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.

Issaquah’s Kranick Family and the Year 1908

George Kranick: Murder Most Foul

In the January 11, 1908 issue of the Issaquah Independent (forerunner of today’s Issaquah Press), community news included mention of a New Year’s party hosted by Miss Olive Gibson (at which Mary Wold, dressed as a witch, told fortunes). A new piano had been purchased for the IOOF Hall and a “rousing dance” was to be held to celebrate on January 18. The Masons and Eastern Star installed officers for the new year, and the City Council met to appoint a new Town Marshal and conduct other business. Residents of the busy mining town were going about their usual business.

But the following week’s newspaper bore a shocking headline: George Kranik Fatally Shot.

Issaquah Independent, January 18, 1908

Issaquah Independent, January 18, 1908

In spite of the town’s many saloons and frequently used jail, murder was not common. Most citizens of the town knew each other. While familiarity might breed contempt, it also prevented some crimes from being committed because few could remain anonymous.

George Kranick (as the name was generally spelled) was one of many immigrants from Austro-Hungary who came to the area to work as a miner. He immigrated to the USA in 1887 along with his wife Anne. In 1889 the family made their home in Washington state. Kranick was, by all accounts, a solid and reliable citizen. In 1900 he owned his own home and was employed as a coal miner. He spoke English (although he could not read or write it) and had been a naturalized citizen since shortly after his arrival in the USA.

It is not known what errand sent George Kranick to George Bennett’s house on the evening of January 12. George Bennett, also known as George Curry, was the adopted son of J.E. Bennett. He married in 1899 and came to Washington state from Nebraska sometime between 1900 and 1908. Also at Bennett’s house that night was Joe Pete, about whom very little is known.

Kranick was reportedly returning from a piece of property he had recently acquired and stopped to see Bennett. It is not known what transpired between the men, but Kranick fled the house at about 6:30 PM after shots were fired. He collapsed within 40 feet of the door and died an hour later, never having regained consciousness. The fatal shots were fired by Bennett’s single-barreled shotgun, which was loaded with bird shot. The shot entered under Kranick’s arm and “ranged forward and upward,” according to the newspaper’s report.

Bennett and Pete, who were inebriated at the time they were taken into custody, attempted to tell the Town Marshal a tale of suicide. This explanation was deemed implausible at an inquest the next morning. On January 14, Bennett and Pete were transferred to the county jail, where they languished for two months. Bennett would remain in jail until April, but Joe Pete was released from the county jail on March 7, after Bennett had confessed to having fired the fatal shot by accident.

In early April, a number of Issaquah residents traveled to Seattle to testify at Bennett’s trial. Among them were George Kranick’s widow, Anne, and the Kranick’s two oldest children, George and Mary (ages 21 and 15 respectively). After the evidence was presented, the jury deliberated for 21 hours and then returned a verdict of not guilty. Bennett returned home to Issaquah that night. By 1910 he and his family had moved on to Idaho; in 1920 they were living in Pierce County. George Bennett died at the age of 90 in Sacramento, California.

The Kranick family, recipients of a great deal of sympathy from community members, continued to experience hardships in the months to come.

Mary Kranick: Wayward Girl

In 1908, Mary Kranick was sixteen years old. In that era of Issaquah’s history, there were a relatively small number of reasons why the average 16 year old girl might have her name printed in the newspaper.  Church and school-related mentions were most common. Bessie Cubbon co-led a discussion topic at church entitled, “Immortal Until My Work is Done,” and Mabel Ek attended a Baptist convention. Anna Johnson was the secretary of the Busy Bee Club, an organization dedicated to raising funds for new windows at their church in Monohon. Alice Miles and Olive Palm were celebrated for their perfect attendance at school. Olive Gibson gave a reading of children’s poetry by Longfellow at a literary society meeting.

Mary Kranick appeared first as a tragic figure in the pages of the Issaquah Independent. First, she was one of the survivors of her father, George Kranick, who was shot and died on January 12, 1908. In April of 1908, Mary herself was called upon to testify as a witness at the trial of her father’s killer. The jury found Bennett not guilty.

Two months later, on June 19, the Issaquah Independent presented Mary Kranick in a different light. Under the headline, “Petit Larceny is Charged” was an account of the arrest of Mary and a companion, Lilly Hosko, for theft of items belonging to J.S McNenimee. The girls were arrested on June 18 and examined by Judge Enos Guss. Search warrants were issued and stolen goods were found in the girls’ homes. Both girls plead guilty and Judge Guss referred the case to the juvenile court in Seattle. Issaquah’s town marshal, Howard Case, escorted the girls into the city that night.

Petite Larceny

Issaquah Independent, June 19, 1908

On June 19, Judge Archibald Frater dismissed the case against the girls and they were allowed to return home. Lillian Hosko returned to Issaquah by train on Monday night while Mary Kranick returned on Tuesday. Instead of taking the train all the way into town and disembarking at the Depot just blocks from her home, Mary got off at Bush’s siding. Bush’s siding was about a mile north of downtown Issaquah, near the home of the Bush family (roughly speaking, across the street from today’s Fred Meyer shopping center on East Lake Sammamish Parkway). This area of the Valley was home to the Bush, Tibbetts, Pickering and other farming families.

After disembarking from the train, Mary “loitered in the Valley” according to an Issaquah Independent article titled, “Girls in More Trouble.” She was subsequently arrested again, this time for taking wearing apparel from the Pickering home. On Wednesday morning she appeared before Judge Guss, and made a statement implicating Lillian Hosko in the theft. Both girls plead guilty once more, and once more they were sent to Seattle to face Judge Frater. And so the girls made their second appearance in juvenile court in scarcely a week.

Mary’s companion, Lillian Hosko, was 14 at the time of their arrest. There are so many similarities between Lillian and Mary that their comradeship comes as no surprise. They were both from Austro-Hungarian families, their parents having immigrated in the 1880s. Both families were active in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. They lived within a block of each other. The Hoskos lived on Jones Street and the Kranicks on White (today’s 1st Avenue NW and 1st Place NW, respectively), an area where many Austro-Hungarian and Finnish coal mining families also lived. George Kranick and Joseph Hosko, their fathers, worked as coal miners and probably walked the path to Mine Hill together. Hosko was one of Kranick’s pallbearers.

Both girls were the third of five children. None of their respective siblings seem to have a blemish on their reputation. Mary’s older sister Anne was married and had two children by 1908; younger sister Kate excelled in school and later worked as an operator for the telephone company. Lillian’s sister also married, and the Kranick and Hosko sons worked in local industry. If they were involved in anything scandalous or unsavory, it was not mentioned in the Issaquah newspapers. The Kranicks and Hoskos were, by all accounts, upstanding citizens and respected by their peers.

As for those they stole from, little is known about Mr. and Mrs. J. S. McNenimee. What is known suggests that J. S. McNenimee was an engineer who worked for local mining companies. Their primary residence may have been in Seattle. Between 1908 and 1910, the Issaquah Independent notes frequent rail trips between Issaquah and Seattle by the McNenimees.

The Pickering family was (and is) well known in the Issaquah Valley. Mary and Lilly probably stole from the family of Ernest Pickering and his wife Camellia. Pickering operated the family dairy farm for most of his life; he also worked as the bookkeeper for the Issaquah & Superior Mine from roughly 1904 to 1907.

Why Did They Do It?

Just as we will probably never know the details surrounding George Kranick’s death, we may never know what impulse led Mary and Lillian to petty larceny. We do know that their families’ status as immigrants, Catholics, laborers already set them apart from other teenage girls whose accomplishments were remarked upon in the Issaquah Independent – and from the well-established, well-to-do families Mary and Lillian stole from. It is also hard to ignore the fact that loss of Mary Kranick’s father was fresh at the time of her trial.

After the second theft, the girls appeared in juvenile court on June 26, 1908 and were pronounced delinquent. They were both assigned to rehabilitation centers. Lillian Hosko was sent to the State Training School, while Mary Kranick was assigned to the Home of the Good Shepherd in Seattle. The companions’ paths diverge after this point. Lillian Hosko returned to Issaquah the following year; a brief note in the April 9, 1909 Issaquah Independent noted “Lillie Hosco [sic] arrived home Sunday evening after an absence of several months.” At the time of the 1910 census, she was living in her family’s home and working as a chambermaid in a hotel. She had not left her delinquent ways completely behind, however. In November of 1910 she appeared in juvenile court again. This time she was assigned to the Home of the Good Shepherd, where she remained until April of 1912.

Home of the Good Shepherd

The Home of the Good Shepherd was established in 1907 in order to provide shelter, education and guidance to young women. The building still stands in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood; it is a registered historic landmark and houses a number of non-profit organizations.

In the early 1900s, half of the home’s 170-some residents were orphans; the other half were “penitents.” The wayward girls who made up the penitent ward were either referred by the courts or brought in by their families. The home operated a commercial laundry, which provided revenue as well as an occupation for its tenants. Mary would have worked in this laundry, whose two largest clients were the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific Railroads.

According to a article on the Home of the Good Shepherd, Mary Kranick and her peers would have studied “character education, voice, piano and other instrumental music, needlework, dressmaking, public expression, catechism, vocational training, basic academics, and physical education.”  For those girls sent to the home through the court system, the intent was to rehabilitate rather than punish.

When Mary was sentenced there, the school had only been open for just 11 months. She was still a resident there in April of 1910, when the census was taken. It is not know precisely when she was released. We do know that by 1911 she had married Elmer R. Cox. Cox lived with his family on 14th Avenue near Brooklyn Avenue, in what is today’s University District of Seattle. His father was occupied as a salesman in a clothing store. It is not certain whether Mary met him while a “pupil” at the Home, or after she was released. In any case the Cox home and the Home of the Good Shepherd were within an easy ten minute walk of each other. The couple moved to Tacoma, where their sons Frederick and Donald were born, moving to Oakland, California by 1920.

Although Mary Kranick’s experiences in 1908 separated her from her peers in many ways, her later life was much more similar to that of Bessie Cubbon, Mabel Ek, and all the others than any of them might have guessed in 1908. The last mention of Mary Kranick Cox in the Issaquah Press occurred in 1933, when she made a month long visit home from California to visit her mother.

Sources for this article include The Issaquah Independent and the Issaquah Press, Puget Sound Regional Archives court dockets,, and federal census records for 1910, 1920 and 1930.


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.



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.


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’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]

Bertha’s Correspondence: Walter Lorin Lane

By Julie Hunter, Collections Manager

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

1897 letter from Walter Lorin Lane to Bertha Wold.

1897 letter from Walter Lorin Lane to Bertha Wold.

According to records on, Walter was born on October 8, 1873, in Shettlerville, Illinois.  His parents were Peter Holland Lane and his wife, Hannah Bradley Dunn.  They had two other sons and a daughter, as well as Mrs. Lane’s older daughter with the surname Dunn.  By 1885 they were in the Squak Valley area, recorded in the Territorial Census for Squak, Snoqualmie, and Tokul, (the latter was near present day Carnation).  In 1889 the Lane family was listed in the Newcastle and Gilman census.  During these years, Walter became acquainted with Bertha, and she remained in his mind after the family moved to California at some point before 1894.

Walter and Bertha had, in fact, the fabled “seven degrees of separation.”  It happened thusly:

In 1886 William Robert Bush, who was generally known as “Tap” (Mary Samantha Bush Wold Prue’s brother), married Eva Estelle Fisk.

In 1888 Walter Lane’s sister, Emma Gertrude, married Alfred A. Fisk, in Seattle; Alfred was Eva Estelle’s brother.

So the relationship degrees play out in this fashion:

Bertha’s mother, Samantha, was sister to Tap, who was married to Eva, who was sister to Alfred, who was married to Emma, who was sister to Walter.

Of these people, all of the Bush family members, including Eva, who married one of them, stayed in Issaquah.  The Fisks and the Lanes moved to California.  All of Walter’s letters to Bertha were written from Southern California.

Walter initiated the correspondence on January 12, 1896, writing from Oro Fino, California,

Dear Friend Bertha,

As I have no correspondences at Issaquah, would be pleased to correspond with you if you have no objection.

I thought that would be a good way to pass a way along the long winter evenings, also improve ones time.

He went on to recap his recently earned college degree in business, his current work as a mine superintendent and shareholder, and his aspirations.  He inquired after various people in Issaquah, including gossip about a supposed elopement involving Mrs. Frank Tibbetts, Cary Smith, W. Valentine, and someone named Davis, and said he would like to visit soon.  The elopement appears to have been misinformation; Mr. and Mrs. Tibbetts were still together in the 1900 census.  The letter embodies many of the aspects of the correspondence that would develop over seven years and at least twenty letters on his side and a commensurate number of replies from her.  Walter was ambitious and actively sought education and qualifications.  He was eager to advance himself and to make money.  He liked a good gossip, and touches of malice would come through.

When he answered a letter from Bertha the following April, he was working in the hydraulic gold mine run by the Eastlick Brothers.  Lafayette Eastlick, the founder of the town of Oro Fino and owner of the mine there, was brother to Mahlon Eastlick, who came to Issaquah in 1890.6  Two more of Walter’s recurring themes came up in this missive.  He wrote about wanting to exchange photographs and invited her to come to California:

You had ought to be down here Bertha this summer and take a trip out in the mountains there is a big crowd of Girls and boys going  There was a crowd of us went out to the marble mountain last summer and had a splendid time. I killed a big cinnamon bear and a deer.

By September 2, Walter was out of the mine and had been to court, as he wrote,

John J. Eastlick, c 1891

John J. Eastlick, c 1891

The Eastlick Bros & Co that I Worked for all spring and summer I had to file a Mechanics Lien. on  their mine in order to get my wages I worked one hundred and forty nine and a half nights at Two dollars and fifty cents per night. I thought that was more than I could afford too loose old Malin [Mahlon] Eastlick is one of the Co.

Front: Mahlon, Helen and Abbie Eastlick. Back: Nell, Mary, Grace, Iva, Glenn and John Eastlick.

Front: Mahlon, Helen and Abbie Eastlick. Back: Nell, Mary, Grace, Iva, Glenn and John Eastlick.

Since he was not mining, he had had time to go hunting and to provide music for a dance.  He said that he doubted he would have a chance to attend a large ball that was scheduled for a couple weeks later since it was to be a “leap year” ball, meaning that the women would invite the men.

In the only letter that survives from 1897, written on November 9, Walter was back in his own mine,

I am going to stay with my mine this winter and perhaps I can dig out a few Thousand dollars. mining for gold is nice work, but very uncertain.

One of his friends was about to leave for the Klondike, but Walter thought it was a hard time of year to make that trip.  Again he wrote about local dances and wished that Bertha could accompany him to the next one.  He signed himself, “Your ever loving Friend.”

No letters survive from 1898, but Walter started 1899 with a letter on the seventeenth of January.  In it, he reported that

I am working nights now runing a pipe for the same Company I worked for last year. I will no doubt be on night shifts until the latter part of August that will seem a long while to work nights without a vacation[.]

He wrote about dances and playing in the local orchestra.  His interest in the Eastlick family and gossip about them continued.

You heard about the same I think as most of us think about John Eastlick going to get married to his cousin they quit Lovingly anyway. She is about six years older than he is. .. . .I heard Eastlicks were going to move back to Washington but it is rather doubtful.7

On September 7 of that year, Walter announced,

I am going to be Initiated in the Rebekah Lodge week from Friday night I suppose that will be fun for the Ladies. if I ever go to Gilman I will visit your lodge. . .

How is everyone up there? I would like to see you and talk of the [sic] of the days gone by. and go too lodge and see all my old friends. I don’t suppose I would know hardly anyone up there any more as all the young people changed so much since I left there.

Six weeks later, he wrote that he had been to a major Odd Fellows celebration in San Francisco, during which trip he also visited the Cliff House.  He wanted to travel to Washington, and to see Bertha, but he had leased a mine so would have to stay and work it.  He seldom attended dances any more since he usually wound up as the musician because he could read and play the latest music instead of dancing himself.  He sent a picture of himself and asked for one of Bertha, and he ended by begging her

I always like to get good long letters from you as it gives me pleasure to read them. good bye. Write soon and often from your ever loving friend

W.L. Lane

Don’t wait so long to write. I thought you had entirely forgotten me.


Walter started the new century with a letter to Bertha on January 2, 1900.  He wrote about enjoying studying music, playing for dances, and going back to work,

I expect to commence working nights again before long in a Hydraulic mine running a Giant I always get the night shift some way I have been on the night shift for five seasons and this will be the sixth which I hope will be the last.

His interest in the Eastlicks continued, and this letter shows that he and his family had more of a connection with them than that of employee to employer.

We had a letter from Emma a few days ago.9  Mrs. Eastlick was telling her that they were getting awfully tired of so much rainy weather. I look for them back [in California] inside of a year. They are never satisfied any place very long at a time. Is John vain feeling up there he was very much that way when here.

Grace Eastlick Settem, 1910

Grace Eastlick Settem, 1910

Grace [Eastlick, John Jacob’s sister,] wrote to one of her Lady friends here that she was going to be married soon. I told her I thought she was joking.            

Walter’s analysis of the Eastlick family situations he was writing about proved correct half the time.  Mahlon and Abigail Eastlick did not return to California.  Instead, they raised their family on Vaughn’s Hill outside of Issaquah.  Their daughter Grace did not marry until ten years later.

Four months later, on April 28, Walter has high hopes for a change of profession.  His letter is full of enthusiasm for his new field:

I am Still working on night shift but expect this to be the last. I think Six years in succession is long enough for one to work night shift.

I am going to commence active practice in my new profession sometime during the summer if nothing happens.

I have learned method of Magnetic Healing whereby I can affect a cure in every known disease I have secured a Diploma from the International School of Magnetic         Healing of St.     Louis, Mo. I can also treat patients regardless of distance by the absent treatment method.

I am not sure just where I will locate yet. perhaps here for a while until I get a few cures to my credit. [end page] Every person has within him or herself that latent force to        heal every known disease when they know the law All things are possible to them that     believeth.

September 27 found him still running tunnel, tired of the social scene in Oro Fino, and contemplating commencing his healing practice.  He gave Bertha some confidential advice about a health problem that “Paul” was having.  Paul was probably her stepfather, Paul Prue.  Walter did not want to have an adverse effect on Paul by saying anything that would discourage him.

As the year wound down, Walter wrote again on December 12, 1900.  He had tired of dancing and been absent from the Rebekah Lodge for quite some time, but he remained thoroughly enthused and engaged in studying Magnetic Healing.

A month later, Walter had survived a harrowing prospecting trip, during which a freak snowfall had created snow depths up to twelve feet.  He and the man he was working with had to walk home, a distance of eighteen miles that took three days of hard work, walking in creeks and using a board to give them a passable surface over the snow.  The snow had played havoc with transportation and mail delivery for over two weeks.  Before the snow fell, he had been back to dancing and balls over Christmas and New Year’s.  The local Lodge was thriving and he wished he could visit the Lodge in Issaquah and Bertha could visit the one in Oro Fino.  Once again, when he wrote to Bertha, he had the Eastlicks on his mind—

John Eastlick’s old maid is still here she doesn’t go around very much since John left.

Bertha had sent him her photograph;

I was pleased to get your photo. You have changed some since I last saw you but every one changes in that length of time. It has been nine years this spring since we left Wash.

                1901 must have been an especially brutal winter in the California gold fields.  When Walter wrote on April 4th, 1901, from an isolated mine in the mountains, snow had fallen during the day and ice was still freezing at the rate of 1/8 of an inch each night.  Once again, he was still working in mining and dreaming of changing location and profession:

I am thinking of going to Los Angeles about the 15 of June or possibly sometime in May. I am going to quit the mining business for good after this year anyway if nothing happens, I am going to get a position keeping books. I could have gotten a position in Pomona a short time ago if I had been there to Accept.

Working in a store is much better than hard work a person has a chance for promotion in Business but if a person mines he will never be advanced any higher.

This time he followed his own advice, and when he wrote on May 25, 1901, it was from his new address in Pomona.  He had set up his office to practice Magnetic Healing.  Along that line, he offered sympathy and medical advice for “Paul,” whose supposed cancer on his arm had grown worse.  Walter enthused over the crops and climate and quality of life in Pomona, where there were 13 churches and no saloons for a population of about 8,000.  He and his sister Emma, her husband Al, and their cousin Eva Borst, who boarded with them, attended church regularly.8  He wrote enticingly,

This is a very pretty place there is nearley eight thousand inhabitants here, thirteen churches and no Saloons that speak pretty well of a place.

They raise Oranges, Lemons, and fruits of all kind in abundance there is one orchard of Four houndred acres of Oranges.

Flowers of all kinds grow out doors no house plants necessary as everything grows in the flower garden. It is a regular paradise too what Washington is for beauty and climate.           

I don’t really think this place can be beaten. It doesn’t get very hot nor cold. I am thirty-three miles from Los Angeles, Southern Pacific R.Y. it only takes a short time to get to Los          Angeles.  

In fact, Walter’s satisfaction with Pomona was such that he would spend almost forty years in the area.  He died in Pomona on November 16, 1940, and was buried in the Pomona Cemetery and Mausoleum.

When he wrote to Bertha on August 8, 1901, he had moved to San Francisco because he had had to stop his work with magnetic healing when the State of California outlawed “all methods of Healing other than Medicines.”  He was hoping that good sense would prevail and that the law would be declared unconstitutional, but he needed a job in the meantime.  He was hoping to find a job as a bookkeeper, but there were major strikes causing civil unrest and danger.  Regardless of his work situation, Walter was lonely.  He urged Bertha to come to California,

I wish you were here and we would go to some good Theatre I never caremuch about going alone you would also see many things here they do not have in Seattle.  There is a lovely park here all kinds of Flowers, Fowls, and animals are to be seen Buffalo Elk, Grizzley Bear and  others to numerous to mention. I went to the Park last Sunday but was alone so did not enjoy it very much if you could have been along.   We could have had a fine time. I would like awfully well to see you and will some of these days if you are willing. if you were here no one could   hire you to live in that rainy country again California is a better state every way. . . .

Well my dear, I must close as it is getting quite late hoping you will write soon and often.  From your very loving friend. . . .

Write soon as I may not be here more than a month or so.

Lovingly yours


By the end of September, he had given up on finding a safe job in strike ridden San Francisco and had returned to Pomona.  He still liked life there and was working as a carpenter, expecting to return to mining the following winter.  It would be good to know what Bertha’s letter to him, between his of August and that of September 29, had said. This letter was less about his feelings and more about his surroundings.  Although he used the closure, “Your loving friend,”  he had preceded it with the rather distancing, “

There is no saloons in town well I have written about all the news I can think of for this time. I could tell you more news by talking with you than writing so will bid you good by. With the best of wishes for your future happiness[.]

December came, and Walter returned to Oro Fino, but he did not return to the mines.  Instead, he wrote on the fourth that he had recommenced working in Magnetic Healing.  He was also practicing hypnotism.  He hoped to travel through California, Oregon, and Washington demonstrating both.  If he could make the trip, he wanted to see Bertha.  Meanwhile, his whole family had arrived in California, and they planned to stay there.

When next Walter wrote, on February 14, 1902, he had had to wait a long time for Bertha’s most recent letter, and he thought she might have forgotten him.  He was still practicing as a healer, but had moved back to Pomona and was unsure whether to stay there, with some established clients, or to move into Los Angeles.  He gossiped about food, crops, recreation, dances, going to churches, travel, Christmas and New Year.  He continued to pass along negative rumors about John Eastlick and his “old maid,”

In regard to John Eastlick’s old maid she is supposed by many to be his wife but it doesn’t seem like they would be living so far apart if they were, she is living with her father           and mother at Oro Fino. her name is Eastlick and a first cousin of his, they are very queer people. It seems to be a fad among them to marry cousins. I suppose he tells people up           there how he used to mine in California, but he is far from being a good miner. he never  done any underground mining at all. 10

One wonders if there are letters missing from this sequence.  The next letter that exists is from three months later, May 11, 1902. Walter wrote about doing the “drilling and blasting” for a new water line for the San Antonia Water Co., fresh produce on the table, good weather, a festival in Los Angeles, and cousin Cora Gustin’s plan to move south to attend normal school in San Jose.  He never once mentioned magnetic healing, bookkeeping, or mining.

He was still working for the Water Company when he wrote on August 21, at the end of the summer.  In what is the final letter in the collection, he extolled the climate and local foods yet again, said he had become a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and reported on his mother’s good health and successful canning activities.  He still wanted Bertha to visit, ending his writing,

I wish you were here to enjoy yourself for a while and just see some of the beauties of nature in the land of sunshine and flowers southern Cal. is considered the most beautiful part of the West where the Orange blossoms blow. I hope you are enjoying the best of good health Well I will close for this time hope you will not wait as long as I did in writing. I will have some photos taken and send you one by the next time I hear from you I would like one of yours also.

May peace love and happiness be with you always is the wish of your ever loving friend…

Charlie Baxter, circa 1895

Charlie Baxter, circa 1895

There is poignancy in this ending.  At the end of the year, Bertha would marry Charles Baxter, in Issaquah on Christmas Day.  Walter also married, in California, Josephine Cable.  Although I have not been able to locate their date of marriage, they were married by 1906, when the first of their three daughters were born.  Walter never did get away from digging.  According to the 1940 Federal Census, he was the owner of Buller Cesspool (probably a company name) when he died.  He had been in the cesspool business since before World War I; the 1910 census listed him as a self-employed cesspool digger.

Bertha and Charles Baxter raised three children, and family lore says that Bertha ran all of their lives and kept them all from marrying so that they would always take care of her.  She outlived Charles by thirty-five years, dying in Issaquah on November 1, 1965.  Her sons worked locally, and her daughter, Beryl, became well known as a quilter.  Beryl’s second cousin donated this collection of Bertha’s correspondence along with other artifacts from the Bush family.

Bertha’s correspondents reveal some of the variety of people who had ties to Issaquah and its environs at the turn of the twentieth century.  Settlers, farmers, teachers, prospectors, people with ambition, and those with a desire to find a better life came here.  The Bush family and many of the Wolds stayed.  Some of their friends and family members kept moving.  Most of them had to work hard, regardless of where they were.  Their letters share the adventure of “going in” to Dawson, Y.T., the hopeful struggle of moving to Arizona to recover from consumption, the difficulties of settling a will with half a continent in between the legacy and the legatees, the way family ties looped back and forth across the Cascades, family life and family strife, and the attempt to keep up a teenage friendship even as the parties grew through their twenties and eventually married other people. They form a good cross section of working America before the events of the twentieth century.

Previous: Other Correspondents

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6. See paper file for printouts of online information regarding the Eastlick family and Oro Fino. The town’s name means “fine gold,” and the Eastlick mine was successful. The town no longer exists, although Lafayette Eastlick’s fine home remains standing and some of his descendants still live in Siskiyou County.

7. I have been unable to ascertain which cousin J.J. Eastlick was linked with in the gossip of 1899. His granddaughter, Loralyn Young, had not heard any stories to this effect when I asked her in September 2016. She did recall that he had traveled back and forth between Washington and California, working in the family mine, going to college, etc. The only marriage of his for which Ancestry has a record is that to Loralyn’s grandmother, Wilhelmina Stevenson, on June 4, 1904, in Seattle.  The Rev. T. S. Winey conducted the ceremony.

Loralyn’s donation to the collections, accession 2016.17, includes a family Bible into which a sheet of paper with a chronology of John Jacob Eastlick’s travels has been tucked.  It reads as follows:

Born in Orofino, Siskyou Co

Northern Calif on Dec 24, 1876

Came to Seattle in 1884. To

Issaquah Valley in 1885—

Attended school at Mercer +

Denny schools in Seattle

Back to Calif in 1895 to Orofino

Scott Valley Siskiyou Co—

In 1900 Back to Issaquah

for rest of life

  1. Emma was Walter’s sister, married to Alfred Fisk. They were living in San Jose, California, at the time of the 1900 Federal Census. They also had Eva Borst, age 16, boarding with them.
    Eva Borst (at left) and Emma Lane Fisk, circa 1900

    Eva Borst (at left) and Emma Lane Fisk, circa 1900

    The Lane family and the Borst Family, with daughter Eva, who was born in 1884, were both in the same Territorial Census for Squak, Snoqualmie and Tokul in King County in 1885.  In another tight knot of intermarriage, Eva Borst was actually Alfred Fisk’s mother’s first cousin.  Helen Augusta Borst Fisk (born 1842) was daughter to David Borst (born 1814) and granddaughter to William Borst.  William had other children, including son Jeremiah W. Borst, who was born in 1829, fifteen years after his brother, David.  Eva E. Borst, David’s daughter, was born in 1884, when her father was in his mid-fifties and her cousin’s son, Alfred, was already twenty-four.  Her father died in 1890, leaving her Native American mother (nee Kate Smith) widowed with two young children.  By 1910, Eva had returned to Washington and was living with her mother and brother in Redmond, working as a servant.  In 1914, mother and daughter were included in a census of the Yakima tribe; Eva’s brother Bud was not listed.

9. Grace Eastlick did not marry, in fact, until 1910. The 1900 census lists John J. Eastlick, age 23, as living with his parents and siblings in the Gilman Precinct and working as a lumber sawyer.  When he filled out his World War I draft registration, he was the head sawyer for the Neukirchen Brothers Mill.

  1. In light of Walter’s continuing animus toward John Jacob Eastlick, it is tantalizing to know what lay at the heart of that. While that remains unknown and probably unknowable at this distance, it is important to note that I have been unable to find records of a marriage or a divorce between J.J. Eastlick and anyone other than Wilhelmina Stevenson, whom he married in Seattle on June 4, 1904. I have searched 1900 census records for Siskiyou Co., where Oro Fino was located, and find 3 of J.J.’s uncles and their families living there.  One uncle, Lafayette, had a daughter, Cassie, aged 28, living at home, but she supposedly was already married to Francis Marion Quigley.

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

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  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

Bertha’s Correspondence: The Oregon Folks

By Julie Hunter, Collections Manager

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

Early in William’s letters, on June 6, 1892, he dropped the line, “I suppose that the folks went to Oregon on a visit or for a recreation.”  And that is all he said about this subject.  This leaves the questions, What folks?  Why Oregon?  Another group of eight letters, written between 1898 and 1904, “From Your Loving Cousin/Artie Eva Lene Hanks” provides the likely answers.   The first is dated August 8, 1898, and was written on the day after her twenty-first birthday.  Artie wrote about her fifteen-month-old son, being lonely while her husband was away from home, and mentioned a couple of her sisters and an uncle. She lived seven miles from church, so seldom attended.  She wished “Auntie” would come out to visit. “Auntie” was most likely Martha Stewart Bush, Bertha’s grandmother.2

Martha Stewart Bush and John Bush, circa 1870s

Martha Stewart Bush and John Bush, circa 1870s

Over the course of her letters, Artie sent factual information about her life as a young wife and mother on a farm in Perdue, Oregon. The community no longer exists, but it was in Douglas County.  The settlement was in the general area of Canyonville, which is still a city, located on I-5.  Using the list of her sisters still living with their parents, as given in her letter of March 21, 1902, I was able to pinpoint her as the daughter of Robert Smith Stewart II and Margaret Brown.  Robert was one of Martha Stewart Bush’s many siblings, and the Stewart family had lived in Oregon since 1852, when they arrived there by wagon train.

The first clue to the source of Artie’s connection to Bertha, beyond the general “cousin,” was Artie’s name.  Martha Stewart Bush’s mother was named Artimesa [sic].  None of the scant records that I have found for Artie show her as having the more formal name, but the connection to her grandmother’s name is clear.  Artie’s letters, with their comments about Stewart relatives coming and going and questions about Bushes, demonstrate that the Oregon Stewarts stayed in touch with the Bush family over decades and generations.  In December of 1900, she wished that Bertha and Mattie (Bertha’s aunt, Martha Alice Bush) could spend Christmas with her.  In March of 1902, she wrote of having had a little girl, who was yet to be named.   When Artie wrote again, in February of 1904, she reported that “we named our baby Emily Evelyn we call her Eva she was two years old the 30th of Jan.”   She shared more family news—“two of my sister’s are married Ella was married the 18th of Oct. her man’s name is Claud McCarty and Emma married my brother in law Charlie Hanks so I have only two single sisters Ethel is at home and Pearl is working out we went to a dance the fourteenth of this  month we had a fine time.”

In Artie’s final letter in the group, dated September 13, 1904, she wrote about a major adventure.  “We took a trip down on the coast Dennis’es sister and Mother and one of my sisters went with us we had a nice time it was the first time any of us had seen the Ocean.”  She had been living approximately one hundred miles inland for her entire life.  Artie was 28, and her mother was 48.  Today the trip takes about two hours by car.  Being fairly laconic, she made no further comment about the trip or the ocean or anyone’s reaction to the sight.

The Bush Sisters: Samantha Bush Wold Prue, Mattie Bush, and Emily Bush Darst,

The Bush Sisters: Samantha Bush Wold Prue, Mattie Bush, and Emily Bush Darst,

From the number of times that both family and friends sent along love and greetings to Bertha’s grandmother, Martha Stewart Bush, and aunt, Mattie Bush, we can infer that Bertha was close with these members of her extended family.  There are far fewer such mentions of her mother.  This may reflect a couple of factors.  Bertha’s mother, Samantha, is not remembered as a pleasant woman, so she may not have had the social ties that her mother and sister did.  Because of the way Samantha’s life went after she left Peter Wold, she did not always have her daughters with her. Five years after her divorce, Samantha remarried, to Paul Prue, in 1888.  It is very possible that Bertha lived with her grandmother and aunt for portions of her childhood, and she is shown living with them in the 1900 census, age 23, two years before her marriage.

Next: The Estate of Tom Cherry

Previous: Peter & Sarah Wold

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2. In addition to, I used some specific Oregon genealogy sites, which have much information not on the bigger site. For instance, on an Oregon grave index, I found that Artie Hanks is buried in the Canyonville Odd Fellows Cemetery.   Neither she nor half the other Hankses on that list show up in the FindaGrave listings.  From the Oregon Pioneers web site ( I learned that Martha Stewart came west with her parents and nine of her ten (one had already died) siblings by wagon train in 1852.  Her parents were living in Douglas County by 1880, as were some of their descendants.   Martha married James William Bush in 1854 in Corvallis, Oregon.  They were living in Seattle by 1859, and they were farming in Squak Valley in 1864.

See the web site  that acknowledges Perdue’s existence in the past and gives MANY links to Oregon genealogy.  Perdue was named after John Perdue, an early settler of the area.  He was grandfather to Artie’s Husband, Dennis William Hanks.  Although the Hanks genealogy is not specific to Issaquah, my attempts to find Artie, for whom I found neither birth nor death record—just marriage and tombstone—led me to a basic knowledge of the family she married into.

Dennis Friend Hanks m. Sarah Elizabeth Johnston  John Perdue m. Mary Francis Margaret Mills

1799-1892                            /              1807-1864                            1818-1901  /        1822-1902

John Talbot Hanks                           m.                           Eleanor Ellender Perdue


Dennis William Hanks m. 1895 Artie Eva Lena Stewart

1868-1952                              /                            1877-1923

William McKinley Hanks, b. 1897

Emily Evelyn Hanks, b 1902

Dennis W. Hanks remarried in 1939.  At the time of his death, his obituary in The Eugene Register-Guard listed both of his children, his current wife, and his living descendants and siblings.  No mention was made of Artie. Like her, he was buried in the Canyonville Odd Fellows Cemetery.  A copy of the obit is in our paper file for 2015.10.

Artie’s family is easy to find on Ancestry once you know which Stewarts you are seeking.  Her siblings included Ella, Pearl, Emma, Ethel, Eva, Jacob, Edward, and Hubert.  Her father, Robert Smith Stewart II, was listed as a day laborer in 1900, but her 1902 letter says that her parents were about to move to Canyonville to run a boarding house.  He was the youngest of his siblings, and he was the one given his father’s name.  His wife was Margaret Brown.  Since most of the genealogy records do not use the “II” designation, it is important to look at the wife’s name to be sure of the generation of Robert Smith Stewart.

At least one of Robert Smith Stewart I’s brothers moved his large family to Oregon, as well.  He took the Oregon Trail in 1845 and shows up in records for Corvallis, which is where Martha and James Bush were married.

Bertha’s Correspondence: Peter & Sarah Wold

By Julie Hunter, Collections Manager

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

Peter Wold and Sara Eidal Wold, circa 1895.

Peter Wold and Sara Eidal Wold, circa 1895.

For the last twenty years of his life, Bertha’s father could write in English, at least at a basic level.  In August, 1904, he wrote her a brief note, saying he was still not well enough to do the things he wanted to do when she came to visit.  He suggested that she wait and come after Christmas when Mary [Wold] returned to Ellensburg (which would give him another four months’ recovery time).  He sent love to her and her baby.

On October 4, 1916, Peter wrote one of the latest letters in the collection.  Again, it was just a short note.  Bertha had sent flowers for her brother’s grave, and Peter had taken them to the cemetery.  This is the only confirmation that we have that William’s grave is in or near Ellensburg.  By this time, Peter was 81 and feeling his age. Peter would live to be 90, dying in 1925, twenty-two years after his son’s death.

With William dead and Mary having left the Ellensburg area, Bertha’s stepmother, Sarah N. Eidal Wold, had to carry on her own correspondence.  Three brief letters from the 1910s survive.  In the first, sent September 18, 1910, she and her husband were sending apples to Bertha and to someone who had driven Peter in his automobile during a visit to the Issaquah area.  Peter had received the straight razor Bertha sent to him, but he refused to use it until he could pay her back for it.  On November 30, 1916, she sent a brief note to accompany a book she was sending to Bertha’s young son.  She referred to Bertha having visited them, on her own, recently.  The final letter in the collection is a brief thank-you note from Sarah, written in January of 1917.

Next: Oregon Folks

Previous: William Wold

Bertha’s Correspondence: William Wold

By Julie Hunter, Collections Manager

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

William Wold

William Wold

The earliest letters in the cache, from 1892, are from Bertha’s brother William.  She was fifteen and he was nineteen.  They corresponded until his death eleven years later, and sixteen of his letters remain.  William wrote a lot about the weather and the work that he was doing.  Since much of his work was in farming and hay press gangs, as well as digging irrigation ditches, the weather had a major effect on how difficult his life was.  William urged Bertha to stay in school.  He knew that his own struggles were in part due to a lack of education.   Although he mentioned some dances and baseball games, he wrote relatively little about social life.   He was more apt to detail the latest local tragedy or accident.  One running topic for brief comments, with tantalizingly little detail, was his father’s ongoing lawsuit.  Apparently Peter was in danger of losing his water rights, which would have a very negative impact on his agricultural pursuits.  The suit was continued from court sitting to court sitting for several years.  Meanwhile, Peter also engaged in mining activities, although William could not give details.  By 1899, Peter had sold all but forty-three acres of his holdings and was building a new house.  Peter was not the only Wold to deal with the court system.  William expressed sympathy for his Uncle Lars’s legal situation in both 1893 and 1900.  From other documents in our collections, we know that Lars had accumulated serious debt following the collapse of his hops growing and some unwise real estate transactions.  (See the introduction to IHM Research Center holding R-1913-001, RC-C2, for a precis of Lars’ legal woes.)

Fractured family dynamics were a driving factor in William’s life.  He left his home with his father after his father’s remarriage in 1890, writing bitterly in 1894, “I am not staying at home now or have not been all summer. [H]ome is no place for me anymore.”  In the same letter, he mentioned that “I seen by the papers some time ago that Grand Pa is dead which was a great surprise to us here.” This was James William Bush; apparently the Bush side of the family was not staying in communication with William or his father.  Similarly, family connections among the Wold brothers were not particularly close.  William wrote in January of 1893, “We were all surprised to hear of Uncle Ingebright’s marriage did he marry anyone you know. I got a letter from Hellen Christopher [a Wold cousin]. she said Uncle was married but never said who to.”

At the time the letters began, William had been out of communication with his mother for an extended period.  He asked Bertha in April of 1892, “what is Mother’s address or post office[?]  I wouldn’t know where to write to but I don’t know whether she would write to me now or not but I will try I ought to have written to her before[.]”

His lack of simpatico with his step mother was a repeated topic in his letters, even though he was generally inclined toward being a peacemaker.  He wrote with more sympathy about his and Bertha’s own mother, regretting what he perceived as her isolation and reputation as a difficult person. Even so, his opinion of her was rather back handed, as expressed in his letter of June 6, 1892 – “I think that they misjudge Mother. I don’t think she would let you die if she could help it do you[?]. . .it must be hard on Mother to stay alone always[.] When I come over we will go and [spend] a while with her[.  E]ven I cant say exactly when I will start but it will be the first spare time I can get[.] I haven’t written to Mother yet but will probably the same time I write this to you.”  He urged Bertha to be on better terms with her, as well as to think more kindly about their father.  William explained in his July 10, 1900, letter, “I don’t want you to think that Father or Mrs. Wold [William’s stepmother] has anything to do with my not writing to you it is all caused by my own carelessness and don’t blame your poor old Father for not writing for you know that he can’t write English and if he was to write Norwegian you would have to hire someone to read it for you. You have the finest father in the world and he thinks lots of you but owning to circumstances he can’t always do as he would like to.”  He frequently added a note of their father’s love being sent to Bertha in addition to his own.  He thought his father was beginning to look and act old.

William mentioned at least one long visit from their cousins Oscar, Helena and Nora Christopher.  He liked them, even while remarking on their relative affluence.  Genealogy research shows that they were related through the Wolds; their mother was Mary Wold Christopher, who raised her family in the Puyallup/Auburn area, in a district then known as Slaughter.  Her husband, Thomas Christopher, had been associated with Ezra Meeker and had been a successful businessman in his own right.1

William also knew Elmer Baxter, who had occasion to work in Ellensburg before he returned to Issaquah and became the town marshal.  William mentioned him repeatedly, which may indicate that he was aware of the growing connection between Bertha and Elmer’s brother, Charles, who would become her husband in 1902.

The letters provide no information as to whether William ever saw his sisters or mother again after Samantha returned to the western slopes of the Cascades from Ellensburg.  He intended to visit Bertha, writing  on April 10, 1892, “I will try and come over this summer if nothing happens I will come over and have a good time for I am a great fellow for sport and enjoyment -.”  He wrote the following January, “Father has never said anything of going over [the mountains to Issaquah] as I know of. I am sorry I never answered your letter but thought I would come over. but I worked on a ditch last fall for two months and have been hauling lumber and ice all winter so I ain’t had no time to go anywhere.”

His own work, in various forms of manual labor, including agricultural and mining, kept him on the east side of the mountains, in Ellensburg, the Palouse region, Walla Walla, Yakima, and even in Idaho.  He thought about moving to California or joining the gold rush to Alaska but changed his mind.   On May 5, 1899, he wrote, “I have been sick for the last 6 or 7 months but am alright and in good health now. I was up at the Silver Mines in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho last summer and I got lead poisoned which came very near ending my earthly troubles for me[.]  I am not the strong healthy lad I used to be[.]  I now know what it was to be sick[.  B]efore I was at Wardner [Idaho—scene of major mining riots in 1892 and 1899] where the big strike is going on now.”  He spent the summer of 1899 working in the asphalt plant at Spokane.   Despite his claim of recovery, his health was severely compromised, and he died in 1903, probably in August or September, at the age of thirty.  He had never married, and none of his letters mention any special attachment other than “a lady friend.”  He had worked hard and often been discouraged.

William’s death was not well documented, and we had not known when he died, other than “prior to 1920” until we read Mary Wold’s letters to Bertha.  (Note that Kittitas County’s death records prior to 1907 are held by the County Auditor and are not online. The FindaGrave website has no record of William’s burial, either.)  Mary was a first cousin to Bertha, and had grown up in Issaquah.  She was in Ellensburg during 1903-1904 because she was a student at the normal school.  She sent Bertha four letters during that time. While in town, she visited back and forth to her Uncle Peter’s house and wrote letters for him and his wife.  As she wrote on October 5, 1903, “Uncle Peter wants me to tell you that he feels ashamed for not getting your letters answered but you know he can’t write and Aunt Sarah doesn’t get around to even answer her own letters, she gets me to write one every time I’m out there. Uncle Peter said that when Willie was living he used to get him to write once in a while but now since he’s dead he says he doesn’t get to write to you at all. He’s been wanting me to write for him but hasn’t got around to it yet.”  In December of 1903, it fell to her to communicate cousin Helena Christopher’s death to the wider family.  She wrote to Bertha, “I suppose you’ve heard about Lena’s death.  All I’ve been doing the last two days is ‘phoning and telegraphing. Oscar ‘phoned to me and then I had to go out to Auntie’s.”1  The following February, she reported that Uncle Peter was having to spend nine weeks flat on his back in bed.  Meanwhile, she was socializing but had been stood up on the night of a dance.

Next: Peter & Sarah Wold

Previous: What Bertha’s Correspondence Tells Us

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  1. From the census and marriage information available on Ancestry, it appears that Mary Wold (not the correspondent in this accession, but another cousin) emigrated from Norway in 1870 with her infant son, Oscar. She married Thomas Christopher, who apparently adopted Oscar, on February 16, 1873.  Thomas had been in Washington Territory since 1858.  They were married in Louis Wold’s office in King County.  Mary’s and Louis’s exact relations to Peter, Lars, and Ingebright Wold has not been traced yet, but they were some sort of cousins.  These letters document  Mary’s family maintaining a relationship with Peter’s and Lars’ families.  Mary Christopher’s daughter, Helena H. Christopher, died young and single and intestate, but possessed of significant land in Pierce County.  The probate records are extensive and are online.  It is from them that I was able to track back from siblings Oscar and Helena (obviously known in the family as “Lena”) to their father Thomas and then from him to their mother and her name before she married him.