|The Women's Legacy Project of Snohomish
County, Washington seeks to honor our foremothers by recording and
sharing their personal histories, their ability to adapt to the forces
of change and their constant vigilance as stewards of the
diverse cultures of our society.|
WLP Story Number 66 ~
WALBURGA EISEN –
by Betty Lou Gaeng
Nostalgia—a sentimental yearning for the past. To return to our youth is often a cherished
wish. For some of the older folks who
grew up in southwest Snohomish
County, the name Walburga
Eisen may invoke some pleasant memories of that lost youth. Well, they may not recall her given name—few
knew Mrs. Eisen even had one. She was
always just Mrs. Eisen. Mrs. Eisen with the sharp eye for troublemakers. Nothing got past her watch.
Summertime in the 1920s, 1930s and the early 1940s was a
more simple time—a time for fun and meeting friends at the beach. It was a time before TV, cell phones, I-Pods,
hanging out at the mall or showing off your wheels.
If you lived in the southwestern part of Snohomish County, Washington
State, especially Cedar Valley or Seattle
Heights, you knew the
best place to hang out during summer vacation.
Mrs. Eisen’s resort at Hall’s Lake was
the fun place to be. Before it closed in
1944, this was where young people of the area kept in contact with their
friends from school. They flirted a
little, showed off their water skills, or just basked in the sunshine on the
float a little way offshore. Some of these friendships lasted for a lifetime,
and some young folks even found their marriage partners. Parents didn’t need to worry when their
children were at the resort, Mrs. Eisen was always there, keeping her watchful
eyes peeled for any hanky panky.
The resort was a favorite spot for group picnics. Because Hall’s Lake
had once been a major part of the lumber industry in the area--sawmills had
been along its shore. The lake remained
a yellowish brown color from the ever present cedar logs. The shingle-weavers who had worked in the
sawmills remembered Hall’s Lake and when it
came time to hold their annual summer picnic, Mrs. Eisen’s resort was the place
they gathered. Sometimes it was a little
noisy and rowdy, but it was always a day of joy in remembering old friendships. Many other groups including the Seattle Elks
also found the Halls Lake Resort a good place to hold their annual
picnics. The resort during the summer
months was also a favorite for the county’s politicians to meet and greet, and
garner votes for the upcoming elections.
The most notable of the picnics was in August with
the long-held annual Old Settlers’ Picnic. These were the old settlers of
Alderwood Manor, Cedar Valley, Seattle
Heights, Esperance, Edmonds, Meadowdale and all the surrounding
area. There were good times for people
of all ages, including a variety of contests—three-legged races, swimming
races, foot races for different age categories, largest family, oldest
person. There was even dancing at night
in the dance pavilion—with live music.
For many of the young people, this is where they learned to maneuver
around a dance floor. The picnic was a
fun time in August for the whole family.
Money was scarce, but resorts such as Mrs. Eisen’s
were places where you could enjoy a day of getting together with others,
sharing your basket of food, and just forgetting the cares of the world. In our busy and changed world of today, these
simple days of summer have mostly faded away.
Society has lost a great tradition.
Walburga Hagel was born December 20, 1860 in Rogers,
Hennepin County, Minnesota, the daughter of Peter and Helena Hagel—one of ten
children. In 1882, she married Simon V.
Eisen, also a Minnesota
native. The couple made their home in Minneapolis, and by the
end of 1901, they had eight children: Lawrence, Albert, Frank, Amelia, George,
Matthew, Helen, and the baby Carl.
In 1905, the family moved to Seattle.
In Seattle, along the western shore of Lake Washington, Simon and Walburga
began their career of running amusement parks.
Simon became the manager of Leschi
Park, a popular spot for
the people of Seattle and the communities across the lake. The park was owned by the Seattle Electric
Company and they ran a cable car from Pioneer
Square to the park. Before the Eisens arrived in Seattle, there was even a collection of
animals located at the park. However, in
1903 the menagerie was donated to Woodland
Park and became the
nucleus of the newly established zoo on Guy Phinney’s land.
Simon and Walburga remained in Seattle until 1913. That year they bought land along the eastern
shore of Hall’s Lake in Snohomish County, about a mile east of the highway community of
They opened Hall’s Lake
Resort, and with its
close proximity to the Seattle-Everett Interurban, the resort soon became a
favorite destination for recreation seekers.
Walburga became a widow in 1919 with the death of
Simon. For a time she was assisted by her sons, but she continued as the force
in the management of the resort. Walburga Eisen was the mainstay, she was the
one always on hand, keeping a sharp lookout over those enjoying the offerings
at the resort.
Walburga Eisen took the lead in many community
projects for Seattle
Heights, often lending
her facilities at the resort for
fund-raising events. One of her major
accomplishments was a volunteer fire department at Hall’s Lake
in the latter part of the 1920s. The
department was led by her youngest son Carl with volunteers from the area. They had no fire engine, instead using a
truck with barrels of water carried in the bed of the truck. This was the beginning of the very first fire
department for miles around. In 1929,
the operation was moved to Carl Eisen’s garage at 212th and Highway
99. This volunteer fire department gave
birth to Snohomish County Fire Protection District 1, and for many years Carl
Eisen served as a chief.
Another son of Walburga was well known to the people
of the area. Matthew, or Matt, as he was
more commonly called, served for many years as a member of the school board for
Edmonds School District 15.
Getting on in years, Walburga Eisen sold her resort
to the Church of the Nazarene in August of 1944. That month the Nazarene held their first camp
meeting as new owners of the resort at Hall’s Lake. The loss of the well-loved public
entertainment spot was deeply felt by the residents of the area. After a short illness, Walburga Hagel Eisen died in
a Seattle Hospital on Sunday, February 10, 1957 at
the age of 96. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery
in Seattle. Of her eight children, all survived her
except son Matt, who died in 1949.