Irving Petite of Tiger Mountain

By Joan Newman

Originally appeared in the Issaquah Reporter, December 2009

Irving Petite with bovine companion, 1978.

Irving Petite with bovine companion, 1978.

Reports of the occasional bear or cougar in our neighborhoods stir memories of the local wildlife in Irving Petite’s engaging books, written on his ranch up Tiger Mountain Road, where he lived pretty much off the land for over 40 years.

He and his partner Bill McCauley had bought 165 acres of logged-over land there in 1941, and they built the ranch and a family of wild, semi-wild and domestic animals who often shared Petite’s cabin and enriched his love of the natural world.

No pink doggie bows or studded collars for the companions of the man who emerged in his books and in his family’s recollections. He delighted in animals’ personalities and respected their independence (more than they respected his) as his cabin became their haven, and his ranch yard their park.

In his best known books, Mister B (Reader’s Digest Association, 1960), he tells of hearing loud “bear music” of cubs suckling and vocalizing in a shallow den under a log up an unused logging road on his property. He and Bill left well enough alone, only placing a few apples at the den’s mouth, until the day they heard the screams and screeches of one cub who had been rejected or abandoned. When Petite found the source of the noise, the little black bear grabbed his arm, climbed up his body, and nuzzled his neck as if suckling. Petite took the cub home and raised him like his own, always fascinated by the cub’s insatiable curiosity and vocal repertoire.

As the cub grew, the most difficult part, Petite wrote, was Mister B’s craving for affection. When Petite milked his cow, the cub climbed his back and “mumbled” into his neck. When he got too heavy, Petite shrugged him off and gave up his left foot to be gnawed on instead. The cub snuggled with Petite’s dog, Stella, who whined and yelped when the nuzzling got too much.

Petite’s niece Sue Morris, now of Seattle, remembers being chased by the young bear, who wanted to play (she didn’t). As Mister B galloped across the yard toward her, she fled to an old car parked in some blackberry bushes, jumped in, and frantically rolled up the windows just in time to foil the boisterous cub. With Mister B on top of the car, “we both waited for a long time,” as she puts it, until the bear tired of it and wandered off.

Sue remembers a day when the young bear “got mad” and trashed the cabin. “He opened the refrigerator — yes, he had learned how to open the refrigerator — and rummaged around and then he found flour and threw it around all over the kitchen.” The bear wanted “HIS food — the fruits, vegetables and sorghum that Uncle Irving fed him. He acted just like a four or five-year old human person!” When Irving returned, he looked around tolerantly and said, “Oh, I’d better get his food together for him.”

Sue also remembers a day when Irving was away and a tax collector came to the ranch. “Mister B ran over to the car and hovered over it. The tax collector left in a hurry.”

In “The Elderberry Tree” (Doubleday, 1964), Petite wrote about a pack rat which moved into his cabin. At night, she noisily dragged and dropped trophies that she had brought inside, carrying them in and out of her hiding places over his bed. Her treasures included an unbroken Japanese tea set, sardine cans and a cracked sunshade, as well as sticks and small branches. Some mornings, when he was out of kindling to start a fire, Petite stood on a chair and raided her stash of twigs.

Of course, Petite had plenty of room on his ranch and in his heart for not-so-wild life too. In “Life on Tiger Mountain” (Doubleday, 1966), he tells of a sow he called Ungodly moving in. If the cabin door was open, she went in. If it wasn’t, she forced it. Petite would then oblige her by scratching under her chin.

Petite was well-known locally for his goats, says his nephew Mike Petite, a local builder. “He must have had 50 of them in his barn,” says Mike, who also remembers a goat which was raised in Irving’s cabin. Petite milked many of the goats in the cabin during winter weather. When a neighbor went into the service in WWII, he left his goats with Petite, who combined the herds. Sue Morris remembers Petite letting the goats forage up Tiger Mountain and calling them back home in the evening. “He would just call them and they would all come!” One of these goats was especially attracted to Sue. Often, when she appeared at the cabin, “he looked up, saw me and charged right over to butt me HARD!”

Both Mike and Sue lived as children on a part of the property Irving sold to their father, his brother Paul. The lived in Uncle Irving’s cabin when Paul was building their house. Mike lives today with his three children on what was once part of the original property.

Petite enjoyed times with his nephews and nieces. They would go up to what they called “Big Falls” on their creek. They went to a beach behind the falls, or slid down rocks below into a pool to swim. Mister B sometimes joined them there.

Irving Petite, 1931, feeding two wild birds.

Irving Petite, 1931, feeding two wild birds.

Sue remembers taking naps in the cabin with Man, an orphaned black-tailed deer raised by Petite. She would wake to see “those big, brown eyes peering” at her. The deer “was just like a dog,” she says. “He panted like a dog and even chased cars.”

Sue spent a lot of in the cabin with her uncle when she was growing up. She liked to do her homework by his fire. He would be typing nearby. She would struggle with her writing and he would look at it and give her his gentle advice. “It would be better like this…,” he’d day. Sometimes he would invite Sue to accompany him on flights in a small plane, gathering material for his articles. “He took good photos,” Sue adds.

Petite grew a big garden on his ranch. He picked wild blackberries, canned cherries and peaches, and made jam every year. When his ranch income was not enough, he made and sold fence posts, hop poles, and shakes from downed lumber and snags left behind on his land.

Petite substituted as a mail carrier on Issaquah Rural Route 2 and freelanced for the Seattle Times. He wrote articles on composting and recycling, among other topics, as well as four books about life on his mountain, and another about a trip to Alaska in a small boat. He filled his books with stories of possums, coyotes, mink, birds and the lessons of nature learned from the land in every season. He was sometimes called a local Thoreau, a title Sue says he would have enjoyed.

However, he was no hermit. He opened his home to many visitors, including artists, authors, researchers and photographers, says Sue. He helped neighbors with chores like roofing and provided work for young friends around the ranch. One of his stories tells of buying a coyote from some local boys who had just given it a bath to improve its sales value.

Irv Petite's mother, Jean Wolverton Petite, did a lot of the art work for her son's books. This sketch of Petite's goats is by her.

Irv Petite’s mother, Jean Wolverton Petite, did a lot of the art work for her son’s books. This sketch of Petite’s goats is by her.

Petite’s mother, Jean Wolverton Petite, illustrated some of his books and their book covers. She was a painter, sculptor, and illustrator for nature magazines such as Audubon, which liked her work because “she portrayed nature accurately, put the right birds with the right trees, etc.,” according to Sue. Irving learned from his mother’s example how to find edible and useful things in the wild. “His mother was really important to him and he modeled his love of nature and his self-discipline after her.” When asked about his writing habits, he said he guessed he wrote about 50 pages a day.

In 1984, Petite moved further away from population growth and development to the Colville Indian Resevation, where he lived near the town of Keller for more than 20 years. Mister B had been killed by hunters early on, when Petite was away from the ranch, and Man the deer, with a full head of antlers, had been driven in the back of Petite’s car the Woodland Park Zoo, because whenever he had been taken back to the wold, he had always showed up again at the cabin.

A great niece, Sara Petite of San Diego, is a singer-songwriter whose debut CD “Tiger Mountain” contains three songs written for her “Tiger Mountain grandmother,” Jacqueline Petite, Irving’s sister-in-law. A ballad called “Uncle Irving” seems to express the affection and sometimes amusement his family felt for Petite’s way of life. The refrain goes, “I know you don’t believe me/But Uncle Irving said,/’That chicken house is freezing cold!’/Now there’s chickens in the bed.”

The Issaquah History Museums have several copies of Irving Petite’s books, now out of print, in the archives at the Gilman Town Hall. Some copies are also available through various online sources and in King County libraries.

Anita Huovar

Anita Huovar in her 1939.

Anita Huovar in her 1939 yearbook photo.

The Issaquah History Museums aim to preserve what we call “local history” – the stories of people and events in our immediate area. But “local history” is never only local. The story of any area is always impacted by other events – regional, national, or global – and people rarely stay in just one area. We can see the intersection of local and global events in the story of Anita Huovar.

Anita Huovar grew up in Issaquah during the 1920s and 1930s. At this time, Issaquah was a rural farming community of less than 1,000 inhabitants. In this era before the floating bridge, going to Seattle required a drive south of Lake Washington. Nearly all of the town’s residents knew each other, and many were related by blood or marriage. Born and raised in rural Issaquah, Anita Huovar wouldn’t have surprised anyone by attending college, marrying, or having a career. By the time she graduated from high school, more and more young women were going to work. But Huovar’s path took a decidedly international turn, which made her quite unusual.

Huovar was born to Finnish immigrants John and Helja Huovar in Issaquah in 1921. Her father worked in the Newcastle coal mines for a time, and later found steady work with the logging companies and lumber mills that surrounded Issaquah. The Huovar family was active in the community, judging from coverage in the Issaquah Press. Her mother was a member of Issaquah’s Relief Committee, a group that worked to provide assistance for those hard-hit by the Depression. The Huovar family often hosted meetings of the Finnish National Club at their home. At the 1931 Community Church Christmas party, Anita’s recitation of more than 50 Bible verses from memory was called an “exceptional feature” by the Issaquah Press, and earned her an engraved Bible. The 1939 Issaquah High School yearbook claimed that Anita would be remembered by her nickname “Sunny,” and for her good grades. After graduation, Anita earned a teaching degree at the University of Washington, and returned to Issaquah High as a teacher from 1944 until 1949.

In 1949 her path diverged sharply from those of her peers when she took a teaching job in Yokohama, Japan. While working there, she met Kevin Carroll. Carroll worked on foreign aid programs within the Department of the Interior. The two wed in 1952, and began their married life together in Honolulu. In 1955 Kevin Carroll’s work with the USAID sent him to the Balochistan region of southeastern Iran. Anita accompanied him.

Most Americans back home had little notion of daily life in the Middle East, including Iran. Notions of the region were shaped by popular culture representations that featured harems, belly-dancers, and sand-filled desert. Few of Anita’s friends of family members would have been aware of the political forces that would shape the Carrolls’ fate.

Between 1951 and 1953, the CIA conspired to overthrow Iran’s elected prime minister and put the Shah in his place, as detailed in CIA documents highlighted by the New York Times in 2000. This caused a great deal of anti-American sentiment within Iran. Residents of the Balochistan region, where Kevin and Anita Carroll would live, were particularly displeased with the Shah’s regime. Balochistan had at one time been a semi-independent state; in the 1950s the Baloch tribes were brought under the rule of the ethnically Persian Iranian government, led by the Shah. The Shah’s regime sought to forcibly assimilate the Baloch by limiting education, banning traditional attire, and outlawing use of the Balochi language. The Balochis actively resisted the Shah’s rule, making Balochistan a dangerous place for an American to be.

Kevin Carroll and Anita Huovar Carroll became entangled in this ethnic struggle between the Persians and the Balochis. On March 24, 1957, the Carrolls and another American, Brewster Wilson, were en route to Chahbahar when Balochi resistance fighters opened fire. The Americans returned fire, but were soon overtaken. Kevin Carroll and Brewster Wilson were killed and left at the scene. Anita Huovar Carroll was taken from the scene, alive. Government officials said that the kidnapping had been perpetrated by a band of nomads who intended to sell Anita into the slave trade once they reached the coast of the Arabian peninsula. A thriving slave trade based on kidnapped white women was probably quite plausible to most newspaper readers. Officials stated that the nomads probably did not know that their intended victims were American.

Contemporary sources suggest that Carroll may have been evaluating a port city, Chahbahar, for use as a potential military base. As the United States supported the Shah’s regime over the Balochis, an American base on their home turf was not appealing to Balochi resistance fighters. The Carrolls were likely targeted because they were American. It is easier to understand the incident in hindsight, since we are now all-too familiar with resistance fighters and anti-American sentiment.

For the next week, news stories flew out over the AP wire regarding the abduction of the “pretty American woman.” The Shah of Iran assured America that everything would be done to track down the bandits, and that more than a thousand Iranian troops were in pursuit of the kidnappers. Would-be rescuers were aided in their efforts by a trail of paper and clothing, apparently left by Anita as she was taken away. Leaflets were dropped over Balochistan demanding her safe return and promising an unlimited ransom and amnesty; sources claimed to have seen a white woman, unharmed, riding towards Pakistan with a group of Balochi women and children. On March 31, a week after the abduction, the headlines blared, “Bandit Will Release Anita!” There followed reports that the “leader of the desert outlaws” had assured government officials that Anita Huovar Carroll was safe and would be returned unharmed. Her brother, John Huovar, told the Associated Press, “We’re not jumping up and down yet, but it certainly sounds good.”

But the following day it was reported that Anita Huovar Carroll’s body had been found, just ten miles from site of the ambush. She had survived her husband by less than a day. Her body was returned to the United States and she was buried beside her husband at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue, WA. For her friends and family in Issaquah, Anita’s death was a private and personal tragedy. But for those who did not know her, it was a significant international event.


In addition to census records, World War I draft records, and the Issaquah Press, the following were sources for this article:

“A Trail of Torn Paper.” Time Magazine, April 8, 1957.

Associated Press articles from March 25-April 1, 1957.

Barlow, Elizabeth., “Middle East Facts and Fictions.” The Journal of the International Institute, Volume 2, No. 2. Published by the University of Michigan. 1995.

Risen, James. “Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran.” New York Times Special Report, 2000.



We had several reader responses regarding the article on Anita Huovar Carroll that appeared in last quarter’s edition of Past Times. Anita was born and raised in Issaquah, and lived a short but remarkable life as the principal of a school in Yokohama, and as the wife of a USAID employee posted in Iran. In 1957, she and her husband were killed in Iran. One of Anita’s classmates, Mabel Nyberg, wrote, “I enjoyed the article on Anita Huovar. I have many happy memories and then the sad ending.” Anita’s sister, Lyllevan “Cappi” Davidson also contacted us to thank us for the story, and to add more information. We offer the following clarifications and corrections on the previous article.

Newspaper reports from the time of the Carrolls’ murder were filled with many errors and exaggerations –the most egregious being the tale that Anita had been kidnapped and taken from the scene, and later seen traveling with a group of women and children. In reality, she was killed at the site of the attack, and on the same day as her husband. Cappi noted that another falsehood reported (and unwittingly perpetuated in our newsletter article) was that the Americans had returned their attackers’ fire. Kevin and Anita Carroll were adamantly opposed to carrying firearms in a foreign nation, since their mission there was to assist the residents. Cappi also noted that Kevin and Anita Huovar Carroll were not consciously involved in the politics of Iran, although their lives were impacted by them. Kevin Carroll’s employer, USAID, sent him to the area to help the Iranians establish new industries and develop economically. The Carrolls lived in Kirman, not Balochistan, and developed warm relationships with their neighbors in the area. At the time of their death, they were traveling to a village some distance from Kirman.  We regret these errors and omissions, and thank Cappi Davidson for sharing her  memories of Anita.


New High School Name Honors Gibson, Gibson and Ek

Issaquah High School graduates, 1911. Left to right: Mary Gibson, Olive Gibson, and Mabel Ek.

Issaquah High School graduates, 1911. Left to right: Mary Gibson, Olive Gibson, and Mabel Ek.

In autumn of 2016, Issaquah’s newest high school opened. Named Gibson Ek Innovative High, the high school lives up to its title. The school has been constructed to look like a traditional work site, rather than a school. Instead of traditional classes, students sign up for “offerings” that apply to their goals and interests. Each student completes a hands-on internship that will help them gain competency in a variety of skills. The goal is to provide a personalized education for each student.

Gibson Ek is a thoroughly 21st Century school — but its name harks back to Issaquah’s early days. Gibson Ek’s name is derived from the first three students at Issaquah schools to complete their education and earn their degrees in Issaquah in 1911. To be clear, these were not the first Issaquahns to earn a high school diploma at all; they were simple the first to attend Issaquah schools all the way until graduation. Families who were well off could afford to send their children to school in Seattle, and some people in Issaquah did this.

But school children had been learning reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic in Issaquah since the late 1880s. Why did it take until 1911 before a high school student graduated?

For one thing, attaining a high school degree was unusual at this time in our history. A young person was considered well-served if they completed eight years of schooling. Unless someone planned on working as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or other licensed professional, schooling past the 8th grade was not crucial.

Not only was a high school degree unnecessary for many types of work, staying in school long enough to earn one meant lost family income. Being a dedicated student interfered with things like taking a paying job outside the home, or rolling up ones sleeves to assist around the household or farm. Many young people were needed at home for economic reasons. Because men were able to earn more than women, girls were often “allowed” to continue longer in school than their male counterparts.

Who were the young women who first graduated from Issaquah High School? They were Mary Gibson, Olive Gibson, and Mabel Ek. I am sure that, if these three young women were alive today, they would be honored and touched to have inspired the name for Issaquah’s newest high school.

Mabel Ek was the 8th of ten children born to Anton and Sarah Ek, immigrants from Sweden. Her father, Anton, worked in the coal mines for decades. Mabel’s two oldest brothers worked as coal miners, but the younger brothers found other kinds of work. Mabel’s older sister, Victoria, worked as a stenographer for the Issaquah Bank. As of the 1920 census, Mabel was a boarder in Seattle and was working as a post office clerk.  Mabel went on to marry Leonard Brady in 1926, and she lived the remainder of her life on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. She participated in graduation exercises at the Issaquah High School during her later life, and was still able to fit into her 1911 graduation gown. The gown is now part of the collections held by the Issaquah History Museum. Mabel Ek Brady passed away in 1990, at the age of 97.

Olive Gibson was the daughter of Dr. William Elry Gibson and Fannie Garner Gibson. Dr. Gibson was Issaquah’s country doctor, and occasional mayor. She married Wilfred Bayh in 1913, and the couple had two sons together. The marriage had evidently fallen flat by 1920, however, as Olive was living back in Issaquah with her parents, and her two small sons. Olive put her high school diploma to good use, holding several jobs during her life in Issaquah. In 1930, Olive was working as a postal clerk, a job she would hold for more than 30 years. Olive played the piano at the Issaquah Theatre for a time, and also taught piano lessons in Issaquah. She was also a clerk for the Issaquah School District. In her later life, Olive quit Issaquah and moved to San Francisco to live with one of her sons. She continued to make an annual trip back to Issaquah to see friends and family members. Olive Gibson Bayh passed away in San Francisco in 1988, at the age of 94.

Mary Gibson was no relation to her co-graduate, Olive. Her parents were Thomas Gibson and Susanna Weston Gibson. Mary also had a brother, Thomas Henry Gibson. Her father, Thomas Gibson immigrated to the United States with his parents as a child. He met and married Susanna Weston in Iowa. Mary wed Leonard Miles in 1913 — just two days after Mabel Ek wed Wilfred Bayh. Like Mary’s father, her husband operated a general store in Issaquah. The couple had two children. Mary Gibson Miles died at a much younger age than her two co-graduates, passing away in Issaquah in 1955, at the age of 60.

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

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

Issaquah’s Fire Laddies

By Christina Asavareungchai

“Fancy a seething, roaring whirlpool of white heat covering more than an acre of ground, towering hundreds of feet in the air… and you have the task [to put it out]… with a single stream of water no larger than a lady’s wrist.” –Issaquah Independent, September 24, 1904

Issaquah's Volunteer Fire Department, circa 1912

Issaquah’s Volunteer Fire Department, circa 1912

The Issaquah Volunteer Fire Department (IVFD) was founded in 1912, formalizing the loose association of townspeople previously responsible for fighting fires. The IVFD had its share of obstacles, the first of which was purchasing all its own equipment. After fund raising, the IVFD obtained an alarm bell, a hose cart and a small buildng

When the alarm bell rang, volunteers and adventure-hungry youngsters would sprint to Albin Ek’s ice cream parlor, where their uniforms are stored. The firemen clambered into their overalls while an audience of stunned customers looked on.

Edward Fish wrote in The Past at Present, “The first men to get across the street with both legs in their pants would roll the cart out of its stall… The excitement that ensued must have been wonderful – a stream of men, kids and dogs shouting and yapping through the town to deluge some worried homeowner with help and water.”

The IVFD emerged from WWI and the succeeding mine strikes and closures with a larger building and new equipment. In the early 1920s, the IVFD purchased a chemical cart and a Model T Ford fire truck.

Chemical firefighting required mixing ten pounds of soda and acid together to make fighting foam. In 1930, the Model T truck was replaced with the Model A, complete with a five hundred gallon water tank. By 1937, a Ford V-8 fire truck was in use.

During WWII, many firefighters joined the armed forces to fight for their country. Meanwhile, fires in Issaquah were fought just as bravely by a motley replacement crew of high school students, women and town merchants. Through it all, the IVFD maintained a capacity for fun and relaxation. The IVFD Hall, built in 1933 and torn down in the 1960s, hosted Saturday night dances and other social events. Its basement housed an indoor gun range. The IVFD was responsible for purchasing, clearing and maintaining Memorial Field, which they later deeded over to the City. The town’s baseball and football teams were primarily composed of volunteer firemen.

Issaquah's fire hall, circa 1940.

Issaquah’s fire hall, circa 1940.

The IVFD Hall, built in 1933. The cupola was used as a spotter’s station during WWII.

The firemen also shared many comical adventures. For example, a man requested that his barn be burned down by use of a controlled fire. Much to the horror of the owner and the firemen, the IVFD accidentally burned down the wrong barn!

In another instance, firemen from the Snoqualmie Fire Department engaged the IVFD in a rowdy fire hose water fight on Mill Street (now Sunset Way).

In 1932, a dramatic battle between Mayor Stella Alexander and fire chief Remo Castagno occurred. Alexander insisted that the IVFD honor a law banning use of city-owned fire equipment beyond city limits. The firemen resented this restriction on their ability to fight fires whenever the need arose. According to Edwards Fish, the entire force “resigned… only after an unsuccessful attempt by the city administration to organize a substitute force, and some forthright strategy by the original firemen, that order was restored and the volunteers went back to work on their own terms.”

The years have brought many other changes to firefighting in Issaquah; the first paid fire chief was hired in 1970, and in 1999 the Issaquah district was consolidated with several others to become Eastside Fire and Rescue. Through it all, Issaquah residents have appreciated the lively nature, awe-inspiring effort and admirable courage of its heroic “fire laddies.”