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Byrd Family Papers

  • 6.2.2
  • 1804 - 1934

Includes diaries, legal documents, photographs, and artifacts related to the Byrd family who arrived in the Puget Sound region from Illinois in 1853.

Byrd Family


ca. 1858. Copy of customer print, ordered by the City of Steilacoom. Unknown artist's rendering of Steilacoom's waterfront in 1858, while Washington was still a territory. Steilacoom became the first seat of government in Pierce County. Picture is from the collection of Mrs. Clyde V. Davidson, Steilacoom resident. The vessel, Enterprise, steams along the quiet waters of Steilacoom, sharing space with various sailboats, canoes and two and three-mast schooners. The Enterprise traded between Olympia and Steilacoom. Copy of print ordered on January 25, 1963. (TNT 5-8-62, D-20; photograph also used by E.T. Short of the T. Times 2/21/1939, pg. 3)

Drawings; Waterfronts--Steilacoom;

WO 157802-A

ca. 1860s. Undated photograph, possibly taken in the 1860s, of an 19th century family posed in front of their home. The photograph is taken at a wide angle so that the family's possessions, including planted crops, horses grazing, wagon and carriage, hitched span of horses, barn and extended home are prominent. The home appears to have been added on; the original sod house has a framed addition. The people themselves are not shown in close-up. The location of the property is not identified. Photograph believed to have been ordered by Mrs. G.R. Utterback on January 24, 1970.

Sod buildings; Horses; Families;

Map of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Part of Montana, 1860

Philadelphia : S. A. Mitchell, Jr.
1 map : hand col. ; 27 x 34 cm. Relief shown by hachures. Shows counties, cities, railroads, routes of wagon trails, and rivers. Scale ca. 1:4,435,000. Lower right: 50. Decorative border. Dated 1860 in bottom margin, but some question whether that might be the date of the original copyright of the base map.


ca. 1862. Portrait of Brigadier General Isaac Ingalls Stevens, first governor of Washington Territory. Copy made for Tacoma Times by Richards Studio, March 7, 1938, also used in Washington Golden Jubilee edition, July 19, 1939. Stevens served as governor from 1853-1857. A Democrat, he was appointed by President Franklin Pierce. In addition, he served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. This portrait depicts Stevens as a Brigadier General of Volunteers and may have been made ca. 1862. He was killed in action in 1862 during the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas). ALBUM 10.

Governors; Stevens, Isaac Ingalls, 1818-1862; Generals; Portraits;

Johnson's Washington and Oregon, 1863

New York: Johnson and Ward
1 map : hand col. ; 32 x 40 cm. Relief shown by hachures. Shows counties, cities, locations of native American tribal groups, and proposed railroad. Scale ca. 1:3,500,000 On verso: portion of "Historical and Statistical View of the United States, 1860", tables for Vermont, Virginia and Washington. In lower right margin: 57. Decorative border. Oregon counties Jackson and Josephine have been interchanged.


ca. 1868. Copy for Tacoma Times columnist E.T. Short of Treasury warrant for purchase of Alaska, dated 08/01/1868. Check for $7,200,000 to Emperor of Russia. Warrant & acknowledgement. (T. Times)


J. W. Roberts Papers

  • 6.1.3
  • 1868-1914

Includes correspondence, journals, financial papers, legal papers, printed materials and ephemera, photos and maps. Correspondence consists of both personal and business-related letters (1873-1911). Journal entries provide twenty-two years worth of short accounts of daily farm life, and occasionally mention other early Steilacoom pioneers (1868-1912). Financial papers include tax receipts (1866-1930), handwritten and printed receipts (1861-1931), a checkbook (1861-1862), and small account books recording work, expenses, and brief journal entries (1862-1910). Legal documents include land contracts and descriptions, and court documents relating to the estate of J.W. Roberts (1911-1915). Printed materials and ephemera include a variety of items such as business cards, pamphlets, and menus (undated), and newspaper clippings (1895, 1913-1914). A small series of photos are mostly undated and unidentified. There are also two undated handwritten maps of the Spanaway area.

J. W. Roberts


ca. 1870. On October 9, 1963, the Pierce County Pioneer & Historical Association dedicated a marker on the site of the old Steilacoom jail. The marker was made of imported red Swedish granite on which was carved a view of the (pictured) two-story jailhouse. The jail was built in 1858 by George W. Manville, Spanaway architect and contractor. It was the first brick jail north of the Columbia, the first Pierce County jail, and the first jail in the Washington Territory. It was located at 1800 Starling Street, between Balch & Main. Moses Spicer, elected in 1859, was the first jailer. It served as a jail until 1881 and then was used to store government records. In 1910 Dr. S.M. LaCrone and his wife purchased the old jail; the LaCrones lived on the top floor. The jail was demolished in 1944. (TNT 10-6-63, A-1)



ca. 1873. St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Old Tacoma. Small Carpenter Gothic church, built 1873, with a tall cedar stump covered with ivy for a bell tower. Copy of early photograph for Mr. Short of the Tacoma Times. Two weeks after the Right Reverend B.W. Morris, Episcopal Bishop of Washington and Oregon, rode into Tacoma in the bed of a wagon used for hauling earth on the North Pacific grade, St. Peters Church was built. It was the first church in Tacoma. This photograph was reproduced by Turner Richards from a faded photo made by Joseph Buchtel of Portland after the bell tower on the top of the 40 foot fir stump was completed. The photograph was loaned to the Times by Mrs. Alice Rector Watson. (T.Times 9/27/1935, pg. 16)

Episcopal churches--Tacoma; St. Peter's Episcopal Church (Tacoma);


ca. 1880. Copy of a photograph of the interior of the Canadian Pacific Railroad office, circa 1880s. Signs for Standard Life and Accident Insurance Company on counter, four men behind. Pictures of ships and posters for Cunard and Beaver Lines on walls. Copy for Mr. Short, Tacoma Times. (Argentum)

Canadian Pacific Railway (Tacoma); Railroad companies--1880-1890; Railroads; Railroad facilities;


ca. 1880. Copy of customer's damaged print. Date of original picture is unknown; it could possibly have been taken in the 1880s. Two groups of boys and girls are photographed sitting outside at separate tables. The boys appear to be in the process of making brooms while the girls are doing handiwork. There is a possibility that these children were in some type of custodial living arrangements in a foreign country. Two of the older boys are wearing sweaters with a crown and cross design, possibly signifying they were part of a religious school or home. Photograph commissioned by Peter Anderson on October 22, 1954.

Group portraits; Children; Brooms & brushes; Handicraft;


ca. 1880. Copy of photograph of large group of railroad men on dock and on plankway of steamship. All men are wearing coats and hats, most hats are bowlers, derbys. Circa 1880s. Copy made in 1935 for the Tacoma Times. (T. Times)

Men--Clothing & dress--1880-1890; Railroad employees--1880-1890; Steamboats--Tacoma--1880-1890;


ca. 1880. Nathaniel Orr's Wagon Shop. Nathaniel Orr was a pioneer wagon maker who had journeyed from Virginia in 1850 to eventually make his home and business in Steilacoom. The photograph of the Wagon Shop at 1811 Rainier St. is undated but perhaps taken in the 1880's. The man standing in the doorway is possibly Nathaniel Orr. The building appears to be a bit lopsided as blocks seem to be placed underneath to make it level. Information received from a reader indicates that Orr had built the house with chimney visible on the right of this photograph as a wagon shop in 1853-4 and built/repaired wagons on its bottom floor (accessible from what is now Rainier St.) When Orr wed in 1868, his wife convinced him to build his wagons somewhere other than in her home and thus this large Wagon Shop was constructed. Besides building wagons, he turned his hand to making necessities such as beds, tables, chairs, spinning wheels and even coffins. He also started a commercial orchard in town. Nathaniel Orr died in 1896 at the age of 69; his home and orchard would later be sold to the Steilacoom Historical Museum Assn. and be placed on the State and National Registry. The Wagon Shop operates as a living museum and has kept its original appearance. Photograph ordered by the Town of Steilacoom. (Town on the Sound, p. 32-36)

Houses--Steilacoom; Orr, Nathaniel--Homes & haunts;


ca. 1880. Copy of a photograph, circa 1880, of three men in a doorway to the Canadian Pacific Railway office. A fourth man, at far right, standing beside Grosworth Stocking window display. Copy of circa 1880s photograph for Mr. Short, Tacoma Times. (Argentum)

Canadian Pacific Railway (Tacoma); Railroad companies--1880-1890; Railroads; Railroad facilities;

"The Fern Hill Story"

Oversized scrapbook that was "undertaken August-October 1953", according to the inside cover, to celebrate the Washington Territorial Centennial. Contains news clippings of the Fern Hill neighborhood including the Fern Hill School, residents traversing the Naches Pass, and citizen recollections of the neighborhood. The "Scrapbook Commitee" of 1953 included Mrs. M.P. Howard (chairman), Mrs. Milfred Hartley, Mrs. Geyer Graham Sr. and Rev. Donald Baldwin. The Committee gave the scrapbook to the Fern Hill Branch of Tacoma Public Library in 1953. News clippings range from c. 1940-c. 1953 with one clipping from the Tacoma News Tribune (11/01/1953) inside the scrapbook cover telling the history of the scrapbook.


ca. 1881. This photograph from 1881, taken from near what is now the 800 block of Fawcett Avenue, shows many of the homes of the founders of "New Tacoma". The two-story white house in the foreground, next to a fenced yard, was the home of businessman J.S. Howell; the dirt road in front of the house is now Saint Helens Avenue. The large, white house to its right was the stately Theodore Hosmer House. This home, built about 1879 and now called the Exley Apts., is reputedly the oldest existing house in Tacoma. It originally faced St. Helens; in 1904 it was turned to face So. 9th. The Northern Pacific Railroad land office is the large frame structure to the right of Hosmer House; the Broadway Theater was built on this site after the building was moved. The Villard Hotel was under construction at this time; it is the building close to the left edge on A St. overlooking the bay. The building, named after Northern Pacific's head, Henry Villard, was demolished about 1923 to make way for a service station. To its right is the home of Otis Sprague, son of Gen. John W. Sprague. His home was moved to So. 12th & A to make room for the Tacoma Hotel. Gen. John W. Sprague occupied the home to the right of his son's; this house was originally built for Frank Clark and was purchased by Gen. Sprague shortly after completion. Another well-known name in local history, Capt. Charles E. Clancy, was Gen. Sprague's neighbor to Sprague's right. Frank Clark was just two doors down from Gen. Sprague; his home was once deemed the "best in town." These buildings were identified by the Tacoma Daily Ledger when they published this photograph on April 12, 1927. (Copy ordered by Dan Hewitt.) TPL-8069

Houses--Tacoma--1880-1890; Neighborhoods--Tacoma--1880-1890;


ca. 1882. Copy negative of drawing. Caption on negative titled "Execution of three murderers in Seattle, January 18, 1882." On Wednesday, January 18, 1882, three men were hung from a timber that was suspended from the forks of two trees on Occidental Square. Two of the men, James Sullivan and William Howard had been convicted by a local judge moments before they were hung of a murder that had occurred the night before. The third man, Benjamin Payne, had been arrested for the murder of a police officer. The three facial drawings across the top are labelled, left to right, Howard, Payne and Sullivan. The complete story is published in the Washington Standard, Olympia, Jan.20, 1882 Copy made for the Tacoma Times.

Lynchings--Seattle--1880-1890; Sullivan, James; Howard, William; Payne, Benjamin;

Tacoma Daily News

  • 5.2.1
  • 1883 - 1885

Early Tacoma newspaper with local and regional news, editorials, and advertisements.

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