Archive for Historical

Piper Oral History Meeting – February 20, 1985 and 1984 Seattle Times Article

                                   PIONEEER MEMORIES

This article is transcribed from a meeting that took place on February 20, 1985 between neighbors, orchardists, members of the Piper family and Seattle Parks to discuss the Piper family history. DSB refers to David S Battey — West Cascade Tree Fruit Association, Historian — who transcribed the audio tape of the meeting.

Names of the attendees: EM, PD, L(R)N, HK, DL, AG, JW, H(K) V, DB, are withheld pending permission to share them in this online transcription of what came to Will Morgan (WAM) in 2006 from Nancy Malmgren, as four photocopied pages, he typed them in for the Friends of Piper’s Orchard website.

L brought a picture of a group of ladies that was originally formed to be an orphanage(?), and later became a social organization. The picture has a ramp, a wooden walkway which H. recognized as the ramp which led to the second story in the “cookhouse”, which was the largest structure at the Piper farm, and straddled Piper’s Creek. Furniture was stored in this second story. This furniture probably came from the previous Piper house on Boren street in Seattle. The cookhouse had facilities to lower perishables into Piper’s Creek for cooling.

The cookhouse was left over from logging of the property, and was used as the joint family kitchen and social hall. Others in the family lived in three smaller structures on the property. Paul Piper was the chief family cook, and lived in the cookhouse. Cooking here was home cooking, and was not related to the bakery, which was in downtown Seattle.

The land had been logged several times, and one of the Piper sons Walter tried logging it for the third time, but was financially unsuccessful with the venture. The original trees were primarily Western Red Cedar. Walter later (?) began Piper and Taft Sporting Goods in Seattle, which was later purchased by Eddie Bauer.

A.W. Piper stood for Andrew W. Piper. No clues as to what the W. stood for. Minna (Hausman), or Wilhelmina was Mrs. Piper.

J. remembers that Mrs. Piper was the gardener / grafter, and may have been responsible for creating the fruit trees in the orchard, as A.W. was often gone on business.

(This possibility changes the investigation into naming the varieties at Piper’s Orchard. If they were not standard commercial nursery stock, but chosen and created by Mrs. Piper from the best varieties she was aware of locally, then we will probably find some unique types that cannot be readily named. This has already been born out by finding the rare German variety Bietigheimer in the Orchard. Also, the Wealthy apple seems to be an especially beautiful selection of this variety. It was also noted that pictures of the Piper house at Boren Avenue show many fruit trees and flowers in its front yard.

(Since the photographer’s address refers to Washington Territory, it had to be before 1889. – DSB)

Bertha Piper was a very good friend of Princess Angeline, the daughter of Chief Seattle.

There is a picture of “Uncle Paul’s Vegetable Garden,” which shows a clear flat area, on Piper’s Creek, looking toward the Sound to the right, with a huge vegetable garden. This may be where the present Metro treatment plant is located, just down creek from the orchard. Henry remembers that the Piper family had a horse and a cow in the pasture shown to the left in the picture, beyond the vegetable garden. Surplus from the garden was taken into town by wagon and sold. Just out of sight, perhaps about where the photographer stood, was a large log framed pond, in which the Piper family grew water lilies to sell to the Rosalia Brothers florists at ( Third and Madison?).

Lillian Piper had her little house, Tillie the school teacher had her little house, and Mrs. Piper had her little house. These houses were small, perhaps 20′ by 30′. Mrs. Piper’s house was nicer than the others, and built a little later by Uncle Oscar. ( The other two were built originally for loggers.) The inside of her room was finished with wide cedar planking (probably sawn, not hand split ), and H can remember the nice odor of the cedar. Current neighbors say the present house on the property was built on the site of one of the original cabins, but was not its “foundation.”

The same year she died, Mrs. Piper planted thousands of bulbs, just as she did every year. She died at the age of 96 (obituaries for most of the Piper family are available from the Seattle Library archives – WAM).

The family uses a German word to denote the special type of bakery that A.W. had. He baked “fancy stuff, more than bread.” The word is Konditorei, which means “confectioners shop.” This term is much broader than baker, and included candies and pastries. (Bret Battey, a 1984 exchange student in Germany, instantly recognized the word, there are Konditorei all over Germany today, selling cakes and pies and pastries -DSB)

Edward Meany, the local historian, wrote a short article on Charles Piper in 1926? (add from xerox ( missing? -WAM)).

Leslie remembers that the three pioneer bakers in Seattle were A.W. Piper, Mr. Preussing, and Leonard Reinig (her grandfather). The Preussing bakery was near Volunteer Park. (According to Clarence Bagley’s History of King County, 1929, Leonard Reinig’s shop, named the Seattle Bakery, was at Mill and Front Streets in Seattle. It was destroyed in the first Seattle fire of 1879. – DSB)

The big Seattle fire of 1889 burned out the Piper business. A.W. and his son Herman went to Alaska to try and re-start the bakery, probably in Nome(?) but it did not do well. The bakery in a tent in Alaska was not very successful. His wife did at least visit him in Alaska as there is a portrait of them together from Nome(?). The family may have remained in the house on Boren until his return, although it is not certain when the Piper’s Orchard property was purchased, when the house on Boren sold, or when the family moved to Piper’s Canyon, as the orchard property was called. It was also called “The Ranch” by the family.

H. remembers hearing that many years ago, soon after his return from Alaska, A.W. Piper forsaw the possibility that the Piper’s Canyon area might someday be a park.

A. remembers her mother going on the underground tour in Seattle, and recognizing where she thought the pre-1889 bakery was.

There exists a large white fungus, very artistically rendered, with pictures and names, and the date of June 30, 1889. This was done by A.W. (The great fire was June 6, 1889).

The family still has several paintings done by A.W., including several monochromes of fruit, one of pears, and one of peaches and grapes. The Seattle Pioneer Association has a sculpture done by A.W. The family has quite a few flat pattern carvings done by A.W. Some of these are probably associated with imprinting confections.

A.W. ran for mayor of Seattle on the socialist or populist ticket. He was also a member of the Seattle city council. He was also one of the earliest cartoonists in the city of Seattle, or the state of Washington. ( UW Library digital archives have a depiction of a Seattle hanging of thieves. -WAM). Surviving cartoons are political in nature and very detailed.

A.W. was born in Kissengen, Bavaria in 1828. (Kissingen is about 62 miles east of Frankfurt, Germany per Websters Geographical Dictionary-DSB ) He came to America when he was 19 years of age , or in about 1847. He was educated as an artist. He came to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, in 1852. (The Panama Canal was not open to traffic until 1914). He first met his wife in New Orleans. She was also a German immigrant.

There were eleven Piper children, but several (two? -WAM) died young, and one, little ( ?) died in San Francisco.

A.W. was a member of the Masonic Lodge.

H. remembers Mrs. Piper giving him the devil about a year before she died because he couldn’t anser some questions about what was going on in city government. She said that it was up to folks to  know what was going on in their government.

H. also remembers drinking the pure water of Piper’s Creek (now runs alongside a Metro sewage plant -WAM).

The Pipers were married in San Francisco, and then moved up to Victoria, B.C. for quite a while. Charles Piper’s middle name was Vancouver for Vancouver Island. ( C.V. Piper became a famous botanist and USDA director -WAM)

Paul Piper took fruit from the orchard downtown to sell.

There was discussion on the Carkeek name for the present park. D. thinks that originally the Carkeek family wanted to give the city Sand Point, but the US Navy took it. Looking around for comparable property, the city bought the Piper “ranch”. The Piper property did not extend to Puget Sound. The “ranch” was sold for $30,000 in about 1927.

A May 1856 letter to A.W. from Germany spells the name Pfeifer.

The family owns a beautiful large diploma. The words are: Diploma awarded by the MECHANICS INSTITUTE to A. W. Piper for the best specimens of ornamental sugar work, September 1857, San Francisco.

                                        (end of article)

                         HISTORY OF THE RENOVATION IN 1984        

The article below is a reprint from a Seattle Times article that talks of the restoration project for this orchard in 1984.

Full Text (929  words)
Copyright Seattle Times Oct 10, 1984

Gnarled, mossy trunks tortured into rheumatic bumps and bends by the frost, rain and winds of a hundred Seattle winters; red and golden windfall apples strewn on sun-dappled ground; a perfumed cider-and-honey aroma wafting from pippins crushed underfoot.

Truly, Piper’s Creek Homestead Orchard is the stuff of poetry. But, until recently, it had vanished into the matted undergrowth of Carkeek Park almost as dramatically as an Aztec city lost in the Central American jungle.

Landscape architect Daphne Lewis discovered the antique fruit trees in 1981 while making a master-plan survey for restoration of the park, which lies in the Broadview district in North Seattle between Puget Sound and Third Avenue Northwest. The park includes a beach, spacious picnic areas, wooded canyons and a Metro sewage treatment plant that obstructs Piper’s Creek.

People had forgotten that it also includes the fruit trees planted a century ago by A.W. Piper, a Bavarian-born baker and confectioner who cooked their apples into his pastry. His land was sold and the pioneer orchard, abandoned for some 50 years, became submerged in house-high brambles and ivy.

It took Lewis and several volunteers about two years of intermittent work with machetes to carve pathways into the prickly tangle.

Now, on fine weekends, Lewis leads an enthusiastic crew which executes a chain-saw massacre on intruding maple trees, ivy and underbrush.

Why restore the orchard?

“Why save old sailing ships or houses?” retorts Paul Donaldson, 68, who equates a taste for old varieties of apples with a liking for baroque music. “The reason we’re cleaning up the orchard is simply this: It’s living history.”

He is one of a number of retired persons on the crew. “Daphne got us out of our rocking chairs,” jokes Donaldson, a retired microbiology professor who was invited into the project by Lewis when she used his backyard as a demonstration project for a class on urban horticulture.

Other key members of the task force are: Walter Lyon, 70, of Kenmore, who retired in 1978 as head gardener at the Hiram Chittenden Locks; Ed Lewis, 78, of Bellevue (no relation to Daphne), an official of the Home Orchard Society who delights in identifying archaic fruit varieties; Bob Baines, 27, a Seattle Park Department horticulturist; and Dave Battey, of Snoqualmie, who lends a special bramble-cutting tractor.

Impressed by the volunteers’ progress, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department is assigning workers and equipment to speed the project.

Now the worst of the brush has been cleared, and Ed Lewis has meticulously mapped the triangle-shaped orchard. His cartography shows about 30 apple trees, two pear, two cherry, a huge sweet chestnut and various hawthorns and maples.

Most of the orchard rescue crew members are dedicated edible-garden growers with large collections of fruit trees in their own gardens.

On lunch breaks, these arboreal samaritans sit beneath a tree and, with all the solemn enjoyment usually seen in wine connoisseurs, they sample slices of unusual apple and pear varieties they’ve grown.

What kinds did A.W. Piper plant 100 years ago?

Nobody is certain yet, but Lewis believes the types include Wealthy, Gravenstein and Jonathan.

Fruit samples will be taken to the “All About Fruit Show” this weekend in Portland, where Robert Norton, superintendent of Washington State University‘s Northwestern Research Unit, and John Parker, a Port Ludlow fruit grower, will assist in the detective work.

A few Seattle residents are living links to the old orchard. For example, Earl Ecklund, 77, says his family became neighbors of the Pipers in 1917, and he remembers playing in the orchard with the 11 Piper children.

Ecklund believes Piper started the 80-acre farm around 1880 after the land was logged of huge first-growth cedars. Ecklund says that when he knew the Pipers, they still were using some cabins left by loggers, including a cookhouse that straddled a creek near the orchard. “I remember they lowered a box through the floor into the rushing water to cool milk, butter and other perishables,” Ecklund says.

Piper, a onetime socialist mayoral candidate, died at age 76 in 1904. Now the cabins are gone, and the orchard is the only visible reminder of a slice of Seattle’s pioneer past.

In 1927 the orchard was bought as part of the new Carkeek Park, which was opened in 1929. The orchard, about 2 acres, has lain derelict ever since.

Renovation of the Piper’s Creek Homestead Orchard is part of a much larger restoration project. Pryor Garnett, 27, a University of Washington law student, and his wife, Kathryn, are part of a group that wants to turn Carkeek into a model urban watershed, purged of fecal pollution from various sources and abandoned rusted bedsteads.

Meantime, restoration work continues on the old orchard. Volunteers may contact Paul Donaldson at 364-0161.

The action is lively. Daphne Lewis, a wiry 41-year-old with bobbed fair hair and a pixie smile, shins up 70-foot maple trees and attaches ropes for the men on the ground to pull as they fell the leafy intruders.

What happens when the job is complete?

“I have a vision of this being a beautiful place for picnics or educational visits,” says Daphne Lewis. “It should be an arboretum to showcase rare old varieties of fruit planted by the pioneers. Edible history.”

“A.W. Piper, famed for his apple strudel, certainly would approve.”


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