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Unclaimed boxes in attic hold store’s credit ledgers on area folks

Department Store community’s lender

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LYNDEN, Washington – Commercial building owner Sherman Bronsink recently made the discovery of a lifetime in the attic of Lynden’s Delft Square, the former Lynden Department Store. A number of boxes no one had claimed turned out to be a treasure trove of financial and credit information on the northwest Washington State community’s populace between 1909 and 1978. The ledgers contain data on businesses and people no one remembered being in town.

The department store, which closed its doors in 1978, was one of the oldest businesses in the once largely Dutch American city. Owned by Billy Waples in the early part of the century, Lynden Department Store apparently granted millions in credit to the local citizenry. A preliminary survey had the store floating loans totaling more than $30 million during seven of the 1930s depression years (an estimated $120 million in today’s currency). The findings confirm persistent rumours that the store had “floating Lynden through the Depression.”

The ten boxes with ledgers have been given to the Lynden Museum where volunteer registrar Murella De Vries has started cataloguing the trove. The work has special significance to her because her father for years made entries in the ledgers when he was the store’s credit manager.

The empty department store building eventually was re-developed by local Canada-born contractor Leonard VanderVelden. Renamed Delft Square, he leased it out to various boutiques.

Lynden, a prosperous community, now is home to many banks, including the locally owned Peoples State Bank.