The mysterious log cabin where "old man Cathcart" lived -- that's what all the Rose Hill kids back in the day called him -- is seared into my memory like few other sights of Kirkland past.
I walked by that cabin thousands of times, twice most every school day K-through-6 from our house on NE 80th Street to .
Now I miss it, since the cool old structure was lost to the flames of history some time in the late 1960s or early '70s.
Nobody knows when it was built or who built it, as far as I could discover. The oldest Rose Hill native I know today, Russell McClintick, says he thinks it was there before he was born in 1926.
It was a landmark at any rate, perched on the southwest corner of 80th and 132nd Ave NE, pretty much at the top of Rose Hill. From the age of one to 12, I lived nearby, just down 80th on the Redmond side of 132nd.
"Old man Catchart," was one James Clark Cathcart. Records show he was married in Kirkland on July 4, 1906 and died in June, 1969.
To me he seemed a man of few words. He was pretty scary looking to the little Rose Hillbilly I was then. But I have one wonderful memory of him.
Mr. Cathcart in those days grew a big patch of corn in his garden every year. One late-summer evening as my mom was preparing dinner, she gave my brother and I a dime or a quarter, I can't remember which, and told us to go up to Cathcart's and buy some corn on the cob.
When we returned with a grocery bag full of corn, my surprised mother exclaimed something to the effect of, "Oh my gosh, we only needed a few ears!"
Mr. Cathcart either figured a dime or a quarter was worth a lot of corn, or more likely it was just good, old-fashioned neighborliness.
The photo, now in the archives of the Kirkland Heritage Society, shows him in July of 1967 and was taken by an Eastside Journal photographer. I don't have the article, but the headine read, "Owner to restore log cabin."
I don't think it ever happened. Not too many years after the shot was snapped, the cabin caught fire. It did not burn to the ground, but must have been considered a total loss and was torn down.
As you can see in the photo, the cabin by 1967 had been much modified, amended and enlarged. It was still a beautiful thing though, an historic treasure no doubt.
An in-depth examination of records would no doubt turn up lots more about James Clark Cathcart. King County records show a Kirkland man by that name, born in 1881, as dying on June 1, 1969.
And the Kirkland history book "Our Foundering Fathers" by Arline Ely tells a story of a family named Cathcart arriving by covered wagon during the Peter Kirk "boom" years around 1890. They pulled up to the mercantile at Seventh and Market and asked where they could find a place to live.
"Up on the hill," the merchant replied, and the Cathcarts turned the horses onto Seventh and made their way to and up Picadilly Street (now 85th) to Rose Hill.
Could they have built and settled at the old cabin site on Rose Hill? Seems entirely plausible. For now, it's just another Kirkland history mystery.