Laurette Augusta Young and Moses Terrell Stanley married in 1869 in Sweetland Township, Muscatine County, Iowa. Each had come to Iowa as children when their parents migrated from other states to take advantage of the rich farmlands on the expanding Western frontier of the USA.
Muscatine County, and the name of Iowa itself, were derived from Native American names for the plains and rivers of the state. Muscatine was advantageously located on the Mississippi River, Iowa’s eastern border, with Illinois across the river.
Laurette, born in New Hampshire, was only a few months old when her parents decided to move to Iowa. Laurette would live in Iowa until she was 55 years old, when she became a resident of Washington State.
At age 70 Laurette moved to the future Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle, where she nurtured the natural environment along the Maple Creek Ravine. Laurette lived at the eastern end of NE 89th Street until her death at age 95 in 1945.
The Stanley family: from Iowa to Washington State
Moses & Laurette Stanley had three sons born in the 1870s in Iowa: Frank, Orinn and Charley, who all became civil engineers. In the railroad age of the late 1800s there was plenty of work in surveying for railroads which were being developed in Iowa.
The first of the Stanley sons to leave Iowa was their eldest, Frank, in the early 1900s. He was working for the railroad and had moved to Suise Creek (also known as Soos Creek) in southeast King County in what is now the city of Kent, Washington. The area was very rural at that time and was known for its dairy farms. Moses Stanley was 65 years old, and Laurette was 55, in 1905 when they moved to Kent to be near their son Frank. Rather than considering himself retired, however, Moses Stanley listed himself on the Census of 1910 as a dairy and poultry farmer.
Moses Stanley died in 1912 and was buried at Hillcrest Cemetery in Kent. Laurette stayed in Kent for a few more years. Her eldest son Frank moved on to a work assignment in Montana and Laurette’s second son, Orrin, moved to Portland, Oregon, where he spent many years as the City Engineer. Laurette’s youngest son, Charley, remained unmarried. By 1919 the two of them were ready to make another life transition, and they moved to Seattle.
Starting a new life in the (future) Wedgwood in 1919
Laurette was nearly seventy years old in 1919 when she and her son Charley moved to the future Wedgwood neighborhood. Laurette had come from a farm background and was not a “business person” but after fifteen years in Kent, Washington, she had seen how property values had risen. In northeast Seattle Laurette commenced to be a buyer and seller of house-lots on the east side of 35th Ave NE where few people were living.
Laurette invested in this section of land, called the Pontiac Addition, which was undeveloped and offered just the right balance — it had some of the rural character Laurette was used to, but with potential for properties to increase in value as the city grew.
Laurette and her son Charley settled at the eastern end of NE 89th Street at 40th Ave NE, at the edge of a deep ravine with a creek flowing at the bottom. Here Laurette and her son lived in similar natural environmental conditions to other places they had lived on or near bodies of water. A tributary creek flowed past their new homesite by the Maple Creek Ravine, giving assurance of access to water just as Laurette had lived on the riverside in Iowa and at Soos Creek in Kent, Washington.
Seattle’s Boy Scout Troop 65 had built structures including a cookout shelter and platforms for pitching tents along the banks of the Maple Creek ravine. Newspaper articles of the 1930s told that Laurette Stanley utilized the camping area when she hosted Camp Fire Girls for an overnight trip at the ravine each summer. The Camp Fire Girls would have treasure hunts, nature lore, craft projects and a picnic supper. The next morning they would participate in cooking breakfast over an open fire. Along with Mrs. Stanley, the all-city event was hosted by the Morningside troop of Camp Fire Girls — Morningside was the often-used name for the neighborhood before “Wedgwood” came into use in the 1940s.
Laurette’s activities in Seattle
Although we don’t know exactly why Laurette made the decision to move to Seattle, one clue is given by her life-long membership in an organization called Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Laurette may have wanted to get involved in WCTU in Seattle where the organization was very active.
Laurette was raised in a Quaker home with values of temperance (abstinence from alcohol, tobacco or drugs), non-violence, and social outreach. Her involvement in WCTU was a natural outlet for expression of these values. The WCTU taught that women, as the moral guardians of the home, should take action for the betterment of society.
From the founding of the WCTU in New York in 1874, the movement spread rapidly and was organized in Washington State in 1884.
The two aims of the WCTU were to oppose alcohol abuse and to educate youth about the dangers of addiction. Other related initiatives were to find ways to help women whose lives had been ruined either by their own addiction or by poverty and violence due to abuse from men in their family. The WCTU became very involved in “womens suffrage” which was the campaign to change laws so that women could vote. As an integral value of women as guardians of morality, it was felt that women needed to vote so that they could influence politics for the good of society.
In his essay on the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in the Pacific Northwest, author Dale Soden has written,
“To understand more fully what motivated these women to work so long and so hard on behalf of their social and cultural vision, one must address the dynamics of the male culture they so bitterly opposed. “Here, for the first time,” according to the historian Barbara Epstein, “groups of women pitted themselves against what they saw as institutions of male culture.” In address after address, pamphlet after pamphlet, the women of the WCTU attempted to raise an awareness of the tendency of young males to engage in violence toward others, the consequences of which were disastrous for women and children and contrary to the most basic values of Western civilization.”
“For example, most chapters of the WCTU developed what they called the Mercy Department. Inspired by the biblical verse Micah 6:8, “What doth God require of thee but to walk humbly, deal justly and love mercy,” these departments offered a devastating critique of male behavior and produced literature that was distributed in public schools. At the Washington State WCTU convention in 1907, leaders exhorted delegates to “study and learn how to live so as to avoid complicity with cruelty in good]s], dress, and personal relations.” Speakers pleaded with WCTU members to lobby their state legislators to enact laws that would mitigate a culture of violence.”
As a mother who had raised three sons to productive lives, Laurette found ways to extend her influence upon young people via her involvements in Seattle. She hosted the Camp Fire girls at the Maple Creek Ravine and Laurette was also a member of the Eagle Scouts Mothers Club. In these ways she could make educational efforts among young people, as to the dangers of alcohol and the dangerous cultural pressures for men to behave recklessly.
Laurette’s real estate in the Pontiac Addition
In addition to her social aims, we know that as a widow Laurette Stanley needed a way to support herself after her husband’s death in Kent in 1912. Although we don’t know how she came to choose the (future) Wedgwood area of northeast Seattle, we can see that she found a place where property values would grow and she could sell house lots for income.
The Pontiac Addition is a section of land on the east side of 35th Ave NE from the corner of NE 85th Street (at Rite-Aid in Wedgwood) up to NE 95th Street, and from 35th Ave NE eastward to 40th Ave NE. The plat map of 1890 shows a layout of streets and house lots, though no actual streets were put through as of that year.
The Pontiac Addition plat filer of 1890, Joseph Doheny, apparently took the name Pontiac from the community on the shore of Lake Washington where there was a brick plant and a railroad stop (present Magnuson Park site). In keeping with the Pontiac theme (name of an Indian tribe) for his plat of land along 35th Ave NE, Mr. Doheny gave Indian names to some of the (imaginary) streets in his plat such as Huron (NE 88th Street) and Chippewa (NE 89th Street).
Like Mr. Doheny’s Pontiac plat, in 1890 several other plats were filed in what is now Wedgwood. None of these plats were successful for lot sales, because Wedgwood was simply too remote at that time. (See: Mary J. Chandler’s; the State Park and Oneida Gardens plats.)
In the enthusiasm to rebuilt the City after Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, land speculators filed plats in the belief that they could make a profit. But Pontiac at NE 85th Street was “too far out.” There was no way to get there (no roads) and no other infrastructure such as access to water. For this reason the Pontiac plat languished and starting in 1902 some of the lots were auctioned for payment of past-due property taxes.
From Rosalie to Laurette
Laurette purchased blocks 45 through 59 of land in the Pontiac Addition from the estate of another woman, Rosalie Dusenbery. Rosalie and her husband Hirsch were immigrants from Poland who had lived in Walla Walla, Washington, in the 1870s and 1880s. Hirsch Dusenbery was a merchant in town and almost certainly the Dusenberys were acquainted with the Doheny & Marum families who also had a store in Walla Walla.
After Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, Doheny & Marum were attracted to the business opportunities in the rebuilding of Seattle. They left Walla Walla, moved to Seattle and set up business in a tent, as other merchants were doing immediately after the Fire.
In 1890 one of the Doheny brothers, Joseph, filed the Pontiac Addition plat in northeast Seattle. Perhaps because they had known the Dohenys, in the 1890s the Dusenberys invested in the plat. Hirsch Dusenbery died in 1899 and Rosalie in 1911, and the executors of the estate sold the Pontiac land to Laurette Stanley.
Property tax assessment rolls show that as of 1910, there were owners of lots in the Pontiac plat such as Rosalie Dusenbery, but there were not any houses or other structures. No one lived in the Pontiac plat until sometime after the year 1910.
By 1912, when Laurette Stanley commenced to buy some sections of the Pontiac plat, there were some people living in nearby areas such as Morningside Heights on the west side of 35th Ave NE. In that era in Wedgwood, placement of houses was completely dependent upon the availability of well water, so there were clusters of house only around that resource. Another widow, Alexandrina McKenzie, had house lots just south of NE 75th Street which were also clustered around a well water source. A few families lived on or near NE 75th Street, near the present site of Eckstein Middle School.
Laurette’s property was on the eastern edge of the Pontiac plat between 38th to 40th Avenues NE, from NE 86th to 89th Streets. In 1919 Laurette and her son Charley built a house for themselves at 3848 NE 89th Street. On one side of the house was a stream flowing in a southeasterly direction toward the Maple Creek Ravine at 40th Ave NE.
Wedgwood grows in the 1940s
At first Laurette sold few other lots, with Fred Reese at 3804 NE 87th Street, a house built in 1932, one of the few. Like Laurette’s house, Fred Reese’s was partially constructed of logs which he had cut for siding on his house.
The property tax assessment rolls of 1940 showed that including Laurette’s house, as of that year there were only four houses in the section of land she owned on the east side of the plat, from Blocks 45 to 59 (from NE 86th to 89th Streets, east of 38th Ave NE).
Some other sections of the Pontiac plat had other owners and there were a few buildings in the neighborhood, especially along 35th Ave NE. There was the Morningside Market on 35th Ave NE at the corner of NE 92nd Street and Mrs. Hawks, a real estate agent, had built an office at 8802 35th Ave NE.
In 1939-1941 the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered a ramp-up of manufacturing for war preparedness. This affected Seattle directly as airplane manufacturing and ship-building were among a number of wartime industries. When war was declared after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Seattle’s population swelled with more war workers and with military personnel assigned to bases such as the naval air station at Sand Point (present site of Magnuson Park). The sudden spike in population in Seattle created a boom in house-building. In this era a developer, Albert Balch, named a plat of new houses the “Wedgwood Addition,” and that started the process of the neighborhood becoming Wedgwood.
During the World War Two era beginning in 1941, Laurette was finally able to sell more house lots, due to demand for housing and that City water and electric service had become available in the Wedgwood area.
Property records show that entire blocks of houses along 88th and 89th Streets, on lots that Laurette had owned, were built in the years 1941 to 1943. This source of income would have been timely for Laurette as she was now 90 years old and her son Charley was 65.
Laurette died suddenly at home in 1945 when she was 95 years old. Her son Charley was 70 and he was able to continue selling house lots on the blocks he and his mother had owned. He lived the rest of his life in the log-sided house at 3848 NE 89th Street.
Census and City Directory Listings.
“Camp Fire Girls All-City Summer Events,” Seattle Daily Times, August 23, 1931, page 12.
“Covington — Thumbnail History,” HistoryLink Essay #10337 by Kate Kershner, 2013.
Find-A-Grave — Dusenbery grave marker. The Dusenberys were immigrants from Poland and lived in Walla Walla, Washington, then moved to California. They invested in property in the Pontiac Addition in Seattle but they never developed it.
“Mrs. M.T. Stanley, Obituary,” Seattle Daily Times, February 6, 1945, page 12.
Property records: Puget Sound Regional Archives, repository of the property records of King County. Property Tax Assessment Rolls show no one living in the Pontiac Addition until after 1910.
Side Sewer Cards: This on-line resource shows underground streams alongside houses.
Street names and City Limits: The north Seattle City Limits were finally set at 145th Street in 1954. It was a gradual process through the 1940s and 1950s when election precincts voted themselves into the City. The “directional designations” changed in 1961 so that East 75th Street, for example, became NE 75th Street. At the end of my blog article about Election Districts is a source list to the dates and a map of precincts. Info about the inclusion of separate cities, such as Ravenna, is in this article about annexations. Info about the system of Seattle street names is in this article.
“The Women’s Christian Temperance Union in the Pacific Northwest,” by Dale E. Soden. Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Fall 2003 edition, quote from page 202.
“Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Western Washington,” HistoryLink Essay #407 by Mildred Andrews, 1998.