Electa Rossman Friday will ever be linked with the story of this community’s progress’ stated the Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, yet considering the impact she had on the medical community of this county, her name could certainly be referenced as the ‘missing link’.
Electa Friday spent her life serving the community by opening the first training school for nurses, and later opened and managed the new Everett Hospital built in 1904. Hers is definitely a name to be remembered in any study of the medical establishment of Snohomish County.
After finishing her education at Hahnemann Medical College in Chicago in 1878, Electa Rossman returned home to Hartford Wisconsin where she resumed life in the upper Midwest approximately thirty miles northwest of Milwaukee. Her father and uncle had settled in Hartford Wisconsin prior to statehood and started the Rossman’s Saw Mill along the scenic Rubicon River in the 1840’s. Electa’s parents were both born in New York State, but like many easterners of the 1840s, moved to settle the upper Midwest as it was crossing from Territorial into Statehood status
It may have been her mother’s story about her own relocation that encouraged Electa to move west, or it may be that after her marriage the northwest held the same promises to her and her husband as the Wisconsin Territory did for her parents forty-five years earlier. She married Henry Friday in Hartford Wisconsin in 1884, a young man reared on a farm in Hartford. After they were married he went to work for the railroad, which ultimately brought him to the west coast on business and over time the opportunities of pioneering in the northwest were apparent. When the Fridays arrived in Everett in 1893, he began a lifelong career buying and selling real estate. Coming to Everett seemed appropriate since two Friday brothers and their families had settled on the peninsula as early as 1890 and were a part of the city’s initial development.
Prior to the arrival of Mrs. Friday, the Articles of Incorporation of the new Everett Hospital stipulated that the eight men who were named as Trustees would elect twenty-five women to manage the running of the hospital. Construction began in August of 1893 in the 3300 block of Broadway and the first patient admitted in January 1894. In 1897 Electa Friday was appointed Superintendent and General Manager also known as the ‘matron’ of Everett Hospital and it was not long before she began the first training school for nurses. She served the community in this position until 1900 when she resigned. In 1904, while the Board of Trustees was deliberating on the poor financial status of the hospital, Mrs. Friday presented them with a proposal to develop a private hospital in the 3500 block of Hoyt Avenue, which was accepted and the existing hospital was sold. Mrs. Friday returned and resumed management of the Everett Hospital for four months pending the construction of her new hospital in the 3500 block of Hoyt Avenue.
On October 6, 1904 The Everett Herald announced that the recent opening reception of the new Everett Hospital had been declared the ‘social success of the week’. Mrs. Friday proudly received guests in the reception hall surrounded by palms, while nurses conducted tours of the new facility.
The new Everett Hospital contained a general hospital with maternity ward and a school of nursing as well as an area to treat special cases. Mrs. Friday took on the additional responsibility of Deputy Sheriff which was necessary by ‘reason of her caring for certain classes of patients at the hospital’, so states the writer of the Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906, [pp 914-15.]
Electa Rossman Friday died at age sixty on April 21, 1916 having forever left her mark on the hospital business and education of nurses in Snohomish County. Her obituary refers to her as a ‘pioneer resident and well-known Nurse’, an overly simplistic description of a woman whose life in the service of others made a significant impact here and improved the operation of the Everett Hospital. It was she who changed the hospital management style from a twenty-five person management team that lacked both leadership and financial training to a hospital model that was structured and run as a business.
She was praised in her obituary as the person who ‘developed the institution to its present high standing’ while living a life that others could aspire to. But her life’s story lay there, waiting to be rediscovered and shared. A link no longer missing, but found, valued and placed in its rightful home among the great leaders in Human Services during the development of Snohomish County.
Myrtle Jane Brannon Ferrell arrived in Everett as a young bride in 1931, one of the darkest years of the Great Depression. Banks were failing, unemployment was high and government relief programs had yet to be initiated. Communities depended on dedicated volunteers to give aid and Myrtle—recently married to Everett physician Lewis J. Ferrell—decided to help. Myrtle volunteered with the Red Cross. Thus began 44 years of community service that included work with the Snohomish County Visiting Nurses’ Association, attending a White House conference on children and youth, teaching Sunday School at Trinity Episcopal Church and significant work with the Everett chapter of the American Association of University Women. Myrtle also served on the Everett School Board for more than twenty years. In 1953 the Everett Business and Professional Women’s Organization honored her as “Woman of the Year in Achievement.”
Born in 1899 and raised in Chicago, Myrtle was the second of nine children born to Charles and Bertha Brannon. By the 1920 census, the Brannons were living in Valley, King County, Washington. That same year census counters found Myrtle also boarding in Lewis County, perhaps as she began her studies at Central Washington State College. Myrtle completed her bachelor’s degree at University of Washington with a major in Sociology. She taught school for a few years after graduation, then enrolled at the University of Chicago where she earned a master’s degree in medical and psychiatric social work. Here she met and married Lewis J. Ferrell. Perhaps family ties brought Myrtle back to the Northwest and Lewis began his medical practice, a Women’s and Children’s Clinic, in Everett’s Medical Dental Building.
Had Myrtle wanted to teach in Everett, she couldn’t have. Married women were not allowed to be teachers until after WWII. While there were certainly exceptions to this rule, Myrtle instead used her skills in volunteer efforts and, after her sons were grown, became her husband’s business manager and partner, a position typical of other husband/wife professionals at the time.
Myrtle worked continually for children’s causes and was chosen to attend a White House conference on children and youth as well as being appointed by the State Superintendant of Public Instruction to a special committee on disadvantaged and gifted children. But nowhere was her love for children more evident than toward the Ferrells own two sons, Philip and Barry. Myrtle balanced her time between family and volunteer work. Phil recollects times when his parents entertained he and his brother by staging “Mom and Dad Shows”, Myrtle and Lewis playing the parts of personalities like Alberto Roselini and Ingrid Bergman. Lewis created stories for the boys, one particular series was with Ezra, a mouse with an electric tail. Phil and Barry remember their home life as joyful and creative. When Barry was a Cub Scout, Myrtle served as den mother for five years. When the boys met at the Ferrell’s home, she would frequently bake them fresh bread.
But the AAUW was a steady and continuing part of Myrtle’s life. She had been the chapter’s founder in 1940, served as its president for three years and remained active in the group until her death in 1975.
Here Myrtle joined other women in working for important issues of the day. Myrtle put it this way: “AAUW is the greatest organization I know. It gives you an opportunity to keep up on local, state and national and international affairs.”
The Ferrell’s often opened their Rucker Hill home for AAUW meetings and teas. Myrtle’s leadership ability led her to the position of State Division President and Vice President of the North Pacific Regional AAUW in 1949, the year Seattle hostessed the National AAUW Convention. Over the years Myrtle held many offices with AAUW, attended the group’s International Federation Conference and in 1967 was appointed to a topic implementation committee for “Politics of Public Education”, representing the Everett chapter at a national level. This position took her to Washington D.C. in January of 1967.
In 1942 Myrtle established an AAUW fellowship fund for promising young women. The national AAUW had begun the program to aid young women in their scholarly pursuits. Local chapters raised funds for scholarships and administered the giving in their own communities. Myrtle became one of the group’s most active fundraisers.
In the 1950s Myrtle Ferrell made an unsuccessful try for a house seat in the Washington State legislature but local politics turned out to be her place. In 1950 she ran for the Everett School District Board and easily won. She remained on the board until shortly before her death, serving four terms as board president. Through the ‘50s and ‘60s new schools were built and enrollment expanded. There was no strong local teacher’s union then and board members were sought for advice.
But by the early 1970s the economy was in recession, unemployment was high and school enrollment was declining, especially in the north and central neighborhoods. In a cost-cutting move, Washington Elementary was closed. In both 1971 and 1972 the district lost its spring special levy elections. The board was faced with crisis decisions and the newly-formed teacher’s union, Everett Federation of Teachers #772, struggled with the board over issues including a pending layoff of 200 teachers.
Now in advancing years and declining health, Myrtle decided not to run for re-election in 1973. But she was persuaded to run—most likely a disservice to her—and was defeated by Robert Daoust, a candidate with teacher union support.
Remembering Myrtle Ferrell
Lewis died unexpectedly in January of 1975. The couple had been close partners for 44 years. An ailing Myrtle soon was moved to Bethany Home where she died of a stroke in August that same year, three months before her 76th birthday. When asked what he remembers most about his mother, Barry mentions that she was a woman of strong Christian faith. Myrtle clearly did not preach to others but instead believed in living her life as a good example. Her death was a great loss to the family.
AAUW friends also grieved and a committee was formed to decide on a fitting memorial to honor their founding mother. Proposals were made to have a park named after the Ferrells or the swim center at Forest Park or a school named for Myrtle. All suggestions were rejected. Artist Carol Hasford was commissioned to create a sculpture which officially was placed in front of the Everett Public Library in 1977. A few years later the sculpture was vandalized beyond repair and not replaced.
At the time of this writing, the only public tribute that remains is a photo of Myrtle that hangs in the children’s room at the library. As the written word often outlasts other memorials, it is hoped this piece and other writings contributed by her friends and journalists over the years—assembled and carefully ordered in the excellent scrapbooks of Everett’s AAUW—will continue to tell of Myrtle Ferrell’s legacy.
Artist, writer, photographer and world traveler Marjorie Ann Duryee kept journals during most of her adult life and wrote her own biographical sketch in 1972. Born on July 18, 1913, she was the second child of Dan and Clotilde Robinson Duryee, when the family lived at 1316 Hoyt in Everett. Sister Clotilde was the first born, with brother Dan, Jr. arriving in 1916. The Duryees were prominent Everett residents from its beginnings in 1892. Although the Duryee parents were a quiet couple, they raised their children to be free spirits and, as family remembers, each sibling’s personality was enough to “fill a room.” Clotilde was expected to dress and behave like a lady, but Marjorie was given more freedom since she was a sickly child and, under advice from their uncle Dr. Albert Duryee, she spent lots of time outdoors. She soon excelled at various sports.
In 1918 the family moved to 501 Laurel Drive in Everett. Writing about the family’s early years in this Rucker Hill home, Marjorie recalled Monday wash days—the hand-crank wringer, the bluing used to brighten white clothes, the starching and the gas stove. At this time, the Duryee’s extended family numbered eight. Marjorie attended Jackson Grade School, North Junior High and graduated from Everett High School with the class of 1930. Two of her classmates were the future Senator Henry M. Jackson and film and stage star Nancy Coleman. Both remained her lifelong friends. Marjorie Duryee
While the 1930s Great Depression was hard on young dreamers and many had to put their plans on hold, the Duryee family had the means to pay for Marjorie’s freshman year at Mills College in California. She transferred to the University of Washington and graduated in 1934 with a B.A. in English Literature. A “horrible fifth year”, as she described it, gave her a teaching diploma. From 1935 to 1937 she taught English, World History and Physical Education (one year) at Arlington High School. But she was bored and wrote in her journals that she had hoped to be away from Everett at this point in her life. A trip to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1934 had given her a taste of the life she wanted. In her words, “I saw the paintings exhibit at the fair and have never been the same since.” They inspired her to become an artist.
Marjorie spent 1937-38 in Europe studying at the Institute of International Studies in Geneva, skiing in Austria, visiting a Paris Expo and, on Christmas Eve 1937, she bought her first camera — a Leica. But Europe was in turmoil and in 1938 Marjorie was residing at the Halfmoon Chambers flat in Newcastle, England, worried about the situation with Hitler. She set sail for home on October 19, traveling out of Liverpool aboard the Aquitania.
Marjorie Duryee, Photographer Photography changed Marjorie’s life and she set out to become a professional photographer. She joined the local Camera Club in 1939 and won a Washington Salon Exhibit Grand Award that year. To further her career, she needed an agent, so she hired Monkmeyer Studio of New York who began marketing her photos to magazines. In the following years, she won many awards at regional and national shows, her work done in both black and white and color transparency.
By the early ‘40s she had three passions, photography, tennis and golf. She continued to take pictures, printing them in her own home darkroom and in 1942 was on the Ladies Handicap Golf Committee. Marjorie was listed in Who’s Who in American Pictorial Photographers in 1942-43.
American Red Cross
It is clear from Marjorie’s journals that one of her happiest times was working as a journalist for the American Red Cross during World War II. This was her chance to combine writing, photography and travel. She served as editor of the ARC magazine Boomerang which, over its lifetime, would have five homes and five editors, including Marjorie Duryee, who worked with the publication beginning in Brisbane in October of 1944 and moving to Hollandia (Netherlands E. Indies) then to New Guinea, Manila and finally Tokyo in 1946. During this period, she photographed extensively and assembled her best views in scrapbooks. For security reasons, Marjorie often was not allowed to take photos so she began to draw the scenes instead. When the war ended, she returned to Everett to visit and then went to New York City to study at the Art Students League.
The Painting Years
She returned to Everett in 1947 to attend her father’s funeral and it was at this time that she met Whidbey Island painters Peter and Margaret Camfferman and began to seriously study painting. The Camffermans were highly respected regional artists and teachers. Through them, Marjorie’s talents and contacts grew. From 1948-49 she again lived in New York City, meeting lots of interesting writers and artists yet keeping in touch with old Red Cross contacts and her Everett and UW friends.
Bringing it all together
Marjorie attended Robert Frost’s Breadloaf Writers Conference in Vermont in 1950 and the following year drove across country to study art at the Jerry Farnsworth School in Saratoga, Florida. Back in Puget Sound, she attended Theodore Roethke’s writing class at UW and in 1952 was able to meet Dylan Thomas who came to read on campus. Marjorie was awed by Roethke and wrote about hearing Dylan Thomas’s performance. She sat very close to the front, heard his muscular intonations and saw how he swayed, vibrating from head to foot while he read—every word seemed an echo.
Monkmeyer Studio continued to market her photos. One of special importance to the family was published in the November issue of Today’s Health in 1952—a photo of newly-born niece Margaret Duryee, at the hospital meeting her older sister Maureen, their happy parents watching. Boat trips, family outings and other personal events became subjects for Marjorie’s photos during this time and she was able to publish them in various magazines.
Marjorie presented a solo show at the Vera Tenney Art Studio, Everett, in December of 1951. The following year, she displayed photos in the Baltimore Salon of Photographs, then took a freighter trip through the Panama Canal to Madrid on what she dubbed a “slow boat to France”. The Everett Herald published a feature on her trip on Nov. 27, 1952 as an introduction to a travel series of 72 articles that Marjorie would write for the Herald during a 10 ½ month stay in Spain. During this time, she continued taking photos which she exhibited through the 1950s.
Actress Nancy Coleman had married critic Whitney Bolton and the couple moved permanently to Long Island, NY. The Colemans visited Marjorie in 1954 when she was living in a cabin she had built by hand at Priest Point (Tulalip). Following the visit, Whitney wrote a piece about Marjorie and her achievements. Marjorie spent the second half of that year in Spain, taking more photos. She continued to show her Madrid photos, some as slide shows in 1957. That year her mother died, followed by the death of Peter Camfferman. Marjorie sold her beach cabin in 1959 and bought the Duryee family home at 501 Laurel Drive. At home again in Everett, Marjorie began a series of shows at Cuthbertson’s Little Gallery at 2936 Colby where gallery owner Tom Johnson gave her wall space to use as she liked. Her first show was Oct. 1960 and she continued to exhibit there, showing paintings, watercolors and photos.
The gift of a bicycle from niece Maureen led Marjorie to taking photos of her hometown. These remain in the family collection. But the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 inspired her. She made an entry in her 1962 journal that reads: “Marge, don’t you play golf anymore?” She answered herself, “No, not since the Seattle World’s Fair and seeing the painting exhibit there. It made me want to stay home and paint!!” And paint she did, by the following year exhibiting 14 monoprints and collages.
In 1963 she wrote the first of 9 self-published books of poems in a series she called the Image Collector. When Margaret Camfferman died the following year, Marjorie handled her estate. Margaret was included in a traveling exhibit celebrating Washington Women Painters in 2005 and Marjorie’s journal entries and art collection contributed to the exhibit.
Shifting exclusively to using color film, Marjorie abandoned her own darkroom processing. This gave her more time to paint. She exhibited at Black and King in Everett, won more exhibits and prizes in 1965, received a royalty check from Monkmeyer Studio for her photos taken in Spain and in 1967 had a one-person show at the Monroe Fair where she received special recognition for her work, judges noting the “excitement inherent in her color and content.” Marjorie continued showing at local and regional galleries throughout the 1970s, published Image Collector 9 in 1972, traveled to England for the wedding of her niece Maureen in 1976, then stayed in Oxford and London the following year.
Sadly by the 1980s Marjorie was showing signs of Alzheimer’s. Her last art show took place in fall of 1986 at the Snohomish County Arts Council Gallery in Everett, a collection of her paintings, poetry and photos, including her Everett waterfront series. Marjorie Duryee died in 1992 at Merry Haven Care Center in Snohomish and the family home at 501 Laurel Drive eventually was sold. Her life’s work is cared for and shared by family members.
Margaret Riddle conversations with Maureen Duryee (niece of Marjorie Duryee) who shared memories, insights, scrapbooks of news clippings and a wealth of photographs, 2009-2012;
A young fireman on a fund drive in North Everett approached a little lady out sweeping her front porch. She asked bright pertinent questions, was kind, reassuring and happy to donate. However, by the time he walked away, he had volunteered to help raise money for her latest cause, the Imagine Children’s Museum. He had met a veteran fund-raiser, Mary Webb Duryee.
Born in 1918, Mary Webb was the only child of “O.T.” and Mandy Webb, whose modest house stood in a North Everett neighborhood where everybody knew everybody. Back in the early 1920s Mary could be found sweeping the porch of her back-yard playhouse or fixing sandwiches for the neighborhood kids; she hated being an only child, but not one to brood, surrounded herself with friends. School gave her more friends and bigger groups to organize, and in the eighth grade she won a Rotary Achievement Award. The awards luncheon proved to be a watershed event in her life: her interest in people had led her to community service, and she met Daniel Duryee Sr., who would one day be her father-in-law and real estate mentor.
Mary’s father, O.T. Webb, an Everett attorney, instilled in her a desire to take initiative, work hard and appreciate what she had. The Webbs were Norwegian immigrants from Wisconsin who had come to the Everett/Lowell area by boxcar in 1899. O.T’s sisters (Mary’s aunts) all had put themselves through nursing school. He had worked his way through University of Washington Law School, graduating in 1905. O.T organized and became Grand Lodge President of the local branch of Scandinavian Fraternity of America (SFA) and often gave long speeches encouraging members to help the needy, respect women, and be kind to mothers! Mary often accompanied her father to SFA events, such as a picnic in June 1930 where she heard him give one of his rousing speeches to 600 Scandinavians. She was embarrassed when he introduced her to people as his “promising daughter”, but it also made her realize he had great confidence in her.
Mary was a natural leader. Like her father, she had a knack for public speaking. But leadership itself was not her goal, she just wanted to be INVOLVED. She was President of her 9th grade class, and later Everett High School Girl’s Club president, but her 1935 commencement speech was titled “The Homemaker”. Mandy, Mary’s mother, the daughter of Swedish immigrants, had had little education herself but it was she who made sure Mary learned to sing, dance, speak in public, sew, cook, garden, and, of course—entertain, important in the world of organizing community functions.
At the University of Washington, Mary seriously considered a degree in law, something much promoted by her father. But the depression was in full swing and the five year law course was expensive. Instead, she majored in history, became president of her sorority and in 1938 represented her sorority at their national Convention. After college, Mary moved home, enrolled in Mrs. Rogers’ Business School and got a job at a bank.
Her marriage in 1941 to Dan Duryee, Jr. was the beginning of a great partnership, a love affair that lasted until his passing in 1990. When they married, Mary was welcomed into an “old” family, which had been in this country for 8 generations, and included women of great strength and character. One of Danny’s grandmothers, a single parent and businesswoman, had staked a claim in Alaska during the Gold Rush. His other grandmother, an Everett pioneer, well-educated for her time, had been a founding member of the Everett Women’s Book Club back in 1894. And Mary had suddenly acquired siblings: Danny’s two dynamic and creative older sisters.
In return, Mary cherished her role as Mrs. Dan Duryee Jr. In Danny, she had found a soul-mate: both found PEOPLE endlessly fascinating. Like Mary, Danny was an early-riser, a list-maker, problem-solver, and good organizer; like Danny, Mary loved children, animals, sentimental movies, popular music, dancing, and bringing people together. They were both absolutely committed to Everett and exceptionally unselfish and low-profile about their good works.
Dan and Mary were just beginning their lives together when Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States entered World War II. Assuming he would be drafted, Dan asked Mary to join the staff of the family company, D.A. Duryee and Co., learn the real estate business, and get the credentials to run the company. Thus, in 1942, Mary became one of the first women in Washington State to have her own real estate license and, at age 24, when Danny joined the army, she began coordinating every aspect of the business.
Real estate was very different then from what it is now. Multiple Listing Service and office computers didn’t exist. She opened and closed the office seven days a week, inspected property, showed houses (being careful not to compete with the veteran salesmen), wrote and posted ads, handled escrow, banking, payroll, rents, bills, repairs, and leases, and loyally chauffeured her father-in-law.
She gave pep talks to boost morale and mediated staff, tenant, and family dramas. But, somehow, she found time to read and answer the long, detailed letters her husband wrote during the war…love letters of a unique kind because they focused on Everett, on the challenges Mary faced, and on their future together.
Mary adored her father-in-law, Daniel Sr. and while working along side him during the war years, she learned as much about community service as she did about real estate. Dan Sr. had grown-up with the town, graduated from EHS in 1898, and personally helped rescue the struggling YMCA in 1900. He understood and actively supported the town’s backbone of human services. In his quiet, hard-working way, Dan Sr helped Mary see how much a single individual could contribute to strengthening a community.
When Dan returned home in 1946, Mary handed over the big stack of nearly completed contracts that happened to be on her desk and became “the Homemaker”. Within a year, Dan Sr had passed away, Mary was pregnant, and Danny was reinvigorating his company; DA Duryee & Co went on to grow and prosper for 50 more years, but Danny used to say of the war years: “we couldn’t have done it without Mary”. She gladly became a full-time housewife, and then Mom to her two daughters, but she was never really out-of-the-loop of her husband’s working life. She had enjoyed the action of real estate, its potential for meeting people’s wants and needs, and for several decades she kept her real estate license current…..just in case.
While Danny worked 12 to 15-hour days both at his office and with various community boards, Mary kept her desk at home piled high with to-do lists, agendas, and her ever-growing card file of names. Like many others, she began soliciting door- to- door for Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and then worked with their North Everett Guild for many years. She served for 13 years on the YMCA board, worked as fund-raiser and board member for UGN (later United Way) and helped organize and run her church bazaars, for which she’d spoon 10-gallon kettles of mincemeat into jars every November for decades. She was a life member of the Children’s Foundation at Everett General Hospital, organized many charity auctions and fund-raisers for the local Junior Club and supported Volunteers of America and Campfire USA. A highlight of her life was her decade as Campfire group leader for each of her daughters. “Miss Mary” held meetings in a cabin-like room above her garage. It had plain wooden floors, an upright piano, a big table for art projects and a special row of coat hooks, each with a little girl’s name on it. While it may have felt like a “play-room”, one wall was also covered with a big map of the world, and while Mary wanted the girls to find fun and friendship, her primary goal was to teach them to be responsible. She was just as comfortable helping the shy Campfire girl earn her first service beads as she was when speaking to a big crowd at a charity banquet.
Mary continues to live just three blocks from the house where she was born. Her own Everett Women’s Book Club group, now down to eight women, has been meeting regularly since 1947. Her Campfire girls stay in touch and still call her “Miss Mary”. She quietly supports many charities and non-profits around town, including the Emma Yule Society. However, when the opportunity came to help organize support for the Imagine Children’s Museum in the early 1990’s, she put on her old walking-shoes, and went, with cane, to the meetings, thrilled once again, to be making lists and stuffing envelopes.
In September 2007, at the United Way Spirit of Snohomish Co Breakfast, Mary was given the Reeves/Sievers Award for Lifetime community service. The keynote speaker that day, Lou Tice, said about people like Mary: “You can’t control how much you get, but you can control how much you give.”
One stormy summer day in 1891, Mary Jones and her eight-year-old daughter Eva boarded a small steamer in Olympia and journeyed north. A newly built one-room house was waiting for them, near the Snohomish River, at a place that would soon be called Everett, Washington.
From the start, Eva and her family considered themselves “pioneers.” Traveling to Washington State by train from the Midwest, the Joneses first settled in Chehalis, then Olympia, and finally Everett, a pattern that, in variation, was repeated by hundreds of new arrivals to the Pacific Northwest over the next twenty years. For many, the journey was a movement west. For others the journey was south or north or east, depending on their place of origin. Their experiences were as diverse as their numbers. What they held in common was a strong sense of independence and the dream of improving their lives. Many, like the Joneses, came with adventure in their hearts.
Eva’s father Bert Jones, a millwright, had arrived earlier to help install machinery for a paper mill in Lowell (now part of Everett) and a concentrator for the mining town of Monte Cristo, east of town in the Cascade Mountains.
The Puget Sound waters were rough on the day they traveled and most of the passengers aboard the steamboat became seasick. Eager to end their trip, Mary and Eva disembarked at a dock on Port Gardner Bay and walked two miles through brush across the peninsula to their house. The steamer continued its journey to a wharf on riverside and the crew unloaded their belongings, including the family cat and a caged bird, on the grassy riverbank.
Recalling her childhood memories of that day nearly eighty years before, Eva told what she had seen when she first arrived. The town wasn’t really a town yet. Mostly it resembled a battle field strewn with stumps, mud and bogs. Few families had arrived. Eva and her mother may have thought of the challenges ahead trying to live in such a primitive place. The only people Eva saw were workers clearing the land and others who came to sell goods and lodging to the workers. There was a general store and post office on the bayside and a grocery, a cigar stand and a hotel near the river. Eva recalled seeing their makeshift, temporary structures. Some had tent roofs. Workers cut trees, cleared land and burned stumps, prompting one journalist to describe the town site as “an inferno where smoke filled the air and smoldering stumps glowed red at night.”
Everett Townsite, 1891, courtesy of Everett Public Library, Everett, WA
By the fall of 1891, there were enough children at the town site to start a school. Temporary classrooms were set up in the Brue Building on Everett Avenue. Eva’s best friend and playmate was neighbor Gracie Spithill whose grandfather and grandmother had homesteaded years before the city of Everett was imagined. Gracie was part Scot and part Snohomish Indian. While Eva was to live a long life, Gracie died as a child.
Eva quickly learned to care for herself since her father was often at Monte Cristo and her mother was a midwife who sometimes was away for days delivering babies. Mary Jones trusted in home remedies and Eva continued to use her mother’s recipes throughout her life. She made her own cough syrup and remembered once making a salve that helped to save a young boy’s injured leg. When asked what ingredients she used, Eva replied “That’s a long story. We were standing on the ocean beach in Oregon. And we see something shining way out in the water. Well the tide was coming and that tin came to us and it was a jar of Stockholm tar. Of course it was runny and I didn’t know what to mix with it, so I got Vaseline and melted the Vaseline and mixed half and half and made a salve out of it. It was a gallon can and it lasted a long time.”
As a young woman, Eva was a telephone operator. It was here that she met James H. Davis, a lineman who came to town with a traveling work crew stringing telephone lines. Eva and James began dating and married in 1903. The couple lived in the Jones’s family home for four years and Eva gave birth to their first child, a daughter. The Davises eventually had a home of their own on riverside and a son was born.
In 1977 Eva was interviewed in her home by Margaret Riddle and David Dilgard of the Everett Public Library and shortly before her death, photographer Carolyn Kozo Cole took pictures of her [see photo to the right]. Eva described herself as a “homebody”, a person who “didn’t neighbor much.” She was not involved in church or club activities. Her life revolved instead around her home and her family. Since arriving in Everett, she had lived in only two houses and both were on Everett’s riverside. Her home was filled with treasures from the past including cyanotype photos made by an aunt which were then printed on 4” x 5” pieces of cloth and quilted as pillows. There are quite a lot of Everett pictures in there,” Eva had said. “I’ve had those for years and years and years…..they never fade.” When Eva reminisced, she occasionally pointed to an item that reminded her of someone from the past, such as a clock that once belonged to early pioneer and bicycle shop owner Arthur Baily.
Eva loved to garden and each plant in her yard had its own story. Less a feat of professional gardening than a personal statement, Eva’s property had the look of land that has been cared for over many years by the same person. One glorious cedar tree dominating her back yard had been planted by Eva when she was young.
Throughout her long life Eva Laura Jones Davis had never “doctored much.” When at 97 years of age she was diagnosed with cancer, she simply said to a granddaughter “Take me home”, which is where she died on March 21, 1980. When asked for her secret to a long life, she replied “I haven’t any secret. I’m just allowed to live this long and I like it. I have seven grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren, so that makes me a great lady!”
Nursing career leads to Pearl Harbor and life of travel, 1917 – 2006
by Teri Baker
She didn’t want marriage, nor did she want to teach school. Phyllis Dana wanted to do something else with her life, something that was still worthwhile, would support her financially and would satisfy her soul. She chose nursing.
After graduation from Everett General Hospital’s nursing school in 1939, Phyllis joined the Red Cross Nursing Program. “We were told we would be called upon in the event of a national disaster,” she said. “I thought, floods, earthquakes – of course I would want to help. So I signed on the dotted line, then went out and got a job.”
While working in a Seattle tuberculosis sanitarium, she learned that nurses were needed in Hawaii, and that the government would pay their fare. Phyl loved seeing new places. Born in Evanston, Ill., she lived in Belgian Congo where her parents, Jack and Eva Dana, were Methodist-Episcopal missionaries. When she was nine, the family went to New York and then to Lake Stevens, where she graduated high school in 1935. Now Hawaii beckoned.
“They gave me $85 to travel on the Lurline, a luxury liner,” she said. “We were in steerage, but how many people did I know that could say they had traveled by ocean liner!”
In December 1940 Phyllis stepped onto an island perfumed by millions of brilliant blossoms. “I lived and worked in Honolulu and enjoyed everything and everybody,” she said with a laugh. “It was wonderful. There was big old dumb me – and there were men everywhere!”
A few weeks later, she received a notice that read, “You will report April 15, 1941 to Pearl Harbor.”
Orders? It seems that membership in the Red Cross Nursing Service meant she was now in the United States Navy! She cried all the way to Pearl, then rolled up her sleeves and went to work in the base hospital. By June she was an ensign, which she was delighted to discover qualified her to leave the nurses’ dormitory and live in officers quarters.
One day as she and her roommate, Nellie, were getting ready to go on a picnic with a couple of fellows, Phyl looked out the window and commented, “Those planes are coming in kind of low.”
“Ignore them and get dressed,” Nellie urged.
In minutes, eight wards would fill with burn victims as fuel oil belched from the stricken USS Arizona and turned the channel into an inferno. It was December 7, 1941. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.
There was no time to be afraid. It would be three days before she had a chance to shower. She worked eight hours on and four hours off for more than a month. “Later, when we finally had time to think, we were positive we would be taken prisoner,” she said. “We lived with that fear until March or April. When someone complained about the food, we would say, ‘It beats fish heads and rice,’ and there would be no more complaints.”
Phyllis returned to the states in a convoy evacuating military personnel and their families. Violently ill, she and three other Navy nurses cared for 150 sick men, women and children. “We had no escort so we had to travel at 40 knots and zigzag every seven and a half minutes,” she said. “It took us five miserable days to get to San Francisco.”
“It took three days for her to get a ticket home to see her mother. Phyl recalled, “It gave me a chance to unwind so that by the time I got to Mom’s house, I was a human, not a robot.”
A few days later, returned to Pearl Harbor, saluted and promptly fainted. A short time in sickbay and it was back to work. “With all these men around, I also did a lot of cooking,” she said. “Food was good and plentiful. There was no gasoline for driving, no liquor. I tell you, it was one healthy place!”
Her next duty station was Annapolis. She had been going with a naval officer, but something in her said she would be happier single. “I saw what Navy families and kids went through,” she mused. “I didn’t want to be a Navy wife.” It was a decision she never regretted. After assignments stateside and then in Panama, Phyllis resigned her commission. She stayed in Panama for three years as a civilian nurse and then went to the National Institute of Health Research Hospital in Washington, DC, where she worked for three years in the heart surgery postoperative unit.
“In those days, children came in a week ahead of their surgery,” Phyl said. “The nurses took care of them, dressed them and came to love them. But there were so many children that didn’t make it through the surgery. It just got too hard for me to take.”
Because the FDA wanted her to teach, she went to the University of Washington, earned a degree in communications, then went back to NIH as a psychiatric nurse. In 1966 came home to be near her aging mother, and spent the next 11 years nursing at American Lake Veterans Hospital near Tacoma. She retired the day she turned 60.
She visited friends all over the states for a couple of months and enjoyed it so much she spent the next decade housesitting along the west coast. “I had the time, I could read a map, I had a car, so why not?” Phyl reasoned. “I had a charming time, met lots of favorite pets, saw old friends.”
Phyl also ventured to Australia, New Zealand and the British Isles, and then settled in Everett, and finally, in Marysville. She gave up driving after she backed into a cement wall. “I decided someone else could have been there, and it scared me,” she said. “It’s one thing to bang up yourself, but you could also bang up someone else. So, I did the responsible thing and stopped driving.” Crumbling vertebrae forced Phyllis into a more quiet life, but with a wonderful attitude – “It’s a beautiful day, the flag is flying and I’ll make it,” she said. “It will be slow, but I’ll make it. The very fact that I can live alone is a privilege”
She read voraciously and wrote long letters to a network of friends, including nurses from her unit at Pearl Harbor. “Navy people retire all over the place,” she said. “All are active women doing exciting things. At reunions and when we correspond, we talk about families, not Pearl Harbor.”
Phyl remained close with her brother and sister and their families. “We’re always having parties,” she said. “I have a good life with lots of friends. Life is different, but it’s not dull!”
For Phyllis Dana, life is what she had intended it to be. She supported herself doing something she loved and that others will always value and appreciate. Hers is indeed a worthwhile life.
Source: Personal interview with Phyllis Dana, October 2001
Luella Ruth Brown Boyer, probably the first African-American businesswoman in Everett, arrived here about 1902 with her husband John C. Boyer. Soon after they arrived, their marriage broke up, and Luella supported herself and her adopted daughter Esther Marie as a hairdresser, styling herself “Madame Boyer,” and later established a salon in Everett’s theater district.
Luella Ruth Brown was born in either October 1868 or September 1869 in Keosauqua, Van Buren County, Iowa, to Lewis and Elizabeth (Henderson) Brown. Her parents had come from Missouri to Van Buren County in about 1864. Lewis Brown traced his family lineage to the first 20 slaves brought to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. Elizabeth Henderson Brown performed housework for white families, including several lawyers. Her son Samuel Joe Brown, Luella’s younger brother (1875-1950), fulfilled his mother’s dream that he would become a lawyer and went on to a distinguished career as an attorney and civil rights leader. Her mother’s dreams for her children likely also inspired Luella. Both parents, however, were dead by about 1889. Samuel Joe Brown, Lawyer
More information is needed about Luella’s life between the ages of 12 and 26; i.e., between her appearance in the 1880 Census and her first marriage around 1896 to John C. Boyer. She was 25 years younger than her first husband. Born in 1844 to free blacks in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, John C. Boyer moved westward with the frontier seeking business opportunities as a barber, and likely networked with black barbers in the East. He worked in Dakota Territory and in Kansas, and possibly met Luella in Iowa. By 1900 the couple, now married, was living in Lewiston, Idaho. Two years later they arrived in Everett.
Around the time they came to Everett, John and Luella Boyer legally adopted baby Esther Marie. Polk’s 1902-03 Everett Directory lists John as a traveling salesman–probably of hair care products—and Luella as the proprietress of a ladies’ hair emporium at 2928 Colby Ave.; this address was also their residence. After this John C. Boyer disappears from Polk’s Everett Directory. He turns up again in the 1920 Census for Seattle; nonetheless Luella, in the 1910 Census, maintained the polite fiction that she was a widow.
As a single mother in a new town, Luella, however, was not without resources. She must have turned to John Boyer’s business connections, and to her own schooling. The Polk’s Directory entries for the years 1902 through 1912 show how she established and expanded her business:
1902: Boyer, Mme. Luella, ladies’ hair emporium, 2928 Colby Ave., residence same. John C. Boyer, a traveling salesman, res 2928 Colby.
1904: Listed in the business section of Polk’s Directory under Hair Goods: Boyer, Mme. Luella, 2928 Colby Ave., Everett.
1905: Boyer, Mrs. Luella, hair gds 2928 Colby Ave., h 3816 Wetmore Ave., res 3615 Lombard Ave.
1906: Boyer, Mrs. Luella, hair gds 2006 ½ Hewitt Ave., h 3818 Wetmore Ave.
1907: Boyer, Mrs. Luella, hairdresser 2006 ½ Hewitt Ave., h 3818 Wetmore Ave.
1908: Boyer, Mme. Luella, Hairdresser and Dermatologist, 1910 ½ Hewitt Ave., home same, Tels Sunset 1645 Ind 521Y
1909: same address, Tel Main 1645
1910: same address, Tels 1645 Ind 521Y
1911: Boyer, Mme. Luella, Hairdresser and Dermatologist, 2923 ½ Oakes Av, home same, Tels Sunset 1645 Ind 521Y
1912: Boyer, Mme. Luella, Hairdresser and Dermatologist, 11 Eclipse Block, Tel Ind 1948Y, Sunset 1645, h 5 Eclipse Block.
Madame Boyer’s obituary indicates that she was well known in the community, yet I suspect that she was following trends developing elsewhere. According to historian Tiffany Gill, “Madame” was frequently adopted by black women hairdressers and came to signify them almost exclusively. The most famous of these “Madames” was Madam C. J. Walker of Indianapolis, who was developing her line of hair care products at the same time that Madame Boyer was establishing her business. One might speculate that Madame Boyer knew, or knew of, Madam C. J. Walker, and may even have sold her products.
Luella also worked as a housekeeper. The Everett Public Library has the receipts that she signed, for $1.00 a night, for occasional backstage housekeeping at the Everett Theatre at 2911 Colby, nearly across the street from her business address. She may also have done hairdressing backstage.Receipt for custodion services for Luella
A peak event in her life must have been the performance, on January 16, 1905, of the first all African-American musical comedy, “In Dahomey,” at the Everett Theatre. The touring company featured show business legends George Walker, his wife Aida Overton Walker, and Bert Williams, song and dance comedians who had recently entertained the King of England in London. Meeting them was a rare opportunity to network and maybe inspired her to expand her business.
Just before she remarried, Luella Boyer was enumerated in the 1910 Census. She was age 42, with her own hairdressing parlor, and she employed a black maid. Her husband-to-be, Bertrand Brent, who was white, was born about 1878 in Missouri, and was working in 1910 as a waiter in a restaurant. In 1911 his occupation was a janitor at the Everett Public Library. They were married just after the census was taken, on April 20, 1910, by Father H. P. Saindon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church. Presumably Bertrand Brent was Catholic, but Luella was not, and as a condition of their marriage she agreed to have her daughter Esther raised Catholic. At about this time Esther began boarding at St. Dominic’s Academy, adjacent to the church.
At the time of her remarriage, Luella Boyer Brent was at her most prosperous. It may have been about this time that she and her husband began buying property in Snohomish and King Counties. At the time of her death, they owned in Pinehurst Lot 13, Block 14, and Lots 23 & 24, Block 23; in the Climax Land Co.’s Addition to Everett, Lots 24 & 25 in Block 2, and in Interurban Heights in King County, Lot 13, Block 14. For the Pinehurst lost Luella paid $100 out of her own funds out of a total of $143.95. These were unimproved lots except for those in Everett, for which was paid $894.41, of which the Brents recouped $500 paid by their insurance company for loss due to fire.
Luella Boyer Brent died December 18, 1912 from diabetes. Upon her death Bertrand Brent began the long (1912-1918) and frustrating process of administering her estate. Luella’s only will, drawn in 1909, was outdated; Mr. Brent therefore had Luella declared to have died intestate, and petitioned to be named administrator. After he had paid all her creditors, and the attorneys and appraisers, he declared to the court the necessity of selling Luella’s real property in order to pay his costs and expenses. But none came forward to buy either the real property or the remaining salon fixtures and hair goods. Finally, Mr. Brent declared that since no sale had been made, the balance of the estate should be distributed between the heirs, i.e., him and Esther. On June 14, 1918, the estate was fully and finally settled and closed.Gravestone of Luella Boyer Brent
At this point Madame Boyer disappears from the public records. I am still looking for a photo of her. Her former residences on Hewitt Ave. are now lost to the complex of the Everett Performing Arts Center and Comcast Arena. At the address where her salon was located on Colby Ave. there is today a nail salon.
Thanks to David Dilgard of the Everett Public Library for the image of Mrs. Boyer’s signed receipt from the night “In Dahomey” played at the Everett Theatre. Thanks to my husband Christopher Summitt for the photo of the grave marker.
1850 and 1860 Censuses, Woodward Township, Clinton County, Pennsylvania.
1870 Census, Crawford Township, Clinton County, Pennsylvania.
1880 Census: Keosauqua, Van Buren County, Iowa; Central City, Lawrence County, Dakota Territory.
1900 Census, Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho.
1910 Census, Everett 3rd Ward, Snohomish County, Washington.
1920 Census, Seattle 230th Ward, King County, Washington.
Polk’s Everett and Snohomish County Directories, 1902-1912.
Marriage Certificate of Luella Boyer and Bertrand Brent, Snohomish County, Washington.
Death Certificate for Ruth Brent, Everett, Snohomish County, Washington, registered no. 213.
Probate file of Luella Ruth Brent, 1912-1918, Washington State Archives, Northwest Regional Branch, Bellingham.
Tiffany Gill, Black Beauty Shops: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry, University of Illinois Press, 2010.
Everett’s rapid growth in the early 1890s provided jobs for laborers on the bustling waterfront and in the area’s logging, mining, and railroad camps. Poor living conditions contributed to epidemics of smallpox, diphtheria, and typhoid. Accidents and steam-engine explosions also regularly disrupted life for many. Most laborers lacked families and stable homes for long-term convalescence. Steamboats transported them to hospitals in other, more established Puget Sound cities. In 1892 a core of Everett’s humanitarian, civic-minded women garnered the support of their local physician, Dr. W. C. Cox, and together they convinced the city council to form an organization to build Everett’s first hospital. The volunteer efforts of these Gilded Age women, often the wives of prominent businessmen, helped bring this hospital into existence. A board of twenty-five Lady Managers ran it for a decade and they deserve recognition for steering it through the serious economic difficulties associated with the Depression of 1893.
Augusta Plummer Foster, the first Lady Managers’ President, arrived out West with hospital management experience. The term “Lady Managers” received national recognition in the early 1890s from the Board of Lady Manager’s who ran the Women’s Building at the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition (commonly known as the Chicago Worlds’ Fair). At the fair, prominent American suffragettes, experienced civic leaders, important businessmen’s wives, and other educated women hosted the International Council of Women’s Congress. Fair coverage exposed the management skills of women and their successes in running numerous urban settlement houses, hospitals, women’s prisons, asylums, and reformatories. Foster’s experiences back East prepared her for leadership and personally connected her with Easterners associated with the Everett Land Company and local business developments.
Everett’s first hospital,
Courtesy Everett Public Library.
The Lady Managers needed about $5000 for the construction of a wooden building with a thirty-bed capacity. They grew their account at the Everett National Bank with hopes for opening a non-denominational, community hospital by fall of 1893. The traditional paternalistic model for 19th Century hospitals promoted a well-run home with the goal of restoring health and returning the sick and injured back to productivity. This required a strictly-run schedule centered on good care and hygiene along with regular meals. With lofty humanitarian pride to guide them, Lady Managers solicited funding: cash, city lots, annual memberships or subscriptions, and attendance at community events. Annual membership dues cost $3 per person and before the hospital opened, $50 purchased a lifetime membership. After it opened, people paid $100 for lifetime membership and spent $150 to endow a bed. Public entertainments garnered the most journalistic enthusiasm.
The culture-starved of Everett eagerly embraced community events sponsored by the Lady Managers. Events included plays, suppers, dances, concerts, bazaars, and picnics. A formal winter ball held in the empty building of Clark’s new department store officially kicked off fund-raising in January of 1893. Well-heeled socialites purchased $1.50 tickets per couple to dance and dine in style, and they raise $345. News articles described each woman’s elegant ball gown, the dinner menu served by the Hotel Monte Christo staff, and the decorations at Clark’s store. Other reports likened the event to bees swarming the cultural hive and they also exposed Everett’s intense rivalry with Seattle. Thirty Everett businessmen threatened to withdraw support for the hospital if the Lady Manager’s employed a Seattle band instead of local Everett musicians!
In the summer, ground-breaking ceremonies commenced, complete with Masonic rites and a buried time capsule. Slayton, Downey & Co. built the hospital to designs by Berglund & MacKenzie. However, the Depression of 1893 hit hard that summer and slowed down the efforts to open the hospital debt-free by fall. Simple, inexpensive community fund-raising events continued to gather support, but at a slower pace than anticipated. Events included plays and a steamboat ride for 50 cents to a picnic at the Tulalip Reservation. By fall, the economic downturn created the need for specific fund-raisers, such as the “Furnace Dance”. With moderately priced 25 cent tickets, the dance netted $40. Fall and winter events included a concert and the first annual Christmas bazaar with booths of donated items and inexpensive food choices. Chicken salad and oyster stew – the highest priced items – cost 25 cents per serving. Baked beans, veal, ham, coleslaw, cakes and pies ranged from 5 – 20 cents per item. The bazaar brought in about $200 and helped the hospital open the doors in January of 1894.
The following may not be a complete list of Lady Managers, just those listed in news accounts. If you have information on Lady Managers, please contact the Northwest Room at the Everett Public Library.
March 1893: President, Mrs. Augusta Plummer Foster; 1st Vice President, Mrs. W. G. Swalwell; 2nd Vice President Mrs. L.K. Church; 3rd Vice President, Mrs. J. J. Clark; Secretary, Mrs. S. S. Neff; Treasurer, Mrs. C. D. Fratt; Additional Members: Mesdames James M. Vernon, C. P. Moore, B. S. Grosscup, R. M. Mitchell, E. D. Smith, M. Swartout, J. J. Rutledge, R. McFarland, D. F. Powers, G. L Hutchings, Stephen Knowlton, D. S. Hawley, S. F. Robinson, W. De F. Edwards, Edward Mills, H. M. Turrell, E. C. White, W. C. Butler, and Miss Annie Brown.
April, 1893: Mrs. Schuyler Duryee
Apr, 1896: Emma L. Edwards, Secretary.; Mrs. Baird, Treasurer; Mrs. Foster, President resigned due to a move to Tacoma, new President Mrs. C. C. Brown
April, 1901: President, Mrs. C. C Brown; Vice Presidents: 1st VP Mrs. L. E Thayer, 2nd VP Mrs. W. G. Swalwell, 3rd VP Mrs. Walter Thornton, Secretary Mrs. W De F Edwards, and Treasurer Mrs. Bert A. Vollans. Other Members, Mesdames: J. T. McChesney, W. G. Bickelhaupt, E. A. Nickerson, T. B. Sumner, F. Schofield, C. E. Hill, W. F. Hall, Ella Jarman, E. L. Bailey, C. G. Smythe, C. I. Marshall, George St. John, R. B. Hassell, F. A. Wheelihan, Rexford, A. A. Brodeck, F. A. Clark, A. C. Campbell, A. L. Manning.
Feb, 1903: Mesdames: C. C. Brown, W. de F. Edwards, W. G. Swalwell, L E. Thayer, F. Schofield, B. H. Vollans, Edgar Bailey, James B. Best, F. K. Baker, A. A. Brodeck, H. W. Bell, W. G. Bikelhaupt, J. A. Coleman, J. H. Gillett, H. Lansdowne, C. G. Smythe, George E. St. John, T. B. Sumner, Walter Thornton.
Miss Jennie E. Huntley, the first matron of the hospital, helped nurse five patients in the first month of operations. She lived on the first floor of the hospital and arrived out West with nursing experience in Massachusetts and New York. Her first floor location also oversaw the reception area and surgery rooms while the second floor housed patient wards. The third floor provided extra space for future beds and the nurses’ quarters. A nursing school started in the late 1890s and produced seventeen new nurses. The basement hummed with laundry and cooking facilities, but by 1901 Everett’s population expansion stretched the hospital’s capabilities. The
Lady Managers appealed for funding and raised $3000 for renovation and expansion. By 1903, up to seventy patients per month strained the Lady Managers’ ability to pay the bills, especially since they refused to turn away poor patients who could not pay their fees.
Many factors contributed to the Lady Managers’ financial strains. Certainly Everett’s rapid expansion contributed to the need for change, however, larger issues on a national and cultural level also contributed to this strain. A major cause stemmed from rapid advancements in scientific knowledge that revolutionized the practice of medicine. Scientific progress created a new model for hospital care based on an accurate diagnosis. Laboratory testing, bacteria’s role in infection and disease, aseptic surgical techniques, and new diagnostic equipment – particularly X-rays – all changed the nature of hospitals and patient care. Doctors specialized in different fields of medicine and could no longer afford to own all the equipment needed for accurate diagnosis. The physicians on hospital staffs grew and they all demanded modern facilities equipped with the latest inventions. In other words, the hospital model transitioned from the well-run home into a professionally managed, cash-transition institution with a market-based approach. In 1904 the era of volunteer management drew to a close as the city looked to plans for a new, private hospital.
In 1904, Mrs. Electra Friday, a former matron at the first hospital, ushered Everett into a new phase of medical history and opened a private facility, Everett General Hospital. The new hospital signaled a step towards modernization, but the Lady Managers also shared in modernizing Everett. Over fifty women served diligently on board positions for a dozen years, and even greater numbers assisted with the annual bazaars, fund-raisers, and community events. Even though the board ended, the structure they helped create continued to serve the community as a Norwegian College and School for Normal Training. The building’s sale also extended the Lady Managers’ community influence by providing funds for purchasing books at the new Carnegie Library. The dozen years of civic-minded, humanitarian work by so many volunteer women helped care for Everett’s sick and injured as the area modernized from a Puget Sound boom-town into a well-established young city.
—Information on the Lady Managers comes from 1892 – 1904 news articles from The Everett Herald, The Everett Times, The Everett News, and The Everett Daily Herald assembled by David Larson in two Everett Hospital binders, Everett Public Library’s Northwest Room Collection
—Whitfield, William. History of Snohomish County, Washington. Chicago: Pioneer Historical Pub. Co, 1926.
—General information on the term “Lady Managers” and their work at the Chicago World’s Fair comes from “The Board of Lady Managers, 1888 – 1893” (pages 285 – 310) in Barbara White’s The Beecher Sisters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), and from The Congress of Women held in the Woman’s Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893: with portraits, biographies, and addresses. Mary Kavanaugh Oldham Eagle, Editor (Cleveland: Hamilton, 1894).
—In the 1890s, most established hospitals in the Puget Sound were run by churches and denominational institutions. The Catholic Church helped Everett’s Catholics start Providence Hospital in the former Hotel Monte Christo in 1905. See Whitfield, Vol. I, p. 782 for Catholic hospital work in Everett. See Nancy Rockafeller & James W. Haviland (Editors) for general history of medicine in Seattle in Saddlebags to Scanners: the first 100 years of medicine in Washington State (Washington State Medical Association, Education & Research Foundation, 1989.)
—For the shift from the home – family model for hospitals to the modern industrial-organizational model, see “Preface” (ix-xvi) and Charles E. Rosenberg’s Introductory essay, “Community and Communities: The Evolution of the American Hospital” (pages 3-17) in The American General Hospital: Communities and Social Contexts, edited by Diana Elizabeth Long and Janet Golden (Ithaca: Cornel University Press, 1989).
Enid Thrall Nordlund, born in 1906, was steeped in the mystery of growing things from an early age. In later years, the yard of her 1898 home was filled with old-fashioned perennials and delicate forest plants. Red and white trilliums grew side by side with little-known mosses and ferns. Birds flocked to the feeders with their varied menus as her cat, trained to watch but not pounce, sat idly by. Watching too, was this lady who spent much of her lifetime nurturing nature’s offspring.
As a child Enid observed as her mother carefully tended the perennials which brightened their modest home on Everett’s “Riverside.” The family had inherited eight lots with an orchard on the high end and swampland lower. Slowly, the property was transformed with gardens.
In 1920 her mother, Anna Thrall, opened the first commercial nursery in the area, specializing in perennials and rockery plants. Enid became her mother’s employee at age 14 and spent after school hours transplanting and learning. Often she was observed studying the huge, unabridged dictionary at the library with a long list of plant names in Latin on the table beside that tome. She attempted to decipher pronunciation and find out why the plants had been given such strange names by long-dead botanists.
In addition to normal nursery duties, Enid and her sister Dorotha would spend hours each fall gathering holly for Christmas wreaths. Over 300 holly trees of various types were planted around the perimeter of the property. Enid could make a wreath in six minutes flat. She said, “Our sign said ‘Holly Wreaths – 25 cents – Delivered,’ Can you imagine that? Delivered!” The sisters continued the sideline of making wreaths for 55 years.
Sundays were days of rest and family outings. A love of exploring and hiking far hills was instilled early. One hard lesson was learned in May of 1918 when Enid and Dorotha went on their first serious hike up to Lake Serene on Mt. Index. She reflects, “You know, that’s too early to go up there on your first real hike. There was snow, and we had to hike clear up from the Stevens Pass highway. We crossed a swinging bridge and went two and a half miles just to get to the start of the trail. We didn’t have slacks in those days, just dresses. Of course, we were soaking wet. It’s a wonder that experience didn’t turn us off to hiking.” Clearly it didn’t.
Enid and her friends continued to explore mountain areas, including one that was to become very special to her – Monte Cristo. In 1924, the Royal Hotel in the old mining town was the “place to go.” Even the ride in was an adventure, aboard the gasoline excursion car along the old Everett and Monte Cristo railway tracks.
When the railway bed washed out, groups of friends made the pilgrimage on foot. She developed a habit of taking along flower seed and planting all along the way from Granite Falls to Monte Cristo. Trays of leftover sedum plants were carefully inserted in the crevasses of the natural “rockery” walls of Robe canyon, at that time a treacherous stretch of abandoned train tracks (now converted into the Robe Canyon hiking trail).
In 1934 she married Ed Nordlund, inviting him to share in her love of the mountains and planting flowers in the wilderness. Their first home was in Kenmore, where she started her own rockery planting service as well as continuing to help in her parents’ Everett nursery several times a week. However, they continued their mountain excursions, always taking plants and seeds along, and with the seed of an idea germinating in their minds – to build at Monte Cristo. In 1948 they purchased three lots on Dumas Street, where buildings were left as deteriorating ruins.
The Royal Hotel was no more, but the old Boston American Mine cookhouse, converted to a resort, continued to attract visitors. By 1951 the Nordlunds, who had moved back to Everett, built a small cabin at Monte Cristo entirely from salvaged lumber and windows from snow-crushed buildings. Enid soon became the old mining town’s volunteer naturalist, leading trail tours and giving illustrated lectures for resort patrons.
The cabin was decorated with artifacts dug from collapsed structures of the old town site. Colorful, broken bottle necks hung from strings like garlands framing the windows. The Nordlunds collected, sold, and used antiques all of their lives. The kitchen in their Everett home sported a fine old woodstove with warming ovens, a fancier cousin to the one they used at their cabin.
Visitors to Monte Cristo in succeeding years began to notice the flowers Enid planted. Near the townsite, paths were bordered by daffodils in early June (later than normal because of heavy snow). Swiss blue-bells and the non-native, but more colorful Russell’s lupine lined pathways. In more inaccessible areas, she planted edelweiss and trolius imported from Switzerland.
Often visitors, in those days before environmental sensitivity, would dig up the flowers and take them back to the city, prompting her to plant farther and farther from established trails. “It has been said that city people come to the mountains to pick it, dig it or, if it moves, shoot it,” she observed.
Wildlife was a common sight and a joy. A marten would sit on the woodpile, looking in the cabin window, waiting to be fed a piece of banana or other treat. Mountain goats were visible more than a thousand feet above their home, and the chipmunks and birds would always be fed with a sprinkling of seed atop an old pot-bellied stove beside the fir tree. Enid recorded all in her journals – the animals, native flowers, mosses, ferns, trees, mushrooms, even the insects. (An entry, “deerflies,” has an exclamation point after it – they bite viciously!)
The loss of a favorite deer hit hard. They had named her “Mercedes,” and though thoroughly wild, she was accustomed to spending time in the area with her fawns on the way to the high country. Her visits continued for 12 years until the game department decided to allow the shooting of does. One summer she simply vanished, causing the Nordlunds to view every hunter in the area with suspicion.
This woman of the mountains absorbed her losses over time. Her husband died slowly of Alzheimers disease. Her sister Dorotha, who lived with her in later years, preceded her in death as well. Still, in spite of failing eyesight, she continued to help those who wished to learn. She sold the cabin at Monte Cristo to close friends who maintain it as she left it, in her honor. Her vast collection of historic photos was shared with both the Everett and University of Washington libraries. The Snohomish County Museum in Everett was the recipient of many artifacts from her collection.
Enid died at the age of 97 in October 2003. Still, for those who drive the Mountain Loop Highway or hike to Monte Cristo, there remain a few flowers that have adapted and survived, tucked away in crevices to puzzle and delight those who discover Enid Nordlund’s legacy.
Her life has been a medley with three themes—Family, Community and Music
by Ann Duecy Norman
What was amazing was that she got the job.
Grace Wilcox had just graduated from college. Her dream was a career in music. She’d starred in college musicals and won vocal competitions. She’d been the featured vocalist on one of the new live music request programs, broadcast via radio, the cutting edge communications technology of the day. But it was 1930, The Great Depression was eroding employment, and there were few jobs in her field. She had no teaching experience, but when she’d heard the Arlington School District was about to hire its first Music Supervisor, she’d sent her resume and a plan.
Music Supervisor was an enviable position, and it paid well. Her $100 a month salary was more than that of most women, including experienced classroom teachers. She spent her mornings teaching in the district’s seven grade schools and her afternoons experimenting with ways to capture the attention of bored rural high school students.
Grace was up to the challenge. She’d grown up on a farm with parents who had a passion for music. They’d made sure that their five children not only fed the chickens and attended the one-room school, but also took turns cranking the Edison phonograph while the family listened to classical records. Grace’s favorite times were the evenings when her family gathered around the piano and sang, and she hoped to inspire a similar love and knowledge of music in her students.
When she’d figured out that participating in regional music competitions sparked student interest, she’d felt she was making progress. As it turned out, her most difficult problem was not with the students, it was in dealing with one man—the high school principal. He felt musical competitions were a waste of time and, although the school district transported athletes to sporting events, he drew the line at transporting vocalists. Her selection of a Native American for the high school quartet had provoked even more strenuous objections. “Keep him down where he belongs.” he had insisted. When no one would support her in challenging him, Grace quit arguing and simply ignored him. For the most part her strategy was successful. The talented minority student was the star of the high school quartet. Parents provided transportation. The quartet won first place and the girl’s glee group placed second. Although the principal got his revenge by ignoring their victory and refusing to display the pennants they won, there were consolations.
Grace enjoyed teaching, had a growing circle of friends, and was dating some interesting fellows. Then she met Howard Bargreen. She was enchanted. So was he. According to Bargreen family lore, when Howard arrived home after their first date, he awakened his mother, showed her a picture of Grace, and said, “Look, this is the woman I am going to marry.”
Grace and Howard were engaged that spring, but for Grace, their relationship posed a painful dilemma: at that time, married women were not allowed to teach. It was a difficult decision, but romance prevailed. They were married in the summer of 1931.
Once the honeymoon was over, Grace was, in her words, “bored to tears”. Howard worked all day, and although she was pleased that his friends invited her to their teas and luncheons, she did not intend to fill her days with social functions. Did women attend these affairs, she wondered, “just to be busy”. Then, as if in response to her wishes, she received a telephone call offering her a part-time position as a vocalist in Seattle. She was elated, but Howard asked her not to accept it. “I’m afraid we’ll drift apart,” he had told her. Like her mother, when faced with a decision in which her desires differed from her husband’s, Grace chose the latter.
A few months later she became pregnant, and disappointment was replaced by delight. For Grace, parenting was rewarding, and household management became her occupation. “Instead of going out on my career,” she says, “I had four children.”
In time, she found other ways to pursue her love for music. She joined the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle and participated in an Everett women’s group that performed “Musical Readings” at social events and fundraisers. As she describes her life, it is clear that her participation in these activities was one of the keys to her happiness. As she says, “It let me sing.”
Once the children were in school, Grace began to address community problems. Throughout her life, she contributed in numerous, creative and often unsung ways, leading campaigns –sometimes clandestine, sometimes overt –to address needs ranging from passing school tax levies to clothing low income children, helping found a guild to support Children’s Hospital, and –along with her friend Neva Stuchell—successfully plotting to assure that Camp Fire girls got a much needed lodge.
Grace typifies her relationship with Howard as a partnership. “We were so different in many ways,” she says, “but we were a good pair.” He was a successful entrepreneur, served as a state senator for sixteen years, and played a major role in organizing the 1962 World’s Fair. She was the traditional homemaker and community volunteer, providing the support he needed for his successful career, and, from time to time, contributing in other ways. For instance, when the position of personnel director for merchandising at the World’s Fair was unexpectedly vacated, he turned to her to fill it. She enjoyed the challenge, but notes that her “working wardrobe” always included a couple of cocktail dresses hanging from a hook on the back of her office door. It is perhaps a metaphor for her life that when evening came, she easily made the transition from marshalling a diverse army of workers to being a supportive spouse, accompanying her husband as they entertained visiting dignitaries from around the world.
Grace’s life has been a medley composed of three themes: family, community and music. She experienced both great good fortune and profound personal tragedy. Her daughter, Teddy, a talented professional photographer, was killed in a tragic accident. Howard passed away. Shortly after that, her son Sam, died. Following these losses, and perhaps as a way of coping with them, her community volunteer role became more than a full-time job—it consumed her life. But, as she explains it, one day, she experienced a conceptual breakthrough. She realized she wanted more time with her family, she said “No” to volunteer activities, and, as she puts it, “I took up golf.”
While she occasionally sounds wistful when she talks about the musical career she didn’t pursue, Grace is quick to say, “I’ve no regrets. It’s been an interesting life.” However, as she talks about her granddaughters’ lives, she applauds their greater freedom to combine professional and family life, while also recognizing the extraordinary personal effort that choice still entails.
Having read Grace’s story, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that in 2002, a year after this interview, her son Howie reported that he and his mother had just completed a round of golf, that she had recently remarried, and that at the age of 94, she was beginning a new chapter in her remarkable career.
Interviews with Grace Bargreen, September 2001
Videotape, Greater Everett Community Foundation, recorded September 2001
Conversations with Grace’s son, Howie Bargreen, September 2002; February 2007
Phone conversations with Grace Bargreen, January and February 2007