The History of the Issaquah Area
This information is provided courtesy of Erica S. Maniez, Museum Director for the Issaquah Historical Society. Information about the Patrons of Husbandry and the I.O.O.F. was taken from Bagley's History of King County. For more information, contact the Issaquah Historical Society
The first white settlers arrived in Issaquah in the early 1860s. Among them were James and Martha Bush, William and Abbie Casto, John Halstead, L.B. Andrews, John Beatty, and David Mauer. Other land-owners at that time included H.L. Yesler and M.P. Adams, although whether these gentlemen ever lived in the valley is unknown.
The first four official land patents in the Issaquah area were filed by Lyman Andrews in 1862, Lars Wold in 1867, Ingebright Wold in 1867 and Jacob Jones in 1867. These four plots intersected at a common corner, now the site of the intersection of Front Street and Sunset Way in downtown Issaquah. Squak Valley was the name given to the early settlement.
In 1862 Lyman B. Andrews discovered coal in the Squak Valley. Two years later, he shipped a five ton barge of coal from his mine to Seattle via Lake Sammamish, the Sammamish Slough, Lake Washington and finally the Duwamish River. This 140 mile journey was so expensive that Andrews eventually gave up mining coal in the valley.
In 1864 two Snohomish Indians shot and killed William and Abbie Casto and John Halstead. It is thought that the settlers were killed in retaliation for the killing of a tribal chief in the Everett area. Reports from eyewitnesses indicate that the two Indians, identified by Martha Bush as John and William Taylor who were employed by the Casto's, shot the family. The Casto's overseer, a Klickitat man named Aleck, killed John and William r to avenge the murder. In 1867 William Pickering Sr., during his term as the fifth territorial governor of Washington, bought the Casto's Farm.
One of the more successful industries in Squak Valley was hops farming. The Wold brothers purchased hop plants from Ezra Meeker in 1869; as time went by, more and more Squak Valley residents were growing the crop. Settlers sold their hops to breweries in Seattle.
In 1885 the Wolds hired Chinese immigrants to pick hops, replacing the white and Native American pickers since the Chinese would pick for less. White and Native American pickers, fearing a loss in wages, killed four of the Chinese pickers and drove the rest out of town.
Railroad entered the valley in 1887 when the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad reached Issaquah, then called Gilman. In 1888 the first coal shipment by rail was sent to Seattle. The railroad's appearance prompted the construction of the Issaquah Depot. One of the beams still visible in the freight room was stamped with the name of the stage service that transported it and the place name "Squak, W.T." The Depot's construction was completed in 1889, the year Washington achieved statehood.
Three years after statehood, the Squak Valley community incorporated as Gilman and later became Issauquah. And just as Washington developed into a state, Issaquah transformed from a territorial settlement into a boomtown.
Territorial Towns and Settlements
Squak Valley—settled in the early 1860s and incorporated as Gilman in 1892. The name was later changed in 1900 to Issaquah.
The Meaning of Issaquah
The valley where Issaquah is located was called Squak Valley, a corruption of the Native American word for the region "isquowh," which means "sound of water birds." From 1892-1899, the town of Issaquah was known as Gilman, after which it was called its current name, another derivation of the Native American name.
Organizations Formed During the Territorial Times
One of the earliest lodges of the Patrons of Husbandry in the county was organized as Alpha No. 55 in the valley on October 17, 1874 with Thomas J. Cherry, first master and Thomas G. Sloane, the school teacher, secretary. Other members were as follows: William Pickering, William H. Brunk, Mary J. Brunk, Charlie W. Brunk, James Bush, Martha A. Bush, George W. Tibbetts, Rebecca A. Tibbetts, John C. Reed, Annie Reed, Mathias Carter, and Jacob Jones. (Photo: George Washington Tibbetts, 94.10.9, and IOOF Lodge, 91.7.76)
The Odd Fellows were one of the earliest fraternal organizations to have representation at Gilman, coming in 1889. Gilman Lodge, No. 69, was instituted June 26, 1889, with the following charter members; Michal Murray, Charles B. Shaw, George W. Tibbetts, James M. Fewings, Michael Clune, and August G. Jackson. Charles B. Shaw was first noble grand, James M. Fewings, vice grand, and Thomas Gibson, secretary.