Marie Louise Anderson Wenberg

– Political Activist, Teacher and Postmaster & Park Namesake
Marie Louise Anderson (SAHS 2001_132_07)

Born in Minnesota October 4th 1884, this photograph of a determined and serious little girl is the first in which she never smiled. In 1906 she graduated from Pacific Lutheran Academy in Parkland, Washington. She studied to be a teacher and taught at Parkland Parochial School. Following that she also taught in Tacoma, Port Madison, and Quincy and Arlington public schools until about 1910. In May 1911 Marie Louise Anderson and Oscar Wenberg married at the Parkland Lutheran Church and two years later in 1913 Marie and Oscar Wenberg bought a farm near Florence Washington.

That same year Marie became Matron of Josephine Old People’s Home*; Oscar was Superintendant for three years. In an account by Bertha Logan who was a one of the caregivers there “Mr. Wenberg was chaplain and tended the coal burning furnace and various task, while Mrs. Wenberg kept the books and took care of business and social jobs”…the home had a barn and cows on the 10 acres with a garden large enough to grow produce for the 18-19 residents.
In the 1920 Census Oscar is listed as a wheat farmer, he and Marie have two children, Marie and Johan. She was active in many organizations during these years including Stanwood’s Monday Study Club and the Stillaguamish Grange. She joined the Snohomish County Federated Womens Club as a founding member. She was also a member of the Snohomish County Legislative Federation and the Womens Christian Temperance Union. She and Oscar both became political activists.

Photo from the East Stanwood Press Nov. 1, 1922

In 1922 (the same year East Stanwood incorporated) she appears in a newspaper promotion advertising her candidacy as the Farmer – Labor nominee for the Washington State Legislature from the 49th District. Her slogan was “Dare to do right” and “Wring Out the profits and operate for service.” The Farmer Labor party was a small third party primarily representing workers and labor rights at a time when companies didn’t provide sick leave or worker’s compensation. It won about 19 percent of the vote that year. In 1936 there were strikes and walkouts threatened at the mills and canneries. The local companies did not recognize the union but in most cases they already paid higher than union wages in so union activism in Stanwood was short-lived (see Echoes Winter 2019). She lost to Alonzo Willhite and R. D. Deselle (both Republicans) at a time when the top two vote became the two representatives of the district.
Marie never ran for office again but worked for her husband and continued to advocate for her causes. As a member of the Womens Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) she opposed amending the “dry law” to permit manufacture or sale of wine or beer, though it was upheld.
Marie and Oscar lived on a small farm near “Norman” in the Stillaguamish Valley through 1930. Oscar was farming and Marie continued teaching.

In 1929 Gunderson replaced his original Star Furniture storefront with a new building to house a new East Stanwood Post Office.  That building still stands with his name on it pictured above.**

In 1935 at the age of 50, Marie became postmistress in East Stanwood taking over from C. J. Gunderson who had established the East Stanwood Post Office in 1913. The post office building in East Stanwood was originally located in the building that later became a barber shop on the south side of the street. Later Gunderson, an influential businessman in East Stanwood moved it to his hardware / furniture / store (the Star Furniture Company building). Her husband Oscar had a partnership in the Gunderson’s hardware store at the time. Gunderson was also the local undertaker.
While working as Postmaster, in 1936 Mrs. Louise Wenberg was made President of the Snohomish County Rural Recreation Committee (Stanwood Story v. 2 p.90) In this role she began a campaign to purchase 20 acres on the east side of Lake Goodwin from C. D. Hillman for $1500 to be established as a park. 1939 Oscar elected to Washington State House of Representatives – served through 1952. His political platform included support for labor, pensions, the Grange program and the public utility. He also was influential in the effort towards funding the construction of the Stanwood Camano Mark Clark bridge and the new Camano Island State Park.

In November of 1939 Marie Wenberg, as President of the Snohomish County Rural Park Association dedicated the small County park at Lake Goodwin. Funds for the park came from the W.P.A. in the amount of $8,160 and the balance from the County. Though Rep. Wenberg’s standing as a legislator inevitably helped this cause an editorial in the Arlington Times Aug. 30, 1956 stated “It was Mrs. Wenberg who kept up a persistent campaign that came precariously close to failure until finally the plot became county property and was ad available to the State.” The Twin City News (Nov 9, 1939) reported that “the park will be known hereafter as Wenberg park, honoring Mrs. Louise Wenberg, through whose untiring efforts the work was carried on.”

Wenberg Park shelter – The Wenbergs (far left and second from right) and county officials who established Wenberg County Park named for Marie Wenberg. (photo from Wenberg files at the SAHS); Courtesy Stanwood Area Historical Society 2001_132_10

Various individuals and organizations also donated time and equipment for grading and graveling the road and building ball fields and picnic areas. The County park became a State Park in 1947 but went back to being a Snohomish County park in 2009.

After 10 years at the end of the ware in 1945 Marie Wenberg resigned as East Stanwood Postmaster at the age of 61. In 1952 her husband Oscar Wenberg died of a stroke where they lived with their daughter. Marie lived twenty more years and died Nov 15, 1972 at age of 84.

For more photographs and a slightly modified version of this story – see the Stanwood Area Echoes #64

“Farmer Labor Candidate for lower House” East Stanwood Press, Stanwood News, Arlington Times and Everett Herald. “Will incorporate Recreation body” Arlington Times Apr. 2, 1936 “Credit where is due” Editorial August 30, 1956 Arlington Times; Wenberg Luce Family Records Stanwood Area Historical Society; “Mrs. Wenberg Active in Civic Affairs” [paid advertisement] Arlington Times, Nov. 2, 1922 “The Emergence of the Farmer-Labor Party in Washington Politics, 1919-20” Hamilton Cravens The Pacific Northwest Quarterly Vol. 57, No. 4 (Oct., 1966), pp. 148-157 (10 pages). Interview with Louise Wenberg Luce (daughter – in – law) 2008

[*later Josephine Sunset Home now Josephine Caring Community]

**The East Stanwood Post Office was located in this new Gunderson Building until 1960 when the new Post Office building was built (now the Stanwood Camano News offices).  About that same time the towns and post offices consolidated and the post office operated there until 1976 when the new current Post office building was completed.

Stanwood and East Stanwood post offices were separate until they were consolidated under Lars Sagen in 1961 soon after the two towns consolidated.
In 1965 Sagen retired and Ray Brandstrom became Postmaster. At that time postmasters were appointed by the President through a patronage system of appointing postmasters and rural letter carriers. In 1969 that was finally changed by President Richard Nixon. The Postmaster General then appointed all postmasters from within the competitive Civil Service.
In 1976 the new (current) Post Office building was completed.

Copyright  Karen Prasse & Stanwood Area Historical Society; WLP Story #84



Anna Blacken Carlson Swanson

A short story about the life of one of the Stillaguamish Valley’s early Pioneers.

By A. Loren Kraetz

Courtesy Author

Anna Blacken Swanson was born Jan. 6, 1865 in Surendalen Khristiansund, Norway. Her parents, Ole and Maret (Toalge) Blacken, had a small farm, but like so many other Norwegians at that time, had heard of the alluring riches of America and dreamed of a chance for a better life in the new world. This meant leaving their home, friends and loved ones, with the probability of never seeing any of them ever again.

Anna was three years old when she sailed from Norway with her parents on a frigate headed for Quebec, Canada their final destination. Four hundred passengers, all Norwegians, paid $15 for their passage. Each person was allowed two quarts of water a day. They took all food necessary for the entire journey. Fifty-three days were spent on the ship without seeing land. During the crossing eleven passengers were buried at sea. The ship had a stormy crossing, one storm lasting three weeks. Passengers were forced to hang onto their bunks, and throughout the storm they could not use their deck stoves (which were bolted to the deck) except at rare intervals. Heartfelt prayers of thanks for deliverance were given as the ship docked.
The immigrant train waited to transport them farther to their destination. Jolting from side to side, they endured thick black coal smoke, belching from the tugging steam engine. These were merely freight cars with board benches fixed along the sides.
On these, they sat, slept, and ate for the duration. On August 20th, 1868 they finally reached Northport, Michigan, in Leelanau County, where they were to make their new home.
It was here that Ole Blacken built a log cabin and began working in the lumber industry. His daughter Anna began her early education, becoming proficient in English and Norwegian.
As time went by the American dream began to tarnish. Frigid winds of winter, coupled with sub-zero temperatures, and followed by stifling hot summers with unbearable humidity made Michigan less than paradise.
The luring tales of something better on the Pacific coast haunted Anna and her brother John O. Blacken until they could resist no longer.
Marie, boarded a train for Seattle in Washington Territory. Upon arrival they made their way to the wharf, where they booked passage on a steamboat for Florence, Washington on the Stillaguamish River. From Florence they were carried up the river to Norman by Indians standing and propelling by long poles their shovel nosed canoes, which were most efficient in shallow water.
At Norman John had the good fortune of landing a job at McFadden’s logging camp. Anna hired on as camp cook. Growing up in the woods of Michigan, she had learned how to “make do” in the kitchen. Word soon spread of Anna’s savory skills. Quickly she had job offers up and down the river.
At this time logging on the Stillaguamish was in its infancy. There were no steam donkeys until after the railroads came in 1890-91. Logging was done by oxen and horses, mostly along the river banks using six yokes of oxen on a turn of three logs, pulled over puncheon, a “road” of small logs laid side by side, perpendicular to the track. The nearest saw mill was at Utsalady on Camano Island. It was there that ocean vessels could deliver the necessary machinery to erect a saw mill.
It wasn’t long until Anna’s reputation took her up both forks of the river, cooking in makeshift tent kitchens and mess halls. She felt comfortable being poled up and down the river by an experienced Indian canoeman, Jim Harvey, with whom she remained friends until his death.
In 1887 Anna married Charles Carlson of Sweden. They had a son, Elmer, in 1888. Anna continued cooking in the logging camp preparing three meals a day and doing some laundry. She took her seven year old niece, Marie, along to care for her infant son and to keep the native Indian children clear of her cake dough and bag of raisins. Perhaps Marie was the valley’s first playground supervisor!
Most of the early loggers were Scandinavians, and it was common practice at this time for laborers to ask logging foremen, “Who is the cook,” before asking about the wages. With Anna’s Norwegian background, she knew how to satisfy their hungry appetites with familiar food.
After four years of putting up with Charlie Carlson’s weakness for booze, Anna divorced him.
She was goal oriented and had a dream of owning a hotel. With the coming of the Great Northern Railway in Silvana in 1890-91, she saw the opportunity of having a successful business of her own. She had culinary skills, a command of English, Norwegian and Swedish, as well as a reputation of being honest and compassionate.
In 1892 she married her second husband, Neal Swanson, but continued using her skills in the camps.
By 1894 Anna had saved enough money to build a two-storied hotel in Silvana directly across from the Great Northern depot. She offered meals family style for 25 cents and rooms 25 cents single or doubles, 50 cents.
At last she could retire from the hard work of the logging camps and their harsh conditions. The hotel was an instant success. She had a steady stream of railroad men, bolt cutters and mill workers to keep the hotel more than fully occupied. She offered laundry service as well for her boarders.
With all the cooking, washing and room cleaning it required more than her two diligent hands. During this time many young girls also immigrated from Norway. These girls found employment scarce and many became depressed. They had no money to go back home, spoke only Norwegian, and seemed lost in the jungle of virgin timber.
During the ensuing years Anna took many of these young girls under her wing, giving them a job, food, and a place to stay and helping them learn English until they had a chance to gain some self-confidence and independence. Many of these immigrant girls found suitable husbands and spent the remainder of their lives within eyesight of Anna’s hotel in Silvana.
Anna and Neal Swanson had two children, Nina and Arthur. Neal adopted her first son, Elmer. In 1899 Anna suffered the loss of her husband of seven years when he fell from the Great Northern Railway trestle and died. With renewed determination, she set about raising three children and running her hotel.

Silvana Hotel The hotel in the center of this photograph is thought to be the second Silvana Hotel which burned 1902. Courtesy Stanwood Area Historical Society. circa 1900? Photographer Unknown

Two years later in March of 1901 another huge set back: Ewing’s general store caught fire, burning Anna’s hotel and the Peterson’s residence. In spite of the fact that Silvana had little water and no fire department, much of the hotel’s contents were saved.
With some insurance money Anna quickly bought lumber, and as soon as the embers cooled she rebuilt the hotel. Many of her boarders took a leave from the woods to help rebuild their home. In two months the hotel was back in full swing.
Conditions were just looking good when seventeen months later, on Aug. 23, 1902, a second devastating fire burned her new hotel, Ewing’s new general store, Peterson’s new home and two additional business houses. The fire of unknown origin started in a woodshed at the rear of Anna’s hotel. Once again the residents of Silvana came running and saved most of the hotel’s contents.

Now for the third time Anna began construction at once for a new building, this one being larger than the first two. By winter the hotel was up and running once again. This time she maintained a vacant lot on either side as a fire break.
As the valley gave way to dynamite, grubhoe and guts, many large prosperous farms developed around Silvana. Often farmers who employed large crews for haying, threshing, silo filling and pea vining would treat their crews to a tasty noon feast in the hotel’s large dining hall.
Anna was always there to meet special needs. She continued running the hotel with no further crises until 1925, when after 31 years of service to the community she decided to hang up her apron and sold the hotel to the “Sons of Norway” for their lodge building, renamed “The Viking Hall.”
The lodge removed the partitions on the upper story and made it into a dancehall with a stage at one end. The lower portion continued as a dining hall and office space.
During the next 27 years the hall was frequently used for smorgasbords and Scandinavian dances. By 1952 it began to sway when 150 or more Norwegians began to dance the schottische and polka. In the interest of safety it was taken down and replaced with the present Viking Hall.

Upon retirement at age 60 Anna built a small house at the west end of Silvana and enjoyed another 20 years of traveling, visiting and entertaining old friends. She stayed active in the “Daughters of Norway, “and founded the Camilla-Collett Lodge No. 25 in Silvana.
With Anna’s passing Jan. 1, 1946, just short of her 81st birthday, many heads were bowed in respect. Anna was known throughout the district for her hospitality and generosity. All her life she quietly performed many acts of charity, and it was said no worthy person was ever denied her assistance. The hardships of frontier life were cheerfully born by this witty, neighborly woman whose kindness and sympathy in the sickness and sorrow of others was typical of her early days. She was a woman of energy and talent, who was very influential in the early development of the social and cultural aspects of the Silvana community, leaving it a far better place than she found it sixty years earlier.

Note: Anna’s brother, John O. Blacken, became proprietor of a hotel and general store in Lakewood, Washington. Her niece, Marie (great-aunt of the author), became the farm wife of Alex Spoerhase and lived to become a centenarian.
Reference credits to:
The Arlington Times
Wilma Warner (grand-niece)
Mildred and Margaret Spoerhase (grand-nieces)

© 2010 Loren Kraetz, All Rights Reserved

Rosamund Spoerhase

Rosamund Spoerhase

~  A Pioneer Midwife
By Louise Lindgren

By the time Rosamund Flick Spinner Spoerhase, age 47, reached Snohomish County as an accomplished midwife, she had survived the birth of a daughter, a Sioux attack on her town, death of two young sons by measles, years alone as her husband fought in the Civil war, the murder of that man after war’s end, re-marriage at age 26, the birth of ten more children (with the death of one of those), and a trip across the continent in a boxcar from Minnesota to Arlington, Washington.

Rosamund was born in Germany in 1844, but grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota. At age sixteen she married Lieutenant John Spinner of the Union Army, settling in the town of her childhood. A daughter and two sons were born, with both boys dying of measles at an early age. The young mother was only 18 years old in 1862 when New Ulm was attacked by desperate, starving Sioux, who revolted while most of the military were away fighting the Civil War. New Ulm had few defenders, and the settlers withdrew to four brick buildings.
Rosamund took refuge with her husband on the second floor of the brick Dakota House, where she molded bullets, loaded muskets, and fired on the attackers with one of only two rifles that were in town. When relief finally arrived from Fort Ridgely only the four brick buildings remained. All wooden residences and businesses had gone down in flames. Four hundred fifty whites had lost their lives, along with an unknown number of Sioux. (This was a key event in the tensions that culminated with the tragedy of Wounded Knee in 1890.)
Rosamund and John quickly rebuilt their home. He left to fight in the Civil War, and she lived alone with her remaining child until war’s end in 1865. Upon his return John went into the meat business with William Spoerhase, but on the day before Christmas 1866 he was stabbed in a local tavern, dying in Rosamund’s arms.
Several more years of widowed survival passed before January 1870 when Rosamund married the business partner, William Spoerhase. In her mid-twenties she began a new life that would result in the birth of ten more children, nine living to adulthood. She had plenty of experience with childbirth, assisting her mother who served as midwife to numerous friends and neighbors.
In 1891, after the death of their youngest child, William and Rosamund decided to follow friends that had moved to Arlington, Washington. Rosamund was forty seven years old when they packed their children aboard a box car bound for the wilderness of the Stillaguamish Valley. Arriving on a Saturday evening, the newcomers found Arlington to be a small village where thirsty loggers were unwinding after a hard week’s work in the forest. The Stillaguamish River at the edge of town was at flood stage.
Shelter for the night was to be the home of their New Ulm friends, the Schlomans, who had homesteaded across the river from town. After firing rifle shots to attract that family’s attention, a shovel nosed dugout canoe emerged from the darkness of the opposite bank. Ben Schloman welcomed them to climb aboard, but Rosamund said, “No way are we attempting to cross a flooding river in the dark. We didn’t come two thousand miles to be drowned ….”
How they spent that night, worn out from the journey, is not recorded, but eventually they made it to Schloman’s, where they regrouped and stored some of their belongings. Purchasing fresh supplies, they hired members of the Stillaguamish tribe to transport them by canoe 25 miles upriver to Whitehorse, where Spoerhase planned to claim a homestead. One canoe rolled over, dumping its precious cargo of grocery staples in the river. Quick retrieval and a hastily built fire salvaged some goods, including a huge and solid lump of sugar, but the flour could only have been used as paste. A sodden tent shelter had to suffice until they built a log cabin, with hollow cedar trees used to protect food, pigs and chickens from rain and wild animals.

Spoerhase Family, 1920 – Back Row – Bertha, Toni, Meta, (3 Kraetz sisters) William Spoerhase Sr., Cosi Schloman Center – Rosamund Spoerhase Front Row – Rose, Margaret, Almeda W. (three Kraetz sisters), Helen, John Kraetz, John Wrage. All cousins and Rosamond’s Grandchildren.

In mid-winter, after two months in the soggy forest, Rosamund decided she and the youngest four children would return to Arlington, so the children could go to school and learn English, German being the language they spoke at home. William and his older boys remained at Whitehorse, cutting shingle bolts for cash income.
Rosamund, an outgoing social person, sought out doctors Phillips and Teager, Arlington’s first physicians, as well as Matilda Teager, proprietor of the drugstore. The newcomer’s nursing skills were highly valued, and during ensuing years she became a well known pioneer midwife from Darrington to Silvana, traveling by canoe as well as horse and buggy.
This pioneer midwife never really retired. In 1898, they sold the Whitehorse land and business, building a new home on sixty acres south of Arlington which they cleared and farmed until 1912. That year, her 68th, she delivered two grandsons the same day, several miles apart. Also that year they sold the farm to their son Alex and built another home for retirement in Arlington. Her last midwife service was for one of her great granddaughters in 1926 at age 82. Rosamund passed away in August of that year.
By the time she died she had assisted six successive Arlington doctors not only with births, but with an incessant string of logging injuries. She had delivered all ten children for her grand-daughter, Anna Kraetz, who was proud that she never needed a doctor for a birth. Her home remedies for diarrhea and laxatives from the berries and bark of cascara trees, as well as a secret black salve for rash and boils were sought after by many.

Rosamund’s involvement in church, two lodges, and the grange was appreciated by all who knew her, and her death created a huge void, particularly with the many mothers who could no longer receive her ministrations in their time of need. It may be for the best that she did not live long enough to see that takeover of birth by the scientific medical community in mid-century, but she surely would have applauded the resurgence of respect that well-trained midwifery finally has achieved.

Interview and hand-written information provided in 2007 by Loren Kraetz of Arlington for primary information about his great-grandmother.
Dewees, William P. A Compendious System of Midwifery. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1837.
Varney, Helen. Nurse-Midwifery. Boston: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1980
© 2009 Louise Lindgren, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story Number 60

Anastasia Spithill

Anastasia and Alexander Spithill (Source: Jack Kidder collection)

~ She has her day in court
By Betty Lou Gaeng

Anastasia had freckles! Her skin color was light! As a young woman, she married a well-known and prosperous white man from Scotland—Alexander Spithill. Dr. Charles Buchanan, a representative of the United States Government, decided that Anastasia was foreign and did not belong on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. Nor, according to Dr. Buchanan, was she entitled to the land allotted to her and her children in 1886. Even though the family had built a road and homes, and planted gardens and orchards on the property, he informed Anastasia it was not her land.

Anastasia was born about 1853 at Skagit Head on Whidbey Island. When she was two years old her full-blood Indian mother died, and her white father was long gone. Anastasia lived with her maternal grandfather Sadkok, or Wonnapot, as the Indians called him. To the white people he was known as Chief Napoleon Bonaparte of the Snohomish. Chief Bonaparte became one of the last survivors of the signers of the 1855 Point Elliot Treaty. The widowed Bonaparte and little Anastasia went to live on the newly designated Tulalip Indian Reservation. There, and at places her grandfather traveled, Anastasia was at his side or playing with other Indian children close by.

Anastasia was noticed, not only because she was always in the company of Chief Bonaparte, but because her little white face was covered with freckles. People wondered why this white child was always with the Indian people. Other Indians did not question Anastasia’s identity—they had always known she was one of them. She even had a special name—they called her Popstead, meaning Little Boston. The well-known Tyee Peter was her uncle.

Indications are that Anastasia was a very precocious child, and grew to be a woman with the same tendency. Not hard to believe as her grandfather, an important man with the Snohomish, was noted for his dignified air of superiority, and the red coat he wore. His attitude and appearance did not always endear him to the white men who had to deal with him. No doubt, little Popstead being in the company of her grandfather much of the time, adopted this same air of superiority, and her appearance was noteworthy.

Anastasia stayed with her Grandfather Bonaparte until she was 13 years old. She was then sent to Mission Beach on the Tulalip Reservation to attend Our Lady of Seven Dolors Indian Mission School conducted by the Sisters of Charity of Providence at St. Anne’s Catholic Mission. She attended the school until she left to marry an older man, the widowed Alexander Spithill. She became stepmother to his two young sons, Neil, age seven, and Duncan, age four. Mary, their mother, had been a full-blood Stillaguamish woman. Alexander and Anastasia were married February 27, 1870 at St. Anne’s Mission by Father Eugene Casimir Chirouse, O.M.I. Writing in French, Father Chirouse recorded this information, noting that Anastasia’s mother was a Snohomish Indian.

Nine children were born to Anastasia and Alexander. Eight would survive: Matthew, May, Alexander Jr., John, Cecilia, Inez, Zella and David. Neil and Duncan grew up knowing only Anastasia as their mother. In fact, Duncan must have developed a personality much like his stepmother. Father Chirouse writing in his diary in the winter of 1875 made the unusual statement “Mrs. Spithill and Donkan come to confession and behave well.”

The family first lived on the reservation at Mission Beach where Father Chirouse employed Alexander as carpenter. They then moved to Mukilteo and later Marysville. When Anastasia received an allotment, the family maintained dual residences. The first requirement on the allotment land was to build a road to make the property accessible. When this was done, a home was built and furnished. Land was cleared and gardens and an orchard planted. As the children grew, more land was cleared and homes built for them.

There had been early controversy in the agency as to whether Anastasia and her children were entitled to allotments. In 1886, the Acting Commissioner of the Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, A. B. Upshaw, notified the then Indian Agent Patrick Buckley that even though Anastasia had a white husband, she and the children were entitled to allotments.

Years later, Dr. Buchanan chose to ignore this ruling. In 1901 when Dr. Buchanan was appointed Superintendent and agent of the Tulalip Indian Agency, he was not convinced that Indian women married to white men were entitled to allotment land. He also demonstrated hostility toward the Spithill family and began a crusade, including warning them to vacate the property. He then awarded a portion of Anastasia’s land to William McLean, a man of Skagit and white blood. This began a seven-year dispute, ending only when settled by the courts.

On May 26, 1904, Anastasia filed a complaint in the Ninth Circuit Court of the United States (in Equity) against William McLean and Dr. Buchanan in his capacity as a representative of the U.S. Government. Later the United States was also included as a defendant. On March 4, 1908, after a very lengthy and bitter hearing before Eben Smith, Master in Chancery, with testimony by many witnesses, the court issued its decree stating that William McLean’s allotment was cancelled and he was “perpetually restrained and enjoined from asserting any claim whatever.” The court also stated that “Charles M. Buchanan, as Superintendent and acting Agent of the Tulalip Indian Reservation and his successors in office be and they hereby are forever restrained and enjoined from interfering with the complainant’s occupation and possession of the lands herein described.”

Little Popstead had won her lawsuit. The Heirship Ledger of the Tulalip Indian Agency records the land patent dated September 24, 1909 on behalf of Anastasia and her children, with the exception of her youngest son David who died May 19, 1908 at the age of 20. No portion was awarded to Neil and Duncan since they were not of Anastasia’s blood.

Anastasia Spithill, became a widow in 1920 when Alexander died at the age of 95. Anastasia lived another 12 years—her death occurring in Portland, Oregon on January 14, 1932.

Photo of St. Anne’s Catholic Mission and Our Lady of Seven Dolors School, Mission Beach, Tulalip Indian Reservation, was published in 1891 by the Northwest Real Estate and Building Review and appeared in The Seattle Times, Sunday, June 15, 1958.

Anastasia Spithill, et al., Plaintiffs v. William McLean, Charles M. Buchanan, as Superintendent and acting agent of the Tulalip Indian Agency, and the United States, Defendants. Case File No. 1194, The Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Washington, Northern Division, Ninth Circuit (1904). Record located at NARA, Seattle Office, RG21, U.S. Circuit Court, Seattle; Civil and Criminal Case Files. Oregon Death Index, 1903-98 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc. 2000. Original data: State of Oregon, Oregon Death Index 1903-1998. Salem, OR, USA: Oregon State Archives and Records Center.

Diary of Rev. Father Eugene Casimir Chirouse, O.M.I., September 1875 – April 1876. St. Anne’s Catholic Mission, Tulalip Indian Reservation, Washington Territory, USA. Translated from the French language.

© 2008 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 57

Maria Sneatlum

~ Tulalip Tribal Member, An Inspiration to a New Generation

By Wendy Church

Maria Georgina “Wyatalute” Sneatlum, a 1950s opera star, died April 25, 2007 at her home in Seattle. She was born, September 29, 1928, at Tulalip Washington to George and Amelia (Snyder) Sneatlum. Maria spent her younger years in Tulalip and graduated from Marysville High School in 1949. She went to Boston Conservatory of Music for professional training as an opera singer and performed professionally in Everett and Seattle. In May of 1994, Wendy Church wrote the following article which was published in the “See-Yaht-Sub”.

It was the little girl belting out church hymnals at St. Anne’s Church on the Tulalip reservation over fifty years ago that caught the attention of one of the Catholic sisters at the church.

Like many children, Maria dutifully sang in church on Sundays. “I was a little moppet of seven or eight years old,” she recalls. The sisters had the children divided into two sections, one for the younger children and the other reserved for the seniors.

ST. ANNE’S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, West of Marysville on Mission Beach Road , photograph courtesy Everett Public Library

One of the sisters “perceived that there was a voice there” said Maria, and sent her upstairs to the choir loft to join the senior choir. The sister upstairs soon began asking Maria to perform solos. Asked if she was in the least nervous, “I guess I wasn’t. I was later on, but at that time, I didn’t care. I was just a regular old ham,” she said with a laugh.

This sparked interest from one of the church attendees, Hubert Coy. He sponsored Maria for a short time with voice lessons with Verna Miler in Everett. “That’s where I got started with a concert career, you know.” From there, Mrs. Mailer took over. Maria was about sixteen at the time. Mrs. Mailer took her under her wing to live with her and study. “I was one of the family and she gave me free lessons. I used the studio to practice and she developed the voice. Then I got this scholarship to study at the conservatory in Boston,” said Maria. Mrs. Mailer was also an expert seamstress and made Maria’s gowns for performances.

To finance her trips to Boston, Maria gave concerts at the Everett Civic Auditorium. There she gained a lot of her experience singing. She coached with Bruno Mailer (Verna’s husband) who at the time was a violinist at the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. He would coach her on the different composers Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Handel, Haydn, Faure and Duaparc. She also had to learn French, Italian Spanish and German. “I was never fluent in it, but I could understand it and then I could read too. It got so I could understand it quite well, but you have to keep it up, working on it all the time,” said Maria.

Maria also spoke Tulalip’s native tongue, Whulshootseed (Commonly spelled and pronounced today as Lushootseed). A lot of it she has forgotten, but get her around old pals and the beautiful exchange of speaking the language was a sound to hear.

Felix Wolfes, a world renowned German composer, coached her in her repertoire. “I enjoyed studying with him for a couple of years” said Maria. She also studied under Frederick Jagle (pronounced Yagle), a German composer who was her main teacher in Boston. He too was a prominent figure in the opera world, often flying back and forth from Boston to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. “Sometimes the leading tenor at the opera would fall ill or couldn’t appear and they wound send a telegram for Mr. Yagle and he would be off to New York singing at some big opera. He had a vase repertoire,” Maria remembered. “He was so nice and such an inspiration to me. I enjoyed studying with him for my voice production”.

“The first time I heard her I was about twelve and this was at the Old Dining Hall, at a Christmas dinner. Maria sang Ave Maria and it was just so beautiful….it actually gave me goose bumps” says Bernia Brown, Tribal member. Maria sang mezzo-contralto, the lowest range of voice sung by female vocalists. The other end of the spectrum is soprano, the highest range of voice.

Maria worked and studied hard those years, often traveling back and forth from Everett to Boston. She would return to Everett to give concerts and raise money to go back to Boston and study. She did this for four years. She auditioned at a church forty miles on the outskirts of Boston. The director, impressed, immediately hired her. “I was the church soloist at this huge church in Worcester, Massachusetts. I would go there for rehearsals, then go there for the actual performance on Sunday morning. So that was quite draining. At the end of the day, I would be so tired from the pressure of classes. I would get on the bus and go way out to Worcester.”

After two years of this grinding schedule, Maria landed a job in Boston. “That was a glamour job. Everyone wanted that job because it paid relatively well. It was right there in Boston. I didn’t have to get on the bus and ride for a couple of hours like I always did. I always thought that might have been the beginning of my physical downfall,” said Maria quietly.

Maria fell ill with tubercular meningitis, a debilitating disease that left her in a coma for several months. She was admitted to a diagnostic hospital in Boston. There they had made an exception for her and let her stay longer than the usual four or five weeks. At the time, they were experimenting with a medicine that helped her recover somewhat from the disease. They had a nurse escort Maria back from Boston and flew her to Tacoma where she remained at Cushman Hospital for six months.

“My brother died of the same thing a couple of years earlier. They worked on me and they pulled me out of it,” said Maria. After that were the long years of convalescence. Sadly Maria lost her voice entirely and her equilibrium.
Despite the hardships she has endured, her faith remains strong. “I had a strong mind. Otherwise I think I would have collapsed entirely, like most people did at that time. Of course, I’m a believer in the faith. There were a lot of people that prayed for me.”

Today Maria resides in Seattle and has made a full recovery. Although she no longer sings, she has recently begun thinking about “shaking up the voice a little bit and maybe renting a studio and giving some lessons, because I certainly know what I went through to learn and develop my voice,” she says.

Maria looks back at the bittersweet memories but bears no regret for that time in her life. She offers some sound advice to the young for their dreams. “Don’t give up. Anything that’s worthwhile isn’t just going to drop into your lap. It will take sacrifice, hard work and lots of patience. Keep your dreams focused. Keep on Keeping on.”

© 1994 Wendy Church All Rights Reserved, used with permission from Tulalip Tribes.; WLP Story #38

Mary Low Sinclair

Courtesy UW Libraries26773

~Forgotten Founder of Snohomish, Washington

By Warner Blake

Walking through the oldest part of our largest cemetery on a sunny afternoon, I easily locate large, even multiple markers with the names Ferguson and Harvey, but none with Sinclair. And amongst the living in our small town the names of Ferguson and Harvey are easily recognized while the mention of Sinclair usually fails to ring a bell.

Emory C. Ferguson and John Harvey settled their claims on opposite sides of the Snohomish River in 1860. East of Ferguson’s claim on the north bank was the Edson Cady claim, which he sold to Mary and Woodbury Sinclair in 1864. Woodbury died suddenly in 1872, just after he and Mary had platted their eastern section of the officially named Snohomish City. Emory and Lucetta Ferguson platted their western section, and John Harvey established a farm and mill on the south bank. The site still has a mill today, but the farm has given way to a busy airport. The Harvey claim is located on the other side of the tracks that marks modern Snohomish’s southern border.

With the death of Mary’s husband, ownership of their claim passed to their two young children, Clarence and Mabel, and the single mother became executor of her children’s estate. Her first act in this later role was to donate three acres alongside the Pilchuck River for a cemetery, which led to the establishment of the Snohomish Cemetery Association, the county’s first public burial ground. Here she buried Woodbury, along with the remains of their infant son Alvin who died shortly after his arrival in this place. Mary purchased a two-foot tall white stone marker, the first in the county.

Secondly, Mary donated “all of block 18” for the first school building in 1874, and within a year a creditable building was on the site, just north of where the Carnegie Library was eventually built. Since the beginning of their residency in Snohomish, classes were held in the Sinclair home and in 1866, Mary’s friend Ruby Willard was paid as the first teacher of School District No. 1, most likely by E. C. Ferguson, the county superintendent of schools. In 1878, Mary married Myron Packard, publisher of The Eye, Snohomish’s second newspaper, but ten years later they were legally separated and Mary petitioned the court to restore her name to Mary Low Sinclair. It was not front-page news.

Sinclair was an early investor in the Athenaeum Society shortly after Woodbury’s death. This was a regionally recognized literary society that published a monthly, handwritten newsletter, established the first library by the pooling the books of members, and built the grand two-story Athenaeum building in 1876. The spirit of the organization later inspired the populist petition of the Carnegie Foundation for funds to build a library that was awarded in 1909. She is credited with starting the local dairy industry with her cow “Rose” a gift from her father; and she donated property for the railroad. In fact, both the arrival of the first train and the filing of her divorce papers took place in 1888 when she was listed as one of the leading taxpayers for Snohomish County.

Because the students coming to Mary’s home were children of Indian mothers, Mary became conversant in the indigenous languages and dialects over the years and was often called upon by journalists and government officials to act as interpreter. The last recorded such event was in 1920, when she helped a reporter from Seattle’s Post-Intelligencer interview Snohomish’s famous Pilchuck Julia. Three years later, “Princess Julia” died from small pox and was the last person buried in the cemetery established with the Sinclair donation fifty years earlier.

    The Low Family Arrival in Puget Sound, 1851

Mary Elizabeth the first of four children of Lydia (Colburn) and John N. Low was born on December 11 1842, in Bloomington, Illinois. Four months into her ninth year, the family left Illinois to migrate west via the Oregon Trail. Just outside of Fort Laramie the Low party passed the Arthur Denny party, who were also from Illinois. Both parties met again at The Dalles, Oregon, and traveled together to Portland. Finding passage aboard the schooner Exact, the expanded Denny party, which now included Mary Ann (Boren) and Arthur Denny’s new baby, plus the William N. Bell family, along with the Low family of six, disembarked on a rainy beach at Alki on November 13, 1851.

While the Denny party moved across the bay to establish the future town site of Seattle, the Low family remained at Alki where John began producing pilings for wharves in San Francisco. Low sold his lumber business and the family moved to Olympia then to Port Madison on Bainbridge Island. Ten years had passed since their arrival at Alki, and nineteen year old Mary was teaching at a school where her future husband, her boss, was the district school clerk.

Woodbury B. Sinclair, born in Penobscot County, Maine July 20, 1825, arrived in Seabeck, Kitsap County, Washington Territory in 1856, as co-founder of a lumber company. In the census of 1860, he was listed as single, age thirty-three, a farmer, had $5,000 invested in real estate and $100 worth of personal estate. He and Mary were married at her father’s home in Kitsap County, March 4, 1862. The couple was described as “Mr. Sinclair, the handsome clerk and Miss Mary Low, the vivacious little teacher.” Two years later Woodbury went on ahead to Snohomish, then called “Cadyville,” in order to establish a logging camp for a local company, and ended up buying out Edson Cady. With William Clendenning he opened a small trading post on the north bank of the Snohomish River that catered to local loggers. “As the steamer landed at the gravel bank near the foot of Maple Street, a small clearing appeared in the otherwise unbroken timber. The town consisted of a rough log house on the bank in which supplies were stored. The store farther back, was a twelve by sixteen foot shack. The old building still standing [1911] at the corner of Maple and Commercial Streets, without windows, doors, or floor, in time was used for the store, with living rooms in the back.” The Sinclair’s infant son Alvin died 20 days later.


On the last day of April 1865, Mary Low Sinclair and her one-month-old son Alvin, boarded the small, unfinished steamer Mary Woodruff in Port Madison for a journey across Puget Sound and up the Snohomish River to the place called Cadyville, arriving the next day, the first day of May. Forty-six years later, Mary remembered that day in an article for the Snohomish County Tribune, published in 1911:

“There was much to do, but the pioneers were hustlers and could turn their hands to anything — no specialists in those days. The women, young and hopeful, fearing neither danger nor privation, soon began to make things look homelike. A large fireplace assisted considerably in clearing the dooryard, in which later bloomed old-fashioned flowers — Sweet Williams, Marigolds and Hollyhocks. There was no time to be lonesome; frogs sang cheerily in the nearby marshes; mosquitoes kept the people busy building smudges. Wild game was plentiful. The Indians brought venison, wild ducks, fish and clams. Also the ranchers from Snoqualmie Prairie brought delicious hams and bacons of their own curing.”

    Sinclair Property

A second son was born on November 14, 1866, whom they named Clarence Wood Sinclair, and he lived to become a popular captain of early Snohomish’s favorite steamship the Nellie in the 1870s.
“For two years there was no regular steamer outside, and the only fruit available was wild berries. But living was cheap and good, and not a butcher shop in forty miles. The Indian wives of the ranchers made sociable calls on their white neighbors, conversing in mingled Boston, Chinook, and Siwash Wa Wa (talk).”

Sinclair gravestone

Sinclair 1905 Mabel “May” H. Sinclair was born on April 28, 1869, and lived until 1935. Son Clarence died in 1905 from a sudden illness. And Mary died on a Sunday, June 11, 1922, following three days of illness. She was seventy-nine years old, still living in her home on Pearl Street, and still active as far as we know. The June 16th issue of the local paper carried no mention of her passing. The following week’s issue published a paragraph on the front page that read: “Mrs. Sinclair Was Earliest Settler In Snohomish. E. C. Morse, former Snohomish resident, in a letter to the Tribune concerning the death of Mrs. L. Sinclair, pioneer woman of this city, who died last week, states that Mrs. Sinclair was the first white woman to settle and make a home in Snohomish county, and was also the original owner of the town site Snohomish, eastern part.”
The Everett Herald, on the other hand, published an extensive obituary beginning on the front page, June 12, 1922, which told the story of her childhood and her parents, Lydia and John, who also settled in Snohomish around the time of Woodbury’s passing. The remains of all family members were interred in the town’s first cemetery.

The Catholic Church founded a second cemetery in 1895; but what was to become the largest cemetery was established in 1898 by the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Veteran’s group, simply referred to as the G.A.R. — both were located outside of town. Over the years, the picturesque cemetery alongside the river, framed by a white picket fence, was no longer needed for the newly dead, and so became neglected and eventually referred to as the “Indian Cemetery.” Consequently, not enough attention was paid in the 1940s when the Washington State Department of Transportation claimed that all of the pioneer graves had been moved to other cemeteries, when it extended 2nd Street north, cutting the historic cemetery site in two. There is no record of the Sinclair or Low remains being moved to the G.A.R. Only Woodbury’s faded white headstone, the imagined centerpiece of the Sinclair memorial, was rescued by the Snohomish Historical Society in the 1980s, and it was reset in a prominent position in the Society’s display of a pioneer graveyard.

Writing this in 2008, I can report that city funds have been allocated to create a memorial on the eastern side of the divided cemetery site, the part that borders the river, and we hope that both the Sinclair and Low names may be remembered along with the Indian dead who rested in this spot long before the coming of the white people.

—Mary L. Sinclair, “Sketch of Early Snohomish Life” (1911) reprinted in The Snohomish Story: From Ox Team to Jet Stream, Official Program, Snohomish Homestead Centennial, July 1959, p. 12;
—Stuart Eskenazi, “The Misplaced Pioneers,” The Seattle Times, September 2, 2001, pp. B1-2;
—“River Reflections: Snohomish City 1859-1910,” Snohomish Historical Society, (undated), pp. 54-55
—“Mary L. Sinclair Called by Death: An Early Pioneer,” The Everett Daily Herald, June 12, 1922, p. 1;
—“Mrs. Sinclair was Earliest Settler in Snohomish,” Snohomish County Tribune, June 23, 1922, p.1;
—Junius Rochester, “Low, John Nathan (1820-1888) and Lydia Low (d. 1901),” Essay 1049, November 2, 1998;
—Warner Blake, Early Snohomish (South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2007);

©2008 Warner Blake;  WLP Story # 53

Lillie Cordelia (Nairn) Breed

Pioneer in the Wilderness
By Betty Lou Gaeng

Lillie Cordelia Breed was one of those hardy pioneers who tamed a wilderness. She died several decades before her land and the community of Alderwood Manor became part of the prosperous city of Lynnwood. However, Lillie left a legacy—a legacy unknowingly used and appreciated by many people in our day. Even Lillie Breed would be surprised at the everyday happenings on what was her land. Before learning about the legacy though, let’s get to know more about Lillie herself.
During the late 1880s, many years before Puget Mill Company began the harvesting of its company-owned forest land in south Snohomish County, and their later platting of this property into small farms, a few hardy pioneering homesteaders had already settled amid the huge trees. One such family was that of Lillie and Charles Breed and their children. The Breeds filed their homestead claim in 1888 with the Seattle office of the Bureau of Land Management for 160 acres of timber land in south Snohomish County, a few miles east of Puget Sound. Following a cash payment of $200 ($1.25 per acre), a land patent was issued on June 18, 1890. In 1934, the Edmonds Tribune Review, the newspaper for south Snohomish County, published on its front page a lengthy and detailed account of the life of Lillie Breed, calling her a pioneer woman of Alderwood Manor who had seen the west grow from a wilderness.

1910 Anderson Plat Book

Lillie Cordelia Nairn was born in Monterey, near Batchtown, Illinois, December 12, 1856. Lillie came from a family whose roots were traced far back—one with a very prominent and colorful history. Her southern paternal grandmother, because of her Spanish ancestry, was given a land grant where the city of Saint Louis now stands. However, when the land became part of the United States, it was lost to the family. Lillie’s paternal grandfather’s roots were from the very old Nairn family of Scotland.
When Lillie was a small child the Civil War erupted and her father, John Nairn, organized and became captain of a volunteer regiment of young men for service in the Northern Army. After her father’s return from the war, the family lived on their large farm in Illinois, and even though she was not a healthy and robust girl, Lillie had a great love for the outdoors. In her younger days, horseback riding was her greatest pastime—usually riding sidesaddle.
When Lillie’s father died in 1874, her mother decided to move the family west from Illinois to Kansas to seek a new home where Lillie’s health might improve. Traveling by covered wagon they settled in the prairie country near Pawnee Rock, Kansas, and took up grain farming as a livelihood. It was in Kansas that Lillie met her future husband, Charles Bradley Breed. They were married in 1881. Times were hard in Kansas and shortly after their marriage, they traveled west by wagon train to Ratoon, New Mexico, a lawless-pioneer town where hangings and gun fights were commonplace. Charles worked as a laborer for the Santa Fe Railroad and Lillie worked in the railroad’s cook house.
After spending about a year in New Mexico, Lillie and Charles realized this was not the place to raise a family, so they returned to Kansas to again try farming and begin their family. In Kansas, three children were born to them, Laura Fern (1882), John Amos (1884) and Ethel Mary (1886). Facing lack of rain, dust storms, crop failures and a depressed economy, farming in Kansas became a disaster for the Breeds. The Call of the West and a better life for the family was what Lillie and Charles chose. Packing their belongings and saying good-bye to relatives and friends, with their three small children in tow, Lillie and Charles headed west to Washington Territory by train, an adventure in itself. They were on the Northern Pacific passenger train that went over the “switchback” in the Rocky Mountains. There was no railroad bridge over the Columbia River, thus from Portland the train was floated across on a ferry. The train then traveled to the railroad terminus at Tacoma, and from there they took a small steamer up Puget Sound to Seattle.

Lillie & her son

In Seattle, Charles Breed worked as a carpenter, and he applied for the 160-acre timber claim near Martha Lake in south Snohomish County. Twins, Flora Pearl and Paul Nairn, were born in 1888. However, Paul died young and was buried in Seattle. Still in residence in Seattle, Lillie and her family witnessed the great Seattle fire in 1889, and the birth of the State of Washington. While living in Seattle and then Stanwood, Charles worked to make their homestead livable for the family. By this time there were five children. The youngest, Bessie Alice, was born in Stanwood in 1890. Lillie and Charles decided it was now time to move to their new home.
Leaving Stanwood, the family landed at Mosher (now Meadowdale), a flag station four miles east of Edmonds. Heading for their home, with wagons loaded with children, clothing, household goods, food and grain, and herding their cows, the family traveled east over a narrow trail through a wilderness with trees so thick and tall that very little light penetrated the darkness. The forest abounded with wild game, and fowl, and the streams with trout, and salmon in season. Lillie and Charles named their new home Ruby Ranch, and except for two years when the family lived at Lake Ballinger working a sawmill they owned, Lillie and Charles lived on their ranch, raising their family, building a larger home, and taking an active part in the development of a new community .Lillie Breed and her son John
Lillie Breed never became strong and robust like most pioneer women. However, as her family said, she had grit and courage. She witnessed a lot of changes in her lifetime. She saw both Seattle and Everett grow from small villages to cities. Before her death, Lillie was a witness as the uninhabited wilderness around her own home developed into a community of some fifteen hundred families. Those who came later owe a debt of gratitude to the early settlers such as Lillie and her family—their pioneering spirits and hard work cleared the way.
Lillie and Charles Breed celebrated their golden wedding anniversary September 1, 1931. Loaded down with well-filled picnic baskets, a vast number of relatives and friends gathered for the occasion at nearby Martha Lake. Lillie Cordelia Breed died at the age of 78, just two days before Christmas in 1934. She left behind a large family, many friends, and the history of a life well-lived. She is buried in Edmonds at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery. Her husband and four of her children, Fern, Ethel, Bessie and John survived her. Charles Bradley Breed died in 1946 at the age of 93, and is buried beside Lillie.

Lillie’s life and home are memorialized in a way little known to most people—it is her legacy to the people of Lynnwood. Her pioneer land is visited by dozens of people every day of the week. If you drive along 164th Street Southwest in today’s Lynnwood, near the Swamp Creek Interchange, a couple of miles west of Martha Lake, you will be passing by the south end of what was Ruby Ranch, long-time home of the Breed family. The modern scene shown in the accompanying photo is one repeated each day at the big dip in the road, on land that was once belonged to Lillie. What appears to be never-ending water flows from the pipes of an artesian well that graces Lillie’s old homestead land. Vehicles of all kinds stop at this spot at all hours of the day.

Artesian well in Lynnwood

With containers of varying shapes and sizes in hand, people come from as far away as West Seattle to wait in line to fill their containers with water that is cold and crystal clear, with no taste of chemicals. Surprisingly, in our present day when almost everything is a commercial enterprise—the water is free to all—managed and inspected by the local water district. The next time you fill your jug at the 164th Street watering hole in the Lynnwood of today, remember Lillie and her hard work to help carve out a home for her family in the wilderness.

Before her own death in 1973, Bessie Alice (Breed) Cornell, Lillie and Charles’ youngest daughter, narrated the history of the family, as well as stories of their struggles and adventures in the wilderness. Bessie’s daughter, Betty Alys (Schoppert) Morgan, collected and typed her mother’s stories and these are part of a collection which will soon be housed at the Heritage Resource Center, Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, Heritage Park, Lynnwood.
One of these stories tells of the misadventure which caused Lillie to walk with a limp from her early days at Ruby Ranch, and for the rest of her life. This is the story: “Five Bullets for a Christmas Present, but Only One Struck Home.”

Shortly before Christmas, Lillie decided to walk to a neighbor’s house, two miles away, to visit with her friend Elizabeth Morrice [where the Alderwood Mall is located in our day]. The day was sunny, clear and sharp—a beautiful day for a stroll in the woods.
Lillie stayed longer than she had intended and darkness fell before she made it home. Unknown to her, a neighbor boy and a friend visiting him decided to go hunting on the timbered side of the swamp. The boys got lost but finally came to Swamp Creek on the west and safe side of the swamp. In the darkness, they decided it was best to follow the creek, which they knew would take them by the Breed ranch.
As Lillie was nearing her home, with about a fourth of a mile still to go, the boys reached the road and were scared half to death by what they saw. Lillie was wearing a dark full length cape, with a black scarf tied over her head. She was coming down the hill in a hurry to get home—her cape waving in the breeze. The boys going up the hill were startled when they saw the movement of the cape and fired five shots at this terrifying figure; one from one gun and four from another.
When the two boys heard Lillie scream, “I guess you are trying to kill me,” as she fell behind a log lying beside the road, they realized what they had done and ran up to where she was lying. One of the boys hurried to the nearby Breed house for help while the other boy ran to the Morrice place. William Morrice, Jr. went another four miles west to Harry Reid’s place and sent him to Edmonds for Dr. Smith.
Mr. Breed hitched up the horse to a sled and he took Lillie to their house. Luckily, the bullet hit Lillie in the instep just as she was taking a step and it came out through her heel. Dr. Smith took care of the wound until it finally healed. The boys who did the shooting paid the doctor’s bill, but they could never repay Lillie for her pain and suffering, nor her years on crutches and cane, and the pronounced limp she endured for the remainder of her life.

Pioneer Woman Dies in District, Mrs. Lillie Nairn Breed of Alderwood Saw West Grow From Wilds, Edmonds Tribune-Review, Edmonds, WA; Friday, December 28, 1934, Page 1. From the collection of original Edmonds newspapers located at the Sno-Isle Genealogical Society Research Library, Heritage Park, Lynnwood, Washington.

A reproduction of a copy of the original land patent No. 11602 to Charles B. Breed issued 6/18/1890 for 160 acres in Snohomish County, WA, on file in the Office of the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office, Portland, Oregon.

Quit Claim Deed, Charles B. Breed to Lillie C. Breed, Sept. 11, 1903; Vol. 80, Page 275, Snohomish County, WA for 80 acres.

Collection of family stories narrated by Bessie Alice (Breed) Schoppert-Irby-Cornell (1890-1973) and documented by her daughter, Betty Alys (Schoppert) Morgan (1925-1997) — presently in the possession of the author.

Anderson Map Company, and James W. Myers. Plat Book of Snohomish County Washington. Seattle, Wash: Anderson Map Co, 1910, p. 7.

© 2012 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

The World is Advancing

“The World is Advancing – Advance with it” –

The Motto of Stanwood’s Monday Study Club
By Nancy Leuschel, May Palmer & Karen Prasse

Photograph, courtesy Monday Study Club.


The Monday Study Club was started in 1913 by a group of Stanwood women to read, study and share what they learned. There was little opportunity for education beyond the 8th grade in Stanwood at that time. It was a really small town – paving of streets with bricks was to begin a year later. The usual means of getting around was by horse and buggy, though a few Ford motor-cars were seen. A public library was not to be built until nine years later. Most of the women lived in the neighborhood that is now the west end of Stanwood near the Stillaguamish River waterfront just north of where the mills and saloons were clustered. Twin City Foods has since replaced the lumbering and shingle businesses that supported the town at the time. To remind us of these days, the 100 year old dilapidated Stanwood Hotel remains along with many of the finer first residences, the D. O. Pearson House, Masons Hall and former Odd Fellows Hall (now the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center.)
Each year the Monday Study Club chooses an annual theme to study. In the early days they gathered on alternate Mondays after the wash was done at 2 p.m. to share what they learned on their study topic. The group has met continuously since then, still learning from one another and keeping abreast of world events.
There were 17 charter members. Later the membership varied between 12 and 25 and finally settled on 24. Dues at each meeting were 10 cents each meeting in the beginning and are now $10 annually.
In July of 1915, the annual MSC picnic at Ellingson’s Grove above Port Susan was held. Invitations were extended to families and near relatives. The women pretty much had the day to themselves to meet and play. In the evening the men joined the group, a huge bonfire was built, weiner-wurts were toasted; some played games in the light of the camp-fire. The party didn’t break up until 10:00 pm.

Prior to 1928 members were, with few exceptions, always referred to by their husband’s name such as Mrs. John Brown. Nineteen thirty-one was the first year that they were referred to by their given names and in 1938 they reverted to using their husbands’ name. It was not until 1973 that members finally regained their own names for good.Each new member was invited as an opening occurred. This was to make sure that each member had a chance to present a program. Their meetings do not include food because they want to concentrate on the topics of the meeting. Many were very musical; singing was an important part of the meetings.

The Charter members were Ida Brown, Rube Brown, Regina Christianson, Virginia Cook, Florence Durgan, Mabel Holgren, Hattie Howard, Julia Knutson, Sophia Leknes, Elsa Lien, Theresa Dunlap Lien, Marie (Lien) McKean, Tillie Myron, Anna Nicks, Blanche Parsons, Jessie (Hosum) Pearson, and Louise Wenberg. In spite of being addressed the Mrs., if they didn’t have separate careers, many of these women were influential in the schools, businesses and politics of the town. Elsa Lien remembered in an 1973 interview that Blanche Parsons, from Iowa, was an active Women’s Club member and within two years of her arrival, she was the main organizer of the Stanwood Monday Study Club established as a chapter of the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Monday Study Club was represented at the 1913 Convention of the Snohomish District of the Federation of Women’s Clubs by eight members. Blanche Parsons went to the convention as a delegate and was elected Vice-President of the County Federation.

Though the backgrounds and occupations of the members are more diverse now, several early members worked in addition to raising children. Of the charter members, Louise Wenberg served as Matron of Josephine Sunset Home, later ran for State Legislature as a Farmer Labor Candidate in 1922. She served as Postmistress of the East Stanwood Post Office throughout World War II and assisted in her husband’s career as State Representative. They had a farm in Norman in the Stillaguamish Valley. Jessie Hosum Pearson was a schoolteacher at Utsalady until she married D. Carl Pearson and they moved away. Mrs. Theresa Lien operated a millinery shop in Stanwood among other business and real estate interests. Elsa Matthies Lien worked as a telephone operator for decades and was an advocate of many social causes – she helped establish the local WCTU and often was the sole fund raiser for the Red Cross. Mabel Holgren is listed as a teacher in the 1916 Polk Directory. Harriet Kalloch Howard came to Washington in 1883 from Kansas. Her husband, A. S. Howard was the owner of the Stanwood Lumber Company. Ida Brown, born in Texas was the wife of the local barber was recognized as a tireless advocate and fund raiser for the library. Marie McKean, born in North Dakota was also the wife of a barber. Julie Knutsen never married and worked as a bookkeeper in the First National Bank of Stanwood until she retired. Sophia Leknes is listed as seamstress in the 1916 Polk Directory. We are still seeking more details of the lives of some of the others mentioned.

Members were active in many community organizations, especially the Four-Leaf Clover Club (organized also in 1913 with 19 members) which raised money for the library building. They also promoted town rallies, launched a series of socials, bazaars, dinners and other benefits.

Mr. and Mrs. Frances  Durgan, Mrs.Parsons, Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Cook at the County Convention of Snohomish County Women’s Federated Clubs at the State Reformatory at Monroe, July 1915

Among their many projects was the refreshment booth during the 5 day Chautauqua of 1916, where they served old-fashioned fried chicken cooked on old-fashioned wood ranges. Their efforts netted $65, a princely sum in the 1916 economy. Generous in their giving, the also contributed to the Education Fund of the Federation, the Belgian Relief Fund, the Chicago Women’s Shelter, the Red Cross.
Minutes of the December 1914 state that MSC puts work first, social occasions after. That said, the club hosted a dinner for 36 (including husbands) in the millinery parlors of Mrs. C.P. Lein, a place big enough to handle to crowd. In 1915, Miss Mary Rauch of the UW Extension Department was asked to hold a 3-day school for housewives – assumed meaning how to be better housewives.” In 1915, The Pictorial Review, a magazine for women, offered to give MSC $150 if they sold 250 subscriptions. The women got right to it, and earned the $150. In 1916, MSC distributed many books to the public and sent a 5-year subscription for “Popular Mechanics” to the state reformatory at Monroe. In 1969, the club discontinued its association with all federations and has since been independent. The Snohomish County Women’s Club itself officially dissolved in 1985.
Currently (2009) there are 17 meetings each year with 12 set aside for talks (2 each time) starting the third Monday in September with the big reveal of the year’s program and our assignments. This meeting is held at a member’s home and is much anticipated. In addition to the 12 meetings with reports there is a Christmas party at a member’s home, a guest day at a restaurant; and the final meeting is a picnic the first Monday in June. The additional meeting is a field day to visit places that relate to the topics: a play when we studied playwrights, river cruise when we studied rivers, visits to a Greek Orthodox Church and St. James cathedral when we studied religions. Those having been members for 20 years may choose to be emeritus members and no longer had to serve on committees or give reports.

The earlier days seemed to be a time of great civility. Pace slower, but the work was harder. Many the Stanwood women then, as now, were born somewhere else and now the members note that no matter what geographic location they study, one of the members has been there. The world is advancing, and they are determined to advance with it 90 years later.

“Monday Study Club”, typewritten article Nancy Leuschel, later published in the Stanwood News, 1990s.

Stanwood Monday Study Club, Archival materials, photographs and yearbooks, 1913-2008

Interview with Elsa Matthies Lien, interviewer: Marion Duff; recorded for the Stanwood Area Historical Society, Jan 12, 1973.

Member obituaries, Stanwood News, Twin City News

Snohomish County Federation of Women’s Clubs archival Materials, Snohomish County Museum of History, Everett, Washington.

U.S. Censuses 1910, 1920

© 2009 Monday Study Club, edited for by Karen Prasse, Stanwood Area Historical Society. All Rights Reserved WLP Story #63

Esther Ross

She Stopped the Bicentennial Wagon Train And Made Sure Her People Were Recognized

By Ann Duecy Norman

Esther Ross, Chairperson of the Stillaguamish Indian Tribe on the occasion of the Federal Recognition. © 1976 Jim Leo, Everett Herald; Photo provided courtesy of the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians.

“…people are not accustomed to thinking of Native women as feminists, leaders, and contributors to social change. Their songs are unsung” ~LaDonna Harris, President and Founder, Americans for Indian Opportunity

As a young child, Esther Ross often listened to family stories. Her father, Christian Johnson, liked to talk about his noble Norwegian ancestors, but her favorites were tales told by her mother, Angelina, about Esther’s great grand-father, Chief Chaddeus, and how Angelina’s people, the Stillaguamish, had been driven from their lands.

Esther was born in 1904 in Oakland, California, and spent her childhood there. She was intelligent and lively and had lots of friends. It was not until she was in high school that her classmates learned of her Indian heritage. Then, suddenly, to her surprise, she was taunted about her ancestry and, worse yet, people she thought were her friends shunned her. She turned to her native family for support and, to her dismay, learned the government had declared that the Stillaguamish people were no longer an official tribe.

After completing high school in California, she continued her education, supporting herself with jobs ranging from secretary to newspaper reporter. In 1926, she was contacted by relatives in Washington State who asked her to come to Washington to help organize the Stillaguamish in order to file claims against the federal government. Esther packed up her belongings and her new baby, and she and her husband headed north.

When she arrived in Arlington, she immediately began reading pertinent documents and interviewing tribal elders. She learned that for millennia, her people, like those of many Puget Sound tribes, had lived in small bands that came together seasonally or for mutual assistance in times of trouble. Their villages had been scattered along the many branches of a river that wends its way through what is now northern Snohomish County. Their primary mode of travel was canoe; their major source of protein was salmon; and the focal point of their culture was their river homeland, as reflected by the tribe’s anglicized name, “Stillaguamish” which translates as “people of the river”. [For more discussion of the complex Lushootseed language , see below]

In the mid 1800’s, to make land available for white settlers, the United States government had ordained that all Indians be removed from their lands, taken to reservations and turned into farmers. In 1855, having negotiated agreements with the various tribes of northern Puget Sound, the major concession being that the Indians be allowed to continue to fish in their “usual and accustomed grounds,” the governor of Washington Territory, Isaac Stevens, called together tribal representatives, among them the Stillaguamish. Their representative signed what came to be known as the Point Elliott treaty, a document written in a language he and his people did not understand and with implications that were not made clear to them.

According to oral tradition, the Stillaguamish had believed that as a result of their cooperation and assistance to white settlers, they would be given their own reservation. When they learned they had to leave their valley and go to the Tulalip reservation, most of them quietly disappeared into the forest. Perhaps, because of their small numbers, tribal members were not actively pursued by federal authorities. Some found work as loggers or fishermen. Some, like Esther’s grandmother and mother, married non-natives. Others cleared land for white farmers in places that had, for innumerable generations, been Stillaguamish ancestral homes.

Esther also learned that the federal government did not officially recognize landless tribes, and for that reason, the Stillaguamish and their descendants were unable to obtain the benefits promised by the Point Elliott treaty. In July 1926, she convened a tribal meeting at the Arlington City Hall. Officers were elected, and a representative of the Northwestern Federation of American Indians provided information about filing claims against the government. In less than a month, with Esther’s help, the tribe’s sixty-six officially enrolled members had filed claims, both for land losses and for failure to pay the treaty’s specified annual appropriation for the preceding twenty-five years.

For nearly fifty years, Esther volunteered her time with other Tribal members. They held meetings, kept minutes, conducted research; she read and interpreted legal communications for tribal members and communicated with government officials. During all those years, she heard a lot of promises which were never honored.

During this long discouraging process for the Tribe, she became so tenacious that elected officials were known to duck out of sight when they heard she was in the building, and she was renowned for embarrassing government officials with her keen knack for making her point. Despite her continued efforts, by 1975, the tribe and its members had yet to be recognized or recompensed.

That summer, an unusual opportunity presented itself. The Bicentennial wagon train was making a trip across the continent, and according to the Everett Herald, was scheduled to pass through Island Crossing located “just an arrow’s flight away from the combination office and souvenir store” that served as Stillaguamish headquarters.

Esther Ross with Chief John Silva and members of the Stillaguamish Tribe, June 29, 1963
Photograph provided by the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians.

Esther Ross with Chief John Silva and members of the Stillaguamish Tribe, June 29, 1963 Photograph provided by the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians.

When Esther got the news, she announced that the tribe would attack the convoy unless the Department of the Interior immediately granted them official recognition. She pointed out that her people had been petitioning the United States government for their rights for nearly 50 years. They had native membership and a formal tribal structure, and their representatives had signed the Point Elliot treaty. All they lacked was land, and that was hardly their fault. She was, she announced, seventy years old, and she was done waiting.
The train’s wagon master dithered. He recognized good theater when he saw it. On the one hand her threat had drummed up extensive media coverage, and he didn’t want to jeopardize an opportunity to spotlight the Bicentennial wagon train on national television. On the other hand, the Bicentennial Commission had orchestrated meetings with officials all along the route. If the tribe followed through on their threats and the train was delayed, it would generate a cascade of scheduling problems.

Government officials had more serious worries. The international press coverage was embarrassing. Worse yet, they weren’t sure whether the threatened “attack” was merely rhetoric or something more troublesome. At the beginning of the decade, the Kootenai tribe had closed down US Highway 2 for several days. Native groups blockaded Wounded Knee in South Dakota for 71 days, and they had taken over Alcatraz and Fort Lawton. The previous year, Judge George Boldt had ruled that treaty Indians in Washington State had the right to half of the local salmon harvest, a ruling that continued to generate angry protests from non-native fishermen. Might fishermen take this opportunity to organize another demonstration? Would Indian activists from other tribes become involved? Might things get out of hand, property be damaged, people get hurt?

Would Esther really stop the wagon train? And if she did, what would she do? They couldn’t be sure. They decided not to take a chance. On the day the wagon train was scheduled to arrive, a special assistant to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior was flown in to meet with Esther. “Why have you come?” she is reported to have snapped. “I did not send for you.”

He responded that the Department of the Interior was preparing a document granting the tribe official recognition, and that it would be ready in thirty days. Esther was unimpressed. He brought no documents with him, and she had heard such promises before. The show would go on.

Newspaper accounts say that when the wagon train arrived at Island Crossing, there were approximately 200 people, many of them Indians, standing in the road. As the wagon train passed in front of the little building, Esther’s son emerged. He walked in front of the TV cameras to the first wagon, grabbed the lead horse’s reins and informed the wagon master they weren’t moving until the Stillaguamish tribe received official government recognition. For several long moments, no one moved and nothing happened. Then, just as things got tense, Esther appeared. She wore native dress, walked slowly to the center of the road, and stood quietly until everyone was looking at her. Then she spoke.

For a tiny person, she had a big voice. She said that her ancestors had welcomed white men to this valley a century ago, and she was welcoming them now. She talked about the Bicentennial train and how it symbolized the strength and determination of the American people, but that for Indians it stood for a trail of tears, broken promises, ignored treaties, the loss of pride and dreams and the destruction of a way of life. “We stop this Bicentennial wagon train”, she said, “to bring to the attention of the nation that we have no other alternative, short of violence, to bring their plight to light and produce action.”

Then she did something surprising. She walked over to the wagon master, placed a good luck medallion around his neck, wished him a safe journey, and handed him a letter which she requested he deliver to the Secretary of the Interior. He promptly responded that the Stillaguamish tribe had the goodwill of the Bicentennial Commission, promised to deliver their message, got on his horse, and he and the wagons skedaddled down the road.

When 30 days, and then a year, had passed and the anticipated documents had still not arrived, Esther sent the Secretary of the Department of the Interior a frozen salmon. Attached was a cordial note saying she hoped he and his family would enjoy eating the delicious fish and reminding him that the Stillaguamish tribe had not forgotten his promises. It was said that the Secretary ignored the salmon, but that eventually the smell became so bad his staff had to dispose of it.

Maybe it was the salmon, maybe it was Bicentennial guilt, or maybe after 50 years, Esther had just worn them out, but finally in October 1976, the federal government granted recognition to the Stillaguamish. And in December of that year, at a dinner celebrating their victory, members of the now official American Indian tribe named her Chairman of the Stillaguamish.

Postscript: Esther Ross’ persistence helped obtain sovereign rights for one of the smallest tribes of Indians in America and brought it back from “near extinction”. Her efforts improved the quality of life for her people, and provided a precedent for other tribes.

How did she make it happen? Those who knew and worked with her say she did not hesitate to create her own rules, but at the same time she was not unjust or threatening. She had a great gift for creating dramatic moments. Perhaps her most effective weapon was her tenacity. In addition, she was born into a powerful family among the Coast Salish, a culture in which “rank and determination far outweigh gender in the course of life. Today, as in the past, both women and men routinely hold public responsibilities as equals.”

She did not choose an easy battle, and she and her family endured many hardships and stormy periods as a result of her all-consuming dedication. Like many others involved in the lawsuit, her intent was to affirm her Indian heritage and strengthen her native community. However, from the first, it was clear that some had other motives. Esther won many devoted supporters, but in the end, she also created some enemies.

When Esther died in 1988, David Getches, the attorney who worked closely with her on negotiations with the Department of the Interior and in the Boldt case, said in a letter to her son Frank, “When I think of Esther’s determination and strategy, I am not sure that the legal wrangling really made the difference in the successes finally earned by Esther and the tribe. From the poor people’s march on Washington, to stopping the Bicentennial wagon train, to the parades and news stories, to the prayers and friendships she fostered, it now seems clear to me that whatever happened right was because of Esther and not the lawyers and politicians and bureaucrats.”


Ruby, Robert and Brown, John (2001). Esther Ross Stillaguamish Champion. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press.

Deloria, Vine (1977). Indians of the Pacific Northwest. Garden City, New York: Doubleday

Haeberlin, Hermann and Gunther, Erna (1930), The Indians of Puget Sound. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Bates, Dawn (1994) Lushootseed dictionary / Dawn Bates, Thom Hess, Vi Hilbert ; Seattle : University of Washington Press.

Cameron, David (2005) “The Native Americans,” Chapter 2 of Snohomish County / An Illustrated History, Index, WA: Kelcema Books
Thanks also to the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians for their review and fact checking

© 2006 Ann Duecy Norman, All Rights Reserved

Clara J. Stanwood Pearson

Stanwood’s Grade School on North Street. Photographer John T. Wagness

Stanwood’s Namesake

At the mouth of the Stillaguamish River in the late 1860s and early 1870s, the saloon, logging camp, and mail stop now known as Stanwood, Washington was called Centerville. Confusion over the many Centervilles all over the United States and its Territories (Washington was still a territory at the time) compelled the Postal Service to ask the local postmaster to select a more unique name. In 1877, D. O. Pearson and his wife, Clara and young children had recently arrived to establish a general merchandise store. D.O. also took over as Postmaster – he was the 7th in 7 years at this outpost. He submitted his wife’s maiden name, Stanwood, and it was made official.
Clara Jane Stanwood was born in Lowell Massachusetts and raised by her grandmother because her mother died when she was only 4 years old. Her father left to serve in the Union Army in the Civil War and never returned. She must have formed an attachment to D. O. Pearson and his family because she followed them out to Whidbey Island in 1868 on her own at the age of 19. They married and farmed for seven years until D. O. invested in the mercantile at the mouth of the Stillaguamish River and brought his family there to live.
Clara Stanwood left no writings to our knowledge. She collected news clippings in a scrapbook now held at the University of Washington Special Collections. From those clippings you learn of a person who had contacts in all of the Puget Sound area – at these early times a relatively small world of people from the East Coast engaged in the lumbering business.

In the 1870s, when she arrived there were no regular steamboat stops at Stanwood and people were scattered on their homesteads, clearing land, building dikes and logging. The mail arrived from Utsalady twice a week. In the 1880s, while she was raising her children, Stanwood was still unplatted land and the store and wharf competed for trade with the commercial businesses upriver at Florence. But apparently she was able to raise funds and convince supporters of the need for this proud school building for her children and others.

Clara Stanwood Pearson, Stanwood’s Namesake

In 1905 she was honored by Mary Allen as the “Mother of Stanwood” when they and others from Stanwood attended an exposition in Portland, Oregon representing their community and Snohomish County. When she died, the Stanwood City Council adopted a resolution recognizing her “life work and best efforts dedicated to the upbuilding of our social conditions and municipal progress…” The following notice of her death in the Stanwood Tidings in 1910 leaves a record of her accomplishments.
“Clara J. Stanwood Pearson was born in Lowell, Massachusetts March 18th, 1849 and came to Puget Sound, by way of the Isthmus of Panama, when she was 19 years of age, in which year, June 3rd, 1868 she was united in marriage to D. O. Pearson in Coupeville, Washington. In 1877 the young couple moved to Stanwood [then Centerville Postoffice]…
At the time they came to Stanwood, Mrs. Pearson was one of three white women then a resident of what is now the town of Stanwood and she bore the part of a pioneer woman with courage and fortitude, always ready, always willing and anxious to lend a helping hand, an encouraging word to her neighbor who was in distress or met adversity in those trying pioneer days of the valley. Her early life was devoted to the up-building and beautifying of her home and her energies were directed toward the up-life of the social conditions around her. She organized the first Sunday School in town and although never the member of any church, was the leading spirit that founded the first Methodist Church of Stanwood. Later she caused shade trees to be planted in the then isolated places about town, the large elms that now surround the city lots and town hall were planted there many years ago by Mrs. Pearson.
D. O. Pearson & Clara Stanwood Pearson sitting in front of her roses that grew on the south side of their home. The House still exists and new old roses grow in their place.
Photograph courtesy SAHS, circa 1905.
“But her work as a public spirited woman did not cease to manifest itself everywhere until later in life. Many perplexing questions came up for solution as the town developed and in these she was always consulted and perhaps the most gratifying result of her efforts was the construction and building of the present public school building on North Street which she lived to see become a high school. At the time this school was thought of, Mrs. Pearson was elected director and against a large opposition she led the fight for the school and won. It may seem rather strange to the present generation why there should exist in those early days an element of people who should oppose the building of schools yet this is true and proves that every advancement that has been made by the pioneers of this country has been an uphill struggle which made life in a sense a sacrifice.”
Her life was gentle, but like the still waters it was deep. In her heart of hearts she carried those she loved, and her hand was never weary, her step never failed in ministering unto, caring for, waiting upon those who were in any way dependent upon her.”

D. O. Pearson abd Clara Stanwood sitting near the back porch of the Pearson House

Twelve years after her death, while recognizing D. O Pearson on his 76th birthday, O. B. Iverson noted “Both Pearson and his wife were decided optimists — saw only the bright side and refused to see the other side and they became either leaders or strong boosters for everything of interest to the community….she was fully his equal….While giving other important duties much of her time, she raised a large family and gave them the best training that brains and mother love could give to qualify them for life in this difficult world.” Such recognition of women, though patronizing even for its day, is appreciated.
The house D. O. and Clara built in Stanwood about 1890 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and is now a historic house museum operated by the Stanwood Area Historical Society. In 2001 the Stanwood City Council proclaimed March 18th as the town’s Clara Stanwood Day. In September 2003 an honorary marker was placed at the D. O. Pearson House in her honor by the Ann Washington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. .

Resources :

Introduction written by Karen Prasse
History of Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington…Portland, Oregon / North Pacific History Co., 1889, v. 2 p. 517
An Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties their People, Their Commerce and their Resources… Interstate Publishing Co., 1906., p. 975-6.
“Pioneer Woman Passes Away”, Stanwood Tidings, July, 1910;
Iverson, O. B. “Throws Interesting Light on D. O. Pearson’s Life.” Stanwood Tidings (June 8, 1922): 3
“Council Proceedings, July 18, 1910”, Stanwood Tidings July 22, 1910
Other sources include vital records (copies) and files held at the Stanwood Area Historical Society, Stanwood, WA
© 2007 Stanwood Area Historical Society, Stanwood, WA All Rights Reserved;  WLP Story # 23