Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day and Issaquah's Recent History

There is a tendency to think of history as "the stuff that happened before I was old enough to remember it." I often hear, from community members, "Oh, you really should have talked to my mother/grandmother/aunt/older brother, they knew/know ALL the history. I don't really know much." For some reason, we always value the information that has just been lost higher than the information we hold in our own memories.

I thought of this tendency recently, while I was perusing the Issaquah Press archives for stories about St. Patrick's Day or the Irish in Issaquah. Our blog has celebrated St. Patrick's day in the past, and I hoped to find something new and different to relate. I found myself leaning towards the newspaper articles dated in the 1910s and 1920s, and not finding anything new or exciting (or should that be "old and exciting"?). I was rewarded when I turned to Issaquah's more recent past.

In a June 9, 1982 issue of the Issaquah Press, I "met" a significant Irish character from Issaquah's past who I'd never "met" before -- but I'm sure that his name and face are familiar to many of Issaquahns who have been in the area since the late 1970s and early 1980s. 
Born in Roscommon, Ireland in 1919, Father Anthony McGirl was ordained as a priest in Ireland, and came to the Archdiocese of Seattle in 1945. After working in Marysville, and later Bothell, before his move to St. Joseph's Church in Issaquah. Father Anthony McGirl arrived in Issaquah in 1975 and served there until his death in 1982.

Although the church itself was not constructed until 1896, Catholic services were held regularly in the area starting in 1884. The first St. Joseph's church stood on today's Sunset Way (originally Mill Street). At that time, Issaquah was a mission of the Renton parish. Issaquah's Irish residents played a significant role in establishing the church; Pete McCloskey, Michael Donlan, and Pete Maloney (all Irish-born) pooled their resources to provide land and materials for the church's construction.

 It was not until the 1962 that Issaquah became its own parish. By that  time, Issaquah and grown and so had St. Joseph's congregation. A new church facility -- which still serves the parish today -- was constructed on Mountainside Drive.

According to the Issaquah Press article that serves as a public euology, Father Anthony McGirl was "a man who wanted nothing more out of life than to work with and care for the people of his parish." One of McGirl's colleagues, Father Stephan Rowan, recalled McGirl's "great personal warmth" and his tireless efforts to serve parishioners who were "sick, depressed, or losing faith in the church." Rowan also noted that, in addition to pictures of Christ, McGirl's bedroom was decorated with another banner that said, "God made the Irish number one!"

Rowan's eulogy also hinted at McGirl's sly sense of humor. He recalled telling McGirl once, "You know, Tony, I sometimes feel as if I've landed into the middle of a scene from 'Going My Way.' Here you are, the wise, old Irish pastor who taked in the collection and gives out so much practical advice."

"Yes, Steve," he replied, "and you sing and play the piano."

More than 600 people attended McGirl's funeral mass, including 120 priests and three bishops.

Go here to read the original Issaquah Press article from June 9, 1982.

Did you know Father Anthony McGirl? If you did, or if you have any photographs of him, please let us know!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

From the Digital Collections: Happy Valentine's Day


Postcard from unknown (Seattle, WA) to Mrs. Gust Berg (Preston, WA).
Postmarked February 14, 1917.
See other Valentine's Day records in our collection by following this link.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top 10 Records in the Digital Collections from 2014

Last year was the first year we debuted our Top 10 records of the year. You can see that post here. So continuing in that tradition, here are the top 10 records of 2014.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ding Dong!

The Issaquah History Museums receive hundreds of research requests each year. Some of them are duplicates (“What does Issaquah mean?” is a common one) and some of them are unique and memorable (in 2000, someone called to ask if Issaquah’s gingko tree is a male or female). Some of them lead us down interesting paths to find answers, and some of them end up providing US with more information about something that we didn’t know.

This week, we received an information request from someone who had a question about Issaquah’s old Methodist Church and a bell. Boone D. described the bell’s size and its markings:
Buckeye Bell foundry 1895
The E. W. Vanduzen Co. Cincinnati

Issaquah M. E. Church
Nov. 28. 1895.

He wanted to know anything that could be found out about the church where the bell was originally used, and the significance of the date on the side. He also wanted to know when the bell left Issaquah. This left me with an even more fascinating question – where was Boone and how did the bell end up there today?

Fortunately, Harriet Fish wrote an article about bells (“Bells Integral part of early Town”, originally published by the Issaquah Press, also published in This Was Issaquah) that we’d used in the past to identify one of our own bells. The article seems to raise more bell questions than it answers in some instances, but in the case of the Methodist church, there are helpful clues. According to Fish, the bell “was used regularly until the building was razed in the early 1950s – bell, lumber and all being transported to Kelso, Washington.”

So that was where the bell ended up.

And it had obviously started out at the Buckeye Bell Foundry in Cincinnati. In this respect, the bell is in excellent company. The Buckeye Bell Foundry produced bells for nearly 100 years, and the results are distributed among bell towers all over the world (some have even been found in a tiny church in Sichuan, China, where they were lucky to survive that country’s Great Leap Forward).

Figuring out the significance of the date on the side was a little more complicated – and. Issaquah’s first church was a Methodist church, and it was built on a plot of land donated by Ingebright Wold. The church was located near the school on what became known as School House hill. In 2014, we know it as the hill where the Julius Boehm pool and Issaquah Middle School are located. Harriet Fish cited a book called “Glimpses in Pioneer Life on Puget Sound,” by Reverend A. Atwood, which described the origins of the Methodist Church in Issaquah. Wold donated the land in 1889, and construction of the church was completed in 1890. A parsonage was later built in 1898. However, Atwood notes that “During the pastorage of Brother Wadsworth a bell was purchased to call the people to worship.” It’s likely that the date on the bell represents either some symbolic anniversary (which I can’t guess) or the formal dedication of the bell itself in 1895.

I was a bit skeptical about the town name on the bell. As you might know, Issaquah was called Gilman from the time it was incorporated in 1892 until its official name change in 1899. The name “Issaquah” came into use before the official name change, but four years before? Atwood’s research answers this question as well, commenting that name Issaquah first appears in church records in 1895. Atwood recognizes the following people for making contributions to the founding and equipping of Issaquah's first church building, "Gen. George W. Tibbetts, James Bush, W. R. Bush, L.A. Wold, George Davis, John Friend, Peter Rippe [Reppe], Peter Smith and others rendered assistance either in money or work in the building of this church." 

I typed up my findings and sent them to Boone, now growing more and more curious about the bell’s current circumstances. This morning I heard back from him. The Issaquah Methodist-Episcopal Church’s former bell is not in Kelso, but hangs at a church camp in Port Orchard, WA, where it still gets regular use. The bell has been there since the camp was built in 1955. Boone shared pictures of the bell with me, although he noted, “Sorry the pictures aren’t very clear, the bell tower is a little cramped so it’s hard to get a good angle to show the whole bell.” If you look closely, you can see where the word Issaquah is engraved.

Click the pictures to see them in larger format. The custom engraving is much less visible than the bell’s maker markings.

Did the bell (and building) make it to Kelso? Did they decide not to re-construct Issaquah’s old church? Did they build it, but decide against the bell? Where was the bell between 1952 and 1955? We’ll let you know if we make any more progress on this history mystery.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Top 10 Records in the Digital Collections from 2013

At the end of every year we're able to see what the top records from our Digital Collections are - meaning which photo, document, letter, etc. was accessed by the most people. It always fascinates me to see what records make this list and it is never what I expect. The following are the top 10 records accessed during the year 2013.

10. Mary Pedegana, Mattie Tibbetts, and Ferol Tibbetts in Swimwear, 1910s

 Mary, Mattie, and Ferol (and an unknown young boy) are wearing swimwear of the day. A railroad trestle is able to seen from the background, but it's unknown where the photo was taken. This photo is from one of Ferol Tibbetts' photo albums. Clicking "Tibbetts Family" from the list of tags on the left will take you to more blog entries about the Tibbetts' family. Full Record

9. Friend of Josephine Cornick, 1915

An unknown woman stands in a field with overalls, straw hat, and a shovel. From the Josephine Cornick Ross Collection we featured a bit in our blog this year. Full Record


8. Ray Robertson, Town Marshal, 1949

Ray Robertson was Town Marshal in 1949. In this picture he's with his two oldest sons and perhaps Issaquah's first squad car, which he was instrumental in purchasing. Read more about Ray Robertson on our websiteFull Record

7. Lew on Lewbea and Bojo on Rusty, 1964

Bojo the horse-riding dog. There isn't much more to be said. Full Record

6. ”Finding the Site of the Attack on Chinese Laborers in Squak Valley”

A document prepared by Tim Greyhavens where he worked to find the exact location of where the 1885 attack on Chinese laborers occurred. The document, available in our Digital Collections, contains photos, transcripts, and is a fascinating read. Full Record

5. Halmar Foldvik Mine Training Certificate, 1924

A new addition to our collections in 2013 - this is a "Certificate of Mine Rescue and First-Aid Training" for Halmar Foldvik. A fascinating piece and great addition to our collection of mine information. Full Record

4. Letter from Fran Pope to Rita Perstac, Jan. 5, 1989 - Greater Issaquah Coalition

 This is one of those records that surprises me. Our Greater Issaquah Coalition collection is important, but I'm always surprised when it's letters that get a lot of traffic and not photos. This letter and accompanying report outlines the importance of preserving Pickering Barn and ideas for connecting it, Gilman Village, and the Depot via train tracks. Full Record

3. Minnie Wilson Schomber Letter, August 31, 1916

Another surprise in the top 10. Having been the one to scan, read, and catalog the entirety of Minnie Wilson Schomber's letter collection (including hers and her husband's), I always groan a little when one pops up. Her sappy, sweet letters are always good for a laugh - especially when she writes "I would give anything if I had you and the big leather chair here tonight. I suppose you could guess what I would do."  Full Record

2. Friend of Josephine Cornick Modeling her Gym Bloomers, ca 1918

Another picture of a friend of Josephine Cornick - this time in her gym bloomers, standing in front of what appears to be Issaquah High School. Two gals behind her appear to be wearing the same outfit. At least they're pants and not skirts! Full Record

1. Opening of Vasa Hall in Upper Preston, ca 1950

We had a lot of requests for Preston photos this year and did a lot of work in making sure our Preston records were uploaded to our Digital Collections. This must have been the most popular of the bunch! A group photo of the "Order of Vasa" at the opening of the new Vasa Hall in Upper Preston. Unfortunately, no one in the photo is identified - send us any information you may have! Full Record

In-depth cataloging of letters, journals and other documents was made possible by a grant from 4Culture. Yet another grant from 4Culture, along with generous support from individual donors, makes it possible for us to scan these items and share them through our Digitial Archives.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Photo Mystery!

Unidentified image from the Anderson Collection
photo 2010.011.051
Downtown Issaquah, cars, people, and a man with a lottery style cage on a platform

We've had this image in our collections for a few years now, and it hasn't been added to our digital collections for the sole reason that we're not sure exactly what we're looking at. And so we can't properly date and catalog it.

I first assumed that it was part of the draft in World War II since it came with a collection with many other items related to the war. However, it could be something else completely.

I'd love to know more specifics of what's going on here. It's an obviously important event, with cars lining the streets and people filling the sidewalks. If it is draft related, what exactly am I looking at?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hearing History: James "Pinky" Hailstone

Hailstone Feed Store - the closest thing IHM has to a picture of James "Pinky" Hailstone
(left to right: Frank Hailstone, Nell Hailstone Falkenstein, Emma Greenier Hailstone [wife of James Hailstone])
Hailstone Feed Store
ca 1930s
Unidentified woman and man

Bob Evans:  Did you ever hear anything about that hanging over by the Marchettis, a maple tree?
James "Pinky" Hailstone:  Oh, yes.   My older brother witnessed that.
Richie Woodward:  Uh-huh.
JH:  I asked him, oh, a few different times, you know, about the deal.  And he was the only one that I could find in this community who could tell me different parts of that.  
You see, they – what I wanted to know was what they did with the bodies of the two men that were blown up in this explosion.  And he told me that they were buried in that little corner, where they had that … uh … public building there, across the creek from the fish hatchery, that apartment house.

RW:  Oh, yeah.

JH:  They were buried in that corner.

BE:  What explosion was that? 

JH:  Well, you see, why, they hanged the man.  He went down and blew up part of a house.  Of course, the whole history of the thing was, at the time then, why, we had instead of – we did have hotels in this town.  I don’t mean that, but we had many of the men that worked in the mine were single men.  And a lot of the women had what they called “rooming houses.”  They would have board and room for so much a month.

And this fellow came to one of those boardinghouses and he and this woman that was operating it had known one another in Europe.  I think in Austria or one of the German you know, close to Germany.  And he wanted to board there with her, but she wouldn’t let him.

So, her and her daughter lived in a little sort of a lean-to built onto the house.  They slept in that.  And, of course, he got that information.  And when she had refused him two or three times to let him come in there and stay, why, he brought powder from the mine, and one night he blew up this part of the house.  And during the time from when he had talked to her until he was ready to blow it up, she had moved her bedroom upstairs and moved a couple of her boarders in there.  And, of course, they were the ones that were killed; and that’s what the hanging was about. 

The town folk just organized and got the guy and took him up there and hung him.  They had a trial in the little union hall up there.

RW:  Where did they hang him at?

JH:  Well, they just took him down over the hill … now, what would that … let’s see …

BE:  That was Marchetti’s there, wasn’t it?

JH:  Yeah, that was Tom Marchetti’s place, right just across the alley from the Tom Marchetti –

BE:  Where they built the schoolhouse and [inaudible].

RW:  Uh-huh.

JH:  You know, from the school, it’s on that side, on the west side.  That was the original school grounds, of course.  But they just held their court, and they found him guilty, and they went down there and strung him up and left him."

Oral History Transcript / Full Record

Note: the transcript and record are incorrect in their use of the name "John" Hailstone. The correct and full name is James Hooker Hailstone, Sr. Records will be updated to reflect this.

James “Pinky” Hailstone was born in British Columbia in 1898 to Francis Hailstone and Ester Hooker Hailstone. He was interviewed in 1975 by Richie Woodward, a student at Issaquah High School. His interview has a lot of interesting stories including he and some friends burning a “fiery cross” and the KKK being blamed for it, the story of the only hanging in Issaquah, and a story about Ben Legg.

Last week we wrote about James "Pinky" Hailstone's daughter - Dorothy Hailstone Beale.