Harvey, Noble George (1873-1952)

  • By Eldon Harvey
  • Posted 4/20/2010
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9374

Noble Harvey was the son of Snohomish County pioneers John and Christina Noble Harvey. He lived his entire life around the city of Snohomish, which he did much to develop. This account of his life and family and the Snohomish area was written in 1985 by his son, Eldon Harvey, and was provided by Eldon's daughter, Donna Harvey.

Nobel George Harvey

Noble George Harvey was born to John and Christina Harvey on June 17, 1873, in the original log cabin built by his father along the south bank of the Snohomish River. He is reported to be the first white boy born in Snohomish County. In 1876, his father built a two-story home to provide for his family in style.

Noble attended school in the town of Snohomish, but it is unlikely that he went beyond the eighth grade. Boys, at that time, especially in small farming communities, chose to quit school to work on the farm as early as possible. He was very active in the sports of the day, particularly baseball, hunting, and fishing. He also helped his father clear land and work to improve their homestead.

Settlers and Indians

In the early life of the settlers, when fall came, the Indians would come up the river in their boats and gather dead fish to dry for the winter. They also picked berries, dug up tubers and anything else they could get to eat, and took the food back with them to their village. The Indians would stay for two or three months and gather what they could to carry back to Tulalip.


After the farmers settled along the Snohomish River and planted their potatoes and other crops, the Indians would come up in the fall and harvest, not realizing they were taking crops that did not belong to them. The farmers had quite a time convincing the Indians that the crops were not free for the taking. Finally, drastic measures had to be taken, and the farmers set up a small camp where the river forked, east of Lowell, and an island had formed. (In recent years, the island that was once located where the slough and river met has washed away.) The piece of land was approximately two acres, and the farmers cleared off the brush and staked two guards who changed shifts every two weeks. When the Indians came up the river to harvest the farmers' crops, the guards would shoot holes in the Indians' canoes. Since it took many years to convince the Indians, a shack was built on the island and fruit trees were planted.

Our climate in the Snohomish area has made a drastic change from what it was like in the time of the early settlers. One winter in the 1860s, it froze so hard that a farmer could drive his oxen, one of the largest breeds of cattle, on the river all the way from Snohomish to Lowell to get supplies and then return.

Freedom and Responsibility

Children were given more freedom and more responsibility 100 years ago than they are today. At age 11, Noble was allowed to go to visit his Adair cousins by himself. Only when you realize the distance and the terrain between the two properties does this become so amazing to us "modern city dwellers." The Adairs lived near the present site of the Carnation Stock Farm. Noble had to walk from Snohomish along a forest trail to Monroe, back of High Rock, through the hills to Novelty, and across the valley to the Adair place. On these trips, he was always armed with an old muzzle-loading rifle. One can't help but wonder how long the trip took and how long he stayed once he arrived.

Noble's working career started rather early in life, when he was called on to take people across the Snohomish River in his canoe, as there was no bridge or ferry. The fee was 25 cents or one chocolate bar.

At one time, he was asked to transport a government mapmaker up the river and shortly after starting, the man, who had been whittling while he talked to the Indians, dropped his knife in the river. It was decided to wait until the homeward trip and a low tide to recover the knife. Noble, who could speak and understand the Chinook language quite well, explained what had happened and the Indians were very curious to see how the knife would be found in the deep water.

The government man had a glass eye so he took out the eye, held it under the water for awhile, then reached down and picked up the knife. The Indians, not knowing that the knife had been seen previously, thought the man must surely be the devil and jumped off the boat to swim for their lives.

Man of the Family

On November 28, 1886, when Noble was 13 years old, his father died leaving him the "man of the family." His mother as well as his Uncle John Noble and Uncle William White were appointed his guardians. He helped his mother run the homestead farm until two almost simultaneous events took place.

His mother, Christina, married Asa Robbins on February 3, 1888, and on October 4, 1888, she leased the entire homestead to John Hilton of Seattle for $600 a year. The lease became effective on April 1, 1889. She and her new husband moved into town, but it is difficult to say just when, since she did not buy any property in England's Addition until May 7, 1889, when she purchased land on which her new home was built in 1890.

Noble did not like his stepfather and chose not to live with them. He lived instead at 56 State Street, a property his mother had purchased on November 13, 1885. This property is located near the area where the railroad trestle crosses the Snohomish River. Christina bought this property in her own name, which was an unusual thing for a married woman to do at that time. It is unclear as to what the living arrangements were at 56 State Street, how long Noble lived there, or if he shared the house with anyone. There is a picture in the Harvey Family Album showing Noble standing in front of the residence in 1893, with six other people. Due to the terms of the lease with John Hilton, Noble probably stayed there until April of 1894.

When Christina sold a right-of-way to the Northern Pacific Railroad on June 1, 1887, Noble, with oxen, cleared the land, hauled logs, and moved dirt and stumps to help raise the roadbed. In July of 1888, the first train ran through carrying 12 passengers. The railroad changed hands many times after that. By October 21, 1889, it had become the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern. On this date and again on August 13, 1890, the land was quit claimed back to Christina from the railroad.

Hunting for the Market

While living on his own, Noble turned one of his favorite pastimes into a source of income. He hunted for the market, as this was the main source of meat supply for hotels and eating places in town. It was cold, wet work, and since his gun was a muzzle-loading Parker double, he had to make every load get one more duck just to break even. Mallard and Teal ducks sold for $2.00 a dozen and other species for less. Many such hunting trips were made by canoe to the flats.

It must be remembered that there was, in those days, very little pork, beef, or fowl and the settlers' meat was fish, deer, bear, duck, and geese, all depending on the season. Noble kept a pack of hounds, sometimes as many as 17, with which he hunted deer, bear, and cougar. After his market hunting days, he continued hunting for sport and always adhered to the rules of never leaving game to spoil in the fields or woods. To help him retrieve the game, he trained his hunting dogs particularly for that purpose. Being an expert shot also helped attain this objective.

On April 4, 1892, the Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway appropriated land from the Estate of John Harvey for their railroad. The Harveys were paid $7,000 for their land. It appears that Noble received some of that money, because he immediately started loaning money to people in town, and even though some of the loans went into collection, he continued to help his townsfolk until 1939.

Christina Harvey died on September 17, 1892, again naming John Noble and William White as Noble's guardians. Her obituary states that "she died of typhoid fever, after an extended illness of several weeks." She willed to Noble the homestead containing about 230 acres at that time and valued at $15,000. There were also four lots with four houses in the city of Snohomish, valued at a total of $3,500, and $800 in personal property.

Buying and Selling Property

As to the four houses in town, there is a record of Christina buying only three, the house on State Street and lots 8 and 9 of England's Addition. In 1890, Christina had a house built valued at $500 presumably on one of these lots. It is also presumed that this is where she lived with Asa Robbins until her death. According to the order admitting her will, she was living in the city of Snohomish at that time. Today there is a house on lot 8 that is likely the one in which Christina and Asa lived. While there was a house on lot 9 in 1892, it was torn down, probably in the 1950s or 1960s, and a modern duplex was built in its place. Christina had paid $225 for both lots in 1885 and Noble sold lot 9 to Pontius Ishler for $400 in 1903.

Noble sold the house on State Street, as well as the lot next door, to Mrs. E. C. Smedley for $650 in June of 1901. This accounts for the fourth lot. Christina had purchased lot 4 only, for $800 in 1895, and the fact that Noble sold both lots 3 and 4 for only $650 is very puzzling -- perhaps real estate was in a slump at that time.

Being the adventurous type, Noble boarded the train and went to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, when he was 20 years old. On his way home, he stopped off in Montana. There he bought a pair of buffalo horns as a souvenir. Those horns are still in the Harvey family.

On March 3, 1894, Noble leased land to John Alexander and E. C. Ferguson, Trustee, to build a creamery. Mr. Ferguson was to build a two-story building, 24 x 48 feet, suitable for a creamery and Mr. Alexander was to supply the machinery and to run the operation. Everything was contingent on Mr. Alexander being able to obtain 600 gallons of milk per day. He would pay 85 cents per hundred weight for the crèam that the farmers had been shipping to Seattle by the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad. Snohomish businessmen accepted the proposition and a fund was raised to move one of Ferguson's buildings across the river. Soon the creamery was receiving 150 gallons of milk a day, which was one quarter of the capacity of the business. The quality was good and the business increased, but still the results were unsuccessful and the plant was sold to a co-op in Stanwood and the equipment moved in May of 1895. Noble sold the land in 1901.

Mill Company

The Snohomish City Mill Company was established in 1866 on the homestead by Noble's father and five other men. The names of the mill changed over the years. On December 10, 1900, Noble leased land to Cascade Cedar Company for a mill site -- the rent being $550 for the first year and $250 for each year after that. The property is the present-day location of the Seattle-Snohomish Mill, on the south side of the Snohomish River, but it would be impossible for anyone today to figure that out by the land description given in the lease. Such land marks as "the southeast corner of the 'hay shed,' 272 feet thence northeasterly to the cottonwood trees" and southerly to the large "fir stump" no longer exist.

A new lease was written on January 1, 1902, for a rent of $35 a year. It is unclear as to whether this is in addition to or instead of the $250 mentioned in the first lease. If anything, the second lease is even more confusing than the first. Mentioned are a "gas pipe driven in the ground," "an old fence post, marked with three marks near the top," "the chimney in the rear part of the Patterson building," the north boundary of the old lane," "west end of the old barn," and "three cottonwood trees (this corrects the two cottonwood trees mentioned in the first lease)."

Cascade Cedar became Cascade Lumber and Shingle Company and on December 5, 1905, a new lease was signed for the rent of $1 a year. In the first two leases, Noble had reserved the right to tie a sheer boom to a cottonwood tree on the riverbank. In this lease, he gave up this right. The rent on the 1906 lease was $25. It was not until November 6, 1909, when Noble sold the land to the mill for $16,000, that there was a legal description written that was understandable.

Pet Deer and Tame Bears

When Noble did move back to the homestead, his Aunt Jenny Noble came to keep house for him. Noble liked animals and had many pets besides his pack of dogs. One thing that Aunt Jenny did not approve of was his pet deer. The deer itself would have been all right, but it had one bad habit that really irritated her -- it would come into the house during the day and go to sleep on the bed. This problem came to an end one day when the deer paid a visit to the mill next door. He came up to the guard and licked him on the cheek. The guard, thinking he was a wild deer who had wandered in, shot him.

At one time, Noble had a bear. A preacher came up the river and stopped at the Harvey house, as most people did. While the preacher was sitting at the table talking, his foot kept hitting something. Suddenly, the bear that had been sleeping under the table growled at having been awakened. The poor minister almost died of fright.

Another amusing incident occurred concerning a bear. One day a man brought a tame bear to town to perform. Noble's dogs did not know a tame bear from a wild one. The hounds caught sight of the bear and chased it up a telephone pole. Noble had quite a time getting the dogs to go home so the man could retrieve his bear.

Baseball was one of the most important sports to the early settlers, and they traveled by boat to different towns to play. In 1903, the Pastime Ball Park near North Lincoln Street was sold for home sites, so Noble built Harvey Park between the Great Northern Depot and the railroad tracks, approximately where B & H Body Shop is located today. Harvey Park had a twelve-foot high fence and seating for 400 to 500 people. The baseball park was used for foot races, baseball, and other sports of the day until 1915. A new ballpark was built in 1984, by the Harvey Family, for the Little League just west of the Airfield and runways.

First Airplane

In 1911, Fred J. Wiseman, in his Curtiss-Wright-Farman Biplane, took off from Harvey Ball Park to fly to Everett. This was the first appearance of a plane in this part of the country. After he took off, the plane cracked up about 800 feet west of the ballpark. This airplane is now located in the Smithsonian (Postal) Museum in Washington D.C.

Noble kept a rather large herd of dairy cows from 1895 until 1909 and during this time he pedaled milk from door to door. It was sold for 5 cents a quart. He had the first milk route in Snohomish and called his business the Lone Star Dairy. A horse named Molly hauled his milk wagon.

On July 2, 1906, Noble married Edith Maude White. Edith was also born in Snohomish, and a member of a pioneer family in Machias. She was the daughter of William H. White and Eliza Jane Bowden, natives of England, who became residents of Snohomish County in 1877. Edith and Noble were married at Edith's family homestead in Machias. On December 12, 1907, a son, Eldon Noble Harvey, was born to Noble and Edith. He was to be their only child.

On November 20, 1908, Noble sold over 2.5 acres of land to the Snohomish Condensed Milk Company for $1,841. Robert Henry, G. M. Cochran, C. H. Bakeman, and C. H. Lamrey had incorporated the company on February 7, 1908. Doctor Durrant, A. M. Bailey, and Ed Rodenbush were also actively involved. Just what Noble's connection had been to the company after selling them his property is unclear, but he signed a six-month promissory note for $1,300 along with A. M. Bailey and Ed Rodenbush on December 13, 1915. He seemed to have been involved with them at that time. (C.H. Bakeman had purchased an acre of land from Christina Harvey in 1892.)

Dairy Farming

Milking was done by hand on most of the local dairy farms. The milk was cooled by running it over a water cooler and it was then caught in 5 or 10 gallon galvanized cans. These cans were kept overnight in a cool water bath tank. After the morning milking, the cans would be loaded onto a wagon and hauled to a condensory where the milk was weighed and samples taken for testing. From there, the milk would run through a separator. The cream was held for butter and the skim milk would be condensed in a vacuum condenser. The Snohomish Condensory made their own brand of condensed milk, sealing it in tall and short cans. The Condensory was the first of its kind in the area providing the dairymen a local outlet for their product. They operated this company for 10 years, then sold out to the firm of R. Lauerence Smith Company of New York.

In 1917, some pioneer farmers founded the Snohomish County Dairymen's Association. These men had the foresight to see the benefits of working together for a common good. "Dairy Gold" was its name - "Quality" was its motto. They secured the old condensory building for their operation under the name of Snohomish Dairy Products. The association was soon using trucks on regular routes picking up milk cans at the farms. Each farmer had a number that was marked on his cans. When these cans were emptied at the plant, they were immediately washed, scalded and made ready to be returned to the farmer.

At Home in the "Barn"

The Harvey family lived very comfortably in the house built by Noble's father John Harvey until 1909, when a fire at the mill destroyed all of their farm buildings. There was no longer a place for the cows to go or to be milked or to store hay for their winter feed. A dairy could not be run under these conditions.

Even though the house had escaped damage, there had been other fires at the mill before, and Noble thought it would be safer for his family if he moved them elsewhere. The mill had been leasing land from him up to this time, but now he sold it to them and moved his family to a wooded spot near the county road on the south side of his property, on the north side of the county road. They had to move quickly and to have a fine house built takes time. Noble decided to build the barn first, but in such a manner that the family could live in it temporarily. There was a large door on the north side that was meant to be a garage door for the Model T. The middle part was meant for cows or chickens. The door for the hayloft was at the west end of the structure and is still there. The garage door was eventually sealed up years later, when it became evident that the "barn" was always going to be a house. Noble later built a separate garage for his car. But one day, immediately after Noble drove his car out, a large maple tree standing between the house and garage fell on the garage roof and demolished the structure.

N. P. Hanson built the couple's permanent home, which was completed in 1911. The house now belongs to their grandson Richard Harvey and his family and is located on the site of the old mill run by Mr. Ordway. This mill was closed down in 1892. Part of the foundation can still be seen in the yard by the pear tree when the grass dries out in the summer.

About the time Edith and Noble were ready to move into their fine new home, Arthur Johnson, from a neighboring farm, was planning to get married. He came to Noble and asked him if he could rent the "barn" so that he could be close to his father's homestead, since he would be helping him run the farm. The water for the house came from a well and there was an outhouse. Arthur and a friend fixed it up very nicely. The newlyweds lived quite happily there for a number of years. Their two daughters, Phyllis and Vanetta Johnson, were born there and Mrs. Johnson died there. During one of the more devastating floods of the era, possibly 1917, Mrs. Johnson and her daughters had to be taken from the house in a rowboat. They had to climb on top of the cook stove to escape the rising water.

Trees for Sharing

The barn had been built on the ground, but this flood instigated "house raising." The "white house," as it is now referred to, was put on a two-foot foundation after this flood, and the long front porch was removed in the late 1930s or early 1940s. In the summer of 1985, the "white house" was painted gray.

Phyllis Johnson, in her book Trees for Sharing published in 1984, recalls the following incident:

"From our fence, my sister and I looked longingly at the woods in Mr. Harvey's field. If we could coax him to take us with him, we would hurry into the woods to play. There we picked wild Johnny jump-ups in the spring, juicy blackberries in the summer and hazelnuts in the fall. One summer, Mr. Harvey let a band of gypsies camp at the edge of those woods. We watched them hang their bright clothes on the bushes to dry and dance to the lively tunes from their strumming guitars. We hid behind our milk house when they came to ask father for milk from our cows. We were truly sorry to see them pile into their covered wagon moving off to another woods in another place. We went back to trying to catch the little brown rabbits which darted in and out of the woods. Sometimes, we even caught a glimpse of a deer" (Johnson).

Until about 1959, there was a 500-gallon water tank over the garage. Water was pumped into it from the well that was located by the corner of where Richard Harvey's garage now stands. This was where the cows were watered. The water from the well was quite superior to the city water that we receive today. The well was closed up at the same time that the water tower was taken down, sometime after public water became available.

The farm work took considerably longer to complete in those days compared to the present. There were no machines, just man and animal power. Cutting hay was done by horse and mower and with a hand sickle where the mower could not go. The hay was next put into stacks to cure. When ready, it was hauled to the barn on sleds to be used for cattle feed in the winter.

Noble spent most of his time clearing and improving his property. His farming was limited to his own needs. He rented a majority of the property out to others once it was cleared.

Blasting Powder and Milking Machines

Horse logging and a hand stump-puller, with blasting powder as the main helper, cleared the land. Just north of the "white house" there were 28 stumps on one acre, three to six feet across. First, they would blast them, then have a horse pull them away. A plow was used to cover the hole.

It was at this time that Edith Harvey's brother, Bob White, asked Noble if he would store some blasting powder for him. Noble agreed to do it. When his neighbors discovered this, they started asking him if they could buy some of the powder from him. Bob said "go ahead" and that was just what they did. He was in the blasting powder business for the rest of his life.

Noble owned what was believed to be one of the first milking machines in the United States. It was called a Simplex and was brought here from New Zealand by G. H. Baggett in 1915. It operated very much the same as the milking machines of today and among the first farmers to use it were W. B. Locke of Route 3 and Martin Treosti, who lived between Snohomish and Monroe where French Creek Slough crosses the county road.

Cows, in the early days, were quite wild and had to be chased by dogs, and sometimes had to be tied to be milked, so using the milking machine often proved to be a hazardous job. Nevertheless, many farms bought the new fangled contraption.

Noble also got involved in selling the machines for a short time, although the sales seem to have gone through Mr. Baggett. The systems were not inexpensive, ranging from $600 to $850 and maybe even more. Perhaps that is why they were not a huge success and why Noble did not seem to be involved with the company after 1915. Noble, ever the entrepreneur, also sold an automatic closing gate at about the same time.

Noble's son Eldon remembers an incident that probably occurred during the flood of 1917, when his father saved his life. They were standing on the railroad tracks next to the trestle where the Northern Pacific crossed the Great Northern tracks. They were watching the water boiling and churning, when it washed the dirt around a telephone pole away. The pole must have been resting in quicksand, because it went straight down so that the arms were resting on the tracks. About the time the pole started to sink, Noble hit Eldon across the face and sent him end for end into the grass. Eldon got up crying, demanding what he had done wrong. His Dad apologized for hitting him and explained that he was afraid that when the wires touched the rails, Eldon would have been electrocuted. Eldon remembered this incident very clearly 70 years later.

Bacon Grease Sandwiches

When the baseball park was closed about 1915, Noble rented the land to a potato farmer in return for one-third of his crop. Today this would probably be a sound business venture but in those days they had a difficult time even giving potatoes away. There was a "hobo village" of about 17 shacks located near the railroad tracks on the ten acres immediately east of the mill. Even the hobos would not take many potatoes. However, they would still come around for a handout. The word must have been passed around that they would never be turned away for some food. If a man simply wanted to "bum" food, he got a bacon grease sandwich and a cup of coffee. Better fare was given to those who offered to work for their meals. No one was turned down, however. Marjorie Harvey, Eldon's wife, does not remember any hobos coming to her door. They always went to Noble and Edith's back door. The hobos were evidently around well into the 1940s, because Marilyn Harvey, Marj and Eldon's daughter, remembers seeing her grandmother, Edith, doling out her bacon grease sandwiches.

Noble was always open to new inventions that would make life easier. He was one of the first people in the area to own a motor-driven drag saw. He also had one of the first radios in town. It wasn't run by electricity but by a storage battery. It had an antenna that stretched out like a laundry line and needed much adjustment. Noble was very generous with his possessions and people would come over to his house to hear about his marvelous new invention. Stan Dubuque remembers listening to his first ball game sitting in the Harvey living room with Noble and Eldon. He said that whenever a strange pinging sound came on the set, they would blame it on Cap Ramsey, who had a fleet of tug boats in Everett. What effect this had on the radio was unclear; possibly he kept in contact with his fleet by short wave radio.

The ten acres were sold to a Mr. Gamble around 1928. He was not a successful farmer and forfeited the land. The original homestead house that was on the property next to the river fell down around 1945. Eldon deeded this property to his son, Richard Harvey, on January 5, 1979. The property has been used to raise cattle on since that time.

Camping at Camano

When Eldon was perhaps between the ages of 9 and 12, the family would go to a park on Camano Island to go camping. They often brought friends with them. Noble was one of the few people in town who owned a car. Stanley Dubuque remembers his family accompanying the Harveys on some of these camping trips. There was always quite a "spread" (lots of food).

Noble got tired of sleeping on the ground and thought that there must be a more comfortable way of "roughing it," so he brought canvas camp cots to sleep on. It would have worked out beautifully except that the campground was located on a slight hill above the beach. The wind would come across the water, up the hill, and under the cot. It may have been softer, but it was definitely colder. Noble muttered and complained the whole night and in the morning was found sleeping on the ground.

When Eldon was in high school, Noble bought property on the west side of Camano Island at Madrona Beach. The family built a nice, small beach house there doing a majority of the work themselves. Many happy hours were spent fishing with their friends and getting away from everyday life. Noble built a small fishing boat with such a high bow that the Harveys were often teased about the "steamboat" they built. It was assumed that the Harveys must have been a little fearful of the high waves that sometimes come up in the Sound. Stan Dubuque and his family had a beach house in close proximity. Eventually, though, it became more of a chore than a pleasure to maintain two properties. Half of their time at Camano was spent mowing the yard and fixing the house. In the 1940s, Noble sold the property.

City Water

In the summer of 1923, the residents on the south side of the Snohomish River decided that they would like to have "the modern convenience" of water piped into their homes. They were not within the City limits (and still are not) and had to pay the cost of the installation themselves. There were 11 subscribers and Arthur Johnson (Able Johnson's son) collected the money. Noble, Adolph Johnson, Able Johnson, and Albert Michaels paid $500 a piece; the others paid $200 a piece. The total collected was $3,400; the cost of the installation was $3,378.82. When the water line was completed, it was turned over to the city and became the sole property of the city. The eleven families were given a 50 percent rebate on their water bill up to 50 percent of their investment.

The six-inch water line that had been installed in 1923 had deteriorated to such a degree that in 30 months there were 18 breaks in the line requiring major repairs. In 1983, the six-inch wooden pipe was replaced with an eight-inch iron pipe at a total cost of $75,938.54.

In about 1928, Noble had a house built for his tenant farmer on the west side of Airport Road. There was a large barn, milking parlor and milk house, and equipment storage shed nearby. Hyde Morgan managed the milking cows for seven years and was the last tenant. When he retired in 1938, it was decided that Eldon would take over the farm. The house was then rented and a gas station added to the front of the house. Eli Smith ran the station for some time and a Mr. Ninestrom rented the house for a few years around 1945. The gas station was run until the late 1970s. The last proprietor was Bud Mortenson. In June of 1986, the building was remodeled and given a "face lift." There is still a one-bedroom apartment, a large space donated for the use of the food bank, and space for two additional businesses.

Snohomish had very inadequate fire protection in the early years. In 1929, Noble collected donations from the people in the area to buy a modern fire truck.

Floods have always been a problem for the Harveys. One in particular led Noble to sue the Great Northern Railway Company in 1933. There had been a flood previously, possibly about 1921, which had washed out a large section of the railroad track, leaving a tremendous hole. The company filled only one side of the hole and re-laid the tracks. When the first train went over the repaired tracks, the land gave way from the weight, and the engine along with two cars sank down into the hole. The manner in which they chose to solve this problem caused yet another. Again, they did not totally fill the hole, but to protect it from washing away, they dammed up the nearby slough. They had been told the proper way to place the dam, but chose to do it differently. When the floods of November and December of 1932 came, the dam diverted all of the water and debris across Noble's property, including the general area where the Airfield Restaurant now stands. He sued the railroad and won.

Harvey Airfield

In 1945, Wes Loback approached Noble about putting an airfield on his property in the vicinity of the Great Northern Railroad tracks. Despite his years, Noble was as much of an entrepreneur as ever. He thought it was a fine idea. Wes, Eldon, and Noble formed Snohomish Airfield, Inc. Noble was involved with the airfield for only a short time. In 1946, due to differing opinions on management and growth, Noble and Eldon sold their stock to Wes and just leased their land to him.

Mr. Loback's management did not prove to be very sound. He had relied heavily on income from the G.I. Bill after World War II and had over-extended himself. In 1947, the bank foreclosed on him and sold all the assets at the airfield, leaving just the buildings. The corporation told the Harveys that the buildings were now theirs.

Noble and Eldon had had relatively little to do with the airfield prior to this time. What were they to do with it? Eldon was farming quite successfully at the time and was rather in favor of keeping his efforts there and forgetting about continuing the airfield. Noble, on the other hand, thought there was a future there. After seeking advice from their lawyer, they decided to keep things as they were, but to cut cost in every way possible. At that time, there were only a couple of planes at the airfield. Once the decision was made to keep the airfield, whatever work was involved in it was left to Eldon Harvey and his wife, Marjorie.

Family Holidays

Edith and Noble were both very close with the dollar but were generous to others. When Marjorie, Eldon, and their baby daughter, Donna, moved into the "white house," there was a lot of laundry to be done and no washing machine. Marjorie took her laundry over to Edith's house to do until Noble bought her a new wringer washer. He also bought them a new refrigerator.

Whenever one of the grandchildren had a birthday, Edith would say, "Go see your grandfather and see what he has up his sleeve." He would then tell them where they could find their birthday present. Christmas was always celebrated at Noble and Edith's house. That was where Santa left his presents. After dinner was over and everyone was gathered (the sliding doors between the living room and dining rooms were closed) Noble would slip out and ring the old sleighbells from his father's sleigh. Now everyone would know that Santa had arrived. It took a great many years for the children to catch on to this. Annabelle Noble and Ivie Noble Williamson, Noble's cousins, always spent their holidays at the Harvey house.

Noble spent his later years working at an easy pace. Marjorie remembers seeing him sitting on a powder box by the garage and water tower waiting for powder customers. Marilyn remembers him peeling apples and eating them while he was waiting.

Noble was always in good health until his death at age 79, on May 6, 1952, when he died of a heart attack. He had been a man of vision who left the City of Snohomish a much better place for the lifetime he spent on its southern border. He was a man of the old school, shrewd, honorable, and kind, and the community missed him.


Rev. H. K. Hines, D.D., An Illustrated History of the State of Washington (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1894); William Whitfield, History of Snohomish County, Washington (Chicago: Pioneer Historical Company, 1926), Vols. 1 and 2; Phyllis M. Johnson, Trees for Sharing (Snohomish: Snohomish Publishing Co., 1984); Snohomish Historical Society, River Reflections, Part II, 1910-1980 (Snohomish: Snohomish Publishing Co., 1981); Washington Pioneers and First Citizens (Olympia:Washington State Genealogical Society, 1993), Vol. 3.

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