The Neukirchen Brothers and the Northern Pacific

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

By Kris Ikeda, Archives Specialist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click on the images below to view them)


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

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: 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.

What Bertha’s Correspondence Tells Us

or, I Know all the Hot Issaquah Gossip—from 1902!

New tidbits about Issaquah’s past are constantly revealing themselves here at the Issaquah History Museums. We recently received a treasure trove of letters from the late 1890s and early 1900s, all written to Bertha Wold Baxter. In the first in a series of Bertha-related blog posts, Collections Manager Julie Hunter deconstructs what Bertha’s correspondence can tell us about turn-of-the-20th-Century Issaquah.

Bertha Wold Baxter, circa 1910

Bertha Wold Baxter, circa 1910

Accession 2015.10 includes sixty-seven letters addressed to either Miss Bertha Wold or Mrs. Bertha (Wold) Baxter.  Unfortunately, no letters written by Bertha have come into the collections.  Given that her correspondents praised her faithfulness in writing and the quality of her information, this really does feel like a loss.

Bertha, whose life spanned 1877-1965, was born into the marriage of two quintessential Issaquah founding families, the Bushes and the Wolds.  Her father was Peter Wold, brother to Ingebright and Lars, and her mother was Mary Samantha (usually known as Samantha) Bush, daughter of James William and Martha Stewart Bush.  Unfortunately, this was not a happy marriage.  Peter was 34 and Samantha was 14 when they wed in 1869.  Over the following ten years, Samantha bore three or four children. (This depends on whether a census taker mistook the name Clara for Della, or whether two daughters were both born in 1879; my thinking is that Della was the real daughter and that “Clara” was a clerical error on the part of the Washington census taker. “Clara” shows up in two census records where “Della” does not but there are no other records of such a child having existed.  Similarly, Bertha’s name is variously listed in census records, once as “Bertie” and once as “Martha” with a smudge across it.)

By 1880, Samantha was no longer with Peter.  Their children had been born in Ellensburg, where she and Peter had moved and where he stayed in 1880.  She came back to Issaquah with her daughters.  Their son William, who turned seven that year, apparently stayed with his father; two different Washington Territorial census records in the 1880s show “Willie Wold” with Peter in Ellensburg.

Census records show Samantha and her daughters bouncing around between the homes of various friends and relatives over the next decade.  When the 1880 Washington Territorial census was taken (month and day not recorded),  Samantha was listed as a “housewife” living with Peter’s brothers in Issaquah, with her one- and three-year-old daughters living with neighbor Charles Wilson’s family.  The Federal census taken on June 18 of that year shows her as a “servant” working and living in the George Tibbetts household.  At that point, her two daughters, ages one and three, were living with Cyrus and Emily Bush Darst, as was their fellow pioneer Tom Cherry.  Emily Darst was Samantha’s sister, so the girls were her nieces, not granddaughters as the census taker listed them.   One of the lessons from this search has been that census records, while very helpful for following general outlines of who was where when, and in association with whom, cannot be treated as being infallible.  Details of spelling, or one name mistaken for another that sounds similar, are very common mistakes.

Front row: Samantha Bush Wold Prue and Paul Prue. Back row: siblings Edgar Prue, Bertha Wold Baxter, and Edna Prue Anderson.

Front row: Samantha Bush Wold Prue and Paul Prue. Back row: siblings Edgar Prue, Bertha Wold Baxter, and Edna Prue Anderson.

Although the 1883 Washington Territorial census shows Mary Samantha and Peter back together, living with their two daughters (no mention of son William) in Issaquah, whatever rapprochement they may have attempted failed.  That year Samantha was the plaintiff in divorce proceedings, and her marriage to Peter was legally dissolved.  Four years later, in 1887, she and her daughters Bertha and Della were listed as members of the household of brother-in-law Ingebright Wold.  She remarried, to Paul Prue, on February 22, 1888.  Fifteen months later, the Prues were living in Fall City with their two infants, twins Edna and Edgar.  None of Samantha’s older children were listed with them in that Territorial census.  Della, at least, moved to Fall City by 1890.  She died there at age 10, on March 11.  She is buried in the Fall City Cemetery.

Next: William Wold

Looking for Local History: Law & Order – IHM edition



We’ve done tutorials in the past on how to search our digital collections so this will just be a general refresher – only with a focus on our Washington Archives Month 2012 theme: Law and Order.
We’ve made searching for these sort of things easy. I think the best way to do this is either with Click & Search or Keyword Search. We’ll start with the former.
Click & Search
Begin by going to our Digital Collections. On the left you’ll see the navigation bar. Click on the button labeled “Click & Search”.
The next page will show you many different fields from which to search. For our purposes, we’ll be focusing on “Subjects.” Click on the letter that corresponds to your search term – as you can see in the image we’ve chosen “Law and Order.” Other relevant search terms you may try are “Police Department”, “Police Station”, and “Crime”.
Doing this will bring up all the records that have those search terms in their record.
Keyword Search
Another good option for searching for records would just be to use a simple Keyword Search – same as any search engine. Click on “Keyword Search” from the navigation bar. Type in what you’re searching for – in this case, “police.”


You can also narrow your search by using the box on the right. You can choose to eliminate records with no image, or search only within certain records.
Once you’ve searched, there are more ways of narrowing your search. First, you can see within the records where the word you’ve searched for has shown up – the word is in bold pink text.
At the top tells you how many records were found, and how many of each type. And on the right you can again narrow your search results.
Be sure to check out all of our other tutorials for great information on how to do your own research, both within our records and other places on the internet. Click here for those blog entries.

Looking for Local History: Washington State Digital Archives

The Washington State Digital Archives are my favorite free online resource. You can access a broad range of records there, and many of them include an image of the record in question. And did I mention that they are free?

A word of warning: the search is literal, and names are not transcribed with 100% accuracy. Just because you can’t find someone on the first try, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Try entering just the first letters of the name you’re looking for, and then browsing through the results for a likely match. This works for both first and last names. You can adjust the date range on many searches, also.

Marriage record of Jacob Jones, Sr. and Mary Anderson

Records available via the Washington State Digital Archives (WSDA) include:

1. Marriage records. When we are cataloging photographs with the inevitable notation, “Mr. and Mrs. Frank Franklin,” it’s so nice to be able to go to WSDA, track down their marriage record, and find out that, yes, Mrs. Frank Franklin also had her very own name. There records are also very helpful when we’re trying to figure out how various cousins, aunts and uncles are related, or when trying to unravel the order of multiple marriages. You might also learn something new about whoever you’re researching by noting who witnessed the wedding (“stood up for” was how the newspapers often put it), or where the couple was married. In the example at left, George W. Tibbetts, acting as Justice of the Peace, married Jacob Jones, Sr. and Mary Anderson.  The witness “R.A.Tibbetts” was Rebecca Tibbetts, George’s wife. (For more about the Jones family, see this post).

2. Birth records. These handwritten records exist only for the period prior to 1908, when recording births became a function of the counties rather than the state. In the example at below (click to view at larger size), you can see that a child was born to Mary Albasini and Peter Pedrignana in March 1894. The baby girl was born in Gilman (which became Issaquah five years later). The age of both parents and their birthplaces are  listed, as is the father’s occupation (coal miner, in this case). In the next to last column is the name of the person who delivered the baby. In the case of Baby Girl Pedrignana, Dr. W.E. Gibson was on hand for the delivery. Doc Gibson attended the birth of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Issaquah babies over the course of his 50+ year career in Issaquah. Baby Girl Pedrignana grew up to become Eugenia L. Pedegana, her parents having simplified their last name within a few years of her birth.

One tip – when you’re looking for a birth record, search for the name of the father or the mother (or both). Most babies were not named at the time their birth was registered, but parent names have been indexed.

Third line from the bottom: child born in Gilman

3. Death records. There are two kinds of death records listed: those from the Social Security Death Index (which include birth and death date) and Washington State death records (which includes parent names, spouse names, age, date of death, and place of death). As with birth records, indexing is fallible so experiment with various name spellings before you give up.
4. Frontier Justice. This collection of records references court cases held in Washington Territory. Most of the cases deal with things like collection of debt, conveyance of deed, and the occasional divorce, but they often raise interesting questions (for example, were holiday meals impacted when Pete Reppe took his cousins to court for failure to pay his wages?).  Documents from individual cases are not available, but the information you’ll need to find the files is. 
5. There are a number of places to access free census records. The WSDA is one of these. Although other sites might have snazzier searches available for the census, it’s nice to be able to search Washington State records and the census records at the same times.
6. Many others. Browse around and you’ll find incorporation papers, naturalization paperwork, and military registration forms. 
Do you have any state archives discoveries you’d like to share? Tell us about them!

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 (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, and then at All three of these sites require membership. The Issaquah History Museums paid for a membership to, and it was well worth the investment. There were actually more copies available through Footnote than there are today at However, Footnote became Fold3 and stopped hosting The Issaquah Press content was supposed to move to, but after waiting several months for issues prior to 1940 to be posted, the IHM dropped its membership.’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 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.