Did You Know ….? Susan Woodin was a pioneer ‘wonder woman’

  • Written by George Phillips | Woodinville Heritage Society

In the early years of America’s founding, The U.S. Congress encouraged individuals to relocate in unsettled parts of the country. Numerous Congressional mandates such as the 1796 Public Land Act and the 1841 Preemption Act were enacted. Two  decades  later, the well-known 1862 Homestead Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln, allowed land claims of up to 160 acres for a small filing fee and minimum residency requirements.  This act lasted for 100 years and was instrumental in the settling of the West and specifically, the greater Woodinville area. 

Susan Woodin 3Meanwhile, in Seattle a young man named Ira Woodin was becoming restless. His  father had moved the family earlier from New York and later to Michigan. They suffered through the difficult transcontinental trek, settling in Seattle in 1853. His family developed Seattle’s first tannery. In 1863, at age 31, Ira asked Susan Campbell, then 15 years old and half his age, to be his wife. Two children later in 1871, after living south of Seattle, Ira and Susan felt the urge to move again. They packed their worldly goods on a barge and departed the Madison Park area for the wilderness of the Squak Slough (this was before Lake Washington had been lowered nine feet).  They chose to homestead 160 acres on the Slough near the Woodinville/Bothell border at the end of the current Brickyard Road – it was a raw existence clearing land and planting food for sustenance. They also welcomed a son, Frank.

Susan earns the “wonder woman” title when one considers her bi-weekly trek into Seattle to sell butter she made on the farm. She either boated across Lake Washington from her home or walked through forested trails to Juanita and then boated across the lake to the Madison Park dock and then walked into Seattle proper.  She regularly dealt with wild animals, rough seas, inclement weather and hard physical labor, all to provide resources for her family in Woodinville.

In 1888, when the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad created a rail junction near the Woodin home, it took the name of this founding family – thus the derivation of the town name of Woodinville.  Ira died in 1908 and Susan in 1919 – but their family name lives on in our community.

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