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Kirkland pioneer family spotlight: Patty and Brooks

By Matt McCauley

In Kirkland’s history, there are several families that are prolific: Brooks and Patty are two such names. From the 19th century up to today, the branches and roots of these two family trees blend and twist through Kirkland’s past like a 1960s wallpaper design.

John B. Patty was born in Tennessee in 1836. In 1861 he married Mary Ballard, and even though he was a Southerner, during the Civil War he served in Battery K of the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery—a Union regiment. After the war the couple settled in Arkansas and in 1868 Mary gave birth to a daughter, Sarah Francis Annabelle “Belle” Patty. Later that year, in true pioneer style, the Patty’s traveled to the Washington Territory by covered wagon, settling in eastern Washington, just south of Harrington, in Lincoln County.

Twenty years later, in 1886, Emory Brooks, 26, from Erie, Pennsylvania staked a 160-acre homestead claim near them. A romance bloomed and on January 23, 1888 Emory and Belle were married.

The exact year the couple came to Kirkland is not clear but it was probably 1891. Emery Brooks’ obituary states that it was 1891 and he was awarded title to his homestead in that year, so it stands to reason that he sold his claim once he had title and then moved his family to the steel mill boomtown on Lake Washington’s eastern shore.

The couple initially settled near the steel mill on Rose Hill, roughly where today’s Costco store now stands, and they opened a store in their home. When the steel mill failed, the Brooks family took over an existing store in the Campbell Building, then called the French & Church Building, at the northeast corner of Market Street and 7th Avenue. (The building has been owned by the Kirkland Lodge No. 150 of the Free and Accepted Masons since 1922.) Emory Brooks also opened Kirkland’s first U. S. Post Office within his Pioneer Grocery store and served as postmaster. The family lived upstairs.

They relocated their business again after a rent increase, moving this time across Market Street to the old Jackson Hotel, demolished in 1964, where the Leland Place condo development now stands. The three-story Hotel Jackson had been constructed during the steel boom period by Puget Sound steamboat entrepreneur Captain Daniel B. Jackson, the grandfather of former three-term Washington governor and U. S. Senator Daniel Jackson Evans. Adjacent to the Hotel Jackson, on the west side, was a smaller brick structure then called the Peter Kirk Building, not to be confused with the iconic cupolaed home of the Kirkland Arts Center at 620 Market Street, which many today call the Peter Kirk Building. The original Peter Kirk Building was on 7th Avenue West and was built for a grocery and hardware business owned by Albert Timmerman and Clinton C. Filson. Filson later went on to form his own Seattle-based clothing company, C. C. Filson—today simply called Filson—and in 1914 patented a coat he designed, the Filson Cruiser, which is still popular today.

Following another rent increase, in 1905 Emery and Belle Brooks built their own building at 611 Market Street, which still stands today and is named—quite appropriately—the Brooks Building. The Brooks’ Pioneer Grocery was a diverse establishment. In addition to the U. S. Post Office, it also had a drug store, meat market, and a wide range of dry goods. A 1910 city directory listed Emery Brooks as a “dealer in choice groceries and provisions, complete line of drugs, tin ware, dry goods and shoes, grains and feed.” After years of living above their stores, the Brooks family moved into a nice home on Waverly Way.

The “then” image with the horse team and early car shows the Pioneer Grocery circa 1910, and came to the Kirkland Heritage Society collection thanks to Brooks descendent Laurie Klemmedson. In the photo, Market Street is clearly dirt and would not be paved until 1919. The sidewalk was wood planked, the team of horses belonged to Emery Brooks, and automobiles were starting to appear. The Hotel Jackson is visible at the right.

Emery Brooks died in 1937 and Annabelle sold the business. She died in 1954 and both are interred at the Kirkland Cemetery.

Ed Oban came to Kirkland in 1933 and founded a chicken hatchery business—poultry raising was very common in Kirkland at that time. He married Kirklander Ann McLaughlin in 1936 and in 1942 the couple moved their business, Oban’s Hatchery, into the Brooks Building. Both were very active in Kirkland business and civic affairs. Ed was a Kirkland City Council member for over a decade and also served on the Planning Commission. Oban’s hatchery is still fondly remembered today by many senior and baby-boomer Kirklanders. By the 1970s the Brooks Building housed East Side Hospital Equipment Rentals. The Brooks Building today serves as a lasting reminder of a family who refused to quit Kirkland after the steel mill crashed in 1892-3 and through the long financial depression known as the Panic of ’93. The Brooks family stayed and persevered. Despite the hard times, families like theirs helped to create a community here in a place on which most had given up.

Note: This article was originally published in the Kirkland Views blog.

The Brooks Building, 611 Market Street, when new, 1905 (courtesy KHS)
Brooks Building interior, 1905 (courtesy KHS)
Outside the Pioneer Grocery in the Brooks Building, circa 1910, (courtesy Klemmedson collection, KHS).
Brooks Building, 2010 (courtesy Matt McCauley)