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Looking for Local History: Council Meeting Minutes, Ordinances & Resolutions


Town and City Council meetings for Issaquah can provide a lot of interesting information. Looking at the issues the council members were grappling with can tell you a lot about the state of the city at that time. (To get a better sense of all the issues at play when Stella Alexander was recalled as Mayor, take a look at the 1933 council meeting minutes).

1. All of the minutes, resolutions and ordinances for Issaquah are posted here. http://issaquah.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=0
 
2. If you already know the date of the ordinance you’re looking for, you can select the appropriate date range, first by decade, then year, and then month. The ordinance numbers for each decade also also displayed, so if you only know the ordinance number, you can browse for it that way, also.




3. If you don’t know the date of the event, you can use the Advanced Search feature. Advanced Search is not infallible, so if you can’t find something through the search, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Many of the records, for early years in particular, are hand-written and almost impossible to index. Advanced Search is a good place to start, though.

 
4. I’m looking for the resolution that changed the street names in Issaquah (the first time). I’m pretty sure they were changed in the early 1960s, but I don’t remember exactly, so I’ll choose two decades to expand the search range.
 

5. There are four different ordinances on record that use the phrase “street names,” The second one looks like the document I was searching for, although apparently not the only one dealing with street names and numbers.


6. Voila!



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Looking for Local History: Property Information

May is local history month! All month long, we’ll be sharing bits and pieces of Issaquah’s collection, as well as tutorials to help you find local history on your own. Enjoy!


One of the most common research questions we receive is, “How can I find out more history about my house?” The best place to start is with the Puget Sound branch of the Washington State Archives. http://www.sos.wa.gov/archives/archives_puget.aspx. During the Depression, WPA workers took photographs of each property in King County. Using the parcel number, you can ask the archives to pull the property description for your home. The description will probably list the ownership of the property starting in the 1930s, along with structural and value changes to the property. You will need to make a research appointment with them, and you’ll need your parcel number. You can probably find your tax parcel number on home purchase or mortgage records, but here’s another (possibly easier) way to find that information:
 
1. Go to http://www.kingcounty.gov/operations/GIS/Maps/iMAP.aspx. Click on the Start iMap button (If you’re using dial-up, click on the Parcel Viewer link below the map.)


2. Click on the “Property Search” button and enter your address; iMap defaults to searching by parcel number, so make sure you have checked the box for searching by address. For this example, you can see we’re using the address for the Gilman Town Hall.




3. iMap will zoom in on your parcel, and the parcel number will be displayed in the block below it. This is the number you’ll need to take to the archives.





4. Click on “Get Assessor Report” to see the County’s description of your property.


5. You’ll notice that the “year built” date is 1914. Construction dates on these records are not always accurate; the Gilman Town Hall was constructed in 1888.

Looking for Local History: A Voice From The Past

Jake Jones, Jr., and grandson Willard Krigbaum

Jake Jones, Jr., and grandson Willard Krigbaum

If you asked me what my favorite artifact in our collection is, I would have a difficult time selecting just one thing. I could probably narrow the field to 100 favorite artifacts. Included in that hundred is most certainly the Jake Jones, Jr. oral history. 


Thanks to generous funding from 4Culture, we have been able to digitize, transcribe, and catalog more than 50 oral histories. Many of these were conducted in the last decade, but a significant number are much older, dating from the 1960s – 1980s. Recorded in 1958 by his grandson, Willard Krigbaum, the Jake Jones’ interview represents the oldest oral history in our collection.


Jacob Jones, Jr. was born in Squak Valley (as Issaquah was known then) in 1881. His parents were Mary Anderson and Jacob Jones, Sr. Jones the elder was among the earliest land-owners in Issaquah, having moved to the Valley in 1867. Jones, Jr. worked on the family farm in his youth and then became a carpenter. He married Leda Livingstone, and together they had a daughter, Florence. Florence’s son Willard began recording interviews with his grandfather after Jones was diagnosed with cancer. A year after the recordings were made, Jones succumbed to cancer. 


Although the recording was made for the benefit of Krigbaum’s baby, who would not know his great-grandfather personally, it is such a gift to our community. 


Jones’ oral history is unique because it provides a very rare first-hand recollection of Issaquah in the 1890s and early 1900s. In the excerpt below, Jones reminisces about Doc Gibson, a familiar figure in Issaquah history. I love the level of detail Jones provides – like the color of Doc Gibsons’s horses. The description of Doc Gibson tending to local shingle-weavers help describe the dangers of the logging trade in an era before OSHA and disability benefits. Imagine a time and place where it’s typical for a doctor to enlist passersby off the street to subdue a patient.  


The full transcript of Jones’ interview is more than 60 pages long. You can read, search through, or peruse it here.

“Doc Gibson was the first doctor that came here to Issaquah.  He came in about 1888.  And he had, oh, he had a big district.  He had Carnation, and he had Fall City, and he had the upper valley, and down to the lake, down Inglewood, and North Bend, Snoqualmie and Fall City.


“And he had two chestnut sorrel horses that he used to ride.  He went night and day, any time.  He had all that district to take care of.  One time, there was a bunch of shingle weavers, and they cut pretty regular.  They’d cut their hands and cut their fingers.  Sometimes, they lost their arm.  And Doc had a chair that he used.  He put them in that chair – and when he looked around, he didn’t have much tools to work with.  He’d look around out on the street to get some young fellows to come and help him.  And so some of them couldn’t stand the sight of blood or anything, and they’d run.  


“But he’d get about four of us that he used to get a hold of – sometimes some of those fellows was pretty husky and strong, you know – and he’d strap them in that chair, strap their legs and strap their arms, and he’d start to work on them.  Well, I helped him, oh, quite a few times.  And he always give me the ether cap [chuckles] to put on them.  And as they’d go out, they’d struggle pretty hard.  And boy, they’d make the old [inaudible] and he had the other three fellows to hold them in till they got enough ether to be quiet.
  
“And he’d watch, he’d tell me when to take the ether cap off.  And when they’d begin to come to again, he’d say, “Well, you better put it on again.”  He never got excited.  He almost … in the same way, he never got nervous or anything.

“Didn’t have much tools to work with.  He’d take and trim up their fingers, and cut the flesh back and saw the bones off and put the flesh on.  And he took four stitches, two one way and two across.  And he’d tie them up.


“And he had one great, big shingle-weaver.  His name was Bozo, and he was a brother of Bobby [inaudible], the world champion fighter at that time, a heavyweight.  And he was a very powerful man.  In fact, he cleaned up a whole bunch of them one night.  Three of them was going to pile on him and he them all laid out on the floor.  [laughing]
  
“But that was the hardest place.  Boy, he pretty near turned the till over and everything else with three holding him.  And I had the ether cap on him, and finally he got quieted down.  Doc fixed him up.  He took off the end of two of his fingers and I think his thumb.  That was one of his.


“Then, the train.  There were three men at different times fell off the big trestle here out of town and he took care of them.  And one fellow got his foot inbetween the railroad coal train and the couplings, the old-style couplings, and smashed his foot up, and then was [inaudible].  He got him in there and fixed up his foot.”


Looking for Local History: Ruth Kees’ Magic Carpet

 

May is local history month! All month long, we’ll be sharing bits and pieces of Issaquah’s collection, as well as tutorials to help you find local history on your own. Enjoy!
 
Ruth Kees was well known in the Issaquah community for her environmental education and advocacy work. We conducted an oral history with Ruth Kees in 2006, and learned more of the details about her fascinating life. Did you know that Ruth Kees and her sister co-owned a Piper Super Cruiser airplane? Our oral history collections are filled with fascinating details about the lives of Issaquah residents, before, during and after they lived here. Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Ruth Kees in autumn of 2006:
 
Ruth Kees: But right after World War II, my sister worked for the booster station, you know. Five different pipelines run through Beatrice, oil and gasoline… North of town, there’s a booster station – she worked there.
 
And she drove past the airport all the time. And so she stopped in one night and they gave her a ride. And she started flying lessons. That was the end of 1945… She got me to go out with her and I got hooked, too. So I had my license before she did, my flying license. And the money I’d saved up to go back to college, I spent – we went together and bought an airplane! [chuckles]
 
Interviewer: You’re kidding me!
 
RK: No!
 
Interviewer: And where did you fly to?
 
RK: All over. It was our magic carpet. We hadn’t gone traveling very much and boy, we just took off like big birds.
 
Interviewer: Were you intimidated at first?
 
RK: A little bit. But then, it wasn’t bad at all. Back then, too, to get your license, you had to learn to do a loop and be able to do a few tricks in a plane.
 
MM: Did you have to fly upside-down?
 
RK: Yeah. And now they don’t require that.
 
Learn more about Ruth’s flying career, and the rest of her life, here. 

Looking for Local History: The Issaquah Press & Issaquah Independent



May is local history month! All month long, we’ll be sharing bits and pieces of Issaquah’s collection, as well as tutorials to help you find local history on your own. Enjoy!

One of the easiest (and most fun) ways to follow the history of Issaquah (or any other town, really) is to read it’s newspaper. The Issaquah Press (originally the Independent) has been a weekly paper since 1900, and as a small local paper, it holds a vast amount of information about the day-to-day life of Issaquah citizens.
 
Disclaimer: Mind the Gap
There are two significant gaps in the Press archives. Issues between 1900 and 1907, and between 1911 and 1918, are missing, lost sometime before the Press was microfilmed in the early 1980s. When you’re researching a particular topic, it can often feel like everything interesting that ever happened in Issaquah occurred during those gaps. I try to adopt a glass-half-full perspective, and focus on all the issues of the Press that dosurvive.
 
The Gap aside, you have several options when it comes to viewing archived issues of the Issaquah Press:
 
1.  An almost-complete set (complete, minus the previously-mentioned gap) is available on microfilm at the Issaquah Library or the University of Washington Library. The University of Washington’s microfilm machines allow viewers to print pages OR to save digital copies of pages onto a thumb drive. You can also look through the Issaquah Press microfilm at our research center at the Gilman Town Hall (email us if you’d like to make an appointment).
Pros: Microfilm represents as complete a copy as possible of the Press
Cons: The only way to search through the microfilm is by date; the less specific your time frame, the more time it will take to find what you want. Viewing also requires some prior planning.
 
2. Selected issues of the Press are also digitally available – and searchable – through SmallTownPapers.com. SmallTownPapers (STP) is the entity that began digitizing the Press, and the Press is still part of their “collection.” You can view it here:
Pros: Searchable, and FREE!
Cons: The search function is only fair; just because you can’t find something via search, that doesn’t mean it’s not in there somewhere.
 
3.  A limited number of Press issues can also be found at the Google archives.
 
Pros: FREE! And some years missing on STP can be found on Google.
Cons: Not searchable.
 
At some future time, the Issaquah Press collection might be hosted by a genealogy or archived news website. The STP collection was hosted for a time at WorldVitalRecords, and then at Footnote.com, and then at NewspaperArchives.com. All three of these sites require membership. The Issaquah History Museums paid for a membership to Footnote.com, and it was well worth the investment. There were actually more copies available through Footnote than there are today at STP.com. However, Footnote became Fold3 and stopped hosting SmallTownPapers.com. The Issaquah Press content was supposed to move to NewspaperArchives.com, but after waiting several months for issues prior to 1940 to be posted, the IHM dropped its membership. NewspaperArchives.com’s customer service was fair-to-poor, and it was impossible to find out when, or if, additional copies of the Press would be hosted there. I have been trying to discern whether or not NewspaperArchives.com still hosts the Issaquah Press. They either do not host them, or you need to join to see whether or not they host them, which doesn’t sound like a very good gamble to me.
 
Someday, I hope that the Press can be completely digitized and completely searchable. A history geek can dream, right?
 
Have you run into any pre-2000 digital issues of the Press online? Let us know!

Page one of the January 4, 1934 Issaquah Press, which reported on the recall of Mayor Stella Alexander. Click the image to read the text. You can also read through the whole issue here.


It’s Official — Local History Month is Here!

May is Local History Month in Issaquah! Celebrate with a local-history-themed coffee drink from Common Grounds Coffee (in front of the Front Street Market) and a free pass to the Issaquah History Museums.



The Issaquah Alpine: a creamy white chocolate mocha with a mint kicker

Issaquah’s semi-pro football team was named for the Alpine Dairy plant, whose Issaquah location sponsored the team. The Issaquah Alpines won 7 championship games in the space of 9 years.






Squak Valley Hot Shots: latte with a straight shot of Irish cream.
Originally an outgrowth of the Pythian Sisters,  this all woman jug band entertained at Labor Days celebrations during the 1950s and 60s. They even played for a Governor’s Ball one year.



Let ‘er Buck: a macho Mexican mocha with a loop’n dash of cinnamon.
From the late 1910s until the Depression, Issaquah held an annual rodeo. Horse races were staged on Front Street, but the main action was at today’s Memorial Field.





Hop Vine: root beer creamosa
Issaquah’s first cash crop were hops, whose blossoms give beer its bitter flavor. Issaquah hop farmers sent their crop to breweries in Seattle. The Issaquah hops industry collapsed after an invasion by the hop aphid.

Stella May: a bold, dry cappuccino with a sprinkle of raw sugar.
Named for Stella May Alexander, Issaquah’s first woman mayor. Stella was bold, brash and opinionated. She was recalled in 1934, just two years after taking office.







The Issaquah Skyport: thick cappuccino with rich espresso dripping over a fluffy cloud of foam.
For more than 30 years, the Issaquah Skyport operated in the midst of Pickering’s cow pasture. Thousands learned how to parachute there, and locals loved to watch air shows. The Skyport closed in 1987.

Local History Month

This May we will celebrate Local History Month. It’s the first time we’ve observed Local History Month, so we are starting out slow. We’ve teamed up with Common Ground Coffee (at the Front Street Market), who will offer a series of Issaquah-inspired coffee drinks during May. Customers will also receive a free museum family pass with their purchase.
We’ll also offer at least one (maybe more) of the following T-shirt designs:
    

I’d love to have your feedback on these designs. Are there things you’d change? Which would you be most likely to buy and wear? Either comment here, or email me at info@issaquahhistory.org.