Name: Caroline Tibbals Rental House
Year Built: 1891
Location: 1208 Franklin Street
Area: Uptown Port Townsend, Block 108, Lot 1
By 1887 Captain Henry and Caroline Tibbals, ages 59 and 47, were wealthy and respected Uptown citizens with seven children. As one of the heaviest taxpayers in Jefferson County they owned many Uptown properties and had invested profitably in Downtown projects. Thus when Henry divorced Caroline, his wife of 27 years in May 1887, and married 23 year-old Josephine I. Page on November 19 of that year, Uptown rebelled. Well, at least the respected Uptown society matrons did.
Before the divorce, Caroline Tibbals owned the family home at 535 Fillmore and the surrounding property (lots 2, 4, 6, 8) bordering on Clay Street. Henry held title to his large horse stable and property (lots 1, 3, 5, 7) which bordered Franklin Street.
Henry liked animals but “fine” horses were his passion. “No public activity was complete without the presence and support of Captain Tibbals. Mounted on a coal black steed and officiating as officer of the day, he was the chief attraction at every 4th of July celebration.” Loving the limelight, Henry even “rode his horse through the lofty doors of the Silver Safe Saloon,” bellied the horse up to the bar and ordered drinks for everyone.
In the June divorce settlement the jilted Caroline got Henry’s horse stable and surrounding property for the sum of one dollar. Whether she got any on-going support is not known but Henry was said to “be generous to a fault”.
Henry and young Josephine were married in November in the Presbyterian Church across the street. Caroline tore down Henry’s beloved horse stable and started the planning for four rental homes on Franklin Street. Henry poured his passion into building Tibbals Lake Park with a one-mile race course he said would be “one of the fastest in the world."
The Uptown scandal outlived Henry and Josephine’s marriage. Whether it was because Josephine was shunned by Uptown society or whether it was too great a gap in their ages, Josephine was not happy; she deserted Henry. In May of 1892, Henry inserted a notice in the newspaper saying, “ to whom it may concern: My wife Josephine I. Tibbals having left my bed and board, I warn all parties not to trust her on my account for the value of one cent, as I will pay no bills of her contraction.” In retaliation for this public humiliation, Josephine, her father, and brother-in-law showed up to convince Henry otherwise. Henry’s next newspaper notice said, “I desire to state that I came very near to being murdered at my home by… and one woman formerly my wife. They took me by surprise and struck from behind. The notorious woman formerly called Josephine I. Page... said “Kill the s--of--b” when the two fellows had me down beating me. The Uptown matrons probably thought the same thing but never would have said it. Josephine was never a lady.
Lot 1 (1208 Franklin) shows as empty by the time the 1888 and 1890 Sanborn maps were drawn. The current house shows up on the 1891 Sanborn map. In February of 1891 John Strowbridge filed a lien on Lot 1 indicating Caroline had a large outstanding hardware bill. The garage was added between 1928 -1945.
Text and pictures are copyrighted by Jefferson County Research Center and will ultimately be used in JCHS book - Oct. 09/JL. Data modified from the National Register of Historic Places, the former Victorian Festival Heritage Home Tour, property owners and other sources. All material copyrighted by PTguide.com.