Bothell

Eastside Stories: Eastside Cities

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Cities. Almost all of us on the Eastside today live in one. We may take our cities for granted, but they have not always existed—people had to create them. States are the foundation of the country, and counties are necessary subdivisions of states. Cities are, well, kind of optional.

When Finn Hill joined Kirkland in 2011, one of the last large bits of urban unincorporated area on the Eastside came under the benevolent arm of city hall. Most Eastsiders now live in one of 14 cities in the urbanized areas and five in the rural areas. The boundaries of cities often seem to make little sense, and they sit on top of a patchwork of school and other special districts.

If we were designing a system of governance from scratch we certainly would not end up with anything like the current map of the Eastside. So, how did we end up with our current array of cities?

Cities are formed when a group of residents petition their county government. Once a boundary for a proposed city is agreed upon, residents within that boundary vote on incorporation. Residents can also vote to annex to an existing city, if that city is willing to absorb them.

In the early days of the Eastside, pioneers had few expectations for government services, so cities were slow to form. It can be perfectly fine to live in unincorporated areas without city government. County government provides basic services, and other services are provided by special utility and fire districts and private associations.

Scene on Front Street in Issaquah circa 1910

Scene on Front Street in Issaquah circa 1910

The first wave of incorporations happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Issaquah is the oldest city on the Eastside, dating back to 1892 (originally named Gilman). It was a coal mining town that made a successful transition to railroad work. Snoqualmie (1903), Bothell (1909) and North Bend (1909) all had their roots in the early railroad routes and as logging and agricultural commercial centers.

Kirkland, which incorporated in 1905, was slated to become the “Pittsburgh of the West.” By the time Peter Kirk’s big industrial plans fell through, Kirkland had become a good sized settlement, and it made sense to form a city. Redmond, had its roots as a timber and railroad center, and incorporated its growing downtown in 1912. The farming and railroad towns of Carnation and Duvall incorporated in 1912 and 1913, respectively.

In 1910, when the postcard was mailed, Redmond was big enough not only to have its own souvenir cards, but also a local post office to mail them from.

In 1910, when the postcard was mailed, Redmond was big enough not only to have its own souvenir cards, but also a local post office to mail them from.

Then city formation on the Eastside ground to a halt for decades. Growth was slow, as mining and timber activity wound down and few new large industries moved to the still-remote area. Some larger settlements, like those around the mines of Newcastle, disbanded. Bellevue was still just a one-street village, and the vast commercial areas of Overlake were farms and forests. Not much need for new cities.

Then in the 1950s, the Eastside sprang to life.

The new bridge across Mercer Island opened the area to large scale homebuilding, and Bellevue began to resemble a real city. In 1953 Bellevue incorporated with just under 6,000 residents. Feeling Bellevue breathing down their necks, the Points Communities formed themselves into four separate cities: Clyde Hill (1953), Hunts Point (1955), Medina (1955), Yarrow Point (1959). And the tiny artists colony of Beaux Arts Village formed itself into a town in 1954.

Eugene Boyd and Phil Reilly celebrate the incorporation of Bellevue in 1953

Eugene Boyd and Phil Reilly celebrate the incorporation of Bellevue in 1953

Then another 35 years of quiet. Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah and Bothell gradually annexed surrounding neighborhoods, but many pockets of residential area were perfectly happy with the benign neglect that county government offered.

But along came a less benign force: the Growth Management Act of 1989, which required extensive planning and encouraged higher density development. Nothing gets the attention of otherwise complacent citizens like the prospect of changes in land use, and within a few years, the Eastside had four more cities seeking to control their destiny: Woodinville (1993), Newcastle (1994), Kenmore (1998), Sammamish (1999).

In many respects, cities are the ultimate democratic institutions: groups of free citizens banding together to form a local government that will collect taxes from them and provide services they ask for. The chaotic looking map of the Eastside is the result of tens of thousands of individual decisions by Eastsiders about how they want to shape their neighborhoods. Individual cities take on the character of their residents over time and become unique places.

From chaos comes community.

All images from the collection of the Eastside Heritage Center. If you are interested in obtaining images from our collection, which has extensive holdings from Eastside cities, contact us at collections@eastsideheritagecenter.org


Learn more about the Eastside. Books available from Eastside Heritage Center include:

Lake Washington: The Eastside

Bellevue: the Post World War II Years

Our Town, Redmond

Medina

Hunts Point

Bellevue: Its First 100 Years


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: The Homestead as an ATM

No. 9 | May 29, 2019

Eastside Stories

The Homestead as an ATM

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

The pioneers who built the Eastside were all diligent, sober-minded souls dedicated only to creating wonderful communities for their families and for future generations. Right? Well, most were, but for this edition of Eastside Stories we have a tale of an enterprising pioneer of a different sort.

Robert Gerrish, a board member and volunteer at the Bothell Historical Museum, has traced the machinations of a slick operator who also happens to be his grandmother’s first husband. The story—it gets a bit convoluted, but stay with it—goes like this:

Henry Rosenburg was baptized Wilhelm Henrich Rosenburg in 1852. In various documents he lists his birthplace as Stuttgart, Alsace-Lorraine and Paris. He arrived in the United States in 1876, and by 1883 he was in Deadwood, South Dakota (of course!). There he met Christina Reagan, (Robert’s grandmother) and in April of 1883 they were married in St. Patrick’s church in nearby Lead, South Dakota. In 1884, Christina and Henry, along with Thomas Reagan, Christina’s father, migrated to Seattle.

In 1885 Henry and Christina bought a house in Seattle and had their first child, Agnes. In 1886, Henry applied for Naturalization. That year he also claimed a homestead outside Bothell. Henry and Christina soon sold their Seattle house to Christina’s brother and moved in with Christina’s parents before settling into the Bothell homestead in 1888. They had had two more children, Martin and John, and all seemed well by 1889.

Henry and Christina Rosenburg in Deadwood, SD, prior to their move to Seattle in 1884. (Photo courtesy of Robert Gerrish)

Henry and Christina Rosenburg in Deadwood, SD, prior to their move to Seattle in 1884. (Photo courtesy of Robert Gerrish)

Within a few years, Henry needed capital, and in January of 1892 he took out a $500 mortgage on his homestead (about $15,000 today). Only problem was that he still did not have full title to the homestead, which he would not get until April of that year.

Five quiet years passed until January 4 th of 1897, which was a busy day for Henry. He paid off the 1892 mortgage and immediately took out a new mortgage for $142. He used $100 of the proceeds to purchase Christina’s share of the property. Christina is now listed on the deed as “Christina Rosenburg of Seattle, Washington, former wife of William Henry Rosenburg.” After the purchase was complete, Henry, now described as a “single man,” took out a second mortgage for $65. He paid off this latest mortgage in 1898, but took out yet another mortgage of $275 in 1901.

Then he disappears until 1904. Family legend was that he had run off to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 and never returned. But that legend appears to have been a spin to cover up the scandal of divorce in a Catholic family. Henry did venture to the Yukon, but not in 1897. He turns up in Whitehorse in 1903, where, true to form, he filed for a mining patent for 160 acres.

By 1904 Henry was back wheeling and dealing in Bothell. He took out a mortgage from the wonderfully named J.W. Nipple for $1,000 and paid off his 1901 mortgage. He paid off Mr. Nipple in 1905 and sold “All of the timber of whatsoever kind or nature standing or fallen” on his property to Woodinville Lumber Company for $2,700.

The Rosenburg family circa 1896. From left, Martin (b. 1886), Henry, Agnes (b.1885, d. 1899), John (b. 1889), Christina. (Photo courtesy of Robert Gerrish)

The Rosenburg family circa 1896. From left, Martin (b. 1886), Henry, Agnes (b.1885, d. 1899), John (b. 1889), Christina. (Photo courtesy of Robert Gerrish)

Henry would not let his Bothell homestead be debt free for long, and on February 10 th 1908, he took out a $500 mortgage on it and, ten days later, started selling it off in chunks to a buyer who paid for it one piece at a time. A month later he paid off the most recent mortgage and assigned his remaining interests to a Seattle attorney. The saga of the Bothell homestead that he had treated as an ATM, was over.

By 1908 it appears that Henry had decamped again, this time for Soap Lake, in Central Washington, where he was still listed as a bachelor. In 1915 he married again, and passed away in 1927.

In addition to the multiple mysteries of this story (why lie about his birthplace? Why a divorce when such practice was strictly prohibited for Catholics? Where did he get the money to pay all those mortgages, and, for that matter, what did he do with the money he borrowed?) is the curious way in which Henry was able to find people to lend him money on a property of dubious value (it was quite remote for that time) for perhaps unknown purposes.

During the run-up in property values and debt of the early 2000s, Americans were roundly chastised for borrowing excessively against their homes. But the Henry Rosenburg story shows that this was not a new practice. In fact, 19 th century literature is full of references to properties that were overly mortgaged.

Yes, the Eastside was built by Sturdy Yeomen tight with a dollar, but also by more than a few Henry Rosenburgs.

Thanks to Robert Gerrish, of the Bothell Historical Museum, for this story and the accompanying photos. If you have a compelling Eastside Story, contact us at info@eastsideheritagecenter.org


Learn more about the Eastside. Books available from Eastside Heritage Center include:

Lake Washington: The Eastside

Bellevue: the Post World War II Years

Our Town, Redmond

Medina

Hunts Point

Bellevue: Its First 100 Years


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture