Farm History and Culture
 

It was 1888 when my great grandmother, Bergette Jacobson (Omland), emigrated from Norway with her good friend, Bertha Solberg. They were met in Tacoma by Bertha's two brothers, who worked as loggers in the Vincent area of the Snoqualmie Valley. The brothers helped the women learn the rudiments of English so they could pass the citizenship test and take advantage of laws that allowed both women and men to file homestead claims. Bertha was not yet 21 years old, and so was not eligible to file a claim. However, Bergette, age 30, was. Her first act as a U.S. citizen was to file a claim for 7 acres near Vincent.

Andrew Hjertoos, also an immigrant from Norway, arrived in Seattle the day after the historic fire if 1889 leveled much of the city. Andrew had been working the east as a brick mason and carpenter, and pursued the same work upon his arrival in the Pacific Northwest. He rented a room at the boarding house where Bergette lived and worked as a cook. They married the following year and settled on Bergette's Vincent homestead. The couple started their family, and Andrew served as the community's postmaster.

In 1898 the Solberg brothers went to look for gold in Alaska, and left their farm and cattle in the care of the Hjertoos family. Andrew and Bergette managed very well selling butter, cream and milk in Seattle markets. This meant taking the butter first to Kirkland, where it was loaded onto the lake steamer bound for East Madison Street and the horse-drawn street cars that delivered the goods to the downtown market.

After the Solberg's returned from prospecting, the Hjertooses purchased 208 acres from George and Fanny Shaw across the river in Tolt (now Carnation). Originally owned by the Northern Pacific Railroad, the land had been logged and farmed for eighteen years. Hop fields there provided seasonal work for both new settlers and families from the Snoqualmie Tribe, whose longhouse was located at the nearby confluence of the Tolt and Snoqualmie Rivers.

When the Hjertooses purchased the farm, there were several buildings on the property. In addition to the two-story log house, there was a "middle" or "half-way" house which was rented by many of the prominent early settlers before they bought their own land. There also was a camp house, an eight-family apartment where some of the hop pickers lived.

Andrew and Bergette and their four children left the Vincent homestead and drove their herd of cows, calves, sheep and horses over Ames Hill to the cable ferry run my John Ames. Arrangements had been made for a fee to be paid for each animal taken across the Snoqualmie River. When the animal got on the ferry, they walked off the other end and swam for the far shore, much to the consternation and dismay of the ferry owner.

The Hjertooses lived in the log house until Bergette decided it was "not conductive to good health", and moved her five children - Anna, Arthur, Bill, Gurina and Blanche - into the "middle" house. In 1907 the Hjertooses had their permanent home built by Oscar Hanson with lumber from the Preston Mill. The barns were built shortly afterward. The Hjertooses ran the dairy farm until Andrew's death in 1933. He had been active on the local school board for more than 25 years, at one time serving as president. Both Andrew and Bergette were active members of the Tolt Congregational Church, where each of their children was baptized.

After Andrew died, his son Bill returned from Snohomish to run the dairy farm until 1954. He had a house built for his own family and rented the 1907 family home after Bergette died in 1939. In the 1940s the  house was divided into two separate living spaces in order to create more housing and thereby contribute to the war effort.

Over the years, portions of the original farm were sold, with significant acreage donated to provide land for the I.O.O.F. Hall, Tolt High School and Tolt-MacDonald Park. Today only about 24 acres remain in the family. Part of this property has been designated a King County, State and National Historic Landmark. This includes the 1907 house and large barn, which I have restored to near original condition.

Andrew and Bergette's Great Grandson,

Roger Thorson

 

 

Recognition for the Hjertoos House
The Hjertoos House, a King County Historical Landmark, was built in 1907 by my great-grandparents, Bergette and Andrew Hjertoos. The house and barn have remained in the family and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Each year the Carnation Chamber of Commerce portrays a local part of the town's culture on a custom-made commemorative Christmas ornament. We were proud to be chosen for the honor in 2000. There is still a limited quantity available for purchase in the Gift Shop.

house.jpg (217079 bytes)

We were honored again this year to be selected as one of two “Heritage Farms” featured on the King County Harvest Celebration Farm Tour on October 6th, 2007 which emphasizes the diversity of agriculture in the county’s farm districts. The historic farms givea connection to a way of life that you do not see on modern farms. Our 1910 barn is one example in the county’s fledgling Barn Again Program, designed to help identify, save and restore a dwindling number of historic barns.

 


Additionally in May 2006, we received an award of excellence from the King County Executive Ron Sims and the Landmarks Commission for our work on the house and barn, which were listed as County historic landmarks in 1986 and later added to the state and national historic registers. http://www.4culture.org/preservation/projects/2006/spellman/index.htm