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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.

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.

From the December 31, 1922 Seattle Times.

Mrs. Elsie Wendt, Issaquah Miner

Although she was not well documented elsewhere in Issaquah’s past, Mrs. Elsie Wendt made the news for working in the coal mines. On December 31, 1922, this Seattle Times article documented Elsie Wendt’s conviction that women should learn to do their husband’s trade. Click on the image to view it in its entirety.

From the December 31, 1922 Seattle Times.

From the December 31, 1922 Seattle Times.

Anita Huovar in her 1939 yearbook photo.

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.

 

Issaquah High School graduates, 1911. Left to right: Mary Gibson, Olive Gibson, and Mabel Ek.

New High School Name Honors Gibson, Gibson and Ek

Issaquah High School graduates, 1911. Left to right: Mary Gibson, Olive Gibson, and Mabel Ek.

Issaquah High School graduates, 1911. Left to right: Mary Gibson, Olive Gibson, and Mabel Ek.

In autumn of 2016, Issaquah’s newest high school opened. Named Gibson Ek Innovative High, the high school lives up to its title. The school has been constructed to look like a traditional work site, rather than a school. Instead of traditional classes, students sign up for “offerings” that apply to their goals and interests. Each student completes a hands-on internship that will help them gain competency in a variety of skills. The goal is to provide a personalized education for each student.

Gibson Ek is a thoroughly 21st Century school — but its name harks back to Issaquah’s early days. Gibson Ek’s name is derived from the first three students at Issaquah schools to complete their education and earn their degrees in Issaquah in 1911. To be clear, these were not the first Issaquahns to earn a high school diploma at all; they were simple the first to attend Issaquah schools all the way until graduation. Families who were well off could afford to send their children to school in Seattle, and some people in Issaquah did this.

But school children had been learning reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic in Issaquah since the late 1880s. Why did it take until 1911 before a high school student graduated?

For one thing, attaining a high school degree was unusual at this time in our history. A young person was considered well-served if they completed eight years of schooling. Unless someone planned on working as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or other licensed professional, schooling past the 8th grade was not crucial.

Not only was a high school degree unnecessary for many types of work, staying in school long enough to earn one meant lost family income. Being a dedicated student interfered with things like taking a paying job outside the home, or rolling up ones sleeves to assist around the household or farm. Many young people were needed at home for economic reasons. Because men were able to earn more than women, girls were often “allowed” to continue longer in school than their male counterparts.

Who were the young women who first graduated from Issaquah High School? They were Mary Gibson, Olive Gibson, and Mabel Ek. I am sure that, if these three young women were alive today, they would be honored and touched to have inspired the name for Issaquah’s newest high school.

Mabel Ek was the 8th of ten children born to Anton and Sarah Ek, immigrants from Sweden. Her father, Anton, worked in the coal mines for decades. Mabel’s two oldest brothers worked as coal miners, but the younger brothers found other kinds of work. Mabel’s older sister, Victoria, worked as a stenographer for the Issaquah Bank. As of the 1920 census, Mabel was a boarder in Seattle and was working as a post office clerk.  Mabel went on to marry Leonard Brady in 1926, and she lived the remainder of her life on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. She participated in graduation exercises at the Issaquah High School during her later life, and was still able to fit into her 1911 graduation gown. The gown is now part of the collections held by the Issaquah History Museum. Mabel Ek Brady passed away in 1990, at the age of 97.

Olive Gibson was the daughter of Dr. William Elry Gibson and Fannie Garner Gibson. Dr. Gibson was Issaquah’s country doctor, and occasional mayor. She married Wilfred Bayh in 1913, and the couple had two sons together. The marriage had evidently fallen flat by 1920, however, as Olive was living back in Issaquah with her parents, and her two small sons. Olive put her high school diploma to good use, holding several jobs during her life in Issaquah. In 1930, Olive was working as a postal clerk, a job she would hold for more than 30 years. Olive played the piano at the Issaquah Theatre for a time, and also taught piano lessons in Issaquah. She was also a clerk for the Issaquah School District. In her later life, Olive quit Issaquah and moved to San Francisco to live with one of her sons. She continued to make an annual trip back to Issaquah to see friends and family members. Olive Gibson Bayh passed away in San Francisco in 1988, at the age of 94.

Mary Gibson was no relation to her co-graduate, Olive. Her parents were Thomas Gibson and Susanna Weston Gibson. Mary also had a brother, Thomas Henry Gibson. Her father, Thomas Gibson immigrated to the United States with his parents as a child. He met and married Susanna Weston in Iowa. Mary wed Leonard Miles in 1913 — just two days after Mabel Ek wed Wilfred Bayh. Like Mary’s father, her husband operated a general store in Issaquah. The couple had two children. Mary Gibson Miles died at a much younger age than her two co-graduates, passing away in Issaquah in 1955, at the age of 60.

Bertha Baxter, circa 1905.

Bertha’s Correspondence: Other Correspondents

By Julie Hunter, Collections Manager

(See “What Bertha’s Correspondence Tells Us” for an introduction to this series of posts)

Bertha Baxter, circa 1905.

Bertha Baxter, circa 1905.

There are three instances of a single letter surviving from a correspondent.  One of these, from “Grandma & Mattie S. Woodin” is probably from Susan Woodin, who settled what is now Woodinville with her husband Ira.  In 1881 they were listed on the same page of the Territorial census as the Wolds.  From Grandma’s tone, it is clear that she had known the Bush family and Bertha for quite some time.  Writing on May 22, 1902, she wrote about the weather, disasters in other places, the hard work of dairy farming and managing calves, and family activities, including her son and his wife running a logging camp. She commented on a death and living arrangements for people in the extended Bush family.4  One particularly tantalizing reference in her letter reads, “Mrs. Ruth Bothell is our delegate you remember her don’t you She has been up to Issaquah several times mainly you knew her as Mrs. John Bothell.”  Records on Ancestry confirm that these Bothells lived in Bothell by 1900, when John Bothell died.  It would be very good to know what kind of delegate the Widow Bothell became—Suffrage?  Temperance? Something else?

A couple of the correspondents had been teachers in the Squak Valley.  Eveline Reed wrote from Phoenix, Arizona, on January 21, 1902.  The only record that I have found for her on Ancestry is her marriage to Everett Worsley Reed on April 28, 1897.  The Reeds moved from their home in the Pacific Northwest because of Eveline’s consumption (TB); they were both teachers, and she taught both before and after the move.  Everett’s health was also not good, as she documents in the letter, as follows:

I am very thankful that I was permitted to come here and don’t feel wicket about it as I did. For I know the change has saved my life, or at least lengthened it. I am feeling quite strong, but tired this week because last week Everett was quite sick so I had so much to do. I taught one day, besides doing everything else and nursing him too. He’s marvelously escaped having pneumonia, but I dosed him and kept him in bed so he is able to teach again. I was so worried.

Do you remember the days I missed teaching while there? I was so sick! As I think of it now I did act angry. I had not had a vicious attack for so long I felt I was surly going to die. I have not has such a time since. I believe that was the only day I ever mixed teaching on account of sickness. I believe I am a very healthy consumptive. If I could get rid of my cough, and not   raise any more I would be alright. I really look much healthier than the well women in this neighborhood.

TB is highly contagious and had riddled nineteenth century American society, passing from the sufferers to those who cared for them.5   With no medical cure available at that time, Eveline was one of many who moved to dry warm climate areas, or mountain areas, where clean air and a relaxed lifestyle were their best hopes for longer lives.  She and Everett still had their livings to earn, so they continued to work with children, probably spreading the disease.  She reported that many of her students were Mexican, and she was enjoying the Spanish language.

Nellie Palmer had taught in the Squak Valley before going on to more education.  When she wrote to Bertha in August of 1900, she had spent the summer studying and was getting ready to return to teaching.  Her letter was written from “Tremont, Wm.,” a location that I have been unable to locate.  Between her references to multiple mutual acquaintances having been in the same place she was, and her statement, “ I may go to the Falls one day this [week] if I do I shall watch for you,” this was probably a location within a day’s journey from Issaquah and Snoqualmie Falls—but that is just an educated guess.  Nellie’s name was common enough that I have been unable to track her in the area with certainty.  There was at least one teacher in Seattle by that name in the early 1900s.  We have no other records of her teaching tenure in Squak in Past Perfect or the Issaquah Family Tree.

Nellie appears in one other correspondent’s letter.  Alberta Ferry, who was originally from Pennsylvania, according to the 1910 census records, had moved to Seattle with her family.  She wrote to Bertha on November 13, 1899, sharing a mix of family news, information about mutual acquaintances she had seen, and questions about people in Issaquah whom she knew.  She inquired,

Does Miss Palmer still board with you[?  H]ow do the children like her[?] Mrs. A said they didn’t like her but I guess she doesn’t like it because she didn’t get her to board. Does Mr. P still go with her[?]

Although the Ferry family’s time in Issaquah and its environs is undocumented, it is clear from Alberta’s knowledge of the people in Bertha’s life that she had been there.  She corresponded with Earnest Pickering as well as with Bertha.  When she wrote to Bertha in March of 1901, she mentioned visiting with her the previous June.  Since that time, she and her parents had moved to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. Through the rest of 1901 and into 1902, Alberta wrote four more letters in which she gossiped about life in Dawson and people she and Bertha both knew from Washington.  She worked as the secretary for a two-man law firm and did not plan to stay in Dawson much longer.  Census and city directory records show that she had moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, by 1909.  She was living on her own, supporting herself as a stenographer.  She was still there in 1910.

Alberta’s family and the school teachers were not the only people who passed through the Squak Valley on their ways to very different lives in very different places.  At least one of those other people, Walter Lorin Lane, wanted Bertha to go with him.

Next: Walter Lorin Lane

Previous: Estate of Tom Cherry

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4. I infer from the groupings of names, cross checked with census and marriage records, that “Grandma” is Susan Campbell Woodin, Ira is her husband, Frank her son and Annie his wife. She also had a daughter Mary, who might be the “Mattie.” The Woodins lived in what was called Sammamish in 1880.

5. In the nineteenth century, “consumption” was common but devastating. Ralph Waldo Emerson suffered a major crisis of faith and left the Christian pulpit after it caused the death of his very young first wife.  Stephan Crane, the author, was one of many family members who died after being exposed by the dying cousins they took into their home.  One interpretation of his lifestyle is that he knew he was going to die young, so he chose to live hard.  The biographies of such prominent American literati show (and document, with their authors’ research), the impact that this particular disease had on the lives and deaths of people from all walks of life.

I know as much about TB as I do because my grandfather died of it, so I have paid attention to its presence in the lives I have studied.  Fly Rod Crosby, whose biography I wrote, also had TB, although she managed to live with it until she was 96.  In her case, it would go into remission when she could be outside in the summers and would roar back with a vengeance in the winters when she was stuck inside buildings heated by wood or coal.  Since she already had it in her body, it settled in an injured knee and brought a halt to her hunting and fishing days.  Today, according to Wikipedea,

One-third of the world’s population is thought to be infected with TB.[1] New infections occur in about 1% of the population each year.[9] In 2014, there were 9.6 million cases of active TB which resulted in 1.5 million deaths. More than 95% of deaths occurred in developing countries. The number of new cases each year has decreased since 2000.[1] About 80% of people in many Asian and African countries test positive while 5–10% of people in the United States population tests positive by the tuberculin test.[10] Tuberculosis has been present in humans since ancient times.[11]

Photo by Karen Sipe for Find-a-Grave

Bertha’s Correspondence: The Estate of Tom Cherry

By Julie Hunter, Collections Manager

(See “What Bertha’s Correspondence Tells Us” for an introduction to this series of posts)

Photo by Karen Sipe for Find-a-Grave

Thomas Jefferson Cherry’s grave (Photo by Karen Sipe for Find-a-Grave.com)

Bertha’s skill with correspondence was used to help her grandmother in at least one instance. When fellow Issaquah pioneer Tom Cherry died in 1899, none of his family lived in the area.  Bertha had known him virtually all her life, having lived with her aunt and uncle, Emma and Cyrus Darst, at the same time he did, when Bertha was three years old.  Three days before he died, he wrote a will in which he appointed Martha Stewart Bush as his executrix.  The will was witnessed by P. J. Smith and John Robertson and notarized by J. H. Gibson.  Tom’s siblings and their descendants were back in Arkansas (where they had been when he started moving west on his own), Texas, and the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).  His brother James Madison Cherry wrote four times to Bertha, thanking her for telling him what was going on with the estate and lamenting his inability to engage a competent and faithful lawyer to represent the family’s interests.  By the end of the correspondence, he was writing about his daily activities and hoping to stay in communication with Bertha.

The probate records are preserved as case number 3314 in the Washington, Wills and Probate Records, 1851-1970, and are available through Ancestry.com.  What they show is a situation complicated by distance and communications issues.  In essence, Tom left “My best friend, Mrs. Martha Bush,” his executrix, the sum of $1000.  The rest of his estate, beyond his debts and $500 set aside for his burial and monument (still visible in Issaquah’s Hillside Cemetery) was to be shared among his family.  There were problems, though, which only show clearly if the correspondence is added to the probate records.  The bulk of Tom’s estate was eighty acres of land near Lake Sammamish (described as S.E. 4 of NE 4, SW4 of NE4 >Section 20/Township 24/Range 6), valued at $5500.00.  There were also personal goods and some cash and notes on hand.  Martha discharged all of the debts and sold the small items, including the violin valued at $3 that is now in the IHM collections. She then had to petition the court for permission to auction the land in order to have enough cash to carry out the specified distribution.

Meanwhile, Bertha corresponded with Tom’s brother, James Madison Cherry, telling him about the estate.  He signed all of his letters “J. M. Cherry.”  At one time, he wondered if he should make the trip to Seattle to be present when the land was sold, but he was not able to do that.  The land was bought on April 2, 1901, by James Foreman.  He paid $5500, right on the valuation.  As they were coming close to the final distribution, which would happen in August of 1902, J. M. Cherry wrote on June 5, 1902, “. . .  I Would have never known anything if you had not been So kind I can never forget you or Ever Repay your favors.”  Earlier in this letter he detailed his struggle to get local representation for the family and some of the work he had done to facilitate the fair sharing of the residual pool’s money,

If I had Space I would tell you What a time I had getting an answer from a lawyer I offered Noble 5 percent + got no answer –

I written Benson about a month later + When he found I had Written often lawyers he   answered at once + they did two he thought I knew no other lawyers + he  would get 10 percent        Jacobs had never Written me yet I got papers for all of the heirs to Sign + have Sent them on and Signed With the others here and Sent Back to Nobel.

Miss Bertha in your next letter tell me how much money was paid in to the Bank + anything you hear

Jacobs was probably the colorfully named Orange Jacobs, the court appointed Guardian ad Litem representing the minor children in the residual pool.  The estate had had to petition the court to appoint one to represent them at the hearing to authorize the sale of the land.

The papers that J. M. Cherry referred to getting signed and sent were numerous affidavits from his brothers and other heirs, petitioning the court for a change in the distribution laid out in the will.  Tom had, whether from illness or ignorance of family happenings, misspoken when he listed those who were to receive money.  His apparent intent was to bequeath all of the residual of his estate equally to his surviving siblings, with proportional shares to the heirs of his siblings who had predeceased him.  When he listed them by name, he named one as living who had already died with no issue and left out one whose grandchildren were alive but orphaned.  The court records include a letter from one of the family members, M. E. Gage, asking on behalf of the whole family that this be set right.  There was a form that each living individual who had been named in the original will had to sign in order to include the heirs who had been omitted.  Through J.M.’s efforts, all of the affidavits were properly signed and returned to Frank A. Noble, who in the end represented all of the “heirs at law and devisees.”  The affidavits are retained in the probate records.  The final members of the residual pool were seventeen people living back east, and they split $4,430.60.  There were six siblings who either survived Tom or had issue surviving him, so the shares were based on sixths.  The three living brothers received $746.66 each.  After that, various levels of descendants of the three who predeceased him but left heirs received either a twelfth, a thirtieth, or a ninetieth of the money, with the smallest shares being $49.77.3

Next: Other Correspondents

Previous: Oregon Folks

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  1. Thomas Jefferson Cherry’s will and probate records are a wealth of information for anyone wanting to trace the Cherry family. The major caveat is that his will is not the accurate recounting of his siblings that one might assume.  To have a complete and accurate account of the family as his heirs, see pages 296, 299, and 300 of the probate records for Estate #3314 in the Washington, Wills and Probate Records, 1851-1970, available online through Ancestry.com.