Nelson’s Corner, Mukilteo


Intersection of 84th Street SW and the Mukilteo Speedway, Mukilteo

In 1993, Frank Nelson, age 85, was Mukilteo’s Pioneer of the Year. His parents, Oscar and Adele Nelson, brought Frank and his sister, Vera, to Mukilteo in 1909. The Nelsons were originally from Sweden; they lived in Illinois when they first came to the US but were drawn to the West Coast. They moved to Ballard before buying Ferdinand Fogleberg’s cabin in Mukilteo. (9)

They came by boat from Ballard, where Oscar worked in a mill. When they arrived, Oscar carried all their belongings on his back, up the hill at the intersection of 84th and the Mukilteo Speedway. At first the family lived in Fogleberg’s leaky, two-room cabin before building a house in 1910. (10) The road that is 84th Street SW wasn’t built until 1914. (11) In 1933, the Nelsons built the brick house that still stands at 4514 84th Street SW. Sam Sorenson, who constructed many of the area’s homes, was the contractor. Sorenson was also a road builder and he helped Oscar blow up the stumps to clear his land. (12) Oscar spent 13 years taming the 15 acres that would become the Nelson farm. At the same time, he worked 10 hours a day at the Mukilteo shingle mill, for 10 cents an hour to help pay their mortgage of $5 a month. The children, Frank and his sister also worked on the land. The area became known as Nelson’s Corner when Oscar’s brothers bought the neighboring land, giving the Nelson family a total of 35 acres. The family grew and sold strawberries for 40 years. The property was also known for the dahlias that Adele grew. (13)

The Nelson Hill House originally stood at the corner of 84th Street W. and 44th Avenue W. until 1993 when it was moved to 8216 45th Place W. and restored by Vic and Jeanie Alinen. This 1926 Dutch Colonial was added to the Mukilteo Register of Historic Places in 1995; it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the home of Frank’s uncle, John Nelson, who lived with his brother, Oscar, when he first arrived in Mukilteo. His daughter, Violet (real name Verona), was born in 1915 in a house on Third Street. It took John from the fall of 1926 to the summer of 1927 to finish his house. He was no stranger to hard work—he once broke all his ribs and his collarbone when he fell 40 feet under a log boom. Another time he broke his hip after his crew dropped a load of lumber on him. (14)

The Nelson cousins had a difficult time in Mukilteo as other children teased them for speaking Swedish. Even so, Violet met her future husband, Vern Burkebile, while she was still in high school. They planned to elope while she was studying to be a civil engineer at the University of Washington. On the way to Mount Vernon to get married, their car flipped over and Vern was severely injured. After that, they waited another four years before actually getting married. Violet told the Mukilteo Beacon that she waited so that people would know that the pregnancy rumors were false. The Nelsons also remember that moonshiners were still prevalent during this time. (15)

At 19, Frank joined the Navy; during WWI he served in the Pacific. After the war, Frank worked at the Sound View Pulp mill (now the Scott Paper Company) until his retirement. He cared for his mother, father, and sister until their deaths and continued to work the family farm. Frank never married; he passed away on August 24, 1997, after suffering from several strokes. (16) Frank requested that there be no funeral. (17) In his will, Frank gave the Mukilteo Presbyterian Church the first option to buy five acres of the family land. The church has since relocated to the property that Frank’s house occupies. (18)

Between 1907 and 2004, the church’s congregation met at the building on Third Street (shown in the photographed model by Lorna Hall). The original building was planned by George Losvar, although it was built by members of the congregation. (19) The Hill House is currently (2013) for sale.

(9) McConnell, Opal “Scenes from the Past.” Rosehill News, December 1988
(10) Archipley, Paul, “Nelson Relishes a Full Life.” Mukilteo Beacon, September 1, 1993
(11) Mukilteo Vintage Home Tour and Tea, Mukilteo Historical Society. September 13, 2003
(12) Brown, Bruce, “How Things used to be.” Mukilteo Historical Society, 1990s
(13) Archipley, Paul, “Nelson Relishes a Full Life.” Mukilteo Beacon, September 1, 1993
(14) Archipley, Paul, “Pioneer Family Mixed Hard Work, Play in Early Days.” Mukilteo Beacon, July 14, 1993
(15) Ibid
(16) Archipley, Paul, “Nelson Relishes a Full Life.” Mukilteo Beacon, September 1, 1993
(17) The Herald, “Frank Oscar Nelson.” August 26, 1997
(18) Display at the Mukilteo Historical Society
(19) Mukilteo Vintage Home Tour and Tea, Mukilteo Historical Society. September 13, 2003

  • Oscar and Adele Nelson

    Oscar and Adele Nelson

  • Nelson Hill House, unknown date (Mukilteo Beacon, 1993)

    Nelson Hill House, unknown date (Mukilteo Beacon, 1993)

  • Frank Nelson’s House (Hoogkamer, 2013)

    Frank Nelson’s House (Hoogkamer, 2013)

  •  Nelson Hill House, (Hoogkamer, 2013)

    Nelson Hill House, (Hoogkamer, 2013)

  • Nelson Display at the Mukilteo Historical Society

    Nelson Display at the Mukilteo Historical Society

  • RIGHT: Frank Nelson farming. LEFT: The Nelson Family—clockwise from top left: Frank Nelson, David Watson, Vern Burkebile, and Violet Nelson Burkebile, (Mukilteo Beacon, 1993)

    RIGHT: Frank Nelson farming. LEFT: The Nelson Family—clockwise from top left: Frank Nelson, David Watson, Vern Burkebile, and Violet Nelson Burkebile, (Mukilteo Beacon, 1993)