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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In two interviews, Camilla Saivetto talks about immigrating from Italy and ultimately settling in Roslyn, Washington. She talks about schools, Italian lodges, wine making, gardening, and beer brewing in Roslyn. She also talks about the Western Miners Strike, the dangers of working in the mines, the effects of mine closure, and African Americans families in the area.
The cover image shows Roslyn, circa 1940. Most of the wooden buildings and brick structures 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, 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.
Ethel Saxby’s parents arrived in Ellensburg, Washington, in 1913. She speaks about her father (b. 1858 in Missouri) and how the Civil War affected his family. Saxby talks about her teaching career and life in Cabin Creek, where she met her husband, Bill, who was a fur trapper. She talks about life in Roslyn, Washington, including lodges, the fire department, bakeries, labor conditions in the mines, the phone company (Stoves and Davies), medical care, and transportation. She also speaks about the effects of the Great Depression and World War II in the area.
The cover image provides a birdseye view of Cabin Creek Saw Mill near Easton, Washington, circa 1910.
Albert Schober (married to Margurite Campbell) speaks in three separate interviews about life in Cle Elum, Washington, in the early twentieth century. He describes local transportation, taverns, dairy operations, farming, logging, ranching, and other businesses. He talks about the area's Northwestern Improvement Company mines, describing the quality of coal and the strikes of 1888 and 1934. He talks about the impact of the Great Depression and World Wars I and II on mining. He also speaks about the decline of mining in Cle Elum and Roslyn. Please note: In his slideshow interview, Schober shows and speaks about specific images of Cle Elum.
Schober provides an overview of local businesses, including Hazelwood Grocery, which is depicted in the cover image, taken circa 1900. Hazelwood Grocery Store was located on East First Street, Cle Elum.
Joseph (Joe) Schwab
Joseph (Joe) Schwab describes his Polish/Russian roots, speaking about his grandfather (Mike Schwab, b. 1864) and his grandmother (Sophi Lerder, b. 1871). He describes how his grandparents immigrated to Roslyn, Washington, where they founded Roslyn Motors. He describes how his father (Joseph Schwab, b. 1901) took over the business but lost it to the Great Depression and WWII rationing. Schwab talks about his mother (Ann Lawrence Schwab) and her education in nursing. He talks about his childhood in Brookside, including holidays, lodges, baseball, hunting, fishing, and gangs. He talks about his work in the Northwestern Improvement Company No. 3 Mine, and how this work helped him go to college at Washington State University.
The cover image shows Roslyn, circa 1940. The photograph was taken from the intersection of First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Many of the businesses that lined the east side of Pennsylvania Avenue can be seen. On the left in the foreground is the Brick Saloon, which was managed by W. Sullivan. The next business was the Pioneer Grocery Store, owned by Stephen Kuchin. The Panerio and Ramsay Barber Shops were also on this side of the street.
John (Jack) Simpson and Ester Simpson
John (Jack) and Ester Simpson talk about the Archibald and Simpson family histories in Bow Hill, Scotland, where some mined. Jack and Ester explain how the Archibalds and Simpsons immigrated to Cle Elum, Washington, circa 1914-1919. They talk about John Simpson’s work in the Northwestern Improvement Company Mine No. 7 and about the Western Miners strike. They talk about growing up as a coal mining family, including Christmas traditions, discipline, chores, education, gardening, and canning. They discuss the impact of the Great Depression and World War II in the area.
The cover image provides a birdseye view of the 1918 fire at Cle Elum, Washington looking southeast. The Simpsons mention this fire in their interview.
David Spraw talks about Easton, Washington--and particularly about the local railroad and logging at Cabin Creek. He talks about mail delivery in Easton and how the railroads changed the town. He talks about why Easton and Weston were founded. He talks about telegraph stations set up by the Northern Pacific Railroad and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company. He also discusses the construction of the Highline Canal, and he describes the schools, families, and business owners in Easton.
The cover image shows the rail lines of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad near Easton, circa 1915.
Mary Starkovich (b. circa 1908) talks about her employment with the Cle Elum Telephone Company, where she worked beginning in 1942. She talks about moving to Cle Elum, Washington, from New Mexico. She also comments on the changes in Cle Elum after the 1918 fire and closure of the Northwestern Improvement Company coal mines in 1963.
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.
Mitch Starkovich discusses his Croatian roots, mentioning his father (Frank Starkovich) and mother (Palona) and their marriage in 1911. He describes how his parents immigrated to Cle Elum, Washington, where his father began working at the Northwestern Improvement Company Mines No. 7 and No. 3 (the Peanut Mine). He talks about the Prohibition era, the Great Depression, home brewing, and local schools. He describes the geography of Cle Elum, touching on the Tollmans' coal mine, Lizard Lake, the Goodrich Mine, the Peanut Mine, the Curry Mine, Gallegher’s Mine, Vic Segles' cabin, the Paridee homestead, Cobo’s brickyard, the Country Store, Balmer’s green house, mill operations, and local restaurants. Starkovich describes his work in the No. 5, No. 9, and No. 8 Mines, and explains why he left mining to work in the woods. He talks about logging in Tanum, Lake Kachess, Cabin Creek, and Keechelus. He also describes ecology changes before and after logging.
The cover image shows Cle Elum in January 1916. The viewer is looking south toward the South Cle Elum Ridge. During the early months of 1916, Kittitas County experienced one of the heaviest snowfalls in its history. Twenty-eight feet of snow was reported to have fallen in the Cle Elum and Roslyn area. Railroad travel came to a standstill and stranded, snowbound residents eagerly awaited spring.
Paul Starkovich talks about his family's history with logging in the Swauk, Tanum, and Casland areas in Washington state. He explains how his father supplied wood to the Northwestern Improvement Company No. 7 Mine, and how he himself worked for the M.C. Miller Company and Cascade Lumber Company. Starkovich talks about the effects of the Great Depression on logging. He describes local mill operations and speaks about the Ronald still explosion of 1928. He talks about Prohibition, the Great Depression, and New Deal programs in the area. He concludes the interview with comments on local coal mining and the HighLine Canal.
The cover image shows a large cut tree and a man from the Cascade Lumber Company. The photo was taken near First Creek in the Swauk Valley in Kittitas County, Washington, in 1931.
Thomas (Tom) Starkovich
Thomas (Tom) Starkovich speaks about his work at the Northwestern Improvement (NWI) Company coal mines in Roslyn, Washington. He describes working conditions, mining technologies, coal storage, and the NWI Company Store.
The cover image shows Tom Starkovich on a return visit to the fanhouse at the NWI No. 3 Mine.
Matt (Tobby) Stermetz and Francis Stermetz
Francis Stermetz discusses her Lithuanian roots and life in Roslyn, Washington. She talks about attending Hazelwood School (graduated 1934), about family traditions, household chores, and her work as a cook for the local coal miners' hospital. She explains the impact of Prohibition, World War II, the Great Depression, and local mine strikes.
Matt (Tobby) Stermetz talks about his family's background in Arkansas, where his father mined coal. He describes their move to Roslyn, Washington, where he worked 36 years in coal mining. He talks about loading and cutting coal in the Northwestern Improvement Company No. 9 Mine. He describes working conditions, and technology in the mines, as well as the impact of mine closure in 1963. He talks about local recreation, including Austrian and Slovenska lodges, hunting, fishing, and baseball.
The cover image shows the Roslyn Baseball Club, circa 1940.
Olive Stoneberg talks about her family history, particularly focusing on the Bannisters and their arrival in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1700s. She talks about roles filled by her father, Elroy Bannister, in Roslyn, Washington, including fire chief, mayor, and city councilman. She describes home life, ethnic holidays, education, recreation, and local businesses in Roslyn. She speaks of her marriage to Joseph Edmund Stoneberg circa 1922, and his work as a logger and coal miner in Patrick's Mine. She talks about life around Lake Cle Elum and describes the impact of national events like World War II on the area.
Stoneberg's family lived and worked around Lake Cle Elum, circa 1920s-1930s. The cover image shows tugboat and cabins at Lake Cle Elum in upper Kittitas County, Washington, circa 1930.
Please note that image quality in the included interview is poor. It may be improved in the future with further editing.
Adelaide Stoves (b. June 14, 1886) talks about her family's arrival in Roslyn, Washington, and her father's work in the Northwestern Improvement Company coal mines and in his own local business. She talks about home life and schools in Roslyn, nationalities in the classroom, and her own teaching career. She talks about settling at Lake Cle Elum, and describes fires, strikes, snowstorms, Presbyterian churches, African American families, Chinese families, and breweries in the area.
Stoves makes reference to Home Steam Laundry, which is featured in the cover image, taken circa 1911. The proprietor of the laundry, C.S. Enright, advertised in 1909: "Our collector will call. Mail or express consignments will receive immediate attention." Clean clothes were a challenge in a coal mining town. Running water and efficient electric machines were not available to most home owners. Banker Frank Carpenter did own an early copper tub-and-plunger device, now on display at his restored home. Three of the young women in this image have been identified as Mary Sitko, Ann McKerman and Mary Long.
Frank Talerico served as coroner in Easton, Washington, in the early to mid-twentieth century. He discusses the history of Easton, including its founding, changes in local transportation, and the impact of coal mining and railroads on the town. He also talks about the local water system, coal bunkers, logging, recreation, crime, inns, and lodges in town.
The cover image shows Johnson Brothers Company General Merchandise Store and Ashley Hotel in Easton, Washington, circa 1915.
Ansel Taylor describes his career in logging at the beginning of the twentieth century. He speaks about river drives and Indian-white relations in the Swauk region of Washington state. He talks about logging at Teanaway, Casland, Easton, and Lake Cle Elum, with the accompanying living conditions, dangers, strikes, machinery, and company dynamics. He also talks about working conditions in the Northwestern Improvement Company coal mines at Roslyn, Washington, circa 1888, including prominent strikes.
The cover image shows Ansel Taylor and his wife near Thorp, Washington, on horse and wagon, circa 1910.
Chester (Chet) Taylor
Chester (Chet) Taylor (b. 1914 at Bristol Flats, Washington) talks about his family's work in cattle driving, homesteading, and logging. He talks about his grandfather, John Taylor, who married a Shawnee woman and worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad at Bristol Flats beginning circa 1881. Taylor also speaks about his parents, Bill Taylor and Pearl Boyce, and their work at Miller's Mill in Bristol Flats. Taylor describes his own work for the Cascade Logging Company, including working conditions in logging camps, river drives, and recreation.
The cover image shows Chet Taylor, age two.
Albert "Brownie" Thomas
Albert "Brownie" Thomas (March 10, 1911-March 1, 2002) began working in the coal mines around Roslyn, Washington, in 1926. He began by helping to lay track at Mine No. 7, then worked at the mine tipple and ran motor. He worked eleven years at Mine No. 7 and went next to Mine No. 5, where he spent ten years, riding rope, splicing rope, and operating the double-drum hoist. He went next to Mine No. 3, where he ran the electric hoist for one year. After mining coal in Alaska, he returned to Roslyn and worked in Mine No. 9.
In this interview, Thomas talks about mine operations, safety, and culture in Roslyn and surrounding areas. The cover image shows the barn, boiler house, hoist house and cut logs at Mine No.7 near Cle Elum, Washington, in 1917.
George Turner (b. May 13, 1927, in Freeburn, Kentucky) describes his early life in Roslyn, Washington, as the son of a miner residing near the Northwestern Improvement Company (NWI) No. 5 Mine (1928-1937). Turner mentions his father’s interest in flying (circa 1919) and his part in bringing planes to the local area, including a local glider club. Turner further describes his father’s mining career, which began in 1928 at the NWI No. 9 Mine, where he laid track and sustained injuries in a mine explosion. Turner discusses his own mining career between 1943 and 1958 at the No. 3, 5, and 9 Mines. He also describes local businesses, including auto dealerships, greenhouses, taverns, and mines.
The cover image shows the entrance to the NWI Mine No. 5 in 1924. The image shows how coal cars were hoisted out and sent in at the same time, using a double drum hoist run by either steam or motor.
United Mine Workers of America
This video, transferred from 1958 film footage, makes a case for perpetuating coal mining around Roslyn, Washington.
The cover image shows a coal miner operating a coal train in Mine No. 5 at Roslyn. Hundreds of loaded coal cars were pulled from the mines each day during peak mining years.
In this interview, an unknown resident of Ronald, Washington, talks about stills and home brewing in the area. He speaks about the Ronald Still explosion of August 17, 1928, and subsequent fires. He also talks about the transport and consumption of moonshine, and about Prohibition and the "dry squads."
The cover image shows Ronald, Washington, looking north on Second Street, circa 1918. The town of Ronald was created in the late 1880s when the No. 3 Mine opened. Named after Alexander Ronald, Superintendent of the Northwestern Improvement Company (NWI), the town was a supply center for miners and their families. The first school was opened in May 1890 with 49 students and one teacher. Roslyn-Cascade Coal Mine opened in 1898 west of the No. 3 Mine, adding greatly to Ronald's population and economy.
John Vernera (b. January 14, 1916, in Roslyn, Washington) speaks about his father, Battista Venera, and his immigration from Italy to Roslyn, circa 1909. Venera's father entered the dairy business in 1918 and operated Maple Dairy, 1934-1943. Venera worked for his father at the dairy and then in the Northwestern Improvement Company (NWI) Nos. 5 and 9 Mines. He describes mining equipment, procedures, relationships to other mines, and “close call” experiences in the mines. He also describes the life of an immigrant family, including education, recreation, ethnic traditions, food/recipes, festivals, holidays, music, bocce ball, and lodges such as Druidessa, Moose, Finn, Swede, and Odd Fellows Halls.
The cover image shows recent Italian immigrants holding wooden bocce balls on a bocce court behind Torino Tavern in Cle Elum, 1900. Bocce--an Italian lawn bowling game--was a favorite pastime for decades in Kittitas County. Pictured here are Deonegis (father and son).
Joseph (Joe) Venera and Clara Venera
Joseph (Joe) and Clara Venera discuss their Italian ancestry and how they settled in Cle Elum, Washington. They talk about life at their Bar 42 farm. Other topics covered in the interview include: family traditions, gardening, burial customs, creation of the Sons of Italy Lodge, beer/wine-making, Roslyn saloons, religion, bocce ball, mushrooming, and food/recipes. Additionally the Veneras discuss the role of Italians in the mines, politics, WWII, and local sports.
The Veneras participated in Italian lodges in Cle Elum, which often met at the Eagles Building in town. The cover image shows this building draped in bunting, 1923.
Edward (Ed) Wakkuri
Edward (Ed) Wakkuri discusses his early life as a member of a Finnish-American family, touching on holidays, food, recipes, sauna culture, clothing, songs, language, schooling, and lodges. Wakkuri worked as a coal miner, primarily in the Northwestern Improvement Company (NWI) No. 9 Mine, and he offers extensive discussion on mining methods and terms. He describes the use of equipment such as the Joy Coal Excavating Machine, as well as personnel roles and procedures in the mines. Wakkuri also speaks about early settlement at Peoh Point and provides a history of the locale.
The cover image shows the Joy Continuous Miner machine. Cotton Pasquan appears on the left and Albin Kosmatin on the right.
Julia Wallgren describes her early life in an immigrant family residing in Ronald, Washington, and issues confronting immigrant families such as poverty and illness. Her father, Joe Koselisky, was originally from Yugoslavia and worked in the local coal mines. Wallgren describes life in a mining family, including recreational activities like dancing, music, holidays, and lodge membership (specifically, Benevolent Lodges, Falcon and Finn Halls). Julia Wallgren married John (Bill) Wallgren, who worked in the Northwestern Improvement Company (NWI) Nos. 3 and 9 Mines as well as the Patrick Mine.
The cover image shows a group of coal miners standing at the entrance of Patrick Mine (Mine No. 2) near Ronald, Washington, circa 1900.
Stella Walsh discusses her family’s background in homesteading and running the Walsh sawmill in the Teanaway River Valley, Washington, until 1908, when they moved the mill to Lake Cle Elum. Walsh details her family history both at Lake Cle Elum and in the Teanaway. She talks about the nationalities of settlers in Roslyn, Washington, and about local coal mining. She describes the effects of Prohibition, the Great Depression, and mining strikes on the area.
The cover image shows Joe Walsh (most likely Stella's spouse) of Joe Walsh Logging Company in Cle Elum, Washington, standing on the running board of his logging truck, 1964.