Ethel Cravens and the Washington Black Pioneers
ROSLYN - NORTHWEST BLACK PIONEERS FACT SHEET
The Roslyn - Northwest Black Pioneers is a mostly family 501(c)3 nonprofit
organization endeavoring to educate a diverse population about the rich cultural
heritage of the African American (Black) culture . Our goals are to instill pride in our
African American culture, especially the youth, and to make other cultures aware of
our proud history and important accomplishments.
One means of fulfilling our mission is by entering historical , educational floats in
various parades throughout Washington State. We also have a Black history exhibit
and display which we present in schools , private and government agencies .
Roslyn is located 85 miles east of Seattle over Snoqualmie Pass and is 60 miles
west of Yakima. Around 1000 people live there. Below is some Black history.
Roslyn, c. 1889
The first major migration of Black people into Washington (Territory) was in
August 1888. About 600 Black men from the South, East, Mideast and Midwest
were hired by the Northern Pacific Railway to come to Roslyn to work in their coal
mines to UNKNOWINGLY break a white coal miners' strike . On September 30,
1888, a second trainload of Black men, women and children arrived in Roslyn. On
that train was our grandmother , Harriett Jackson-Taylor with her 2 year old son
Fred. She later met David Clifford Williams and they married. To this union our
mother, Mrs. Ethel Williams-Craven was born in Roslyn in 1906. She married
Samuel L. Craven in 1924 and they had 13 children .
Their 11th child, 3rd son, WILLIAM AMOS CRAVEN, became the FIRST BLACK
MAYOR IN WASHINGTON STATE when he became Mayor of Roslyn in 1975.
He served until 1980. While Mayor, he was instrumental in having the 22 different
nationalities and lodges cemeteries in Roslyn placed on the National Historical
Landmark Register. Black Civil War Veteran Jesse Donaldson is the only Civil
War veteran buried in the "Colored Cemetery", renamed Mt. Olivet.
Samuel Craven and William Amos Craven, c. 1960.
Many African Americans now living in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Yakima trace
their roots back to Roslyn. Our cousins, the Hart family , trace their roots to Nelson Arthur
Hart who arrived around 1911 and worked in the mine's boiler room, also the Heath
(son-in-law) family; the Donaldsons and Livingstons. The Barnett family—in Central
Seattle there is a park named after Powell Barnett, Jr., who was born in Roslyn.
Federal Judge Jack Tanner has family members who lived in Roslyn. As you can
see, Roslyn played a very important part in Black history here in Washington.
Ethel Cravens-Sweet, President
Roslyn - Northwest Black Pioneers