Pioneer and Builder of Religious Communities 1870 – 1943
WLP Story 4 ~ By Sandra Schumacher
Cowgirl, pioneer, farmer, business woman, mother and religious leader were all apt descriptions of Addie Lane. But the one quality that exemplified her life was her belief system in a God who spoke to her and worked through her to help establish and strengthen the religious life of her family and neighbors.
“Called to serve” by God at age fourteen, Addie believed strongly in the efficacy of faith healing, and throughout her life consulted spiritualists for guidance in making major decisions. It was at church that she met her future husband, John Lane whom she married in 1889. Together they would have a large family and pioneer both the territory of Oklahoma and the new state of Washington. In both instances, she would be active in building a religious community.
Addie grew up in a religious home. She was born to C.J. and Mary Painter Fielder in 1870 in Redfield, Kansas. Her father was a farmer and ordained deacon at the Baptist church in Redfield for forty-five years. Her childhood prepared her well in many ways for her adult life. Like many young women of her era, she learned how to milk cows and make butter. By age nine, she was skillfully herding the cattle a mile and a half to the Marmaton River, and by age eleven was saddling her own horse. When her father sold the farm and opened a store in Redfield, Addie went to work for him. She learned business skills that would serve her well later in life.
In 1893 the Land Run to Oklahoma attracted approximately 100,000 new settlers, among them John and Addie Lane. Their son, Robert, was only two years old when the Lanes went to Guthrie, Oklahoma, then the capital of the territorial government, and the family took a covered wagon to the Sac-Fox Agency, an Indian tribe, where they planned to homestead eighty acres. Addie joined the local church and immediately began working with the Indians who were converting to Christianity.
The Lanes grew cotton for a living, but in the 1894 harvest, John became extremely ill. Although Addie had a new baby, the cotton had to be picked, and it was up to Addie to pick it. Picking cotton and caring for two small children in the fields was torture, both because it was heavy work, and because poisonous snakes and spiders the “size of saucers” lay in wait among the plants. When a neighbor’s daughter died from snakebite while fetching water at the well, Addie began lobbying John for a change.
Although it was not settled and had no schools, the Lanes decided to lease land in the Creek Nation (now Muscogee Tribe). Even as she packed the wagon, the older members of the Sac-Fox Agency begged Addie to stay. She had made a positive impact on their lives in the three years she had worked with them at church. Several had tears streaming down their faces, but she could not be swayed.
John and Addie settled near the Creek tribe. John’s work took him miles away, leaving Addie alone for days at a time with three small children. The Creeks, who opposed the resettlement of their land and attempts to convert them to Christianity, kept Addie in a state of fear as the tribesmen rode around the house on ponies all night. It escalated to the point that she was afraid to build a cooking fire because it might alert them that she was in the house.
When bears and wolves attacked her pigs, Addie finally convinced John it was time to sell out and go back to Kansas. The tribesmen that had taunted Addie for over a year, followed them until the Lanes crossed the state border. Addie turned back to look at them, and for years the sight of their blankets blowing in the breeze as their horses headed back to the reservations, was engraved in her memory.
In 1897 the Lanes settled back into their life in Redfield, and Addie had two more children. John heard about the opportunities that awaited men willing to work in the new state of Washington, and in November 1902, John, Addie and their five children boarded the train amidst loud protestations from Addie’s family. Addie was undeterred. She had been to a “reading” at which a move was predicted that was described as an important change for their future.
Their first home in the new state was on Everett Hill, where a pole camp provided full time work for John. Addie began raising hens, cows, pigs and vegetables and made butter to sell. When the Lanes joined a new young church with no minister or Sunday School, Addie organized one and hired a Christian preacher to come twice a month to address the congregation. Elected superintendent, Addie was able to raise enough money to start a school. She also opened her home every Thursday night for prayer meetings.
Opportunities were growing for hard working men like John Lane. Logging camps and shingle mills in Machias offered work, and the Lanes earned enough to buy twenty acres in the woods. John and his oldest son worked at the shingle mill for several years and built a new cabin on their property. Now mother to six children, Addie had a business raising carrots to take to market. Although life was not easy, the children were safe and income was steady. In 1908 the Lanes leased a place at Spring Hill Farms eleven miles from Machias that had more cleared land where John could have a large farm and more time for the family. Addie continued selling eggs and butter, driving to Three Lakes in her horse and buggy every week to see old friends and sell her products.
None of life’s travails could have prepared her for the horrific event of November 4, 1908 when her son, Roy, was killed in a hunting accident. Neighbors brought Roy’s body back on a stretcher and placed him on the kitchen floor. “I was almost paralyzed with grief,” she recalled in her journal. “His blood flowed like a stream all the way out the kitchen door.”
Two days later, friends joined the Lanes for the funeral service, and then like most pioneers, had to face the reality that they had to resume their chores the following morning. Addie recounted years later, “After the funeral, I realized that I had to get back to milking and other work. It was horrible going to the barn because Roy would always meet me there, and I missed his smiling face.”
Eventually, the Lane family moved back to Everett where Addie joined the United Brethren Church and became a true believer in faith healing. She had a severe infection in her leg and foot, and her doctor announced that she was terminal and could pass away at any time. Her toes had turned purple and her leg black. She was unable to stand or sit, but insisted upon having her newborn baby in a basket on the floor near her. She demanded that the doctor leave. She asked the family to summon her pastor so that he could pray over her and try to heal her.
The minister and two other church members came, and as Addie reported, “laid hands upon her and prayed.” She sat up, and was then encouraged to stand. She tried and succeeded and finally took her first step. When the doctor returned, expecting her demise, there she stood. Addie said that he “flew into a rage, neck and face red with anger” and left the home. It is not known if Addie ever tried to heal others, but she continued to have leg problems, and faith healers were her ongoing method of recovery.
In 1916 her mother, Mary Fielder, became very ill, and Addie was distraught that her mother might die before she could get to her side. Money was tight, and there were nine children that would need care. Addie referred to herself as a “sensitive dreamer,” a person who has premonitions or strong feelings about a future event. A trip to see Mrs. Jackson, pastor of what Addie referred to in her journal as the “Spiritless Church” in Everett, was in order. At her reading, Pastor Jackson revealed that Addie was seen traveling east by train, and told her she should do so quickly. Addie convinced John to sell the cow for $60, and she got on the train to Kansas and was able to see her mother. Upon her return to Everett, she received a telegram that her beloved mother had died.
Faith healers had been so successful during Addie’s own recent recovery that she turned to them again when her daughter, Rosey, came down with pneumonia. This time Addie asked several people from the church to come, as she needed help “fending off the doctors.” Rosey was hallucinating, seeing angels at the end of her bed, and telling her mother she was soon going to be with the angels. The members of the church prayed over her, laid hands upon her, and the fever that had tormented the girl for twenty-one days went away. All the while, John was working at a job at Discovery Bay, not knowing the serious condition of his daughter and the methods being used to return her to health.
During an influenza epidemic, five of Addie’s children, as well as two neighbors, fell ill. Addie, who cared for them all, did not get sick or lose a patient. She continued going to séances to “commune with God,” and told the children that “Your unseen friends will care for you when your earthly friends don’t.”
Life went on for the Lanes. Work was scarce after World War One, but there were opportunities on the Tulalip reservation, and so the Lane family became one of the earliest white settlers at Priest Point, where John resumed cutting shingles. By 1921 they were living in an old Indian cabin and had added a room so that Addie could start a Sunday School. “There were so few people living between Marysville and the reservation, and there was no local church,” Addie said. Members of the community, regardless of religion, were invited to the Lane’s home every Sunday for services and the pastor was….Addie Lane.
Around 1924 Addie opened a general store, complete with a gas pump, at Priest Point. The family moved in upstairs, and John continued making shingles. Addie raised turkeys, commercially during this time, and became a charter member of the Grange, a rural family fraternity founded in 1867. She was elected chaplain and remained a Grange member for the rest of her life.
As a child, Addie was a competent cowgirl; as an adult, a woman who regularly communed with her God. Addie Lane was a true pioneer, wife, mother and farmer who lived her life for her biological family, as well as her religious family. Silent unseen friends moved in and out of her life, helping her during times of need and in June 1943, Addie Lane moved out of our world into theirs.
Sources: Journal of Addie Fielder Lane; Grandson Joe McDonald; Granddaughter Shirley Wicha.
© 2006 Sandra Schumacher, All Rights Reserved