Of all the Carr family, Rebecca, Job Carr’s first wife, may be the most interesting. She was very secretive about her personal life but was known around the world. She refused to tell her age, but census records say she was born April 18, 1822 in St. Clairsville, Ohio. By most accounts, she was well-educated. She was divorced at a time when that was extremely unusual, but maintained a good relationship with her ex-husband, Job.
Job Carr, was born July 2, 1813 in Little Egg Harbor, N.J. He moved to Richmond, Ind., where he met Rebecca. They married on Jan 2, 1840.
Both were Quakers, and Job hated war, but he hated slavery more. Although he was 47 when the Civil War broke out, Job enlisted in the 26th Indiana Infantry Regiment. He was wounded at Battle of Corinth in October 1862 and at Battle of Chickamauga Creek in September 1863. Altogether, he served almost three years. Rebecca, in the meantime, was a hospital matron. It was she who nursed her husband back to health.
When Job was mustered out, he moved to Iowa, bought a nursery and sent for his wife. But they had become estranged, and Rebecca preferred to remain in Richmond to pursue her interest in spiritualism. They divorced, and Rebecca married a salesman named Staley. However, before that happened, she and Job had four children – Anthony, Howard, Margaret Ann, and Marietta.
When Job Carr read that the government authorized construction of a railroad to the Northwest, he sold his nursery and started west by ox team, reaching Puget Sound in late 1864. The Staleys, in the meantime, moved to San Francisco because Rebecca’s married daughter, Margaret Ann, lived there.
When the war was over and after his release from Andersonville Prison, Howard came west. Anthony soon followed, and they each took claims adjoining that of their father.
In February 1867, Howard left for California to prospect. After being thrown down a steep hill by a mule and injuring his ankle, Howard returned to the east to get married. He arrived broke, wired his mother for money, and then the girl turned him down. Instead of returning to Puget Sound with a wife, he returned with his sister, Marietta. With three of her four children here, most records say this is when Rebecca came to Tacoma to live.
Eighteen-year-old Marietta was a petite, dark-haired girl. Though adventuresome, she was considered delicate. She was a good cook and housekeeper, and could sing. Most of the family played instruments, so they often sang together in front of the fireplace, or read Shakespeare or went on boating picnics.
Mrs. Staley’s address initially was 2315 N. 30th St. Job’s was 2530 N. 30th St. Job was skilled in at least five trades – millwright, machinist, painter, paper hanger and nurseryman. And while Job was busy running the post office out of his cabin, which was also Old Tacoma’s first polling place, and acting as judge at the first election when 16 Democrats and 13 Republicans voted, Rebecca worked as a fortune teller.
A port town was a perfect place for a fortune teller, because sailors were superstitious. For example, few were brave enough to set sail on a Friday. When ships made port here, many seamen visited Grandma Staley, as she was known, to find out how their families back home were. The lovelorn visited her with questions about their romances. One of her clients was a well-to-do miner from Alaska. A Portland, Ore. woman wanted to know the whereabouts of her daughter, who had run away from home. Grandma Staley gave her the girl’s address, which proved to be correct.
Her reputation spread to places such as Japan and Australia. A beat cop told a reporter for the Seattle Times that it was no unusual thing for people to call on Grandma Staley at all hours of the day and night. She had no set fee; people paid what they wanted, and she made enough money to invest in real estate.
Her life, though, seems rather sad. Marietta married a man named William H. Mahon and had a son. The two died on Nov. 4, 1875, when the steamship Pacific, on which the two were passengers, collided with the Orpheus off Cape Flattery, Wash.
Howard, too, died young. He never recovered from being in Andersonville, and was taking “opiates for pain” when he accidentally overdosed.
Meanwhile, former husband Job Carr found a bride, Addie Emery, through a correspondence bureau, and they married in Olympia on Sept. 25, 1884. They were said to have been happily married, but when a family member became ill, Addie returned to New York. While there, she received word that Job was sick, and she came back to Tacoma. Job Carr died in 1887 at age 73. After his death, Addie went back east.
In 1907, when she was 76, Grandma Staley’s house on 30th Street (where she lived with 10 cats) had become so unsanitary, the Board of Health ordered its demolition. The Times described Grandma Staley as “wearing old, worn clothing and large copper rings in her wrists and ankles, and suffering from palsy.” She moved to 3006 Carr St. and died a year later.

In the late 1870s, the U.S. government changed its policy regarding Native Americans from one of separation to one that focused on assimilation into mainstream American society. The Secretary of the Interior authorized two federal, off-reservation boarding schools. The Carlisle Indian School opened in Pennsylvania in 1879, and the Forest Grove Indian Industrial and Training School opened on the grounds of Oregon’s Pacific University in 1880. The first superintendent at the Forest Grove School was Civil War veteran Lt. Melville C. Wilkinson.
On June 4, 1880, the Weekly Ledger reported Chief Citrell of the Puyallup Tribe and large groups of his people were in town protesting the taking of six little girls to the Forest Grove School against their parent’s wishes. Apparently, Wilkinson and a teacher named George F. Boynton sent well-known Indian Peter Stanip to the Puyallup reservation to try and induce the parents to send their little girls to the school. Stanip painted a glowing picture, saying in 25 years the students trained at Forest Grove would be the teachers. The Puyallups didn’t buy it and, when Wilkinson himself showed up, none of the girls were ready to go.
From 1872 to 1875, Gen. Robert H Milroy had been the superintendent of Indian Affairs in Washington Territory and, for the following 10 years, an Indian agent. Wilkinson went to Olympia to see if the general would use his influence on the Puyallups, Wilkinson’s feeling being the white agent knew best and Indian parents were not capable of understanding what was most beneficial for their children.
These Indian boarding schools were promoted as a solution to what was called the “Indian problem.” At the Forest Grove School, the students earned money that was used to purchase acreage for the institution. They helped construct some of the buildings. All students were made to participate in a daily routine grounded in forced discipline and strict regimentation. Boys had their long hair cut short, and military uniforms replaced their traditional clothing. Girls wore dresses. Students were forbidden to speak their native language and practice their traditional religion. The Forest Grove School was purposefully sited at a great distance from the reservations, making it difficult for parents to visit and for students to run away.
At the Puyallup Reservation, six Indian police were sent to bring in the little girls and notify the parents as to what was happening. Some of the children hid or were hidden in the woods, but the police picked up 12. After a medical inspection, a doctor said six were healthy enough to be sent to Forest Grove. If parents didn’t cooperate, they were threatened with arrest and jail time. One grandmother who snatched and hid two girls was arrested and held overnight. In the end, four girls were taken to the railroad depot in Tacoma and sent south
When the Puyallup Reservation church next held services, a woman named Mrs. Swan stood and asked who had ordered the arrest and imprisonment of women trying to hide their children. No one answered. Mrs. Swan also spoke of the efforts the Reverend Mr. Mann was making to improve the conditions under which the Puyallups were living. Apparently there was a plan to remove him from his position. A Dr. McCoy was in the congregation and tried to reply, but Mrs. Swan told him he could make his response after church and outside. The feeling was that Reverend Mann’s removal would result in nothing less than insubordination among tribal members, and probable consequences.
Not long after, the paper reported one Indian father had gone to the Forest Grove School and brought his daughter back. She was lucky. Student mortality rates there were high. Of the 321 students enrolled during its five-year existence,43 – most of them girls – died while at the school, often from communicable diseases such as tuberculosis.
A year after the kidnapping, Reverend Myron Eels, a missionary at Skokomish, Wash., wrote an article for the Ledger regarding the Puyallup Reservation. He said that “in 1867, although the treaty had been in operation twelve years, it wasn’t a success. In 1871 there were only children and in 1872 the Indian agent couldn’t find one who could read or write.”
Over the next two years, the Indian agent, on a budget of $750, tried to make improvements. Finally in 1873, a $4,000 appropriation was made to build a good school house. The following year there were 12 boarding students and 16 day students. Then the treaty expired and the school closed. Appropriations in 1876, 1877 and 1878 allowed the school to be opened for six months, two months and eight months, respectively, and 50 students attended. Then more money became available and an industrial school was built. From 43 to 74 students attended. In 1880, the year of the kidnapping, between 20 and 25 Puyallup Indian children had been sent to the Forest Grove School.
In 1882, Reverend Edwin Eels was put in charge of the Puyallup Consolidated Agency, which included 10 reservations and 10 boarding schools. In 1884, Eels punished some Indian boys twith nine months hard labor in balls and chains for setting fire to the Puyallup Reservation School. Finally, in 1887, Indians were made citizens of the United States rather than wards of the government. Though their problems were far from over.

On Oct. 18, 1890, Republican George B. Kandle was elected Tacoma’s mayor. In those days, the city operated under a commissioner system, and many jobs were by political appointment. Kandle appointed William F. Zwickey chief of police and Zwickey fired 15 non-Republican policemen.
When Zwickey took office, he said he would investigate every complaint against every officer. He wanted to “purify the Force and raise the standards of his employees with a new set of rules and regulations” and, in particular, “he wouldn’t tolerate officers using clubs, except in riots or in self-defense.” Two months later, the Tacoma Daily News started looking at Zwickey and his promises. On Dec. 21, “a policeman beat Swedish laborer Ole Hansen for no apparent reason,” and arrested a laborer for being a vagrant. Another officer arrested a man named Tom Barclay, demanding Tom give him money. On Dec. 23, an officer named Flanagan arrested store clerk named Frank Dowd. The city attorney told the judge there were no grounds, and Dowd was released.
One of the most egregious incidents’ the paper covered involved a cop named Housh and a man named Joseph Niggemeyer. Niggemeyer and two men, Caspar Eggerth and Charles Wopers, caught the street car to attend a meeting at Van Dusen’s Hall on J Street. After the men paid their fares, street car operator Ed Doran shortened the ride well before the correct stop. Niggemeyer and Doran had a verbal altercation. After the meeting, the three men went to the corner of Center and J streets to catch the street car back.

In the meantime, Doran notified the police about the trouble and Housh showed up, saying he was there to arrest Niggemeyer for drunkenness, and started beating him. Eggerth and Wopers tried to interfere but were driven off. After Niggemeyer lost consciousness, Housh dragged him into a saloon and had a drink. Eggerth and Wopers followed, protesting the beating, and Housh arrested them, too. All three ended up in court. Judge Emmett Parker released Eggerth and Wopers but fined Niggemeyer $5 and court costs. He said Niggemeyer was technically guilty of disturbing the peace, and the manner of the arrest did not make him less so. He did say Housh was guilty of undue violence. While Niggemeyer appealed the case, Wopers filed a complaint against Housh on the charge of assault; it was never served.
While this was going on, another Swede was arrested “on suspicion of something” and denied a hearing, and a police officer known as Three Dollar Kelly tried to extort $3 from several Japanese prostitutes.
On Dec. 29, Kelly went to Willie Pelka’s place to gamble, and cheated by using marked cards. Willie was arrested, ostensibly on charges of robbery and keeping a house of prostitution, but more likely because she reported his coming into her establishment to gamble while on duty (not to mention cheating). A notary public named Albert Heilig took her statement, but Kelly swore she didn’t understand what she was swearing to because she was drunk when she gave the testimony. Heilig said she didn’t appear drunk to him and that she understood the gravity of the charges she was making.
Kelly denied ever having gambled in Willie’s place, but two other gentlemen who were present at the time confirmed he was there. The Daily News got an affidavit from one who said he heard the money jingle on the table, heard Willie leaving the table saying she had to get some more cash, heard her accuse Kelly of cheating, and heard Kelly say she was “dead easy game.” Chief Zwickey stepped in, saying he would release her if she recanted, but fine her $500 if she refused. She agreed to recant and was released. Court officials were told that she either withdrew the charges or was missing. The judge said he knew nothing about any negotiations, and he had no choice but to dismissal charges against both Willie and Kelly.
A few weeks later, a man pretending to be a sailor entered Willie’s joint. She recognized him as being a detective, and ordered him to leave. He demanded a whiskey, which she gave him, before again asking him to leave. He refused, and she contacted the police. The Squad of Seven, whose express purpose was to raid places such as Willie’s, showed up. The detective swore she had taken $5 for the drink and refused to give him change. Willie knew this was a favorite trick pulled or instigated by Three Dollar Kelley. The police again arrested Willie and charged her with keeping a house of ill repute. She was denied bail, and a snitch was assigned to share her cell. Willie kept mum, was eventually released, and disappeared.
On Jan. 12, 1891, a police officer named H.J. Miller was accused of being a Daily News informant and was fired. Miller, who had a good reputation around town, demanded an investigation. “I don’t want to be reinstated,” he said, “I just want to have my reputation be set right before the public.” This quote was the only time he spoke to the paper.
As the Daily News continued reporting outrages committed by officers under Zwickey’s watch, Zwickey, Capt. Kelly and others formed a joint stock arrangement in order to make “cluster charges” of libel against the Daily News. They asked for $80,000.
In February, Zwickey was seen in a saloon drinking, after which he rode in a carriage down Pacific Avenue “hooting and yelling.” He resigned and Three Dollar Kelly was fired. L. D. Ellis became the new police chief and served for a year and a half. Tacoma adopted the council-manager system and did away with the commissioner system.

Some of old Tacoma as it looked during the Washington territory days.

Tacoma Public Library/courtesy photo


Jacob Halstead: a True Founding Father

Oregon Trail Pioneer Jacob Halstead, his second wife Jane (his first wife died) and their children Jeannette, Etta, George, and Frank moved to New Tacoma in 1873 when the city consisted of two houses. Tacoma didn’t have a newspaper for several years. The first tidbit about Mr. Halstead appeared in the Tacoma Herald’s “Weekly Intelligence” column on June 2, 1877. He was in the paper because he had created hotel on wheels for Northern Pacific Railroad employees working on the tracks.

The concept of a railroad hotel on wheels was very avant garde. Mr. Halstead’s hotel consisted of five, wheeled wagons (possibly railroad cars) located at a spot ten miles from town where it was assumed a future railroad station would be located. One car was the kitchen and the remaining four were dining room/bedroom combinations. Every day, two “beeves” were slaughtered, cooked and served with coffee or tea, and whatever the cooks could make with sugar, flour and butter, probably biscuits and, at that particular time, wild strawberries. The newspaper article was a bit casual about how many men were housed. One paragraph said 300 men and another, eighty-three. Both Mr. Halstead and the men were lucky, though, because that summer a tree fell across one of the vehicles just before the workers were due to come in for dinner. The tree ruined the car, the tables inside, a lot of the dishes and cooking utensils but no men were hurt.

Mr. Halstead also owned and ran the Tacoma Hotel at 707 Pacific Avenue. During February 1878, he worked work for the Tacoma Land Company, clearing the property around their headquarters building. The following month he was back at the Tacoma Hotel having the office repainted and papered, and the whole hotel generally spruced up. The newly-refurnished hotel reopened in April with accommodations for temporary guests and boarders.

At that time, all New Tacoma’s buildings were wood, and fire was a constant danger. An organization of businessmen, which included Mr. Halstead, calling themselves The Citizens of New Tacoma, held a meeting in Smith’s Hall for the purpose of finding ways to prevent and fight fires. Less than a week later Mr. Halstead was standing in front of the Tacoma Hotel talking with a friend when they saw smoke coming from a second floor window of the American Hotel across the street. The two rushed into the building and up to the room. A pile of clothing was burning and smoking, and the floor matting was just catching fire. Their best guess was a spark had fallen into the clothing from a cigar or pipe. A brisk north wind blew that day and their quick action in putting out the fire probably saved a number of wooden buildings on the west side of Pacific from also catching fire. Not long after, Mr. Halstead’s Tacoma Hotel caught fire and burned down.

Fire insurance was little-known and Mr. Halstead had none, but he did have a good reputation. He rented two buildings on the west side of Pacific Avenue, furnished them as best he could, and rented rooms. On March 26, 1880, the Weekly Ledger announced Mr. Halstead had hired Portland architect T.B. Spring to build, a new hotel called Halstead House on the site of the old one. Plans called for a 60 x 44 ft., three-story building with a mansard roof. The first floor had an office, reading room, kitchen and bathroom. The second had a parlor in front and suites of rooms for families. The third floor was bedrooms. Altogether, the hotel had 34 bedrooms and a bathhouse next door. On September 2nd, Mr. Halstead held a grand opening ball. In early evening, people began arriving from Old Tacoma, Puyallup, Steilacoom, and the plains. At 10:00 a large delegation from Olympia showed up. They had chartered the steamer Daisy, and brought along the Olympia Coronet Band. At midnight, the majority of the dancers and musicians crossed Pacific Avenue to Smith Hall for dinner. Others stayed behind and played poker upstairs. In a game that went on for more than forty-eight hours some $30,000 changed hands. The Olympia visitors left at 4:00 am. But locals danced another hour.

Taking advantage of the new hotel, businessman M.J. Cogswell built a barbershop slightly north of the hotel and hired “a tonsorial artist from  Portland” to run it.

Eighteen eighty-one was the year businessmen realized no one was doing anything topromote New Tacoma. On July 16th twenty of the town’s leading citizens met in the hall above the store of Bostwick & Davis and organized the New Tacoma Board of Trade. Mr. Halstead was elected second vice president.

Until he passed away, Mr. Halstead advertised his hotel as serving the best beer, (genuine Budweiser) the finest wines, and offering top-quality cigars.

Some of Tacoma as it looked during the Washington territory days. (Tacoma Public LIbrary/courtesy photo)
Some of Tacoma as it looked during the Washington territory days. (Tacoma Public LIbrary/courtesy photo)

Jacob Halstead had heart trouble and died on August 21, 1882 at the age of 54. He was buried at Tacoma’s Oakwood Hill Cemetery. Initially his wife, Jane, and son, Charles thought they’d run the hotel but by September the bar was released to George Bott, and Mr. Rebard of the firm Rebard and Campbell was negotiating to buy the hotel. On October 6th the paper said blacksmith John Muntz leased the business for a year. The venerable old building was torn down in 1907.