Polson Museum is hosting a book signing for Bryan Johnston, an author who took a deep dive into a story about the 1935 kidnapping of George Weyerhaeuser Sr., who was an heir to the Weyerhaeuser fortune.
The boy’s kidnapping from Tacoma in late May 1935 captured local and national media outlets. The Aberdeen Daily World, now named The Daily World, ran stories that chronicled the kidnapping, the ransom and the return of the then 9-year-old Weyerhaeuser.
The reporting of the kidnapping started on May 25, 1935. The Aberdeen Daily World’s headline read “Kidnapers ask for $200,000 for lad.” The deckhead for that story — the little description below the headline — read “Weyerhaeuser Boy In Abductors Grips, Great Search Is On.”
Newspapers across the country ran stories throughout the kidnapping, which lasted eight days. George Weyerhaeuser was set free on June 1, 1935. The Aberdeen Daily World’s headline that day read, “Weyerhaeuser Youth Set Free: Held Captive Near Here, Rumor.” The deckhead read “Kept Chained in Hole Near City Is Story.” The Aberdeen Daily World’s report noted a connection to Aberdeen in that story. In the story, the newspaper also noted how the boy was returned to his “overjoyed parents” unharmed near Issaquah.
Eighty seven years later, the story lives on.
The last name should sound familiar as that boy’s father was J.P. Weyerhaeuser, who became the chairman for Weyerhaeuser Company.
George Weyerhaueser died in June at 95, but the story of how two men and a woman nabbed him when he was a boy compelled Johnston to write a story on it.
John Larson, director of Polson Museum, shared his thoughts about Johnston traveling to Hoquiam to give a talk at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Polson Museum — 1611 Riverside Ave. After the afternoon talk, Johnston will also be signing books for people interested in buying one. Johnston’s book, “Deep in the Woods,” will cost $18.95, and the proceeds go to the museum.
Larson sounded as happy as a razor clam for Polson Museum to have the opportunity to host Johnston.
“We were just overjoyed that (Johnston) reached out,” Larson said. “We always try to find at least a couple of these either (authors) talking about books — or other lectures pertaining to local history topics. So this one was timely. And of course the timing here in November, with Christmas around the corner, we thought ‘well, might be a good idea for letting folks know there’s a really easy gift to give if they have somebody on their list who likes books and likes local history.’ That said, I’m hoping we capture a little bit of that early Christmas spirit.”
Larson estimated 2019 was the last time Polson Museum hosted an indoor event like the book signing on Saturday afternoon. He’s glad to be able to host indoors again. He can’t wait to host more indoor events.
He relayed to The Daily World why Polson Museum chose to host Johnston.
“The fact (the story) happened here in the Pacific Northwest just makes it all that much more interesting to those of us in the history field here in Grays Harbor and beyond,” Larson said about the Weyerhaeuser kidnapping. “Our interest in this story, obviously Weyerhaeuser had a very deep, well still has a very deep corporate footprint here in Grays Harbor County.”
While Larson hasn’t yet read the book, he had it in his hands on Wednesday.
“I have read the acclamations from other accomplished authors who have really sung Bryan Johnston’s praises for his writing style,” Larson said. “I mean I love (this,) ‘It delivers a spellbinding tale of an unspeakable crime.’ So I know what awaits me between these two covers. (It) looks like a fantastic read and I’m hoping the general public that learns about the book signing on Saturday would take a gamble and spend their $19-20 on a book that should become, I hope, one of their top reads for 2022.”