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A Familie's History on South Hill

by Carol Parks Smith and Joan Parks Vosler

William Hilderbrand settled on South Hill in the 1890’s. He purchased property on the north side of Collins Road (128TH ST). The southern side of Collins Road opposite his property was designated and platted as school property. (That is now where Rogers High School and Zeiger Elementary School are located.)

Great Uncle Bill and his brother Jim were the first of the Hilderbrand family to locate in the state of Washington. After they were settled they sent for other members of their family living in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. They traveled to Washington by train. Family members included Minetta, Phoebe, and Myra arriving in the year 1891. Minetta Hilderbrand was married to Henry McClelland. They had one child, Stella. After the death of her husband, Minetta married Leonard Grant Parks (our grandfather) in Tacoma, September 28, 1893.

Joan photo
Joan Parks Vosler

His sister, Myra Ingram Hilderbrand (our great aunt) moved to Washington and she married Robert R. Steele, a steam engineer from New West Minister, B.C. on December 12, 1912. Their home bordered the property of Uncle Bill. Their property was Tract 244 of “Half Dollar Berry Tracts,” recorded on January 4, 1911. The five acres behind Aunt Myra’s was also owned by Bill Hilderbrand. The twenty acres behind that five acres was owned by Robert and Myra Steele. Their property ended at Houston Abney’s, located on old Lundblad Road 86TH AV E Puyallup, Washington. This twenty acres was sold in l942 after the death of Robert Steele in 1940. His widow was forced to sell all property, livestock and the car to be eligible for a state senior citizen grant and to utilize all monies before she could collect any assistance from the state.

Lee Westbrook owned 330 feet from 86TH AV E to Collins Road. Bill Hilderbrand owned 660 feet, Robert and Myra Steele 330 feet, and the next 660 feet belonged to Bill Hilderbrand. On this piece of property he built a home for his mother Ellen Eliza Hilderbrand. This home is still occupied today by John Hahn. Previous owners were Arthur and Ida Groppe and their son Gerald Shea, then Kenneth and Irene Benson Sheldon.

When Uncle Bill first moved to South Hill, it was sparsely populated. He told us of cougars living in the area and one that screamed at night like a woman. This of course raised the hairs on the back of our necks. Bear and packs of coyotes traveled through the woods. Much logging was going on. We have dug up old railroad spikes as we have planted and improved our property. This rail line, according to our brother Pete, was owned by Electric Logging Company. It ran across the Harold R. Parks residence through the back five acres into and down to the large gulch circling around the area. The logging tracks ended to the south at Indian Wells. Uncle Bill had a donkey engine that pulled the loaded cars up the hill and was also used to skid logs up. Our property when we were young was full of large stumps where trees had been felled. This was also part of the “Half Dollar Berry Tracts.” The same donkey engine was used to pull up logs for our log home, which our father & mother and Uncle Stan built in 1941 and 1942.

While waiting for our log home to be built, we lived in a woodcutter’s shack which was enlarged to accommodate our family. This property was on the back twenty acres. Orin and Luella Parks, (our fathers’ oldest brother) lived there before us while they built their home. So the old woodcutter’s shack served as a place for relatives in transition.

Our grandfather, Leonard Grant Parks, left his son Weldon with his mother-in-law Eliza E. Hilderbrand when they decided to move to California. Weldon was helping with the loading of a flat car when it came uncoupled and crushed him. He was fifteen at the time.

This railroad line owned by the Tacoma Eastern Logging Company was located east of the property owned by Uncle Bill and extended north into the hollow ending at the pipeline road, which was not put through until the 1940’s.

The back two acres next to Harold R. Parks residence was owned by our aunt and uncle Everett and Lucille Hall. This property was later bought by the Millers then the Bakers. Since there was no 126TH ST E, they entered their property via old 9TH ST, now 94TH AV E.

Stanley Washburn, our mother’s brother, bought a two acre section behind us.

Harold R. Parks, our father, gave with love and affection to Richard and Joan Parks Vosler a lot 150 x 300 ft. and we built a home on this lot in 1966. We petitioned the Pierce County Public Works to put through 126TH ST. Since we were the first and only property on 126TH ST. we had to get our mail from 94TH ST. The parcel next to this one was given to Berle and Carol Parks Smith. They built in 1968. So most of our lives have revolved around this section of South Hill, and we have many memories of this area.