Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Edd Lorig, born 1865
Edd Lorig was born toward the end of the American Civil War on 2 March 1865 in Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa.* He was the fifth child born to Henry and Katie Lorig and their only son. Walt Lorig remembered a few stories about his dad. The Lorig children went to Catholic grammar school and when Edd was about eleven years old he was apparently wrongly accused of something and punished by the priest. That incident caused him to run away from home. Walt didn’t know how long he was gone. He eventually did return home but would never go back to the school.
By the time he was about 14 or 15 years old he was working in the brickyard in Mt. Pleasant. He left Iowa and moved west arriving eventually in Seattle shortly after the Fire of 1889. His first job was on the Front Street cable car in Seattle. It was the only streetcar in Seattle at that time. The 1891 City Directory shows him as a Gripman Front Cable, Ry Co. In 1898 he is listed as a fireman on the West Seattle Ferry. By 1900 Edd is listed as a machinist for the S. C. Ry Power House. Then in 1901 he appears as an engineer for the G.N. Elevator Co. and a year later in 1902 he is again a machinist but with Wm Campbell and Son.
It was while he was working as a machinist that he met Hy Dygert. They got along well together and started their own business in Ballard. Edd did the mill work and Hy liked to do the boat and car work. So what little car work there was they did it and also they worked quite a bit on fishing boats. The name S. E. Sagstad keeps appearing on documents and as witness to marriages and I think this is where it connects since Sagstad was a boat builder and prominent in Ballard about that time period. Sivert E. Sagstad came from Norway to America in 1905 and may have distant connections to the Landaas family as well.
Edd and Hy owned and operated Shilshole Machine Works from about 1908 until 1915. Their shop was first in Ballard at the foot of 24th. Later they moved to 633 Westlake Avenue North. It is interesting to note that Shilshole Machine Works appears also as Lorig & Dygert some years and Shilshole other years. Edd’s eyesight began to fail but he continued to do machine work into the 1920s. By 1930 his eyesight was so poor he began working as a watchman and could no longer do the machine work he enjoyed so much. From the vision loss described by Walt we can guess that Edd more than likely had macular degeneration—losing the vision at the center of his eyes and only able to see out the edges unlike glaucoma where the outer vision is lost and what is left is referred to as tunnel vision. There is no complete cure even today for macular degeneration.
Like many of our other ancestors, Edd had musical talent. When he was a young man he played guitar in a band. His guitar remains in the family having been passed down to his granddaughter and from her to his great-great grandson who also plays guitar in a band. The guitar is a Washburn parlor guitar model 19110. Washburn, located in Chicago, Illinois began making guitars in 1883. Unfortunately the Washburn factory has had several fires and all records prior to about 1990 are no longer available. It was not until the 1980s that Washburn began using model numbers that reflected the manufactured date making it impossible to tell exactly when the guitar was made. If Edd played it as a young man before he met and married Maggie Landaas the guitar could date from about the mid 1880s or 1890s.
Walt said the following about his dad—“There’s not much to say about my dad. He was a good man, honest, and he kept us well. And nothing to do with the neighbors. He would speak to them when he met them. If they had any work to do, like the stove or like that why he break his neck over there and help them. Wouldn’t’ve charged them a nickel. But he was pretty much a loner.
“He made wine and moonshine, and beer. He made good moonshine. I don’t know where he got the knowledge. But after he had the moonshine he would run it through the still three times. And then it was about 180 proof. And he used distilled water and some kind of thermometer he used to cut it back to about 86 degrees. Or whatever it was. Everybody liked it. Uncle Lee was always out there. People would come and he’d offer them a drink, and I used to get a kick out of it, I kind of watched them, he’d give them a small little drink, in a small glass, and then he’d let them wait a little bit, I’m talking about the aunts and uncles [Landaas's]. And then he’d say “Well, how about, maybe you would like another little drink?” “Oh, yes,” they wanted it. Then he’d give them one more, then (bang) I could hear that cork go down! He’d put the bottle away. He wouldn’t ask them again. That was all they could get.
“He knew some Italian. He worked down at the Lang Stove Company down in Seattle as a night watchman towards the end And that’s where he met this Italian fellow and he kind of liked him. The Italian told him, gave him some wine they made. And he told him anytime he wanted some grapes to let him know. Well, my dad, said yeah, he like some sometimes. … He made good wine."
Walt also said his dad had a bit of temper sometimes and he once punched somebody but then he ran down to the police station right away and turned himself in, paid the fine, and everything was okay.
Edd died 29 March 1946.*** Edd and Maggie are both buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Seattle, Washington.
* I mention the Civil War only because I think it helps us understand our ancestors and the times in which they lived a bit better if we can link it to a known event or era. The American Civil War began in April 1861 and ended June 1865.
** In 2007 we went to the foot of 24th Street in Ballard to see if we could find the site of the old Shilshole Machine Shop. Today Pacific Fishermen's Shipyard is there but the amazing thing was that the building is still in use and still mainly used as it was when Edd and Hy Dygert worked there. We asked if we could go inside and take this picture and they very kindly let us. The people in the office had known that another company Rowe Machine Works had been there in the early 1900s but did not know that Lorig and Dygert had also been there even earlier.
*** I do remember my great-grandpa Edd even though I was very little when I saw him. He always seemed to have plenty of sugar cookies and 7-up. Something any child would surely remember.