Book Launch Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk

Book Launch–August 4, 2021

The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk—From Derbyshire to the Pacific Northwest

Paperback, ISBN 978-1-09837-091-6, LOC 2021912014, 318 pages, cover price $19.95 US

Steel tycoon. Visionary. Town-builder. Peter Kirk was raised in his family’s 100-year old iron business during the heady Victorian years of rail expansion. He invented his way out of market slumps with new products and machines that made his iron works more efficient. But the American steel industry was a run-away train that threatened his bottom line. Instead of fighting it, he decided to join in by establishing a large-scale foundry in the Pacific Northwest frontier.

He carved a town out of the old growth forests and imported 5600 tons of machinery. To Peter Kirk, “It was a small price to pay to launch so rosy a project.”

He met with hostile immigrant sentiment and feuding railroads. It was an uphill battle to build a steel mill from the ground up, rivaled only by the rugged Cascade Mountains the company had to penetrate to get the ore. The great Financial Panic of 1893 pushed Kirk and his dream to a precipice as his “hope was buried in the womb of the future.”

The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk is a comprehensive biography compiled from his business papers, family letters, accounts by his business partners, newspapers, and other archived material in England and Washington. It traces his family back to the Industrial Revolution in Chapel-en-le-Frith, England and explains how he was poised for success in the Second Industrial Revolution in Queen Victoria’s reign with the explosion of innovations. This book details Kirk’s success with his Moss Bay Hematite Iron & Steel Company in Workington before traveling 7000 miles to launch a sister mill in the town he helped found–Kirkland, Washington.

Saundra Middleton received her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Alaska. She has published dozens of articles for Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Magazine, and other publications. After studying her family history for decades, she knew Peter Kirk’s unique immigration story had to be shared.

Contact Saundra Middleton, (253-306-3702) for more information or to schedule an event:

Email:; Website:

Buy books at Bookbaby Bookshop:, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s and other major distributors.

In the United Kingdom:, Waterstones, and

Snowbound Stagecoach

The people involved in this account came from the following families;  Stephens, Miller, Allphin, McClain, Scott, Mulkey, Riddle, Davis, Glover, Nichols, McDonald, Niles, Jeffries, Moody, Gay, Jagger, Graham, Irvin, James, Wellington, Bolton, Wilson, Thompson, Hogg, Hunter, Stocking, Johnson and others.”Snowbound Stagecoach” is available from the publisher, Moonglade Press, or from Amazon.

Book Review: Hardship to Homeland: Pacific Northwest Volga Germans

Review by Brian Charles Clark. Reprinted with permission, Washington State Magazine, Summer 2019. To purchase this book, visit WSU Press.

By Richard D Scheuerman and
Clifford E. Trafzer. WSU Press, 2018

When the Prussian Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst deposed (and possibly murdered) her husband, the Russian Emperor Peter III, she became Empress Catherine the Great. Catherine ruled from 1762 to 1796. She ushered in a golden age for the empire. She had herself inoculated against smallpox and her advocacy and example saved millions of lives. She expanded the Russian empire into Poland in the west, and into Alaska in the east. And to shore up her western border, she invited German peasants to settle along the Volga River.

By paying their way and allowing the settlers to retain their languages and cultures, she enabled 27,000 migrants to settle. For 100 years, the Volga Germans prospered and made good use of die Kaisarina Katarina’s gift of land. Dick Scheuerman grew up in eastern Washington listening to his elder tell the tales of the “historic trek” from Germany to Russia—and the great betrayal that forced the descendants of those settlers to embark on another great trek.

By 1871, the Russian Senate had reneged on the deal that brought the settlers to the banks of the Volga. Faced with poverty, and being drafted into the Russian army, some 100,000 Volga Germans immigrated to North America.

As Scheuerman points out, place names throughout the Pacific Northwest reveal their Russian origins. Moscow, Idaho, and Odessa, Washington, “and smaller rural hamlets like Tiflis and Batum” are part of the story of a great Russian-German immigration to the United States in the late nineteenth century.

In 1881, the first wave of Volga Germans traveled from Kansas to San Francisco by rail, and then on to Portland by steamship. The following year, some families crossed the Cascades “by wagon…to establish homes in eastern Washington Territory’s fertile Palouse Country.”

Some immigrants came to Ritzville, an area around the Big Bend of the Columbia River. The land there had been thought to be uncultivable, but Phillip Ritz, a few others, and the new immigrants proved that wrong. “The loam was dark and rich in the area, but without lumber they had to live in sod houses or dugouts and use sagebrush and cow dung for fuel. Through efficient methods of tillage and fallowing, the industrious farmers achieved remarkable success.” Soon, the new farmers were “a distinctive island in the semi-arid pioneer landscapes of Adams County.”

The immigrants brought seed with them, hardy wheat varieties like Saxonia and Turkey Red. They brought names, too, like Weyerhaeuser and others that still figure prominently in Northwest culture and economics. And they brought stories, which Scheuerman and his wife, Lois, have been collecting since the 1970s.

The stories the kolonisty brought with them, and that the Scheuermans preserve here, tell of ties to the great czarina, a gift of a blue teapot that saved lives, and a moving story about a family, pushed by discrimination out of their Volga River home, who relocate to the American West. Respectful of the Native American families living nearby, they made a new home in the hills of the Palouse.

Hardship to Homeland is a fascinating read. First published in 1980, and revised and expanded for this new 2018 edition, the book is not only a detailed history of one of the largest ethnic migrations in the history of the United States, it is also a valuable resource for folklorists, as the authors painstakingly collected numerous stories handed down within Volga German families. It is also a testament to the value immigrants bring in terms of new political, religious, and social ideas, as well as economically important innovations now ingrained in Pacific Northwest farming and forestry methods.

Tri-City Genealogical Society Civil War Books

Please be advised that the Richland Family History Center now has a 130 volume set of  “The War of the Rebellion Official Record of the Union and Confederate Armies”.
This set of books is in the basement of the Richland Family History Center and will only be there for a limited time. So, please take the opportunity to research these books as soon as you can.
Hours of operation:
Monday, Friday, Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Telephone: 946-6637

Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society

Early Stillaguamish Valley Schools

by Sue Walde, Helen Eliason and Joanne Wetmore
The story of the humble beginnings of Arlington’s rural schools in 1882 to the advent of the modern era. Despite the struggles to survive in an unforgiving wilderness, early settlers sacrificed to build the first schools and fulfill dreams of a better education for their children. Discover the mysteries of Arlington’s 44 rural schools, woven with local history and old-time stories. Enjoy numerous maps and over 150 photographs with many pictures of school children. View a 40+-page, easy-to-use index, cross-referenced with over 5,000 names. Perhaps you will find your ancestors in this unique book about Arlington’s early rural schools. Cost $30.00 Now available on the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society, and at the upcoming N.W. Genealogy Conference in Arlington.

Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable Book Presentation

September 21, 2017

The Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable will sponsor a distinctly different event Thursday, September 21st at 6:30 p.m. at the Bellevue Library (1111 110th Avenue NE, Bellevue (425) 450-1765). The presenter will be author, Joanne Rajoppi who will be discussing her book, Northern Women in the Aftermath of the Civil War: The Wives and Daughters of the Brunswick Boys. Some of the characters Ms. Rajoppi’s will talk about have very strong ties to Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

This will be the first in a series of lectures called Behind the Lines that is concerned with how 19th century women struggled to survive as their men returned broken, weary and depressed. Its a tribute to their fortitude for continuing to raise their children, work their farms and keep their families together in the face of death and uncertainty.

Click on FLYER to review the material prepared by the King County Library System. If you have any questions, please contact the Bellevue Library or Mike Movius, President of the Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable.

Copyright © 2016 Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are either a member or friend of PSCWRT.

Our mailing address is:
Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable
2502 Caitlin Court SE
Olympia, WA 98501

Related to a Minnesota Medal of Honor Recipient?

The Anoka (Minnesota) Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is publishing a book with biographies of 72 Minnesota Medal of Honor Recipients. The book includes the biography of three veterans with ties to Washington State.

  • Jesse T. Barrick was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Civil War. Barrick settled in Suquamish, Kitsap County in 1909 and died in Pasco, Franklin County in 1923. Barrick is buried in Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington.
  • Raymond Erwin Davis joined the U.S. Navy in Puget Sound, Washington. He was awarded a Peace Time Medal of Honor for heroic efforts to rescue comrades when a boiler exploded on the U.S.S. Bennington in San Diego in 1905. He died in Port Orchard, Kitsap County and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Seattle, King County.
  • Leo Thorsness was a Washington State Senator in 1988. Thorsness was a prisoner of war and the only Medal of Honor recipient credited with an aerial victory in the Vietnam War. Colonel Thorsness is one of a few living Medal of Honor recipients.

If you are interested in additional information or want to order a book, please contact:

Marijane Tessman
Member, Anoka Chapter DAR

Copyright Laws Q&A

Copyright laws are confusing to most of us. It makes sense that you can’t copy pages from a book or article to share with your research buddies, copy and paste an online article or post photos to Facebook or your blog. But did you know copyright law also applies to your old family photos, family stories your cousin writes, newspaper articles you share, books you use at the library, online articles you come across, lectures you listen to at conferences, and more?

After a short email asking Family Tree Magazine editor Diane Haddad if we could share Sharon DeBartolo Carmack’s informative article “Copyright for Genealogist” (FamilyTreeMagazine blog, 12 Aug 2016), here it is. It’s definitely worth the read.

Whitman County Genealogical Society Gleanings from Selected Newspapers


Whitman County Genealogical Society

is pleased to announce the publication of a new book

Whitman County, Washington Territory:
Gleanings from Selected Newspapers
with Every Name Index

The 243 page spiral bound book with laminated covers compiled by Mary Bybee Simonsen in cooperation with WCGS, contains 194 pages of gleanings, plus an index of over 5,000 different names.  There were many newspapers in Whitman County from 1877-1886, but most gleanings were extracted from the Palouse Gazette, the Washington Democrat (both Colfax, W.T. newspapers), and the Palouse News (a Palouse City, W.T. newspaper), plus a few other area newspapers.  The extractions were done from microfilm at Washington State University Holland Library in Pullman, WA.  Every readable issue of these newspapers during this time period was reviewed for possible gleanings.  Most gleanings are from records, such as births, marriages, divorces, deaths, and land records, plus other interesting items related to the area.   Some articles, especially land records, were too faint to read, so the gleaning was edited.  Full articles may be read at a facility having these microfilmed newspapers.  A sample page from the book is printed with this flyer.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

After Sept. 30, 2016 each book will sell for $25.
The book is also available in pdf format on a CD for $15 (no discount price).
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Address_______________________City__________State___ Zip_______

Number of Books ordered ($20 each)____
Number of CD’s ordered ($15 each) ____
All prices include tax & shipping.
Make check payable to WCGS and mail to:
WCGS, P.O. Box 393, Pullman, WA 99163
(Orders will be mailed in October 2016).

“Nothing In Life Is Free,” Book Review

Book Review – Donna Potter Phillips

Nothing In Life Is Free, by Della Gould Emmons, 1953

“A Historical Novel of the Pioneer West”

“Selected as the Official Book Commemorating the Washington Territorial Centennial”


This book tells the story of the settlers to the area in Washington south of Tacoma, the founding of the town of Steilacom, and the trials and hardships they endured to get there.

It was in the fall of 1853 at a meeting in Olympia with Governor Isaac Stevens that the immigrants got the answer to one of their plaguing questions:  “As for the Indian title (to the land) it must be extinguished throughout the length and breadth of this territory. In my judgment under the Donation Law the settler can locate his claim west of the Cascade Mountains.” And so they came.

Jenny and Julius and their wagon train were stalled in Northwest Oregon debating how best to proceed to their goal, the Willamette Valley of Washington. The leaders held council: they could float down the Columbia River to Fort Vancouver and then overland to the north. Or they could go in a more direct northwesterly direction which would take them along the Yakima River and then up and over the Naches Pass. The wagon master had been told that a road had been built for that route and that it was passable for oxen and wagons. He was misinformed.

This “road” turned out to be a myth and the wagons struggled for weeks crawling along the rivers, down cliffs and over Mud Mountain (aptly named). With the rich and timbered lands at the foot of Puget Sound as their goal, the continued on despite been harassed by the Indians and having to chop clear every mile of the way. Jenny’s only shoes wore out and her dress rotted at the hem.

Quoting from the story:  “Rain, which hadn’t bothered then east of the mountains, decided it was due on the west side and had better make up for any time that it has lost. Down it came, emptying huge pocketfuls and as the immigrants pushed aside head-high underbrush they were showered liberally, as though receiving a Puget Sound baptism, without which they could never be true citizens.”

They did finally make it to Steilacom.  Page 221 described how Jenny and Julius measured off their claim by carrying 66-foot chains over and over and over through the dense and dripping undergrowth that is the country in Pierce County.  And Jenny in her long skirt!


Upon their arrival in 1853, the story details how these hardy pioneers became embroiled in the conflict between the U.S. government and the Hudson’s Bay Company over who rightly owned the land. The local Nisquallys, believing the land was theirs, also acted against the settlers. Jenny, now with a young son, lost her Julius and watched her cabin go up in flames but held onto her 160 acres of land no matter what befell.

The Donation Land Act decreed that “all male citizens of the U.S. who immigrated and settled in Oregon after 1 December 1850 and before 1 December 1853, and who should comply with the requirements of the stated law, should each receive, if single, 160 acres of land, and if married another 160 to his wife, in her own right.”

Finally in 1864 most disputes were settled but it took until 1869 for the fighting factors to pull out of the area. The novel continues with the story: it was in late 1866 that Jenny and her new husband went to the Pierce County courthouse in Steilacom to testify for final ownership of her land.

In the story, Jenny finally receives the patent for her land signed by U.S. Grant, President of the United States, and dated February 1875.

The inside cover of this hardbound book shows a map of their travels. How they came from the Midwest through southern Idaho over Emigrant Hill (near Baker, Oregon) and then cut up to re-supply at Fort Walla Walla. They then went west of Pasco and northwest along Selah Creek and Wenas Creek to the 4988’ Naches Pass. Finally over, they followed the White River, crossing south of Lake Tapps to the area around Fort Steilacom between what would become Tacoma and Olympia.

Della Emmons’ sense of poetry shines out of here prose:  “Spring. Dogwood trees bursting stars and new green gowns dressing the bushes.”

This book was a wonderful read and made me so glad I was not placed by God on earth in the 1850s to be an Oregon Trail pioneer!


** As of February, 2015, this book was available via Amazon for about $10.00.