1914-15 Forest School News

Forest School News

The entertainment recently by the pupils of the Forest school at McKenna and witnessed by quite a few people from this town was a big success, netting the school $18.50 to be applied on the purchase of piano and giving the attendants a most pleasant evening.

Washington Standard   5-8-1914

A literary society was organized last Friday evening iat the Forest school.  A short program was rendered and there was a debate between Mr. J. C. Conine, R. F. King, and Mr. Peters and R. S. Smith.  The subject discussed was, “Resolved, Tat the United States should own and maintain a merchant marine.”  This was enjoyed by everyone present.   There literary meeting will be held every two weeks and promises to be both instructive and entertaining and should have the co-operation of everyone in the district.

Washington Standard   10-129-1915

Miss Eide, the primary teacher of the Forest school, was a week-end visitor with her parents in Tacoma.

Washington Standard   11-19-1915

1923 – Yelm in the News

Nisqually Valley News


One Year of Business

            The Neat Garage recently celebrated their first anniversary as agents for the Ford Motor company.  In that year they sold and delivered 65 new Ford cars and 12 new Fordson tractors.  This would make approximately a year’s business of $45,000 on new cars and tractors alone.

            In addition to this they have disposed of 35 rebuilt or second hand cars and several saw mills, a hay baler and other equipment.

            No check in available on the parts business but a good healthy business is certainly the assured.

            This with their repair business is one of the reasons for the splendid business enjoyed locally. 

Nisqually Valley News


Lawrence Lake Pavilion

            F.M. Edwards has completed his pavilion and it will be christened by the public at his opening dance next Saturday evening.

            Lawrence Lake is a beautiful body of water unsurpassed in the Southwest part of Washington for boating, bathing, and fishing and promises to be one of the most popular summer resorts tributary to Olympia and Tacoma in the near future.

 “Balloon Dance”

            The Pavilion at Lawrence Lake is fast becoming one of the most popular places in this section of the country.  Mr. Edwards is advertising a balloon dance for Saturday night.  One thing that can be said of this resort that is not applicable to many similar places, no booze or rough stuff goes.  He is keeping it as a place where men may take their families and enjoy themselves with out having to put up with the undesirable features so often encountered at such places.  By doing this the better classes of people are being drawn to Lawrence Lake. 

                                                                        Nisqually Valley News      6-22-23

1911 – 1913 Yelm in the News

January 2, 1911

Washington Standard

D. R. Hughes, the postmaster at Yelm, drove over to Olympia in his automobile the fore part of this week, on business.

January 2, 1911

Washington Standard

W.J. Lowry, who handled the successful ball given recently by the telegraphers at Yelm, will manage a big dance to be given in Waddell’s hall, Rainier, on the evening of January 31. Smyser’s orchestra of Tacoma will furnish the music and residents of the neighborhood for several miles around are looking forward to a great time.

January 2, 1911

Washington Standard

The following items are taken from the Yelm Times: Work has commenced Wednesday of last week on the garage of Morris & Reichel, and it will be the first building in Yelm to be constructed of corrugated iron. It will be 24×25 feet and will furnish room for from 12 to 15 average sized cars, besides office and show room.

January 2, 1911

Washington Standard

Miss Lola Graybeal, who has been night operator at the Yelm station for some time, suffered a complete nervous breakdown recently and has gone to the hospital at Tacoma for rest and recuperation

January 2, 1911

Washington Standard

Yelm creek has been filled with salmon, the high water having enabled them to pass the falls in the woods and get up on the prairie end of the stream.

Yelm on Fire

Yelm On Fire (unknown source)           

Nearly 12 hours after the fire which destroyed virtually the entire business district of Yelm Saturday night had been checked, a second blaze broke out Sunday morning, burning to the ground the office of the Yelm irrigation district and two and one-half frame story building. The Northern Pacific depot, about 15 feet from the frame office building, also caught fire and was saved only by the swift work of a bucket brigade. A portion of the depot was destroyed with a possible loss of $500.

            Nearby dwelling houses were saved when three large charges of dynamite were placed in the burning office buildings, bring it to the ground.

            The second fire was discovered around 10 a.m., and is believed to have been started in the irrigation district office from a spark blown to the roof Saturday evening, and gradually burning through the timbers during the night.

            The blaze Sunday came as an anti-climax to the fire of the previous night, which resulted in an estimated loss of $130,000. Twenty-one buildings were completely destroyed by the two fires and three partially ruined two by dynamite, and the depot by flames, which were placed under control by the bucket brigade. The office of the irrigation district was valued at about $2,000.

            Considerable difficulty was experienced by the firefighters Saturday night when a sharp breeze from the southwest scattered the sparks.

            The original fire started at 7 o’clock in the Wilson hotel and was held under control for an hour and a half with the aid of bucket brigades and a small yard hose. Chemical apparatus owned by the people of Yelm was also used.

            Immediately after it became apparent that nothing further could be done to save the hotel, efforts were centered in applying wet sacks and water to the buildings across the street, as it was believed that nothing could be done to save the south side of the street.

            Tacoma, Camp Lewis, and Olympia firemen responded to calls for help sent out by Miss Marie Fisher, telephone operator, who remained at the switchboard even after the telephone office caught fire, and allowed many personal belongings of herself and her mother to burn while she notified nearby cities to send aid.

            The only injuries reported occurred when Pat Murphy, a hero of the World war, believing that Miss Fisher was still in her office, entered the burning building to bring her out and was overcome by the flames and smoke. Others near at hand rescued Murphy after he had fainted.

            The last two buildings to go were the former transformer house and the telephone office of Thurston County Utilities Company, which were in one building, and a big warehouse full of grain and hay belonging to H.L. Wolf & Co.

            Al list of the firms which had their places of business completely wiped out included the following:  Yelm Mercantile Co., Yelm Hotel, Wilson Hotel, New Method Repair Shop, Fashion Barber Shop, Pastime Confectionery, Yelm Meat Market, Yelm Barber Shop, Drew’s Confectionery, Yelm Reality Co., U.S. Post office, Patterson’s Drug Store, H.L. Wolf & Co., William L. Keller, Nisqually Valley News, Thurston County Utilities Co., and a county storehouse.

Many Fine Buildings are Planned

            Many of the firms who have been burnt out are planning on building at once.

            Clyde Anderson is planning a concrete building 30×60 with two stories in front to house three apartments of two rooms each. This building will be of modern fire proof construction, either tile or concrete. The plumbing and heating fixtures will be of the best available materials and wiring and fixtures will be installed with an idea of both beauty and utility.

            The: Yelm Reality Company is also going to rebuild on a larger and better scale. The building that they have planned now calls for a 39.40structure of modern construction with a modern office for Dr. Geo. T. Pool who will move down here in the very near future.

            At the present time Dow R. Hughes the postmaster is undecided as to what he will erect, but it is taken for granted that it will be of substantial type and modern.

            Patterson’s Drug Store will erect a modern building and probably a dwelling in connection of either tile or concrete. Patterson was one of the heaviest losers, being right in the track of the first fire, but still has plenty of optimism and pep.

            H. L. Wolf and Company are not certain as yet what their building will be but it is conceded that it will be of fire proof construction and probably a full two story building.

            Otis Longmire will rebuild again at once but of what construction and how large he is not yet sure. The building of course will house substantially the same kind of equipment as it did previous to the fire, that is ice machine boxes, trackage and other paraphernalia peculiar to the wholesale and retail meat business.

            The buildings occupied by Drew’s confectionery are still in doubt as to how or when they will be reconstructed, but will no doubt be rebuilt in the very near future.

            Mrs. H. J. Holden is not sure at the present time what she will do in the way of rebuilding on account of Mr. Holden who is in the hospital will not be around for sometime although assured that it will be a fire proof building and of fire proof nature and of modern garage type so that it will house the garage and sales agency of William L. Keller in the most approved way.

            Whether the News will build or wait for a place to be built that will house the plant is at the present time uncertain, but we are assured of some kind of building in the near future which will house our shop and paper and also give us modern facilities. It is our hope that we may be able to build, but we had not planned on such an early start.

            W. H. George is planning on the rebuilding of some kind of a building for a temporary structure which will house the Yelm Cash Mercantile Company, who are now in the Odd Fellows hall.

            This program of construction will make a far different looking Main street and who is there to say that it is not an improvement.

Builders Organize Association for Yelm

            On Wednesday evening a number of the local carpenters and builders organized into what has been named the Yelm Builders Association with the idea of being able to handle any of the work that is contemplated by the present building program.

            These men have been to Tacoma and made arrangements for any and all machinery that will be needed, such as mixers and hoisting machinery, and are in position to give bond for faithful performance of their contracts.

            They feel that whatever business originates here should go toward helping to alleviate the present shut down on the part of the mills.

Commercial Club Plans Better and Bigger City

            On Wednesday the Olympia Chamber of Commerce had a number of their citizens out to visit Yelm and see it there was anything that they could do to be of material benefit to the business men and women of Yelm. The thoughts that went into this journey were worth far more than the assistance which could be rendered.

            The Tacoma Chamber of Commerce made a special trip down to Yelm on Wednesday and offered any assistance which they could render as a body. They asked permission to have the town laid out by one of their engineers there and a committee was appointed consisting of I. H. Hill, H. E. Warren and R. E. Davison to handle the matter.

            Mrs. Mildred Livingston is home from the hospital and doing very nicely despite the excitement of the past week.

Yelm in the Twenties

Yelm in the 1920s

The Roaring 20s was a very interesting time for all.  The Great War was over; the country was experiencing unprecedented prosperity as well as some new and exciting developments. This decade also had its shares of downfalls.  During this decade the small town of Yelm was experiencing on a smaller scale the same new things and emotions as the rest of the nation.  The 1920s offered tragedy, new developments and fun and leisure activities for America as well as Yelm.

            Those that lived in America during the twenties can recall real tragedy.  President Warren G. Harding died quickly and mysteriously.  Because of post-war nationalism the Ku Klux Klan was at the peak of its power and the entire nation experienced a series of mild recessions.  Yelm may have had a more turbulent decade.  In 1924, in the last of a series of three huge fires, Yelm almost completely burned down.  The origin of the fire is debated but most say it started on the porch of the Wilson Hotel.  The fire started sometime in the seven p.m. hour and spread quickly.  Because of strong winds and most structures being constructed of wood, the fire was able to consume most of the town in a short amount of time.  Yelm was without a fire department at the time so a bucket brigade was formed.  This valiant effort did little to stop or contain the fire and by Sunday morning, the entire town was charred.  The destroyed buildings included Patterson’s Drug Store, Yelm Post Office, Drew’s Confectionery, transformer house, the telephone office, Yelm Cash Mercantile Company, Yelm Hotel, Wilson Hotel, New Method Repair Shop, Fashion Barber Shop, Pastime Confectionery, Yelm Meat Market, Yelm Barber Shop, Yelm Realty, H. L. Wolf & Company, William H. Keller, Nisqually Valley News, Thurston County Utilities Company, U. S. Post Office and a county storehouse.  The total monetary loss was estimated at $125,000.

            While a time of tragedy, the 20s in mostly remembered as a decade of exciting new developments.  The first nationwide commercial radio station was broadcasted as KDKA out of Pittsburgh.  Important literary works such as Reader’s Digest and TIME magazine were founded.  The Jazz Singer was released as the first feature length motion picture with sound.  New developments in Yelm contributed to making the town what it is today.  F. E. Grant and E. K. Fristoe founded the Nisqually Valley News in February of 1922.  Yelm finally established a fire department in 1927 after three tragic fires.  It was a meager fire department at first, but over the years, it has been built up.  A number of social groups and organizations founded by women worked to incorporate Yelm.  Such things as public waste baskets, road signs, a water pump and a library were added to the town.

            The “Roaring 20s” were named so because of the endless amount of fun and leisure people experienced.  There was a renewed interest in motion pictures because of the addition of sound.  The new concept of “adolescence” enabled young people to have fun with less restriction.  Dancing gave way to the “Swinger” era.  Prohibition inspired “speak easies” led to a new fascination and a subsequent increase in moonshine production.  Yelm was also a hopping’ place in the 20s.  The annual community fair offered a wide range of categories to enter in to, so many in fact that every family member could have come home with a blue ribbon.  Community dances brought in people of all ages from surrounding areas to dance to the latest music.  Yelm was a center for running moonshine.  Because of it close location to Puget Sound, many members of the Yelm community were involved in illegal alcohol production.  Of course the most important leisure activity in Yelm was sitting on the front porch and having a conversation any person who just walked by.

            Just like every other part of America, Yelm had a variety of experiences in the 1920s.  Disasters like the tragic fire in 1924 led to the development of the Yelm Fire Department three years later.  Leisure was an important aspect of 1920s as life in Yelm.  Events in the 1920s contributed to make Yelm what it is today.

History Of Church Activities In Yelm Dates Back To Days Of Civil War

History Of Church Activities In Yelm Dates Back To Days Of Civil War

By Edgar Prescott  (The Sunday Olympian  February 10, 1980)

Yelm's first church buning down. (Photo courtesy of Yelm Historical Society)

The night of Dec. 29, 1979, the former Yelm Community Church was destroyed by fire. The Yelm Fire Department received the first call, the Nisqually Valley News reported, at 10:55 p.m. when flames broke through the roof of the ancient wooden structure which was constructed early in the century.

Even in early days, residents of Yelm prairie were sometimes allowe the privilege to attend church .  Floss and Dick Loutzenhiser and Franklin King, in the booklet, “Stories of Yelm,” recount that on occasion’s ministers along with visitors, which at least once included Gov. Stevens and his family, rode out to Olympia to provide services.  Such meetings were held in the Longmire home and were followed by dinner gatherings.

Earl Howell, in “Methodism in the Northwest,” records that Sunday school was organized on the prairie in the 1860’s in the home of James Longmire.  Early Methodist ministers serving the area were John F DeVore, Ebenezer Hopkins, and B.F. Brooks.  Beginning in 1899 classes also were held in the nearby Eureka church.

 Cleora Paine was there. “It was 1889 when my father took out his homestead,” she remembers. “At that time the people in the community were building the Eureka school.  It was on an acre of land donated by Mr. and Mrs. John Algyer, who had come originally from Eureka, Calif.

 “The building served not only as a school. For 10 years we had church there and Sunday school.  Then Mr. and Mrs. Algyer gave us another acre of land closer to their residence so that the community might have a separate church.  It was six or seven miles from Yelm.  It would be at the south end of the Beckman place.

“The church was completed in 1889.  My two sisters and I were present at the dedication.  Everybody was there – the Langdens, the Algyers, the Morrises, the Smiths, and the Ferbrashes.  There were several families of each of them. Mr. and Mrs. True were there and Mrs. W.J. Inman and Miss Emma Cawdry.  They were sisters of Mrs. Spencer.

“The Rev. A.J. Joselin preached the sermon that morning in the place of C.G. Morris who was our regular minister.  Sermons were different ….more punch, and they lasted for an hour or more instead of maybe 20 minutes the way they do now.  People weren’t in such a hurry to get home to watch a football game.  After services they went to each other’s houses for dinner.

“At first the church was only one room, but after the Ladies Aid started holding meetings there, the men in the community built a little kitchen in the back.  We had dinners there and social gatherings.  We didn’t mind that there were no separate rooms for Sunday school classes.  The little ones had a corner, the intermediates, the young people, the adults; we each had a corner of our own.

In 1907 we installed our new bell.  It was just before Christmas, the day Mr. Polard died. We had his funeral the day after Christmas, and we tolled the bell 36 times, once for each of the years he had lived.  Every Sunday they rang that bell, all the years I was home. We could hear it at our place a mile away just as loud and clear as if it had been next door.

 “We walked to church in those days. [through] pastures and crawled over the fences.  Most everybody walked except the Morrises.  They had a team and a buggy.  We didn’t drive, we girls. We were afraid of the horses. They were too lively.  The folks didn’t go to church much. Father was too busy.”

 “We had everything a church needed.  We had an organ and a choir, and we had Dwight Wells.  He had gone to the Eureka school and was a natural musician. He and his father and mother, his married sisters, Mrs. Thorn and Mrs. Smith, and a brother, Herb, were all wonderful singers.  On special occasions they sang duet or quartet arrangements.  We liked that. After Mrs. Thorn and her sister moved away, we young folks took over, my sisters and I and the Robinson girls and the Conine girls.”

Though both Rainier and McKenna Methodist churches were active at the turn of the century, “Methodism in the Northwest,” makes no mention of a Yelm Church prior to 1909. Floss Loutzenhiser, in her story of the Yelm Community Church, tells of a log….which was used as a community gathering place and also as a church whenever a minister was available. There is no record of the time of its demise.

Thirty-five years ago Dow Hughes, who had come to town in 1896, told of a frame building about a quarter of a mile east of town, which served as both church and school. “It was Presbyterian.” He said. “The preacher was a good man. He worked for me in the blacksmith shop. He conducted services every two weeks. Alternate Sundays he preached in Roy.” 

Apparently Dow’s assistant was not the only minister to serve the community. Floss Loutzenhiser writes: “Church services were held whenever the presence of the Rev. Ebenezer Hopkins of Tumwater, the Rev. B.F. Brooks, presiding elder from Olympia, M.O.R. Thompson or the beloved Father Taylor made it possible.”

Floss also recounts that in later years the noise of Sunday baseball on the school grounds often competed with the sermon, and that the time….particularly the young folks, considered that the building was too small, too dingy and uncomfortable.

 James Mosman Sr., a resident of Yelm since 1892, complained bitterly that the community continued using the building long after it had become inadequate either as a school or church.

“I suppose we would still be using it if it hadn’t burned down,” he told me in 1946, a year or so after I had come to town to teach.  He confessed that he had prayed for such a conflagration, but disclaimed any responsibility for starting it. “There were those who accused me,” he said.

 A new school was built west of the tracks, and during the summer, meetings were held to promote the organization of a new church, which was to be strictly non-denominational. Fortunately, most of the records of the period have been preserved.  Among them is a half-sheet, a little brittle from age:


 “The Ladies Aid of Yelm….Sale afternoon  and evening of April 24th.  Ice Cream and hot coffee  from 11:30 A.M.  Auction sale and short program in the evening to close with box lunch. Proceeds to pay for finishing church so it can be used.

“All ladies please bring box lunch.”

 This was one of the flyers announcing the “famous ice cream festival” which Floss told about: “It was held west of the track on the present siteof the Shoe Repair and Fixit Shop, which at the time was open prairie. A truly remarkable setting was arranged by the committee which transplanted small fir trees to form a make-believe grove about the area where white covered tables were set up.”

A couple of months later, on July 13, 1908, the records reveal that the church building committee, selected at evening services the night previous, met at Mr. Hughes’ store and proceeded to organize the committee by the selection of a chairman and secretary-treasurer:

“On motion Mr. Murphy was chosen as chairman of the committee.

“On motion Mr. James Mosman was selected as Secretary-Treasurer of the committee.  “On motion the whole committee was authorized to solicit subscriptions.

 “Mr. Medley read his report as Treasurer:  Money received at stand $40.80. Paid out for Ice Cream $15. Expense on Ice Cream $1.45.  Paid to Mosman Bros.  For groceries $.40. Total Paid out $16.85. Received on subscription $5.  Total receipts $45.88.  Total on hand $28.95.

“Committee asked to submit plans for new church. Mr. Murphy & Mr. Mixel submitted one plan each.  “Committee spent much time figuring on plans and estimating approximate cost of material and labor to erect new church.  It was decided that at least three hundred and fifty dollars was needed to purchase the material.

“Motion was carried to adjourn until Tuesday night, July 14, 1908.

 “James L. Mosman “Secretary”

 “A subscription paper was always in evidence at the Mosman Brothers’ Store,” Floss records. “Officials and workers at the McKenna Mill were petitioned. Dedicated women drove the length and breadth of the rutted, rock strewn prairie collecting donations.”

 Among the preserved papers and documents is such a subscription paper; two sheets more than a foot log on lined paper with inch-and-a-half red margins at the left. It is dated July 1908:  “We the undersigned agree to give the sum opposite our names for the building of a chapel for religious purposes in Yelm. Payment to be made on demand to James L. Mosman,  Treasurer of the Building Committee.”

 The subscription list starts boldly with $50 donations by James Mosman and Dow Hughes. There are a few $25 and $20 donations, one by the baseball team which, by the way, was never marked as paid; but the great majority of subscriptions range from $1 to $5.

 On Aug. 15, 1908, another meeting of the building committee was held at which it was “moved and seconded that the committee accept the two front lots of donated by the McKenzie Brothers instead of one front and one back.”

There is a lapse of more than a month before the records indicate any progress toward construction, a receipt dated Sept. 26,1908: “Received from James L. Mosman Sect. & Treas. Of Yelm Church Building Committee the sum of two hundred & twenty nine and 34-100 dollars in payment in full for 16,916 ft. lumber.”  The receipt was signed by George Lockead.

 Most of the receipts, however, were for wages, paid mainly to C.H. Robbins and John Pohrman. The earliest I found was dated Jan. 29, 1909. It is signed by C.H. Robbins: “Received from D.R. Hughes $25 and from James Mosman $23.75, amount due me for labor on Yelm Church to date.”

The following month Robbins listed his hours of labor, day by day, Feb. 18-27, a total of 87 hours for which he assessed a charge of 34 ? cents per hour.  It is recorded in remarkably legible longhand in the old church record book that “funds and labor to the amount of about one thousand dollars were secured, and the building was enclosed.”  A treasurer’s report scribbled in pencil on three torn-out pages of notebook paper shows that through Jan. 26, 1910, a total of $580.73 was paid in subscriptions. On the back of one of the pages is the account of expenditures of $509.92 through May 27, 1909.

Sometime in 1909 the building program slowed to a stop. “The money was exhausted and so were the laborers,” it was reported in “Methodism in the Northwest.”

“Neglected home duties claimed the workers,” Floss writes. “The little church sat forlornly by the side of the road.  Not until a farmer offered to buy the building to be used as a barn was the committee stung into action.”

“We discovered that non-denominational ministers were hard to find,” James Mosman told me nearly 40 years later.  “We advertised the church for sale to any denomination that would run it.  The Methodists were the only ones interested.”

 The building committee met in final session on Sept. 4, 1909.

“Motion made by C.A. Robbins and seconded by James Mosman to transfer Yelm church property to Methodist denomination under the following conditions: that said church pay the sum of two hundred dollars to pay off the debt and complete said church and also to build a parsonage on said property inside of six months from date or said transfer becomes null & void.

 “In case the said conditions are not fulfilled the church shall revert to its present owners on condition that they pay back the amount the Methodists have put in.”

“Motion carried to transfer.”

“Motion made by C.A. Robbins and seconded by James Mosman to post three motions in conspicuous places, that anyone dissatisfied with transfer put in claim for the amount of subscription inside of fifteen days.”

 “Motion carried.”

Law & Order – Yelm Ordinances

Law & Order in Yelm

Introduction: Yelm incorporated in 1924 and the town council soon began passing ordinances. Here are some summarized selections from Yelm’s long list of ordinances.

1925 – Regulation of pool halls and card rooms – A license is required to own or regulate a pool hall or card room. License fee is $25 a year.  Punishment: $10-100 fine plus imprisonment until paid, not exceeding 50 days.

1925 – Prohibit stock from running at large – No livestock allowed at large within Yelm city limits. Duty of Marshall to impound all animals found. Release of animal will cost $2.50, plus an additional $1.00 for any extra day the animal is held (12 hours required). After ten days of being held, the Marshall can sell, at a public sale, for cash.

1925 – To preserve public morality, peace, and the safety of Yelm. It shall be unlawful for any person to be found:

  1. Fighting or engaging in disorderly conduct and use of profane or abusive language;
  2. Carrying a concealed weapon;
  3. Drawing weapons upon another with intent to intimidate or annoy;
  4. Discharging weapons within city limits or use of other explosives without permission from the City Council;
  5. Slandering others that produces a disturbance of the peace; or to challenge another to a fight;
  6. Agreeing to fight, except for athletic or boxing contests sanctioned by an official club or organization;
  7. Making boisterous noises after 10 p.m.;
  8. Being a common drunkard, beggar, run away, or idle and dissolute person;
  9. Being a known thief;
  10. Under the influence of opium or soliciting alms;
  11. Engaging in prostitution;
  12. Being found with a prostitute;
  13. Seeking a prostitute;
  14. Loitering for soliciting prostitution;
  15. Owning or operating a house for prostitution;
  16. Living in a house of prostitution;
  17. Exposing themselves indecently;
  18. Habitually playing games of chance or profit;
  19. Gambling or owning gambling devices;
  20. Establishing a place for gambling or holding a lottery;
  21. Wagering anything of value, such as roulette, poker, etc.;
  22. Acting in a suspicious manner beyond 11 p.m. outdoors;
  23. Collecting or congregating in public crowds;
  24. Obstructing public road or sidewalk traffic by standing or loitering;
  25. Watching or staging cockfights or fights with other animals;
  26. Establishing a cockfighting arena;
  27. Exposing poison to man or animal;
  28. Defacing public or private property;
  29. Destroying public or private property;
  30. Destroying street signs or advertisements;
  31. Altering city of Yelm Bulletin Boards, unless you are an employee of the city;
  32. Spitting on the street, sidewalk, or other public conveyances;
  33. Selling tobacco to persons under the age of 21 years;
  34. Impersonating a police officer;
  35. Opposing arrest by an officer or annoying an officer;
  36. Rescuing a person from prison;
  37. Refusing to aid a police officer in an arrest for males 18 years of age or older;
  38. Mischievously throwing objects at any person and or their belongings to annoy;
  39. Messing with water mains, gas pipes, or electric wire without permission;
  40. Loitering or playing pool or billiards in a billiard room if you are under the age of 21 years;
  41. Posting signs on trees or public posts, tying animals to trees or posts, or damaging a tree or post without permission;
  42. Injuring or destroying any flower, foliage, or shrubbery on property not his;
  43. Emptying debris on public roads or sidewalks, such as, paper, nails, broken glass, bottles, garbage, etc.;
  44. Driving on sidewalk without a special permit from the City Council;
  45. Polluting or interfering with public spring or fountain;
  46. Preventing the use of evidence in any case.

Punishment: Violation of above is deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and will be subject to a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both.

1927 – Preservation of public morals, peace, safety, and good order.
It shall be unlawful for:

  1. Any priest or rabbi found in possession of any intoxicating liquor;
  2. Any person maintaining a storage for the unlawful sale of intoxicating liquors. Punishment: $25 to $100 fine, or jail to not exceed 30 days. If you fail to pay the fine, one is deemed to work on public streets at the rate of $3 a day until all fines are paid.

1928 – Operation of municipal water system.

  1. Nobody can sell water without a permit;
  2. No water-transport methods constructed without permit;
  3. Monthly rates:
    3,000 gallons or less…..$1.50
    3,000-4,000 gallons……. 1.90
    4,000-5,000 gallons……. 2.20
    5,000-6,000 gallons……. 2.40
    Installation services……15.00
    Outside Yelm limits,
    Under 3,000 gallons……. 2.00

1928 Amendment to Ordinance No. 23
An addition of .30 cents per thousand dollars of water is to be added to people receiving water outside of Yelm limits, and an addition of .15 cents per thousand gallons is to be added to people receiving more than 6,000 gallons of water, per month.

1929 Control of Unlicensed Radio Broadcasting

  1. It is unlawful to operate any apparatus that interferes with radio broadcasting or reception between 2 p.m. and midnight.
  2. Devices include violet ray machines, open or quenched spark machines, machines using Telsa Coil or principle, X-ray machines, or other devices that produce high frequency oscillations.
  3. This law does not apply to radio stations, who are licensed by federal government or those employed in interstate communication.

Punishment: Fine not exceeding $100, or 30 days in jail.

1936 Prohibition of punch boards
It shall be unlawful for any person found:

  1. Maintaining a vending machine, punch board, manual game automatic game, or skill game;

Punishment: Persons found guilty are subject to a maximum fine of $100 or 90 days in jail.
“Therefore it is hereby ordained that an emergency exists and this ordinance shall take effect immediately.”

1938 To regulate and control the licensing of any marble game

  1. One person must have a license to operate game that takes skill, whether or not a fee is charged;
  2. The license will cost $5.00 for each game per month and all fees are to be paid one month in advance.
  3. License must be posted in a conspicuous place, under glass, on top of each game.

1945 Volunteer firemen’s relief and pension fund

  1. Enactment of Volunteer Firemen’s Relief and Pension Fund will proved relief and compensation for injured volunteer and retirees;
  2. Maximum membership is limited to 20 people per 1,000 population of the town.

1954 Ordinance relating to abandoned, unused or discarded ice boxes

  1. It is unlawful to leave an ice box with a lid equipped with a snap lock in an unattended area;

Punishment: Such a crime is deemed a misdemeanor and all persons will be subject to a fine not exceeding $100, or 30 days in jail, or both.
Furthermore, each day constitutes a separate offense.

1953 Adoption of 1954 budget
Estimated Revenues

Current Expenses
Taxes: 10 mills $3,296.20
Licenses $300.00
Liquor revenues $2,166.72
Police court fines $1,254.48
Additional expenses $4,302.72
Total $11,320.12


Water Funds
Consumer collections $7,200.00
Hook-ups $50.00
Balances on hand $1,500.00
Other expenses $9,113.09

Grand total of all estimated revenues for 1954 $29183.21

Estimated Expenditures

Current Expense
Marshall salary $3,600.00
Marshall expense $1,000.00
Jail expense and meals $150.00
State Auditor $250.00
Outlay-Police Department $1,670.00
Street fund $2,672.49
Water fund $11,600.00
Garbage fund $2,800.00
Other expenditures $8,240.72

Grand total of estimated expenditures for 1954 $29,183.21

Yelm Ditch Project

Yelm Ditch Project

Problems of Financing, Organization of Crew Yardage, Flume Work and Results

Fred S. Sawyer, B. S.

Just three years ago this month, the Yelm Irrigation Company, an organization made up of farmers owning land in the vicinity of Yelm, Washington, began the construction of a main canal which was to carry water from the Nisqually river at a point some fifteen miles south east of Yelm to the prairies surrounding the town. Although at this time the water is not actually serving the land, the next sixty days should see the main channel completed, both ditch and flumes, and the problem of distribution to the prairie land is under way.

Co-Operative Financing

After surveys and estimates had been completed, and attempt was made to interest outside capital, but owing to the financial condition of the country at large, and to the hesitancy with which capital entered into any project that had the word “irrigation” in its name, this method was given up and the directors of the company evolved a plan whereby each member bound himself to construct a portion of the works, said portion being fixed according to the amount of acreage each owner had signed up for was laid out, and in March, 1912, each member began the construction  of his section of the canal according to his own ideas of how best the work might be pushed to completion. Camps were established, and while in some cases the farmers elected to do the work by day labor, others let the excavation in sections, by contract. For various reasons, such as press of farm work by day labor, others let the excavation in sections, by contract. For [?] reasons, such as press of farm work and unsatisfactory arrangements with outside contractors, this method of procedure was abandoned and a new tack taken which has been carried out and adhered to with the result that the main ditch is now practically finished. The irrigation company formed a subsidiary corporation known as the Yelm Construction Company, it being the purpose to [?] over all construction to the latter organization, and the actual work to be placed in charge of one man.


Purchase of Excavating Equipment

The first act of the construction company was to purchase a steam shovel, the choice being a 14-B Bucyrus steam shovel mounted on a single railroad truck and carrying a five-eighths yard dipper. The directors after serious consideration came to the conclusion that ditching by horse and man power was too slow, and that even though it would be necessary to move twice as much [?], in the end they would have a larger ditch without generally increasing the total cost. Operations with this shovel began late in the fall of 1912, and work progressed [?] for over two years. Chester Thompson, a director of the companies, was placed in charge of the work and served not only as superintendent of construction, but [?] as operator of the shovel.

Said About Yelm (1910 & 1917)

Said About Yelm      Tacoma Daily Ledger   July 17, 1910

How the name of the settlement came to be selected is a matter that will probably interest a large number of people who travel on the railroad to points beyond this place.  The brakeman’s yell of “Yelm” generally nettles the person who has not yet hear the name before, and repeated yells of the station’s title do not enlighten the puzzled listener who doesn’t succeed in clearing the mystery until he reads the name painted in big white letters on the little red depot.  It has happened here just like it has in many more of the towns of Washington at the time settling-the Indian titles were drawn upon to fittingly designate the community. . . 
Yelm’s main thoroughfare is the road from Tacoma to Olympia that is used by auto owners, and it is a dull day in the buzz-wagon line when the machines that whizz through the place do not number two score.

Field Engineer’s Report – Valuation Section Washington #5 Northern Pacific Railway – September 23, 1917

[This was written describing the Northern Pacific Line between Tenino and Lakeview (near Tacoma)]

The entire country covered by this Valuation Section ass indicated above as gravelly flat, the soil is so stony and the country so dry that there is but little productive farming country along the line.  While there are several streams on this Valuation Section they are fed by glaciers from Mt. Rainier and the drainage of the west slope of the Cascades Mountains.  The district is covered with a growth of small pine and fir trees but not completely, the timber being more or less scattered.

The classification on this section consists almost wholly of cement gravel, taking a loose rock classification, loose gravel and boulders, the latter taking a percent of solid rock. . . .

The farming industry from a traffic point of view amounts to very little or nothing.  The main traffic along the line is lumbering and this is on the wane on timber immediately accessible from this district mostly been cut.

 Irrigation Will Bring Prosperity

Fourth of  Project to Be Ready for Cultivation the Coming Summer
By Frances Stone Burns Staff Correspondent of The Ledger

Yelm, Nov. 16.–Last year a woman died in Yelm. She was 65 years old. She had been born here on the prairie in a pioneer settlement  that  had
several years before been named Yelm by the sturdy men who fathered it. So you see that Yelm is something more than a community plastered down one side of the railroad track and two sides of the Pacific highway. Yelm can claim for itself the distinction of having brought a railroad  through its center and of living and being and having its existence some 50 years before the Pacific highway had become a definite dream.  Now as the center of a 6,000 acre tract of fertile prairie land, made usable by the Yelm irrigation system that was opened about a year ago, its group of citizens, many of whom have been here for a longer time Tacoma is old, are looking to development that will make this the shipping and trading point for a great group of men who have made farming a science and profession rather than an accident or a slap from fate. The Yelm irrigation project, which draws water from the Nisqually River by a gravity system in an unlimited supply, was the dream of a few men here for many years. It was not until a little more than a year ago that they were able to see their dream crystallized into a clear, sparkling reality, and the whole system taken under state law by the Yelm irrigation district, with 7,000 acres included in it.  More than $150,000 has already been invested in the system, and before it is completed $50,000 more will have been added, said J. P. Martin, one of the men who planned and hoped for this. About one-forth of the land is being prepared for cultivation the coming season for the sweet corn, the cucumbers, and berries and fruit trees which 1,000 farmers contiguous to the town have found will transform the violet-and-buttercup-strewn prairie of early spring harvest.  Members of the irrigation district board are L. M. Goldsmith, chairman; A.C. Little and C. V. Lotz.  There were seven principal stockholders in the Yelm Irrigation Company as originally conceived.


Prouder probably of its development in the arts and charities is Yelm than in its transformation of dry prairie land into fertile farms. The school here gives a four-year course in High School and everything in a city of any size. It has seven teachers and a consolidated district, with automobile bus to go out each day for the boys and girls in the lands around it. Its board members, J. P. Martin, clerk; J. B. Martin and L. M. Goldsmith, president, are always on the lookout got new ideas to incorporate

Letter from McKenna

Washington is not a built up country. Some of it is clear and fruit and garden stuff are raised by irrigation altho the eastern edge raises nice wheat, the best wheat we saw on our trip, without irrigation but all the rest is irrigation or forest, and it is real forest, no few stick of sapling pine like Michigan but real pine from six to twenty ft across the stumps. There is one tree north of us that you can drive a load of hay through and it isn’t redwood either.

 We crossed the river and went to Yelm Prairie, a beautiful spot, I thought, as it lay before us covered with tall waving grass, a pretty stream flowing through it bordered with shrubs and tall trees, and the majestic mountain, which the Indians almost worshipped, and to which they gave the name Ta-ko-bed, as it seemed standing guard over all in its snowy coat. It was a scene for the artist’s brush, the most beautiful I had ever seen, and good enough for me;  . . . On this prairie the grass grew tall and rank, and herds of deer wandered leisurely as cattle in their pastures at home.

James Longmire (year?)

One August afternoon, Van Trump and I drove out to Yelm Prairie, thirty miles east of Olympia, and on the Nisqually River.  We dashed rapidly over a smooth, hard, level road, traversing wide reaches of prairie, passing under open groves of oaks and firs, and plunging through masses of black, dense forest in ever-changing variety.  The moon had risen as we emerged upon Yelm Prairie; Takhoma, bathed in cold, white, spectral light from summit to base, appeared startingly near and distinct.  Our admiration was not so noisy as usual.

Hazard Stephens (Ascent of Mt. Rainier)

Early Yelm
By Edgar Prescott

THE FOLLY PRESS Tacoma, Washington 1979

We scanned the score of business establishments strung out along the street, gaps between buildings cluttered with rocks and grown up to weeds.  But there to the east – right in-the town’s back yard – Mount Rainier suspended its snow cap above the clouds.  And our hearts lifted considerably when we discovered the high school to be a new brick building surrounded by shrubs and green lawn.

In succeeding days, as we scouted about the prairie, we were intrigued by the wooden flumes, supported on heavy timbers, which spilled water indiscriminately onto fields and roads, and by the roads themselves which curved in and out in any direction and in all directions, but seemed invariably to face into The Mountain.

We were intrigued by rocks, piled into huge mounds bordering the fields, by filbert groves, berry patches, beans climbing strings suspended from wires stretched between poles in the rows; and by the fact that many of the fields were abandoned,  bristling with rows of dead berry
canes, and that many farm houses were deserted, their windows broken and doors hanging open. The town, we concluded, had little to show, either of past achievement or promise of future growth.

I was surprised later to learn from books available in the high school library that the community was one of the oldest in the state, and that it had a proud history:

The name of the town, I learned, was a modification of the one given by the Indians to the prairie. To them the term Shwtm applied to the shimmering heat waves which arose from the earth when the summer sun shone hot.  They reverenced these waves, believing them to be radiated by the Great Spirit to render the earth fruitful.

Propaganda piece on irrigation


Think over what we have to offer!  We know that there are many men
with energy and ambition who only need a little help to be a REAL SUCCESS on a small farm.  Here is the place to accomplish all of this and live like a
 white man while doing it.  THINK IT OVER- CONSIDER WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER-

The schools at Yelm have something over 600 enrollment.  The High
 School is accredited and has a faculty of 13 members.  The school is one
 of the leading schools of Thurston County.

The schools compare favorably with a larger town and the children
 living at a distance are hauled to school in large comfortable busses in
 the morning and returned at night.


The farmer can sell his whole mild or cream to the local co-operative
 creamery, trucks calling at your door for the cans.  You do not have to
 take your pigs or calves to market, the butcher at Yelm and outside buyers send a truck out for them, hauling and paying top prices for them either alive or dressed.  During the berry picking season, the Olympia Cannery of Olympia and the Puyallup and Sumner Berry Growers Association take the Yelm Berry crop, opening receiving stations at Yelm and either take your berries to the station or they will send a truck to your berry field after them after the  day’s picking is over.


Yelm is well supplied with fraternal organizations.  The Grange, Odd
 Fellows and Rebekahs have a large hall.  The Masons and Eastern Stars have
 a modern Masonic Temple, The Modern Woodmen and Royal Neighbors at present are using the Odd Fellows Hall for their home.  The American Legion and Legion Auxiliary have a fine hall which is also used as a Community Hall, where the annual Yelm Fair is held each fall.  For several years Yelm has had a fair and each year as new members come into the community the fair has improved and become one of the keenest interests of Yelm and community.  There are three churches in Yelm and a Catholic church within two miles of Yelm.


The Yelm Irrigation District is and open stretch of retile land,
comprised of some 7,000 acres, all of which are free and open with no
stumps or brush to the clear, and is being rapidly divided into 10 and 20 acre tracts.  Some 200 acre tracts are now the homes of happy and industrious people who prefer to be their own boss and at the same time make more money than they could possibly earn at any other pursuit.

The lands within the district are being rapidly divided into ten an twenty acre tracts, and Dairying, Chicken raising, Truck gardening and berry
 growing are most successfully practiced.

Two miles and one-half east of the Town of Yelm is the saw mill town of
McKenna.  This town is on the Nisqually river and is owned by the McKenna
 Lumber Company, who operate a large saw mill, employing some 350 men.
 Pavement from this town reaches to the Canadian line north and into
 California on the South.

The Puget Sound Power and Light Co. is lighting and supplying power to
 the town of Yelm and is running its lines to cover the entire district.
Your phone has a long distance connection through the telephone exchange

The city of Centralia has just completed a canal and are working on
the power house and other equipment of a million dollar power system,
originating just above the town of Yelm and the power plant will be just
 two miles below Yelm.

The Northern Pacific, Great Northern and the Chicago, Milwaukee and
Pacific railways have stations here.  There is bus service to Tacoma twice
 daily and sometimes there are four trips, at certain seasons of the year,
 bus service to Olympia and all points south in the same ratio.  Also auto

You can purchase a tract of land at a very reasonable price, on easy
 terms and if your finances are low, if you are willing to work you can
 find all  you want at a good wage to spell you over until you get your land to

The annual payroll for Yelm and vicinity will run around $2,000,000.00

Surrounding the district is a timber country and there are several saw mills close in which employ a large number of men, saying nothing about the
 numerous logging camps, one of which has over six hundred men in the
 woods. Out side of the work in the mills or the woods one can get employment with those that are already raising acreage of berries. 

In the summer time large numbers of berry pickers are employed and whole families take advantage of the vacation season and go into the berry fields with children who earn good money.


This district is located in Western Washington, better known as the Puget Sound country.  The Yelm Irrigation District is an open fertile valley which is irrigated by the waters of the Nisqually River, a mountain stream that has its source in the glaciers of Mount Rainier, some fifty or sixty miles to the East.

If a circle were drawn, with a radius of 75 miles, with Yelm at the center, it would include about one half of the population of the state of  Washington.  Tacoma is 25 miles and Seattle 65 miles to the north, Olympia is 20 miles to the west and Portland, Oregon is 120 miles to the south.  All these cities can be reached by the paved highways.


Here is a place that you can build a home at small cost and in a short time have a good income.  You lice in the country but have all the conveniences of one living in the city.  In about the center of the district is the thriving little town of Yelm.  The town is well built with mostly fireproof structures.  It is well supplied with good general stores, garages, machine shops, confectionery stores, drug store, real estate office, dentist, two doctors, hotel , restaurant, three barber shops, newspaper and modern printing shop, sanitary meat market, telephone exchange and system, Standard Oil, Union Oil, and Shell Oil plants, four automobile agencies, a creamery, two berry receiving stations, laundry wagons call at your door for laundry and many other things.  The Washington Co-Operative Egg and Poultry Association has a truck that calls at your home and picks up your eggs and poultry and delivers your feed.  Cream trucks pick up your mild or cream daily.  Oil or gasoline is delivered at your farm within a few minutes after telephoning your order.


The Yelm Irrigation District is a body of land mapped off under the State’s laws, but is a municipality of itself, handled or governed by a board of directors, three in number, elected by the property owners of the district.

The irrigation system comprises of eleven miles  of main canal through
 which the silt laden waters of the Nisqually River are conveyed to some
 forty miles of lateral and sublaterals to be delivered to the high point on
 every forty acre subdivision within the district.


Berry growing is the principal enterprise as Strawberries, Gooseberries, Red Raspberries, Blackberries, and Black Caps yield heavy tonnage and the quality is unsurpassed by any other berry growing section, owing to the abundant supply of water for irrigation which is so necessary
 during the summer months.


Every Wednesday and Sunday nights a good picture show is put on in the
 large club house in McKenna, and every Friday night in the High School
 Auditorium at Yelm.  Dances are weekly events, given either at the Odd
 Fellows Hall or Legion Hall and also at the Grange Hall a short distance
 from Yelm and at Edward’s Pavilion on Lawrence Lake, about seven miles
 from Yelm.  It is only 45 minutes to Tacoma, a hour and a half to Seattle and
 40 minutes to Olympia, where you can see all the latest shows, etc.

Native Pheasants are the reward of the hunters, while the fisherman
 comes in with good baskets full of trout either from the numerous lakes
 that are close by or from Nisqually, Des Chutes or Skookumchuck rivers which are all good trout streams.

In season the Salmon run in the Nisqually River and during the Smelt  run, by taking half a day off you can drive to the Cowlitz River and back and bring home enough of the smelts to last a good sized family for a week.


Now is the time to come here and make your home with us.  Land prices
 are low, ranging in this district from $100 to $150 per acre, labor is in
 demand and the District has one of the brightest futures of any section in
 this wonderful Puget Sound country

Farm Industry Pervades Yelm

Farm Industry Pervades Yelm

Particularly unexplored. When James Longmire arrived here with his family, the grass was “belly-high to a horse,” as one of the old-timers expressed it today. Deer romped about in large numbers, and there was plenty of game. The story goes that a few settlers were hereabouts when Longmire appeared, including George Edwards, and, of course, there were Indians around.

Longmire lost no time in deciding that here was a good place to make his home. He soon availed himself of the opportunity to secure land, and to this day the name of Longmire is known all over this section of the state largely through the landed possessions. A number of the members of James Longmire’s family live hereabouts, and several sons are well known residents of Tacoma.

 Named After Indian Chief.

How the name of the settlement came to be selected is a matter that will probably interest a large number of the people who travel on the railroad to points beyond this place. The brakeman’s yell of “Yelm” generally nettles the person who has not heard the name before, and repeated yells of the station’s title do not enlighten the puzzled mistener, who doesn’t succeed in clearing the mystery until he reads the name painted in big white letters on the little red depot. It has happened here just like it has in many more of the towns of Washington at the settling time—the Indian titles were drawn upon to fittingly designate the community. The old chief who held forth in this vicinity was called Yelm Jim. It was decided by the settlers to take for a title the first end of this name so the place became Yelm.

 This section is chiefly noted for cattle raising and dairying, though there is quite a large area of the productive prairie land here devoted to the growing of grain. The wheat runs from 20 to 25 bushels to the acre and oats from 30 to 40 bushels. The dairy interests are the larger and the success of those there is room for a great increase in this district. Only cream is being shipped away from here, and some days the shipments go as high as 200 gallons.

Stock Raising Profitable.

 Stock raising is very profitable. Owing to the climatic conditions the cattle graze the year round. During but a few weeks do they require stall feeding, and that is only in exceptionally rainy weather. The stock is of a very high standard, too. Of the numerous stock raisers, L. N. Rice is one of the leaders. He had 400 head of sheep alone in the spring, when he disposed of half of them. There is a great need for a creamery here, which would undoubtedly prove very successful, owing to the immediate supply and the ever waiting market in the larger cities to the north and south.

 As a pleasure spot the country about Yelm is specially attractive. Shooting and fishing parties are constantly making their way hitherward during the open seasons. Only a couple of miles from the railroad station are the finest of fishing streams. Lawrence lake, Clear lake and the Des Chutes river team with trout, which the sportsman with rod seeks out generally with success. Along the prairies, marches and open timber the man with gun finds China pheasants, bob white and native quail and snipe, while late in the season the river and lakes swarm with mallard, teal and other choice ducks.

On Main Wagon Road.

 Yelm’s main thoroughfare is the road from Tacoma to Olympia that is used by auto owners, and it is a dull day in the buzz-wagon line when the machines that whiz through the place do not number two score. This road is kept in good condition in this vicinity. Being under country control, Yelm is a “dry” town, and since the change by which its two saloons were closed came about, there has ceased talk of voting on the question of incorporating the settlement as a fourth class city. “now that there are no saloons there is no need to incorporate, for we get along all right and don’t need any special revenues,” said one of the settlers.

 The Northern Pacific depot here is one of the few on the line that has a woman operator. She is Mrs. N. B. Mullin and her hours of work are during the daytime. It is  a novel sight to watch this alert woman at her responsible task, and she makes an interesting picture as she darts out of the station and to the tracks, where she places offers in the hands of a train hand as a freight goes by without hardly hesitating.

 Two young women who are popular here are daughters of the postmaster. They are misses Edna and Alice Hughes. Both assist their father in distributing among the Yelm’s people the many letters sent here, and in preparing missives for the outgoing mails.

Yelm Personals

A parsonage is being built for Pastor Anderson of the M. E. Church.

 At present J. L. Mosman is kept very busy in his general store, especially in the line of farm implements, the farmers preparing for harvest time.

 L. D. Clarke and his wife and son have left Yelm for Idaho, where they will make their future home.

 J. Clarke has retired from the hotel business on account of his wife’s health.