Frances E. Anderson

Frances Anderson in 1911

Edmonds School District’s Legend

By Betty Lou Gaeng

Frances Anderson was four years old when she first set eyes on the little mill town of Edmonds in south Snohomish County. Until her death on Saturday, June 2, 1990 at the age of 99, Edmonds was her town. As Miss Anderson always emphasized, there was no place else on earth she wanted to live. She did a lot of traveling throughout the United States and the rest of the world, but Edmonds along the shores of Puget Sound was always home.

Frances Anderson was born in Drummond, Granite County, Montana on November 16, 1890. Her parents, Charles J. Anderson and Jennie Potts were both born in Ontario, Canada, as was her eldest brother, Lorne Bruce Anderson. Her younger brother Otto was born in Anacortes in 1892. The family lived in Anacortes and then Snohomish before moving to Edmonds in 1895. Miss Anderson’s father was an employee of the Great Northern Railroad and it was his work which influenced the family’s relocation from Montana to Washington in 1891.

Anderson Home

Jennie Anderson’s brother, William J. Potts, a lifetime bachelor, also moved to Edmonds at the same time as the Andersons. He was a long-time employee of Great Northern Railroad and served as the company’s station agent in Edmonds for many years. In 1910, he traveled to England to finalize the legal papers for a sizable inheritance the Potts family received in that country. William Potts was living with his sister at the time his death in 1931.

Frances Anderson’s father, a track walker for Great Northern Railroad, was killed late in the evening of March 17, 1907 when he was struck by the Vancouver Flyer on the tracks near Edmonds. Sometime after his death, the family’s commodious home on North Second between Bell and Edmonds Streets, became a rooming house.

In the early 1930s, Frances Anderson and her mother owned a small house on North Fourth Avenue in Edmonds. Mrs. Jennie (Potts) Anderson died March 7, 1936 at the age of 74. For several years after her mother’s death, Miss Anderson shared her home with her friend and traveling companion Gwen Shakespeare, a fellow teacher at Edmonds Grade School. Theirs was a friendship that would last a lifetime. See: WLP Story No. 59 for more about Gwendolyn Shakespeare.

Frances Anderson’s schooling, career choice, and varied interests.

No name is more closely associated with education in Edmonds than that of Frances Anderson. She not only received the major part of her schooling in Edmonds, she also went on to have a 42-year career as an educator and administrator in the Edmonds School District.

At age 5, she was enrolled at Edmonds Grade School and except for spending a short time in the seventh grade at Richmond Beach where the family had a temporary home, Miss Anderson continued her education in Edmonds.

Frances Anderson was one of seven in the 1911 graduating class of Edmonds High School; the second class to graduate from the new school. The building, now the Edmonds Center for the Arts, is located at Fourth and Daley in Edmonds, and was built on land donated by the town’s founder, George Brackett.

Edmonds Grade School

During her high school years, Miss Anderson was a member of the girls’ basketball team.

A very talented athlete, Miss Anderson continued in that field after she entered the University of Washington in 1913. While there, she became the third woman to ever win three varsity letters. Those letters were in baseball, track and basketball. She also excelled in hockey and golf. Long after her school days, Miss Anderson continued her love of golf.

By 1916, Miss Anderson had made the decision to become a teacher. When a friend became part of the staff at Wisconsin’s Whitewater State Normal College (later known as the University of Wisconsin), Miss Anderson transferred to that school. She completed her education in Wisconsin and graduated during 1917 with a degree in primary education.

Miss Anderson returned to Edmonds from Wisconsin following her 1917 graduation and was immediately hired as second-grade teacher at Edmonds Grade School at $750 per year.

In 1924, she was appointed by the school board as principal of the school. She remained as principal for 25 years, and except for the last 10 years of her tenure as an administrator, she also taught second grade.

Second Grade Teacher Frances Anderson

In 1949, Miss Anderson requested that she be relieved from her position as principal. In the fall of that year, she returned to her favorite occupation, teaching the children in second grade. When she retired 10 years later after 42 years of teaching at Edmonds Grade School, Miss Anderson joked that she had taught a lot of second graders, then their children, and thought “I’d better get out before I start getting the grandchildren.”

On the occasion of her retirement, Miss Anderson received letters from the White House, Governor Rosellini’s office and many old friends and associates. Edmonds High School principal, G. Mason Hall, presented her with a lifetime pass to all high school athletic events. Since the days when she had been a star athlete at Edmonds High School, she had never lost her interest in sports.

Teaching never kept Miss Anderson so busy that she didn’t have time to participate in other activities. She began her interest in community affairs as early as 1910. While still a high school student, she was elected as the first president of the Edmonds Improvement Club. Soon after returning home from college, she became a leader for the Junior Camp Fire Girls. Later, she held every office in the local American Legion Auxiliary, and in 1927 she attended the American Legion’s International Convention in Paris, France. She was a 50-year plus member of the Eastern Star; a member of Delta Kappa Gamma (a teachers’ sorority); and an Edmonds Library board member. Miss Anderson was a member of the Edmonds First Methodist Church and the Snohomish County Historical Society.

Gardening was another of her favorite pastimes and in 1937, she was awarded third-prize in a garden beautiful contest. Her little home was always immaculate, and she was often seen there, working in her garden.

Frances Anderson’s interest in life was eclectic, and she never lost her zest for living life to the fullest.

In 1984, she was honored by her peers when she was the first person to be awarded the title of Edmonds School District’s “Living Legend.”

Without doubt, the greatest honor bestowed on Frances Anderson followed the closing of the doors of the old Edmonds Grade School (Edmonds Elementary) in 1972. The school, located in the downtown area at Seventh and Main, was experiencing reduced enrollment, making it dispensable. Reopening its doors in 1979, the old school had been altered for a new use, and was renamed the Frances E. Anderson Cultural and Leisure Center. The Center, now home to the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, is the site for many activities and events, such as fitness classes, cultural arts, recreation, and sports programs, plus numerous other activities. The Center adjoins the library, and is a very popular place for people of all ages.

Frances Anderson spent the last months of her life in a nursing home. Gwen Shakespeare, a faithful friend to the end, had received power of attorney to oversee Miss Anderson’s concerns and needs.

After Miss Anderson’s death, a memorial was held at the United Methodist Church in Edmonds. Following the memorial services, Miss Shakespeare brought closure to a remarkable woman’s life: “That’s the end of it,” she said. “She’s gone, closing the door on an era.” Frances Anderson was entombed at View Crest Abbey in Everett, Washington

For those of us who as children knew her, Miss Anderson will always be remembered as a compassionate second-grade teacher, or as the stern, but kind-hearted school principal behind the office door at Edmonds Grade School.

Sources: All photos are the property of the Edmonds Historical Museum and used with their permission.

  • Everett Daily Herald, March 18, 1907 (Front page).
  • Tribune-Review, Edmonds, Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 1910 and Tuesday, Dec. 2, 1910.
  • Tribune-Review, Edmonds, Washington, Thursday, June 4, 1959.
  • Everett Daily Herald, June 4, 7 and 9, 1990.
    http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/anderson.stm
  • Washington Digital Archives—Death records.
  • Records held at Sno-Isle Genealogical Society, Lynnwood, Washington.
  • A personal discussion with Gwendolyn Shakespeare regarding her friend.
    Story Number 71 in series

© 2011 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

Nina Blackman Bakeman

Snohomish Teacher and Civic Leader (1862-1941)
Story #62
By Frances Wood
The letter read, “We offer you the position of primary teacher in the [Snohomish] grammar school commencing February 1886 . . . [the pay] will be $45 or $50 a month and a chance for a raise.
These few words radically altered the life of 23-year-old Nina Blackman. They prompted her to leave her family, her fiancé and a teaching position in California, and move 1,000 miles north to a small mill town in Washington Territory. A letter from Nina’s brother Arthur, who had moved to Snohomish two months earlier, encouraged her further. “I like this place first rate . . . there are a good many stumps but that doesn’t matter. They ought to call this place Blackman City there are so many of them here.”
Nina Blackman was born in 1862 in Bangor, Maine, to George and Frances (Eddy) Blackman. She was descended from a long line of Maine Yankees, the earliest of whom arrived in America in 1624, only four years after the Mayflower pilgrims. Nina’s interest in teaching sprouted at an early age. She later wrote, “Ever since a small child, I had always declared an intention of being a teacher.”
When Nina was nine, the family moved to Saginaw, Michigan. Five years later, they relocated again, this time across the country to Oakland, California, where Nina’s father accepted a position with the National Cash Register Company. Nina graduated from Oakland High School in 1883.

She studied at a normal school, faced the county teachers’ examination board and, although nervous as a scared rabbit, passed with a certificate to teach primary school. She was hired to teach in a one-room schoolhouse in Arroyo Valle District, in Livermore Valley. She wrote, “I found the pupils and the parents pleasant and agreeable but with all my heart would [ache to] go back to my home in Oakland.” One assumes that much of that ache was for her brother and parents, but there was also in the picture a gentleman, to whom she had become engaged. Nina resigned her teaching position but instead of returning to Oakland, she curiously accepted the teaching position in Snohomish.
A month later the blast of the steamer’s whistle gathered the town to the wharf for Nina’s arrival. Among the assembled townsfolk was Charles H. Bakeman, likely intrigued about the town’s newest resident. Charles had moved to Snohomish three years earlier from Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and began to grow his woodworking business. He built the first buggy in the region and also ran a mercantile outlet for his furniture.
As Charles watched Nina disembark, he uttered the most quoted words in the Blackman/Bakeman family history, “I’m going to marry her and buy her a sky-blue dress to match her eyes.”
In an unfinished novel based on Nina’s early life in Snohomish, her daughter Frances Bakeman Hodge described how she imagined the scene as Nina stepped off the steamer.
“[Nina} . . . seemed fragile in figure and pastel in color. Her cream-colored hair under the soft pearly gray bonnet was like the finely spun curls of a young child. Her features and skin were soft and childlike too, but the expression in her blue eyes was not that of an immature girl. She returned the curious scrutiny of the people on the dock with the calm glance of a poised woman.”
The school consisted of two, side-by-side, small white buildings, one room each. Nina taught 44 pupils from ages five to fifteen. Struggling with all the problems of undisciplined students she wrote, “As they came straggling in before school began and started to play tag in the room, I was convinced I had my hands full. One or two strikes of the ponderous bell which stood on my desk and a word from me served to quiet them.”
Following her first term, the Snohomish County Superintendent selected Nina to present her teaching methods before the Territorial Institute held at Seattle. Nervous and humbled, she stood before a crowd of teachers “many of them old and experienced in the work, to present my simple ways of teaching.”
Nina finished that term and taught for one more year. Somewhere along the way she broke her engagement and fell in love with Charles. On June 20, 1887, Nina and Charles were quietly wed. Charles had been bucked off a horse and seriously injured. There was no one to tend the bedridden bachelor and, given the social mores of the time, Nina could not visit him unchaperoned. Marriage made it possible for her to nurse him back to health.

The Bakeman family in 1896 (L to R) Charles (age 35), Guy (age 4), Inez (age 6), Nina (age 35) The couple blended her genteel New England heritage and his rough-around-the-edges German demeanor. Charles liked to play cards; she did not. He liked to dance; she never danced. He was tall and lanky; she petite, probably just under five feet tall. Their first five years were buoyed by prosperity in Charles’ furniture business. Box springs became the rage and he produced enough for the whole town. In December of 1889, Nina gave birth to her first child, Inez Mildred. Two years later a son, Guy Victor arrived.
Nina stepped forward to serve in civic positions. She was a charter member and vice-president of the Women’s Civic Club (later called the Cosmopolitan Club) dedicated to literature, child welfare, civic progress and social culture. She was elected president of the Snohomish Parent Teacher association and a trustee of the first Snohomish library.
Suddenly, their life took a dramatic turn for the worse. On a September night in 1893, fire raged through Charles’ store and burned the entire inventory valued at $17,000 dollars. The couple had to give up their home and squeeze into a small rental cottage at 317 Avenue B.
Several years earlier Charles had grub staked a miner who started the O & B Mine in the Cascade foothills near Monte Cristo. (O and B stood for Osborne and Bakeman.) Charles’ only recourse was to take to the hills, and work the mine, hoping to eke out enough gold or silver to support his family.Nina stayed in Snohomish, tending her home and two small children. The mine yielded no riches, but Charles managed to rebuild the furniture business. Someone asked him to build a casket, which led Charles to become the town’s undertaker. Hard times eased with the turn of the century and Nina and Charles began the second half of their family. Frances Louise arrived in 1900 and Charles Theodore in 1903.

Nina Blackman Bakeman, age 64 (about 1925)
Nina Blackman Bakeman, age 64 (about 1925)

They purchased the rental cottage and over the years it evolved to a spacious nine-room home. Nina’s daughter Frances later described the house: “The house on Avenue B was furnished with many New England antiques, but the extra lot on Avenue A was used for a garden, orchard, chicken yard and stable, a mini-farm, like the big farms where the Bakemans lived in Wisconsin.”
Nina and Charles remained in that house for the rest of their lives. Nina died there at age 79. Charles survived for another 14 years living with their daughter Frances and her family. Years later when Frances was straightening the things in the attic, she uncovered a sky-blue brocaded silk dress, carefully saved among her mother’s possessions. Charles had carried through with the second promise he’d made so many years before.

© 2009 Frances Wood, All Rights Reserved
www.franceswood.net

Martha Solie Muckey

Career Social Worker ~ 1895 – 1967
WLP Story Number 18 ~
By Sandra Schumacher

Photo by Pete Kinch, Everett Herald December 13, 1965.
Photo by Pete Kinch, Everett Herald December 13, 1965.

“Everett has been very good to me, and I’ve had an interesting life.” Martha Muckey made that understatement in 1952. But the life that this woman lived was more than interesting. It was remarkable.

Martha Muckey, who was born in Wisconsin in 1895, studied music at St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota, then journeyed west during the Depression to teach high school music. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, music teachers were not in demand. Rather than wring her hands and bemoan her fate, she found a job at a bank in Everett.

She married and settled into family life, but was widowed when her twin sons were only eight years old. Knowing she needed a career that would support her children, she enrolled at the University of Washington and studied social work. She spent twenty-eight years working for the Department of Welfare, twenty-five them as a case worker on the Tulalip reservation.

Although she worked full time, Martha somehow still found time for volunteer work with the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Volunteers of America, as well as with the blind in Snohomish County. She was named Snohomish County’s 1951 “Woman of Achievement” for her service not only in the community, but for her work state and nationwide as well. Even after retiring from social work in 1963, she continued to give of herself to the community as long as she was physically able.
Martha Muckey died in 1967, leaving behind many whose lives she had made healthier and happier, her own life a testimony to what an “ordinary” woman can accomplish.

Resources : The Everett Herald.
© 2006 Sandra Schmacher All Rights Reserved

Local Women start Alderwood Manor Community Library

by Marie Little

Above is the old logging camp building donated to be used as the library that burned in Nov. 1941. The librarian standing in the door is Mrs. Hildreth Engler who was the librarian at the time. She circulated books from her house until the new library opened in May 1942. Photographer: Bob Downing (One of Mrs. Engler's young patrons). Photograph Courtesy of the Photograph courtesy of the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, circa 1940.
Above is the old logging camp building donated to be used as the library that burned in Nov. 1941. The librarian standing in the door is Mrs. Hildreth Engler who was the librarian at the time. She circulated books from her house until the new library opened in May 1942. Photographer: Bob Downing (One of Mrs. Engler’s young patrons). Photograph Courtesy of the Photograph courtesy of the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, circa 1940.

It is no surprise that the rural library district was proposed by the Snohomish County PTA Council and endorsed by Federated Women’s Clubs. Since the turn of the twentieth century, women in small towns and rural communities had worked to start libraries, struggling, during the Depression years to maintain access to reading materials.

In May 1945 the Alderwood Manor Community Library became the district’s first branch. This successful library was born in the early summer of 1921 when a group of women, including a teacher, Mrs. Viola Riff, met for a picnic at Lake Serene (then known as Mud Lake). The ladies met with Miss Mabel Ashley, the librarian of the Everett Public Library, and Mr. J.C. Roscoe, the City’s prosecuting attorney, in August at the home of Mrs. W.T. Ross for the purpose of organizing a Library Club, which was incorporated the following month. Mrs. Riff made room for the first books in a corner of her living room.
Soon the community library moved into an old logging-camp building donated by the Puget Mill Company, and then relocated to Lake Road on property owned by Puget Mill. The library flourished, supported by monthly dues paid by members and more ambitious projects such as bazaars, community dinners and plays. In addition to donated material, the fledgling library circulated books from the Washington State Traveling Library. By September 1941 their inventory of books reached 4,000. Two months later the small frame building burned.
The ladies courageously voted to use the insurance money to rebuild. They purchased a small unfinished house (pictured on the right) and moved it onto the property, which the Puget Mill Company deeded to them. Meanwhile, Hildreth Engler, the librarian, circulated books, donated by neighbors, from her home. The new library (declared by many to be better than before) opened in May 1942.
Above is the old logging camp building donated to be used as the library that burned in Nov. 1941. The librarian standing in the door is Mrs. Hildreth Engler who was the librarian at the time. She circulated books from her house until the new library opened in May 1942.

Photograph Courtesy the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association. Circa 1921
Photograph Courtesy the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association. Circa 1921

Encouraged by the county board to relocate the Alderwood Manor Branch to the town center when that rural area could be served by the bookmobiles, the Library Club worked with other community groups to establish a branch in the Fire Station and opened it in 1952. A branch was started at Monroe in 1954, and the new City of Mountlake Terrace joined the system in 1955.
The Lynnwood Library opened in 1960, and when the city limits were extended in 1962 to include Alderwood Manor, the little library that the local women had started 41 years earlier had the distinction of being the first branch in the Snohomish County system to be closed.

Resources : Jean Engler, interview with author, October 1996; Alderwood Community Library Minutes currently held in the Edmonds Museum; Historical Files relating to the Alderwood Library at the Sno-Isle Libraries Community Relations Office.
© 2006 Marie Little All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 14

 

In Search of Nora Burglon

In Everett , from the 1930s to 1976, lived a woman who made her mark upon society, her physical environment, and the minds of countless children whom she taught and who read her books. She was Nora Burglon, author, artist, teacher, world traveler, and Scandinavian folklorist. Born April 28, 1900 in Minnesota, she came from, as she was proud to say, “sturdy Swedish stock,” She researched and shared that heritage for much of her life. For someone who was so well known nationally and internationally, little was known about her private life. In 1935 she was listed in Polk’s City Directory, as a writer and as managing director for “Scandinavian Crafts”, a small business in Everett. Also in the 1930s she began to fulfill a life-long dream to build a little cottage in the Swedish peasant style on Rucker Hill.
Burglon became known in the ’30s and ’40s as a prolific author. Six books of fiction for children were written from 1931 to 1939, another four between 1940 and 1947. Add to that a large number of magazine articles. Her stories were carefully researched, for accurate detail and a sense of place, through her many travels-to Europe and Scandinavia, the Carribean and Hawaii, even to the Arctic.
One book, Children of the Soil, A Story of Scandinavia ,1933 (serialized 1931-32) was named an Honor Book by the Newbery Foundation. That award placed Burglon alongside Laura Ingalls Wilder and Isaac Bashevis Singer in the pantheon of writers who won similar Newbery awards. The story follows the adventures of two children and their widowed mother as they struggle to rise from the status of poor crofters to respectable farmers. It is filled (as are all her books) with adventure, moral lessons, cultural and environmental education, and (usually) a young girl as heroine, who has the commonsense, will, and faith enough to turn every ill to the good.
Burglon’s observations on fairness and justice ran through all her work and society fell short of her ideals much of the time. In Children of the Soil she spoke of feeding weeds to goats: “That was one fine thing about goats. It was as if they were related to the crofter folk, for they did not believe in wasting anything they could make good use of. Now cows, on the other hand — well, cows were more finicky – they were more like the gentry: nothing was ever just exactly enough, nor ever just exactly good enough, either.” At a point in the story when the heroine’s little brother is falsely accused, Burglon wrote, “Nicolina wanted to fly at the big red-faced woman – she who always made the girl feel as if being a crofter were something akin to being a thief or a beggar.” She had no patience with people who act as sheep and sweep along with the crowd: “People never knew half the time what they themselves really wanted to say. Somebody said, ‘Cry-lunta [crybaby].’ Then all the rest said the same. Somebody else said, ‘Bravo!’ Then they all said that.”
One of Burglon’s traits was a talent for description that painted in words a picture so clear that she might as well have applied it to canvas. On the appearance of children dressed in many layers against the cold: “A red nose and a pair of bright eyes shone out through each bundle. There was a pair of heavy overshoes under each bundle which kept it moving along, and a pair of red mittens which helped it get up when the bundle fell down.”
[Book cover on left is for Ghost Ship : a Story of Norway Published in 1936.]

In 1941, Burglon was in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was bombed. After watching the catastrophe from her hotel window she spent days helping the injured. During World War II she organized dispatch of thousands of relief packages to Scandinavia. She spent time in Hawaii as a teacher and had, as a mentor, Mrs. Moriama, “whose deep and kindly understanding of children supplied the model for Mrs. Urago” in the book, Shark Hole, A Story of Modern Hawaii, published in 1943. In the story Nani, the young girl, observes, “Mrs. Urago understood that some people were untamed spirits. Their work was to give light and understanding to others, not to store knowledge within themselves.”

Burglon didn’t shy away from the war, but tried to help children understand their feelings and those of others in that time of turmoil. In one part of the book she spoke of the legend of the Black Shark which terrorized the Hawaiian people. Years before, it had promised to stop if the people brought offerings to the sea once a year on the seventh day of the last month in the year. In the story, it was believed to have returned. ” Nani’s face lighted with sudden understanding, ‘….. That’s the seventh of December. Pearl Harbor was bombed on that day and the people forgot.’ Her eyes widened with fear.”

Another observation on the war deals with black-outs and the emotional toll they took: “[Before Pearl Harbor] the hamlet had bloomed with the lights of a thousand windows. Now there was no light except the glimmering of the moonbeams upon the cane sheds. It was this darkness, more than anything else, that reminded the three children that their country was at war.” For balance against the gloom, Burglon wrote, “War had changed many things in the Islands, but the sound of the cane rushing down through the flumes over the valleys, had not changed at all. Neither had the sweet smell of cane juice, which rose like a warm breath.”

Another point she had to make regarded the discrimination against Japanese-American citizens that was prevalent in that time. In the story, a teacher speaks to a student who injured a Japanese-American child, “‘My grandfather came here from China as a coolie laborer,’ Miss Chun went on. ‘Yoshio’s grandfather came from Japan as a poor farmer. Your grandfather came from Puerto Rico as a contract laborer to work in the sugar cane. It is the people who have come from all these various lands that have made Hawaii the wonderful place it is. Not one of these people could have done it alone. All of us, not any one people, are called Americans.'”

Burglon was also an environmentalist before the word was even coined. Her writing is full of vivid descriptions of nature, guided by her artist’s eye. She appreciated all aspects of the natural world and decried mankind’s ignorance in upsetting the order. In Shark Hole she speaks of the damage caused by imported species and plants: “Because the original Hawaiian birds had become nearly extinct, bird lovers had brought in others. The imported birds, lacking the food to which they were accustomed, became fruit eaters and the Hawaiian orchardists paid dearly for their birdsong.” Crawfish had been brought in to eat mosquitoes, but fell on the taro roots instead. Lantana had once been grown in gardens. Now it made miles of highland country all but impassable.” Although Burglon’s head-on approach to the world’s problems was accepted without a blink by her many young readers, it was not necessarily so with their parents or teachers. I was told by one former student of 1944, that when she suggested that Burglon be read aloud, the idea was put down because of the impression that Burglon had “communistic leanings.” Her deep faith in Christianity might have surprised her detractors. For instance, how many kitchens do you know that have the entire Lord’s Prayer written in Swedish (or any other language, for that matter) surrounding the room in a border? Or “Blessed are they that do” and “Work is Love made visible” written in decorative script on a cupboard door or ceiling beam? Burglon’s little cottage had these and more.

In Better Homes and Gardens magazine (Sept.1940), Burglon described her motivation for building her home, “I suppose it was those hearty, stubborn Swedish pioneers, my grandparents, who bequeathed to me my life-long hunger for simple walls of white, for bright rafters and flowering beams, for vibrant homespuns, gleaming copper-studded chests, and sunny braided rugs.” And build it, she did, throughout the 1930s, and often at odds with the advice of her carpenters. Her books were typed out from a desk by the window of the small loft bedroom, designed as “the maiden’s bower” where unmarried daughters slept. She described this room as containing “great quantities of manuscripts in various stages of construction or decomposition.
“Mine is a joyous little home of singing colors and great peace. In my many authoring trips to the north countries, I had gathered the weavings and chests, the buckets and kettles, the color harmonies and folk designs that would make it truly Scandinavian, completely my own. I built a harmony of vermilion and royal blue, hues as strong and hearty as the Swedish peoples themselves. The motifs on doors, rafters, and beams I drew from the peasant art of these people, …..” “The limb [of the tree of life] was their first symbol, the wheel of the sun-worshiper, the second, the “sacred heart of Jesus” their third. The heart has become a heart-shaped leaf, the base of a flower, or the center of the design from which stalks and buds appear to grow.” Burglon lived, surrounded by the beauty she created, for the rest of her life in the little cottage in Everett.
Nora Burglon died in 1976 at the age of 75. Her books were out of print, most of the print forms having been melted for scrap during the war. A short obituary stated that she was a retired teacher with the Everett School District and left numerous cousins across the country and a niece and nephew in Sweden. But, what of her life before and after that prolific and public period of the ’30s and ’40s? The Women’s Legacy Project members are writing a book about Snohomish County women. Burglon deserves a prominent chapter. If you have any information about her, please contact us (see menu above). I want to fill in the gaps and do justice to the story of a remarkable woman.

© 2003 – 2006 Louise Lindgren, All Rights Reserved