In a Small Lake Town - The disappearance of Latitia Whitehall

By Rod Graham

“for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.” Job 8:9

I am fascinated by Letitia Whitehall’s story. She was a fine young girl, and without having done anything wrong was killed on the eve of Halloween, October 30, 1926. The Celts believed the dead walk among us and that on Halloween, the line between living and dead becomes very faint, allowing them to cross over to this side. Thus, we have their tradition of dressing in frightening costumes to blend in with the demonic hoard in the hopes when they return to their side; they will not take us with them.

I like to go downtown to try to imagine the scene; the flow of her last movements and that last evening. I walk up Kirkland Avenue across the tracks and past what is left of the Northern Pacific freight Station. She lived with her parents on the east side of the tracks.

Some pictures on the walls at George’s Place give us a flavor of the area. More pictures are available at The History Link, which defines itself as the “online Encyclopedia of Washington State History.

Such a strong contrast, that is to walk now among all the residents and tourists busily going about whatever vague endeavors they determine necessary without ever imagining they could be walking in Letitia’s last steps.

Latitia Whitehall was fourteen years old the night of October 30, 1926. She had gone to Dr. Chester C. Dobbs, a dentist in downtown. His office was located approximately at present day Hector’s. She left Dr. Dobbs between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. and walked North to the corner of Lake Street and Kirkland Avenue, stopping to check the sports scores in one of the three drugstores which occupied the intersection at that time.

Letitia left the drugstore to go home walking up Kirkland Avenue and into oblivion. She was not seen alive again.

Kirkland of the 1920's was a small lake town. The ferry served it well. One acquaintance once recalled how coming to visit his grandfather in Kirkland was a great day adventure. It was a quiet town, not many lived here and if you did not have somewhere to stay, you caught the evening ferry home.

I have studied a photograph someone gave me (wish I could remember who). The locomotive in it appears to be thirties vintage. I cannot see the path across the tracks we all now use, so she must have walked under the tracks to get home.

Probably neither Telegrapher T B Kelly nor L D Collins was on duty that evening and even if they had been, it is doubtful they would have seen her pass by.

The fourteen year old was described as being 5’ 4” tall, dark bobbed hair, blue eyes with freckles, fair complexion. She was wearing a green lumberjack blazer, a sweater, a black skirt with grey stockings; her black patent leather shoes had one strap.

She was not seen again until November 14, 1926, a Sunday. Tom Hitzroth who has probably done more research on her than anyone has e-mailed me a paragraph that I want to share, describing the discovery of her body:

In answer to the question did those who found her know they had found her ………….. no. They had seen something floating in the [Sammamish Slough] the day before and didn’t pay much attention to it and when they returned the next day and saw it was still there they went to investigate. When they discovered it was a body they called the coroner. She was identified by her father at the Coroner’s office.

It will be 84 years ago this Sunday.

[box]Letitia Whitehall is buried at Seattle's Calvary Cemetary, Section 6, Lot 13, Gravesite 25.[/box]