Uh oh, trout poaching in Juanita . . . damned kids! Some history of Juanita

By Matt McCauley

From the Seattle Post Intellignecer, April 13, 1892.

Dorr Forbes brought his family west from Iowa via transcontinental railroad in 1877 and settled in Juanita, then a quite lake bay surrounded by towering cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir. His homestead claim was on Rose Hill, at Forbes Lake, hence its name and that of its outflowing creek. He sold his claim in July, 1888 to Post-Intelligencer publisher S.J. “Leigh” Hunt, who purchased it as part of the site for the Moss Bay Iron & Steel Company mill, an enterprise headed by Kirkland namesake Peter Kirk. Seattle pioneer Henry Yesler built a sawmill associated with the Hunt/Kirk venture on what had been part of Forbes’ 155-acre claim.

US General Land Office 1870 survey. Mary Terry’s Juanita ranch is highlighted in blue.

Forbes bought a narrow strip of land on Juanita Bay from homesteader Martin Hubbard, a logger, where he built the family home and established a sawmill on Juanita Creek. Forbes created the sizable log pond mentioned in the 1892 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article by damming Juanita Creek. The pond was located about where Cafe Juanita is located today (9702 NE 120th Pl). Why a log pond? Sawyers kept their logs wet because if they dried out they had a tendency to split, which reduced their value. It is unclear when the pond was finally drained.

Mary Terry married William Gilliam in 1873, at what was probably Juanita’s first wedding of non-indigenous people. The Washington Standard Newspaper, Olympia, Washington Territory, May 10, 1873.

The other pond owner mentioned, Edward Lander Terry, who later served 19 years as Seattle city treasurer, was the son of Seattle pioneers Charles and Mary Terry. Charles, a driven, greatly admired man whom his contemporaries described as having inexhaustible energy, was a member of the Denny group who first landed on Alki Point in 1851. For a time he owned Alki Point, which he traded to the colorful Dr. David “Doc” Maynard for his land south of today’s Yesler Way. Among many other notable accomplishments, Charles co-owned Seattle’s first water system and King County’s first store. He was a Puget Sound steamboat pioneer and, along with pioneers Arthur Denny and Judge Edward Lander, donated part of the 10 acres surrounding Denny’s Knoll for the University of Washington’s original location—names still honored through the UW’s Terry, Lander and Denny halls. At one time Charles owned 40 percent of the land within the Seattle city limits and 90 percent of its business district. The Terry home on the northwest corner of Third Avenue and James Street was considered one of the finest in Washington Territory in the 1850s and ’60s.

As a young woman crossing the plains with her family via oxen drawn covered wagon during the summer of 1853, Mary Russell was reportedly so beautiful that she attracted Indian braves who tried to buy her from her father. According to Seattle historian and Seattle Underground Tours founder, the late Bill Spidel, fearing that she might be kidnapped, Mary’s father insisted she spend most of the months’ long journey hidden away inside a wagon and she only ventured out after dark, and that was only under armed guard and with a bushel basket over her head! The male attention problem followed her to Puget Sound country. In 1854, at about 17-years-old, she and Charles, then about 24, were married by Judge Lander in a native war canoe at the Suqamish Reservation, near Port Madison, with Charles’ friend Sealth in attendance. Chief Sealth (anglicized as Chief Seattle) headed six Puget Sound tribes. Legend says this unconventional ceremony was wise old Sealth’s way of making clear to the young men under his authority that the Terrys were his friends and that they should stay away from Mrs Terry from then on out.

Charles died wealthy and respected in 1867, at a mere 37-years-old, due to “consumption”, as pulmonary tuberculosis was then called. Mary Terry gave birth to a baby, Mary Carroll Terry, on the day of his funeral. At 30-years-old she was a widow with five young kids, aged from newborn to 8-years-old, but thankfully Charles had left her well provided for financially. A few months after a terrible, five-month long abusive second marriage ended in divorce Mary bought young Henry Goldmyer’s claim on what was then called New Year’s Bay as a summer ranch in 1872. She married William Gilliam there in 1873. Gilliam was also a Seattle pioneer and a 1855-56 Indian War veteran, service which included fighting in the Battle of Seattle.
Mary died in 1875. She was only 37, the same age Charles was when he passed. Much of the Juanita land remained in the Terry family, which explains son Ed’s mention in the 1892 article. Her youngest daughter, whose married name was Mary Kittinger, the baby born the day her dad was buried, owned several portions of the old ranch well into the 20th century and may have owned the parcels right up to her death in 1933.
Many believe Mary Terry was inspired by the 1855 song Nita Juanita, but either way it was she who chose the name “Juanita”, by which the bay and area around it have been known ever since. Though she has been mostly forgotten and was only here for a few years, “Juanita” remains Mary Terry’s Kirkland legacy.


(Note: Special thanks to Loita Hawkinson of the Kirkland Heritage Society for her invaluable research of tax records and other sources establishing many of the facts provided in this post).

The Terry’s youngest daughter Mary Kittinger was a prominent Seattle socialite, land owner and developer. The Terry-Kittinger Building in Seattle’s Pioneer Square area was built in 1889 by the Kittingers and Mary’s brother, Edward Terry. Seattle Times, February 12, 1933.

The Juanita in 1897, the Forbes-Terry log pond was located about where Cafe Juanita stands today. (US Geological Survey).

The first US homesteaders called Juanita Bay, New Year’s Bay. (King County Archive).

The Terry house on 3rd Avenue and James Street was considered Seattle’s finest home in the 1850-60’s. Her Juanita ranch served as a second home.

Mary Terry married William Gilliam in 1873, at what was probably Juanita’s first wedding of non-indigenous people. The Washington Standard Newspaper, Olympia, Washington Territory, May 10, 1873.

The Terry family plot in Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery. (Matt McCauley photo).

Mary Kittinger was the youngest Terry daughter. This 1916 Juanita land map shows Juanita acreage remained in the Terry family well into the 20th century.

Mary Terry, c.1865. (Photo courtesy of MOHAI)


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