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.

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.

How Farms Became State Park

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2003 Past Times.

By Eric Erickson and Erica Maniez

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Anderson Farm, circa 1895.

The Anderson Farm, circa 1895.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bojo The Horse-Riding Dog

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

The Neukirchen Brothers and the Northern Pacific

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

By Kris Ikeda, Archives Specialist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click on the images below to view them)


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

Issaquah History Museums Logo

Member Matters: 2017 Bylaws

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

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

The 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.

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 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.


Longtime Issaquah residents may recall hearing references to Frogtown, an area just north of Issaquah’s downtown area; the area’s name was derived from its boggy nature. In 1914, residents of the area lobbied Issaquah’s Mayor P.J. Smith in a most creative and illustrative way. (Click the image to read it more easily).

April 141914 Seattle Times