Making Hisssstory

By L. Laile Di Silvestro

Issaquah's Baptist Church in 1911.

The original Baptist Church in 1911. It was located on Rainier, just south of the East Fork of Issaquah Creek and across from the Darigold creamery. This postcard was mailed on July 28, 1911. It was addressed to Mrs. Ruby McDonald, Carbonado, Wash. The text reads “Dear Ruby, Does this place look familiar?” It is signed “Mabel.” [IHM image:]

Take a walk from Issaquah’s Depot Museum past the city’s historic sites to Gilman Village, and you’ll wander by a relatively nondescript wood-shingled office building on the banks of East Fork Issaquah Creek. The Community Baptist Church of Issaquah once stood in this spot. It was here where Pastor Russell Hendrickson heard a rattling sound while walking to the church on the last Saturday of September in 1961. The sound emerged from under a hedge. Pastor Hendrickson couldn’t see what made the sound, but he was certain he knew what it was.

According to lifelong Issaquah resident Lenore Cutsforth Martinell “Pastor Hendrickson always said he was from Wenatchee and he knew what a rattlesnake sounded like!”

Issaquah isn’t rattlesnake habitat, but it has long been erroneously associated with snakes. Countless books, articles, and sites on the Internet confidently claim that the name derives from the word for snake in Lushootseed, the language spoken by the local Sammamish and Snoqualmie tribes.

The name ‘Issaquah’ actually derives from the Lushootseed word for the sound of water birds, and it was Whidbey Island’s Coupeville that was known as Snake Place (bǝc’ádz=ali) by the natives.

Issaquah wasn’t devoid of snake connections, however. It had its own Snake Valley on the Tradition Lake plateau. Before the plateau was extensively logged, large numbers of snakes gathered in masses to mate throughout the summers. In September of 1864, government land surveyors noted “the ground in this vicinity is almost entirely covered with various species of snakes.”

The surveyors most certainly met the common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). Known as bǝc’ác by the local tribes, the garter snake is one of the most prevalent snakes in the area. The Snoqualmie used it medicinally, but also viewed it as a bad omen that could portend death. Although considered harmless to humans, garter snakes may bite when provoked and can inject a mild neurotoxic venom.

Wilma Nikko Hill, who was born in Issaquah in 1917, encountered them as a child in the field where Issaquah Fitness is now located. “I hated walking through the pasture because I was scared of snakes,” she recalled.

Ruth Hofto remembered one that resided in front of the school in 1916. “That is where we had to hop over a tiny little sliver of water where a garter snake tried to bite at you. He never left that spot.”

The local garter snake may be feared, but it has also earned a fond place in the hearts of many gardeners. The Puget Sound Garter Snake (T.s. pickeringii), also known as Pickering’s Garter Snake, eats slugs and rodents. The Issaquah variety, with its iridescent blue stripe, is arguably attractive as well as helpful.

As for that rattlesnake at the Community Baptist church in 1961, its presence was never confirmed. The Issaquah police and community residents didn’t doubt the Reverend’s tale, however, or the rattle at the end of it. They surmised that a rattlesnake must have arrived in a bale of hay shipped from Eastern Washington.

If you want to check out the site yourself, find your way to 623 Rainier Way N, the location of Issaquah’s original Community Baptist Church. To learn more stories about historic Issaquah, join an upcoming Downtown History Hike!


Willa Stevenson Eastlick's wedding quilt, created in 1904.

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt

By Julie Hunter

Willa Stevenson Eastlick's wedding quilt, created in 1904.

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s wedding quilt, created in 1904.

Wilhelmina (Willa) Celeste Stevenson married John Jacob Eastlick on June 4, 1904, in a ceremony held at the Methodist Protestant Church in Seattle.  The Reverend T. S. Winey officiated, and May Eastlick and S. J. Beresford were the witnesses.  Both the bride and groom came from families living in Issaquah, and they would make their home there, at times living with Willa’s parents.

One of their wedding gifts was a quilt (2016.17.66) that had been made by a group of their family and friends.  Such wedding quilts were part of the overall tradition of friendship quilts, which were common throughout the nineteenth century in the United States.  In a society where commercially produced cloth was readily available and sewing skills were near universal among women (and not unknown among men), putting a quilt together was an easy group activity.  Friendship quilts were made for several reasons.  They usually were meant for a specific individual or couple, either marking an event or as a farewell.  Couples or families moving West were often given one by the friends and family they were leaving behind.  Community groups made quilts to send to soldiers from their towns during the Civil War, providing both the morale boost of personal support and practical warmth in an era of minimal standard issue supplies.  Likewise, quilts were donated to the general war effort or were raffled to raise money for other supplies (especially for medical needs).

If you were about to set up housekeeping, you would need bedding.  People who wanted to celebrate your wedding could work together to provide a key piece that also expressed suitable sentiment.  The quilt shows coordination and careful workmanship.  Someone set the theme of only blue and white squares and determined what size they should be.  Probably a woman, and maybe even Lucy Stevenson, the bride’s mother, was in charge of the project.  Lucy, a professional milliner and seamstress with her own shop in Issaquah, had all the skills necessary to plan and execute a quilt, with or without help.  We have other examples of her quilt work in the Lucy Stevenson Collection.  Artifact number 2016.17.62a-e is a set of doll bedding, complete with two small quilts, and 2016.17.59 is a sample of her crazy quilt work that has been framed.  Quilting was part of Lucy’s life; she even owned a lap table (2016.17.57a-f) specifically designed for quilting from the comfort of an arm chair.

Forty-seven people contributed one square each, and a single blank square was used to even out the final row.  All but two of the squares adhere to the blue and white color scheme.  The two odd ones, made by the Sylvester sisters, are both in pale off-white shades.  Each square is different, and all but the blank bear either a name or initials in embroidery or ink.  Most also have at least part of a date, and those correspond, in so far as can be documented, with the makers’ birthdays.  Once the squares were collected, they were sewn together, in this case with blue sashing in between.  The completed top was then layered with a batting and a backing, with binding all around the edges.  The binding matches the sashing.  The backing is white, and the hand quilting is in white thread.  The quilt is well made and has worn well.  The turned edges of the binding have cracked on the fold, and there is some minor staining, which leads to the conclusion that the quilt has been used but not abused.  It has a hanging sleeve of white cotton sewn at the top of the reverse; this was done while it was exhibited as part of in the collections of Washington State University in the early twenty-first century.

The quilt documents the social ties of the couple at the time of their marriage.  Willa’s and J.J.’s close family members contributed squares, as did Issaquah area friends, and people Willa’s family had known in Kansas.   On this quilt, all of the contributors who can be fully identified are women or girls.

The bride and her relatives:[1]

W.C.S.   June 24, 1877  — the bride herself, Wilhelmina Celeste Stevenson

Lucy A. Stevenson   March 9, 1840  — Willa’s mother, who was born Louisa Ann Whitehead.  Lucy’s childhood was spent in Pennsylvania, where she apprenticed with a milliner.  She moved to Kansas, probably with her widowed mother and some of her brothers and sisters.  There she married DePue Miller, who also had business and family ties back to Pennsylvania.  Their marriage was recorded in Geary County, Kansas, in 1866, and they made their home in Randolph, Riley County.  DePue speculated in land and had financial and legal problems.  Lucy ran a millinery business and gave birth to a son, Howard.  Nine years later, in May of 1875, DePue died, leaving Lucy with debts and legal problems.  Things got worse.  Her only sister, Georgeanne, who lived with her or nearby, died in July of that year.  In the midst of this sorrowful time, James Stevenson, who was driving cattle, stopped at Lucy’s rural home to ask for the use of a map.  She made an impression on him, and he wrote to her the following year to reintroduce himself.  He was one of three suitors of the Widow Miller. He married her on August 20, 1876, in Riley County, and Wilhelmina was born almost exactly nine months later.  At some point between 1890 and 1893, the Stevenson family picked up stakes and moved on to La Veta, Colorado, where they lived long enough to be involved in the local Masonic lodge and to order fruit trees for planting.  By 1900 they had moved to Issaquah, where Lucy, James, Howard Miller, and Wilhelmina would all live out their lives.

C. Whitehead February 22, 1820 – Lucy Stevenson’s mother, Willa’s grandmother, Caroline Berry Whitehead. Originally from Pennsylvania, where her children were born, Caroline had been widowed and moved to Kansas with several of her grown children by 1870.  In the 1890s she was living with one of her sons and his wife in Chicago, Illinois.  In the winter of 1894, a family letter reported that she had “. . .been making crazy quilts this winter[;] we have pieced 3 silk quilts and 1 plush and velvet one.”  (2016.17.259c)  By 1900 she had moved to San Francisco and taken up residence with the family of another son, Samuel B. Whitehead.  She lived with them until her death, at the age of 95, in 1915.

Ella Stevenson  1862, August 16 – Willa’s aunt, she was married to George Washington Stevenson (known as “Wash”), who was James Stevenson’s brother.  Although the Stevenson brothers had started life in Ohio, George had also made his way to Kansas.  He and his family remained there, even as James and Lucy moved west.  Both the 1900 and 1910 census show Ella and Wash and their children (and her mother) living in Green, Pottawatomie County, Kansas.

Juanita Stevenson  December [15?] 1901 – Willa’s cousin, daughter of Ella and Wash Stevenson.  Her mother probably made this square so that her two-year-old daughter would join the other women of the family on the quilt.

C. Whitehead February 22, 1820 – Lucy Stevenson’s mother, Willa’s grandmother, Caroline Berry Whitehead. Originally from Pennsylvania, where her children were born, Caroline had been widowed and moved to Kansas with several of her grown children by 1870.  In the 1890s she was living with one of her sons and his wife in Chicago, Illinois.  In the winter of 1894, a family letter reported that she had “. . .been making crazy quilts this winter[;] we have pieced 3 silk quilts and 1 plush and velvet one.”  (2016.17.259c)  By 1900 she had moved to San Francisco and taken up residence with the family of another son, Samuel B. Whitehead.  She lived with them until her death, at the age of 95, in 1915.

Ella Stevenson  1862, August 16 – Willa’s aunt, she was married to George Washington Stevenson (known as “Wash”), who was James Stevenson’s brother.  Although the Stevenson brothers had started life in Ohio, George had also made his way to Kansas.  He and his family remained there, even as James and Lucy moved west.  Both the 1900 and 1910 census show Ella and Wash and their children (and her mother) living in Green, Pottawatomie County, Kansas.

Juanita Stevenson  December [15?] 1901 – Willa’s cousin, daughter of Ella and Wash Stevenson.  Her mother probably made this square so that her two-year-old daughter would join the other women of the family on the quilt.

The groom’s relatives:

Abbie Eastlick   December 1, 1853 – The groom’s mother was born Abigail Alice Vaughan.  Her parents were John William Vaughan and Rachel Mercer, of the Mercer family so key to Seattle area history.  Her husband was Mahlon D. Eastlick.  The Vaughans and the Eastlicks took up residence, farming and owning a successful mill, on the part of the Issaquah Plateau known as Vaughan Hill.  Abbie and Mahlon named their firstborn son John Jacob, after his grandfathers, John Vaughan and Jacob Eastlick.

Three out of J.J.’s five sisters signed their squares with their initials and birthdays.  The other two sisters were the youngest, aged 14 and 12, and they are not represented on the quilt.

N. E. August 24 – Nell Eastlick was born on this date in 1879, in California. She married Carl Frederick Gronlund in Seattle just two months after J.J. and Willa’s wedding.

G.E. October 27 – Most likely is Grace Frances Eastlick, J.J.’s sister who was born in 1881. The birth day matches hers.  The other possibility for a source is a friend of Lucy’s from Kansas, Georgia Endrem, from whom there is a letter in the Lucy Stevenson Collection.  (2016.17.261c)

M.E. October 11 – Mary Edna Eastlick, J.J.’s sister born in 1883 on this day.

Next: The Issaquah Community


[1] Information about Wilhelmina’s family members is drawn from legal documents available on and from the letters that are part of Accession 2016.17, the Lucy Stevenson Collection.





M[artha] A Bush Mar 1st

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt, continued

The Issaquah community:[2]

By the time Willa and J.J. married, people had been moving into the Squak Valley from other parts of the United States, and directly from Europe, for forty years.  The community numbered about 700 in 1900, counting all ages, and some of those people were the third generation of their families to live in the area.  The quilt contributors came from both the earliest settlers and more recent incomers.  When we look at the relationships between many of the donors, we see a community held together with family ties.

M[artha] A Bush Mar 1st

M[artha] A Bush Mar 1st

M. A. Bush   March 1 – Martha Ann Stewart Bush was the ultimate early settler.  Born on March 1, 1835, in Covington, Indiana, she married James William Bush in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1854.  The young couple moved to the Squak Valley in 1863 and survived the night of the Indian raid in which another young  couple in the valley, the Castos, were killed.

Emily Darst   March 26 – The daughter of Martha S. and James W. Bush, was born on March 26, 1860, in Seattle  and moved to the Squak Valley as a very young girl.  She, too, survived the Indian raid.  At the age of 16, she married Cyrus Darst. They raised their family and lived out their lives in Issaquah.

Inez Stella Darst   November 11 – The granddaughter of Martha Stewart  Bush, daughter of Emily Ann Bush Darst and Cyrus Darst, Inez was born on November 11, 1877, becoming the a member of the third generation of this family to live in Issaquah.  Already an adult at the time the quilt was made, she would marry Marcus Gunderson the following year, when she was 28.

Inez Darst, Nov 11

Inez Darst, Nov 11


Aunt Mattie  November 3  — Martha Alice Bush was commonly called “Aunt Mattie” in the community.  The youngest daughter of Martha Stewart Bush and James William Bush, she was born in Georgetown, Seattle, on November 3,  1862, and came to the Squak Valley with her parents in 1863.  As was often the expected role of youngest daughters in the nineteenth century, she remained single all of her days and lived for many years as her mother’s companion.

B Baxter  [no date] —  Bertha Wold Baxter was another of Martha and James Bush’s granddaughters.  Her mother was their oldest child, Mary Samantha (usually called “Samantha”) Bush Wold Prue.  Bertha was born on January 6, 1877, in Ellensburg, but her parents were both early Issaquah Pioneers, her father being Peter Wold, one of the three Wold brothers who once owned the land where the intersection of Front St. and Sunset Way is now.  Peter moved his life to Kittitas County, but his marriage to Samantha ended by 1880, and she and her daughters returned to Issaquah.  Bertha grew up spending time with her aunt Emily Darst’s family and with her grandmother Martha and Aunt Mattie, in Issaquah, as well as with her mother’s second family in Fall City.  She married Charles Wesley Baxter on Christmas Day, 1902, and settled into housekeeping in Issaquah.  The Baxters had two sons and a daughter, and their daughter, Beryl Baxter, would become the best known quilter in the area. For extensive information about Bertha and her family and friends, see my blog post series, “What Bertha’s Correspondence Tells Us. . .Or, I Know All the Hot Issaquah Gossip from 1902!”; this is based on a collection of letters all written to Bertha that now comprises a major portion of IHM accession #2015.10.

Mary E. Burke  June 24 (or 29) – Mary Ellen Hughes was born in Heckinville, Pennsylvania, in June of 1868.  She married Nicholas Burke on December 25, 1890.  He operated a feed store on Front Street in Issaquah (today’s restored Hailstone Feed Store was originally Burke’s warehouse).

Agnes W. Hughes   [no date]  — may have been Mary Hughes Burke’s sister or other relative, or she may not.  With no birth date for Agnes, we cannot trace whether or not they came from the same family in Pennsylvania.  We have no further information about Agnes.

Alice McEachern   April 22, 1873  —  Alice Mary Cooper was born on April 22, 1873, in Illinois, the daughter of English immigrants Isaac and Sarah Jones Cooper.  By 1880 her family was living in Newcastle.  On February 18, 1892, she married John McEachern, who was then the station agent at Issaquah.  By 1900, her father was a saloon keeper in Issaquah.

Alice M. Hackett   May 8, 1878  —  Alice Mary Horrocks was born on this date in England, to James Radcliffe Horrocks and Molly Greenleigh Horrocks.  The family emmigrated to the United States around 1880 and settled first in Newcastle.  They relocated to Issaquah by 1890.  Alice married George Hackett in September of 1900, while he was Issaquah’s station agent.  George was Alice Cooper McEachern’s cousin; his mother was her father’s sister.

Sarah Horrocks

Sarah Horrocks June 27

Sarah Horrocks   June 27  —  Sarah Horrocks was Alice Mary Horrocks Hackett’s  younger sister, born in Newcastle, Washington, in 1882 (exact date uncertain, but probably June 27), after her family had immigrated from England.  At that point, her father was working in the coal mines.  In 1907 she would marry local banker Warren Curtis Sylvester, son of the first station agent in Issaquah and brother to Edith M. Sylvester and Ruth L. Sylvester.

Edith M. Sylvester   May 17, 1881  —  This is her birth date.  The daughter of station agent turned bank founder W.W. Sylvester, Edith would marry George Bigelow in 1910, a decade after her father and brother, Warren, started the first bank in Issaquah.

Next: Issaquah Community, Part II 

Previous: Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt


[2] Information about the Issaquah community members is drawn from legal documents available on and from the general collections of the Issaquah History Museums.

Mattie Tibbetts

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt, continued

Issaquah Community Members, continued:

Ruth L. Sylvester   August 6  —  Ruth was born in 1878, but the records conflict as to whether she was born in April or August.  She was Edith’s older sister.  She may or may not have come to Issaquah when her family moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to Gilman.  Her father had already been working as a “Railroad Secretary” in Cleveland, and he was the first station agent in Issaquah.  The Depot, or station, was built in 1889.  In 1896 Ruth’s mother died in Gilman.  By 1900, the U.S. census lists Ruth, but only Ruth out of W.W.’s children, living and going to school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.  She lived with her father’s  mother , his widowed sister, and other relatives and boarders.   Ruth married William Gamble in Wisconsin in 1909, but they eventually moved to Seattle.

Lois Hackett   January 11, 04  —  Lois Hackett was born in 1887 in England, so this may be the date on which she completed her square for the quilt.  Her parents were John and Sarah Hackett.  They emigrated from England and were living in Gilman in 1900. Her father was an engineer and probably worked in the mines.  Lois would marry John Jacob Eastlick’s first cousin, his mother’s nephew, Roy Vaughan, two years later.  We do not know of a close connection between Lois Hackett’s family and that of George Hackett, Alice’s husband, but both Hackett families emigrated from England to the Newcastle-Gilman area.

Ida Gibson

Ida Gibson, October 7, 1868

Ida M. Gibson  October 7, 1868  —  Ida McDonald Gibson was married to John Gibson, who was the pharmacist in Issaquah.  This date is her birthday.

Fannie Gibson  October 19, 1863  June, 1904 [Willa’s wedding date]  — Sarah Frances Garner Gibson, also known as Fannie, was born in Indiana on October 19, 1863.  She married William E. Gibson, who became the town doctor in Issaquah.  William and John Gibson were brothers, so Ida and Fannie were sisters-in-law.

S.S. Gibson March 27 – Is she related to William and John Gibson’s family? We have been unable to make a positive identification, but William and John had a sister named Sophia who never married.  Tracing her through census records, she appears to have lived her whole life in Pennsylvania, where the family lived in the first half of the nineteenth century.  Her death record lists her birthday as April 1, 1842, but that is only four days off March 27, and birthdays are sometimes miss-recorded.  The 1910 census records Sophia as the head of household in Pittsburgh, with the rest of the household consisting of three of her unmarried sisters and one of their brothers, who was also unmarried.  Sophia was sixty-eight; the rest were in their forties and fifties.

Lizzie McCloskey  [no date]  –Elizabeth McCloskey, who was born in 1878, was the daughter of Peter McCloskey Sr.  He was a farmer, and he donated the land on which the original St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Issaquah was built.  She never married.  She died in Issaquah in 1955.

Katie McCloskey   [no date]  —  Katherine McCloskey, Elizabeth’s younger sister, was born in 1879.  She married James William Gregory, an Irishman, in 1922.  They made their home in King County and raised one son.  She died in 1963.

S[arah] A McPherson Wilson, November 4th 1822

S[arah] A McPherson Wilson, November 4th 1822

S. A. Wilson   November 4, 1822  — Sarah Ann McPerson Wilson was born in Missouri and came to the Squak Valley along with her husband and three of their adult children in the 1880s.  Her daughter Sevilla married William Pickering, son of the one-time Washington Territory governor and Issaquah landowner and farmer.  Daughter Rebecca Ann had already married George Washington Tibbetts in Missouri, and they, too, settled in Issaquah.  Son Robert married in Indiana, and he and his bride joined the family in Issaquah, where they raised their daughter, Bessie. Bessie’s autobiography, published as the book, Squak Valley, provides one of the clearest pictures of life in the valley before 1900.

R. A. Tibbetts   August 15, 1849  —  Rebecca Ann Wilson Tibbetts, Sarah Wilson’s daughter,  was born on this date in Moniteau, Missouri.  She married George Washington Tibbetts in Carthage, Missouri, in 1868, after he left the army, having served the North in the Civil War.  About fifteen years later, the couple moved to Issaquah, where George built a hotel and store, and where they became prominent citizens.  They were very active in Grand Army of the Republic affairs, and for a time they moved to Orting, where he was the Commandant of the Washington Soldiers Home for veterans.

R[ebecca] A Tibbetts

R[ebecca] A Tibbetts

E. Polley September 15, 1904 —  Elnora Polley’s birthday was September 15, 1881, but she was probably looking forward to her own wedding, which would be on that day in 1904.  Her family had moved from New York to Washington when she was three, and they were living in Renton by 1887.  Her intended was Frederick Solomon Tibbetts, son of George Washington Tibbetts and Rebecca Ann Wilson.  By 1900, her mother was dead and she and her teenage brothers were living as a household in Gilman.


Mattie Tibbetts

Mattie Tibbetts

Mattie Tibbetts   April 19, 1883  —  She was born Mattie Ray on or about this date (records conflict), in Missouri.  Her family moved to Issaquah prior to 1900, and she married George Wilson Tibbets, son of Rebecca and George Washington Tibbetts, in December 1901.

Mrs. Thilda Becker  March 19th, 1868  —  Mathilda Swanson (also known as Thilda Tuverson) was born on this date in Sweden.  She and several of her siblings immigrated to the United States in the 1880s.  She met fellow Swede Louis Becker on board ship, and they married two years later.  By 1890 they were living in Issaquah, where they raised five children.  He worked as a miner and she operated the Hotel Stockholm on what is now Andrews Street, a few doors down from Dr. and Mrs. Gibson’s house.[3]

Christina Anderson  November 23, 1864  —  Christina Johnson Anderson was born on this day, but records indicate that the year was 1862.  She emigrated from Sweden in 1886 married Tolle Anderson two years later in Gilman.  They lived on their farm on Rainier Way, where the Cybil Madeline Park is now, close to where Lucy Stevenson’s shop was located.

Next: Friends from Other States

Previous: The Issaquah Community, Part I


[3] There is a brief biography of Thilda Becker in the IHM Research Center B-0000-009, which is a copy of the Hoye Becker Family Scrapbook.

Abbie Eastlick, December 1 1853

Willa Stevenson Eastlick’s Wedding Quilt, continued

Friends from other states:

Willa had maintained contact with at least one family from her early days in Kansas.   When she was two, the Allen family lived very near the Stevensons on the edge of Jackson in Riley County, Kansas.  In the 1880 census, there are only two households enumerated between theirs on the first page of the list.  (The Stevensons have been misspelled in the indexing for that census online, appearing as “Steavens,” but the original record clearly shows James and Lucy Stevenson with their children Howard Miller and Wilhelmina Stevenson, as well as James’ brother George W. Stevenson living with them.)  When the Stevensons moved to Colorado, Willa received letters from at least two of the daughters in the Allen family.  The Allen family was, by this time, large and complicated.  Robert Gibson Allen had married Eliza A. Daggett in 1865, and they had eight children before her death in 1883.  That same year, he married Bertha Zimmerman Drollinger, a Pennsylvania native who had arrived in Kansas with her first husband after having been to Colorado, where their older daughter, Viola, was born in 1876.  Della, their younger daughter was born in 1878 in Kansas.  Phillip Gottlieb Drollinger died in 1880, leaving his widow with two very young daughters.  They became part of the blended family when Robert and Bertha married.  Robert and Bertha also had two more children together.

In August of 1893, Della Drollinger and Ella Allen, step sisters, both wrote to Willa, apparently sharing an envelope to send the notes (IHM 2016.17.267a-c).  At fifteen and eleven, they were bored in the summer heat.  Della was plaintive: “It is so lonesome since you folks moved away.  Was over to Mrs. Blotcher’s one evening and that is all the visiting we have done since you moved away besides up to see Evalyn.”  Evalyn was one of their friends who had died on July 24 of that year, of what may have been tuberculosis.  Della and her sister, “Vi,” had been among her all-girl pall bearers.  Further proof that teenage girls on the plains did not lead sheltered lives lies in the bald statement, with no other commentary, “Louise Petersons lost her baby.”  The younger Ella complained of the heat and reported on family comings and goings.  Her baby half-sister, Silva, “can talk a little now.”  Both signed off with declarations of friendship and admonitions to “Answer soon.”

A decade later, the bond between Willa and the Allens was still part of her life.  Four of the Allen sisters sent squares for her quilt.  We do not know if they sent them from Kansas, where they still lived in 1900, or from Oregon, where Mr. and Mrs. Allen had moved by 1910.  The latter census shows Ella, Sylva, and siblings Florence and their youngest brother, Andrew, living together in Suver, Polk County, Oregon.  Photographs of both Ella and Florence are included with their entries in the Findagrave database online.

Ella F. Allen   May 23  –Ella Findley Allen’s birthday is recorded in as March 24; either the date she inscribed on the quilt was not her birthday, or we are misreading something.    She was born in 1882 in Garrison, Pottawatamie County, Kansas, the youngest child of Robert and his first wife, Eliza, Allen.  In 1912 she would marry Frank Ackerman in Oregon.  They had two daughters before she died of cancer in 1930.

L. Sylvia Allen November 9, 1892 —  was twelve when she contributed her square.  Her full formal name appears in records as Lucille Sylvana Allen.  She was the little sister “Silva” just learning to talk a decade earlier.  She would marry Edmund Martin Parker in 1917, and they would live out their lives in Oregon.  She died in 1980.

Florence E. Allen   December 18  —  Florence was Silva’s older full sister, born on this day in 1888, also in Kansas.  After making the move to Oregon with her parents and siblings, she married David Haman Lewis in 1911 in Polk County.  They had a son, Gayle, the following year.  When their marriage ended in divorce, Gayle was raised by his aunt Silva and her husband.  Florence died in 1981 in Portland, Oregon.

L. Allen December 9 —  Luella Allen was Ella’s full sister, born on December 9, 1870, in Illinois, shortly before her family moved to Kansas.  She also moved to Oregon, where she spent her adult years, and would marry William Arle Cummings.

The Allen sisters have been tantalizing research subjects for several reasons.  Not only do they represent the friendships formed by the Stevensons in Kansas, but they also have surnames that might or might not link them with Issaquah families represented on the quilt.  Martha Stewart Bush’s mother was an Allen, and her family settled in Oregon.  There are Gibson women who made squares.  A day’s worth of research online, however, has turned up no solid connections between these Allens and either the other Allen family (related to the Bushes) or any Issaquah Gibsons.

Mrs. ? A. Allen  –Mrs. Allen may or may not have been related to the Allen sisters.  The signature on the quilt is faded to the point where we cannot read whether “A.” is her first initial or a middle one.  And is “A.” her own initial, or is it her husband’s?


And then there are the women of mystery.

Eleven more people contributed squares.  Some used their full surnames, but we have no information form women with those names.  Others only put their initials on their squares, and we have been unable to identify people with those initials and birthdays.

E.B.T.  November 1, 1880 – This set of initials is especially frustrating because it matches the signature, on a postcard sent from Vallejo, California two years later (IHM 2016.17.248).  Sent to Mrs. J.J. Eastlick, the sender acknowledged having received a letter and a post card and promised, “Will write soon.  Best wishes and love, from E.B.T.”  No further information is given.

The women whose names do not match up with any records in our collections are as follows:

S.A. Bailey 1845

Mrs. T. B. Norton   January 6, 1883

Mabel McMullen   November 8

Mrs. F. V. Olsen (or Olive—the lettering on the quilt is very unclear)  October 5

Mrs. M. Cass


Finally, those who only used initials are the most mysterious of all:

E. I. December 9

M. H. January 20, 1886

M.M. J.

M. E.


Whether we know much about some of the individuals or not, it is clear that Willa’s quilt represented a cross section of settlers, in Issaquah or Kansas.  Old or young, they were connected to her life as it had been, and many would remain so as she moved forward into marriage.

Han Jensen (1888-1957) left his property to the State of Washington. Today it is part of the Lake Sammamish Park in Issaquah.

How Farms Became State Park

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2003 Past Times.

By Eric Erickson and Erica Maniez

Anderson farm, 1895. Pictured from left are John Anderson, Addie Smart Anderson, Florence Smart and Lawrence Smart. The Anderson Farm later became part of the Lake Sammamish State Park.

Anderson farm, 1895. Pictured from left are John Anderson, Addie Smart Anderson, Florence Smart and Lawrence Smart. The Anderson Farm later became part of the Lake Sammamish State Park.

Before Lake Sammamish State Park existed, land on the banks of Lake Sammamish belonged to local farming families. The Anderson farm and the Jensen farm, along with land belonging to the Washington Iron Works, became the park in 1953.

The Anderson farm belonged to John Anderson, a Norwegian immigrant, and his wife Addie. The Andersons built what became known as “the big house” on the property in 1890. The big house had two stories and a total of ten rooms. Another house consisting of six rooms was built there sometime before 1895; the farm foreman and his family lived there. Other outbuildings included a horse barn, a small milk house, two garages, a fruit shed, and a log cabin with a plank floor.

Addie Anderson was first married to a man named John Smart, and her children from this marriage also lived on the farm. There were three girls named Florence, Nellie, and Carrie, and a boy named Lawrence.  In 1916, Lawrence and his wife Lulu returned to the farm with their children Nelliemae and Raymond, and lived there for several years.

In 1934, Addie’s three daughters inherited the farm, while her son Lawrence Smart inherited land in Fall City. A tenant farmer named Ole Englebritsen occupied the land after 1934, renting it for $10 a month. In April of 1951, the State of Washington Parks Commission purchased the land.

The Anderson Farm, circa 1895.

The Anderson Farm, circa 1895.

The other tract of former farmland that makes up Lake Sammamish State Park was known as the Jensen farm. Albert F. Giese originally owned this tract, which was bisected by the

Han Jensen (1888-1957) left his property to the State of Washington. Today it is part of the Lake Sammamish Park in Issaquah.

Han Jensen (1888-1957) left his property to the State of Washington. Today it is part of the Lake Sammamish Park in Issaquah.

Monohon or Redmond Road (today’s East Lake Sammamish Parkway). Giese built a house on the property in 1898. In 1905, he also constructed a barn complete with indoor plumbing for the cows. County assessors noted that the barn had 18 metal stanchions, and nine water outlets, indicating that Giese’s cows stood head to head with a shared water faucet for each pair.

Jensen acquired the property in 1942, complete with house and well-plumbed barn. According to his friend Bill Bergsma,Sr., Jensen always had a herd of 60 excellent Holstein cows.

Even though the land would not become a formal recreational area until 1953, it had always been popular with residents looking for a place to swim or fish. Photographs from 1913 show most of the residents of High Point standing on the banks of the lake at the High Point Sunday school picnic. Both Tibbetts and Issaquah Creek flow through the park and into the lake. Fishing at the mouth of either creek could net a fisherman trout, salmon, bass or perch. Hans Jensen continued the practice of opening his beachfront property to local residents. Before his death, Jensen also specified in his will that the land be donated to the state for the use of the area’s young people. His land became the property of the Washington State Parks Commission in May of 1958. Giese’s original house still stands; just behind it lies the Hans Jensen youth camp.

This year [2003] Lake Sammamish State Park celebrates its 50th birthday. The property once owned by the Jensen and Anderson families has a long tradition of providing recreation to the residents of Issaquah. The park not only continues this tradition, but also shares the area with visitors from all over the state.



Bojo The Horse-Riding Dog

90-32-26In addition to being one of the founding members of the Issaquah Historical Society (today’s Issaquah History Museums), Harriet Fish was a writer who researched and recorded the stories of her fellow Issaquahns. She and her husband, Edwards Fish, wrote mostly about Issaquah’s distant history. But Harriet Fish also enjoyed recording Issaquah as it was during the time she lived here.
One of the community characters that Harriet Fishs wrote about was actually an animal – a dog named Bojo, who made a name for himself by learning to ride horses. Bojo the Horseriding Dog belonged to Lewis and Bea Lefler, who lived on Pine Lake. Bojo, a grey poodle, came to the Lefler house as a puppy in 1960.
In the 1960s, the Pine Lake Plateau was largely rural. The Leflers had a 50-acre ranch they named Redwin Acres. In addition to Bojo, the Leflers has several horses named Lewbea and Rusty. According to the Leflers, Bojo took a particular shine to the horse Rusty, and could be seen companionably resting with the horse, or giving the horse’s ears a wash. Bojo’s desire to become a horseback-riding canine was probably also driven his jealousy over being left behind when Lew Lefler went out for a ride.
It was September 25th, 1963, Lewis Lefler and Bojo took their first ride together. According to Harriet Fish’s notes, the pair shared a horse on this initial ride. Bojo had a tendency to slide off the horse until Lefler provided an old piece of carpeting for the dog to sit on. By June of 1964, Lefler had constructed a special saddle made of of canvas and carpeting, with strips of rubber hose (later made from harness leather) on the sides to support Bojo’s four feet. Now when Lefler and Bojo went riding, Bojo rode on Rusty while Lew Lefler had Lewbea all to himself. Lefler also constructed a special mounting ramp for Bojo, to save Lefler having to lift the dog up himself.
During a visit to the Lefler’s property in 1964, Harriet described Bojo as “impatiently lead[ing] Lew down the woodsy trail to the horse corral. Anxious and eager, he is always ahead… Bojo is equally at home lying down or sitting up, facing forward or backward, as he pivots in the saddle at will. And speed holds no fear for him. He just hunkers down like a jockey and races along as fast as the horse can go.” Evidently it was hard to keep Bojo away from the trails; he could return from a five hour ride with Lew Lefler and still whine for more.
In 1965, Lew and Bojo rode together in the Issaquah Labor Day Parade. Bojo was still living – and riding horses – as of 1971.

Sketch showing proposed spur for Neukirchen Bros. April 3, 1911. From the Office of Div. Engr. Tacoma, Wash.

The Neukirchen Brothers and the Northern Pacific

In 2010, volunteers from the Western Division of the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association stopped by to talk about a project they were working on. They were in the midst of sorting through the Jim Frederickson collection, some of which dealt with the railroad in Issaquah. They generously offered to loan out the items so that we could scan them for inclusion in our own archives. We are still cataloging the 200+ documents copied from their collection. (For more information on the documents, see the blog post Northern Pacific Railway Documents Come For A Visit).

By Kris Ikeda, Archives Specialist

Letter from John Neukirchen to Superintendent, Northern Pacific Railway Company. January 4, 1910.

Letter from John Neukirchen to Superintendent, Northern Pacific Railway Company. January 4, 1910.

In 1910, while organizing his desk, John Neukirchen, President of Neukirchen Brothers, discovered an application for a side train that he had meant to submit months ago. He anticipates shipping 8-10 cars per week, and begins discussions for a spur track (AFE 233-11: the Mine Loop/Neukirchen Spur) to service the Neukirchen Mill.

After reviewing the application, I.B. Richards, General Superintendent in Tacoma, Washington, responds to his Superintendent, J.E. Craver, that a lumber road and the use of lumber trucks would be a preferred alternative, but Craver determines the distance is too great and recommends the spur track. The Neukirchen Brothers will be tasked with obtaining a signed easement and have agreed to pay labor costs. The rails, switches, and other necessary railway parts will be supplied and paid for by the Northern Pacific Railway Company.

A plot plan for the proposed spur track was drawn on April 3, 1911. The easement was intended to be 16 feet wide by 8 feet to either side of the center in the southwest quarter of Section 34, Township 24, north of Range 6, and east of the Willamette Meridian.

When the Neukirchen Brothers agreed to the terms set by the Northern Pacific Railway Company, they did not consider that obtaining a signed easement would be their greatest hurdle. Signatures from the landowners, Robert and Helen Thompson, were acquired easily. The other signatures necessary to complete the easement paperwork were those of the officers of the Issaquah & Superior Coal Company. These company officers were Germans who were involved overseas with the war effort. A verbal agreement had been received, but that was not enough to satisfy the Northern Pacific Railway Company.

G.H. Worley, an Agent for the Northern Pacific Railway Company, is insistent and direct throughout the correspondence. If an easement were not secured, he suggests that the rails are removed and used on a commercial track project. Richards suggests the idea of a bond to protect the metal rails, an investment of the Northern Pacific Railway Company, while on private property. In response, Neukirchen considers the bond an injustice, indicating that his mill cannot afford the added expense, but he is left with little choice. Richards provides only three options: secure the written easement, pay the bond, or have the rails removed.

The Neukirchen Brothers enter into a bond agreement through the National Surety Company of New York, and are held bound to the Northern Pacific Railway Company in the sum of $860. The bond protects the investment of the Northern Pacific Railway who has agreed to furnish track metal for, and lay and construct a spur tack near Issaquah at the request and convenience of the Neukirchen Brothers.

The spur track is built, but the story of this document collection ends with the cancellation of the bond and the railways’ renewed interest in removing the rails. It is possible the bond was cancelled due to lack of payment. Several letters between railway officers indicate that the balance remains due on the build work completed for the spur track and cannot be collected from the Neukirchen Brothers. The Neukirchen Brothers spent much to refurbish the mill, have experienced a poor market with low prices, and are struggling to collect from their customers. The bond is cancelled on August 11, 1914.

(Click on the images below to view them)


To review more documents from the Jim Frederickson Collection, visit the Digital Archives; the full set of documents are currently being cataloged, and will be made available as cataloging is completed.

Issaquah History Museums Logo

Member Matters: 2017 Bylaws

Being a member of the Issaquah History Museums comes with a number of benefits: FREE admission to the museums and trolley, 10% off gift shop purchases, and discounts on IHM programs. Members are also able to vote for board candidates and approve bylaw changes.The board of the Issaquah History Museums is proposing key changes to the organization’s bylaws. Changes include:

  • Official adoption of the name Issaquah History Museums
  • Addition of “heritage” to the mission statement in addition to “history”
  • Allowance for email notices and digital voting when possible.
  • Reduction of the required number of City appointees
If you’d like to take a closer look, you can read the current version, the proposed version, or a comparison view:
Voting will close on April 22 at NOON, with votes tallied shortly after. Members in good standing should receive a ballot in the mail OR an election link via email in order to vote. Need additional assistance? Give us a call at 425-392-3500.
The 1938 Issaquah Alpines.

The Mighty Alpines

By Erica Maniez

Originally printed in the Issaquah Reporter, January 2010

2002-23-2Long before Seattle had the Seahawks, Issaquah had the Alpines. In 1933 a group of young men, under the management of Ted Stonebridge, formed a local football team. During this time period between the World Wars, football was gaining popularity all over the nation. Teams were forming up all over the Puget Sound region as well, in Bremerton, West Seattle, Seattle, Renton… and Issaquah.

Issaquah’s team was referred to by a handful of different names during its life. When they first formed in 1933, their official name was the Issaquah Firemen – probably because the team grew out of the volunteer fire department, and because they played on Memorial Field, which had been cleared of brambles by the Issaquah Volunteer Fire Department. Hans Forster, manager of the Alpine Dairy plant in Issaquah, donated uniforms to the team in the 1930s. This patronage led to the name change from Firemen to Issaquah Alpines.

During the Alpines’ heyday, Issaquah was still a small town of less than 1,000 located on “the other side” of Lake Washington – before the bridge made for an easy commute. Issaquah may have been small, but the Alpines were mighty. Between 1933 and 1941, they were the Commercial League Champions seven years out of nine. During their first year, they were not only undefeated, but unscored upon. Today, the Alpines still have the honor of having the region’s highest ratio of games won to games lost. Mark Meadows of the Greater Northwest Football Association (GNFA) writes that the Alpines, “locked up their place as one of the nation’s most dominant football teams in semi-professional history, winning 62 games, losing four, and tying nine. Fifty-nine of those 75 games were shutouts, making the Issaquah defense one of the best ever over a nine-year span.” Two team members are also recognized by the GNFA as record setters.  Johnny Castagno’s record of 15 touchdowns in one season (1939) was not surpassed until 2004. Ellie Croston set a record for longest punt in 1939, with a punt of 91 yards. This distance has been beaten only once, in 1962, with a punt of 98 yards.

The Alpines’ record is even more impressive when you consider the team’s weight limit. The Alpines were in the under-160 lb class, which meant that all team members had to be below that weight to qualify. Although the Alpine team adhered to the weight requirements, other league teams did not. In one unevenly-weighted game, the Alpines faced off against the team from Grays Harbor, who had a 235-pound tackle and a 235-pound running back. In spite of their handicap, the Alpines came away with a 7-0 win.

By 1941, the Alpines had a healthy regard for their own abilities. They would not be intimidated by the posturing of their rivals, and neither would the community members who supported them. On September 11, 1941, the Issaquah Press announced that manager Ed Stonebridge had “received word that the big city on the other end of the big bridge is going to carry off the banner this year.” The Press claimed that this news “riles the fighting spirit of every football-minded man in Issaquah.” That “big city” could not make good on its brag and the Alpines came away with the League Championship again that year.

The community’s enthusiasm for the football games, and the football players, is reflected in other Issaquah Press coverage. Both Dan Kramer and Val Foubert wrote about the Alpines in the local paper, describing the games in colorful sports-speak. They conveyed the excitement of each Sunday afternoon game to those who were not fortunate enough to have been there – or those who wanted to relive the moment. Their coverage produced sentences like, “Schultz rocked and socked the line for three consecutive downs” and “Ken McLeod outjumped three interferers to gather in the pigskin for a tally” and “Stan Favini cracked open the line, bowled over the second line defense, and dashed up the sideline for fifty yards.” English teachers everywhere would have swooned at their use of active verbs.

The 1938 Issaquah Alpines.

The 1938 Issaquah Alpines.

Like celebrated football players of the present day, the Alpines were young men in their prime, most of them around 25 years of age.  However, the Alpines worked hard all week (at the Alpine Dairy, or at other jobs) and some were married and supported families, as well. Playing football was a hobby for them, but one that they obviously took seriously.

In spite of their impressive list of wins, the Alpines were still a small-town team. Try-outs for the team were open, and notices in the Issaquah Press encouraged anyone who was interested to come and try out for the team, even if they didn’t live in Issaquah. The Alpines and their rival-of-the-week used the Issaquah Valley Fire Department Hall near Memorial Field as their locker-rooms. Viola White Petersen’s uncle, George Reini, was on the Alpines and Vi remembers selling tickets to the game on Sunday afternoons as a young girl. Friends and neighbors would gather at Memorial Field to watch the scrappy powerhouse of a team win against teams from all over the Puget Sound Region.

The Alpine team was a member of the Commercial League, which is also described as “semi-professional.” It is not clear which aspect of the team was considered “professional” – it must have referred to their skills and determination, because the team didn’t turn a profit and team members were not paid. In fact, they ran on a shoe-string budget. In October 1941, a notice in the Issaquah Press informed readers that “someone who had no business is doing so” had taken a “perfectly good ball” from the team during practice. The Press reminded readers that the Alpine team was a non-profit organization and suggested that the return of the ball would “simplify matters and certainly avoid future trouble.”

Issaquah Alpines football games were one of a number of things that united Issaquah’s residents 70 years ago. In 2001 the Issaquah History Museums hosted a gathering of long-time residents. Three men, all between the ages of 75 and 85, began to reminisce about the team, recalling plays as though they were yesterday. They could just as well have been discussing a game they had attended the previous weekend. Clearly, one of the Alpines’ greatest legacies is the ability to inspire great passion in both players and fans. Today, the Greater Northwest Football Association seeks to preserve that legacy. The GNFA recently launched a website on the history of local semi-pro football leagues, and the Issaquah Alpines are featured along with a number of other teams.

Interested in more photographs of the Issaquah Alpines? Take a look at more images (and identification of players) in our Digital Archives.