Oldest Painting of Tacoma Shown
John Remember Daniel Conger was the name of a man who often appears in the history books of Tacoma, Washington.
He was the deputy city comptroller and deputy city assessor. He was adjutant of the Soldier's Home at Orting. He was adjutant general of the Custer Post, Grand Army of the Republic.
Conger was a major in the Civil War. He lived to tell about some narrow escapes while on expeditions in the South.
The colorful person of Tacoma's past died many years ago at the age of 69. But, just last week, renewed interest in his life has occurred.
It has come to light that Maj. J.R.D. Conger was a painter in addition to all of his other activities which also included being a lime company superintendent and a Lewis County farmer. A painting by the major now hangs in the Washington State Historical Museum during the historical societies showing of the latest additions to its permanent collection.
Not only is the painting artistically appealing, it also happens to be the oldest known painting depicting any site in Tacoma.
Bruce LeRoy, director of the society and museum, said there are a number of sketches of Tacoma predating this painting but no paintings that he knows of that are this old.
The Conger painting depicts the DeLinn Mill in 1869. The mill, said LeRoy, was the first industrial structure in Tacoma. It was built in the 1850s. The present site of the painting is about East 28th Street at the Puyallup River, he said.
The painting was given to the museum by Mrs. Molly Conger, of Tacoma, the major's daughter-in-law.
LeRoy said there may be other Conger paintings that are earlier than this one. However, it might be difficult to tell that these paintings were by Conger. LeRoy said the DeLinn Mill picture was not signed by Conger and the others -- if there are any -- probably don't bear his name either.