Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

My family came to Seattle in 1901

Photo by Jill Freidberg

Photo by Jill Freidberg

Geraldine Cook's great grandparents came to Seattle, in 1901. She grew up with seven siblings, living all over Seattle, including in the Central District, where she was born. 

Geraldine Cook

My family came to Seattle in 1901. My great grandfather George W. Rawls, my great grandmother Jane Rawls, my grandfather James Henry Allen, my grandmother Martha Allen. They had left Leadville, because they lost three family members to the flu epidemic. So they came to Seattle, and my grandfather built a house in the Greenlake area.

There wasn't red-lining at that point, I think because there wasn't that many black people, so people weren't worried that much about things.

Charles Booth-Smith. Uncle Charlie. He's the one that had lived in this area. My uncle built a nine unit apartment on 23rd and King there. in my research I found 26 properties he bought, in Seattle, and around the area.

I remember family talking about Aunt Jo, and she came to Seattle in 1910. They came, her and her new husband, came to Seattle, in 1910, and became very active in Mount Zion Baptist Church. He was a clerk and a deacon, and she was a financial secretary for Mount Zion, and also the organist and the choir director. So they were very active in Mount Zion, and that was back in the 1920s and 30s, and she died in 1934.