Monday, February 11, 2008

David M. Donnelly, by Catherine McClintock, annotated

Born in Michigan 1864 Contrary to a general1y accepted belief, Dave Donnelly was not born with a big cigar in his mouth and a ten-quart Stetson hat on his head, but came into this world in conventional style, garbed in a cloud like all good babies. He was probably noisier and more active than the average, but as the third son of James C. and Esther Norman Donnelly, and one of six children, he quickly learned to conduct himself properly with a fine regard for the other members of his family. Dave was born on May 12, 1864, in St. Clair county, Mich. His father was a carpenter and millwright, and built Batchelor's [also spelled Bachelor's in some records] mill on the St. Clair river which was afterwards moved to Bay City, Michigan, rebuilt and renamed the McGraw mill, at that time the largest one in the United States. Dave lived at home and attended school like other boys and girls until he was 12, when he decided that it, was time for him to clear out and support himself, which he did by working on a farm 'where he earned $3 per month, in addition to room and board. During his second year on the farm, at harvest time, he earned 35 cents per day, a princely sum. Tiring of farm work, Dave went into the bakery business at the age of 14 and learned a good bit about that trade which later stood him in good stead when he went into the Michigan woods to have a fling at the lumber business. Starting as a roustabout, he was given a job as a helper in the cookhouse of which he eventually had complete charge. He worked in the woods until he was 23, and then decided that he would have a look at the wild and wooly West, and fulfill his urge to be a cowboy. After riding herd on the plains of Montana and Idaho for six months, Dave came to Skagit county, where once again he took for the woods, working as cook for Pat McCoy on the Samish Flats (McCoy also logged extensively on Bow Hill and owned businesses in Bow after 1902). Marriage in 1894, then Wickersham and Woolley On September 17, 1894, Dave and Mary, the charming daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pat Halloran of Edison, were married, and to them were born five children: a daughter, Esther who died in 1931; and four boys; Cecil and Hubert, who live in Sedro-Woolley, J. Norman of Seattle, and David M. Jr., of Oregon. Mrs. Donnelly died on September 19, 1928, after prolonged and painful illness [her burial record shows Sept. 19, 1926]. Following their marriage, the Donnellys moved to Wickersham, where Dave went into the meat business, and in 1895 came to Sedro-Woolley to establish their home. Dave bought out Burmaster and his partner in the meat business and built a slaughter house, two years later selling a half interest in his business to Carstens. They built up a large trade here and in the surrounding country, supplying 53 shingle mi1ls, 11 sawmills and 15 or 16 logging camps with meat, and for . seven - years they averaged an annual volume of $147,000. They bought a 162-acre ranch on the Cook road from M.B. [Merritt] Holbrook, part of the old [Mortimer] Cook estate, and when Carstens and Donnelly sold out to Frye-Bruhn, Dave retained the Cook road place. He was elected county commissioner from the third district and during his term of office fought for and won the road to Clear Lake as it is now located. Various factions contended that this road should be built a couple of miles up the river above Hankin's mill, insisting that the Skagit could not be ferried successfully where the river bridge now is, and also that the slough trestle would be too costly. Such competition merely stiffened Dave's resolve and he proved that the road could be built by the simple process of getting it done. In his early days here, Dave bought real estate which he developed and sold, including the Bingham and Holland block, and the property on Metcalf from Britchford's to West's grocery, between Ferry and Woodworth. Surprise: bankrolled the Skagit County Courier Unknown to many, Dave bought the [Burlington Journal]newspaper plant in Burlington from a Mr. Baumer [actually Bowmer, moved it to Sedro-Woolley, where he established it in a building at the rear of Condy's jewelry store, with U. E. Foster as editor, the transaction having been handled by Attorney J.H. Smith. He later sold out to Foster. As president of the Skagit county Republican central committee, Dave had some glorious political encounters, one of which particularly gives him much pleasure in retrospect and that was when he routed the Non-Partisan League, which had made great headway n the county. He was also the first chairman who ever won the county over in an off year. During his eight years of presidency of the Skagit County Fair association, Dave established the Skagit show as one of the leading exhibitions of its kind in the Northwest. Dave was postmaster of Sedro-Woolley for 12 years and four months] and since his retirement from that office has devoted himself to his various properties, including mill and timber interests-in Oregon, the Donnelly Motor company of Sedro-Woolley and the Donnelly Meat company of Lyman. Dave made his home on West Talcott street in the house where he and his family have lived for 38 years. Recently, he enjoyed a trip back to his old home in Michigan, where he had not visited for fifty years. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus lodge of Mount Vernon, - the local chamber of commerce, and was a charter member of the Sedro-Woolley Rotary club. Although he is not as young as he used to be, Dave is just as peppery and full of fight as ever. When he slaps the old Stetson on his head, and sets his cigar to windward, he is ready for come-what-may and can still take it in his stride. Always a hard-fighting, straight-hitting Republican, Dave at this writing, believes that it is time for all of us to submerge political bias and put on a united front for Americanism. [Journal ed. note: this last paragraph seems odd, as if it were written while Donnelly was still alive. We suspect that she had already interviewed him and planned a column

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