Walt Seil Remembers Hard Men, Fair Men, From Another Era

This story originally appeared in the Issaquah Reporter on December 18, 2009.

By Jean Cerar

Waler Seil

Walt Seil in his senior yearbook photo, ca 1941.

Walt Seil was an Issaquah native, as was his father, Edward “Nogs” Seil, before him.

When Walt recorded his memories for the Issaquah History Museums Oral History Video Project, he especially relished telling stories about his dad’s time as the town marshal.

That was during the 1950s and it was a different era. The sign by the railroad crossing on East Sunset announced that the town’s population was 812. Everyone knew everyone else and Marshal Seil provided community policing before the term had been invented.

Ed Seil was a logger and a city water department employee before he was tapped for law enforcement.

Here are some of Walt’s stories about him.

“When they had to have a new marshal, they asked Dad to be the marshal, so he accepted the job. He didn’t know anything about police work at the time, but he could fight and he handled drunks, so that’s what they wanted. There were two grocery stores and five beer parlors in Issaquah at that time. Issaquah was a pretty rough town.

I’ll tell you something. I was coming home from work one night – I was working graveyard shift at the creosote plant [in Seattle] – and I was coming up Sunset. The [Grand Central] hotel was on the left, and the beer parlor and restaurant.

And my dad had a man up against the wall. And there was a woman behind him with a purse, beating my dad with the back of her purse – smacking him – while he was holding this guy against the wall, fighting him, see. And there was another couple there besides.

So I thought, Gee, he’s in trouble. So I stopped the car, got out and went over and asked him, ‘Do you need some help, Dad?’

He says, ‘No. But who’s that car up there in the middle of the street?’

‘That’s mine.’

He says, ‘Get it off the goddamn street!’

Then another time, his dad – my grandpa – who lived down by the creamery (Darigold plant) in Issaquah in a house Dad built for him, caused an incident. My grandpa was close to 90 years old, and always liked to come up and sit in the beer parlor and have a few beers.

Well, there was a woman sitting next to him. And be bought her a beer, see. And then another guy come in and sits on the other side of her. He’s going to buy her a beer, and it made Grandpa mad, see. Ninety years old and he’s going to fight this guy because he’s interfering!

So they called my dad in. He took Grandpa by the neck and walked him outside and he says, ‘I’m going to put you in jail until you sober up.’

My dad did not lock the door; he just put him in there. So Grandpa, he laid down on the bed. We got back on the sidewalk and Dad said, ‘You watch.’

Pretty soon, Grandpa sticks his head out the door, looks around, comes out, looks down the railroad track and then down the railroad track he goes to home!

One night I was down at Dad’s and somebody called him and says, ‘Across the street there’s a big noise going on.’ So Dad says, ‘C’mon, go with me.’ We got in the car and went up there. And here on the outside of the door is a naked woman, pounding on the door! Her husband had locked her out.

Dad got out of the car, went over and took his coat and put it on this woman. Then he knocked on the door and told the guy who he was and the guy opened the door, see. He took her in, and Dad gave him the riot act. Then he turned around; he didn’t put the guy in jail or nothing.

We had lots of things going on at that time.

Dad did a good job. Everybody liked him. And everybody knew not to cross him. He had a quick temper. He got along great.

He always carried a gun, but he never used it.”

Walt Seil died in October 2008 at age 88. He was a long-time supporter of the Issaquah History Museums and a great resource for information about the old days. He was always cheerful and kind to new museum volunteers.

The last time I saw Walt, I was docenting at the Depot. He pulled up in front on his snazzy red power chair and sat staring at the building.

I went out to greet him and asked what he was up to. “Oh, I’m just out looking around the old town,” he said wistfully.

I went back inside and swallowed a lump in my throat, afraid I had witnessed a farewell tour.

Not long afterwards, Walt was gone.

Image courtesy of Lorraine Morton.

Kateri Brow

This article originally appeared in the Issaquah Reporter on October 30, 2009

By Barbara de Michele

In Native American culture, the raven is a mystical symbol of change.

If you patronize the Issaquah Public Library, you may have noticed a set of three ravens — one on a bench facing Front Street, one “flying” into the library over the entrance, and the third near the children’s section, clasping a set of keys in its talons.

Looking closer, you may have even noticed that the library’s three ravens memorialize Kateri Brow.

Who was this remarkable woman, what role did she play in Issaquah history, and why the three ravens?

Kateri Brow (pronounced Bro) served as superintendent of the Issaquah School District from January, 1987 until her death in 1992.

A little like our current President Obama, Brow faced significant challenges when she took the helm of our local district.

Financially devastated, the district was in severe financial straits.

Unprecedented community growth was pushing the district to hire teachers and build schools for 500 to 1,000 new students per year.

And, in the mid-80’s, the state of Washington embarked on a school reform effort that was turning traditional curriculum topsy-turvy.

Given these circumstances, the school board turned to a most unusual choice to lead the district.

Kateri Brow was a short (about 5’ tall), squat, round-chested woman with a booming voice and a booming laugh.

Born and raised in Neah Bay, Brow was proud of her Native American heritage. She wore her hair long and straight, reminiscent of the hippie era in which she came of age, and she favored flowing shirts over slacks.

In some respects she was a hippie, with her love of acoustic guitar, photography and her forested home on Beaver Lake.

But the Issaquah educators and parents who revered Brow also knew of her shrewd intellect and wry sense of humor, her ability to lead people through difficult decisions, and her integrity.

A Seattle University graduate, Brow arrived in Issaquah in 1971 as a Maple Hills Elementary special education teacher.

Once, in an address before the Issaquah Women Professionals organization, Brow explained her decision to build a career within a single district.

As a student, Brow had carefully researched Washington school districts, looking for the right combination of a progressive community, creative educators, opportunities for professional growth, and a good place to live. Issaquah fit the bill, and she applied for a job which she readily received.

Issaquah would become the place where she would stake her life and career.

Brow made rapid progress from classroom teacher to Special Education Manager in 1973, to Director of Program Planning in 1977, to Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in 1983.

During these years of professional growth, the Issaquah community increasingly embraced Brow as “one of our own.” Brow’s reputation and stature grew along with the status of her titles.

In late 1986, the Issaquah community received shocking news: the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office was threatening to take over district operations because of a significant budget deficit.

At a packed meeting held at the Issaquah Valley Elementary School gymnasium on January 5, 1987 the board named Brow as Interim Superintendent, replacing James Swick.

Public confidence in the district hit an all-time low. Voters expressed skepticism over the district’s ability to handle levy and bond funds. Parents removed students and transferred them to other districts and private schools. Fifty-three classified workers and nearly 30 certificated teachers and administrators lost their jobs.

Brow moved quickly to restore confidence, visiting schools, classrooms, PTA and Chamber of Commerce meetings.

At one point she climbed aboard school buses and rode with students and drivers, asking for their input into solving Issaquah’s financial woes.

In a “stump speech” that became rather famous within the district, Brow went from school faculty to school faculty, extolling the virtues of saving every penny of taxpayer’s money.

“Pull the drawers out of your desks and see how many paperclips you can find,” she would tell the assembled teachers.

Her already-established credentials as a master teacher and administrator helped. A strong sense of teamwork began to pervade the district.

Internally, Brow re-structured the district’s finance office. Within a few short months, the board enacted budget controls and oversight measures still in place today. Subsequently, the district’s bond rating was renewed at the highest possible level.

Finally, Brow directed district curriculum leaders to establish a cyclical review system, ensuring that every area of student learning was subject to continuous quality improvement.

In the spring of 1987, the first test of Brow’s leadership loomed large: a levy and bond election. Significantly, voters approved the levy and bond, an amazing accomplishment for the neophyte superintendent.

On May 1, 1987 the board named Brow permanent superintendent, her title until her death from cancer in Nov., 1992.

In her short tenure, Brow received numerous awards and honors, as did the Issaquah School District. Most memorably, in 1988 she was named Washington State Superintendent of the Year.

Across every curriculum area, student test scores rose until Issaquah was at or near the top of all districts in the state.

Students were also recognized for excellence in sports, in the arts and drama. Issaquah became known as an innovator in technology, well ahead of other districts.

Encouraged by Brow, parents established the Issaquah Schools Foundation, an organization that has since raised millions for Issaquah schools and students.

Beyond Issaquah, Brow played a significant role in the development of standards that later shaped Washington State’s school reform movement.

Which brings us back to the Issaquah library’s three ravens, particularly the raven with the keys in its talons.

Brow told the story of how one of her own Neah Bay teachers had shown her a set of keys.

“Learning is like this set of keys,” the teacher said. “Every time you learn something new, you find a way to open another door.”

In Native American culture, the raven is a mystical symbol of change, sometimes whimsical but often profound.

Brow was such a change-maker, opening doors for herself and others throughout her life.

Ruth Kees

Ruth Kees Recalls Local Land Battles

This article first appeared in the Issaquah Reporter on July 31, 2009.

By Jean Cerar

Although she died May 6, 2009, the stories of Ruth Kees, Issaquah’s longtime environmental activist, live on through the Issaquah History Museums’ Oral History Video Project.

Ms. Kees was interviewed in November 2006. At that time she talked about the fight to save the Issaquah Skyport and the effort to stop the Southeast Bypass.

Issaquah Skyport

When Interstate 90 came through the Issaquah Valley, Ruth Kees started the group, Friends of Issaquah Creek, to save the salmon trapped in weirs built by the highway department on the north end of Tiger Mountain.

“But I could see this was going to be a one-person type of thing so I didn’t carry it very far,” she said. “But then other things started developing, and we got more people [involved]. At that time, the Washington Environmental Council had been formed. So I went to form the Issaquah Environmental Council.”

“Then things got so hot around here. It was a case of paying attention to all the local issues.”

One of the issues was the Issaquah Skyport, which was located on the north side of I-90 where the Pickering Place shopping center now stands.

The Skyport was a popular destination for area residents who liked to watch the field’s parachuting and gliding activities.

In 1987 operator Linn Emrich’s lease expired. A bond issue to keep the Skyport was defeated.

Ruth Kees and her husband Dan were among those leading the fight to stop development on the site “because that whole area is a wetlands,” she said. “It may not be a Class 1 wetlands, but it’s a wetland.”

The Kees’ concern was that development would interfere with the natural replenishment of the aquifer. During her interview, Ruth explained what happens when surface water cannot sink into the ground.

“Well, water always goes downhill,” she said. “This part of the valley is elevated above Lake Sammamish, which is a big pool. It shows where the aquifer level is. Because of the development around here the water is no longer absorbed into the ground. Lately, after a rainfall, Lake Sammamish will go up six feet, and all the docks are underwater. And then it goes back down. It’s definitely connected to getting rid of your surface water. You can’t replenish the aquifer [if the ground is covered with impervious surfaces].”

Kees also pointed out that recent flooding in the Issaquah Valley occurred because the ground could not absorb the water fast enough.

The Kees sued to save the Skyport land. The developers waged a countersuit, a SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) suit. It turned out to be too much for the Kees, who settled.

“It cost us money, that’s what did us in,” she said. “We were $86,000 in debt and we didn’t see any way out. And they kept processing it. They didn’t let anything die. So finally we saved the 12 acres and Pickering Barn. At least that was given to us.”

Southeast Bypass

For 20 years Kees was involved in the effort to block construction of the Southeast Bypass, which would have connected I-90’s Sunset Interchange with the Issaquah Hobart Road via a route along the base of Tiger Mountain.

The Kees’ interview was conducted before the Issaquah City Council voted to kill the bypass project.

“The reason for having the bypass is to take the traffic off Front Street,” she said. “Now, that’s kind of silly, because we don’t get all that much. We get traffic, but then it goes through. And it is not truck traffic. Trucks are forbidden.

“And you put that bypass in and you’re going to have a whole bunch more cars – and trucks – going down this valley, with more smog in this valley. And with our terrain, we’re going to be a little Los Angeles.

“And the noise pollution! People don’t talk about noise pollution, but it affects the nerves of a person. They’ve subjected animals and people to continuous noise, and their blood pressure went up. And their blood pressure never came down! So it causes physiological changes.

“It would also result in this part of the valley being developed, too.

“I think this is one case where citizen [input made a difference]. There were a whole slew of people that all spoke out against it.”

Ruth Kees

Ruth Kees Recalls the Early Days of Conservation in the Issaquah Alps

This article first appeared in the Issaquah Reporter on December 19, 2011.

By Jean Cerar

Although she died May 6, 2009, the stories of Ruth Kees, Issaquah’s longtime environmental activist, live on through the Issaquah History Museums’ Oral History Video Project.

Ms. Kees was interviewed in November 2006. Following are some of her comments about the effort to preserve Tiger Mountain for the public.

Ruth Kees and her husband Dan built a home at the foot of Tiger Mountain in 1960.

Above them were the 14,000 acres that now make up the West Tiger Mountain National Resource area and the Tiger Mountain State Forest.

“Weyerhaeuser owned every other square mile,” Kees said. “This dates back to the time when the United States was trying to get this area populated.

They granted the University of Washington every other square mile and Weyerhaeuser every other square mile. So Weyerhaeuser had come in and clear cut. And we got involved because they were clear cutting it at the head of Fifteen Mile Creek.”

According to Kees, Weyerhaeuser had replanted, and they wanted to spray to kill competing plants.

However, she wanted to show that hand clearing was the way to go.

“About 200 people came out that weekend,” she said. “It didn’t take all that long to do. And it certainly worked.”

How did she get the people to turn out?

“Well, it was just a case of calling people up and talking to people. And I think it was put in the newspaper back then what was going to happen.”

It was the beginning of Kees’ career as an environmental educator. She would explain that “trees, with the tree roots, hold the soil. And the greenery also keeps the soil from getting [water]-logged, because of transpiration into the atmosphere. In other words, it [takes] a balance of nature. It prevents erosion.”

Kees was an original member of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club, founded in 1979 by Harvey Manning and others to act as custodians and advocates for the area.

“[Harvey] decided that in order to preserve Tiger Mountain, he was going to have to educate people as to the value of the mountain,” Kees said.

“And at that time, too, the ATVs – you know, the all-terrain vehicles – were running rampant around the place. And we got them – or Harvey got them – forbidden to go up on Tiger because they were just ruining all the trails.”

Recalling the early days of the club, she said, “Well, it was educational in that we got new members, and they went on hiking trips. And I think they still do. They guarantee there’s going to be a hiking trip every day. And it’ll take place whether anybody shows up or not.”

“I have to tell this story about Harvey. He always dressed in either wool or cotton. Nothing that was artificial or manmade. And he had a beard and long hair. And one of the later members tells a story that the first time she saw Harvey – she met him on one of the trails – she turned around and walked in the other direction! Because he was such a wild-looking person.”

 Two years after the trails club was founded, its efforts paid off. The Tiger Mountain State Forest was created.

Harvey Manning, Washington State Land Commissioner Brian Boyle, the Department of Natural Resources and Ruth Kees were all involved in the process. As Kees told it, “Harvey Manning evidently got to know Brian Boyle, and Brian Boyle came out and took a look at [the proposed forest]. And the Rolling Log Tavern had something to do with it. [Harvey] took [Brian] into the Rolling Log Tavern and by golly, Tiger Mountain State Forest came into being!”

Logging was not permitted for a while. Then, limited logging was permitted, with the approval of the Tiger Mountain State Forest Advisory Committee of which both Kees and Manning were members.

“Whenever a proposal was made to log a certain part of it, they would bring the proposal before the advisory committee…It wasn’t a square mile that got done, it would be maybe 20 acres logged in an area that could accept logging practices,” Kees said.

Asked if she believed that logging can be carried out in a conscientious way, Kees replied, “Yes, I do. I have tried to see both sides of the story. And with the increase in population, and the need to keep open space, I think that logging can be done. But they should save a little of the old growth, too, which they have done. So we have the big tree that is saved on the northwest corner [of the Tiger Mountain State Forest]. It’s a fir tree. But it’s a huge tree. And it’s probably the only tree that never got cut down. So it’s still there, from days gone by.”

IHM 2004-11-27

The Squak Valley Hot Shots

The Squak Valley Hot Shots were an all-women’s jug band that grew out of the Eagles Club. Although membership in the group changed over time, the Squak Valley Hot Shots played together from 1957 to 1980. The Hot Shots were a much-anticipated part of the Labor Day festivities; they were also recording artists! The homegrown group produced at least one 45 record in their career, and they played gigs throughout the Puget Sound area. In 1977, they helped the Seattle Sounders celebrate Issaquah Day at the King Dome be performing during halftime. Another hallmark of their career was a 1974 performance at Governor Wes Uhlman’s innauguration ball, in Olympia. Ida Mae Bergsma commented on some of their swankier appointments in a 1976 newspaper article, saying, “It’s not easy walking into a classy place like the Olympic Hotel carrying a wash tub.”

Although their line-up was generally all-female, the band occasionally called upon men to fill in for missing players. One undated clipping from the band’s scrapbook notes that, during an appearance in the North Bend parade, Dave Morgan filled in for Gladys Morgan, and “with his wig, dress and pantaloons, made a fine looking girl.”

Just before the end of 2017, the Issaquah History Museums received a group of unique artifacts pertaining to the Squak Valley Hot Shots. The IHM already preserves a number of photographs and other documents relating the the Hot Shots. Now some of the original musical instruments used by the Hot Shots have joined the community’s collection. Among the instruments donated were a washtub and broom, a washboard and wooden spoon (which also doubled as an identifying sign), an amplified kazoo and maracas.

Want to dig deep into the topic? You can see photos of the Squak Valley Hot Shots, and peruse their scrapbook (kindly loaned to us to  copy by June Nissley Willard) in our online Digital Collections. Members of the Squak Valley Hot Shots included Chattie Adair, Ida Mae Bergsma,  Madge Brundage, Pat Cammon, Mae Daverso, Edna Diedrich, Virvae Reed Dieringer, Jean Gregg, Eleanor Kramer, Irene McDiarmid, Kaye McElfresh, Gladys Morgan, Eleanor Munden, Beryl Nelson, Frances Nissley, Eileen Pennington, Faye Straub, Edna Uber, Alice Varner, and May Williams.

(Below, left: The Squak Valley Hot Shots, circa 1960. Below, right: washboard and band sign today)

2011-15-1-individual photo IMG_1654

Replace!

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: 72.021.014.080]

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 Ancestry.com 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

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[2] Information about the Issaquah community members is drawn from legal documents available on Ancestry.com 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

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[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 Ancestry.com 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.