For Charlene Sugden, the City of Redmond is not the one she remembers growing up during the 1950s and 1960s.
When she and her family were living on Education Hill, the area was all undeveloped land and dirt roads, with only a few homes. They had electricity but no running water and had outdoor bathrooms. Sugden’s immediate family owned 10 acres of land and other relatives had land nearby as well.
“We owned the hill more or less,” said Sugden, who is now 67 and lives in Gold Bar. “There was nobody there.”
And while her family owned a lot of land back then, they also hold dear a significant piece of Redmond history as one of the city’s pioneering and founding families: the Perrigos.
City officials and residents — along with the descendants from the Perrigo family — will be celebrating Redmond’s pioneering heritage throughout this year as part of its Centennial Celebration.
Although she was born a Johnston and changed her name once she was married, Sugden’s great-grandparents are William and Matilda Perrigo, one of the two Perrigo couples who came and settled in the area in the 1870s along with Luke McRedmond, the city’s namesake.
William was the second Perrigo to come to the area. His older brother Warren Perrigo came in 1870 from Kitsap County and William, coming from Maine, followed in 1877.
The area was originally named Salmonberg for all of the salmon in the rivers. It soon became known as Melrose after the Melrose House, the town’s first hotel, which was built and run by Warren and his first wife Laura. Warren had also created trails to other nearby settlements, establishing the Melrose House as a central meeting place. The settlement became known as Redmond in the early 1880s when McRedmond became postmaster.
Warren, who also donated land for Redmond’s first school and first church, lived in Redmond for 22 years before moving to Seattle after his wife died. He was King County Commissioner from 1885-87.
“He worked on a lot of different things there as a commissioner, but (records) didn’t tell you what,” said Kris Underhill, Sugden’s cousin. “He was Republican, but we don’t hold it against him.”
Underhill, the family’s historian, said Warren later settled in the Marysville-Pilchuck area, remarried and had five children.
Meanwhile, William and Matilda (above, center) stayed and started a family in Redmond. They had 11 children, which included Sugden’s grandmother Mabel and Underhill’s grandfather Robert.
Underhill, who lives in Monroe, said William built up a store and trading post for loggers and American Indians. His wife Matilda had even received a beaded purse from Princess Angeline, the eldest daughter of Chief Sealth, the City of Seattle’s namesake. Sugden’s sister still has the purse to this day.
William and Matilda’s original house is still in existence at the Elevation apartment complex at 17325 N.E. 85th Pl.
The Perrigos, along with the Tosh family, also donated land for the Redmond Cemetery on 180th Avenue Northeast between Northeast 70th and Northeast 76th streets.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
While Sugden grew up in Redmond, Underhill, now 60, grew up in California. She was born in the Pacific Northwest and often returned for visits. Underhill said she used think she was lucky when she got back to California because they had better weather, but she eventually realized her relatives up north were the lucky ones because they could get together often and have fun.
“They had a lot more family connection,” she said. “The family unit was always important to them.”
Sugden agreed, saying this family feeling extended to the rest of the community.
“It was fun,” she said. “We were a family, all of us. Everybody knew everybody.”
Sugden added with a laugh that her grandmother used to tell her never to talk bad about anybody because they may know you or they might be related, which was true.
She said community events in Redmond such as Derby Days were on a smaller scale and had more of a neighborhood feel.
“It’s not the same,” said Sugden, who was the first-ever Derby Junior Queen at age 8 (left).
And come this year’s Derby Days, Perrigos from all over the country are expected to come to Redmond for a family reunion at Redmond’s Old Schoolhouse Community Center after the Derby Days Parade, which the family will be part of as well.
“The Perrigo family is integral to the story of Redmond,” said Redmond Mayor John Marchione. “The Perrigo brothers started families and have been a part of Redmond ever since. I see Perrigos at Derby Days every year.”
The Perrigos have had reunions in the Redmond area before, Underhill said, including one in 1986 at Marymoor Park that brought in about 300 people (below). It was this event that got Underhill interested in researching her family history.
A COMMUNITY CELEBRATION
The Perrigos also held a reunion in Redmond 10 years ago during Derby Days, but this year is particularly special because the reunion coincides with the city’s Centennial celebration.
The City of Redmond turns 100 years old Dec. 31, the anniversary of its incorporation after the city’s 300th person was born.
Marchione said Redmond’s Centennial “celebrates us as a pioneering community,” adding that the first pioneering farmers and merchants like the Perrigos “shared a vision of creating a place they could all call home.”
To mark Redmond’s 100th birthday, Lisa Rhodes, events and marketing administrator for the City of Redmond, said the city will be incorporating special programming during its annual events such as Derby Days and Redmond Lights.
Additionally, Rhodes said city staff will be looking at ways for everyone in the community to get involved. For example, the city’s poet laureate is working with other poets to create a poetry anthology about Redmond. The Redmond Library will host a series events tied to the Centennial as well as putting up special historical displays. There also may be a special neighborhood parade contest for Derby Days, Rhodes said.
Rhodes added that since the exact Centennial date is so close to the annual Redmond Lights celebration, which is held at the beginning of December, city officials aren’t sure if there will be two separate events or one big one.
Miguel Llanos, who is on the Centennial planning committee and a vice president for the Redmond Historical Society, said the yearlong celebration is also a great tool to build community.
“Instead of living in a strip mall, we have a town with its own character and heritage,” he said. “Unfortunately most locals don’t know much about that history, so the Centennial and ongoing events by the Redmond Historical Society, like our monthly public presentations and meetings, help bring locals closer together as a community of real neighbors.”
For more information about Centennial events, visit www.100years.redmond.gov.