General George Tibbetts
April 29, 1970
Issaquah’s First Entrepreneur
by Gene Woodwick
The first Issaquah entrepreneur was George W. Tibbetts who not only contributed to the development of Issaquah but to North Bend. For 30 years he was also prominent in the affairs of King County.
He was born in Acton, Maine and at age 16 enlisted in Company F, Fourth New Hampshire and sewed in the 10th Army Corps. During the Civil War he was taken prisoner and his health was so undermined he was advised to go west.
In 1871 he bought 160 acres in Squak Valley near the Lake which had belonged to Ned Ohm. He lived on the Castro place, shortly after the massacre, until his home was ready.
With plants bought from Ezra Meeker he began a hop ranch and expanded into dairying and general farming.
In 1881 he erected the Halfway House. It consisted of a large kitchen, dining room, parlor and many bedrooms upstairs. At one end was a store and post office with a large upstairs hall that was used for community gatherings.
In 1882 he established a stage line from Seattle to North Bend. The Seattle end of the line ran to Lake Washington where a boat was taken to Belmont and Lake Sammamish and from there the stage ran to North Bend.
It also made connections with the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad to Ballard. When the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad was completed in 1889 he discontinued the stage line.
In 1888 when the town of Issaquah was laid out he put up a two-story building which was the first business establishment in the new community.
In 1891 S.D. Gustin and Tibbetts built a store and hotel at the Tollgate Farm just west of North Bend. When the town was platted they moved to where the old Thompson (Homesteed) hotel now stands.
In 1889 he built another store in Snoqualmie and a small saw mill.
He and Gustin did much to develop many of the valley towns, yet they were always available to anyone who needed financial aid or a helping hand.
Nearly all first hand historical accounts recall the kindness offered by the Tibbetts to their guests at Halfway House in Issaquah or the Cascadia in North Bend.
During the winter time they sent wagons up to the pass to make sure there were no travelers stranded without provisions.
Tibbetts served Squak, Renton, and North Bend as post master.
He was elected to the territorial legislature in 1876. He served as justice of peace for Renton from 1873 to 1878, and as Washington state National Guard brigadier general.
He served as the 1888 state representative to the Republican convention and as a member of the constitutional convention that framed the state constitution.
In 1893 the panic swept away his possessions valued at $100,000 and the shock nearly took his life which had been frail for a long time.
He began to restore his fortune by opening a little general store in Issaquah in 1901 which thrived. The following year he was elected to the 8th legislature assembly of Washington.
Later he branched out into the dairy and hop business again.
He shipped the first can of milk out of Issaquah to Seattle, thus establishing the dairy industry of Issaquah Valley which was only recently amalgomated with one of the large dairy corporations.