Jennie Gertrude “Gertie” Perrin

By Betty Lou Gaeng

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

© 2010  Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

Ruth Morrice

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

By Betty Lou Gaeng

Ruth Morrice portrait

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

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

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

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

Log House of Morrice Family

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

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

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

Maple Leaf schoolchildren

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

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

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

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

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


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


Mary Joyce (Sherwood) Little

By Betty Lou Gaeng

Marie Little may not have been born a native of the city we now know as Lynnwood, Washington, but her marriage to Alderwood Manor native Warren Robert Little inspired her to become active in the community and one of its strongest advocates in remembering and proclaiming Lynnwood’s heritage.  With her marriage into a pioneer family, Marie was given the perfect opportunity to learn the history of her new home—a home she treasured throughout her lifetime. Upon Lynnwood’s incorporation in 1959 and its annexing of neighboring communities over the next few years, Lynnwood became a city composed of many diverse neighborhoods.  The roots of Alderwood Manor, the largest of Lynnwood’s annexations, especially became a passion for Marie Little.  She joined forces with Lynnwood; became one of the original members of Lynnwood’s Historical Commission in 1998; served as its chairperson and was a member for 10 years.  Together Marie and the city formed a partnership to reclaim Lynnwood’s roots.
Marie Joyce Sherwood was born October 18, 1932 in Everett, Washington—making her an official Snohomish County native.  She was the youngest of two children and spent her childhood years in Everett, then they moved to Seattle with her mother.  In Seattle, Marie graduated from Garfield High School.  In 1951, Marie married Warren Robert Little.  The couple lived in Seattle for a very short time while Warren built a home for them in Alderwood Manor on Cedar Way (44th Avenue West), one block from his own childhood home.  This became their lifetime home; where they raised their two children: daughter Ellen and son Brett. In an interview published in the Enterprise in 1994, Marie stated that she became interested in writing as a child, but found it was not an occupation recommended by school counselors for “making a living.”  Marie did not let that negative observation keep her from the career she had always wanted—writing was in her blood.
In the 1960s, she took a writing class and began her freelance writing career.  She had articles published in Woman’s Day, Modern Bride and the Seattle Times. She also did some writing for trade journals.  Because she became a freelance writer Marie joined and remained a long-time member of the Seattle Free Lances, a Professional & Social Networking for Published & Aspiring Writers of the Northwest.
During the early 1970s, as a resident of the Alderwood/Lynnwood area, Marie Little wrote a column for the local news publication the Enterprise, entitled: “Orbiting AlderLynn.”  This column ran for two years and won for Marie a first-place award in the 1971 Washington Press Women competition.  According to an article by Bill Sheets in a 1994 edition of the Enterprise, “the column was part gossip, part local events, and part wry observation—inspired by a bad experience buying a bathing suit and sustained by Little’s knowledge of the area and people, gained from having lived in North Lynnwood since 1952.”
Marie worked as a secretary for a short time, and then quit when she decided she didn’t like to type what other people had written.  When her children were grown, Marie went back to school and graduated from the University of Washington in 1978 at the age of 46 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Beginning in February of 1991, Marie initiated, produced and hosted a program on community radio station KSER, 90.7 FM, which was called “If Houses Could Speak.”  This production was broadcast at 7:45 a.m. on the last Wednesday of each month.  The program, which was taped, featured Marie Little as she took listeners on a tour of historical structures of Snohomish County while interviewing the owners of the buildings.  This program aired for several years, and won an award of merit from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.   In addition to her early column in the Enterprise mentioned above, her columns and articles appeared in later Enterprise issues, as well as in the Snohomish County Business Journal, the Third Age newspaper, the Seattle Times, and the Snohomish County Women’s Legacy Project.
Because of her interest in preserving the history and the buildings of her adopted hometown, Marie became a charter member of the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association (AMHA) in 1991. In his 1994 Enterprise article, Bill Sheets quoted Marie’s comment regarding the beginning of the association and her personal involvement. Marie said: “I became really concerned about the way buildings were disappearing and I was afraid the history of the area would be lost.”  During her lifetime commitment to AMHA, Marie also became the editor of the association’s newsletter during its early years, and served on its board.
In 2006, Marie co-authored with Kevin Stadler and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, an Images of America book “Alderwood Manor”.  This has becoming a very popular book with members of the association, as well as visitors to AMHA.
Also in 2006, Marie received the Washington Museum Association Award for Individual Excellence.  No doubt Marie Little would agree that among her best works in preservation was her strong leadership in working with the City of Lynnwood and Alderwood Manor Heritage Association to establish the city’s Heritage Park on Poplar Way. At this little park tucked away from the busy commercial side of Lynnwood, the heritage of Lynnwood is preserved.  Opened with dedication ceremonies in 2004, it has become an unexpected crown jewel of parks in Lynnwood.  As you enter the park, Marie Little is immortalized by the street sign proclaiming “Marie Little Drive.” Inside Heritage Cottage, home to Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, one room is set aside as the “Marie Little Library.”
Marie Little spearheaded the rescue and relocation of the 1917 Alderwood Manor Demonstration Farm’s Superintendent’s Cottage which became home for the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association’s Resource Center located in Heritage Park.  For this work, the League of Snohomish County Historical Organizations (LOSCHO), on January 20, 2007 presented the prestigious Malstrom Award to Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, acknowledging outstanding contributions to the field of Snohomish County history.
Having been diagnosed with cancer several months earlier, in 2009 Marie’s health was failing. In December of that year, the City of Lynnwood recognized Marie’s special achievements in the preservation of the community’s history by issuing a proclamation naming Marie the official city historian.  She was then presented with the “key” to the city—a first-and-one-time-only award for her good works on behalf of the city.
Marie Joyce Little slipped away to her final rest on February 15, 2010 at the age of 77.  She was survived by Warren, her husband of 58 years.  Warren Robert Little followed Marie in death on January 17, 2014.  Marie and Warren are survived by their two children and their spouses, as well as seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
In an article published in the Enterprise following Marie’s death, Mina Williams the paper’s editor interviewed Marie’s daughter Ellen, who had this to say about her mother’s literary ability.  “As a teenager I didn’t always appreciate her columns, particularly the one about my first two-piece bathing suit.  But her writings were humorous.  It was like you were talking to her.”
Those who knew Marie Little are sure to remember her as a tiny woman—one who loved her family and her hometown, and never failed to show that love in a big way.

Obituaries for Marie J. Little (2010) and Warren R. Little (2014).
“Longtime resident keeps a history of AlderLynn” — Bill Sheets; Enterprise (Aug. 24, 1994).
“Lynnwood historian writer passes” – Mina Williams Enterprise (Feb. 24, 2010)
And the diverse writings of Marie J. Little during her time as editor and writer for the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association’s News Clippings column.
© Betty Gaeng 2014   All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 76

Mary (Knott) Langrill

A Survivor & a Mapping Mystery

by Betty Gaeng

The name M. Langrill printed on a plat map was the first clue to lead me to the intriguing and poingant story Township 27 Section 35d poignant story of a lady who came from far away to join the sisterhood of women who were part of Snohomish County’s past.

This discovery was made when I was a co-worker on a project involving landholders listed on the 1910 Plat Map of Township 27 North, Range 4 East, W.M., Snohomish County, Washington. As I observed the names, for some reason the name M. Langrill shown as the owner of a mere 10-acre parcel of land caught my eye. At the time I had no idea whether the name referred to a man or a woman. All I could tell was that amidst the large platted acreages, M. Langrill owned only 10 acres in his or her name. In our day this piece of land would be located in the city of Brier in Southwest Snohomish County. In 1910, I imagine it was ten acres of virgin forest—no building is shown on the plat.

My first discovery was that M. Langrill was female, a widow by the name of Mary Langrill and she had lived in Edmonds since 1891, never on the 10-acres she owned several miles southeast of the town. That land was most likely an investment toward her future welfare. From then on, bits and pieces of her life story and its many tragedies emerged.

Mary Knott was her birth name. Mary and her twin Martha were born in Plymouth, Devonshire, England on February 6, 1860. Their parents were John and Mary Knott, both born in England. Of this family, consisting of five girls and two boys, six came to the United States. At the age of 20, Mary traveled alone on her journey from England to Canada and then to the United States in 1882. She came to join an older brother and sister who had established a pioneer home in Minnesota in the small county of Rock situated in the southwest corner of the state. When the Minnesota State Census was taken the first day of May in 1885, Mary was enumerated as residing with her older brother John E. Knott in the village of Kanaranzi in Rock County. Nearby a young man by the name of Frank Langrill was also listed in the same census.

Franklin Langrill was born in Canada in 1859. He and Mary Knott met and they soon married. The couple did not remain in Minnesota; instead the newlyweds loaded their few belongings onto a covered wagon and with their one cow tied behind, they traveled to Seneca, Faulk County, South Dakota. Mary and Frank began farming on a small parcel of land. It was a hardscrabble life for the couple. Three daughters were born to them in Seneca: Nellie in 1886, Ethel Frances in 1888 and Edith Mary in 1890.

Mary told the story of one event happening at their little home site; an event that almost had a tragic ending. The three little girls were playing outside when a stampede of cattle came roaring towards them. They were carried to safety by their mother— just in time. This may have been the final straw that led to the couple’s decision to move elsewhere in order to find a better way of life than trying to eke out a living in South Dakota with its heat in the summer and cold snowy winters.

In 1891, Mary, Frank, and the three little girls headed west to Washington State’s Snohomish County and the town of Edmonds along the shore of Puget Sound. In Edmonds they lived on Maple Street and Frank found work as a teamster. Their life as hardscrabble farmers was ended.

Three more daughters were born to Mary and Frank. Emma was born in 1895, but died August 31, 1897. Jessie Marie was born November 7, 1897 and died just before Christmas of 1898. These were tragic times for the Langrill family. The two little girls were buried in the historic I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Edmonds—a cemetery now known as Edmonds Memorial Cemetery.

Mary and Frank’s sixth and last child was another daughter. She was born in July of 1899 and they named her Ruth Evangeline.

Less than two years later, Mary endured another loss. While her husband Frank and a friend were hunting near Mud Lake (now known as Lake Serene) a few miles northeast of Edmonds, tragedy struck again. The two men had become separated and during the darkness, about 3 o’clock on Sunday morning, June 9, 1901, Frank’s hunting companion mistook him for a bear and fired his rifle. The shot struck Frank in his right leg just above the knee. Frank fell into the lake, and was pulled from the water by his friend. Miles from the nearest hospital located in Everett, they did not reach it until 10 o’clock that morning—seven hours after the accident. The shock and loss of blood was too much; Frank died at Everett Hospital that day. The shooting was officially ruled as accidental. Frank was buried at the I.O.O.F. Cemetery near the couple’s two small daughters. He was 42 years old.gravestone

With her husband gone and four young daughters still at home, one just a toddler, Mary became a laundress. Working from her home in Edmonds, she somehow managed to support her family and to save a little money to invest in the 10 acres of timberland.

Frank’s death was not the end of sorrow for Mary. Daughter Nellie Langrill died from tuberculosis during September of 1907 at the age of 21. Nellie was laid to rest next to her father and two little sisters. All in all, Mary outlived her husband and five of her daughters. Ruth Evangeline, who had been the toddler when her father was killed, died in March of 1920. She was not quite 21 years old.

Daughter Ethel Francis married George E. Davis and went with him to live on a farm in Lincoln County, Eastern Washington. Ethel and George had ten children; Mary’s only grandchildren. Ethel died when she was just 40 years old, in October of 1929. Ethel was also buried at the I.O.O.F. Cemetery beside her father and four sisters.

After Ethel’s death, several of her children were sent to live with Grandmother Mary and Aunt Edith (Mrs. Joseph Miller) in Edmonds. There they attended the Edmonds schools, graduating from the highgravemarker school.
Having endured one loss after another, Mary must have been very thankful she still had her daughter Edith. During the last few years of her life, Mary resided in south Edmonds with this one surviving daughter and her husband. Mary died there on August 15, 1933 at the age of 73. She was buried next to her husband Frank and five of their daughters.

On the January 3, 1978, surviving daughter Edith Mary Langrill Miller died and she now lies beside her Langrill family at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery. Mary and Frank and their six little girls are together now. Their graves occupy a large area of the original section of the old cemetery. Through the years, a few grandchildren have also joined Mary and Frank there. In visiting their graves, I felt as if I was standing amid a family’s reunion.

Mary Knott Langrill was not famous with a spectacular career as a mover and shaker in life’s affairs. She left only a few reminders for us. One a paper trail on a plat map showing her as the owner of 10 acres of land. She left a few other trails along the way as she buried a husband and five daughters in the soil of Snohomish County. As a young woman of 20, she began her travels alone, crossing an ocean from her home in England. She had a long and difficult journey before she reached her final destination. Now she sleeps in the soil of her adopted home, and her name is woven into the fabric of this county’s history.

Anderson Map Company, and James W. Myers. Plat Book of Snohomish County Washington. Seattle, Wash: Anderson Map Co, 1910. Plat map of Township 27 North, Range 4 East, W.M., Snohomish County, Washington.
Washington State Digital Archives < >
Everett Daily Herald – Monday, June 10, 1901 < >
Edmonds Tribune-Review—August 18, 1933 and January 11, 1978.
© 2010 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved;  WLP STory #68

Martha Kraencke

Martha Kraencke on her Bench

~ The Walking Lady of Edmonds
by Betty Lou Gaeng

“Martha! Martha!” As the children chanted her name, Martha Kraencke appeared not to notice. Her steps seldom faltered as she walked along the sidewalks and alley ways of downtown Edmonds. Children can be cruel, especially when they view someone a little different. Martha Kraencke was not only different—she had an aura of mystery.
If you spent time in Edmonds in the latter part of the 1940s through the early 1970s, Martha was a lady you would have noticed and wondered about. For almost 30 years, Martha Kraencke was probably the most visually recognized person in Edmonds. Yes, Martha was recognized, but she was also an enigma.
Resting from her walking, she could sometimes be seen seated at her favorite bench on Sunset Avenue and Casper Street in Edmonds looking out over the waters of Puget Sound. It was here that Helen Reynolds’ camera captured Martha’s visage on film to display in the front window of her photography studio on Main Street in Edmonds. Martha was wearing a favorite Navy blue suit, pristine white blouse and straw hat—the jacket of her suit neatly folded over the back of the bench. [This photo of Martha was displayed in photographer Helen Reynold’s Studio and was reprinted in the Edmonds Tribune Review (date not known), please contact us if you know more!].
What did Martha see? Perhaps she was recalling a much earlier time—a time when her beloved husband’s body was discovered floating in the waters of the Pacific near California’s Los Angeles Harbor. Yes, Martha had a story—a very unusual one. One that included glamour, tragedy, and finally, a life of solitude.
Martha was born Martha Giersch in Berlin, Germany on February 27, 1894. She completed her schooling in 1912 and went to work as a secretary for a German movie studio in Berlin. An attractive, slender grey-eyed blonde, she appeared in small roles as an actress or an extra in several silent films. It was during this time she met another Berliner, Fritz Kraencke, already a well-established set designer and cinematographer in the German film industry. Martha and Fritz were married in Berlin in 1914.
Martha’s husband Fritz was exempted from military service during the First World War, and continued a successful career in silent films in Germany. In later years, Fritz also designed sets for the German Staatsoper, an opera house, and Bayreuth, an opera festival. On March 21, 1920, their only child, a son, Herbert Guenter Kraencke was born in Berlin, Brandenburg, Germany.
In 1926, Fritz accepted the position as set designer for the Los Angeles Grand Opera, and the family left Berlin to become members of the Hollywood/Los Angeles entertainment world. The Kraencke family sailed from Bremen, Germany to America on the SS George Washington, arriving in New York Harbor on October 22, 1926. They then headed for their new home in Los Angeles and on January 21, 1929, in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, California, Martha and Fritz each signed papers declaring their intention to become citizens of the United States—renouncing their allegiance and fidelity to any foreign sovereignty, including the German Reich.
Martha’s husband’s theater career was a successful one for many years. Before WWII, they traveled to Germany, Hawaii and Mexico, and finally back to Europe for the last time in 1937. Judging by the trunks of beautiful clothes found in Martha’s home after her death, they lived a glamorous and elegant life. Among Martha’s stunning wardrobe were many Paris and New York originals.
Martha’s world collapsed in 1947. As reported in the Los Angeles Times of December 2, 1947, early Monday morning, December 1, Martha telephoned her son Herbert because Fritz was missing from their home on West Bluff Place in San Pedro, a section of Los Angeles. As Herbert told police, he contacted the Coast Guard after going to Point Fermin, near their home. There he had dropped a dime in one of the telescopes pointed out to sea and saw what he feared was his father’s body floating in the ocean. It was the body of Fritz Kraencke. Because of the bruises on Mr. Kraencke’s face and head, the police were at first suspicious that the death may have been by foul play. However, both Martha and Herbert said that Fritz was despondent and had been having financial problems. To them, suicide seemed to be a possibility. Officially, the coroner’s ruling was death by drowning in the Pacific Ocean—suicide.

Following Fritz Kraencke’s death at the age of 57, Herbert, a surveyor, moved to Snohomish County, Washington—to a home at Lake Ballinger, a few miles from Edmonds. Martha joined her son. Shortly after this, Martha began catching an early morning bus to downtown Edmonds, and there she would walk all day and in the evening she would take the bus back to her son’s home at Lake Ballinger.
In the mid-fifties, Herbert decided to move back to California. However, by this time, Martha had grown attached to the Northwest. She moved to a small bungalow near downtown Edmonds at Phillip’s Court, 303 Fourth Avenue North, #3. She remained in her little home for the remainder of her life. From this handy spot, Martha continued her solitary walks.
Doug Margeson in an article about Martha Kraencke, written following her death, stated that “Everyone who lived and worked in downtown knew who she was, but only a few knew her.” He continued: “Local kids believed she lived in a haunted house and worked as a foreign spy.” Mr. Margeson’s article included remarks from the few that did get to know Martha. Once or twice a week, she stopped by D Drive-In, once a well-known and popular gathering spot on Sixth and Main, to have a cup of coffee with a young man who worked there. She exchanged hellos with people as she passed by. Helen Reynolds knew her for almost thirty years, and Martha became one of her favorite photo subjects, but even Ms. Reynolds admitted that no one was allowed to come too close.
The newspaper article went on to say, “Once or twice a week she stopped by the Edmonds West Tavern—or the Sail Inn, or Engel’s—to have a loganberry flip. Usually she kept to herself. Occasionally, however, her carefully cultivated reserve dropped away and she showed flashes of warm, sometimes ribald humor.
Martha seemed to have set routes for her walks. Downtown store keepers claimed they could set their watches from the time she walked by their stores. Her coffee-time friend remembered her schedule: “She left her bungalow at 4th Avenue and Edmonds Street at 7 a.m. She walked down to Sunset Avenue, took in the view and then went over to Main Street. She usually had breakfast at Brownies Café on 4th Avenue. From there she walked various routes. She usually stopped for a cup of coffee at D Drive-In. After a little conversation with the cook and other customers, she was on her way again. Sometime in the afternoon, she usually stopped at the IGA store at 5th and Dayton where she visited with acquaintances. The she walked some more, often well into the night.”
Martha was an accomplished pianist and sometimes played from memory to a noisy crowd at Edmonds West Tavern—a crowd that would sit in silence as Martha would play a complicated piece by Beethoven.
In 1974, Martha fell and broke her hip. She wasn’t even fazed. Soon after leaving the hospital, Martha, with the help of a walker, was out and walking again.

For many years, Martha’s next door neighbor kept an eye on her. At night before she went to bed, Martha waved to her neighbor across the yard and then she pulled the window shade. In the morning, she would raise the shade to let her neighbor know that all was well. On the morning of September 8, 1977, the shade remained closed. At the age of 83, Martha’s walking days were over. She died peacefully in her own bed. Lynnwood’s Floral Hills Funeral Home handled the cremation, and at the request of her son and daughter-in-law, Martha’s ashes were sent to California to be placed next to those of her husband.

Edmonds Tribune-Review, Wednesday, November 30, 1977—“Martha Kraencke; she walked” by Staff Writer, Doug Margeson; with photograph.
New York Passenger Lists –
Naturalization papers, Martha Kraencke –
Naturalization papers, Fritz Kraencke –
Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1947.
Certificate of Death, Fritz Kraencke—State of California, County of Los Angeles.
Social Security Death Record, Martha Kraencke — Washington Digital Archives.
1930 and 1940 U.S. Federal Census Records –
Various passenger lists from

© 2012 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story #73

Walburga Eisen ~ Early Day Entrepreneur

by Betty Lou Gaeng
Nostalgia—a sentimental yearning for the past. To return to our youth is often a cherished wish. For some of the older folks who grew up in southwest Snohomish County, the name Walburga Eisen may invoke some pleasant memories of that lost youth. Well, they may not recall her given name—few knew Mrs. Eisen even had one. She was always just Mrs. Eisen. Mrs. Eisen with the sharp eye for troublemakers. Nothing got past her watch.

Summertime in the 1920s, 1930s and the early 1940s was a more simple time—a time for fun and meeting friends at the beach. It was a time before TV, cell phones, I-Pods, hanging out at the mall or showing off your wheels.

If you lived in the southwestern part of Snohomish County, Washington State, especially Cedar Valley or Seattle Heights, you knew the best place to hang out during summer vacation. Mrs. Eisen’s resort at Hall’s Lake was the fun place to be. Before it closed in 1944, this was where young people of the area kept in contact with their friends from school. They flirted a little, showed off their water skills, or just basked in the sunshine on the float a little way offshore. Some of these friendships lasted for a lifetime, and some young folks even found their marriage partners. Parents didn’t need to worry when their children were at the resort, Mrs. Eisen was always there, keeping her watchful eyes peeled for any hanky panky.

The resort was a favorite spot for group picnics. Because Hall’s Lake had once been a major part of the lumber industry in the area–sawmills had been along its shore. The lake remained a yellowish brown color from the ever present cedar logs. The shingle-weavers who had worked in the sawmills remembered Hall’s Lake and when it came time to hold their annual summer picnic, Mrs. Eisen’s resort was the place they gathered. Sometimes it was a little noisy and rowdy, but it was always a day of joy in remembering old friendships. Many other groups including the Seattle Elks also found the Halls Lake Resort a good place to hold their annual picnics. The resort during the summer months was also a favorite for the county’s politicians to meet and greet, and garner votes for the upcoming elections.

Old Settlers Picnic, click for link to more information

The most notable of the picnics was in August with the long-held annual Old Settlers’ Picnic. These were the old settlers of Alderwood Manor, Cedar Valley, Seattle Heights, Esperance, Edmonds, Meadowdale and all the surrounding area. There were good times for people of all ages, including a variety of contests—three-legged races, swimming races, foot races for different age categories, largest family, oldest person. There was even dancing at night in the dance pavilion—with live music. For many of the young people, this is where they learned to maneuver around a dance floor. The picnic was a fun time in August for the whole family.

Money was scarce, but resorts such as Mrs. Eisen’s were places where you could enjoy a day of getting together with others, sharing your basket of food, and just forgetting the cares of the world. In our busy and changed world of today, these simple days of summer have mostly faded away. Society has lost a great tradition.

Walburga Hagel was born December 20, 1860 in Rogers, Hennepin County, Minnesota, the daughter of Peter and Helena Hagel—one of ten children. In 1882, she married Simon V. Eisen, also a Minnesota native. The couple made their home in Minneapolis, and by the end of 1901, they had eight children: Lawrence, Albert, Frank, Amelia, George, Matthew, Helen, and the baby Carl.

In 1905, the family moved to Seattle. In Seattle, along the western shore of Lake Washington, Simon and Walburga began their career of running amusement parks. Simon became the manager of Leschi Park, a popular spot for the people of Seattle and the communities across the lake. The park was owned by the Seattle Electric Company and they ran a cable car from Pioneer Square to the park. Before the Eisens arrived in Seattle, there was even a collection of animals located at the park. However, in 1903 the menagerie was donated to Woodland Park and became the nucleus of the newly established zoo on Guy Phinney’s land.

Simon and Walburga remained in Seattle until 1913. That year they bought land along the eastern shore of Hall’s Lake in Snohomish County, about a mile east of the highway community of Seattle Heights. They opened Hall’s Lake Resort, and with its close proximity to the Seattle-Everett Interurban, the resort soon became a favorite destination for recreation seekers.

Walburga became a widow in 1919 with the death of Simon. For a time she was assisted by her sons, but she continued as the force in the management of the resort. Walburga Eisen was the mainstay, she was the one always on hand, keeping a sharp lookout over those enjoying the offerings at the resort.

Walburga Eisen took the lead in many community projects for Seattle Heights, often lending her facilities at the resort for fund-raising events. One of her major accomplishments was a volunteer fire department at Hall’s Lake in the latter part of the 1920s. The department was led by her youngest son Carl with volunteers from the area. They had no fire engine, instead using a truck with barrels of water carried in the bed of the truck. This was the beginning of the very first fire department for miles around. In 1929, the operation was moved to Carl Eisen’s garage at 212th and Highway 99. This volunteer fire department gave birth to Snohomish County Fire Protection District 1, and for many years Carl Eisen served as a chief.

Another son of Walburga was well known to the people of the area. Matthew, or Matt, as he was more commonly called, served for many years as a member of the school board for Edmonds School District 15.

Getting on in years, Walburga Eisen sold her resort to the Church of the Nazarene in August of 1944. That month the Nazarene held their first camp meeting as new owners of the resort at Hall’s Lake. The loss of the well-loved public entertainment spot was deeply felt by the residents of the area. After a short illness, Walburga Hagel Eisen died in a Seattle Hospital on Sunday, February 10, 1957 at the age of 96. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Seattle. Of her eight children, all survived her except son Matt, who died in 1949.

Death Records < >
Obituary for Walburga Eisen, Edmonds Tribune-Review, Edmonds, Washington, Feb. 14, 1957
Edmonds Tribune-Review, Edmonds, Washington, July 27, 1934 and August 3, 1944
1870 U.S. Federal Census–Hassan, Hennepin County, Minnesota
1900 U.S. Federal Census–Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota
1910 U.S. Federal Census–Seattle, King County, Washington
Department of Neighborhoods < http;// >

© 2010 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

Louisa Fowler Sinclair ~ Memories of a Pioneer Childhood

By David Cameron

One of the most valuable contributions of the Depression-era Works Projects Administration (WPA) was a program of interviewing pioneers and their descendants throughout Washington State. With high unemployment among writers and the passing away of most of the “original” settlers, the idea was a natural and enlightened one. Out of it came several small books from the Secretary of State’s office entitled Told by the Pioneers*. Among several of the interviews concerning Snohomish County was one with Louisa Fowler Sinclair.

Louisa was the first settler child born in the county, followed shortly after by the second, Neil Spithill. Both were of mixed Native American/white ancestry. In 1860, Louisa’s father, Jacob D. Fowler, a native New Yorker, and her mother, Mary, moved to the site of Mukilteo to operate the county’s first store, saloon, hotel and post office. Only 24 at the time of the first county census in 1861, Fowler held office also as the county’s first auditor, and then treasurer when Mukilteo served as the first county seat before its backers were outvoted 17-10 by the supporters of Emory C. Ferguson and Snohomish on July 8, 1861.

Louisa was born the following year and retained vivid memories of her childhood. Those provide us with an invaluable glimpse of life in Snohomish County a century and a half ago. Here is her account:

“This early picture of J.D. Fowler and his team of oxen was found in one of the Fowler diaries. Fowler recorded many historical facts of early Mukilteo in the daily record he kept. The diaries have been handed down to his granddaughter, Frances Record…” From booklet entitled “History of Mukilteo”. “I was the first child born of a white parent in what is now Snohomish County. My father had operated a trading post and tavern at Ebey’s Landing on Whidby (sic) Island, and there had married my mother, who ran away from her parents of the Skagit tribe because she did not want to marry a brave they had chosen for her. She made her way across the Skagit prairie and somehow reached the northern end of Whidby (sic), and followed the shore line to Ebey’s Landing, where my father first employed her to help in the tavern.

“After they were married, my father joined with Mr. [Morris] H. Frost in establishing a trading post at Point Elliot (now known as Mukilteo). My first recollections of life are as a small girl playing along the beach, picking up bright pebbles there, and being entertained by Indians and now and then a white man at father’s store.
Mukilteo is mispronounced by almost everybody. It should be called ‘mew-kill-too’- meaning ‘good camping ground.’ Because it was a good camping ground, and because there was a trading post there, it became a popular place for many tribes to foregather, and very often there were Indians camped there from a dozen tribes. This led to frequent clashes among the tribesmen – and so many murders that the killing of one Indian by another became a commonplace. My father often used to say when he heard of another such killing, ‘Well, that’s fine – we’ll have Indian for breakfast, tomorrow!’ All the trouble, however, was between the Indians, they never attacked the white men, probably because all white men carried one or two big revolvers and a knife or two in their belts.

Sewing Class at the Tulalip School in 1914, several years after Louisa’s brief attendance. Photographer: J. A. Juleen Courtesy Everett Public Library Digital Collections

“When yet quite small, my parents decided I needed schooling and sent me to the Indian mission at Tulalip. But I did not like it there. I felt superior to the full-blooded Indians, and I did not like the service. We were fed good enough food, but it was served in tin plates and tin cups. These, after having been accustomed, in father’s house, to china, rough and heavy though it had been, was too primitive for me, and I rebelled. I went on a hunger strike, refusing to eat anything, and in desperation the mission returned me to my parents at Mukilteo. Later I went to school for a few terms at Snohomish, and there I worked for Mrs. Ferguson for my board.

“Perhaps I am incompetent to tell you much about the typical life of children in those days, for mine was not typical. I always boast that for years I was the most popular girl in Mukilteo – and I was, for there were no others. Therefore I was somewhat petted and spoiled, and as my associates were all adults, I was more than a little precocious.

“My mother early taught me the use of the needle, and I obtained patterns for shirts and other garments for men. From father’s store I got materials, and made shirts for sale. I was well paid for them. Too, I liked to pick up shells and colored pebbles, and make knickknacks and picture frames by embedding the bright-colored shells and pebbles in putty. These I sold for good prices. And when, somehow, I became possessed of a jig-saw, I spent a lot of time making seine needles, which were much in demand among the fishermen.

“I always had money, though I had little use for it. I suspect I was a bright youngster, for one day several men were sitting on the porch in front of father’s store watching the approach from the Sound of a sailing vessel which had appeared between the islands some miles away. They were betting as to which of the several vessels plying the Sound this might be. It seemed a good chance for me to make some more money. The vessel was too far away to be recognized, so I went into father’s store, got his binocular and slipped away to a place where I could watch it unseen. In a short time I saw the name. Then I replaced the binocular and very innocently joined the gamblers. They were still wondering. I said, ‘Can I bet?’ ‘Sure,’ they replied. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’ll bet it’s the “Walter Ellis”. I’ll bet five dollars.’

“Just for a joke, as they believed, they took the bet, and I produced my money. I won, of course. I didn’t tell how for years afterward.

Newspaper (unidentified) photograph (on right) of Louise Sinclair, circa 1946; article accompanying photograph is on file at Everett Public Library Northwest Room.

“I often took care of the store while father was away on a trading trip. He would load up a boat, a small schooner, with flour and bright-colored cloth, and many small articles for trade, sail up Port Gardner Bay to the mouth of the Snohomish River and then up river as far as he could navigate. He would exchange his cargo for hides and cranberries, which upon his return he would ship to Tacoma. Most of his trading was with Indians, there were few white men along the Snohomish at that time.”

“One day while I was running the store, an Indian was knocked into a campfire during a fight near the store. His back was badly burned and he was in great pain. I wanted to help him and ran into the store to return with a bottle of Pain Killer, a liniment presumed to be good for
“My father was the first postmaster at Mukilteo, and in the early days there was no other post office in Snohomish County. So all the mail for settlers up the river came to our office. There may have been a schedule, but if there were, it didn’t mean much; for the mail often was a week later than we hoped for. Sometimes letters addressed to settlers up river lay in our office for weeks before being called for. But when a vessel called the ‘Chehalis’ began making regular trips up the Snohomish river, its captain used to pick up mail for settlers he knew and carry it to the nearest point he could reach”.

Photo by David Dilgard, 1982

The Fowler Family is gone now, but the pear tree planted by them probably the year after Louisa was born in 1862 still remains at the foot of Park Avenue just above the railroad tracks cutting the street off from the waterfront. On a recent spring day it was blooming well, although the broken trunk is only a portion of the original tree. A Mukilteo maintenance worker from the shop across the street noted its pears are smaller than an orange and ripen slowly: “Probably a winter pear,” he observed. Crows and the public still harvest them, providing an ongoing continuity with our past. When it finally dies, the city plans on replacing the tree from cuttings taken six years ago and being raised by an arborist on Whidbey Island.

Mukilteo pioneer Jacob D. Fowler had some of his claim under cultivation as early as 1861 and it is believed his orchard was planted about 1863. Growing on the west side of his homestead, the Fowler pear tree remains as the sole survivor of that orchard.

©2006 David A. Cameron, All Rights Reserved

For more of the story including information on canning salmon, using dogfish oil lamps, trading feathers for pillows and bed ticks as well as hunting brant geese, see *Sinclair, Louise [Fowler] Told By the Pioneers: Tales of a Frontier Life As Told by Those Who Remember the Days of the Territory and Early Statehood of Washington , Volume II (Olympia, 1937-38), p. 179 – United States Works Progress Administration (Wash.)

Frances E. Anderson

Frances Anderson in 1911

Edmonds School District’s Legend

By Betty Lou Gaeng

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

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

Anderson Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edmonds Grade School

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

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

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

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

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

Second Grade Teacher Frances Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2011 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

Ruth Morrice

Full Time Career Postal Worker ~ 1902-1973

By Sandra Schumacher
During her long career as a postal clerk at Alderwood Manor, Ruth Morrice witnessed mail delivery from the horse-drawn, red wagon to air mail. In the early days there were inkwells to be filled, and all work was done by hand, including making money orders. Until the mid-1930s, all dollar bills were counted and serial numbers listed by hand as well.

Everett Herald photo, 4/1/1965
Everett Herald photo, 4/1/1965

Miss Morrice welcomed modernization. She liked to say that she loved the past, but “did not live in it.” In fact, she wanted to work for the United States Post Office “as long as possible, and never retire.”

Her own past actually made her a historical figure. She was born December 13, 1902 in a log cabin on the family homestead. They were one of the first white families in the area. She spent her entire life on that homestead, which became Alderwood Manor. Hers was a life full of both travel and community service. She saw the entire continent of North America, from Alaska to Mexico. She was a member of the Eastern Star, and served as their secretary for over forty years.
Everett Herald photo, 4/1/1965

Ruth Morrice never married, yet always seemed to have a house full of children, including grandnieces, grandnephews and children of friends. She loved music and was as proud of her record collection as she was of her beautiful garden.

At the end of her life she lived in a home that was bordered by some of the last remaining woods in Alderwood Manor. At the time, her cousins owned the nearby wildlife sanctuary. Loving and loved in return by her family and her community, Miss Ruth Morrice passed away on February 4, 1973.

WLP Story Number 19 ~ The beginning of her story can be found at this link ~ Women’s Legacy story #72

Sources: The Everett Herald
© 2006 Sandra Schumacher All Rights Reserved