Rev. J.H. Woodley

In the early days of its existence Black Diamond was a company town overseen by Mine Superintendent, Morgan Morgan. He famously declared one church was sufficient for all to attend, and that became the Congregational Church. The building was located at the corner of 2ndand Baker on the site of the old Black Diamond fire station. Even with one church building, other denominations took turns using it, including the Baptists. One of its early ministers, Jonathan H. Woodley is shown here. Born in Canada in 1864, the Reverend J.H. Woodley married Rachel Amanda Scott in 1891 and the couple soon emigrated from Ontario to Washington. That same year a Baptist contingent was established in Black Diamond. About five years later Woodley came to minister in a town dominated by Welsh coal miners. Accordingly, sermons were sometimes delivered in both English and Welsh language.

However the Baptist’s growth was hampered because the land was controlled by the Black Diamond Coal Mining Company and only one church building was allowed. The union model was followed with services of different denominations held on alternating Sundays. Woodley, who lived in Kent, rotated between the two towns often riding horseback, as there was no convenient rail connection in the days before automobiles. Among the Baptist faithful were members of Black Diamond’s prominent Gibbon family, some of whom later moved to and prospered in Maple Valley. This photo comes courtesy of one of their descendants, Gary Gibbon with additional research provided by JoAnne Matsumura, an Issaquah historian. This Saturday, June 1stthe Black Diamond Museum holds its annual Welsh Heritage Day with a program from 1-3 pm in the historic railroad depot.