Connections link Issaquah to Civil War 150 years after conflict started

August 30, 2011

By Bob Taylor

George Tibbetts and William Goode were just teenagers. If they lived today, the future Issaquah residents might have been concerned with such important details as saving to purchase a car. Tibbetts might even have been anxious about getting prepared for a prom or studying for the SATs.

Issaquah history museums Some of Issaquah’s earliest settlers were Civil War veterans, including local Grand Army of the Republic members (above) and three of the their granddaughters, shown circa 1900. Issaquah History Museums

But 150 years ago, the nation was quite different than it is today. It was a nation divided.

With the election of Abraham Lincoln as president, 11 Southern states led by South Carolina seceded from the nation. Lincoln had pledged to halt the spread of slavery, a stand that was unpopular in the South. The Southern states formed their own country — the Confederate States of America.

Everyone in the North and in the South knew it was just a matter of time before there would be war. On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops under Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard fired cannons on Fort Sumter and the war began.

Three days later, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve the Union for 90 days. However, it soon became obvious that further troops would be needed and the president called for the enlistment of 100,000 troops to serve for three years.

Among those who answered the president’s call to arms were Tibbetts, 16, and Goode, 19.

Tibbetts, who was born in Maine but was sent to live with an aunt in New Hampshire when he was 4, was assigned to Company F, Fourth New Hampshire Infantry. He enlisted as a private and rose to be a sergeant by the time he was discharged.

Goode, who grew up in Illinois, joined Company F, 16th Illinois Cavalry. He rose to be a sergeant by the time of his discharge.

Both participated in a number of battles; Goode saw the most action, taking part in 31 encounters.

Prisoners of war

The fact they survived the war was remarkable in itself. What was even more remarkable is that both spent time as prisoners of war. Tibbetts was held at Libby and Belle Isle in Virginia, and also at Salisbury, N.C. Goode did time at Andersonville and Millen in Georgia.

At Libby, he was one of 1,000 prisoners who were held in just eight rooms. In a 1982 Issaquah Press article, Issaquah resident Ida Maude Walimaki, whose grandfathers were Tibbetts and Goode, recalled a story Tibbetts told her about conditions at Libby. Apparently there was a day when a misguided cat visited the prison grounds only to be eaten on the spot by starved, emaciated prisoners.

If you go

Washington Civil War Association 2011 events

Sept. 17 — Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad Living History/Skirmish, Elbe. Email Tom Peloquin at rebgunner@hotmail.com.

Sept. 17 — Honoring Their Memory: Blue and Gray ceremony and living history, Everett. Call Bruce Smith at 206-724-8851.

Oct. 1-2 — Battle of Plain, Plain. Call Peter Jensen at 259-3316.

Goode fared no better at Andersonville, regarded as the worst prisoner of war camp in the war. Commandant Henry Wirz was known for his cruelty and was executed after the war because of the treatment of Union prisoners. He forbade prisoners to build shelters — most lived in a hole scratched in the ground and were covered by just a blanket. Each inmate’s daily ration was a teaspoon of salt, three tablespoons of beans and a half-pint of unsifted cornmeal.

Of the 45,000 prisoners in the camp, 13,000 died from starvation or diseases like dysentery or scurvy. One day, prisoners died there at the rate of one man every 11 minutes.

When Atlanta fell to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and his Army, many prisoners, including Goode, were transferred to Millen.

Tibbetts and Goode go west

Because his health had been impaired from imprisonment, Tibbetts was urged to go West after he was discharged from the service in 1865. Tibbetts first settled in Missouri, where he engaged in a mercantile business and married Rebecca Wilson. The union brought about four children. Tibbetts and his family moved to Portland, Ore., in 1871. A year later, they became residents of the town of Gilman.

Goode also headed West after the Civil War and, according to Walimaki, fell in love with the Squak Valley area.

Tibbetts became one of the area’s first prominent entrepreneurs. He bought 160 acres in Squak Valley, where he began a hop ranch and expanded into dairying and general farming. In 1882, he established a stagecoach line from Seattle to North Bend. When the town of Issaquah was laid out in 1888, Tibbetts put up a two-story building that was the first business in the new community.

In addition, Tibbetts served Squak, Renton and North Bend as postmaster. He also became involved in politics. He was elected to the territorial legislature in 1887. Two years later, he was a member of the constitutional convention that met in Olympia to frame the constitution for the new state of Washington.

He also served as justice of the peace for Renton for five years, and in 1881 was elected brigadier general of the state militia for two years.

Many settlers who had been in the Union army also settled in the Issaquah area after the Civil War. One of those was Samuel Rowley, who was originally from England. After moving to Pennsylvania in 1861, the 32-year-old Rowley enlisted in the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry in 1862. He was discharged a year later and eventually moved West and later became town marshal of Gilman.

Proud of their nation and the contributions they made during the war, many veterans formed organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic. Tibbetts was one of the organizers of the Grand Army Post No. 1 of Washington, named Gen. I.I. Stevens Post after the first governor of the Washington territory. Tibbetts was elected senior vice-commander when the organization was first formed and later elected commander.

There isn’t as much information available about Goode from later in his life. However, Walimaki pointed out that Goode played a significant role in local history because some sites, such as Northwest Goode Place and Goode’s Corner, were named after him.

Walimaki noted that Tibbetts and Goode did have something in common other than serving in the war. Eventually, Tibbetts and Goode became friends and in-laws when children from both families married.

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