Kirkland Congregational Church

A Progressive Christian Voice in the Heart of Kirkland

Gleanings From
In Christian Fellowship

By Shirley Lindahl
Edited by Jerry Rutherford

Mrs. McGregor's Dream

In the January issue I reached the end of Shirley's book. We have decided to begin again with our history. There is an introductory paragraph in the book which gives the reader an insight of why she gathered this information together. It states:
For the past 100 years the life of this church and the community have been interwoven like a colorful tapestry. Long before the settlers organized into a city, they gathered together to worship and formed a church. This is the story of the Kirkland Congregational Church, its members and the community in which they have lived during a century of Christian Fellowship.

In Shirley's acknowledgement she tells of how she collected the information by going through miscellaneous church record books, trustees board minutes, Ladies Aid notes and quantities of other papers saved for what reason no one will ever know. Piece by piece the story began to fit as she read the records of the past dating from Samuel Greene's first memorandum in the original clerk's book. (He served as minister from March 1880 to July 1987.) John Gates was one of the church historian and was a great deal of help. Pam Owen, one of our current congregation is the daughter of John & Gertrude Gates.

We are all grateful to Shirley for the long hours she spent researching the paperwork to give us her book. It was published in 1979. Now someone needs to step forward to research from that date to the present.
We begin with Shirley's first chapter: "Mrs. McGregor's Dream"
The heavily timbered hills on the eastern shore of Lake Washington were a formidable wilderness in the 1870's. A few homesteaders had struggled to clear sufficient acreage to farm the fertile land. One of the first was Mrs. Nancy McGregor and her two sons, James and William Popham. They settled near the shore of Pleasant Bay, today identified as Yarrow Bay.

Aside from seeing a few Indians who camped nearby, they seldom had visitors. The prospect of neighbors became a reality in 1872 when S. Foster (Sam) French and his son Harry arrived to begin clearing the land they had just purchased. Mrs. French (Caroline) remained in Seattle for the three months it took her husband and son to build the log cabin that was to be her new home. Several times they rowed across the lake to visit her and buy additional supplies.

Their building site was on the shore of Lake Washington in the vicinity of N.E. 60th. Mrs. French often picked her way along the crude lakefront trail to Mrs. McGregor's cabin. Mrs. McGregor's constant prayer was that the gospel of Jesus Christ might be preached in this area. However, Mrs. McGregor's health failed and she moved to California before her dream became a reality.

Harry French who was active in this church for over 60 years bought 80 acres of his own immediately north of his father's land. He built a cabin of shakes and logs from his own land. In 1874 this ambitious young bachelor built a wood frame house, the first on the east side of the lake. He lived out the next 63 years of his life in this two-story nine room home. The house was preserved and moved a short distance away to 4130 Lake Washington Blvd. where it was restored.

One Sunday in June 1879 a rowboat ventured across the lake and two men made their way to the French's cabin. They were Samuel Greene and Rev. Harrison from Seattle and said that they would like to talk about starting a Sunday School for the settlers. Caroline French invited them to return the first Sunday in July when she would invite the neighbors to gather. To her delight she found 40 interested people to attend. Mr. Greene preached a brief sermon and agreed to return every two weeks.

The seeds of Christianity had been sown in a community with diverse backgrounds--New England Congregationalists, Mid-western Methodists to Scandinavian immigrants.

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