Harry Towell Home

Harry Towell was an Englishman who emigrated to the United States in 1882. He settled in Minnesota, married May Stevens, and began farming around Madison Lake. In 1898, the Towells and some 40 other neighbors and friends hired a Northern Pacific sleeper car and set out for Washington State.

The Towells homesteaded 80 acres in “Center Valley.” The farm produced hay, grain, and dairy cattle. When telephone service was introduced to the island, the Towell place hosted the long-distance switchboard. (The “local” switchboard was located near the Kring farm at the intersection of Kjargaard and Richardson roads.)

Not much more is known about the Towells. Exactly when or why the they left the island in uncertain. They apparently sold out to E. A. Leithead, who auctioned off most of the animals and machinery in the 1920s, “on account of help leaving.”

The farm was subsequently sold to Eddie and Beatrice McCauley, who worked it until the late 1940s, when Eddie left the island. Beatrice and her son, Garner, continued to farm the place until the late 1960s. It was subsequently sold to Bill Riker, who used it as a rental. Ron and Sheila Metcalf bought it in 1989. The house was slightly remodeled in the early 1990s. Restoration of the outbuildings is ongoing.

V&T Towell

V&T Towell

Map of Historic Homes on this tour

William “Tom” McCauley home

Like so many early island families, the Scots-Irish McCauleys arrived in the US via Ontario, Canada. They came to Lopez at the invitation of Jim Buchanan, a relative who had moved here after his claim in the California gold fields played out.

Sam and Jane Buchanan McCauley and six of their seven sons moved first to Friday Harbor. The boys, however, didn’t like it, so they moved over to Lopez, where Tom met and married Ellie McNallie.

Tom and Ellie moved on to the farm and took up residence in an existing log house. They raised a variety of crops, including hay, oats, wheat, barley, peas, pigs and cows. Some were for family and local consumption, and some were exported down-Sound on the steamer fleet.

In 1916 – 1917, Tom hired Charlie Swanson and Melvin Graham to build a handsome 80′ x 40′ barn with timbers of hand-hewn island fir and a gabled roof. In 1928, they had the new farmhouse built. McCauley descendent Bret Fowler says it was a Sears kit house put up by the Burt brothers.

Tom and Ellie McCauley & family

Tom and Ellie McCauley & family

Map of Historic Homes on this tour

William Graham home

William Graham was one of many Irish Lopezians who came to the island by way of Canada. Born in 1840 near Kilmore in County Armagh, Graham moved with his parents to Ontario in 1841. As a young man, he moved to Ohio, and then to Estherville, Iowa. He came to Lopez in 1877 because relatives who had settled here (the Humphrey family, of Humphrey Head) wrote him about the availability of fish and game. On arrival, Graham bought the homestead originally patented by George Richardson.

Graham was a canny businessman. He recognized the potential of Richardson as the southernmost deepwater port in the islands, and set out to make it a trading center. He secured a post office franchise in 1887 and built a dock in 1889 to serve larger steamers. He added a warehouse, then helped Robert Kindleyside build a store.

In 1897 Graham built a public hall (still standing to the south) which hosted everything from the local school to political events, dances, and church services. His home was built in 1898.

At the turn of the century, Richardson sported a hotel, bakery, barber shop, creamery, slaughterhouse, and pool hall. Graham and his step-son, N. P. Hodgson, also opened a fish packing plant about that time. Graham moved to Bellingham in 1904, but traveled back and forth to Lopez until his death in 1928. In 1913, he and Hodgson built the Hodgson-Graham cannery.

After Graham’s departure to Bellingham, the home was owned by N. P. Hodgson, a former skipper of square-riggers on the Orient run who furnished part of it with Asian art and furniture. His son Norman William, a county commissioner like his father and grandfather, inherited it. Norman William and his wife, Anna, in the interest of ease of maintenance and conserving heat, lowered the ceilings, blocked off an internal stairway, removed bay windows and porches on the north and south sides, and replaced the flat “widow’s walk” with a peaked roof.

William Graham House

William Graham House

Map of Historic Homes on this tour

James Davis home

This large farmhouse was built by James Ernest Davis and Maybell Troxell Davis in 1913. Family legend says it was paid for by a single successful season on a fish trap off the south end. The Davis kids recalled having to haul rocks home from every trip to the beach to build the stone fireplace.

James Ernest was the son of James L. and Amelia Davis, the first white couple to settle on Lopez. The land was originally claimed under British patent by Samuel Clark Davis, James L.’s older brother, around 1854. It stretched from Richardson along Davis Bay almost to Shark Reef. James and Amelia took over the eastern part when they arrived on Lopez in 1869.

While most of James and Amelia’s offspring went to sea, James Ernest stayed to farm the home place. He worked the fish traps during salmon runs, perhaps due to the influence of John Troxell, the most famous of the local “fish trap men.” (The traps appeared in the 1890s. They were easily the most successful method of taking salmon until they were banned by state initiative in 1934.)

Troxell, who had a large fish camp in Barlow Bay, was Ernest’s brother-in-law twice over. He was married to James Ernest’s sister, Eunice, while his own sister, Maybell, was James Ernest’s bride.

Map of Historic Homes on this tour

James Cousins farmstead

James Cousins was born in 1834 in County Armagh, Ireland. He came to the US in 1863 on an old East Indian square-rigger. He landed in New York penniless, as his pocket was picked on board.

James worked on a farm in New Jersey for a bit, then moved to Canada where he met his brother Robert, and William and Thomas Graham, to whom they were related. (The Grahams were nephews of the Cousins. Their father married Jane Cousins, and Robert was married to the Grahams’ aunt, Ellen.) The Cousins brothers moved to Ohio, then on to Iowa around 1867.

In 1883, the family moved to Lopez at the urging of William Graham, who had settled in Richardson in 1877. They traveled by train to San Francisco, then by ship to Esquimalt, Port Townsend, and finally to Lopez.

Cousins homesteaded 160 acres and bought an adjacent 40. He hired Jasper and John Coffelt to build a small family home. The house was moved south on the property to its current location in 1898. Joe Groll, who had a lumber mill on Fisherman Bay, built a major addition at that time.

The farm produced fruit, grain, and cattle. After James’ death in 1921, sons Jimmie and Willie inherited it. They worked it until 1945, then sold it to William (Tom) McCauley.

Cousins Farmstead

Cousins Farmstead

Map of Historic Homes on this tour