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Pages of the Past

120 Years Ago

April 6, 1894

O.P. Brewer, of Oakville, was down the first of the week, interviewing the commissioners relative to assistance in building a bridge over the Chehalis near Oakville. The river is dangerous to cross most of the time during the rainy season, and this past winter several people have lost their lives. The commissioners could not grant the petition as there is no money that could be used for this purpose.

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People about town in Elma are cleaning the stumps out of there yards as though they mean to stay. If the stumps were also taken out of some of the streets, it would help the looks of the town.

100 Years Ago

April 3, 1914


Digs Hole Through Concrete Jail Wall and Cuts Bars

With a set of crude tools made from small nails, a piece of heavy wire, an iron handle from a jail bunk, a file and the leg of a chair as a hammer, A. McCowan, a prisoner in the county jail on a charge of forgery, dug through the supposedly solid concrete wall of the county jail and, cutting a heavy iron bar, made good his escape Wednesday night of last week. The hole through which he crawled gave egress upon the inner court of the jail, upon an iron balcony, from which McCowan climbed on to the partition running lengthwise through the court yard, and thence to the north wall of the jail, and by means of a rope made from blankets from his cot, lowered himself to the ground. The work was very carefully done and must have occupied some little time, evidently having been commenced soon after he was lodged in his cell, where he had been for a few days. The hole was dug in the wall at the edge of the window in his cell and the bar was cut through and then broken off, leaving a hole but little more than a square foot. The prisoner weighs about 180 pounds and must have experience considerable difficulty in squeezing through the opening.

The cell in which McCowan was lodged was on the upper floor of the jail at the north end of the corridor, the man being isolated from all other prisoners in the building. The noise of the men at work on the garage being erected at the north end of the jail would have drowned all the noise made by McCowan in digging out the concrete, and as the night he escaped was stormy, he ran very little risk of detection. The county bloodhounds are kept in the courtyard just below where the prisoner climbed over the wall, but evidently did not hear the man for they made no noticeable demonstration.

The sheriff and deputies at once took up the search for the escaped prisoner, when his absence was discovered early Thursday morning, but no trace has been found that has been made public.

75 Years Ago

April 6, 1939

Nearly 70 workers in this area were laid off when three WPA projects were suspended in district No. 1.

The projects are the west Wynooche Road, Black Creek Road and Winkelman Road. All the men affected are residents of Montesano and vicinity, it was stated.

“The suspension of these projects follows the curtailment program directed by Congress,” said F.R. Boedecker of the WPA headquarters in Hoquiam. “We have closed projects which were of least importance at this time.”

Boedecker held out no hope that the men affected will be absorbed by other projects, as he said that Congress, in ordering curtailment, specified that men in closed programs could not be transferred to others.

No other eastern Gray Harbor WPA projects were affected by the curtailment.

50 Years Ago

April 2, 1964

Friday through Sunday are the days set for the grand opening of the new Bayview Building Materials store in Elma. The new store, which is located at the Y just east of Elma, is the largest of the five Bayview stores. The new store is stocked with the latest in building materials and can supply the needs of any builder.

The staff of the Elma store is well qualified to serve any building needs, most of the employees having been with the company since its inception several years ago. Local manager is Ed Seaman and the office manager is Lou Lentz. The sales staff consists of Don Skalicky, R.D. (Whitey) Scott, Gene Grove, Roger Bjorkey, Warren Kingery and floor covering expert Carl Haney.

25 Years Ago

April 6, 1989

State Rep. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, is working on securing a $250,000 capital facilities appropriation for renovating Hoquiam’s historic 7th St. Theatre.

Hargrove and other Hoquiam citizens told the Capital Facilities Committee last week that the 81-year-old theater has great local significance.

10 Years Ago

April 1, 2004

It may be April Fool’s Day, but this is no joke: County Commissioner Dennis Morrisette of Aberdeen announced earlier this week he will not seek re-election to a second term.

Mike Wilson, the mayor of Aberdeen, and Diane Ellison of the Wishkah Valley, a citizen activist who serves on numerous boards and committees, have both said they will seek the position as Democrats.

Morrisette, 59, has been elected to county government six times. He spent 19 years as sheriff and the last four as commissioner.