From memories to museum
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
Bump! Bump! You bounce up and down as the motorcar you sit in chugs down an old rutted trail at the breakneck speed of ten miles per hour.
It's the early days of Woodinville and the horseless carriage has only been on the market a few years. This is your first ride ever!
If you're asked to describe the experience years later, your description may sound similar to the one given by Woodinville's early resident, Mae Stroebel.
Recalling her first ride, she said, "Mr. Carsteen bought the first automobile to appear in that neck of the woods and I had my first auto ride with him. What a thrill, he must have been going all of ten or fifteen miles per hour, around the stumps in that narrow road. But to me ... sitting up there so high, my hair blowing in my face and hanging on for grim death .... we must have been making eighty or more."
Car rides were a thrill to just about everyone in 1915 and a trip in a car all the way to Seattle was big news.
In April of that year, the Bothell Sentinel reported that several local families actually rode in a car all the way to Seattle, then stopped for a hearty dinner on their way home.
The newspaper article concluded: "All are alive yet and willing to go again."
This bit of history, and much more, on life in Woodinville between 1870 and 1920 can be found in the book "Village in the Woods"
Compiled and edited by members of the Woodinville Historical Society, the book is a collection of memories and events as seen through the eyes of Woodinville's pioneers. In the book, early Woodinville residents, or their relatives, describe their experiences.
Mae Stroebel and others offer their impressions of their first Model T Ford in the bookís chapter on transportation. There are also chapters on daily life, education, logging, business and religion.
"Village in the Woods" is one of many ways the Woodinville Historical Society fulfills its mission to preserve the history of Woodinville and to educate the public about early life in the Sammamish Valley.
Founded in 1975, the Society received a grant sometime after by the King County Arts Commission to interview and record relatives of pioneers who lived in Woodinville.
"Some of the (recorded) stories were passed down," said Gladys Berry, Woodinville Historical Society President. The sleek paperback was completed in 1993 and is rich with history and full of black and white photographs.
Society members hope that through the pioneers' memories, readers will experience the past along with those describing it, such as Mae Stroebel's first car ride.
There are also snippets of information taken from the Bothell Sentinel throughout the book.
As an example, the book records a May 1909 news item highlighting the competition between the city of Bothell and the city of Woodinville: "Bothell will have to hurry or Woodinville will be shining first with electric lights."
Said Berry, "We hope to come out with another book in a few years."
She explained that the next book will cover life in Woodinville from 1920 to the present.
The second edition will also have more information on Woodinville's first family, Ira and Susan Woodin.
In 1871, the Woodin family paddled up the Squak Slough, now the Sammamish River, and landed in the area which now claims their name.
"They brought their two little girls from Seattle," said Berry and added, "They had a sense of adventure."
Mr. Woodin worked in a logging camp and Mrs. Woodin started Woodinville's first post office, first school, and first church in her living room.
As president, Berry's interest is not only to preserve Woodinville's history, but to share it.
She and members of the Historical Society hope the City will reserve a space for Woodinville's museum in the old brick schoolhouse on NE 175th, which will be vacated in March when City Hall moves to its new building.
In two to three years, the old schoolhouse may be converted to other uses as the City executes its soon-to-be completed Sorenson Master Plan. The museum will bring a greater understanding and appreciation of Woodinville's past to the community.
Berry said that members are storing historical artifacts in homes and in a rented storage unit until they have the museum to display them. "We have people waiting to give us farm equipment and tools," said Berry.
Currently, the Society showcases historical items from Woodinville's past in the display case at City Hall. Items exhibited have included old cameras, glass, teapots and children's toys.
Other ways the Society educates the community: a historical display of photographs for various events; educational activities, like teaching the art of tin-punching at special events; and talks and demonstrations on pioneer life in school classrooms.
Over a hundred members are on the Woodinville Historical Society mailing list, though the number who attend the meetings is a lot less.
Berry is now in search of active recruits for the Societyís work ahead.
"We're open to all who will join us. We will need people to help us plan for the new museum," she said.
For further information, contact Gladys Berry at (425) 483-8270.
The next Woodinville Historical Society meeting will beat at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the Banner Bank (formerly the Towne Bank) in the conference room.
Copies of "Village in the Woods" can be found at Woodinville Photo & Portrait or Pony Mailbox & Business Center in Woodinville. The cost is $14.95 plus tax.