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

Jane Berry ~ First Businesswoman of Monroe, Washington

Jane Berry bears the distinction of being the first woman business owner in Monroe. Her saloon on East Main Street proved to be a focal point for both gatherings and controversy.

Aunt Jane Berry, as residents called her in later years, was both picturesque and peculiar but not one among the earlier settlers was better known than she. She was born in Newry, county of Down, Ireland in 1843. She came to America as a young woman at the age of 22. She sailed from New York for San Francisco around Cape Horn. In 1869, she arrived in the Monroe area. During her long residence in town, she prospered and acquired eleven different parcels of land. Her estate at the time of her death in 1925 amounted to nearly $40,000, a fortune in those days.

Controversy seemed to follow Aunt Jane. In February 1900, thirty-one citizens signed a petition to the county commissioners citing Berry for using obscene language between 5 and 6 p.m. on January 29 in the presence of women and children, brandishing a gun, and allowing loud and abusive language along with boisterous noise to emanate from her saloon. The petition asked that her license be revoked for the sake of decency in Monroe. It appeared the petition fell on deaf ears since Berry continued to operate her saloon.
Aunt Jane Berry owned a number of property parcels and had built a brick building on her East Main Street site. Rumor had it that she ran a house of ill repute on the upper floor of her building. At one time, mothers petitioned the school board to change the route of the school bus carrying their children past Berry’s saloon to protect them from the seamier side of life. The school bus at that time was a horse-drawn wagon.
Aunt Jane’s next battle occurred when Snohomish County sheriff‘s deputies discovered a large quantity of booze in Monroe. A big crowd dolefully watched the confiscation of the liquor and its trip out of town. Sheriff Donald McRae and Prosecuting Attorney O.T. Webb arrested Berry on the charge of violating the state prohibition law in 1917.
Newspaper accounts said that county officials staged one of the best-attended raids ever held outside of Seattle and they had located 26 bottles of contraband. The officers arrived unannounced and searched the Berry place. They arrested her and the news spread throughout the community. Within a few minutes several hundred people called around to have a look at what the sheriff had in his wagon.
Officers searched several other buildings owned by Berry but located no additional caches. At the time of the raid, Berry had been a resident of Snohomish County for more than forty years, and had arrived in Monroe before the town’s incorporation.
She married Frank Donahue 13 years before her death. He helped look after her properties during the last years of her life. Aunt Jane had a generous, and in her own quaint way, a good heart. She never forgot a friend nor overlooked a slight. She was generous to her friends when they were in need. To point up the respect the community had for this controversial woman, Mayor Bascom asked businesses to close during her funeral services.

Aunt Jane’s death created a legal stir when her relatives contested her will that left most of her assets to her husband. They claimed she was mentally incompetent. In the end, Aunt Jane defied them. In early 1926, the court ruled her will valid.

There was no more colorful character in Monroe than Aunt Jane Berry. For a slight woman, she cast a huge shadow that remained in the community for years. Her building still stands on the north side of East Main Street.

From left to right: Stretch Chop House at the very edge of the photo, Dolloff’s Store, Sanders Hotel, railroad tracks, Mrs. Berry’s saloon, and Vanasdlen’s Store and Post Office, which had been moved from Park Place. Running through the middle is the Great Northern mainline with engines under steam with railroad cars. The current Main Street crossing would be roughly at the center of the photo. The view is looking south and slightly east across the site of what is now the old Monroe Shopping Center.
Photograph Courtesy Monroe Historical Society, Monroe WA.

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

Nina Blackman Bakeman

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

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

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

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

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

© 2009 Frances Wood, All Rights Reserved

Amelia Austin

Tualco Valley Pioneer 1879 – 1908

By Nellie Robertson
WLP Story Number 13

Amelia Wellman Austin fought the battles of life undaunted by the significant challenges she faced. From the time of her birth in Joliet, Ill. in 1849 until her 1908 death in Monroe, the intrepid Amelia refused to concede defeat. Her life encompassed the roles of pioneer wife, mother, nurse, churchwoman, widow and community activist.
Her odyssey from Illinois to Tualco Valley south of Monroe began while Amelia was still an infant. Her father had crossed the American plains by ox team to discover California riches, returned to get his family and with several others headed again for the Pacific Coast, this time choosing a route through the Isthmus of Panama. The men slogged their way through the steamy jungle while the women and children rode on the backs of native bearers.

Amelia met Grannis Austin in California, married him in 1865, and bore three children in the Golden State. Grannis yearned to move on. The family booked passage on the Prince Albert, an old blockade runner, and on June 10, 1873 at last reached Snohomish County. The Austins took a pre-emption claim on the land still occupied by their descendants.
The first white woman to travel the trail from Snohomish to Tualco Valley made the journey just five months before she gave birth to the first white child born in the valley. She bore four more children in Washington Territory. In her precise handwriting, she listed her children in the family Bible. The first, Benjamin Grannis Austin, she wrote, was born in “Calafornia” in 1866. Of her nine children, only three sons and one daughter grew to maturity. Amelia met challenges of motherhood, including the death of her firstborn at the age of four, with the stoicism of a pioneer woman. Three more died in childhood, and her last child died when he was six months old.
Her children, who were happy to have Indian youngsters as playmates in the sparsely-settled valley, inherited Amelia’s bold nature. Once, when the elder Austins were on a day-long trip to Snohomish, two of their sons took advantage of parental absence to slake their hunger for brown sugar, which was sold in large wooden boxes. Amelia had carefully stowed the box under her bed specifically to keep it from her rambunctious sons. Undeterred, the boys wrestled the box out from its hiding place and gorged on the confection to the point that by the time their parents returned, both boys were thoroughly sick. Although a few swats were probably applied to the boys’ backsides at some point, Amelia lovingly applied her nursing skills to restore them to health.
Amelia nursed anyone who needed her. Not only did she care for those who came to her for help, but time and time again, traveled far and wide on foot or horseback or by team and wagon to tend her fellow pioneers. Tending the sick meant measuring medicinal doses, child care, laundry and wood chopping. Her granddaughter, Doris Reiner, said, “Being a Good Samaritan in those days was much harder than staying home and doing your own thing in your own surroundings.”

Used to traveling over difficult terrain, audacious Amelia added another “first” to her list. She was the first woman to take a pleasure trip to Sultan, an occurrence unheard of in 1891. She and a friend visiting from Colorado rode mules for their miles-long journey.

A highly respected woman in the Monroe community, Amelia found outlets for her boundless energy in the Ladies of the Maccabees and the Rebekah Lodge. Her moral strength led her to start a Sunday school in the Austin livery stable, and after two years of hard work, the first Monroe church stood on the present site of the Monroe United Methodist Church, known then as the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church. Not only did Amelia provide a place for the church, but also for the post office that had been moved from the neighboring Smallman place to the Austin homestead. A boat delivered the mail to the Snoqualmie River landing, and then a rider carried it on horseback for the final few miles.
Grannis Austin’s obituary in 1906 said that his wife had helped him turn a wilderness into a ranch valued at $20,000. Amelia spent little time in her widow’s weeds feeling sorry for herself. In mid-summer that same year, she erected a two-story building on Monroe’s So. Lewis Street that still stands. With its lodge room upstairs and a couple of business spaces downstairs, it became a popular site for community meetings. When schools overflowed with students, classes met there, and at one time the Austin building housed a skating rink.

Her business acumen was legendary among men and women alike. Her estate had doubled in value since her husband’s death. Amelia Austin lost her battle with breast cancer in 1908. She left behind a moral fiber that remains enshrined in the church she helped start. Her community spirit blazed a path women are still following today.

Sources. Monroe Monitor newsclippings & Austin family documents and Austin family interviews

© 2002 Nellie Robertson All Rights Reserved

Clara Morris Young

Her Granddaughter Remembers …1886 – 1983

By Roberta Jonnet

clara Morris YoungClara Morris Young lived what some may say was a common life. But what brought my grandmother west to Washington State and Snohomish County must have been an uncommon sense of adventure. She came to work, socialize and dance, and stayed to marry and raise a family. She adored being called “Mom” and “Grandma” and cooking and keeping house for a husband and two sons.

Clara Edith Morris was born February 7, 1886 outside the town of Mitchell, Indiana. She was the second of five children born to Robert J. Morris and Sarah Belle Terrell. Her older sister, Margaret, had married Frederick McCormick, and they were living in Snohomish County when Clara decided to join them
Arriving in Everett in 1907, Clara Morris was part of an influx of mid-Westerners to Snohomish County. The Polk City directory of 1907 states “Fifteen years ago the site…on which today stands this thriving manufacturing and commercial center, was an almost impenetrable virgin forest.” The directory reveals that the city was equipped with “electric street railways, first-class waterworks…two telephone systems, gas works, electric lights…two well equipped hospitals, a theatre that would be a credit to any eastern city…thirty-three miles of graded and improved streets…Nineteen buildings make up the public school property…the total number of school children is 4,700.”

Clara arrived at a time when the city was expanding rapidly. Lawrence O’Donnell writes in his book, Everett: Past & Present, that the city population grew from 8,000 in 1900 to 24,814 in 1910. New arrivals came from all over the United States and from overseas. The 1907 Polk directory lists Clara Morris as a “domestic” at 2614 Wetmore Avenue. She would have been twenty-one years old. In 1909 she was living in a boarding house at 2132 Oakes, which meant she had to walk a mile to work as an “ironer” for Independent Laundry at 28th and Cedar because streetcars did not serve that area. In 1910 she got a job as a maid at the Merchant Hotel at 1501 ½ Hewitt Avenue.
Her days were spent earning a living as a single, self-supporting woman, but her life was not all work and no play, as her family discovered when Clara’s keepsakes were found some 75 years later. Among her personal papers are invitations to numerous dances held in Everett from 1909-1911. Some invitations are addressed to her residence, some to her place of employment. One invitation reads “Gentleman One Dollar” and “Ladies’ Complimentary.” It was for the Opening Dancing Party for Rennie’s Dancing Academy, featuring Stormfels’ Orchestra at the Masonic Hall for Wednesday Evening, September 8, 1909. G.W. Stormfels was a violin- maker who owned a music store and boasted a five -piece band. “Dancing,” the invitation continues, “begins promptly at 9 p.m.” Clara had a late night.

In 1910 Clara was invited to attend a “Special Pre-Lenten Dancing party”. Ladies complimentary and “ten minutes devoted to the introduction and instruction on the latest dance ‘The Royal.’ Another invitation to a dancing party at the Eagles Hall in Snohomish advises a “special car leaves Wall and Colby at 8 p.m.” for the Saturday night dance. A note at the bottom directs, “Come prepared to make fun and enjoy fun.” Who could resist?

Clara’s life changed forever when she met and married Frederick R. Young of Sultan. Frederick was the son of Daniel and Sophia Kropf Young, who brought their family to Sultan in 1892, a year before the railroad reached the town. Clara’s sister and her husband introduced the couple. Clara and Frederick were married in the McCormick’s living room July 10, 1912. Fred said he was particularly struck by Clara’s “stylish” manner of dress when he met her.

There is a studio photograph of Clara seated on a stool, wearing a gauzy, shirtwaist blouse with embroidery on the bodice; a slim, straight skirt and a hat. Lifestyle records report 1908 was the year slim dresses without petticoats became popular. Also, no fashionable woman left her house without a hat in the first decade of the 1900s. Clara was evidently a fashion slave.
Frederick and Clara lived at corner of 4th and Fir in Sultan and raised their family. A daughter, Irma, born in 1916, died at the age of four months. Maurice was born in 1919 and Forrest in 1921. Clara always claimed that her sons were well mannered and easy to raise. A cousin of the two boys, however, told another story. He witnessed Clara standing by the front gate, tears running down her face, telling the boys she was leaving home because they “would not mind.”

Clara had the company of her sister-in-law, Sophia Young Jenft, as well as her husband’s sisters-in-law, Hilda Wolters Young, married to William Young; and Olive Humphries Young, married to Daniel Young, Jr., in raising their families in Sultan. Olive Young and Sophia Jenft were widowed early in life and left to raise their sons alone. The four women and their families visited each other’s homes, held dinners, celebrated birthdays and holidays, and mourned their losses together.
One of Clara’s activities later in life was participation in the Congregational Ladies Aid Society in Sultan. Family members recall that the group met for many years after the church had ceased holding services and closed it doors. The women gathered in one another’s homes to socialize and to complete a quilt for each member of the society in turn.

Clara’s activities were curtailed when she fell at the age of 60, breaking a hip. Arthritis set in, making walking difficult and keeping her on crutches until her death at age 97. Being a “shut-in,” so to speak, did not hamper her social life, for Clara had her phone and kept the party line busy. It was typical to come into her home and find her chatting away to a neighbor, friend or family member at all hours of the day and night. The Sultan “Home Chats” may have been a regular column for The Valley News, but the ladies of the town kept the real news alive via telephone.

Clara’s many gifts included cooking. She made a chicken that just smelling it frying in the pan made one’s mouth water. Her potato salad, made with plenty of mayonnaise, onion and sliced eggs, was a family favorite, and was often a special request for birthday dinners. Clara, who made and rolled out her own pie dough until she was 95 years old, would sit on a metal stool with a padded seat covered in blue plastic. Her sons had built and put in her kitchen cabinets, making the countertops lower so she could sit to work. I recall helping her cook by collecting the ingredients for her. The kitchen cabinets, which held the spices, flour and sugar, went up to the ceiling by the back door and gave off a rich aroma when the doors were opened. Clara always wore a bib apron in the kitchen, and a spare apron hung in the corner behind the stove.

Fred and Clara always attended the annual Pioneer’s Picnic, later called the Old School Mates’ picnic. These were annual gatherings in Sultan in August for anyone who had lived in town or attended school there. People from across the country would return to Sultan, bringing their hampers and picnic baskets of food to share at the high school. Tables were set up on the lawn, and the day was spent visiting and eating. Clara packed a mean hamper of food: cold meat sandwiches, potato salad, and apple pie.
My grandmother had a way of making life enjoyable for everyone, no matter what their ages. My cousin, Pam, and I would play “dress up” at Grandma’s house. We reveled in the hats, coats and dresses we found in her closet. We would put on an outfit, complete with hat of course, and then parade into the living room to show her, much to her delight. Some years later, when I was shopping for a wedding hat, I went to Chaffee’s on Colby in Everett. Grandma always asked to be taken to Chaffee’s when she wanted a new hat.

I remember that Clara did not have stomachaches or headaches, and took few if any, medications during her life. She ate sliced onion sandwiches with mayonnaise and used lard in her frying pan. She would ask about the health of her daughter-law’s father, who was ten years younger than Clara, referring to him as “the old man.” She shunned anything associated with being an “old lady.” She did not care for the shawl her son brought her from the Holy Land, and she would not be caught dead in lavender or purple because as far as she was concerned, these were “old ladies’” colors.

Clara lost Fred in 1963. He died the day after President Kennedy was assassinated. She outlived her siblings and nearly all her friends and neighbors, a fact that troubled her in her last years. Clara missed her contemporaries, the people with whom she shared her life and times. However, her independent spirit, which brought her west as a young woman, served her to her last days. She lived alone from 1963 until a home care worker moved in to assist her a year before Clara’s death. Her sons honored her wish to live in her home and kept in close contact with phone calls and daily visits. She cooked Sunday dinners up until her last year of life because it was her joy to cook for family.

Clara’s was an ordinary life lived well to the end. Her mind was clear and she knew everyone down to the great-grandchildren by name. Her legacy was living well every day.

Sources: American Decades, 1900-1910; Polk City Directories, 1907, 1909, 1910; O’Donnell, Lawrence. Everett Past and Present; a Centennial [Evertt, WA Cascade Savings Bank] 1993.
Personal Experience, Interviews with Clara Morris Young’s family; Clara Morris Young family records.
© 2005 Roberta Jonnet, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 10

Mabel Monsey

Chronicles of a Farm Wife, 1891-1903

Originally published in the Third Age News: June 2001;  updated in 2006 by the Womens Legacy Project (WLP Story Number 9) and again in 2018 on  Please see that link for the most recent version.

Photo credit: Lake Stevens Museum Information and photo gathered from the Mabel Monsey album held by the Lake Stevens Historical Society Museum, Lake Stevens, Washington

The Monsey family came west from Ohio in about 1888, first settling in Snohomish and then, in 1890, taking a forty acre preemption claim near Hartford, a railroad junction northeast of Lake Stevens. They brought four girls with them, ranging in age from nine years to eighteen months. In an article describing their arrival, which Mabel wrote for a publication back east, she told of their trek from the train station at Hartford to their new property: “ …we walked the mile and three-quarters down the railroad track, then one-quarter of a mile to our new home, over a good road. … on either side of the road, was dense forest, and to see the sun one must look straight up.”

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©2001-2018  Louise Lindgren  All Rights Reserved

In Search of Nora Burglon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2003 – 2006 Louise Lindgren, All Rights Reserved

Addie Fielder Lane

Pioneer and Builder of Religious Communities 1870 – 1943

WLP Story 4 ~ By Sandra Schumacher

Cowgirl, pioneer, farmer, business woman, mother and religious leader were all apt descriptions of Addie Lane. But the one quality that exemplified her life was her belief system in a God who spoke to her and worked through her to help establish and strengthen the religious life of her family and neighbors.

“Called to serve” by God at age fourteen, Addie believed strongly in the efficacy of faith healing, and throughout her life consulted spiritualists for guidance in making major decisions. It was at church that she met her future husband, John Lane whom she married in 1889. Together they would have a large family and pioneer both the territory of Oklahoma and the new state of Washington. In both instances, she would be active in building a religious community.

Addie grew up in a religious home. She was born to C.J. and Mary Painter Fielder in 1870 in Redfield, Kansas. Her father was a farmer and ordained deacon at the Baptist church in Redfield for forty-five years. Her childhood prepared her well in many ways for her adult life. Like many young women of her era, she learned how to milk cows and make butter. By age nine, she was skillfully herding the cattle a mile and a half to the Marmaton River, and by age eleven was saddling her own horse. When her father sold the farm and opened a store in Redfield, Addie went to work for him. She learned business skills that would serve her well later in life.

In 1893 the Land Run to Oklahoma attracted approximately 100,000 new settlers, among them John and Addie Lane. Their son, Robert, was only two years old when the Lanes went to Guthrie, Oklahoma, then the capital of the territorial government, and the family took a covered wagon to the Sac-Fox Agency, an Indian tribe, where they planned to homestead eighty acres. Addie joined the local church and immediately began working with the Indians who were converting to Christianity.

The Lanes grew cotton for a living, but in the 1894 harvest, John became extremely ill. Although Addie had a new baby, the cotton had to be picked, and it was up to Addie to pick it. Picking cotton and caring for two small children in the fields was torture, both because it was heavy work, and because poisonous snakes and spiders the “size of saucers” lay in wait among the plants. When a neighbor’s daughter died from snakebite while fetching water at the well, Addie began lobbying John for a change.

Although it was not settled and had no schools, the Lanes decided to lease land in the Creek Nation (now Muscogee Tribe). Even as she packed the wagon, the older members of the Sac-Fox Agency begged Addie to stay. She had made a positive impact on their lives in the three years she had worked with them at church. Several had tears streaming down their faces, but she could not be swayed.

John and Addie settled near the Creek tribe. John’s work took him miles away, leaving Addie alone for days at a time with three small children. The Creeks, who opposed the resettlement of their land and attempts to convert them to Christianity, kept Addie in a state of fear as the tribesmen rode around the house on ponies all night. It escalated to the point that she was afraid to build a cooking fire because it might alert them that she was in the house.

When bears and wolves attacked her pigs, Addie finally convinced John it was time to sell out and go back to Kansas. The tribesmen that had taunted Addie for over a year, followed them until the Lanes crossed the state border. Addie turned back to look at them, and for years the sight of their blankets blowing in the breeze as their horses headed back to the reservations, was engraved in her memory.

In 1897 the Lanes settled back into their life in Redfield, and Addie had two more children. John heard about the opportunities that awaited men willing to work in the new state of Washington, and in November 1902, John, Addie and their five children boarded the train amidst loud protestations from Addie’s family. Addie was undeterred. She had been to a “reading” at which a move was predicted that was described as an important change for their future.

Their first home in the new state was on Everett Hill, where a pole camp provided full time work for John. Addie began raising hens, cows, pigs and vegetables and made butter to sell. When the Lanes joined a new young church with no minister or Sunday School, Addie organized one and hired a Christian preacher to come twice a month to address the congregation. Elected superintendent, Addie was able to raise enough money to start a school. She also opened her home every Thursday night for prayer meetings.

Opportunities were growing for hard working men like John Lane. Logging camps and shingle mills in Machias offered work, and the Lanes earned enough to buy twenty acres in the woods. John and his oldest son worked at the shingle mill for several years and built a new cabin on their property. Now mother to six children, Addie had a business raising carrots to take to market. Although life was not easy, the children were safe and income was steady. In 1908 the Lanes leased a place at Spring Hill Farms eleven miles from Machias that had more cleared land where John could have a large farm and more time for the family. Addie continued selling eggs and butter, driving to Three Lakes in her horse and buggy every week to see old friends and sell her products.

None of life’s travails could have prepared her for the horrific event of November 4, 1908 when her son, Roy, was killed in a hunting accident. Neighbors brought Roy’s body back on a stretcher and placed him on the kitchen floor. “I was almost paralyzed with grief,” she recalled in her journal. “His blood flowed like a stream all the way out the kitchen door.”

Two days later, friends joined the Lanes for the funeral service, and then like most pioneers, had to face the reality that they had to resume their chores the following morning. Addie recounted years later, “After the funeral, I realized that I had to get back to milking and other work. It was horrible going to the barn because Roy would always meet me there, and I missed his smiling face.”

Eventually, the Lane family moved back to Everett where Addie joined the United Brethren Church and became a true believer in faith healing. She had a severe infection in her leg and foot, and her doctor announced that she was terminal and could pass away at any time. Her toes had turned purple and her leg black. She was unable to stand or sit, but insisted upon having her newborn baby in a basket on the floor near her. She demanded that the doctor leave. She asked the family to summon her pastor so that he could pray over her and try to heal her.

The minister and two other church members came, and as Addie reported, “laid hands upon her and prayed.” She sat up, and was then encouraged to stand. She tried and succeeded and finally took her first step. When the doctor returned, expecting her demise, there she stood. Addie said that he “flew into a rage, neck and face red with anger” and left the home. It is not known if Addie ever tried to heal others, but she continued to have leg problems, and faith healers were her ongoing method of recovery.

In 1916 her mother, Mary Fielder, became very ill, and Addie was distraught that her mother might die before she could get to her side. Money was tight, and there were nine children that would need care. Addie referred to herself as a “sensitive dreamer,” a person who has premonitions or strong feelings about a future event. A trip to see Mrs. Jackson, pastor of what Addie referred to in her journal as the “Spiritless Church” in Everett, was in order. At her reading, Pastor Jackson revealed that Addie was seen traveling east by train, and told her she should do so quickly. Addie convinced John to sell the cow for $60, and she got on the train to Kansas and was able to see her mother. Upon her return to Everett, she received a telegram that her beloved mother had died.

Faith healers had been so successful during Addie’s own recent recovery that she turned to them again when her daughter, Rosey, came down with pneumonia. This time Addie asked several people from the church to come, as she needed help “fending off the doctors.” Rosey was hallucinating, seeing angels at the end of her bed, and telling her mother she was soon going to be with the angels. The members of the church prayed over her, laid hands upon her, and the fever that had tormented the girl for twenty-one days went away. All the while, John was working at a job at Discovery Bay, not knowing the serious condition of his daughter and the methods being used to return her to health.

During an influenza epidemic, five of Addie’s children, as well as two neighbors, fell ill. Addie, who cared for them all, did not get sick or lose a patient. She continued going to séances to “commune with God,” and told the children that “Your unseen friends will care for you when your earthly friends don’t.”
Life went on for the Lanes. Work was scarce after World War One, but there were opportunities on the Tulalip reservation, and so the Lane family became one of the earliest white settlers at Priest Point, where John resumed cutting shingles. By 1921 they were living in an old Indian cabin and had added a room so that Addie could start a Sunday School. “There were so few people living between Marysville and the reservation, and there was no local church,” Addie said. Members of the community, regardless of religion, were invited to the Lane’s home every Sunday for services and the pastor was….Addie Lane.
Around 1924 Addie opened a general store, complete with a gas pump, at Priest Point. The family moved in upstairs, and John continued making shingles. Addie raised turkeys, commercially during this time, and became a charter member of the Grange, a rural family fraternity founded in 1867. She was elected chaplain and remained a Grange member for the rest of her life.

As a child, Addie was a competent cowgirl; as an adult, a woman who regularly communed with her God. Addie Lane was a true pioneer, wife, mother and farmer who lived her life for her biological family, as well as her religious family. Silent unseen friends moved in and out of her life, helping her during times of need and in June 1943, Addie Lane moved out of our world into theirs.

Sources: Journal of Addie Fielder Lane; Grandson Joe McDonald; Granddaughter Shirley Wicha.

© 2006 Sandra Schumacher, All Rights Reserved

Mary Jane Green

Survivor of Slavery

by Margaret Riddle

Once as a child, twice as an adult, Mary Jane Green had been sold, her family divided on the auction block in the dark days of slavery. We know of her life only from an article that appeared in the Everett Herald on May 5, 1911. She died one year later and was buried in Everett’s Evergreen Cemetery. Her caretaker in her final days was granddaughter Sarah Walker who had become a widow when her husband, a porter for the Great Northern Railway, was killed in the famous Wellington avalanche of 1910. Both Mary Jane’s and Sarah’s lives remind us that the large events of history are really, at heart, made up of many smaller, personal stories.

WLP Story Number 3