30 – Clarence and Alice Bagley
A buggy drawn by two horses slowly made its way along the road which was being opened in 1860 from Puyallup to the thriving village of Seattle, with its 100 inhabitants. A minister and his wife sat in the carriage, while their 16-year-old son walked impatiently ahead. Friends they had not seen for eight years would be in Seattle, for many of the party from their wagon train had come to this hamlet on Puget Sound.
Sometimes the man had to rein in the horses and wait for logs to be rolled away from the road. Then the three would talk with the road men, explaining they had driven from Salem. The actual driving time would be ten days, but they had spent five days more visiting friends along the way.
The arrival of these three travelers caused great excitement in Seattle, for theirs was the first vehicle to come into the village on its own wheels. The members of the congregation of Seattle's first church, “The White Church,” welcomed the minister and his family, who immediately became an important part of the community.
Standing out in the memory of that boy, years later, was his birthday celebration in the village, a month afterward. His father had received a shipment of apples from Oregon and his mother made mince pie for the nine boys and girls invited to the party. Among them was an attractive young girl, who was to become his wife and for whom many years later, he would build one of the finest mansions in the town, in a section to be called Queen Anne Hill.
Clarence Bagley was born at Troy Grove, Ill., November, 30, 1843, the son of Daniel Bagley and the former Susannah R. Whipple. When Clarence was 9 years old his father accepted a cab as missionary minister to Salem, Or. The Party, consisting of the Bagleys, Shoudys, Hortons, Mercers and others, crossed the plains in 1852.
The Bagleys decided to move from Salem to Seattle so Clarence could attend the Territorial University. Daniel Bagley became chairman of the board of the University.
After their arrival in Seattle, Daniel Bagley occupied the pulpit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which stood on the east side of Second Avenue between Columbia and Cherry Streets, where the Dexter Horton Building is today.
Seattle's second church, referred to as “The Brown Church,”was built in 1865 for the methodist Protestants, who were organized by Mr. Bagley. The church and parsonage were on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Madison Street, the church being where we find the Rialto Building now. Mr. Bagley served as minister to the church until 1885.
In 1862 the Bagley family went east and Clarence entered Allegheny College.
Three years later Daniel Bagley made a second trip, to Washington, D. C., on business for the Territorial University.
Clarence Bagley and Alice Mercer had become engaged and planned to be married on Mr. Bagley's return. Alice was the daughter of Thomas Mercer and niece of Asa Mercer, and she had been in the same wagon train as Clarence Bagley. The boat which Mr. Bagley took from San Francisco had trouble trying to enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca and it took 40 days to make the trip from the Golden Gate. Finally it rounded Cape Flattery and docked at Seattle the day before Christmas. The first church wedding service in Seattle was that of Clarence Bagley and Alice Mercer, Christmas Eve, 1865.
The following year Clarence and Alice Bagley moved to Olympia, where he worked in the office of Selucius Garfielde, surveyor general of the territory. Two years later he went into the office of The Pacific Tribune and learned the printers' trade. Later he worked on The Commercial Age and The Echo. All three newspaper[s] were published in Olympia. He accepted a position in 1870 with the Newcastle Coal Mines, in which enterprise his father was associated. A year afterward he returned to Olympia to serve as public printer and in other capacities....
Young people had a wonderful time in the Bagley House. With four girls in the family, there was always a gay crowd and they danced throughout the rooms on the first floor.
When the last cable car left the top of the hill at night, the motorman would ring the bell all the way down, so the Bagley girls' beaux would know it was time to run! If a new young man came to call, the conductor would explain to him, on the trip up the hill, that the last car left at 11:45, and if he missed it he would have to walk back to town.
Claire Bagley became Mrs. Frederick D. Hammons and she remembers that when escorted home at night the girls and their young men would get off the cable car the block before their stop, so they could walk the rest of the way. "Mother would catch us every time," she said. Sometimes a conductor told a young man, "No use going up there tonight--So and So's there!"
The house was the scene of the girls' weddings, and the reception that followed Cecil's wedding. There were two large parlors and the weddings were held in the front parlor, in the bay window, with a curtain of smilax and a bell of white flowers. The portieres were draped with white flowers also. Grandfather and Grandmother Bagley were still alive at this time, living in a smaller home across the street.
Ethel Bagley became the wife of Dr. H. Eugene Allen. She recalls it was Grandfather Bagley who began commenting on the fact that the houses being built at that time were Queen Anne in style, and the cable-car conductors took the hint and began referring to the section as Queen Anne Hill.
Rena Bagley became the wife of Frank S. Griffith. For many years after the girls were married they celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at the old house. The dining room was big enough to seat them all with their families. Clarence and Alice Bagley celebrated 60 wedding anniversaries. At the last one, motion pictures were taken of the affair.
When Clarence Bagley had returned to Seattle to live, a new company was being organized to purchase The Post-Intelligencer from Thomas W. Prosch. Mr. Bagley became a stockholder in the company and was business manager of the paper for the year 1886.
The following year Mr. Bagley opened a printing plant, but it was wiped out in the fire of '89. In 1894 he worked under City Controller Will H. Parry, and continued in that position until 1900. he was then appointed secretary of the Board of Public Works.
For more than 50 years Clarence Bagley collected historical documents. When The Seattle Times building at Second Avenue and Union Street burned in 1913, he was able to replace the destroyed files of newspapers for Col. Alden J. Blethen. He compiled histories of Seattle and King County. Many of his historical documents are now in the possession of the University of Washington. After his father's death, April 26, 1905, Clarence Bagley became known as “Pop” Bagley, and this form of address was used by all who knew him, showing the great affection in which he was held. His mother died September 24, 1913. She was 94 years old.
Bagley Hall at the University of Washington was named for Daniel Bagley.
Alice Mercer Bagley died May 10, 1926. “Pop” Bagley lived on in his Queen Anne mansion until his death February 26, 1932, at the age of 88. His son, Cecil, and wife, the former Myrtle Park, lived with him, and they remained in the house for a short time after Mr. Bagley's death. The house was empty until it was torn down in 1944.
Many of the lovely pieces of furniture from the home are in existence today, scattered among the children and grandchildren of Alice and Clarence Bagley. There's a “cozy-nook” which came around the Horn; gold-banded china, bought in Victoria in 1861; a mahogany, carved grape-design parlor set; paintings and steel engravings, and handsome curly maple chests, made by Henry Van Asselt.
The newel from the entrance hall of the house, and the fireplace from the dining room, were donated to the Seattle Historical Society (image at right).
It is 85 years since the minister's son came with his parents to the tiny village of Seattle. Much of the history of the city might have gone unrecorded if the family had remained in Salem, Or., for it was Clarence Bagley who jotted down interesting details for us. Seattle gained a great deal more than a minister for The White Church, when the first buggy drove along the new road from Puyallup!