Notable Personalities from the Region.

Joseph Squire Grant Sr, generally acknowledged as the “Founding Father of Colby” about 1873 when he lived in Kansas. Grant first built a general mercantile in Olalla, but in 1885 purchased a similar enterprise from his brother-in-law, William Morgan, in Colby and began promoting the town. See the separate article about the Grant & Sons Store on this website..

The individual shown here in an unknown office was originally identified as Joseph Squire Grant, Sr, about 1885 . We believe it to be his brother-in-law, William Morgan, the first postmaster at Colby. The poster on the wall is a tribute to the martyred President Garfield, whom the family admired. This photo is provided by Ann Levenseller Norcutt.

The younger of the Grant children was Joseph Squire Grant, Jr, who was a dour man who became estranged from his father. For a time, he operated a “fancy groceries” store (ice cream and candy, essentially) at the foot of the Colby pier, and in later life he worked for the Bremerton Navy Yard.


Thomas Allen Grant 

& Georgeina Harding Grant.

Second-generation local merchants and Postmasters.

Tom and Georgina Grant on their wedding day, 1888.

Thomas Grant, the elder son, sitting on the stoop in front of the family store. He was known for dropping coins through the cracks and asking youngsters to crawl under to get them under the guise of “I think somebody dropped their key down there.”

Photo provided by Shirlee Toman.

Thomas, first son of Joseph Squire Grant, followed in his father’s footsteps as a prominent businessman and civic leader in Colby. His wife, Miss Georgeina Harding, and her family resided in Seattle but also homesteaded land in the Banner District, eventually moving over from the mainland. After Tom died, Georgeina ran the Grant business and was postmistress, living just shy of her 102nd birthday (right). For more about these subjects, check other posts on this site.

A group photograph taken at an unknown location about 1882-1885, perhaps in Kansas but also possibly in Olalla. It shows all three Grant children. Anne (Fowler/Hamilton) Grant is wearing the white apron far left, and her two younger brothers, Tom and Squire, are standing on the lower step at the far end of the steps. Tom has his hands in his pockets and Squire is wearing a straw hat. Photo probably provided by Shirlee Toman.

The second Colby School was located on Garfield and serves as a residence today. This photo shows one of the first classes. Photo provided by Shirlee Toman.

The students of the Colby School pose for a photo, 1911.


Annie Grant Hamilton.

A Sturdy Pioneer Woman of Yukon Harbor.

Photo provided by Shirlee Toman

More will be written about Annie’s remarkable life later, but suffice it to say that she experienced more than most men of the time did before age twenty-one. Her autobiography, which will be printed more fully, provides insight into the life of the 1880’s, lumbering, and what a being a woman in a male-dominated age was like. She is featured in other photos and narratives on this site.


Leo Shaw.

Trapeze Artist.

Shaw was a circus trapeze artist who retired with his wife, Conchita, to Colby. Census records show them there in 1910 and 1920. He died in 1933. We believe he taught the art of trapeze from the Curley Creek Grange Hall (later the S. Colby Athletic Club. Shaw’s name was, we think, John Leo Shaw and his wife was “Conchita Bacigalupi.” Her sister was Emalita Walsh (Long Beach, CA). The Shaws had a son, Hugh, and a daughter who was married to walter Reese. He was the art director of Cornish school and she was a painter.

Mrs. Shaw’s obit claims that J. Leo Shaw was the original ‘man on the flying trapeze’ but that title probably belongs to Jules Leotard who invented the trapeze act in France in 1859. The obit also gives Leo’s stage name as ‘Munis Leo’, but I can’t find anything on that. In 1898 the couple followed the Gold Rush and lost everything when a river boat sank on the Upper Yukon.

A 2009 interview with Mary Alice Biggs Budd (daughter of Alfred H and Dorothy Biggs) of South Colby adds this:”[…our neighbors were the Shaws, J. Leo, Conchita, and their son…. In the Federal census 1910 Leo is listed as a watchman for a private school; In 1920 census he is listed as athletic trainer at an athletic club* …Mary Alice remembers him as being with the circus and she learned how to use the trapeze in Shaw’s Barn. She remembers certain men that came there to train. She remembers that Conchita had appeared on Stag and Read Declarations….Conchita taught Mary Alice how to do the Declarations.”The Shaws owned a house and property near the corner of Harvey and Southworth Drives.”

There was another Shaw family in the immediate area, and probably related. An early ferry captain, Rayburn Shaw, lived on Cole Loop in the 30’s and on into the 60’s. Both Earl Whitner and JoAnn Lorden have recollections of him.

We are interested in hearing more about these interesting men.


This is one of the few images of the town of Colby during the WWII years. The sailboat in the foreground, MAGICIAN, happens to have been owned  by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. Photo provided by Chris Finn.

This is one of the few images of the town of Colby during the WWII years. The sailboat in the foreground, MAGICIAN, happens to have been owned by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. We wonder if anyone has any knowledge of what happened to the boat, which had the smaller mizzen mast removed under Hubbard’s ownership. Photo provided by Chris Finn. 

L Ron Hubbard.

Author, Founder of the Church of Scientology.

After establishing a career as a writer, becoming best known for his science fiction and fantasy stories, he developed a self-help system called Dianetics which was first published in May 1950. He subsequently developed his ideas into a wide-ranging set of doctrines and rituals as part of a new religious movement that he called Scientology. He reportedly lived for several years in a residence above Manchester, and anchored his yacht in Yukon Harbor.


Dudley Williamson, Jr.

Radio Journalist from South Colby.

Duds deathMr. and Mrs. Dudley Williamson lived on the beachfront in South Colby.  Their son, Dudley Jr. grew up in South Colby and attended Colby School. His picture can be seen in the Colby School picture elsewhere on this website.  Dud was a handsome young man with a wonderful speaking voice and eventually landed a job as a radio announcer with KOL in Seattle. On August 19, 1939 at 5:00 p.m. Seattle radio station KOL broadcast “THE ROMANCE OF POWER” coast -to-coast, live from Seattle city light’s Skagit River hydro-electric project with Dud as the featured announcer.

Dud continued with radio and moved to Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. In 1945 when “Queen for a Day” did their first broadcast on NBC Radio in Los Angeles, Dud Williamson was the original Host. In 1955 when the program moved to television Dud originated his own radio show titled what’s the “Name of That Song,” also broadcast from Los Angeles.  It was very successful and continued for several seasons until  Dud’s untimely death. His wife inherited the rights to this program and continued broadcasting the show for a short time, but without Dud’s personality the show just didn’t have the magic and was cancelled.


JoAnn Grant Lorden

Many of her memories from the 1940’s are included in the website.

Jody, about 14 years old. She lived elsewhere, but spent many summers in Colby.

JoAnn and her husband, Jerry Lorden, in 1995. She has been an avid supporter of YHHS and a major contributor to the information you see on these pages.


Earl Whitner

Interviews with Earl and the photographs he has provided have proven extremely valuable when filling in the era between WWII and the modern era. Earl was a notable character actor in many films and plays, and also taught drama.

Earl Whitner and his friend, Eddie, just off of the Colby pier about 1948.


YHHS seeks articles about additional personalities and noteworthy individuals for this section of our website. Forward suggestions and submissions through the email address noted on the home page.

One thought on “Notable Personalities from the Region.

  1. This is a very powerful website. I reside in South Colby and how fun to learn the deep history. I stumbled upon this while looking for info for the Yukon Harbor post office. I will definetly be passing this web address to others. Thank you.

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