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From the Digital Archives: Camp Fire Girls

 

Minnie Wilson Schomber’s Camp Fire Girls Uniform
Full Record

Just recently we photographed two Camp Fire Girls uniforms that we have in our collections. Our research for Local History Month of Josephine Cornick Ross, Minnie Wilson Schomber, and Ferol Tibbetts Jess landed us with a common thread – they all participated in Camp Fire.

We discovered this when we were perusing photographs from an album owned by Ruth Johns Anderson (we’ve blogged about Ruth’s son, Rod, and his letters home during WWII here, here, and here.) Imagine our surprise when we discovered a photo of Jo Cornick Ross and Ferol Tibbetts, two women whose paths didn’t really cross, seemingly examining and sizing each other up!

“Camp Fire Girls Hiking Trip, June 1918”

Back Row, L to R: 
Hilda Lawrence Essary, Ethel Hallworth Berntsen, Vera Lawrence, Alice Pedegana Moss,
Front Row, L to R:
Ruth Johns Anderson, Josephine Cornick Ross, Ferol Tibbetts Jess, Myrtle Becker McQuade

Minnie Wilson Schomber was about 5 years old than Ferol and Jo, so she doesn’t appear in the photos. But we know that she was a part of Camp Fire because her uniform appears in our collection. Her uniform has many patches, beads and a pin – some of which we can identify and some we can’t. The organization of Camp Fire became national in 1912 and the first handbook was published in 1914. It seems that there were general guidelines to creating patches and uniforms and a lot of creativity and personalization was encouraged.
 
While no doubt most people in Issaquah’s paths crossed at one time or another, it’s always nice to be able to make a connection between people you’re researching. Jo, Ferol, and Minnie all led completely different lives but had very much in common (e.g., never having children.) Camp Fire Girls is just another part of filling in that picture.

“The Indian Maid”
Ruth Johns Andesron
(most likely in Camp Fire uniform)
ca 1918

For more Camp Fire related records, click here.

LHM: Ferol Tibbetts Cuts Her Hair

Pre-bob Ferol Tibbetts (right)
Mary [Tillie] Hayward (left)
Full Record
Post-bob Ferol Tibbetts
Full Record

In our collection we have about 10 daily journals kept by Ferol Tibbetts Jess written starting in 1923. While the journals contain a lot of basic daily notes (sewing, washing, visiting friends) they also contain wonderful tidbits about what it was like to be a 20-something during the 1920s.

One note that has helped more than imagined was an entry in Ferol’s typed journal while attending Washington State College (now Washington State University.):
Bobbed my hair. Like it pretty well. Letter from Mother.” – College diaries, Mon, Jan 15, 1923.
We have many pictures of Ferol Tibbetts, some pre-bob and others with her stylish bobbed and marcelled hair. Her exact date of when she cut her hair has allowed us to better date the pictures in our collections.
Alice Pedegana (left)
Ferol Tibbetts (right)
Full Record
The earlier pictures of Ferol and her friends all feature the same hairstyle which seems to be a large pouf on top of the head and two small chignons over the ears. We much prefer the bob.
Cleaned up, curled Mary’s [Tillie’s] hair.” – Book I, Friday, July 13, 1923
Ferol’s chopping of her locks while away at school is something most college-aged women can probably relate to. Luckily, Ferol came of age during a time when women were really changing what they did and said, what they wore, and how they spent their time.
Went to Renton with Mary and Tillie to get their hair marceled.” – Book I, Saturday, February 2, 1924.
Ferol Tibbetts (left)
Blaine Boyden (right)
Full Record
Pictures of Ferol with bobbed hair seem different than her earlier pictures – she smiles more and seems genuinely happy.
6:00am. Been sitting around talking to Walter since 3:45. Sure is a hell of a life I am leading.” – Book I, Sunday, July 22, 1923.

 

 

LHM: Ferol Tibbetts’ Snapshots

Just like Josephine Cornick, Ferol Tibbetts had her share of albums full of snapshots as well. Here are some of our favorites:

“Ferol and Dorothy”
ca late 1910s
Full Record
“Camping at the Lake
ca late 1910s
Full Record

 

“Follies Bathing Beauties”
ca late 1910s
Full Record

 

“Dad and Ferol Relax at Camp”
ca late 1910s
Full Record

 

“Naughty! Naughty”
ca late 1910s
Full Record

 

“Twins!”
ca late 1910s
Full Record

LHM: Jo Cornick’s Snapshots

One of the commonalities we’ve noticed between Josephine Cornick and Ferol Tibbets was their posession of personal cameras. In 1888, the Eastman Kodak Company released it’s first amateur camera. George Eastman’s goal was to make photography “as convenient as the pencil.” By the time Josephine Cornick and Ferol Tibbetts were old enough to shop for cameras, there were at least 8 different Brownie cameras available to the public for $4 or less. The more money you had to spend, the larger the variety of cameras available to you.

The transition from studio photography to personal photography not only increased the number of photographic images the average person had as mementos — it increased the amount of information available from each image. Studio portraits required some investment, and families making that investment dressed in their best clothing and turned their best face to the camera. The final photograph was probably stamped with the name of the studio, but little else in the way of identifying or personal information.
Personal cameras changed the way many people recorded their personal history. Instead of dressing up and trooping down to the local photography studio, camera owners could capture images from everyday life that had meaning for them. Looking at a series of snapshots, or an album filled with snapshots, delivers personal information in a way that studio images do not.
Studio Portrait of William and Anastasia Cornick, with daughter Josephine, ca 1903 Full Record
Snapshot of (l to r) Josephine Cornick, Anastasia Cornick, William Cornick and Emma Cornick, ca 1918 Full Record
Friend of Jo Cornick,
modeling her gym bloomers
ca 1918
Full Record
Friend of Jo Cornick
ca 1915
Full Record

Thanks to their snapshots, we can make some guesses about what Josephine and Ferol valued most based on the things they photographed — friends, pets, family members, automobiles. Snapshots were also used to preserve moments of good humor shared among friends. Snapshots also provide information about things we would never learn through studio portraits — like what girls’ gym uniforms looked like circa 1915, and how a young lady might have dressed to help with farm work.

And we certainly don’t have any studio photographs of swimmers in their swim togs!
Jo Cornick and friend at the beach
ca 1920
Full Record

The downside of amateur photography is, of course, the amateur behind the lens. Not everyone was adept with the new gadgets, resulting in the occasional botched image.

Jo Cornick and three friends
ca 1920
Full Record
But even in the case of this image, we can derive information from what Jo has written on the back. Even with the blurring, we can also tell that these four young women are all dressed in trousers.

LHM: Ferol and her Automobiles

 

Ferol Tibbetts sitting on car
ca. late 1910s
Full Record
Seomtime around 1915 Ferol Tibbetts’ father, George Wilson Tibbetts, purchased and ran an auto shop and garage. For Ferol, this meant constant interaction with automobiles. There are accounts in her journals of she and her father driving somewhere to pickup a vehicle, presumably for someone who had purchased a car through their shop. With her knowledge of cars, and how to drive them, came a sense of freedom. Just as teenagers find today, Ferol had the ability to hop in a car with friends and drive either to a dance, Seattle, or somewhere completely random.
Ferol’s dog Max in front of the Tibbetts garage
ca. late 1910s
Full Record

The following are excerpts from Ferol’s journals:

Went to Rentonwith Walter and then drove the Pierce home. Sure felt fine driving it.” – Book I, Sunday, July 29, 1923.

 

Went party way to Olympiawith Dad. Drove the Durant over and brought back a Star.” – Book I, Wednesday, August 1, 1923.

 

Put on my overalls and rode on the gravel truck with Vic from 10 until 12.” – Book I, Sunday, August 19, 1923.

 

“Unloading Apple Boxes”
Most likely Ferol Tibbetts in driver seat
ca. late 1910s
Full Record

Minnie Archembault and I went for a ride with Mr. Kinnybru in a Studebaker Six. We went to Preston, Fall City, and Tolt. I drove home from Tolt. Sure like to drive a Studebaker.” – Book I, Thursday, October 25, 1923

 

We went to the dance in Geo Abriams car. Eleanor Burke, Francis Harris, Blaine Boyden also went. Had a dandy time. George got drunk. Sure was scared coming home, but he wouldn’t let Jim drive. Got home all O.K. tho.” – Book I, Monday, December 31, 1923.

 

Jim got his new car, a Cleveland2 door Sedan. Sure is swell. He came down and we went for a ride. He let me drive.” – Book I, Thursday, April 3, 1924

 

Opening of Snoqualmie Pass
ca. 1915
Full Record

The Chevrolet Company is running an endurance test of a 100 hrs. Clyde [Powell] was to drive from 2a.m. to 8a.m. Ruth was going with him so they asked me to go. I went to bed over to Ruth’s. It is about 10:45 when we went to bed. Got up at 1:15, had coffee and toast and got started about 2:15. Thurs 9. It was raining and blowing like everything and was pretty cold. He went to Renton, Newport, Kirkland, Bothell, Redmond, FallCity, North Bend, back to Issaq. Then from here to Newport, Renton and then home again. It was then 6:30. Clyde went to Rentonand then Kirklandand handed the car over to the Chevrolet man there.” – Book II, October 8-9, 1924.

Ferol Tibbetts sitting on hood of a car
ca. late 1910s
Full Record

LHM: Josephine Cornick’s Catalog of Cars

In 1979, Josephine Cornick Ross was 77 years old and lived at the Issaquah Villa nursing home. A student with a tape recorder interviewed her for a school assignment. More than 30 years later, their 22 minute conversation found its way into the collection of the Issaquah History Museums. This recording is the only narrative we have about Josephine’s life that she herself created. Unlike Ferol Jess Tibbetts and Minnie Wilson Schomber, whose letters and journals share details of their lives with us, we have only Josephine Cornick Ross’s photographs and brief oral history. For that reason, we have many more unanswered questions about Josephine. 

But, there are some things one can surmise even without a pointed narrative, and a fascination with automobiles is one of them.

Unlike Ferol, Josephine’s family did not have access to their own automobile, as she explained to her interviewer:

IN:  When the car came, did it take Issaquah a while for very many people to get cars?
JR:  Oh, yes.  It took quite a while.
IN:  Did your family used to travel to Seattle very often?
JR:  Well, when we went to Seattle, we would go to Kirkland, and ferry across from Kirkland to Seattle.  Because when they were treating my eyes, my folks were—the doctor was in Seattle, so my father had to take me to Seattle on the Madison streetcar.  And it was a trolley car, and I’d get sick every time.  [laughing]
IN:  How long did that take?
JR:  Oh, it would take all day practically, by the time we got there and waited for the trolley, and then back again.
Although Jo’s family didn’t have their own automobile, her collection of snapshots includes photos of at least three different automobiles. They also share footage of a road trip to southern Washington taken with a few friends.

 

LHM: Ferol Tibbetts

Ferol Tibbetts, circa 1920s

Ferol Tibbetts, circa 1920s

Ferol Tibbets was born November 11, 1902 to George Wilson Tibbetts and Mattie Ray Tibbetts. The Tibbetts line had been in the Issaquah area since 1874 when Ferol’s grandparents, George Washington Tibbetts and his wife Rebecca Wilson Tibbetts, relocated here.

Ferol Tibbetts was an only child. Her parents owned an auto shop and were probably considered part of Issaquah’s “upper class” society. A year after Ferol graduated high school in 1921 she attended Washington State College (Now Washington State University.) Judging from her diaries of her time there she focused on meeting boys and spending her time having fun. The few mentions of actual academic activities were mostly theater and drama related. She moved back home to live with her parents after one year at college in 1923 – it’s unclear whether she ever graduated with any sort of degree.

“Engagements” of Ferol Tibbetts
ca 1922-23
Full Record

Our closest connection to Ferol and her life lies in her daily diaries. She began keeping journals during her year in college. When she returns home her journals pick up in simple composition books. Ferol is fairly meticulous in her writings, however she often neglects to use last names which can make identification difficult.

The wonderful thing about these journals is that Ferol began writing these while in her early 20s. And since they begin in the year 1922 we’re able to see what “the roaring twenties” were like not only for a 20 year old female, but one who lives and has grown up in Issaquah.

Ferol’s diaries are almost exactly what you’d expect them to be – gossip, discussion of the boys she’s going out with, hair and beauty, friends. But there are unexpected moments – Ferol’s knowledge and experience with cars, her lack of enthusiasm for voting for the first time, and her attendance at the huge KKK rally in Issaquah (and subsequent interaction with the organization.)

The diaries of hers in our collection continue for at least a decade and we haven’t hardly made a dent in reading and cataloging them. We’ll continue sharing our discoveries past the window of LHM. Who knows what we will find!

Our Poetic Heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Dear Bertha
May you live happy
each day of your life. Get
a good husband and make
a good wife:
Your Friend
Marmie E. Stewart”

From the Digital Collections: “The Future of Seattle” Robert Legg

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

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

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

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

ROBERT LEGG.
Issaquah, King County, Wash.

First published 1893