Happy Valley: Ray Smith

In 1900, Ray I. Smith migrated west from Astabula, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie, to Duvall, Washington which is located on the Snoqualmie River. He became interested and employed in a logging operation in the big timbers of the Evergreen State. A year later, in the summer of 1901, Hannah T. Newton came to Duvall to visit some friends, who were formerly from New Ulm, Minnesota, her home town. Her visit was extended when she met Ray Smith, and after a whirlwind courtship, they fell in love.

They were married November 7, 1901 and made their first home in Cherry Valley near Duvall. August 29, 1902, their first child was born- Edna Irene. In the spring of the next year they homesteaded a seven acre ranch in Happy Valley. The address now would be at 175th and 6th

Avenue N.W., one of the entrances to Innis Arden. After cutting some of the timber, blasting stumps and clearing the land, they built a modest cabin. They settled down in the true pioneer spirit to till the soil and raise most of their subsistence. They raised chickens, hogs and cattle for their milk and meat supply. They planted fruit and nut trees, raspberries, grapes, gooseberries and strawberries to eat, can, and sell. They had one of the finest strawberry patches in the valley at one time. They were fortunate to have a stream running through part of their property. So, with the aid of a dam they had a good and plentiful supply of water. Their transportation was a horse and wagon for the long trek to Seattle for extra supplies and building materials. Setting up their new home and life was a great satisfaction; but they endured some hardships and lots of hard work.

It had much adventure, too. They lived pretty much in the wilds – so they saw many wild animals. Hannah related many stories of her encounters with Black Bears. Once she attempted to lock a Mama Bear in her chicken yard – but the bear promptly made a lunge right through the fence. She lumbered off into the woods, having devoured several chickens. Another time a Mama Bear and two cubs paraded on a log near the chicken yard. There were cougars and wild cats in the surrounding woods, so one was always on the alert.

In 1905, the Ronald school was built and the first class attended in 1906. The Ronald Methodist Church was built, which helped with the social and spiritual life of the community. It was across the street from the Ronald School. The neighbors in the valley would get together for an occasional supper and songfest.

In October of 1905 a son, Austin Newton, was born to the Ray Smiths, but he survived only six months. Then another daughter, May Belle, came upon the scene May 26, 1908. All the children were born at home with only the aid of a neighbor or midwife.

The next year the Smiths started to build their permanent family home. It took many years to complete. (See pictures)

Of course in those days everyone depended on lamps and lanterns filled with kerosene. Later on in 1916, when electricity came to the valley, a young budding electrician, named Chuck Taylor did the honors of wiring the house. It was a very important occasion – one to be remembered forever. It was a wonderful family home. The house, very much in use and good condition, is at the Sixth Avenue entrance of Innis Arden.

Another daughter was born on January 25, 1915 – Vivian Elizabeth. So, there were five in the complete family. Also in 1915, they added a “flivver” to the family means of modern transportation. In those days when Ray Smith would put on the brake, he would also yell, “Whoa” or “Stop you Son-of-a-Goat.” There weren’t many roads in the area; the one straight east to Ronald, to church and school, and later the Seattle-Everett Interurban. There was one to the south from the valley toward Greenwood Avenue and 85th Street and the road to the Big City, also a road north and west to Richmond Beach.

Happy Valley became slightly isolated on February 2, 1916, when the big snow came. It snowed for days and totaled over three feet. It lasted for a month till March 2. The Valleyites were lucky to have a well-stocked cupboard and plenty of firewood. It was a challenging and interesting experience – lots of fun for the children. The boys and girls had a ball sliding down the big hill. It was the best sledding for miles. The Smith house at the bottom of the hill served for getting warm, drying mittens, shoes and socks. Cocoa, popcorn and cookies were welcomed by the sharpened appetites of the enthusiastic sledders. Potluck suppers helped liven the long winter evenings.

Ray had always claimed that a Black Bear would not attack you if unmolested. But his story changed when one night with the dog’s persistent barking he ventured out with a lantern to investigate When he got under a prune tree, he heard a grunt and looking up saw the outline of a Black Bear eating primes. It immediately dropped to the ground and started to chase Ray. Hannah came out on the porch with a Rochester Lamp – startling the bear, and then he bolted for the woods. But, Ray, doing some fast sprinting exclaimed, “Oh My God, the bear has got me.” He took some real kidding forever, after that.

Ray had worked for the Seattle Golf Club as groundskeeper. In his later years he worked as custodian at Ronald School. He had a fall which shortened his life. He passed away in 1936. Hannah survived to the ripe old age of 95. They were two true pioneers, of whom their family and friends were proud.

–Shoreline Historical Society 1973

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