George Huggins

Born in New York state in 1842. His first job was as a foreman on a railroad bridge building crew in Pennsylvania. During the Civil War he served with the 1st Vermont Cavalry for almost 3 years. Later in life he belonged to a GAR post. He came to the Puget Sound area about 1890, residing first at Plum Station.

He moved to Olympia where he ran a hotel, Hotel Huggins, at the comer of 2nd and Main. [Main St. is now Capitol Way.] In 1907 he purchased the old Woodland Driving Park in Lacey from Leopold Schmidt of Tumwater's Olympia Brewing Company. Schmidt had become a partner in the race track operation with one of his employees, Henry Schupp, who had purchased the property from the original owner, Isaac Ellis. The race track property included a hotel and barns for the horses.

One of the stories told about George Huggins is that he attempted to sell the race track when race track betting was outlawed in Washington. He borrowed money offering the track as collateral, but skipped town before anyone realized that the track was not worth as much money as he had borrowed. The story may be interesting, but it is false. The real events do not even come close to the story. In the fall of 1912 Huggins offered the use of the race track and property to the Thurston County Fair Association free of charge for up to 5 years. They took him up on his offer the following year. The 1913 fair was not a success and the Fair Association did not return in 1914. George Huggins died in Lacey on his property in 1928. His obituary noted that he "always took a very active part in any movement for the betterment of the community."

Huggins was preceded in death by his daughter, Georgia. The Morning Olympian referred to her as "a decidedly bright and lovable young woman ... " She helped her father turn the Huggins Hotel into a success. But she had problems with her lungs and at her father's suggestion went to California in the vain hope of regaining her health. She died in Pasadena in 1899. Her body was brought to the Masonic cemetery in 1901.

George Huggins' first wife died before he moved to the west. His second wife was Urania Root, a native of Minnesota and a teacher by profession. Many old-time Lacey residents remember "Jessie," as she was called, wearing hats with huge brims. She remained on the race track property after George died. She died in 1936

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