orillia, Simcoe County, Canada sometime around 1883. Orillia was the last town in Canada in which the McDougall family lived at before immigrating to the United States. They departed Orillia, Canada on the Grand Trunk Railroad and arrived in Detroit, Michigan on April 20, 1885. After a few months in Michigan, the family boarded a train and arrived in Seattle, Washington on July 17, 1885.

After spending a few months in a Seattle hotel, the McDougall’s leased a house at the corner of Third and Spring Street. A year later, they bought a home on Yesler Avenue near Holy Names Academy where Rosemary and Anna were enrolled.

In 1887, Malcolm McDougall purchased the Henry Adams Claim in the White River Valley (Kent Valley). He named his new home Orillia, after the Canadian town he last resided in before coming to the States.

Travelling from Seattle to Orillia in 1887, the most common mode of transportation was by river boat, or by train. Sometime between 1883 and 1887 the railroad built a track connecting Seattle to Tacoma, running North to South, the railroad tracks ran past McDougall’s property running along the East side of his property boundary.

McDougall’s home was built on the West side near the river. By 1902, the Seattle & Tacoma Interurban railway was completed; it was the first high speed electric railway to operate in the Puget Sound area. Shortly after it began operations the name of the railway was changed to the “Puget Sound Electric Railway.” This railway ran through the Orillia area on what is known today as the Interurban Trail.

Malcolm opened a general store at the Northern Pacific Railway depot, and operated a post office there when he was appointed as Postmaster of Orillia on December 14, 1887.

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He was associated with Robert John Cameron under the firm name of “McDougall and Cameron.” Their business comprised of valuable timber holdings and mining claims. Mr. McDougall owned a considerable amount of real estate in Seattle and in other parts of the state.

Alphonse, the McDougall’s only son, was sent to a boarding school in Spokane, Washington in 1889. He died from an accidental fall from a bridge in 1890 near his school.

McDougall was President of the Carbon Coal Company, in small town of Cumberland, King County, Washington from 1896 to 1908 (est.). He owned 91 and 1/3 stock in the company.

Malcolm went to Alaska in 1897 during the Klondike Gold Rush. He spent 3 years in Dawson City, engaging in mining and logging; before returning to Seattle.

Gold was discovered in 1906 above the Yentna River in Alaska, at Cache Creek. McDougall staked out 19 claims. In 1909 McDougall formed the “Cache Creek Mining Company” which operated mining operations in Alaska along Cache and Dollar Creek. He was the founder and President of that company. Robert John Cameron was his business partner, General Manager, and secretary of that company. Some of those who were employed by Cache Creek Mining Company were: Henry Brahenburg, Joseph Anderson, Victor Carlson, George Winter, Andy Thompson, and Charley Nawn.

Mary McDougall, Malcolm’s wife died at the family home in Orillia, Washington on October 7, 1907. After his wife’s death, McDougall left his home in Orillia, and made his new residence at the Hotel Perry, in Seattle.

Malcolm McDougall died in the afternoon of December 27, 1915 at the Catholic Carmelite Convent 1808 Eighteenth Avenue in Seattle. Cause of death is listed as acute stomach trouble. His burial was at the family plot in the Calvary Cemetery in Seattle.

Rosemary McDougall remained at the family home in Orillia she lived there until 1953, that is when she sold the family home and moved to Seattle, she died a year later. Her father developed the land along S. 180th Street and sold those parcels of land to business owners as part of his vision to build the town of Orillia.

In 1922 Rosemary had the Orillia Garden Tracts housing Community constructed and sold 21 parcels of land and donating two streets leading into the community to King County. The Orillia Garden Tracks was on the East Side of the McDougall property and just South of the village of Orillia.

Rosemary sold 100 acres of land South of the Orillia Garden Tracks to Herbert Spencer Turner (1866-1941). Mr. Turner purchased that land in 1929 and developed that land into the “Mountain View Public Golf Course.” The Stock Market Crashed October 29, 1929 sending the economy into the Great Depression. The Grand Opening of the 18 hole Mountain View Public Golf Course occurred on August 1, 1931. A new owner Davie Craig opened the Golf Course as “St. Andrews” sometime around 1936, it closed in 1946, and was sold.

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The McDougall family home (pictured below) was in the vicinity of what is now South Center South, Industrial Park, on South Todd Boulevard, Tukwila, Washington. Once considered prime farm land, with an abundance of apple, plum, and pear trees; this fertile ground today is now an industrial complex.

 


See: Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery
McDougall in the 1881 Canadian Census
Interurban Trail – Wikipedia


ORILLIA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 1921-1968

A new school was constructed and completed in 1921. Orillia Elementary School was in operation from 1921 to 1968 and was part of the Renton School District. After the School closed to public instruction in 1968, the building itself remained until the 1980s before being demolished. The building was on the West side of 72nd Street, the length of the School building ran parallel with 72nd Street. The Front Door in the photo (1) faced South 180th Street. As of 2017, Starbucks, Aloha Hawaii Grill, and TownePlace Suites by Marriott; occupy the former Orillia School Grounds.

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ORILLIA SCHOOL HOUSE 1888-1920

A School was built in 1888 in the town of Orillia, and a covered Playground was added adjacent to the school in 1905. The school was two stories, and had seven rooms. The  school had 2 basins, 2 toilets, and 1 sink. The School was heated by steam. The ceiling height was 14 Ft. on both the 1st & 2nd Floors.

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ORILLIA TIN SHOP

The Tin shop in Orillia was built in 1892 by John Farner (1844-1919) and his wife Anna Meeki Farner (1861-1923). It is the only remaining historical structure standing from Main Street, Orillia, Washington as of 2017. It is currently occupied by NW Aesthetics and is located at 7209 S. 180th Street, Kent, WA 98032.

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See: Tin Shop at Old Sturbridge Village

 

CAMERON GENERAL STORE AND POST OFFICE

James Daniel Cameron (1861-1957) and his brother Robert John Cameron (1863-1949) were born in Fenelon Falls, Victoria County, Ontario, Canada. Robert Cameron came to Washington Territory in 1885 with the McDougall family; his brother James Cameron came to Washington Territory in 1887.

The relationship between Robert J. Cameron and Malcolm McDougall as lifelong business partners is said to have been forged by a friendship, bonded in the lumber camps in Ontario. Malcolm’s mother had the maiden name of Cameron, I wonder if they may have been related. In Seattle they had a business firm entitled “McDougall and Cameron” together they had lumber, mining, banking, and other enterprises in Alaska, Canada, and Washington. When Malcolm McDougall died in 1915, Robert Cameron was the executor of his last will and testament.

Together James and Robert Cameron took over Malcolm McDougall’s General Store, one of the earliest general stores in the White River Valley. The store was known as the Cameron Brothers General Store from 1890 to 1903. After taking over the store, which was located in the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot, they relocated the store to the South side of Main Street (S. 180th St.) in Orillia. During the depression of 1893 the Cameron Brothers aided the local economy by conducting a barter business, trading food, hardware, and other goods for locally produced lumber and shingles.
Robert sold his interest in the store to his brother James in 1903. Robert operated the Orillia Lumber Company from 1897 to 1900. During the First World War Robert served on the Food Administration Board.

This building had two stories; the upper floor was an apartment and the lower floor the store. The first floor was 12ft. tall, the second floor was 10ft tall. The first floor was 2500 sq. ft. and the second floor was 1700 sq. ft. The building had 1 tub, 1 sink, 1 toilet, 1 wash basin, and 1 hot water tank. The building was heated by a wood stove.

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James Cameron ran his General Store and was Postmaster until 1940, and then he retired. The last Postmaster of Orillia was Mrs. Jennie M. Bridges, the Post Office in Orillia closed on June 5, 1964.

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WEITZEL GENERAL STORE

IRIVING KENNEDY WEITZEL

The story of the Weitzel family of Orillia centers around Irving Jacob Weitzel, the youngest son of Irvin Kennedy Weitzel (1844-1928) whom I will hence forth refer to the father as “Kennedy” to avoid confusion; and his mother Nancy Eleanor Denniston.

In 1884 the Weitzel family left Pennsylvania and arrived in Tacoma, Washington by railroad. They lived on Vashon Island for a short time. In 1886 the Weitzel family came to the White River Valley, and homesteaded near Orillia. There are some references that suggest that this homestead was in the Sunnydale area and another that suggest the homestead was near the West Hill (Kent or Tukwila). Kennedy eventually owned 110 acres of farmland. The Weitzel family lived there for nearly twenty years.

Kennedy moved to Forest Grove, Oregon near Portland; sometime around 1905. Kennedy took his wife and four of his children to Oregon, the rest of his children remained in Washington. His wife Virginia passed away in Portland, in 1914. Kennedy was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon sometime before 1920, where he remained until his death in 1928; he was 84.

IRVING JACOB WEITZEL

Irving Jacob Weitzel (1879-1937) was born in Lawrence County Pennsylvania on December 13, 1879. His mother Nancy Denniston died when he was just a year old. His father “Kennedy” Weitzel remarried a year later.

Irving and Jean Mary Eells (1885-1961) were married in Seattle on August 20, 1905. They made their home in Orillia, purchasing land on the North side of Main Street (South 180th Street). Their home was constructed in 1907. Adjacent to their home, was the I. J. Weitzel General Store. It is noted on Irving’s 1917 draft record that he was physically disqualified for military service because he had lost his right arm.

After Irving died in 1937, his wife Jean ran the Weitzel grocery store until 1945. I believe that her son Randall Weitzel ran the store after that. In the early 1970s Mr. Wietzel either sold or leased the store to George Davis, the building was hence known as the Davis  Tropical Fish Aquarium. In 1981 the store burned down.

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The historic Weitzel home which was one lot to the West of the Wietzel Store was moved to Seward Park in 2007 where it remains today (2017).

Irving Jacob Weitzel mother Nancy Denniston; and his step-mother Virginia Chadwick had many children, Irving’s siblings are listed below.

Nancy Eleanor Denniston (1842-1881)
She was the mother of 5 children all born in Pennsylvania, and moved to Washington State with their parents in 1884. The children are:

[1] WILLIAM Tecumseh Wietzel (1868-1930) became a plumber in Seattle, he later moved to Oregon;

[2] JENNIE Finkbine Wietzel (1871-1938) married Levi Langill Snow (1868-1931) a farmer on Vashon Island, they later moved to Rochester, WA where they opened the Snow Service Station. After Levi died; she married Walter Walker;

[3] REBECCA Denniston Wietzel (1873-1908) married Richard Haydon (1870-1904) a Seattle Surveyor;

[4] JESSIE Eleanor Weitzel (1875-1951) married James Allen Clark (1872-1966) in 1893. He was the owner of Clark’s Livery Stable that was located in Kent, WA. In 1933 Jessie married William M. DeYoung (1879-1953) he was a Carpenter in the Seattle area.

[5] Irving Jacob Weitzel (1879-1937) Prominent Orillia merchant and resident. The I. J. Weitzel general store was on the North side of South 180th St.

Virginia Nancy Chadwick (1850-1914) (Irving’s Stepmother).
All of her children except Harry were born in Orillia, King County, Washington. Harry was born in Pennsylvania.

[6] HARRY Huber Weitzel (1883-1951) Harry was employed as a machinist at Moran’s Ship Yard in Seattle in 1902. He married a Stenographer by the name of Bessie Willela Sohn (1884-1979) in Pasadena, California on the 22 Sept. 1913. They made their home in Pasadena. Harry worked as a Sheet Metal Fabricator in 1940.

[7] MARY Josephine Weitzel (1888-1918) Mary became a nurse at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland. She died from the Influenza pandemic of 1918.

[8] ELIZABETH M. Weitzel (1890-1954) Married Lloyd Edmund Thompson (1886-1960) in Seattle, WA on the 28th of September 1916. He was a Machinist in the Portland, Oregon area.

[9] EDMUND Chadwick Weitzel was born at the Weitzel farm in King County, WA on July 31, 1892, he died five months later on Jan. 13, 1893.

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In December 2007, the “Weitzel House” that sat on the North East Side of Orillia, located at 7210 South 180th Street, was moved to Seward Park in Seattle. The 1907 home was sold by the city of Tukwila to Tawny Davis for the sum of $1 dollar.

See: Wietzel House relocation photos – Randy Corman Blog
1918 Flu Pandemic – Wikipedia

 

THE BRISCOE BOYS SCHOOL

The Edwin Briscoe Memorial School was built in 1909, and was located on 240 acres in the Southwest corner of Orillia. The school was funded by charitable donations. Patrick and Margaret Hayes donated the 240 acres of land for the Briscoe School site; land that was part of Adams Claim. I’m not sure when Patrick and Margaret Hayes purchased the land from Malcolm McDougall. Elizabeth Foss donated a large sum of money to the local Diocese of Nisqually in memory of her son Edwin Briscoe.

Elizabeth Foss (1828-1919) was a French Canadian who was born Elizabeth Mary Rowland (Roland, Rouland) in 1834 St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. At the age of 19, she departed Newfoundland for Boston, arriving there in 1853. She married William Briscoe (Irish Immigrant) in Boston, Massachusetts on the 25th of January 1857. Her son Edwin Sebastian Briscoe was born in Boston on January 20, 1860. Elizabeth, her son Edwin, and her brother James Rowland departed Boston in 1875; they’re destination was Seattle, WA.

Edwin S. Briscoe (1860-1888) joined the Seattle Alkis Baseball team (1876 to 1879) playing Right Fielder. Edwin was employed as the King County Auditor in 1883, and was appointed as a King County Deputy Clerk for the 3rd Judicial District in 1884. He died on October 30, 1888 from Bright’s disease, he was 28; burial was in the Lakeview Cemetery, in Seattle.

Elizabeth Briscoe married Levi W. Foss (1838-1907) on Feb. 5, 1883 in Seattle. Levi was a prosperous business man who made a considerable sum of investments in real estate, construction, and business ventures. He died in Seattle on Sept. 1, 1907, and was buried at the Lakeview Cemetery. Elizabeth donated a large sum of money to the Diocese of Nisqually, in memory of her late son, Edwin Briscoe. Patrick and Margaret Hayes had donated 240 acres of land in Orillia next to the Green River. Through these and with some other charitable contributions, the Diocese had a home for orphan boys constructed; it was named the Edwin Briscoe Memorial School.

The Briscoe School opened in 1909, and was managed by the Sisters of St. Dominic for five years. In 1914 management of the school was transferred to the Roman Catholic order of the “Irish Christian Brotherhood.” The State of Washington paid for the tuition of orphaned boys, and wards of the state. The Catholic School no longer restricted admission to Orphans; it became a private school as well, where Catholics living in the area could pay tuition for their boy’s education. The Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle announced the sale of the Briscoe School and property to the Union Pacific Railroad for 2.8 million dollars in 1968.

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Jerry Blinn who attended the Briscoe School from 1946 to 1950 stated that the school closed its doors and was demolished in 1970. He stated: “the address to the Briscoe School in 1970 was: 5816 South 196th Street, Kent, Washington. Prior to 1970 there was virtually nothing in that area. I recall a long gravel road from 196th to the Briscoe entrance. In fact, the back side of Briscoe was no more than 100 feet to the Green river.”

See Also: The Seattle Times article Feb. 2004

LONGACRES

James Nelsen (Nelson) came to America from Denmark in 1881, at first settling in Illinois. He came to Seattle by Train in 1883. Starting in 1886 James Nelsen invested heavily into purchasing land and had eventually accumulated 280 acres of land in the Northern Orillia area. James Nelsen had a large dairy farm, but also grew hops and potatoes. Sometime after 1900, James sold 100 acres to his brother Fred Nelsen. He built his Victoria era home in 1905. In 1933 the Washington Jockey Club leased 107 acres of the Nelsen farmland. That land eventually being sold to the Alhadeff family and became known as the Longacres Race Track (1933-1992). The Longacres Race Track eventually grew to 215 acres of land.

The Alhadeff family sold the Longacres site in 1990 to the Boeing Airplane Company. In 2015 Boeing sold off part of the Longacres site to Group Health Cooperative.  The area where the Grandstands to the Paddock Club use to stand is now a parking lot and Wetland area.

ANNEXATION

In July of 1955, property owners on the South side of Orillia petitioned the city of Kent for annexation. The area is a three and a half mile strip, of about 960 acres bounded by the Northern Pacific Railway tracks, the West Valley Highway, and the Orillia Road, all South of 180th Street. The Orillia Elementary School, which was in the Renton School District, was now within the Kent City Limits.
In May of 1959, Property owners on the Northern side of South 180th Street in Orillia petitioned the city of Renton for annexation. The annexed area of about 2000 acres, it included all property East of West Valley Highway but bound between the North side of South 180th Street, and the South Side of I-405 (before being named I-405 that highway was called PSH 2A). This annexation included the Longacres race track. At some point Tukwila annexed a small portion of Orillia, I don’t know the exact year.
Although Annexation occurred in the late 1950’s, the town on Main Street (S. 180th Street) specifically the buildings, remained in tact until the early 1980s. In fact 1980 was the turning point when the footprint of the Town of Orillia began to change, and the small turn of the century town began to disappear. Today, so much has changed, for Orillia. The Farms and Ranches are now all gone, most of the homes are now gone, all replaced by industrial complexes, and paved parking lots.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS OF ORILLIA

 

AnnaViele7225_South_180th_Orillia_WA5180_South_180th_Orillia_WA

 

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