Learning From Our History

Looking into our history, the Archive Divers find stories of the people called Methodist in the early Bothell years. This post is written by Celeste Deveney.

The church’s Archive Divers were formed in 2015 to dive into and preserve the church records. One of the first tasks the group took on was to transcribe the old Membership & Baptism records from 1892 to the 1930’s, due to their fragility. The records proved to have many familiar names, the kind you see on street signs in downtown Bothell.

At a Divers’ meeting earlier this year, it was mentioned that our church in its early years had no ethnic members.  Mary Anne Rehbock said she had typed in a Kiyoko Kanaya as a member when transcribing the records.  Luckily, for us, she mentioned the Kanaya name to her husband, Dick, who grew up in Bothell.  He recalled a couple of Japanese boys in his 1940-41 and 1941-42 second and third grade Bothell Elementary School classes.  He remembered one of the boy’s names – Kimio Kanaya.  Could Kimio be related to the Kiyoko who had become a church member ten years previous?

7th Grade Class

A quick search of the 1940 US Census records in the King County Library database “Heritage Quest” turned up the eight-member Kanaya family living in “Hollywood” on Morris Road in rural King County.  A girl, Kiyoko, is listed as twenty years old, and a boy, Kimio, is listed as seven years old.  In the Bothell church records, Kiyoko is one of four children under “probationary status” (confirmation) in 1931, and the only one of the four who became a member. 

Church record of going through confirmation
Church record of going through confirmation
Record of Kiyoko joining the church
Record of Kiyoko joining the church

Although never becoming a member, Kiyoko’s older brother, Hideo, is mentioned in the Bothell Citizen paper with YMCA and church events, and later in life listed himself as a “Methodist.”

In doing an online search for the Kanaya name, we found on McMenamins website that they have a painting and biography of the Kanaya family in the hotel. It’s noted there that the family ran a fruit stand in Bothell through the 1930s.

Anderson Schoolhouse painting by Damian Zari
Anderson Schoolhouse painting by Damian Zari

Sadly, the Kanaya family was interned on May 27, 1942, and sent to Tule Lake. In the Tule Lake concentration camp, Kiyoko worked in the kitchen as a waitress. Her mother, Misoko, died in the camp in 1944. Tule Lake has the distinction of being the only camp with tanks pointed directly into the camp. It was the site of at least one “rebellion” and became the site housing the most “recalcitrant” inmates.

If you would like to see photos of what life at an internment camp looked like, click HERE. Of the twelve local families interned, only two families that we know returned to our area.  The Kanayas did not.

The Bothell Methodist Church pastor at the time was noted for his pacifist stance.  Two weeks before Pearl Harbor, he invited a well-known Quaker, Floyd Schmoe to preach.  During the war years Floyd Schmoe visited the Idaho, Wyoming and California internment camps (including Tule Lake).  Years later his daughter, Esther, married Gordon Hirabayashi.  Gordon was a UW student who resisted the Federal evacuation order and had his case before the Supreme Court.  He lost, and was sent to a camp.

The Archive Divers do not have a complete story yet.  They’re still working out details because the Kanayas’ story raises important questions.  What was the Methodist Church’s position at that time on internment camps?  Was anyone doing anything to help support the families that were interned? Most importantly, does this experience inform our views toward citizenship and immigrants today and if so, how?

The Archive Divers will continue to look for answers.