Daisy: Still a "Daisy of a Town"

 

     In 1882 Sam McGee and his brother came across a typical section of Stevens County. "It was the early home of the Indian, trapper and prospector, who did little towards blazing trails for the coming civilization or cultivating the land. The man who has spent his life on the plains, or in the mountains prospecting, does not know the science of farming, nor is he inclined to farm…consequently the country remained undeveloped for years." (Stevens County Historical Society Archives) Sam McGee platted the town in 1902 and there are two stories how it got the name Daisy. Some say Sam McGee chose the name saying "This is going to be a ‘daisy’ of a town’ and other say it was named after the Daisy Mine.

     The Daisy mine was owned by J.C. Flourey, but was only active for a short while after arsenic was discovered in the ore. Mr. McGee started a successful sawmill out his back door and there was also a ferry, a saloon, two stores, two churches a livery stable, a hotel, a creamery, a small butcher shop with a meat wagon that went across the river once a week, and a stage. The mail was delivered daily and there was telephone service. Most currency was Canadian money or was gold dust, worth $16 an ounce. "In the early days Daisy was a live town. There were many prospectors always coming and going and every store had gold scales." (SCHS archives) Sundays were always exciting days. The Native Americans would come across the river and trade and have horse races. There was a racetrack west of town and they say the natives would bet everything they had on a horse race. Native people crossed the river in boats of all kinds while the cattle and horses swam across.

 

The Chinese Placer Miners

     During the 1860 gold rush in Stevens County many miners came and left quickly in search of richer fields, but 300-400 Chinese Placer miners came to work on the gravel bars of the Columbia River. "The Chinese were looked upon as being fit for nothing more than to work once-washed claims that no white man would consider. But as in other mining areas, their industry and patience made it possible to extract surprising amounts of gold from abandoned claims."

     Two miles from Daisy Ah Tai (Wong Fook Tai) and his brother Ah Nem/Nim were the last placer miners to work on the Columbia. By law they could not own land, so John Ricky gave Ah Tai a 99-year lease. Ah Nem operated a small store in their house. He sold silk, firecrackers, fans, teapots and other novelty items from China. Ah Tai grew vegetables, strawberries and Chinese lilies. In 1922 Ah Nem was murdered and Ah Tai was left for dead when some local men tried to steal their stash of hard earned gold dust. In 1937 a news article told of the death of Wong Fook Tai, Stevens County’s only surviving Chinese resident. "His funeral was recorded as one of the biggest in Stevens County History." (Pioneers of the Columbia 1998)

 

 

Streetside in Daisy, Wash.