Roadwork Delayed As Irishwoman Takes
Exception To Road Building
“Madam Damnable,” a stout Irishwoman with a strong rock-throwing arm, a vile tongue and a bad temper got her name in Seattle in 1855 when she and her three vicious dogs kept a road-building crew in terror for a week.
Following the Indian attack on Seattle that fall, when an estimated 2,000 Indians almost succeeded in wiping out the small settlement, it was decided that the clearing of land and building of roads was necessary if further defense of the city was to be accomplished.
In South Seattle, the road had to pass the boarding house kept by the hefty and volatile Irishwoman. For some reason, she hated the entire work crew, which was provided by the ship Decatur, then in port.
“Madam Damnable was a terrible woman and a terror to our people who found her tongue more to be dreaded than the entire Indian army recently encamped in our front,” wrote an officer in charge of the roadwork.
Each crew working on the road carefully avoided that part that passed in front of the “female dragon’s” house, until it was the only part of the project unfinished.
“Every imaginable device was adopted to complete this road, but the moment our men approached the scene, Madam Damnable with the three dogs at her heels would come tearing from her house, her apron filled with rocks.
“The way stones, rocks and curses flew was something fearful to contemplate. Charging like fury, the dogs were anxious to sink their teeth in the flesh of the detested invaders. Invariably, the division gave way before the storm, fleeing, officers and all, as if Old Satan himself were after them.”
Finally, after three separate teams from the Decatur had failed, giving way to the constant barrage of sticks, stones, curses and dogs, two “old salts” from the ship decided to try to talk to her.
The first man, trying to reason with her, gave way when a piece of wood came swinging at his head.
The second met abuse with abuse. “What do you mean, you damned old harridan, raising hell this way? I know you, you old curmudgeon. Many’s the time I’ve seen you howling thunder at Fells Point, Baltimore. You’re a damn pretty one, ain’t you?”
The effect was magical. Madam Damnable turned and fled into her house with her dogs and was not seen again by the road builders. However, she had managed to turn a three-hour job into one that took more than a week.
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