Espionage and coal: Mining Issaquah’s World War I history

March 18, 2014

It was July 29, 1914. Austria launched a bomb attack on Serbia, and Russia commenced mobilization for an attack on Austria. The German “Count” Gustav Konstantin Alvo von Alvensleben was in Germany, where the government was about to declare war on France and Russia.

On that same day, in the small town of Issaquah, Dave and Ann Morgan welcomed their first child, Ivor, into the world. He was born in coal company housing owned by von Alvensleben.

File This is most likely an occasion described in a Seattle Times article from July 19, 1013, which read in part, ‘Two hundred fuel dealers and their wives... were the guests of the Issaquah & Superior Coal Mining Company at its mines in Issaquah... The trip was made in a special train of three cars that left King Street Station at 9:30.’ The article describes the procession from the Issaquah Depot to the mine offices, where Issaquah Mayor P.J. Smith gave a rousing speech. The coal company’s sales manager, J. F. Grant, replied with the interesting (if not true) fact that Issaquah meant ‘beautiful maiden,’ whereupon he welcomed Blodwyn Watkins, ‘the pretty daughter of Superintendent J. R. Watkins, dressed in Indian costume, who emerged from a stand erected for the purpose.’

File
This is most likely an occasion described in a Seattle Times article from July 19, 1013, which read in part, ‘Two hundred fuel dealers and their wives… were the guests of the Issaquah & Superior Coal Mining Company at its mines in Issaquah… The trip was made in a special train of three cars that left King Street Station at 9:30.’ The article describes the procession from the Issaquah Depot to the mine offices, where Issaquah Mayor P.J. Smith gave a rousing speech. The coal company’s sales manager, J. F. Grant, replied with the interesting (if not true) fact that Issaquah meant ‘beautiful maiden,’ whereupon he welcomed Blodwyn Watkins, ‘the pretty daughter of Superintendent J. R. Watkins, dressed in Indian costume, who emerged from a stand erected for the purpose.’

While von Alvensleben made plans to return to North America, Dave Morgan tended donkeys for von Alvensleben’s Issaquah and Superior Coal Mine on the west side of town. The donkeys hauled carts of coal from the dark, dusty, noisy and wet depths of the mines to the surface, where the coal was crushed, sorted and cleaned in preparation for shipment.

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