By Bessy Wilson Craine
Bessie Wilson Craine arrived here in the Squak valley in 1885, when she was three years old. Over time, she wrote down her experiences growing up in the area. In describing her own life, the author includes a chronicle of the community’s development, from a few isolated homesteads to a busy coal-mining town. The final handwritten manuscript was complete in 1963, when Craine was in her 80’s. The original 69 page paperback edition was published by the Issaquah Historical Society in 1983, with a forward by Harriet Fish. The 2002 edition contains family tree charts, photographs, footnotes and a full index. This is an online version of the book published Issaquah History Museums. The online edition was created in collaboration with students from Issaquah High School enrolled in the TIP program, David Edfeldt, director.
Only the text from the first 19 pages of this 69 page book are posted here.
Page 1 from original book
My friends have asked me many times to write about the life and the early happenings in Squak Valley. I guess they think if I don’t get it down pretty soon I’ll be too old to remember–but one doesn’t easily forget the place she grew up in.
I told them I couldn’t write a story. They insist that if I write it as I tell it, it will be good enough. I can’t do that. When you are telling a story, you can begin at the end and go backwards; or start in the middle and go either way and it will be a good story. If you want your readers to get the picture you have to begin at the beginning. That is where my trouble comes.
I have to go back to about 1860 when the first settlers started to drift into the Valley, when Seattle was a mere infant and Squak Valley was a wilderness. It is located at the head of Squak Lake (now known as the Sammamish). Nature had given it a beautiful setting, about two thousand acres with the lake skirting it on the north and almost completely surrounded by mountains. The settlers found a stubborn growth of forest except for a few acres of prairie, covered with hazel bushes and a thick undergrowth–but the soil was rich and deep. All it was waiting for was men with the hearts of pioneers, willing hands and strong backs. Men like John Adams, Tom Cherry, the Castos, the Bush family, the Wolds and Ned Ohm. There were, no doubt, others who came at that time. I mention these because they are the ones I knew best as I grew up. They took up homesteads widely scattered through the Valley. Their only neighbors were Indians who lived in shacks and hovels at the head of the Lake. They were known as the Siwash, or Flatheads, very peaceable. In fact, they were too lazy to be much else. All they wanted was to be left alone to fish and hunt.
Natives Murder the Casto Family
Page 2 from original book
Editor’s note: The author incorrectly spelled the family’s last name as “Castro” in her manuscript as published. The web site version is fixed to avoid spreading the error any further. Clarence Bagley writes about this same incident in his article Casto Massacre , and Roger Knowles Thompson has written an article entitled Abbie Casto’s Fate.
In the Spring of 1864 William Casto and his pretty girl wife came to the Valley and built a small house in the heart of the wilderness. John Halstead, a friend, lived with them. Casto opened a small trading post for the convenience of the settlers and trappers. He was an up and coming young man. His free and easy manners won him many friends in the community. He had one fault–his liking for liquor which, in the end, proved his undoing.
There was a great demand for hoop poles, used in the making of barrels. These were made from the hazel bush, of which there was a dense growth around Casto’s home. He sent the poles to San Francisco, frequently receiving as much as $1,500 for a single shipment. It was a long route through Squak Lake, through the Squak Slough and across Lake Washington to Seattle, then on down to San Francisco by sailboat.
Mr. Casto found help among the Indians. Some of them proved quite industrious when given the chance and found that they were to be paid for their labor and a little liquor on the side. Casto had been warned many times, by the settlers, that it was bad business to give Indians liquor. He treated the Indians well. They seemed to like him and looked up to him as a white “Tyee” or chief.
That fall there were whispers of an Indian uprising that had grown out of trouble between some white men and the neighboring Snohomish Indians. A chief and two Indians had been killed.
Occasionally Casto’s Indians had proved difficult to handle, especially when under the influence of liquor. Still he didn’t heed the warning. On this fatal night he gave the Indians their liquor and went home to supper.
Tribal revenge is characteristic of the Primitive Indian-they don’t easily forget. The killing of the Snohomish had been boiling up inside of them. On this particular night they planned their revenge–by taking the lives of the Casto family. The “Tyee’s” life would avenge the other two Indians that were killed.
When they made their attack, Casto was killed instantly by a whizzing bullet. Another one got the pretty girl wife. Halstead fought valiantly for his life. When the bodies were found they were literally hacked to bits. Truly a crime of vengeance.
By this time the Indians had worked themselves into such a frenzy their main objective was to kill every white person they came in contact with. It was near dawn when they finished their fiendish work. They set out for Bush’s, Casto’s nearest neighbors, who had been warned by friendly Indians that the Indians were on the warpath, so they were not taken unprepared. The children were hidden under the beds and in places that bullets were least likely to penetrate. James Bush, his wife Martha, and two men who were staying there held the attackers off until daylight. By this time the liquor had spent its fury, and they attempted to make their getaway. An Indian by the name of Aleck had heard the shooting and sensed the trouble. He shot one fleeing Indian in the back. He later came upon another one in the woods and killed him with an ax. So ended the only Indian trouble in the Valley.
The following day, the Bush family took their personal belongings and with the help of Indians made their way across Lake Sammamish, the Squak Slough and across Lake Washington to Seattle, where they lived for a year before returning to the Valley.
History of Bessies House
Page 3 from original book
On the Adams’ place was the oldest house in the Valley, a log cabin built by the Hudson’s Bay trappers when they went through the Northwest in about 1860. No nails being used, hewn to fit, and put together with pegs, and caulked with moss and mud, I mention this cabin because thirty-one years later, it was to become my home.
Origins of the Gilman Coal Mines
Page 3 from original book
Two years previous to this time, a Mr. L.B. Andrews homesteaded property, several miles from the Valley, on the site of what many years later was to become the Gilman Coal Mines. He had opened several veins and taken out what looked to him like very good coal. He took a small amount of this in a flour sack and carried it all the way to Seattle on his back. This he showed to a friend of his, a William Perkins, who pronounced it of excellent quality, the best that had come into Seattle at that time. They formed a partnership, but soon found that the development of the mine and the transportation far exceeded their capital. Mr. Perkins did go so far as to build a boat of about five-ton capacity. This was taken up the Duwamish and Black Rivers into Lake Washington, through Squak Slough and Lake Sammamish to Squak Valley, where it was loaded with the precious coal. This trip and return took about twenty days, a distance of one hundred forty miles. Not many trips such as this were made..
William Pickering Moves to Squak Valley
Page 4 from original book
William Pickering Moves to Squak Valley In 1862, President Lincoln appointed William Pickering as governor of Washington Territory. He gave him the choice of sitting in his cabinet or of becoming the fifth territorial governor. Pickering chose the latter. He came West at that time and was in office until 1886.
Shortly after coming West, he and his son William heard of this wonderful valley only a day’s journey from Seattle. It sounded like a likely place for homesteading.
When they reached Bush’s place, they were told that the Casto place was for sale. Governor Pickering asked for the loan of a shovel. After a few turns of the shovel, into the rich black loam, proved to him that it was worth the twenty-five dollars per acre. He bought the place and a few years later William Pickering, Junior, his son, homesteaded the one hundred sixty acres joining this property on the south. he built his home on a hill overlooking the entire Valley with the Lake in the distance. It was in this house that the first post office was established, and he was appointed postmaster and he made as much as two or three dollars per year.
First Mail Route - Pickering Post Office
Page 4 from original book
This was in 1870, and Clarence B. Bagley established the first mail route through that part of the country. He would pick the mail up from a steamer in Seattle at four o’clock in the afternoon and take a horse immediately for the Clymer’s farm, where he spent the night. Early the following morning he was on the trail for the Pickering Post Office, then on to Jerry Borst’s Post Office at Snoqualmie Prairie. By nightfall he would be back at the Pickering farm where he would spend the night, starting early the following morning on the return trip to Seattle.
Page 4 from original book
A man by the name of Sloan taught the first school in the same Pickering home with an attendance of half a dozen children.
History of the Wolds Hop Fields
Page 5 from original book
The Wold brothers had the next largest holding, adjoining the Pickering property. In 1868 they planted a half acre in hops, acquiring the necessary 2000 plants from Ezra Meeker at Puyallup. This was added to until in 1893 they had fifty acres in hops. Tom Cherry and the Bush’s started small fields.
For a time it looked as if it was to become the main industry. It was the one thing that could be baled and gotten to the Seattle markets by hauling over the New Castle Hill and across Lake Washington; or shipped on a spur of railroad which had been run into New Castle to haul coal from there.
Mr. Wold started a small store on his place. It made a trading center for the settlers and hop pickers. He also built an Indian camp where the Indians could live during the hop picking season. The Indians were coming into their own now. This was good lazy work, and they received one dollar per box, which was a lot of money to them or anyone else at that time.
Crane Family History
Page 5 from original book
Father’s sister, Aunt Bea, married George W. Tibbetts in Missouri. In 1874 they came to .the Valley, renting the Casto place from Pickering until 1882 when they bought the Ohm homestead, the first place as one enters the Valley from Renton. He planted hops. He also built quite a sizeable hotel, or as we used to call it “The Halfway House.”
It consisted of a large kitchen, a very large dining room, a parlor and a number of bedrooms upstairs. At one end was a large store with a hall above it. This became the gathering place for community affairs and dances. The post office was moved from the Pickering place to Tibbetts’ store. A stage line was established over the New Castle Hill to Lake Washington. The Halfway House was one of the main stops on route to Fall City, Snoqualmie and North Bend.
This stage line afforded a better outlet for produce from the Valley, and also for getting supplies into the county. Of course there was always that tough haul over New Castle Hill, but even that was better than crossing Lake Sammamish, poling through Squak Slough and across Lake Washington.
Another of Father’s sisters, Aunt Savilla, left Missouri and came to the Valley where she met and married William Pickering, Jr. That is how come the governor’s son became my uncle.
He passed away early in life, leaving my Aunt with three sons and more property than she knew what to do with.
In 1882 I was born to Robert and Cora Wilson in Carthage, Missouri. The following year my Grandfather and Grandmother Wilson came to the Valley. They bought the Adams’ place that joined the Tibbetts’ property on the north toward the Lake. Mr. Adams moved to the head of the Lake joining the Brunk property where they had located several years before.
My Uncle Mike had come out from Missouri several years previously, and settled in the White River Valley. When Aunt Mollie came west, she married and settled near Renton. That about takes care of the Wilson tribe, with the exception of Uncle Tom, who moved into the Valley several years later. I wish they had come out in a covered wagon and saved me all the trouble of getting them into the Northwest one by one.
Bessie Moves to Washington
Page 6-7 from original book
When I was three years old Mother and Father decided to sell the old Wilson Ranch in Missouri and join the clan. Though I was only three I well remember this trip. We came on an emigrant train. Everyone carried his own bed roll and grub basket.
Women cooked the meals on a coal range in one end of the coach. At night the seats were put down, your bedding unrolled, and a curtain drawn around your section. To me it was like one big picnic. Such meals as Mother cooked! We had good old Missouri bacon, ham, eggs and jam. She even made biscuits and baked potatoes.
I don’t know how long it took us to make the trip. It ended too soon as far as I was concerned. We finally reached our destination at O’Brien, in the White River Valley. We were headed for Uncle Mike’s place. It meant a walk of a couple miles. I can still see Mother and Father loaded down with carpet bags and such. Mother’s free hand was dragging me along. I was just about square in those days, and my legs were pretty short. Mother kept asking me if I wouldn’t lift my feet and not kick up so much dust. When I think of what she had on my feet it is no wonder I got tired. They were very pretty little oxfords with heels a half inch high. Of all things to put on a three year old. In later years, I had them bronzed. They are sitting where I can see them at all times, and I can blame those shoes for the times I’m hobbling around now and my feet hurt.
We stayed at Uncle Mike’s for a few days. Then they loaded us and our few belongings into a spring wagon, and we started the long hard trip to Squak Valley, a matter of about twenty-five miles, but it took us all day. After leaving Renton, the roads were rugged. They were put through by the early settlers, following the line of least resistance, with nothing to work with except their horses and hand tools.
In the low marshy places they had put in puncheon roads. I am surprised to find how few people of today know what a puncheon road is. They were made by felling small trees, cutting them in lengths the width of the road and placing them side by side. Sometimes they would take the time to cut boughs to put over them. At best it didn’t make for good wheeling.
When it rained they would fairly float. It was worth one’s life to get the horses across without their slipping through and breaking a leg. In places the mud was hub deep and to the horses’ bellies. On the clay hills that were steep and slippery most wagons had a wheel block dragging behind. It was a heavy block of wood tied so it would drag behind a back wheel. They couldn’t trust the brakes on these hills. Ira horse should fall and flounder, the wagon would settle back against the block until the horse could get on its feet. Otherwise there is no telling where the whole outfit might land–perhaps at the bottom of some cliff.
It was not all like this. Some places the road was beautiful, driving through a canopy of overhanging branches of the giant firs, spruce and cedars. All the little things of the forest were twittering and chattering. Sometimes a bear would cross your path and fairly stick his nose up at you. That was his domain. He had a right to come across the road if he wanted to.
We finally drove into the Valley. I am sure I can remember just how it looked. The mountains that enclosed it seemed to hold it so secure and safe, and the towering trees that were still standing, though the early settlers had cleared a few acres throughout the Valley. There was a thick undergrowth that still waited to be grubbed out. I think, from that day on, I loved the Valley.
We stopped at Aunt Bea’s and Uncle George’s. They had a girl, Ida, two boys, Wilson and Fred, older than I, and Eddie about my age. It was good to play a little after the long, hard trip from Missouri.
We went to see Grandmother and Grandfather, then across the Valley to the Casto, or lower Pickering place that was to be our home until we could get a place of our own.
Mother had brought a pair of mocking birds from Missouri, but they did not survive long in the damp climate. She was sorry to lose them. To her they were part of her old home.
So we were to live in the house where twenty-one years before the Casto massacre had taken place. Several families had lived there since that time, but there was still evidence of blood stains on the floors, the walls and doors. There was no paint at that time. It had been whitewashed so many times it would flake off. Then more whitewash would be put on.
Chinese Driven from the Valley
Page 8 from original book
It seemed that we had no more than got settled than things began to happen. A neighbor came in one evening and wanted to borrow Father’s .45 Colt revolver. He heard there was going to be some excitement at the Wold’s hop fields. Some man got the bright idea of bringing in Chinamen as cheap labor for hop picking. During the afternoon about forty Chinese had marched over the hills and pitched their tents on the Wold farm. That night a mob of the farmers tried to drive them out by threats. The following day another party of about thirty Chinamen were met at the entrance of the Valley by an armed party of white men. They were turned back and made no attempt to enter.
That night five white men and a few Indians attacked the Chinese camp on the Wold farm. After firing a number of shots into the tents they fled, leaving three dead and several wounded Chinese. The survivors fled back over the hills faster than they came in.
Father had told his neighbor that he better stay out of that mess. He had not refused him the loan of the .45, but he found it missing from the hook where it hung. The man returned it the following day with a sheepish grin–said he couldn’t miss all of that fun. We had no more Chinese trouble in the Valley. This way of violence was not new to the Valley folks; but to us, having just come from a quiet little town in Missouri, it was very exciting.
As I think back now of those early days in the Valley, it is always with the memory of Mother with her whitewash bucket and brush; or with her long skirts turned up and pinned around her waist on her knees scrubbing the floors. Father used to tell her to let them alone. It didn’t do any good. The blood stains had a way of coming through.
Some of the settlers even hinted that the place was haunted. This was the least of Mother and Father’s worries. They were too tired by night to care whether or not the bells were ringing in the attic.
Squaws Help Weed
Page 8 from original book
Father had gotten twenty cows, and there were the crops to put in and cultivate. We were in a country where one’s living had to come from the soil, and this by one’s own efforts and the sweat of your brow. Father got some of the squaws to agree to weed for him since it took no more effort than to crawl along the ground. They were surely a lazy bunch but Father was grateful for even that much help. He had put in stock beets, carrots and corn. He had gotten a few pigs. In fact he liked pigs and always had some as long as I can remember. At weeding time I was kept pretty busy. The squaws brought their papooses strapped to a board. One end of the board was sharp and was stuck into the ground as the squaw worked down the row. The babies were not taken off the board during the whole day to be changed or fed. Once in a while the mother would squat down by them to nurse them. I took on the job of wandering through the field and keeping the flies brushed off their dirty little faces. I was only four, but flies on the babies bothered me no end.
Page 9 from original book
One old Indian woman became very dear to my heart. As I first remember her she had white hair and always walked very stooped and carried a crooked stick for a cane. I called her Aunt Louie. As the years went on I think my whole family came to love her. Every fall she brought Mother wild blackberries, “Olallies,” in an Indian basket made of roots and reeds. They were waterproof. She would line the basket with ferns then cover the berries with ferns. I can see her old, withered hands now, uncovering them so carefully to show Mother what she had brought.
The baskets were carried on their backs suspended by thongs that were fastened to a band that fitted across their foreheads. As long as we knew her she never learned to speak English, but she could always make Mother understand what she wanted in return for the berries-a little sugar, a little salt, a little bacon, a little grease, or what have you–until her basket was filled. Then she would trudge back the four miles to the Lake, no doubt feeling that life was good.
The Indian Dialect
Page 9 from original book
There were very few of the older Indians who ever learned English. Even old Chief Seattle, who had many dealings with the whites, always had his interpreter. The original Indian language was a Chinook jargon consisting of about two hundred words, often filled in with grunts and a guttural sound in the throat. When the Hudson’s Bay trappers came through they spoke the English language. Then came missionaries and Catholic priests, chiefly French Canadians. Many French and English words were brought into the Indian language, which made it easier for both whites and Indians to converse. Some of the letters were hard for the Indians to pronounce, like the letter R. They couldn’t roll their tongues around it. Words like rum and rice were pronounced lum and lice.
Ralph and Bessie Share Gum
Page 10 from original book
I had a hard time finding someone to play with besides Indian children that I couldn’t talk to. Bush’s lived about a half mile from our place. They were a big family. One of the girls had married a Mr. Darst. They had several children all living at the Bush home. Ralph was their youngest child, a little older than I. They had an old swayback horse which he was allowed to ride sometimes. Mother would often take me over there for an afternoon. Sometimes I went without being taken.
Ralph would ride the horse up to an old rail fence. I would climb up and slip on behind him. Then we would just ride round and round the field. One thing stands out clearly in my mind–how we used to exchange our gum. It was hard to get in those days, and when we did get any we took good care of it. If Ralph was chewing gum and I didn’t have any, he would say, “Want to chew my gum for awhile, Bess?” Of course I did. In due time I would pass it back to him.
How Not to Get the Mumps
Page 10 from original book
Then there was the time they all had mumps. Mother thought it would be a good idea if I would have them while I was young. I stayed all night and slept with some of the Bush children–but no mumps. I didn’t have them until I was fourteen. Then I had them plenty hard. It just goes to show there is no use trying to plan your child’s life. You might just as well let nature take its course.
Bessie is Attacked by Raccoons
Page 10 from original book
Bush’s had a pet ‘coon they kept chained in the front yard. On one of my trips, when I had left home without leave, I must have gotten too close to the ‘coon and was attacked from ambush. By the time Mother caught up with me, switch in hand, I was standing in the yard with the whole Bush family grouped around me and blood running down my leg. Mother threw her switch away and grabbed me in her arms. She carried me home–no doubt happy that I had not been scalped by the Indians, only that my wounds were on the wrong end. I still have four little scars on my leg to prove my story if I so wish to verify it.
Page 11 from original book
On another of my “sneak away” trips I didn’t get very far. A good old thunder storm caught up with me in the hop field. I was always deathly afraid of thunder and lightning. I crawled under a hop vine and that is where Mother found me, all scratched and dirty and crying. The more I rubbed my scratches the more they hurt. They are really wicked things. They smart and sting. The first little verse I can remember reciting is:
The thunder rolls,
The clouds look big.
The lightning flashed
And killed my pig.
Not a very good verse to teach a child who was so afraid of lightning. I think Mother did this for her own amusement. She said I would open my eyes big and round and roll them from side to side and deliver it with great dramatic eloquence.
Bessie Stays with the Davenports
Page 12 from original book
We had another neighbor not so far away as the Bush’s, just through our orchard. They didn’t have any little children, so I didn’t bother them much. Just one little girl quite a lot older than I. I remember one time when I was forced onto them. Mother wanted to go to White River Valley for several days! ! was to stay with the Davenports. One night was enough. I slept with Goldie. During the night I got to worrying about Father being home alone and how he must miss me. ! got to crying and they couldn’t stop me. About midnight Mr. Davenport got up, pulled his pants over his night shirt and took me home. I bet Father was glad to see me. Anyway I stayed home with him and we got along fine.
Pet the Dog
Page 12 from original book
One day Father and I went to the Anderson ranch about a mile away. While he was stating his business, Mr. Anderson told me to crawl under the house–maybe I would find something I would like. This I did and came out all dirt and covered with cobwebs; but I had a darling little shepherd puppy in my arms. From that moment on, I loved her. She was something all my own. I could hardly wait until I got home to show Mother, who was quite perturbed to find the puppy was a female. This was no concern of mine. All I knew was that she was something to play with. I named her Pet, and from that time on she was my constant companion. I would even sneak her to bed with me where Mother would not find her, snuggled in my arms, when she gave me my final “tuck in” for the night.
Page 13 from original book
Father could not afford a hired man, so Mother would get up at four o’clock to milk her half of the string of cows. She was afraid to leave me in the house alone. I was bundled up and carried to the barn where I was propped up on a stool, behind the cows, to finish my morning nap. I hesitate to mention that I got well splattered. When Mother finished, I was taken to the house, cleaned up, and Mother got breakfast while Father fed the stock.
Page 13 from original book
At that time the Valley was producing hops, pigs, potatoes, oats and butter which could be freighted over the New Castle Hill, or taken the long way across Lake Sammamish, through the Slough and across Lake Washington.
Father didn’t have hops, and as for the other produce, about all he could raise was feed for his own stock until he got a start; so butter was our marketable product. We had a large dairy where the milk was cooled, skimmed and churned. That was Mother’s job–to work the butter by means of a big triangle tray, on legs, with a heavy paddle. She would work it up and down until all the buttermilk was squeezed out, then it was salted and pressed into pound molds and wrapped in butter paper. These were packed into a very heavy wooden firkin. When enough had accumulated to pay for the trip, Father would take it over the New Castle Hill, across Lake Washington to Seattle. He never came home with much money. It was usually spent on things that were needed for the farm-anything from a scythe to a plow. These were very necessary implements in those days. The fields had to be plowed and the grass cut with a scythe. The men were very adept at this. They could lay the grass in nice even windrows across the meadow. Later to be tossed with a pitchfork to dry, then stacked in a haycock to be hauled to the barn.
History Repeats Itself?
Page 14 from original book
Father was away on one of these trips to Seattle. Mother and I were alone on the farm. Two Indian braves came to door and asked for Bob. Like a flash, it came to Mother’s mind that history was to repeat itself and they had come to massacre us. She told them that Bob was at the barn. As soon as they were out of sight, she took me piggyback and started through the orchard to Davenport’s. When the Indians didn’t find Father, they took out after Mother at a dog trot. When she would run faster, they would trot faster. When she came within yelling distance of Davenport’s she let out a good lusty “Help.” Mr. Davenport came out and sent the bewildered Indians on their way. All they wanted was to ask Bob about a job. Mother, very meekly, took me by the hand and walked me back home.
Bull Comes in for a Drink
Page 14 from original book
Bull comes in for a drink The following day the bull got out of his pen and meandered to the house. He had his eye on a rain barrel. (We had them at the corners of the house to catch the nice soft rain water.) No doubt he was thirsty. He stuck his head in a half filled rain barrel and let out a bellow that sent Mother straight to the ceiling. I just stood there with my eyes popping out. He wasn’t a friendly bull, and there was nothing Mother could do about it until a neighbor came that evening to help with the milking. The balance of that day we were marooned in the house.
Mourning with the hired man
By the time my Father reached home the following day, Mother’s nerves were well on edge. She was all for going back to Missouri unless he would get a hired man. She wasn’t going to be left there alone; so we had a hired man. He must have liked children. He spent a lot of time amusing me, if one could call it amusement. There is always something dying around a farm–like a chicken, a pig or a little lamb. He appointed me chief mourner and would call me out to cry while he buried it. Tears seemed to come easy, and he would say, “Cry harder, Bess. You can do better than that.” About that time Mother would come out and put a stop to it, and the funeral would be over until the next time.
On Father’s latest trip to Seattle he had brought me a nice little red wagon. This was wonderful–up to date, my playthings had been homemade. Now I could really help by hauling things from the dairy to the house; or from the house to the barn. And I could haul the deceased to the graveyard and have a real funeral procession. Oh yes we had a little cemetery. The hired man put up the markers and I put flowers on the graves.
Page 15 from original book
I must have been pretty much of a dreamer even in those days. Mother must have been hard put at times to answer the questions I would ask. She said that I would stand at the window, especially on a foggy morning, and watch the fog well up like a curtain until it reached the top of the beautiful big trees. Then the trees would drip from the moisture, and I would ask her if they were crying because some day they would all have to be cut down to make more meadow, to raise more hay, to feed more cows. As long as I lived in the Valley, I think I never ceased my dreaming. To me it was my “Enchanted Valley,” a place apart from all the rest of the world.
Vacation in North Bend
Page 15 from original book
Now that we had a hired man, Father and Mother decided that they needed a vacation. They had some friends at North Bend, a distance of eighteen or twenty miles. Mother had brought her carpet seated saddle and her riding habit from Missouri. This saddle was put on one of the work horses and Father’s stock saddle on the other. I was put in a shawl and tied on behind Mother, and so we started out. I thought Mother looked ‘beautiful in her riding habit, the long skirt sweeping almost to the ground, and the little cocky, stiff hat with a veil to hold it on.
I’m sure it took us all day to make the trip, and my legs got so tired sticking straight out. The road was nothing more than a single wagon trail winding through the wilderness and up the hill. The road from North Bend, over the Snoqualmie Pass, was very rugged. The appropriation was so small at the time, I think the road was maintained mostly by those who ventured to travel over it. It was cut through endless miles of virgin timber and over rugged mountains. If the travelers came to fallen trees across their path, it was up to them to cut them out, go around them, or build an approach to go over them. Eastern Washington cattlemen had to drive their cattle over this road to the Seattle market.
Page 16 from original book
Every year a caravan of gypsies came through with their poor skinny horses, half starved dogs, and dirty youngsters. They were usually bedecked in their bright, gay garb. By the time they reached the Valley, after the long trek over the mountains, you could fairly count the horses’ ribs. Father would let them turn the horses into a pasture, and the gypsies set up camp by the river. Then came the time of dickering and trading. The gypsy women would tell fortunes for a dozen eggs. I don’t know why the dozen eggs. They stole a lot more than that during their stay with us. Anyway it seemed to be a diversion for the older folks and I enjoyed playing with the children even if they were bedraggled and dirty. Guess it didn’t make any difference to me–gypsies, Indians, or white–children were children. About a week of this and they would be on their way to Seattle. We would not see them again for another year.
Page 16 from original book
It was quite a sight when ranchers drove great herds of longhorn steers through. The horns measured five and six feet from tip to tip. I can see Mother yet. When she would hear them bawling along the road, she would rush out of the house looking wild-eyed to see if she could spot me anywhere. I’m sure she thought that someday I would get hung up on one of their horns and that would be the last she would ever see of me.
Page 16 from original book
I am way ahead of my story, but I thought this would be a good time to tell about the first road that went over the Snoqualmie Pass. The folks had stopped at Snoqualmie Falls to rest on our trip to North Bend. Father built a campfire and we had our lunch there. The falls were breathtaking, immense and majestic–a fall of 270 feet, the water rushing and tumbling down as if it were in a hurry to get to the sea. It is a shame that anything Nature made so beautiful should ever be harnessed for power, which happened years later when Seattle outgrew the gas lights and the old oil lamps. The great trees above the falls were cut down and power houses took their place. At times when the river is low, it takes all of the water for power, leaving nothing except a great wall of bare naked rocks. At these times it looks like something dead and gone. I had the misfortune to see it like that once and never want to see it again.
Indian Legend of the Falls
Page 17 from original book
People used to marvel at the mist that rose from the tumbling water and enveloped the canyon. There is an old Indian legend which goes back before the white man invaded the Northwest. Our tribes from the Coast and the tribes of eastern Washington were warring. A foxy old chief from the Coast figured out a way to out fox his enemies. He took the warriors up the Snoqualmie River in their canoes. When the enemies gave chase, he led them down the river toward the falls. His canoes were run into a large eddy at the head of the falls. Too late the enemy realized they had been trapped; but there was no stopping. They were all carried over the falls. Among them was a young brave who was in love with a maiden from the Coast tribe. When she heard that her lover had gone over the falls, she plunged from the cliffs above to her death below. The mist was her spirit calling for that of her lover.
This is not for me to verify or disprove. We little know what took place many, many years before the white man invaded the wild, untamed Northwest.
Page 17 from original book
After our lunch at the falls, I, very reluctantly, let Father tie me on behind Mother. We finally reached our destination. The only thing which made my trip worthwhile was the fact that they had a little girl about my age.
The following day we were playing outside and ran into a yellow jackets’ nest hanging from a bush. We got our hair full of them and, no doubt, things were pretty lively around there for awhile–besides leaving us with sore heads. That is about all I can remember of our stay there. I expect they were glad when we left, and Mother was happy to get me home.
Bessie Fights with Friends
Page 18 from original book
Sometime later the same family came to the Valley to return our visit. The little girl got mad at me and bit me through the hand. There was a whitewash bucket sitting nearby. The only thing I could think of bad enough to do to her was to pour whitewash on her head. Her Mother grabbed her and ran to the pump to wash it off. Mother yelled at her not to put water on it, to put grease on. I guess that saved her hair. She grew up with a head of beautiful curly hair of which I was always envious. Mine was so straight it was pitiful.
Aunt Hessie the School Teacher
Page 18 from original book
It was about this time that the Valley began to feel the need of a real school. The lower part of Bush’s hop house was converted into a schoolroom. A very lovely and very pretty young lady of eighteen was sent up from the University of Washington to teach, Hessie Cox. She boarded with Mother and became a lifelong friend. To this day she is still my Aunt Hessie.
Her trials and tribulation were many. Some of the boys were half-grown and as wild and untamed as the Valley they were raised in. They came to school well equipped with jackknives and other implements necessary to do their handicraft-each trying to out do the other in carving their desks with the most elaborate scrolls; or cutting their initials the deepest. John Bush, the youngest of the Bush children was by far the better carver. Aunt Hessie would often come home crying and ask Mother how she could ever cope with the situation. The boys were too big to punish. I think she must have won them by tenderness. They came to love her very much.
The First White Child Over the Pass
Page 18 from original book
John had a little feeling of superiority. He was the first white child to go over Snoqualmie Pass when he was only nine months old. His folks decided to try eastern Washington for awhile. It was a great cattle country, and Mr. Bush was interested in horses. In later years when John used to tell of this trip, I asked him how in the world they got him over there. He said he guessed they hung him over the horn of a saddle. After two years, Mr. Bush had accumulated quite a little stock and horses to bring back to the Valley. On this trip it took them twenty-one days to make the trip from the eastside to North Bend.
The road along the shore of Lake Keechelus was almost impassable at that time. They had to build a barge at the head of the lake and transport much of their household goods the length of the lake, which was only seven miles. This took time and patience, and the pioneers had plenty of both.
Going to School
Page 19-20 from original book
The spring that I was five years old, Mother took a notion that she would like to go to Seattle and spend some of her butter money. She asked Aunt Hessie if she thought she could manage me for a couple of days. She was sure she could, and that suited me fine. She took me to school with her. I felt very grown-up sitting there with all of the older children. At that it was a long day for me to sit still. I got pretty tired and sleepy. Aunt Hessie fixed me a bed on one of the long seats and I had my afternoon nap.
On Mother’s return trip from Seattle, she had quite an experience on the stage over the New Castle Hill. She and some lady, with a bird in a cage, were sitting on the back seat. Some man had tied two hound dogs to the seat. When they were going up one of these steep hills, the seat went over backwards. The woman, birdcage, two dogs and Mother landed in a heap in the road. No damage was done. Mother had a quick temper, also a sense of humor; but after all, that was carrying things too far. By the time she got untangled from the dogs, she, no doubt, told the stage driver plenty and gave him some good ideas as how to fasten the seat down, besides just slipping them over the side boards. By the time she reached home and retold the incident, they all had a good laugh. About all I could think of was wondering if they hurt the dogs when they fell on them.
For several years previous to this time, there had been much talk of a railroad from Seattle, through the Valley and on to North Bend, where they hoped at some time to continue it over Snoqualmie Pass to eastern Washington. Through the efforts of Daniel Hunt Gilman, a prominent resident of Seattle, the Lake Shore and Eastern was about to be put through.
The engineers came to our place and asked Mother if she would board them, which she was very happy to do. A large tent was pitched in our yard, and a long, board table put in the house. Then Mother was in her element. She was a wonderful cook, and she had plenty to do with–all of the garden vegetables and pork, smoked pork, salt pork and more pork. The doctors say pork isn’t healthy, but it is still my favorite meat. There is nothing I like better than good old side pork and hominy. Mother made her own hominy with wood ashes and whatnot. In those days we had three full meals a day, breakfast, dinner and supper. The engineers were always ready for all three of them.
The settlers were taking heart now that the railroad was really going through. They could add a great future for the Valley. More land was being cleared for meadows, more swamps slashed and drained for pasture. All of the beautiful trees were slowly disappearing. They were cut down and dragged by horses or oxen to great piles and burned. At night one could see the red glow of the big fires throughout the Valley, and you would know that one more meadow was in the making. The farmers were increasing their herds. There were more sheep and more pigs. They knew that soon there would be an outlet for all of their produce.
Everyone seemed to be happy. There were more social activities; a dance once in awhile at Uncle George’s hall, or sometimes a party at the different ranch houses. Mother had brought a taffy hook from Missouri. It was her job to supply taffy for these functions. It used to fascinate me. She would take a big hunk of this taffy, throw it over the hook and pull it out in a long rope, over and over again. Sometimes ! would catch my breath–I thought surely she would drop it, but she never did. This continued until it was a beautiful rich taffy color. Then she would roll it out on a big board and crack it into little chunks.
I remember one night the folks decided to have a surprise party on Tom Cherry, a bachelor. Mother made a boiler full of oyster stew, and they started out across the field with it, engineers and all. Why they didn’t take the oysters over and make the stew when they got there I don’t know. There was much laughter and hilarity as they trudged through the fields, boosting the boiler of stew over the fences. When we reached our destination, the small children were immediately bedded down in some out-of-the-way place for the night. As each family came in another youngster was added. Mr. and Mrs. John McGraw and their small son, Tommy, were visiting the Tibbetts, so they were at the party. That was when Washington was still a territory and several years before Mr. McGraw was governor of Washington when it became a State. Tommy shared the corner with the rest of us youngsters. In years after we used to laugh about it, and always felt that we had something in common.
I guess I gave Mother a bad time during these years. I was forever running away. I had the schoolhouse to run to now, but Mother knew that Aunt Hessie would always send some older child home with me so she didn’t have to worry about that.
One day I really stirred up the whole neighborhood–and [The students work ends here.]