Issaquah History Museums

Ed Roberts

Served in 1924

Served in 1924

James Edward Roberts was born on December 17, 1880 in Schuyler County, Missouri. He married married Melissa (Lissa) Whitall on August 16, 1902. The couple had one daughter, Lucy Elzara, who was born in Missouri in 1903. Sometime between 1903 and 1910, the family relocated to Washington State. In 1910, they were living in Snoqualmie, where Ed was working as a gold miner. By 1920, they had moved to Issaquah, where Ed was working as a lumber worker.

Roberts appears to have been appointed Town Marshal in 1924. The election that year saw V.M. McKibben elected with 116 votes to P. J. Smith who gathered 115 votes.

John Fisher was elected to the Town Council and former Marshal Burnett Mullarky was appointed to the Parks Commission. Unlike today, there wasn’t much in the way of diversion and recreation nearby, so the town parks played an important role in everyone’s life. Bands, plays, traveling talent shows, as well as traditional picnics were held there.

On June 5, 1924, the park also served as a bivouac site for the 4th Infantry Regiment that was moving from Fort George Worth to Camp Lewis in Pierce County.  The force consisted of 15 Officers, 250 Soldiers and 30 trucks. It caused quite a stir in the otherwise sleepy town.

A noteworthy event that occurred during Ed’s tenure as Marshal was the Klu Klux Klan rally held in Issaquah on July 26, 1924.  The rally, dubbed as a “Konklovation”, was held one mile west of town near the present day Park and Ride Lot on 17th Avenue Northwest.  During the ceremony, which was illuminated by a “fiery” electric cross measuring 40 feet high and 37 feet wide, 250 Klansmen were initiated into organization.

It was reported that a crowd in excess of 13,000 persons attended the rally and were “entertained” by a thirty-two-piece band, a play by school children and speeches on “Americanism”.  Deputy Sheriffs kept order and hooded Klansmen directed traffic, which clogged roadways for two hours following the rally.

The event was announced ahead of time in the Issaquah Press and the Seattle Star newspapers, which probably accounted for the large number of people in attendance. A similar rally was held in Chehalis the following night.

An incident of a more violent nature occurred on June 5, 1924. At around 2:15 a.m. a speeding car raced through town, and the occupants fired 12 shots as they drove past several businesses. Several bullets hit the Fisher Undertaking Parlor, City Hall, the town Bank and Grange buildings. The person(s) responsible were never located.

Ed more than likely used his own automobile to investigate these cases, as the town didn’t buy a patrol car until 1949. In all probability it was a Model “T” Ford, which cost  $295.00 according to a newspaper ad from July 1924.

Ed left the Marshal’s office in 1925, replaced by Eve Watkins. In 1930, he was living in Aberdeen, Washington, with his wife, daughter, and granddaughter. At that time he was working as a stevedore with the longshoreman. Ed died in Olympia, Washington in 1955.

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