Sunday, March 25, 2012

The 'C.C. Calkins' Calliope

It always astounds me how many amazing stories manage to reveal themselves when researching what seems, at first, a minor local history detail.

Today is a great example of that. I started out looking at what appeared on the surface a minor point: The historic Kirkland ferry clock. As a part of the current restoration effort, I have already amassed quite a bit of information, but in fact checking a few details regarding Captain John L. Anderson, who donated the clock to Kirkland in 1935, this seemingly quick and simple task ended up taking the better part of a Saturday, even with the benefit of a business-class, high-speed internet connection.

In my travels, I encountered a wide variety of occurrences, most of which I will share in later posts, but in relation to the Kirkland ferry clock found a unique musical steamboat, the first of its kind on Lake Washington.

John L. Anderson, born in Stenunsund, Sweden 1868, hailed from a seafaring family and at age 14 left home and went to sea as a cabin boy on a lumber and ore hauling ship his uncle owned. He fell ill on his second voyage and was put ashore in Quebec where, upon recovering, he took a job with the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

In 1888, Anderson, then 22, came to Seattle, Washington Territory, where he landed a series of deckhand jobs on various Puget Sound-based vessels.

A young and amazingly bright, ambitious lawyer-turned-speculator from Wisconsin named Charles Cicero Calkins, who went by “C.C. Calkins” professionally. Calkins, typical of many 1880’s-era speculators, came to Seattle in 1887 with $300 dollars cash and ambitious dreams. Within 10 days of his arrival he’d purchased about 21,000 acres on $19,000 of credit and within the year he held $170,000 worth of real estate, much of it on Mercer Island with his grand vision—he called it East Seattle.

Calkins and his business partners had purchased vast tracts of land on Mercer Island where they planned to carve out East Seattle, a beautiful resort community which still exists as a neighborhood on Mercer Island’s northwest shore. East Seattle’s centerpiece was the ornate, three story luxury hotel Calkins built in 1889. To shuttle guests and residents to East Seattle from Leschi Park on the Seattle side, his East Side Land & Development Company built a 78 foot steamboat—he humbly named the C.C Calkins--on the lake, south of Leschi, at John Taylor’s sawmill.  It was launched inauspiciously on March 21, 1890 with extra men being rounded up to wrest her free.
The Calkins Hotel stood on Mercer Island from 1889 until 1908 when it burned to the ground. 

Calkins personally hired the 22 year-old Anderson, who was part of the C.C. Calkins's inaugural crew, officially her quartermaster. He was given a place to live by her skipper, George Rodgers, a 42 year-old from Wisconsin. The third member of the CC Calkins's crew was its engineer, Captain Rodgers’ younger brother, Frank. It sounds like Frank may have missed his calling in life and was at heart a musician. He constructed the boat’s largest piece of equipment: a grand, boiler-supplied steam calliope which he mounted topside. It blew off a lot of steam, literally, when Frank played it, and his love of his music offset all the extra boiler stoking he had to do to keep the boat’s pressure up. 

The C.C. Calkins c.1890, I'm guessing that George Rodgers at the wheelhouse, Frank Rodgers on deck, left, and young John Anderson, right.

Frank’s great musical moment came in May, 1891 when the C.C. Calkins greeted the visiting President Benjamin Harrison. As Harrison approached the dock, Frank entertained the sizable crowd with his pipes, first with “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” followed by his rendition of “Home Sweet Home.” Harrison boarded the steamboat Kirkland for a spin around the lake and the C.C. Calkins and a flotilla of other boats followed, with Anderson tossing roses after the president’s boat as Fred serenaded with Lake Washington’s only steamboat calliope.         

Click here to see a short YouTube to hear music coming from a steamboat calliope.

 This is not the C.C. Calkins, but shows another 19th century steamboat-mounted calliope.

Also, if you could have had any song played, what would you have chosen?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

1882: The Clark Family Tragedy

Diphtheria was once the messenger of a horrible death. It is an acute, infectious, bacterial disease that typically kills by asphyxiation. It chokes the life out of its victims. The bacteria, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, spread through respiratory droplets produced by the cough or sneeze of an infected person. The bacteria most commonly infect the nose and throat. The neck often swells as the victim struggles to breathe and swallow. The throat infection produces a gray-black or dirty-white, fiber-like covering, a tough adherent membrane, which typically blocks the airways which, unless relieved by intubation or a tracheotomy, usually kills the victim. Toxins, produced by the bacteria, can spread through the victim’s bloodstream to other organs, such as the heart, and cause death if the death is not caused by suffocation. Diphtheria has been all but eradicated in industrialized nations through vaccinations. This was not the case in 1882. Then it was a dreaded disease.

The Clark’s land patent, awarding them hard-won  title to their homestead in today’s Highlands neighborhood.

Martin and Eliza Clark, 28 and 26, came to San Francisco from Iowa by the transcontinental railroad in 1876 or possibly 1877, and from San Francisco took a sailing ship to Seattle with their two daughters, Sarah, 2, and Ora, 4.

According to their youngest son, Dr. Charles Walter Clarke, MD, writing years later, Eliza was petite, about five feet tall, with blond hair and a “merry disposition.” He described his mother as a devout Christian and a devoted wife and mother who came from pioneer stock. She was a descendant of Mayflower pilgrim Edward Doty, one of two indentured servants obligated to a tanner and merchant named Stephen Hopkins. Doty also signed the Mayflower Compact. Elisa’s later ancestors were among the first settlers in Ohio, who later pushed west to the then-frontier of Illinois and later Iowa.

Highlands Neighborhood pioneer Eliza Clark on her Kirkland homestead, c late 1800s

Martin’s ancestors were also early colonial settlers, arriving in Massachusetts in 1635 and later pressing on to Vermont, New York, and finally Iowa in 1854. Also a devout Christian, Martin was, like his father, a cobbler who hand-crafted fine shoes. But the prospect of independence, opportunity, and free land under the Homestead Act lured Martin to bring his young family to the wild frontier that was Washington Territory in the 1870s.

The family staked a claim near Green Lake, then well outside Seattle’s city limits. They built a cabin and made other improvements required by the government for a settler to gain title under the Homestead Act. Soon Eliza gave birth to a boy, Willis. But prior to proving up, the term for the process of gaining title to the land, the claim’s poor soil and other factors prompted Martin to sell his rights, for $175. In October, 1882, the Clarks moved east, across Lake Washington, to the dark primeval coniferous forest that then covered the Eastside.

Martin staked out 154 acres in what is today’s Highlands Neighborhood. The Clark’s claim was the hill and swampy bottom land below it. The claim contained less timber than most Eastside homesteads—Martin estimated there was fewer than 100,000 board feet on the land. And, like most of Kirkland, the soil was third-rate, composed mainly of sandy loam

Walter described his parents’ homestead: “Over mile after mile after mile stretched tall fir trees and hardly less imposing cedars. Measuring four to six feet in diameter at the height of a man, the firs towered one to two hundred feet toward the sky. Between these forest giants were smaller trees and shrubs—alders, hazel nut, willows, maples and ash. The forest floor was carpeted with vines and moss. Wild flowers grew in sunny spots. The terrain was a series of hills and valleys. In the valleys ran cool clean water abounding in brook trout and frogs. Large ferns decorated the margins of these streams about the deeper pools rushes and lilies crept from the marshy edges into the limpid water. Birds, rabbits, an occasional harmless snake and too friendly skunks inhabited the forest near the lake, but deep in the wilderness were black and brown bears. Those trappers and prospectors who penetrated the farthest into the forest told of hearing the blood-curdling scream of the cougar.”

The Clark homestead is shown in blue. Modern streets are shown for reference on this 1870 government survey map.

While Eliza and the children waited in Seattle, Martin readied their “ranch.” He cut what he called a road—today we’d call it a trail—three-quarters of a mile long, from the lake to their claim. As the site for their cabin he picked a hill in the center of their land. To make room for the new cabin he had to cut down two massive trees. This he did with the help of a friend and a double bitted ax and a ten-foot crosscut saw, or misery whip as these iconic tools were called. The mammoth trunks could not be used as timber, for there was no way to move them. To clear the logs and debris from their home site, Martin simply burned the logs and the stumps where they lay.

Dr. Charles Walter “Walter” Clarke and his sister Margaret (Clark) Habernal c.1910 with Margaret's daughter Theodora (Habernal) Wales. Dr. Clarke crafted a semi-fictionalized account of the Clark tragedy, wherein some names were changed, but homestead and other records confirm the events of those sad days in 1882. According to Clark decedents, Dr Clarke added an ‘e’ to his last name for professional reasons.

With the clearing completed, Martin brought rough cedar boards and shingles across from a Seattle mill in his rowboat and built a cabin about ten feet high and 24 by 26 feet, with four small rooms and two windows facing west. He also built and populated a chicken house, and for the children he fashioned a cradle and cribs.

Then Martin fetched his family. Walter wrote that Martin hefted Willis to his shoulders, tucked bundles under his arms, seized bags in his hands and led the way up the trail to the cabin while Eliza followed leading Sarah and Ora by their hands and carrying baskets and clothing under her arms. Each little girl dutifully carried some piece of kitchenware as they trudged up the muddy trail.

Walter recorded his mother’s reaction to her first glimpse of their homestead: “It’s wonderful, Martin. I’m glad we are home.”

Neighbors were few and widely scattered. The John DeMott family claim, about a mile away, was the present location of Kirkland’s downtown. About a mile east of the Clark’s homestead lived a native family. Walter referred to them as “Siwash,” a Chinook trade language term for Indians, derived from the French word sauvage for ‘savage.’ Walter described the couple as “…harmless people but ignorant and dirty” and their dwelling as a “hut” constructed of cedar bark. He wrote they were “old” and were called Sam and Mabel. They lived mostly on a diet of the fish they caught. These condescending words are some of the few early observations of native habitation recorded about Native Americans who lived among early Kirkland settlers, and were probably typical of the time.

Bill Perrault, a mysterious and fascinating character, lived about five miles to the east, deeper in the forest. Bill was a tall French-Canadian trapper who lived alone in a remote shack with his many hunting dogs. He made his living selling animal pelts he collected on his trap lines. Though other area settlers viewed Perrault with suspicion, because he had no interest in improving land, the Clarks offered him friendship and hospitality.

Their Eastside forest ranch generated no revenue, so Martin earned his living in Seattle as a shoemaker, staying in a boardinghouse weekdays and returning home on the weekends. Apprehensive about leaving Eliza and the children alone, Martin acquired a sizable dog they named Job and a double barrel black-powder shotgun of unrecorded gauge. Martin taught Eliza to fire the scattergun, but she didn’t care for it--being petite the recoil hurt her shoulder. The shotgun was stored loaded on the wall near the stove to keep its powder dry. Job was large and the cabin small and filled with the family, so Job was an outdoor dog. He would often howl at night at the unseen and unheard off in the darkness.

One night when Martin was in town Eliza heard a sound she thought was someone trying the cabin door. Nearly eight months pregnant, deep in the wilderness with her small children, her imagination conjured frightening scenarios involving Indians trying to harm them. Though Puget Sound-area Indians were typically peaceful people, there were occasional alcohol-related incidents of the type also frequently seen in the white population—especially among the young lumberjacks and seamen. Eliza arose from bed, dressed and examined the door and looked out the windows into the darkness, straining to see an intruder. In the twinkling firelight of the woodstove’s dying embers, she saw a blurred, shadowy shape and shining eyes. Panicked, she pulled the double barrel shotgun from its hook, raised the butt to her shoulder, pulled the trigger.

Ka-BAAAM! Eliza discharged a barrel and sent pellets blasting out the window’s glass. Black powder smoke and stench filled the cabin. The face vanished. Her shoulder throbbed from the recoil and the children were screaming and crying, awakened by the report. Dropping the shotgun, Eliza embraced her terrified children.

Little Lutie grew up to be a beautiful woman, seen here in 1904. In 1905 she married Ollis Patty, who had stopped in Kirkland to visit family briefly on his way to Alaska. Quite understandably, meeting young Lutie changed his plans--he canceled the trip, married her and the couple had four children. In 1905, Ollis became Kirkland's first City Treasurer, a position he held for about 40 years. Also in 1905, Lutie and Jennie Lowe were Kirkland High School's very first graduates. Lowe was unable to attend commencement, so Lutie received the very first KHS diploma alone on the stage. It is also interesting to note that Lutie is not wearing cosmetics, she was just a naturally very striking woman--then considered 'paint', wearing makeup was not considered socially acceptable by women of 'good' reputation, usually limited at that time to women who worked in the 'theatres' and saloons of Seattle's infamous Tenderloin District.

“It’s alright my darlings, nothing shall harm you,” she whispered, scooping them up, tucking them all into her bed. She recovered the shotgun and sat on the foot of the bed, cradling it in her lap as she spent the remainder of the night with her finger on the gun’s second trigger, listening and watching the door and windows attentively.

As dawn illuminated the east, fingers of warm light began poking through the primeval forest. Eliza dreaded walking out the cabin’s door into the clearing, convinced she’d see the intruder’s bloody corpse splayed on the ground.

Morning’s light filled the cabin. Eliza finally forced herself to arise and walk to the now glassless window through which she’d killed the intruder. She peered out and her eyes adjusted to the light. She saw no lifeless Indian, no white prowler, no bear or cougar. To her horror, she had killed their beloved dog, Job.

Eliza late in life, c. 1920

Martin stayed home after Job’s death because Eliza would soon give birth to their fourth child. There was plenty to do. He needed to plant a garden and resume the endless task of clearing his land.

Jeannie DeMott served as midwife for the birth of the new baby, a healthy girl they named Lucy, after Martin’s mother. Her siblings called her “Lutie,” and that she remained for the rest of her days.

As one of the first babies born to area settlers, Lutie drew gift-bearing visitors from neighboring homesteads. One day buckskin-clad trapper Bill Perrault appeared near the garden with his lever-action rifle resting over his shoulder and a bundle under his arm. After Martin greeted him, Perrault said, “Me I bring a petit cadeau for baby,” handing his gift to Eliza--a small, soft squirrel pelt rug which fit perfectly atop baby Lutie in her cradle.

That autumn, after returning home from Sunday services the two older girls complained of sore throats. Eliza, thinking they had colds, rubbed their necks with camphor-impregnated chicken fat and wrapped them in woolen stockings.

But the girls did not improve. Martin felt their feverish heads and peered down their red, inflamed throats. Eliza gave them sweetened water and put them to bed. But the girls tossed in their cribs all night and by morning it was obvious they were seriously ill. Martin looked at their throats again. The inflammation and redness was gone, replaced with an ugly, dirty white membrane that their tonsils and descended their throats. No longer feverish, the girls felt cold.

Martin raced down his trail to the DeMott’s place. “Grandma” DeMott was experienced with sickness and remedies. Martin hoped she could help his little girls. After he described their symptoms she looked at him gravely.

“Martin, your little girls have malignant croup or diphtheria as they call it now. It is going around Seattle and is very catching. I cannot come help you as I might bring the disease home to my grandchildren, it is terribly dangerous.” She sent Martin home with an ‘essence’ that was to be boiled in water, instructing that the girls must breathe the vapor. As Martin left, Grandma DeMott said, “I will pray for you.”

When Martin returned home the girls’ breathing was labored and they struggled for breath. Eliza was desperately trying to comfort them. Martin boiled water and essence in a pan and when he lifted little Sarah’s head so she could breathe the vapors she managed a weak smile for her dad. When Ora’s turn came she was far less responsive. The Clarks continued the vapor treatment throughout the day, but by evening Ora was seized by coughing, vomiting, and breathlessness. After midnight Ora slipped away. Her face turned purple, and, straining to breathe, she died. Martin carried his nine-year-old to the bed of he and Elize and covered her with a clean sheet.

Exhausted and in shock, Eliza watched Martin embraced her and reminded her that they had to focus on saving their other daughter. Through the night and into the next day they desperately administered the steaming essence vapors to Sarah. But as night fell, the six-year-olde slipped away and joined her older sister in death.

Martin and Elizawere paralyzed with grief. Willis called from his bed for a drink. Martin rose and brought his only son a cup of water. To Martin’s horror, the boy fingered his neck. His throat hur. Bringing an oil lamp nearer, Martin examined Willis’ throat. It was red and inflamed. The Clarks boiled more essence and had the boy breathe the vapors. It was all they knew to do.

A soft knock at the cabin door revealed Bill Perrault, distressed, fur cap in hand, ready to help his friends, unfazed that he was exposing himself to the deadly diphtheria. Perrault asked what could he do and Martin sent him to Seattle, in the desperate hope he might return with a doctor. The trapper sprinted down the trail to the lake, returning hours later with bad news: no one would come to help the Clarks.

As Perrault and Martin struggled to save the boy, Eliza passed out from exhaustion and shock. Though encouraged by the fact that Willis didn’t struggle to breathe as his sisters had—the girls died of asphyxiation—his ashen complexion was an ominous sign. Rapidly accumulating toxins were attacking the little boy’s organs. Martin held the steaming essence pan and Perrault lifted the boy from the crib and held him over it to breathe the vapors. But Willis had stopped breathing. His eyes were closed. Martin pressed his hand on his limp, motionless son’s small ches. There was no heartbeat. The three-year-old was dead.

Martin shouted in grief, awakening Eliza, who sprang from the bed and ran to her son’s side. Barely audible, the devastated woman whispered,“Our little boy is dead!”

Tears streaming down her face, Eliza dashed from the cabin into the dawn. Martin followed her a little knoll that today provides a beautiful view of downtown Kirkland, the lake, the Seattle skyline, and Olympic Mountains on the horizon. Martin held his wife.

“If I could only go with them!” she sobbed.

“We still have little Lutie, she needs you, and so do I,” Martin replied.

Bill Perrault dug three small graves. With cedar boards left over from building the cabin, Martin made coffins for his children. Eliza dressed them in their Sunday clothes and changed into her best dress. Martin donned his Sunday suit and then placed the bodies of Ora, Sarah, and Willis in their coffins and carried them to the their graves on the sunny knoll. The Clarks and Perrault read verses from the Holy Bible and they prayed, and then were silent for a time. Finally, Eliza gathered Lutie and with Martin returned to their cabin. Bill Perrault remained behind and filled in the three small graves. When he finished, he stopped at the cabin, bid the Clarks goodbye and disappeared into the dark forest.

Eliza awoke with a sore throat the next morning. Desperate, Martin decided to take her into Seattle. As he hastily constructed a litter from saplings, Perrault arrived and when Martin asked for his help, and the Frenchman replied, “Mais oui, certainement.”

The men carried Eliza and Lutie down the trail to Martin’s boat and rowed the five miles across the lake, finally carrying them another four miles down a muddy trail called Madison Street today and into the smelly, smoky little sawmill settlement of Seattle.

Martin’s worst fears were realized. Seattle’s one hospital refused diphtheria cases and no hotel or other lodging allowed them accommodations. They slogged desperately over Seattle’s notorious deep muddy roads with the sick woman and the infant. The epidemic monopolized Seattle’s few doctors. Residents, fearing diphtheria with good reason, offered no assistance. With darkness approaching, with no shelter at hand, and in despair, a kind woman approached and asked, “Are you in trouble?”

The woman wore a nun’s habit. The sister approached and Martin and Perrault described their plight.

“Come with me, we will care for your wife and child.”

Years later Walter wrote that Martin described their rescue by the nun as a miracle. The nuns found a doctor who would treat the woman and her baby. Eliza recovered, and Lutie never showed symptoms of the disease that killed her siblings.

Lutie, Margaret and Walter, on Eliza’s knee, seen c. 1887 on the family homestead. The background suggests the family was still clearing their land.

After Eliza recovered Martin rented a house in Seattle for the three of them and he returned to shoemaking. An affidavit in their homestead file states that they remained in town for about four months. Martin and Eliza now faced an important decision. Would they return to their homestead and its haunting reminder of their pain or would they start fresh elsewhere?

Martin put this question to Eliza and she did not hesitate. They would to return to their ranch. She intended to plant flowers near the graves. She would not leave her children.

With Bill Perrault’s help, the family did return and began anew. The Clarks had two more children: Margaret, born in 1885, and Charles Walter—who Martin nicknamed “Captain” —born in 1888. They also took in and raised two abandoned kids, John Royle and Mary Clark (not related).

Well earned happiness. Martin Clark with his granddaughter Margaret Alice (Patty) Fessenden (1906-96). After their tragedy, the Clarks took great joy in their children and grandchildren.

As time went on Kirkland grew. Like most of Kirkland’s homesteaders, the Clarks sold portions of their 154 acre claim to pay taxes and other obligations incurred during the tough depression years following the 1892-3 failure of Peter Kirk’s steel mill. The Clarks were among the founding members of the First Baptist Church of Kirkland, which began in Houghton in 1888 and moved to Fifth Avenue, across from today’s Kirkland City Hall, in 1889. The Kirkland Cemetery was established in 1888 and at some point after that the three Clark children who died in 1882 were removed from their graves and moved there where they rest today with their parents, older sister Lutie, her husband Ollis Patty, and their daughter Stella Patty.

A sad, final footnote to the Clark story is the census record that reveals that another of the Clark children died in childhood, likely in Iowa, before the family came west. Many of Kirkland’s settlers lived with similar heartbreak. Such losses, unimaginable today, were part of life for Washington Territory’s pioneers.

Most of the Clark family rest together today in the Kirkland Cemetery. Margaret Habernal is with them there as well. Eliza was true to her word, she and Martin never left the children they lost in 1882.

Note: This article was informed by an account written by the late Dr. Charles Walter Clarke, MD. For reasons unknown, he changed his surname’s spelling to ‘Clarke.’ All dialogue and related details came from his account. Federal census data also contributed, as did the Clark’s Government Land Office (GLO) land file, opened in 1883 and completed in 1888. It was recently purchased by the Kirkland Heritage Society (KHS) and contains an abundance of fascinating detail about the Clark family’s early years in Kirkland. KHS recently ordered GLO files for a large number of Kirkland pioneers, primarily of those who settled the three newly annexed neighborhoods. Heartfelt thanks to Patty (Fessenden) Bernhardt, Lutie (Clark) Patty’s granddaughter, for her generous donation to KHS of precious family photos, including several of her grandparents and great grandparents, Martin and Eliza Clark. Special thanks to my amazing friend Marianne Reinsfelder for her inspiring support and encouragement with this article. (Originally appeared on, June, 11, 2011). 

Lutie's granddaughter, Patty (Fessenden) Barnhardt with Matt McCauley in 2010 at the Kirkland Heritage Society Resource Center. Mrs. Barnhardt has kindly donated many items that have helped bring to life the story of her Kirkland pioneer family. (Loita Hawkinson photo)

One of the first babies born in today’s Kirkland, little Walter Clark grew up, becoming Dr C. Walter Clarke, and in spite of the tragedy his family experienced, Walter grew up to become a distinguished, award-winning physician, medical researcher, and president of the American Social Health Association, dedicating his career to the eradication of the enormous human suffering caused by venereal disease.

A Look to the Past: Kirkland – Regarding Henry… the first to permanently settle in Kirkland

In telling the story of Kirkland’s beginnings there was a tough, brave young man–some would say still a boy–now long-forgotten by most. His name was Henry and he was the first, literally the first, to take a land claim in the rugged wilderness of 1870 that would become Kirkland. He also had the distinction of being one of the three young men who petitioned King County for Kirkland’s first road, which was also the Eastside’s first King County road.

But there is no plaque dedicated to him. No park, street, creek, hill, school or trail is named in his honor. He has fallen victim to an unintended historical slight: Invisibility.

At least until now.

An early Washington Territory logger with his double bitted axe and ‘misery whip’ crosscut saw. This would have been a familiar scene to Hubbard and Goldmyer. 

During the late 1860s to early 1870s three to 12 man logging crews worked Lake Washington’s shoreline, harvesting the big trees by hand. These pioneer loggers had no oxen teams and steam donkey yarding engines were not yet in use; the trusty, iconic 3-foot gauge geared locomotives were still decades away. Facing incredible danger, with no safety gear, the early loggers carved notches–sometimes as high as 10-20 feet off the ground–in the trees’ trunks with their double bit felling axes to position themselves above these trees’ wide bases. Into these notches, the lumbermen inserted stout planks–called springboards—on which to stand and then began the physically demanding ax work: carving out the ‘backcut,’ a wide, deep notch in the trunk. Once a sufficient backcut had been slowly chipped out, the team switched to a long crosscut saw, called a ‘misery whip.’ A man gripping a handle at either end, they sawed, back and forth, until the mighty giant toppled into the backcut and violently crashed into the forest floor. Sometimes, a fallen tree would hang up in surrounding trees and create one of the most dangerous situations in the woods. Such hung up trees were called ‘widow-makers’ and clearing them was often deadly. Logging then was a trade of indescribable danger, in fact it still is.

US Deputy Surveyor Walter B. Hall’s 1870 map of township 26N, 5E shows Juanita Bay much larger than it is today and Martin Hubbard’s cabin on the eastern edge of his claim, adjoining Goldmyer’s 160 acres. 

Lacking any mechanical means to manipulate logs on the ground, these early Eastside lumbermen cut the trees growing closest to the water first. Once down, the giants were cut into sections and ‘bucked’ (limbs removed) and then rolled into the lake. After about 1880, the lucky crews had oxen to assist in the exhaustive process. Once a raft of logs was assembled, then began the arduous task of moving it down the lake. Because powered towboats did not appear on the Lake Washington until well into the 1870s, these early days of hand-logging often required the lumbermen to drop an anchor from a row boat, ahead the log raft, then slowly winch the raft to the anchor, and repeat the process over and over, inching the raft down the lake to the Black River, where the logs were floated–with much painstaking effort–into Puget Sound and to the mills where they were cut into boards and used locally or shipped to distant markets.

When in October and November of 1870 US Deputy Surveyor Walter B. Hall led his team through the two townships that comprise today’s Kirkland, the maps he drew as part of his surveys revealed something the 1850s General Land Office surveys had not: Settlers.

During October, Hall and crew surveyed Township 26N, Range 5E, which comprises today’s north and south Juanita, part of Finn Hill, Totem Lake and Kingsgate neighborhoods and farther north, into today’s Woodinville and east about four miles beyond the Sammamish Slough.

Walter B. Hall’s map of township 25N, 5E shows just two cabins south of Juanita, those of Nancy McGregor and her son James Popham, misidentified as “J. Tahham,” on today’s Yarrow Bay, then called Pleasant Bay. The Popham brothers and their mother would abandon their claims in 1874 and relocate to California. 

Hall noted the existence of only one dwelling in the entire 36 square mile township. It was a cabin on the north side of Juanita Bay—where today’s Juanita Village development now stands—and it belonged to logger Martin W. Hubbard, who’d turned 21 a few months earlier. Hubbard was from New Hampshire and had filed a claim for 157.5 acres on the north side of Juanita Bay.

Just across the lake at Sand Point, 25 year-old, Virginia-born William Goldmyer took a claim late in 1868. Goldmyer, the son of German immigrants, had traveled from Ohio to San Francisco, arriving in 1861. In 1863, his youthful wanderlust propelled him to hike from California to the fledgling Washington Territory. He later wrote that he made the journey on foot so he could, “get a good view of the country.”

William Goldmyer built a cabin and worked as a logger along the lakeshore. By 1870, his 19 year-old brother Henry was living with him. Perhaps young Henry looked longingly across the lake to Juanita Bay, where land was just becoming available to those who would settle on and improve it, or for purchase at $2.50 per acre.

Around the same time Hubbard established his claim, Henry Goldmyer claimed 160.35 acres at the northeast side of Juanita Bay, which prior to the lake’s lowering nine feet 1916 when the Lake Washington Ship Canal’s Montlake Cut was excavated, Juanita Bay was much larger and the shoreline was well past today’s 98th Avenue NE. It seems logical that the young loggers would choose to make their claims on Juanita Bay, which appears a superior, well-protected site on which to store and raft logs—a huge log pond, of sorts.

Hall’s survey crew moved south into Township 25N, 5E in November, 1870. That township comprises the remainder today’s Kirkland neighborhoods and Houghton, east to Lake Sammamish and runs south, just past Meydenbauer Bay. On the lake at today’s Houghton were then two cabins, one belonging to Nancy McGregor, a widow, and another belonging to her grown son, James Popham—who Hall misidentified as “J. Tahham.” A second Popham brother, William Thomas “Tom” Popham, had a claim at the very southern portion of today’s Yarrow Bay but had not yet built a dwelling there.

Life on the lake was tough and lonely in 1870 and carving homesteads out of the thick, wet forest under frequently dreary gray skies extracted a considerable physical and mental toll on the first settlers. Many noted symptoms of depression. For this and other reasons, large numbers of early homesteaders sold or simply abandoned their claims prior to being awarded title by the federal government. Nancy McGregor owned her claim but her health was and issue and by about 1874 she and her sons had sold their claims and had moved on to California. Not much was recorded about them, but an early 20th century newspaper article, informed by interviews with surviving pioneers who had known them, revealed the Popham brothers as highly skilled hunters and during their short time here they shot six cougars and many black bears—bear steaks being very popular settlers’ fare.

Goldmyer and Hubbard’s signatures, from their 1872 road petition.

Kirkland Heritage Society’s president, Loita Hawkinson, and I have both researched extensively the name Juanita’s origin. Hawkinson has unearthed a newspaper clip of that name being used in 1872, the oldest reference located thus far. Many modern published explanations of the settlement’s name state that the community was originally called Hubbard, after Martin Hubbard. Some of these writers mention a “Hubbard family,” but records show Hubbard never married and had no natural or adopted children. In the 1880s, the US Postal Service awarded Hubbard a mail contract and at that time the small settlement that had sprouted on the bay was called Hubbard by the US Postal Service, but it had been called Juanita well prior to the postal designation. Legend holds that the place was named after a then-popular song, Nita Juanita, but documenting this legend has been quite challenging.

During the summer of 1872, Hubbard and Goldmyer performed another Kirkland first: They petitioned for the Eastside’s first King County road. The two young men, along with John Steeves, who had homesteaded land due east of Juanita, on the Sammamish Slough, spent three days surveying the route of their proposed road:
“Commencing at Henry Goldmyer’s Landing on the East side of Lake Washington thence running on the section lines between 29 and 32 to the quarter post between sections 28 and 33…through the Western portion of John Steeve’s and William Wells’ claims.”

King County records from August 6, 1872 clearly show that Goldmyer, Hubbard and Steeves are responsible for Kirkland’s first road, today’s NE 116th Street. 

The men filed their petition on August, 5, 1872 and the next day it was accepted and declared a road, designated King County Road Number 33. By 1877 it was called R. Langdon Road, after Rowland Langdon, who arrived that year and homesteaded today’s McAuliffe Park. Today we know Hubbard and Goldmyer’s road as NE 116th Street.

On August 3, two days before the men filed their road petition, Samuel and Caroline French, recent arrivals from Maine with their grown son, Harry, paid Alfred Smith $350 to relinquish his land claim near Nancy McGregor’s place, at today’s Houghton. Smith had not yet acquired title to the land and Sam French essentially paid Smith to abandon the 77.8 acres to him so French could complete the residency and improvement requirements—called ‘proving up’ one’s claim—to acquire the first title, called a ‘patent,’ from the government. The French family was long credited as being Kirkland’s first permanent settlers, but since South Juanita was annexed into the City of Kirkland, that title must go to Hubbard whose residency not only pre-dated the Frenches by two years, but who, with Goldmyer and Steeves, had also managed to establish a county road just as the French family was arriving.

In 1876, Goldmyer sold his Juanita claim—he’d owned it outright since October 10, 1872 via a cash sale making Henry the first Kirkland pioneer awarded a patent—and had moved to 10 acres just south of Seattle’s Beacon Hill. He continued to spend his time logging on the Eastside, however. Often loggers of this time stayed in temporary camps located wherever they were cutting trees.

Once his debts were settled, all that remained in Martin Hubbard’s estate was just enough to purchase his grave marker. 

The June 1, 1877 Daily Pacific Tribune newspaper contains a brief, final mention of Henry Goldmyer. On May 30th, he and his logging crew were floating a raft of logs down the Sammamish Slough (Then called the Squak Slough). Standing upright on a wet, bobbing, loose collection of logs was risky; Henry slipped and fell. His head struck one of the logs and everything went black, forever.

An 1887 news account of Martin Hubbard’s death. 

His crew watched in horror as he slipped beneath the surface and under the raft. They searched all day for Henry, but to no avail. The following day a group of Indians found his body washed up on the shore. His remains were taken into Seattle and on June 2 his funeral was held in Yesler Hall and he was interred at Lakeview Cemetery, then called the Masonic Cemetery, though his grave is unmarked because after the debts were settled his estate did not have enough money leftover to purchase one, though he’d done reasonably well for himself financially by 27 year-old pioneer standards. By that time his brother William was married with young kids and it seems likely that it just wasn’t in the family’s budget for him to provide one for his little brother Henry—but that’s just speculation.
This 1920 Map of Juanita Bay shows the current shoreline with a solid line and the pre-1916 lake level with a dashed line. It clearly shows that the foot of NE 116th St was originally at the lakeshore. 

With some tragic irony, a decade later, on May 28, 1887, Martin Hubbard, then 37, was, like his old pal Henry, standing on a floating log raft–though Martin was on Juanita Bay. As Goldmyer had done, Hubbard slipped off a wet log and struck his head, lost consciousness, slid beneath the lake’s surface and never awoke. His body was located the following day by O.C. Shorey’s undertaking firm of Seattle, submerged iunder15 feet of water. Shorey’s invoice was included in Hubbard’s probate records and reveals that Shorey tacked onto the bill an additional $2 charge for removing Hubbard’s remains from the lake. His burial clothes were $10 and his coffin cost $40.

Taken from the foot of NE 116th St, this is the approximate location of Goldmyer’s Landing today, facing south. The building, constructed in 1969 as a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant, is on land that was lakebottom prior to 1916—the old shoreline was (roughly) at the sidewalk. The Juanita Bridge is in the background. Very few people realize that this unremarkable scene is actually Kirkland’s most historic site of the pioneer-era. 

When he died Hubbard still owned all the Juanita Bay land, less the nine acres he’d sold Dorr Forbes for a shingle mill. Hubbard and his business partners also owned a team of oxen used in their logging business. Based on an affidavit in Hubbard’s probate file containing Forbes’ testimony, Hubbard’s logging outfit was a ramshackle, hand-to-mouth operation. Hubbard had no family out west, his estate’s executrix was his sister who lived back east. He was also buried at Lakeview, though his grave is marked with a simple, flat stone that his estate paid a little over $200 for—that was all that was left over after his debts were paid.

After Henry’s 1877 death, new settlers started arriving. These were not bachelor lumberjacks, but married couples with children, many of whom put down Juanita roots lasting for generations. They’d never met Henry Goldmyer, but knew Martin Hubbard for a decade before his accident. It is perhaps for this reason that irrespective of his hard work and colorful, albeit short, life that local legend and written history gave Henry short shrift. Martin W. Hubbard was remembered, but Henry H. Goldmyer was forgotten, becoming Kirkland’s invisible pioneer.
At least until now.

(Note: Special thanks to Tom Hitzroth, a Kirkland native and noted authority on Eastside pioneers, for sharing his collection of period documents and extensive research on Goldmyer and Hubbard).

In The Beginning...

Inevitably, when discussing Kirkland’s past the question arises: Who was here first?

The first humans to live in this area came here—probably from Asia, across the land bridge to Alaska, thence down the coast—as long as 10,000 years ago. That was only a few thousand years after the last ice age covered the entire Puget Sound basin with a sheet of ice a mile thick. Of course the new peoples left no written record of their time here. The only evidence of their early existence is occasional stone artifact that archeologists ponder over.

Until modern times these native people survived and occasionally flourished. Then, European, and later, American explorers brought the diseases of the Old World to the denizens of the New World, whose immune systems were vulnerable to diseases such as smallpox and gonorrhea. Over the continent, they died in huge numbers. In our Puget Sound basin, native populations died off to relatively small numbers of survivors.

Archeological evidence shows that native people lived or camped at Juanita Bay where abundant food was available in the fish-filled creeks and where the in bay’s shallows were a garden of wapato, a sweet potato-like tuber of the Sagittaria Latifolia plant. The wapato nourished natives and pioneers alike.
From about the 1850s, regional explorers, a few hermit-like fur trappers, survey crews, and itinerant lumbermen explored and worked the eastern shore of Lake Washington, then called Lake Duwamish, or the unflattering Lake Duwamps. But these men did not put down roots here; they wanted to find and exploit natural resources such as timber and minerals.

The earliest American explorer on record to see and write about Lake Washington and the land adjoining it, was lawyer Isaac N. Ebey, 32, who traveled north by canoe from Olympia in the summer of 1850, the year before the founding of Seattle, seeking good farmland to homestead. Ebey is credited with giving Olympia its name. He also sponsored the 1852 statute naming King County after Vice President William R. King.

Isaac N. Ebey was the first American on record to explore Lake Washington’s shoreline. He made his journey in a cedar dugout canoe during the summer of 1850. 

Prior to 1916, Lake Washington was nine feet higher than that it is today and the now-extinct Black River flowed out of its southern end to the southwest, where it joined the Cedar River just below Renton. Then it merged with the White River near Tukwila, to become the Duwamish River which, flowed into Elliott Bay through a substantial, smelly mudflat. When Ebey paddled into Elliot Bay, its shoreline probably did not interest him. He would have seen steep hills and dark, dense forest that he would have seen as having no agricultural value. Ebey guided his cedar dugout canoe up the Duwamish River. Curious about what he would find, he pushed forward, followed the fork up the Black, and then into a massive lake, which he christened “Lake Geneva,” because of its clarity, depth, and the beauty of its setting.

Ebey saw promising, fertile soil along the Duwamish River, but he did not claim land there. Instead, in October, 1850, he settled on Whidbey Island where he was the first white settler. Like many early arrivals, over the years he took on numerous civic responsibilities. He served as prosecuting attorney, U.S. Customs Collector and in the Territorial Legislature, where he was instrumental in securing approval of the Monticello Memorial, the legislation separating Washington Territory from Oregon Territory in 1853. During the 1855-56 Puget Sound War (e.g., the Indian War) Ebey was awarded the rank of colonel after he raised a militia company. In 1857, a hostile party of northern Indians traveled south to Puget Sound to avenge the death of one of their chiefs. The party knocked on Ebey’s door, called him from his home, and shot him dead. They beheaded his corpse and scalped his disembodied head. His wife and young children escaped to a nearby blockhouse. Several years later, a family friend was able to purchase Ebey’s scalp from his killers for six blankets, pipes, tobacco and a other trade goods. He returned it to the Ebey family. Ebey’s brother, Winfield, later noted in his diary, “At last a portion of the mutilated remains of my dear brother is returned.”
The first American woman claiming to “see and touch” the lake was Seattle pioneer Mrs. Catherine Maynard, second wife of Dr. David “Doc” Maynard, D.D.S., when the couple ventured up the rivers in an 1853 canoe journey. Doc Maynard had renamed Seattle after its original name, Duwamps, to honor his close friend Chief Sealth (Si’ahl), of the Duwamish (Dkhw’Duw’Absh) Tribe. Catherine Maynard also said she named the Cedar River and Cedar Lake.

The colorful Catherine Maynard said in a 1906 newspaper interview that she had been the first American woman to “see and touch” Lake Washington, during an 1853 canoe journey with her husband, Dr. David “Doc” Maynard, DDS. 

Catherine was Maynard’s second wife. After learning his first wife, Lydia, had engaged in an adulterous affair, Maynard migrated west in 1850, leaving Lydia behind in Ohio to file for divorce on the grounds of desertion, thus avoiding a scandal. Lydia neglected to file for divorce, however, and in 1872, two decades after Maynard and Catherine had married, Lydia showed up in Seattle seeking half of his assets. A scandal ensued when the Maynards invited Lydia to share their home—Maynard was frequently seen out and about in Seattle with a wife on each arm. Doc Maynard died the following year. Catherine outlived her husband by three decades. Many Seattle residents referred to her fondly as “Auntie Maynard.” Legend holds that it was she who introduced dandelion seeds to the region by cultivating the plant, along with many others, for medicinal purposes.

The earliest record of Eastside exploration, the notes of the first government land survey teams, give a sense of Kirkland as wilderness. Because the General Land Office of the Federal Government was to offer these lands for homestead it was critical that the land be included in the public land survey system, which divided areas into six-mile squares, called townships. Each township comprised 36 one-mile-square sections. Only after these boundaries were established could settlers identify the exact land parcels they were claiming under the various homestead acts.

John C. Holgate: A classic 19th century western adventurer and, in 1855 as one of the area’s initial survey team’s two chainman, among the first Americans to explore the damp, dark, wilderness which, in time, would become Kirkland. 

In 1855, Seattle was a fledgling village comprising some 500 souls, across Elliot Bay from the village of Alki (originally pronounced AHL-kee by the pioneers). The first General Land Office crew to survey the Kirkland townships (26N and 25N, both with range 5E) was jointly led by United States Deputy Surveyors David L. Phillips and William A. Strickler, from August, 8 until October 1, 1855. It happened that their presence in the woods coincided with the commencement of the 1855-56 Puget Sound War between with the Nisqually, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, and Klickitat tribes. On October 28, nine settlers were killed near Auburn in what became known as The White River Massacre. Perhaps the most famous engagement of the war was the Battle of Seattle in January 26, 1856, in which raiders attacked the settlement, prompting the settlers to seek refuge in Seattle blockhouses. The residents suffered two fatalities and the native raiders lost some 28 killed and 80 wounded.

Surveyor Phillips, 21, was from Illinois. He had traveled west by the Oregon Trail in 1852 with his father and three siblings. He lived in Olympia, and prior to land surveying had taught school in Thurston County. Strickler, 31, was a Virginian who came to Seattle. By 1854 he was the first King County Surveyor and its first probate judge. He lived on his own land claim just north of today’s Aurora Bridge.

Joseph Foster in 1885. Another pioneer who came to the Pacific Northwest via the Oregon Trail, Foster and his brother, Samuel, took claims at today’s Tukwila. He also served in the Washington Territorial Legislature where he sponsored legislation establishing University of Washington. He was 27 in 1855 when he served as the second chainman on Phillips’ and Strickler’s survey team. 

While some people today have an image of the pre-settlement Eastside as a pristine, magnificent old-growth natural paradise, the facts do not support this conjecture. Their survey notes refer to large areas of burned timber and old-growth Hemlock and Douglas Fir, intermingled with smaller, young trees of those and other species. Many trees were down, presumably by the wind. Because natural forest fires in the Puget Sound lowlands were not common, some speculate that natives intentionally set the forest fires to create openings in the old growth canopy to allow the penetration of sunlight. This, the theory holds, encouraged the growth of browse, the tender green ground cover plants on which deer feed, which in turn encouraged an increase in the numbers of deer, an important food for native people.

Phillips’ and Strickler’s crew comprised chain men John C. Holgate and Joseph Foster and ax man William Gilliam. As an 18-year-old John Holgate came west from Iowa on the Oregon Trail in 1847. Because he was a veteran of the 1847-48 Cayuse War, he was entitled to special status in claiming land. Like Ebey, Holgate also explored the Duwamish River during the summer of 1850. He returned to Oregon until 1853, when he came back to Seattle and staked a sizable land claim on Beacon Hill. Holgate was an adventurer. He wandered far from his Seattle homestead, and by 1868 was part owner of an Idaho gold mine, the Golden Chariot. On March 25, 1868 a boundary dispute with operators of an adjacent mine, the Ida Elmore, turned bloody. In what was later called the War on the Mountain, Holgate was shot in the head and killed.

At age 24, fellow chain man Joseph Foster, a Canadian, had come west through Wisconsin, with his brother Stephen, in 1852. Joseph’s life was longer and happier than Holgate’s. Foster and his brother took claims on the Duwamish River a few miles west of Renton. The area was originally called Foster. Joseph’s cabin was near today’s Fort Dent Park. He served in the legislature for 22 years and died in 1911, at age 82.
At about the same time that the Phillips’ and Strickler’s team surveyed the Eastside, another crew, led by John K. Hall, 28, passed through the townships during its 20-day survey of the Puget Sound Guide Meridian. In 1859, William H. Carlton, 25, resurveyed the area with his crew.

Holgate’s prominent 320 acre land claim in Seattle. 

The surveyors and others who followed wrote that the land was not suitable for farming. The Puget Sound glaciers (the Vashon Glaciation) of 15,000 years ago had carved out the Puget Sound basin and Lake Washington, shaping the adjacent land forms that we know today. The retreat of the glaciers left glacial moraines–giant mounds of rock, sand, gravel, and clays that are the hills and valleys that comprise the topography of the region. This raw, porous debris was not the topsoil necessary to produce healthy crops.
The mighty, deep-rooted Douglas Fir thrived, but crop varieties did not find the Kirkland-area soil hospitable. Because land was then largely valued for its agricultural potential, much of the soil around Kirkland was described in surveys between 1855-70 as second and, most often, third-rate. In following decades and into the early 20th century, many Kirklanders would scratch a hardscrabble living on their stump ranches, some cultivating hardy berry species in the poor soil. It appeared, in those early days, the area around Lake Washington could offer settlers little but timber.

After the initial surveys in the mid-1850s, little activity was recorded in the townships that would become Kirkland. In 1859, coal had been discovered near Newcastle and Issaquah. By the mid-1860s Eastside commercial activity centered on coal and timber extraction. From 1861-65, the United and Confederate States of America were locked in a bloody war and the subsequent, turbulent post-war Reconstruction. During this time Pacific Northwest growth slowed substantially while the nation reunified and licked its wartime wounds.

In September, 1870, the townships that would be Kirkland were resurveyed by Walter B. Hall, 38 (the younger brother of 1855 surveyor John K Hall) and his crew. Walter Hall described wilderness Kirkland in this way: “This township affords an abundance of timber, fir, cedar, hemlock on the high lands and spruce, maple and alder on the low lands. In the low lands of a productive nature various kinds of plants abound – wild cabbage, wild parsnips, coarse grass. And on the high lands, fern, red and black whortleberry, salmon berry, and Oregon grapes.”

Hall’s 1870 survey foreshadowed a new era in the history of Kirkland—settlement.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Welcome to my new PNW local history blog! Here I will share images, stories and other information about the people, places and events that shaped the region we know today.

Thanks for joining me!