Throwback Thursday: Chelan County
A Brief History of Chelan County
The “Power Belt of the Great Northwest” is located near and benefits from the drainage of the Wenatachee, Entiat, and Chelan rivers and Lake Chelan. Almost 90 percent of the county is owned by the state and federal governments due to hydroelectric power development.
The Wenatchee and Chelan tribes suffered the fate of all other tribes in the Washington Territory at the time. Under Governor Isaac Stevens, treaties were signed conceding land in exchange for smaller reservations and other incentives. War broke out twice between the tribes and American soldiers, and eventually, the Wenatchees and Chelans settled on the Colville Reservation. The first non-Indians to live in the area were Chinese prospectors looking for gold, who were attacked, trapped against a cliff over the river, and killed by Indians from the Methow River.
Eventually, settlement, growth, and development were spurred on by the arrival of the railroad that brought new settlers and a means for shipping stock and produce. The story of prosperity and growth in Chelan County is that of irrigation. Farmers demonstrated that with irrigation and 300 days of sunshine, the soil was extremely productive. In 1902, there was an 85 percent increase of fresh fruit shipped from the area in one year. The swift-running rivers of the area also led to electricity and the establishment of several power companies, including Puget Sound Power & Light Company.
Chelan County and the Law
The 1965 history of the Chelan County Bar is organized into sketches of attorneys who practiced in the early years. The descriptions, although necessarily brief, provide a glimpse into each attorney’s life and his contributions to the area and profession. The sketches inevitably cause readers to wonder what their own two- or three-sentence description might say.
Louis Crollard and his brother Fred Crollard each came to Wenatchee from California in 1905 and 1910, respectively. Both practiced at the firm of Reeves and Reeves, and later they formed their own firm called Crollard and Crollard. Before Louis died in the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918, he performed as a concert violinist.
Judge R. S. Steiner was a Douglas County Superior Court judge until 1918, when he joined the now-solo Fred Crollard to form Crollard and Steiner, where he practiced until his death in 1926. His Superior Court decisions were so well written that “the Supreme Court adopted his decision verbatim for its final decision.”
The Reeves and Reeves firm was made up of brothers Fred and Frank. They both “read for the law,” meaning they “read Blackstone, Kent, Pomeroy and the Hornbook series.” They were well-respected lawyers and Frank was said to have never lost a criminal jury case. He served in the Legislature and as president of the Washington State Bar Association. Both brothers were “at their office from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 or 2 a.m. They both broke under the strain and died in their early 50s.”
Ray Kendall served as the Wenatchee City Attorney after graduating from the University of Illinois Law School.
Rowland Ludington attended MIT and Union College of Law (now Northwestern University). He practiced in Chicago before coming to Wenatchee in 1908, and was a founder of the Wenatchee Golf and Country Club.
Charles B. Hughes was a respected attorney and served as mayor of Wenatchee, and he was memorialized with the Hughes Civic Swimming Pool.
J.A. Adams and William Grimshaw were members of both the bar and bench, and the writer notes that Grimshaw “proved that industry leads to scholarly competence.”
W.O. Parr was originally a schoolteacher in his home state of Kansas before moving to Montana in 1891 to be a bookkeeper for a railroad construction camp. When the camp moved to Wenatchee, he moved with it, setting up a barber shop in a tent. An old lawyer named Kirkwhiled had some law books and Parr took an interest. He passed the bar in 1900, and divided his space into a combination barber shop/law office; the writer notes, “The boys used to say that you could get a close shave on either side.” He was elected Superior Court judge in 1924, becoming a mentor to many young attorneys.
The plaintiff’s attorney in the landmark case Parrish v. West Coast Hotels was Wenatchee attorney Charles Conner. Conner came to Wenatchee from Oklahoma via Idaho and practiced law in Chelan County from 1916 until his death in 1941. The Parrish case, ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, reversed the position holding against minimum wages for women. The writer notes “the decision in this case removed the pressure against the court arising from its decisions in the early part of the New Deal under F.D.R. Until this decision, his court-packing plan had been a real threat but was thereafter never voiced.”
Of Burt Williams, it was noted “his work was instrumental in many cases… and still stands in most of them.” A.H. Mohler was an early attorney in Cashmere, and “he was of the old school and his oratory is now a lost art.” Charles R. Sargent “was an example of the highest character,” and Judge Fred Kemp was “impeccable in his determination to preserve the highest standing of members of the bench.” Finally, it is noted that “John Lindley was one who in the depression years labored for the people of a small community who were struggling.”
See the other counties featured in our Throwback Thursday series: