While an occasional pioneer picnic had been held at Humptulips through the years, the one in 1925 was such a success that several people felt that a continuing organization should be formed. In consequence, during the month of April, 1926, Mrs. Grace McNutt invited the following persons to an informal party at her home in Hoquiam:
John and Anna Walker
Cal and Bertha Aldridge
Antone and Bertha Hansen
Leslie and Ethel Scott
Cap and Viola Johnson
Ben and Esther Newnham
Charles F.W. and Hilda Evans
Bud and Emma Loomis
Kate Zeigler Fillmore
Carl and Floyd McNutt
After everyone had arrived, Mrs. McNutt announced that the object of the meeting was to organize and make plans for an annual reunion of early settlers of the district north of Hoquiam. After some discussion the Humptulips Pioneer Association was formed, with Grace McNutt as President, and Bertha Aldridge, Secretary-Treasurer.
Her minutes read:
It was decided that nothing of a political or commercial nature should be brought before the Association picnics.
The following committees were appointed:
Program: Ethel Scott, Catherine Fillmore, and Grace McNutt
Finance: Emma Loomis, Antone Hansen, John Walker
Food: Viola Johnson, Anna Brittain, Anna Walker
Correspondence: Grace McNutt, Bertha Hansen and Bertha Aldridge
No further action was taken until one day in June when Mrs. McNutt and Mrs. Aldridge set the first Sunday in August of each and every year as the fixed date for the Annual Picnic. The place: The Humptulips School Grounds.
Following this meeting, notices announcing the picnic were placed in the local papers. Correspondence was carried on by Mrs. McNutt and the Secretary, throught the assistance of the Chief of Police, Post-masters, and County and State Superintendents of Schools. Nearly all of the earliest settlers were contacted, although some had not been heard of for forty years.
The 1926 picnic proved successful beyond our fondest hopes, many coming from great distances to attend.
Following a picnic "banquet" and interesting program was given:
Introduction - Mrs. Grace McNutt
Humptulips Band - "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here"
Address of Welcome - Mr. E. E. Fishel
Song - "America"
Main Address - "History of the Quinault Pioneers" by Phil Locke
Song - Mabel Newham Preston
Violin Solo - P.M. Newbury
Song - "Sweet Peace" by Everybody
Music - Accordian Duet by Ed Erickson and Albert Marlow
Vocal Solo - Mr. Wm. Marshall (Husband of Nellie Sargent)
Memorial - Chas. F. W. Evans
Song - "God be With You " by the Audience
Mrs. McNutt closed the program by reading the following, which expressed the sincere wish of her heart:
may you find more cause to smile;
More fascinating joys in life,
more blessings worth the while;
More of the things you wand and need,
more fortune and success;
More health, more wealth, more loving friends,
and more true happiness."
(Bertha Aldridge, Secretary)
After the Association was well under way, Mrs. McNutt conceived the idea of a scrap book to perserve clippings relating to pioneers. Later, realizing that these old-timers would not always be with us she urged them to write for the Association the story of their coming into the area and their struggles against the wilderness. When these written accounts were not forthcoming she and Bertha Aldridge interviewed old settlers and recorded their stories. A large part of the writing was done by Bertha, as Secretary. Mrs. McNutt also secured a copy of the J. J. Banta Diary.
By 1928 a new feature was added to the picnic - the crowning of the queen. The women of Humptulips and Axford settled in the following order:
Mrs. Joe Clyde (1884)
Mrs. Emmaline Sudderth (1885)
Mrs. Maggie Walker (1885)
Mrs. Angelo and Amy (1885 or 1886)
Mrs. Mary Brittain and Mrs. Kate Sargent (Spring of 1888)
Mrs. Kate Hottois (September 1888)
However, they were not honored in that sequence.
At the 1928 picnic Mrs. Newton Brittain of Humptulips, was crowned queen.
The following year Mrs. Sudderth, of Axford.
In 1930 Mrs. Kestner, of Quinault received the crown
and in 1931 Ella Ellingson Hansen, of New London, Axford, and Humptulips.
Mrs. E. E. Fishel of Neilton and Humptulips was crowned in 1932
and Bertha Evans Hansen of Humptulips in 1933.
According to a newspaper clipping, in 1940, the Pioneers had an especially attractive program.
"More than 500 Humptulips pioneers and descendants yesterday attended the Fifteenth Annual Humptulips Pioneer Associaton picnic and witness the crowning of Mrs. Kate Murhard as queen, at the Humptulips school grounds.
Mrs. Murhard, first white bride in the district, was crowned by Roy Sargent, former Aberdeen mayor and member of a pioneer Humptulips family. During the parade from the Loomis store to the school grounds, the queen rode in an old-time buckboard driven and owned by L. L. Kirkpatrick. Secretary of State, Belle Reeves, of Olympia (a friend of the Loomis family) rode with N.T. Loomis on a hay wagon on which were display many curios and relics of pioneer days.
Six-year-old Peggy Groseclose was flag bearer. Others in the parade were Charles Johnson and George Groseclose, as clowns, Elder E. E. Fishel with babies being carried in oil-can boxes on either side of a pack horse; Mrs. Grace McNutt on a horse, carrying a doll to represent her entry into Humptulips with her infant son in 1895; the Groseclose family in a covered wagon representing the one in which they arrived; and Roy Sargent on a horse.
Frank H. Lamp, Hoquiam author, reviewed the history of the pioneer movement. Reminiscenses of the Clydes, first white family to settle at Axford Prairie, were read by a nephew of Joe Clyde. The program also included music, readings, and a jig by Newton Brittain, 86 year-old pioneer."
In 1948 the Dunning brothers furnished metal identification pins for all members of the Association. Those who came in over the old puncheon road before the 1912 gravel road was built are considered charter members.
In addition to anecdotes, told by the pioneers themselves, the picnickers listend at various times to addresses by Judge William E. Campbell, Harry Byng (world traveler) and Judge Phillips (of Cherokee Indian descent). Also Lena Huelsdonk Fletcher, of Forks, told of early days on the Hoh and around Forks.
But the main attraction of the event was meeting old friends and reminiscing. Every year since its inception the Pioneer Picnic has been held on schedule with a large crowd in attendance, and a big dinner under the trees. There was always plenty of hot coffee made by John Walker and Gene Williams.
To do honor to those who had passed on during the previous year, the Assocation institued a memorial service. For some years the deceased were few in number, but by 1957 there were twenty pioneers for whom a floral tribute was built. The early settlers are fast disappearing. The oldest now living is Harry Byng - 103. Kate Murhard is 92."
On the death of Grace McNutt, in 1950, Harry Loomis was elected President, with Glen Groseclose as Vice President. Bertha Aldridge was continued in office as Secretary-Treasurer. The President then appointed a Vice President for each community: New London, Axford, Humptulips, Neilton, Quinault, and Queets. Also, a Custodian, Mrs. Ethel Evans Scott, and an Historian, Lucile Horr Cleland.
In 1947, when Mr. Cleland and I came to live with my Aunt Kate in Hoquiam, Grace McNutt at once suggested that I compile a booklet from the material she had gathered. Although I came to Humptulips as a child of three and lived many years on the Harbor, after forty years in Ohio I felt completely out of touch with this area. I told her I could not do it.
I was interested, however, and during the next few years recorded my aunt's reminiscences and visited Bud Loomis, of Humptulips from whom I secured a wealth of thrilling anecdotes. I also interviewed Orte Higley, of Quinault; Richard Walker, of Axford; Mrs. Charles Streater, of Queets-Clearwater area; Ida Egge Trough, of the New London area; and many others. Through the kindness of Lena Huelsdonk Fletcher I was able to secure some Hoh history.
Following the death of Mrs. McNutt, I felt a strong urge to fulfill her wish and record for posterity the colorful life of their forefathers. In 1957, with a wealth of material at hand, I began the compilation. It is my hope that the reader will have a better understanding of the trials and hardships that confronted those early pioneers in the virgin jungle-forest of the Olympic Peninsula.
Land of snow-clad mountains and ocean blue;
Land of crystal rivers, dashing to the sea;
Land of virgin forests -
You're the land for me."
Lucile Horr Cleland