Looking back: Lynnwood’s Heritage Park and its beginning

Humble family home in 1952.
The Humble family’s home in 1952.

A few years ago as volunteers for Sno-Isle Genealogical Society at Heritage Park’s Humble House, Bob Welling and I walked the grounds of the park as we interviewed Mary (Humble) Wickstrum. Heritage Park is part of what was the Humble’s family home and farm from 1934 until shortly before the City of Lynnwood acquired 2.82 acres of the farm for its park in 1999. Mary and her sister, Janice (Humble) Tutmark spent most of their young years and their married lives on this land, and they have never forgotten the time when it was home to them.

Mary and Janice, now both well into their 90s, still attend the picnics and other events held by Alderwood Manor Heritage Association at Heritage Park. Mary was also a longtime volunteer as a host at AMHA until her health forced her to retire a few years ago.

After our interview with Mary, I did some research into the history of the land when it was first  acquired by Puget Mill Company in 1869; of Joseph and Harriet Holt, the first owners when it was developed as a farm in 1919 — as well as the history of Albert and Mildred Humble and daughters Mary and Janice. Together with that information and Mary’s interview, the story has been told in the city’s publication of “Humble House at Heritage Park.”  You can read the full story at the museum on the second floor of the Wickers Building at the park.

As Bob Welling and I walked with Mary (Humble) Wickstrum on that beautiful spring day, she told us some interesting and amusing stories about the trees and the gardens.  As she talked, Mary left no doubt as to the many good memories she has from the time when she was young and living on the farm with her parents and her sister Janice.

Halide Lobdell Patterson and the famous apple tree

One of Mary’s favorite trees at Heritage Park is probably the most photographed tree in Lynnwood. It is an heirloom gravenstein apple tree. Even today without its foliage and still in its wintertime mode, the tree has an appeal that seems to draw people to look, to photograph it, and to be photographed beside the old apple tree.  Planted close to 100 years ago when the property was being prepared for sale by Puget Mill Company, the tree is now gnarled with age. However, despite its advanced age, this apple tree has not given up and last year it produced a huge amount of apples — the largest and best crop in several years.

Another tree, this one a huge walnut tree, seemed to bring back memories for Mary.  In fact, her eyes became a little moist as she told the story of her Dad, the walnut tree, and the squirrels:

“Dad had always wanted a walnut tree, and he got one while we still lived in Seattle. When we moved out to Alderwood, he brought it along. It was planted near the small pond where it has been for these many years. It takes a long time before walnut trees bear fruit and he waited patiently for it to grow that much. The squirrels also like nut trees and they would raid the tree before the nuts were mature. It was really fun to see Dad and the squirrels fight for the nuts.  We never knew who really won.”

 Halide Lobdell Patterson and the walnut tree (the water tower building in background)
Halide Lobdell Patterson and the walnut tree (the water tower building in background)

The small pond is gone now, but the walnut tree is still another historic tree to see at the park.  In the wintertime, as it looks now, it is hard to believe that later in the spring it will be in full foliage.  Each year, one cannot help but wonder if it will be the last one for Albert Humble’s special tree.

The many cherry trees and the other fruit trees — crabapple, pear, plum and prune — are gone, but others from those early days are still part of the park. Near the Humble House there is a huge willow tree, a redwood and an elm tree. These were brought from the family’s Seattle home in 1934 and replanted on the farm. A huge rhododendron which is so large it seems to more like a tree, was also brought from Seattle and planted on the north-side of their home.  Each year it blossoms with a profusion of dark pink flowers.

As Mary told us, her mother loved to plant, and Mildred Humble did just that.  Mildred’s flower gardens were spectacular. In addition her vegetable gardens produced peas, string beans, corn, beets, carrots, asparagus, cabbage, and much more.

With vegetables for their larder, fruit from the orchard, and even raspberries; plus chickens and eggs; milk from their two goats Nannie and Nanna; and the family’s pet cow Tootie providing both milk and butter, the Humble family never went hungry.

When Lynnwood’s Alderwood Manor was young, its gardens played a major role in the lives of the residents of the community. In the near future, Lynnwood and its partners at Heritage Park will be featuring the gardens and farms of those early days. Watch for further developments in what should be an interesting and educational project.

Heritage Park is a gem the City of Lynnwood has given us. It is a reminder of earlier times when the land was part of the community of Alderwood Manor — a time when life seemed far less complicated.  Right now the park still shows the stark beauty of wintertime, but spring is here and signs of new life are beginning to appear.

With this in mind, Lynnwood and its partners at Heritage Park will be hosting a clean-up day at the park — rain or shine. Bring your own work gloves and come meet your neighbors and get some exercise at the same time.There will be a lot of chores, such as weeding the flower beds, washing windows, and hosing down sidewalks. Trash pick-up will be another chore, although a small one. The visitors to the park are very considerate and make use of the trash receptacles.

Event: Heritage Park Clean-Up and Honor Ceremony
Address: 19903 Popular Way, Lynnwood 
Date: Tuesday, April 7
Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Potluck lunch & Special Event — noon
For more information, call: 425-775-4694

Join the friendly people at Heritage Park anytime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If nothing else, bring a food dish and join them at noon for a potluck lunch. Following lunch there will be a special event to honor the memory of Liz Carpenter, a former school teacher in Lynnwood, a long-time member of Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, and a very busy volunteer at the park. We lost her last year, and if you didn’t know Liz, you missed a lot. Some of you may remember seeing Liz.  She was the lady with beautiful snow-white hair who often could be seen on her hands and knees beside her husband Ted, weeding the flower beds at Heritage Park for hours at a time. That was Liz — no task was too menial for her to tackle. Come and join in remembering and thanking Liz Carpenter for her many years of volunteer work on behalf of our community.

By Betty Lou Gaeng

A long-time resident of Lynnwood, Betty Lou Gaeng is a genealogist, historian, researcher and writer who is active in volunteer work for Lynnwood’s Heritage Park Partners Advisory Committee and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association at Heritage Park. She is also a member of the League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations (LOSCHO) and the South County Historical Society and Museum. Gaeng is the author of two books: “Etched in Stone,” which is the history of the Edmonds Museum memorial monument, and “Chirouse” about a Catholic missionary priest who came from France to Washington Territory in 1847 and became a father figure and friend to the Puget Sound area’s Native people.

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