These oral histories were collected by local social studies teacher Frederick Krueger, his students and colleagues between the 1970s and 2000s. In each interview, a resident of upper Kittitas County speaks about the ethnic, racial, cultural, and industrial history of Kittitas County and in particular the history of coal mining at Roslyn, Cle Elum, and Ronald, Washington.
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James (Jim) McKean
James (Jim) McKean talks about his family's history in Roslyn, Washington. He talks about his father, James Andrew McKean (b. 1911 in Roslyn), and mother, Jean Watzel (b. 1916 at Lake Cle Elum), and their connections to Scotland, Kentucky, and Ohio. McKean talks about his father's work as an electrician in the Roslyn coal mines beginning circa 1929. He discusses tasks in the mines, the effects of Prohibition in the area, local businesses, and local mining families.
The cover image shows several Roslyn coal miners, circa 1900. These miners likely sorted coal at the mine tipple. Sorters worked to remove rock or shale that ended up on the slag piles outside each mine.
Louie Meaghers (b. 1893 in Ellensburg, Washington) discusses his father’s history and move in 1872 from Seattle to Ellensburg, where he acquired a meat market. Louie discusses growing up and working in his father’s meat market. He talks about life in Ellensburg, Swauk, and Liberty, Washington. He also talks about Native Americans, African Americans, and Chinese people in the area.
The cover image shows a teepee from a Yakama Indian encampment near Ellensburg, Washington (date unknown).
Margaret Meaghers (b. 1890 in Swauk, Washington) discusses the history of Kittitas County and the town named after her family, Meagherville. Meaghers also discusses coal mining and the Chinese workers in the mines around Liberty, Washington. She talks about local Indian groups and the growth of Ellensburg, Washington.
The cover image offers a view of Liberty, Washington, looking west, circa 1900.
Fanny Meritich immigrated to the United States in 1907. She discusses education, transportation, religion, work, language, and home life in the old country as well as the Great Depression in the Roslyn/Cle Elum, Washington, area.
The cover image shows the Northern Pacific Railroad depot of Cle Elum, Washington, during the snowy winter of 1910. The Northern Pacific Railroad reached Cle Elum in October of 1886.
Anthony (Tony) Minerich
Anthony (Tony) Minerich (b. January 18, 1918, in Roslyn, Washington) spent several years working in local coal mines before he and his brother, Joe, enlisted in the army during World War II. After the war, Minerich moved back to Roslyn and resumed his work in the mines.
The cover image shows Roslyn, Washington, circa 1940. By the 1930s Roslyn's business district (left) was providing services for few people as coal mining operations decreased. Located above Roslyn, the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (center) was built in 1887. The pine-covered Cle Elum Ridge is visible in the background, north of Roslyn.
Angela Mrak (b. 1899 in Austria) immigrated to the United States in 1923 and moved to Ronald, Washington, in 1928. She discusses growing up in Austria, her move to the United States, finally settling in Ronald, and the differences between the United States and Austria.
The cover image shows the Northwestern Improvement Company Store at Ronald, Washington, circa 1915.
Jack Ness talks about his Scottish roots and his experiences in logging beginning circa 1907. Ness worked in log mills and camps around Post Falls, Idaho, before transitioning to Casland and Liberty, Washington. He describes life in logging camps, logging techniques, bootlegging, nationalities in the camps, and local businesses.
The cover image shows a logging employee doing some washing at Casland, Washington, in 1930.
Mary (Briski) Norwood
Mary (Briski) Norwood talks about her Slovenian and Croatian family roots, describing her Briski and Plese ancestors. She describes how her father immigrated to Ronald, Washington, and began work in the Northwestern Improvement Company No. 3 Mine. She explains how her family supplemented income by working at the local saw mill, cutting hay, tending cattle, and foraging for food. She explains how, after John Briski (her father) died in 1929, her mother remarried to William Robert Norwood in 1936. Mary concludes by talking about cooking, holidays, recreation, and businesses in Ronald, Washington.
The cover image shows members of a Croatian lodge---the Hrvatskog Sokola--in Ronald, Washington, in 1914.
Steve (Pip) Osmonovich
Steve (Pip) Osmonovich talks about life in Cle Elum, Washington. In particular, he talks about skiing on Cle Elum Ridge. He holds a barrel stave that has been shaped into a ski and explains how skis were made. He speaks about South School, childhood games, and gardening at home. This video interview ends with still shots of artifacts and interpretive signs.
The cover image shows the Cle Elum ski jump at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Etta Owens describes her family's arrival in Roslyn, Washington, circa 1889. She talks about relocating with her family to Ronald, Washington, for work at the No. 3 Mine. She offers a history of Ronald, describes Roslyn, and speaks about logging, mining, schools, and businesses in the area. She also talks about the arrival of the first African Americans to work in the mines, and the existence of a black church. She comments on Prohibition, the Roslyn Bank robbery of 1892, the temperance movement, the 1916 snowstorm, Native Americans, and religion in the Ronald area.
The cover image shows Lidge Williams standing on the railroad tracks leading to the Northwestern Improvement Company mines in Cle Elum, Washington. Williams was one of many African Americans employed by the mines or railroad in the Cle Elum/Roslyn/Ronald area in the 1930s.
Richard (Rich) Owens and Francis Owens
Richard (Rich) and Francis Owens speak about the challenges of owning and running a business in Roslyn, Washington, in the 1920s-1930s. Francis Owens talks about her family, the Cusworths, and their arrival in Roslyn, circa 1887. She talks about life in a mining family, working conditions in the mines, the Northwestern Improvement Company Store, and the mine explosion of 1892. She talks about marrying Richard (Rich) Owens in 1922.
The cover image shows the Owens' butcher shop circa 1920. Rich Owens, Sr., is pictured next to the boy at center.
Joseph (Joe) Ozbolt
Joseph (Joe) Ozbolt (b. circa 1915 to John and Paulina Ozbolt) talks about the fifty years he spent mining coal in Roslyn, Washington. Ozbolt began working in the Northwestern Improvement Company (NWI) No. 9 Mine at fifteen years of age. He worked at the No. 9 Mine for 30 years and transitioned into work for Palmer Coke and Coal. In 1944 he married Katherine Maybo.
In this interview, Ozbolt talks about the geography of the coal mines, as well as safety, unions, and common tasks. He also describes life in Cle Elum, Washington, including the fire of 1918. The cover image shows the fire, which burned 30 square blocks, including most of the business district, the afternoon of June 25, 1918. One thousand five hundred homeless people took shelter in the school (left center) and the Independent Mine Building.
Major Panerio (1906-1983) worked as a coal miner and bookkeeper for the Northwestern Improvement Company in Roslyn, Washington. Throughout his life, he remained active in music, leading dance band and teaching trumpet, piano, organ, and accordion. In this interview he talks about the music of the Roslyn/Cle Elum area, and the bands that existed in the 1920s as well as the dance movement in that era. He discusses his involvement as a teenager in this musical culture. Panerio also plays a short accordion piece in the interview.
The cover image shows an African American band from Roslyn, circa 1920. The group may be Payne's Military Band (which is written on the large drum).
Anita Pardini talks about her family, the Tondas, and their roots in Mattie, Italy. She speaks about her parents, Filamena and Morris Lawrence Tonda, and their arrival in Cle Elum, Washington, circa 1914. She talks about her father's work for the Milwaukee Railroad Company and the Northwestern Improvement Company at the Independent Mine, No. 5 Mine, and No. 7 Mine. She talks about the Western Miners strike of 1934 and Italian traditions in Casland and Cle Elum. She describes businesses, food preparation, lodges, and recreation in the area.
The cover image shows the east end of Cle Elum in 1905. Most mining families, including Pardini's, worked in the Independent Mine located on 3rd Street. Many local Italian families lived and owned businesses in this area.
Arthur (Art) Pasa
Arthur (Art) Pasa (b. circa 1910) began working in the coal mines at Roslyn, Washington, at 17 years of age. He worked in the Northwestern Improvement Company No. 7 Mine, shoveling, shooting, and loading coal. In 1930, he moved to the No. 5 Mine, where he shot coal and drilled rock. In total, he worked 42 years in the coal mines, as he describes in this interview.
The cover image shows coal miners in Roslyn, Washington, circa 1900.
Pauline Pasquan talks about her Yugoslavian roots and her family's arrival in Roslyn, Washington. She speaks about her husband, Frank Pasquan, and his work in the Northwestern Improvement Company mines. She describes Yugoslavian recipes, home brewing, dances, and songs. She speaks about the working conditions in the mines and the Western Miners Union.
The cover image shows Roslyn, circa 1940. By the 1930s Roslyn's business district (left) was providing services for few people as coal mining operations decreased. Located above Roslyn, the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (center) was built in 1887. Cle Elum Ridge is visible in the background, north of Roslyn.
Lee Pearson, Kathryn Liboky, Joseph (Joe) Ozbolt, Swenson, and Rosella Kuchin
Various local residents participated in this conversation over lunch at the Presbyterian church in Roslyn, Washington. Each person commented on life in the area, describing local businesses and traditions.
In the recording, speakers cover a variety of topics, including: Pearson Hardware Store, Pete Cassasa’s second-hand store, local saloons, medicine, Prohibition, Pioneer Grocery, local wash houses, coal mining, Ducktown, the Erb Store, the local saw mill, the brick yard, the 1928 Ronald fire, the 1918 Cle Elum fire, Cle Elum Coal Company, Autorest Café, and the Notar home.
The cover image shows Cle Elum's First Street circa 1944. Before Interstate Highway 90 was constructed and opened in the late 1960s, First Street was also Highway 10. The street within the city limits offered many hotels and restaurants to travelers and visitors. Looking west on First Street from the intersection of Harris Avenue, the viewer can see the Cle Elum State Bank on the right. Managed by Charles E. Hugg, the Autorest Café on the north side of the street offered restaurant services, ice cream, confectionery, tobacco and fountain drinks.
Frank Quilico talks about his family's Italian roots and their arrival in Cle Elum, Washington. He talks about his father's background in South Dakotan hard rock mining and his confectionery store in Cle Elum. He talks about home life; recipes; lodges; education; and the effects of Prohibition, the Great Depression, the 1934 mine strike, and World War II on the family business. He also provides a geography of Cle Elum, locating businesses and families of the 1920s-1930s.
The cover image shows (left to right): Andrew Quilico (possibly Frank Quilico's father), Ross Carr, and Blaz Jovarnick.
Nadine (Thomas) Rice
Nadine (Thomas) Rice talks about her father, Lee Thomas, and his migration to Cle Elum, Washington, in 1888. Lee Thomas ran a livery and freight service on Pennsylvania Avenue, then began ranching on former Northern Pacific Railroad land. Rice talks about life on the ranch and its use in the 1920s-1930s as an airplane landing strip. She talks about local schools, sports teams, businesses, labor unions, and families, using various images to illustrate.
The cover image shows an airplane that landed at the Thomas Ranch near Cle Elum, Washington during the 1920s. Thomas Ranch is presently the Cle Elum Airport.
John Rigek talks about his family, the Rigeks and Klauses, and his work in the Northwestern Improvement Company coal mines at Cle Elum, Washington. He talks about shooting coal, working conditions in the mines, strikes, fires, worker nationalities, and mining technology. He talks about playing baseball in Cle Elum---also about local clubs, hunting, logging, trapping, ranching, irrigation, breweries, and fishing. He talks about his work as a barber and about local businesses.
The cover image shows the Cle Elum baseball team in 1940. Pictured are: Back row, left to right: "Swak" Kloudicar, Walt Miscovich, John "Jack" Simpson, Emil Pasquan, Matt "Toby" Stermetz, Slava "Slim" Mataya, and Jack Lenski (manager). Front row, left to right: Bob Blume, Mirco Mataya, Don Cooley, Mike Cooley, Chuck Mataya, unknown, Earl Smerget, Jack Mataya.
Josephine Rigek speaks about her time working as an operator for the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company (later the Cle Elum Telephone Company) from 1920 to 1966. She talks about the history of the company, changes in communication over time, and challenges for foreigners and rural Washington state residents in using phone services.
The cover image shows the Cle Elum State Bank, circa 1910, where the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company was housed. In 1906, A.S. Paul, a contractor, constructed the Cle Elum State Bank on the corner of E. First Street and Harris Avenue in Cle Elum. Also housed in this building were the offices of G.P. Short, attorney, and the Cascade Lumber Company.
Theodore (Ted) Rooks
Theodore (Ted) Rooks (b. 1903 in South Cle Elum, Washington) talks about his childhood and education at Hazelwood School. He talks about working in logging camps and about the impact of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) on camp life. He talks about hunting and fishing around Salmon la Sac, and about Native American potlatches and traditions. He speaks about working for the Northern Pacific Railroad and Liboky Mill. He describes the impact of the Great Depression and world wars in the area.
The cover image shows a crew rolling logs into deeper water in 1910. The logs were on the way to Boise Mill in Ellensburg, Washington.
Enid Roseburg talks about her Scottish heritage and her parents' transition from Canada to the United States. She speaks about her childhood, about Scottish traditions and holidays, and about schools in Ellensburg and Cle Elum, Washington. She talks about working for the Ellensburg Phone Company, 1942-1945, and about life at Peoh Point after 1945, with accompanying changes in technology, transportation, and communications.
The cover image shows Pennsylvania Avenue, Cle Elum, circa 1916.
Robert (Bob) Roseburg
Robert (Bob) Roseburg (b. 1922) talks about his Swedish heritage, his parents and their immigration to the United States, and life in the Cle Elum, Washington, area. He describes his farm at Peoh Point, near Cle Elum, and the relationship his farm had to the mining community. He discusses Swedish holidays, his education in Cle Elum schools, and the jobs held by family members. Roseburg also talks about the effects of mine closure and the Great Depression on his farming business.
Roseburg's farm was located near the Peoh Point School, which is featured in the cover image (taken in 1914). The image shows students and teachers, including Warner (right of flag pole) and Elsie Roseburg (right of Warner). The students sitting second and third from the left are John Deonegi and Pete Fassero.
Helen (Valesco) Rushton (b. December 4, 1914) talks about her life in Cle Elum and Roslyn, Washington. While looking at historic photographs, she describes the geography of Cle Elum and Roslyn, including previous businesses and local families. She notes that she and her husband, Charles Rushton, lived more than 60 years in Roslyn.
The cover image shows Roslyn, circa 1940. The photographer was looking northeast down Pennsylvania Avenue toward First Street. Most of the wooden buildings and brick structures seen here were built during the 1890s when coal mining brought hundreds of mining families to the area. Businesses that lined both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue during the late 1930s were the Brick Saloon, Roslyn Bank, Gustna-Ponerio-Ramsay Barbers, Jean's (Jeans) Beaute Shoppe, Cuculick Beer Parlor, Log Cabin Beer Parlor, Pioneer Parlor, Slim's (Slims) Place, the Masonic Temple, the Medical-Dental Building, Pine Cone Confectionery, Low Dentist Office, Central Drug, Northwestern Improvement General Merchandise, Pioneer Grocery, Hartman's Meat Market, Public Meat Market, and Cascade Telephone Company. Many homes were built on the slopes of the surrounding foothills.