History of Winterbrook Farm

Speerstra Dairy

Jan Bartele Speerstra (AKA JB Speerstra) was born in Akkrum, Netherlands on January 6, 1884. He immigrated to the United States from Rotterdam, Netherlands aboard the SS Noordam arriving in New York City on August 29, 1910. JB by trade was a Dairyman in his home country.

By 1914, JB had made his way west living in and around Issaquah, Washington. Wishing to continue in his profession as Dairyman, he purchased land from James Ismay on June 9, 1914. The land is part of an 80 acre tract known today as Winterbook Farm. [1]

A year later, on June 28, 1915, JB married Gina Katharine Ostrum in Everett, Washington. Gina was born November 26, 1886 in Moorhead, Minnesota.[2]

JB and Gina grew their dairy business. Like other dairy farms in the Coalfield \ May Valley area of King County, they also raised chickens for market and egg production.

Along the way they had three children. George Speerstra was born April 22, 1918 in Renton, WA. Katherine Speerstra was born April 11, 1920 in Tacoma, WA. And, Alice Speerstra was born May 20, 1925 in Renton, WA.

The largest dairy farm in the area and competition for the Speerstra’s was owned and operated by Thomas Mason and, later, the Mason family. The Mason farm and the Speerstra farm shared a common property boundary - King County Section Numbers 16 and 17. Thomas Mason purchased his land from the Northern Pacific Railroad Company on June 18, 1886.

Leo Healey, great nephew of Thomas Mason, provided information indicating dairy farming in May Valley between WA State Highway 900 and Issaquah-Hobart Road had stopped by the middle 1980s.[3] John Felder, a tenant Dairyman on one of the other small dairy farms in May Valley, is quoted as saying, “A 50-cow dairy just isn’t it any more.” “It takes 85 for a family to make it.”[4]

The Mason dairy farm is a residential development started in 1984. It is known today as Sunset Valley Farms.[5]

Historic Dairy Barn

The barn and milking shed were completed in 1930.[6] They are classic Midwestern post and beam, clapboard construction with a cantilevered extended roof off the SW side. It appears, by its design, the main barn was used primarily for hay storage making it easy to feed cows during milking and to move feed into the fields during winter months. It is of sufficient size to support farm equipment storage at the same time.

The Speerstra barn and milking shed stand today in almost “as built” condition, 87 years after completion. There are two changes that do not impact the basic original architectural design of the structure. The 2” X 10” barn and 4” X 6” milking shed wood plank floors were replaced with concrete. The date of these changes is unknown.

A number of horse stalls were added along north side of the main barn around 2003-2005. This was done by Winterbrook Equestrian Associates LLC as part of a plan to develop the property into an equestrian riding, training, and boarding operation.

The Speerstra (Verschaeve – subsequent owner) barn was featured in an article titled Old Barns of the Valley. The article appeared on page 29 of the 1987–1988 edition of a publication called Guide to Country Fun.[7] The Speerstra Barn is one of only three barns featured in the article. The barn remains unchanged from how it appears in this article.

The Speerstra barn is an historical icon of family dairy farming in May Valley, east King County. Unfortunately it is at risk of being demolished to clear the land for the building of 16 homes on the 80 acre tract.

Researched and written by Richard Petrut


[1] Source Document – Deed, King County Washington Recording Number 936499, dated June 9, 1914.

[2] Source Document - USA Declaration of Intention to be admitted to Citizenship, Certification Number 20-8867, dated June 2, US District Court, Seattle, Washington

[3] Personal interview with Leo Healy, January 13, 2017, at his family home 20826 SE May Valley Road, Issaquah, WA

[4] Last Dairy Farm Sells Out, Issaquah Press, November 16, 1988

[5] Poor copy of sale agreement between Northern Pacific Railroad Company and Thomas Mason dated June 18, 1886.

[6] Source Documents – King County Tax Assessor Records dated January 1, 1940.

[7] Old barns of the valley, Guide to Country Fun, 1987-8 Edition, page 29.