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Mr. Robert Bridges

Return to B Surnames.

The Seattle Daily Times
Friday Evening, December 2, 1921
Page 1, Column 6

Robert Bridges Dead

Once Active In Work Of Port Board

Former President of Seattle Commission and Former State Land Official Dies

Came To King County As Coal Miner In 1887

Could Neither Read Nor Write When He First Settled Here, but Became Close Student of Affairs Robert Bridges, 60 years old, former State Land Commissioner, former President of the Seattle Port Commission and nominee of the Farmer-Labor Party for Governor in the last state election died at 8:55 o’clock this morning at the Taylor-Lacey Hospital in Auburn.

Mr. Bridges was taken to the hospital November 25 suffering from stomach trouble and a few days ago underwent a surgical operation. He is survived by a widow, six sons and a daughter – John, Robert, Thomas, James, Charles and Walter Bridges and Mrs. John Crumm. The body was removed to the Chittenden Undertaking Company’s establishment at Kent, where funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock, the Rev. H.E. Woodley officiating. Burial will be in Odd Fellows’ Cemetery in Kent.

Mr. Bridges was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, his father being a coal miner. When 8 years old, Mr. Bridges entered the coal mines as a worker. In his reminiscences, he often told of how the coal miners strongly opposed legislation by the British Parliament to prohibit the employment of children and to reduce the hours of the men. The miners feared that Parliament was infringing on their private rights.

Came to County in 1887

Mr. Bridges married early, coming to the United States with his bride when he was about 20 years old. He worked first in the coal mines of Iowa and Illinois and then came to King County, in 1887, obtaining employment in the Black Diamond mine of the Pacific Coast Coal Company. While in Iowa, he was thrown out of employment for a long time by a strike.

When he settled in Black Diamond he could neither read nor write, but he set himself the task of mastering both with a determination that was characteristic of his whole career. For the rest of his life, he was one of the most omnivorous students of standard books in the state. Beside the Black Diamond mine, he worked in the Newcastle mine.

When the strike of 1890 closed the mines Mr. Bridges moved to Seattle and remained here ten years, when he removed to Orillia, where he had two farms of more than 200 acres.

While living in Seattle Mr. Bridges’ first work was foreman of street building crews. Two years later he opened a small general store at the foot of Main Street on the waterfront. Selected as a member of the Fusion Convention in Ellensburg, in 1896, Mr. Bridges walked the entire distance from Seattle. The convention nominated him State Land Commissioner and he was elected, serving from January 1897 to January 1901.

On his return to his home in Orillia Mr. Bridges formed a copartnership with George McFarlane and conducted a real estate and insurance business in Seattle up to the time of his last illness, under the firm name of McFarlane & Bridges.

After successfully completing a drainage district in Orillia, Mr. Bridges next turned his attention to the problem of making an asset of the lower Duwamish River. He was active in the organization of the Duwamish Waterway Project and for a time managed the operations of that enterprise. The Port Commission idea for Seattle and King County at once attracted him and Mr. Bridges was elected the South District member on the first Board of Commissioners in 1911.

Four Times President

Mr. Bridge served on the Port Commission until late in the summer of 1919, when he resigned and returned to his home in Orillia. He was President of the Commission four times, succeeding the late General H.M. Chittenden in January 1915 and being reelected in 1916 and 1917 and again in 1919. From his retirement in 1919 until the summer of 1920 he lived quietly in Orillia and then he was nominated for Governor of the state by the Farmer-Labor Party.

Following his defeat for Governor he again retired to his home in Orillia.

All of Mr. Bridges seven children are married with the exception of Walter, who is a pupil in the Kent High School. Mrs. Maggie Crumm, the married daughter, is the only child living outside of King County. She is a resident of Auburn.

Auburn Globe-Republican
Auburn, Washington
Friday, December 2, 1921

Robert Bridges Is Critically Ill At Local Hospital

Has Stomach Trouble

Following Operation He Is Able To Take Nourishment But His Vitality Is Low

Robert Bridges of Orillia, well known in state affairs, Port Commissioner for years, candidate for Governor on the Farmer-Labor ticket at the last election, is critically ill at the Taylor Lacey Hospital. Monday he was operated upon and it was found there was a tumor at the exit of the stomach. For a month or more he has not been able to assimilate food and his weakness and the serious nature of the ailment makes his condition critical. Since the operation he has taken nourishment and his recovery depends upon the degree of vitality he can muster within the next few days.

Mr. Bridges, formerly extremely robust and possessed of a fine physique has been reduced in weight to about 135 pounds and is in extremely poor health. He has submitted to an operation Monday in an effort to remedy stomach troubles which has contributed materially to his present condition.

Auburn Globe-Republican
Friday. December 9, 1921
Page 1, Column 2

Large Crowd At Robert Bridges Funeral Service

Former Port Commissioner’s Final Rites Attended By Many Acquaintances

Died Here Friday

Sank Rapidly During Past Year, Suffering From Serious Stomach Troubles

Funeral services were held at the Chittenden Undertaking Parlors, Kent, Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock for Robert Bridges, former Port Commissioner and candidate for Governor at the last election, who died at Taylor Lacey Hospital at 8:15 o’clock Friday morning.

A large number of acquaintances of Mr. Bridges from Auburn and the surrounding territory joined residents of the entire valley in attending the service and the Kent Chapel was not large enough to accommodate the crowd. Rev. H.E. Woodley of Kent conducted the service and interment was made in the Kent Cemetery.

All of the sons, John, Robert Jr., Thomas, James, Charles and Walter, were present with the widow at the funeral, as was also Mrs. Maggie Crum, a daughter.

Illness Follows Campaign

Shortly after his strenuous campaign for the governorship for Washington, which he made as a member of the Farmer-Labor Party, Mr. Bridges began to fail in health, being afflicted with a serious stomach trouble. He lost his strength and weight rapidly and was brought to the local hospital November 25 in an almost hopeless condition.

Following an operation performed last week Mr. Bridges rallied for a time but again sank rapidly and the end came Friday morning, with all of his family grouped about the bedside.

Born in Scotland, Mr. Bridges came to the United States when he was twenty years old, locating in the coal mining district of Illinois. He had been a coal miner in Scotland and followed the profession in Illinois. He moved to Washington in 1887, locating at Black Diamond where he immediately obtained employment in the coal mines. Later he moved to Seattle, remaining there until 1900, when he purchased the present family residence at Orillia.

Wrote Labor Literature

Mr. Bridges was prominent as a champion of organized labor and wrote several pamphlets treating on the value of unionizing labor and also advocating public ownership of harbor and railroad facilities. Two of his pamphlets, “Rail and Water Terminals,” and “Public Ownership of Rail and Water Terminals,” were published while he was a member of the Port Commission.

He was first elected Port Commissioner in 1916, was re-elected in 1917 and again in 1919. He resigned last year to enter the Farmer-Labor campaign for Governor. He was elected State Land Commissioner in 1897. Previously he was nominated at the fusion convention at Ellensburg. He walked from Seattle to Ellensburg to attend the convention and the publicity attached to the trip aided him in securing the nomination and election. He walked about the state in many of his campaign trips.


Generously contributed by: Sheila Simpson