Friday, December 14, 2018

Jason Finding Relative Corny Nooksack Salmon In Old Seattle Times

Yesterday Spencer Jack's favorite dad, who also is my favorite Jason nephew, emailed me with a perplexing subject line of "Corny Relative's Nooksack Salmon".

Who is this corny relative with salmon from the Nooksack, I sat here and wondered? Is the corny fishing relative Spencer Jack's Uncle Joey, an uncle well known for his frequent salmon fishing in various Pacific Northwest water locations, though I'd not heard of Joey fishing in the Nooksack.

For those unfamiliar with Washington rivers, the Nooksack is a river which flows from the Mount Baker watershed, through Whatcom County til it reaches Bellingham Bay, which connects to the Georgia Straits and eventually the Pacific Ocean after passing through the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the untreated sewage which flows from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Opening the email from Jason, after reading the perplexing subject line, the text in the email said...

I assume the relative mentioned in the 1945 attached Seattle Times newspaper page would be your grandfather?

Well, a grandfather of mine would be a great-grandfather of Jason's. Knowing it was our mutual forefather being referenced I knew Cornie had to be Cornelius Slotemaker-Jones.

The Slotemaker-Jones naming rules established long ago in the Netherlands were that the eldest son was to be named for his paternal grandpa.

I forgot to explain, the Dutch translation of the Slotemaker surname is sometimes thought to be Jones, hence Slotemaker-Jones.

The original Slotemaker-Jones, possibly illegal immigrants from Holland, were Cornelis and his wife, my great-great grandma, Aagje. Their first son, Jan (John), was my great-grandpa, married to my great-grandma, Tillie, who is the only one of that generation I knew, and remember.

Their eldest son was my dad's dad, my grandpa, Cornelius, also, apparently known as Cornie, though I thought his Americanized nickname was Neil. I do not know why they changed the spelling of Cornelis to Cornelius when they became Americanized, or why they Americanized Jan to John.

Because my dad was the eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son his name was John, with the Americanized nickname of Jack. I was supposed to be named Cornelius, due to that eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son naming convention, but my mom and dad decided to be American rebels and not name me Cornelius.

I am guessing maybe mom and dad did not want their eldest son to have the nickname of Cornie. I believe it was a HUGE family scandal when mom and dad committed this egregious act of breaking the family naming convention. Mom and dad further inflamed some of the relatives a couple years later when they mis-informed them the name of their new born baby girl was Matilda, (if I am remembering the family lore correctly) when Matilda's actual name was Nancy.

Anyway, so Jason's email included a PDF of the front page of the Seattle Times from Sunday, July 29, 1945. It took me awhile, scanning the headlines and the articles to locate the Cornie reference. That is a screen cap of the Seattle Times front page above, and the article mentioning Cornie, cropped below.

The article's headline claiming Farmers Would Give Navy Their River was intriguing.

Apparently there was some irrational thought given to the idea of the Navy using the Nooksack River to moor some of the 514 ships they were somehow planning to moor on Lake Washington. How would they float big ships to Lake Washington? Through the Ballard Locks? Seems unlikely.

I called mom last night and asked if she remembered this idea of floating Navy ships to moor on the Nooksack River during World War II. It was not too shocking that mom had no memory of this. But she did remember the nature of the Nooksack River and asked how would they float big boats upstream on that river? It wouldn't be deep enough, would it?

The paragraph mentioning Jason's Great Grandpa, Cornie, is as follows...

Our farmers would be real pleased to have the Navy occupy our idle river. It's plenty wide. Our old-time freight steamers didn't have space to turn around, but they managed nicely by backing downstream. Cornie Slotemaker-Jones landed a 32-lb. salmon here this month, so we could offer the sailors good fishing and a lot of other entertainment. The Nooksack has always been noted for having a lot of bars.

A lot of bars? Are we talking sandbars along the river here? Sandbars would seem to be a river navigation impediment. Or are we talking bars of the tavern/saloon sort?

I have no idea.

But, I do know part of the family lore is our Great-Grandpa Slotemaker-Jones, and some of his brothers, brewed beer during prohibition. And sold it. Some say via river running their brewed products down south to the Seattle area, for distribution.

A bigger mystery to me is how in the world did Jason find this obscure reference to our forefather in a newspaper from almost three quarters of a century ago?

Below is a photo of our grand and great grandparental units enjoying some of Grandpa's prohibition product. I believe that is Grandpa Cornelius sitting on the far left, with Grandma Sylvia, who was Jason's great-grandma, and my grandma, and Henry and Spencer Jack's great-great grandma, standing, the second from the left....

No comments: