11 Squak Valley

Competencies: Social Studies, History

History 4.2: Understands and analyzes causal factors that have shaped major events in history.

CBA: Meeting Needs and Wants


Objective: Students compare life for the early settlers and life now in Issaquah by listening to several selections from an early settler’s, Bessie Wilson Craine’s memoirs.  Then students write a journal entry as if they were Bessie.

Materials: Squak Valley; a Tale of Old Issaquah, by Bessie Wilson Craine, paper, pencil and crayons


  1. Read parts of Squak Valley to the students (a story of a young girl growing up in the 1880’s in Issaquah).  Recommended selections include:               
    •       Hops, pages 4-5, 49, 59 (top of page 5 and 49 have racist comments)
    •       Railroad, pages 18-19
    •       Little town of Gilman, pages 22-23 (one sentence on page 23 is racist)
    •       Gilman becomes Issaquah, pages 35-36
    •       The country school, pages 26, 50
    •       Issaquah school, page 41
    •       Haying, pages 27-28
    •       The mill and timber industry, pages 30-31, 63
    •       Coal, pages 42, 55-56
    •       The roads, pages 47-48
  2. As students listen to each selection, they can create their own illustrations of what is being described in their book.  Students share their pictures with the class to see how similar and different their interpretations of the passages were.
  3. Compare life in Issaquah now to life in Issaquah when Bessie lived here.
  4. Tell the students that they will be writing a journal entry as if they were Bessie Wilson Craine.  If students prefer, they may choose to be another person mentioned in Bessie’s memoirs.  Discuss parts of a journal entry.  This might include date, location, setting description, sketches, and an important event or an interesting situation.
  5. As a class make a two-column chart.  In the first column list key words and phrases that would be logical to include in a journal entry from the late 1800’s, such as farm chores, sewing, cooking, riding horses, playing with pets, etc.  In the second column list modern key words and phrases that would not be appropriate to include, such as cars, airplanes, any electric appliances, skyscrapers, etc..
  6. Share some of the photos in the book, Squak Valley, to help stimulate brainstorming ideas.
  7. Students write their journal entries in partners, small groups, or individually.
  8. Students share their journal entries with the class.


Activity 11 (DOC)
Activity 11 (PDF)
Letters to the editor re: Squak Valley

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