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Humble House at Heritage Park

By Betty Lou GAENG and Bob WELLING, members of Sno-Isle Genealogical Society
 Mary (HUMBLE) WICKSTRUM, with fond memories of her home

                Life for the people in the 1930s was much different than present day. Those were still the hard days of the Great Depression. People had little money to spend on frivolous travel, so community became an important factor in their lives. This is a story of one such community.

                The hub of the busy and prosperous city of Lynnwood, Snohomish County, Washington, wasn’t always called by that name. It was once known as Alderwood Manor. Now that name is perpetuated by a large shopping mall, businesses, apartments and condos.

                 The central area where people from the outlying farms gathered to shop or meet together is now bisected by the freeway. The old Masonic Temple, one of the few buildings still remaining from that time, was a place for entertainment in the community. Dance and music recitals and plays were held on the stage—many featuring the local children. In addition to being the meeting place for Alderwood’s Robert Burns Lodge No. 243 of F. & A. M., the ladies of Chapter No. 185 Order of the Eastern Star, and the Rainbow girls, other organizations met in the building, including Alderwood Manor Post No. 90 of the American Legion and Auxiliary, and the Alderwood Manor Townsend Club.

                 People shopped at the Alderwood Mercantile Co. which had been purchased in 1933 by a young man from Seattle. His name was Herman J. WICKERS, and the store became known simply as WICKERS. Mr. WICKERS and his wife Anita moved into the apartment above the store. WICKERS’ store became a major gathering place, especially for the men. In the winter they sat around the pot-bellied stove and talked politics, economics, the general condition of the world, and the great war which had been fought to end all wars. Many of the young boys of the neighborhood, who would later become the business men of Lynnwood and the nearby town of Edmonds, listened to the talk of the older men. It was here the boys learned about the problems and opportunities they would face when they reached manhood. They were enthralled by the war stories told by the veterans of World War One, never realizing that within a few years the world would again be involved in yet another great war.

                 Down the dirt road a short distance east from WICKERS’ store was a small farm owned by Joseph Roscoe HOLT and his wife Harriet Belle. Mr. HOLT was born in Iowa, and as a young man lived in El Paso and Pueblo Counties in Colorado where as an accountant he learned the banking business. In 1918 Joseph HOLT and his wife lived in an apartment in Seattle where Mr. HOLT worked at the Metropolitan Bank. Later he worked at the Dexter Horton National Bank, which later became First National Bank, and in much later years, SeaFirst Bank. For several years, Harriet HOLT was employed as a stenographer for Smith Brothers Typewriter Company in Seattle. The HOLTs evidently never intended to become farmers and make the countryside their permanent home, as they continued to live near downtown Seattle in an apartment, only occasionally living on their country property. During 1933, Mr. HOLT was not well, suffering from a heart condition, and they were making their home on the Alderwood Manor farm—Mrs. HOLT commuting to her work in Seattle. The year 1934 brought change for the HOLTs, and also for a Seattle family, Albert and Mildred HUMBLE and their two daughters, Mary and Janice.

                 Most people lead ordinary and quiet lives—establishing homes and engaging in work to support and raise their families. Albert HUMBLE was one of the ordinary men. He was born December 4, 1891 in North Shields, Northumberland, England, the son of Charles HUMBLE and Maria Jane CAMPBELL. As a young man of 16, Albert emigrated from England to the United States, setting sail from Liverpool aboard Canadian Pacific Steamship RMS Empress of Ireland (Royal Mail Ship) along with his mother and siblings. His father Charles and older brother had come to the United States earlier. Albert and the family arrived at the Port of Quebec, Canada on October 14, 1909. The following day, they left Quebec traveling to the United States via Canadian Pacific Railway, crossing the border and arriving at Eastport, Idaho on October 21st. They then traveled southwest to Denison, Spokane County, Washington to join father Charles.

                In 1914, Albert declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States. In 1917, he registered for the World War I draft. Later he married Mildred Sirene RENSHAW who was born August 20, 1896 in Michigan. Albert and Mildred lived in Deer Park near Spokane where their eldest daughter Janice was born. In 1921, Albert became a citizen of his new country. Another daughter, Mary Helen, was born at Deer Park. The family moved to Seattle, eventually owning a home in the Ravenna area of Seattle. Just as many residents of the city were doing, in 1934 Albert and Mildred HUMBLE decided to move to the country. Albert yearned to have a cow and some other farm animals, and Mildred wanted a garden. They traded their Seattle home for a two-room rustic one located on five and 1/2 acres in the little village of Alderwood Manor in south Snohomish County. This house had been built in 1919, and was presently owned by Joseph and Harriet Belle HOLT. Mr. and Mrs. HOLT acquired a Seattle house, and the HUMBLE family moved to the country to become farmers. Joseph and Harriet HOLT gave up their apartment living and moved into the Ravenna house vacated by the HUMBLE family. Mr. and Mrs. HOLT were still living there when Joseph HOLT died in 1949 at the age of 73.

                 On the HUMBLEs’ newly acquired Alderwood Manor property there were fruit trees, cherry, apple, and others. Also there was rich soil for a garden. Since the country was still mired in a deep depression, many families were taking advantage of inexpensive land for sale and the independent living in the country, and the Alderwood Manor area was attracting many families.

                 Albert was a skilled carpenter and he enlarged and improved the little two-room house until the family had a very comfortable five-room cottage.

                 Mary entered W. A. Irwin School, better known as Alderwood Manor Grade School, which was located on the now vacant property across 196th Street from the present day Lynnwood Convention Center. Mary and Janice both graduated from Edmonds High School (the only high school in District 15 at that time). Mary HUMBLE married twice: first Dale HOLTCAMP, a classmate from Edmonds High School, who died in 1961. Joan, the daughter of Dale and Mary HOLTCAMP, was born in 1955. As a widow, Mary later married Howard WICKSTRUM. Janice HUMBLE married “Skeet” TUTMARK, the son of early day Alderwood Manor settlers Andrew and Marie TUTMARK. Janice and Skeet had two daughters: Carol and Susan. Albert HUMBLE died in 1976 and Mildred in 1992. They were never to know that one day, several years following their deaths, and even into a new century, signs would appear along Highway I-5 and the streets of what once was Alderwood Manor. These signs show motorists the way to a park that is on the land that had been the little country farm home of the HUMBLE family. Alderwood Manor is no more. It is now part of Lynnwood, and Albert and Mildred’s former farm is a historic attraction—the City of Lynnwood’s Heritage Park. The little house that Albert had remodeled for his family is now known as Humble House and is home to Sno-Isle Genealogical Society’s Research Library.

                 In 2008, on a pleasant summer day in late June, over seventy-four years after the HUMBLE family had chosen to move to the country, Albert and Mildred’s youngest daughter, Mary (HUMBLE) WICKSTRUM, strolled through Heritage Park with two of the volunteers from the research library, Bob WELLING and Betty GAENG. Mary shared some wonderful memories of her life on the farm. Lucky for us, she still hasn’t completely left the family farm. Still a very active lady, Mary volunteers as a docent at Alderwood Manor Heritage Center, next door to Humble House.

                 The Humble House is located at 19827 Poplar Way in Heritage Park. The house sits on its original site which according to maps of early day Alderwood Manor is identified as Block 11, Lot 7. The lot was northeast of the Alderwood Manor Demonstration Farm property, which was next to the Seattle-Everett Interurban Railway tracks. In addition to Humble House, Heritage Park attractions are Alderwood Manor Heritage Cottage (the reconstructed former superintendent’s cottage from the demonstration farm—now home to Alderwood Manor Heritage Association). Also, the building that once was Alderwood Mercantile Co. (WICKERS’ Store), now South Snohomish County Visitor Information Center, restored Car No. 55 of the Seattle-Everett Interurban Line; and the restored water tower from the demonstration farm (at the present time, minus the water tank).

                 Clever sculptures on the park grounds depict an early-day Alderwood Manor—a great place to raise children and chickens.

                 Amid the collection of engraved bricks directly west of the interurban barn and car are several bricks representing the years the HUMBLEs and TUTMARKs became residents of Alderwood Manor.

Andrew and Marie TUTMARK – 1918
Albert and Mildred HUMBLE – May 1934
Janice HUMBLE (1934) and Skeet TUTMARK (1918)
Carol TUTMARK (1940) and Susan TUTMARK (1946)

                 While we walked with Mary on the land where she had grown up and then lived as a wife and mother, Mary talked about bygone days and growing up on the farm. She related to us that her father, a carpenter for many years, constantly worked on the building of their home, but when times were bad, he had to work in Seattle. Her eyes sparkling as she recalled her young life, Mary related stories of the good times. “We always laughed about how the steep roof of the house got a long white stripe when father was painting the fireplace chimney and spilled the paint. Mother was always busy planting. She planted the willow, the elm, the redwood, and the walnut trees [all still on the property]. On the east side of our house, below the patio, mother had a profusion of roses, begonias and fuchsias. The huge rhododendron next to the house on the north side was also planted by Mother.” This last spring that same rhodie, now as tall as the house, bloomed with a solid mass of deep rose colored flowers. One pole from Mrs. HUMBLE’s clothesline still remains at the northeast corner behind the house.

                 Smiling, Mary told of how the family was assured that they could make a fortune selling the cherries from the cherry trees already on the property. The pie cherry trees along Poplar Way were especially proclaimed as a money maker. Not so; they were full of worms. The north side of the property contained several sweet cherry trees. Mary spoke of the garden which did produce, and without the need of watering. Alderwood Manor was noted for its ponds and underground springs. The garden was located east of the house, down between the two ponds. The location of the ponds on the HUMBLE property is where they always were, but are reshaped due to the bulldozing. The garden kept the family stocked with vegetables: peas, string beans, corn, beets, carrots, cabbage, asparagus and more. They also had raspberries. The orchard added fruit for the family’s larder. In addition to the cherry trees, there were apple trees—gravenstein and crabapple—a pear tree, a plum and a prune tree.

                 Mary described how her father designed the barn and chicken house. Because he planned to build them on a steep slope at the front of the property, he had a novel idea for the construction. He first built the chicken house, supporting one end with risers—then the barn was built beneath it. A great way to utilize space, as well as save on the amount of lumber needed. In the chicken coop, the family had about 250 chickens, and Albert now had a barn for his cow, as well as the other animals the family acquired. Mary didn’t forget two goats, Nannie and Nanna; and a calf named Tootie. There were also pigs—their pen located on the backside of the property close to the woods. “Since we didn’t have any brothers, Janice and I got to do all the chores. Janice and I got 1 1/2 cents per pound for the cherries.”

                 Wanting everyone to understand one fact, Mary emphatically told us, “By the way, the picture on the sign in front of Humble House shows a shack. Our house never looked that bad—it was painted—and we always had flowers around it. That picture was taken when Dad had raised the house to dig the basement and begin the remodeling.”


Down Home on the Farm--Mary’s Memories

               Moving Day to Alderwood Manor

                We moved to Alderwood Manor on May 5, 1934. The weather was terrible. Rained all day. We moved from a five-room house at 5549 28th Avenue N. E., Seattle, to a two-room house without indoor plumbing. We had an upright piano, a wooden frame hide-a-bed type davenport, a huge rocking chair and a sewing machine in its own cabinet. The kitchen table was also large enough to seat six people. There were four kitchen chairs. It seemed to not leave much room for people. There was our mother and father and my sister (age 15) and me (age 11). Also a Monarch kitchen range. It was also big.

                On the five and 3/4 acres was the two room house (about 12 by 24 feet), a pump house (well house), a good size storage shed and a lean-to wood shed. The pump house became the bedroom. Mother and Dad’s double bed was put in first, and then Dad built a frame overhead for Janice and my bed. Then the dresser and chest of drawers was moved in. It took quite a bit of getting used to having the pump start without jumping out of bed. Also, it was quite and adventure for Janice and me to climb into bed at night.

                The first night we couldn’t sleep because the frogs in the ponds were screaming their bloody heads off. When a noise would startle the frogs, they would shut up. And then they would start up again—one at a time until the whole hundreds would be at it again. But the next morning the weather had cleared and it was a glorious May day.

The Pump House Bedroom - Getting into bed in the pump house.

                The pump house was a structure about 9 by 12 feet and it contained the pump and the water storage tank, besides Mother and Dad’s dresser, chest of drawers and their bed. My sister and I slept in the upper bunk that Dad had built for us over their bed. To get into bed, you needed to put your left foot on their bed, your right foot on the edge of the dresser and then put your left leg over the bar Dad had put up so we would not fall out of bed. The pump house was 25 to 30 feet from the house. We would put our pajamas on in the house and then go to the pump house. Sometimes there was snow on the ground, just to make it more interesting going to bed.

                In the winter we each had a large granite rock that was put into the oven after dinner to heat up and then wrapped in newspaper and towels. We took these with us in lieu of hot water bottles to keep our feet warm while we were in bed. The rocks would still be warm when we awoke in the morning.

Life at Humble House

                In the summer of 1935 or 1936, a brush fire started in the back woods. We never could figure out how it started. The location was not easy for homeless people to get to and try to cook or get warm. Of course, it was also in hot weather.

                One day a fire started and my dad, sister and I went down to put it out. There was no water piped to the back of the property, we had to carry shovels, gunny sacks (to beat the flames with) and pails of water. This day was really hot. The fire was in downed logs, tangles of blackberry plants, weeds, and brush.

                Dad had a short temper. He was worried that the fire would get out of control and get up to the buildings. After we had been working on this for some time, a man showed up and was watching us, but not offering to help. Dad finally lost patience with him and he asked the man why he was there and not helping. The man answered that he was the fire marshal and that it looked to him as though we had the situation under control.

                The man left soon after that statement. I was sure Dad was going to hit the man with the shovel.

The Model T

                 Our first car (bought because we were moving to the country) was a 1928 Ford Model T. I hated that car with a passion. I was sure if we went somewhere we would never get back home (it never happened). We didn’t have a garage or driveway to the house, so it was parked close to the road and chicken house. Of course, we had a driveway to the chicken house; the feed had to be delivered and the eggs picked up.

                 In the winter Dad would bring in the coil for the car and keep it behind the kitchen stove to keep it warm so the car would start easily. He would also take a tea kettle of hot water for the radiator. I really didn’t trust that vehicle.

                 After several years with the Model T, we got a 1936 Plymouth. What luxury! It was green-blue, 4-door, gray upholstery, a real dream come true. After that car, Dad had a passion for Dodges. He always bought new cars so he knew how it was used. Great excuse to buy new cars.

Repairing the Sweet Cherry Trees

                 We had six or seven sweet cherry trees along the north side of the property. The one nearest the house was the first to ripen and Dad always said it was planted for the birds to have. By the time the others had ripened, the birds had their fill and had moved on to something else.

                One day our parents had gone to town for some reason. The cherries were ripe. Jan and I decided to pick some for the family. We pulled a branch down to reach the cherries and the branch partially broke away from the trunk. We knew Dad would be unhappy about this happening, so one of us held up the branch to the tree and the other one ran for some twine that we used to tie up the peas. We wound the twine up around the tree and branch so it would stay tight to the tree. We hoped Dad would not see it—although it was in plain sight. Our luck held.

                Many years later, Jan, Dad and I were doing something near the tree and Dad noticed how strange the bark looked on that branch (which had grown a lot in the years). It had ridges where the bark had grown over the twine. At that time we confessed that we had broken the branch. Of course, Dad thought it was a good job of grafting.

The Walnut Tree

                Dad had always wanted a walnut tree, and he got one while we still lived in Seattle. When we moved out to Alderwood, he brought it along. It was planted near the small pond where it has been for these many years. It takes a long time before walnut trees bear fruit, and he waited patiently for it to grow that much.

                The squirrels also like nut trees and they would raid the tree before the nuts were mature. It was really fun to see Dad and the squirrels fight for the nuts. We never knew who really won.

                Now it seems that the tree has to give up its life for the big machinery to put up the water tower. What a loss for a tree that is 75 years old. There must be another way to put the water tower in place.


               In order to visually acquaint us with how Heritage Park appeared when the HUMBLE family lived on their land, Mary has drawn a map from her memory of home. Following World War II, Mary had married, and her parents gave the couple property on the farm. In 1947, a former U. S. Navy house was brought from Bremerton and put in place where the visitors’ center is now located. This was Mary’s home until 1999. In 1961, Janice and Skeet TUTMARK’s house was built on the property—taking the place of the original barn and chicken coop. The home of Albert and Mildred (Humble House) is shown along Poplar Way on the right side of Mary’s sketch. Mary’s drawing shows that father Albert finally got a garage for his car—and a driveway.


 Mary HUMBLE WICKSTROM sketched  this map of her parents' property.
(Poplar Way, at the top of the map, runs NORTH-SOUTH.)

Albert Humble -
image taken before he emigrated from England

Poplar Way, facing north -
Humble property is on the right.  Taken in 1952.

Mary HUMBLE and her mother, Mildred
Image taken in 1937

Mary and her sister Janice with calf "Tootie"
Image taken in 1937

This ad appeared in May, 1936 in the Edmonds Tribune.
(Note the suggestion to save the coffee jars "for canning".)


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