Schneider Prairie History

Konrad Schneider is the namesake of Schneider Prairie. Although Schneider was a early settler in the Griffin area, he was not the first white settler of what became known as Schneider Prairie.

Schneider Prairie is one of several oak prairies that existed in Thurston County. Oak prairies were very important to Native Americans. They periodically burned the underbrush on these prairies to keep them open, which attracted deer that were hunted. Native Americans also harvested camas, berries, and acorns on the prairies.

Early white settlers sought these prairie areas for their land claims. Prairies were desirable since they were already cleared to a substantial extent and had relatively good soils.

Puffer and Cross

Two early white settlers filed separate donation claims for the same 160 acres of land on Schneider Prairie. Griffin School, the old Haller mink farm, the Grange Hall, the golf driving range, and the Island Market are located on this claim.

The northern boundary of the claim was about where the Prosperity Grange Hall is located, and where Sunrise Beach Road enters Steamboat Island Road. The eastern boundary was approximately where Mink Street first meets Sunrise Beach Road. The southern boundary was located on about 33rd Street. The claim had about 150 feet of frontage on Eld Inlet. The western boundary was west of the freeway overpass over Highway 101.

William W. Puffer may have been the earliest white settler on Schneider Prairie. He filed a donation land claim for this acreage on April 17, 1855. Field notes from the original survey of the Griffin area on August 4, 1855 noted Puffer’s land claim, with 10 acres under cultivation, and a house. The house was located at about the corner of Sexton Road and Steamboat Island Road. The cultivated area was west of the cabin. However, the Puffer claim was not successful.

Benjamin Franklin Cross filed a claim for the same land on August 26, 1855. Interestingly, Puffer attested on April 17, 1856, that Benjamin Cross had resided on the claim since August 24, 1854. Cross was born in New Hampshire in 1832. He was a resident of Sawamish (Mason) County at the time of filing his claim. An affidavit by Cross indicated that he was single, had arrived in Washington Territory on November 3, 1853, and had first settled on the land claim on August 26, 1854. A 1858 survey of the area noted that Cross resided in the former Puffer cabin.

The original 1855 survey of the Griffin area noted two white (Gerry or Oregon) oaks, 18 inches in diameter, to locate a section boundary line cutting across the property. These markers are called “bearing trees”. One, known as the historical Schneider Prairie Oak Tree, still stands, and currently has a diameter of 60 inches. It is located west of the old barn on Schneider Prairie. Only a stump remains of the second bearing tree.

Cross sold his donation land claim to Eli Montgomery in 1862. Previously, Montgomery acquired a donation land claim for property located on the southeast portion of Mud Bay. He also acquired 33 acres of waterfront land west of the Cross donation land claim on the dead-end portion of what is now Madrona Beach Road. Montgomery sold the Cross donation land claim, and the 33 acre parcel, to Konrad Schneider in 1866.

Schneider and Solbeck

Konrad Schneider was born in 1818 in Hessen, which is now part of Germany. His wife (Albertina) was born in Sweden in 1830. They met and were married in Burlington, Iowa, in 1852, and soon left for Puget Sound in a covered wagon.

Schneider was a stone mason and had been awarded a contract to build a lighthouse at Dungeness near Port Townsend. They arrived in Tumwater in the fall of 1852. Schneider acquired a donation land claim for land located on what is now Case Road, south of the Olympia Airport and north of Millersylvannia State Park.

Konrad and Albertina had nine children — Henry (born in 1853), August (born 1855), Catherine (born 1857), Molkina (born 1859), Frederick (born 1862), Konrad (born 1864), Matilda (born 1867), William (born 1871), and Albert (born 1874). Many of their descendants still live in Thurston County.

Konrad Schneider built the first bridge across the Deschutes River in Tumwater. He also “built or cut” a trail from McLane Crossing on the west bank of Mud Bay out to his property on what became known as Schneider Prairie. Presumably, much of this trail followed the northern portion of an old Indian trail from Black Lake to the southwest shores of Mud Bay. McLane Crossing is near the junction of MacKenzie Road and Delphi Road.

Konrad Schneider acquired additional acreage south and west of the Cross donation land claim, including a homestead of 107 acres in 1882, up what is now called Whittaker Road. The family referred to this valley as Schneider’s valley. A short poem about this land was often recited at family gatherings — “I’ll rally, rally. Everybody’s happy in Schneider’s Valley.”

August Schneider purchased property in 1878 located south of the Cross donation land claim along Eld Inlet, extending south to where the old Ellison Oyster Company was located. A few months later, August sold this property to his sister Molkina, who was married to Swan Solbeck. Swan Solbeck was enumerated as being a farmer on this property in the 1880 Territorial census. A rock quarry was operated on the Solbeck property, beginning in at least 1889. Rock was taken down to Eld Inlet where it was hauled away by barge. This quarry operation lasted for decades. Remnants of the quarry can be seen on the tall rock bluff that is located west of Highway 101, just south of the entry to the highway from the Griffin community, off what is called Old Highway 101.

The Schneider family was enumerated in the 1871 and 1873 Territorial censuses in the Griffin area. However, his sons Henry and August are enumerated separately in the 1880 Territorial census as living in the Griffin area. Konrad is listed with his son Henry. This may mean that Albertina was residing on property located on the west side of Budd Inlet, near the old lumber mill, on what is now Westbay Drive. These holdings included considerable acreage on the top of the hill to the west where the family had an orchard.

Konrad Schneider sold two acres of land to Schneider Prairie School District in 1885. This land was located about where what is now Whittaker Road meets Highway 101, south of the overpass across Highway 101. A schoolhouse was constructed at this site to accommodate an increased number of students attending school in the Griffin area. Originally, school was held in the John Olson cabin, located in what is now Holiday Valley Estates. The children of John and Elizabeth Zandell, and Thomas and Mary Kearney, attended school in the Olson cabin. The Zandells and Kearneys owned land claims on Oyster Bay, west of the Olson land claim. A larger school facility was needed when the children of Swan and Molkina Solbeck became of school age.

Konrad Schneider died in 1903. His heirs sold their interests in his Griffin-area property to his son-in-law and daughter, Swan and Molkina Solbeck. The Solbecks sold their Griffin-area holdings to Judge Arthur E. Griffin and Gabrielle Griffin in 1918.

The Schneider Prairie schoolhouse burned to the ground in the summer of 1926. Children in grades 5 through 8 attended school in the old, two-story Prosperity Grange Hall located on the site of the current Grange hall. Children in grades 1 through 4 attended school in the old Frye Cove School District schoolhouse, which was reopened. This abandoned schoolhouse was located near what now is Gravelly Beach Road, at the top of the hill, west of the Griffin fire station at the corner of Gravelly Beach Loop and Young’s Road. The Griffins essentially gave the school district a new five acre school site, where Griffin School is now located, by exchanging this property for the two acre lot where the old schoolhouse was located. Schneider Prairie School District was renamed the Griffin School District in honor of this generous act. A new, brick schoolhouse was build on the new school district property. The new facility opened in the spring of 1927.

Copyright 2008 by Steve Lundin

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State. The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling. It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, or from WSU Extension.

This is part of a short series of papers on local history. The first of this series was published last month. Click here to read “Griffin Historical Sketch.”

If you have old historic photos of the Griffin area, or family stories of the old days in the Griffin area, please contact Steve Lundin at Steve is most interested in photos of the old two-story Grange Hall in the Griffin area and the old Schneider’s Prairie schoolhouse that burned to the ground in 1926.

Proposed Financial Bailout Draws Howls from Left and Right

A strange thing happened, the other day. I received two emails strongly opposed to the Bush Administration’s proposed financial bailout. “What’s so strange about that?” you ask? One message came from TrueMajority and the other from RightMarch. Two groups, one on the left and the other on the right, both calling on Congress to reign in the President’s proposal to stabilize economic markets.

TrueMajority writes, “In his last days in office, George Bush is trying to scare Congress into giving away the treasury to Wall Street.” On their web site, TrueMajority continues:

Those are extreme words, but not as extreme as the reality — over the weekend a plan was concocted to give away $1.8 trillion dollars of tax money with NO limits on how it’s spent, and no guarantees we’ll ever see it again. And the Treasury Secretary had the gall to say limiting payouts to executives who created this mess would be a “deal breaker.”

This is a deal which SHOULD be broken. Or at least re-negotiated. Economists have already made clear that this is a bad deal for everyone except the corporations and wealthy investors whose greed created the crisis.

Click here to respond to the TrueMajority post by calling elected representatives.

In their alert, RightMarch wrote, “No Welfare For The Rich; Tell Congress NOT to Bail Out Firms at the Expense of Taxpayers.”

ALERT: If you have friends or family who have never called or written to their elected officials before, you need to forward this message and let them know: now is the time.

The Washington and Wall Street establishments are conspiring to saddle you, your children, and even your great-grandchildren with TRILLIONS of dollars of worthless debt. This is socialism for the rich folks, and we only have DAYS to stop it.

As the New York Times reported this weekend, “The Bush administration on Saturday formally proposed a vast bailout of financial institutions in the United States, requesting unfettered authority for the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billion in distressed mortgage-related assets from the private firms.”

The proposal was short and simple: it would raise the national debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion. And it would place no restrictions on the administration other than requiring “semiannual reports” to Congress, granting the Treasury secretary unprecedented power to buy and resell mortgage debt.

The Times went on to report, “Congressional leaders are hoping to recess at the end of the week for the fall elections, after approving the bailout.”

AFTER APPROVING THE BAILOUT — in other words, after approving “unprecedented power, “no restrictions on the administration,” and “unfettered authority” to drive the American economy down, take over nearly the entire mortgage industry, and saddle our descendants for decades or even centuries with an even WORSE economic situation.

We only have THIS WEEK to stop this boondoggle that will make every dollar left in your wallet worth less than it’s ever been worth!

Click here to read the RightMarch post.

If that weren’t enough, the folks at WashClean got in the act, too.

It’s not enough that ordinary folk are about to bail out speculators who have made millions in the casino-like atmosphere of Wall Street.

Now Wall Street’s main trade and lobbying group – the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association – is lobbying Congress so that huge fees can be earned for assisting with the bailout! New York Times article.

Money is choking our democracy to death!

WashClean’s post is notable for its link to the 3-page text of the Bush-Paulson proposal.

All I can say is, “Wow.” Two messages, one from either side of the political spectrum, both saying much the same thing.


A Quick Rundown on the Three Initiatives on November Ballot

There are three initiatives on the November ballot. One attempts to address traffic congestion, another provides for physician-assisted suicide (or death with dignity), and the third would require certain certification for long-term care workers.

If you’ve not studied one or more of these measures, maybe the material that follows will help get you up-to-speed on these.


Initiative Measure No. 985 concerns transportation.

This measure would open high-occupancy vehicle lanes to all traffic during specified hours, require traffic light synchronization, increase roadside assistance funding, and dedicate certain taxes, fines, tolls and other revenues to traffic-flow purposes.

According to Ballotpedia,

“Many of I-985’s features are based on an October 2007 report by State Auditor Brian Sonntag (D). The provision mandating traffic engineers to synchronize traffic lights at high-traffic intersections would bring the benefits, according to Sonntag’s report, of a reduction in travel time, emissions, and fuel consumption of 10 to 25 percent at very little cost.”

I-985 was filed and funded by Tim Eyman’s “Permanent Offense,” which claims that, without raising taxes, I-985 will:

  • Illustrates the public’s support for making reducing traffic congestion a top transportation priority
  • Opens up carpool lanes to everyone during non-peak hours
  • Requires local governments to synchronize traffic lights on heavily-traveled arterials and streets
  • Clears out accidents faster with expanded emergency roadside assistance
  • Uses a portion of vehicle sales tax revenue for these policies
  • Removes the profit motive for red light cameras
  • Replaces the percentage spent from transportation funds on public art to instead go toward reducing congestion
  • Institutes critical taxpayer protections on future tolls; and
  • Empowers the State Auditor to monitor the implementation of the initiative’s policies to ensure compliance.

Click here for more information in favor of I-985.

The No! on I-985 campaign is a coalition of environmental groups and progressive political organizations, including FUSE Washington, The Transportation Choices Coalition, Futurewise, WashPIRG, Washington Conservation Voters, and Washington Environmental Council.

No! on I-985 writes that Initiative 985 would make traffic worse by:

  • Opening Puget Sound’s high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to all motorists during rush hour, which will bring buses and vanpools to a standstill, paralyzing our transit system and putting more cars back on the highways,
  • Stealing over half a billion dollars away from our state’s treasury throughout the next five years and using it to build wider, noisier highways at the expense of schools, healthcare, and law enforcement,
  • Prohibiting the stolen money from being spent on public safety, bicycle paths, light rail, heavy rail, buses, park and rides, or even ferries!

Initiative 985 does not invest in alternative transportation options, benefit rural Washington, encourage the development of livable, walkable communities, or help cut down on bumper to bumper traffic. Instead, it assaults our quality of life with a thoughtless and disastrous “more lanes good!” approach.

A page naming organizations which have endorsed “No on I-985” appears at

Click here for more information against I-985.


Initiative Measure No. 1000 concerns allowing certain terminally il1 competent adults to obtain lethal prescriptions.

This measure would permit terminally ill, competent. adult Washington residents, who are medically predicted to have six months or less to live, to request and self-administer lethal medication prescribed by a physician.

Supporters of the measure refer to it as the Death with Dignity initiative, while its opponents refer to it as the Assisted Suicide initiative.

Click here for the Ballotpedia page, which is a good place to start your studying of this initiative.

According to Yes! on I-1000:

“A YES vote for I-1000 allows mentally competent, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to receive – under strict safeguards – a prescription for life-ending medication. This choice belongs exclusively to the terminally ill individual. Government, politicians, religious groups and others should not dictate these personal decisions.”

The measure includes these safeguards:

  1. The patient must be at least 18 years old
  2. The patient must be a resident of the state of Washington
  3. The patient must be terminally ill – not disabled, but diagnosed as terminally ill
  4. The terminally ill patient must have 6 months or less to live, as verified by two physicians
  5. Three requests for Death with Dignity must be made (two verbal and one written)
  6. Two physicians must verify the mental competence of the terminally ill patient
  7. The request must be made voluntarily, without coercion, as verified by two physicians
  8. The terminally ill patient must be informed of all other options, including palliative care, pain management and hospice care
  9. There is a 15 day waiting period between the first oral request and the written request
  10. There is a 48 hour waiting period between the written request and the writing of the prescription
  11. The terminally ill patient’s written request must be independently witnessed, by two people, at least one of whom is not related to the patient or employed by the health care facility
  12. The terminally ill patient is encouraged to discuss their decision with family (not required because of confidentiality laws)
  13. Only the terminally ill patient may self-administer the medication
  14. The patient may change their mind at any time

Click here for endorsements for I-1000.

The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide counters:

“But an actual reading of the initiative text shows no real safeguards to protect the vulnerable. Instead, Initiative 1000 pressures those without adequate insurance or financial means to think that they have no choice other than assisted suicide. It provides an incentive for health plans to cut costs by encouraging assisted suicide. And it places many Washingtonians at risk.

Patients currently have end-of-life choices, including durable power of attorney and living wills, among others. Patients at the end of life deserve personal care and real compassion. Not assisted suicide.”

Endorsements against I-1000 are at


Initiative Measure No. 1029 concerns long-term care services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

This measure would require long-term care workers to be certified as home care aides based on an examination, with exceptions; increase training and criminal background check requirements; and establish disciplinary standards and procedures.

Ballotpedia notes this measure is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775.

The web site Yes on I-1029 compares training standards, in Washington State, for a hairdresser, a dog masseuse, and a home care worker:

“The majority of home and community based long-term care workers – who provide life-sustaining care for our State’s vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities – are required to have 34 hours of training and no certification. Compare these low training standards with Washington State’s standards for hairdressers, manicurists and dog masseurs – 1,000, 500 and 300 hours of training and certification respectively.”

Click here for a list of those who have endorsed I-1029.

The initiative is opposed by The Community Care Coalition of Washington.

“We oppose the initiative because it hurts families. There is already a shortage of caregivers. Initiative 1029 will eliminate entry-level jobs and make it harder for those looking to care for the elderly or disabled to enter the field. The initiative is wasteful. It spends millions in taxpayer money without any accountability or improvement in the quality of care. The Governor’s task force that examined these issues could find no evidence that an arbitrary, 75-hour training requirement would improve care.”

The Coalition has posted a thorough description of the reasons they oppose this initiative at

Where do you stand on these initiatives? What resources did you use, to come to your decision? Click the “Comments” link below!

Good Neighbors Vote – Register Today

If you are not yet registered to vote — or if you have had a change of address and need to inform the local Elections Office of the change — please do so today.

Good Neighbors Vote. In Thurston County, voting is by mail. There’s a dropbox at the main Griffin Fire Station (3707 Steamboat Loop NW), so you don’t even need to pay postage. It’s easy to vote.

Click here to register to vote.

If you need assistance, call the Thurston County Elections Division at (360) 786-5408 and they will provide assistance. The TTY number is (360) 754-2933.

Deadline to Register: By mail or online is 30 days before an election (October 4) and by person 15 days before (October 20).

Register in person at the Thurston County Auditor’s Office, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Olympia, WA 98502.

Need to change your address? Click here to get access to the online address change form.

Already registered? Click here to get access to candidate statements and photos for the upcoming election and maps to the nearest ballot drop box location or voter service center in Thurston County.

Not sure if you are already registered? Click here to find out.

Remember, the last day to register online for the General Election is October 4, 2008.

The last day for new registrations is October 20, 2008. This is ONLY if you have never been registered in Washington State. However, you must register in person at the:

Thurston County Auditor’s Office
2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW
Olympia, WA 98502

Ballots will be mailed October 17, 2008.

Click here to get all sorts of information on registering to vote and the upcoming election.

Commissioner of Public Lands a Campaign Worth Participating In

Did you KNOW that . . .

  • The elected Commissioner of Public Lands manages over 2 million acres of state forests?
  • The elected Commissioner of Public Lands is responsible for regulating over 9 million acres of private forest land?
  • The elected Commissioner of Public Lands manages ALL of the state’s salt-water tidelands?

Whether your are aware of it or not, the state’s Department of Natural Resources has an impact on the quality of life here in the Griffin area. In the upcoming election, we should keep in mind the roles of both the Thurston County Commissioners and the State’s Department of Natural Resources. This November, we’ll be presented with two very different candidates to replace Diane Oberquell on the Board of Commissioners.

But, what about the Commissioner of Public Lands? Now is the time to do some research on the two candidates. Click here for the Voter’s Pamphlet page on the Commissioner of Public Lands.

Incumbent Doug Sutherland (Republican) served as Tacoma’s Mayor and two terms as Pierce County’s Executive before being elected as Commissioner of Public Lands.

“For the past eight years, Doug has worked hard to end the bitter environmental battles surrounding our state’s natural resources. He understands that the way to do that is to work in a bipartisan way to find solutions that benefit all the citizens of Washington State.”
— Committee to Re-Elect Doug Sutherland

Endorsements for Sutherland’s re-election come from Slade Gorton, Dan Evans, Dino Rossi, Juli Wilkerson (Co-Chair of Washington’s Climate Advisory Team), Mike Vaska (Board Member, Washington Conservation Voters) and many others. Back in April, The Olympian reported that Washington Realtors’ political action committee endorsed Sutherland. A complete list is on Sutherland’s campaign web site.

Click here to learn more about the campaign to re-elect Doug Sutherland, Republican, Public Lands Commissioner.

The challenger is Peter J. Goldmark (Democrat).

Democrat Goldmark polled 49% in the recent primary against the Republican incumbent. In some counties (Jefferson, San Juan, Cowlitz, Whatcom and others), he bested Sutherland.

“The Commissioner of Public Lands is an office that dramatically impacts our quality of life, rural economies, and natural environment each and every day. With so much at stake under pressures from a growing population, climate change and a fluctuating economy, it is critical that Washington voters elect a Lands Commissioner with a commitment to long-term sustainability—for trust revenues, jobs, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, and ecological protection.”
— Peter Goldmark for Lands Commissioner

Supporters of Peter Goldmark (full disclosure: I am a supporter of Goldmark’s candidacy), point out that:

  • The incumbent has tried to increase the state’s timber harvest by almost 30% until a court shot down his plan.
  • The incumbent has resisted improving the logging rules on steep and unstable slopes so they would not produce catastrophic floods.
  • A little over 50% of incumbent’s contributions to date have come from timber, mining, and real estate interests.

Washington Conservation Voters endorse Peter Goldmark. Other endorsements have come from U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Governor Christine Gregoire, Lt. Governor Brad Owen, Former Governor Gary Locke, Congressman Brian Baird, Congressman Norm Dicks, Congressman Jay Inslee, Grays Harbor County Democrats, and many others. A complete list is on Goldmark’s campaign web site.

Click here to learn more about the campaign to elect Peter J. Goldmark, Democrat, Lands Commissioner.

Click here for video segment from a recent King 5 episode of “Up Front” which focused on these two candidates for Lands Commissioner.


Do you support Sutherland or Goldmark? What recommendations do you have, for neighbors to learn more about your candidate? Add your comments, using the link below.

Learn About the Increased Costs of Surveillance

“A broad movement of campaigners and organizations is calling on everybody to join action against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses. On 11 October 2008, concerned people in many countries will take to the streets, the motto being ‘Freedom not fear 2008’. Peaceful and creative action, from protest marches to parties, will take place in many capital cities.”

The Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (German Working Group on Data Retention), which describe themselves as “an association of civil rights campaigners, data protection activists and Internet users,” are working to highlight what they describe as the spread of a “surveillance mania” which is “transforming our society into one of uncritical consumers who have ‘nothing to hide’ and – in a vain attempt to achieve total security – are prepared to give up their freedoms.”

While this particular movement may have started in Europe, here in the U.S. we have seen surveillance efforts increase dramatically, particularly since 9/11. The collection and retention of data on the movements, associations, business activities, phone calls, email exchanges, and other details regarding the activities of citizens – often obtained through blanket surveillance – is something about which we need to be more aware.

“The increasing electronic registration and surveillance of the entire population does not make us any safer from crime, costs millions of Euros and puts the privacy of innocent citizens at risk.”

Click here for more information on the International Action Day “Freedom not fear – Stop the surveillance mania!” on 11 October 2008

Click here to access material regarding the American Civil Liberties Union project “Safe and Free.”

Click here to contact your elected representatives and tell them that you want them to be aware that of your concern regarding increased surveillance in this country and overseas.

Click here to read, “Under the Watchful Eye: The Proliferation of Video Surveillance Systems in California”

Click here to read the American Bar Association’s piece entitled “Civil Liberties in a Time of Crisis.”

Community Recycle Days – September 20 and 27

Thurston County’s Community Recycle Days offer an easy way to recycle a variety of household items at reduced rates. These events are especially good if you need to get rid of items which, although they are recyclable, are too large to fit into curbside recycling bins.

The next 2008 Community Recycle Days will be held on the following days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20 at the South Sound Speedway between Tenino and Rochester

Saturday, Sept 27 at the Thurston County Fairgrounds on Carpenter Road

Items that can be recycled include tires, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, stoves, washers, dryers, hot water tanks, microwaves, televisions, computer monitors, laptops, fax machines, printers, scanners, copiers (under 50 lbs), CD & DVD players, VCRs, stereo systems, radios, speakers, phones, power tools, push or riding lawn mowers, bicycles, small gas motors (including chain saw, weed trimmer, outboard boat motor), Goodwill donations, and scrap metal (including de-valved propane tanks). For some of these, you will need to pay a fee.

Click here for more details, a price list, and for directions to South Sound Speedway and the Thurston County Fairgrounds.