Seattle Now & Then: ‘Doc’ Maynard’s letters and house, 1850 to post-1905

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: “Doc” Maynard’s home at 3045 64th Ave. S.W., the oldest structure still standing in Seattle, replaced an earlier Maynard farmhouse that burned in February 1858. This photo, taken after 1905, when the home was moved a block south from Alki Beach, shows later owners, the Hanson and Olson families, ancestors of the late restaurateur Ivar Haglund, who gave the print to this column’s originator, Paul Dorpat. (Paul Dorpat Collection)
NOW: Ken Workman (left), board member and great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle, and other representatives of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society (left) join Maynard descendants (right), including Chris Braaten (second from right), last February in front of the Maynard home, renovated in 2019 by owner Mardy Toepke (center, light shirt). The home will be the focus Aug. 15 of the historical society’s “If These Walls Could Talk” tour, online because of the coronavirus. For details, visit loghousemuseum.org. Here are all the IDs: (from left) from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society: Ken Workman, board member and great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle; Phil Hoffman, Alki researcher; Nancy Sorensen, board member; Patty Ahonen, wife of Phil; Judy Bentley, Advisory Council; Rachel Regelein, collection manager and registrar; Marcy Johnsen, Advisory Council; Tasia Williams, curator; Dora-Faye Hendricks, board member; Michael King, executive director; Jen Shaughnessy, Gala Committee; Kerry Korsgaard, board member; Mike Shaughnessy, board member; Kathy Blackwell, board president; (center) Mardy Toepke, building owner and B&B proprietor; Justin O’Dell, Toepke’s friend and Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate agent; (right) Maynard descendants Mike Watson, Karen Watson, Erik Bjodstrup, Victoria Bjodstrup, Brian Bjodstrup, Ann Stenzel, Adam Bjodstrup, John Bjodstrup, Joanne Beyer, David Frost, Mary Braaten, Kai Braaten, Chris Braaten and Jana Hindman. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Aug. 6, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Aug. 9, 2020)

The unseen letters of ‘Doc’ Maynard reveal poignancy and pride
By Clay Eals

Talk about destiny.

Chris Braaten entered this world Aug. 14, 1950, inside Maynard Hospital, a long-gone First Hill facility named for Chris’ great-great-great grandfather – the storied Seattle physician and promoter David “Doc” Maynard, who befriended and named our city for Seattle, the Duwamish and Suquamish chief.

The birth merited a Seattle Times blurb quoting Chris’ mother, Margret. “We have a lot of Dr. Maynard’s letters and papers at home,” she said. “I think Chris will get a thrill out of looking them over a few years from now.”

(April 29, 1945, Seattle Times)

Today, Chris has delivered on his mom’s hunch, donating to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society 35 handwritten letters unseen by the public, including 25 by Maynard from 1850 to 1873, the year he died at age 64, and five by his second wife, Catherine.

It’s a priceless, scholarly gift to a fitting repository. The historical society’s Log House Museum stands just east of Maynard’s late-1850s farmsite near Alki Beach.

The letters total 112 pages that once had been slipped between magazine pages in a damp family shed at Seola Beach at the south end of West Seattle.

Chris, of Tucson, began to “look them over” 30 years ago. With a typewriter, he transcribed the earliest 17 of the faint missives. (A niece later transcribed two others. A brother-in-law digitized them all.)

Maynard’s letters addressed his grown children, Henry and Frances, whom he had left and failed to lure to Seattle from the Midwest. In 53 transcribed pages, the gregarious tippler whom “Skid Road” author Murray Morgan said “preached the gospel of Seattle’s certain greatness” waxes at length, with misspellings, about everything from coal mines to Catherine’s motherly instinct.

Throughout are poignant fatherly yearnings. “In you two,” he writes Feb. 26, 1854, “are wraped (sic) my troubles and anxieties & my bitter in these my latter days.”

Maynard also touts his territorial appointment as “agent” for local Native Americans, for whom he sought inter-tribal peace during their wars with settlers on Puget Sound.

There can be no avoiding his privileged promotion of white settlers at Native Americans’ expense. “They will fight,” he writes on Nov. 4, 1855. “There is no reason why they (sho)uld not, but we must conquer them.”

Still, on March 30, 1856, based on business and medical transactions with them, Maynard takes pride in building a “friendly feeling.” On Nov. 28, 1858, he says he must close because “the old Indian chief after whom I named the town of Seattle is here to talk with me.”

The museum will preserve and finish transcribing these unique letters and use them in exhibits and a possible book. As Chris’ mom foretold in 1950, this prospect will give students of Seattle “a thrill.”

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

The “If These Walls Could Talk” tour of the Maynard house, held Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, was a wholly online experience via Zoom and a fundraiser for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

A follow-up Zoom session on the Maynard house, featuring Phil Hoffman, historian, and Mardy Topeke, owner of the house, is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, sponsored by the Mukilteo Historical Society.

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society panel was composed of three experts (see the next three photos):

Ken Workman, great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle and member of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society board. (Clay Eals)
Phil Hoffman, Alki historian and Southwest Seattle Historical Society volunteer, https://alkihistoryproject.com/. (Clay Eals)
King County archivist and Alki historian Greg Lange. (Clay Eals)

Below are seven additional photos, as well as six clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column. As a bonus, you will find a 40-minute video of the Maynard letter-donation ceremony. Enjoy!

Aug. 17, 1950, Seattle Times, page 23.
Chris and wife Pamela Braaten in front of the Maynard house, Dec. 13, 2019 (Clay Eals)
The Maynard descendants (back, from left) Adam Bjodstrup, Chris Braaten, Kai Braaten, Erik Bjodstrup, Brian Bjodstrup, (the rest, from left) Victoria Bjodstrup, Mary Braaten, Ann Stenzel, John Bjodstrup, Joanne Beyer, Karen Watson and Mike Watson on the porch of the Maynard home, Feb. 8, 2020. (Jean Sherrard)
The Maynard descendants (from left) Chris Braaten, Mary Braaten, David Frost, Kai Braaten, Erik Bjodstrup, Mike Watson, Karen Watson, John Bjodstrup and Joanne Beyer on front steps of the Log House Museum of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, Feb. 8, 2020. (Clay Eals)
Chris Braaten (left), great-great-great grandson of “Doc” Maynard, speaks at the Feb. 8, 2020, ceremony about his donation of original, handwritten letters by “Doc” and his second wife, Catherine. The ceremony was held at the Log House Museum of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click above to see video of the complete ceremony on Feb. 8, 2020, regarding the donation to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society of handwritten letters by “Doc” Maynard and his second wife, Catherine. Run time: 40:55. (Clay Eals)
A “Doc” Maynard family tree assembled by the Maynard descendants. Click twice to enlarge.
A plaque embedded in the sidewalk at 64th Avenue Southwest and Alki Avenue Southwest denoting the Maynard house, the oldest structure still standing in Seattle.
The Maynard house before it was moved one block south in 1905. (Caption by Phil Hoffman)
Nov. 4, 1908, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 67.
Dec. 5, 1908, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
April 27, 1937, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
The Maynard house as it stood in April 1945. (Seattle Times, courtesy of Bob Carney)
April 29, 1945, Seattle Times, page 32.

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