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2004-30-24

Our Poetic Heritage

When settlers first arrived in Issaquah, they brought the necessities for survival, arguably impractical items that reminded them of home, and their hopes for the future. They also brought with them the cultural traditions of their homeland and ancestors:  language, food, music, dance — and poetry. We’ve enjoyed sharing some of the  poetry created in this valley.

The poems preserved in the Issaquah History Museums’ collections demonstrate the universal appeal of poetry and its accessibility as an art form. The homegrown poets we celebrated this month might have been hesitant to create a painting or write a novel, but they didn’t hesitate to express themselves through poetry. Poems were short, requiring less time and fewer materials than other creative pursuits. They were also easy to fold up and tuck away if the authors didn’t want to share their poetic thoughts.

Poetry is driven by creativity, emotion, and an appreciation for language. It does not require formal education, however. The poems in our collection were written by working-class people with limited education. Coal miner Robert Legg was illiterate when he first immigrated to the United States from England. Farmwife Hilda Johanson Erickson received a fifth grade education in her native Sweden, but wrote all her poetry in English, which she learned as an adult.

Finally, poetry offers insight into the emotional lives of some of Issaquah’s early residents. The poems we have gathered illuminate the emotions, motivations, and concerns that are common across humanity – loneliness, frailty, loneliness, scenic beauty. It’s a reminder of the commonalities between people from different places and different eras.

In observance of National Poetry Month, we have enjoyed posting some of our favorite poetry in the Issaquah History Museums’ collection.  If you are eager for more, or want to explore other creative works in our collection, visit us at Gilman Town Hall. Our research center is open Thursday through Saturday, 11:00 to 3:00. Much of the material is also available in our digital collection at http://issaquah.pastperfect-online.com/31426cgi/mweb.exe?request=ks.

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From the Digital Collections: Bertha Wold Autograph Album ca 1890s

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems from our collections here at the Issaquah History Museums.

Bertha Wold
date unknown
(probably late 1890s-
1910s)

This “Cinderella Album” belonging to Bertha Wold Baxter dates to the early 1890s. It’s very fragile – most of the pages are falling out of the binding. Bertha was born in 1877 which would have made her around 15 when some of the earlier entries were written in this album.

Bertha’s album is very reminiscent of Ferol Tibbetts’ autograph album (which we posted about previously this month) which dates around 20 years later. However, the sentiments expressed in Bertha’s are a bit more poetic and romantic which makes sense for the time.

The “Cinderella Album” depicts illustrations telling the story of Cinderella. The album also has some raised stickers that seem to have been applied either by Bertha or by those who have written in the album. You can see some in the examples below.

To see the album in it’s entirety, visit the Full Record at our Digital Collections.

“Cinderella Album” belonging to Bertha Wold Baxter
ca 1890s
Full Record
“Dear Bertha,
In memories basket
Drop one pearl for me.
Mama”

“Dear Bertha:
Truth, crushed to the Earth will rise again.
Your friend and Teacher,
I.V. Davis”
(November 29th, 1892)

 

“Dear Bertha
If when you get married
your husband is true
kiss him for me and a
good one to[o].
Your School Mate
Sarah Jane Truscott”

 

“Dear Bertha
Love no man not even
Your brother. If girls
must love love one
an other.
Your friend
Maggie Buchanan”

 

“Dear Bertha
May you live happy
each day of your life. Get
a good husband and make
a good wife:
Your Friend
Marmie E. Stewart”
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From the Digital Collections: “The Future of Seattle” Robert Legg

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems from our collections here at the Issaquah History Museums.

This poem by Robert Legg entitled “The Future of Seattle/As a Commercial City, Her People, and Tributaries” was first published in 1893. The poem is a long praise of Seattle and it’s surroundings. Robert Legg was an early resident of Issaquah, settling in the area around 1890, and father to infamous Issaquah “outlaw” Ben Legg. Learn more about the Legg family here. See more records related to Robert Legg and family here at our digital collections.

Robert Legg’s Poem, ca 1893
Full Record
The Future of Seattle
by Robert Legg
Like the Phoenix of Asia old,
Where emerge from ashes cold
            A God more brilliant than before –
            Seattle has done on the Puget shore,
Where the rude wigwam and smoke curled
Now mansions stand that equal the world.
            And while a panic swept o’er the land,
            Your banks are true and firmly stand –
And to their credit, be it said,
They are as sound as a pyramid.
            But now the crisis you all feel;
            You keep your shoulder to the wheel,
And with each other do not frown;
You bore the cross, but now the crown,
            And no longer fear a sad disaster,
            Since you control the key to Alaska.
Now ships glide in with precious freight
From the golden fields of the Klondike.
            Railroad centres will to you roll,
            As the compass centres on the pole.

All in your duty take a pride,
Knowing the Sound excels the Clyde,
            And that commerce will to you flow –
            Seattle soon excel Glasgow–
And to other ports bid farewell
When finished the Sound canal.
            Backed by a resource to furnish supplies,
            All other competition it defies.
The earth is pregnant with untold worth.
Waiting the time to give birth
            Of minerals vast that stand the test.
            Our valleys fertile, yea the best;
The climate lovely to adore –
Italians prefer it to Naples’ shore;
            Here nature smiles in her charms
            On native groves and fruitful farms,
With forest great, surpassed by none
From the Arctic to the Torrid Zone,
            With powerful lofty water falls
            That will answer any calls –
Here is a bonanza for the wise
With but the means it to utilize.
            Possessed with as fine lakes
            As God or nature ever makes,
Abounding with as good fish
As mortal men could ever wish.
            The city built on the model plan,
            By art and skill of modern man,
With many things I could mention,
All of the very best invention,
            Search the universe around
            And your equal can’t be found.
For schools and art you do not lack,
For your talent speaks for that;
            For when with age and business pressed,
            Your mind or body  needs a rest,
You restort to common sense –
Stay at home and save expense –
            For sights to see you need not roam,
            For you have nature’s parks at home;
Then you retire to your arbor
And view the yachting in the harbor.
            Where around green isles water flow,
            That excels the Grecian Archipelago;
Or watch the sun ascend the Cascades
Till o’er the Olympics when it fades,
            And admire surrounding scenes –
            Your mountains white and evergreen;
Where at their base there lovely bowers,
And balmy breeze with fragrant flowers,
            And springs as pure as condensed steam –
            Almost a vacuum do they seem.
It’s here where tourists do stray
Loitering their rapturous time away.
            But of all scenes sublime and grand,
            Rainier like a Roman sentinel stands,
With crystal helmet on her brow –
His coat of mail ever snow,
            Where the fissures ever blow,
            Where the cataracts ever flow,
Where the glaciers settle down –
All within sight of Seattle Town.
            Are these the works of a Creator
            Or by chance Mother nature?

ROBERT LEGG.
Issaquah, King County, Wash.

First published 1893

Front Street, circa 1950

From the Research Center: “From Vasa to Issaquah” by Hilda Johanson Erickson

In celebration of National Poetry Month we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems. Located in Gilman Town Hall, our David J. Horrocks research center contains many resources including some writings from the local community. “From Vasa to Issaquah, Poems Verses and Stories” by Hilda Johanson Erickson is one of those titles.

Hilda Johanson Erickson was born in Sweden in 1885. She came to America via Canada and married her fiancé (who was already living in High Point) in 1909. They built a house south of Issaquah and lived there for the remainder of their lives. She wrote many poems and stories, some of which deteriorated over time, but the ones that remained were reconstructed and put together by her grandchildren into this book.

Learn more about the David J. Horrocks Research Center, and how you can use it, here.

Our Town Issaquah
by Hilda Johanson Erickson

Issaquah, Front Street, ca 1950-54
Full Record

Our town is like the promised land
With foothills all around
Opportunities have no end
In our home town

We have forest land, lakes so blue
Sparkling brooks that hum for you
Flowering fields mixed with shade
Here a new born fawn his bed has made

Natures wondrous gift bestowed
All along the streams and roads
Hear the whispering in the pine
Inhale evergreen like sparkling wine

ca 1950

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From the Digital Collections: Poem by William Udd

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems from our collections here at the Issaquah History Museums. This untitled poem by William Udd is about growing old. William Udd was born in Sweden in 1882. He came to the United States at the age of 9. He arrived in the Issaquah Valley sometime around 1919 and lived here until his death in 1961. He married Clara Madsen in 1958 at the age of 76!

Untitled

by William Udd

William Udd’s handwritten poem
Full Record

Don’t treat me rough because I’m old.
I worked my way through rain and cold.
My strength is ebbing fast away.
Don’t treat me rough you’ll be old someday

And when the evening shadows fall
Don’t treat me rough, I gave you all,
And when you lay me down to rest
Don’t treat me rough, I tried my best

And as the years go passing by
Don’t treat me rough your heart will sigh
You’ll find you are in someone’s way. You’ll pray
O Lord take me away!

squakvalley_revised

From the Gift Shop: “Squak Valley: A Tale of Old Issaquah”

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems from our collections here at the Issaquah History Museums.

This poem by Bessie Wilson Craine entitled “Back to the Scenes of my Childhood” is a part of a wonderful book from our gift shop called “Squak Valley: A Tale of Old Issaquah”.

Bessie Wilson Craine came to the Issaquah area in 1885 when she was just 3 years old. The writings of Craine describe her life growing up in the area and watching her community develop. The book can be purchased by visiting us or through our online gift shop.

Back to the Scenes of My Childhood

by Bessie Wilson Craine

I’m back to the scenes of my childhood,

      Where the world was all that it seemed,
Where I knew the joy of living,
      Where I realized all that I dreamed.

Where I roamed the forest with ne’er a thought –
      Of what the coming years would bring,
I waded the streams in barefoot glee,
      ‘Tis memories like this that will ever cling.

I knew every bird, I knew their songs,
      Every trail and tree to me was dear;
For the only life I had ever known
      Was the life I lived out there.

Just there in the Valley ‘neath the shimmering trees,
      Near a peaceful little stream,
Stands the dear old home of my childhood;
      But it’s not the home of my dream.

It has changed,
      It can ne’er be the same to me;
And within my heart there steals a longing –
      For things as they used to be.

There’s no welcome smile ‘long the old country road –
      Where I knew each passerby;
I watch with eager longing
      As I brush a tear from my eye.

But I’m glad to be back for just one night,
      To dream back those happy days,
Before the world sent out its call,
      And we all went our different ways.

As the sun sinks low ‘neath yonder hills,
      It brings back sweet memories to me,
When I lived for the joy of living,
      And life was what it seemed to be.

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From the Digital Collections: Ferol Tibbets’ Autograph Album

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems from our collections here at the Issaquah History Museums.

This autograph album, belonging to Ferol Tibbetts, is full of wonderful little verses written in Spring of 1916. Ferol wrote her own name on the first page and dated it March 14, 1916 which would have made Ferol a mere 14 years old.

Ferol Tibbetts’ Autograph Album ca 1916
Full Record

Autograph albums gained in popularity as early as the 15th century and remained so into the early 20th century until they gradually were replaced by yearbooks. The poems and verses written in Ferol’s autograph album seem so very similar in spirit to what we wrote in our high school yearbooks, but the emphasis on marriage, cross husbands, and weddings reminds us what a different time it was. It seems to speak to the fact that teenagers don’t really change – but perhaps how they imagine their post-high school days does.

To see the album in it’s entirety, visit the Full Record at our Digital Collections.

Here are a few excerpts:

“Dear Ferol:
When you are married and your husband is cross
come over to my house and I’ll give you some sauce.
Your friend
Margaret Davis”
(March 15, 1916)

“Dear Ferol:
As sure as the vine goes around the stump
You are my darling sugar lump.
Your loving friend and schoolmate
Marie Barlow”
(March 15, 1916)
“Dear Ferol:
When you are married, and your husband is cross,
pick up the broomstick and say, who’s the boss.
Your schoolmate
Theodore Atson”
(March 21, 1916)
“Dear Friend
Remember me when far away,
and only half awake.
Remember me on your wedding day,
and send me a slice of cake.
Your school-mate
Robert Morgan”
(presumably 1916)
“Dear Ferol.
When you get old and live by the river
I’ll kill my pig and give you the liver.
Your friend
Allie Marchette”
(presumably 1916)
“Dear Ferol:-
When times are hard and boys are plenty
don’t get married until you[‘re] twenty.
Schoolmate
Viola Kerola”
(March 16, 1916)
Jack, Robert & Ben Legg, hunting party

From the Digital Collections: “To Whomsoever It May Be That Poisoned My Dog Bounce” by Robert Legg

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems from our collections here at the Issaquah History Museums.

This poem by Robert Legg entitled “To Whomsoever It May Be That Poisoned My Dog Bounce” was probably published in the late 1890s. The poem references the Panic of 1893 but is about the death of Robert Legg’s dog Bounce . Robert Legg was an early resident of Issaquah, settling in the area around 1890, and father to infamous Issaquah “outlaw” Ben Legg. Learn more about the Legg family here. See more records related to Robert Legg and family here at our digital collections.

Robert Legg’s poem, ca late 1890s
Full Record

To Whomsoever It May Be That Poisoned My Dog Bounce

By Robert Legg

Oh thou Creator of this Universe,

Do hear my prayer and grant my curse
And I will shortly give the cause
Why I violate human laws.

It was during the panic of nint[e]y-four
When the wolf was howling at my door
Always on one I could depend
My honest dog, my faithful friend.

For when my children cried for bread
My dog Bounce knew what they said
For straight to them he’d never fail
To give his paw and wag his tail.

Which meant young master be in good cheer
Shortly I will supply you all with deer,
Regardless to sunshine, storm or hail
He climbed the mountain and took the trail.

For many miles far around
He knew where the game could be found,
Full well he [k]new my accurate aim
When he heard the shot we had the game.

I never had cause him to abuse
And always content with the refuse
It was on the 22nd of September
While blood warms my veins I’ll remember.

It was only one week before
A buck on the mountain did him gore
Regardless to storm, rain or pain
We resolved that buck to hunt again.

Like Wolfe for honor he was a slave
Now that buck and Bounce lie in their grave
I may strive but in vain
Before I get a Bounce again.

Then by the Blessed virgin pure and true
This wicked act keep in view
Before your Father who art in Heaven
Till purged by those pennance be forgiven.

May they endure Job’s tormenting pain
Without reward of his flocks again
And scorned by all around his home
And like a pilgrim forced to roam,

First by famine and thirst to feast
Like Nebuchadnezzar along with the beast
And before his sand of time shall run
Like Ezekiel dying on filthy dung.

May ever day increase his care
And sorrow beset him everywhere
Pressed with such a heavy load
He will dread his shadow in the road.

May his offsprings scorn him in their teens
And the devil haunt him in his dreams
And With his crops perish in their bloom
At last suffer Brutusses’ woeful doom.

This be my curse, the brutish hog,
For the murder of my human dog.

2007-6-1

From the Digital Collections: “Twixt Cloud and Earth”

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems from our collections here at the Issaquah History Museums.

This collection of writings by Berniece S. Embree Wold entitled “Twixt Cloud and Earth” was first published in 1976, however the writings date much earlier than that. Berniece Sorenson was born in Pine River, Wisconsin in 1894. The earliest poem in this collection is dated to 1910 – when she was 16 years old. Berniece Sorenson married Andrew Wold in 1959 at the age of 65.

The following poem, “The Seagull” was written November 26, 1970 when Berniece was 76.

See more records related to the Wold family here at our digital collections.

“Twixt Cloud and Earth”
by Berniece S. Embree Wold
Full Record

The Seagull
by Berniece S. Wold

On a placid day
I am but an uncouth bird,
A scavanger, seeking fetid things
And foul,
A gargoyle sitting humped and vile
On rotting rail or wharf
But on wild distemered days
When winds whip froth
Into a maelstrom of wicked skies
And spray like scalloped lace
Leaps high from lash of wave
When puny man seeks comfort
From the storm
And sits disconsolate
By the comfort of his fire
I soar above him
Challenging my fate
Flinging myself
Into the tortured avenues
Twixt cloud and earth.
My spread of wings is white and wide
I twists, I turn, I dip, I climb
Until at last I float supremely
And become a splendid bird
Of delicate and fantastic beauty.

Pen and ink

Issaquah History Museums Celebrate National Poetry Month!

Welcome to National Poetry Month, April 2013!
Small mother of pearl fountain pen with nib (89.014.033) and ink bottle (86.018.188) from the IHM collection.
What would I say

On this noted poetry day
Yes I wish I was a poet true
I then would tell my story to you
Hilda Johanson Erickson, circa 1960

Today marks the first day of National Poetry Month, a thirty-day holiday that gives us a welcome excuse to celebrate the works of some of Issaquah’s most noted poets. Since the late 1800s, our poets have told their stories through verse: tales of heart-rending loss, anger, joy, and repose. Our museum collections include the curse of a miner, rhyming instructions on the feeding of mine mules, and humorous couplets by young students. Most of the poetry, however, pays homage to Issaquah and its natural beauty. It is tribute to a time when people felt strong community connections and had moments to reflect on the joys of living here.

Over the month we’ll share some of our favorite Issaquah poetry, including more verse by Hilda Johanson Erickson. Watch Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for links that will take you on a tour of Issaquah’s poetic past. We’d also like to share your stories. If you have a poem about Issaquah, post it to our Facebook page or send it to us at info@issaquahhistory.org.

Our ability to share the Museums’ collections with you was made possible by a grant from 4Culture and generous donations from our members and the community. If you’d like to support our work, you can help in the following ways:

– Visit either of our museums (or both!) in Issaquah.

Gilman Town Hall Museum1

65 SE Andrews Street, Issaquah, WA 98027

Hours:
Thursday- Saturday, 11am-3pm

Admission:
$2/adult, $1/child, $5/family of 3+
$10 family pass gives all-day access to both museums
Friends of the Issaquah History Museums visit for free

Issaquah Depot Museum
78 First Avenue NE, Issaquah, WA 98027

Hours:
Friday- Sunday, 11am-3pm

Admission:
$2/adult, $1/child, $5/family of 3+
$10 family pass gives all-day access to both museums
Friends of the Issaquah History Museums visit for free

– Join us! Become a member of the Issaquah History Museums.

Make a donation.

Volunteer!

– Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, and our blog.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

So follow us this month as we share with you some of the more poetic aspects of our local history!