Dudes of Seattle

I though you’d enjoy a couple of fun anecdotes from Clarence Bagley’s detailed, knowledgeable “History of Seattle” (published there by S.J. Clarke Publishing Company in 1916).

Bagley History of Seattle

(Image from Amazon.com.)

The first has to do with citizens’ teasing of one of the city’s first fire squads (here “dude” means “greenhorn, newcomer, cheechako” rather than “spiffily dressed fella”):

The first legal establishment of a fire department occurred on April 11 1884 by ordinance of the city council Gardner Kellogg was soon after appointed by the council after having been elected to that office by the delegates of the com-

panies. He continued to serve only a short time resigning on December 22, 1884, and Dan McKeon was made chief, taking that office on January 2, 1885.

On March 19, 1885, very early in the morning, the Oriental, a lodging house, situated at Washington Street and Occidental Avenue burned and two of the place perished and several others were seriously burned. Then another addition was made to the department. Josiah Collins and several others organized Hose Company No. 1, and called it “Hyack,” meaning “Hurry,” in the Chinook jargon. The other companies joked the newcomers, whom they dubbed “The Dudes”.

— pages 502 and 503

New Westminster Hyacks

(Image from ViaSportBC.)

This (the Chinook name) was a bit of a fashionable thing in the Pacific Northwest of the era, as New Westminster, BC, had The Hyacks! (The Hyack Brigade was originally funded by order of none other than Governor James Douglas — a Chinook Jargon speaker from way back — in 1862; as Hyack Company No. 1, it was headquartered at Hyack Hall on Columbia Street.) The name survives there as a local sports team “The Hyacks” and in the Hyack Festival.


Governor James Douglas

(Image from Wikipedia.)

Hyack Festival

(Image from HyackFestival.com.)

That was a nice digression, since I couldn’t find any photos of the Seattle crew. Now…

Anecdote number two is a kind of intriguing clue to one of the more obscure pieces of Chinook Jargon arts & literature. This is the much-rumored grand piece that I remember as having supposedly being produced at the Port Townsend (WA) “opera house” (the Learned?):

In pioneer times, like all others, he [Judge CH (Cornelius Holgate) Hanford] learned the Chinook language, which he speaks fluently, and when his children were young he composed several songs in Chinook for their amusement. In time he connected these with dialogue, thus producing an Indian legend in an operetta of considerable length.

— page 787


Judge Hanford

(Image from Wikipedia.)

I’d love to know more about this operetta! Let me know if you find out anything about it.