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08 May 2019

Seattle-Portland-Spokane Timeline - Part I – to the closure of The Garden of Allah, 1956.

As I have commented before, there is now so much trans history, that a universal timeline is futile, and most that I encounter are badly done. I have already discussed which are the better universal timelines.

Which brings us to regional timelines. The rough story is the same everywhere: initial oppression, some resistance, some success, more success. But the details and the persons involved are quite different, and the local issues can also be very different. Some months back I did an Atlanta-Savannah timeline.

Now here is what happened in Oregon and Washington. Apologies for the lack of native two-spirit content. It should be included, but I was unable to find a summary of such.

The early years are dominated by pioneer trans men and female impersonators.   Of the trans women discussed in Part I only Alice Baker and Hotcha Hinton passed well off stage.   Trans women as we today think of them, will appear in Part II.   In the circumstances before the mid-1950s, those with the yearning to be trans women settled for stage performance or the occasional private party - that was all.  Of course many others yearned but suffered in silence.

The significance of Albert Ellsworth will become apparant in Part II.

Part I – to the closure of The Garden of Allah, 1956.
Part II – to the Buckwater & Kotala decisions 1996.
Part III – to now.

Part I – to the closure of The Garden of Allah, 1956


Francis Drake made his way to Nehalem Bay in 1579 and spent five weeks in the middle of summer repairing his ship. He claimed the land between 38–48 degrees north latitude as a Symbolic Sovereign Act for England. 


New Yorker John Jacob Astor financed the establishment of Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River as a western outpost to his Pacific Fur Company.

British explorer David Thompson conducted overland exploration. In 1811, while working for the North West Company, Thompson became the first European to navigate the entire Columbia River. Stopping on the way, at the junction of the Snake River, he posted a claim to the region for Great Britain and the North West Company.

Thompson who had met Kaúxuma Núpika/Manlike Woman in the upper reaches of the Columbia River, now met him and his wife at Fort Astoria. Kauxuma had been passing, but Thompson outed him. Kauxuma’s prophesies on the downward journey had so scared the Lower Columbia River inhabitants that the locals were intent upon killing Kauxuma, who now approached David Thompson to seek his protection during the journey upriver. 


In the War of 1812, the British gained control of all Pacific Fur Company posts. 


The Treaty of 1818 established joint British and American occupancy of the region west of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. By the 1820s and 1830s, the Hudson's Bay Company dominated the Pacific Northwest from its Columbia District headquarters at Fort Vancouver (built in 1825, across the Columbia River from present-day Portland). 


The first law code for Oregon was a copy of Iowa’s simply because someone present had a copy. Sodomy was not a crime in Iowa, so it was not specified for Oregon either. 


The border between the United States and British North America was set at the 49th parallel. The Oregon Territory was officially organized on August 13, 1848. 


A new code of law adopted by the Oregon Territorial legislature did not include sodomy as a crime.
Settlement increased with the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 and the forced relocation of the native population to reservations in Oregon. 


A new criminal code in Oregon makes sodomy a crime for the first time, with a penalty set at 1 to 5 years in prison. 

Washington became a US state. 


Oregon became a US State. 


Election code of Washington State said that “all white citizens” could vote. It was said on the floor of the house that this included women. However women were turned away at subsequent elections. Litigation followed. See 1909. 


First person sent to the Oregon State Penitentiary for Sodomy. 


Ray Leonard and his father Joseph arrived in Lebanon, Oregon, and set up a cobbling business. 


Joseph Leonard died. Ray continued the business. He lived in the back of the shop, and went fishing and hunting with other men from the town. The men would gather in his shop in the evenings to tell stories. 


Harry Allen, then 16 and still living as female, gave birth to a boy. The father had already deserted. This confirmed to Allen that he should be a man. The boy child was raised by his grandparents.


Harry Allen, then using the name Livingston, came to the attention of Seattle and national newspapers, which constantly gave his female name. He had been arrested several times by the Seattle police. The reason given was creating a disturbance, but really for wearing the wrong clothes. He left town and got a job as a bartender in Washington’s Tunnel City, a railway camp at Stevens Pass in the Cascade Mountains, where a tunnel was approaching completion. Edward ‘Black Jack’ Morse, a felon from Alaska, was shot dead during an attempted robbery in Seattle in 1900. In his pocket was said to be found a photograph of himself and Livingstone taken in Tunnel City 


In Tunnel City, it was reported, a waitress named Dolly Quappe, killed herself on Christmas Day, 1901, by drinking carbolic acid. This was said to be because she discovered that her Harry, Harry Allen, was not really a man, and anyway he loved another. 


August: Harry Allen, drunk, punched a cop, which led him to the jailhouse. 


November: Pearl Waldren in Seattle attempted suicide by gunshot, declaring her love for Harry Allen. 


Harry Allen was arrested again on a trumped-up charge – it was said that the police wanted to tie him in to train robberies by the infamous Bill Miner. 


The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition put Seattle and Washington State in the national spotlight. Both the Washington Equal Suffrage Association and the National American Woman Suffrage Association held their annual conventions in Seattle in July 1909, and July 7 was declared Suffrage Day at the A-Y-P Exposition itself. 


Harry Allen was arrested and charged with selling alcohol to Native Americans.

Ray Leonard, now 62, was found wandering at night and was disoriented. He was taken to the state hospital, where, on being stripped for a bath, was declared to be a woman. Ray recovered and returned to Lebanon, but the authorities made him wear dresses (although he wore trousers underneath). The men no longer gathered in his shop. 


June: Harry Allen and a prostitute friend, Isabelle Maxwell, travelled to Portland, Oregon, and took a room. As Maxwell was a prostitute, Allen was charged under the 1910 Mann Act for transportation across state lines for immoral purposes. The arrival of a cop who knew Allen and his gender history resulted in the dropping of the Mann Act charges, although – Oregon having no law against cross-dressing, he was convicted of vagrancy and sentenced to 90 days in the city jail.

It just so happened that while Harry Allen was in jail, Miriam Van Waters, a Portland native, an anthropology student at Clark University, Massachusetts and a future prison reformer was in town doing research on female inmates at the city jail. Waters perceived Allen to be an energetic and independent woman for whom modern society (unlike many aboriginal tribes) had no place.

November 8: 19-year-old Benjamin Trout was arrested in Portland for only petty theft. But was so frightened that he confessed to participation in local homosexual culture. The story dominated local newspaper headlines for several weeks, over 50 men were implicated, those who fled to California, Washington and British Columbia were arrested there. Most charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence, however seven pled guilty or were convicted, and one committed suicide in his room at the YMCA. The newspapers contained numerous lists of suspects along with spicy details about drag parties, men with female names, secret codes of communication, male brothels, nationwide networks of perverts, and local sites where men met for sex.

December 12: physician Harry Start was charged with sodomy, and convicted. The prosecution entered into evidence accounts of drag parties.

Julian Eltinge’s Vaudeville Review played the Metropolitan Theatre in Seattle.

Oregon suffrage extended to women on the 6th attempt. 


Alice Baker arrived in Portland in the spring. She arrived in men’s clothes but found refuge at the women’s Peniel Mission, where she explained that she had had to leave home in Idaho after a disagreement with her parents, and had traveled as a man with a fake moustache. Donations were made to her of feminine attire and a ‘transformation’ wig. There were even rumors that a local evangelical minister had proposed. However the wife of the Peniel Mission’s superintendent became suspicious and a short stay in hospital resulted in the physician reporting to the superintendent and to the local authorities that she was a man. Baker quickly left town, on a ship sailing to California, with a man friend.

The Oregon legislature, responding to claims during the 1912 trials that fellatio was not forbidden by the 1853 Sodomy law, broadened the 1853 law to forbid both oral sex and “any act or practice of sexual perversity”.

Harry Start appealed on the grounds that it had been improper to introduce evidence regarding activities for which he had not been charged. The prosecutor argued that this was to establish that Start was a congenital invert. In May 1913 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that “To admit testimony...making it appear that the accused has the bent of mind adapted to such actions, would cloud the issue and confuse the jury” and overturned the conviction. However Start had lost his Oregon medical license. Start moved to Hong Kong, his wife Mary to follow later, but she died of a drug overdose. Start moved on to the Philippines, where he was still working as a urologist during the Japanese occupation after 1941. After WWII he returned to the US and died in a mental hospital in California in 1946. 


++Anarchist Emma Goldman, as part of a national tour in which she spoke about birth control, homosexuality, anti-war topics etc., was due to speak in Portland.  There had been no police interference elsewhere, but the Portland police arrested her before she spoke, citing the law against distributing information about contraceptives. She had spoken about homosexuality the evening before.  The case was dismissed because she had been prevented from speaking about contraception.  


Robert Gaffney, 44, head janitor, was arrested in Seattle under the 1913 ‘Lazy Husband’ Act for deserting his wife, and sentenced to hard labor (for which his wife would gain $1.50 per day). However he revealed that he had been born female, and had lived as male for 18 years. He had married a woman, deserted by her husband with one child and another on the way, to help her. When she became pregnant again, he considered their agreement broken and left. The judge dismissed charges, and declared the marriage void. 


Harry Allen was working as a police informer after Washington State introduced alcohol prohibition.
Alberta Hart, the only ‘woman’ in her class, graduated from the University of Oregon Medical Department in Oregon (now the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine) with the highest honors in her class, and consulted a physician-psychiatrist, Dr J. Allen Gilbert of Portland, Oregon. Dr Gilbert established that the real problem was connected with her sex. He had initially tried hypnosis to get her to accept a conventional female role, but she had refused to continue in that. 


In February, using the name Robert Allen Bamford, Jr., Hart married Inez Stark in California. Otherwise he was now Allen Hart. He requested a hysterectomy from Dr Gilbert, and the operation was done late in 1918. This is a remarkably early cooperation of a doctor to supply as much of a sex change operation as then technically feasible. 


Harry Allen got into a quarrel with his 79-year-old father and was stabbed in the lungs from the back. The city hospital managed to save him. 


Harry Allen was busted for opium
  • Joshua Allen Gilbert. “Homosexuality and its Treatment”. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 52, 4. Oct 1920: 297-322. Identified the patient, Alan Hart, only as ‘H’. The article is a mix of the patient’s and the doctor’s writing. In line with the practice of the time, the patient’s condition is labeled ‘homosexuality’.


Ray Leonard died, age 72. 


Harry Allen died at age 40 of syphilitic meningitis. 


Alan Hart, MD had obtained a hospital position, but was outed after a chance encounter. Inez Stark left him. 


Alan Hart and Inez were divorced. Later he married a school teacher. He obtained positions out of state.


A speakeasy was opened in the basement of the 19th-century Arlington Hotel in Seattle's Pioneer Square. It was called The Garden of Allah after the popular 1904 novel by Robert Hichens, which had been adapted as a play in 1911, and filmed in 1916 and 1927. 

The teenage Francis Blair already has a trunk full of female clothing, and passed easily on Seattle streetcars. 


Albert Ellsworth was born in Yakima, Washington State, to a teenage mother, Mildred Sweet (1911-1955) and her husband Albert Ellsworth (1906-1990). They were told that the child was not expected to live, and relocated to Redmond, Washington. Subsequent enquiries to the hospital re the child went unanswered.  Neglected, the baby was cared for by a French aristocrat, Germaine Bonnefont (1894-1983) a teacher of French and Spanish, and her US husband, Robert Brown,  


“Sam Jarvis” found guilty of second degree burglary after being arrested in stolen female clothes.


In the 1930 census the Brown-Bonnefont family listed Ellsworth as their son Bobby Brown. They took the young boy to France, although without the formality of adoption.

18-year-old Vilma arrived in Seattle. While he had previously done quite a bit of female impersonation, he desisted as he grew older. 


The Casino was the main gay bar in Seattle. "the only place on the West Coast that was open and free for gay people”. Same-sex dancing was allowed. It was nicknamed: Madame Peabody's Dancing Academy for Young Ladies.

Hanna Banna had come to Seattle with the Alaska Gold Rush in the late 1890s. Sometimes dressed as female, but not always, Banana was often found at The Casino, where she was the local gay historian.
Chicago Marge was one of the few who always wore female clothing. She also hustled. One night she was chased by a policeman, but got away. The next day the local newspaper ran a cartoon of the incident and complained of police wasting time and money,

The Spinning Wheel cabaret featured female impersonators.

Female impersonators were also featured at the State, Rialto and the Palm. The public were not told which dancers were trans. 

Francis Blair was in the chorus line of the Rivoli Burlesque. Her gender was known and her dressing space was separated from that of the cis women by a screen. She sometimes played the organ for the show. 


Skippy Larue from Texas moved to Seattle and worked at Boeing for 72¢ a hour, and then on a ferry lunch counter. He met Jackie Starr, first at a party, and then because they lived in the same building. 


In the chaos following WWII, Albert Ellsworth came to the attention of the new government in Paris, and after scrutiny of his documents, it was determined that he was a US citizen and he was sent back to Yakima, Washington on the SS Argentina in 1946. He met the birth mother of whom he had no memory. She was still only in her mid-30s. They had sex and a sister-daughter Rosalyn was born, although by then Albert had left and did not know about the child.

The Garden of Allah, previously a speakeasy and then a tavern, re-opened, this time as a gay cabaret. It was Seattle's most popular gay cabaret in the late 1940s and 1950s and one of the first gay-owned gay bars in the United States. Acts were primarily female impersonation, though some male impersonators also performed. The opening night act was the Jewel Box Review. Local performers included Wanda Brown, Michael Phelan, Francis Blair, Jackie Starr, Robin Raye, Hotcha Hinton, and Paris Delair. Unlike the female impersonator nightclub, Finocchio’s, in San Francisco, local gay men and lesbians were encouraged to attend.

Hotcha Hinton, raised as a circus performer, worked each winter at the Garden of Allah and did many of the costumes for the show until it closed. Her act involved live snakes to the consternation of the other performers. In summer she would leave to work in carnivals. She lived as a woman full-time, was quite pleased to be taken as a woman, and she would get upset if she failed to pass on the phone, or if show-biz rival like Ray Bourbon or Liz Lyons referred to her as a man. She had electrolysis but apparently did not take the new hormones.

Jackie Starr, previously with the Jewel Box Review, was signed as the headliner at the Garden of Allah.

Francis Blair was known for her singing, but also danced, stripped, produced shows and designed costumes. Syndicated columnist Walter Winchell wrote about Francis as ‘the boy with the million-dollar legs”.

Bernie Carey (born 1922) was an impersonator at the Garden of Allah, on and off, 1946-1952. Later he became a hairdresser.


Ricky Reynolds (born 1933) singer, dancer, female impersonator, had been with the Jewel Box Revue, since the age of 11. He performed at the Garden of Allah 1947-9, bluffing his way through the age barrier.

Bill Plant/ Peewee Nattajon (born 1929) won the amateur night at the Garden of Allah several times. The older performers encouraged him, and he took the name of Nattajon in homage to an older performer who helped him and others. Bill was mainly a dancer, but later also a stripper.

Skippy Larue started going to the Garden of Allah, Jackie and others encouraged her to perform, and helped with costumes, makeup and how to a do a gaff. She sometimes performed as Madame Fifi. 


Kim Drake (born 1932) already knew Ricky Reynolds and other impersonators at the Garden of Allah. In November, when he turned 16, the others dressed him, gave him false ID and his performance at amateur night led to a contract. He stayed, on and off, for four years. He left when he found a husband.

Robin Raye came to the Garden of Allah. With the help of a female friend, entered the amateur night as a stripper, and won. Later he worked with Lee Leonard before she became Liz Lyons. Start of a 20-year career. He later performed at Finocchio’s and with the Jewel Box Revue. He married a female stripper in 1958. And the marriage lasted 30 years,

Lee Leonard from Seattle also performed at the Garden of Allah as an impersonator. The act was more raunchy than most. Later Leonard likewise performed at Finocchio’s in San Francisco, and toured with Robin Raye. 


Paris Delair had begun performing as a female impersonator during her teenage in Vancouver, BC. She toured with the Jewel Box Review and did gigs at the Garden of Allah.

Jackie Starr married preacher-trucker Bill Scott. 


Francis Blair did shows for the United Service Organizations (USO) which provided entertainment for the US Military during the Korean War. A rather prim hostess of the show had a fit when Francis stripped down to only a G-string. 


16-year-old Betty, after winning first prize at a local Halloween ball, sent photographs to the friend at Jewel Box Review, and got back a wire from the manager offering a job. Later she became a successful female impersonator in New York, and found a mentor to finance her transition. Her autobiography was included in Harry Bemjamin’s 1966 book. 


Seattle’s The Garden of Allah closed for financial reasons, after a rate raise from the musicians' union and a raise in city taxes on locales that provided both entertainment and alcohol. The military had made the Garden off limits to servicemen. New rules obliged female impersonators to wear male underwear, and the system of payoffs to the police was an extra burden. 


The following were consulted in compiling this section of the timeline.
  • Harry Benjamin. The Transsexual Phenomenon. Julian Press, 1966. Warner Books Edition 1977
  • Peter Boag. Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest. University of California Press, 2003.
  • Peter Boag. “Go West Young Man, Go East Young Woman: Searching for the Trans in Western Gender History”. Western Historical Quarterly, 36, 4 (Winter, 2005): 477-497.
  • Peter Boag. Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past. University of California Press, 2011.
  • Mara Dauphin. “ ‘A Bit of Woman in Every Man’: Creating Queer Community in Female Impersonation”. Valley Humanities Review, Spring 2012.
  • Ross Eliot. Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth. Heliocentric Press, 2014.
  • Joshua Allen Gilbert. “Homosexuality and its Treatment”. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 52, 4. Oct 1920: 297-322. Identified the patient, Alan Hart, only as ‘H’. The article is a mix of the patient’s and the doctor’s writing. In line with the practice of the time, the patient’s condition is labeled ‘homosexuality’.
  • Chrystie Hill. “Queer History in Seattle, Part 1: to 1967”. History Link, April 2003.
  • Don Paulson with Roger Simpson. An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret in Seattle. Columbia University Press, 1996.
  • Don Paulson and Skippy LaRue photograph collection, 1903-2000.
  • Danni/y Rosen and Ampersand Crates. “Oregon Trans Timeline”. The Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN), 2017. Lists Alan Hart in 1917, but then no other transsexual until the 21st century.
Wikipedia (History of the LGBT community in Seattle) contains no trans content whatsoever, except to mention that The Spinning Wheel in the 1930s and the Garden of Allah in the 1950s had female impersonation shows.

I couldn’t find which years Liz Lyons was in Oregon/Washington.

Who was the elder Nattajon? Bill Plant says that he was in 13 Hollywood movies, including Beauty and the Beast and The Picture of Dorian Gray. However there is no Nattajon listed in IMDB. He is probably listed under another name – but which?

1 comment:

  1. Lynnea Urania Stuart19/4/22 17:28

    This timeline places Washington statehood at 1853. November 11, 1889 is the correct date.


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