Saved From the Dump

Thanks to a second grant from 4 Culture, the Museum has purchased additional supplies to preserve the Valley Record Collection. In 2011 the Snoqualmie Valley Museum received a pair of donations from the publishers of the Snoqualmie Valley Record of historic 1913-1940s newspapers and negatives and photos spanning the years 1970-2005 from the Snoqualmie Valley Record and in 2018 further received bound copies of the newspapers through 2016. The newspaper has been the only continuing newspaper serving the Snoqualmie area from 1912 to the present and has been an invaluable recorder of all aspects of local life. The donation required immediate attention as a portion of it was in unstable condition, literally being saved from a “trip to the dump.”

The first donation consisted of loose and bound copies of the paper covering the years 1913-1940, and thousands of photographs, proof sheets and negatives spanning the years 1970-2005. In this case, the Museum was given only a few hours’ notice before these items, heaped into boxes, were scheduled to go to the dump. In 2018, as the Record thought it would close it offices in the Valley, the publishers realized that the remaining bound copies of the paper (1940’s-2016) should stay in the Valley and be available through the Snoqualmie Valley Museum. The Museum now has possession the single best source for the social, political, economic, cultural and natural history of the area stretching from Snoqualmie Pass and Cedar Falls down the Snoqualmie River through North Bend, Snoqualmie, Snoqualmie Falls, Fall City, Tolt, Vincent, Novelty, and Stillwater to Duvall. The key now is to preserve these materials and make them easily accessible available to the public.

The Museum has broken the project into phases in order to stabilize the collection while working on bringing the whole Valley Record collection up to modern archival standards.

The project phases are outlined as follows:
Phase I. Complete. The hard bound 1913-1924 newspapers were copied onto microfilm by the Washington State Library, adding new material to its collection and providing a copy to the Snoqualmie Valley Museum.

Phase II: Complete. The Museum consulted with Nicolette Bromberg, University of Washington, Special Collections Library, regarding a strategy for processing the collection and use of cost effective materials. Provided training for Assistant Director Cristy Lake in her lab class. Under the direction of Nicolette and Cristy, Shannon Moller, a UW graduate student as a Capstone project, sorted the negatives and prints into chronological order using materials loaned by the UW.

Phase IIIa: Complete: The Museum received financial assistance from 4Culture to purchase archival materials, including negative sleeves, folders, and boxes to store and stabilize the photos and 43,591 of the negatives. At the start of this phase it was estimated that there were between 20,000-40,000 negatives. This phase was completed using trained volunteers and members of the collection committee under direction of the project director. During this phase negatives from 1980, 1982-1988, 1990-July 1993, 2002-2005 were rehoused. On completion of this phase the print boxes loaned from the UW were returned. The softbound newspapers were also housed in archival boxes.

Phase IIIb: Current Phase: The Museum received additional 4Culture support to purchase archival materials, including negative sleeves, folders, and boxes, to store and stabilize the remaining ~40,000 negatives. Remaining are negatives from 1989, and August 1993-2001. Originally intended to begin in the Spring of 2020 as the Museum wrapped up its multi-year inventory of its collection and shifted focus back to the collection; this was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic causing a closure to the interior spaces of the Museum. The Museum has recently been able to go ahead and purchase the supplies and is beginning the process of rehousing the remaining negatives over the winter.

Phase IV: Current Phase: Digitize the bound newspapers. The Museum is currently in negotiations the Valley Record and the Washington State Library with hopes to digitize the newspaper and make it available with OCR search functions on the State Library’s website. Museum has budgeted $5,000 for this phase of the project out of its general fund, received a $5,000 grant from the Snoqualmie Tribe and is working through a local heritage alliance to undertake community fundraising for additional funds for this phase of the project if the negotiations are successful. In 1989 the majority of the newspapers were microfilmed, but many of the issues did not film well and should be reimaged rather than having the microfilm digitized.

Phase V-VII: Future Phase: These will include additional sorting for photo duplication, scanning negatives and photos, accession and entering into Past Perfect where they will be accessible to the public.

The Snoqualmie Valley represents roughly a third of King County’s geography, in the northern half and eastern 2/3rds of the county. It is chronically under-served in representation, financial and educational opportunities and access to services because of the low population density and remoteness of some areas of the Valley. For long stretches of our history the Record has been one of the few ways the events in our area have been recorded. The Museum’s collection contains very few images of the Snoqualmie Valley from the 1960s through present; the Valley Record negative collection fills a substantial part of that void. This project directly allows the Museum to better preserve and share a neglected aspect of King County heritage.

The Valley Record is now currently only available via microfilm at libraries over an hour away for most residents (especially in the lower portion of the valley) via the fragile original copy at the Museum which is currently unable to offer physical access because of the pandemic. The negatives that the Museum seeks to preserve are the best sample of the images from this period.

1950 Exhibit

Between 1940 and 1950 the population of Washington State grew over 37% from 1.7 million people to just under 2.4 million people. In the Snoqualmie Valley, our population jumped a dramatic 61% from 7862 people to 12,679. In April 2022, the 1950 census records will be released. The 1950 census was the first census in which more than one state recorded a population of over 10 million, every state and territory recorded a population of over 100,000 and that all 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 100,000.

This census included questions about addresses and whether people lived in house on a farm; their name and relationship to the head of household; their race, sex, age and marital status; their birthplace and if they were a naturalized citizen if foreign born; and questions about employment including number of hours worked in a week, occupation, industry and class. Additionally, select individuals were asked additional questions covering income, marital history, fertility, and other topics.

With the release of the 1950 Census, the Museum is planning an exhibit on life in the Valley in the 1950s.  Do you have artifacts, photographs, documents or stories to share about the 1950s? If so, we would love to hear from you!

From the Collection: 1893 Fires

Mount Si from North Bend, c 1900.

This past summer huge fires have burned out of control throughout the West, and it is worth remembering that the Snoqualmie Valley is as vulnerable as areas in Eastern Washington, Oregon and California.  Many of the early accounts of Valley life mention sweeping fires, and the photograph above records just one of the many fires that burned the face of Mount Si. The trees we see on the mountain today are only about eighty years old. 

The story below is a composite of two newspaper articles describing the great fire of 1893.  The first account appeared in the September 3 issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, while the second was published in the Washington Standard of Olympia on September 9.

A special from Snoqualmie says: Forest fires are raging south of Preston.  They started on D. J. Graham’s slashing Thursday night, and spread over a large tract of country, destroying a vast amount of timber.  No houses were destroyed.  One barn and several tons of hay belonging to D. H. Graham were burned.  Crops and orchards were badly scorched. 

The trail between Preston & Kennedy’s coal mines was blocked for two miles.  Only two families were driven out – those of A. Reek and T. Anderson, who went to Falls City.  The smoke settled so thickly around their houses that they barely escaped being suffocated.  Miss Susie Cook, the teacher at the Echo Lake school, who was at Anderson’s, went to Monohan to get out of the smoke, but will return on Monday.  The fire there is rapidly dying out. 

Forest fires are raging north of Snoqualmie and south and east of North Bend.  Hugh Cameron, a rancher 10 miles north of Snoqualmie, escaped being roasted only by digging a hole in the ground.  His cabin was burned, also that of L. W. Gore and A. L. Rutherford. A great many others have likely shared the same fate. 

Fire on the south and middle forks of the Snoqualmie River are playing havoc with the timber.  North of the town of North Bend the flames broke out in the scrub timber and brush on the side of Mount Si, and at night they could be seen leaping from one batch of timber and brush to another.  They extend far into the north and middle forks of the river, and Timothy Niles, from the middle fork of the Snoqualmie, reports fires having swept each side of the river for ten miles, destroying at least 60,000,000 feet of cedar alone.  The fire is still burning, and the whole valley is enveloped in smoke.

Further along the south fork fires are raging and the wagon road over the pass is blocked and many teams are delayed near the summit.  O. D. Guilfoil’s logging camp and skid roads were damaged to the amount of $1000.

Major General Wesley Merritt’s Album

The Museum regularly receives phone calls from potential donors who have artifacts they would like to contribute to the Museum. Earlier this fall, we received a phone call from Carolyn A. in Woodland, Washington who had a scrapbook of pictures of Snoqualmie Falls and the power plant. She wanted to know if we would be interested, which of course we were. But it wasn’t until it arrived that we realized how significant it was. Not only does it have amazing photographs in it, the album originally belonged to a figure of international importance.

The album, titled Snoqualmie Falls in Harness, Souvenir of the Visit of the Commercial Club of Chicago’s, was a memento of their March 21, 1901 tour of the Snoqualmie Falls Power Plant. In the lower right corner it named the owner of the book, Major General Wesley A. Merritt.

Major General Wesley A. Merritt was born in New York in 1836 and graduated from West Point in 1860 when he began his long US military career assigned in Utah to the US 2nd Dragoons. As the Civil War broke out in 1862, he quickly began working his way up to Brigadier General by the end of June 1863. After the war he reverted to Lt Colonel were he served in the Indian Wars on the US western frontier through 1882 in various engagements against Native Americans whose homelands he was stationed to occupy including against the Comanche, Kiowa, Apache, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Ute. In 1882 he was made Superintendent of West Point where he served until he was promoted to Brigadier General in 1887 and then Major General in 1895. During the Spanish-American War he was sent to the Philippines, becoming first US Military Commander of the Philippines before being sent to France to help negotiate the 1898 Treaty of Paris. In 1900, he retired from the US Army. He died in 1910 in Virginia. We believe that after his retirement that Wesley Merritt joined the commercial club tour. But do not know the exact circumstances that brought him the Valley. In 2015, Merritt was portrayed by Greg Dorris in the Filipino film Heneral Luna.

Major General Wesley Merritt from Yorkville Enquirer newspaper article, June 11, 1898.

The album was created in 1901, after the 1898 construction of the original power plant but before the 1910 construction of plant 2. The album captures the Snoqualmie Falls, which is a sacred site to the Snoqualmie Tribe, both before and after the large rock (referred to by some as Chief Seattle’s Rock) at the top was blown off. It also provides several clear images of the shoreline opposite the power plant (where the Salish Lodge now is) before major logging, the construction of the tunnel for plant 2, the construction of the farm and later the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge, allowing for a better visual understanding of the original landscape. The album also shows interior images of some of the buildings like the transformer house that are not normally seen and images of the transmission lines and associated buildings to get power from Snoqualmie to Seattle. In the back are also some images of around Western Washington, that very much depict the logging, fishing and shipping trade at the time.

Below is the album for your review. Let us know if there are any details in it that are particularly meaningful to you.

And Now For the Rest of the Story…

There had been rumors circulating for decades that the remains of a local school teacher’s wife and son were buried in the Fall City Bridge. Everyone had heard the whisperings but few, if any, knew the details. Was it the act of a grieving family man or something more sinister? Were there even really bodies in the bridge? In the fall of 1980 when the 1916 bridge was being replaced, the rumors were proven true when two copper urns of ashes were discovered in one of the pilings. The cremated remains of Anna Lavina Marriott Wiggle and her young son Raymond Oliver Wiggle were found.

Fall City Bridge Demolition, Issaquah Press, October 1980
And now for the rest of the story…

Anna Lavina Marriott was born in Albion, Illinois in March 1886 to Albert and Rosena Marriott. The Marriott family were farmers. In August 1906 she married Richard James Wiggle.

James was born in Wales in June 1882 and had moved to Illinois at the age of three with his parents. James’ father, Evan Wiggle, had come from a family of coal miners but wanted better for his children. In Illinois, they lived next to the local Professor of Sciences and his father became the janitor at the college while also serving as minister in two Congregational Churches. James studied at this local college to earn his teaching degree.

After their marriage, James and Anna moved to Dusty, Washington, a small town between Walla Walla and Spokane, hoping to improve their prospects. They boarded with a local farmer while James taught school. They briefly moved back to Illinois in 1911, but James had enjoyed the Washington climate and wanted to return.

By 1912 they had moved to King County where their daughter, Florence, was born.  James planned to teach in the winter and work a side job in the summer. In 1913 James took a position teaching at the Patterson Creek School just outside of Fall City and they lived next to the school.  After the Patterson Creek School consolidated with the Fall City School and the Little Mill School in 1914, he began teaching at Fall City and moved into town. 

James Wiggle’s Patterson School Class

Anna became quite ill by 1914-1915 and James hired one of his 8th-grade students, Silva Redman, to help look after Florence after school. Unbeknownst to Silva at the time, Anna had pulmonary tuberculosis.  Anna’s brother, Ralph Raymond Marriott, had died from the disease in 1909, followed by the deaths of her father and sister Bertha M. Marriott in 1911. 

Anna and Florence Wiggle. From Errol Wall’s Wiggle Family Collection.

Tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which can be inhaled or swallowed with food or drink. Harvard University and the CDC estimate that at the turn of the century, between 60% to 90% of the population had tuberculosis, with 80% of active tuberculosis cases ultimately becoming fatal. After a 1908 U.S. Office of Public Health declaration that Seattle’s record of fighting tuberculosis was the worst in the country, a group of leading citizens formed the Anti-Tuberculosis League of King County to help combat what was at the time Seattle’s leading cause of death. The Anti-Tuberculosis League of King County worked to create a sanatorium to help care for those infected. Firland Sanatorium, Seattle’s municipal tuberculosis hospital, opened on May 2, 1911.

In the winter of 1914-1915, Anna was moved to Firland Sanatorium to have help with her care. There, in May 1915, she gave birth to a son, Raymond Oliver Wiggle. In April 1916, just ten days short of his first birthday, Raymond died, followed by Anna’s death three months later in August. Anna and Raymond were cremated as was encouraged in deaths from tuberculosis to reduce the possible spread of the bacteria.

James and Anna Wiggle. From Errol Wall’s Wiggle Family Collection.
James Wiggle’s Fall City school class, c. 1915.
Fall City Bridge, 1916.

During this same time, in Fall City just up the road from the school, a new bridge was being constructed. Anna had always loved the Snoqualmie River and James thought that the hollow core of the new bridge support columns would be the perfect place for Anna and Raymond to be safe for all time while being next to the river Anna loved so dearly. One night in the late summer of 1916, James went to the bridge and buried the urns under the gravel being used to fill the columns. He did not tell anyone until the construction was complete, at which point he informed the contractor. The contractor kept it quiet because he didn’t want too much attention drawn to the remains, both for public concern and because the construction company had been skimping on the amount of rebar for the project to increase profits. But rumors persisted.

Shortly afterward, in December 1916, James remarried Anna Josefina Elizabeth Nelson. They lived for a short time in the house next to the Fall City Masonic Hall. During this period Florence was also at Firland Sanatorium like her mother and brother before her. In March 1917, tragedy struck the family again when Florence died. At just six years old, she, too, succumbed to pulmonary tuberculosis, only seven months after her mother. In less than a year, James lost his wife and both of his children.

James Wiggle’s Fatal Accident Report

By 1918 James and his second wife had moved to Seattle. Their plan was for James to work in the shipyards during the off-season and teach in the winter. In 1919 he was working at the shipyards for Skinner & Eddy Corporation, a Seattle-based shipbuilder that existed from 1916 to 1923. The yard is notable for having built more ships for the U.S. war effort during World War I than any other American shipyard, and also for breaking world production speed records for individual ship construction. On May 22, 1919, while on the job, James fell from a stage landing on the top of a tank, fracturing his skull. He died two days later. James’ second wife, Anna Josefina Elizabeth, lived until 1967 and was laid to rest next to James at Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle.

By 1979 the rumors of the bodies buried in the bridge had persisted for six decades, but most of those connected to the story were now gone. The bridge was getting older and was due for replacement. Valley Record reporter Hugh Grew looked into the story uncovering many of the details of who might be buried there and why.  At that time, James was remembered as a kind and considerate man who was a good instructor, but no one knew what happened to him after he left Fall City. On October 8, 1980, two workers found the remains of Anna and Raymond. The next day, the bridge collapsed, sending a crane operator to the hospital with a broken back. The bridge structure failed during the demolition because of the missing rebar from the 1916 construction. Luckily, the crane operator was not killed.  The bridge was then replaced with the current structure and an investigation revealed that the contractor of the 1916 bridge had committed fraud.

In 1980, Anna and Raymond were laid to rest in the Fall City Cemetery. Florence’s burial location remains a mystery.  The surviving extended family did not realize that Anna and Raymond had been buried in the bridge and had assumed Florence was buried next to Anna and Raymond without a headstone at Fall City Cemetery, which is not the case.  It can be assumed she was cremated as was the practice with tuberculosis cases.

Larry Watson finds Anna and Raymond Wiggle’s urns in the Fall City Bridge.

And that is the rest of the story.

So, we are experiencing an historic moment

So, we are experiencing an historic moment. The Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum is closed until further notice. Local businesses are beginning to open, at least for curbside service, but in April it was possible to drive through Fall City, Snoqualmie and North Bend at one in the afternoon and not see a single car parked in front of any business. For a full century Valley gas stations, restaurants, motels and car camps only survived because people on the cross-state highway made a quick stop.

More recently, the hikers, the outlet mall bargain hunters and all our new neighbors have kept the towns humming, but this spring the streets were deserted. The museum’s main exhibit in 2019 focused on the history of high school in the Snoqualmie Valley, and this year’s senior class went into the fall thinking it would have the distinction of being the very first graduating class in the spectacular new building in Meadowbrook. Now the students are sheltering at home. The members of the Class of 2020 and their parents and the school district are now scrambling to improvise some whole new kind of senior year spring, one that we hope will never have to be repeated.

The museum is closed, of course, but Cristy continues to post new pictures and text on social media every day, and she tackles the steady stream of questions that you email in. We will use the downtime to make some improvements in the galleries and back rooms. It will be challenging to find ways to reopen to the public, given our narrow hallways and small spaces, but we are working on the problem.

I have recently heard from two people who are using their shelter time to dust off family history projects they’ve been meaning to get to. I’ve been doing some of that myself. I’ve decided there are FOUR GREAT STEPS we should all take right now.

One: Label your photographs! Today everyone knows that that is Aunt Cindy in the back row on the left in that picture taken at the lake, but your grandchildren won’t know, and they might use that as an excuse to just toss the picture altogether. Your great-grandchildren might never know who you were.

Two: Phone your parents, grandparents, cousins and college friends and ask those questions.

Three: Write down those funny stories about your kids. You tell the stories all the time, and they groan, but thirty years from now they’ll be sorry if they can’t quite remember how it was that you and your friend Dale got into that barrel of tar.

Four: Be sure to fill out the 2020 Federal Census. Your actual form won’t be made public for 72 years, but after the year 2092 your descendants and the local museum will be desperate to know every detail. This is your chance to make a mark on history!

by Gardiner Vinnedge, Board President

Unprecedented Times?

It was one hundred years ago when the influenza pandemic, known as the Spanish flu, hit the world. Now, a century later, another infectious disease epidemic is sweeping the globe. Both have caused shocking death rates and other serious health issues. Then, and now, people faced major struggles during the pandemic. In 1918 it was a terrible war – WWI. For us, we are not at war with other nations, but have been locked in bitter debates around issues of mask-wearing, racism, and politics.

Newspapers in 1918 naturally offered plenty of stories about the final months of WWI but relatively few about the growing pandemic.

The origin of the “Spanish flu” name stems from newspapers reporting on the pandemic in Spain. Having remained neutral in the war, Spain did not impose wartime censorship. Newspapers freely reported the epidemic’s effects, and these widely-spread stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit. More recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for modern best practices for naming new human infectious diseases in ways to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people. They recommend the Spanish Influenza now be called the “1918 influenza pandemic.”

The flu in 1918 and early 1919 came in three distinct waves — a usually mild form in the spring and summer of 1918, followed by the deadly strain in the closing months of that year, and ending with a return of usually milder disease in the early months of 1919, not fully tapering off until 1920. Not everyone who became ill was infected with the virulent “Spanish” flu; some had a milder form. The H1N1 flu killed both directly and by leaving victims vulnerable to secondary infections with bacterial pneumonia, which was often fatal even in the absence of the flu. But because the flu was so contagious and pneumonia was so often found during autopsies of flu victims, the federal Census Bureau decided to use a single category in its mortality statistics for 1918: “deaths from influenza and pneumonia (all forms).”

As State health officials tried to deal with the pandemic they asked for federal advice and were told: “Service does not recommend quarantine against influenza.” Newspapers published creative, but incorrect, treatments for flu. One recommendation involved cutting an onion in half and setting it in a room to absorb flu germs. Another advised people to mix table salt with water to use as a nasal spray, tooth powder or mouthwash. As health officials weighed choices locally one official noted “One can avoid contracting the disease if he will go into a hole and stay there, but the question is how long he would he have to stay there? The indications are that it would be at least for a year or longer.” Despite its early concerns, the Washington State Board of Health did not impose statewide measures to combat the pandemic until it was well under way. The only preventive regulation of statewide application that the board issued came on November 3, 1918, when it required that surgical masks of a specified size and thickness “entirely covering the nose and mouth” be worn in virtually all public places where people came into close contact with one another. The order also required that the proprietors of stores, restaurants, and cafes “keep their doors open and their places well ventilated” and that one-third of the windows in streetcars be opened when in use by the public. The mask mandate didn’t receive a groundswell of support and was difficult to enforce. Many residents who lived outside of city centers viewed influenza as an urban problem. But the virus spread to small communities as well.

It is in the autumn of 1918 that the influenza outbreak really began to be felt in the Snoqualmie Valley. Between the end of October 1918 and February 1919, twelve residents in the towns of North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City, Preston, Edgewick, Cedar Falls and High Point died from influenza including: Henry Harrard, section foreman; Margaret Weeks, wife of North Bend Timber Co co-owner; Andrew Ronnei, Fall City merchant; Verna Rollins, housewife, and two soldiers in the Spruce Division: one stationed at Edgewick and the other living in Cedar Falls. In November 1918, North Bend was quarantined because of the number of cases and travel to the city was banned. Schools closed locally for nearly two months in October and November.

In the health board’s December 1918 biennial report they noted that in the five years from 1913-1917, from the five most common contagious diseases there had been 1,768 deaths. From influenza alone in the first ten months of 1918 there were well over 2000 deaths. The health board’s next biennial report was not issued again until January 1921 and was almost silent on the 1918 pandemic.

by Cristy Lake, Assistant Director

Edward J Siegrist

Edward J Siegrist was a photographer, jeweler and optician who ran a shop in North Bend, Washington from early 1908 until January 1910. He was elected the first treasurer of North Bend when it was incorporated in February 1909. In April 1909 the Issaquah Press reported that he was temporarily relocating to the Richardson building until he could finish construction of his new building after his first business burned along with half of North Bend in a fire earlier that month. In January 1910, the Issaquah Press reported him selling his business to Mr. Graham and taking a trip to visit his old home in Wisconsin. He is found later that year beginning a new jewelry, optician and photography business in Concrete, Washington.

Siegrist took a number of photographs of the Snoqualmie Valley, its people and places while here. His experience with lenses probably accounts for the quality of his photographs. He appears to have sold his business in 1917, disappearing from view.

Votes for Women: Women in Snoqualmie Valley Politics

The year 2020 marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote in August 1920. This post is a revisit to the 2010 Snoqualmie Valley History Magazine article on the centennial of women’s suffrage in Washington State.

The year 2010 marked the centennial of one step in giving full voting rights to women in Washington State. In 1883 and 1887 the territorial legislature voted to give women the vote, making Washington only the third territory to do so, but both times the territorial supreme court ruled women’s suffrage unconstitutional. Women were therefore unable to participate in the process of writing the constitution in 1889, and the draft that resulted did not include votes for women.

On October 1, 1889, male voters were asked to settle several questions. Should the proposed constitution be adopted? Where should the state capital be located? Should liquor be prohibited in the new state? Should women be given the vote? The constitution won; Olympia led North Yakima and Ellensburg; prohibition lost; and so did votes for women.

The struggle for women’s suffrage went on. The new state constitution did give the new legislature the right to give women the vote in school elections, and in 1890 the men in the legislature took that step. In 1898 a second women’s suffrage amendment failed statewide, but in 1910 the third effort succeeded, allowing women to participate in all state elections. In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution finally gave women the right to vote in presidential elections.

Voters in the Snoqualmie Valley generally followed state trends when it came to women’s political rights, but the individual communities did see the issues differently. Furthermore, election records show that women throughout the Valley became actively involved in school elections. Curiously, once women gained full voting rights in 1920, their involvement in local politics began to decline, and by the late 1930s few local women were seeking elected offices anywhere in the Valley. In 1940, however, Snoqualmie Valley women once again began to seek elected offices.

Votes for women
The men of the Snoqualmie Valley were opposed to votes for women at first. There were only three local precincts when the first statewide vote on women’s suffrage was taken in 1889, and Tolt, Fall City and Snoqualmie all voted no by wide margins. In Snoqualmie and Tolt, more men voted on the suffrage and prohibition issues than on the state constitution itself, but the low point for suffrage was the Snoqualmie precinct where the vote was 25 in favor, 78 against. In 1898, a women’s suffrage amendment failed again statewide, but votes for women won a slim victory in the Snoqualmie Valley. A majority of men in Preston and Fall City voted for suffrage, and the vote was close in Tolt, Snoqualmie and North Bend. The totals for the combined precincts were 72 in favor, 68 opposed.

By the 1910 election, a majority of male voters in Washington State had come around to the idea that women should have full voting rights in the state, and a majority of those in the Snoqualmie Valley agreed. Suffrage won by substantial margins in Tolt, Preston, Fall City, Snoqualmie and Cedar Falls, but the measure lost again in North Bend and in the Tanner precinct east of North Bend. The combined vote was 143 in favor, 94 against.

Focus on schools
The decision in 1890 to allow women to participate in school elections provided a political opportunity that Snoqualmie Valley women quickly seized. The official record of King County school officials begins late, in the year 1895, and in that year three women won elections. Edna Lovering was elected clerk of the Fall City school district, while Mary Klaus became one of the three school directors (board members) in Snoqualmie, and Sarah Davis became a director in Tolt. Others may have served between 1890 and 1895.

Throughout the 1890s women regularly served as clerks and directors up and down the Valley. Edna Lovering and Florence Bonnell settled in as clerks in Fall City for over a decade, and Louisa Gardiner and Annie Joyner were clerks in North Bend throughout the late 1890s. Mrs. E.M. Reed and Minnie Ludwigson served as directors in Preston. Between 1900 and 1910 women became a very strong force in Snoqualmie Valley school politics. In 1900, Rosa Pumphrey was elected as a director in North Bend, and she was followed by Annie Liddle, just twenty-five years old, and Ida Payne. Minerva Herndon was elected in Fall City in 1906. Agnes Knack and Rachel Richardson became directors in Tolt, and Sarah Davis returned to the Tolt board in 1906.

In Snoqualmie women largely took over the school board in 1900. Caroline Redding and her neighbor Katie Chapman both began long terms of service as directors in Snoqualmie that year, and they were later joined by Margarethe Reinig and Sibylla Storrs. Etta Winter, Polena Weller and Emma Rutherford also served during the decade. Snoqualmie’s school board was made up entirely of women during several years of the decade.

After women’s suffrage won in 1910, local women almost immediately began to withdraw from public life. After Emma Rutherford finished her term in 1912, no woman served on the Snoqualmie Board for over twenty years. Mrs. M.V. Terhune and former clerk Annie Joyner Willard were the only North Bend women to serve between 1903 and 1932. Sarah Davis finished her final term in Tolt in 1909 and was not followed by another woman for over two decades. Fall City elected Lucile Taylor to one term starting in 1918, and Aura Coppers defeated a male incumbent in 1924,
but lost three years later. Women did continue to serve on the school boards in some of the Valley’s very small school districts. Sophia Edwin served Preston continuously between 1908 and 1919, and she was followed by two other women. After the tiny Taylor school district was formed in 1905, women quickly dominated that board. Bessie Norman was one of the initial directors of the North Fork School District in 1910, and Julia Ellis served a term beginning in 1920. Etta Graybael served on the Cedar Falls school board starting in 1933, but the Edgewick school district didn’t elect any women in its short nine-year span.

Once women won the state vote they could participate in municipal politics, but this rarely happened. Actually, in 1906, before it was legal, one or possibly two men in Fall City cast single votes for “Mrs. T. King” for justice of the peace and “Mrs. Connelly” for constable, but women received only scattered votes for positions in city government, usually for clerk or treasurer.

First Snoqualmie, then North Bend
There was only one, late, exception, in Snoqualmie. In 1931, Carol Van Horne was elected city treasurer, decisively defeating Mable Iverson and Bob Woods, and she was reelected nearly unanimously in 1932. In 1934 she was challenged by Elmer Anderson and Lillian Post, but won with a plurality. In 1935 she was out-polled by Anderson, the winner, and Ruth Litz, and she did not seek public office again. When Amy English was elected city clerk in Snoqualmie in 1940 a new generation of women emerged as political leaders, but again, only in Snoqualmie. Amy English
and her husband Joe owned a pharmacy in Snoqualmie, and were well-known in the community. In 1940 she received all but one of the 144 votes cast for town clerk. She was joined in town government in 1941 by Christine Max, who served parts of several terms on the city council, and, in 1942, by Susannah Northern, who was elected city treasurer unopposed.

In 1947, Amy English received just four votes for mayor, probably write-ins, and she finished last, but in September 1950 she was appointed mayor of Snoqualmie. The Valley Record noted that “Mrs. English had been a councilman since June, 1948…” She was the first woman to hold an executive position in any Valley government. As Amy English retired, Mary Whitaker joined the Snoqualmie council, first as an appointee and then on a coin toss following a tie election, but when she stepped down in 1960, Snoqualmie was run entirely by men for the next twenty years, almost another generation. North Bend, skeptical of women in politics from the beginning, took the next step, however, electing Frances North to the city council in the late 1960s. The entire Valley supported her as she won five terms in the state House of Representatives between 1972 and 1982. She told an interviewer in 1983 that she never felt that being a woman was an issue in any of her campaigns.

By the time Frances North retired, women were regularly elected to city councils in both Valley cities. Jeanne Hansen became mayor of Snoqualmie in 1987, and Joan Simpson was elected mayor of North Bend in 1995. Today, Valley voters are represented by women on the school board, both city councils, the county council, the state senate, the U. S. senate, and the governor’s mansion. It has taken 127 years.

Edna Lovering
Florence Bonell
Annie Liddle
Annie Pulliam Joyner Willard Carpenter
Sophia Edwin
Etta Graybael with son
Mary Whitaker
Frances North

by Gardiner Vinnedge, Board President