During the hot-weather week of August 12, 1910, The Seattle Daily Times newspaper carried reports of fires across the State of Washington, and one fire which struck closer to home, to the northeast just outside of the Seattle City limits.
The news article reported that Lores L. Goodwin, described as living in the McLaughlin Tract, drove his car to downtown Seattle to request aid in fighting the fire. That is how the newspaper became aware that residents of the remote northeast district, today’s Wedgwood and Meadowbrook, had been able to beat back the flames of the night before.
The August 12, 1910 news article reported that two other fire-fighting neighbors were C.E. Thorpe who owned forty acres of timbered property along 35th Ave NE at NE 80th, and William Mock at NE 95th and 35th Ave NE. It was believed that a brush fire had gotten started in the Maple Leaf Valley (the route of Lake City Way NE at about NE 85th Street.) The fire burned in a northeasterly direction across the logged-off area which later became the Morningside Heights plat. The fire jumped the road northward across NE 95th Street, onto what is now the site of the Northeast Veterinary Clinic. The Mock’s house on the east side of 35th Ave NE seemed threatened but as of the night of August 11th, the men were able to stop the fire there at the intersection, and the Mock house was saved.
How were William Mock and his neighbors able to stop a brush fire without the aid of water hoses or any other firefighting equipment? On the census of 1910 William Mock recorded his occupation as a teamster, which in those days meant anyone who worked with horses to pull a wagon, a plow, excavation or road-grading equipment. It is likely that Mr. Mock plowed up the ground around the intersection of 95th & 35th to create a wide dirt firebreak where there would be no dry brush to catch on fire. He may have even used his horse team in a hasty logging operation to pull down whole trees so that the moist, dirt-filled roots faced the fire and created a gap against the flames.
Mr. Thorpe, the ginseng farmer, owned a horse and he, along with nearby farm families the Fischers and Ohlands, may have come and helped create the firebreak. The Mock family had some access to water since they lived on a ravine with a creek running through it between NE 96th and 97th Streets. We may imagine that while men plowed up the dirt and pulled down trees, women and children were stationed along the fire line with buckets of water to douse any sparks or burning brands which might fly across the road.
Lores Goodwin had also participated in the fire-fighting efforts during the night of August 11, 1910, but he owned a car, not a horse. He chose to drive downtown the next day and see whether any governmental resources were available to help fight the fire. In 1910 the Wedgwood and Meadowbrook areas were outside of the Seattle City Limits in unincorporated King County, and there was no fire protection. Mr. Goodwin was a person who looked for and expected that someday, remote northeast Seattle would become part of the City of Seattle and would receive City services such as roads. Over the years the Goodwin family participated in many neighborhood-improvement efforts, such as organizing a subscription bus service. In contrast, other 1910 residents had come to northeast Seattle to try to perpetuate a more rural lifestyle, such as Mr. Thorpe with his ginseng farm and William Mock with his teamster work.
From AYP to Northeast Seattle
The story handed down through the Mock family is that William and Kate had attended the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909 and that is how they first got a look at properties in northeast Seattle and considered a move. The AYP Exposition was held on the campus of the University of Washington and real estate agents worked from there to advertise properties in northeast Seattle. The Mocks were taken to see a wooded ravine on NE 96th Street just east of 35th Ave NE, with no one else living nearby. The closest neighbors were the German-immigrant farm families at NE 105th Street, the Goodwin family at 3248 NE 89th Street, and bachelor Charles Thorpe on 35th Ave NE at about NE 80th Street.
The Mocks saw that some development was occurring in northeast Seattle, such as the clearing of land for what became the Morningside Heights plat and a road, NE 95th Street, along its northern edge to access the area from the Pacific Highway (Ravenna Ave NE). Thirty-fifth Ave NE was a one-lane dirt track which ended at NE 105th Street where a gate across the road kept the Fischer’s cows from escaping.
With more people coming into northeast Seattle there would be work for William Mock in plowing gardens, road-grading and house excavations. Less than a year after the AYP Exposition, the Mock family built a house at 9602 35th Ave NE, so that they were recorded as living there when the census of 1910 was taken in May. In the Seattle City directory of 1910 William Mock listed himself as a dairy driver; perhaps he worked for the local LaVilla Dairy operated by the Fischer and Blindheim families.
Besides the availability of land and work, another factor which may have influenced the Mock family’s move to northeast Seattle was the availability of a school for their youngest child, LeRoy, age 12. The Maple Leaf School, grades 1 through 8, had opened sometime between 1908-1910 on NE 105th Street just east of 35th Ave NE.
Local families had formed the Maple Leaf School District and built a two-room building with one room for younger children and one for the older children. The building was heated by a wood stove. It is thought that the school acquired the name “Maple Leaf” because of a big maple tree on the site. The origin of the school name is different than that of today’s Maple Leaf neighborhood in north-central Seattle.
At the time of their move to 9602 35th Ave NE, the Mock family included twenty-year-old Thomas Lough and fifteen-year-old Marian Lough, Mrs. Mock’s children from her first marriage. Thomas and Marian had been born while Kate and her first husband were living on Queen Anne Hill. Thomas and Marian each attended school through the eighth grade and then were expected to go to work, just as their parents had done at age 14.
From Spokane to Queen Anne
Kate Windsor (the future Mrs. William Mock) had been born fifth of seven children in Sonoma County, California, in a family which had migrated westward in search of land and opportunity. By 1880 family patriarch Jackson Windsor, age 57, brought his family to Spokane County, Washington Territory and all the adult children filed land claims in the area. Kate had her own land claim and perhaps the sale of this land gave her and her husband Thomas Lough a financial start in their married life.
Instead of staying in the Spokane farm region, Thomas & Kate Lough were attracted to Seattle after the Great Fire of June 6, 1889, where plenty of employment was available while the city took on a frenzy of rebuilding. The Loughs settled on Queen Anne Hill, 8th Ave West at West Raye Street, near the southwest corner of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Two children were born to them in Seattle, and everything was going well – until the freak accident which took Thomas Lough’s life in September 1895.
From Queen Anne to Northeast Seattle
Left as a widow with two children (five-year-old son Thomas Jr. and a newborn girl, Marian), Kate Lough had few options. It is not surprising that she remarried within a year. She and her new husband, William Mock, had a son, LeRoy, in April 1897 and the family continued to live on Queen Anne Hill.
Like Kate, William Mock had also come from a farm home of parents who had migrated westward in search of available land. He was the sixth of seven sons of Joseph Mock, who had taken a land claim in Kansas in the 1870s. But rather than stay down on the farm as several of his brothers did, William was attracted to come to Seattle after the Great Fire in 1889. It is likely that he knew Thomas Lough, as their residential and occupational listings in the Seattle City Directory were very close. William Mock was working at wood hauling in the Queen Anne-Interbay area and listed himself on the census of 1900 as a teamster.
We can guess that the enormous growth of Seattle by 1909 had the Mocks feeling crowded on Queen Anne, and that they wanted to have more land and a place to pursue a rural lifestyle. They moved away from the increasingly citified Queen Anne Hill just at the time the new Queen Anne High School at 215 Galer Street opened in September 1909. The older children, Thomas and Marian Lough, had not gone beyond eighth grade and the Mocks did not expect that their youngest son, LeRoy, would need to attend high school, either, so the opening of the high school did not tempt them to stay nearby. LeRoy Mock would have been in about sixth or seventh grade when the family moved to northeast Seattle, and he would finish through eighth grade in the two-room Maple Leaf School on NE 105th Street.
From school to school
In 1907 Lincoln High School at 4400 Interlake Avenue North (Wallingford neighborhood) opened as only the second high school in Seattle. As soon as it opened, Lincoln was overcrowded. More and more parents wanted a high school education for their children, but each time a new Seattle high school was proposed, some segments of the public protested that high schools were not necessary. Lincoln’s attendance decreased slightly when Queen Anne High School opened in 1909, but it was not until 1922 that another high school, Roosevelt, opened in north Seattle. Roosevelt’s opening was delayed by financial issues during World War One as well as public opposition to the need for another high school.
Census records (recording the number of years of schooling) show that LeRoy Mock did attend Lincoln High School – for only one year. We can speculate on the reasons why LeRoy did not continue and finish high school. By the time he entered Lincoln in about 1912, the enrollment was over 1,000 students and it is possible that LeRoy felt lost in the shuffle or just could not learn in that environment. The teachers at Maple Leaf School had encouraged students to continue on to high school, but LeRoy may not have had much encouragement from his own parents. There were other difficulties such as just trying to get to school each day; LeRoy would have had to walk from Wedgwood to Wallingford to attend Lincoln High School as there was no other way to get there.
By 1912 LeRoy’s father William Mock was over 50 years old and was still using horse-drawn equipment in strenuous outdoor work, so he may have required that LeRoy contribute to the family by working with him. What we know is that LeRoy did work as a teamster until, during the First World War, he got a good job in the Skinner & Eddy Shipyard, which became renowned for its speed and efficiency in building wartime vessels. The rise and fall of the company was very sharp, however. Skinner & Eddy opened in February 1916. Immediately at the end of the war in 1918, there was an economic depression in Seattle and the shipyard stopped functioning.
LeRoy Mock married and with their first child, a girl, LeRoy and his wife moved back into the neighborhood to be near LeRoy’s parents and rejoin the community where he felt at home.
In the early 1920s LeRoy Mock juggled more than one occupation as many people did in those days. He again worked as a teamster using horse-drawn equipment to do house excavations in the growing Wedgwood/Meadowbrook area which was then sometimes called Morningside, or the Maple Leaf School community. LeRoy also took on the part-time jobs of janitor and bus driver for Maple Leaf School while it was still located in a wood-frame building at the southeast corner of 35th Avenue NE and NE 105th Street.
In the 1920s the Maple Leaf School building on NE 105th Street had been expanded into three rooms but it still wasn’t enough. With the growing neighborhood population, the Maple Leaf School District made plans for a new, modern building. Electricity and city water supply had become available and as of 1926, a new Maple Leaf School with electric lights and indoor plumbing opened on NE 100th Street at the northeast corner of 32nd Ave NE.
With this change of location, LeRoy Mock became the full-time custodian and bus driver at the new school building. His life entirely revolved around the school, from early morning when he started the boilers to heat the building and went out to drive the bus route, to recess time when he would play ball with the children. LeRoy’s own five children attended Maple Leaf School through eighth grade and went on to complete high school and college.
From School to District
As of April 1945 the Seattle City Limits had been moved north as far as NE 85th Street. Maple Leaf School on NE 100th Street was still outside the city and was one of several independent schools which merged in 1944 to form the Shoreline School District. All of the unincorporated areas from NE 85th Street out to the King County line at 205th Street, became part of Shoreline Schools, including schools in Lake City, Haller Lake, Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park.
Immediately upon formation of the Shoreline Schools in 1944, LeRoy Mock was hired as Superintendent of Maintenance for the District. His brother Thomas Lough took over as janitor at Maple Leaf School.
The new Superintendent of the Shoreline School District, Ray Howard, saw what was coming: there would be a population boom as soldiers returned from World War Two, married and started having children. At the time of the creation of the School District, there was no high school in Shoreline. The purposes of consolidation of the independent schools into one district was to support their own high school, network for better educational programs and increase the number of elementary schools to handle the coming population of kids born after the end of World War Two in 1945, when returning soldiers married and started families.
Upon formation of the Shoreline District work began immediately to build the Shoreline High School as well as new elementary schools to absorb the postwar baby-boom population. A new kind of school called junior high was created to enhance the transition between grade school and high school. The first major secondary school built in the State of Washington in the post-World-War-Two period was Jane Addams Junior High, built in 1949 by the Shoreline District.
The last eighth grade class of Maple Leaf School graduated in 1949 and after that the school held only grades 1 to 6. Jane Addams opened in September 1949 with only 7th and 8th grades. By the 1950-51 school year Jane Addams had a full three grades (7,8,9) and there were 2,250 students, double-shifted.
From the Mock family to a Community Legacy
Everyone who knew LeRoy Mock has told me what an inspiration he was in his encouragement for children and his activism for the northeast Seattle community. He was a fine example of the expression “it takes a village;” the Maple Leaf schoolchildren were all his children. He was involved in many other neighborhood enterprises and generally was regarded as the epitome of a good neighbor.
Mr. Mock had a remarkable career of total involvement in the Maple Leaf School community along with his neighbors who were proud of the school they had established themselves. The neighborhood took pride of ownership not just in the building itself but in their united efforts to provide a better future for their children.
I attended sixth grade at the brick Maple Leaf School on the corner of NE 100th Street & 32nd Ave NE. In the 1990s reunions of alumni and PTA mothers were still being held decades after the school had closed, because the school community had meant so much. In disregard for community support of this local school, after it was absorbed into Seattle the Maple Leaf School was closed, torn down and the site was sold. The school building is gone, but the important relationships have not been forgotten. Today, Seattle Schools draw attendance from wide areas which has weakened the sense of community support and involvement in neighborhood schools.
A tangible legacy of the Mock family is the open space alongside their ravine home, where a creek flows as part of the greater Thornton Creek network. Located just east of 35th Ave NE on NE 97th Street, the Mock Creek Open Space is a continuing contribution to the health of the watershed.
Bureau of Land Management, Land patent of Joseph Mock, 1871 in Douglas County, Kansas; Windsor family land patents of Spokane County in the 1880s, Washington Territory.
“Death from a Falling Tree,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 11, 1895, page 8.
Genealogy: THANK YOU to Alesia for her help in tracing the Mock family through the census.
HistoryLink Essay #749, Skinner & Eddy Shipbuilding, by Greg Lange, January 24, 1999.
HistoryLink Essay #966, Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, by Laura Argotti and David Wilma, November 2, 1998.
HistoryLink Essay #957, First automobile arrives in Seattle on July 23, 1900, by Greg Lange, February 26, 1999.
HistoryLink Essay #3454, Seattle Neighborhoods: Maple Leaf – Thumbnail History, by David Wilma, July 20, 2001.
House notes: Current and past property photos are available on the King County Parcel Viewer. The Goodwin house at 3248 NE 89th Street has been rebuilt from the original, and so has LeRoy Mock’s house at 9624 35th Ave NE. The William Mock house at 9602 35th Ave NE is no longer extant; the Mocks did save their house from fire in 1910 but it burned down in 1959, after their deaths but while their son Thomas Lough was still living in the house.
Interviews: Mock family descendants and neighbors.
Kroll maps: showing plats and land ownership; available in the Seattle Room of the downtown Seattle Public Library and at Special Collections in the University of Washington Library.
“Northeast Section in Battle with Flames,” The Seattle Daily Times, August 12, 1910, page 5.
Seattle School histories: Jane Addams, Lincoln, Maple Leaf, Queen Anne, Roosevelt.
Shore to Shore and Line to Line: A History of the Shoreline School District, Sixty Years 1944-2004. 372.979777, King County Library System.
Thornton Creek: see this category for info on the watershed’s history and the most recent projects at Meadowbrook.