Returning A Piece Of History – The Hanging Judge’s Wood Stove

We finally get the stove “home”

JC was at the Turf waiting for me again on Saturday and reminded me of something he and I did a few years ago. Apparently we are named on a plaque in Barkerville for our efforts.

We didn’t do it for recognition and it kinda made me sad that JC and I had so many wonderful experiences and will be forever remembered for this one and we are no longer.

Anyway it started when I was living in an apartment in Abbotsford attending college. My son had moved back with me and JC had moved in as well. From my living room window at night you could see a yard light on down the hill but I had no idea what was down there; if just looked like brush from any angle.

One day my son comes through the door breathless with excitement and his arms full of papers. He said down the hill where that light is he found a small abandoned ghost town. He went on to say there was a huge lavish home, a smaller house, and several out buildings. The places had been trashed but he had found all these old papers, news papers, financial records from the Haddrell Hotel, Xmas cards etc.
I went through them with him and these were OLD, he had a newspaper article that showed the plans for the Twin Towers yet to be built (and now they were gone). I asked him about this place, was he sure no one lived there, how did he find it, etc.

He said there is an over grown driveway and once you get to the end of it; it opened up to a beautiful old rambling house and there was all sort of antiques strewn around. JC and I went down the next day after school and met Kris there. He was right, there was a regular 3 bedroom house where people had obviously been squatting, a really small shack that would have been a farm hands cabin, several out buildings and the main house which was 1/2 surrounded by a concrete wall about 4′ tall, bamboo plants and other tall huge plants, on the other side was a creek with a small wooden patio and one side looked out over the land below. Inside there was a main lounge area with the name Haddrell woven into the wall to wall carpet. A huge fireplace took up most of one wall there was a bathroom and bedroom off of this room and a door that opened to a kitchen area that had most of the cabinets removed and broken. Off of the kitchen was another big dining and living room with another fireplace and hard wood floors. Another hallway led to another sleeping area with a bathroom. There was no furniture in the house but I picked up a bible from the 2nd bedroom, and there were papers, newspaper articles and other paper strewn every where and broken china etc.

Outside there were more papers, cards from the early 1900’s we found a last will and testament for a William Haddrell, and kris found behind a door in the shed a penny wrapped in lined paper written by Bud Haddrell saying it was the first penny he ever made for sweeping off the hotel roof and he wanted people to know how he started in life and that he earned his money.

We bagged up a bunch of the cards etc and I was particularly drawn to pieces of paper about 4×3 obviously torn out of a notebook and spread all over the yard.

While we were there two fellows showed up and we asked what they were doing there. They said they were from Kelowna and had heard about this house in Abbotsford that had money hidden in it. They said they had found thousands of dollars in a couple of stoves, behind mirrors, and now they were lifting floor boards and taking the fireplace apart. They said the old guy who lived there was dead and they were going to demolish the house.

We took our treasures and went home to read. I could go on and on about what we learned of the Haddrells but I will try to keep it short.

It turned out the Haddrells were one of the first people to settle in Abbotsford and had the first hotel. There was 3 kids and Bud had remained at home his whole life. There was receipts from all the rentals they had in the town and they never increased the rent.

There was pictures of Bud dancing in Bavaria with women. A newspaper article about him and his collection of antiques. He had a collection of antique cuckoo clocks including the first one ever made, he had the original Pinochio puppet, and he said his prized possession was the Hanging Judge Roy Bean’s wood stove.

When I started reading the pieces of paper I had collected I realized I had his journal. He talked about the Dummies a lot, he made a note that the “Dummies” were on the corner and the time etc. There were several notes that said “invite someone in and see what you get”

I found a hydro bill where he had paid the hydro 5 years in advance; thus why the yard light kept going on at night.
And I found notes he wrote about having to get home before dark; before the Dummies showed up. My stomach started to flip; I realized I was no longer reading some old guys boring journal this man had been afraid. It took me hours but I put all the pages in chronological order and started from the beginning.

He was a generous man (there were many thank you cards from many people for the donations he had made, gifts he had given, going back years and years) and in 1984 he took a homeless man home and fed him. His house was full of treasures and I gather this fellow told other people; drug addicts who all started robbing this man.

He wrote about them showing up in a car and a woman he called the Lady in Red; who acted interested in him. They gave him a drink that he suspected had a drug in it and they made him go to the bank and take out money.

Other notes talked about him locking himself in his bedroom, reading his bible and praying while he heard them in the rest of the house rummaging through his things. He watched them walking down his driveway with so much stuff in their arms they were dropping things. He wrote to himself, don’t go pick it up. He wrote of them watching his house and he was trying to hide money they wouldn’t find. He told his sister they were robbing him and she laughed and said he was crazy that he should have them for tea.

I was sobbing reading how this went on for 15 years and no one helped this man. JC started asking around town about him and heard that he wasn’t dead; he was in the hospital dying of cancer.

Oh yeah! His birth date was the same as mine April 5th only 1911. JC decided to go visit the old guy but when he got there the nurses said the old guy had just gone to sleep. He hadn’t slept all night, he kept asking is he here yet? They didn’t know who he was talking about. We were going to go another day but he died before we got around to it.

It bothered me horribly that this poor man had been tormented like this. Then one day we were at a friends and the guy had gotten a free utility trailer but it had an old wood stove in it and he took JC to show him. The minute JC saw it he knew it was the wood stove we had seen in the newspaper article. He reached inside it and pulled out a pair of old railway engineer overalls (haddrell’s favorite thing to wear) a 1/2 pack of smokes, a really old $10 bill and a note. The note said;
“Would whoever finds this stove please return it to its rightful owner the Province of BC Barkerville”

JC couldn’t believe his eyes and told our friend “this is the Hanging Judge Roy Bean’s wood stove” the friend didn’t have a clue who the hanging judge was so we filled him in on the whole story. Once he knew it was an important piece of history he refused to part with it. For two years we bugged the guy trying to get the stove off of him or get him to return it to Barkerville.

We had talked to the curator at Barkerville and from the response JC and I both got we figured he thought we were nuts.

Finally one day we’re driving past the friends house and they are obviously moving. The guy had been arrested for something and the wife was packing up and leaving. We stopped and asked about the stove and she said take it!

We threw it on JC’s truck right then and there and without packing a change of clothes headed to Barkerville.

It was the best trip, the best time JC and I ever had. I had forgotten how far it was to Barkerville and 9 hours later we arrived to find out it was off season and closed.

We could hear singing in the distance and I knew some people live there year round so we went through the gate and walked down the dark desolate road. We had a small dim flashlight and could feel the eyes of ghost from long ago following us as we held hands and stumbled towards the singing.

There was a light coming from one of the old hotels and as we walked past we saw someone walk past the window. Uncertain if we should knock we tapped lightly on the door and heard voices inside say
“Come in” . Slowly we opened the door and stuck our heads in. They said, “Saya will be right back”. Just then a woman dressed in period costume came down the hall and said “Hello, can I help you?” JC and I looked at each other as if to say “Are you seeing what I am seeing?”

We explained why we were there and that we had arrived so late and heard the singing.
It turned out it was performers practicing their routine, this was a bed and breakfast and there was one bed left.

One of the guests brought down a bottle of red wine and we joined them and the other guests until the wee hours of the morning. One couple was from Germany, another from Vancouver island and I can’t remember where the other people were from. I had just enough money to pay for our room and JC had covered the cost of fuel. We went to our and felt we had been transported back in time. The high bed with the fluffy down quilt and soft deep down pillows, the pitcher and basin on the dresser and a shared bathroom down the hall. Saya came and took our breakfast order and told us breakfast would be served at 9 am.

We went down in the morning and were greeted by pots of hot strong coffee, cinnamon rolls and platters that held our individual breakfasts. We all sat around the big old country table talking between mouthsful JC never ate breakfast but he finished his and then finished mine. We were done just in time to find the curator opening up his shop.

We introduced ourselves, related our story and he seemed less than impressed. That is until we took him out to the truck and he set eyes on the stove in the back of JC’s truck. His eyes lit up and he could hardly contain his excitement. He said he had never seen a stove that old and in that good a condition. He said, “you know we don’t buy artifacts?” We said we didn’t want money that we were fulfilling a dying man’s wish. We unloaded it, took a few pictures and were on our way. So pleased we had finally given Bud Haddrell his wish. The stove was home.

It was a long ride home and became a faded and cherished memory.

Then Saturday JC told me a friend of his had been to Barkerville and the courthouse and the stove is there with a plaque on it displaying JC and my name.

Hmmmmm we never thought we’d be honored in any way for what we did; but it is nice. And it makes me sad in a way.

So that’s how the Hanging Judge’s wood stove made it to Barkerville.

Posted by Carrie the Lady Witha Truck using WordPress for BlackBerry.

6 thoughts on “Returning A Piece Of History – The Hanging Judge’s Wood Stove

  1. Pingback: Land Before Time Piece Wood

  2. Howard White

    Most interesting story, both for the Judge Roy Bean connection and the Bud Haddrell connection. Bud was a good friend of my father, Frank White, who grew up in Abbotsford with him. Bud was an incredible character from the start. His parents owned a hotel in the old part of Abbotsford across from my granfather Silas White’s meat market on Essendene. Here is a an excerpt from my father’s memoir, One Damned Thing After Another: Another kid I knew from the earliest days was Bud Haddrell. His father’s hotel was across Essendene opposite Dad’s meat market. Bud was an entirely different kind of a guy. He was a brash character, a motor mouth who was into every kind of a racket you could imagine. One of the first I remember was marbles. I don’t see them playing marbles anymore. In those days you’d see them start up in the spring. As soon as it dries up and you can play in the sand. Everybody had marbles. I forget just what the rules were. You’d make a ring and put one of your marbles in there and everybody shoots to knock it out. Another one you could call your shot. Hit this one, bounce over, hit another one, you got two. If you called your shot you got credit. The object was to accumulate the most marbles as the season wore on. The good players’ bags would get bigger and bigger the bad players’ smaller and smaller. But Bud wasn’t content to win the slow way. He invented his own game. He brought in a little box with a hole in it. I forget just how it worked. He’d have a bunch of good-looking marbles on top of the box and if you hit the hole you won all the marbles on top of the box, but if you missed he got your marble. Damn few ever hit the hole. Before long Bud had most of the marbles in the school. He needed a gunny sack to drag them around.

    After school he’d go to work in his old man’s hotel. It wasn’t a big hotel, a frame structure—I couldn’t guess how many rooms. A dozen maybe. It had a café. If a car stopped out front, swish, little Bud comes out with a little apron, ‘How ya do Missus—‘ Find out their name, bring them in, ‘We got nice washrooms, c’mon in…” On the way out he would try to sell them ice cream cones. He was the goddamnedest guy you ever saw. If you were on the inside track you walk into Bud’s—“Gimme a root beer!” So he’d put up a real beer in one of those stone crocks they used for root beer. Cops would walk in, you’d talk to them without letting on, you’d feel you’d arrived. He did some bootlegging, always. He had an older guy, Nosey Campbell, who bought for him. He catered to every whim. You wanted anything, why, talk to Bud, he’d try, he’d break his goddamn neck to get you what you want. If it was a woman you wanted, no problem. They claimed his mother would stand in if there wasn’t anybody else. They were a pretty rough bunch.

    By the time Bud was in highschool he had his own motel. Up the hill behind just as you went out of Abbotsford. He had a row of twelve-fifteen cabins there. The old man set him up I guess. He was barely a teenager. We were still playing with goddamn marbles when he was running the motel. Well, during the day when he was at school, the motel would fill up with Americans who drove up from across the line to get a bit of booze and have a good time. Prohibition had been repealed in Canada but not in the states. Scotty Coutts was a few years older than us and he used to run this motel til Bud got out of school. Scotty would put these people up, rent out rooms, rent gramophones, but he wasn’t allowed to open up the liquor cabinet. Bud had to be on deck before any booze could come out. So all these Americans had to wait til school was out before they could start drinking. Bud never had trouble with the police that I know. Everybody knew he was a bootlegger. Cops might have been paid off but I can’t see anybody stooping that low, to take money from a kid, even though this was no normal kid.

    There was this girl, Georgia. We’re getting on now, maybe he was 15. She was older than him, maybe 16. From a respectable family. All of a sudden—great big explosion. You know how it is in schools. Bud has been doping girls. Bud did this and Bud did that. It turned out he’d been feeding Georgia dope. Her mother raised hell. Then, a big investigation. Second day of the investigation they got Bud up on the carpet, hashed it out, anyhow, Bud said, I just gave ‘er some Aspirin tablets and she just came right across like nothing.

    End of the big doping case.

    The whole town is chilled off when this goes through, believing the worst of Bud all the way. Bud came off clean as hell. The girl—she survived.

    Bud never worked a day in his life. His old man’s hotel burnt down and they rebuilt it. I don’t know if Bud built it but Bud got it anyhow. He never left the place. He started on his own some time in the ‘20s. He made everybody come to him, sitting there. People went to him for money, you see. A big part of his business was loaning money to farmers and that. But that was the extent of it. When he was younger you’d hear people predicting he’d become a big tycoon and end up owning half the country, but he was limited in his ambition. I guess he had a few million tucked away when he died, but he never went big.

    Bud was a funny guy. Funny situation. He had a special place. You couldn’t call him a great friend or anything. He was his own friend. He had a woman around for awhile but he never married. I guess if he had a real friend it was his father. They say he used to ride his bike out to his father’s grave at Hazelwood Cemetery and read him the stock market listings every day. I kept up with him and used to go visit him in his little house the hill above his old hotel. He had the place full of cuckoo clocks, all telling different time and making an unholy din, cuckooing at random. He also had about, I think he said, about 700 pairs of shoes. Fancy shoes, ordinary shoes, shoes of every colour and kind—spilling out of every drawer and closet. Plaques with corny sayings all over the place. He rattled away mile a minute about anything that came into his mind, just like always. He was a baseball nut and personally attended every World Series for sixty years or some such thing. I took my son to see him once and he thought he was crazy, but if so he’d been crazy a long time. His two brothers, Ace and Glen, were normal. Later he moved to a seniors’ home and I visited him there, too, but the last time I went he was dead. He only made it to 94.

    My dad is still living and will be saddened to hear how his old friend ended up. I hope you take the papers you found to the Abbotsford archives, they would value them. Thank you so much for posting this story.


  3. ladywithatruck

    Howard, Thank you thank you thankyou!! I enjoyed your father’s memories of Bud Haddrell so much! That is fhe kind of person I imagined Bud to be exactly. When he were sifting through the rubbish strewn throughout the grounds we found so many things that indicated he must have been a pretty eccentric guy. We found about 10 signs he must have had specially made that said, ” Don’t piss in Bud Haddrell’s pool”.

    I also found a picture him standing in the middle of Piccadilly Square, arms outstretched, feeding a flock of pigeons. He was wearing a suit, top coat, top hat and had a walking stick and shopping bag over his arm. He had written on the back,
    “Always dressed to the nines
    and a pocket full of pound notes.”
    Then I’d find a photo of him wearing his bib engineers overalls and waving to the camera. Next one would be him in Bavaria trying to kiss a girl or dancing and invariably the woman would have her hand on his chest trying to keep him at arms length. Lol
    He vacationed in Hawaii often and from ccards and letter I found he made “friends” with everyone and people were always sending him thank you cards for something he sent them. If someone mentioned they wished they had something he had like a hat or whatever; he would come home and find one and send it to them.

    From the will of his father s I found he inherited everything and the other kids got nothing or some token piece of property. He was definitely favored. He spoke like he was close to his mother also because he mentioned in one of his journals that she loved to feed the birds and he had filled the whole yard with wooden bird feeders. They were in the trees and on poles, on the roof, dozens of them, but as more people came searching for the money the was supposedly hidden in the house people started ripping them down and breaking them. I rescued two of them and took them to Barkerville when we took the stove. I asked the curator to please hang them in honor of Bud. I don’t know if he did or not.

    As far as all this paperwork goes I called several places in town, the museum and such and no one was interested in even seeing what I had. I suppose it was garbage to alot of people but I thought it was so special. If you read any other posts on my blog you will know that I was in a very abusive relationship through this time and JC took or destroyed anything I valued so I gave it to a friend for safe keeping and their home was broken into and vandalized and it was all lost. I have to check with my son; I gave him Bud’s bible. There were a few things I had kept, the pictures of him and some really old Christmas decorations. I had left JC at one point and had all my possessions, clothes, everything in my van which got stolen and i lost everything.

    But it was very strange the reaction I got from people when I mentioned his name; I always felt there was more to the story with the haddrell name. Other less prominent families are honored with streets named after them, parks etc. But they just tore down the old hotel, the house and other businesses without a second thought. Sad. I think he was a pretty neat guy but I think in the end his eccentricity worked against him and everyone thought he was a crazy old man and fidn’t believe he was being robbed by those people.

    I enjoyed your comment so much. Thanks again!


  4. Howard White

    I met Bud once when he was probably in his seventies or eighties and am glad I did. He was “on” all the time like a three-year-old kid and just on the verge of eccentric where it was teetering over into “nuts.” But he was entertaining and seemed harmless. It’s a shame the archives didn’t want the papers–I can’t understand that at all. I’ve looked at their records and they certainly have papers of less significant pioneers than the Haddrells. I read your article to my Dad and it made him sad to think his old friend was abused in his final days. Maybe when Dad’s book comes out he will get a little of the recognition he deserves. I enjoy your blog very much–keep it up. Howard


    1. ladywithatruck Post author

      Howard, thank you for the compliment I’m glad you think its worthy of continuing. I would love to buy a copy of your fathers book when it is finished and if you would like I will put a link or iinformation on how to get a copy on that post in case anyone reading it would like to read more about your father’s life. Just let me know, I’d be more than happy to do it ((free of course).



  5. Pingback: Why do We Stay or Go Back? | Ladywithatruck's Blog

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