Friday, August 05, 2011

Place names: Camp Growden, Washington USA

My mother's maiden name was Growdon, and I'm interested in anything that mentions the name Growdon or Growden, so when I came across this news item it piqued my curiosity.

Log structure moved, renovated to preserve CCC project’s history - - July 30, 2011
The work was back-breaking; the pay, modest. Living conditions were primitive – barracks in the Colville National Forest.

But in the 1930s, many young men considered themselves lucky to have a job with the Civilian Conservation Corps at Camp Growden. They built roads and trails, fought fires and felled trees for $30 per month. During the Great Depression, when many Americans were hungry and homeless, they had a roof over their heads and regular meals.

“Tonight, we had venison, mashed potatoes, beans and all the pie you could eat,” one CCC enrollee at Camp Growden wrote to his parents.

Today, the former CCC camp is a rest stop on Washington’s Highway 20, about 10 miles west of Kettle Falls. The camp’s military-style barracks, the mess hall and office buildings were torn down long ago. Just one building survived: a log structure that served as changing rooms for CCC recruits who swam in the Camp Growden’s man-made lake.

What interested me, of course, was how Camp Growden got its name in the first place.

There are natural place names, sentimental place names, and political place names.

Political place names are places named after some politician or bureaucrat who may not have had any association with the place at all. Durban in KwaZulu/Natal, for example, was named after a Governor of the Cape Colony who never, so far as I know, set foot in the town named after him. In this case, Camp Growden may have been named after some bureaucrat far away who decided that the camp should be built there, and may never have set foot in the place that bears his (or her) name. From the family history point of view, the interest moves to the place where the bureaucrat lived and worked.

Sentimental place names derive from migrants who settled in a place that reminded them of a place they had lived before. They are of some historical interest because they tell us something about the movements of people. I don't think there are lots of places named Growden, so this is unlikely in this case.

Natural place names are named after people who lived in the place, or after some event or feature of the place.

And this, it seems, is what happened in this case.

A Google hunt led me to Washington Rural Heritage : Item Viewer, which said, "Mr. and Mrs. Growden operated this stage station at the confluence of Lane and Sherman creeks on the road West between Kettle Falls and Republic. The CCC Camp Growden was later located near this site."

And it had a picture of E.B. and Amanda Growden:

From my own genealogical records I see that E.B. Growden was Edmund Blair Growden (1850-1926), and his wife was Amanda H. McNeal (1856-1941). E.B. Growden was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, USA, and was the son of Edmund Blair Growden and Rachel Blair. He's no kin of mine, as far as I know, though his Growden ancestors and mine came from the same part of Cornwall in England, so there may be a link further back in history than we have managed to trace.

I have no record of any children of E.B. and Amanda Growden, but from the picture there would appear to have been at least one child, so I'd be interested to learn of any descendants. And any descendants, and other descendants of Growden families, are welcome to join us on the Growden Family Forum.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My name is Roger Growden. My father did some family history research prior to his death. I know there are many Growden's in Pennsylvania. Look up Trevor Manor, "The Great House of Joseph Growden" in Pennsylvania. It was ther that Ben Franklin flew his kite. There are also Growden's in Alaska. They may have moved from Washington. In Fairbanks there is a baseball field named Growden Memorial Park, the home of the minor league team, "Goldpanners".
I don't have a lot of info on Growdens in Washington. Except the Growden Dam in the Colville National Forest, built by the CCC also.