Then I realized that these fellows were going up to get that land ahead of the public. Ralph Philbrick had an inside tip from a senator at Olympia that it was going to be thrown open the next day. They were making the rush ahead of it. When the telegram arrived, all Hoquiam would be up there. There were forty or fifty in this crowd, some dressed for it and some in good clothes. The next morning the road would be lined with people, they told me. I thought it all over.
I had a nephew working for me by the name of Merle Junk. He was asleep upstairs. I went up and woke him. "Get up", I said, "There's a lot of land thrown open and you better get up there ahead of the bunch and get located before morning. Wake Ben Newnham and get him to locate you. And, put up your notice before daylight."
It was about ten miles up there and I told Merle to take the best horse. He slipped out without being noticed and got away, wakened Ben, and at daylight put up his notice. Everybody was looking for timber then, but he gave him the first claim he came to.
Meanwhile, the crowd cleaned the store all out of canned goods - everything that could be eaten ready-cooked. I had a sack of pears. They took them, and all the hams, bacon, sardines, frying pans, sauce pans, tin pans. Everything was about gone, but I still had two whole cheeses that I hadn't uncrated; I cut them into about sixteen pieces each, and they disappeared in short time. Then, they made me promise that I would bring a pack train in the morning with anything I could get to eat, as well as flour, sugar, and coffee. A few more stragglers came up from town.
Next morning, I packed two saddle horses with everything I could lay my hands on. When I got there, they were walking up and down the road, pulling their hair and not knowing what to do. When they saw me, the said, "Take us and help us put up our notices." I said I didn't know much about it, but I did have a compass in my pocket, and I knew where a line crossed the road. So, I tied up the horses.
Now, the first bunch that got up there, consisted of 24 men who agreed to stick together. They went to Ben Newnham and made him a proposition. They would pay almost any price as a locating fee. I think he was to get a hundred or a hundred-and-fifty from each.