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James E. Wilson: An Early Edmonds Profile

From mill worker to grocer to insurance broker to city attorney, J. E. Wilson personified the town in which he lived. His personal story is typical of many who settled in turn-of-the-century Edmonds.

At the turn of the last century, Edmonds' shingle and lumber industries were drawing throngs of workers to the budding town. Solid employment with attractive wages, churches, social activities and a growing sense of community made the town a natural place for workers and their families to settle.

James E. Wilson and his young family were among the many who came to Edmonds during these years. He immediately found employment in the mills. A natural people person, he soon found himself supervising workers and managing various phases of mill operations. The first known photo of him shows him standing with other millworkers in about 1905.

Wilson's position at the mills helped him become known and respected in the community. When the volunteer fire department was formed in 1904, Wilson was among its first members.

In 1907 he left the mills to open the Crescent Grocery Store in the commercial block of Main Street. Two years later the out several businesses in this block, but left the Crescent Grocery without significant damage.

In the wake of the fire, Florance Roscoe (F.R.) Beeson purchased the burned out property and . Wilson seized the opportunity to move to larger quarters, and when the Beeson Building opened in 1911 the Crescent Grocery was among its first tenants.

Wilson operated the grocery for several years before turning over the business to his son-in-law Ernie Hubbard, who a few years earlier had married Wilson's daughter Lala. Wilson then went on to open his first insurance agency, the profession to which he would devote the remainder of his life.

As the years went by, Wilson and his insurance agency became a fixture in Edmonds. In 1927 he was elected City Attorney, a post which he held till his death the following year.

Upon his death, the insurance agency passed to Wilson's son-in-law Ernie Hubbard, who along with his son Lawrence continued to operate it into the 1950s.

Gary Pugh April 18, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Great story, thank you. There was a Hubbard Real Estate business on 5th Ave. S. for many years. Was this owned by the same family as mentioned in the story?
Larry Vogel April 18, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Yes, it's the same Hubbard! Ernie Hubbard was James Wilson's son-in-law, and he moved the agency to Fifth and Main. He later turned over the business to his son (Wilson's grandson), Lawrence Hubbard. Look for the story next week!
Brian Soergel April 18, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Larry knows all!
Tracy Tallman April 19, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Thank you for writing this. I really enjoyed it. A lot of interesting people lived in early Edmonds.
Brian Soergel April 19, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I agree. Would love to go back in a time machine for a day.
Peter Duncan EHS '70 April 19, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I think the Hubbards lived on Bell above 5th. I used to deliver the Enterprise, and later, the Tribune-Review both to the office & their home.
Larry Vogel April 19, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Stay tuned! I've got a few more interesting personalities lined up for future articles. Two that I've had the most fun writing past articles about were William Schumacher and Frank Peabody. Have you seen these?
Bob Gerrish April 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Keep up the good writing with the Edmonds history. My mom moved to Meadowdale when she was in elementary school & graduated from Edmonds Hiigh School in the early 1920s.
Larry Vogel April 23, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Thanks Bob...glad you're enjoying my stuff!

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