Siastenu ~ Ruth Sehome Shelton

Ruth Shelton

~ Good Will Ambassador for her People

By Betty Gaeng

As a young woman Ruth Shelton was first a wife and a mother. Later with her third and final husband, Tulalip tribal chief and totem carver, William Shelton, she became a good will ambassador for the people of the Puget Sound Indian tribes. Following her husband’s death in 1938, she continued as a well-known and respected spokesperson working for the welfare of her people.

Siastenu Ruth Sehome’s birthplace was Guemes Island, Whatcom County, Washington Territory. The Indian Agency had no records regarding her birth.. The year of her birth was given by Ruth’s elder sister Julia. Julia had been present at the signing of the treaty in 1855 and told Ruth that she was born two years following the signing. Thus, 1857 is the date given as her birth date in all government records and on Ruth’s grave marker.

Ruth’s father was Chief Sehome one of the chiefs of the Clallam Tribe in the Port Angeles area. Her mother Emily Sehome was a member of the Samish tribe, owners of all of Samish, Guemes and Orcas Islands. Both parents were full-blood Indians. In the early days, a portion of what became Bellingham in Whatcom County was named Sehome in honor of Ruth’s father. Ruth Shelton had two sisters Julia (Sehome) Barkhausen, born between 1840-1841; and Sarah (Sehome) Oshan, born 1852.

Ruth and all the tribal members lived in a longhouse about 500 feet long and 70 feet wide. In order to manage this close living life-style, the people were expected to respect each other. Discipline and orderliness were necessary. Children enjoyed fun times, but were taught to obey their elders. During her young years, Ruth Shelton learned all the skills that Indian girls were expected to know before their marriage. She excelled in basket weaving, blanket making and cooking. As a mother she taught these same skills to her daughters.
Ruth married three times—first to a white man in Bellingham and then to William Coy, a full-blood Indian from the Tulalip Indian Reservation. In 1878 Ruth moved to Tulalip with her new husband. This became her home for 80 years. When the 1889 census for the Tulalip Reservation was taken on June 30th, Ruth was listed as a widow. She was left with three young children: Hubert, age 10; Daniel Martin, age 7; and Susan Ann, age 6. Hubert was the only one to survive childhood. He became a leader and successful in business. He built and operated the Mission Beach Resort at the head of Tulalip Bay. Hubert Coy died March 5, 1958 at the age of 79, his mother Ruth Shelton surviving.

Her third husband was William Shelton also a member of the Tulalip Indian Reservation. Together they established not only a stable and good marriage, but also a working relationship promoting interest in the rich history of the native people. Their home on William Shelton’s allotment land was a treasure trove of artifacts of museum quality. Many of the items in the family’s living-room collection were given to *Chief Shelton by admirers from various reservations, and even though the family experienced some tough times, they never sold any part of the collection.

Ruth and her husband William Shelton were a handsome couple and in her youth Ruth Shelton must have been a striking woman. Along with other family members the couple became well known. They appeared at many events in the region, including Seattle, usually dressed in native attire. Ruth and her family created a bridge between the two cultures.

Her daughter Harriet Dover commented that her mother was always patient and understanding with a philosophy that life should be calm and unhurried. She expected her children to live their own lives in this same fashion. She did not believe in moodiness, but rather friendliness toward everyone from the time of arising in the early morning until retiring at night. Ruth taught her children that “Good manners were important.”

Ruth and William Shelton had six children: Robert E., Mary, William Alphonsus, Thelma, Ruth, and Harriet. Harriet (Shelton) Williams Dover was the only child to survive her mother. Harriet was a well-known representative for her people in her own right. A beautiful painting of Harriet hangs in the Tulalip Tribal Council Chambers. She died February. 6, 1991 at the age of 86.

Even though Ruth’s husband William Shelton went back to the ancient Indian religion, Ruth Shelton remained a devout Catholic her entire life. She spoke of the time when as a child living on the Swinomish Reservation at LaConner she took singing lessons from Father Eugene Casimir Chirouse, the renowned early-day Catholic missionary and teacher to the Indians of Puget Sound.

On November 16, 1940, 83 year-old Ruth Shelton made a trip to Seattle to talk to the Ed Dalby, the marine editor for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Speaking in the Chinook dialect, she gave a warning that the area would experience a long and hard winter. The following day the paper published an article regarding her visit under the caption “Klonas mika wasa Chinook?” A picture of Ruth Shelton accompanied the article which also stated “chief’s widow knows the answers.”

On Saturday, October. 4, 1958 death came to Siastenu Ruth Sehome Coy Shelton at Providence Hospital in Everett, Washington. She was 101 years old. Ruth Shelton lived to witness the coming of the white settlers throughout the Puget Sound area, skirmishes between the Indians and white settlers, and the ratification of the treaties. She witnessed the evolution of travel from the gliding of canoes on Puget Sound and along the river waterways to the arrival of steamboats, ferries, automobiles, railroads and airplanes (both prop and jet). Satellites circling the earth must have seemed a miracle to Ruth.

Ruth Shelton’s obituary stated that Requiem Mass was held at St. Anne’s Catholic Church on the Tulalip Reservation. A quartet of Indians, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Joe and Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Bobb of LaConner, sang two hymns in the Indian language which had been translated by Father Chirouse a hundred years before. In keeping with Ruth’s inherited native culture, graveside ancient Indian traditional services were conducted at Mission Beach Cemetery with speeches and the singing of Indian hymns until the casket was lowered to its final resting place next to the grave of her husband William. Indians came from Nooksack, Clallam, Lummi and LaConner reservations to pay their last respects to a long-time beloved friend.


Siastenu “Gram” Ruth Sehome Shelton; The Wisdom of a Tulalip Elder. Transcribed by Vi Hilbert and Jay Miller, recorded by Leon Metcalf. Lushootseed Press (2005).

Everett Daily Herald—Sept. 1, 1958; Sept. 5, 1958, p. 5; Sept. 14, 1958, pp. 46-47; Aug. 25, 1961, p. B20.

Affidavit by Julia (Sehome) Barkhausen dated April 13, 1918 requesting enrollment into the Clallam Tribe by virtue of her birth (1919 Roblin Rolls). National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle).

Census schedule of the Tulalip Reservation of the Tulalip Agency, W.T., taken by W. H. Talbot, United States Indian Agent, June 30, 1889.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Nov. 17, 1940, p. 24.

Marysville Globe—Oct. 9, 1958, p. 1.

Washington State Digital Archives.

* Before the Indian Reorganization Act of 1936 there was no official tribal status as a chief. On the other hand, the tribe–and more so the white community–truly called William Sheldon and Chief Sehome that and certainly they deserved the status. In effect William Shelton was a Tulalip cultural leader though the other title is not totally wrong and he was Chief of Police. The Indian Reorganization Act of 1936 allowed the tribes self governence. Shelton died in 1934 so he just missed the chance to actually govern.

© 2009 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

Blanche Edith Shannahan

~ Teacher and Historian of Pioneer Life, 1891- 1968

By Donna Perkins Wylie

Blanche Shannahan’s career as a teacher along with her strong sense of family and desire to preserve the pioneer stories she heard from her family and others motivated her to contribute two valuable pieces of research material to future generations. She compiled and wrote a family journal in 1964, We Were Eight. Her niece Margaret Strum Schmidt recently donated the unpublished family book to the Monroe Historical Society. Blanche also transcribed the November 1870 through 1888 diaries of Charles Harper Stackpole, an early pioneer, and donated her transcription to the Sno-Isle Regional Library.

The photograph above is the original Shannahan cabin where Blanche Shannahan was born in 1891. The cabin is still on exhibit at the Evergreen Fairgrounds in Monroe. Courtesy Monroe Historical Society.

She was born April 11, 1891, the first of eight children, in a log cabin on the Shannahan homestead near the Snoqualmie River at Mount Forest south of Monroe. May Stackpole Bradbury, the daughter of Charles and Anna Elizabeth Stackpole, was Blanche’s lifelong friend and the one who loaned Blanche the diaries of her father.
The Stackpoles lived north of the Shannahans. May told Blanche that she was welcomed into the family of John and Elizabeth Shannahan with four women assisting her birth while her father kept the fires going and the water boiling. The midwife was Auntie Stackpole, “Auntie” being her term of endearment for May’s mother. Also helping were Mrs. Ella Harriman, her mother’s close friend, and Mrs. E. Treen, the Shannahan’s closest neighbor. A native woman, the wife of Squire Brewster, sat in a rocking chair and sang softly in her native language at Blanche’s birth.

The image on the left is a 1901 photograph of the Mount Forest School. Blanche Shannahan is the second girl from the teacher and her sister Kitty is standing between her and the teacher
The Mount Forest District was south of Monroe toward Duvall on the west side of the Snoqualmie River near the King county line. [Photo reprinted from “We are Eight”]
Blanche went to school in a one-room log schoolhouse, the Mount Forest School in District 8.

Since Monroe did not have a high school at the time she lived with her grandmother so she could attend Snohomish High School. Her maternal grandparents, Robert and Louisa Smallman, had moved to Snohomish at 224 Avenue B in 1900 after living in the Tualco Valley for 30 years and her grandfather had died in February 1902.

Her mother Elizabeth Smallman Shannahan was born in a little cottage on the corner of Second and Cherry in Seattle in 1867 when Seattle was a mere village. Elizabeth’s mother Louisa Spencer Morrish Nowell was born in London, England on May 31, 1839 and her father Robert Jesse Enos Smallman was born December 1, 1837 near Maidenstone Kent, England.

Blanche graduated from high school with honors in 1909 and from Bellingham State Normal School in 1923. She had over four years accredited work at the University of Washington but never graduated because her responsibility of caring for her brother, Robert, a paraplegic, kept her from fulfilling the required years of campus credit. In 1929, Robert had injured his spine in a fall at age 14 and their mother died a few months later.

Blanche’s first teaching job was in a one-room schoolhouse, the Ben Howard School near Monroe. She went on to teach in elementary schools in Issaquah and then in the Seattle Public Schools. During that time she commuted from the family home just south of Monroe to Seattle so she could take care of her brother. After about 44 years of teaching she retired in 1956 and dedicated the rest of her life to preserving pioneer history.

Blanche’s grandfather joined the English navy at age 16 and was sent into the waters of Puget Sound. In the spring of 1855 at age 18, Robert Smallman left the British service through the “back door” and came to Washington Territory from Victoria, British Columbia. He had a claim on the Snoqualmie prairie from 1860 until he sold it in 1865. He returned to England for a visit and on August 19,1866 he married Miss Louisa Nowell in Kent.

Her grandmother Louisa had forebears who had been a higher class than she found herself in a country with definite class distinctions so Louisa pursued her education while working in the home of Lord Rothschild and saved her money so that one day she could own land. The Smallmans emigrated from England to Seattle by way of the Isthmus of Panama on railroad in the fall of 1866. When Elizabeth was about three years old her parents took up a homestead at the Forks, also known as Qualco. The area is now known as the Tualco Valley in unincorporated Snohomish County south of Monroe.

The United States Postal Department in Washington D.C. in response to her letter of September 30, 1958 confirmed that the records of the post office in the National Archives reflected that a post office was established at Tualco, Snohomish County on August 4, 1880 and it was discontinued on July 12, 1892. It confirmed Robert Smallman was the first appointed postmaster of the Tualco Post Office. The letter also reflected that Mrs Sarah J. Evans was the next Tualco postmaster on April 12, 1888, followed by Mrs Amelia J. Austin on July 12, 1889. The Tualco Post Office was discontinued when the town of Monroe was removed to its present site, one mile east of Park Place. When Mr Smallman applied for a post office the U.S. Postal Department changed the name from Qualco to Tualco. The earlier territorial maps show the town of Qualco above the forks where the Snoqualmie and Skykomish Rivers form the Snohomish River. Early settlers had interpreted the native name for the area as “Qualco” and also referred to this area as the Forks.

Blanche’s father, John Shannahan was born September 13, 1867 in Seaforth, Ontario. As a young man in 1883, he came west on the first Northern Pacific train to make an uninterrupted trip to the Pacific Coast. At age 22, he built the log cabin where Blanche was born in 1891. (The cabin was donated to the State of Washington and moved to the State Fairgrounds in Monroe where it now stands.) He married Elizabeth Smallman on December 12, 1889 at the Plaskett House in Snohomish. Blanche’s father made “ship knees” (spruce ribs from selected logs) and ferried them to ship builders across Puget Sound. He was also a road and bridge builder and was active in the establishment of local schools.

Shannahan Family in 1914 Standing at back from left to right: Elizabeth, Martha, Anne, Kathryn, Blanche, and Wallace. Sitting from left to right: Elizabeth holding Robert, John (Jack), Harriette, and Louisa Smallman (Elizabeth’s mother). Courtesy Monroe Historical Society #1157

Blanche gained a lot of her knowledge about such things from her father and inserted parenthetical clarifications and helpful information she learned from him and others in her Stackpole diary transcriptions. She also noted things that seemed important to her at the time such as, after Mr. Stackpole’s October 13, 1871 entry about the birth of Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Reeves’ son that morning Blanche wrote in parentheses “first white child born at the Forks”. Blanche wrote in the Preface that she hoped her transcription of the diaries and her inserts would help researchers in the future. She signed and dated the Epilogue on October 5, 1964. Blanche died August 24, 1968 at the age of 77.

“We are Eight” by Blanche Shannahan, 1964, unpublished Margaret Strum Schmidt interview
The Stackpole Diaries transcribed by Blanche Shannahan, 1964, unpublished
Preston, Ralph N. Early Washington Atlas Overland Stage Routes, Old Military Roads, Indian Battle Grounds, Old Forts, Old Gold Mines. Portland, Or: Binford & Mort, 1981.
Snohomish Historical Society.   River reflections Snohomish City, 1859 to 1910 : a popular narrative history of Snohomish City. Snohomish, Wash: The Society, 1975.

© 2007 Donna Perkins Wylie, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story #47

Gwendolyn Shakespeare

Gwen Shakespeare ~1965; Miss Shakespeare, Photograph courtesy Everett Herald newspaper for November 2, 1942 and March 24, 1958.

~ A teacher forever remembered
By Betty Lou Gaeng – a grateful student

Every once in a while a certain person you meet during your lifetime inspires and influences you to such an extent, he or she is never forgotten. For me, it was Miss Shakespeare. Seventy-two years ago, at the age of 10, I entered her classroom at the old Edmonds Grade School. Miss Shakespeare was my fifth-grade homeroom and penmanship teacher. In the technological world of today, correct penmanship no longer seems important. Having earned three penmanship teaching certificates, Miss Shakespeare must have been appalled by this change.

When I was in her classroom, I didn’t realize, that Miss Shakespeare was teaching more than the proper writing technique. She instilled in me the concept that any chore tackled should be done to the best of my ability. Along with her regular lessons, her message was to do your best—if it is worth doing, do it right. Another truism I learned from Miss Shakespeare was that manners are important! I was small—she told me to always stand as if I was tall. I find I still do that.
Miss Shakespeare’s teachings have been a major influence in my daily life. Whenever I am working at some task, or have some decision to make, her words come to mind. My immediate thought is: Would Miss Shakespeare approve? I have often wondered, was it just me, or did she have this influence on the lives of others in her classroom. Robert Fulghum wrote that while he was in kindergarten, he learned all he needed to know. I learned some never-to-be-forgotten wisdom from Miss Shakespeare when I was in the fifth grade

Leaving elementary school behind, I lost contact with Miss Shakespeare. Decades later, no longer young myself, my husband and I stopped by the Edmonds Retirement Center to visit a friend residing there. As we walked down the hall, I glanced to my right; there on a door, a nameplate read, “Gwendolyn Shakespeare.” I just had to stop to see if she was home. The door was opened by a little elderly lady. I always remember her as tall. Now, Miss Shakespeare was no longer taller than I was. Well into her 80s, she was still slender and her posture erect. I recognized her immediately, and introduced myself. Just imagine, she remembered me!

My husband and I had a pleasant visit with her. She made a pot of tea and served some cookies, and we sat and talked a bit. She said to call her Gwen, but I just couldn’t. To me, she was, and always will be, Miss Shakespeare.

She was astounded when I told her the story of how her name and words have always remained with me. Miss Shakespeare’s eyes lit up—she seemed pleased. I am glad I had the chance to tell her before it was too late. Was I the only one ever to tell her that I thought she was a wonderful teacher? I hope not.
Gwendolyn Valentine Shakespeare was born on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1907 in Everett, Washington. She attended kindergarten at the old Jefferson School in Everett. After graduation from Everett High School, she attended and graduated from Bellingham Normal School, where her father was on the Board of Trustees. She received her BA degree from the University of Washington.

Miss Shakespeare then taught three years at Lake Stevens, and received a life certificate in teaching. She took a one-year vacation from teaching and just stayed home. Missing the children, she then took a teaching position at the Edmonds Grade School. In 1950, she transferred to the Everett School District where she taught third grade at Jackson Elementary. She remained with the Everett School District until retirement in the mid-1970s.Besides her valuable teaching on behalf of the young people of Snohomish County, Gwen Shakespeare was an active participant in the entire education field. She served on the Snohomish County Board of Education for six years. She was a member of the Washington and National Education Associations. Miss Shakespeare was a charter and life member of Delta Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma, the teachers’sorority, serving as chapter president and state recording secretary. She was a long time member of the Auxiliary of the American Legion, where she specialized in children’s welfare programs. Gwen Shakespeare was also active in the Everett community. She was a member of the Everett Ladies’ Musical Club and a founder of the Snohomish County Museum Association. In the mid-1960s, she was appointed to the Governor’s Council for Women in Civil Defense.

Gwen Shakespeare was a very busy lady, however she found time for various hobbies. One of her favorites was travel. She traveled throughout the United States several times, visiting 48 states. She also toured Mexico and Canada. During the summer of 1955, she sailed on the United Fruit Lines to Panama. In addition to all her other activities, Gwen Shakespeare enjoyed the outdoors and sports—playing golf and tennis. During her teaching career, she took part in the sports at school, such as hockey, track and basketball. During summer months, she often served as a camp counselor for children. It is very noticeable that children were her love.Her father was Noah Shakespeare. He was born March 15, 1877 in Brierley Hill, England. His parents were Enoch Shakespeare and Margaret Griffiths. He came to this country in 1895 and was naturalized in 1899. He was a member of the United Spanish War Veterans having fought in the Spanish-American War. He was also an officer during WWI. Mr. Shakespeare was an attorney in private practice, a Justice of the Peace, and elected as a municipal judge in Everett in 1907, he served in that position for 15 years. Noah Shakespeare died in Everett on January 12, 1952.
Her mother, Lulu Shakespeare, was born Louisa Julia Riemann on 14 January 1880 in Dubuque, Iowa, and died in Everett on November 28, 1970. Along with her husband, she was also a practicing attorney in Everett., having been admitted to the bar in the State of Washington in 1911.
Lulu Shakespeare was very active in the community and in 1949 received Everett’s “Woman of Achievement” award. Gwendolyn Shakespeare had four siblings. Her eldest brother was William Stratford Shakespeare. Three were younger: Doris Vivian Shakespeare did not live to see her fifth birthday; Robert Enoch Shakespeare; and Margaret Alice (Shakespeare) Black. Miss Shakespeare survived all of them.

For a few years, Gwen Shakespeare lived in Edmonds where she shared a home with her lifetime friend, Frances Anderson. However, her main home was the family one located at 3131 Rockefeller Avenue in Everett. This had been the Shakespeare home since 1912. Miss Shakespeare remained there until she moved to the Edmonds Retirement Center approximately 1982. She died in Everett on March 5, 2002, at age 95.
Although, Gwendolyn Valentine Shakespeare never had children of her own, her life was devoted to the children of Snohomish County and the entire state.

Everett Herald Obituaries, published January 14, 1952 and March 19, 2002.Washington State Digital Archives < >
Everett Herald newspaper for November 2, 1942 and March 24, 1958.U.S. Federal Census records for 1910, 1920 and 1930.
Whitfield, William (1926), History of Snohomish County, Washington Vol. II; Pioneer Historical Publishing Company: Chicago and Seattle.
Women in Public Life—Snohomish County, Washington. March 22, 1965, “Concern for Children Guides Career Activities of Miss Gwen Shakespeare” by Susan Heath. Collection of David Dilgard, Northwest Room, Everett Public Library
© 2009 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 59

Idamae Schack

Idamae Schack ~”I Just Did It”

by Ann Duecy Norman

In 1964 Idamae Schack became manager of a sand, gravel and concrete business. She also joined what was at that time an extremely rare breed—women in construction.Looking at Idamae, it is difficult to believe that for 20 years, she succeeded in a competitive, often rough and occasionally cut-throat business. Her white hair softly frames her face. She smiles often, listens carefully, and responds to questions with the quiet dignity and comforting manner of a beloved grandmother.

John and Idamae Schack, Courtesy Community Foundation of Snohomish

What made her decide to go into the construction business? Her analysis reflects her gift for making the solutions to complex problems seem quite simple. Her husband died suddenly. She had three young children to support. As she saw it, she had three choices. She could sell the business, she could let the bank run it, or she could manage it. In her mind, the answer was simple. “I felt I knew a lot about the business…I had helped develop it.”

Following two years in the Business School at the University of Denver, Idamae had married Walter Miles, a civil engineer, and in 1936, they moved to Tacoma. She was a traditional homemaker and mother. He worked for the large construction company that was building the Tacoma Narrows bridge. In 1943 he purchased a gravel pit in the Auburn area, and they moved into a small cabin next to it. “I had thought I was going to continue to be just a housewife,” she says, but in fact she quickly became involved in his new business.

“When your husband is out in the yard working on a machine, and he needs a part, and you know how to drive a car, what do you do?” she asks. Her answer was, you put the baby in the car, head for Seattle, and find the part. Since the new business was using an assemblage of old equipment and used trucks, Idamae made numerous trips. “After a while,” she says, “the suppliers all knew who I was.” One has to smile, imagining their response to the unusual sight of a woman in their shop with a child in her arms.

She not only survived and learned from her crash course in purchasing machine parts, but she also began keeping the books and doing the billing for their growing business. Her husband built her an office, a shack covered with tarpaper a few yards away from their house. “My daughter Pat claims I raised her by intercom. I’d bathe her, feed her and put her down. Then I’d walk over to work and turn on the intercom. I could hear her. She’d take her nap, and I’d do my work.”

What prepared her for her role? Perhaps it was fate. Or maybe it was her seventh grade teacher. In her Junior High School, the sewing room was on one side of the corridor and the business class was on the other. On the first day of the school year, Idamae went to the sewing room with the rest of the girls, but, after a couple of weeks, for reasons she still insists are unclear to her, the sewing teacher suggested she go across the hall and try the business department. It was a short walk, but the teacher’s decision turned out to be a big step in the right direction for Idamae.

Strangely enough, it seems never to have concerned her that she was the only girl the sewing teacher sent across the hall or that the class she went to was composed mostly of boys. “When I told my mother what had happened, she just laughed, so I never really cared.” Maybe another factor contributing to her independent attitude was that her father, a miner, had died when she was only eight years old, and her Mother, Anne Lawrence, had supported her three children by managing small hotels in the Denver area . Idamae’s childhood was itinerant and not easy; in fact she remembers having attended 13 different grade schools. “I think what’s important,” she says of those difficult times, “is I always knew, no matter what, Mom was behind me.”

Whatever the explanation, despite being one of the few girls in the business classes, Idamae thrived, and after she finished high school, although she was only 16 years old, it seemed natural to her to get a job and begin attending classes in business law and accounting at the University of Denver.

What other factors contributed to her success? As she tells it, it was not only her academic training and her mother’s support, but also her husband’s attitude. “He never said in words, ‘You can do this.’ But he had a heart condition, and we were aware of it. Then he died. Maybe it was just dumb, but I felt I could make it.” When questioned about other factors that contributed to her success, she lists loyal employees, helpful bankers, an established clientele, a supportive community, and her hardworking, responsible children. She brags that her son and her daughters all helped out by loading trucks and driving graders. “They all learned to be independent.”

Although she occasionally attended meetings of construction industry organizations like the Washington Aggregate Association, she also found it helpful to be part of a group of supportive women representing a wide range of business backgrounds. “I joined Soroptimist, a group of 18 business women. I enjoyed being part of it and learned from it.” She is now an emeritus member and her granddaughter, Lisa, has served as chapter President.

Sometime after Walter’s death, Idamae met John Schack, a widower who was in the concrete business, and they were married in 1966. “We had a lot of fun together.” They moved to Everett and she commuted to Auburn to work for nearly a decade. In 1985, she sold her business to her son Frank; at the time of this interview, he was retiring and her grandson Walter and granddaughter Lisa were about to take over its management.

When Idamae is asked about her accomplishments and legacy, she never mentions the substantial contributions of time and money that John and she have made to the Greater Everett Community Foundation, Everett Public Library, The Children’s Museum, Everett Symphony, Historic Everett Theater, and other community projects. Rather, she speaks with pride about her family.
As for her decision to run a sand and gravel company, her response is a masterpiece of understatement: “I just did it.” And, while it is clear she is happy that two of her grandchildren will continue to manage the company she and her husband established, what really brought a warm smile to her face was when she told me about her granddaughter Lisa and how—when she entered Business School at the University of Washington—she told her: “Grandma, I’m going to be just like you.”


Interview with Idamae Schack by Ann Duecy Norman and Robyn Johnson, June 2001
John Bellows Schack, Obituary, Herald, April 28, 2004
Brochure, The Everett Central Lions Club International Medal of Merit Award: John & Idamae Schack, November 10, 2000.
With appreciation to editors Robyn Johnson and Louise Lindgren and to Idamae’s daughter, Patty DeGroodt for suggestions and additions

© 2007 Ann Duecy Norman. All rights reserved; WLP Story #50

Tillie Winkler Robinson’s Letters Home

HOW WE ARE PROGRESSING: Tillie Winkler Robinson’s Letters Home
Edited by Ann Norman

Late in 1889, at about the time President Harrison was declaring Washington a state, Tillie Winkler and Tom Robinson were planning their wedding. In January of 1890, the newly weds boarded a train and, like hundreds of others, headed for “Oregon Country” and the opportunities they hoped to find. Tillie corresponded regularly with her family during that journey and the following years, sharing her perceptions and describing events that were important to her. Remarkably, several of these letters have been preserved.

Thanks to the generosity of the Robinson family and the archives of the Everett Public Library, we have access to this rare first person account of one woman’s journey from Germantown, Pennsylvania to the newly declared state of Washington. Through her letters, Tillie gives us her first impressions of Port Gardner where the “magic city” of Everett was about to emerge and she provides us with glimpses of turn-of-the-century everyday life..

A portrait of Tillie as a young woman, probably taken at about the time of her marriage and trip to the west coast. Courtesy Robinson family

The following excerpts from her correspondence focus on her journey across the country, her first glimpses of the Pacific Northwest and her early attempts at homemaking. They illustrate Tillie’s unique experiences and reveal some of the realities of late nineteenth-century frontier life as well as showing what the journey to Everett may have been like for other Snohomish County foremothers.

Jan 22, 1890: “Dear sister … We are doing bravely. There is a fine cook stove on the train and we bake potatoes & make tea & coffee. We saw the Allegheny Mts & it was lovely going through…. Cold last night but we are going south right soon now. Love to all and a big share of it from Tom & Till.”

Jan 24: “We stopped at Chattanoga & bought a coffee pot…The potatoes were the best thing we had, tell Kate & the butter was so good we have it all eaten but a little bit. The potatoes were finished last night. Tell mother the pears were splendid. They are half gone. We will soon be in New Orleans….The journey is not half as bad as I expected but every thing is black in the morning. The dust gets in at the windows….”

Jan 27: “We are still traveling over prairie land and it is very dusty. It is too warm to keep the windows shut so we must have the dirt. We are 187 ft below the level of the sea & see some lovely mirages…You might think you saw lots of water & trees & cattle, but for miles around there is no water or anything but cactus & grease wood & mesquite. It will be dark tonight when we get to Los Angeles.”

Jan 28: “ We have to go to San Francisco…we can’t get a car to Portland. There has been a wash out & we will quite likely go by steamer….You should have seen our car yesterday and day before….nothing…but dust all over everything. Now it is all right…. We hear very good accounts of Portland all along the route….The mountains are something I shall never forget so long as I live. It was grand, for hundreds of miles…. If I had time I could tell you so much… “

January 29 [San Francisco]: “We…are nicely fixed, a lovely room with red plush furniture and …marble top table, at which I am writing… Brussels carpet on the floor & and an open fire place all for $1.00 or.$2.00, we don’t know which yet…We have seen lots of Chinamen….I must keep all the folks informed about our doings. Tom don’t write. He did all the cooking on the train so we are square….”

February 5: “We are now in the great Portland and have still to find out if it is as great as represented….It is very wet…the river is very high up into some of the streets… we saw a cabin washed down the river yesterday….The trip up the Pacific was stormy and rough. We were tossed about dreadfully and after the first meal… did not appear at table until Monday breakfast, in our berths all day Sunday…poor Tom, he fared badly…. We could not get to see each other. We were very sea sick, but if I had known that the steward neglected him I would have crawled over to him….

…we dream of you as well as think of you often. We are not going to get home sick of course, we have enjoyed every thing (except the sea voyage) ever so much. The trip on the Columbia & Willamette was something lovely….the sun shone…we saw a rainbow very low & then reflected in the hills…. I would not have missed it for a great deal, the trip over the mts & prairies, it was something grand….There are some folks came on the boat with us….They want us to go to Tacoma with them. It is a better place than Portland & not so wet…. I wish we could hear from you, it has been such a long time now all of two weeks…”

May 21: “I have been to the [Tacoma] P.O. so much that I am getting tired of it and will be so glad when all my letters come…Tom is going to make a table right away & on Saturday we are going for the stove & some other things for our kitchen & as we have our blankets & sheets we may possibly manage to get a bed to sleep on until ours comes…” Later letters boast of their two large rooms, enumerate their growing possessions and lovingly praise the wooden china closet Tom is building (a piece of furniture that still remains a cherished Robinson family heirloom). Tillie marvels at the mountains and the mild climate and describes bouquets of wild roses and weekend excursions in a borrowed rowboat. In November, she announces baby Willie’s birth and later notes when Tom takes the baby to the grocery store to weigh him, that he’s doubled his birth weight to 22 pounds.

She outlines her husband’s dreams of owning a mill. When Tom abruptly loses his job, she tells about their moving to a remote “shanty” and marvels at how Tom repairs its badly damaged stovepipe. “Everything is topsy turvy, but as soon as Tom gets some shelves & pegs up, I will get things fixed up a bit.” She covers the floor with paper and a carpet to make it “warm and cozy”, loyally contends the tiny cabin will eventually “look much nicer that those two immense rooms” and brags that she is helping Tom cut down and saw the immense trees around the house. “We have a 6 foot double handed cross cut saw & it was such fun…. Tom and I are eating as heartily as we used to at picnics….” Willie is put in front of the window or bundled up and taken outside “to watch the sawing & he likes it immensely too.”

Tillie and Tom’s first Everett house can be seen in the center of this early 1892 photo, next to Parminter Robinson & Co. (sash and door factory,) at the foot of 24th Street Bayside. King and Baskerville photographers. Courtesy Everett Public Library

Two years later in August, Tillie writes about their first excursion to Snohomish County: “…we had a delightful trip.,,, a very large & new boat went up the Sound to Port Gardner, where Tom has two friends who are putting up a factory there. He thought he would go to see them & take them some stuff to eat, as they are doing their own cooking & don’t have things of the best & not much time to cook, it being a new town & only one store & a few houses….”
When the boat arrives at Port Gardner, they can’t land. “The wharf was not quite finished…we were very much disappointed, but we saw the place where the new city is to be. It is a beautiful town site. Did not see the men & had to bring our things back…” She reports they stopped briefly in Mukilteo and Willie “played with the pebbles & enjoyed himself for all he was worth….”

In her next letter, Tillie tells her sister they plan to go to Port Gardner “as soon as possible…”. Existing correspondence does not indicate when that was, but the next letter in the collection, the only one written by Tom, was mailed from Everett on October 30, 1892. It was to Tillie’s sister Laura, announcing the arrival of their second son and assuring the family that Tillie and the baby were “resting nicely”. It was written on Parminter, Robinson & Co. letterhead.

Subsequent letters and family stories indicate that in addition to caring for her babies, cooking, sewing, gardening and maintaining a frontier home, Tillie became an active force in her church and ran a boarding house to supplement the family’s income. Eventually, as hoped, some of her sisters joined her in Everett. Later letters describe their active social lives and many suitors, along with her perceptions of Everett’s early economic and natural disasters. Tillie lived until 1957 and is fondly remembered as the beloved grandmother and matriarch of her extended family.

Tillie Winkler Robinson and grandchildren. Courtesy Robinson family

Sources: Tillie Winkler Robinson’s Letters and Postcards in Everett Public Library archives; Interview with Tillie’s great grandchildren, Dick Robinson and Terry Fithro.

© 2007 Ann Norman All Rights Reserved;  (WLP Story #41)

Lillie Hayes Radley

by Betty Lou Gaeng

There are many wonderful stories of Snohomish County women who have led lives that have made a difference and inspired us in many ways. However, there were others who were little noted. They were the women native to this area. They were born here before the white men came—before the treaties. Even though little is recorded about them, their fight for survival, their successes and failures led the way for the women who followed. One of these native women was Lillie Hayes Radley.

Lillie Hayes Radley

Lillie was born, as she would say, a long time ago. She was a full blood Indian woman living during a time when it was not easy being female or Indian. Lillie’s story is not a happy fairy tale. Her prince charming turned out to be neither princely, nor charming. She was a victim of the time, and her life ended much too soon.

Lillie never became famous. She never learned to read or write. She never had the chance to become active in a community. Most of the time, she was just known as Lillie or Lilly, and it was a battle just to survive. She had no rights, and no one to protect her. Circumstances forced her to eventually turn the care of her daughter over to others. She hardly knew her grandchildren, and never knew that she had great grandchildren. Lillie would be surprised to learn she has a great-great-granddaughter who respects her, and wanted to learn more about her great-great-grandmother. Because of this caring descendant, some of Lillie’s story has unfolded.

The young native women of today have many opportunities. They can go to school, and on to college. They can have careers—they have many choices. Lillie had none of these advantages. Even so, Lillie and many other native women influenced the early development of Snohomish County. They were often used, abandoned, and little is known of them. However, they are part of this county’s history.

James Hayes
There is no record of Lillie’s life before the 1860s. Census records indicate she may have been born about 1843. She had a sister, but what had become of their parents is unknown. Like so many of the young native woman in the Puget Sound area during the early 1860s, when the white men began arriving to work in the woods, Lillie met and married one of them. His name was James Hayes and he came from a culture foreign to Lillie. In fact, he came from the other side of the country—New York City.

Carrie Hayes Tilton

Many of these men coming to this primitive forested land took Indian wives, either by legal marriage, according to native ways, or by cohabiting. Most came from the well-settled areas of the East Coast and some from England and Scotland. They had no knowledge of survival in this wilderness land. Much of that survival was taught to them by their Indian wives. These ladies knew the ways of living off the land, and how harsh and unforgiving the damp and cold winters could be. They had been taught to be hard working, knowledgeable of the environment, and obedient. Some of these marriages survived and others did not. Some of the native women adjusted to the foreign ways, were respected by their husbands, and became active in the developing communities. They taught their children the ways of living in a different cultural environment, enabling the generations that followed to take part in the building of communities.
Lillie and James were legally married according to Washington Territory’s 1866 law. Lillie’s name appears as Caroline Lily on the marriage certificate. Lillie and James Hayes were married by a justice of the peace at James’ home in Monroe, Snohomish County, Washington Territory on May 14, 1867, with John Elwell and Charles Harriman as witnesses. At the same time, these two witnesses, friends of James, also married young Indian women. John Elwell married Sarah Smith and Charles Harriman married Elizabeth Pero. The Harrimans and Elwells had solid, long-lasting marriages. This was not to be for Lillie and James Hayes.
A daughter, Catherine Hayes who was known as Katie and sometimes Carrie, had been born to Lillie and James in 1863. Throughout most of the years of this marriage, James Hayes did not provide for the care of his wife and daughter. They lived near Monroe and then in Snohomish City near the homestead of John Harvey and his family.

In April of 1879, Lillie divorced James Hayes citing his abandonment of both her and their daughter, and also his addiction to drinking. In the divorce papers, Lillie stated “I have one child Katie Hays…she is at John Harvey’s across the river, she has been there for a long time.” Lillie asked the court to allow that John Harvey be the guardian of daughter Katie. The divorce was granted on April 22, 1879, and it was ordered and adjudged that Katie Hayes, the child of James and Lillie Hayes, be left in the custody of Mr. and Mrs. Harvey. Carrie Hayes Tilton

Lillie went to live near the Jimmicums/Chimicums south of Monroe, where she labored at field work. About 1881, Lillie married for a second time. This time she made a better choice. She married Englishman Joseph Radley.

Lillie and Joseph’s marriage was to be a short one. Lillie had a long illness and died Friday, October 9, 1885 at approximately 40 years of age. Joseph Radley cared for his wife with the help of friend and neighbor Mrs. George Allen. After Lillie’s death he wrote to daughter Katie. Katie (now called Carrie) was married to Oliver Tilton, and living in Clearbrook, Whatcom County.

Lillies Descendants

Lillie’s son-in-law Oliver Tilton surrounded by Lillie’s surviving grandchildren and great grandchildren. This photo was taken about 1912 or 1913, and shows Oliver Tilton with his and Catherine/Carrie’s children still living at the time. Betty Muzzall’s grandmother is the one in the back row on the right–Stella Tilton Swanson. Lillie Hayes Radley is buried at Priest Point Cemetery on the Tulalip Indian Reservation, near her sister who had died seven months before Lillie’s death. However, no grave markers have been found for them. Joseph Radley went back to living alone and died in 1889 at the age of 38. He is buried at Mukilteo Cemetery—a headstone marks his grave.
Lillie’s daughter Catherine/Carrie Hayes Tilton died from a bout of measles in May of 1898 at the age of 34. She is buried at Clearbrook Cemetery next to her husband Oliver. Through this daughter, Lillie has a long list of descendants.
James Hayes never married again. In spite of his admitted love for whiskey, James lived a long time, dying in Monroe in 1920 at the advanced age of 95. James Hayes is buried at the Monroe Memorial Cemetery.
If Lillie were around today, she would no doubt be proud of her large family, and especially the great-great-granddaughter who wanted to know more about Lillie and her life. Also, Lillie would assuredly be pleased at the advancements made by other native women. Lillie didn’t have the chance, but she helped in leading the way.

Family photos, letters, and documents provided by Betty Muzzal, gr-gr-granddaughter of Lillie Hayes Radley. These have been used with her permission.
Washington Territorial and State census records.
U. S. Federal Census Records.
Information from the Washington Digital Archives < >
Cemetery information from < >
Article from the Everett Daily Herald, March 1, 1913.
© 2010 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 65

Jennie Gertrude “Gertie” Perrin

By Betty Lou Gaeng

“If I’m going out in the sticks, I’m going to start me a town.”  With those words spoken in 1938 to her husband Carl, feisty Gertie Perrin and her husband moved to the sticks—a few miles northeast of their comfortable home in downtown Edmonds.  Inspired to become a town founder, Gertie went to the courthouse in Everett and paid 10 cents to register a name for their acreage.  With this act by Gertie Perrin, the community of Perrinville was born.

Jennie Gertrude Osborn was born in Nind, Missouri, a small town located in the southwest section of Adair County.  She was the second child born to William and Mary Osborn.  Eventually, the Osborn home was filled with children. Zelpha, Jennie Gertrude, Sherman and Charles were born while the family was in Missouri.  William was born in Colorado.  Thomas, Dora and Penny were born after the family settled in California.

Gertie was eight years old when Mr. Osborn, a carpenter and a man who liked to travel, had the urge to move to California.  So, the family packed their belongings and headed west.  After a short stay in Colorado for the birth of William, the Osborns continued their westward trek.  Reaching California, they settled down in Redwood, Santa Clara County. Thus, in 1906 when the disastrous earthquake struck San Francisco, they were living a few miles south and east.  From their yard, Gertie and her family watched as the flames and smoke arose from the stricken town.  During an interview with Gertie which was published in “Centennial Profile” on page 46 of Edmonds, 100 Years for the Gem of Puget Sound (1990), she spoke of her remembrance of their house shaking a great deal, but no serious damage was done.

While living in California, Gertie had a very short teenage marriage to a young man with the last name of Warren.  In April of 1910 when the federal census was taken, Gertie was living with her parents; she was listed as Jennie G. Warren, age 16, and she had been married for six months. It was evidently a very short marriage. When Mr. Osborn got another urge to move on, Jennie (or Gertie as she preferred) was again Gertie Osborn with no hubby tagging along.

As Gertie said, her father liked to travel.  When Gertie was 17 years old and before 1910 came to an end, their new home was along the shores of Puget Sound in Edmonds, Snohomish County in the state of Washington.  Mr. Osborn must have been satisfied with this move as Edmonds became the family’s final home.  Many of Gertie’s family now are at rest in historic Edmonds Memorial Cemetery.

On January 4, 1913, Gertie, now almost 20 years old, decided to try married life once again.  In Everett she married another Edmonds resident, 25-year old Andrew A. Henson.  Andrew was from Illinois and employed as a sawyer at one of the numerous sawmills dotting the waterfront of Edmonds.

Prior to this marriage and following, Gertie, never long idle, waited tables and cooked.  In 1918 she was cooking at the old Bishop Hotel at Second and Bell in Edmonds.  However, another divorce ended her marriage to Andrew Henson.  By 1930 Gertie was once again single.  It was at that time she met 36-year old Carl Perrin, a newcomer to Edmonds.  Carl was born in Greenwood, Arkansas and as a young man lived in Idaho and Eastern Washington with his widowed mother. He spoke of having been a Spokane police officer for five years. After moving to Edmonds, Carl became the manager of a restaurant and Gertie was a waitress.  On April 2, 1931 in Seattle, Gertie (Osborn) Henson and Carl Perrin married.  Carl O. “Skip” Perrin, Jr., the couple’s only child, was born June 18, 1932.

Gertie often said she had been cooking since she was nine years old.  She must have enjoyed it as through the years Gertie operated or managed at least five restaurants in Edmonds.  She also had one of the first antique shops in town.  She then owned and managed a doll shop which she called “Gertie’s Doll Hospital.”  Her business was destroyed by a fire in 1945.

Carl PerrinIn 1946 Gertie encouraged her friend Helen Reynolds to open a photography shop in Edmonds on the same property where Gertie once had a restaurant. In order to promote her talent as a photographer, Helen Reynolds displayed a striking photograph of Gertie’s husband Carl Perrin in the window of her studio on Main Street in Edmonds.

After purchasing 5-acre lots on three corners of the area that Gertie named Perrinville, the couple soon learned the lots were actually only three and one-half acres each.  However, Gertie and Carl eventually acquired a total of 35 acres for their community of Perrinville.  As shown by her vast business interests, Gertie was never idle, she not only established her “town” but she kept busy with her other enterprises in Edmonds.  Carl also had his own business interest—Perrinville Roofing Company.

Cutting down trees from a nearby hill on their property, Gertie and Carl used the logs to build their first home at Perrinville. Eventually they would build and live in several different residences.  As the years passed, Gertie promoted the concept of Perrinville as a solid investment for business interests and an eclectic assortment of enterprises soon developed on the corners at Olympic View Drive and 76th Avenue West.  The Perrins also built a garage/gas station and sold part of their property for the construction of a grocery store.

After 34 years of marriage, Gertie became a widow with the death of Carl on June 9, 1965.  Now without her partner, the always unsinkable Gertie continued to promote the ambience of Perrinville.  In later years, a very noticeable car washing business flourished at the old garage building on the southwest corner of Perrinville.  Featuring shapely scantily-clad young women as the car-washers, this business almost caused a few wrecks as drivers took their eyes off the road to take in the action.  Perrinville, like its founder, has always been unusual.

In recent times, a colorful painting of a clown brought a bit of fame to the old garage building.  The garage-art on the north side of the abandoned building was the work of a talented but unknown artist and was another eye-catcher for those traveling along Olympic View Drive.  The painting is gone now and the old garage is once again just an unadorned and abandoned building.
Gertie Perrin
As the years passed all of Gertie’s Perrinville property was sold except the house where she lived until her death at the age of 98.  She died on October 4, 1991—feisty to the end.  Their son Carl died May 18, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada, his home for many years.

Gertie lived long enough to see a partial realization of her dream of a town. Even though Perrinville never became an actual town, in 1990 the Perrinville Postal Service, Perrinville Carrier Facility, Edmonds, WA 98026 opened for business.  In the eyes of the federal government, Perrinville became an official place name.

Perrinville near Edmonds WAThrough the years Perrinville has remained a viable entity as a community of businesses and homes.  For many decades Gertie’s inspirational “town” has been a well-known landmark, its lands now shared by the cities of Edmonds and Lynnwood.


“Centennial Profile,” Edmonds: 100 Years for the Gem of Puget Sound (1990).  Published by The Edmonds Paper and the Edmonds Historical Museum.
Carl Perrin’s obituary, the Edmonds Tribune-Review, Wednesday, June 16, 1965.
Gertie Perrin’s obituary, The Seattle Times, October 5, 1991.
U.S. Federal census and vital records,
Washington State Digital Archives, Death and Marriage Records.
The author’s personal remembrances.

© 2010  Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

Mabel Boyes Neisinger

Long Time resident of Monroe Washington

By Gail Dillaway

Mabel Boyes Neisinger was born on June 5th, 1916 in Edmonton, Alberta where her father was a school teacher and her mother was a “stay at home” mom. Mabel grew up during a challenging time that included the Great Depression and a major war, World War II. In spite of the challenges she encountered, Mabel was able to earn an education with top honors, achieve a career, and balance family needs while holding down a variety of jobs. Mabel Boyes Neisinger is an example of a woman who was able to change with the times and find opportunities in the midst of challenges. She was an example of the strong resilient women who populate this country.

For most of his life, Mabel’s father was involved in the horse and livery stable business. In 1919, the family moved to Bencough, Canada where her father owned a livery stable. Here Mabel’s brother, John Robert (Bob), was born. In 1922 the family moved to Shelby, Montana where her father did custom farm work. Mabel’s Aunt owned a laundry and a large farm in Shelby, a reason that the family was drawn to the area. In 1923 Mabel’s second brother, William Hugh (Bill) was born and a year later Mabel’s father, Charles, moved his growing family to Monroe, Washington where he was hired as a teamster at the Great Northern Fruit Farm, one of the largest employers in Monroe at that time. There in 1926, another brother, Mervin Russell (Merv) was born. In 1927 a job offer for Mabel’s father, Charles, led the family to return to Shelby, Montana. In 1929, another brother, Calvin Richard (Cal), was born and in that same year a job offer from a friend, James Stirton, brought the family back to the Monroe area for the final time so that Charles could become a partner in a large chicken farm. The farm was located on South Lewis Street and to the West was the Great Northern Berry Farm where Mabel’s father cared for the teams of horses and cultivated the fields.

From 1929 the family was permanently located in Monroe. Mabel started public school late due to illness and at first was home schooled by her father who had a teaching background. In Monroe she attended Monroe Central Grade School which had been built the same year Mabel was born, 1916. As a young girl, Mabel was a Mother’s helper, taking care of their growing family. From time to time her mother worked at various jobs to help support the family leaving Mabel in charge. Mabel was not only busy with chores and child care but she was always busy tutoring her brothers since she was an excellent student. Mable even tutored some of her classmates. One of these classmates, Emil Anderson, said that he would never have made it into college or even through high school without Mabel’s help. She was especially skilled at Mathematics. Mabel was named Valedictorian of her Monroe High School graduating class in 1936. As a teenager Mabel also worked picking berries, weeding and helping with the harvest at the Great Northern Berry Farm. She also remembers working at the Frye Lettuce Farm, a large employer in Monroe, for 10 cents an hour for 10 hours of work.

Mabel Neisinger Class Picture as Valedictorian

One of Mabel’s closest friends while she was growing up was the daughter of the Superintendent of the Great Northern Berry Farm, Sue Stewart. Sue had a pony that she and Mabel rode double to various places including Snohomish. Mabel remembers many hours of fun riding the pony with Sue. In 1929 The Great Depression quickly spread across the country and affected Monroe as well. It became increasingly difficult to find jobs in the area, especially for young women.

When Mabel graduated in 1936 from high school, she took a job as a nanny for Mr. Honzell’s family in Everett. Since Mr. Honzell was the superintendent of Robinson’s Plywood Company, he was quite wealthy. Working for the Honzell family allowed Mabel to attend Everett Business College. She was one of the state’s fastest typing and short hand students and in recognition received a Palmer Certificate. Armed with her experience from Everett Business College, she was able to successfully land a job in 1938 with the Washington State Employment Office in Everett. Mabel returned home to live with her family and to help out after her father Charles died of a heart attack in 1937 at the age of 61. She helped her family and was an example for her brothers. With Mabel’s encouragement her brother Bob graduated from high school in 1937, Bill in 1941, Merv in 1945 and Calvin in 1947.

Mabel was married to Fred Neisinger on July 25, 1942, just before he joined the Air Force. Fred was stationed several places while in training to be an airplane mechanic and Mabel was able to find work nearby. In 1943 Fred was sent overseas to Northern Africa and then to Italy and Mabel returned home to once again live with the family in Monroe. Fred was discharged in 1945 and in 1946 Mabel and Fred built their home on North Dickensen Street where Mabel still lives today. The one acre site was given to them by Frank Wagner and was located next to Frank Wagner Elementary. Mabel and Fred had two children, a daughter, Suzanne, born in 1946 and a son, Steven, born in 1949. In 1960 Fred died of a heart attack. Mabel returned to work at the office of the State Reformatory in Monroe where she censored mail and performed office work to support her family. She retired in 1980. For the next two years she took care of her mother who was suffering from dementia until her mother eventually passed away.

Mabel’s life spans almost a hundred years over which time she has been forced to deal with a series of difficult situations. Moving frequently in the 1920s, followed by the Great Depression and World War II all took their toll on Mabel. Three of her brothers and her husband all served in World War II causing much anxiety for the family. The death of her husband in 1960 and worry over her son’s service as a marine in Vietnam were sources of stress. Her mother’s dementia was a challenge along with having to help raise multiple grandchildren. She even had to work out a conflict with the City of Monroe over a drain field at her home which eventually cost her almost $100,000. Throughout all of this, Mabel continued to work hard to support her family. Mabel is a woman of many talents and was able to balance several working careers with the challenges of supporting a family. Her determination and drive helped her to succeed. At 98 1/2, Mabel remains active in the community. Weekly she walks a mile to have breakfast at Denny’s and then to shop at the local Fred Meyer store. Mabel represents a woman who embraced the idea of hard work and active living, a philosophy she continues to hold today.


Gail Dilliway interview with Mabel Boyes, January 2015.
Gail Dilliway interview with Mervin Boyes, December 2014.
“Great Crowd on Hand Honor H.S. Graduates,”. Monroe Monitor, June 12, 1936.
© Gail Dillaway 2015 All Rights Reserved  WLP Story #79

Ruth Morrice

Part 2 of Ruth Morrice and her pioneer early life; continued from WLP Story #19

By Betty Lou Gaeng

Ruth Morrice portrait

The obituary for Ruth Morrice (WLP Story No. 19) presented a small glimpse into the life of this unusual woman, but there is much more, and if she were still with us, what a story Ruth could tell us.

As her obituary shows, Ruth was born December 13, 1901. A copy of her actual birth return tells a much fuller story of her entrance into the Morrice family. The return states: Ruth Morrice, was born five miles east of Edmonds, Snohomish County, Washington; fourth child born to Elizabeth Stevenson [Stephenson] and William Morrice. It is signed by R. L. Chase, M.D. of Edmonds, a doctor who served the entire area of South Snohomish County during its early days.

Ruth’s aunt Jennie Hunter, her mother’s sister, lived a short distance from the Morrice family, westward and up the hill on the 80-acre homestead of the Duncan Hunter family–another pioneer family on land that would become part of Alderwood Manor, and then Lynnwood.

Ruth had an older sister and brother, Jessie and William Jr. Another sister, Ruby Agnes, the eldest child in the family, died in 1899 at the age of nine from an inflammation and gangrene.

Log House of Morrice Family

Ruth’s birthplace, the 160-acre homestead of her parents, today is a bustling collection of stores and other businesses. It is a place where hundreds of cars can be seen in the parking lots each day. Their owners gather to shop, attend the movies, or eat at the variety of restaurants. Opened six years after Ruth’s death, this is Alderwood, the largest shopping mall in Snohomish County.

At the mall people can shop at the flagship stores of Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Penney’s and Sears, or at any of the vast array of smaller shops which are part of this huge complex. Teenagers find it a great place to gather and meet with friends, and of course there is the huge movie complex where all the latest movies are available. Each morning before the stores are open for business, walkers make use of the protection from the weather as they stroll amid the still barred businesses. We can only wonder what Ruth would think of her birthplace if she could see it today.

Ruth was a woman born too soon. She was an independent woman who would fit perfectly into our world of today. As noted, Ruth never married. Her picture shows her as a very pretty girl, so we can assume she had beaus and the opportunity for marriage. Rumors have abounded that as a young lady she was in love with her long-time beau, and that this man whom she expected to marry, broke her heart when he chose another as his mate.

Maple Leaf schoolchildren

However, there is a possibility that she yearned for someone else entirely. As a young girl attending the old Maple Leaf School, before the community was named Alderwood Manor, she had a very good friend, a classmate whom she had known all her life, David Ward Reid. In the c. 1916 picture of the school children, Ruth is the second girl (left to right) and David is the boy next to her. In 1920, while working as a stump blaster on Puget Mill Company land near Hall’s Lake in the nearby community of Cedar Valley, David lost his life. He was only 20 years old. David’s death must have been a great tragedy for Ruth.

Another, and a very possible reason may be that Ruth always found life as a single woman much more suitable. After all, as her obituary states, she often had a houseful of the children belonging to her family and friends to enjoy. She also had her long-time service at the post office and her friends at Eastern Star, many of whom she had known for a lifetime; she had many hobbies, and she enjoyed traveling. Her life was always a busy one.
After her mother’s death in 1934 and having lived all her life on the property where she was born, Ruth decided to make a change. In 1936, she hired carpenters to build a house for her on property left to her by her uncle, Duncan Hunter. Emil Stadler, a local man, was one of those men who worked on the construction. Built on Spruce Way (now Lynnwood’s 40th Street West), her new home was adjacent to her Hunter cousins’ land–only a short distance from her childhood home place.

Ruth was living in this house on Spruce Way when the 1940 U.S. Federal Census was taken. Released to the public on April 2, 2012, the 1940 census furnished information regarding income from 1939 employment. Ruth listed her income for that year as $720 from her work as a clerk for the U.S. Postal Service, plus other resources. A very meager salary compared to the earnings in today’s world.

On Sunday, February 4, 1973, while at home and sitting in her favorite chair, Ruth died at the age of 71.

Ruth Morrice’s Lynnwood home, surrounded by tall evergreens, still stands today. The current owners of the house realize and respect the fact that they are living in the former home of an icon of the historic community of Alderwood Manor.


Photo of log cabin birthplace of Ruth Morrice used with permission of Alderwood Manor Heritage Society from Images of America Alderwood Manor by Marie Little, Kevin K. Stadler and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association (2006), Arcadia Publishing.
Photo of school children and teacher courtesy of Mary (Reid) Emerson, niece of David Reid.
Birth Return for Ruth Morrice – Washington State Digital Archives.
Death Return for Ruby Agnes Morrice – Washington State Digital Archives.
Information from Karl Stadler and Halide (Lobdell) Patterson, residents of the community who knew Ruth Morrice personally.
Death information regarding David Ward Reid—The Tribune-Review, Edmonds, Washington.
1940 U.S. Federal Census –
Photo of a young Ruth Morrice — From the Northwest Room Collection, Everett Public Library.
© 2012 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story Number 72 ~  (see part 1 (WLP Story # 19)


Ida Noyes McIntire, M. D.

By Sandra Schumacher
Ida Noyes could have easily moved into the eastern blueblood society that enticed so many young women who were in her position. Instead she chose a life of human service both in education and in medicine. By the time she was born in Rhode Island in 1859, her family had been in this country over two hundred years settling first in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1634. Her paternal ancestors numbered several who chose the life of Minister and most graduated from Harvard University. The Rev. James Noyes, also a Harvard Graduate, was one of the first trustees and founders of Yale University.

It should come as no surprise that there is little written about the accomplishments of her maternal ancestors, except for the poor Margaret Noyes who was declared a Witch. This fate would not fall upon Ida Noyes whose parents were on the move: by 1860 they were in Stowe, Maine and by 1864, Detroit Michigan where she attended primary school, high school and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1881.

Ida Noyes experienced a pivotal moment while a student at the university. Her chosen field was Journalism, but while studying the Latin/Scientific course, she became interested in the field of medicine. Following her graduation, she taught in the Detroit public schools for five years while she continued studying medicine at the Michigan Medical College.

Soon she married B.N. Beaver and they moved to Dayton Ohio. There she became active in the W.C.T.U. and became an important public speaker on their behalf. She was one of three women who helped found ‘Bethany Home’….a refuge for “repentant and outcast women.” Ida had not forgotten her love of medicine and her desire to heal, so she entered Woman’s Hospital Medical College in Chicago, a department of Northwestern University, and received her M.D. degree in March 1891. She interned at the Woman’s Hospital for a few months, then moved to Denver Colorado and began the practice of medicine where she specialized in the diseases of women.

It was Denver’s altitude that provided the impetus for her to move after divorcing Mr. Beaver and remarrying the ex-governor of Colorado, Albert W. McIntire. They spent a few years in Cleveland Ohio before settling in Everett Washington in 1901, where Dr. McIntire opened her medical practice and private hospital at 3129 Colby. She actively worked in the successful Washington women’s 1910 campaign for suffrage. McIntire spoke to groups, helped gain continuing press coverage for the cause and frequently opened her clinic office for meetings of the Everett Suffrage Club.
Ida Noyes McIntire was known as a highly gifted woman, active in local charities who considered human service life’s highest calling, just as many of her New England male ancestors had two centuries before. Her decision to serve in the medical field was courageous considering the era in which she lived. When she died in 1932, it was no surprise that she left the bulk of her estate for the welfare of retired Congregational Church ministers in the state of Washington. It was her final tribute to her remarkable family and the last act of human service from a woman who lead the way for other female doctors in our community, and a person who exemplified leadership qualities that all can aspire to.

1860 Federal Census, Stowe, Maine

Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs: Noyes, Schenectady NY History

Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, by Shiach, Eilliam Sidney eds. pub 1906 page 905

Issues of the Everett Daily Herald, and the Labor Journal and Votes for Women, 1909-1910.

Obituary, The Everett Daily Herald, June 29, 1932

© 2008 By Sandra Schumacher All Rights Reserved;  WLP Story #49