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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

__________

[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

__________

[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.

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.

 

Mayor Bill Flintoft

James William “Bill” Flintoft: Accidental Mayor

Mayor Bill Flintoft

Mayor Bill Flintoft

James William Flintoft (most often called Bill) never set out to be Mayor. In fact, he didn’t seem to harbor any political aspirations. According to his son Tom Flintoft, Flintoft likely got involved in local politics because something happened that annoyed him. Nevertheless, Bill Flintoft served as Mayor for twelve years, the longest running mayor in the history of Issaquah up until Mayor Ava Frisinger’s anniversary as mayor in 2010. During the course of his term in office, the population tripled. Along with the growth came an enormous amount of change. Flintoft managed to navigate the challenges that this kind of rapid growth brings.

Bill Flintoft was born on June 21, 1908 to James and Lena Flintoft. At that time, his parents were living in Canada. However, Flintoft was born in Illinois. Accord-ing to Tom Flintoft, Lena Flintoft insisted that they go to the United States to have their child, so that when he reached 21 he could choose his citizenship.

Flintoft spent his early life in Ontario; after completing high school, he served in the Merchant Marines for several years. He later attended mortuary school in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1934, Flintoft moved to Washington state. He worked for Clark, Rafferty and Putnam, a funeral home in Seattle, for several years. While living in Seattle, he met Alberta Zulauf. They married in 1935.

Within a few years, the Flintofts de-cided to relocate to a smaller town. They considered Edmonds and Enumclaw, but ultimately selected Issaquah. At that time, Issaquah’s long-time coroner and undertaker, named Fisher, was selling his business. Fisher made a handshake deal with Bill Flintoft, agreeing to sell the business to him. The Flintofts had already made all the arrangements for their move when they found that Fisher had sold to a Seattle funeral home instead. Undeterred, they decided to stay in Issaquah and take their chances running a second funeral home.

Alberta Flintoft chose the site of Flintoft’s Funeral Home. She noticed a graceful house on Mill Street (today’s Sunset Way) where the Hobbs family lived, knocked on the door, and asked if the oc-cupants wished to sell. Although Harriet Hobbs hadn’t really thought about selling until asked, her husband had died just a few years before and her sons were now grown. She sold to the Flintofts, who opened their business on April 12, 1938.

The population of Issaquah at that time was 800 people. The rapid growth made possible by Highway 10 and the floating bridge would not begin for a few more years. Issaquah was known for being tightly-knit, but the Flintofts quickly made themselves part of the community’s fabric. Flintoft served as Master of Issaquah’s Myrtle Lodge in 1943, and also participated in the local Masonic lodge. As early as 1941, he served as Deputy Coroner for King County, which probably inspired confidence in him among Issaquah’s residents. As the “community mortician” (as stated in one of the newspaper ads he ran), he also developed relationships with community members during times of personal loss and vulnerability.

Although Flintoft and his family were active in the community, it was not until 1951 that Flintoft got involved in politics. He attended two Council meetings in spring of 1951. At the first, he persuaded the City to purchase pipe to be laid up to the cemetery, to provide water and a means of irrigation. At the second, he requested that the Council do something about the cows that wandered into the cemetery, treading on graves. At the spring political caucus, Flintoft was selected as a candidate for the City Council. He was sworn into office as council member on June 4 of 1951.

Although Bill Flintoft and his family were active in the community, it was not until 1951 that Flintoft got involved in politics. He attended two Council meet

Miss Issaquah Sharon Weiss, at left, Issaquah Homecoming Queen Laura Shunk, in middle, and Mayor Bill Flintoft, at the the ceremonies for the dedication of the Park Boulevard Bridge, 1970.

Miss Issaquah Sharon Weiss, at left, Issaquah Homecoming Queen Laura Shunk, in middle, and Mayor Bill Flintoft, at the the ceremonies for the dedication of the Park Boulevard Bridge, 1970.

ings in spring of 1951. At the spring politi-cal caucus, Flintoft was selected as a candidate for the City Council. He was elected, and was sworn into office June 4, 1951.

Flintoft served as a councilman for seven years. On July 17, 1958, Mayor Alting R. “Buck” Lee resigned from his post. The Council accepted his resignation with regret. As most senior council member, Flintoft was designated Mayor Pro-Tem. The following week, he was officially elected by the other council members to serve the remainder of Lee’s unexpired term. Flintoft was re-elected to three more mayoral terms. Up until the tenure of Ava Frisinger, he was the longest-serving mayor of Issaquah.

Issaquah’s population was just under 2,000 when Flintoft became mayor — twice what it had been when the floating bridge opened in 1940. It would double again be-fore Flintoft’s term ended. Along with the growth came an enormous amount of change. Flintoft managed to navigate the challenges this kind of rapid growth brings. Skip Rowley, recalling the city’s primary challenge, remembers, “the city had no services to offer.” Issaquah lacked an adequate water supply and a sewer system, for starters.

The secondary challenge was that Flintoft worked for a community that did not, by and large, welcome change. According to his son, Tom, Flintoft’s perspective was that growth was inevitable. The city could either control the growth or let growth control the city. If appropriate planning took place, the community could benefit from growth. Flintoft’s common sense approach was to find a compromise between the pro-growth faction and the no-growth faction.

Skip Rowley describes Flintoft as “one of the smartest men I think I have ever met.” Flintoft had the ability to “get other people to make things happen.” According to Rowley, “if you didn’t know any better, you would think that he wasn’t as smart… And Bill loved it when somebody would think that.”

Keith Hansen was a council member during the last two years of Flintoft’s tenure. He remembers that Flintoft, “was very good at running the city. Running the mortuary, he knew people in their best and worst times.”

In 1969 Flintoft chose not to seek another term in office. That fall, Keith Hansen narrowly beat Rod Anderson in the mayoral election. He continued the work of building the city’s infrastructure.

Flintoft died on December 14, 1971, at only 63 years of age. His memorial was held at Flintoft’s Funeral Home, the business he operated for nearly 35 years, and he was interred at Hillside Cemetery. The business he built continues to operate under the management of his son and grandson.

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.

Donna Pedegana in her senior portrait, 1948.

The Great Depression

By Joan Newman

Originally appeared in the Issaquah Reporter, December 2010

Donna Pedegana in her senior portrait, 1948.

Donna Pedegana in her senior portrait, 1948.

Much is heard these days about the Great Depression of the 1930s, and how it might compare to the present day. Over a cup of coffee recently, Donna Pedegana Arndt, a lifelong Issaquah resident, provided a glimpse of daily life in Issaquah during the Depression era.

She was born at home in 1930 on what is now Andrews Street near the old Gilman Town Hall. She grew up in a coal miner’s family in an Issaquah where everyone knew where everyone else lived and didn’t have addresses or phones. They picked up their mail at the post office and identified their whereabouts by well-known landmarks. Arndt said she never understood why, later on, “you had to write ‘Issaquah’ on the envelope if you were mailing to someone in town. We always just wrote ‘City.'”

Arndt recalled some common values of the Depression era which she learned from her parents. Families were afraid of not having enough to live on, so they valued being debt-free and making things last. Arndt said many people were also “secretive,” wary of those who might take advantage of them. She often heard warnings against revealing personal news such as illness. “Don’t tell this out of the house,” they said. And especially, “Don’t talk about money out of the house.”

“In the Depression,” said Arndt, “if you didn’t have a job, you planted a big garden, because that is what you ate, and you went up in the woods and chopped wood for your fuel.”

“When people didn’t have enough money to buy groceries, merchants would let them charge things and never quite get the bill paid. The merchants really lost a lot of money. Later on, I thought it was really wonderful what they did,” she said.

Depression meals were made from “whatever was available.” Her family, the Pedeganas, grew corn, potatoes, carrots, bush beans, and cucumbers for pickling. They ate “a lot of spaghetti,” “boiling beef,” or chicken with noodles, and salted codfish which was soaked for two days before being cooked with potatoes in a cream sauce.

“Thanksgiving was not such a big thing as it is now,” said Arndt, although her family usually got together with relatives to eat dinner. A home favorite at Christmas might have been “ball soup,” made of small pieces of ham and bread cooked in a broth.

The school cafeteria served all 12 grades in the Depression, she remembered. High school girls helped serve a full meal of soup, salad, a hot dish and dessert. Belle Harris was the sole cook for many years, Arndt recalled, and sometimes cooked at home and brought the food to the cafeteria.

Clothing reflected the times. Girls had “only two or maybe three dresses, which they wore to school and then exchanged for play clothes when they got home. Boys and girls “had one pair of shoes for the year and if they wore through early, you lined them with cardboard. If your feet grew too fast, your toes were cramped.” She said men teachers often wore the same suit every day all year.

Arndt’s mother cut up her old clothes to make dresses for her daughter, but girls had to have new Easter dresses, no matter how few clothes they had the rest of the year, said Arndt.

For young girls, recreation was roller-skating on the cement sidewalks. “We would strap on our skates and be gone all day,” said Arndt. Everyone learned to swim in Issaquah Creek or down at the lake, though that was a long walk from town. “You wore the same one-piece suit all the time — you only had one.” Boys wore “trunks.”

Depression-era entertainment for many meant listening to the Seattle Rainier baseball games, broadcast on the radio by Leo Lassen from Sick’s Seattle Stadium. “If you walked up and down the street in Issaquah, you could hear the games through people’s open windows,” said Arndt. Issaquah also had a baseball team, organized by the Volunteer Fire Department, which played against teams in other towns.

1910 Issaquah baseball team. Joe Pedegana is 6th from the left in the back row.

1910 Issaquah baseball team. Joe Pedegana is 6th from the left in the back row.

Arndt’s father was a baseball enthusiast. He had played on teams for Fall City and Roslyn in Washington, as well as Lewiston, ID and towns near Portland, Oregon. “His claim to fame was knowing the batting average of every player. Whenever there was an argument in a bar about some technicality about baseball, they would get hold of my dad to find out the real truth,” she said.

The effects of the Depression lasted a while. Arndt experienced more hardship than most, as her mother died when she was 12 and she had to keep house for her father. She remembered the help of Mamie King, who worked at the Red and White grocery store on Front Street, where the Front Street Market’s parking lot is now. King gave her ideas for dinner, helped her to select groceries and advised her about fixing meals.

When the Depression eased and World War II followed in 1941, the economy picked up and jobs were created, Arndt recalled. People in Issaquah became more prosperous. In high school, Arndt worked at a local restaurant, the Victory Inn, where she first met Bill Arndt, a veteran of the war in the Pacific.

They married in 1948. They ran Bill’s Cleaning Service in town, built a house off Newport Way where Donna still lives, and raised three children. Donna and Bill’s son, Roger, ran the business as Arndt Window Cleaning – in a much different Issaquah from the town she knew in the Great Depression.

Irving Petite with bovine companion, 1978.

Irving Petite of Tiger Mountain

By Joan Newman

Originally appeared in the Issaquah Reporter, December 2009

Irving Petite with bovine companion, 1978.

Irving Petite with bovine companion, 1978.

Reports of the occasional bear or cougar in our neighborhoods stir memories of the local wildlife in Irving Petite’s engaging books, written on his ranch up Tiger Mountain Road, where he lived pretty much off the land for over 40 years.

He and his partner Bill McCauley had bought 165 acres of logged-over land there in 1941, and they built the ranch and a family of wild, semi-wild and domestic animals who often shared Petite’s cabin and enriched his love of the natural world.

No pink doggie bows or studded collars for the companions of the man who emerged in his books and in his family’s recollections. He delighted in animals’ personalities and respected their independence (more than they respected his) as his cabin became their haven, and his ranch yard their park.

In his best known books, Mister B (Reader’s Digest Association, 1960), he tells of hearing loud “bear music” of cubs suckling and vocalizing in a shallow den under a log up an unused logging road on his property. He and Bill left well enough alone, only placing a few apples at the den’s mouth, until the day they heard the screams and screeches of one cub who had been rejected or abandoned. When Petite found the source of the noise, the little black bear grabbed his arm, climbed up his body, and nuzzled his neck as if suckling. Petite took the cub home and raised him like his own, always fascinated by the cub’s insatiable curiosity and vocal repertoire.

As the cub grew, the most difficult part, Petite wrote, was Mister B’s craving for affection. When Petite milked his cow, the cub climbed his back and “mumbled” into his neck. When he got too heavy, Petite shrugged him off and gave up his left foot to be gnawed on instead. The cub snuggled with Petite’s dog, Stella, who whined and yelped when the nuzzling got too much.

Petite’s niece Sue Morris, now of Seattle, remembers being chased by the young bear, who wanted to play (she didn’t). As Mister B galloped across the yard toward her, she fled to an old car parked in some blackberry bushes, jumped in, and frantically rolled up the windows just in time to foil the boisterous cub. With Mister B on top of the car, “we both waited for a long time,” as she puts it, until the bear tired of it and wandered off.

Sue remembers a day when the young bear “got mad” and trashed the cabin. “He opened the refrigerator — yes, he had learned how to open the refrigerator — and rummaged around and then he found flour and threw it around all over the kitchen.” The bear wanted “HIS food — the fruits, vegetables and sorghum that Uncle Irving fed him. He acted just like a four or five-year old human person!” When Irving returned, he looked around tolerantly and said, “Oh, I’d better get his food together for him.”

Sue also remembers a day when Irving was away and a tax collector came to the ranch. “Mister B ran over to the car and hovered over it. The tax collector left in a hurry.”

In “The Elderberry Tree” (Doubleday, 1964), Petite wrote about a pack rat which moved into his cabin. At night, she noisily dragged and dropped trophies that she had brought inside, carrying them in and out of her hiding places over his bed. Her treasures included an unbroken Japanese tea set, sardine cans and a cracked sunshade, as well as sticks and small branches. Some mornings, when he was out of kindling to start a fire, Petite stood on a chair and raided her stash of twigs.

Of course, Petite had plenty of room on his ranch and in his heart for not-so-wild life too. In “Life on Tiger Mountain” (Doubleday, 1966), he tells of a sow he called Ungodly moving in. If the cabin door was open, she went in. If it wasn’t, she forced it. Petite would then oblige her by scratching under her chin.

Petite was well-known locally for his goats, says his nephew Mike Petite, a local builder. “He must have had 50 of them in his barn,” says Mike, who also remembers a goat which was raised in Irving’s cabin. Petite milked many of the goats in the cabin during winter weather. When a neighbor went into the service in WWII, he left his goats with Petite, who combined the herds. Sue Morris remembers Petite letting the goats forage up Tiger Mountain and calling them back home in the evening. “He would just call them and they would all come!” One of these goats was especially attracted to Sue. Often, when she appeared at the cabin, “he looked up, saw me and charged right over to butt me HARD!”

Both Mike and Sue lived as children on a part of the property Irving sold to their father, his brother Paul. The lived in Uncle Irving’s cabin when Paul was building their house. Mike lives today with his three children on what was once part of the original property.

Petite enjoyed times with his nephews and nieces. They would go up to what they called “Big Falls” on their creek. They went to a beach behind the falls, or slid down rocks below into a pool to swim. Mister B sometimes joined them there.

Irving Petite, 1931, feeding two wild birds.

Irving Petite, 1931, feeding two wild birds.

Sue remembers taking naps in the cabin with Man, an orphaned black-tailed deer raised by Petite. She would wake to see “those big, brown eyes peering” at her. The deer “was just like a dog,” she says. “He panted like a dog and even chased cars.”

Sue spent a lot of in the cabin with her uncle when she was growing up. She liked to do her homework by his fire. He would be typing nearby. She would struggle with her writing and he would look at it and give her his gentle advice. “It would be better like this…,” he’d day. Sometimes he would invite Sue to accompany him on flights in a small plane, gathering material for his articles. “He took good photos,” Sue adds.

Petite grew a big garden on his ranch. He picked wild blackberries, canned cherries and peaches, and made jam every year. When his ranch income was not enough, he made and sold fence posts, hop poles, and shakes from downed lumber and snags left behind on his land.

Petite substituted as a mail carrier on Issaquah Rural Route 2 and freelanced for the Seattle Times. He wrote articles on composting and recycling, among other topics, as well as four books about life on his mountain, and another about a trip to Alaska in a small boat. He filled his books with stories of possums, coyotes, mink, birds and the lessons of nature learned from the land in every season. He was sometimes called a local Thoreau, a title Sue says he would have enjoyed.

However, he was no hermit. He opened his home to many visitors, including artists, authors, researchers and photographers, says Sue. He helped neighbors with chores like roofing and provided work for young friends around the ranch. One of his stories tells of buying a coyote from some local boys who had just given it a bath to improve its sales value.

Irv Petite's mother, Jean Wolverton Petite, did a lot of the art work for her son's books. This sketch of Petite's goats is by her.

Irv Petite’s mother, Jean Wolverton Petite, did a lot of the art work for her son’s books. This sketch of Petite’s goats is by her.

Petite’s mother, Jean Wolverton Petite, illustrated some of his books and their book covers. She was a painter, sculptor, and illustrator for nature magazines such as Audubon, which liked her work because “she portrayed nature accurately, put the right birds with the right trees, etc.,” according to Sue. Irving learned from his mother’s example how to find edible and useful things in the wild. “His mother was really important to him and he modeled his love of nature and his self-discipline after her.” When asked about his writing habits, he said he guessed he wrote about 50 pages a day.

In 1984, Petite moved further away from population growth and development to the Colville Indian Resevation, where he lived near the town of Keller for more than 20 years. Mister B had been killed by hunters early on, when Petite was away from the ranch, and Man the deer, with a full head of antlers, had been driven in the back of Petite’s car the Woodland Park Zoo, because whenever he had been taken back to the wold, he had always showed up again at the cabin.

A great niece, Sara Petite of San Diego, is a singer-songwriter whose debut CD “Tiger Mountain” contains three songs written for her “Tiger Mountain grandmother,” Jacqueline Petite, Irving’s sister-in-law. A ballad called “Uncle Irving” seems to express the affection and sometimes amusement his family felt for Petite’s way of life. The refrain goes, “I know you don’t believe me/But Uncle Irving said,/’That chicken house is freezing cold!’/Now there’s chickens in the bed.”

The Issaquah History Museums have several copies of Irving Petite’s books, now out of print, in the archives at the Gilman Town Hall. Some copies are also available through various online sources and in King County libraries.

Anita Huovar in her 1939.

Anita Huovar

Anita Huovar in her 1939.

Anita Huovar in her 1939 yearbook photo.

The Issaquah History Museums aim to preserve what we call “local history” – the stories of people and events in our immediate area. But “local history” is never only local. The story of any area is always impacted by other events – regional, national, or global – and people rarely stay in just one area. We can see the intersection of local and global events in the story of Anita Huovar.

Anita Huovar grew up in Issaquah during the 1920s and 1930s. At this time, Issaquah was a rural farming community of less than 1,000 inhabitants. In this era before the floating bridge, going to Seattle required a drive south of Lake Washington. Nearly all of the town’s residents knew each other, and many were related by blood or marriage. Born and raised in rural Issaquah, Anita Huovar wouldn’t have surprised anyone by attending college, marrying, or having a career. By the time she graduated from high school, more and more young women were going to work. But Huovar’s path took a decidedly international turn, which made her quite unusual.

Huovar was born to Finnish immigrants John and Helja Huovar in Issaquah in 1921. Her father worked in the Newcastle coal mines for a time, and later found steady work with the logging companies and lumber mills that surrounded Issaquah. The Huovar family was active in the community, judging from coverage in the Issaquah Press. Her mother was a member of Issaquah’s Relief Committee, a group that worked to provide assistance for those hard-hit by the Depression. The Huovar family often hosted meetings of the Finnish National Club at their home. At the 1931 Community Church Christmas party, Anita’s recitation of more than 50 Bible verses from memory was called an “exceptional feature” by the Issaquah Press, and earned her an engraved Bible. The 1939 Issaquah High School yearbook claimed that Anita would be remembered by her nickname “Sunny,” and for her good grades. After graduation, Anita earned a teaching degree at the University of Washington, and returned to Issaquah High as a teacher from 1944 until 1949.

In 1949 her path diverged sharply from those of her peers when she took a teaching job in Yokohama, Japan. While working there, she met Kevin Carroll. Carroll worked on foreign aid programs within the Department of the Interior. The two wed in 1952, and began their married life together in Honolulu. In 1955 Kevin Carroll’s work with the USAID sent him to the Balochistan region of southeastern Iran. Anita accompanied him.

Most Americans back home had little notion of daily life in the Middle East, including Iran. Notions of the region were shaped by popular culture representations that featured harems, belly-dancers, and sand-filled desert. Few of Anita’s friends of family members would have been aware of the political forces that would shape the Carrolls’ fate.

Between 1951 and 1953, the CIA conspired to overthrow Iran’s elected prime minister and put the Shah in his place, as detailed in CIA documents highlighted by the New York Times in 2000. This caused a great deal of anti-American sentiment within Iran. Residents of the Balochistan region, where Kevin and Anita Carroll would live, were particularly displeased with the Shah’s regime. Balochistan had at one time been a semi-independent state; in the 1950s the Baloch tribes were brought under the rule of the ethnically Persian Iranian government, led by the Shah. The Shah’s regime sought to forcibly assimilate the Baloch by limiting education, banning traditional attire, and outlawing use of the Balochi language. The Balochis actively resisted the Shah’s rule, making Balochistan a dangerous place for an American to be.

Kevin Carroll and Anita Huovar Carroll became entangled in this ethnic struggle between the Persians and the Balochis. On March 24, 1957, the Carrolls and another American, Brewster Wilson, were en route to Chahbahar when Balochi resistance fighters opened fire. The Americans returned fire, but were soon overtaken. Kevin Carroll and Brewster Wilson were killed and left at the scene. Anita Huovar Carroll was taken from the scene, alive. Government officials said that the kidnapping had been perpetrated by a band of nomads who intended to sell Anita into the slave trade once they reached the coast of the Arabian peninsula. A thriving slave trade based on kidnapped white women was probably quite plausible to most newspaper readers. Officials stated that the nomads probably did not know that their intended victims were American.

Contemporary sources suggest that Carroll may have been evaluating a port city, Chahbahar, for use as a potential military base. As the United States supported the Shah’s regime over the Balochis, an American base on their home turf was not appealing to Balochi resistance fighters. The Carrolls were likely targeted because they were American. It is easier to understand the incident in hindsight, since we are now all-too familiar with resistance fighters and anti-American sentiment.

For the next week, news stories flew out over the AP wire regarding the abduction of the “pretty American woman.” The Shah of Iran assured America that everything would be done to track down the bandits, and that more than a thousand Iranian troops were in pursuit of the kidnappers. Would-be rescuers were aided in their efforts by a trail of paper and clothing, apparently left by Anita as she was taken away. Leaflets were dropped over Balochistan demanding her safe return and promising an unlimited ransom and amnesty; sources claimed to have seen a white woman, unharmed, riding towards Pakistan with a group of Balochi women and children. On March 31, a week after the abduction, the headlines blared, “Bandit Will Release Anita!” There followed reports that the “leader of the desert outlaws” had assured government officials that Anita Huovar Carroll was safe and would be returned unharmed. Her brother, John Huovar, told the Associated Press, “We’re not jumping up and down yet, but it certainly sounds good.”

But the following day it was reported that Anita Huovar Carroll’s body had been found, just ten miles from site of the ambush. She had survived her husband by less than a day. Her body was returned to the United States and she was buried beside her husband at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue, WA. For her friends and family in Issaquah, Anita’s death was a private and personal tragedy. But for those who did not know her, it was a significant international event.

 

In addition to census records, World War I draft records, and the Issaquah Press, the following were sources for this article:

“A Trail of Torn Paper.” Time Magazine, April 8, 1957.

Associated Press articles from March 25-April 1, 1957.

Barlow, Elizabeth., “Middle East Facts and Fictions.” The Journal of the International Institute, Volume 2, No. 2. Published by the University of Michigan. 1995.

Risen, James. “Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran.” New York Times Special Report, 2000.

 

CORRECTION:

We had several reader responses regarding the article on Anita Huovar Carroll that appeared in last quarter’s edition of Past Times. Anita was born and raised in Issaquah, and lived a short but remarkable life as the principal of a school in Yokohama, and as the wife of a USAID employee posted in Iran. In 1957, she and her husband were killed in Iran. One of Anita’s classmates, Mabel Nyberg, wrote, “I enjoyed the article on Anita Huovar. I have many happy memories and then the sad ending.” Anita’s sister, Lyllevan “Cappi” Davidson also contacted us to thank us for the story, and to add more information. We offer the following clarifications and corrections on the previous article.

Newspaper reports from the time of the Carrolls’ murder were filled with many errors and exaggerations –the most egregious being the tale that Anita had been kidnapped and taken from the scene, and later seen traveling with a group of women and children. In reality, she was killed at the site of the attack, and on the same day as her husband. Cappi noted that another falsehood reported (and unwittingly perpetuated in our newsletter article) was that the Americans had returned their attackers’ fire. Kevin and Anita Carroll were adamantly opposed to carrying firearms in a foreign nation, since their mission there was to assist the residents. Cappi also noted that Kevin and Anita Huovar Carroll were not consciously involved in the politics of Iran, although their lives were impacted by them. Kevin Carroll’s employer, USAID, sent him to the area to help the Iranians establish new industries and develop economically. The Carrolls lived in Kirman, not Balochistan, and developed warm relationships with their neighbors in the area. At the time of their death, they were traveling to a village some distance from Kirman.  We regret these errors and omissions, and thank Cappi Davidson for sharing her  memories of Anita.