Honoring our History: Snoqualmie Valley 101 (Part Three)

[Guest Post by Cristy Lake. See Parts One & Two here and here]

Matts Peterson, who homesteaded the site of North Bend, drifted to this Valley around 1865 and settled down as a farmer. His cabin, the first on the site of North Bend, stood in the street between the bank and McGrath’s Hotel, facing northeast.

It was later bought by Mr. Borst, then sold to W.H. Taylor and platted by him into a town. In the early 1880’s William H. Taylor started a trading post out of the old Matts Peterson house on the site of North Bend.

Matts Peterson from the Peterson family

Nothing came of the initial 1850s attempt to survey routes through Snoqualmie Pass for purposed wagon roads and transcontinental railroads for another decade until political support was built for a road through the pass.

In his memoir, Arthur A. Denny states that in 1865, Jeremiah Borst and William Perkins consulted local tribe Chief Saniwa about the route over Snoqualmie Pass. Chief Saniwa instructed two younger men from his tribe, and they led the Seattle party through the pass. Denny claimed that they left the Indian trail at the summit and followed an alternate route along Lake Keechelus, though the reason for this is not apparent, thus finding the current route through the Pass.

Chief Saniwa

King County residents contributed money in the fall of 1865, and the crew started a road from Ranger’s Prairie (later North Bend) to Lake Keechelus, a long narrow mountain lake running roughly south from just east of the pass, from which the Yakima River flows southeast toward the Columbia.

Work resumed in the summer of 1867, with a road opened to the south end of Lake Keechelus that year. Wagon train emigrants used the route to reach Seattle. Beginning at Walla Walla, they followed the Walla Walla, Columbia, and Yakima rivers to the summit of Snoqualmie Pass.

Work on the Tollroad

In 1867 or 1868, the eastern part of Tollgate Farm was homesteaded by Mrs. Prudence (Davis) Rutherford and her sons.

In December 1869, M. S. Booth drove 200 head of cattle across Snoqualmie Pass to Seattle. Even though three feet of snow covered the pass, Booth lost only four head of cattle. On October 22, 1870, it was reported that more than 1,200 head of cattle had been driven from Yakima Valley to Puget Sound the previous year. Most, if not all, of the cattle went over Snoqualmie Pass.

Many of these cattle were fattened on Borst’s land before finishing the drive to Seattle. They were driven on the same routes since the 1820s to drive cattle from eastern Washington to Puget Sound for the Hudson Bay Co.

During the period from treaty signing through the 1870s, some Snoqualmie Tribe members moved to the Tulalip, Muckleshoot and Yakama Reservations; but many others continued to live in the Snoqualmie Valley.

As more and more settlers arrived, their traditional way of life was ever increasingly being impacted, and more and more of the Snoqualmie People were forced, sometimes through gentrification and other times by racially biased laws, to remove themselves from the Valley.

American settlement in the upper Valley continued in the 1870s with the arrival of the more European-American families with children, including the David Taylor family with his cousin William Taylor who would become the founder of North Bend, the families of Prudence Rutherford, Shamgar Morris and Kenos Branam, in addition to the continued arrival of more single men including John Demmit.

This trend continued in the 1880s with the arrival of Edgar Boalch, James Rees, Fred Scheuchzer, Riley Rice, and Albert Klaus. And the families of William Gardiner, Robert Johnstone, William Renton, Charles Cooper, William Brown, Tom Carlin, John Collingwood, Thompson, George Boxley and Thom Joyner, and RC Mueller.

In 1883, the Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road became a toll road with a toll booth and gate at Tollgate Farm. During this period, Tollgate also had a store run by Borst’s nephew Al Fisk, Gustin, and Tibbetts.

Alice Borst was born July 14, 1872, in the homestead cabin of her father on the present Meadowbrook site. Her parents were Mina Kanim and Jeremiah Borst. She was the third of five children born to them. In 1876 her Mother died in childbirth and was buried near the cabin.

She spent much of her time with her great-grandmother, who always lived near them in her cabin. She had a deep affection for her great-grandmother, learned many of the old customs, and heard stories of former times and legends from her. When Alice was eighteen, her father passed away, and the following year she lived and worked at Mr. Tibbetts near Issaquah. She spent the next two years, 1892 and 1893, in a Catholic Boarding Home in Seattle. There she learned to do beautiful sewing and fine fancy work of various kinds, at which she was very efficient.

In 1894 Alice Borst married James Rees, who had come west in 1884 and made his headquarters at Fall City. He was Captain on one of the Snohomish-Snoqualmie Riverboats, where Alice first saw him when she was on her way to Port Townsend to School.

James Rees

They moved to the Toll Gate Farm, where the family lived when Jim and Alice were married in 1894, and she went there to make her home. After that, they lived on the ranch, now “Silver Creek Tracts.” In that house, James died, only four years after their marriage, on July 7, 1898, leaving her with two small sons, Eden and Jerry.

In 1902 Alice married Jake Rachor and, by him, had one son, Henry. They lived in North Bend at 3rd and Bendigo. Her sons Jerry and Eden were sent to Chemana Indian School, a residential boarding school in Oregon, during this period.

In 1939, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary platting of Snoqualmie and North Bend, the arrival of the railway, and Statehood, the North Bend School District put on a Golden Jubilee play. Pioneers and children acted out stories from 50 years before. Alice Borst Rees Rachor and William Taylor spent countless hours helping Ada Snyder Hill begin her book on Snoqualmie Valley History, which has become a leading source of knowledge of the history of the community from the 1850s to 1910s.

Alice and her second husband, Jake Rachor, lived together for forty years when he passed away in December 1942, the same month and year as her oldest son, Eden, died in Alaska. Alice passed in 1952.

[Guest post by North Bend resident Cristy Lake: Assistant Director, Snoqualmie Valley Museum; Collections Registrar, Northwest Railway Museum; King County Landmarks Commission Chair; MA in Historical Archaeology.]

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