About 150 years ago, Ira and Susan Woodin loaded a boat with their belongings and rowed across Lake Washington to claim 160 acres of land on the Squak Slough (now known as the Sammamish River) and become the first permanent white settlers in the region.
In honor of the city’s founding family, the Woodinville Heritage Museum is featuring a new educational and historical display at the DeYoung House from 1-4 p.m. every Sunday in August.
“They were both real pioneers,” said Kevin Stadler, secretary of the Woodinville Heritage Society.
Ira Woodin was born in New York on May 1, 1833. At age 22, his family began the migration west on the Oregon Trail. According to the exhibit, he arrived in Seattle and opened a tannery business with his father around 1854.
Born in 1848, Susan Campbell grew up in the Oregon Territory of Waldo Hills. By age 5, she had mastered the art of knitting and was expected to complete one pair of stockings per day. Sometimes, she was not allowed to go to bed until the task had been completed.
“It was the doctrine in our family that everybody had to work,” Susan said in a July 21, 1918, Seattle Times article. “Sometimes I was so disgusted with knitting that I hoped I should never see yard and needles again, but here I am 70 years old and still knitting. I really enjoy it now.”
Susan was 11 years old when her family arrived in Seattle. At the time, she said, there were only 13 or 14 families and a handful of small houses.
“If some of the old pioneers could come back, I wonder what they would think of Seattle today,” Susan said in the Times article. “I wonder what they would say. I am glad that I had seen it all.”
Ira and Susan married on New Year’s Day in 1683. The couple eventually had three children: Helen (1864), Mary (1867) and Frank (1878).
Several years later, when the population of Seattle reached 1,000 people, the family decided to find a more spacious place to call home. Thus, the township of Woodinville was formed.
The Woodin’s home became the center of the community and served as a schoolhouse, post office, church and gathering area. Their furnishings included the first clock ever sold in Seattle. It is currently displayed in the Woodinville Heritage Museum.
Susan was the postmaster of the Woodinville Post Office until 1890, according to past records. Her son-in-law Thomas Sanders took over the role after building and opening the town’s first general store, called the Woodin-Sanders Store, alongside Ira.
Twice each month, Susan would travel to Seattle and sell butter she had churned. The exhibit said she would ride horseback to Kirkland, row across Lake Washington, and then walk three miles into town.
“But let me tell you that selling butter was easier than being postmistress,” she said in the Seattle Times. “I had the post office at Woodinville in my house for nine years. If you want real trouble, try that.”
In 1908, Ira died in Woodinville. Susan passed away nearly one decade later in 1919. The couple is buried in the Woodinville Cemetery, located at 13200 NE 175th St, Woodinville.
The learn more interesting and fun facts about the Woodin family, visit the Woodinville Heritage Museum from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays. Additional information can be found at www.woodinvilleheritage.org.