Graham Historical Society faces changes

Wayne Cooke and Linda Mahler first met after a community meeting, after Cooke heard Mahler talk about her love of history.

They thought it was a shame that Graham’s history could be lost. Cooke asked what they could do. The rest was history.

The Graham Historical Society was born in June 2014. According to Mahler, the purpose of the Graham Historical Society is to preserve and protect history and to document it in this area. Now, as the two are in declining health, the organization faces an uncertain future.

Mahler took on the clerical burden from the start and after her research on how to get a non-profit, she wrote the by-laws, wrote the non-profit paperwork, and organized fundraisers. She went to various meetings with the South Hill Historic Society and exchanged information. Mahler learned how to archive pictures and she and Cooke quickly began going to events to drum up interest.

The history of the area as a Wild West territory keeps people interested.

“Did you know we had a pony express in Kapowsin/Graham in 1889?” Mahler asked. “[It’s] now a private home.”

It was located on Webster Road East, according to historical documents.

Cooke had started a book called “The People of Graham Tell Their Stories” and started interviewing people, including Neal Purdy, an engineer who brought electricity to the area and built dams. Others included a family who founded the Ranch House Restaurant in Graham, and the Mc Gee’s Rest Home started by Effie Mc Gee.

In 2016, Mahler’s health started to decline around the same time Wayne was diagnosed with macular degeneration and had to give up his driver’s license. Two years ago, Linda lost her parents, had surgery and since October 2017 has lost most of her vision.

Cooke worked on the book for approximately two years, and it was published in October 2017. Originally, the books were sold out of his home for $18 each.

As of February 2018, Graham’s Ace Hardware now sells the book. All of the profit goes to the Graham Historical Society.

“It’s the only fundraiser that put money in the account,” Cooke said.

Richard Mothershead joined the Graham Historical Society after he bought Cooke’s book and was interested in assisting with writing another one.

“You can’t live in one area for 71 years and not know a lot of people,” he said.

Mothershead, who has taken some control over the Graham Historical Society, plans to contact the different phone numbers and names of people Cooke provided him

“Linda [Mahler] is the most prominent one,” Mothershead said. “She knows more about Graham than anybody.”

He has lived in Graham since he was three months old. He was born in Raymond, Washington on August 8, 1946 and attended Kapowsin Grade School and Bethel High School.

“[Graham’s] all I’ve known all my life. When I was born they didn’t have a Safeway store in Graham, it used to be a chicken farm,” Mothershead said, talking about how wonderful the area is. “Every time you drive down the road, I see two to three new houses so I guess other people are agreeing with me.”

He’d like to see more people take more interest in the community they live in. “It’s kinda disheartening to get a group of people saying they are interested and then two people show up,” he said. “Every time there’s work we get the same 6-7 people. I’m the President of our Kapowsin Highland Road and everyone takes pride in it until it comes time to do something about it.”

Mahler is keeping her fingers crossed to get volunteers and build the Graham Historical Society up again.

Call or email Mahler at 253-846-0293, or

“The future of Graham’s past is in the hands of the people who read this,” Cooke concluded.


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